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Frost Mage DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (BfA 8.0.1)

Last updated on Jul 20, 2018 at 08:59 by Kuni 26 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Frost Mage core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft BfA 8.0.1. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Frost Mage.

The other pages of our Frost Mage guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Kuni, one of the best Frost Mages in the world, who raids in Midnight Sanctuary.

1. Single Target Ability Priority List for Frost Mage

At its most basic, the premise of Frost Mage is to spam Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt until you get a proc. Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost should be utilized immediately by casting Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance. Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze wants you to use a cast time spell, like Frostbolt or Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, going into Flurry Icon Flurry, and then Ice Lance. This cast time spell > Flurry > Ice Lance combo is the heart of the spec, and if you have that committed to memory then the rest is fairly simple. Anything beyond it is simply cooldown management. The priority lists below will showcase where exactly they are to be used optimally, but as long as they are being used at all, your damage should not suffer too severely.

This is a priority system, not a rotation. This means things higher up have priority over things lower on the list, rather than cast them in this order. You would go down the list until you hit the first thing that is true, and cast that spell, then go back to the top and start again. This of course assumes raw single target with no mechanics. Please do not go throwing Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins into an immunity phase.

1.1. Non-Glacial Spike Builds

  1. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented for.
  3. Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins
  4. Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, if talented for.
  5. Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova if Winter's Chill is still up after your Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance's Global Cooldown, if talented for.
  6. Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze, and you have just cast either Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt or Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.
  7. Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb
  8. Blizzard Icon Blizzard if 3 targets are in range — 2, if Blizzard is currently instant cast due to being talented into Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain.
  9. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  10. Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost, as long as Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is not on the field, and if talented for.
  11. Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm, if talented for.
  12. Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt, if talented for.
  13. Blizzard Icon Blizzard on single target if instant due to being talented into Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain, or on 2 targets if not instant.
  14. Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova, if talented for.
  15. Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt

1.2. Glacial Spike

You never want to cast Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike without it either hitting 2 targets, or being Shatter Icon Shattered using Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze. In addition, Glacial Spike builds only ever cast Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt as a backup if you do not have a Brain Freeze for that Glacial Spike.

  1. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented for.
  3. Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins
  4. Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, if talented for.
    • if target will die in the next 25 seconds, making every other consideration moot;
    • after Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb if 2 or more targets are being hit;
    • if you have 5 Icicles and Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze or Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt is talented for, is up, and you do not have Brain Freeze.
  5. Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova if Winter's Chill is still up after your Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance's Global Cooldown, and if talented for.
  6. Flurry Icon Flurry if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze, and
  7. Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb
  8. Blizzard Icon Blizzard if 3 targets are in range — 2, if Blizzard is currently instant cast due to being talented into Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain.
  9. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  10. Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm, if talented for.
  11. Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt if you are at 5 Icicles and do not have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze and you are talented for it.
  12. Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike only if you have Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze or it will cleave a second target.
  13. Blizzard Icon Blizzard on single target if instant due to being talented into Freezing Rain Icon Freezing Rain, or on 2 targets if not instant.
  14. Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova is talented for.
  15. Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt

There is an edge case of being at 3 Icicles, casting the fourth Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt, and having a Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze active. In this situation, you would cast the Frostbolt for your 4th Icicle, and then hold onto the Brain Freeze for the Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike.

2. Multiple Target Priority for Frost Mage

The AoE priority system should kick in when you are fighting 5 or more mobs, dropping to the above rotations once you fall below.

Special consideration should be used for Freeze Icon Freeze. This will let you get a free Shatter Icon Shatter on a group of mobs. Try and pair it with Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm, right as it impacts. It will not work on all the comets, but it should Shatter most.

  1. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance after every Flurry Icon Flurry cast.
  2. Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented for.
  3. Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins
  4. Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power after a Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb cast, if talented for.
  5. Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb
  6. Blizzard Icon Blizzard
  7. Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm, if talented for.
  8. Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova, if talented for.
  9. Flurry Icon Flurry using either of the above list conditionals, based on if you have Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike or not.
  10. Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance with Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost.
  11. Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost, if talented for.
  12. Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt, if talented for.
  13. Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, if talented for.
  14. Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold
  15. Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt

3. Core Concepts for Frost Mage

Frost Mage is an extremely straightforward specialization, however, it offers enough choice and flexibility that understanding the fundamental concepts of the spec is paramount to success. There are 2 major concepts that form the central core of optimizing for success:

  1. always be casting;
  2. movement management.

