Frost Mage PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.1)
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 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:
- 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. 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.
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 is mandatory for increasing your burst damage. This trait guarantees strong burst damage once you use Icy Veins. The rest of the traits ( Tunnel of Ice, Whiteout, Tidal Surge) all increase your sustained damage output and you can stack these traits as well. 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.
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 and Heed My Call. Both of these will noticeable increase your damage.
3.3. Inner Ring
Below are the best Inner Ring traits.
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 or 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/ Battlefield Focus or Tunnel of Ice traits. You will also want either Overwhelming Power or Heed My Call in the second tier.
Below, we list the items that have these traits.
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Hood;
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Hood;
- Crown of the Seducer;
- 7th Legionnaire's Hood;
- Honorbound Artificer's Guise.
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Epaulets;
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Epaulets;
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Amice;
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Amice.
Chest pieces that have these traits:
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Raiment;
- Sinister Gladiator's Silk Raiment;
- Vestments of the Afterlife;
- Robes of Biting Cold;
- Petticoat of the Self-Stylized Azerite Baron;
- Ruffled Poet Blouse.
4.2. Recommended Items
Sinister Gladiator's Maledict is absolutely the best trinket you can have. The on-use damage and healing absorption is capable of forcing defensives by itself. This can be used by itself or while you are using your burst rotation to force multiple cooldowns out of enemy teams.
Sinister 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 or Icy Veins, and should be used every time you want to use your burst rotation.
Sinister 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 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
|15||✘ Bone Chilling||✘ Lonely Winter||✔ Ice Nova|
|30||✘ Glacial Insulation||✔ Shimmer||✘ Ice Floes|
|45||✔ Incanter's Flow||✘ Mirror Image||✘ Rune of Power|
|60||✔ Frozen Touch||✘ Chain Reaction||✔ Ebonbolt|
|75||✔ Frigid Winds||✘ Ice Ward||✔ Ring of Frost|
|90||✘ Freezing Rain||✘ Splitting Ice||✔ Comet Storm|
|100||✘ Thermal Void||✔ Ray of Frost||✘ 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 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.
5.2. Tier 2 (Level 30) Talents
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, for example, you can Shimmer while casting it and avoid losing line of sight.
5.3. Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents
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.
5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents
If you will not be able to cast often, 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 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.
Against any other healer, 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 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 or Spellsteal effects, 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 is the best choice in this tier. This extends your major burst cooldown, 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 PvP talent.
6. PvP Talents for Frost Mage
The first PvP talent tier is will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless, and Adaptation. 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 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.
Concentrated Coolness increases 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.
Ice Form increases your 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 with this talent if you are playing Thermal Void.
Prismatic Cloak reduces magical damage you take by 50% for 2 seconds after you Blink or Shimmer. This talent is great against teams with magical spells that deal large amounts of damage. You can replace Temporal Shield with this if you are playing against a team with two spell casters on it.
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 with this talent.
Kleptomania makes 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 with Kleptomania, but you will lose a large amount of burst damage.
Chilled to the Bone makes your Frost Nova and your Water Elemental's Freeze deal Frost damage when the effect ends. Damage is doubled if Frost Nova or Lonely Winter is dispelled. Unfortunately, the damage from this talent is not enough for it to be effective.
7. Racial Bonuses for Frost Mages
Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.
The abilities gained from the Orc Race ( Blood Fury and Hardiness) both greatly benefit a Frost Mage. Blood Fury will help when using offensive cooldowns to get more damage output; Hardiness is great to break out of stuns faster.
The Human racial bonus ( 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, 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 on your teammates. It can be dispelled by abilities like Purge or 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 and open with a Polymorph on the enemy healer. If they manage to get behind a pillar, you can 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) causes each Frostbolt or 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 or Flurry that created it, and you can have up to 5 Icicles at any given time.
When you use 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.
- Start the arena by using Invisibility.
- Cast Polymorph on the enemy healer (if you are focusing the enemy healer, Polymorph a DPS that can heal/peel for the healer).
- Build up Icicles by casting Frostbolt.
- 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 Frostbolts against frozen targets.
- Generate Icicles possible by casting Frostbolts on your target. It would also be ideal to have a Brain Freeze proc ready, but is not needed.
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 and Polymorphs to control the enemy team. At the same time, you want to generate icicles by casting Frostbolts. You should be using Ice Form for stronger Frostbolts while you are not using burst cooldowns. Use 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. Aside from Fingers of Frost, you have three abilities that can freeze a target: Freeze, Ice Nova, and Frost Nova. Additionally, Flurry can apply Winter's Chill. Below are a few examples of how to use your Shatter passive to maximize your damage.
- Cast Frostbolt to generate a Brain Freeze. Use Flurry to apply the Winter's Chill debuff and use Ice Lance.
- Use Ice Nova, Frost Nova or Freeze to freeze your target, then use Ice Lance.
8.4. Defensive Techniques
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 or by casting Polymorph and Shimmering away. Moreover, you can use Frost Nova to root the target, which is very effective when playing against melee.
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. 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 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.
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 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 and use your burst rotation. If you get interrupted while casting 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. It is important to note that Mages have 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. 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 shares a diminishing return with Sap and your Polymorph will be half duration in the opener. It is important to note that you are not limited to using Polymorph on the enemy healer. If an enemy DPS using their burst cooldowns, you can slow/root and 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 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 on that player while you are still focused on your target.
10.3. Counterspell Focus Macro
- #showtooltip Counterspell
- /cast [target=focus] Counterspell
10.4. Ice Block Macro
- #showtooltip Ice Block
- /cast !Ice Block
This makes it so when you use Ice Block it will not cancel it if you click it a second time.
- 27 Jan. 2019: Updated Gear Recommendations section and Item Recommendations.
- 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
- Wintergrasp 8.1.5 PTR Testing: February 19th
- Rextroy's 40 Vs 40 Events
- Patch 8.1 Hotfixes: February 14th
- Patch 8.1.5: Kul Tiran Human Intro Cutscene
- Patch 8.1.5: Zandalari Troll Intro Cutscene
- PvP Hotfixes: Feb 13th - Massive Mana Regen Nerf
- Crucible of Storms Raid Testing: Feb 21st-25th
- Patch 8.1.5 Build 29352: Highlights
- Question on simming...
- Transmogrification Demon Hunters
- Affliction Warlock 8.1
- Fire Mage 8.1
- Frost Death Knight 8.1
- Marksmanship Hunter 8.1
- Destruction Warlock 8.1
- Demonology Warlock 8.1