Repost of: https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wow/t/mage-feedback-frost-tuning/1181913
Frost has been performing extremely well on mass AoE, especially since Frozen Orb was uncapped in 9.1.5. These situations are common in Mythic+, especially at higher key levels, and Frost Mage was looking too strong in that content. Presumably, this was the reasoning behind the significant adjustments to Frost Mage in Tuesday’s PTR build (220.127.116.11257).
- Frozen Orb’s damage was reduced from 16.27% SP to 15% SP.
- Blizzard’s damage was reduced from 12.8% SP to 12.16% SP.
- Blizzard’s reduction to Frozen Orb’s cooldown was reduced from 500 ms to 250 ms.
- The Icy Propulsion Conduit was given a 350 ms ICD.
While an adjustment to Frost’s AoE was needed, these adjustments may have some unintended effects.
Throughout Shadowlands, Icy Propulsion has been an oppressively strong Conduit and all Frost Mage builds have been focused around it. Talents and legendaries that synergize well with Icy Propulsion have been the strongest, while those that don’t have been seldom used. Adjustments to this Conduit are healthy for the specialization, but this change significantly affects Frost Mage in all content and all situations, while presumably the reasoning behind these nerfs was to target performance in Mythic+. Additional tuning may be needed in other areas to compensate for this change.
Small Scale AoE: Frozen Orb’s Cooldown
A major concern is that the change to Frozen Orb’s cooldown reduction from Blizzard will result in Frost feeling significantly worse to play on smaller AoE pulls. This is a problem because these pulls are the type that many players will encounter when fighting only one pack at a time in dungeons. The cooldown reduction from Blizzard is problematic with large numbers of targets where multiple Frozen Orbs are active at once and the nonlinear damage scaling from the cooldown reduction is most noticeable. A more appropriate change to Blizzard’s cooldown reduction would be one that focuses on limiting the amount of cooldown reduction during very large pulls.
Collateral Damage: Single Target and Cleave
In raids, the strength of specializations for most fights is based on their ability to maximize single target and cleave damage.
Throughout Shadowlands, Frost has relied on the Slick Ice legendary paired with high Icy Veins uptime to be able to compete with other classes. Mainly due to the Icy Propulsion change reducing Icy Veins uptime significantly, these changes reduce Frost’s sustained single target damage with no movement by around 11%. While Frost’s single target damage without movement was very high, in practice the spec tends to struggle to reach those numbers in raids due to how forced movement and downtime interact with specs that have a relatively flat
damage profile. Some tuning change to Frost’s single target damage is now needed for the spec to see effective usage in raids.
Historically, one the main strengths of Frost Mage in raids has been stacked cleave against 2 targets with Splitting Ice. Throughout the Shadowlands development cycle, this strength has now been tuned down twice through adjustments to core Frost Mage spells, which will potentially leave Frost Mage in an awkward place for 10.0 when the problematic Shadowlands systems are gone.
- During the 9.0 beta, the Freezing Winds legendary was providing many Ice Lances in raid testing, which resulted in Splitting Ice being nerfed from 80% damage to 65% damage.
- Now, the reduction to Frozen Orb’s cooldown from Blizzard is being reduced by 50%.
The changes to Blizzard are almost enough to push Blizzard out of the rotation on 2 targets even with a synergistic legendary like Freezing Winds, and will push it out of the rotation with legendaries that do not synergize with Frozen Orb.
Overall, the adjustments in build 18.104.22.168257 are expected to reduce Frost’s overall damage on 2 and 3 targets with the Freezing Winds legendary by about 18% and 20%, respectively. While Frost should still be the best Mage spec for those target counts, because Arcane and Fire have very limited cleave when hitting a priority target, it will likely no longer be competitive with other classes that perform well against those target counts.