Frost Mage PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.1)

Last updated on Dec 13, 2018 at 23:05 by Mysticall 19 comments

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Frost Mages

Frost Mages are notorious for always being one of the best PvP specs. Mages not only excel at getting crowd control and relentlessly slowing enemies, but they also have great burst damage. With short burst cooldowns and strong crowd control, Frost Mages are capable of controlling entire teams. One Polymorph Icon Polymorph can turn an entire game around.

1.1. Strengths of Frost Mages

  • Great control
  • Multiple defensive cooldowns
  • Strong burst damage

1.2. Weaknesses of Frost Mages

  • Little to no sustained damage
  • Predictable burst damage
  • Low mobility

2. Stat Priority for Frost Mages in PvP

The stat priority for Frost Mage in PvP is as follows:

  1. Intellect;
  2. Haste;
  3. Versatility;
  4. Mastery;
  5. Critical Strike.

Intellect is the best stat in all situations. Haste is the best secondary state. This stat will reduce your global cooldown and the cast times of important spells like Polymorph Icon Polymorph. Versatility increases the damage you deal and reduces the damage you take. This is why you should also be wearing gear with Versatility as well.

3. Azerite Traits for Frost Mages

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

3.1. Outer Ring

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Frigid Grasp Icon Frigid Grasp
  2. Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision/Battlefield Focus Icon Battlefield Focus
  3. Tunnel of Ice Icon Tunnel of Ice
  4. Whiteout Icon Whiteout
  5. Tidal Surge Icon Tidal Surge

There is not a single trait that you will want to stack. Instead, you want one of each of the traits from above. Frigid Grasp Icon Frigid Grasp is mandatory for increasing your burst damage. This trait guarantees strong burst damage once you use Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins. The rest of the traits (Tunnel of Ice Icon Tunnel of Ice, Whiteout Icon Whiteout, Tidal Surge Icon Tidal Surge) all increase your sustained damage output and you can stack these traits as well. Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision applies stacks to your target and increases the damage they take from your team.

3.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power
  2. Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call
  3. Gutripper Icon Gutripper
  4. Earthlink Icon Earthlink

The Middle and Inner Rings are important for additional damage. All of the traits mentioned above increase your overall damage. However, the primary two you should be getting are Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power and Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call. Both of these will noticeable increase your damage.

3.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  2. Cauterizing Blink Icon Cauterizing Blink
  3. Eldritch Warding Icon Eldritch Warding

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

4. Gear Recommendations

4.1. General Guidelines

In general, Frost Mages want to get trinkets that line up well with Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost or Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins. These trinkets can have a passive or on-use effect. The stat you want to be increasing is Intellect. The reason you want to increase Intellect is because it drastically increases your overall damage output.

To be successful in 3v3 arena, you need to have at least 2 pieces of gear with either Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision/Battlefield Focus Icon Battlefield Focus or Tunnel of Ice Icon Tunnel of Ice traits. You will also want either Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power or Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call in the second tier.

Below, we list the items that have these traits.

4.1.1. Helms

4.1.2. Shoulders

Chest pieces that have these traits:

4.2. Recommended Items

Dread Gladiator's Badge Icon Dread Gladiator's Badge is strong for the Versatility and the on-use Intellect effect. The 2-minute cooldown lines up well with either Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost or Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, and should be used every time you want to use your burst rotation.

Dread Gladiator's Insignia Icon Dread Gladiator's Insignia has a good amount of Versatility on it and has a passive effect. This effect increases your Intellect. This increases your sustained damage.

4.3. Weapon Enchant

Enchant Weapon - Torrent of Elements Icon Enchant Weapon - Torrent of Elements is the best weapon enchants. The enchant provides a proc that gives you a strong boost to your spell damage. This increases your sustained and burst damage.

5. Regular Talents for Frost Mages

Level Choices
15 Bone Chilling Bone Chilling Lonely Winter Lonely Winter Ice Nova Ice Nova
30 Glacial Insulation Glacial Insulation Shimmer Shimmer Ice Floes Ice Floes
45 Incanter's Flow Incanter's Flow Mirror Image Mirror Image Rune of Power Rune of Power
60 Frozen Touch Frozen Touch Chain Reaction Chain Reaction Ebonbolt Ebonbolt
75 Frigid Winds Frigid Winds Ice Ward Ice Ward Ring of Frost Ring of Frost
90 Freezing Rain Freezing Rain Splitting Ice Splitting Ice Comet Storm Comet Storm
100 Thermal Void Thermal Void Ray of Frost Ray of Frost Glacial Spike Glacial Spike

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

5.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides more instant damage when using offensive cooldowns and helps with killing an enemy at low health. You also get to keep your Summon Water Elemental Icon Summon Water Elemental.

