Arcane Sanctum: Frost Mage talent changes in the Legion alpha
Over the last few Arcane Sanctums we’ve checked out the new talents coming to both Arcane Mages as well as Fire Mages. In case those were not the specs you’re looking for, this week we’re giving Frost its fair turn in the spotlight! If you’re unfamiliar with the general Mage talent changes in some of the tiers, they’re covered in more detail in the other columns and I’m assuming most Mages are aware of them now. so the commentary here is a bit more sparse.
With the Legion alpha taking a long winter’s nap over the holidays, we haven’t received any new information and all we can do is dig into existing information about the changes. The most notable change here for Frost is something we’re going to look at extensively and something many Mages have been requesting for years. Yes, that’s right: Frost Mages are going to be able to leave their Squirtle friend behind and go petless!
In this tier, Evanesce and Blazing Speed are both gone. Ice Floes has been moved to Tier 5. Frost has three entirely new talents here. The first is Ray of Frost, a channeled spell that may look familiar to you if you’ve played Diablo recently. Although Frost isn’t yet playable on the alpha, we know that the spell will apply a 30% slow and deal Frost damage over a period of twenty seconds. Also of interest is that in its current incarnation, Ray of Frost will do more damage the longer it’s channeled.
The next new talent coming to Frost is the answer to a frequent request heard from Mages over the years. The talent is called Lonely Winter, and you can guess just what it is. Taking this talent will remove your ability to summon your Water Elemental, but it will add 10% additional damage to your Frostbolt, Ice Lance, and Frozen Orb spells. You will also learn the ability to cast Freeze, effectively rendering your Water Elemental unnecessary.
My opinion is I’m happy they’re introducing this option, even though I’ll be unlikely to use it myself. For anyone who may have been dissuaded over the years from trying Frost because they don’t enjoy “pet” classes, you’ll be able to experience the fun of being a Frost Mage. For those of us who’d see our Water Elemental pried out of our cold, dead hands (they’re really cold, it’s an occupational thing) we don’t have to relinquish the big goofy thing. Or it could even be a choice you make on a per encounter basis where being without the elemental might be advantageou.
It’s a compelling choice in the very first tier, too. Leveling Mages can make the decision almost from the very beginning that they’d like to rely only on themselves. Having choices is a good thing. The only possible drawback is that it may be a fine balance to ensure that neither Lonely Winter Frost Mages or other Mages make it a de facto choice. The worst possible scenario would be Mages who want to use the elemental being forced to go without.
The third new talent in this tier is called Bone Chilling. This talent has some potential to be interesting and definitely potent. Whenever you attempt to chill a target, you gain Bone Chilling, which lasts 6 sec and stacks up to 100 times. Each stack of Bone Chilling increases all Frost damage you deal by 1%. Note that “attempt,” because it’s important — bosses typically being immune to the Chill effect, this would be a very poor talent if you had to actually succeed at chilling your target. We’ll need to see how this talent shakes out, as having to maintain stacks of a buff like that could be onerous and not necessarily fun (see our experiences with Invocation). But if the buff is refreshed fairly organically, it would be a significant damage boost.
The second tier of talents sees all the same changes as other Mage specs. Alter Time, Flameglow and Ice Barrier are all gone. Ice Barrier is going to be a baseline spell, the other two spells are simply being removed. Cauterize and Ice Block now share a talent tier, forcing a difficult choice between these two cooldowns and the new Shimmer. This talent grants a 30% chance to reset the cooldown of Blink every time you take damage (not more than once every thirty seconds). Overall, Frost Mages being the most survivable of all the specs, these changes stand to impact them the least, although having to talent into Ice Block may be a hard pill to swallow.
Ring of Frost and Ice Ward have both been moved to Tier 5. Frostjaw has been removed entirely, and this tier now consists of Mirror Image, Rune of Power and Incanter’s Flow directly transplanted from what was previously Tier 6. Having access to these talents earlier in the tiers may be beneficial for all Mages, although Mirror Image will continue to be a lesser choice until the images scale with Mastery.
This is another meaty tier for Frost Mages, as Greater Invisibility has been removed (it’s being made baseline for Arcane) and Cold Snap is gone as well but they’ve been replaced by two new Frost specific talents and Ice Nova that has been moved from Tier 5. The first of these new talents is Frozen Touch which is pretty straightforward. When activated, it immediately grants you two charges of Fingers of Frost.
Bitter Cold, the other new talent, is also related to Fingers of Frost generation, granting a 10% damage bonus to Frozen Orb and causing it to now generate two charges of Fingers of Frost when it first reaches a target, rather than just one. Frozen Touch’s utility might turn out to be a big deal in encounters where immediate snap damage is desired, but the extra damage granted to Frozen Orb by Bitter Cold is going to be hard to ignore given Frozen Orb’s added significance to Frost’s rotation in Legion as it replaces Frostfire Bolt.
There’s not much new to see here. Frost Bomb has been moved to Tier 6 along with Unstable Magic. Ice Nova was relocated to Tier 4. The new talents here are Ice Floes, Ring of Frost, and Ice Ward. Ice Floes is going to be an automatic choice for most PVE Frost Mages because neither Ring of Frost or Ice Ward have much useful application for the majority of boss encounters.
The old Tier 6 was moved in its entirety to what is now Tier 3. This new version of it contains Frost Bomb and Unstable Magic, having been moved from Tier 5. Joining them is one altogether new Frost specific talent, Arctic Gale. This talent provides some significant oomph to Blizzard by granting it a 30% damage increase and a 20% area increase. The majority of single target encounters will probably still favor Frost Bomb, but this will be an excellent choice for any dungeon, challenge mode or solo content.
The final talent tier we have information about remains largely the same, except for the welcome removal of the problematic Prismatic Crystal. It’s being replaced for Frost Mages with Glacial Spike, giving us a new method of utilizing our Icicles besides simply firing them incidentally along with Ice Lance. It’s important to note that this talent is mutually exclusive — if you take it, your Ice Lance casts will no longer launch Icicles. Instead, you will conjure a massive spike of ice that merges your current Icicles into it. It impales your target, dealing (500% of spell power) damage, plus the damage stored in your Icicles. You’ll need to have 5 Icicles to cast it. It also freezes the target in place for four seconds, but damage caused may interrupt the effect.
This talent and new spell has great potential for Frost Mages, adding a powerful punch and more versatility to the way Icicles are used.
Although it’s difficult to completely assess how Frost’s new talents will play without seeing them in action on the alpha, what we’ve seen so far looks promising. Frost wasn’t in need of any major overhauls such as Arcane saw to their Mastery and so instead mostly what we’re seeing here are some quality of life adjustments and potentially interesting new abilities.
The most significant paradigm shift is the ability to opt out of having a water elemental. This should provide some additional choice and perhaps even draw more Mages to play the spec than were playing it before. The payoff for not opting out of the elemental seems still worthwhile, too, as you gain access to either Ray of Frost or Bone Chilling. Other new talents include Frozen Touch, Bitter Cold, Arctic Gale and finally Glacial Spike. So far we’re seeing enough new talents to keep Frost’s play feeling fresh, and it’s going to be exciting when they are available for play in the Legion alpha.
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