Tag Archives: Frost

Death Knight Tanking: Frost

[NOTE: This post is meant to cover you only up to level 60.]
[NOTE 2: I have updated the spec details and link for level 60 to help you in tanking Outlands instances. Removed Acclimation 1/3 with Lichborne 1/1. Details below.]


As I write this article, my Frost DK is currently sitting at level 65. The image below will update itself as the Armory information is updated though, so you may see him at a higher level in that picture when you read this. The picture updates, but the Psynister I leveled for this series of posts made it to level 80 and then got deleted and replaced with a new one, which isn’t being leveled as Frost.

About a week or so ago I posted about A Death Knight Tank, one named Khanus in particular, and how how that DK inspired me to want to finally make a DK of my own and actually focus on leveling him as a tank to see for myself just how hard it would be to successfully fill that role with a DK.

I planned on leveling a DK sometime within the next couple of months or so, but circumstances changed a bit here and there and I decided to roll him early rather than waiting. I’m pretty well known for my patience outside of the game, but for some reason when I’m in a virtual world that aspect of my personality disappears and when I want something I want it now. I didn’t have a character named Psynister on this server just yet, so that’s how this fellow came to be.

I didn’t want to be just another Death Knoob out there, so when I got started with this guy I did my research first and smashed faces later. I did a lot of reading on different blogs and forums to get everyone’s general views of how to tank with a DK and I found a lot of really good information out there. I found a lot of bad/old information as well, but we don’t need to waste our time with that.

General Tanking Information
The first thing that I want to throw at you here, besides the unnecessarily long introduction up above, is that all three of a DK’s talent trees are capable of tanking. You can find that little tidbit of information just about anywhere you look for tanking info.

That being said, only Frost and Blood are really considered to be high end tanking specs at this time. Recent nerfs to Unholy have reduced their effectiveness. That doesn’t mean they can’t still do it, especially if an experienced player is behind the keyboard, but if you’re new to DK tanking then stick with Frost or Blood.

Tanking with a DK is different than tanking with other classes. You don’t really have a set rotation you’re going to go through (sorry, no 96969 business over here), and while you do have two taunts, one of them has a long cooldown and both of them are only single target. So you can’t slip into a single style of play and assume that it’s going to work for you all the time. You need to be flexible, and you need to be able to react to the situation as it changes.

Death Knights have a very unique system of resources as well, having to manage both a Runic Power pool and a Runic system as well. Managing those can be tricky at first, and using abilities without being aware of their Rune costs can completely kill your ability to act as a tank. Focusing too much on your Runes though makes you waste your Runic Power, which means you’re throwing away additional DPS which in turn is throwing away threat. It sounds pretty complicated, and when you’re new to it it certainly seems that way, but the longer you play with it the more natural it will become.

Frost Tanking Basics
I was misinformed from previous playing experience and discussions prior to the two or three most recent patches, that Unholy was the main spec for AoE tanking. However, the real king of AoE threat generation comes from the Frost tree.

Frost tanks have two primary styles of play: single disease, and dual disease. You also have the option of using either a two-handed weapon for big hits, or dual wielding weapons for additional stats and smaller, but faster attacks. My personal style of playing works better with dual diseases right now, and up to this point I have only tried two-handed tanking and so cannot comment on the dual wielding yet. [Dual Wielding is covered in the follow up post, however.]

Frost Tanking Spec
Alright, it’s time to get a little more specific about how to tank with the Frost DK, and the first order up on that list is what sort of spec you should be running. As I mentioned, I did a lot of research before I actually rolled this character, and the spec I am using is what I felt was the best route for me to take after that research.


Alternate (Recommended) Spec for Level 60
This is a revised spec for level 60. After spending five days doing almost nothing but running random dungeons and leveling my professions I needed to make a change.

The change isn’t huge but it is significant, especially for the mid-to-upper sixties. I removed the single point in Acclimation and replaced it with Lichborne, which makes you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects for 10 seconds. When you run randoms in your 60s you are going to run into a lot of Fear effects. Enough so that my human racial and my PvP trinket were not enough to take off all of the fear at times.

The magic-based damage reduction from Acclimation isn’t bad, it just didn’t provide enough benefit (especially with only one of the three possible points spent in it) for me to take it over Lichborne given how often I had to deal with fear and how seldom I had to deal with spell casters.

Improved Icy Touch 3/3: Your Icy Touch does an additional 15% damage and your Frost Fever reduces melee and ranged attack speed by an additional 6%.

Toughness 5/5: Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.

Black Ice 5/5: Increases your Frost and Shadow damage by 10%.

Annihilation 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your melee special abilities by 3%. In addition, there is a 100% chance that your Obliterate will do its damage without consuming diseases.

Killing Machine 5/5: Your melee attacks have a chance to make your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast or Frost Strike a critical strike. Effect occurs more often than Killing Machine (Rank 4).

Chill of the Grave 2/2: Your Chains of Ice, Howling Blast, Icy Touch and Obliterate generate 5 additional runic power.

Frigid Dreadplate 3/3: Reduces the chance melee attacks will hit you by 3%.

Glacier Rot 3/3: Diseased enemies take 20% more damage from your Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Frost Strike.

Deathchill 1/1: When activated, makes your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike or Obliterate a critical hit if used within 30 sec.

Rime 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Icy Touch and Obliterate by 15% and casting Obliterate has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and cause your next Howling Blast to consume no runes.

Hungering Cold 1/1: Purges the earth around the Death Knight of all heat. Enemies within 10 yards are trapped in ice, preventing them from performing any action for 10 sec and infecting them with Frost Fever. Enemies are considered Frozen, but any damage other than diseases will break the ice.

Improved Frost Presence 2/2: While in Blood Presence or Unholy Presence, you retain 6% stamina from Frost Presence, and damage done to you is decreased by an additional 2% in Frost Presence.

Blood of the North 3/3: Increases Blood Strike and Frost Strike damage by 10%. In addition, whenever you hit with Blood Strike or Pestilence there is a 100% chance that the Blood Rune will become a Death Rune when it activates. Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune.

Acclimation 1/3: When you are hit by a spell, you have a 10% chance to boost your resistance to that type of magic for 18 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. [Revision: Replaced by Lichborne]

Lichborne 1/1: Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects. [Revision: Replaces Acclimation]

Frost Strike 1/1: Instantly strike the enemy, causing 55% weapon damage plus 137.5 as Frost damage.

Guile of Gorefiend 3/3: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Blood Strike, Frost Strike, Howling Blast and Obliterate abilities by 45%, and increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 6 secs.

Tundra Stalker 5/5: Your spells and abilities deal 15% more damage to targets infected with Frost Fever. Also increases your expertise by 5.

Howling Blast 1/1: Blast the target with a frigid wind dealing 518 to 562 Frost damage to all enemies within 10 yards.

Glyph of Howling Blast: [Major] Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.
Glyph of Frost Strike: [Major] Reduces the cost of your Frost Strike by 8 Runic Power.
Glyph of Disease: [Major] Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.

Glyph of Pestilence: [Minor] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: [Minor] Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.

I am currently using Disease over Howling Blast because I really enjoy AoE grinding while I quest, but as far as tanking goes Howling Blast is probably going to be better for you overall if you plan on sticking primarily to dungeons or questing with groups rather than solo questing and grinding. I am also using the Death Strike glyph in place of Frost Strike to test it, but I’m going to replace it tonight because I completely misread what it did and get very little benefit from it where reducing the runic cost of Frost Strike will grant me more threat generation during boss fights.

As for the minor glyphs, you want those two glyphs and you want them before any others. Pestilence is higher priority than Raise Dead, so if you are only able to get one of them for some reason, go for Pestilence.

Tanking Trash (Up to level 60)
Trash tanking is where all of your AoE spells really shine. The other members of your group dictate where your AoE spells get cast in your “rotation”, whether you need to front load the AoE threat or if you’ll have to time to start and spread your diseases first.

The research I did frequently pointed out that being able to react to your situation is the key to being a good DK tank, and I have found that to be entirely true. As such, I have developed my own rotation here for what works well for me, based solely on how I like to play. There may very well be a better rotation to use out there, but this is what works for me.

Disease Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Howling Blast, Blood Boil
Heavy AoE Rotation: (Icy Touch), Blood Boil, Blood Boil, Howling Blast, Pestilence

I prefer using the disease rotation because it gives me the most control over threat during the fight and it gives me the chance to use my AoE spells on other groups of mobs that might get pulled in unintentionally for whatever reason. A lot of people like to power level through vanilla content and then start grouping in Outlands having no idea how to participate in a group.

