Character Class

Frosty – How to DPS as a Frost DK (4.2)

co-author: Ceraphus

Nerfed again!?!? That was my response to the news of the new 4.2 patch as well as many of you I bet.  Now that I have had a chance to mess around with the spec, and beat on some bosses, I am not too disappointed. Some things have changed, some priorities are different, and some things just seem to line up better for more button mashing melee fun!

I am always going to stress that you know all of the fight mechanics and all of your DK abilities.  KNOW THE FIGHTS GUYS!  Take the time to research what strategies your guild is using so you can position yourself to provide the most DPS as possible.  Being Frost dual wield, and geared in line with the rest of your raid group’s DPS, you should be fighting for the top spot in most of the encounters out there.

I am going to assume that you have gone to other forums and seen the smart thinkers and number grinders posts and know what buttons you should be pushing in general.  If you are not Dual Wielding in frost spec, go buy some Soul Blades for around 6K gold each, don’t overspend on these.  Frost 2H is basically dead, and coming in 3rd even behind Unholy.  The only nerf that directly impacts a dual wielding Frost DK is 10% damage reduction of Obliterate.  The second nerf only applies to 2H weapon damage, which you shouldn’t worry about.

What Presence?

Frost DPS in unholy presence?  This is one of those things that I fooled around with when Cata came out, but always felt like frost presence had the edge.  Well now the number crunchers have confirmed it, go Unholy Presence for Frost DPS!  Why?  Well now your off hand weapon can trigger Killing Machine, and that equals more Obliterates because your haste rating will be through the roof!  Sometimes I feel like I have won the jackpot on a slot machine with procs popping one after another.

The only dislike I have about Frost Dual Wield in Unholy presence is every so often I am waiting for a proc, completely locked out of all my runes and power for about 3-4 seconds, but it doesn’t take long for it to start rolling procs left and right again so it’s not that big of an issue.

So What About Rotation?

OK let’s go over some things that will set you up.  Your 3 buttons for DPS are going to be Frost Strike, Obliterate, and Howling Blast.  Remember you should ALWAYS have your diseases on your target.  Any simple timer mod, like ForteXorcist or Need to Know, will help you remember these and should not be hard to do.  Obliterate is your go to anytime its up button, followed by Rime (Free Howling Blast), then Frost Strike, then Howling Blast.  Try to follow this as much as possible even if you have to wait a second or two for your Obliterate to come off cooldown.  That’s pretty much the basics to it.  Really easy right?  Not so fast, like I always say, use all of your abilities Death Knights!

Don’t forget the Ghoul, the ability Raise Dead!  Remember your ghoul benefits from your stats when you summon him.  So pop Pillar of Frost before you summon your ghoul.  I like to spread out my “buffed up time” as much as possible so I pop the ghoul right about when my pillar is ready to expire.  By doing this I get the increase in damage from pillar, then when pillar is gone my ghoul is up and beating on the boss (with pillar buff) so my DPS remains really high.  Pillar of Frost only has a 1 minute CD so get that on a timer as well.  Once my ghoul disappears, Pillar is back up.  So again I am hitting extra hard that whole time.  There are some really helpful mods out there to help manage your cooldowns, CLC DK is a priority mod that I use that shows the little button you are supposed to hit, you can also modify the priorities to fit exactly what you want as well.

Another one we always forget to do is Army of the Dead.  They ALSO work off of our stats similar to the ghoul when they are summoned.  I try to time these guys with either the pillar of frost, or better yet, a Trinket Proc with Pillar to maximize their effectiveness.  Just always remember to watch the timing during the encounter.  Sometimes these little ghouls can make a mess of things with adds around the room.  Also you want to pop this when the action is low to continue to maximize your DPS, sometimes popping this without pillar before the start of an encounter is preferable.

The Talent Tree, Glyphs, Stats, Runeforging and more!

The base talent build you want to roll with is 4/31/3.  This leaves you with 3 points to spend how you wish.

There are 2 specialized builds you can go with depending on your playstyle.

Improved Blood Tap Build (7/31/3)

The plus side on this build is you will be generating more runic power.  However your diseases won’t last as long as the other specialized build.  To combat that you will need to use Outbreak, Rime procs, Howling Blast and Plague Strike to keep your diseases up.  You also need to keep Blood Tap on cooldown with this build, hence the name of the build.

Epidemic Build (4/31/6)

This build focuses on keeping your diseases up longer, which means more time focusing on pure raw DPS.  This is very helpful on multiple target fights, but the draw back is you will find yourself having more open global cooldowns, which can create more mistakes than the Improved Blood Tap build.

For your glyphs most choices are pretty obvious

Prime Glyphs

Major Glyphs

None are really necessary to increase your DPS, just have whatever floats your boat.

Minor Glyphs
The only raid effecting one is Glyph of Blood Tap.  If you are low on health (i.e. 1 hp) on Chimaeron, hitting Blood Tap can kill you if not glyphed.  I recommend Path of Frost and Horn of Winter as your last 2 glyphs, but its really up to you.

Stats/Gear Priorities

You want to get as much strength as possible, followed by the yellow hit cap (601 hit + nerves of cold steel), then expertise to cap (781 rating to avoid dodges from behind), then haste, mastery, and finally crit.  Crit is not important since you are going to be hitting your killing machine procs all the time which are guaranteed crits!  As you are getting Firelands gear you should start seeing 30-40K Crits flying around your screen all the time, and yes that is Dual Wielding.

