For as long as I have played a mage, I have played a Frost mage. Why? I’m not sure exactly. It probably had something to do with having a Pet; with the survivability that comes with all the freezes, slows, and burst damage that Frost spells afford; and maybe on some subconscious level that I like the cold.
I didn’t start playing until Wrath of the Lich King. At that time, Frost as a specialization (spec) was weak for raiding. So while I leveled and learned how to play Frost, I needed to raid as Arcane if I wanted to contribute any kind of meaningful damage to the encounters. As Cataclysm rolled around, I continued with the Arcane mage because it was what I was comfortable with, and it seemed to do all right.
That was until Firelands came out, and the Alysrazor encounter required constant heaving hitting damage per second (DPS). As the top DPS player in my guild group…in my guild…and of the Horde faction Mages on the server, I had to learn how to roll Fire to pump out the constant critically striking hits (crits) that were needed to get the bird-boss down as a single player target, while the rest of the raid worked on the additional monsters (adds) that were roaming around on the ground trying to kill everyone else. I don’t remember if I finished out Firelands as a Fire mage, or if I just learned it for the one encounter.
I do remember when Mists of Pandaria was released though, and Frost mages were suddenly the top damage-dealing spec for Mages, and I was elated. Not only did I get my Pet water elemental back as something more than a novelty, but I also got a slew of new damage abilities and a rotation that felt second-nature. I also remember when I logged out one day as a Blood Elf Mage, and for the first time in playing World of Warcraft, I paid for a Race Change to a Pandaren.
For leveling, the Pandaren Rested XP bonus was second to none, and allowed me to outlast those I was with and become the second in the guild to level through the expansion, and in around 30 hours straight. The new Glyphs allowed my pet to gain some intelligence and act on his own, it gave me added abilities like splitting my ice damage between multiple targets at no more cost, and a number of talents I enjoyed like Nether Tempest that could do Damage Over Time (dot) to everything in the area, and let the dotted mobs kill each other.
I stayed a Frost mage through Mists of Pandaria, and through Warlords of Draenor – though, I did not raid in any official capacity during Warlords of Draenor. Over time, through MoP and WoD, things started to change slowly: talents got updated, glyphs got added and removed, and spells changed. This happens every expansion – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
And here we are, at the end of Warlords of Draenor, with pre-patch activities and version 7.0.3 of the game. And as a long-time Frost Mage, they made the spec useless again. They killed the Glyph system and added only *some* of the enhancements to the Talent Tree instead. In removing the Glyph system, they returned my Frost Elemental pet back to a dumb barely autonomous pet, solidified the talents that classes of spells like Arcane, Frost and Fire were only available in their respective specializations – Nether Tempest is an Arcane spell now, and I am left with the lackluster Frost Bomb (though Nether Tempest isn’t what it used to be at the start of MoP either – all the similar spells are normalized so there is no clear advantage).
In working through the pre-patch content, demon invasions and lore setup with Khadgar…not with 1, but with 2 mages (one Frost on Horde, and one Arcane on Alliance) it became clear that both of the specs I am used to are weaker now with the changes coming in Legion. And while I don’t intend on diving head first into raiding again, it would be nice to not fall prey to the stuff I’m supposed to be killing during my journey from 100 – 110 due to a weaker class specialization. So I decided that this time, I would buck the common sentiment that “Fire is great when you have all your gear, but not for leveling” and go for broke with Fire from the beginning of this expansion.
Now the journey begins all over again. I will be starting when the patch releases at 12am Pacific Time – though I’m playing on Dalaran, which is an east-coast server, and won’t see a patch until 3am server time…or 2am local time for me. I have the week off from work, and will be live-streaming the journey via Facebook Live on my personal page. Leave a comment here if you would like access to the stream and can’t otherwise get it.