I would like to say that most of my pulls go off smoothly without having to worry about patrolling mobs or accidental agro, but that’s not the case. I’ve found in my experiences in Outlands so far that it’s better for me to stick with the Disease Rotation up above so that I can hit the AoE spells for instant threat on bad pulls rather than blowing them all at the front of the fight with my intentional pull and then having to run around generating crazy threat on multiple mobs that are chasing my healer.

In the Heavy AoE Rotation I put Icy Touch in parenthesis because if you have the Glyph of Howling Blast then that spell will apply the disease for you which is the main reason I suggest casting it. If you don’t have the glyph then cast Icy Touch first to both establish a disease that can be spread immediately after the AoE as well as to build a solid level of threat on at least one of the mobs in case things don’t work as planned.

Howling Blast is going to deal AoE damage in a radius centered on the target you cast it on while Blood Boil is going to deal AoE damage centered on you. So when you cast Blood Boil, make sure you’re near the mobs that you need to generate the threat on or else you’re wasting the cast.

I most often use the AoE rotation when additional mobs get pulled that I was not intending to have to deal with, which is primarily a patrol in a dungeon I’m not especially familiar with and as such did not see. When a group of mobs comes in that I wasn’t expecting I move in the direction that the mobs are moving, and use my AoE spells on them.

I start off with the double-Blood Boil because when these pulls happen the mobs are almost always already mixed into the group and heading for the healer or whoever may have pulled them, and that usually means that the mobs are right next to me. If the mobs get pulled and are not already next to you then you can either use Howling Blast instead, you can run towards them and use Blood Boil, or you can wait for them to get closer to you and Blood Boil from where you are (if they have to get through you to get to whoever their target is). By default I will run towards the mobs to hit them with the AoE threat because that puts me right in the middle of them and better able to react to the situation in case my Blood Boil misses, it gets me closer to other mobs that might have been outside the range when I used the AoE, and if my AoE burst isn’t enough to put me at the top of the threat list then I’m close enough to throw another one at them immediately.

Tanking Bosses
Tanking bosses is a whole different ballgame all together. Since our strongest method of generating threat on trash mobs is AoE we have to completely switch our rotation to build and maintain maximum threat on a single target. This is where your other spells are going to come into play and where you’re going to refresh your diseases by casting the basic spells that apply them (Icy Touch and Plague Strike) rather than refreshing them by using the Glyph of Disease or using Howling Blast to reapply your Frost Fever.

I like to load a lot of DPS onto a boss at the beginning of the fight and then settle into a rotation.

Boss Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Death Strike, Frost Strike

When you are about to pull a boss, you want to be sure to use your Deathchill buff which gives you a guaranteed crit with your next Icy Touch, and starting with a crit is great for building your initial threat. Deathchill’s crit boost also works for Howling Blast (if the boss has adds so you pull with AoE), Frost Strike (if you have runic power built up to use it right away), and Obliterate (level 61) spells if you decide to pull with those instead. I would personally use either Icy Touch of Howling Blast for the initial pull, and since IT requires only a single Frost Rune it gets my vote for being the spell of choice unless the boss has adds that will also be hit with Howling Blast.

Plague Strike is the second attack and requires you to be within melee range, but deals Shadow damage to the boss and applies your second disease, Blood Plague.

Blood Strike is a great way to boost your threat, and since we have both of our diseases applied it’s a perfect time to use it. Blood Strike deals an extra 12.5% damage for each disease you have on the target, so using it after IT and PS grants an extra 25% to the Blood Strike’s damage.

Because of the cooldown situation of our runes, the next spell on the list is going to be Death Strike which will damage as well as healing you for 5% of your maximum health for each disease on the target; Since we have two diseases applied, that means we’re healing ourselves for 10%. You may need the heal, you may not, but the attack is dealing damage regardless which will build threat and the heal is just an added bonus. If you started the fight off with some runic power already built up then you can skip this attack and move on to Frost Strike instead.

Frost Strike comes up next to make use of our Runic Power (RP). Assuming you hit with the previous spells you should have enough RP built up to use this when starting the fight with no RP at all, even if you are not using the glyph. This is a nice, hard hitting attack to use up your RP. Your only other option for using RP at this level is Death Coil, which is a decent attack that can be used at range, but I prefer sticking with Frost Strike unless something causes me to be distanced from the boss.

At level 60 you don’t have access to Obliterate just yet, so for now you are going to rotate between the spells already mentioned. When your diseases are getting ready to fall off, go ahead and reapply them with Icy Touch and Plague Strike (even if you have the Glyph of Disease), make use of Blood Strike whenever your blood runes are available, keep your RP down around 20-40 by making use of Frost Strike, and when you feel like you need a boost to your health go ahead and take advantage of Death Strike for the 10% heal.

If you are facing a boss that has an attack such as Fear, knock back, stun, or something that otherwise has a chance of putting distance between yourself and the boss, then you may want to make use of the time to get back to melee range of the boss by casting Death Coil. Your two ranged attacks right now are Icy Touch, Death Coil, and Howling Blast so if you get separated from the boss go ahead and make use of one of them while you move back in so that you continue to generate what threat you can while closing back in. I recommend Death Coil first, Icy Touch second, and Howling Blast third for the sake of making the best use of your resources.

If anyone manages to pull threat off of you then your only option for this level range to taunt them with is Death Grip. Since this is the only “taunt” we have right now I never use Death Grip for pulling a boss unless it’s absolutely necessary. If one of the dps pulls the boss off of me by jumping the gun then I will use it at that time, but using it to start the fight off seems like a bit of a waste to me, so I save it until it’s needed. For trash pulls, Death Grip is fine to use whenever needed, especially to get a caster within melee range, but for bosses I like to save it. There’s nothing wrong with casting Death Grip to start off a boss fight, but from my experience it’s unnecessary and better saved for a time when it’s actually needed.

Watch Your Buffs
I want to point out that the spec that I suggest above gives you a couple of buffs that you need to keep an eye out for.

Killing Machine: This talent gives your auto-attacks a chance to make your next Frost attack (Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike) an auto-crit.

Rime: This talent gives you the Freezing Fog buff which makes your next Howling Blast cost no runes to cast.

You don’t want to miss out on free critical hits, and you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage. Better yet, you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage that will automatically crit if you happen to have both of them proc at the same time.

Killing Machine is a PPM (Procs Per Minute) buff, meaning that it can only happen so many times each minute. Because of this you are going to have a higher chance of getting this buff by using a slow, two-handed weapon than you will from dual wielding and/or using fast weapons. Killing Machine isn’t taken quite so often by dual wielding Frost tanks, so if you are not using a big two-hander then you may want to consider spending those five talent points in Icy Talons instead to reduce your target’s attack speed while also increasing your own, and you may swap the one point in Acclimation to Improved Icy Talons to provide a melee haste buff to your party as well as a constant haste buff to yourself.

Because of the Death Knight’s unique resource system(s), you need to be able to manage both resources without digging yourself into a hole of inactivity where all of your runes are on cooldown and you have no runic power to use. Using your Runes too fast on low damage or low threat spells is not going to pay off for you in Runic Power. Similarly, though somewhat opposite, not using your Runic Power means that you’re wasting the resources generated by your Rune abilities. Use your Rune powers to deal the damage you need to supply your Runic Power, and then burn through your Runic Power while your Runes are cooling down. Keeping that cycle up is how you manage a constant stream of threat on your targets.


Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling


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Real PUGs of Power: Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys

Over the weekend I decided to go ahead and roll that Death Knight Tank I had mentioned last week. I have a post in progress to discuss the details of tanking with a Frost DK that should be coming out sometime this week, but if you want details on him right now then you can check out his armory link: Psynister. I bet you didn’t see that name coming, did you?

Today I want to tell you about an especially great group that I found myself in over the weekend. Generally when I queue for a random I run the dungeon and then regardless of how good/bad we did I go ahead and leave group and go find fresh group all together. That seems to be the norm from how quickly most people drop group after the final boss is down.

There was something different about this group though, so I went ahead and stuck with them. I think three of us asked at about the same time after the first run if everyone was up for another. With some amount of surprise from me everyone said yes. The second dungeon went down and we queued up as a group again. I think all together we did three dungeons, but there may have been a fourth in there as well.

I think as a group we functioned extremely well in the dungeons that we ran, and it was interesting to see that even though both the warrior and myself were queued for both Tank and DPS, the role of Tanking was mine every time we queued. I’ve seen the LFG tool swap people’s positions before so I know it can change, but every time it came up as mine.

