Frost Death Knight PvP Guide
Updated for patch 5.4.7 and Season 15.
Are Frost DKs in bad shape in Mists of Pandaria? That depends more on you than anything else. You certainly have the damage, though you give up the utility of the pet (and Gargoyle.) and some survivability. This page will attempt to take care of the “How To.” If Frost’s your game then chill out, go forth, and kill some players.
If you’re not yet level 90 then you won’t be able to use everything on this page, but much will still apply. If are interested in getting your character to max level quickly, take a look at this leveling guide.
Warlords of Draenor is bringing a number of changes to DKs, as well as to the games in general (such as removing Hit and Expertise and the great “Stat Squish.”) Go here for details. Patch 5.4 brought some welcome changes to Death Knights, as well as most classes. Here are the Death Knight changes for patch 5.4.
- Frost Build
- Frost DK Gems
- Frost DK Enchants
- Gearing up
- Race Choice
- Frost Macros
- Video: How to: Frost PvP
Other Dk Pages:
- Blood tanking, Blood PvP
- Frost PvE
- Unholy PvE, Unholy PvP
- Death Knight Overview, Death Knight leveling guide
- patch 5.4 DK changes
- Get Leveled Faster
Death Knight Frost Spec PvP Build
The exact talents you pick will vary depending on who you’re fighting, who your team (if any) is, and so on. 2s, 3s, 5s, BGs, solo, duels, etc. Keep a stack of Tome of the Clear Mind handy for just this purpose (use dust of disappearance or Vanishing powder if you’re 85 or lower.)
Tier 1 Talents
Tier 1 has 3 talents that alter the way we apply or use our diseases. You always want your diseases up on the target, even as Frost, for the added damage and the harder hitting Obliterates.
- Roiling Blood is for tanking or fighting multiple opponents, which seems to happen often in the BGs and sometimes elsewhere. For multiple targets this is your pick as you will spread your diseases and do some damage and be able to remove Pestilence from your action bar. Note that your Blood Boil ability, unlike Blood spec, will not refresh your diseases.
- Plague Leech lets us consume our diseases on a target to activate a depleted Death Rune. This choice give the best damage on single target fights. If you are fighting mainly single targets (duels, 2s, bosses) than this is your pick. Be sure to refresh your diseases after using the leech.
- Unholy Blight makes spreading diseases quite easy and they don’t need to be applied first. A bit easier to manage than the other two, since it’s a “one step” application. Roiling Blood is generally better, as it can be used on demand, available blood runes permitting. Unholy Blight has a nice bonus though, as it does not cost runes or runic power.
Tier 2 Talents
- Lichborne lets us use Death Coil to heal ourselves adding to our survivability, in addition to breaking you free of fears, etc. This is the best overall choice unless an encounter fits the specific criteria of either of the two options below. See the macro section below for a “self heal” macro.
- Anti-Magic Zone was nerfed in 5.4. Better for PvE than PvP.
- Purgatory lets you screw up and live. Sortof. You still have to receive some serious healing in that 3 seconds or you die anyway. Consider it an extra three seconds of life.
Tier 3 Talents
Tier 3 gives us an option between mobility and two methods of crowd control. All are good choices.
- Death’s Advance grants us a decent mobility upgrade, relieving your from having to plod along while all the others dash about. This is a solid choice, especially if you don’t need the stun or the slows.
- Chilblains Is nice for the area slows. Howling Blast will now slow several targets and may be more useful for groups than Asphyxiate. Great for kiting or chasing the enemy.
- Asphyxiate stuns the target, which is always useful. If you team already has enough stuns then Chilblains or Death’s Advance are also good picks. Great for landing kills.
Tier 4 Talents
Note that the WoWhead talent calculator (here) is switching tiers 4 and 5.
Three potentially useful picks, none of them without some problems. Under level 90, Death Siphon is an easy choice. At 90…
- Death Pact was hit by the Battle Fatigue changes in 5.4, in addition to your pet not always being up and the 2 min cooldown. It won’t heal for that much, but it does come in a chunk and is nice when you need a heal right now. You can put it into a macro with your Ghoul:
- #showtooltip Death Pact
- /cast Raise Dead
- /cast Death Pact
- Death Siphon Very nice talent for leveling and lower level PvP. Hits like a truck (and a big heal) at lower levels, just doesn’t do much at 90. Still, it does give you an extra ranged attack and heal. Downside is that it costs a rune.
