Lhivera’s Library

Adventures in World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, the real world, and beyond

Mage Changes, Build 15640

Tuesday, April 24 2012 at 9:21pm CDT

Build 15640 is being deployed, and there are many changes listed on the various community sites. A couple of notes before I dig into the meat:

  • Don't believe the cast time reductions being reported on MMO-Champion. I'll eat my hat if those are real. First, I'll buy a hat.
  • The damage number changes may or may not be correct. I won't really trust them until the database is parsed for Simulationcraft.
  • Glyph of Arcane Language - Your Arcane Brilliance spell allows you to comprehend your allies' racial languages. I love it.

The most significant changes are for Frost. This isn't surprising, because the Frost players have been a lot more vocal and energetic about providing feedback for some reason; going strictly by feedback, you'd think that Arcane and Fire players are mostly content. Apart from a few complaints about Arcane's mobility (probably legitimate), they just haven't given Blizzard a lot to work with in terms of guiding playstyle development.

Frost players, though, have had a few consistent complaints that the devs are trying to address in this patch:

  • Brain Freeze is pretty ho-hum and we don't care much if we cast it.
  • Fingers of Frost procs feel too common when Frozen Orb is up, and too scarce the other 50 seconds out of every minute.
  • Too much damage is concentrated into those ten seconds.
  • Too much damage is concentrated into a single spell (Ice Lance), which carries the full weight of our Mastery in PvE.

As they often do, the devs have taken a path to address these problems that doesn't quite match the ones players have tried mapping out, and which may well prove to be more elegant than the ideas we've proposed.

Brain Freeze

Brain Freeze is now, effectively, Fingers of Frost for Frostfire Bolt. Both buffs increase the damage of the spell they affect by 25% and allow them to treat the target as if it were frozen. Frostfire Bolt's innately higher damage (even taking into account Ice Lance's frozen target multiplier) means that a BF-FFB cast will now do about 40% more damage than an FOF-Ice Lance cast. Brain Freeze is thus transformed from our boring, worth-casting-but-not-exciting proc into, essentially, the Frost equivalent of Hot Streak.

On average, at zero haste, we can expect about five Brain Freeze procs per minute; haste will increase this number. With Frost Bomb, this number will be exact (and controllable). With Nether Tempest and Living Bomb, the number will vary, sometimes fewer procs, sometimes more.

Fingers of Frost

Now more of a bread-and-butter proc, Fingers of Frost isn't worth as much damage as Brain Freeze, but it's more common. You get about four procs per minute guaranteed from Freeze, figure against a single target you'll get 1-2 charges from a Frozen Orb (which has had its FOF proc chance reduced to 12%), and then you should get perhaps another 2-3 charges from Frostbolts and BF-FFB casts, for a total of 7-9 charges. Add those to the Brain Freeze procs, and you're running something like a charge every 4-5 seconds. Some of those will be wasted when we can't use them before they're overwritten, but still, that's a lot of procs to handle.

The big question here is whether an average of 1.2 procs per cast makes the relatively low single-target damage of a Frozen Orb worth the global cooldown when you're fighting a single target. I suspect the answer is still yes. Obviously it will be much stronger in cleave and AOE situations.

And speaking of AOE, your Blizzard ticks now also have a 4% chance to proc Fingers of Frost. This effectively guarantees that you'll have two charges of FOF when you return to single target DPS after an AOE phase. This can also be useful during the AOE phase itself if you use glyphed Ice Lance.


Our Mastery is no longer resting solely on Ice Lance's shoulders in PvE, and has been changed somewhat to reflect this fact. The damage bonus against frozen targets has been reduced by 40%, from 2.5% per point to 1.5% per point, and now also affects the Water Elemental's damage.

This should smooth out our damage considerably; the bulk of our damage will still come from procs, but it will come in smaller numbers from more procs. The Water Elemental will feel like it scales better, and can serve as a fine-tuning knob for adjusting Mastery value.

What Remains

There are two outstanding issues that have received broad consensus in the Mage feedback threads:

  • Freeze, the Water Elemental ability, feels really out of place in the PvE rotation. We'd like a less baroque method of interacting with the pet and generating those controlled Fingers of Frost charges. Interaction is good; weird interaction is bad.
  • Icy Veins, no longer available to Fire and Arcane, can be tuned more specifically for Frost now, and if there's one single stat that Frost tends to have too much of, it's haste. It's very easy, between Icy Veins, Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp, gear, and random procs, to find oneself smashed up hard against the 1.0 second GCD floor. This not only feels awkward, since it interferes with precasting, it can also hurt performance by wasting part of the value of significant haste buffs from which other specs and classes gain full benefit.


These changes hold great promise to smooth out the Frost playstyle and address many of our complaints. There are a couple of issues I'd still like to see addressed, and of course I expect to have further thoughts after playing around with the patch, but I think this is a huge step in the right direction.


Submitted by Max Rebo on

It's very good to read all of those changes.  The devs clearly agreed with much of the feedback that has been given.  Good to know they're really listening to the frost mage fans.  :)  Looking forward to trying this out when the new build is deployed.

