Dual Wield Frost vs 2H Frost PvP (In Depth)

90 Undead Death Knight
7830
I've seen a lot of DW v 2H threads lately and the passive agreement that 2H trumps for low-armor burst while DW beats it for higher-armor. I've seen nods that 2H has the higher random burst, due to higher Killing Machine crits, and that this lends itself to better pressure. What I haven't seen is a lot of math to back this up, so I decided to flash my junior-theorycrafter badge and try my hand at number crunching. I am half asian so these will be at least somewhat legitimate.

Throughout the post, things will be bolded. This is for lazy, loser-ish people who want to disregard the headache inducing math and just look at my conclusions.

This being said, let us continue.

The first thing we'll go over is raw, flat damage over the course of a burst rotation. The rotation I will be using as an example is three Obliterates (using your full runic bar) followed by six Frost Strikes (using 90 Runic Power). For the sake of my sanity, we will assume weapon damages to be 100 and Mastery to be sitting at a comfortable 30%.

2H Frost: Obliterate deals 354% weapon damage with an additional 12.5% damage per disease. The Might of the Frozen Wastes bonus is added in parentheses after the initial calculation.

(Weapon Damage*1062% + ((Weapon Damage*1062)*25%))) + ((Weapon Damage*642%)+(Weapon Damage*642%*30%)).

(1062+265.5) + (642+192.6) = 1327.5 + 834.6

25% Armor (1327.5*.75): 1830.225 (2013.2475) damage

35% Armor (1327.5*.65): 1697.475 (1867.2225) damage

45% Armor (1327.5*.55): 1564.725 (1721.1975) damage

50% Armor (1327.5*5): 1498.35 (1648.185) damage

Dual Wield Frost*: Frost Strike deals 147% weapon damage.

((Weapon Damage*720%) + ((Weapon Damage*720)*25%)) + ((Weapon Damage*882%)+(Weapon Damage*882%*30%) + (((Weapon Damage*882%)+(Weapon Damage*882%*30%))*10%)

(720+180) + (882+264.6) + 114.6 = 900 + 1146.6 + 114.6

25% Armor (900*.75): 1936.2 damage

35% Armor (900*.65): 1846.2 damage

45% Armor (900*.55): 1756.2 damage

50% Armor (900*.5): 1711.2 damage

*All DW damage is calculated assuming a full stack of Razorice is on the target. It may safely be said that you would likely not begin your full burst rotation without it.

This sees DW Frost on the back leg at 25% armor, roughly even at 35%, and comfortably in a lengthening lead at 45% and 50%. The gap only lengthens if you tack a Horn of Winter on at the end and you get an extra Frost Strike off.

TL;DR: Dual Wield Frost deals more damage in the same amount of GCDs as 2H Frost, except against those with the misfortune to be sitting at 25% armor.

Winner: Dual Wield.


Next in up in this discussion is Killing Machine. Naturally, Dual Wield gets more procs than 2H, having higher main-hand attack speed. This is not about that - this is about who puts said procs to better use.

Again assuming weapon damage is sitting at a comfortable 100 and our damage multiplier is 2x when we crit, I will do the math based on armor intervals of 25%, 35%, 45%, and 50%.

2H Frost: 2((Weapon Damage*354%)+((Weapon Damage*354%)*25%))

2(354+88.5) = 885

25% Armor (885*.75): 663.75 (730.125)
35% Armor (885*.65): 575.25 (632.775)
45% Armor (885*.55): 486.75 (535.425)
50% Armor (885*.5): 442.5 (486.75)

DW Frost: 2(((Weapon Damage*147%)+(Weapon Damage*147%)*30%)+((Weapon Damage*147%)*30%)*10%)))

2(147+44.1+ 19.11)

At All Armor Values: 420.42

This means at every armor value, Dual Wield Frost has less spike burst than 2H Frost, sometimes by a rather large percentage. I expect this is intended to be mitigated by the fact that they proc quite a bit more often.

TL;DR: Dual Wield Frost loses out to 2H in KM burst.

Winner: 2H


Third on the list is general utility not through talents and weapon usage, but by way of passive changes in gameplay brought about by style.

Naturally, Obliterate has the higher value as 2H Frost. This results in more Rime procs, and thereby higher damage both single target and AoE. Due to a more flexible rune priority as Dual Wield, Icy Touch and Necrotic Strike can both play larger active roles in the rotation.

Glyph of Icy Touch allows an active, offensive dispel on the bar of your everyday knight of death for the cost of one Frost Rune. This deals approximately half as much damage as a Howling Blast on a single target and exponentially less when you add multiple enemies. On the other hand, it allows a very decisive role in keeping certain buffs off of opponents. My personal favorites include: Frost Barrier, Blessing of Protection, Hand of Freedom, and various paladin, priest, and druid buffs that get in the way of cheerfully murdering your foes.

