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Arcane Brilliance: On Deep Freeze

Christian Belt

Each week Arcane Brilliance invites Mages everywhere to read a column about themselves. It then invites Mages to cast Mirror Image and have their copies read it also. It then invites those mirror images to in turn cast Mirror Image upon themselves, and those copies to cast it as well. In this way, Arcane Brilliance intends to become the single most viewed page on the web. Get casting!

Let me preface this by saying that if you are one of the many who label anything written by a Mage that isn't full of sunshine and candy canes as complaining, crying, or QQ, you may want to just stop reading right now. Thanks for coming, post your "UR TEARZ R DELICIOUS" nonsense in the comments section, and then go back to tea-bagging your kills on Halo or whatever. This column is not for you.

Ok, gone?


Now that it's just Mages left here, we can talk. Last week I made a promise concerning Deep Freeze. This week I intend to deliver upon that promise. You see, since last week's column, build 9014 and build 9038 have come and gone on the beta, and Deep Freeze still does no damage. We still have no idea, at least not in the form of a comment by a blue poster, whether this change is permanent, intentional, or just Blizzard screwing around with things the way they're still doing with Arcane Blast, i.e. over-nerfing a spell for testing purposes. All we know is that the Frost tree's 51 point spell sucks. It sucked two builds ago, and it goes on sucking to this very day. As I write these words, Deep Freeze remains on the beta, sucking like nothing has ever sucked before.

Now I must do what I must do.

There will be no sunshine or candy canes after the jump. This I promise you.

Once upon a time, and not very long ago at all, Deep Freeze was a very good spell. If you wish to remind yourself of past glories, I invite you to visit the Skill Mastery I wrote on the subject, where you will find Deep Freeze depicted at its apex, frozen in time like a prehistoric insect in amber. Those were heady days, when anything seemed possible. Frost Mages had a very nice talent tree, one that enhanced their already effective control and utility options, yet still dealt out competitive damage. The cap talent was the natural evolution of this spec, a powerful but situational control ability that also added a nice burst damage option. The spell was an excellent PvP ability, and also viable in PvE as an option during Fingers of Frost or a Shatter combo.

Remember that? It was nice, wasn't it?

Now consider the spell today. Deep Freeze with the damage component removed is a 5 second stun that can only be applied when the target is frozen. The up-side to the spell is that it is still instant cast, and it still considers the target frozen during the 5 second duration, essentially extending whatever freeze effect it was cast during. It still won't break on damage, which is good. The spell has a 30 second cooldown, which can be talented down to 24 seconds. In PvP, this still has its applications. You can use it to afford you additional control and longer shatter combos.

In PvE, though, Deep Freeze is no longer even worth spending points on. It affords no tangible DPS increase, isn't usable on bosses at all due to stun-immunities, and even if it was, wouldn't be worth the mana cost and global cooldown simply to apply an extra five seconds of frozen status.

At the heart of the issue is Blizzard's design philosophy for 51 point talents. Looking at the 51 point talents for other classes, they share a common theme. For healing specs, they increase healing by substantial amounts. For DPS and tanking specs, they almost universally increase damage output. There are only four exceptions to this:

Beast Mastery - Hunter, Beast Mastery

This allows the hunter to tame exotic pets like Devilsaurs, Chimeras, Silithids, etc. and gives the Hunter's pet 4 additional skill points. Though it doesn't provide an immediate, measurable DPS increase, this does provide the Hunter with a much more powerful pet, especially when the 4 skill points are factored in. Trust me, you won't hear much of BM Hunters complaining about this one.

Dispersion - Priest, Discipline Edit: Shadow

This provides no extra damage, but Disc Priests aren't really designed for damage output. It isn't the sexiest talent in the world, but you can't argue its value in both aspects of the game. It is essentially a powerful mana potion on a 3 minute cooldown that also provides 90% damage reduction and is non-dispellable. It is also a CC-breaker, making it invaluable in PvP. Again, the important thing to note about this spell is that for your 51 talent points, you are getting an ability that is both PvP and PvE viable.

Edit: Yes, I now realize this is a Shadow talent. I was really wrong here, and I apologize. I'm not sure why I made this particular mistake, and I feel really really stupid. I still think it's a more valuable talent than Deep Freeze, but I can understand why a damage-dealing spec might be angry that their 51 point talent doesn't deal any damage. Again, I'm stupid.

Hungering Cold - Death Knight, Frost

An instant-cast 10 second AoE stun that breaks on damage, but considers targets frozen for the purposes of damage. I doubt I have to tell you how much more powerful this is than Deep Freeze. It essentially mimics the core purpose of the spell, while trumping it in every way. I don't know about you, but for me, reading the spell description on this one feels like getting kicked in the nether-regions. Repeatedly.

And the fourth is of course Deep Freeze, which increases DPS by nothing, and provides very limited CC utility in PvP only.

(It's possible that we'll get a Warlock or two in the comments section whining about Metamorphosis not being a DPS increase. It's acceptable, even encouraged, to ignore these comments. My four-year-old daughter sometimes whines about getting Cheerios when what she really wanted was Captain Crunch. When we ignore the whining, she tends to stop. Those same Warlocks may also choose to comment that by complaining about Deep Freeze, I am doing the same thing. The key difference is that if my daughter was whining about getting Cheerios with the Cheerio component removed, I would pay attention to her complaints, since Cheerios without the Cheerio component are no longer a valid cereal. A Warlock complaining about a spell that doesn't currently scale properly or take advantage of their talents, but almost certainly will be changed to reflect these things before long is similar to my four-year-old's whining. Eat your Cheerios, Warlocks. You will undoubtedly get some Captain Crunch tomorrow.)

