3/26: Latest Updates
Added new specs for 3.3.3
Added talent discussion
Updated Sigil discussion
Updated AMS entries
Since dual wield builds will now be entirely concentrated in the Frost Tree, I've taken it upon myself to create a new thread for the discussion and development of Frost theory and technique. Prior to the rather ridiculous buffs of 3.3.3, Frost was almost always inferior to an Unholy build for most fights. With the recent changes to the spec, Frost is now an entirely viable DPS path, assuming your guild does not already have an Unholy DK (as the Unholy buffs are still very critical).
Q: What should my ability rotation be as Frost?
A: There isn't one, stop asking. Frost cannot be played with a rigid rotation, as it requires reacting to procs and whatever the current situation of the boss fight may be. The best you can do is a priority system, discussed later in this guide.
Q: What presence should I be using?
A: With the change to in 3.2 and the change to in 3.3, you will always be using Blood Presence while DPS'ing as a Frost Death Knight.
Q: Glyph of Disease seems really neat, I can get more Obliterates when I use it!
A: This is absolutely true and with the recent changes to Improved Icy Talons, the glyph can actually be used by Frost DKs! Scroll down to a later portion in this guide for more information on this most wonderful of glyphs.
Q: What type of weapons should I get as Frost?
A: Because of Threat of Thassarian, all our strikes will now hit with both weapons. As such, you will want to get weapons that have the highest possible average damage. In most cases, this means looking for a slower (>2.5) speed weapon. However, always make sure that you check that average damage, as the speed of a weapon can be sometimes misleading. If two weapons are of similar average damage, whichever has the highest DPS will end up being better. In the event that they have identical DPS values, consult your stat weights to determine which has the best stats for your particular gearset.
Q: What about a single-disease rotation/spec?
A: Those died back in Ulduar when Blizzard made all our strikes %-based scaling off of diseases. Long story short: you lose more damage than you gain, do the math if you don't believe me.
Q: HALP! Is
It should be noted that you can take points out of Killing Machine and place them into Chill of the Grave or Black Ice. Nevertheless, the basic idea remains. Essentially, you have 4 points to put in any of the following: Subversion, Blood Caked Blade, Killing Machine, Black Ice or Chill of the Grave, the merits of each are discussed below.
This is probably the weakest DPS gain/point, but should be grabbed if you notice that you are having trouble with threat.
Blood Caked Blade
Probably the highest DPS gain/point, especially if you have a decent amount of ArPen on your gear. Points should be allocated here first, after Subversion.
Killing Machine & Black Ice
Most sims/math show these two talents to be roughly on the same level when it comes to overall DPS. At this point, it's probably a wash between the two (<1% difference) so grab whatever makes you happiest.
Chill of the Grave
Like Subversion, points placed in this talent will be determined by your raid makeup (how many trees/disc priests do you have?) and by the fight (how much AoE magic damage is there?). If you find yourself starved for RP, move some points into CotG and if you notice that you have way too much, take some out.
Being experimentally tested with ArPen heavy builds, more information to follow at a later time.
In order of importance:
If you are looking for stat weightings I suggest you use one of the many sims (I prefer simcraft) as the values will vary greatly depending on your current grear.
32.8 rating gives you 1% hit, therefore you will require 263 hit rating (164 with Nerves of Cold Steel) or 8%, to be hit capped on special attacks. This means, contrary to what some might think DW builds actually require less hit to cap their special attacks than our two handed brothers. Special attacks include: Blood Strike, Plague Strike, Frost strike, Obliterate. (and others that we don't care about as DW)
Spell hit cap is 17% against level 83 (boss level opponents. The talent Virulence provides 3% hit for spells, the Druid talent Improved Faerie fire, or the Shadow priest talent Misery will further reduce this requirement by 3% (Hit debuffs do not stack.) The final result brings the requirement via gear down to 11%, at which point no spell will miss. Spells include Howling blast, Icy touch and Death coil.
White hits have a hit cap of 27%. The talent Nerves of cold steel reduces this by 3%. At this point, no white hits (or any attack for that matter) will miss. This cap is not reasonable to reach for any DK, and should not be attempted. However, keep in mind that gaining hit over the spell hit cap still has a dps value as it will allow more white damage, more blood caked blade procs, and more Killing machine procs.
8.2 rating gives 1 expertise; you need 214 expertise rating (26 expertise, 6.5%) to reach the cap, 5 of which is given to you freely from Tundra Stalker, bringing the required amount to attain from gear down to 21 expertise (172.2 rating). If you are a human using a sword/mace you need 18 expertise (147 rating), and if you are a dwarf using a mace or an orc using an axe you need 16 expertise (131.2 rating) to reach the cap due to racials. While not as important as the hit cap, capping expertise is still important as it will affect the majority of your damage.
