Post by Jacmac
Frost Mage PVE Talent Guide, Levels 10-50 // WoW 3.3.2***Random Dungeon Leveling Guide added at the end.
This simple guide is meant to help new frost mages with talent development while leveling as of WoW version 3.3.2. There is no perfect frost build, but during leveling it is easily possible to create a 'broken' build that will make leveling a more painful experience. This guide attempts to point a new frost mage in the right direction.
In the beginning the frost mage should not be concerned about adding talents that increase the damage of a particular spell, but more about how often a damage spell can be cast (especially before the opponent reaches melee range while solo). This is not an end-game talent guide, the player should expect to respec later in their career.
Make no mistake, there is no ultimate build here. Gear quality will make a huge difference on how easy or difficult leveling is. The tedium and difficulty of leveling between 25 to 40 can often be frustrating. With average quest or dropped gear, the mage's mana pool is low, protection is low, and the number of opponents the can be safely handled is low. While AoE grinding is technically possible in the 20's, it is practically not worthwhile for most players, especially those without the best gear available for their level.
After level 40 the outlook for the frost mage gets a whole lot better and many previously difficult (or impossible) solo situations (e.g escort quests) are much easier. AoE after level 40 is much more feasible with a proper build and a fast mount, and after level 50 AoE simply becomes easy.
Building the talents:
Beginning at level 10, the first 5 talent points go into Improved Frost Bolt giving the mage a 20% faster Frostbolt casting rate by level 14. Icy Veins is the next milestone, but it is of marginal use and dubious value, mainly used in boss (or desperate) situations. The next real goal is to reach Shatter at level 25. To make the most of Shatter, Ice Shards and Frostbite will both maxed out. 2 points into Ice Floes, 3 into Ice Shards, then 1 into Icy Veins at level 20. At this point the frost mage is good for two opponents at once while solo.
Level 20 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZVf00o
Continuing with an eye towards Shatter, Frostbite should be maxed out with three points, and another point into Ice Floes (order not particularly important). Shatter is next, max it out with 3 points in a row. The next milestone is Cold Snap. Artic Reach should get the next two points as the extended range for Frostbolt and Blizzard later on is valuable. At level 30 one point goes into Cold Snap. At this point the frost mage may just survive killing three opponents at once or at least kill one or two and get away with the third Polymorphed.
Level 30 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAI00obu
The next goal for the frost mage is being able to do serious AoE, both solo and in a group. For solo AoE to be practical, Ice Barrier at level 40 is a prerequisite. The frost mage also needs to begin preparing for Fingers of Frost and other damage building bonuses. On the way to picking up Ice Barrier at 40, Piercing Ice, Improved Blizzard, and Winters Chill all get maxed out. In the end-game, the frost mage would probably respec to have only 1 point in Improved Blizzard to trigger the Finger of Frost proc, but maxing it out now helps with solo AoE as it slows effected targets way down. At 40, the frost mage can handle three opponents at once without using Polymorph and AoE is practical, although not very forgiving of mistakes because it is easy to quickly run out of mana.
Level 40 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAI0csbu0cz
Ice Barrier is a defensive mechanism that a frost mage will get very used to having up as often as possible. For this reason alone, 2 points into Cold as Ice are next, the other spells affected by the cooldown reduction are a bonus. Next, 2 points go into Arctic Winds. Finger of Frost and Empowered Frostbolt now become available and 2 points should be put into each (order not critical, perhaps Fingers of Frost being a priority to AoE players). Next, put a point into Arctic Winds, and at level 50 a point into Summon Water Elemental.
Level 50 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAI0csbu0fzGbo
After 50 the frost mage is an effective dps/control member in a group and able to solo a small group of mixed opponents without breaking a sweat. AoE is fairly easy and getting easier with every level, by level 60 it becomes a cake walk. It is worth noting that the Glyph of Eternal Water is valuable, especially for solo AoE players. The utility of Freeze is lost for having the pet up at all times. The permanent pet allows all sorts of tactics to be repeatedly used without waiting on a cooldown. The pet also adds a little extra DPS and can be used as a punching bag as it will withstand quite a bit of damage.
If you want to AoE grind after 50 (or possibly 40 but I wouldn't reccomend that), you might want to respec and pull three points out of Frostbite and put them into Permafrost. This will maximize the slowing and increase the duration of the slowing effect. It also eliminates the scatter that can occur when some opponents get frozen and others do not. For smaller groups, the Frostbite freezing is not a big problem, but for large pulls (7-10+) the scatter can be a serious problem. Keep in mind that using Blizzard for solo AoE against a small group of enemies, or while in a random dungeon group, you will probably get higher dps with Frostbite. This is because Frostbite may keep a target frozen and take advantage of Shatter/Ice Shards more often than with Fingers of Frost alone, which is a two 'hit' temporary user buff rather than a target based debuff. So although doing solo AoE you might end up with scattered enemies with Frostbite, if you're not trying to pull large amounts at a time, it could be worthwhile to keep Frostbite for the dps advantage.
Level 50 respec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZVI0Isbu0fzGbo
=======================================================Random Dungeon Leveling Guide
If you plan to level a mage purely through random dungeons and skipping solo/questing for the most part, your build focus needs to change somewhat. A group oriented frost build concentrates being able to use Blizzard, damage boosting, and less on trying to slow the enemies down before they reach you. Your job is mainly dps, with occasional crowd control duties (quite rare).
This type of leveling build is predicated on the idea that the other party members are focused on doing their jobs best, particularly tanks. If you find yourself in groups with tank set up for dps instead of aggro management all the time, you may be better off with the solo frost build above. You are skipping control and focusing on AoE, dps, and mana conservation + aggro reduction.
Beginning at level 10, the first 5 talent points go into Improved Frost Bolt giving the mage a 20% faster Frostbolt casting rate by level 14. Next, put 3 points into Icy Shards and 2 points into Frostbite. At level 20 put 1 point into Improved Blizzard.
Level 20 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZic00z
The upcomming goal is to get Shatter and maximize it's effect. Put a final point into Frostbite, then 3 points into Piercing Ice, then 3 points into Shatter. At this point you have maximized your Blizzard damage for the time being. Grab Icy Viens with 1 point, then 1 point in to Frost Channeling and 1 point into Cold Snap.
Level 30 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAc0ckzu
It is time to backfill as none of the newly available talents are necessary. Put 2 points into Frost Channeling (the aggro reduction can be helpful) and 2 points into Ice Floes. Now put 3 points into Winter's Chill and 2 points into Cold as Ice. Pick up Ice Barrier at 40. At this point you will really begin to feel powerful and survivable. With Ice Barrier up all the time, Cold Snap and Ice Block in emergencies, you will often be the last man standing if the group wipes and might be able to finish off the enemies even though everyone else is dead assuming you have any mana left.
Level 40 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAf0ckcu0fz
The next ten points go down like this: 4 into Arctic Winds, 2 into Fingers of Frost, 2 into Empowered Frostbolt, 1 last point into Arctic Winds, then 1 point into Summon Water Elemental. Get the Glyph of Eternal Water, and you should also have the Glyph of Ice Barrier.
Level 50 spec: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#oZZAf0ckcu0fzgbo
At this point you will probably not need a guide. Respec is maybe warranted as some tanks don't like Frostbite and although you will do more AoE damage with it, Fingers of Frost procs quite a bit anyway (the two talents are linked to the same proc chance). You could take the three Frostbite points and put them into Precision. You should pick up Brain Freeze and put 1 point into Enduring Winter for the group mana regen buff, but neither are really required.