Cover art of Frost Mage AoE
HC Guides

Frost Mage AoE

    Hardcore viability

    POWER UNLIMITED! As an AoE you will be controlling and nuking masses of mobs, that in turn can deal enormous potential damage to you. No class (especially in hardcore) can come close to the leveling speed and earning potential that an AoE mage brings to the table.

    The catch? It’s risky as shit and your likelihood of survival is small… but nothing in the game comes close to the feeling you get kiting a mass of mobs and blowing them to pieces. And if you can get to 60 doing mostly AoE.. huge props gigagamer!

    Also an AoE mage is not just limited to the farming spots you typically see, often I will weave in questing that is convenient to AoE as well as grind out the juicy locations.

    Warrning - if you are unfamiliar with AoE mage or unfamiliar with mage period, I highly suggest not trying AoE in hardcore first and rather go on multilife or private server, etc. You can study all the videos and guides you want, but nothing comes close to getting a real feel for the rotation, mob behavior, what to do when shit goes awry, etc. More seasoned AoE mages make this look easy, but most of the moves they make are purely habit and reflex from doing so much practice.

    Best races

    This will be relatively brief as most racials are not significantly impactful to AoE style mage.

    Alliance Alliance


    Gnome is your go-to choice here due to the 5% intellect buff (larger mana pool). The larger the mana pool the more mobs you can pull and the more creative you can become with how to kill them, as well as escape with blink, etc when you need to. Escape artist also can come in handy if you want to attempt pulls on rooting mobs.


    Human doesn’t bring much to the table - spirit bonus is pretty useless when it comes to AoE (you won’t be regening much, if any, mana in your pulls). This will marginally decrease your downtime between pulls. Humans are definitely more viable for single target style mage.

    Horde Horde

    Not much to say here - pretty much take your pick. Troll Berserking only helps potentially finish pulls and the only marginal benefit Undead brings is consuming corpses, which can save money on bandages sometimes? But every AoE mage should have First Aid trained so this is a marginal benefit at best.

    Terms to know


    For AoE mage specifically this is the group of mobs that you attempt to kill together


    Extended spell and melee range when you jump or move. This works in your favor (ie. jumping to arcane explode) but also for enemies (can hit you from further with melee if you jump)

    Spell hit

    Spells have a fixed percent to hit (then calculate damage/reductions). If the target is the same level as the caster, a spell has a base chance to hit of 96%. There is always a natural 1% resist even if at or over 100% hit.

    • If the target is +1 level compared to caster: 95%
    • If the target is +2 levels compared to caster: 94%
    • If the target is +3 levels compared to caster: 83%


    Using a lower rank of a spell, typically to get the full effect of the spell (ie. nova for root) for lower mana cost.

    Heart beat

    Capability of a mob to break out of CC, including both Frost nova and Polymorph.

    Stat priority

    Essentially your pulls as an AoE mage are limited by your HP and mana pools. Therefore Intellect and Stamina are your priorities by a mile here.

    • Intellect - the bigger the mana pool the larger pulls you can handle, and with quicker methods (ie. Shatter vs blizzard). Also the more mana the more you can utilize escape tools (blink, mana shield, etc) when you need them.
    • Stamina - as an AoE mage you will get hit. A lot. Especially before you get ice shield at level 40. You will typically want to still avoid unnecessary hits until you get more comfortable with your pulls, but the more HP you have the more you can endure and crazier you can make your pulls.
    • Spell power (SP) - this is only marginally beneficial in AoE due to the horrible spell power coefficient you get for AoE spells, but it can slightly improve kill times. This will be more helpful when having to handle single target quests, etc.
    • Spirit - the only other stat to mention, and will only help in decreasing the time between your pulls with some faster regen.
    • Everything else. Pretty much irrelevant.



    There’s only 2 viable preferred options here I’ll recommend, but I will list 4 possibilities. I believe effectiveness vs time to train is important so I will detail both for each option.


    Slow leveling speed but huge AoE impact. Engineering has the strongest impact on AoE for two reasons, bombs and dummies. Bombs are great for the stun to buy time to your next Frost Nova, etc and of course the damage increases your kill speed. Dummies are great to save your life if you really scuff a pull.

    Even if you pick engineering, I recommend Skinning+Mining to start. Keep some of the leather for dummies later and sell the rest to help purchase early bags. Then switch to engi whenever you feel like you want some bombs or are running out of bank space.