Necrotic Strike does piss for damage, instead granting a very useful bit of utility: It slows cast times by 30% and absorbs a certain amount of healing. These days, the healing absorbed is better off as the butt of a joke than actually being relied upon in a fight, but it can help bring someone down. Usually I’ll use it only if I can reliably chain several in a row, or against a healer that has cast timers (IE pretty much everyone who isn’t a druid). For Dual Wield Frost, this becomes a tool of much greater use – the lesser need for Obliterate pressure means that it can much more reliably be in play.

This comes down to a matter of preference. Between Killing Machine and Rime, 2H Frost has a much bigger presence in terms of overall spike damage. A single howling blast is laughable, but in conjunction with other abilities, it can really help in the overall scheme of things. It could be argued that there is less chance for DW to overlap KM procs, but that’s stupid and I refuse to include more than a brief mention of such weak arguments.

TL;DR: It’s a utility decision. Do you want more random damage (not increasingly random, mind, just more damage that happens to surprise both you and your enemy), or more reliable active dispels and cast slows?

Winner: Tie


Overall, I’d say it has a lot to do with your team compositions. I’m lookin’ at PHD and TSG comps when I say that you may want to turn to DW if you have an additional bursty fellow on board. Your burst won’t suffer much (in fact, it actually improves in most cases), and your anti-caster pressure sees an impressive upward turn. On the other hand, if you’re relied upon to do the most damage or keep their heals on the back foot with your reliably spontaneous burst, then keep to 2H Frost. 2v2 burst comps - Warrior-DK and Hunter-DK being common right now… Fuggin’ stampede, man – won’t see much of a difference one way or the other.

Hope this helps those wondering which is better in the current climate. Personally, I’m gonna take a look into dual wielding – that transmog from Cataclysmic axes is too damn cool. Plus, like I said, increased utility, increased intended burst, and the like. More buttons, too, which is nice.

If you made it this far, thanks for readin’. Questions and comments are more than welcome.
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90 Orc Death Knight
9945
my issue with 2hnd is you burn through your runes and are left with very little utility OR you sacrifice to much dmg when you are required to use that utility.

with DW i dont mind dispelling, Stranging, Chains peeling and using Necrotics (though Icy touch seems better in every situation i would use a Necro in). sweetens the deal that 1 chains = 1 FS (22 RP).

also doesnt seem like you calculated Frost Strike with Mastery stacking (which DW does)
even though it still came out ahead.
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90 Undead Death Knight
7830
I calculated for 30% mastery, which is roughly what I'm at right now with all reforges. I gem PvP Power, though.

Edit: What I didn't calculate for is Brittle Bones. This would give a slight edge to 2H Obliterates, because of the consistent uptime of Frost Fever and increased damage on Oblit. However, the 4% bonus is fairly negligible in the larger scheme of things. The increased damage would solidify the low-armor superiority of 2H, but it doesn't much affect the others. I can do the math if people are interested, though.
Edited by Trenk on 10/30/2012 5:12 AM PDT
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90 Orc Death Knight
8115
Hrmm so it seems like DW has taken over 2h's job as the more flexible spec the expansion. Interesting, may have to consider picking up a couple 1 handers and giving it a try. Excellent post btw.
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Also i was wondering... is it possible to weapon swap in arena? 2h on casters or in blood presence and DW vs plate or ranged/utility. I found some old info saying that there was an internal cooldown on MOTFW and ToT of 30 secs but on the dummy i kept switching between and there was no dmg difference in my oblits. Aside a 1.5s gcd for swapping, are we penalized in any other way?
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90 Undead Death Knight
7830
Thanks, Noct.

End, I haven't tried it recently, but I'm pretty sure you can weapon swap in arenas. I'm almost positive some of the wilier DKs bring along a sword-shattering weapon to go with their main one in the event of disarm teams. I know I've read that advice somewhere around these forums just recently, in fact.

I want to do some research into runeforging, though. For Dual-Wield, I want to see if the spike burst from Cinderglacier, the reduced disarm from Swordbreaking, or the minute heal and massive strength buff from Fallen Crusader make for the best offhand. I think CG might make up for the loss of Killing Machine numbers, but FC is just so classically the right rune choice that I find trouble abandoning it.

Edit: Assuming all procs being equal, I expect the uptime of FC will override the spike-damage of CG. Unless CG is coming up every few hits, I find it a bit unlikely that it'll hope to compete with FC. It'll provide higher random burst, reminiscent of 2H, but you'll lose the superior sustained damage of FCrusader.
Edited by Trenk on 10/30/2012 6:30 PM PDT
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90 Orc Death Knight
5120
In arenas as a DK you typically get focused and have to be in blood presence. So you end up getting A LOT less runic power and frost strikes to use. There doesn't seem to be any reason to DW in arenas.
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90 Blood Elf Death Knight
12105
10/31/2012 12:00 AMPosted by Blackksiko
In arenas as a DK you typically get focused and have to be in blood presence. So you end up getting A LOT less runic power and frost strikes to use. There doesn't seem to be any reason to DW in arenas.

this doesnt magically change because of the weapons you choose to equip you know...
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90 Orc Death Knight
5120
10/31/2012 12:02 AMPosted by Kusari
In arenas as a DK you typically get focused and have to be in blood presence. So you end up getting A LOT less runic power and frost strikes to use. There doesn't seem to be any reason to DW in arenas.

this doesnt magically change because of the weapons you choose to equip you know...


