Lhivera’s Library

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Mists: The State of Frost, 15668

Tuesday, May 8 2012 at 11:34pm CDT

I've posted this in the beta forum as well, but wanted to put it here for those who aren't following the beta threads.

The playstyle itself seems to be pretty well settled. There are a couple of people who dislike it, but most people seem to think the basics have turned out well and that what it mostly needs at this point is some spit-and-polish. This is basically a compilation of the spec's remaining issues that appear, to me at least, to have reasonable consensus behind them. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Freeze and Fingers of Frost

Many of us feel that using a pet-based reticule-targeted CC spell against targets that we know cannot be CC'd in order to proc a buff on the Mage is awkward and weird. We like interacting with the pet, we like having controlled generation of some FOF charges, we don't particularly care for the mechanic. Common suggestions include a single-target pet spell that produces a similar effect on a shared cooldown with Freeze.

Freeze Breakage

The Water Elemental does enough damage now that it seems to break its own Freeze effect with a single Waterbolt, creating some awkward timing issues in setting up a Shatter Combo. Suggestions include:

  • Minimum Freeze duration of 1.5 seconds before breaking from damage
  • Increase threshold
  • Certain damage doesn't count toward threshold (e.g., from Water Elemental)
  • Scale threshold with spell power

Water Elemental Survivability

Primarily a PvP complaint, but not irrelevant to PvE, some people feel that the Water Elemental dies too easily to go without for one minute after death.

The pet does not currently seem to benefit from PvP power/defense.

It would at least be helpful to be able to heal the pet out of combat, rather than relying solely on its natural regeneration between pulls. Some way to heal it or mitigate its damage in combat would also be welcome. Suggestions I've seen have included:

  • Restore the damage-to-healing effect currently seen on Permafrost
  • Give it an Ice Block- or Dispersion-like cooldown ("Evaporate" or something) that renders it invulnerable but prevents it from taking action
  • Provide a channeled heal akin to Health Funnel
  • Gobzoot has suggested that it receive a shield like Ice Barrier

Glyphed Water Elemental

While the Water Elemental can move without interrupting a cast, it will not start a new cast without being told to do so. It seems as if it should automatically chain-cast Waterbolt while moving.

Frozen Orb, Glyphed Ice Lance, and Fingers of Frost

Frozen Orb's reduced Fingers of Frost proc chance helped reduce the Ice Lance spam while the orb is up, which is good. However, in conjunction with the reduced Mastery multiplier, it also no longer feels much like a mini DPS cooldown.

Glyphed Ice Lance is ideal for situations with 2-4 targets, but Frozen Orb doesn't generate many Fingers of Frost procs with so few targets.

Suggest a small increase (perhaps to 15%) of the Frozen Orb per-tick proc chance, and perhaps a small increase to Frozen Orb's own damage.

Icy Veins

Some of us feel that it is too easy and too common for Frost to bump up against the 50% haste soft cap (flooring the GCD). It may be a good idea to reduce the haste bonus provided by Icy Veins and either increase the duration, reduce the cooldown, or add a secondary effect.

Frost Bomb

Some people seem to feel that its cast time really sets it apart and makes it inferior to the other bombs.

Personally, I prefer it with a cast time (as Frostbolt is the only other rotational spell with a cast time, and too many consecutive instant casts doesn't feel good).

One suggestion has been to leave the cast time, but increase the snare duration to 3-4 seconds.

Ring of Frost, Ice Ward, and Frostjaw

In PvP, some people feel that diminishing returns makes Ring of Frost by far the superior choice.

Frostbolt Training

There is at least one report (I have not confirmed) that it is currently impossible for a new Mage to learn Frostbolt at level 12; you are sent to the trainer, who no longer teaches the spell.

Quality of Life Stuff

These are relatively minor suggestions that seem to be popular.

  • Fingers of Frost UI: Track as a secondary resource like Soul Shards.
  • Water Elemental cosmetic glyphs: Alternate models, reduce size, add top hat, allow naming.