- Conversion provides a decent heal over time at the expense of your runic power and is usable while silenced. Better for fights with sustained damage where you don’t need a big heal. You can keep Conversion up while attacking with your main strikes (and generate more RP for the heal.) The trade-off is that much less Runic Power for your Frost Strikes. You might want to be ready to cancel the effect when you’re ready. A cancel macro will help with that.
- /cancelaura Conversion
Tier 5 Talents
Do you prefer more active management or random rune regen?
- Blood Tap is the most difficult to manage method of rune regeneration, but also offers the greatest control as you decide when to activate the ability once you’ve gathered enough charges. It’s also not random, which is nice if you like to actively manage your runes. It’s easy to waste potential stacks if you’re not paying attention, which is why some add it to a macro with a primary strike, such as Obliterate.
- Runic Empowerment – your Frost Strikes and Death Coils have a chance to activate a random depleted rune.
- Runic Corruption – Works the same as R. Empowerment, except that it has a chance to speed up regeneration of all runes for three seconds.
Tier 6 Talents
- Desecrated Ground to handle all of those mechanics that affect control of your character. Basically an extra PvP trinket. Better for arena, where you’ll be seeing a lot more CC than in the BGs.
- Remorseless Winter to pretend you’re a Frost Knight for a bit.
- Gorefiends Grasp can be amusing. Collect all the enemies in the area and put them on one spot. Useless in duels, less useful in small groups. Potentially very entertaining in larger ones (such as Battleground groups,) esp. when you grip everyone into a Ring of Frost, your partner’s Bladestorm, or similar area attacks.
As with your talents the glyphs can be swapped out as necessary. The cost is the same as with the talents.
- Glyph of Dark Simulacrum Strongly recommended. Improved utility for Dark Simulacrum.
- Glyph of Regenerative Magic Useful for absorbing more frequent magic attacks, basically cuts the cooldown of your Anti-Magic shell in half.
- Glyph of Icebound Fortitude – More uses of your Icebound Fortitude
- Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell Moderate boost to survivability when fighting casters.
- Glyph of Icy Touch Adds some dispel pressure to your team.
- Glyph of Pestilence – extends the range of your Pestilence ability. Also extends your Roiling Blood talent.
- Enduring infection – useful if your diseases are often being dispelled, such as against double disease dispel teams such as priest/monk
- Glyph of Chains of Ice Small boost to damage on slowed targets.
- Glyph of Shifting presences – useful if you “Stance Dance.”
- Glyph of Death and Decay Optional. Provides a moderate AoE slow.
- Glyph of Death Coil – Can help with team member survival.
- Glyph of Death’s Embrace gives back some Runic Power when healing your ghoul.
- Glyph of Path of Frost allows for some falling protection.
- Glyph of Resilient Grip for when your grip fails.
Frost DK PvP Stats
Stats depend somewhat on which presence you’re in. Unholy presence (at 75+) gives you 20% Haste, so additional Haste is less valuable. If you’re always in Blood Presence then Haste is a much better stat to get.
- Dual Wield: 3% Hit > 3% Expertise > Strength > Mastery > Haste > Crit > PvP Power = Resilience
- 2 handed: 3% Hit > 3% Expertise > Strength > Haste > Mastery > Crit > PvP Power = Resilience
- Hit and Expertise: Only 3% is needed for PvP (Vs same level opponents.) Missing strikes is a bigger damage loss than a few extra points of any other stat, so make sure that you’re at your 3%. Some people like a bit more expertise when facing dodgy classes, such a Rogues. With 2H weapons excess Hit is completely useless. With dual wield it has some value (for white damage,) but that value is lower than Haste or Mastery.
- Haste speeds up everything you do, including Rune regeneration. In full Prideful gear your Rune regen will be such that you can do decent damage even in Blood presence. In Unholy Presence it will be even faster.
- Mastery increases all of your Frost damage. The increased number of strikes when Dual Wielding makes it more valuable than Haste.