    You will not need to progress engineering much further past iron grenades unless you really want to. Just having a pile of Iron grenade and some dummies will carry you to 60. If you do go further I recommend Goblin engineering for the increased AoE damage.

    No Professions

    Yes I am mentioning this and putting it as #2. Most of my runs I actually do not pick any primary professions other than skinning just for money to help with my mount cost at level 40. I am having too much fun murdering packs of mobs at a time… that I just want to keep doing just that. Mage is such a powerful class it really does not require professions and they are a significant time investment over the span of leveling to 60.

    Though this is hardcore and I highly recommend picking whatever you want to play with for fun, I do see significant value decline in the other professions to an AoE mage vs the time they take.


    Fast leveling and great $$ but little AoE impact Unfortunately tailoring is not that strong for AoE. With intellect and stamina being your priority stats there will just not be that many good upgrades for you.

    The positive sides of these professions is the extra income you will get from skinning (mount is easily attainable at 40) and the time to gather and level is minimal compared to other professions. Also being able to make bags is great, though you will typically just want to purchase or find most your bags as the bags you can typically make at level aren’t the best.


    Moderate leveling speed with little impact on AoE Alchemy does provide some benefit in the form of rolling buffs and extra mana+HP potions. My adversity to alchemy is that you will typically find more than enough mana+HP pots from killing so many mobs, and the intellect potion is worthless due to your own intellect buff. I can’t be bothered to spend all the time required picking flowers to receive minimal value here.

    Alchemy is stronger on fire mage specifically due to fire power potions, and certainly other classes but I really don’t see it suiting AoE mage well.


    Will list all 3 here, but only first aid I would say is very important, with cooking being somewhat valuable.

    First aid

    This is mandatory. You will have plenty of cloth to level this and can craft while on the tram, boat, etc. So very efficient and it will save your life. Typically this is used in combination with a frost nova or polymorph to get a free heal off.


    This is up to you - the stamina buff is nice for more HP on your pulls, but this does require some time and the benefit is not that big. If you're newer to AoE mage I would recommend picking this up, otherwise fine to skip.


    I never fish. You can get some leather for engineering, fish to cook, and other varying items of usefulness for sure… but any time away from destroying mobs in AoE is tough for me.. Especially sitting by water for hours.

    Talent builds

    Pre-AoE (to level 21)

    There’s two methods I recommend here. Speed with fire to level 22 but will cost 1g for respec, or a bit slower and build up to your frost AoE from the start.

    Fire build

    Fire Build Pre-AoE Mage Talents

    Doing a fireball build will always be your fastest single target leveling.

    • 2 points in Elemental Precision and Improved Fireball are huge to reduce resists and increase DPS, after that it’s more personal preference.
    • I prefer Flame Throwing to initiate combat with fireballs from further away and Improved Fireblast to weave in more to maximize kill speed.
    • I find Ignite lacking until you have more critical spell chance, and Impact to be fun but I’m fine with mobs hitting me a bit to work on defense skill.

    Starting with AoE build

    Since this is hardcore and gold matters, feel free to start talenting into your AoE build as you level and save a gold - this still performs very well single target. Pick your talents as detailed below.

    AoE heaven (22+)

    Initial AoE build

    Frost Starter AoE Mage Talents

    At level 22 this is where you can start the fun! If you want to wait until 23 to get Cold Snap that is completely understandable as it may save your life.

    AoE build to 60

    AoE Life at 40

    Level 40 Frost AoE Mage Talents

    The most important thing here is getting to Ice Barrier at 40… absolute game changer. Some of the talents leading up to this are quite important, others more preference based on playstyle.

    • Arctic Reach is massive, primarily for the radius with nova and cone of cold PLUS the range on your blizzard. Frost Channeling also performs very well to be able to extend your mana pool.
    • Ice block is priority once you can get it, as is helps set up bigger and safer pulls as well as provide a panic button.
    • When it comes to Ice Shards, Piercing Ice, Shatter, and Improved Cone of Cold there are different priorities you can take based on your playstyle. I find the above order I’ve taken them to be best as I like to improve my overall pull speed with Piercing Ice, then start working on shatter damage ASAP. You may want to use more Cone of Cold or not shatter as frequently and it’s fine to prioritize stats differently.

