Frost Mage PVP guide
I can't help but notice that I am answering the same questions about frost mage PVP over and over so I've complied some information from a few of my posts and expanded to them on: optimal mage builds/gear and some fun comps to play other than RMPLOL. Hopefully this thread will answer a lot of the commonly asked questions about frostmage PVP gear/specs/comps and help get rid of the common "What should I spec/gear for PVP" threads we see all over the forums.
This thread is up to date for Patch 3.2.2
1) The spec
There are a couple of variations of the PVP frost mage spec and they specialize in different areas but there is generally a little room for customization to accommodate for your own play style. I'll link you the most well rounded 3s spec and something a little more specialized for 2s. This can be tailored for your needs. I have played this spec up to 2k in 2s and 3s so I can vouch for it that much at least.
3v3 frost: Note 1 point in imp water ele for the replenishment buff to provide improved longevity while spamming frostbolts which happens quite often in 3s. Glyph of polymorph to facilitate switches as glyph of ice barrier is generally a drop in the bucket. This is also an optimal 2s spec
when playing with a healer.
2v2 frost: This spec is designed with a double dps 2s team in mind. It drops some of the
sustaining talents for a little extra burst and glyphs for better survivability assuming you don’t
have a healer.
2) The Gear
Haste, spell power and resilience. Those are the 3 stats that you will be paying the most attention to while balancing your mages gear. The idea is to get as much haste and spell power as possible while maintaining enough resil to at least be healable when getting focused. In the first revision I will add a 2nd part to this with some good options that you can mix and match but for now, I’ll just throw out what I use to get your imaginations going. Try replacing some of the PVP pieces for PVE pieces and PVE for PVP. Come up with a good set of gear that best fits your play style and comp. Also, as your comp and play styles change, so should your gear. Just because it was the best at the time doesn’t mean that your needs don’t change. As your needs change, so should your gear.
This is my preferred gear set as it has pretty optimal stats without requiring any loot from TOC25 or hard modes (I don’t raid outside of pugs). All of this gear is available from TOC10 or PVP <2001. Basically... if a PVE piece has a high ilvl and haste on it, it’s probably a good option for PVP, just make sure to maintain a reasonable amount of resil. For starting out I would recommend getting up to 500 resil before focusing on maxing your haste and spell power and I wouldn't drop below 650 resil once you get your T1 PVP weapons.
Helm - Hood of Smoldering Aftermath
Shoulders - Relentless
Chest - Merlin's Robe
legs - Titan-forged
gloves - Looming shadow wraps
ring1 - Titan-forged
ring2 - Relentless
Ammy - Relentless w/Haste
Cape - Relentless w/Haste
Boots - Relentless w/Haste
Belt - Relentless w/Haste
Wrists - Relentless w/Haste
Wand - Relentless w/haste
MH - Relentless w/haste
OH - Relentless w/haste
There are some additional stats that I did not mention above that are very important to a PVP mage. Spell hit and Spell penetration. The PVP hit cap is 5% however, as a mage, you can fall below that cap and still be ok for the most part. Our most important spells are our arcane spells (polymorph, counterspell, spellsteel) and generally all mages will take the 3% hit from talents early in the arcane tree (which only improve your hit for arcane spells) which means you only need 2% hit from your gear to cap your arcane tree. Is this something I would recommend? No, but it’s an option.
Spell Penetration. This stat is absolutely critical to winning mage v mage duels and mage v lock fights as well. Spell pen negates resistance. Mages get 80 passive resistance to every school from talents and have access to another 40 from Mage armor giving you an ideal value of 120 spell pen. If you are not wearing any spell pen you can expect 1/4th to 1/5th of your spells to miss.
2h vs 1h+OH: Just before season 7 first came out this was a somewhat debated topic because up until then the staff was the way to go because of the haste it had that you couldn't get from an off had. Now, there are haste off hands and main hands so the only thing that should determine what you end up using is the raw stats. Take a minute to add up the sword or dagger's stats with the off hand you want to use and do a side by side comparison with the proposed staff. Whichever has better stats is what you should use. *Generally* using a 1h+OH will give you more spellpower and a 2 hander will give you a little more of the "other stats" (haste, stam, int, resil, ect...). In the case of the relentless weapons though you gain ~60 spell power at the cost of like 5-10 stam, haste and resil so the 1h+OH naturally became the favorite.
3) The extra stuff that costs all the money
(gems and enchants)
You should try to get the required hit from your gear but, if that isn't possible you can always throw up a few gems to compensate. Generally speaking, blue quality gems are going to be less expensive to replace than resetting your talents. Assuming you are hit capped, you should be using these gems in the follow slots:
Mysterious <Gem> (Purple) +spell power/+spell pen
Quick <Gem> (Yellow) +haste
Reckless <Gem> (orange) +haste/+spell power
Runed <Gem> (Red) +spell power
Reckless <Gem> (orange) +spell power/Haste
Mysterious <Gem> (Purple) +spell power/+spell pen
Chaotic Skyfire: +crit rating/+ 3% crit damage
Enchants are a bit less flexible than your gems will be. For the most part, these will be the enchants you will want to use:
chest: +20 resil
Back: +35 spell pen
wrists: +30 sp
gloves: +28 sp
Boots: +15stam +move speed
4) The Comps
Mages are a very versatile class in that we can provide great dps that is very "spiky" and hard to heal through while also applying arguably one of the best CC's in the game. Here are some common arena teams that I have seen frost mages successful in. Honestly though, there was a 2400 arms warrior/hunter team in my guild during S4; bring the player, not the class.
