Below are my talent recommendations for various situations along with an in depth look into each talent choice.
Recommended Overall Build
- Lonely Winter
- Incanter’s Flow
- Splitting Ice
- Frigid Winds
- Arctic Gale
- Glacial Spike / Thermal Void
The choice between Glacial Spike and Thermal Void will depend on your stats, so don’t be afraid to use Simulationcraft or ask in the mage Discord server. Generally though, if you can cleave in any situation, use Glacial Spike.
Recommended Single Target Build
Tier 1 - Level 15
Ray of Frost – this talent hasn’t seen much use in Legion yet, despite having a relatively cool design, the opportunity cost is simply too high. Not being able to use other spells or move for 10 seconds every minute makes this talent simply not worth it even under almost perfect circumstances.
Lonely Winter – The current cookie cutter talent choice for this tier, you give up the option to summon your Welly (Summon Water Elemental) for straight up increased spell damage on your most important spells.
Bone Chilling – Also a completely passive talent choice, since pretty much all of your spells attempt to chill their target, this is essentially equal to 0.5% stacking damage per spell damage for 8 seconds, stacking up to a 6% increase. This would be your choice if you want to play with Welly for some specific reason.
Tier 2 - Level 30
Shimmer – My favourite in this talent tier, gives your blink 2 charges and makes it usable while casting other spells, default pick for most players.
Glacial Insulation – Worthless talent, opportunity cost too high even for quirky stuff.
Tier 3 - Level 45
Mirror Image – Even though Mirror Images got buffs in 7.1.5, they are still nearly useless for Frost, as Incanter’s Flow is a fully passive choice that also provides better dps, both on single target and AoE.
Rune of Power – This talent is currently lagging behind Incanter’s Flow for consistent damage. Can be useful for short bursts of damage (or when you want to look cool with Ray of Frost). May become more viable with Tier 20 set bonuses.
Incanter’s Flow – The current default choice in this tier, fully passive damage increase that increases and decreases in magnitude periodically.
Tier 4 - Level 60
Frozen Touch – Increases the chance that Frostbolt and Frozen Orb will trigger Fingers of Frost, bringing it up to 16.8% from the baseline 12%. This talent can occasionally be better than Splitting Ice on single target, especially if Glacial Spike is not selected. Sim your own character for best results.
Splitting Ice – Makes your Ice Lance and Glacial Spike cleave a second target for 80% of their original damage and increases damage of Icicles and Ice Lance by 5% as an added bonus. Currently the default choice, offers both increased single target damage as well as a form of AoE.
Tier 5 - Level 75
The choice in this tier is largely irrelevant.
Frigid Winds – Increases the potency of your slows by 15%. The only semi-useful choice in this tier.
Ring of Frost – A castable CC, creates a ring on the floor which will freeze the enemies who pass through it for 10 seconds. Sometimes useful for controlling adds.
Ice Ward – Mostly useless.
Tier 6 - Level 90
Unstable Magic – The only acceptable pick for single target damage.
Tier 7 - Level 100
Thermal Void – The newly redesigned Thermal Void, now increases the base duration of Icy Veins to 30 seconds and shattered Ice Lances extend it by 1 second. Obviously after the removal of double IL and the changes to this talent, it’s power is greatly reduced. However, it may still be the best option depending on gear.
Glacial Spike – Alters gameplay somewhat, in that you actually have to pay attention to your Icicle count. Once you reach 5, you can cast Glacial Spike. Be aware of the fact that while Frostbolt damage is calculated on hit, Icicle damage is generated on cast success, so if you have 4 Icicles and you cast a Frostbolt, you can immediately start casting Glacial Spike. Choosing between Glacial Spike and Thermal Void will depend on your gear, so you should sim it yourself.
Comet Storm – Currently has no dominant use in PvE. Possible pick for some mythic dungeons, but normally not worth losing the other talent for it.
This is the general relic comparison that I would use, all levels refer to weapon item level. I will forgo posting the artifact leveling route, as it is completely worthless at this point in the expansion.