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Frost Mage PvP Guide (Legion 7.3.5)

Last updated on May 29, 2018 at 16:17 by Mysticall 9 comments

Table of Contents


This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play a Frost Mage in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, artifacts, 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.

About The Author

This guide has been written by Mysticall, a seasoned PvP player who has repeatedly achieved Arena Master and 2500 rating. You can watch his stream on Twitch, and you can also check out his YouTube channel.

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 on enemies and having great mobility, 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 damage

1.2. Weaknesses of Frost Mages

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

2. Talent Choices for Frost Mages

Regular talents work in both PvP and PvE content (although they may sometimes work differently in the two environments, which is indicated by their tooltips). In other words, they are always active.

On the other hand, Honor talents are inactive outside of a PvP environment.

2.1. Regular Talents

2.1.1. Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents

Lonely Winter Icon Lonely Winter is the best choice in this tier. Although you lose Summon Water Elemental Icon Summon Water Elemental, it increases the damage of your core abilities and helps with your overall damage.

2.1.2. 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.

2.1.3. 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 buff has before using your offensive cooldowns.

2.1.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) 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.

If you are playing against a team that will be stacked often, Splitting Ice Icon Splitting Ice is the best choice in this tier. This gives you strong single-target pressure as well as spread damage.

2.1.5. 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 helps with this. Assistance from a teammate (such as a Rogue stunning the Druid) will make it easier.

If you are playing against a team with two melee on it, Frigid Winds Icon Frigid Winds is the best choice in this tier. This will allow you to kite easier from enemy players.

2.1.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Arctic Gale Icon Arctic Gale is the best choice in this tier. With the increased range on Blizzard Icon Blizzard, it hits more targets, which helps reduce the cooldown on Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.

2.1.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Comet Storm Icon Comet Storm is the best choice in this tier. This talent provides even more instant damage. This is also important because Icicles stored from Mastery: Icicles Icon Mastery: Icicles will now be consumed after using Ice Lance Icon Ice Lance.

2.2. Honor Talents for Frost Mages

2.2.1. Tier 1 Talents

If you are an Orc, Relentless Icon Relentless is the best choice in this tier. Frost Mages can be the focus target of some teams, and this will help with getting out of stuns and getting away from the enemies.

If you are any other race, Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. This will help with getting out of stuns that you might be stuck in.

2.2.2. Tier 2 Talents

Mind Quickness Icon Mind Quickness is the best choice in this tier. It helps cast Polymorph Icon Polymorphs, Frostbolt Icon Frostbolts, Glacial Spike Icon Glacial Spikes, and so on faster and therefore more reliably.

2.2.3. Tier 3 Talents

When playing against casters, Prismatic Cloak Icon Prismatic Cloak is the best choice. This ability causes all spells to miss you for 1.5 seconds after using Blink Icon Blink, and it helps significantly when trying to get crowd control off.

When playing against melee, Burning Determination Icon Burning Determination is the best choice. This helps in a few different scenarios against melee. If you are interrupted while casting Polymorph Icon Polymorph, you can spam Fireball Icon Fireballs; if are interrupted while casting Fireball, you can spam Polymorphs.

If you are playing against a team with two melee on it, Netherwind Armor Icon Netherwind Armor is the best choice in this tier. This will significantly reduce the damage done to you.

2.2.4. Tier 4 Talents

Temporal Shield Icon Temporal Shield the best choice in this tier. If you are being focused, this talent greatly increases your survivability. If it is dispelled, it will still heal you for however much you were attacked for while the shield was active.

2.2.5. Tier 5 Talents

Frostbite Icon Frostbite is the best choice in this tier. The root effect from this ability is what makes it useful. It will help with overall survival and damage.

2.2.6. Tier 6 Talents

Concentrated Coolness Icon Concentrated Coolness is the best choice in this tier. This talent helps with overall burst damage when using Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb.

3. Racial Bonuses for Frost Mages

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

3.1. Horde

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

The ability gained from the Blood Elf Race (Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent) comes in handy when you need just a little bit more crowd control on an enemy. It provides a 2-second silence, which can help in many situations.

3.2. Alliance

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

4. 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.

4.1. 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.

4.2. 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.