Generally I like to keep my Real PUGs of Power posts to a single person, but this group worked so well together that I’m throwing them all in there together. Deciding on the title was a bit of a challenge this time since it’s about four people instead of only one, but it works for me even if it is a bit awkward. With four people deserving some praise, I initially was just going to write a regular post about it, but I think something like this shows a bit more sincerity when I say thank you.

Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys
Bethannie, Druid Heals
Nikedawg, Warrior DPS
Aldy, Mage DPS
Adolat, Priest DPS

Psynister’s Notebook presents: Real PUGs of Power

(Real PUGs of Poweeeer)

Today we salute you Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)

You’ve shown us how a real group clears an instance.
With DoT’s, HoT’s, AoE’s, and Whirlwinds.

(I think we could one-shot Arthas!)

Taking down bosses and trash mobs with ease,
And acknowledging the strengths of every member.

(Great job with the heals!)

Pathing mobs get pulled, no problem.
Mage’s pet was set to aggressive, who cares?
The tank got mind controlled? Lets bring him down!

(Dang it, I wanted to kill him!)

So crack open an ice cold Frost Tank’s heart, you group full of epic win.
There’s no such thing as an unbeatable instance, when the five of you group together.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)


In case you’re wondering, yes the warrior did really try to kill me when I got mind controlled just before the boss in that screen shot went down. We were both trying to fill that tank spot each time we queued, and he never got it. I planned to give him the chance regardless in the next run since I have yet to be chosen as DPS, but the group needed to split right after that boss, so I never got the chance. It was all in good fun (at least, I think it was…) and I think we all had a great time and enjoyed the group.

Hopefully luck will be on my side and I’ll find myself queued up with them another time in the future.


Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Death Knight, Leveling, Real PUGs of Power


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Mage Leveling Part III: 40-58

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Level 40 is where you get your first big break because you finally get your frosty bubble, Ice Barrier. During the course of the 18 levels I’m covering in this post you will also end up with all of your Portal spells to get you to the various capitol cities for your faction as well meaning that you are able to get yourself and your part all over the world in a must faster and easier way than before, and it may even open up some opportunities for you to sell your ports and make some gold if your server if friendly to such.

Since you now have access to Ice Barrier it’s time to turn your AoE dreams into something even bigger than you had imagined. You’ll also be able to do a lot more AoE grinding for the sake of serious experience gain now where before it was more useful in speeding up your quests. It still works great for that as well, but you can now start facing more opponents at once which will become more and more profitable as you go on.

Leveling areas still aren’t very imporant to you, but again it’s always going to be better for you to level in places filled with melee mobs than ones filled with casters and other ranged attackers. To give you some bit of direction, Tanaris offers great grinding opportunities with the pirates on the east coast as well as the local instance of Zul’Farrak. If you aren’t quite ready to take on some of those mobs, then I would personally recommend you go grind some of the mobs in Arathi Highlands if you want to grind. Otherwise, just quest wherever you find level appropriate quests.

Important Spells

Levels 40-49

There isn’t much in the way of new spells that you’ll gain in your 40’s, most of it is just going to be higher ranks of what you already have. Frost Nova, Ice Armor, Conjure Food/Water, Arcane Intellect, Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Frostbolt, Ice Barrier, and Conjure Mana Gem all receive a new rank which will be helpful for you.

Portals: Exo/IF/SW or Org/SMC/UC (level 40) Here you get your first set of portals to your faction’s major cities. They pop up in the same order that the teleport spells did with the druid city coming in at a higher level. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way it is.

Ice Barrier (level 40) Welcome to AoE Grinding like you’ve never seen it before. Who needs healers and tanks when you’ve got a wonderful frost bubble keeping you perfectly safe? You do not suffer pushback to spell casting while you have it up which means you can Blizzard while mobs are hitting you, it absorbs damage that you would have otherwise taken, and if you spend your talents right then when the bubble has absorbed the maximum amount of damage for you it explodes in a Frost Nova effect that freezes all of the mobs around you. Pure. Win.

Levels 50-58

Some of your big spells get rank upgrades here as well: Cone of Cold (twice), Frostbolt (twice), Ice Armor, Blizzard, Ice Barrier (twice), Frost Nova, Arcane Intellect, and Conjure Mana Gem.

Portal: Darnassus or Thunder Bluff (level 50) Here we finish out the Pre-Outlands portals so you can now port people to any of your faction’s major cities.

Summon Water Elemental (level 50) Next to Ice Barrier this is the biggest upgrade you’re going to find for improving your grinding abilities. You have to spend your talent points in the Frost tree to get it, but if you aren’t Frost then you probably aren’t reading this guide in the first place. And if you are Frost and haven’t been putting all of your points into the Frost tree up to this point then you obviously haven’t read the previous installments of this guide.

Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt

These will pretty well be the rotations you use for the rest of the game for single mobs as far as the Frost spec is concerned. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off. Frost Nova when and if you need to, but otherwise just spam Frostbolt to knock them down and then finish them off with an instant cast.

This will change a bit when you get up around level 64 or so because new spells open up, but until then you pretty well stick to the ones listed above here.

Note: These rotations are for single mobs that you want to take down. Ideally you will want to fight every chance you get using an AoE pull and rotation, but if you have to single target then this is how you get the job done. If you need a refresher on how to AoE Grind with a Mage then please refer to my post: AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition.

Special Mention: Ice Barrier

Ice Barrier is a game changing spell for a mage because it addresses the one problem that we cannot otherwise overcome; our squishiness. Mages can’t take a lot of hits because they generally have low health pools. They can’t stand up long in melee because all they have protecting them is a few threads of cloth rather than a suit of plate armor. But now we’ve got ourselves a bubble that absorbs damage for us.

The key to effectively using Ice Barrier is noting the duration and cooldown of the spell and keeping track of that. This spell has a 1 minute duration and a 30 second cooldown. The cooldown is the biggest drawback to the spell (because we’ll be fighting so many mobs at once), so you need to know how to overcome that. You want this spell to be active before you start pulling, and you want to burn its cooldown while you’re getting on your mount, while you’re pulling the next group, while you’re putting distance between you and the mobs after freezing, or while you’re moving but not mounted.

If mobs chew through your bubble in the middle of your pull then don’t worry about it, you’ve been doing fine without it for 40 levels so surely you can handle being without it for a few seconds. The priority in your pull if Ice Barrier wears off is to corral the mobs, freeze them in place, and then cast Ice Barrier while you’re getting distance between you and the mobs. This is another big reason why I prefer to run away from mobs to get my distance rather than using Blink. It gives me a chance to refresh Ice Barrier while also keeping a watchful eye on everything around me so that I can react to anything unexpected.

Get used to keeping Ice Barrier up at all times. If you’re in the middle of town or in a low level area then of course there’s no reason to bother with it. But if you’re in an area where there are mobs that you plan on fighting then keep it up all the time.

The Shattered Barrier talent gives your Ice Barrier a 50-100% chance of freezing all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when the barrier is destroyed. This can be used to your advantage in many cases, but some people don’t like for it to happen. If your IB is reaching its limit of damage absorption and you don’t want the freeze to take place, then be sure to recast IB before it gets destroyed. If you can’t stand the freeze effect when it breaks, then just don’t put the points in Shattered Barrier and instead put them in either Arctic Winds, Chilled to the Bone, or Improved Frostbolt (see talent section below).

And remember that IB is a Frost spell, so Cold Snap will instantly remove its cooldown if you find yourself in a bind and need to get the bubble back up immediately.

Leveling 40-49
As soon as you hit level 40 you need to put your talent point into Ice Barrier, and that one spell may potentially change the way you play your class all on its own. The early levels of the spell don’t seem to absorb a whole lot of damage for you, but you’ll soon learn how to gauge that amount and how to use and abuse your bubble in every situation. The starting amount is 3300 damage which seems like quite a bit, but when you’re pulling several mobs at once and they’re all hitting you it doesn’t last quite as long as you would hope.

The main change with adding IB to the mix is that you can get more confident in your ability to pull large groups and survive, or you can get more focused in your single target casting and focusing more on just burning them down than trying to keep yourself alive. Since IB prevents all pushback on your spells you don’t have to worry about keeping distance between yourself and your targets for the sake of casting your spells quickly. Just keep spamming your Frostbolts until the mob is dead or your bubble is gone.

