The intent of this article is to provide a solid understanding of Mage abilities and their application in PvP, that will not only benefit those who play it, but also those who play against it. Some may see this as an act of treason, but I believe it is a necessary step in learning your class. When you pick up the guitar, the first thing you do is learn the notes, you don’t just break out the Hendrix solos. I have divided this article into three categories; Damage, Crowd Control and Utility abilities.
Damage Ability Descriptions
Frostbolt [Frostbolt] has always had a place in Frost PvP, and it still has one today even though Ice Lance is easier damage. This is your second highest damage spell, but you don’t spam it anymore. You cast it when you have enough time available to do so, like during the first seconds of a Deep Freeze. This spell can proc Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze due to its chill effect.
Ice Lance [Ice Lance] is the main damage spell for Frost, although it does not do the most damage. With the current state of the game, you should be using this off Fingers of Frost procs and Novas as much as possible. It does solid damage, and when you chain this with a Frostbolt for a shatter combo, it is brutal. This spell does not proc Fingers of Frost or Brain Freeze.
Frostfire Bolt [Frostfire Bolt] is your highest damage ability, and is best used when the target is Frozen or during a shatter combo. There are not many situations in arena where you can hard cast this, so don’t try to. You can hard cast it during duels when you’re facing Rogues or Warriors and they are in Novas. This does not proc Fingers of Frost or Brain Freeze if you Glyph for it, and I highly recommend that you do glyph it.
Fire Blast [Fire Blast] is somewhat useful for Frost as a damage ability and very useful, if you spec into Impact, as a stun as well. This is something you use to damage someone when you can’t cast Frostbolt, and Ice Lancing isn’t productive. When you have Impact, you can stun people when it procs and it is very annoying because it doesn’t share DR with controlled stuns.
Cone of Cold [Cone of Cold] is another situational damage spell that has an alternative use as crowd control. You should use this either when you need to set up damage with Ice Lance, or when you’re being trained as a way to keep melee off you. Keep in mind that this is your most useful ability for proccing Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze, because when you use it on multiple targets you have a 20% chance to gain Fingers of Frost and Brain Freeze for each target.
Arcane Blast [Arcane Blast] was introduced to the Mage community at large at MLG when people were shocked to see King Orangemarmalade and Lord Pookz use it when locked out on Frost. It is still used as a damage spell when locked out on your Frost tree to this day.
Crowd Control Ability Descriptions
The most important ability Frost Mages have is [Frost Nova], or one of its variants like Improved [Cone of Cold], Shattered Barrier and [Freeze]. It is something you use when you are kiting enemy players, or if you’re just trying to keep them in one place while you kill them. You can Nova players out of LoS of their healers, or the action, and it can be just as devastating as a Polymorph.
Polymorph [Polymorph] is your spammable CC that is on a DR with your strongest CC, Ring of Frost. You should be using this primarily on healers, but it is a strong tool that you can use to peel enemy dps off you or your partners. I sometimes choose to use my many Novas as a means of CC instead of Polymorphing, you’ll see this in my video.
Ring of Frost [Ring of Frost] is very strong when used correctly against good opponents, and very strong when used incorrectly against bad opponents. This is why Blizzard is nerfing its radius and CC capabilities soon. You should try to use this out of a Fear or out of a Nova. You can also use this to discourage enemy players from getting to a certain spot. I usually use this to CC people who are tunneling my Healer.
Counterspell [Counterspell] has many uses, which I will further elaborate on in the video that goes with this section. You can use it to fully lock out an enemy healer or dps on an important cast, or you can base cs to prevent the possibility of a cast. You can also use this to keep a player from using defensive cooldowns that are casted if you’re going
for a zerg.
Deep Freeze [Deep Freeze] is something that can be easily used as a CC, and as a facilitator of damage: it’s all about the situation. It is very useful to Deep Freeze a target and then Ring of Frost on top of it so that it forms right when Deep ends.
Utility Ability Descriptions
Remove Curse [Remove Curse] is an ability frequently underused in arena by Mages. It does what the abilities says and removed a curse. As far as priority for decursing, you should always decurse [Hex], and Curse of Tongues (although Hex takes priority), then only decurse if you have globals for the other curses.