Well since DW gets its damage from frost strikes you lose a significant amount more damage than 2H which does more damage from obliterates.
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90 Undead Death Knight
7830
I'm having much better luck with main-hand Razorice and offhand Cinderglacier than anything else. Typically I'll stay in Blood Presence and weather their burst, then switch to Frost when their CDs are down.
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90 Dwarf Death Knight
5615
three months have passed....and so, Trenk....did you test DW a lot?

Nowadays, do you prefer DW or 2h for Arenas and BG?
If DW, did you keep Cinderglacier or got Fallen crusader back?
Edited by Iwakin on 2/1/2013 4:08 AM PST
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90 Gnome Death Knight
9535
After I looked at Cryptus on youtube.com doing dw I changed mine to Windsong main hand and left Fallen Crusader on my off hand. Why Windsong, well often I get into bgs with a lot of long battles to fight, and the procs of 1500 to either mastery, crit or haste is interesting. Often I see all 3 at the same time giving me insane buffs.

Last night I had 27 killing blows, almost 100 honorable kills, 15 mil damage, which was about 4 times the next closest to me on the score board. We won AB easily. So DW can put out a lot of pressure in bgs. It's fun to face roll.
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90 Orc Death Knight
7130
Sorry to intrude!

Being a DW Death knight since the beginning of Wrath. I wanted to share my experiences of being DW with other DW players.

What Trenk says is very informative. Though the only changesI would make are in regards to the weapon enchants.

MH:
1. Razorice: Very nice for 10% frost damage at all times
2. Windsong: 1,500 to 3 stats sometimes all at once, with 12 second duration. This provides at least a bonus of 5% to mastery and 2.2.% bonus to critical strike.

3. CinderGlacier: Too much RNG, I've tried and only have had it proc very very few times, alas, the damage is very nice when you do get a proc with full cool downs.

--everything else is mediocre for MH

OH:
1. Fallen Crusader: 15% strength is always superior due to how well its scales and the uptime duration it lasts.

I've tried all three of the MH enchants and always go back to Windsong. Primarily because it can proc from any damage, and does not to be applied via Melee damage. and with Howling blast spams, frost fever, etc. The Mastery bonus from Windsong helps effect all targets that are being hit with Frost based abilities instead of just your Main target.

--

As mentioned above, when DW if you play defensively in Blood Presence, it is true that you will lose a lot of close combat damage from lack of FS. But in most cases you would use that time to Kite and heal yourself with either LichBorne+Conversion. While still spamming Howling Blasts or Chains of Ice to keep pressure off you and/or to deal some damage.

In Arena you will get targeted a lot, and regardless of being 2h or DW, you will take a lot of damage. The only difference is that being which play style you enjoy using when being on the Offensive.

--

Whether you are 2h or DW, you can make either one work but it just depends on how your approach the whole thing in general. I'm glad you're trying out something different Trenk! It's always good to see players try new things, I always enjoy the DW playstyle and will continue to do so. With experimenting on the regular with different specs/forges/glyphs/talents/etc...
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90 Human Death Knight
8690
Windsong: 1,500 to 3 stats sometimes all at once, with 12 second duration. This provides at least a bonus of 5% to mastery and 2.2.% bonus to critical strike.
Flagged for terrorism.
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90 Orc Death Knight
7130
02/03/2013 01:25 PMPosted by Hellmarch
Windsong: 1,500 to 3 stats sometimes all at once, with 12 second duration. This provides at least a bonus of 5% to mastery and 2.2.% bonus to critical strike.
Flagged for terrorism.


Sorry!
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90 Human Death Knight
9130
<- DW
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90 Dwarf Death Knight
5615
Sorry to intrude!...


You are welcome here.

I have to say "Thank you" for all of you here. I decided to go DW after reading this post and watch the videos that yap recommended.

I didnt reforge yet and ill try windsong, but i already did 3 BG and i liked the playstyle.
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90 Orc Death Knight
7130
02/04/2013 02:16 AMPosted by Iwakin
Sorry to intrude!...


You are welcome here.

I have to say "Thank you" for all of you here. I decided to go DW after reading this post and watch the videos that yap recommended.

I didnt reforge yet and ill try windsong, but i already did 3 BG and i liked the playstyle.


Glad you enjoyed DW. If you have any questions, I'm more than happy to help out the best I can.
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90 Goblin Hunter
5905
this actually helped me quite a bit ty good sir
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90 Orc Death Knight
14575
While frost remains squishy, you need to remain in blood pres 95% of the time. BP hurts DW far more than 2H. That's quite a major factor to take into account.
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