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Frost DPS | Winter of Discontent [4.3]

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#1 Titus Pullo

Titus Pullo

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 02:52 PM

Last Updated 11/29/2011 By Titus Pullo
4/26 | Cataclysm 4.3
==Note-worthy Changes at a Glance==

  • 4.3 is out!

==Raid Performance==
Slamming your enemies with waves of ice and brutal physical attacks while leaving opponents frozen solid, frost is a versatile and highly competitive DPS spec for those looking for a spec that will keep you on your toes. Frost has two main builds utilizing either two 1-handed weapons or a 2-handed weapon.

Current DPS rating by spec with ilvl 397 (normal tier) gear:
DW Frost >= 2H Unholy > 2H Frost

Current DPS rating by spec with ilvl 410 (heroic tier) gear:
DW Frost >= 2H Unholy > 2H Frost

Frost remains unchanged since 4.2 while Unholy has received a decent buff for 4.3 meaning that fight mechanics are going to be a large factor into which will pull ahead. DW Frost comes out ahead of 2H Frost at both 397 and 410 ilevels.
 1[/hr]=Talents and Glyphs=
==Base Spec==
These are you base builds with talents that everyone will pick up. Where you put the last three talent points is up to you.

[DW] | http://wowtal.com/#k...ei.deathknight. ' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>4/29+2/3

Pretty much the only way to go. In tier 2 you have some mobility for two points. Put them where you feel they are most beneficial. Grab the two DW talents available and stay away from Might of the Frozen Wastes as it will be of no benefit while duel-wielding. Obliterate will be your largest fraction of damage, followed by Frost Strike and your auto-attacks.

DW is done in Unholy Presence.
  • It's understandable that some people will not be happy about this change to Unholy Presence for DW. Keep in mind that this thread is for maximizing DPS not keeping your playstyle the way you want. On that note, a mastery heavy Frost Presence build is still a viable option for DW but is behind Unholy Presence.

[2H] | 4/29+2/3

A very similar situation to DW Frost. In tier 2 you have two points to play around with and you grab Might of the Frozen Wastes instead of Threat of Thassiran. Frost Strike will be your largest fraction of total damage followed closely by Obliterate then your auto-attack.

2H is done in Unholy Presence almost entirely to take advantage of the extra RP from Might of the Frozen Wastes that would go wasted in Frost Presence due to being so close to GCD capped. The extra haste and run speed don’t hurt either.
===Improved Blood Tap Build===
[DW] | 7/29+2/3
[2H] | 7/29+2/3

This spec is going to result in more Runic Power being generated and slightly fewer open GCDs through the extra point in Butchery and the extra rune it is able to use each minute. However, your diseases aren’t going to last as long as the Epidemic Build. To keep diseases up, you will use Outbreak/Plague Strike/Plague Strike each minute to keep Blood Plague up and use Outbreak, Rime procs and Howling Blast to keep Frost Fever going. Diseases are much tighter in this build and it can be easy for them to fall off if, especially on multiple targets. Keeping Blood Tap on cooldown is important to maximizing this build, which can be tricky due to Death Runes being consumed last.
===Epidemic Build===
[DW] | 5/29+2/5
[2H] | 5/29+2/5

The longer diseases this spec brings mean you are only going to have to use Outbreak/Plague Strike once each minute to keep Blood Plague up. The extra 8 seconds of disease will help when switching targets and gives more leeway for re-applying them. In general, this is a more reliable build at keeping your diseases up but will have more open GCDs. This provides more room for error than the Improved Blood Tap Build and can do better in heavy target switching encounters. Talented this lengthens your diseases to 29 seconds leaving <2 secs each minute when Blood Plague will likely not be up on the target if you want to play a safer game with diseases consider taking a point from Butchery to lengthen your diseases to 33 seconds.
==Optional Talents==
Remember those two points in tier 2 I told you about? Well here are your options for where you are going to be placing them.
  • Runic Power Mastery- With haste now becoming DW’s best secondary stat this talent is going to be near mandatory to prevent constantly capping your Runic Power. Whether to take an additional point from Improved Frost Presence to go 3/3 is going to come down to personal preference.
  • Icy Reach- Extra range is always nice, especially when you’re running to/kiting a mob. In most situations this is only going to affect Howling Blast. If you find yourself never getting near the Runic Power cap you might want to give this a look but the points can be spent better elsewhere.
  • Lichborne- Turning undead doesn’t seem that great and fights where the break/immune to fears, charms and sleeps rarely if ever come up. This does shine for some emergency self-heals when needed by pairing it up with Death Coil but at a high Runic Power cost.
  • On A Pale Horse- Increased mount speed and reduced snare time. Not very raid important but the reduced snare times will help when it happens.
  • Endless Winter- Essentially free Mind Freezes. In my opinion, this is a no-brainer, but I’m just a fan of interrupting bosses. Seems like the only option that will result in extra resources for either you or your raid members. This will depend on your raid composition and if your raid needs you to interrupt or not. If you find yourself doing PUGs often this is going to be a necessity.
  • Chilblains- Either you love it or you hate it. Essentially gives your Howling Blast a snare and gives your Chains of Ice a 3 second root, which can be a blessing on adds. Taking this is going to depend on your raid size as other classes will have similar skills at the 25 man level. This is going to change your spec and you'll end up dropping points from Improved Frost Presence, Butchery or Epidemic.
==Innate Talents==
Frost Death Knights gain some pretty nice passive skills which are important to know about and have an effect on the way we play.

Blood of the North
Your Blood Runes are permanently transformed into Death Runes giving you plenty of opportunities to get in more Obliterates and eliminating Blood Strike from our priority list.

Icy Talons
Increases your melee attack speed by 20%. Not much to say here. It is a completely passive bonus so just be aware of it. This does not increase our Rune Regeneration rate.

Runic Empowerment
This talent is the crux of our rotation and the bane of our RNGness. Whenever you use your Frost Strike, Death Coil, or Rune Strike, you have a 45% chance to activate a random FULLY depleted rune. The key word there is FULLY. What this means is that you'll need to have both runes in a set on cooldown in order to get the full value out of this talent. This talent is why Frost Strike is prioritized late in the priority list and why you'll try to expend as many runes as you can before you start Frost Striking (or Death Coiling if the need arises).

