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The Best Frost Death Knight PvE DPS build

The Best Frost Death Knight PvE DPS build

One of the best DPS builds for the Death Knight class in WoW: Battle for Azeroth and Patch 8.2

Frost Death Knight PvE DPS Build
Odealo's Pocket Guide
Updated for Patch 8.2.0

You can find all our Pocket Guides for other World of Warcraft classes right here: Best WoW Builds

Spec Overview

Frost Death Knights are a melee Damage Dealers that chill their enemies to the bone and then Obliterate them. They are the True Death Knights, the Lich King himself was using Frost powers after all (and his fortress was named ICEcrown Citadel, located in ICEcrown... ok, I'll try to be professional from now on). Frost DK's have potent AoE Burst Damage and don't have to sacrifice their Single Target DPS to achieve it, but are a bit slow on their feet which makes reacting to some Raid Mechanics problematic.

 Pros  Cons
 Great AoE Damage without Sacrificing Single Target DPS  Low Mobility
 Very High Burst AoE Damage potential  Not much Utility in Mythic+
 Easy-to-play   Maximizing your Damage output can get a bit tricky in rapidly changing engagements
 The True DK Spec (Not like those Blood and Unholy imposters)  

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Statistics Priority

  1. Strength - The Primary Stat for Frost Death Knights. It Increases Damage Done with Abilities and Melee Swings by raising your total Attack Power. 
  1. Mastery - Frost DK's Mastery: Frozen Heart increases all Frost Damage Done, and Frost Spells are among Frost's main Damage Sources.
  1. Critical Strike - Increases a chance to do Critical (increased) Damage with Abilities and Auto Attacks. Critical Strike synergizes with the Killing Machine Ability.
  1. Versatility - Lowers all Damage taken and increases all Healing and Damage Done.
  1. Haste - Boosts your Attack Speed and regeneration rate of your Runes. Haste synergizes with the Killing Machine Ability.
Please note that weights of those stats are pretty close together, and you should run simulations in order to determine if a certain item will be an upgrade over what you already have


The Best Talent Choices

Level 56: 
Recommended choice - Cold Heart
Cold Heart - A passive ability that stacks up to 20 times, each stack causes your next Chains of Ice to deal more Frost Damage to your target; the single stack is gained every 2 seconds, all stacks are consumed while casting Chains of Ice. This gives you a very powerful Damaging Ability every 40 seconds, it is the best used in combination with the Pillar of Frost, which has a 45s cooldown, so combining them does not pose any challenge.
Icy Talons increase your Melee Attack Speed by 5% for 6 seconds after you use Frost Strike, Breath of Sindragosa or the Glacial Advance, this effect stacks up to 3 times, for a maximum of 15% Bonus Attack Speed for 6s. This currently gives you the lowest DPS boost, and should not be considered. Inexorable Assault works similarly to Cold Heart, you gain a stack every 8 seconds, for a maximum of 5 stacks; your next Obliterate consumes all stacks to deal extra damage. This is a decent choice, but it gets outperformed by Cold Heart, as it deals more damage and Chains of Ice have the added benefit of having a 30yd Range.

Level 57: 
Recommended choice - Runic Attenuation
Runic Attenuation - Your Auto Attacks now have a chance to generate 3 Runic Power. This will boost your AoE and Single Target Damage by a visible margin, it works very well with the Breath of Sindragosa.
With Murderous Efficiency, you will have a 50% chance to gain a Rune after using a Killing Machine proc. This provides a good DPS boost, but is RNG-dependant and therefore not recommended, unless your simulations clearly state otherwise.
Horn of Winter gives you 2 Runes and 25 Runic Power instantly on a 45-second Cooldown. This works well with Breath of Sindragosa and should be picked if you need some extra Burst AoE Damage potential at the expense of consistent damage output.

Level 58: 
Recommended choice - Asphyxiate
Asphyxiate - A 4 seconds stun; it has 40-second Cooldown and the 20yd Range. This is a Strong single-target Crowd Control spell, but other two choices in this row have their own merits to them and should be chosen instead if a situation warrants it.
Death's Reach increases the range of your Death Grip to 40 yards and resets its Cooldown whenever you kill an enemy that yields Experience or Honor. This Talent is a great choice for Farming and Leveling, as it lets you Grip new mobs constantly. Blinding Sleet is a mass 5 second disorient spell with a 60s cooldown, which is great for Controlling large groups of mobs in Dungeons.

Level 60: 
Recommended choice - Frozen Pulse
Frozen Pulse - Your Auto Attacks also deal AoE Frost Damage, as long as you have 2 or fewer full Runes. This increases Single Target Damage while also providing some extra AoE potential, but requires slight changes in Ability Prioritizing (you want to keep that Runes burned) in order to maximize its potential.
Frost Scythe is an active ability that deals Frost Damage to all Targets in your Front Cone, it benefits from Killing Machine procs, and its Critical Damage has 4x modifier (instead of standard 2x). This is the best AoE Talent in this row and should be picked for Multi-target heavy encounters, the main downside of the Frost Scythe is that it forces great changes in your standard rotation. The Avalanche is a passive ability that causes your Howling Blast to deal increased AoE damage while it is empowered by Rime. This is a middle-ground Talent, and it is generally better to swap between the Frozen Pulse and the Frost Scythe as the situation demands it.