Submitted by Ridesdel on

I think that they should change IV to somehting along the lines of

Your frost damage is increased by x% and increases the proc rate of FoF by y% lasts 10 seconds. While IV is active FoF stacks to 3.

Submitted by Max Rebo on

I like this idea, or something similar.  If MoP gear will be as haste-heavy as Cata gear, then the haste from IV will be too much, as Lhivera mentioned.  With a short duration and moderate cooldown, a change like this could be great.  They would have to tune it to be the rough equivalent dps increase of IV.  On the other hand, if it were changed to increase FoF procs, even for a short 10 seconds, then we likely wouldn't want to use it with Frost Bomb because we would be losing a number of FoF procs, similar to how we lose some with two active Frostfire Orbs on live.

With the change to mastery and having it affect the Waterbolt, we can stack more mastery.

Submitted by Lhivera on

I think a damage increase treads too closely to Arcane Power. One suggestion I had was to reduce the haste bonus and have it reset the cooldown on Frozen Orb. Keeps the spirit of the thing, but at perhaps 10% haste it shouldn't be so problematic, and an extra Frozen Orb seemed a little more interesting than an additional passive effect.

Submitted by Ridesdel on

Then how about a crit increase? would seem to play into the FoF proc rate increase as well for the shatter combos

Submitted by Lhivera on

Crit has problems for Frost that are similar to haste -- we want 30% to cap Shatter, and we want that all the time (so we don't want to rely on a temporary buff for it), but once we hit that point, it becomes a pretty unattractive stat.

Submitted by Lhivera on

Correct, crit chance is doubled, plus 40%. 30% * 2 = 60%, + 40% = 100%.

Submitted by Lhivera on

If you're looking at the official talent calculator on the website, it's badly out of date. This is current: Shatter

Submitted by Aowyn on

Liked the changes, I guess the change to Frostburn was meant to reduce burst in PvP; Mastery is the way to go for arena at the moment.

The change of notice for arcane is that Arcane Explosion now generates a charge if it hits at least one target. This should change arcane AoE, guess they intent it to be 4xExplosions followed by Arcane Barrage. With Glyph of Arcane Explosion (+5yd for this spell), it may give arcane mages a mobile way to build charges for burst and cleaves (pvp included). Very interesting idea from Blizzard.

Submitted by Lhivera on

The Arcane Explosion mechanic was already in place before, it just wasn't listed in the tooltip. I forgot many people might be unaware of it; I should have mentioned it.

The main thing with the Mastery change was just to make it work better. Trying to rest the full value of Mastery on a single spell meant you had really poor DPS when Frostburn wasn't in effect and ridiculously high DPS when it was. This certainly affects PvP burst, but it was also a problem in PvE; Frost's damage output was just too lopsided to work well. Feeble for 50 seconds out of each minute, and then going to town in the remaining ten seconds to make up the difference. These changes really help smooth out that lopsided mess.

Submitted by Aowyn on

And I can't still find a reference to that on any other source prior this announcement, not a wonder that nobody mentions it as a mobility tool. Arcane was still receiving criticism for being too much of a turrent spec vs melees to be viable in mists pvp, this mechanic alone is a relief about that.

Blizzard has indeed corrected two issues with the Frostburn change, hopefully the change is significant. Buffing the Water Elemental damage is still an odd move to me, we hardly pay attention to the damage it causes. The change to Brain Freeze, however, should have a strong impact on it due to its less stochastic proc generation.

About Icy Veins, maybe it can fit as a "Generates a Fingers of Frost every 2 seconds for 20 seconds"? Just something that came in mind, sounds like what would happen if you lower your blood temperature .-.

Submitted by Meta on

Am I reading Brain Freeze right in that with the buff, FFB acts as if a target is frozen, but it does NOT consume a FoF charge?

Also, I believe it was FoF that used to say something to the effect of "freezes against permanently immune targets generate a FoF charge." Is that still in play? And if so, will that cause us to be melee range casters, using Nova (when it wont gib someone from adds) to generate a charge?

Submitted by Lhivera on

Correct. Brain Freeze itself now makes the FFB treat the target as frozen. FOF is not involved.

The FOF mechanic you're referring to was removed, which is probably for the best, as it had people talking about standing in melee range and using Frost Nova to get charges (exactly as you describe).

Submitted by Sw1tch on

Awesome job by blizzard. The my only qualms are the ones you mentioned as well as the fact that Glyph of Water Elemental is basically mandatory now. 

Submitted by Millenia on

Can someone go report that Glyph of Momentum doesn't work right in the Stormwind Canals? It doesn't let you blink anywhere but forward, and often not even to the full length that the spell is supposed to have.

I'd do it myself but I'm banned.

Submitted by Nathyiel on

Actually, you can glyphed blink change a lot of things.

  • It don't work in water at all.
  • I won't save you from falling.
  • You can jumps across multiple zone.

Actually, Momentum Blink is more very huge run speed buff than a limited teleport.