5.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents

Shimmer Icon Shimmer is the best choice in this tier. This is a very strong when trying to get crowd control on the enemy team. If an enemy is trying to get out of line of sight of your Polymorph Icon Polymorph, for example, you can Shimmer Icon Shimmer while casting it and avoid losing line of sight.

5.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents

Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow is the best choice in the tier. It provides great damage (especially when you are at 5 stacks). Be sure to track and time how many stacks your Incanter's Flow Icon Incanter's Flow buff has before using your offensive cooldowns.

5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

If your team needs more single-target damage and you have time to cast for a few seconds, Ebonbolt Icon Ebonbolt is the best choice in this tier. This deals great damage and also gives you a Brain Freeze Icon Brain Freeze proc.

If you will not be able to cast often, Frozen Touch Icon Frozen Touch is the best choice in this tier. This is an overall large increase to your burst and sustained damage.

5.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

When playing against a Restoration Druid, Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost is the best choice in this tier. Druids are difficult to get crowd control on as a Frost Mage, and Ring of Frost Icon Ring of Frost helps with this. Assistance from a teammate (such as a Rogue stunning the Druid) will make it easier.

Against any other healer, Frigid Winds Icon Frigid Winds is the best choice in this tier. This will help keep your enemies from kiting away from your team's damage.

5.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides even more instant damage with a very short cooldown.

5.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

If you are playing against a team with multiple Purge Icon Purge or Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal effects, Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost is the best choice in this tier. This has a relatively long cooldown, but can be effective versus these types of teams. You can also use it against teams with melee on it. This will prevent them from kiting your damage or help you from kiting theirs.

Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void is the best choice in this tier. This extends your major burst cooldown, Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins, by an additional 10 seconds. This increases your overall damage output and helps you get crowd control on enemies. It is also important to note that this talent works with the Ice Form Icon Ice Form PvP talent.

6. PvP Talents for Frost Mage

The first PvP talent tier is will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel.

You can choose 3 of the following PvP talents. Each of them has their uses, but some are better for certain strategies than others. The top three choices are the most useful, but can be replaced with other PvP talents depending on your team's goal.

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield creates a shield around you for 6 seconds. Once it expires, you will instantly be healed for 100% of the damage you took while it was active. This is a great defensive tool and should be used when the enemy team is using their burst cooldowns.

Deep Shatter Icon Deep Shatter makes your Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts deal 150% more damage against frozen targets. This talent works well with the Regular Talent Frozen Touch Icon Frozen Touch and increases your overall sustained damage.

Concentrated Coolness Icon Concentrated Coolness increases Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb's damage and is now castable at a location with a 40-yard range but no longer moves. This talent will make your sustained damage much less, but increases your burst damage significantly. It is recommended to use this talent if you are using Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost.

Ice Form Icon Ice Form increases your Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt damage by 30% and makes you immune to stuns and knockbacks for 12 seconds. This talent is very strong against teams with multiple stuns that will be focusing you. However, you can replace Concentrated Coolness Icon Concentrated Coolness with this talent if you are playing Thermal Void Icon Thermal Void.

Prismatic Cloak Icon Prismatic Cloak reduces magical damage you take by 50% for 2 seconds after you Blink Icon Blink or Shimmer Icon Shimmer. This talent is great against teams with magical spells that deal large amounts of damage. You can replace Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield with this if you are playing against a team with two spell casters on it.

Dampened Magic Icon Dampened Magic reduces magical damage over time effects on you by 20%. This is a great talent against classes like Shadow Priest and Affliction Warlock. You can replace Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield with this talent.

Kleptomania Icon Kleptomania makes Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal have a 30-second cooldown, but steals all spells from the target. This is only useful against Restoration Druids. If you want to have the option to steal all of the Restoration Druids HoTs, you can replace Concentrated Coolness Icon Concentrated Coolness with Kleptomania Icon Kleptomania, but you will lose a large amount of burst damage.

Chilled to the Bone Icon Chilled to the Bone makes your Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova and your Water Elemental's Freeze deal Frost damage when the effect ends. Damage is doubled if Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova or Lonely Winter Icon Lonely Winter is dispelled. Unfortunately, the damage from this talent is not enough for it to be effective.

Burst of Cold Icon Burst of Cold causes your Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to instantly reset the cooldown of Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold and increases its damage by 400% for 6 seconds. This talent does not deal much damage and should not be used.