5) The spellsteal
I can't tell you how many times I hear questions about this spell. When used well it is borderline OP and when used incorrectly it well get you killed, keep you from killing or just run you oom. Because of the situational nature of this spell, you can't write out hard and fast rules to its use but here are some situations where it is useful and situations where you should avoid using it.
Paladins. Paladins don't have too many "junk" buffs and their buffs are very strong. Against teams like pally war, you are giving away a huge chunk of damage if you don’t make sure to take his sacred shield. Freedom is also a good buff to take depending on how many buffs you have to dig through. Don’t waste more than a couple of attempts at spellstealing Freedom. Hand of protection on the other hand might be worth wasting an IV to do some "power-stealing" again, situational (and normally if they use that you already have IV on).
Priests. Once I am ready to burn down a priest I always strip them of all their buffs for 2 reasons. 1)Ensures that when they throw up a PWS I can take it right away if the situation permits and 2)provides a little extra dispel protection for your own buffs that I don’t want dispelled once we open like icy veins, frost barrier, mind freeze and fingers of frost. Don’t dwell on spellstealing once you open but if all they have on them is a PW:S... might as well.
Shaman. I cannot tell you how often I end matches in 3s because the other team pops lust and I am
able to get a clean CC off on the sham and spellsteal bloodlust. Combine that with calling for a power infusion and casting icy veins and nothing is going to live through that. It is a game winning amount of damage output spamming <1 second frostbolts. If you ever see a bloodlust, take it. CC the sham with a stun or poly and get a free kill. If you are left 1v1ing a sham I normally end up stealing water shield. If they catch it they will purge it right off but if not, it will provide some much needed mana. Don’t waste your time or energy spell stealing anything that has earth shield on it as you will only take individual charges off per cast. Not worth it.
Druids. Most of the time it's not worth it to dispel hots, they will just reapply them and you'll go oom first not to mention druids have a TON of trash buffs. However... innervate is worth wasting some mana on. If you can get their innervate, that can give you a serious edge in the mana war. I wouldn't advise trying to take it if there is only 2-3 seconds left on it but if you see him cast it and he isn't out of LOS then start spamming spellsteal.
Mages. Here is the #1 time to use spellsteal. Mage v Mage. Its a really anoying duel and the begining can be pretty /lol if you are both good. When you open up on another frost mage you have to spam spellsteal to get their frost ward and ice barrier off. As soon as you see them go up, spellsteal them again. Its not worth the effort or mana to try and dps through them most of the time and you especially dont want to feed them mana from frost ward if they have the imp frostward talents (which all mages should have).
6) The Macros
These are some simple macros that I think every mage should use. If you can learn to use the focus macros well, I guarantee* that it will improve your teams rating by at least 100. Focus polymorphing and counterspelling is 75% of your job as a mage on any PVP team. Everyone can dps, good mages can dps while locking down a healer or dps.
Set focus and polymorph:
Note: Pressing this macro with no target selected will clear your focus target
Polymorph Focused Target:
/cast [target=focus] Polymorph
Stun Focused Target:
/cast [target=focus] Deep Freeze
Counterspell Focused Target (this one will win you games... use it, love it):
/cast [target=focus] Counterspell
Toggle Invisibility (press once to activate and a 2nd time to turn it off):
Warning: Do not spam this macro
Toggle Ice block (press once to activate and a 2nd time to turn it off):
/cancelaura Ice Block
/cast Ice Block
If you time your jump correctly and spam this macro you can actually flash block and keep running without slowing down to wipe debuffs. Very situational but it is another tool in your arsenal. You can also spam this if you just want to block to break CC and get back to casting right away.
For more macros go to: http://www.mmo-champion.com/class-mage/macro%27es/
6) The Addons
I use a few addons that really compliment the macros i use and they make it really easy to keep your CC target completely locked down without hurting your DPS too much.
Afflicted3 - This UI has a set of configurable bars that track the cooldowns on your opponents abilities. This is very useful for seeing when things like Kick, pummel, or Counterspell are ready on an opponent so that you never get surprised by an interrupt.
ClassTimer - This UI is AMAZING and should be a requirement for Mages. It creates bars that track the duration of your debuffs on your various targets. This means that you can move your focus frame to somewhere handy and use the "focus" bar from class timer to make a HUGE bar that shows how long your Polymorph has left on your current focus target. When it gets down to 1 second and some change left, just hit your Focus Poly macro and go back to dpsing without having to retarget anything or cause much of an interruption in your dps. After 3 polys, switch.
Gladius - Duh. If you don't have it, your gimping yourself. Nuf said. Lots of critical information in one place.
Deadly Boss Mods - This one is not just for raiders. It gives you some pretty handy timers for things like when the match is going to start, and more importantly, when the eyes are going to pop up. Not critical but it gives you some situationally important information.
Those are all of the really "critical" ones that actually change how you play that i can think of.
If there is anything else that you'd like to see here throw up a post and I'll do my best to keep this thing going.
10/30/09 - Added UI section.