The bubble provides you with some much needed defense in the form of immunity. It’s easy for you to get into an overpowered state of mind with it, and that’s a good thing. Just remember that while you can solo all of your quests with ease now, you’re still a squishy little cloth wearer when that ice is gone.

Leveling 50-58
At level 50 it’s time to introduce yourself to your friend in frostiness, the Water Elemental (WE). You now have all the tools you need to AoE your way up to level 80 if you want. WE is going to help you with pulling mobs, freezing, corralling, or simply killing them. The primary use for him in an AoE build is his Freeze attack which works exactly like Frost Nova except that instead of being centered on the caster it can be cast at range similar to how you cast Blizzard.

If your Frost Nova is on cooldown or if it misses a few mobs, then you can use WE’s Freeze spell instead. Sometimes you’ll find a nice cluster of mobs to begin with that don’t even require you to corral them into a single spot to start grinding. In cases like that you can skip most of the steps in my grinding guide and just start off with Freeze right off the bat followed by an immediate Blizzard from you. WE’s Freeze spell does have a cooldown on it, but it does not trigger your own Global Cooldown (GCD) when you cast it, so you can cast freeze and then immediately cast Blizzard, and you can have him cast Freeze in the middle of your Blizzard cast without it interrupting what you’re doing.

Summon Water Elemental does count as a Frost spell for the sake of using Cold Snap to finish off the cooldown of your spells too, so if you need the WE back in action on the fly then Cold Snap is how you do it.

Summon the WE whenever you need to increase your dps or be more efficient in your AoE, whenever you find yourself in a bind during an AoE pull, when you’re just bored and feel like casting something, or when you’re lonely and need a friend. Whatever you need him for, he’s there for you.

I tend to save him for when I’m doing big AoE pulls or fighting elites or instance bosses, but his cooldown really isn’t all that bad at 3 minutes if you want to summon him more often just to get his added dps. You can get the Glyph of Water Elemental to reduce his cooldown by 30 seconds if you feel you need him more often, or you can get the Glyph of Eternal Water if you want him around all the time and are willing to sacrifice his ability to cast Freeze. Since I use his Freeze all the time I have no desire to use the GoEW to keep the pet around all the time, but it’s an option if you feel it works well for you. If I wanted to be a caster with a pet though, then I would have rolled a Warlock. Just saying.

General Tactics
As far as general AoE Grinding goes, you’re pretty well going to be doing the same thing you’ve been doing since level 20 except that you can do even bigger pulls now that you have Ice Barrier.

I mentioned one of my favorite tactics in Part II that I called Running Through, and that becomes even more viable now that you have Ice Barrier backing you up as well. The potential threat of doing it at lower levels was that you were subjecting yourself to being hit which could potentially get you killed, but with the bubble on we really don’t care any more.

I still suggest that you AoE grind everything you can for questing and if you’re running instances where your tank generates some decent AoE threat then focus almost entirely on Blizzard for that as well.

Let me say it now, loud and clear IF YOUR TANK IS NOT A PALADIN THEN DO NOT CAST BLIZZARD! At least not right away. If you have a Warrior tanking then wait at least until the first Thunder Clap, preferably the second before you cast Blizzard. If you have a Druid tank then wait until he’s used Swipe a time or two before you get started. While you’re waiting for your tank to build up their threat just spam Frostbolts at the tank’s target.

If you have a Death Knight tank then save yourself the stress and repair bills and leave the group give him a few seconds to get his agro going. A DK tank can come in the form of any of the three DK specs. If he’s Unholy then you can usually start AoE after 3-6 seconds, if he’s Frost you need just a little more time, and if he’s Blood then you might as well give up on the whole AoE idea and just stick to Frostbolt spam.

Paladins have great AoE threat generation, so just make sure Consecrate has been cast (the ground will have a golden glow to it in sort of a cracked ground looking pattern), give it a second or two to tick, and then lay into them.

If you’re following my talent build then you’ve got a lot of potential for spike damage from multiple crits in quick succession. Because of this you have a lot of different opportunities to pull threat off of your tank, so you need to be mindful of these things and know when to pull back on the AoE throttle. Mobs will die faster if you’re casting Blizzard, but your group will die faster if everyone’s agro is all over the place. Know your role, and watch your agro.

Macro Suggestions
/cast Freeze

This macro is going to cast your Water Elemental’s Freeze spell so that you don’t have to use the default keybind or click on the icon. There are several different ways to get this same functionality, but I personally build it into a macro.

You can modify that macro however you’d like, but I wanted to show you how to activate WE’s spell in a macro format. I personally have it tied into the number 4 on my action bar when modified with the Alt key like so:

/cast [modifier:alt] Freeze; Fire Blast

It’s a simple macro that makes me cast Fire Blast by default, but if I hold Alt then it casts Freeze instead. The 1-4 keys are always my most active spells so I like to keep it handy, but since it has a cooldown I keep it on an Alt function rather than giving it a key of its own.

Addon Suggestions
The one addon that I’m going to suggest that you at least look into here is ShieldMonitor. It will display a bar on your screen that you can move wherever you want, and that bar will monitor the “health” of your Ice Barrier. It gives you a visible and numeric display of how much damage your IB can still absorb so that you’ll know when it’s about to break and when you might need to recast it if you don’t want it to break.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 40-58

Frost Talent Build: Level 58

Starting at level 40, the following is what I personally suggest for leveling your Frost Mage with a preference for AoE grinding:

Ice Barrier (1/1): [Instant Cast, 30 sec cooldown] Instantly shields you, absorbing 3300 damage. lasts 1 minute. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

Shattered Barrier (2/2): Gives your Ice Barrier spell a 100% chance to freeze all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when it is destroyed.

Arctic Winds (2/5): Increases all Frost damage you cause by 2% and reduces the chance melee and ranged attacks will hit you by 2%.

Fingers of Frost (2/2): Gives your Chill effects a 15% chance to grant you the Fingers of Frost effect, which treats your next 2 spells cast as if the target were Frozen. Lasts 15 seconds.

Empowered Frostbolt (2/2): Increases the damage of your Frostbolt spell by an amount equal to 10% of your spell power and reduces the cast time by 0.2 seconds.

Arctic Winds +1 (3/5): as above, but 3% instead of 2% in both cases.

Summon Water Elemental (1/1): [Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown] Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.

Enduring Water (3/3): Increases the duration of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 15 seconds and your Frostbolt spell has a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 part or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 seconds. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 6 seconds.

Arctic Winds +2 (5/5): as above, bu 5% in both cases.

Chilled to the Bone (3/5): Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 3% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 6%.

Ice Barrier has already been discussed in detail up above, it’s main function is to provide you with protection by absorbing damage. Shattered Barrier gives you an extra layer of protection by freezing your enemies when Ice Barrier’s bubble is destroyed from absorbing too much damage.

Arctic Winds is a straight increase to our damage. The reduced chance that we’ll get hit by attacks is a plus, but the extra damage is what we’re really after here. Fingers of Frost serves multiple purposes, but at this level it’s primarily an increase to your DPS. By treating targets as though they are frozen your spells (including damaging spikes from Blizzard) gain the benefits of earlier talent points we spent such as Shatter (+50% chance to crit against frozen targets) and Ice Shards (increase the critical strike damage of Frost spells by 100%).

Empowered Frostbolt might seem a bit odd since we still haven’t put any points into Improved Frostbolt to reduce it’s cast time, but what we’re after here is more damage from Frostbolt, not necessarily a faster cast time. Chilled to the Bone gives us more damage to Frostbolt and Ice Lance (which we don’t have yet) which is always good, but the additional 6% speed penalty to chilled targets is what we need for our AoE.

Summon Water Elemental has been covered in the Level 50 section up above. Enduring Water used to be there strictly for the increased duration of your WE, but it now also provides a replenishment effect when you cast your Frostbolt, which will provide us with a great way to get our mana back since Frost misses out on talents that both Arcane and Fire have to reduce mana costs or increase methods of regaining mana.

Glyphs for Leveling
Our count now reaches 2:2 for Majors and Minors. I’m going to list the different options that I would suggest for each glyph slot in the order that I would suggest them. Look at each one and decide for yourself which ones you will use.

Major Glyphs
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.

Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.

Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.

Frost Nova: Your Frost Nova targets can take an additional 20% damage before the Frost Nova effect automatically breaks.

Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it. Glyph of Ice Barrier is going to give you an even larger bubble which can be a great help and it’s your call whether you find it more valuable than Glyph of Ice Block which will reset Frost Nova when needed. Of the two I personally go with Ice Block because I like for my Ice Barrier to burst and freeze enemies for me, but it’s your call. The other two I consider acceptable choices for a Frost Mage in these levels, but I wouldn’t necessarily go for them myself.