Runic Focus
A nice little boost to Howling Blast and our diseases. Runic Focus makes all of our spells do double damage on crits and gives us an additional 9% spell hit. This alleviates the need to try to get spell hit capped for 2H as you'll be at spell hit cap before you are melee hit capped. DW will still find themselves needing 219 more hit rating than melee hit cap if they wish to get spell hit capped as Nerves of Cold Steel only benefits one-handed attacks…which spells are not.
==Raid Buffs and Debuffs==
Horn of Winter - Increases your total Strength and Agility by 549.
Improved Icy Talons - Increases melee and ranged attack speed by 10%.
Brittle Bones - Increases physical damage taken by 4%.
Frost Fever - Melee and ranged attack speed reduced by 20%.
Not many chances for variety here. Glyph of Frost Strike and Glyph of Obliterate are must haves. Glyph of Howling Blast will keep your Frost Fever rolling on targets every time you get a Rime proc meaning Frost Fever is essentially a fire-and-forget DoT. Glyph of Icy Touch has its place in AoE situations where you won’t be using Obliterate continuously.

Major Glyphs unfortunately don't help much to increase DPS. The best you can get here is some utility and survival glyphs like Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell, Glyph of Dark Succor and Glyph of Hungering Cold if you find yourself using it often enough.

Minors don’t really matter in raid situations so it’s mostly up to you. Glyph of Blood Tap is the only one that can have direct raid ramifications. Using an unglyphed Blood Tap during Chimaeron can kill you if it is poorly timed as he enjoys bringing you to 1 hp or it can bring you back under the 10k hp safe zone if your healers hug that boundary closely.

==Single Target==
[TABLE=”head”]Single Target Priority
Obliterate if both Frost/Unholy pairs and/or both Death runes are up, or if Killing Machine is procced
Frost Strike if RP capped
Frost Strike
Howling Blast
Horn of Winter[/TABLE]

Diseases are always top priority. Howling Blast and Plague Strike/Outbreak will cover those. As stated above, Frost Fever should rarely ever be a problem thanks to Glyph of Howling Blast applying Frost Fever for us. Blood Plague is simple enough to manage between Plague Strike and Outbreak. Try to reapply Blood Plague as close as possible with the end of the current application but anywhere under 6 seconds or less is acceptable.

Keeping runes on cooldown is next on priority. This means getting one of each rune on cooldown before starting on the other set of runes. This is largely due to how our rune system works as of 4.0. Each pair of runes shares a internal cooldown where neither can be refilling at the same time so having one of each rune available is the same as having used all your runes in terms of when all your runes will next be available again and gives some flexibility for our procs to fit in our priority.

This means using Obliterate when both Frost and Unholy sets are up or two Death runes. This is followed by Frost Strike to keep you from reaching your max RP and wasting extra Runic Power and using any Rime procs you may have. Then Obliterating again to put as many of your runes on cooldown.

Frost Strike; Make sure you're not Frost Striking when you don't actually have at least two runes of the same pair on cooldown. You need to have runes fully depleted in order for Runic Empowerment to proc. That is the reason why Frost Strike is prioritized as it is. Although, under the new rune system you aren't inherently punished for sitting on a single rune of a pair, you will lose benefit from Runic Empowerment, and thus rune abilities must come first.

Lastly, use Howling Blast when you have only have one rune available and need to get Runic Power to Frost Strike.

Fill any remaining downtime with Horn of Winter.

Take advantage of any downtime to line up Killing Machine procs with your Obliterates when possible. It’s hard to put an exact number on it but if you have a Killing Machine proc waiting a sec or two to get runes to Obliterate rather than using Killing Machine on Frost Strike will show an increase of DPS.

==Multiple Target==
[TABLE=”head”]Multiple Target Priority
Howling Blast if both Frost runes and/or both Death runes are up
Death and Decay/Plague Strike if both Unholy Runes are up
Frost Strike if RP capped
Howling Blast
Death and Decay/Plague Strike
Frost Strike
Horn of Winter[/TABLE]

A very similar case to single target except you won’t be concerning yourself with making sure Blood Plague is up on every target and you will be using Howling Blast and Death and Decay/Plague Strike instead of Obliterate. As nice as Blood of the North is for Single Target it is even nicer for Multiple Targets; however, it muddles up how we want to initially spend our runes due to how it priorities Frost and Unholy Runes before Death Runes.

It will take three Howling Blasts to get the first Death Rune to be consumed and both of your Unholy Runes will still be active. It not a terrible thing, but it’s good to be aware of it.

Follow this up with using Death and Decay or Plague Strike to keep your unholy runes on cooldown. Make sure you are switching targets when you Plague Strike to get your full strength Blood Plague on as many targets as possible.

Finally, use Frost Strike to regain Runes when possible. Death Coil will be used in place of Frost Strike when you are kiting adds or cannot be in melee range. Frost Presence will be an increase in damage done in encounters with extended periods of AoE.

==Runic Power Management==
In general, Runic Power gains correspond directly to the number runes spent on abilities. Each depleted rune will give you 10 Runic Power but some abilities will give you more thanks to our talents Chill of the Grave, Improved Frost Presence while in Unholy Presence and being in Frost Presence will give you more Runic Power as well. Runic Power is calculated before the benefits of Chill of the Grave occur, which you may notice by your Runic Power increasing by 10 a moment after already increasing from your spent runes. Here’s a table showing how much each ability will generate depending on if you are in Frost Presence or Unholy Presence. This table assumes you have both Chill of the Grave and Improved Frost Presence. Base amounts assume no talents or Presence.

[table=”head”]Ability|Base RP gained|RP gained in Frost Presence (+10%)|RP gained in Unholy Presence (+4%)
Howling Blast|10|21|20.4
Plague Strike|10|11|10.4
Blood Strike|10|11|10.4
Icy touch|10|21|20.4
Death and Decay|10|11|10.4
Horn of Winter|10|11|10.4

Pillar of Frost
The only unique cooldown for Frost DKs, this is an absolutely amazing talent. Granting 20% strength for 20 seconds on a 60 second cooldown, this should be used on cooldown as often as possible or lined up with phases where bosses take more damage. If you have an on-use trinket, make sure to macro it in with Pillar of Frost to get the most out of it. It also provides immunity to knockback effects.

