AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

18 Nov

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


Tags: ,

23 responses to “AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

  1. theerivs

    November 18, 2009 at 10:38 AM

    A few of things, when your leveling up types of mobs are very important stay away from caster types. Also shoot for mobs a little lower level then you it’s better to kill 10 mobs 2 levels lower then you, then 3 the same level as you.

    Also keep some Healing and Mana Pots on you at all times, just in case. I can’t tell you how many times a mob broke loose, and I need to pop a healing potion.

    Frost is a great spec, and in 3.3 were gonna get some more love. I still AOE grind for dailies, and Farming, I don’t even care about distance anymore. I just turn around and Nova them. LOL.

    • Psynister

      November 18, 2009 at 10:54 AM

      Thanks for the input, Theerivs! Excellent advice, particularly during leveling.

      Hitting lower level mobs will certainly help you in your leveling process. I like to push my limits constantly, so I’ll often pull 5-7 mobs that are actually a level or two higher than me. But, I don’t discriminate mob levels. I’ll kill them even if they’re 15 levels lower than me and just happen to be in an easily-pulled setup.

      Potions are a very big deal early on, but I find them becoming obsolete the higher I get. The only time I ever use a potion these days is in PvP or when I agro another mob outside of my intended pull. My 71 Mage still has potions in his bags that he’s been carrying around since level 30 as I just don’t use them very much at all.

  2. Cynwise

    November 19, 2009 at 4:33 PM

    I’m sorry, but while the advice is great, the drawings are absolutely full of win. Bravo!

    • Psynister

      November 19, 2009 at 4:37 PM

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Cyn. :D

      Thanks for the reply!

  3. We Fly Spitfires

    November 19, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    Awesome post :) I wish this had been around a 6 months ago when I was trying to level my Mage alt :D

    • Psynister

      November 19, 2009 at 5:31 PM

      If I had known you needed it, I would have posted it 6 months ago. ;)

  4. Cat

    November 19, 2009 at 8:54 PM

    Hey! Great stuff here and thanks for the mention above! :D

  5. Matojo

    November 20, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    Very good post, and the pictures make it better, ha.

    Frostbite is definitely a case-by-case basis. I found it got me killed more than anything else and I put the points into more useful areas (I haven’t been AoE spec in a while, so I don’t recall what they were), but maaan did I ever love Ice Barrier. Still do. My mage is running a single-target Frost DPS spec at 80 for instances (lolol) and I use that spec for killing stuff during quests. I’m supposed to take damage? Since when? ;D

    • Psynister

      November 20, 2009 at 11:06 AM

      I can’t think of a single case where Frostbite has been the cause of my death. It’s saved me more times than I’ve eaten mana strudels, but it’s never killed me.

      Ice Barrier is one of the best spells you’ll ever get, no doubt about it. It’s definitely one of my favorite spells from the tree, and certainly one of the most useful as well. I spend points in the off-shoot talent too to have it case a Frost Nova effect when it’s broken by damage as well.

      When you get Ice Barrier, you might as well be a Paladin in super-plate for all the protection it gives you.

      I’ve heard mention of a frost spec for level 80, so there’s some chance that I’ll give it a shot just to try it out. Apparently stacking haste is a key to increasing the dps with it.

      We’ll have to see though, as the Northrend Blues are hitting me again on this mage, killing my desire to play him at all. I don’t know what it is about Northrend that makes me lose all interest, but there it is.

  6. Mirthen

    March 7, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    I need two professions for a hunter any suggestions?

    • Psynister

      March 7, 2010 at 7:08 PM

      Skinning and Leatherworking
      Mining and Engingineering
      Jewelcrafting and Blacksmithing
      Enchanting and Inscription

  7. Kaladar

    March 12, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    My only question is.. where did you get that awesome Liger mount? Its flippin’ sweet!

    • Psynister

      March 12, 2010 at 11:22 AM

      You get the tiger mounts from the Night Elves of course. But if you’re talking about the “Liger” that I’m riding in those pics, well you have to be an elite leveling blogger to get one of those.

  8. Kaladar

    March 12, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    Also again. AoE sounds a little fun, but not sure I could stand the 1-30 run again. Its hard to do over as a Lock.. I don’t know how I’d do it w/o a demon to subjugate.

    • Psynister

      March 12, 2010 at 11:25 AM

      The AoE is a ton of fun, especially with the Comix addon to spice it up for you.

      The reason locks need demons to help them in that level is because their damage sucks. Mages don’t do the sucky little DoT crap at low level, they just kill things outright.

      Getting to 20 seems a bit slow since all you have are single target spells, but after that it’s all AoE all the time. Heck, I’ll roll another mage right beside you and we can double-AoE everything out there.


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