Minor Glyphs
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.

Frost Armor: Increases the duration of your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 30 minutes.

Arcane Intellect: Reduces the mana cost of your Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance spells by 50%.

Penguin: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a penguin instead. (listed strictly for you Linux users)

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection, so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there. If you are only leveling solo then go for Ice Armor so you don’t have to recast your armor as often, and if you’re doing a lot of group runs then go for Arcane Intellect instead since people are always asking for buffs and sitting to drink sucks. Penguin is about as worthless as you can get since it has no actually benefit, but at least it changes things up a bit.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Nothing new here at all. Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

Suggested Instances
There aren’t any particular instances that need to be suggested for these levels, though all of them have some good gear that you could use and are great for your AoE. If you get to 40 and still haven’t done Scarlet Monastery then I strongly suggest you do that for the Illusionary Rod if nothing else. That staff will last you well into your 50’s and the other gear is an excellent base for getting through these levels as well. All of the SM instances are good for you actually, except for Armory which offers nothing for a cloth caster, but the AoE grinding in Armory is pretty nice as there are opportunities for such around every corner (literally).

You will find a lot of AoE opportunities in Sunken Temple as well as some decent gear upgrades. The instance is a bit annoying and a lot of people hate it, but with the new LFG system set up for random dungeons, you’ve got a fairly good shot at ending up there.

When you get into your 50’s you’ll want to look for a group to run Blackrock Depths for even better AoE fights and gear upgrades, and you’ll find the same in both Scholomance and Stratholme as you get to your upper 50’s as well. These three instances in particular are some of the best AoE spots you’re going to find in vanilla WoW and the loot is great for your level.

You’ll end up replacing most of your gear pretty early on once you hit Outlands, so don’t worry too much about running those instances, but if you’re looking for somewhere to go in particular, then those are the places I’ll suggest.


Posted by on December 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

The time has come to share with you the greatness that is Frost Mage AoE Grinding. Grinding on my first Mage was really what solidified my interest in the game. Up to that point I really didn’t care all that much for the game. It was something to do, storyline was decent, play style wasn’t too bad, but overall it was just something else that I could play save that I actually had to pay as I played as well. Up until I started playing the mage I had seriously considered just letting my account expire and go back to playing Diablo II and D&D and leaving this game to my wife and her friend. [Shameless plug: Wife @Fynralyl and her NaNoWriMo Blog and her friend: @Catarith]

But I was reading through one forum or another one day and stumbled onto a thread about AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage and decided to take a look. I got the general idea, hit YouTube for a visual example of what people meant by some of the terms, and then set about doing it myself. I got into it right away and found out that it was in fact a quick and easy process. However, I also noticed that several of the suggestions given were flawed. Some things they told me to do were not effective while others that they told me not to do were actually way more effective than the contrary. So, I gave up on the forums, the blogs, and the YouTube videos and did my own thing. My performance increased greatly and my leveling speed increased right along with it.

So what I am going to share with you today is what I have found to be the most effective way to perform AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. I invite anyone who has done this themselves to join in with any thoughts, suggestions, experiences, and so forth that they have had as well. If you find something works better for you then go ahead and share it. If you disagree with something I’ve said then bring that up too.

Advice You Should Ignore
There are a lot of things that you will find in guides around the net that are not true. People will give you suggestions on how to spend your talents or which spells to cast or avoid, and while all information can help you improve on what you’re doing or prompt you to try something you hadn’t thought of before, that doesn’t mean that the information they give you is correct. Here I will cover some of the advice that I suggest you ignore. Take note of the fact that the statements I just made apply to me as well – this worked for me, but you may well find that it sucks for you and that you would rather go down the paths I tell you to avoid.

Misconceptions The following are all topics you will find discussed on forums and in blogs. I’ll tell you what many of those blogs say that I feel is wrong and then tell you what my thoughts on them are as well.

Frostbite Talent: Almost every AoE grinding guide you’ll find for Frost Mages will tell you not to take this because it will mess up your pulls. This is, by far, one of the single most effective grinding tools that the class has to offer.

Mana Shield: All of those guides that I just told you who don’t use Frostbite also tell you to use this worthless piece of crap of a spell. Blizzard has the highest mana cost of any spell you’re ever going to cast, and if you get a big pull and then find out you don’t have the mana to fire that bad boy off, then you’re well beyond screwed. You better hope you’ve got your running shoes with you. Forget this thing exists unless you’re in PvP.

Icy Veins: You’re also going to find a lot of guides that tell you that this is crucial to your grinding. Fact is, it’s not crucial at all. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps and can speed things up when it’s not on cooldown, but it is by no means crucial. Take the talent when you don’t have more important things to pick up instead. It’s great for having Blizzard do all of its damage in a short time, or firing off your Evocation in a shorter time, but it’s not necessary and I do most of my grinding without ever using it.

Frost AoE: General Information
If you have read my Paladin AoE Guides then you will know that I mentioned that there is no set rotation for AoE grinding with Paladins. For the Mage, it is pretty much the same. There are certain spells that you are going to cast, but not a specific order in which you are going to cast them as each pull and each situation can change what you have to do and how you have to react.

However, just like the Paladin’s guides, there are general steps that are always taken in pretty well the same order. I already mentioned the order in the Mage Leveling: 21-39 post: [Pull], Corral, Freeze, Distance, Blizzard, Clean Up

One difference that I will note right off the bat between Mage AoE and Paladin AoE is that I do not including Pulling as part of my rotation on a Mage where I do include it as a Paladin. With the mage you want everything in one spot and you want it to stay there, so pulling other mobs into the mix is generally a bad idea. So as a general rule of thumb, when you’re grinding with a Mage as soon as you’ve pulled the mobs you want, finish them off before you pull any more.

Getting Ready: Before you even begin to pull the mobs there are a couple of things you need to do. First thing’s first – Always, ALWAYS make sure you have enough mana to do what you’re about to do. Nothing sucks more than pulling a group of mobs, freezing them in place, and then wondering why Blizzard isn’t casting and then noticing you started the pull with 50 mana… Never go into a fight without mana. Second, make sure you’ve got your armor on. Personally, I suggest you go with Frost Armor when doing your AoE. Once you hit level 40 you will also have Ice Barrier, and I suggest you cast that as well as it will absorb most of the blows you take while pulling.

Once you’ve got your armor on and your mana’s up, then go ahead and start your pull.

Step 1: Pull There are various method of pulling mobs, but with mounts now available at level 20, which also happens to be when you get your AoE spell, Blizzard, the good old fashion Body Pull method is going to be your best bet. It’s not your only option, but it will generally be the best one you’ve got. So jump on your mount and run near all of the mobs that you want to AoE and allow yourself to draw agro simply by moving within their agro range. There are other methods that you can use depending on your situation which include casting a single Frostbolt on multiple mobs that are spread out, using Polymorph on a central mob and then pulling the others to it, and several others. Once you get into your 60’s you’ll have Ice Lance which is great for pulling, but otherwise stick to the body pulls.

Step 2: Corral For you city folks, you might note that corralling is basically the same thing as gathering up or grouping together, so that’s what you’re doing here if you aren’t familiar with the term. You need to gather up all of the mobs that you’ve pulled and get them bunched up together so that your Frost Nova will hit all of them.

This isn’t necessarily done by casting a spell so much as simply by running around towards or through the mobs that you’re pulling so that they all move closer together. The easiest way to corral the mobs does involve casting a spell, and that spell is Ice Block. I don’t use the method very often myself because I’m proficient in corralling as part of my pulling, but if you have a hard time doing it then just cast your Ice Block and go with that. By using Ice Block you make yourself immune to everything and the mobs will all run up to melee your block of ice until the spell wears off or you cancel it.

I suggest you practice corralling as part of your pulling, which is simply moving around so that the mobs get closer together, rather than relying on Ice Block as it has a cooldown that is far too long to rely upon it for every pull.

Call this step whatever you want to help you remember it. When I talked about AoE with a Paladin I didn’t bother including a Corral step because the paladin doesn’t give a crap where you are so long as you’re close to him. A Mage though, needs all of the mobs close together and he needs them there at the same time. So, I’m adding a step here that didn’t exist for the Paladin to help emphasize that point.