- Crit is not such a useful stat. Especially since your Killing Machine procs will provide plenty of crits for your Obliterate and Frost Strike. Note that KM will proc more often if Dual Wielding. Esp with good Haste you will be getting procs all the time, so added crit is pointless.
- PvP Power was nerfed hard in 5.3. The stuff you have on your gear will be enough.
- Resilience is at a base of 77% in 5.4.7 (still 40% if you’re under 90.). It goes to 80% with the PvP trinket pair. Do you really want more? Keep in mind that you want to punch through the other guy’s 80%. If you’re not yet 90 then more Resilience might not be a bad idea. At 90 you should dump it for better stats.
Haste or Mastery?
If you do a lot of A of E type attacks or Dual Wield, then Mastery is better. For single targets (eg: 2s) go for Haste. Note that there is not a lot of difference either way.
Reforge weaker stats to better ones.
- Make sure you have your 3% Hit
- Everything else into Haste, then Mastery.
Gems for the Frost DK
Note that the “perfect” gem cuts have the same stats as the regular cuts, but one the price is often very different. Grab whichever is cheaper Go here to get to work on earning more gold.
With Resilience starting at 77% (for level 90 PvP, it’s 40% for lower level,) plus another 3% for the trinket pair, it’s not necessary to gem for more Res. PvP power was greatly nerfed in 5.3 and what you get on your gear will be enough.
Gemming Frost – Match socket colors
- Meta – 216 Strength / +3% Crit Damage (Reverberating Primal Diamond) or Tyrannical Meta Gem (Have both Helms ready, Strength meta still does more damage / burst while Tyrannical Meta Gem is better for surviving)
- Red, belt buckle*, and Blacksmithing* sockets - Fierce Vermilion Onyx: 80 str / 160 Haste
- Yellow - Quick Sun’s Radiance: 320 Haste
- Blue - Shattered Wild Jade: 160 Haste / 80 PvP Powe or Tense Imperial Amethyst: +80 Str, +80 PvP Power
*Or stick in a Haste gem in the prismatic sockets: Quick Sun’s Radiance
|Gems for Frost|
|Meta||Reverberating Primal Diamond: +216 Str & Increased Crit Effect
Tyrannical Primal Diamond: +665 PVP Power and +775 Resilience, requires 27k earned conquest points and iLevel 476, cost 1k conquest points.
|Red||Bold Primordial Ruby: +160 Str
Perfect Bold Pandarian Garnet: +160 Str
|Yellow||Quick Sun’s Radiance: +320 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +320 Mastery
|Orange||Skillful Vermilion Onyx: +80 Str and +160 Mastery
Perfect Skillful Tiger Opal: +80 Str and +160 Mastery
Fierce Vermilion Onyx: +80 Str and +160 Haste
Perfect Fierce Tiger Opal: +80 Str and +160 Haste
Fine Vermilion Onyx: +160 Parry and +160 Mastery
|Blue||Stormy River’s Heart: +160 PvP power|
|Green||Radiant Wild Jade: +160 Crit and +80 PvP Power
Shattered Wild Jade: +160 Haste and +80 PvP Power
Sensei’s Wild Jade: +160 Crit and +160 Mastery
|Purple||Tense Imperial Amethyst: +80 Str, +80 PvP Power|
|Prismatic||Bold Primordial Ruby: +160 Str|
|Cogwheel||Requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: +600 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: +600 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: +600 Mastery
Frost Spec PVP Enchants
Short on gold? Most of the enchants below have similar enchants available, of lesser value, for less cash. Check with the rep vendor or the Auction House for what’s available (or you guild item maker/enchanter.) If you want to buy the best enchants, fund all of your alts, donate to the guild, etc., but don’t have the cash, then see what the Tycoon Addon can do about about fixing your poverty.
You might find it interesting to have two weapons, one with each enchant, and use a macro (or the equipment manager tool) to swap them, depending on who/what you’re fighting.
These enchants are the same for Unholy.
|Frost DK Enchantments|
|Weapon||Main Hand or 2H – Rune of the Fallen Crusader: Chance for 3% heal and a chance for +15% Str for 15 seconds
Off-hand – Rune of Razorice – Extra Frost damage.
