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Build Shop: Mage 17/0/44


Every Tuesday, Chris Jahosky contributes Build Shop, which takes a look into one of the many talent specs available to players.

Today's build has been sent in by a number of people now, so this week I'm taking a look at one of the more popular Arena Frost Mage builds -- 17/0/44. There are a number of variations of deep Frost builds, but this one goes far enough in the Arcane tree to grab the very useful and powerful Improved Counterspell. The Frost tree has been synonymous with survivability for a long time, so it's no wonder that it is so often seen in the Arena. As with other builds of this nature, it picks up talents that increase your damage output as well as those that boost your ability to stay alive. Frost allows you to kite your opponents, or hit them with reliable burst damage utilizing Shatter.

As usual, there is some wiggle room with the talent spread, so you may want to shift points around depending on your personal taste, or even the Arena bracket you spend most of your time in.


Arcane (17 points)
  • Arcane Subtlety (2/2) - Increases your spell penetration by 10, and reduces the amount of threat from your Arcane spells by 40%. The threat reduction component means nothing for PvP encounters, but some additional spell penetration isn't bad for 2 points.
  • Arcane Focus (3/5) - Reduces your target's chance to resist your Arcane spells by 6%. While you'll primarily be using Frost spells to deal damage with this build, your Polymorph and Counterspell both count as Arcane spells, and this reduces the chance that they'll be resisted. That's a good thing, because a resisted Counterspell can be a real heart breaker.
  • Arcane Concentration (5/5) - Gives your damaging spells that hit the target a 10% chance to proc Clearcasting, which reduces the mana cost of your next spell by 100%. Great for mana efficiency, which can definitely be useful against teams that like to drain your mana.
  • Magic Absorption (4/5) - Increases all resistances by 8, and causes spells that you resist to restore 4% of your mana. Kind of a filler talent, but not a horrible choice. It's more appealing to me than anything else in the tree at this point, but shift these points elsewhere if you desire.
  • Arcane Fortitude (1/1) - Increases your armor by 50% of your Intellect. Another talent I'd consider filler, but does add some extra armor for only 1 talent point -- not a horrible idea with all that PvP gear that's ignoring x amount of armor these days.
  • Improved Counterspell (2/2) - Gives your Counterspell a 100% chance to silence the target for 4 seconds. This is the big reason to spec into Arcane -- this talent not only locks out whatever magic tree your target was using when casted, it completely silences them for 4 seconds, which can be an eternity in the Arena.

Frost (44 points)
  • Improved Frostbolt (5/5) - Reduces the casting time of your Frostbolt by 0.5 seconds. The quicker you can get these off, the better -- Frostbolt is your primary nuke with this build, and reducing the casting time means more damage in less time.
  • Ice Shards (5/5) - Increases the critical strike damage of your Frost spells by 100%. Definitely pick this one up, as it doubles the damage you do when you crit.
  • Frostbite (3/3) - Gives your chill effects a 15% chance to freeze the target for 5 seconds. A terrific talent since it synergizes well with Shatter, allowing you to dole out some burst damage while your targets are frozen.
  • Improved Frost Nova (2/2) - Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova by 4 seconds. Frost Nova can be used offensively to create Shatter opportunities, or defensively to save yourself (or another target), so being able to use it more often is a definite plus. It's also required for Shatter, which is a talent you absolutely should not pass up in this build.
  • Piercing Ice (3/3) - Increases the damage done by your Frost spells by 6%. Not a bad talent, as it scales with your gear and allows you to cause more damage. Depending on the bracket you're playing in (or your team make up) you may want to shift points into Permafrost instead to help with kiting.
  • Icy Veins (1/1) - Reduces casting time of all spells by 20%, and increases the chance your chilling effects will freeze the target by 10%. Great for cranking out spells in a hurry, and when combined with Frostbite gives you a 25% chance to freeze your targets, which is great for creating more opportunities to use my favorite talent in this tree (that's right, Shatter).
  • Arctic Reach (2/2) - Increases the range of Frostbolt and Blizzard, as well as the radius of Frost Nova and Cone of Cold by 20%. Another great talent, extends the range of your Frostbolt as well as the radius of spells you can use to freeze or slow your targets.
  • Shatter (5/5) - Increases your critical strike chance against frozen targets by 50%. Without a doubt, my favorite talent in the tree. Allows you a great amount of control over when you use your burst damage. Don't pass this one up.
  • Cold Snap (1/1) - Ends the cooldown on all your Frost spells when used. This is a great talent the helps provide the control for which the Frost tree is famous.
  • Winter's Chill (5/5) - Gives your Frost spells a 100% chance to apply the Winter's Chill debuff, which increases the crit chance of Frost spells against the target by 2% for 15 seconds. This stacks up to 5 times for an additional 10% chance to crit. Aside from the obvious benefit to you, this can help protect other debuffs on the target.
  • Ice Barrier (1/1) - Absorbs 977 damage, and prevents spells from being interrupted while the shield is up. This is a great talent because there's no protection against pushback from damage in the Frost tree. It can also be used to give your healer more time to save you while you're being targeted.
  • Arctic Winds (5/5) - Increases all Frost damage you cause by 5%, and reduces the chance you'll be hit by melee / ranged attacks by 5%. A great talent that pulls double duty, since it increases your damage (like Piercing Ice) and gives you more survivability.
  • Empowered Frostbolt (5/5) - Your Frostbolt gains an additional 10% of your spelldamage, and increases its chance to crit by 5%. Increases the damage of your primary nuke, and gives it a greater chance to crit -- there's no reason not to pick this one up.
  • Water Elemental (1/1) - Summons a Water Elemental to fight for you for 45 seconds. The Water Elemental adds considerable damage as well as its own ranged Frost Nova, so it can be used to freeze your targets, setting them up for a nasty hit thanks to Shatter. Please note that it can be banished by warlocks, which will take it out of commission for 10 seconds (though the banish does have diminishing returns).

All in all one of my favorite Arena builds -- lots of survivability and control, as well as some big crits thanks to Shatter and Ice Shards. While most of the talents picked up from the Arcane tree are utility, Improved Counterspell is invaluable for stopping a heal or other important spellcast.

That wraps up this edition of Build Shop, but I'll be back again next week. What do you want to see on Build Shop? Send me an email with your questions, comments, or builds and we'll talk shop.

Filed under: Mage, Build Shop

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