Managing movement is a fundamental skill shared by all the caster classes in World of Warcraft, and the Mage class lends itself beautifully to dealing with high movement. Learning to fully maximize efficiency with respect to movement is extremely important for all the Mage specializations.

3.1. Cooldown Overlap and Maximizing Cleave

Frost Mage has a variety of talents and abilities that work together in synergy, and therefore they are best combined for an explosive result. In order to achieve the best possible damage output, it is essential you line up these cooldowns and abilities. For example, if you are playing with Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spike, you will want to ensure that Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt will be available in case you do not have a Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze when you hit 5 Icicles.

Ultimately, Frost Mage is primarily about abusing your casts in a way that is suitable to the situation. There are an enormous amount of possibilities, synergies, and overlaps that will provide an advantageous result. It is important, therefore, that you as a player think carefully about how you can use your spells in a way that makes sense. Try to avoid using your major abilities haphazardly or without thinking, as this will invariably result in you losing a lot of damage. When your Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb is about to come off cooldown, for example, start thinking about the ways you are going to cleave with it. Check your boss timers to see how you can line it up for a phase with increased damage dealt or AoE. A lot of this might seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how uncommon that is!

3.2. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as a Frost Mage. Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes charges set an important balance; it is important to refrain from overusing these and leaving yourself with nothing when it actually matters, but you also want to avoid letting Ice Floes sit at 3 charges when you are moving. Try and use Blink Icon Blink for urgent movement — when you need to travel from one place to another as quickly as possible. Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is a good choice when you only need to take a few steps, as it only costs a single global cooldown. For phases with predictable high movement, you should treat Ice Floes as a DPS cooldown and plan your charge usage accordingly. If you are playing with Shimmer Icon Shimmer talented, you should be using this as a pseudo Ice Floes as it does not interrupt your cast when used. Frost is an especially powerful specialization with respect to movement, as you have a variety of spells that are instant cast. You can save charges of Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost for predictable movement and use these globals to cover the entire distance travelled. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

3.3. Opening Sequence for Frost Mage

We advise you to use the following opening sequence (or opener).

  1. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  2. Pre-cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image, if talented.
  3. Pre-cast Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt at 2 seconds on the countdown.
  4. Activate Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins.
  5. Cast Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.
  6. Place your Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power, if talented.
  7. Dump Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost charges.
  8. Use large damage cooldown spells, such as Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm.
  9. Follow your normal priority.

3.4. Tier 3 Talents

3.4.1. Rune of Power

Rune of Power Icon Rune of Power is very strong in the right situations, but it does alter the play style in some notable ways. While the ways to fully take advantage of this ability are many and varied, some of the best ways to use this ability are when combined with any of the following:

Functionally you want as many large bursts of damage in the Rune as possible, but you should not wait for them to line up, simply using Rune charges as the other burst cooldowns come off cooldown.

3.4.2. Mirror Image

Whenever possible, it is best to synchronize the usage of Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins and Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image. If you delay Mirror Image for Icy Veins and end up casting Mirror Image just as many times as if you had cast it on cooldown, then it is more efficient to delay it and synchronize it with Icy Veins. If this is not the case, or Mirror Image will help you meet a damage check, it is best used on cooldown. For example, on a fight that lasts exactly 4 minutes, you are better off delaying Mirror Image for your second cast of Icy Veins, rather than casting Mirror Image again around the 2:00 mark and then Icy Veins around the 3:00 mark. The window for this cooldown overlap is quite tight, as Mirror Image lasts 40 seconds. Therefore, you only have a 20-second window available before you would have been able to get an extra Mirror Image cast off. There are cases when Mirror Image will need to be slightly delayed, for example, if the boss has an immunity phase. If this happens, you should always delay Mirror Image for the next Icy Veins.

If you are not acutely aware of the duration and timings of any given encounter, always cast Mirror Image Icon Mirror Image on cooldown.

3.4.3. Incanter's Flow

The stacks of this talent should be ignored. Any attempts to optimize for it using a simulation have been met with indifference or loss. It is simply not worth doing.

4. ChangeLog

  • 20 Jul. 2018: Clarified an edge case with Brain Freeze/Glacial Spike interaction.
  • 19 Jul. 2018: Added a description to the core of the spec.
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