5.1.0 Frost Mage PVE Guide

Welcome to my guide on frost pve. Feel free to post questions or suggestions. I wont be going too deep into the talents, but I will point out what I think is the most important for each situation and why. Also only covering the main dps glyphs.

1. Talents & Glyphs
2. Stats & Gear
3. Rotations
4. Mastering the spec
5. Useful Macros

1. Talents & Glyphs

Tier 1:

Presence of Mind - Benefits arcane and fire more than it does for frost(dps wise), but can still be useful for things like instant cc.

Scorch - Castable while moving with no cooldown, scorch is the most mobile talent you can pick. Excellent for raid progression and any high movement fights. Note that scorch can proc fingers of frost. My personal favorite choice.

Ice Floes - Having a 1min cooldown, less mobile than scorch. Lets you cast 2 spells with a base cast time of less than 4s. This spell is castable while a cast is already in progress, and lasts for 10s or until you cast two spells. This talent is the best for maximizing dps as it allows you run with your frostbolts, providing you don't have to move too much.

Tier 2:

Temporal Shield - 25s cd and lasts for 4s. While the 4s buff lasts, it records every bit of damage you take, then once it expires it puts a 6s hot on u that heals the total damage u took in those 4s. Very high survivabilty move if timed properly and can even out heal cauterize if you have it talented and took enough damage. Especially good for taking large hits like the overloads on the stone guard boss. Note that this move is off the global cooldown, so there is no dps loss at all in using this ability. Also usable while stunned, feared etc. Easily the best for raiding once you know the fights and when to expect large amounts of damage.

Ice Barrier - 25s cd and lasts for 1min. Absorbs damage based on your spellpower and is an excellent alternative to temporal shield. Good to use for damage over longer periods of time, and good for progression raiding when you are just getting used to the fights. Also prevents pushback from damage as long as the bubble lasts.

Tier 3:

Ring of Frost - A really good choice for adds that can be frozen. Can be used to get some nice shatters off or for some really nice crowd control.

Tier 4:

Greater Invisibility - 2.5min cooldown. Turns your invisibility into a super defensive cooldown that just plain rocks. It instantly turns you invisible which dumps your threat, removes two damage over time effects on you, and lasts for 20s unless it's cancelled or you are knocked out. While invisibility lasts and for 3s after it ends, your damage taken is reduced by 90%. This is by far my most favorite of the three for raiding. You're not forced to use iceblock like you sometimes are with cauterize, and you hardly take any damage at all. Time it with major boss mechanics and make your healers proud.

Cauterize - 2min cooldown. When an attack would otherwise kill you, you will be healed 50% of your hp and lose 40% of your hp over 6s. Acts as an auto battle res. Excellent survivability especially if you like to stand in stuff(lol). Usually best to hit iceblock after you cauterize to remove the dot left on you by it, leaving you with a full 50% hp. You can also pop temporal shield or ice barrier as an alternative if you want to save ice block, or just rely on your healers. Very nice ability.

Cold Snap - 3min cooldown. Heals you for 30% of your hp instantly and resets the cooldown of your ice block, frost nova and cone of cold. It is my least favorite for raiding as its more suited for pvp, but still can be useful to remove debuffs or to survive a big hit.

Tier 5: (Mage Bomb)

Nether Tempest - Although not by a huge margine, provides the best single target dps as it can proc brain freeze quite often due to its fast tic damage (with decent rng). Its instant cast makes it a nice mobile talent and can be cast on as many targets as you want.

Living Bomb - This talent has a 1s global cooldown regardless of your haste and is an instant cast, making it another good mobile choice. It has a target limit of 3 and has a chance to proc brain freeze off of each tick, just like nether tempest. Auto explodes if the affected target dies.

Frost Bomb - Has a base cast time of 1.5s and is the only cast time bomb spell which also has a cooldown and detonation time that are affected by haste. Although it is less mobile than the other two spells, it can pack quite a punch and can tear through large groups of mobs for some nice burst aoe damage. Instead of a dot, it does all of its damage when it expires or auto explodes when the affected target dies. When detonated, it always gives a brain freeze proc, making it the most predictable source of brain freeze procs. The aoe explosion also has no target limit.