    Setup and rotations

    Before we get into pull setup, just a reminder on AoE mage when it comes to hardcore that get used to aborting pulls. In multilife it’s expected to do everything you can to finish the pull you started. In Hardcore you will not last long if you don’t get used to running away when things are turning bad, especially if you are newer to AoE. It takes 10 seconds to leash the mobs, drink and pull again rather than start back at level 1.

    Pull setup

    First part of any pull is identifying your kill targets and your escape route. When selecting mobs you should know their abilities (fight solo a bit if you haven’t yet) and how many you expect to pull.

    You prefer melee mobs no more than 2 levels higher with basically zero abilities that will interrupt your AoE (stuns, fears, etc). Also feel free to start your pulls at low level or with a new style of mob smaller than normal.

    • What and how many mobs you will pull
    • Spell rotation to kill
    • Clear escape path

    Once you have your plan set, full hp and mana and any buffs you can scrounge, it’s time to gather up the mobs and begin your kill rotation.

    Gathering mobs

    If you are below level 40, your easiest route to gathering is a combination of the following depending on the pull:

    • Wand (doesn’t break your mana regen, prio this when possible)
    • Body pulling - just get close enough to proximity aggro the mobs
    • Counterspell - only 100 mana, instant cast, and decent range
    • Fireblast - preferably rank 1 to save mana for AoE

    Once you’re level 40+, gathering mobs becomes trivial. Apply Ice Barrier, mount up, then body pull until you have enough. Remember to let your Ice Barrier come off cooldown so you can instantly reapply it once you have gathered the mobs.

    Standard nova+blizzard rotation

    This is your bread and butter mage AoE rotation. Once again will be fully available once you hit level 22 and have the appropriate talents. At the beginning you will want to be very careful with mana as you will have a limited supply and need to focus on control and damage of the mobs (ie. abusing mana shield will leave you dead)

    • Gather mobs then nova them together, ideally as close to possible
    • Max range Blizzard, move back a couple steps and repeat
    • Frost Nova again off cooldown, ideally before mobs reach you
    • Repeat Blizzard or other AoE to finish mobs

    Here’s an example from my last playthrough of a level 23 blizzard AoE pull.


    I will mention shatter here briefly as it is very powerful. Once you have developed more of the talent tree and have built more stamina and intellect, you can look to use shatter more effectively. Frost Nova into Flamestrike then Cone of Cold will return massive damage for the mana spent, and is certainly the quickest way to finish pulls.

    Cone of cold rotation

    A less popular form of AoE these days but certainly viable and actually more mana efficient, though a bit slower. Utilize the slow from cone of cold to drag the mobs in a circle. Hit them with cone of cold on cooldown and use nova for more shatter damage or if you miss a mob or so with the cone of cold. The mana efficiency comes in here as your mp5 will start to tick between cone of cold casts.

    Even if not your primary way of killing mobs, learning how to cone of cold kite is a great skill that all mages should learn in case of a bad aoe pull, helping a team out of a dungeon, etc.

    When shit goes wrong

    AoE mage looks amazing when all goes right, but you can expect most of the time it will feel far from perfect and will take work to get there. Here are some notes on tools you have to possibly either salvage a bad pull or buy you enough time to escape from a really bad pull.

    • Polymorph - This is great to use when a single mob breaks out or resists your nova. You can then decide to try to put them back in the AoE back or leave them poly’d till the end
    • Cold snap - Huge to help reset your frost tools. Early on this is great to get another nova off, and later it’s great to also use ice block and ice barrier again.


    Having either downranked abilities keybound or as a macro is very important. Here’s some spells I will mention it’s important to have downranked versions handy:

    • Frost Nova - There is no reason to even train above level 1 while leveling. You want minimal mana cost for the full root effect.
    • Blizzard - Rank 1 Blizzard is very handy and I find myself using it frequently. This helps group mobs back up, use for only a few seconds while waiting for nova cooldown, etc.
    • Cone of Cold - Typically I am using max rank for shatter, but rank 1 gets you the full slow for much less mana and can be very helpful in keeping distance from mobs while nova is on cooldown
    • Frostbolt - Just general best practice to always keep rank 1 frostbolt on your bar. Especially if you get improved frostbolt talent this becomes a 1 second cast that severely slows the target.

    Hardcore Mage Leveling Guide

    Looking for a step-by-step leveling guide that is tailored for the Hardcore Mage leveling experience?

    Click below to visit RestedXP and download their awesome add-on to start receiving in-game directions. The guide is free for the first 20 levels, so give it a try!