Raise Dead
As close as we get to being an Unholy DK - Raise Dead summons a ghoul to fight for you for 1 minute on a three minute cooldown. Your Ghoul scales with your attack power, haste, and hit based on the moment it was cast, and will retain those exact stats for its entire duration. Try to wait on using it until all of your procs coincide, however, don't let this make you miss an opportunity to cast it. This will line up nicely with Pillar of Frost giving your ghoul a bigger punch for the price, as will using it during bloodlust or heroism.

Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead will summon a gaggle of ghouls to fight for you swarming any enemies that stand in your way. Like Raise Dead, Army of the Dead will scale with your AP, haste, and hit at the time summoned. The best time to use Army of the Dead will vary from boss to boss, but it is typically right before the beginning of an encounter or in any phase transition where you will not be and cannot be on the boss and no DPS will be lost. One note about Army of the Dead is that although the summoned ghouls will not taunt a boss, they will taunt most adds present on boss encounters. Use at your own risk.

Empower Rune Weapon
Activates all your runes and provides 25 Runic Power once every 5 minutes. Ideally you’ll want to use this any time when you need some heavy burst. As well, try to line it up with all your Runes being on cooldown and having low amounts of Runic Power. This will reset your whole priority, which can throw people off when they find themselves with 6 runes off cooldown and 100+ Runic Power. You’ll likely cap your Runic Power when you use Empower Rune Weapon. Don’t worry about it; continue the priority as you would normally. Depending on the length of the fight you may be able to use this more than once by using it early in the fight.

Blood Tap
Blood Tap will convert a full or depleted Blood Rune into a full death rune once a minute or once every 30 seconds if talented into it at the cost of 6% of your maximum health but can be glyphed into not costing any health. This cooldown lines up nicely with our Pillar of Frost and is usually in a macro with it to guarantee you are not waiting for a frost rune to come off cooldown to activate your Pillar of Frost. Because of the changes to Blood of the North, this will simply refresh one of our Death Runes and decreases the value of Blood Tap but gives more flexibility in timing to get the maximum benefit from it.

Outbreak will apply both Frost Fever and Blood Plague to your target once a minute. As Frost DKs, we will mainly use this to reapply Blood Plague without expending an unholy rune when we can on a single target. In some situations, like fights with heavy target switching, it is best to save Outbreak for quickly applying your diseases to a target that needs to be burned down. If your diseases are talented into having a 33 second duration, you will be alternating between Plague Strike and Outbreak every ~30 seconds to keep your Blood Plague up, while Howling Blast takes care of your Frost Fever.

Dark Simulacrum
On a 1 minute cooldown, Dark Simulacrum allows a Death Knight to place a debuff on a target that will grant the DK the ability to copy the next spell the target casts that costs mana. There are few to no encounters where this comes into play in PvE, unfortunately. Any encounter with Mind Control can be a blessing with some coordination. Dark Simulacrum a mind contolled ally and have them use a disease (if able) when freed to get another disease on your target. As of 4.1, the number of abilities this will work on has increased but we haven’t gotten a good idea of how many that is.

Anti-Magic Shell
Anti-Magic Shell is our most reliable way of avoiding raid damage. This baby absorbs 75% of the magic damage taken, up to 50% of the DK’s health for 5 seconds or 7 seconds if glyphed. Anti-Magic Shell has a 45 second cooldown so it is frequently available in comparison to some of our other cooldowns. It no longer gives us Runic Power as it absorbs damage but also no longer costs 20 Runic Power to use. Anti-Magic Shell also makes you immune to magical debuffs which can be equally or more important than the damage mitigation depending on the encounter.

Icebound Fortitude
Our standard defensive ability. A 20% damage taken reduction for 12 seconds as well as making you immune to stun effects on a 3 minute cooldown for a mere 20 Runic Power. Use this when you know heavy damage is incoming. Don't make the easy mistake of using it after you've already taken a good chunk of damage; anticipate damage to get the most out of this ability.

Death Pact
Only usable when your ghoul is up or your Army of the Dead. This will heal you for 25% of your max health and can be timed so it is used right as your ghoul is going to disappear to still get the whole benefit of your ghoul. However is does have a 2 minute cooldown and isn't usually worth the 40 Runic Power so it rarely sees any action in most fights.

Hungering Cold
A mandatory talent to finish up the Frost tree, Hungering Cold freezes enemies in place within 10 yards for 10 seconds and inflicts your Frost Fever on them. The downside being that any damage other than diseases will break this effect. It is on a 1 minute cooldown and costs 40 Runic Power or 0 if glyphed. This seems a lot more helpful than it truly is. Most enemies will be promptly broken out due to other DoTs on the target or stray damage essentially leaving you out 40 Runic Power to apply Frost Fever. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its place. Just by using it you’ve stopped your enemies from attacking, if even for a brief moment, which can be life saving for a tank in some circumstances. If you like the utility make sure to glyph for it. Hungering Cold can also be used to keep your Frost Fever on targets in the rare occasion that you don't get a Rime proc and Outbreak is on cooldown.

Mind Freeze
This is our basic interrupt. It is off the global cooldown and has a 10 second cooldown with a base cost of 20 Runic Power and 0 if fully talented. As of 4.1, all interrupts will not be able to miss…not that it should matter as Frost since you should be hit-capped anyways.

Mind Freeze’s big brother, Strangulate interrupts and silences a player target for 5 seconds, which can be glyphed to 7 seconds if successfully interrupting a spell and can interrupt non-player spell casting for 3 seconds. Unlike Mind Freeze, Strangulate is a 30 yard ranged silence, shares a global cooldown with your other abilities and costs a Blood Rune to use. This is a last resort in a PvE context. It will slow down your damage by taking up a global cooldown and expend one of your runes. As such, this is going to sit in your back pocket for most fights, but can really save the day when you've got some ranged silencing to take care of...Darth Vader doesn't go around Force Choking people all day; neither should you YET.