Strength > Yellow Hit to Cap > Expertise to Cap > Haste > Mastery > Crit


Last but not least are the macros.  If you are using a trinket that has an on use ability, you HAVE TO either put it on your action bar and remember to use it OR bind this to a key you will be hitting at least once every 30 seconds.  If you do this, you will always have a free cooldown going every time it is up.  If you bind it though, make sure its a trinket that you can use anytime and doesn’t interfere with planned uses of bloodlust/heroism and that you will be able to use it during burn phases.  This is a huge difference since if it is not bound; you are most likely forgetting to use it.

Next is a good little pillar of frost/raise dead macro listed below.  It helps speed things along. I

#showtooltip Pillar of Frost
/cast Pillar of Frost
/cast Raise Dead

Runeforging, Gems & Enchants

In dual wield you will want to use Rune of Razorice on your main hand and Rune of the Fallen Crusader on your offhand.  On AoE type fights if you can have a 3rd weapon ready to go with Cinderglacier you will be very well off.

Mostly for Gems & Enchants I recommend you use but the general principle for gems is always gem a Bold Inferno Ruby, except where the socket bonus is +20 strength or +30 of any secondary stat.  Your meta gem should be the Reverberating Shadowspirit Diamond, which requires, only 3 red gems, how convenient!  Also NEVER gem straight hit, don’t be that Death Knight.


There really isn’t much of an alternative, below are the best, if you don’t have the funds to get these get the next one lower, but these are what you should be aiming for


In conclusion the best DPS you will ever do is the fight you know the most about.  Also I really suggest that if you are using a mouse to click your buttons you switch over and use the keyboard buttons for fast reaction times to all the procs that will be lighting up your screen.  Don’t be a clicker.  Do the research fellow raiders, and you will be battling for top DPS spot as Dual Wield Frost.



10 Comments on Frosty – How to DPS as a Frost DK (4.2)

  1. Really good, comprehensive guide! Personally, I don’t take Improved Frost Presence or Runic Power Mastery, instead putting those points in Icy Reach and Chilblains. Obviously, Chilblains is a utility talent, but I find there’s enough occasions to merit it. And I love Icy Reach because we don’t have any sort of movement ability or “sprint” move to close gaps or reach new targets. Being able to Howling Blast that much sooner is in my eyes, a significant benefit.

    I would drop Glyph of Dark Succor from the list of possible Major Glyphs, with the recent changes. Only giving us a benefit after we kill something worth honor/XP is nice while leveling, but in most boss fights it’s all but useless.
    Rades´s last blog post ..Firelands 10M Frost DK guide: Baleroc

    • Ceraphus

      The only issue with not using improved frost presence, you are limiting the amount of runic power you are generating and in turn lowering your dps some (per the number crunchers at EJ forums). As for the trade offs of grabbing icy reach instead, I can certainly see the benefits, though not sure it provides increased dps over raising your runic power ceiling. As for chillbains, it seems very situational, mostly pvp related, and definitely ineffective on most boss fights, but if you are getting value out of using it more power to you.

  2. I’ve theoretically had a Frost DK since Cataclysm, but I haven’t done much with her and haven’t learned how to be good at Frost. I’ll definitely be coming back here and using this clear guide to get her set up when I’m ready to spend some time on her. I love a guide that’s clear, concise and to-the-point with guidance as well as the grey areas. Thanks for putting it together. 🙂

    Rhoelyn´s last blog post ..Roles to Play: 140 Characters (Cry for Help)

  3. Demoralizor

    Everything seems pretty good, although i wouldn’t be to sure about the cloak enchant, i mean you’ve said it yourself it’s by far the weakest stat for a dk. For pvp 70 spell pen, and for pve i’d personally go with 23 haste rating, yes compared to the 65 crit it seems meager but as you get more haste you’ll get more crits due to the killing machine procs, becoming faster and faster, case in point why haste is mose sought after.

    • Ceraphus

      I can’t really speak to the spell penetration, but on I did find this, so your point regarding the spell pen on the cloak does seem like it would be a very viable option for pvp:

      Frost Stat Priority for PVP-
      Hit Rating (to cap)-> Spell Penetration (to 195)-> Strength-> Mastery-> Haste Rating-> Critical Strike Rating-> Expertise.

      As for the crit on the cape, I hear ya, when I first did the research I also thought why not haste, but per simulations and tests done by the 65 crit comes out ahead and provides more of a DPS boost that the 23 haste. Remember 23 haste is not much at level 85. Maybe we will see a new cloak enchant with more haste in 4.3

  4. Trinkets:
    I know there is lot of analysis done, posts, forums. But you made your post easy to read.
    Do question is: Which 2 trinkets out of this list ?

    1. Heart of Rage (normal)
    2. License to Slay
    3. Apparatus of Khaz’goroth

    Thank you

    • Ceraphus

      looking at that list, Heart of Rage would be a good option, next I would say Apparatus of Khaz. License to slay just has so much hit, and your 2 best weapons right now the Obsidian Cleavers both have hit on them, plus there is so much Fireland gear with hit on it, License just overwhelms you in hit.

      Though its situational, if you need hit go with License, and if you are at the expertise cap, Heart of Rage may not provide as much benefit

      The biggest thing with Apparatus of Khaz, is you have to stay on top of the procs and time it with Pillar to maximize the benefits. I use power auras to help monitor this.

      So if you need expertise keep heart of rage, if you don’t then look to license and apparatus. If you don’t need hit or expertise, I would take heart over license, and reforge expertise away from other pieces of gear

      • thanks,
        I used to have Heart with Apparatus combination and It seems to be best combination. I changed Heart to Licencse recently and I think i got dps drop even i got a bit more haste.

        I’ll try to switch it back and compare. With ilvl 37X you have no problem to reforge for exp and hit cap.

        So it;s more about timing use of Apparatus. I haven’t time it with Pillar, good hint.
        Mate´s last blog post ..Shannox down!

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