Frost Mage PvP Rotation and Playstyle (BfA / Patch 8.3)
PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilizes your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as a Frost Mage, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.
This page is part of our Frost Mage PvP Guide.
Playstyle for Frost Mages
Frost Mages have 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.
For more information about team compositions, see our Arena compositions page for Frost Mages.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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. Also make sure that if you are swapping or attacking someone with more than 80% health and using the Breath of the Dying Major essence, you should use that first to get the cooldown reduction on it.
- Generate Icicles possible by casting Frostbolts on your target.
It would also be ideal to have a Brain Freeze proc ready, but is not
- Use Reaping Flames if you are using this Major essence and the enemy is above 80% health.
- Use Icy Veins.
- Use Blood Fury (if you are an Orc).
- Use Frozen Orb.
- Use Comet Storm.
- Use Ice Nova.
- Use your Summon Water Elemental's ability, Freeze.
- Use Ice Nova.
- Use Memory of Lucid Dreams if you are using the Major Essence and do not have many Icicles before using your next Ice Lance.
- Use Ice Lance if you have Fingers of Frost.
- Use Concentrated Flame if you are using the Major Essence.
- Use Flurry if you have Brain Freeze.
- Use Ray of Frost if the enemy team is trying to kite from your damage behind a pillar.
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. Use Ray of Frost if an enemy overextends or is trying to kite your team's damage. If you do get a full Polymorph on the enemy healer and you have no burst cooldowns, start casting Ebonbolt. This will give you a free Brain Freeze and will deal a large amount of damage. Use Memory of Lucid Dreams if you are using the Major Essence and do not have many Icicles before using your next Ice Lance. Use Reaping Flames if you are using this Major essence and the enemy is above 80% health or below 20% health.
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.
- Use Frost Nova on an enemy player and cast Frostbolt.
- Being casting Frostbolt and right before you are done finishing the cast, use your pet root, Freeze, on your enemy.
- Cast Frostbolt and use Ice Nova when the cast is finished.
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 buff 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.
It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.
- 11 Feb. 2020: Updated Burst and Sustained damage rotations.
- 20 Jan. 2020: This page was checked for Patch 8.3 and no update was deemed necessary.
- 26 Dec. 2019: Page added.
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