So you know how I said my problems with Frost might be more a question of getting used to it than an actual problem with design? Hopping on my Mage for a few quests this evening, I'm thinking that may in fact be the case. I was a lot more comfortable this time around. Frost Bomb's cast really does seem to flow reasonably well from Frostbolt and back, and I'm gradually, and grudgingly, getting used to working without Improved Cone of Cold as my go-to freeze effect.
The real difference is that I just stopped playing with Frozen Orb. Of course, that makes sense, because I'm single-target killing; it's just a little hard to avoid playing with new toys, even when it's not entirely appropriate to do so. So that eliminates some self-inflicted chaos. The bomb is not much of an issue for pulling extra mobs if you're pulling well, and the FFB it procs is either a convenient finisher for a nearly-dead target or a supplement to the opening Frostbolt on the next target.
Now, this is solo play, and in group play, where you're using Frozen Orb on cooldown to generate FOF procs, things may get messier. But I'm warming up to the rotation in solo play at the moment.
It's also possible that what I really need, for my casual mostly-solo playstyle, is to ditch Ring of Frost and use Frostjaw. I kind of hate the idea, because it just bugs me having a character forget a spell she's known for two years, but a certain amount of retconning is necessarily forced upon us in new expansions anyway.
I'm working on an illustration of how the numbers work out for the three different bombs in a scenario where there are eight targets that take a minute to die (I'm just doing the one for now, I've only got so much time) so we can compare their actual effectiveness. So far it looks like they won't be too far off, unless Fire Blast is glyphed. Spreadable Living Bomb is by far the superior option for AOE, but it's an important consideration that it costs you a precious glyph slot to do that.
Fingers of Frost
I engaged in some back-and-forth with Vontre on the beta forum. I wonder if it might not be time to revisit the mechanics of Fingers of Frost entirely. The problem is that the talent was introduced to bring Shatter Combos into PvE. While it successfully brought Shatter into PvE, and eventually into a form that somewhat resembles the rhythm of Shatter Combos, they aren't really Shatter Combos. In a traditional Shatter Combo, the first spell breaks the freeze but has a flight time, and the second spell is launched before the first spell lands. There's time pressure there; failing to fire off the second spell in time means you don't get the Shatter bonus on it. Fingers of Frost, however, never fails.
What if instead of being a buff on the Mage, Fingers of Frost were a debuff on the target, lasting eight seconds or until your next Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt, or Ice Lance hits the target? This perfectly duplicates the feel of old-fashioned Shatter Combos. You get a proc when a Frostbolt hits the target, when you're already halfway through casting the next. You complete the cast, and then launch either a Frostfire Bolt or an Ice Lance, depending on what's available. Both the Frostbolt and the Ice Lance benefit from the debuff, just as if you were attacking a target that was actually frozen. Fail to get off the instant cast before the Frostbolt hits the target, and the debuff is wiped, just as a freeze effect would be broken by damage. Because Frostbolt can benefit from the debuff under this design, procs don't need to be quite so frequent to keep the value of Mastery up.
What do you think?
I played a little on my Pandaren Monk. The animations seem to have smoothed out a great deal since I last logged in on him, and that simple fact improves the experience of playing the Monk immensely. It's a class that really wants good visual feedback on your actions.
I also created (but didn't play) a female Pandaren Hunter, to see how the customization is coming along, and how a ranged weapon looks on the character's back. A few quick observations:
- Pandaren, especially female Pandaren, really need more facial options. Particularly below the eyes. As far as I can tell, there is no way whatsoever to change the facial structure below the eyes. Which means you're stuck with a face that looks like a plush toy. With the males, you can do something to conceal this fact by playing with the facial hair, but Pandaren women do not have beards. Honestly, if customizable lower facial features are not added, I strongly recommend that Pandaren women get beards.
- Crossbows on the back look pretty badass. I doubt guns and bows will measure up to the sheer badassery of crossbows in that respect.
- I named her Sleater, and her pet Kinney, because I'm experiencing a renewed fanaticism for the band.