Living Steel Weapon Chain: +200 Expertise and reduces disarm duration by 60%. Useful if you’re fighting enemies with disarms.
|Shoulders||Secret Tiger Fang Inscription: +520 Str and +100 Crit, requires Inscription
Greater Tiger Fang Inscription: +200 Str and +100 Crit
|Cloak||Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike: +180 Crit rating|
|Chest||Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +80 to all Stats
Enchant Chest – Super Resilience: +200 Resilience, if you need a bit more survival.
|Bracers||Enchant Bracer – Exceptional Strength: +180 Str
Socket Bracer: Requires Blacksmithing, self-only, pop in a nice Haste or Str gem.
|Gloves||Enchant Gloves – Super Strength: +170 Str
Socket Gloves: requires Blacksmithing, self-only, drop in a nice gem
|Belt||Living Steel Belt Buckle: Sockets your belt, pop in the best (Haste) gem.|
|Leggings||Angerhide Leg Armor: +285 Str & 185 Crit rating|
|Boots||Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +140 Mastery and Slight run speed increase.|
|Rings||Enchant Ring – Greater Strength: +160 Str, Requires Enchanting 550|
Gearing Up Your Frost Death Knight
Weapons and Presences
Rune of the Fallen Crusader procs add to all damage done, including diseases, if they’re applied during the proc. If you use it on both weapons the procs do not stack, rather the duration of the proc is extended.
|Two Handed||Duel Wield|
|Might of the Frozen Wastes
Better burst damage with very strong Obliterates and solid single target damage. This makes it generally preferable over Dual Wield.
|Threat of Thassarian
More Killing Machine Procs and better against multiple targets.
Under level 90:
Resilience is only 40% and there is no PvP Power (until 85.) It’s worth gemming for Resilience. At 70 you can pick up the Brutal Dreadplate set from the legacy arena armor vendors. The legacy weapon vendor will be right there, as well. There are a number of gem slots in this gear, and you can drop a Mystic King’s Amber or a Mystic Autumn’s Glow into all of those slots.
At 80 the Cataclysm greens are better than the 80 PvP set, though the PvP gear will have set bonuses and gems slots.
At 85 you can grab the Cataclysmic Gladiator set, but you might find the 450 blues on the Auction House to be better. The Cata gear does come with gems slots, Resilience, and PvP Power though. See it here.
Level 90 Gearing
If you’re freshly 90 then either buy the Crafted Malevolent set from the Auction House or from a friendly Blacksmith. This will be a bit expensive. See our gold guide if you can’t afford it.
Alternatively you can farm the Timeless Isle for armor tokens from the boxes or drops. This is 496 gear is is about equal to the 476 crafted gear.
The Honor Gear is 522 and is, obviously, a huge step up from the above. You will need 7,250 Honor to buy your weapon(s) and those will be the biggest boost you can get. See above for gems, enchants and reforging.
PvE gear? As of this writing your higher level raid gear is downrated to 528 in the BGs and Arena (but not in World PvP.) By the end of season 15 that downrating will be relaxed to 540, which will be equal to or a bit better than the 522 honor gear. The Honor gear will still have better overall stats allocation, though. (For example, the PvE gear will have much more Hit and you only need 3%.)
Also your two PvP trinkets give you a 3% Resilience set bonus, for 80% total Resilience.
If you have the Season 14 Conquest set (Grievous Gladiator) then you can skip the Season 15 honor gear, as it’s exactly the same.
The Best Gear: Prideful Gladiator
This gear it item level 550 and will be at least equal to the very best raid gear in World PvP and superior in all other settings. See above for gems, enchants and reforging.
Arguably, depending on your skillz, the best order in which to obtain the conquest gear is to go for the weapons as soon as possible, then the set bonuses. then you fill in the rest. This will give you the best jump in power, esp. once you get the weapons. This order is an example. Keep in mind your Hit and Expertise stats and that Haste > Mastery > Crit. .
- Prideful Legs
- DPS Trinket – This is the “on use” trinket, to better be able to line up your burst.
- 2h Weapon – The 2 hander has much better stats than the pair of one-handers.
- Prideful Chest – 2 piece set bonus: 500 PvP and generated Runic Power when snared or rooted.
- Prideful Helm
- Prideful Shoulder – 4 piece set bonus: +1k PvP Power and can use Death Grip twice in a row.