Step 3: Freeze The next thing on your list is to freeze the mobs in place. Your most reliable method of doing this is going to be by casting Frost Nova. It is possible to freeze them all with Cone of Cold if you put your talent points in Frostbite like I told you to, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on that. Stick with Frost Nova as it’s going to work every time so long as it hits.

As you get higher in levels you will get talent points that increase your critical hit chance, and your critical hit damage while your targets are frozen, which makes this all go a whole lot faster and smoother. But, the main reason for freezing them in place is so that you can get your distance and then cast Blizzard to hit them all at once so that you’re not wasting mana or time.

Step 4: Distance The next item of business is to put some distance between yourself and the mobs. You can do this one of two ways: cast Blink, or run. Personally, I just run a short distance and then call it good. Some people find that casting Blink is the way to go, but I disagree. The only time I use Blink instead of just running is when I am either Dazed, Stunned, or Rooted by the mobs that I am pulling. If none of those three things are happening, then I simply run and call it good.

There are a few flaws in using Blink that keep it from being my chosen method. You can accidentally blink into other mobs causing you to over pull, you can Blink over a glitched section of ground so that you basically waste the spell as you gain little or no distance at all, you can Blink into a glitch that causes you to fall through the world and die, or you can Blink out of the range of Blizzard causing you to run back towards them and waste whatever time you might have saved otherwise. I thought that Blizzard had fixed the glitches that send you falling through the world, but it happened to me last week in Redridge, so I know it’s still possible.

Step 5: Blizzard The spell, not the company. With your enemies safely frozen in a nice little corral of their soon-to-be death, cast Blizzard and let destruction rain (snow?) down upon your enemies. When you cast Blizzard make sure you put the far edge of the spell’s area as close to you as possible. In other words, try to leave as much of the spell’s area that isn’t on the mobs closer to you so that if the mobs break out of their freeze they still have to run through your Blizzard to get to you.

If you have taken Frostbite and Improved Blizzard then each time your Blizzard hits them it has a chance to freeze them again as well. Sometimes a mob will manage to escape your Blizzard without being frozen again (and again, and again), but even though you only have a 15% chance to freeze them from Frostbite, each spike from Blizzard has a chance to trigger that 15% chance so it happens a lot more than you would expect from such a small number. But, since it is a chance rather than a guarantee you never know how it might turn out.

Step 6: Clean Up Clean Up is where you have to make a decision and why a set rotation doesn’t actually exist. This is where you have to make a judgement call based on the situation.

If you still have multiple mobs that are still alive and they are not close to dying, then you either want to repeat Step 5 by casting another Blizzard, or go back to Step 3 and try to refreeze them if your Frost Nova is not on cool down.

If you have multiple mobs that are close to dying then I generally suggest you finish them off with Cone(s) of Cold or Arcane Explosion(s). Because of the extra benefits of your Frost talents I would generally suggest you use Cone of Cold for this if you know you can catch them all in it’s area, but if not then go ahead and use Arcane Explosion instead. You have more potential benefit from using CoC, but AE is the safer route if you’d rather do that for getting started.

Visual Representation
Rather than going with specific examples as I did with the Paladin series, I’m going to give you a bit more visual look at how things are done. Some of my other fellow bloggers have picked up this method, so I figured I would give it a shot myself to see how well it works for me.

Pull (a body pull using a mount)

Corral (grouping the mobs simply by positioning yourself in a central area)

Freeze (using Frost Nova, or a Water Elemental’s Freeze spell)

Distance (by running, or casting Blink)

Blizzard (there’s only one Blizzard, ladies and gents – only one)

Clean Up (Arcane Explosion in this case, Cone of Cold or other spells work too)


Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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Mage Leveling Part II: 21-39

Part I: Beginning

Once you get to level 20 some parts of your leveling will become easier, and some will not. The first change that you are going to find is that having the ability to teleport all over the world is absolutely amazing. It’s probably my favorite trait of the class overall. For that matter, it’s my favorite trait of every class in the game.

One change you are going to find with your questing and such is that being able to AoE grind through your quests is going to make them fly by a whole lot faster. Some quests are not impacted by AoE grinding at all, like ones that have you bring back Mr. Mob’s head, or ones where you have to deliver an item from Location A to Location B (though teleporting can help with that), and so on. But a lot of quests involve killing a certain number of specific mobs or collecting a number of items that drop from certain mobs. These are the ones where AoE grinding really shines and where your leveling process starts burning some serious fuel.

Where you level is not especially important, just try to focus questing to some degree in areas that have a lot of mobs grouped together that are melee mobs rather than ranged attackers or spell casters. My first Mage leveled through the 20’s in Hillsbrad Foothills much like my Paladin did. The Mage I am leveling right now did these levels, mostly, in Ashenvale. If you want to follow my path then feel free, but as long as you are questing in an area that is level-appropriate for you then you should be just fine. Just remember to stay away from the caster mobs and ranged attackers as they are the only ones that pose any real threat; at least from an AoE standpoint. If you’re going against mobs 1v1 then by all means just kill everything you see.

This post is about playing your mage and getting them leveled up to 39. I am going to talk about AoE grinding a bit, but that’s not the focus of this post. That will be in the next post in this series where I discuss the particulars of grinding. If you want to find out about how to AoE with a Frost Mage then you should probably look at that post rather than this one. AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Here I am going to show you how to spend your talent points, which glyphs you should get, what spells you should cast or avoid, general rotations, etc. So the scope of this post is the mechanics of leveling a mage, not the technique of casting your spells.

Important Spells

Levels 21-30

Counterspell (level 24) This is an excellent spell that should always be somewhere on your screen. I don’t necessarily recommend it be on your primary action bar, but have it somewhere that you can access it. It’s great for PvE (when facing casters), and it’s excellent for PvP. Check the macro section down below for this one.

Conjure Mana Gem (level 28) This spell creates a gem that you carry around in your bags that acts just like a mana potion, restoring amounts of mana that scale with your level. The gems you make early on in the game are always single use, but as you get to end game you will mage gems that have three uses. Creating a gem costs more mana than it returns, so note that it’s something that should be prepared ahead of time.

Ice Block (level 30) This is your first “oh crap” button. It throws a solid block of ice around you for the duration making you immune to, well, everything. The drawback to it is that you’re stuck there until it wears off or you cancel the spell. Use it when you pull too much, when you have Frostbite proc in the middle of a pull that can’t be fixed, when you’re about to die, when you’re covered in DoTs/Poisons/Disease, when you fall off a cliff and can’t find Slow Fall, or when you want to see yourself in a funny little pose since it keeps you exactly as you were when you cast it. If you have the Glyph of Ice Block, use it any time you need to reset your Frost Nova cooldown. And do not feel like you have to wait out its duration. If it’s accomplished what you need it to, feel free cancel the spell early and go back to your business.

Teleport: Darnassus/Thunderbluff (level 30) At level 30 you get access to your faction’s Druid city teleport. I don’t know what the reasoning is for putting these off until level 30, but apparently Blizzard does.

Levels 31-39
Mage Armor (level 34) gives you Resist Magic 5 which isn’t great, but not bad, and also allows you to regenerate 50% of your regular mana regen during combat. A lot of people love this spell and use it in place of Frost Armor. I rarely use it myself, but it’s still a decent spell.


Teleport & Portal: Theramore (level 35) Here you are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Theramore. This portal actually sells pretty frequently for me on my Alliance server as it’s an easier way for people to travel to that portion of the world. Tips for portals vary on every server, so you’ll have to see for yourself how much gold you might be able to make off of it. On my Ally server this portal sells for 3-5g and I see people asking in trade chat for it every other day or so.

Portals: Stormwind, Ironforge, Exodar (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. My Alliance server still sells all portals and these typically bring in a 10g fee each. You don’t get the portal for Darnassus for a few more level yet, but that one sells for the same.

Teleport & Portal: Stonard (level 35) You are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Stonard. This portal used to sell almost constantly as it was the shortest way for you to reach Outlands for the first time since it’s just north of the Dark Portal. Now that those portals exist in every major city you might as well forget the fact that this one exists. I do find an occasional request for it from groups that want to run through Sunken Temple on my old Horde server, but for the most part people just don’t need it anymore.

Portals: Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. On my Horde server the only portals you ever really see people asking for are Org and TB, with an occasional ask for Undercity as well. The only time you ever see anyone ask for Silvermoon is when there’s a holiday event going on. For my Horde servers you’re lucky if you can get 2g for a port to any of the Horde’s major cities.

Leveling 21-30
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: This will pretty well be the rotation you use for the rest of the game for single mobs. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off.