Level 75: 
Recommended choice - Wraith Walk
Wraith Walk - Removes Root effects and increases your movement speed by 70% for 4 seconds, your movement speed cannot be reduced below 170% during uptime of the ability. This ability will greatly help you with Frost's mobility problems, as the Death's Advance may not be enough in some encounters. We recommend this pick as it gives you the most flexibility.
Permafrost shields you for 40% of the Damage Done by your Auto Attacks, this effect stacks up to a maximum absorption value of 20% of your Max HP, this largely improves your ability to mitigate constant incoming damage, but will generally not save you from a nuke. Death Pact is an emergency healing spell, that restores 50% of your max HP instantly, but then absorbs healing equal to 30% of your max HP for the next 15 seconds; it has 2-minute Cooldown. This can save you in an emergency situation or when your Healers just derp around while they should be paying attention (it's always the Healers fault, I know, I know...).

Level 90: 
Recommended choice - Frostwyrm's Fury
Frostwyrm's Fury - Summons a Frostwyrm that breaths on all Targets in a 40-yard lane in front of You, dealing High amounts of Frost Damage and slowing all affected enemies by 50% for 10s; it has 3-minute Cooldown. This is a great addition to Frost DK's AoE Toolkit that also increases Single Target Burst Damage potential, making it the best choice for Mythic+ progression.
Gathering Storm causes each Rune spent during Remorseless Winter to extend its duration by 0.5s and boost its Damage by 10%. This greatly increases the effectiveness of the Remorseless Winter and provides Single Target and AoE Damage Boost that is very similar to Frostwyrm's Fury's but its usage is much more complicated. Glacial Advance creates Spikes of Ice that shoot out of the ground in a straight line in front of you, Spikes deal Frost Damage and apply Razorice to all damaged Targets; it has 6-second Cooldown and costs 30 Runic Power. This ability is a good choice for dumping Runic Power in AoE heavy encounters but lacks Single-Target Damage potential.

Level 100: 
Recommended choice - Breath of Sindragosa
Breath of Sindragosa - A strong Active ability, that constantly deals high amounts of AoE Damage to Targets in front of you, and drains your Runic Power in the process; it lasts until canceled or till you run out of Runic Power. This is a great choice for a Single-Target and the AoE Burst Damage but requires some setup. It works well with Runic Attenuation and Horn of Winter.
Icecap causes your Obliterate, Frostscythe and Frost Strike Criticals to reduce the remaining Cooldown of Pillar of Frost by 1 second. This increases uptime of the  Pillar of Frost, and has synergy with Cold Heart, but does not provide Damage Boost as significant as the Breath of Sindragosa does. Obliteration makes your Frost Strikes, Glacial Advances, and Howling Blasts, cast during the Pilar of Frost uptime, trigger Killing Machine procs 100% of the time and generate a Rune 30% of the time. This provides a significant boost to Single-Target and AoE damage but is currently much weaker than the Breath of Sindragosa.


The Basic Rotation

Frost Death Knight's Rotation revolves around Spending Runes and Generating/Dumping Runic Power. It is worth noting that DK's Priority list differs greatly during Major Cooldowns uptimes and outside of them.

Use the following Priority List for the optimal Single Target Damage output:

  1. Chains of Ice at 20 stacks of Cold Heart; Preferably at the end of the Pillar of Frost in order to maximize the Damage
 +  ⇒ 
  1. Frostwyrm's Fury at the end of the Pillar of Frost
  1. Howling Blast with the Rime proc
  1. Obliterate at 4+ Runes
  1. Frost Strike at 90+ Runic Power
  1. Obliterate with the Killing Machine proc
  1. Frost Strike at 70+ Runic Power
  1. Obliterate
  1. Frost Strike

Use the following Priority List for the optimal AoE Damage output:

(Using this Rotation will require some Talent changes)

  1. Howling Blast with the Rime proc
  1. Frost Strike at 90+ Runic Power
  1. Frost Scythe with the Killing Machine proc
  1. Remorseless Winter on Cooldown
  1. Frost Scythe without the Killing Machine proc
  1. Frost Strike at 70+ Runic Power
If Breath of Sindragosa is coming back up, please setup like this:
  1. Obliterate to generate Runic Power (repeat until you are stacked up and wait until you have at least 3 Runes Ready)
  1. Howling Blast with the Rime proc
  1. Empower Rune Weapon
  1. Pillar of Frost
  1. Breath of Sindragosa
Please follow the Priority list below in order to maintain the Breath of Sindragosa for as long as possible:
  1. Obliterate at <30 Runic Power
  1. Howling Blast with the Rime proc
  1. Obliterate at 5+ Runes and <45 Runic Power
  1. Remorseless Winter
  1. Obliterate at <73 Runic Power


Tips and Tricks for Improving your Gameplay

  1. Manage your Cooldowns! Your Major cooldown, the Breath of Sindragosa requires a lot of setting up, you should alter your Rotation and prepare for Breath BEFORE it comes back up (check the Rotation section for a reference).
  1. Manage your Resources! Don't ever over-cap Runes/Runic Power, and remember to Stack up on Runic Power and Runes before using Breath of Sindragosa (check the Rotation section for a reference).
  1. Always try to combine your Cold Heart stacked Chains of Ice with the Pillar of Frost (check the Rotation section for a reference).

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This is an early version of our guide, we plan to upgrade upon it, and add further sections. So please leave your suggestions in the comments section below. We would also like to state that this is meant as a pocket guide and therefore we will not go into too much detail (please visit more specialized sites for a much more in-depth build/stat/gear/rotation analyses).

Pictures used in this article are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment Inc.