January 8, 2008

Icy Veins and the Raiding Mage

2.3.2 hit the World of Warcraft today, bringing several changes for mages. Mana gems have been buffed to have multiple charges, and the former staple of the frost tree, Ice Block, is now trainable for all mages, replaced by the talent Cold Snap, which has been moved down in the tree. Taking the place formerly occupied by Cold Snap is Icy Veins, a new frost talent much anticipated by the raiding mage community. How will Icy Veins affect raiding mages? Let's take a look.

The Basics
Icy Veins is an instant cast spell that lasts 20 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown, and is located 11 points into the frost tree. Its tooltip says that it "Decreases casting time of all spells by 20% and increases the chance your chilling effects will freeze the target by 10% for 20 seconds." The "decreases casting" part is a tad misleading; instead of directly reducing your cast time, IV increases your spell haste by 20%*.

What Spells Does Icy Veins Affect?
Icy Veins works on all three schools of magic that mages use. If you have the talent Frostbite, any frost spells you cast while IV is up will also gain the 10% bonus to freezing procs. If you don't have points in Frostbite, you'll only get the haste benefit (which is still nice on its own).

Will Icy Veins Stack With My Arcane Power/Heroism/Combustion/Quagmirran's Eye/Troll Bezerking/Mystical Skyfire Diamond/Bloodlust/Spellstrike proc/etc?
Yes. (Math-happy theorycrafters out there, please note stacked haste effect math gets a little tricky here.)

So Icy Veins is a Good Talent for All Mages?
Icy Veins has great potential for deep frost mages, PvP mages with points in frost already (that should be all of you, right?), and progression PvE mages who aren't hurting for mana and can afford to put 11 points into the frost tree. In PvE, your particular mileage may vary depending on your gear, group composition, the encounter in question, and your playstyle, but some of the initial number-crunching from the PTRs suggests that 10/48/3 fire mages who drop clearcasting to pick up Icy Veins will see their dps go up by ~2.5%.

A 2.5% DPS Increase! Wow!
I agree, but here's an important caveat: the only thing Icy Veins (and haste in general) does for a fire mage is let you burn through your mana bar faster. If you're OOM by the end of the fight anyway, this talent is virtually worthless to you.

Wait, Why Would Anyone Give Up Clearcasting? That's a Lot of Mana!
The general thought process is that the changes to mana gems in 2.3.2 should offset the loss of clearcasting procs. Plus, fire dps is pretty efficient these days anyway.

GMW, Tell Us! Are You Changing Your Spec Again?
I am indeed.

So, Tell Us How You're Speccing Firkin in 2.3.2.
With pleasure, my capital letter overusing friends. Here's my thought process.
Before 2.2, arcane was the name of the game. I switched back to the classic 10/47/3+1 build in 2.3, as it once again offered the best dps and mana efficiency for progression raiding (and vastly decreased my weekly mana potion budget).

In 2.3.2, I'm thinking the best raiding mage builds will be 0/47/11+3. I'll keep all the old fire talents from the classic build, along with 3/3 Elemental Precision. To that, I'm adding 5/5 Improved Frostbolt and 2/2 Improved Frost Nova to pick up Icy Veins in Cold Snap's old spot.

The three remaining points will be heavily debated on forums and blogs. The major options I see for them are:

  • 2/2 Arcane Subtlety and _______ - The conservative choice, this lets you keep your 40% threat reduction in arcane for AE spamming on AOE packs.
  • 3/5 Impact - For a Blackout-like stun effect. Fun in PvP, sometimes handy in PvE, but I won't be doing it because I date a tank, and he gets grouchy about random stun procs.
  • 2/2 Blazing Speed and _______ - A talent I've wanted to play around with but never gotten around to, but the proc is probably a bit random to provide a significant benefit. On the other hand, there are a ton of endgame raiders walking around with [Boar's Speed] on their PvE boots, on the premise that every little increase helps in fights with lots of maneuvering.
  • 3/3 Improved Frostbite - For the PvE/PvP player, there's a certain logic here. Icy Veins provides a direct boost to Frostbite's freezing effect, which is something that you almost never want to happen in the controlled environment of PvE raiding, but is great fun in PvP. But since a fire mage won't be casting frost spells in PvE (at least not 97% of the time, and 2% of the remainder will be on Frostbite-immune bosses), this combo lets you have your cake and eat it too.
  • 3/3 Improved Flamestrike - I'm leaning towards this one. I'm not sure how dangerous skipping Arcane Subtlety will be on trash, but a 15% crit bonus on Flamestrike means that I could default to spamming that instead of AM if I need to.
  • 3/3 Improved Blizzard - As with Imp Flamestrike, the idea is to come up with something to replace AE spam on AOE packs. Used correctly, Imp Blizzard is actually a really excellent utility tool for AOE pack control, but for a fire mage it won't compare in terms of damage.
I Have More Questions About Icy Veins! Where Can I Turn?
Lhivera posted this great Q&A on the talent on the official WoW boards. In addition, the Elitist Jerks forums are always a good source, but you may have to dig around a little (or a lot).