The essential question when judging a 51 point talent should be: is it worth spending the 51 points necessary to get here? You tell me, Frost Mages. Is it? Though I am not a Frost Mage, I know what my answer would be.

There is a comparable spell out there called Hammer of Justice. Like Deep Freeze, it is an instant-cast short-duration stun. Deep Freeze has a longer range, but Hammer of Justice can be used on any target, regardless of status. Deep Freeze's cooldown can be talented down to 24 seconds, Hammer of Justice can be talented to 30 seconds. Hammer of Justice stuns for 6 seconds, Deep Freeze stuns for 5. Deep Freeze applies frozen status to the target (assuming the target was already frozen), but Hammer of Justice does not. Deep Freeze is a 51 point Mage talent, available at level 60. Even at its highest rank, Hammer of Justice costs 3% of base mana, while Deep Freeze costs 9%.

Hammer of Justice is a Paladin spell, trainable at level 8.

To me, that says all that needs to be said about Deep Freeze's comparative value. Is it worth 51 points and 60 levels of experience to get? All things being equal, it appears to be worth 8 levels, no talent points, and about 90 copper.

So what can be done to fix the spell? Any number of things. A quick perusal of the just the first few pages of the Mage beta forums will provide a litany of suggestions, none of which have managed even a cursory blue response.

First--and probably easiest--solution? Put the damage back. Fixed.

Other possible fixes include but are certainly not limited to the following:

  • Remove the spell from the global cooldown.
  • Lower the cooldown of the spell.
  • Make us like every other class and give the spell a "Mortal Strike" effect.
  • Increase the duration of the stun.
  • Make the stun work on non-frozen target
  • Make the spell only stun frozen targets, but apply frozen status to non-frozen targets, including bosses.
  • Make the spell allow the caster to turn into a cheetah, run behind a pillar, apply an instant cast HoT effect, then sit down to drink.
Ok, so I was kidding about the last one. Sort of.

Ideally, I want none of those fixes. I just want the damage back.

Blizzard, I'm going to pretend for a moment that someone who can get things done in your company has stumbled upon this column while doing a bit of drunken surfing. I will now address you directly, Imaginary Blizzard Employee.

I have faith in you guys. I believe that you have the interests of both your company and your player base at heart. I truly feel that when the dust settles, your desire is to deliver to your players a product that is as fair and balanced as it is possible for a game like this to be.

Imaginary Blizzard Employee, if Deep Freeze is not improved, playing the game will be unfair and unbalanced to a large percentage of your Mage-playing customers. Why? Because they have a 51 point talent that isn't worth taking. It is likely that there are several hundred-thousand Frost Mages out there who are current subscribers to this game, estimating conservatively. Trust me when I say, Imaginary Blizzard Employee, that you do not want to piss off several hundred-thousand Frost Mages. You just don't.

It has taken all of the restraint and diplomacy with which I am possessed to keep the tone of this column relatively civil and non-combative. I can promise no such restraint from the greater nation of Frost Mages. We are kind of known for our ability to express our disappointment. We are not known for our ability to express that disappointment in any sort of reasonable, politically correct, or socially acceptable manner. Several hundred-thousand unhappy Mages is a very bad thing. It's an event that could probably be categorized by the National Weather Service in much the same way a hurricane would.

You don't want this.

I'm not making a threat here, I'm simply alerting you to a possible consequence of non-action. For now, our needs are simple. The beta forums are rife with topics made by worried Mages on this very subject. Visit one of those topics. It doesn't really matter which one. Post a reply there. It needn't be long. In that reply, let us know what in the name of god it is that you are doing with this spell. We need two small but vital bits of information:

First: Is this change permanent, or an over-nerf that will gradually be removed?

Second: Are there future changes in the pipeline for this spell? If the damage component is a permanent removal, what is being done to replace it?

You may--as I'm sure many non-Frost-Mages will do in the comments below--question the importance of this issue. It is, after all, just one spell, and it has only been changed in just one way. If you feel this way, you are retarded. Go find a less-mentally-damaged Imaginary Blizzard Employee and bring him to the shiny-porn-box on your desk and tell him to read this.

Allright, Non-Retarded Imaginary Blizzard Employee, let me assure you that this spell is important. Its fate will determine the viability of an entire spec in PvE. With the damage component intact, Frost can be viable in both PvP and PvE. Without it, raiding Mages will avoid the bottom half of the Frost tree like the plague. I cannot overstate the value of this spell in a workable form. In turn, I cannot overstate the uselessness of it in its current form.

Start by telling us what your plans are for Deep Freeze.

Then fix it.

Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent look at how long your gear will last you in Northrend, or our analysis of the WotLK beta changes to the Arcane, Frost, and Fire trees. If you're sick and tired of all this Mage-talk, there's a veritable treasure trove of guides and tips related to all of the other aspects of WoW over in the WoW Insider Directory. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.

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