Tier 6: (Greatly affects playstyle)

Invocation - Evocation has a 10s cooldown, and when you complete an evocation you gain a 25% damage buff for 40s. Although all three talents are relatively balanced, this might be the best of the three if used to max potential. As far as I know, it is being changed in an upcoming patch, making it less annoying for trash etc. Haste becomes even more important with this talent.

Rune of Power - Has a base cast time of 1.5s and replaces your Evocation. It has a 6s cooldown and you can have 2 runes placed at one time lasting 1min each. While standing on these runes, your mana regeneration is increased by 100% and damage is increased by 15%. The least mobile talent of the three. Takes a bit of getting used to, but has a nice animation, as well as some nice periodic healing if you are running Glyph of Evocation.

Incanter's Ward - Gives a passive 6% damage buff and you regen 65% more mana as long as it is off cooldown. When used it will disable the passive buff and apply a bubble that will absorb an amount of damage depending on your spell power for 10s. You will restore up to 18% of your mana and get up to a 30% damage buff for 15s depending on how much damage you take. Has a 25s cooldown. If it were possible to use this every cooldown and get the full benefit, it would be the best talent. Since not all fights have constant aoe damage, it can most of the time perform just as well as invocation.

To sum it all up:
High movement fight and/or predictable damage - Incanters ward
Moderate movement - Invocation or Rune of Power


Glyph of Ice Lance - If there is more than 1 target.
Glyph of Icy Veins - Allows you to pop icy veins and benefit from it once it puts you over 50% haste. Good if you are planning on stacking icy veins with hero or a haste proc. any haste past 50% will just go to waste.
Glyph of Cone of Cold - Really nice for aoe burst and aoe dps increase.
Glyph of Water Elemental - Good for when you don't like giving your pet move/follow commands during an encounter, so that he is always in range for his freeze ability.

** As frost you want to be running Frost Armor, the haste benefits you more than the crit from Molten Armor.
2. Stats & Gear

This is a general stat priority and isn't written in stone. Your stat weighs will change as you gear up and you should use rawr or simulationcraft (or some other simulator) to figure out the stat weighs for your current gear, if you are really into maxing out your potential.

Stat Priority: Int>15% hit>Haste>Crit to shatter cap(28%)>Mastery>Crit

Intellect is always your best stat.

The Crit shatter cap formula is (28 - 3) * 2 + 50 = 100%. Raid bosses have a -3% chance to be crit on and this reduction is applied to your base crit before the shatter calculations.

Haste is better than crit but not by a big amount, although haste is even more important if you are using Invocation and/or Frost Bomb.

Mastery is the worst stat for frost pve at the moment, but not a bad stat.


The two best weapon enchants are Enchant Weapon - Windsong and Enchant Weapon - Jade Spirit.
Both are good enchants but it's hard to specify the "best" one without looking at your gear or using simulation. RNG is also a factor because windsong can proc pretty fast and stack, pair that with alter time and it can be pretty powerful.

For the rest of the enchants, follow the stat priority when choosing, as the best enchants change with your gear.


The meta gem you should be using is Burning Primal Diamond
Red Socket - Brilliant Primordial Ruby
Yellow Socket - Reckless Vermilion Onyx
Blue Socket - Veiled Imperial Amethyst

3. Rotations

Single Target Priority:

1. Mage Bomb
2. Get Frostbolt debuff stacked to 3
3. Frozen Orb (try to use it with no fof procs as you can sometimes gain 2 procs in the global used)
4. Freeze (try to hit 2+ targets if possible, obviously don't use if you will over generate procs)
5. Frostfire Bolt (Brain Freeze)
6. Ice Lance (with fof)
7. Frostbolt (filler)