As you may notice, at this point Fireball is completely gone from my rotations and it will see very little, if any, use throughout the rest of my playing. The only time I go back to Fireball from this point on is when I am fighting a mob that is resistant or immune to Frost damage.

If you feel a need to throw a Frost Nova out there to stop a mob that’s rushing into melee range then feel free to do so. If you like Cone of Cold more than Fire Blast then feel free to use it as well. I generally stick to using Fire Blast as my finishing move, but as you get higher in levels and mobs start having more hit points I begin to use Cone of Cold more frequently for the sake of having more chances to proc Frostbite and freezing the mob in place. Doing this gives you a chance of ending many of your fights without taking a single hit.

Remember that you have your Mana Gem for when you need to restore your mana. Unless you’re in the middle of a horrible pull and already running out of mana then using the Gem by itself should give you enough to finish the fight. If you need more mana than that, then feel free to use a Mana Potion in addition to the gem.

Leveling 31-39
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: Nothing new here.

You don’t get any new offensive spells in this range, you just get higher ranks of the ones you’ve already got. Refer back to the section above for specifics.

General Tactics

There is one thing in particular that I want to point out right now. As you begin gaining more levels the mobs you are fighting are going to gain more hit points which will require you to cast more spells due to the fight taking longer. The longer a fight lasts, the more likely the mobs are to close in and start attacking you. Do not be afraid to stop casting a spell in order to save yourself. It’s alright to take off running half a second before your Frostbolt goes off. There’s nothing wrong with that; especially if you are close to dying. It’s perfectly acceptable to run away like a little girl, screaming your head off while you wait for Frost Nova’s cooldown to pop so that you can freeze the mob in place and then get back to killing him. There’s also nothing wrong with throwing a Frost Nova the second the mob comes within range and running away all together.

For a Frost Mage a strong offense truly is the best defense you can have. You defend yourself by attacking your enemies and slowing them down or freezing them in place. You don’t have to constantly be on the move and you don’t have to kite every mob that you face, but the abilities that you have give you the time and the opportunity to almost completely control the field.

I’m going to introduce now a tactic I like to call Run Through. It’s most effective when using either Frost Nova or Cone of Cold (or Dragon’s Breath if you’re a Fire Mage). It’s best represented in Rotation Option #3 up above. Assuming that you do not get a Frostbite proc from your Frostbolts, the mob is generally going to arrive near to melee range close to when your second Frostbolt is cast or in the middle of the third. I like to be aggressive on my Frost mage, so I take right to the mob’s face; so if he’s closing in after my second cast I don’t wait for the third cast I just start running into him after the second.

As you get close to the mob cast Cone of Cold and keep right on running through them. You can then cast Blink if you want or just keep on running a ways before turning around and going back to Frostbolts to finish them off. This is going to accomplish a few things 1 you’re going to deal additional damage with an instant cast, 2 you are going to put distance between yourself and the mob, and 3 you have yet another chance to proc Frostbite and freeze the target in place.

By running through a mob to do this you also open up the option of them causing a Frostbite proc from hitting you with a melee attack while you have Frost Armor on which will freeze them in place for you and make your job a whole lot easier. If you remember back in Part I, I mentioned that my hit points are just another resource for me to use, and this is what I mean by that. I’m giving away a few hit points by giving the mob a chance to hit me, but what I’m gaining out of the deal is another chance to proc Frostbite.

AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition
Here are your basics of AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. For more details you will need to refer to the next post in this series which will discuss the details of AoE grinding across all levels.

Generally speaking you want to pull a group of mobs, at least 3, into a central location, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and then move out of melee range before casting Blizzard. Now, that’s a very generalized version of it, but it’s essentially what it is. There are a lot of tricks that you can use to help you in this, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your cooldowns to make some of them work.

Step 1: Pull The first thing you have to do for any type of AoE grinding is pull the mobs. The easiest way to do this is to jump on your mount and ride around into all of their threat ranges.

Step 2: Corral The second thing you have to do is get them all bunched up together. If you’re still on your mount then ride away, turning a bit here and there to get the mobs next to the others. It’s a bit hard to explain how to do that, but practicing will help you understand. The point is to get all of the mobs close enough to each other, and to you, that a single Frost Nova will catch all of them.

Step 3: Freeze The third thing you have to do is stop them from moving. The best option for this Frost Nova, though at later levels your Water Elemental gets an ability called Freeze which is a ranged Frost Nova that works just as well if not better. Be aware that in this stage you will occasionally miss some of the mobs. It’s good to have items with +Hit on them for doing this, but they aren’t required. You don’t miss very often and even when you do it can still be managed.

Step 4: Distance The fourth thing is putting distance between yourself and the mobs. The traditional way of doing this is to use Blink to teleport yourself a short distance away. However, Blink is not 100% reliable and can often teleport you right into another mob, or group of mobs, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your surroundings. Personally, I don’t Blink at this point unless the mobs have managed to Daze me which makes you move slower. If I’m not dazed or otherwise rooted in place (nets, webs, etc) then I simply run. I run about 10 yards away and then turn around. Whatever method you choose to use for moving, be sure to turn around and face the mobs when you’re done. The optimum distance is twice the size of your Blizzard’s AoE circle or just slightly further. Going too far means that the mobs will be out of range for Blizzard, while not going far enough means melee mobs will be hitting you in the face while you cast.

Step 5: Blizzard Now it’s time to cast your Blizzard and watch the pretty numbers fly by as they all start to die. You want to position your Blizzard so that all of the mobs (or at least all that you can manage) fall within the area of the damage. You also want the furthest edge of Blizzard’s effect to be as close to you as possible. When a mob is frozen, that freeze breaks after they’ve taken a certain amount of damage, and Blizzard deals a lot of damage. So by keeping the area as close as possible it means that when their freeze breaks they still have to walk through the AoE damage to get to you. Since we also have at least one point in the Improved Blizzard talent (minimum level 20) your Blizzard now has a chill effect that will slow the mobs down. And since we have points in the Frostbite talent, every spell with a chill effect has the ability to freeze the target in place. And every time Blizzard deals damage it chills them, meaning that every time it hits it has a chance to proc Frostbite.

Step 6: Clean Up After you’ve cast your Blizzard you need to decide what’s next. If the mobs are still alive then you have to finish them off. You can do that by either casting another Blizzard if they have a lot of health, or casting Arcane Explosion of Cone of Cold if they just have a little bit of health left. If the mobs are already dead, then your only form of clean up is collecting your loot.

If you are fighting caster mobs in addition to melee, then pulling them and rounding them up into a single group isn’t going to be as easy. Until level 30 your only real option is to have the caster’s location be where you coral all of the rest of the mobs, or to line of sight the caster and coral everyone there.

At level 30 you get an excellent spell called Ice Block. It freezes you in place and makes you immune to everything for its duration. The great thing about being immune to everything is that caster mobs will move into melee range and just start attacking the ice, as will everything else. This gives you a coral method to use when facing casters as well. If you happen to be using the Glyph of Ice Block (level 30) then every time you use Ice Block it resets/removes the cooldown on Frost Nova so that you can immediately cast Frost Nova again. If my pull has gone bad I’ll use Ice Block just to let everyone come to me and start all over again.

Another thing to note about Ice Block is that it gives you a great opportunity to change the direction you’re heading after a Pull. When you go to initiate your Coral you can use Ice Block to do it and then rotate your camera to take a look around the area. Find which direction is clear of mobs so that you know which way you’re running, and have that be the direction you go when you pop out to initiate your Freeze. Playing with an AoE Mage was the reason I turned off the Smart Pivot option in my UI > Camera options. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s what causes your camera to rotate to the direction your character is facing if you rotate the camera with a click-and-drag left click. It allows me to look in any direction, for as long as I want, without having to hold down my mouse button to keep it there. If you aren’t aware, the default settings allow you to hold down both the left and right mouse buttons to run, and when doing that it causes you to run whichever direction the mouse moves. So if you hold down the two mouse buttons coming out of an Ice Block you will run the direction that your camera is facing instead of the direction that your character is facing. When you do it, go ahead and shake the mouse left and right just a hair when you first come out because it’s the movement of the mouse while the right button is down that forces your character to turn that way, but the turn is instant so once the character takes off running the way you want them to you can stop moving the mouse and use whatever method(s) of movement you use normally.