Raise Ally
Our newly redesigned battle rez. At the cost of 50 Runic Power, you can resurrect one of your fallen brethren once every 10 minutes to 20% health and mana. In less organized settings this is just a way to get allies killed again as soon as they accept the rez.

 1[/hr]=Stats and Gearing=
==Stat Priorities==
[table="head"]Two Handed Stat Priority
Strength > Yellow Hit to Cap > Expertise to Cap > Mastery > Haste > Crit [/table]

[table="head"]Duel Wield Stat Priority
Strength > Yellow Hit to Cap > Expertise to Cap > Haste > Mastery > Crit [/table]

Strength is the most important stat for us out there giving just over 2 attack power for each point of Strength we get. Next comes hit to cap followed by expertise to cap so we are not wasting runes by having attacks miss and slowing down our Priority by keeping our runes off cooldown

Both DW and 2H prioritize haste as a secondary stat. More haste means more Killing Machine procs and Runic Power gains from Might of the Frozen Wastes for 2H. Next is Mastery, which affects ~40% of our damage and gives a nice boost due to 2H’s reliance on Frost Strike. Last is Crit due to its overlap with Killing Machine’s effects. In some setups Crit does simulate slightly better than Mastery but on any fight where your Frost Fever can be rolling on more than one target Mastery will come out ahead.

==Specific Stat Weights==
Preliminary stat weights are as follows:

[table="head"]Stat | 410 DW | 410 2H
Strength | 3.49 | 3.12
Yellow Hit | 3.14 | 3.18
Expertise | 2.48 | 2.53
Haste | 1.92 | 1.74
Mastery |1.90 | 1.86
Crit | 1.68 | 1.69
Hit Over Yellow | 1.29 | - [/table]

==Specific Stat Caps==
===Level 88 Boss Avoidance===[TABLE="head"]Avoidance | % | Avoidance to Rating | Effective Requirement
2H Yellow Swing Miss | 8% | (120.109 * 8) |961 Hit Rating
1H Yellow Swing Miss | 8% | (120.109 * 5) | 601 Hit Rating and Nerves of Cold Steel
2H White Swing Miss | 8% | (120.109 * 8) |961 Hit Rating
1H White Swing Miss | 27% | (120.109 * 24) |2883 Hit Rating and Nerves of Cold Steel
Spell Miss | 17% | (102.446 * 8) | 820 Hit Rating and Runic Focus
Parry (front) | 14% | (14 / .25 * 30.0272) | 1682 Expertise Rating
Dodge (behind) | 6.5% | (6.5 / .25 * 30.0272) | 781 Expertise Rating
Melee Crit Reduction | 4.8% | - | N/A
Spell Crit Reduction | 3% | - | N/A
Glancing Blows | 24% | - | N/A[/Table]

===Combat Ratings===[TABLE="head"]Stat | Level 85
Dodge | 176.71899
Parry | 176.71899
Block | 88.3594
Hit | 120.109
Spell Hit | 102.446
Crit | 179.28
Resilience |276.12299
Haste | 128.05701
Expertise | 30.0272
Mastery | 179.28[/table]

Combat Ratings are a conversion method between a stats rating and its 1%/1pt. value. (source)

Reforging takes 40% of a secondary stat already on an item and converts it into another secondary stat not already on an item. This gives you a lot more flexibility in trying to hit both the hit and expertise cap while maximizing your desired secondary stats.

You will want to reforge following your specs stat weights above while making sure to keep your hit and expertise capped. Sometimes this will mean reforging out of hit on one item and reforging into hit on another item to get the most of your desired stats. This is a tricky and complicated task which I encourage you to do, if for no other reason than to work on some math problems.

==Best in Slot==
[DW No Restrictions]
[table="head"]Slot | Item | Gemming | Reforging |Enchant
Head | | 1x , 1x | None |
Neck | | None | Crit to Haste | None
Shoulders | | 2 x | Crit to Haste |
Back | | 1x | Crit to Haste | +65 Crit
Chest | | 2 x , 1 x | Hit to Expertise | +20 All Stats
Wrists | | 2 x | Crit to Expertise | +50 Strength
Hands | | 1x | Crit to Haste | +50 Strength
Waist | | 2x | Mastery to Expertise | None
Legs | | 3 x | None |
Feet | | 2 x | Crit to Haste | +50 Haste
Ring | | 1x | Mastery to Expertise | None
Ring | | 1x | Mastery to Haste | None
Trinket | | None | None | None
Trinket | | None | None | None
Main Hand | | None | None | Rune of Razorice
Off Hand | | None | None | Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Relic | | 1x | Mastery to Expertise | None [/table]

[2H No Restrictions]
[table="head"]Slot | Item | Gemming | Reforging |Enchant
Head | | 1x , 1x | Haste to Mastery |
Neck | | None | Crit to Mastery | None
Shoulders | | 2 x | Crit to Haste |
Back | | 1x | Hit to Mastery | +65 Crit
Chest | | 2 x , 1 x | Haste to Mastery | +20 All Stats
Wrists | | 2 x | Crit to Expertise | +50 Strength
Hands | | 1x | Crit to Expertise | +50 Strength
Waist | | 2x | Haste to Hit | None
Legs | | 3 x | Haste to Hit |
Feet | | 2 x | Crit to Expertise | +50 Haste
Ring | | 1x | Haste to Expertise | None
Ring | | 1x | Mastery to Expertise | None
Trinket | | None | None | None
Trinket | | None | None | None
Main Hand | | None | None | Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Relic | | 1x | Mastery to Expertise | None [/table]

Trinket evaluation, in the most basic form, is done by calculating the estimated DPS value. Uptime will be determinate on an assumed internal cooldown for Proc-variety trinkets or the listed cooldown for Use-variety trinkets.