This will be your biggest DPS gain after you reach the hit/exp caps. Since DKs have many different multipliers for strength, it works out that 1 strength ends up being woth about 2.7 AP. As all our abilities are affected by strength, this is easily the best stat for a hit/exp-capped Death Knight to stack.
You need 45.9 crit rating to gain 1% crit at 80. Since Frost DKs have very large crit multipliers, crit is more valuable for us than some other melee classes. While it's value will be diminished because of the disappearance of 4pT9, it is still one of the most valuable stats you can acquire.
13.8 rating is needed to get 1% armor penetration. Surprisingly, this not as bad a stat for Frost DKs as one might initially think, especially for single-target fights due to the heavy reliance on Obliterate and white hits. Spell damage from diseases and Frost Strike still make it undesirable to stack heavily though.
You need 25.21 baseline haste rating to gain 1% haste at 80. As a DW class with many proc based abilities, haste is more valuable for us than some other melee classes, but still not worth more than crit, strength or ArPen.
As mentioned before, all DK abilities scale off of AP. However, most stats that you will find end up being more valuable than raw AP, so it's not worth seeking it out .Note that despite AP having a 2:1 item stat budget, it is still far weaker than STR as we have no talents that boost it's effect. When comparing or considering pieces with AP vs plate, you need to look at the item stats/level as a whole.
We need 62.08 agility to gain 1% melee crit. Crit is significantly better, as Agi doesn't affect our spell crit and converts to crit at a much slower rate. However, it is still a decent stat for DKs.
DK with Bladed Armor get 0.027 AP per armor point. Most specs won't have BA, so they will not need to worry about this, but for those with BA, it makes plate gear just slightly more attractive than leather/mail.
Alchemy: +80 Attack power through Mixology, when using
Blacksmithing: 2 more sockets: Socket Bracer, Socket Gloves. Assuming , the bonus is 40 Strength.
Enchanting: 2x Enchant Ring - Assault. Bonus: +80 Attack Power
Engineering: On use 340 Haste Rating for 12 seconds, 1 min CD. Averages out to 68 Haste Rating. Otherwise you would enchant +44 AP. Total Bonus: +68 Haste Rating, -44 AP.
Inscription: +80 Attack power because of the enhanced shoulder enchant
Jewelcrafting: 3x +34 gems instead of +20 Str. 3*14 = 42 Str.
Leatherworking: + 80 Attack power because of the enhanced wrist enchant
Mining: + 60 Stamina
Skinning: +40 Crit Rating
Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery grants 400 AP for 15 seconds, roughly once a minute. This averages out to approx 100 AP. You miss out the +23 Haste for this. Total Bonus: +100 AP, -23 haste.
Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting are the superior professions, as they are the only two that can provide a +str bonus.
With the change to Glyph of Disease, there are really no other reasonable glyph choices. Howling Blast was convenient to use at one time, but since we will need to keep both diseases up at all time, it loses a lot of its value. Glyph of Icy Touch was previously the best 3rd glyph to use, but the changes to GoD have pushed it off the list.
Apart from none of the minor glyphs available to Death Knights are very spectacular. Those chosen here are simply those that will make your life the easiest.
MH: Rune of the Fallen Crusader
OH: Rune of Razoricer (single target), Rune of Cinderglacier (AoE)
Razorice is easily the best RF for a predominantly single target fight; nothing can match a static +10% frost damage to your primary target. However, on AoE encounters, Cinderglaicer end up being better because you can, with relative ease, align KM and CG procs for incredible AoE damage. Furthermore, DnD and BP are affected by Cinderglaicer but do not consume its charges.
Back - Greater Speed
Chest - Powerful Stats
Wrist - Greater Assault
Hands - Crusher
Feet - Cat's Swiftness*
*Note that you will see larger mathematical returns from enchants like Greater Assault or Icewalker, a movement speed increasing enchant will increase your survivability and give you greater DPS returns on movement based fights. Furthermore, raidleaders everywhere would be demanding my head if I told you to forgo a runspeed enchant.
The meta choice may seem odd, but since it allows you to forgo a blue gem, it works out to a net DPS gain over .
In pieces of gear with yellow sockets that will yield a +str set bonus you should use . Every other socket should be filled with .
