Frost PvE Guide (5.4)

Death Knight
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Ok so i am over what it says i need for hit/exp and in game the sheet says i shouldn't miss or get dodged against a lvl 88 boss. But on the raid training dummy recount is still showing misses and dodges. This is as 2h frost.
I am new back to the game having left 3 months after cata release. Your guild has helped a lot many thinks. I am just confused as to why i am getting misses and dodges on the dummy still.
The raid training dummies are now set for level 90 chars. You want to be using the regular training dummies.

I was freaking out the day of the patch because I was only doing 16k on the dummies. Heh.
Props T - great read, very solid guide!
The raid training dummies are now set for level 90 chars. You want to be using the regular training dummies.

I was freaking out the day of the patch because I was only doing 16k on the dummies. Heh.


WOW thanks i been freaking out trying to figure out what i was doing wrong.
Just so that I understand correctly, if one were to try and create a PowerAuras setup that displayed icons when the correct pairs of runes were up, what would the config look like?

I have four different auras done, one for each possible Obliterate use: DD, UF, DF, and DU.

Is that a correct setup or am I using too many combinations for proper Runic Empowerment?
WHICH ONE IS THE MATHEMATICALLY PROVEN SUPERIOREST OPTION?

Each of the three options, though functionally different, has been tuned to be very close to the others. I will say that Runic Empowerment is the technical winner by a small margin, because it supplies the equivalent of 45% of a rune each time you use Frost Strike, while Blood Tap supplies 40% of a (Death) rune and Runic Corruption supplies 13.5% of three separate runes (40.5% total). This shakes out to about a 3% DPS increase on a single-target fight with RE instead of RC.
AoE is a different story. For reasons I'll get into in that section of the guide, Runic Corruption is noticeably worse than the other two options when AoEing. Keep that in mind when you make your pick.


Runic empowerment supplies you with the same runes as before, whereas blood tap provides you with death runes.

I dual wield with blood tap and death siphon, and I can do it with very little downtime, ever.

So, while RE might be overall more profitable, it's not going to screw you over at random times when it feels like not proccing 5 times in a row, putting you at a big resource deficit that requires a cooldown to fix.

Using plague leech and horn of winter, I've dramatically reduced my downtime.
I'm sorry that it's taken me a while to respond, everyone. I'll go down the replies one at a time.

Sigtyr: if there's one thing I've learned, it's that someone loves each mechanic in the game, no matter how frustrating it is. I've stated the additional demands required for Plague Leech, as well as why I won't be taking it, and my readers can make up their own minds.

Traumatix: I completely forgot to include the Blood Tap macro! I'll fix that immediately.

Ariline: I just checked this personally. Blood Tap is not on the GCD and a macro works just fine for it.

Idris: Could you rephrase the question? I'm not sure I understand. If you're looking for when it's an appropriate time to use Runic Empowerment, the answer is: whenever at least one pair of the same rune type are both on cooldown.

Evilsantana: I didn't think to mention the RNG aspect of RE as a potential disadvantage; that's a good point. I'll add that in.
Taruun: I'll try to clarify. When you refer to the pairs of runes being on cooldown, what I'm asking about is how specific the pairings are.

For example, do the pairs *have* to be UU or FF, or can it also be DU, or DF? Since a death rune is considered a Frost and Unholy rune. So if I have DU cooling down, do I hit Frost Strike to try and engage RE, or do I wait until I have a strict pair of DD, FF, or UU cooling down to hit it?
Okay, that makes sense. No, you need a strict pair of DD, FF, or UU on cooldown for RE to activate.

Another way to think about it is this: Runic Empowerment will only activate fully depleted runes, that is, runes that are depleted and not currently recharging. The only way to have a fully depleted rune is to have both runes of that type on cooldown.
I may not be Taruun but I have played Frost DK long enough to answer this question.

The runes need to be the same type and both used up for RE to work. If you just use a death rune and a frost rune/ unholy rune they both are starting to recharge at the same time and aren't considered "fully depleted". however when two death runes, two frost runes, and/or two unholy runes are used up one rune of each type begins recharging. This leaves the other rune of the pair empty until the first rune of the pair recharges. That second rune can be immediately energized be RE if you use a frost strike and get in that 45%.