[table]Proc-variety Trinket Value = | (Passive Stat x Passive Stat Weight) + ((Proc stat x Proc Stat Weight) / 5)
Use-variety Trinket Value = | (Passive Stat x Passive Stat Weight) + ((Use stat x Use Stat Weight) / 6)[/table]

Using these basic formulas, we can then compare and rank trinkets quite easily.

[table="head"]Item | Source
Heroic | Spine of Deathwing, Heroic Dragon Soul
| Spine of Deathwing, Dragon Soul
Heroic | Ultraxion, Heroic Dragon Soul
Heroic | Shared Boss Drop, Heroic Dragon Soul
Raid Finder | Spine of Deathwing, Raid Finder Fall of Deathwing
| Ultraxion, Dragon Soul
| Shared Boss Drop, Dragon Soul

Heroic | Chimaeron, Heroic BWD
Raid Finder | Ultraxion, Raid Finder Fall of Deathwing
Raid Finder | Shared Boss Drop, Raid Finder Fall of Deathwing, Siege of Wyrmrest
Heroic | Firelands, BoE Drop
Heroic | Ragnoros, Firelands
Heroic | Elementium Monstrosity, Heroic BoT
for DW | Quest
| Vendor, Valor Points
| Vendor, Valor Points
| Firelands
| Vendor
| Chimaeron, BWD
| Ragnoros,Firelands
| Elementium Monstrosity, BoT
for 2H | Quest
Heroic | Augh, Heroic Lost City of the Tol'Vir
|Mannoroth, Heroic Well of Eternity
| Benedictus, Heroic Hour of Twilight
| BoE Drop, BWD
| Alchemy
| Vendor, Baradin's Wardens/Hellscream's Reach Exalted
| Vendor

Assumptions Regarding Trinkets
  • All items are given maximum uptime. Proc-variety trinkets and Use-variety trinkets will, in reality, have comparable uptimes. Proc-variety trinkets have a shorter (internal) cooldown but procs are not guaranteed to occur immediately after the ICD has been reached.
  • Trinkets with the description "Chance on attack to boost X by Y for Z seconds" do not have their cooldowns listed within the tooltip. Generally, proc internal cooldown will equal 5x the effect's duration.
  • Darkmoon Card: Hurricane given 3 PPM estimating 250 damage per second.
  • Volatile Alchemist Stone gemmed with and benefitting from socket bonus.
  • Bone-Link Fetish has a 25 second ICD
  • No reforges have been made.

==Set Bonuses==
  • 2P -- Sudden Doom has a 30% chance and Rime has a 60% chance to grant 2 charges when triggered instead of 1.
  • 4P -- Runic Empowerment has a 25% chance and Runic Corruption has a 40% chance to also grant 710 mastery rating for 12 sec when activated.
Food: / /

 1[/hr]=Gemming, Enchanting, Professions, and Race=
[table="head"]Color | Melee Stats Available
Red | Strength, Expertise Rating
Yellow | Crit Rating, Haste Rating, Mastery Rating
Blue | Hit Rating[/table]

Currently the best gems for each socket color:
[table="head"]Color | DW | 2H
Red | |
Yellow | |
Blue | | [/table]

NEVER GEM STRAIGHT HIT and only gem hit if the corresponding socket bonus will cover the difference between the strength on a red and purple/orange gem (currently 20 strength). Aside from meeting your meta gem requirements, you only bother to use orange/purple gems if the socket bonus is 20 strength, 30 of any secondary stat, or anything higher than that for one yellow/blue slot, and 30 strength for two. Otherwise, simply go straight strength all the way.
. Print. Done.


[TABLE="head"]Slot | DW Enchant | 2H Enchant | Notes
Head | 60 Str / 30 Mastery | 60 Str / 30 Mastery | Wildhammer/Dragonmaw revered. No competitive alternatives.
Cape | 65 Crit |65 Crit | No competitive alternatives.
Shoulder | 50 Str / 25 Crit | 50 Str / 25 Crit | Therazane exalted. 130 Str / 25 Crit for those with Inscription, but no competitive alternatives otherwise.
Chest | 20 Stats | 20 Stats | No competitive alternatives.
Bracers | 50 Str | 130 Strength for those with Leatherworking, but no competitive alternatives otherwise.
Gloves | 50 Str | 50 Str | No competitive alternatives.
Legs | 190 AP / 55 Crit | 190 AP / 55 Crit | No competitive alternatives.
Feet | 50 Haste | 50 Haste | 50 Hit is an viable alternative; which you take ultimately matters on how you can best reforge your gear at the time[/TABLE]

Dual wielding will use Rune of Razorice on their main hand with Rune of the Fallen Crusader on their offhand. If able, keep a third weapon enchanted with Rune of Cinderglacier for use in AoE scenarios.

2H will use Rune of the Fallen Crusader.

Engineering is the top profession given its stackable 480 strength bonus to gloves for 10 seconds every minute (80 strength average passive). Blacksmithing follows as a second pick with its extra sockets for Bold Queen’s Garnet netting 100 additonal strength. Alchemy, Enchanting, Leatherworking, and Inscription are on par with Jewelcrafting bringing up the rear.
[table="head"]Name | Benefit
Alchemy | Mixology adds an additional 80 strength on to [Flask of Titanic Strength] and increases the duration of all alchemical consumables
Blacksmithing | Smithing allows for an extra socket in your bracers and gloves netting 100 strength (2x )
Enchanting | [Enchant Ring - Strength] can be used on both rings for a total of 80 additional strength
Engineering | Engineers can add [Synapse Springs] to gloves (480 strength * 10s/ 60s cooldown = passive 80 strength) and it stacks with normal enchants
Herbalism | Herbalists have the castable [Lifeblood] ability (480 haste * 20s / 2 min cooldown = passive 80 haste)
Inscription | [Lionsmane Inscription] is an alternative to the Therazane faction reward shoulder enchant
Jewelcrafting | 3 x to socket into your gear instead of 3 x equates to 51 extra strength. I haven’t found any new Jewelcrafter only gems in 4.3 that would even Jewelcrafting out with most of the other professions.
Leatherworking | Leatherworkers can add [Draconic Embossment] to wrists and is 80 strength superior to what enchanters can provide.
Mining | Miners receive a 120 stamina buff
Skinning | Skinners receive a 80 critical strike rating bonus
Tailoring | Tailors can sew [Swordguard Embroidery] into cloaks but it does not stack with [Enchant Cloak - Greater Critical Strike] so it's generally considered less desirable

Visciousness - Passive 1% crit.
Darkflight - 40% speed sprint for 10 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.

