Frost: The HB Priority

Death Knight
Hey all.

I've been playing around with prioritizing HB and gearing for a bit more hit (in the realm of ~12%). So far, the results have been promising. I'm seeing about a 100-200 dps increase over the standard OB priority, both in practice and in my sims (kahorie's).

Spec @ lvl 80:

Diseases > FrostStrikeMaxRp > Rime > KMObliterate > KMFrostStrike > HowlingBlast > BloodStrike > Obliterate > FrostStrike > EmpowerRuneWeapon

Stat weights when geared at 12% melee hit (~14% spell hit), exp capped, 23% crit, 18% haste, ~12% mastery:
EP AttackPower 1.39 DPS
EP Strength 3.96
EP Agility 0.78
EP CritRating 1.78
EP MasteryRating 2.92
EP HasteRating 1.78
(ignore) EP ExpertiseRating 4.82
(ignore) Before Melee Hit Cap 4.54
EP SpellHitRating 2.8
EP WeaponDPS 8.1
EP WeaponSpeed 610

This setup takes all socket bonuses by using +Str +Hit and +Str +Haste where applicable. Mastery is maxed with reforging - reforge whatever will give you the most mastery when converted (besides hit); this is usually crit.

The theory here is that although HB hits for a little bit less than OB when you have a decent amount of mastery, it only costs one rune. Because you're using more attacks - more 1 rune attacks rather than 2 rune attacks, and slightly more RP gen - haste becomes at least as, if not more important than, crit. Also, because of the additional attacks and RP gen, sims show it's a dps increase to perform the priority in unholy presence (I've only tested in Frost pres on live).

For example, if you have 1 frost rune, 1 unholy rune, and 1 death rune available, rather than doing a single Oblit, it's slightly more dps to HB twice and either Plague Strike (if blood plague is about to fall off) or save the unholy rune for a KM Oblit opportunity (which is still above HB in terms of priority).

I would think that this would all still hold true at 85, as we should be able to have more mastery than other secondary stats, which will increase our HB and FS damage even more.

Please discuss

Virulence will be 9% spell hit you will only need melee hit cap :D enjoy

Are you DW or 2hander
There is a slight problem with this... You will gear up, spec, and gem for a rotation centered around... AoE? It might give you slightly more DPS at 80, BUT:

- You will pull agro off tanks on every trash pull
- You will break CC constantly and no one will like you
- At 85, HB is said to hit more like a gush of wind
I've done extensive testing on this, and what I've come up with is that doing a HB based rotation, you can hit something like 90% of theoretical max dps. The reason you're probably not seeing higher numbers with Obliterate-based is a few minor mistakes here and there, not using Blood Tap on cooldown, etc. It's a pretty small difference.

HOWEVER, I can say with confidence that at 85, Obliterate hits for *much* more than Howling Blast, so these kind of arguments will be nil. Keep in mind that Howling Blast only scales with Strength, where Obliterate scales with Strength and Weapon Damage, meaning it scales up faster at 85 and crits for around 40k as 2H!

Additionally, in full epic T11 gear I have about 14 mastery, IIRC. Combat ratings scale much slower in Cataclysm =P
Virulence will be 9% spell hit you will only need melee hit cap :D enjoy

You don't need Virulence - gear for a little extra hit and reforge crit to mastery. My testing shows that speccing into Virulence over Epidemic/Bladed armor is a dps loss.

My testing and sims have all been for DW, but I would think that 2h would benefit as well.

The reason you're probably not seeing higher numbers with Obliterate-based is a few minor mistakes here and there, not using Blood Tap on cooldown, etc. It's a pretty small difference.

I can guarantee you I'm not messing up the Oblit priority, aside from small human errors here and there. Nothing that would make a noticeable difference. Also, with high mastery, at 80 at least, 4 HB's + 1 PS > 3 Oblits (if you had 2 frost, unholy, and death runes). The key is to save unholy runes for KM oblits and/or plague strikes. I haven't tested 85 on beta yet, but you have to also consider that while OB does scale with wpn damage, weapon damage in general is reduced by armor, whereas spell damage is not.