Submitted by Nathyiel on

Freeze & FoF - After some reflection, it's a way to add some interesting gameplay.

Glyph of Water Elemental - The big question is more: why this ability isn't baseline ? There's no choice in this glyph. When it's will be debugged, it will be baseline for all frost mage. It's also true for the glyph of Ice Lance.

Icy Veins - The T13's bonus is a very good example of this and how bad it's scaling. A secondary effect, like a mastery buff, can be a good choice but they will have to adjust the cooldown because 180s baseline is very long.

Frost Bomb - There's a problem with haste. At 35% we are at 8.85s (cast time include) and at 50%, it's 7.67s. What make it inferior of the other bombs ? It the 1 limits bomb. The fact that Living Bomb can be spreads make it an obligatory choice when there's between 3 and 10 targets.

Submitted by Chahn on

I really don't enjoy having a targetting reticule for pet freeze in PVE on a boss.  It takes longer to press my bind for pet freeze, place the reticule on the boss, click the boss, then hit my next spell than it would to press the bind for single target freeze and then the next spell.

That feels like digital gymnastics that really seems unnecessary.

Submitted by Sw1tch on

The glyph on the WE should start autocasting when you move, and if it starts moving during a cast it shouldn't be interrupted. This is especially important because it's doing a much higher % of our damage than before.

100% agree that Icy veins needs either a big adjustment or an overhaul. Frost mages do not like haste, period. It's been jammed into us due to a lack of creativity on the dev's part. A secondary mastery buff during its duration would be swell.

My problem with frost bomb (an opinion) is that you have to recast it so much over the course of a "rotation". Since it's a dps increase to keep it up even on single targets, you are always casting this. I would suggest doubling the duration and putting two explosive effects throughout the duration. I like the cast time, but the duration needs to be increased whilst keeping the DPS the same.

Submitted by Lhivera on

...that too much haste is a problem for Frost, let's try to keep the ad hominems toward the devs out of the comments. I know enough to know that they're very dedicated and highly creative. We can disagree with their decisions without insulting them. I'd very much like my blog not to start sounding like the official forums.

Submitted by arch on

I'm beginning to think that the bomb tier doesn't suit the new talent system very well. We are meant to be making interesting choices, to customize our character. But we now know that choice of bomb matters little. How is the choice interesting then? How does the choice matter?

The choice also hardly alters your playstyle. There's surely a "best bomb" to be picked for most encounters, but as far as I'm aware, the penalty for picking the wrong bomb isn't severe and the gain for picking the right one is also not through the roof. That might be guestimations on my part, but part of the reason behind the talent revamp was to give all specs their rotations, and connected talents needed for that, for free so we could focus on customizing our character with abilities that doesn't affect performance that much.

In that regard having to choose ability for your rotation in a talent tree doesn't suit the system very well either.

The bomb tier makes slightly more sense in a PvP perspective, where things like having a cast time or not, or having bombs that explode on death or not, or having a slow or not actually are more significant. Do I want to risk getting interrupted for the "bursty" (thus potentially very powerful for pvP) nature of frost bomb, plus the slow? or do I play it safe and pick a instant cast bomb, where the secondary effect might not help at all in some situations? (targets too far away from each other). It's a slightly more interesting choice.

But even here, the conditions in PvP are so unpredictable (how close the players are to each other, how often you get interrupted etc) that the choice isnt' very interesting or meaningful here either.For these reasons, and more, I was thrilled when I saw the "Mage bomb" ability. But I quickly realized it was just there to make it easier to swap between the bombs.

I'm not one of those people who whine about every change blizzard make or don't make. I do, however, feel they have been low on ideas for mage abilities for the last few expansions. Partly because mage is a class that's easy to make overpowered. Partly because it has been a very solid class throughout the years. Thus they are taking the easy way out here if they keep the bomb tier even though the choice hardly matters.I think they need to rethink the bomb tier and possibly make the bombs baseline. Or differentiate them from each other ALOT more. I don't agree that it's "too late", our class hasn't been tinkered with that much in MoP yet.