As a general rule of thumb, you shsould use red gems in every socket. The only exception will be if you have a single yellow socket with a +strength socket bonus or are using your nightmare tear in a blue socket (which should also be used for a strength bonus). Inputting your stat weights into a website like wowhead.com can also inform you of the best gem choices to make.
is only applicable if your build includes Bladed Armor. If it does, you should pop the IA potion right before combat starts for a free 97 AP.
1) Killing Machine -> Frost Strike
2) Keep Frost Fever up
3) Keep Blood Plague up
5) Blood Srike
6) Frost Strike
8) Horn of Winter
This decision making system is illustrated in the following flow chart:
This priority list is designed to use your abilities in order of highest damage -> lowest while keeping up your diseases.
Allowing Diseases to Fall Off
Because Frost Fever and Blood Plague do significant amounts of damage on their own, it is probably a DPS gain to allow them to run their complete duration on your target before reapplying them. During the time when you are waiting for your UF runes to become available, you should avoid Blood Strikes and continue to Frost Strike/Howling Blast (through Rime) your current target. It should be noted, though, that this strategy is likely only a DPS gain if someone else present in your raid is able to keep Frost Fever up on the boss, as you will otherwise lose a considerable amount of Frost Strike damage.
Disclaimer: All the necessary math has not yet been done on this subject, so take it with a grain of salt.
1) Howling Blast
2) Keep Frost Fever up
3) Keep Blood Plague up
4) Pestilence diseases to all available targets
5) Death and Decay
7) Blood Boil
8) Frost Strike
9) Horn of Winter
When to AoE
For most people, you should start to use HB as soon as you can hit more than one target with the spell. Likewise, diseases should always be kept up on as many targets as possible. Death and Decay is a little more tricky. From what I can tell, it looks like you should begin to use DnD when there are more than three targets that it can hit (and assuming they're last for the duration).
The Runic Power generation of a standard Frost build, while high, is sometimes not enough to avoid empty GCDs. As such, it is important to use Anti-Magic Shell and deliberately place yourself in harms way in order to generate extra runic power. Below are a listing of all the sources of magic damage in the current tier and previous tier of content.
Coldflame - There will likely be a patch of this near your position often enough for you to dip into it an use AMS.
Death and Decay - Will likely be dropped in random locations throughout the encounter. Treat is like you would any other fire patch.
Deathchill Blast - Appears to be used by the Adherents as a nova, stand next to them when it is cast.
No major source of magic damage on this fight.
All damage done by Saurfang is physical, so we're SOL for this encounter as well.
Multiple opportunities to soak: Mutated Infection (a dot, similar to Grobbulus) and Sticky Ooze (puddles left by the adds). The ooze adds - small and big - both deal magical damage to targets within a 10 yard radius, and thus can be abused for RP, although they shouldn't be by you for any extended period of time.
Although Slime Spray can be soaked from, you shouldn't be in front of the boss. Ooze Flood is another ability which although soakable, one shouldn't risk it; you can die if you get caught up in it after AMS ends.
A very straight-forward fight for AMS: Soak from Gaseous Blight and/or Pungent Blight, as both are raid-wide unavoidable AoEs. I would not advise attempting to AMS the damage from Gas Spore, as it may prevent the application of the damage reduction buff, without which you can die.
P1: Volatile Ooze Adhesive, if cast on you, is the perfect time to both soak AMS and assure you won't die. Gaseous Bloat works just as well. Slime Puddles are an option, but are generally dangerous to try to abuse.
P2: Everything from phase 1. Choking Gas will provide you with plenty of RP, but due to the hit debuff you'll be unable to spam Death Coil, and thus make the most of it. If Malleable Goo is thrown at you, AMS away.
P3: Slime Puddles as well as Mutated Plague.
Lots of damage is tossed around on this fight, so there are plenty of opportunities for soaking.
Shadow Prison - If you get hit with this by Keleseth, just pop AMS if you need to move, or move intentionally and soak the damage.
Glittering Sparks - Hop in front of Taldaram and hope he casts this while you have AMS up, assuming you won't be hindered by the accompanying snare effect.
Empowered Flare - Taldaram's empowered ability, simply stand in it's path and soak up the damage.
Shadow Prison - On heroic, AMS can be used both to soak the damage from this debuff and prevent it from stacking.
Blood Queen Lana'thel
Lots and lots of delicious magic damage here as well.
Shroud of Sorrow - The aura virtually ensures that you can AMS at any time for a net RP gain.
Pact of the Darkfallen - Use AMS when other melee are nearby you are linked.
Swarming Shadows - Identical to the Jarraxxus flames.
Bloodbolt Whirl - Just hit AMS whenever she takes flight to have full RP when she lands. You can also machine gun deathcoils at her during this time.