There is a slight problem with this... You will gear up, spec, and gem for a rotation centered around... AoE?

It's not centered around AoE. It's centered around a spell that does a lot of damage even on single target. In trash mob situations, feel free to revert to the OB style. The glyphs are exactly the same.

And yes, I'm very curious to see how this playstyle would work out on single target at 85.
I'm telling you, it won't. This isn't based on guesses, this is based on my own combat parses from beta. Let me post something in a minute.
Disclaimer: This test is done while Rime is bugged to not function correctly all the time, so when this goes live HB will be a much higher portion of the damage. This test certainly isn't comprehensive, but I'm on my laptop and this is all I have time for right now. It proves my point.

This test was done with a level 85 epic premade reforged to haste and mastery where applicable. Fully enchanted and gemmed goblin DK. So let's start talking about why Oblit is better. The talent Rime means that each Oblit has a 45% chance of getting a free Howling Blast, so essentially one Oblit is really worth Oblit + 0.45*HB.

Average Oblit damage: 20171
Average HB damage: 9588

Now, once you factor in raid buffs, they really end up getting scaled up about the same. You're looking at 8% magic damage + 5% crit versus 4% physical damage + 12% armor reduction, so it's going to be a wash. Using those average numbers, using 2 runes on Howling Blast is going to net 19176 damage, where a single Oblit will net 20171 damage PLUS 45% of a HB value, giving it an overall value of around 24486 damage.

19176 < 24486 ----> Howling Blast x2 < Obliterate

As we get even better gear (as in, 372+ and whatnot), Obliterate will continue to scale better than HB due to the effect of dual scaling (weapon damage and strength).
You also have to take Plague Strike and additional FS's into consideration.

Using your numbers at 85... let's say we had full active runes - 2 Frost, 2 Unholy, 2 Death - available.

We're specced into Chill of the Grave and have +10% RP gen from Frost Presence.

You use Obliterate 3 times and generate 3*(15+10)*1.10= 82.5 RP, enough for 82.5/32=2.58 Frost Strikes. Your avg FS is 13,125.
Your total damage for that = 3*24486 + 2.58*13125 = 82,810 damage

I (using your numbers, gear, etc) use Howling Blast 4 times, Plague Strike twice, and generate [4*(10+10) + 2*10]*1.10=110 RP, enough for 110/32=3.43 Frost Strikes.
Your avg Plague Strike is 4556.
My total damage for that = 4*9588 + 2*4556 + 3.43*13125 = 92,581 damage

Now... I'd have to dps in Unholy presence to use that many GCD's, but I'd still be doing more dmg than you even with the loss of Frost Pres +dmg%. Also, I wouldn't use both Unholy runes for PS, that'd be silly. I'd save one for the off chance of a KM for OB.

Please correct me if those numbers are off.

And I'm not trying to say that I KNOW that an HB priority WILL be better - just that it's what my math and sims are currently telling me at 80, and potentially at 85.
Oblit rotation: 82810 dmg = 3 x Oblit + 3 x 0.45 x Rime + 2.58 FS ~ 7 GCDs

HB rotation: 92581 dmg = 4 x HB + 2 x PS + 3.43 FS ~ 9.5 GCDs

Switching out from FP to Unholy = 92581 / 1.15 = 80505, giving you 1 extra GCD to make up the difference.