Heroic Presence -Passive 1% hit.
Gift of the Naaru - Heals the target for 20% of the total health over 15 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.

Sword Specialization - Expertise with Swords and Two-Handed Swords increased by 3.
Mace Specialization - Expertise with Maces and Two-Handed Maces increased by 3.
Every Man for Himself - Removes all movement impairing effects and all effect which cause loss of control of your character. 2 minute cooldown.

Mace Specialization - Expertise with Maces and Two-Handed Maces increased by 3. when you’re using any sort of mace.
Stoneform - Removes all poison, disease and bleed effects and reduces all damage taken by 10% for 8 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.

Shortblade Specialization - Expertise with Daggers and One-Handed Swords increased by 3.
Escape Artist - Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect. 1.5 minute cooldown.

Night Elf
Shadowmeld - Aggro dump. 2 minute cooldown.

Time is Money - Passive 1% attack speed.
Rocket Jump - Activates your rocket belt to jump forward. 2 minute cooldown. Shares cooldown with Rocket Barrage.
Rocket Barrage - Launches your belt rockets at an enemy. 2 minute cooldown. Shares cooldown with Rocket Jump.

Axe Specialization - Expertise with Fist Weapons, Axes and Two-Handed Axes increased by 3.
Blood Fury - Increases attack power by 1169. Lasts 15 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.

Da Voodoo Shuffle - Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%.
Berserking - Increases your attack speed by 20% for 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.

Blood Elf
Arcane Torrent - Silence all enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds and restores 15 Runic Power. 2 minute cooldown.

Will of the Forsaken - Removes any Charm, Fear and Sleep effect. 2 minute cooldown.

War Stomp - Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.

 1[/hr]=Mechanics, Mods, and Macros=
==Current Raiding Mechanics==
This section is intended for a quick reference for when to use certain abilities in the current raiding environment. On that note, it does not contain info for Heroic encounters. If enough interest is shown, I will expand it to include heroic encounters, but I like to think if you are doing heroics you know what you are doing.
===Dragon Soul===
Coming Soon!

Not many macros are essential for Frost DKs and only one is truly recommended
[TABLE]#showtooltip Pillar of Frost
/use # (only for on-use items, replace ‘#’ with item slot #)
/cast Pillar of Frost
/cast Raise Dead [/TABLE]

Pillar of Frost has a 1 minute cooldown and Raise Dead has a 3 minute cooldown. Frost DKs should never use Raise Dead without being under the affect of Pillar of Frost. You can also add any on-use items into this macro. For reference, gloves are item slot 10 and trinkets are slots 13 and 14.
Essentially you forfeit using Obliterate all the time and strategically use Howling Blast when you are at low Runic Power. As of 4.3, this is the top dps playstyle if played perfectly but is more punishing for deviating from the priority.

You pick up the DW http://wowtal.com/#k...la.deathknight' class='bbc_url' title='External link' rel='nofollow external'>Improved Blood Tap (7/29+2/3) spec. Any Masterfrost build will be done in Unholy Presence.

[table="head"]Masterfrost Stat Priority

Strength > Expertise to Cap > Yellow Hit to Cap > Mastery > Haste > Crit [/table]

[table="head"]Masterfrost Stat | Strength | Expertise | Hit | Mastery | Haste | Crit
Weights | 3.59 | 2.32 | 2.22 | 2.15 | 2.06 | 1.73 [/table]

[TABLE=”head”]Masterfrost Priority
Diseases via Howling Blast and Plague Strike or Outbreak
Obliterate if both Frost/Unholy pairs and/or both Death runes are up
Frost Strike if RP capped
Obliterate if both Unholy runes are up or will be within 1 second
Howling Blast if under 90 Runic Power
Frost Strike if over 90 Runic Power
Howling Blast if under 60 Runic Power
Frost Strike
Horn of Winter[/table]

The Masterfrost priority revolves around using Howling Blast as much as possible and using Frost Strike to get Frost and Death Runes back via gaming Unholy Runes on cooldown. You will always want to keep one Unholy Rune activated so that Runic Empowerment will be guaranteed to return you a Death Rune or a Frost Rune when you Frost Strike, rather than an Unholy Rune. Masterfrost shares the same multiple target priortiy with a normal build.

 1[/hr]=Patch Notes of Yore=
Been gone awhile? Here are all the patch notes since the Cataclysm release to help you catch up.
==4.3 Patch Notes==
==4.2 Patch Notes==
  • Killing Machine can now proc from off-hand melee attacks
  • Obliterate has been reduced from 160% to 150% base weapon damage (tooltip change)
  • Hungering Cold now has a 1.5 second cast time
  • Might of the Frozen Wastes now increases two-handed weapon damage by 3/7/10% down from 4/8/12%
==4.1 Patch Notes==
  • Howling Blast has been reduced by approximately 8-9% (Hotfix 5/19/11)
  • Obliterate has been reduced from 160% to 150% base weapon damage (Hotfix 5/19/11)
  • Frost Strike now deals 130% weapon damage plus 277, up from 110% weapon damage plus 305.
  • Howling Blast now scales from 48% of Attack Power on the primary target up from 40% of Attack Power. Base damage on additional targets reduced by 17%, from 865 to 721. In addition, you must now be facing your target to cast Howling Blast.
  • Raise Ally has been revamped and is now a battle resurrection spell – Pours dark energy into a dead target reuniting spirit and body to allow the target to reenter battle with 20% health and 20% mana. 30 yard range, 50 Runic Power, 10 minute cooldown, instant.
  • Blood of the North will permanently transform your Blood Runes into Death Runes.
  • Obliterate’s additional base damage has been reduced from 1040 to 650 (tooltip change only).
  • All interrupts will now be unable to miss.