- Prideful Accuracy Belt – For the Haste
- Prideful Alacrity Boots – For the Haste
- Prideful Gloves – Your Chains of Ice ability generates 10 extra Runic Power.
- Prideful Accuracy Pendant (Neck) – for the Haste
- Prideful Alacrity Bracers (Wrist) – Haste and Mastery
- Prideful Cruelty RIng #1 – Haste
- Prideful Ring #2 – Hit and Haste, make sure you check your total Hit now.
- Prideful Alacrity Cloak – for the Haste
- Prideful Escape Trinket (humans can use a DPS or survival trinket here.) This is the Stamina trinket, there is also one that offers added Crit.
Race Choice for Frost DKs
Note that Pandarans cannot become Death Knights, they seem to have managed to escape the Lick King’s notice.
Unimportant racials (eg: Ranged Wpn Expertise, profession bonus) are not shown. All of these racials will change in Warlords of Draenor.
None of the racials is game changing, at best they give a small edge. More or less in order of usefulness.
- Blood Fury is a nice burst cooldown.
- stun resistance means that much less time being smashed while stunned.
- increase ghoul damage,
- expertise with axes is useful if that’s your weapon.
- Berserking (attack speed boost) for the burst
- reduction in duration of slowing effects,
- War Stomp stuns nearby opponents,
- a bit more health, which works out to about three Stam gems worth at 90.
- Already Unholy, so what could be better? Oh wait, you’re Frost. Nevermind.
- Wash away fear, sleep, and charms (such as from Warlock pets.)
- Eat dead players,
- Drain life (which also heals.) Adds a bit more DPS and survivability.
- Rocket jump is a nice entry or escape,
- 1% Haste increase is nice for any DK
Blood Elf: Aside from their hair…
- Arcane Torrent silences opponents and restores some Runic Power.
- Escape ability allows dropping of the PvP escape trinket and using two DPS trinkets instead.
- expertise with swords and maces is useful if those are your weapons of choice.
- Diplomacy helps with the Rep grind.
- Small size counts, really,
- Expertise is useful if you’re dual-wielding swords.
- Escape from snares and slows.
- Nice Sprint ability,
- 1% Crit increase
- Useful small heal,
- 1% Hit increase can help with gearing, but likely you will already have too much Hit.
- Stone form washes bleeds and reduces damage,
- Expertise with Maces is nice, if that’s your weapon of choice.
- A bit harder to hit (2% increased Dodge)
- Shadowmeld has situational brilliance. Think ambushing or ‘melding right before a spell hits (which will break it.)
Professions for any Death Knight
If you’re working on a profession then you should level it to 500 or so, as quickly as you can, to get the best bonuses. The crafting professions can be expensive to level and in MoP they are very expensive if you’re buying your materials. Take a look at this addon to help with earning enough gold to afford to do what you want to do.
Best DK professions? Blacksmithing for the gem sockets and Engineering for the Synapse Springs cooldown useful items. Since gems with secondary stats have twice the value of primary stats (eg: 320 resilience Vs 160 Str) Blacksmithing might be the best PvP profession, overall, as you will be able to gem either 640 Haste or Mastery, as opposed to about 320 Str value from the other professions.
The gathering professions are great for cash grinding, but a little less so for the bonuses.
- Alchemy – Increased effect and duration from your own potions. +320 Str and 2 hour duration for your best flask.
- Blacksmithing – Allows you to pop in two more of those nice 640 point gems.
- Enchanting – Enchant your own Rings for +160 Str each.
- Engineering – Nifty gadgets and Synapse Springs, which is great for the burst. 1940 in Mists.
- Jewelcrafting – Make nicer gems, for yourself, than are otherwise available.
- Leatherworking – Nice bracer enchants for 500 Str.
- Inscription – Nice shoulder enchant, 520 Str and 100 Crit
- Tailoring – Cloak enchant sometimes adds 4k attack power and you can make a flying carpet.
- Herbalism – a useful heal that comes with a Haste effect (2880 Haste for 20 seconds.)
- Mining – Increased stamina (480) through the fine art of rock smashing.
- Skinning – a small amount (480) of increased Crit.
Macros for the Frost Death Knight
Most of these, of course, you can take over to any other spec of DK.