Magic damage from a few of the adds:
Lay Waste - Channeled by the Blazing Skeletons, they usually get a few hits out before they die.
Acid Burst - Cast by the Blistering Zombies as they are about to die. Ideally, you shouldn't be hit by this at all, but if you find yourself in range it provides plenty of RP.
On this fight you're probably going to have to use AMS to soak the damage from Chilled to the Bone since it stacks *really* fast on Frost DKs. If, however, you find that you do not need to do this, you can always use AMS on Blistering Cold for a full RP bar and additional time in melee range.
Since UA consumes a Frost Rune, it can be somewhat difficult to use without disrupting the flow of your abilities. As such, it should always be used in conjunction with Blood Tap to prevent unbalancing your Frost/Unholy runes. The best way to do this is to use BT/UA immediately after consuming the Death Runes generated by Blood Strike. It will look something like this:
DDuuff -> Obliterate
bbuuff -> Blood Tap
Dbuuff -> UA
Where lowercase letters are runes on cooldown, and uppercase are runes that are available. Using UA in this fashion will prevent you from being stuck with an awkward combination of 1 Blood and 1 Death Rune.
Since your ghoul will take a snapshot of your stats when it spawns (essentially copying your stats at the time of casting), you should use Raise Dead when you have all your trinket/sigil procs up. The easiest time to do this will likely be at the start of the fight, though there will often be encounters when you want to save the cast for a later burn phase (Yogg Brain, XT heart or Icehowl stun, for example).
Rune Strike with any ability
/cast !Rune Strike
Mouseover Howling Blast.
/cast [target=mouseover,harm,exists,nodead] Howling Blast; Howling Blast[/TABLE]
Will cast HB on your mouseover target, or your current target if you have no mouseover. Useful for AoE situations when your current target isn't in the "center" of the mobs you are trying to AoE (Jarraxxus infernals, for instance).
Frost is an extremely proc DK spec, so using a good proc monitoring addon is essential for your success. There are several tools that can accomplish this including, but not limited to:
Tell Me When
Mik's Scrolling Battle Text
Satrina Buff Frames
It is also important for you to be able to monitor the time left on your diseases. While using the default blizzard debuff frames is an option many people prefer a more graphical representation of the information, which can be found by using some of the following mods:
Need to Know
Team Robot Simulator *Currently my favorite*
Completely web-based: no downloading, installing, or updating! (Requires Microsoft Silverlight. Tested and works with IE, FF, Chrome on Windows, and FF, Safari on Mac.)
Load your characters from the armory
Easy, visual interface for customizing talents, gear, gems, enchants, glyphs, and buffs
Powerful rotation editor that allows you to create your own priority-based DPS rotations
Save versions of your entire character, sets of gear, talent specs, and rotations
Easily share any of your saved data with a simple yet effective import/export feature
Detailed, visual simulation summary and searchable combat log
Ranks gear, gems, and enchants using a DPS estimation technique that extrapolates the value of items from over 600,000 cached simulation runs.
SimulationCraft is a tool to explore combat mechanics in the popular MMO RPG World of Warcraft .
It is a multi-player event driven simulator written in C++ that models raid damage and threat generation.
Increasing class synergy and the prevalence of proc-based combat modifiers have eroded the accuracy of traditional calculators that rely upon closed-form approximations to model very complex mechanics. The goal of this simulator is to close the accuracy gap while maintaining a performance level high enough to calculate relative stat weights to aid gear selection.
SimulationCraft allows raid/party creation of arbitrary size, generating detailed charts and reports for both individual and raid performance. Currently, it is a command-line tool in which the player profiles are specified via parameter files.
Kahorieâ€™s DK Simulator
An amazing tool. Curious how much dps you should be doing relative to your gear level? Curious whether or not itâ€™s time for you to transition specs? Curious what your personal stat weights are? The simulator can tell you all of that and more.
Zerackâ€™s DK Gear Optimizer
The spreadsheet ideal. Wondering whether or not you should bother getting hit/expertise capped, despite what it says here? Wondering what is Best in Slot of the items you already have or already have access to? Wondering whether itâ€™s worth grabbing that socket bonus or not? These spreadsheets can tell you all of that and then keep calculating.
Rawr - for DPS DKs
An alternative to Kahorie's and Zerack's. Pondering which drop to blow your dkp on? Pondering if it's worth sacrificing an upgrade or two to keep that set bonus? Pondering if that new item, despite having purple text, is actual an upgrade? This program can tell you all of that and then keep informing.
Thanks to Consider (DK) and Arikah (Ret. Pally) from whom I probably plagiarized about half this post.
12.06.2009 Thread Launched