==Upcoming Changes on the PTR==
  • None as of now
==Corrections and Updates==
If you find any errors in this guide or items you feel have been omitted that would help to understand the class please PM me. Let’s leave the thread for discussion.

==Special Thanks==
  • Consider for upholding the DK community for so long.
  • Matron Heartless for going above and beyond, putting a large amount of polish into the Unholy Thread.
  • Tehax for help and advice.
  • All those working on SimulationCraft for their continuous hardwork in keeping up with all the changes Blizzard throws at them.
  • Everyone who contributes to this thread for their continued effort at understanding and maximizing the DK class.

==Change Log==
12.6.11 -- Fixed 2h stat weights and BiS

#2 Carebare



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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:42 PM

This thread is for RAID/END-GAME discussion/theorycraft ONLY. If you have a question regarding 5 mans, gear choices, or how much of a particular stat you need - USE THE SIMPLE QUESTIONS THREAD.
i miss raiding with carebare :< she makes me feel like i am not the only person that hates everyone
Aldriana: I am an asshole, it just so happens that some of my colleagues are even *bigger* assholes.
[R] [85:Neux:2]: i hear if you die on Good Friday they are going to make it where you can't get rezzed until easter sunday
Khazal: Yeah, I don't know about Magic Rainbow Unicorn Land, but here in Reality, Rhyolith is the worst encounter Blizzard has ever designed.

#3 DaveA50


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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:08 PM

Endless Winter. This talent isn't needed in endgame raiding for this tier. The only boss that even has things to interrupt is Alysrazor, and those are adds during a phase where dps isn't really an issue. Now on that fight, I interrupt about 7 times per flight, and we take 2 flights or so to kill it. So that's about 14 interrupts, or 280 RP over a 12 min fight. Butchery over a 10 min fight will give 10*60*2/5=240 RP. Now all you need to do is save 2 interupts by using ams or having someone else do it to make this talent useless for the current tier.

However, a talent is is almost necessary is Icy reach. Especially in 10m when a lot of utility jobs need to be done by the one frost dk. Shannox it can help by being backup on breaking facerage, as it will crit hard enough to break it. Beth for aoeing adds and getting a shot on a spinner faster. Rhyolith for getting fragments that spawn far away as well as slowing liquid obsidiums that are all over the place. Alysrazor for the occasional HB on the boss when he flies by, and for putting brittle bones on the hatchlings to help tank dps. Baleroc and domo not so much, because when domo jumps away if you have rime up you should use it on the spirit and then frost strike. Rag this talent is huge for the stack up and move as a group strat. It allows you to be so much further away while aoeing the molten elementals, as well as help a little with sons. Just for the molten elemental phase though is enough to make this talent amazing.

Epidemic only needs 2/3 to be effective. This puts blood plague at 29s in duration. So for a minute you outbreak, and then let blood plague fall off. If its off, just don't obliterate, frost strike if it can proc a rune, then plague strike, then obliterate. This should give about 96% uptime on blood plague, but it can be lower. The dps from the disease isn't high enough to make it worth trying to get 4% higher uptime.

#4 kow


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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:11 PM

I've been giving some thought to going Shadowfrost for heroic rag. It'll amount to a DPS loss in phase 3 but if it lets other people save cooldowns or spec more for single-target damage then that might be a net gain. On the other hand, if I do that and we breeze through the adds but don't have the DPS for phase 3 then we'll have to take a step back to get seeds down quicker.

#5 DaveA50


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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:33 PM

I've been giving some thought to going Shadowfrost for heroic rag. It'll amount to a DPS loss in phase 3 but if it lets other people save cooldowns or spec more for single-target damage then that might be a net gain. On the other hand, if I do that and we breeze through the adds but don't have the DPS for phase 3 then we'll have to take a step back to get seeds down quicker.

I don't see how you could speccing different would make much difference. Even though I'm an engineer, I use essence of eternal flame for the fight. You can use pillar twice in phase 1 most likely, if not, then use it right as sons spawn. It (and trinket) should be up for the first wave of molten elementals. They spawn every 1 minute, so it times perfectly with pof+trinket. Right as seeds are about to come down, start pooling resources, get ~25 yards away, drop dnd, ams, pillar+trinket, then spam HB and use bloodtap to get one more and run away. What would speccing into shadowfrost do? Just move some haste into mastery if you need to do a little more on them.

#6 kow


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Posted 09 August 2011 - 09:43 PM

I don't see how you could speccing different would make much difference. Even though I'm an engineer, I use essence of eternal flame for the fight. You can use pillar twice in phase 1 most likely, if not, then use it right as sons spawn. It (and trinket) should be up for the first wave of molten elementals. They spawn every 1 minute, so it times perfectly with pof+trinket. Right as seeds are about to come down, start pooling resources, get ~25 yards away, drop dnd, ams, pillar+trinket, then spam HB and use bloodtap to get one more and run away. What would speccing into shadowfrost do? Just move some haste into mastery if you need to do a little more on them.

Well, I thought it would be better for AOE, but re-reading the description it appears I may've been misreading it.

#7 Krabà t

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 11:40 PM

Cause the update is still missing.
BiS for Orcs
chardev 8 - WoW Cataclysm
BiS for any other race
chardev 8 - WoW Cataclysm

The BiS-discussion ended with some thoughts about picking up for Humans.

#8 DaveA50


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:04 AM

Cause the update is still missing.
BiS for Orcs
chardev 8 - WoW Cataclysm
BiS for any other race
chardev 8 - WoW Cataclysm

The BiS-discussion ended with some thoughts about picking up for Humans.

Although it really doesn't change anything, engineering should be used over blacksmithing.

I did some napkin math and remember concluding that you would need to use 64 of the 72 hit to reach 601 for it to be better, but I don't trust at all the stat weights.

#9 Dreager_ex


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 01:29 PM

The BiS-discussion ended with some thoughts about picking up for Humans.

If that is the case, Humans can use the Orc BiS list and just use mandible in their Main hand. I'm still not sure if it's better DPS because I haven't had the chance to actually sim it but if that were the case that would be the set to use.

It's essentially a net gain of 10 Haste and 19 mastery vs 72 Spell Hit.

