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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.