*Math-happy theorycrafters should note that +20% spell haste is not the same as -20% cast time; it works out to more like -17% cast time.


Fernando Madruga said...

Woah! Slow down girl! You're ahead of the game!

(Hint, if you missed what I'm talking about, just re-read your first sentence!)

Kytara said...

Firkin I think you totally outdid yourself on this post. Awesome Job.

I went ahead and picked up Magic Attunement for 2.3.2 so now I'm
12/0/49. Should be fun. Can't wait.

I think Nav mentioned about going 0/50/11 so that should be some crazy times too.

Will be interesting to see how fire works without clearcasting. should be ok. specially like you said with the new mana gem rules.

Chadness said...

Yeah, I'm highly considering moving the 10 points in arcane I have now over to frost, at least trying it out. (I'm 10/48/3 now, not because I raid a lot, because I don't, but because its a fun spec to play and do 5-mans with.)

My vote for the extra points is Blazing Speed (because its FUN) or Imp. Frostbite.

Kind of nice having the possibility of being more of an "elementalist" spec and have it work.

Nice post. :)

Girl Meets WoW said...

Heh, thanks Fernando. Either my finger slipped, or that was wishful thinking about Sunwell...

Anonymous said...

I fail at the theorycrafting, but as I was respeccing my mage to pick up Icy Veins (I didn't have Cold Snap in my old 40/0/21 build), I realized that at 11 points, it's perfect for frost mages (arcane/frost like myself or deep frost), and may be tempting for fire mages but probably isn't worth it. If you're wearing Spellfire gear (as any fire mage should), that is quite a bit of bonus spell damage that isn't going to help your frost spells one bit. If the gear has been replaced, then it's probably worth it, but I just see seven wasted talent points in an attempt to reach Icy Veins if you aren't going to supplement your frost damage. At least the points in arcane serve a decent purpose on the way to Clearcasting.

Girl Meets WoW said...

"If you're wearing Spellfire gear (as any fire mage should), that is quite a bit of bonus spell damage that isn't going to help your frost spells one bit."

The trouble with this statement is that it's a false comparison. There are no additional damage boosts in arcane that you're sacrificing by putting the extra 7 into frost to get to IV. So if you have the mana to give up clearcasting, you're trading mana you're not using for damage you are using.

Euripedes said...

How dooz I doo the cool linky things in the comments...

Like, where it quotes a chunk of my blog in the comment, providing a link to both my blog from here and your blog from there... err, here... hither? Yon?

Maybe only wordpress does it.

Or is it that "Create Link" thing... wait... ARGH! I FAIL AT BLOGGOTH!!

Either way, linked to here from home base for this post. Thankee, GMW, for saving from typing practically the exact same thing.

Anonymous said...

What you are referring to are trackbacks, and blogspot has yet to implement these.

Anonymous said...

"has yet to implement these"... properly.

Sorry, posted too fast. Also, the feature has massively improved since I left blogger :)

Euripedes said...

Hey, look, it worked out kinda sorta not really...

One more reason to switch to wordpress.

Girl Meets WoW said...

Actually, I've never much liked trackbacks mixed in with comments, because then you're reading away in the comments and suddenly you get crit with a wall of random excerpted text... if I had my way they'd appear in two different columns.

But thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

Without derailing this too much, there are actually means to separate trackbacks from comments in the display :)

Rhoelyn said...

"A 2.5% DPS Increase! Wow!
I agree, but here's an important caveat: the only thing Icy Veins (and haste in general) does for a fire mage is let you burn through your mana bar faster. If you're OOM by the end of the fight anyway, this talent is virtually worthless to you."

Thank you. Thank you for being the one to say it. I was getting bummed watching the horrible flames over on Build Shop until I saw your comment and followed your link. This is so important, and it's the reason why the poor WoWInsider authors' build is still perfectly valid!

My mage, as a Karazhan raiding toon, still has just enough mana troubles that I won't be switching to 2/48/11 for the time being. I need Clearcasting to save my mana bar.

Thank you for being one of the only people to acknowledge a very, very important fact.


Anonymous said...

Well I'm sorry but in 25 mans you should be running with at least 2 shadow priests, also a shaman in your group. Thus using your mana emerald and mana potions (as well as evocation if needed) your mana should not be a problem.

I'm a 5/8 t6 mage, I run 2/48/11 and only have mana issues on straight dps fights such as Teron Gorefiend, Kaz'rogal etc

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