EU-player here btw, that's why I posted here and not on the beta forums.

Submitted by Nathyiel on

From what i have tested and experienced :

  • On single target, all 3 bombs make equivalent DPS.
  • On 2 targets, Nether Tempest and Living Bomb make more damage because they can be cast on each targets.
  • On 3+ targets, Living bomb take the lead because of the spreading and a better AOE.

It's to note that haste cap for Living Bomb will be strange because the AOE damage is far superior than the DOT part.

For BF proc, if we assume a 100% proc chance for Frost Bomb, 25% per DOT for Living Bomb and 8.3% per DOT for Nether Tempest, we can conclude :

  • On single target, Frost Bomb > Nether Bomb & Living Bomb because of the 11.5s duration of the Frost Bomb and Haste don't change the result.
  • On 2+ target, Living Bomb & Nether Tempest > Frost Bomb (limited to 1 bomb)

If Nether Tempest have a better proc rate, it will be the better bomb for Brain Freeze proc.

I think it's a good idea to make talent bomb. I too think they have to make some more work to differentiate a little more each of them.

If we have to choose between a bomb that is good on single target, a bomb for cleave and a bomb for AOE, it can be interesting.

Or they can make all bombs spreadable by Fire Blast.

Submitted by Lhivera on

...is not what a talent lets you do, but how the talent lets you do it. It would be a problem if there was a "right" bomb for PvE DPS, for example, because that would then be the bomb you have to choose. Instead, your choice doesn't matter from a capability standpoint, but it matters a great deal from a how your character plays standpoint.

Nathyiel is correct that each bomb has certain strengths. Living Bomb is strongest from 3-5 targets, Frost Bomb ties it at 6 targets, Frost Bomb is strongest at 7+ targets. Nether Tempest has an advantage when targets are not clustered. Frost Bomb is best for burst setup. All three bombs deliver damage along different timelines that mean one can be stronger than the others depending on how long the targets live (Frost Bomb has delivered no damage at 4.5 seconds, but 100% damage at 5.5 seconds, while the other two bombs have delivered partial damage at both points). The best bomb for a situation can shift not only with the number of targets, but when a member of the raid group starts AOE late or has a DPS cooldown active, changing the time to death of the targets. I covered this timeline stuff in detail in earlier posts; search the site for "AOE."

In other words, a Frost Mage with Nether Tempest should play quite differently from a Frost Mage with Frost Bomb. It changes the way Brain Freeze procs come in, it changes how you handle cleave and AOE situations, it changes how your rotation interacts with haste. You can do the same things, but you have a different experience. That's the general goal of all these talents — change your experience, not your capabilities.

Submitted by arch on

I hear what you're saying and I agree about it's about how it lets you play, not what it lets you do (to an extent, but let's not get into that).

What I'm criticizing is not the lack of a superior choice for either PvP or PvE (that's entirely against the design), I'm criticizing that the choice isn't interesting enough because the spells are almost identical. Both in terms of how they play and how they perform.

We know they all do virtually the same damage against single targets and depending on the encounter they perform differently. But how is that an interesting choice? To me it's not interesting to count the amount of adds on the screen and after that make a choice. There will be a "cookie cutter bomb" for most bosses, but how is that fun? You will clear a raidinstance a few times and then know which bomb to use where. One could argue that's not a choice you get to make (as a min-maxing raider, which many raiders are), it's actually the encounter designers that make the choice for you.

It's the same spell in three versions. One has a cast time (which tinkers with your rotation, haste etc like you said), two of them are instant and they have different color and a different side effect.

For PvE, you will make "the choice" purely on mathematical grounds and encounter design.

For PvP the choice matters more because playstyle is more important in pvp, but you cannot predict the performance of the bombs because PvP is too dynamic. Which results in ... choice matters not as much.

I think they need to play out alot more differently for your argument about altering playstyle to be strong.