7. Racial Bonuses for Frost Mages

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

7.1. Horde

The abilities gained from the Orc Race (Blood Fury Icon Blood Fury and Hardiness Icon Hardiness) both greatly benefit a Frost Mage. Blood Fury Icon Blood Fury will help when using offensive cooldowns to get more damage output; Hardiness Icon Hardiness is great to break out of stuns faster.

7.2. Alliance

The Human racial bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a great way to get out of stuns.

8. Playstyle for Frost Mages

The Frost Mage has two important roles in a 3v3 environment.

  • The first role that Frost Mages have is crowd control. They not only have strong kiting tools for getting away from enemies, but they have strong tools to also cast and get crowd control on enemy players. Polymorph Icon Polymorph, the major Frost Mage crowd control, can be used offensively (when trying to get a kill) or defensively (when trying to keep a teammate alive).
  • The second role a Frost Mage has is having strong burst cooldowns. With relatively short major cooldowns, Frost Mages can apply a lot of pressure on a team in a short amount of time.

8.1. Before Gates Open

Be prepared to be the focus of many teams. This can be frustrating and make people shy away from Frost. That said, Frost Mages have a lot of utility to get away from enemy teams, so make sure to use this to your advantage. Make sure to use Arcane Intellect Icon Arcane Intellect on your teammates. It can be dispelled by abilities like Purge Icon Purge or Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal, so be prepared to apply it often.

8.2. Crowd Control

This is where the Frost Mage has always shined in PvP. There is no other class/spec that can crowd control a team as well as a Frost Mage can, not to mention the large amount of utility at their disposal.

At the beginning of a match, you can use Invisibility Icon Invisibility and open with a Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer. If they manage to get behind a pillar, you can Shimmer Icon Shimmer to their location and still get your Polymorph off.

8.3. Offensive Rotation

Before we talk about rotation, it is relevant to quickly go over how Icicles work, since this is integral to the Frost Mage offensive playstyle.

The Frost Mage Mastery (Mastery: Icicles Icon Mastery: Icicles) causes each Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt or Flurry Icon Flurry you cast to generate an Icicle, which is effectively a buff on you. Each Icicle "stores up" a part of the damage of the Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt or Flurry Icon Flurry that created it, and you can have up to 5 Icicles at any given time.

When you use Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance, all the stored up Icicles will be fired at the target, resulting in a burst of damage.

8.3.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns. If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. With the amount of crowd control and damage that Mages have, you can force cooldowns (trinkets and defensives) without having to use any cooldowns.

  1. Start the arena by using Invisibility Icon Invisibility.
  2. Cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer (if you are focusing the enemy healer, Polymorph a DPS that can heal/peel for the healer).
  3. Build up Icicles by casting Frostbolt Icon Frostbolt.
  4. When you have 5 Icicles built up, use your burst rotation (see below).

8.3.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you should use your burst damage.

To guarantee the most damaging Icicles, you want to make sure that the Icicles you have stored up were created by Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts against frozen targets.

8.3.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available. When they are on cooldown, you want to be doing a combination of crowd control and generating icicles. Use Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold and Polymorph Icon Polymorphs to control the enemy team. At the same time, you want to generate icicles by casting Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts. You should be using Ice Form Icon Ice Form for stronger Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts while you are not using burst cooldowns. Use Ray of Frost Icon Ray of Frost if an enemy overextends or is trying to kite your team's damage.

8.3.4. Shatter Combinations

A crucial part of Frost Mage damage is dealing damage to targets that are Frozen. The reason you want to deal damage to targets that are Frozen is because of your passive, Shatter Icon Shatter. Aside from Fingers of Frost Icon Fingers of Frost, you have three abilities that can freeze a target: Freeze Icon Freeze, Ice Nova Icon Ice Nova, and Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova. Additionally, Flurry Icon Flurry can apply Winter's Chill Icon Winter's Chill. Below are a few examples of how to use your Shatter Icon Shatter passive to maximize your damage.

8.4. Defensive Techniques

Ice Block Icon Ice Block is your main defensive ability. If you have run out of Shimmer Icon Shimmers and have no other ways to kite or survive, use this spell. This will protect you from all damage.

A Mage's crowd control is effectively a defensive technique for them. If the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns, you can kite them by using Cone of Cold Icon Cone of Cold or by casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph and Shimmer Icon Shimmering away. Moreover, you can use Frost Nova Icon Frost Nova to root the target, which is very effective when playing against melee.

Cold Snap Icon Cold Snap is a very important defensive ability. It resets the cooldown on several Frost Mage abilities, the most important one to note being Ice Block Icon Ice Block. This means the enemy team will have to go through two of your Ice Blocks to kill you, which makes you very hard to kill.