If what I said above doesn't make sense, here is an example that might. Lets say you used two Obliterates in a row. Each Obliterate costs a Frost rune and an Unholy rune. After your first Obliterate, you have an empty Frost rune and an empty Unholy rune BUT they both begin to recharge. During the recharge time, you cast the second Obliterate which uses up a second Frost rune and a second Unholy rune. The runes used for the second Obliterate are not recharging since the runes used for the first Obliterate are still recharging. The runes that are waiting to recharge are "fully depleted" and will remain so until the first set are done recharging.

Now, after the two Obliterates, you have A recharging Frost rune, a fully depleted frost rune, a recharging unholy rune, and a fully depleted unholy rune. If you have the Runic Empowerment talent and you use Frost Strike you have a 45% chance to reactivate either the fully depleted frost rune or the fully depleted unholy rune.

This same thing applies to Death runes as well. Death runes count as blood, frost, or unholy for the purposes of a spell cost but they are a different type of rune during the recharging phase. They don't wait until the other runes are recharged to begin recharging nor do they recharge before other runes. So you need to have both Death runes used up before RE has a chance to activate the fully depleted rune.

Hope this wall of text helped.
Both responses helped hugely, actually. Big thanks to both you and Taruun for breaking it down like that.

I've been asked to take over the DK DPS role for MoP raiding in my guild and I'm crapping my pants. I've been a Ret pally raider in BC and an Arms raider in Wrath/Cata, but I've really struggled at wrapping my brain around maximizing Frost DPS.
Thanks for the additional clarifications, Tyriaan.
Thanks Taruun, a great read and really helped me understand frost mechanics
Probably a stupid question, but what caused the shift to Frost Presence from Unholy Presence?

I would think the attack speed and GCD reduction would be beneficial?
I'm not sure where exactly the tipping point is, but don't forget that Frost Presence reduces the cost of Frost Strike to only 20 runic power. Also, the 1 second GCD is now available in all presences, so it's no longer a factor.
Ah I see.

Thanks for the reply!
04/05/2011 07:13 AMPosted by Taruun
Roiling Blood is one of the few talents that's completely useless to Frost, because we never need to use Blood Boil.


I'm curious as to why this is? I'm only level 59 DK atm and still learning about the class but I'm confused as to why its useless. It does aoe damage and it triggers pestilence and the aoe damage (at least right now) is pretty good. Almost always does about 1500 damage. Unless its damage gets worse at the higher levels I just cant see why it's a bad thing to have it especially when unholy blight effectively does the same thing without the aoe damage.
The main reason it's useless is because Frost never uses Blood Boil. Our main AoE spell is Howling Blast (I don't know if it does more damage than Blood Boil at level 59, but it certainly does by level 85). I suppose the talent could be useful in AoE situations for a little extra damage, because you can add the extra damage from Blood Boil onto the Pestilence you would be using anyway, but the gain is minor and those situations are somewhat rare.
09/09/2012 01:18 AMPosted by Taruun
The main reason it's useless is because Frost never uses Blood Boil. Our main AoE spell is Howling Blast (I don't know if it does more damage than Blood Boil at level 59, but it certainly does by level 85). I suppose the talent could be useful in AoE situations for a little extra damage, because you can add the extra damage from Blood Boil onto the Pestilence you would be using anyway, but the gain is minor and those situations are somewhat rare.


Well right now blood boil is hitting harder but I know that doesn't mean much at these levels. Howling blast hits around 800-1000. Blood boil has pretty much always hit for 1200-1500 with 2-3k crits. I figured that would change at higher levels though.

Howling blast is also an odd ability to me. It does more damage than icy touch and applies frost feaver and costs the same and its an AoE. Aside from CC situations it seems pointless to me to ever use icy touch which is just weird to me that a AoE hits harder than a single target spell. Not that I'm complaining but it was kind of confusing lol.

Anyways, I appreciate the response and the guide. It's been a lot of help.
Icy touch is only really useful when you have Glyph of Icy Touch. That allows Icy touch to remove a beneficial magic effect from the target. I've found it useful for PvP but I am sure other classes do a better job at magic removal in PvE situations.

That should also answer the question as to why some of the opponents' buffs are white bordered if anyone was wondering. For a while it was bothering me that there were effects that were white bordered which indicates that I could dispel/absorb them. I figured out that Dark Simulacrum absorbs NPC magic effects but it took me a while to find out that Icy touch with Glyph of Icy touch dispels Magic effects.

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