1. Frost Bomb or Living Bomb
2. Frozen Orb if available
3. Proceed with single target rotation if there are less than 4 targets and Ice Lance is glyphed
4. Cone of Cold on cooldown if glyphed and there are 4+ targets
5. Arcane Explosion if there are 9+ targets that are going to die in less than 6s
6. Flamestrike on cd if there are 9+ targets with lots of hp
7. Arcane Explosion if 9+ targets and flamestrike is on cd
4. Mastering the spec

Mobility - The frost spec itself hase a lot of mobility even without scorch or ice floes. As long as you dont have a frozen orb out, you don't need to burn your last fof at any specific time unless your pet freeze is coming off cd. You can instead save a fof proc for when you need to move, which is a slight dps increase versus scorch spam for example. If you are using frost bomb, you know exactly when you will get a brain freeze proc and can take advantage of that while moving along with other instant casts like frozen orb and mirror images.

Smart use of procs - If you have 2 charges of fof and a brainfreeze proc all at the same time for example while running frost bomb, as long as you have time to burn a ice lance and get rid of that brain freeze before the next procs, you should do so. Thus eliminating the risk of over generating fof procs. Although this is so called common frost mage knowledge, some might not know the difference.

Frostbolt debuff - Always keep this up on your main target, letting it fall off will affect your dps. If you can squeeze a frostbolt in between ice lance spams from frozen orb procs to prevent the debuff from falling off you should do so. Also, at the start of a fight dont start burning your fof procs until you have those 3 stacks, unless you're about to over generate.

Timing is Everything - After a bit of practice, you will know when you should or shouldn't cast abilities like frozen orb or pet nova. Try not to cast frozen orb until you have no fof left, as it can easily drive you to 2 stacks within the global u used it. Also, saving frozen orb for an aoe phase might be more beneficial. If possible, try and hit more than 1 target with your pet nova so you get 2 charges of fof instead of 1.

Alter Time - Although not spec specific, its worth mentioning. Try and time this so that you snapshot as many procs as you can at the same time. In doing so, you will extend the duration of all of them by 6s which is a nice dps boost, especially if it is paired with 2 charges of fof, a brain freeze proc, and icy veins + lust. Experiment with it and get used to timing it.

Don't forget about mirror images, they can be used for a dps increase during a powerful proc or to even drop threat to get away or tank an add that just tried to eat you alive.

5. Useful Macros

/cast [nopet][target=pet, dead] Summon Water Elemental; Freeze

The above macro summons your water elemental when pressed if he isn't already, and if he is already out it will use his freeze ability.

#showtooltip alter time
/cancelaura [mod:shift] alter time
/cast alter time

The above macro casts alter time when pressed, but if something happens and you need to cancel it, you can hold shift and use the macro and it will stop the spell if you do it in time.

#showtooltip icy veins
/use 13
/use 14
/cast icy veins
/cast [mod:shift] frozen orb
/use [mod:shift] potion of the jade serpent

The above macro uses any on use trinkets you might have equipped and casts icy veins at the same time, if you hold shift and use the macro it will also use frozen orb and drink an intellect potion if you have one in your bags. You can remove the mod brackets and it will simply pop everything on a normal press if you would like it to work that way.

#showtooltip ice block
/cast ice block

The above macro cancels any casts in progress and iceblocks providing your global cooldown is ready. The fastest and best way to ice block.

#showtooltip frostbolt
/cancelaura ice block
/cast frostbolt

The above macro can be used to replace your frostbolt, turning your main filler into a faster way to get out of iceblock manually.

#showtooltip frostbolt
/cast [target=target] frostbolt

The above macro is a simple replace/fix for frostbolt if you are annoyed by accidentally casting frostbolt on your pet(thus healing him) when you have no target selected.

If anyone wants a macro to do a specific thing and doesn't know how to do it, just post or send me an in game mail and i'll be happy to help.