We are making a choice, it just doesn't matter as much as I would like it to. Having the same (mandatory!!) spell in three versions take up an  entire tier makes me demand alot more.

Submitted by Lhivera on

They don't make a huge difference in your single-target playstyle (more so for Frost because of the way they interact with Brain Freeze). But they do make a pretty huge difference in how you play against more than one target. Look up the posts in which I ran through some hypothetical AOE timelines for a Frost Mage with each bomb, and you'll see what I mean; they play out very differently.

Not every talent needs to make a difference in every aspect of the game. Having an impact on only part of the playstyle is fine, as long as it comes into play reasonably often — and multi-target situations usually do these days.

Submitted by Nathyiel on

We all know that some bomb will do better on some fight due to the fight mechanics.

 By example, I want to play with frost bomb but we fight some council boss. If I choose to keep Frost Bomb, I lost a lot of DPS only because I can't cast it on each boss like the 2 others. We can have a lot example like these. For me, the main restriction in the free choice is the restriction on the number of the bomb.

There's also the Glyph of Fire Blast. Actually, we have a huge effect, mandatory if you use LB. We have a arena effect with FB and a cool for nothing effect with NT. With +1 GCD, you make 3x the Frost Bomb dps on cleave and +35% than 3 Nether Bomb (for +2 GCD).

So, where is the choice ? On single target only, ok I can choose. On pvp, too.

What Arch say is true when he say that the difference isn't big enough.

What can they do ?

  • They can make a bomb purely single target, if they want.
  • They can chance Fire blast (glyphed or not) to spread all bomb and not only LB.
  • They can make all bomb castable a multiple time, with limit if they want.
  • They can tweak the duration of the frost bomb that we don't have to refresh it every 8.5s (if not less).
  • Glyph of Water elemental and Ice Lance Glyph leave no choice for Frost Mage
  • They can make a bomb than launch murloc on all target within 10 yards.

Blizzard said that talent and glyph will be player's choice, it's a good things. But actually, there's a lot to do to achieve it.

Submitted by Lhivera on
There's a big difference between "some bombs are somewhat better than other bombs in some situations" and "we have no choice." A relatively small number of extreme min/maxers will feel that it's necessary to switch bombs between encounters (although the timeline issues will foul them up sometimes -- imagine your embarrassment when you choose Living bomb because it's 2% better when the mobs live for 22 seconds, but something goes wrong and they live for 23 seconds, making Frost Bomb 3% better!) But most people, because the differences in damage output aren't very large, will be comfortable just using the bomb that suits their playstyle best. Spreading Living Bomb adds virtually zero damage; the glyph doesn't really enter into all this (see the "Spreadable Living Bomb" timeline and the comparison of all timelines to see how this works out). In fact, the bomb that benefits most from the glyph is Nether Tempest, but it doesn't gain much, either. Remember, Living Bomb has a 1-second GCD, so you're actually not saving much time by replacing two Living Bombs with one Fire Blast. Glyph of Water Elemental is not at all mandatory. The Water Elemental will account for perhaps 10-15% of our total damage. Say the glyph increases its DPS (by reducing lost DPS time due to movement) by 10% -- that's a 1-1.5% total increase. Useful? Sure. Mandatory? Nah. I confess that the idea of a "Murloc conjuration bomb" is pretty appealing.

Submitted by Neia on

I'm afraid people will just go for the most obvious choice and not the one that suits their playstyle, at least in PVE. And as you've explained, the differences between damage output aren't significant enough to justify switching talents and adapting to the new icon in your single-target rotation for such a minimal gain (unless mix/maxer). Moreover, it will take some time before people will accept that an off-spec Bomb can be as effective as the spec Bomb. So :

- Fire mages will mostly go for Living Bomb since they are already used to it in their rotation. Furthermore, they will already use Inferno Blast to spread Ignite, Pyroblast and Combustion so they will take the bomb that fit well into their aoe rotation.