Slow Fall [Slow Fall] is awesome because you can use this as a very effective
means of protection for your important buffs, and those of your teammates. I’ll often use this against teams like RLS right when the gates open (on myself and my teammates), and when I’m being trained and I need an Ice Barrier to stay up.
Evocation isn’t something I use very much anymore because of how amazing our Mana regen is with [Mage Armor]. I use this when I’m either at around 20% mana or when my healer can’t heal me and I have to use it to survive.
Ice Barrier [Ice Barrier] is something you should always keep up, no exceptions. It is a damage buffer that doesn’t absorb much anymore, but it is still
Mana Shield [Mana Shield] is also something that you should make an effort to keep up. You should use this at the start of an arena game, and when you’re being focused. It doesn’t take up nearly as much mana as it once did, which currently makes it indispensable.
Ice Block [Ice Block] is something that takes quite a while to completely master. If you play your cards right, you can use this twice in one arena match by using Cold Snap to reset its cooldown. Over time, I have taught myself to use this ability only when I’m at 5-10% health. There are some situations, however, where doing this is NOT recommended. If you’re playing against a team with a Warrior or a Priest, you should
Ice Block at around 30-40% when your Healer says they’re in trouble. If you do the cool thing and wait until 5%, you’ll just get MD’d and killed and it won’t matter that you have ice in your veins when it comes to blocking. Ice Block is also quite useful for breaking crowd
control, although I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are very familiar with your class because doing that can mean death if done incorrectly.
Icy Veins [Icy Veins] is not a direct damage ability, but it still accounts for
the majority of your burst damage throughout any match-up. You should use this either when you can do a lot of damage to your kill target, or when your teammate is taking heavy pressure and you need to peel or counteract that pressure. The most important thing about Icy Veins is not wasting it, so try to make sure that you definitely need to use it
before you do so.
Time Warp [Time Warp] is being removed soon (MOMENT OF SILENCE PLEASE -_-), but it is still very good as of now. You should use this when you know you’re
going to put out a lot of pressure or you believe you’ll get a kill due to an opponents mistake.
Love it or hate it, [Spellsteal] is one of the reasons why Mages are so easy to learn yet hard to master. You shouldn’t make the mistake of simply spamming this on targets with dispellable buffs, it is better to plan on stealing certain important buffs. I try to take [Hand of Freedom], [Hand of Protection], [Nature's Swiftness] and [Bloodlust] whenever I see them. When I’m playing against teams who need buffs in order to survive (Mages and Priests) I generally try to Spellsteal their Shields before bursting (or while bursting) if my globals allow it.
I try to buff [Mage Ward] at the start of the game, and then again whenever a caster is focusing me.
Fire Orb can be very useful in situations when someone is pillaring you, so that is what you should try to save it for. You can also use this to get stealthed enemies out of hiding if you send it in the right direction.
Invisibility [Invisibility] is a great ability. You can use this at the start of a match in order to make the first (nearly undetectable) move against your enemy. It can also be used when you’re being focused in order to buy your healer time to heal you up. I use Invisibility at the start of matches when I’m playing double or triple dps, and I use it later in matches when I’m playing normal comps.
Every Mage knows about [Blink], but not many of them know exactly when to use this. It is almost important to make sure that you’re using Blink on the LONGEST stun. It helps to have an addon that clearly displays stun timers, such as Losecontrol, in order to keep track of this.
Summon Water Elemental, better known as Water Elemental, is something that can be devastating if used correctly. When I’m playing Mage/Rogue or Double Mage/Rogue I don’t summon this in the starting room, I go Invis instead. When I’m playing normal comps, I do summon this in the starting room. If you use Freeze to get the Fingers of Frost proc, and then desummon the pet and summon a new one, you’ll get two more Fingers of Frost procs (only works in Arena).
You should save this amazing ability until after you’ve used Ice Block unless your kill target is seconds away from dying and you need to [Cold Snap] for another Deep Freeze.
Mirror Images is the most frustrating of all Mage abilities. For some reason, the only way to “control” them is to press a /petpassive macro and then target something else and then quickly use /petattack to make them attack a different target. I tend to use these when I’m trying to confuse the enemy in situations where I need to do damage or CC, or I use them when someone is pillaring me.