Which if the stat weights are even remotely close to what they should be means that the 72 spell hit should out perform the 10 Haste and 19 mastery by a relatively large margin.

Edit: In-case the idea of using mandible in both hands pops up, its 20 haste and 19 mastery vs 122 Spell hit and 22 Yellow Hit. Which is even worse than only using 1 Mandible.

#10 CortDK


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 05:14 PM


#11 Ishxan


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 05:31 PM

Mmo reports trinket updates in latest test realm patch. Most notably:

Apparatus of Khaz'goroth now increases critical strike, haste, or mastery rating by 508, up from 306.
Apparatus of Khaz'goroth (H) now increases critical strike, haste, or mastery rating by 575, up from 345.
Vessel of Acceleration now grants 82 critical strike rating, up from 77.
Vessel of Acceleration (H) now grants 92 critical strike rating, up from 87.

edit: my math is off. Need to remember how to value trinkets. It is a huge buff to the apparatus.

I can confirm that this change is live, on EU servers at least. Apparatus gives 508 per stack now, giving 2540 haste when activated.

Edit: Tested Vessel of Acceleration as well, it gives 82 crit per stack.

#12 Azhe


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 05:56 PM

These are just tooltip changes, aren't they? Pretty sure the actual trinkets were giving 2540 / 82 the whole time.

#13 Taiyoken


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 06:01 PM

Tooltip was reported wrong since week 1 of Firelands, just a tooltip change.

#14 CortDK


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 06:31 PM


#15 skiarr


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 07:50 PM

edit: nvm, found a mistake in my calculations

#16 ZelosRaine


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 07:57 PM

Ok, as I am faced with the ever present trinket question myself, I did some calculations. Long story short, Apparatus of Khaz'goroth, Essence of the Eternal Flame, and License to Slay all seem to have about the same amount of average strength, and about the same amount of secondary stats. My calculations for this were as follows:

Apparatus has 383 strength and 2504 haste on a 2 min cd for 15 sec. 2504 is 313 static haste. That is to say 2504/8 (15 secs of 2 min is 1/8 uptime). I don't count the need to wait for procs because we are Frost DKs...crits aren't really a problem...

Essence of the Eternal Flame has 383 Mastery with 1277 strength on use. 1277 strength for 15 secs every 1 min equals 383 average strength assuming you always macro it with your PoF (1277*1.2 then divided by 4 as it is active 1/4 of it's cd).

License to Slay has 321 hit and, essentially, 380 strength.

I'm not considering DMC:H because I don't have it and am not paying for it as I don't see it being worth the gold considering the trinkets I already have.

This means that all trinkets have an effective 380-383 strength and that Essence of the Eternal Flame has the most secondary stats.

Obviously, there is a rather large difference between on use and static trinkets. I'm a big fan of macros and am fairly aware, so I like on use as they give me more flexibility. I find the burst dps useful for fights such as Rhyolith (when hard turns are needed) and for lining up with other cds such as hero. Of course, the haste from Apparatus is almost useless during hero and the Essence, if it is about to come off cd when the boss dies/raid wipes, suffers large losses as well. Still, overall, I find myself attracted to these two if, for no other reason, that I simply don't need the hit from the License, and I can't image many other fairly well geared dual-wielders do either.

#17 Taiyoken


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 08:23 PM

I find the burst dps useful for fights such as Rhyolith (when hard turns are needed) and for lining up with other cds such as hero.

This isn't an answer to your question but Rhyolith turns are based on the number of attacks in a given time period rather than the magnitude of the hit.

#18 Yrale


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 08:29 PM

Essence of the Eternal Flame has 383 Mastery with 1277 strength on use. 1277 strength for 15 secs every 1 min equals 383 average strength assuming you always macro it with your PoF (1277*1.2 then divided by 4 as it is active 1/4 of it's cd).

I'm pretty sure you can't calculate PoF for just one trinket, as you're assuming that you'd only use Pillar is using that one trinket. In reality if you'd then also have to give the passive strength trinkets the benefits of Pillar, so Apparatus would be ((383*1.20)/3)+383 or 536 strength, License would be ((380*1.20)/3)+380 or 532 strength. The sad fact is that the Essence has a lower amount of strength.

Also, Apparatus of Khaz'Goroth now gives 504 per stack of Titanic Power, so it's not actually behind on the secondary stat budget.

#19 Azhe


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Posted 10 August 2011 - 08:54 PM

This was gone over extensively in the last thread, but yes, when looking at how PoF syncs with EEF, you need to account for the fact that, on average, a trinket with either static strength, or a strength proc uncorrelated with PoF, will benefit from 33% of the 20% str bonus of PoF, so 6-7%. This means that the PoF "bonus" for EEF works out to about 12-13%, not 20%.

Regardless, it doesn't do much to change the conclusion that LTS, EEF, and N App., and N VOA, are all relatively close. Ultimately, LTS is the better trinket (but not by a lot). However the current tier's itemization is such that you can find yourself in a situation where, even after reforging away all the hit on your gear, the hit on LTS puts you past the yellow cap (and often the spell cap too). In this case, other trinkets, like EEF, can pull ahead. Then there is the fact that on-use stats can arguably be better than static stats, etc etc.

I really feel like there has been too much discussion regarding the relative value of trinkets. Everything that needs to be said about them, from their effective stat weights, to how to account to PoF syncing with EEF, to how to appropriately weight stats like expertise and hit, has all been said, and often re-said. It is very simple to just plug a trinket into a gear configuration, reforge, see what happens to the stats, add the effective value of the proc, and rank things accordingly. And if people are too lazy to do that, here is the rough answer:

H HoR >= H VOA > H App >
LTS >= N VOA >= N App >= EEF

Where the difference between ">=" is generally small and will depend on whether or not trinkets with +hit or +exp have any "wasted" stats. Realistically the difference between some of these trinkets, like all of them on the second line, is smaller than the impact of personal variation / error in stat weights, and also small compared to the proc uptime variation you'll see as a function of fight duration & luck.

#20 Denariuss


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Posted 11 August 2011 - 12:32 AM


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