End, Cheers!
Thought I should just point out that the raid shatter cap is 28% not 25%, because of crit suppression on bosses.
True that, fixed. tx
Good guide! Brief and concise, also nice to not be the only mage PvE guide author atm. I think it'd be useful for you to cover tiers 2 and 4 of our talents. While they don't really provide damage, they do provide utility and survivability.
You might consider adding a macro to combine freeze with frost bolt. It helps you use freeze on CD and it doesn't hurt anything if you just ignore the reticule (such as when you have two FoF proc'd and you're mid cast on frostbolt; just ignore the reticle, finish cast, and drop some lances).

I don't know, but I feel like managing procs is the heart and soul of this spec. Slow bomb refresh and generating procs before they get used seem to be my biggest DPS losses.
I have added some info on the tier 2 & 4 talents as requested. Thanks for the compliment.

You might consider adding a macro to combine freeze with frost bolt. It helps you use freeze on CD and it doesn't hurt anything if you just ignore the reticule (such as when you have two FoF proc'd and you're mid cast on frostbolt; just ignore the reticle, finish cast, and drop some lances).

I don't know, but I feel like managing procs is the heart and soul of this spec. Slow bomb refresh and generating procs before they get used seem to be my biggest DPS losses.

Place your cooldowns where they are easy to see so you can keep a close eye on them. If you are using frost bomb you should keep in mind the cooldown remaining and plan what to cast next so that your global is ready when the bomb does come off cd.

As for the pet nova, i've trained myself to use it as a separate bind all together and I wouldn't do it any other way, but for those who might think such a macro is useful here is what you might want to use.

/cast frostbolt
/cast freeze

I will also add in some macros that may come in handy as a frost mage. I wasn't planning to do so but maby I should have.
Once you get near full T14 Heroic gear, Haste overtakes Intellect as your best gem stat -- meaning, a point of Haste becomes worth more than half the value of a point of Intellect. At that point, you're going to want to start socketing orange gems in red sockets, yellow gems in yellow sockets, and green gems in blue sockets.

Soon afterward, the secondary stats start to equalize in value and you'll want to start taking a more balanced approach to adding more of them.
Find answers to questions about Mage mechanics in
Lhivera’s Compendium • http://lhiveras-library.com/compendium
Thanks for the input, will definetally keep that in mind.

For those people really into maxing their toons potential, you should get familiar with simulators as they can help determine the best stats with your current gear. Simulationcraft is an example of a good simulator. As your gear changes, so does your stat weighs as Lhivera mentioned.
Is there a haste soft cap I should shoot for? I can't find one listed and assume there isn't one.
Is there any secret or tip to getting adequate FOF procs on a single target fight? In raids, my single target is lackluster. I just don't get enough procs to do much but spam frostbolt and bomb when it comes off.

I notice a huge disconnect between 2 mobs and just the boss, as well as 5 mans single target w/out 15% buff and raid bosses. I don't get why there's such a vast difference in dps.

Frozen Orb will usually give you plenty of fof procs at the start of the fight to get your dps going, and as the fight progresses. Frozen Orb will yield even more fof procs if it is hitting multiple targets. Try and hit more than one target with your pet nova and use it on cooldown for the free fof procs(hitting more than one target will give you 2 charges of fof instead of 1). Make sure you are running frost armor and using your brain freeze procs before the next one procs. Other than that, all you can do is spam frostbolt but you should be getting fof a fair bit if you are using all of these cooldowns.

10/27/2012 08:20 AMPosted by Gargomell
Is there a haste soft cap I should shoot for? I can't find one listed and assume there isn't one.

Assuming you are running glyph of icy veins, the haste cap would be 50% haste with lust up. As far as I know, this isn't achievable yet.
So we basically just pile on as much haste as we can?
Once you are hit capped, yes stack as much haste as you can. Of course intellect is more important when gemming/enchanting unless you're geared to the point Lhivera mentioned.
Gotcha. So if i'm hit capped I should reforge to haste or crit if they have mastery on it?
That is right, you want to go for haste before you go for crit though if possible. Refer back to the stat priority listed in the guide, it's in order from left to right starting with the most important to the least. If you are trying to figure out which stat to reforge out of, pick the worst stat if available, which at the moment for frost is mastery in pve.
ahh ok

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