Do not hesitate to make use of Ice Floes Icon Ice Floes to be able to cast your Polymorph Icon Polymorph while moving, in order to be able to stay in line of sight of your target. If they manage to get behind a pillar, you can Shimmer Icon Shimmer to their location and still get your Polymorph off.

4.3. 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 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 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.

4.3.1. 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 at frozen targets.
  4. When you have 5 Icicles built up, use your burst rotation (see below).

4.3.2. 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.

4.3.3. 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 and reducing the cooldown of Frozen Orb Icon Frozen Orb by using Blizzard Icon Blizzard when the enemies are grouped up.

4.4. 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 very important defensive ability. It resets the cooldown on several frost mage abilities, the most important one to note is 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.

5. 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.

5.1. 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

5.2. 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:

  • RMD (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)

6. 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.

6.1. 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.

6.2. 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.

6.3. 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.

6.4. 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.

7. Gear for Frost Mages

With regards to gear, the biggest change in Legion is that there is no more PvP gear. Your strength in PvP will be determined based on the average item level of your gear (as displayed on your character sheet). For example, the base item level at level 110 is 800, so your stats in PvP will be adjusted accordingly. For every 10 item levels you gain, your stats are increased by 1%.

The implication is that it does not matter where your gear comes from, and all that matters is its item level. Gear from quests or PvE content is just as good as gear you get as a reward from PvP (which, in fact, will be very similar to PvE gear; there are no more PvP stats on gear).

Practically, you will simply look to collect gear with the highest item levels possible, and the stat distribution on the gear will not matter.

8. Artifact Traits for Frost Mages

Below, we will explain what the recommended order for artifact traits is, if you wish to maximise your PvP potential. It is quite possible that your artifact path (at the time of reading this guide) differs from our suggestions. If this is the case, do not worry, and use the information below to help you understand your traits and guide your future choices.

If you have suddenly decided that you want to turn to PvP, the best thing to do in your artifact progression is continue to your closest Golden trait, and then follow the recommendations below. Picking up the most useful traits ( Icon Chilled to the Core,  Icon Icy Caress,  Icon Jouster, or  Icon Chain Reaction) along the way is a great way to boost your potential.

8.1. First Golden Trait

The first Golden trait you want to reach is  Icon Black Ice.

  1. Take  Icon Ebonbolt.
  2. Take  Icon Shattering Bolts.
  3. Take  Icon Let It Go.
  4. Take  Icon Ice Nine.
  5. Take  Icon Shield of Alodi.
  6. Take  Icon Black Ice.

8.2. Second Golden Trait

The second Golden trait to go for is  Icon Chilled to the Core.

  1. Take  Icon Frozen Veins.
  2. Take  Icon Icy Caress.
  3. Take  Icon Clarity of Thought.li>
  4. Take  Icon Ice Age.
  5. Take  Icon Chilled to the Core.

8.3. Remaining Traits

After this, you should head for your last Golden trait,  Icon It's Cold Outside, picking up any remaining traits after that.  Icon Icy Hand and  Icon The Storm Rages are the least useful for PvP and should be picked last. There is no particular order that we recommend here.

9. Relics for Frost Mages

Relics are disabled in PvP, so they are not a concern to you.

10. ChangeLog

  • 29 May 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 22 Mar. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
    • Updated recommended Tier 3 honor talent.
  • 24 Jan. 2018: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.5.
  • 05 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for patch 7.3.2. Updated "About The Author".
  • 09 Sep. 2017: Removed Artifact Trait descriptions and replaced unnecessary Blinks with Shimmer.
  • 21 Jun. 2017: Updated the guide for Patch 7.2.5.
    • Changed description for Tier 1 regular talent.
    • Changed recommended talent for Tier 4 regular talent.
    • Changed recommended Tier 5 regular talent.
    • Updated "Burst Rotation".
    • Changed the way "Sustained Damage" was being described from a list-style to a paragraph format.
  • 01 May 2017: Checked and confirmed that no updates are needed for Patch 7.2.
  • 24 Feb. 2017: Updates for Patch 7.1.5
    • Updated tier 15, 75, 90 and 100 regular talents.
    • Updated tier 1,3,5,6 honor talents. Updated sustained damage and burst rotations.
  • 30 Nov. 2016: Guide added.
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