Ice Barrier Icon Ice Barrier is best used when the enemy team is focusing you down. If you use it preemptively, it runs the risk of being dispelled by an enemy (such as an Enhancement Shaman), or of being the target of Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal.

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield is one of the best defensive cooldowns Mages have. Use this when you are being focused and when at high health; the reason for using it at high health is that a great part of this spell is the 6-second HoT it applies to you to heal back the damage you have sustained — if you are at low health, you will probably die before you are able to benefit from the HoT. One of the skills to this ability is knowing when to cancel it (since canceling it triggers the HoT). If you are at half-health and use Temporal Shield, there is a good chance you will die with it still active; cancel it instead, so you can get healed for a large amount and not die with it still active.

9. Best Team Compositions for Frost Mages

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. With spells like Icy Veins Icon Icy Veins and some of the greatest crowd control in the game, Frost Mages give their team large windows of opportunities to get a kill on an enemy team.

9.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena, you do not have many options. It can be quite difficult to kill a healer in 2v2 by yourself, so you will likely be focusing an enemy DPS. Before you use your burst rotation, make sure the enemy healer is in crowd control. Ideally, you will be playing with a healer that can stun. After the stun, cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph and use your burst rotation. If you get interrupted while casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph, you can still cast Frost spells. If you do want to swap to the enemy healer, make sure they do not have a trinket and you have a stun. Once your cooldowns are used, keep the enemy team slowed by using Blizzard Icon Blizzard. It is important to note that Mages have Spellsteal Icon Spellsteal and can use it to steal HoTs to heal themselves. This is a great spell versus Restoration Druids and Discipline Priests that have multiple spells that you can steal.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Frost Mage + Subtlety Rogue
  • Frost Mage + Discipline Priest
  • Frost Mage + Holy Paladin
  • Frost Mage + Restoration Druid

9.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. As a Frost Mage you will be focusing on controlling the enemy team with multiple slows and Polymorph Icon Polymorph. Before your team uses burst cooldowns, make sure there is crowd control on the enemy healer. If you are playing with a Rogue, remember that Polymorph Icon Polymorph shares a diminishing return with Sap Icon Sap and your Polymorph Icon Polymorph will be half duration in the opener. It is important to note that you are not limited to using Polymorph Icon Polymorph on the enemy healer. If an enemy DPS using their burst cooldowns, you can slow/root and Polymorph Icon Polymorph them. This will help your healer significantly.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • RMP (Frost Mage + Subtlety Rogue + Discipline Priest)
  • Frost Mage + Elemental Shaman + Holy Priest
  • Frost Mage + Destruction Warlock + Holy Paladin
  • WMD (Frost Mage + Arms Warrior + Holy Paladin)

10. Useful Macros for Frost Mages

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Frost Mages can benefit from.

10.1. Polymorph 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Polymorph
  • /cast [target=arena1] Polymorph

Using this macro will cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

10.2. Polymorph Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Polymorph
  • /cast [target=focus] Polymorph

If you find that you do not have much room on your actionbars, you can use a focus macro. This is much simpler to use than the arena123 macro. Put an enemy on focus and this macro will cast Polymorph Icon Polymorph on that player while you are still focused on your target.

10.3. Counterspell Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Counterspell
  • /cast [target=focus] Counterspell

This macro will use Counterspell Icon Counterspell on whichever enemy you have on focus. Because you will be primarily using Counterspell Icon Counterspell on the enemy healer, you should only need this focus macro.

10.4. Ice Block Macro

  • #showtooltip Ice Block
  • /cast !Ice Block

This makes it so when you use Ice Block Icon Ice Block it will not cancel it if you click it a second time.

11. Changelog

  • 13 Dec. 2018: Updated Azerite traits section.
  • 12 Dec. 2018: No major changes needed for Patch 8.1.
  • 19 Nov. 2018: Added Gear Recommendations section.
  • 08 Oct. 2018: Added talent table and updated recommended tier 4 regular talent.
  • 02 Oct. 2018: Revamped guide.
    • Removed Artifact Traits, Relics, PvP Gear and War Mode sections.
    • Added Stat Priority and Azerite trait sections.
  • 27 Aug. 2018: Updated Air Drops section.
  • 21 Jul. 2018: Updated Tier 4, 6, and 7 regular talents.
    • Updated recommended PvP talents.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses section.
    • Added Shatter Combinations section.
    • Updated Burst and Sustained damage sections.
  • 20 Jul. 2018: Updated Tier 5 regular talent. Changed recommended Horde race.
  • 18 Jul. 2018: Updated Frost Mage PvP for Patch 8.0.1
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