- Arcane mages will mostly go for Nether Tempest because it's visually impressive (which is something an arcane mage is lacking) and unless they want specifically an arcane-fire thematic build, there's really no point to take Living Bomb instead of Nether Tempest, and no point to take a Frost Bomb that can't be cast on the move.

- Frost mages will have more choice because of the cast time on Frost Bomb. So there will be Frost Bomb for those who can stand a cast time or want a frost thematic build. And people will choose between Living Bomb and Nether Tempest based on visuals and thematics and not playstyle.

Maybe the bombs are too constrained to really offer different playstyles : they have to be somewhat on the same level of damage output for all three specs and they are part of the single-target rotation (and used frequently !). So as a result, the bombs feel too similar and the three rotations a bit homogenized (similar cd, keep on the target). At the end of the day, there's only one question left : Do I want a cast time in exchange for a predictable Brain Freeze in frost rotation ? Apart from that, it will just be visuals and color.

EU player here too, my feedback can be read on the EU thread (http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3782579483), feel free to copy/paste, quote or whatever, the more frost feedback, the better. :D

Submitted by Lhivera on

Well, again, the differences may be small in single-target rotation, but they're quite significant when dealing with multiple targets. You're going to handle AOE and cleave situations very differently depending on your bomb choice, and multi-target situations are common enough that I think that makes for a sufficient differentiation in playstyle.

Submitted by Neia on

But are the differences in multi-target rotation really that significant to justify adding a similar dot to all mage specs ? Arcane mage and Frost mage were the only WoW caster specs left that didn't rely on keeping a DoT on the target. Even if the multi-target situations are quite common, you have no choice but to take a DoT for your single target rotation. I think it's a problem. And as soon as the bomb differ in single-target rotation (think the cast time on Frost Bomb), you'll have to take it into account when choosing your bomb. Is a new cast time in arcane rotation really worth the extra fun in multi-target situations ?

If the bombs were used as some kind of cooldowns for dealing with multi-target situations, I could agree with you. But they are not, they are part of the single-target rotation and as such, I don't think they achieve the goal of the new talents to offer customization.

Submitted by Lhivera on

The cast time on Frost Bomb shouldn't affect the single-target scaling. Frost Bomb is designed to feel like it isn't a DOT, even though it really is, so there's that option if you really don't like the idea of periodic damage in your rotation. But ultimately, yeah, they're adding non-nuke damage to what used to be pure nuking specs. I imagine this is because DOTs solve some problems for them. Arcane Mages have long asked for something to help with movement; choosing one of the instant bombs does help with that a bit. They need to bump up Frost's damage for PvE without putting its burst over the top in PvP; DOTs can do that. And, quite frankly, Frost and Arcane needed an extra button to push — and how many different types of nukes can you add before it just gets silly? Rotations work best when they contain a collection of spells that behave differently from one another, and the fact that these two specs had no DOTs makes adding one a pretty obvious choice.

Submitted by Neia on

I don't think the problem is the fact that it's a periodic damage, but more the fact that it's something you have to refresh on a really short timer. So Frost Bomb is even worse than the other two because it has to be refreshed more often. There are other possibilities to add buttons and/or spread damage : a buff on a more long timer (inquisition), a dot you have to refresh far less often (warlock malediction), a dot on a proc so you don't have to manage its uptime (live Frostfire Bolt dot), a dot on a proc you don't even have the control over (live ignite), some kind of invocation (fire orb, water elemental as a cd, shadowfiend).

Sure it would be more difficult to balance for single-target and multi-target for three specs at the same time. That's why I think there's too many constraints on the bombs currently.

Submitted by Meta on

One thing that concerns me is how many targetting reticles we have with MoP. Blizz, Flamestrike, Freeze, RoF, and (please correct me if I'm wrong) Runes of power. Five, potentially six reticles (if you set both runes) to juggle in combat. Anyone else a little leery of this?

Submitted by Chahn on

I definitely do feel that we could potentially have too many.  As I said in earlier comments, it almost feels like digital gymnastics to manage all of them at times.