Because we’ve combined Frostbite with Improved Blizzard, we have the chance to constantly freeze the mobs in place during your Blizzard. That is why Frostbite is so essential to a good Frost leveling spec even though so many other people claim to hate it. If you find that Frostbite is messing up your pulls then the answer to that is simple, remove your Frost Armor before you pull. If you don’t have Frost Armor up (or Ice Barrier after level 40) then you aren’t going to freeze the mobs in place during a pull because there are not chill effects to make it happen.

I personally keep my Frost Armor spell on all the time, regardless of whether or not it might proc Frostbite and “ruin” my pulls, because I can handle the pulls that other mages apparently feel are dangerous. As I said, if my pull goes a bit bad, then I’ll just Ice Block and let them mobs come to me and then Frost Nova once the Ice Block is over. The duration of Ice Block lasts longer than all of your freezing abilities, so the mobs will break free before your Ice Block wears off. If you use the Glyph of Ice Block then your Frost Nova will already be available when IB wears off so you pop your Frost Nova and then jump right back into the steps above starting at #4-Distance.

If none of those options work because something else comes along and fouls it all up, then welcome to being in a world you don’t control! In this case, put your true mage skills to the test and kick the crap out of them anyway. You’ve got a ton of tools at your disposal to handle the mobs you’re facing, so put them to use. If you need to sheep one, then do it. If you need to Cone of Cold to try to proc Frostbite for Blizzard, then do it. If you need to run around in circles while you wait for Frost Nova to cool down again, then do it. If you want to Arcane Explosion spam hoping to slay them all anyway, then do it. If you took the Glyph of Evocation at 20 as I suggested, then try to run around until Frost Nova is up again, freeze them in place, and then hit your Evocation to restore 60% of your health and mana, and then slay them all.

If the crap hits the fan, then turn the sucker on high and start flinging that crap wherever you can until you’re either the last one standing or you’re all alone in the graveyard. These are the moments that help you grow more confident in your ability to solo content, or that teach you what mistakes not to make again.

I love screwing up an AoE pull with way more mobs than I could take on otherwise and still pull it off without a single Blizzard being cast. I’ve taken out 8 mobs with nothing but Frost Novas, Cones of Cold, and Fire Blasts while running around in circles because my attempts to freeze the mobs kept missing or not freezing. It’s not always easy, but it sure is fun when you come out of it still standing.

Macro Suggestions
There are a few new macros to bring to your attention at this point.

Counterspell: Cancel whatever spell you might be casting and immediately cast Counterspell.
/cast Counterspell

Ice Block: Stop whatever you’re doing and cast Ice Block
/cast Ice Block

Sometimes a big spell is about to go off and it needs to not happen. If stopping that spell is potentially more important than casting the one you’re on, then make the call and counter the spell. Heals and Mana Burns are the primary target for this unless you’re low on health and need to stop a dps spell from killing you.

Ice Block sometimes has to be cast on the fly simply to save your life rather than to help you in your AoE grinding. When that is the case, don’t bother with trying to get that one last spell off, just throw the barrier up and deal with the situation once it wears off.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 21-39


Starting at level 21, this is how I would suggest spending your talent points.
Ice Floes +1 (3/3) Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins by 20%.

Piercing Ice 3/3 +2/4/6% damage to all Frost spells.

Shatter 3/3 +17/34/50% critical strike chance against targets who are frozen.

Arctic Reach 2/3 +14/20% range to Frost Bolt, Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, and Blizzard spells and +20% radius to Frost Nova and Cone of Cold spells.

Cold Snap 1/1 Resets the cooldown of all Frost Spells.

Icy Veins 1/1 +20% spell haste and reduces pushback on channeled spells by 100% for 20 seconds.

Frost Channeling 3/3 -4/7/10% Mana cost of all Frost spells and reduces threat generated by Frost spells by 4/7/10%.

Winter’s Chill 3/3 Gives +3 chance to crit with Frostbolt, and a 33/66/100% chance that your Frost spells will increase your chance to crit the target by 1%, stacks up to 5 times.

Cold As Ice 2/2 Reduces the cooldown of your Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Summon Water Elemental spells by 10/20%.

Ice Floes is simply there to reduce the time on our cooldowns. Every spell that it effects is useful for AoE grinding as well as leveling in general, so reducing the cooldowns on those is great. Piercing Ice is just a general increase to all of our damage; the more damage you do, the few spells you have to cast. Shatter is going to increase the chance to crit when targets are frozen by 50%. That’s a huge boost to our crit and since every spell you’re going to use has a chance of freezing your target, that means you’ve got a whole lot of potential for landing crits. Shatter is the reason why we want Frostbite.

Arctic Reach helps with the range at which we can cast our spells. That means you can get off more Frostbolts before an enemy can close in on you, and it means you can cast your Blizzards from a greater distance as well. In addition to that it increases the radius of Frost Nova and Cone of Cold. The increased radius is crucial to what you do as a Frost Mage, but it’s also a hard thing to judge because neither of these spells shows you visibly how large their radius is to being with. It’s something you’re going to have to learn on your own and just become aware of. With practice you’ll start picking it up instinctively and you’ll just know when you can catch someone with it and when you can’t.

Cold Snap is easily one of the best talents you ever get. It completely resets all of your Frost spells and makes them available to you again. So you can blow all of your cooldowns, hit Cold Snap, and they’re all right back ready to use again. Icy Veins is a great spell for two reasons: 1 the increase spell haste means all of your Blizzard damage happens in a shorter amount of time (or other spells if you’re fighting single mobs), and 2 removing the effect of pushback means that you get the full bang from your mana-buck from your Blizzard even if you’re getting punched in the face while you do it. I don’t cast it on every Blizzard, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every chance you get. The haste from Icy Veins also works on your Evocation, by the way, so if you need to refill your life/mana in a pinch that’s the way to get it done.

Frost Channeling is last up on the list. The reduced mana here is the primary reason for taking the talent as Blizzard is a huge mana cost spell. The reduced threat is nice when you’re running with groups though it serves no purpose at all when soloing. Winter’s Chill is a stacking debuff on the target that gives you an additional 1-5% chance to crit each time you hit them with a Frost spell. The extra crit chance goes for all spells, not just Frost, but Frost spells are what stacks it from 1-5%. Cold As Ice is strictly to lower the time on your cooldowns.

Glyphs for Leveling
The only glyph slot that is going to open up for you at this level range will open up at level 30.

I recommend the Glyph of Ice Block for level 30 which resets your Frost Nova cooldown when you use Ice Block. It’s great for AoE grinding so that you can make sure that your pulls go off as smoothly as possible.

Some people prefer to go with Mage Armor here instead to get mana regeneration during combat, but since I prefer using Frost Armor I don’t personally recommend it. Since I can summon my own water on the fly and have mana gems I don’t really care about regenerating mana during combat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my personal play style.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Your gear priorities don’t change: stack Spell Power and Intellect, take Stam/Hit/Crit when you can find it, and the other things don’t really matter. Hit becomes increasingly important as you level, so take it when you see it if it’s not going to cost you too much Spell Power or Int.

Again, Tailoring can provide a lot of useful upgrades for you around this level so you might want to check with a Tailor if you aren’t one yourself.

You are still going to be more likely to find a good staff at these levels that a one hander plus an off hand item, but just go with whichever you find that can give you better stats. A lot of the Inscription off-hand items open up during this level range which can give you additional spell power, so if you find a nice off hand go ahead and take it, but you’re still more likely to find a better staff overall.

And as always, keep an eye out for good wands that provide stats. If you find that you are actually using your staff for anything other than killing off mobs that are low on health, then you’re probably doing something wrong; like using Mana Shield for anything other than PvP.

Suggested Instances
I would highly suggest in your twenties that you run through either Deadmines (VC) or Shadowfang Keep (SFK) (both, if you can manage it) for good gear during those levels. You can find a staff, gloves and ring in VC, and excellent robes in SFK that will last you well into your 30’s.

In your thirties, Scarlet Monastery is the place to be. You will get gear from here that will last you into your 50’s. You can get inside the doors of all four sections at level 20 if you have someone run you through, or you can start joining LFG for it at level 28. For a mage you can find shoulders or an off-hand item in SM:Graveyard, a great robe and an excellent staff in SM:Library, and while SM:Armory offers very little, there are a couple of items in SM:Cathedral that can really help you out as well. Primarily SM:GY and SM:Lib are the areas for you to focus on, and both of them can be ran with a group of people around level 30 with little problem. Especially with your AoE skills.

Edit: (10/29/09) Added level listing for spending talent points.
Edit: (10/30/09) Finished Ice Block section near the spell description at the top and added Ice Block information to General Tactics section as well.


Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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