Basic Attack Macro -This makes sure that your auto attack starts against your new target even if you don’t have runes or Runic Power. It also clears the “Hey! You Have No Runes!!” error message from your screen. Replace Name with your ability, such as Obliterate.
- #showtooltip Name
- /cast Name
- /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();
Death & Chains: Death grip the enemy and use Chains of Ice at the same time. This will slow him and, if glyphed, also root him briefly.
- showtooltip Death Grip
- /cast Death Grip
- /cast Chains of Ice
The Burst Macro lines up a bunch of “More Power” cooldowns in one macro. Use it to line up kills or just before using your diseases. “use 14″ is your second trinket slot. If your “on use” trinket is in the first slot then use ’13. ‘use 10′ is youir glove slot, if you have Engineering and Synapse Springs on your gloves. “Blood Fury is the Orc racial. If you’re in regular BGs or world PvP you can also put a potion into the macro, such as: /use Potion of Mogu Power. Casting Raise Dead with this macro means your Ghoul inherits your buffed Str.
- #showtooltip Pillar of Frost
- /cast Pillar of Frost
- /use 14
- /cast Blood Fury
- /use 10
- /cast Raise Dead
Lichborne Heal Macro - This casts Lichborne and then cats Death Coil at you, as a heal. Obviously you need to have enough Runic Power available to be able to cast that Death Coil. This is a spammable macro, so with a full RP bar you can get three heals. You do not lose your target with this macro.
- #showtooltip Lichborne
- /cast !Lichborne;
- /cast [target=player] Death Coil
Mouseover attacks – You can use these with a variety of attacks. Just mouse over the enemy and use. You can also use it for a focus target, just use ‘target=focus’ instead of ‘target=mouseover’. This also keeps your current target. You can make one for Mind Freeze, Death Grip, etc.
If you do not have a mouseover target then it will work on your primary target. Just change ‘Asphyxiate’ to whichever ability you wish to use.
- #showtooltip Asphyxiate
- /cast [target=mouseover, hard, exists] Asphyxiate; [nomod] Asphyxiate
Conversion Heal Macro: Spam this and you can actually get two conversion heals up, for twice the life.
- #showtooltip Conversion
- /cast !Conversion
Survival Macro - Feeling the pressure? This drops you into Blood Presence and activates your Icebound Fortitude.
- #showtooltip Icebound Fortitude
- /cast Icebound Fortitude
- /cast Blood Presence
Fun with Gorefiend’s Grasp – With no mods it fires off the ability with you as the focus, bringing all enemies to you. Hld the CTRL key and it pulls them all to your pet, which pulls them off your healer or whoever they’re harassing. Hold the Alt key and they’re pulling to you Bladestorming Warrior, to be cut to pieces.
- #showtooltip Gorefiend’s Grasp
- /cast [nomod;@player] Gorefiend’s Grasp
- /cast [mod=ctrl;@pet] Gorefiend’s Grasp
- /cast [mod=alt;@<name of warrior on your rbg team>] Gorefiend’s Grasp
Cancel effects – At times you will want to cancel various effects. For example, Conversion, when you’ve healed enough and don’t want to run out of Runic Power.
- /cancelaura Hand of Protection
- /cancelaura Lichborne
- /cancelaura Hand of Freedom
- /cancelaura Conversion
How to: Frost Death Knight PvP
Even though you’re not Unholy your diseases will be a big part of your damage, you want to apply and maintain them as best you can. If possible use a burst cooldown before applying and spreading them. They scale with your Str. and will hit that much harder for their duration.
Horn of Winter for a quick Runic Power boost to help with burst or heals.
Icy Touch and Howling Blast both have the same range and apply the same disease. The only reason to keep Icy Touch on your bar is if you have Glyph of Icy Touch, which adds a dispel to your toolkit.
- Burst: Pillar of Frost, Horn of Winter, Trinket, Potion, etc.
- Get diseases up on your target(s). Use Outbreak and then spread them or use Unholy Blight (if you took that) to spread diseases.
- Obliterate 2-3x
- Frost Strike
- Procs as they appear, preferably for Obliterate over Frost Strike.
- Frost Strike as Runic Power allows
- Landing Kills: Necrotic Strike and Soul Reaper
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