As ilvl goes up i suspect HB will fall behind. But this thread is full of uncertainties, runeforging, gems, enchants etc. There is really no point to compare the 2 unless they are both setup in their respective optimal environment.
I thought I remembered something about our mastery being lower at 85 than it is now. Also, are you guys calculating rime procs in there at all? It seems like a waste of unholy runes, as well.
The OP didn't put in rime procs, Nivalas did. To play devil's advocate to myself, spell hit isn't an issue at 85, due to the fact you can skip epidemic and take Virulence, since you'll constantly be spamming both your diseases. Back to arguing with you though! :)

One thing to also consider is the fact that using more single rune abilities means that runes will be recharging slower over time. I'm not sure if the extra RP generated through Chill of the Grave and thus extra RE procs would balance it out, but I imagine it would not, considering the additional amount of extra Frost Strikes is pretty low. After giving it some thought though, I ran a couple dps tests just to see what practical results I could get, theory gets boring after a while. I did this all with 2H frost because that's what I prefer, and HB spec would benefit more from 2H frost since it is less reliant on weapon damage and more reliant on frost damage (moar rps). No ghouls or cooldowns were used, for simplification of numbers.

Test 1
- Fallen Crusader
- Spec:
- Glyphs: HB, OB, FS
- Priority: Standard
- Thoughts: Nothing particularly interesting to say here. I think I let Blood Plague fall off for 10sec or so once due to a phone call interrupting me, but I think it didn't affect it too much.
- Results: 12711 DPS

Test 2
- Razorice (after a couple million damage tests, found that RI is better than FC)
- Spec:
- Glyphs: HB, FS, Icy Touch
- Priority: HB Spam, using KM for FS only
- Thoughts: There's no way in hell you could do this in Frost Presence, Unholy is absolutely a must for all the extra RP and the rune usage from single rune abilities. I felt RE procs a lot more since I always kinda felt "behind" and not in control. Maybe 3 times over the entire test did I ever have a free global to breathe for a second. Never had to even glance at diseases though.
- Results: 11040 DPS

Preliminary result: Obliterate priority is about 15% better

Now I know target dummy dps isn't remotely the end-all-be-all of dps tests and spec comparisons, but with these 2 specs benefiting very similarly from the buffs available, one can surmise that this is a good comparison of the 2 styles. Simply put, on a raid target dummy, Obliterate does more damage. Just look at the numbers, the tests are very similar in length, with the OB spam using 125 runes while the HB spam used 137 runes, both at about 3million damage. You can just look at the numbers here; it all comes down to Rime. I never used a single rune on Howling Blast, but during the OB test cast HB 22 times. In the HB test, I was able to cast it 72 times, a difference of 50 attacks. If you look at the number of Obliterates during the OB test, go figure, it's just about 50. Looking at the average damage here, best case scenario for each attack is HB at 9604 and OB at 21052.

So, all those Obliterates add up to a significant damage difference, padded by the free Howling Blasts. Let me repeat here: Howling Blast spam is possible, but honestly more frenetic and probably not even as good DPS as button mashing whatever lights up next. It's a neat idea, but by the time our mastery levels get high enough for HB to become competitive, our weapon damage will have grown substantially, increasing Obliterate by much more than HB gets increased.
The biggest problem with your second test is that you should have HB, FS, and OB glyphs, and prioritizing KM Oblit above everything but diseases, rime, and max rp FS's. Also, my tests and sims were done using DW.
I would imagine that making those changes would close the gap quite a bit... but you're right, I can definitely see how it would be a frantic playstyle, although I can't think it would be too different from standard 2h frost or unholy. It would just take getting used to, as all the new specs have.
As hard as your Howlingblasts are hitting, your obliterates and frost strikes will hit alot harder. take into the fact that your dual wield oblits are getting hits from both of your weapons like your main hand will hit for 18k and the off hand for 12k, i just got out of a lk kill and it was having upwards of 40-50k obits with the numbers combined at times. You will get decent numbers out of it but its nothing to be gearing and making a rotation out of. :)
As hard as your Howlingblasts are hitting, your obliterates and frost strikes will hit alot harder.

Of course. I'm not saying that Howling Blast hits harder than anything. I'm saying that by using more single rune attacks (i.e. Howling Blast and Plague Strike), you'll increase your RP generation, meaning more Frost Strikes, unholy runes will be more readily available so that when KM pops you'll most likely be able to Oblit, and you'll be nearly spamming an ability that hits for decent damage (HB).

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