Frost Death Knight DPS Guide

Frost Death Knight DPS GuideUpdated for Warlords of Draenor
Legion updates pending…

Changes have come in Warlords of Draenor.  Abilities have been dropped and a number changed, though few of the changes are “Frost Only.” You have also lost your Ghoul, Death Coil, and a few other things. See our Death Knight in Warlords post for a full list of all of the Death Knight changes.

One thing that hasn’t changed is your ability to lay down a lot of damage.

Frost DK Contents

This Frost Death Knight guide is primarily intended for use at the level cap. However, the principals will still apply during the leveling process. If you’re looking for more advice on leveling your Death Knight, check out our Death Knight Leveling Guide.

Zygor'sIf you want the same in-game step by step leveling guide that we use to get to max level as fast as possible, take a look at our favorite in-game leveling guide.


Other DK Guides: 


Talents for the Frost DK

In Legion your talents can easily be changed IF you’re in a “rested XP” area, such as your garrison, an inn, or the big city. No reagents, trainers, or special rituals required. You can change your spec (go Frost or Unholy) any time you’re out of combat, but for the individual talents you need to get to the rested area. As with changing specs, no special items are required for changed talents. So if you want to DPS one fight and then you need to tank the next one, or try unholy because it looks like a bitter fit, then switching is easy.

If one suggested talent doesn’t work for your style, change it up.

Note that Death Strike now costs Runic Power in Legion, not the runes that it used to cost.

Our general picks are checked, Best talent, but do keep in mind that you might want to change now and then.


Tier 1, level 56


Tier 2, level 57


Tier 3, level 58


Tier 4, level 60


Tier 5, level 75

Tier 6, level 90


Tier 7, Level 100



Frost Glyphs:

Legion did away with pretty much all glyphs. This that remain are entirely cosmetic. They also modify abilities directly, rather than residing in your Glyph window. Unlike talents you will need the appropriate reagent to change glyphs. Not that any of them will help your DPS, but it might be better to have abilities look frosty, rather than bloody. (See our gold guide if you’re a bit short on cash to buy all your glyphs, gems, etc.)

You now have:

Nothing like a frostier looking Anti-Magic shell and Wraith Walk to improve your damage, right?


Frost Death Knight Stat Priorities

Warlords has slain Hit, Expertise, resilience, PvP Power, and Reforging. It’s added a couple of stats that you can gem and enchant for (Multistrike and Versatility) and a couple of others which will randomly appear on some gear or effects, such as Leech.

Legion does away with Multistrike, and Bonus armor, and “Attuned” stats. You can also only dual wield one-handed weapons.

  1. Duel wield: Strength > Mastery > Versatility > Haste > Critical Strike
  2. The exact values of Mastery, etc., will vary with gear.

Strength improves all of your damage, including your diseases.

Mastery favors dual wield, since you will be doing more “frost damage” strikes. Frost damage makes up a solid chunk of your overall damage. 2h weapons favor Obliterate, so Mastery has less value.

Versatility adds to your damage, your heals, and your damage reduction.

Haste gives you faster rune regen and more Killing Machine procs, but it’s still a bit below the others in value.

Crit -With your Killing Machine procs you have little need of crit.


In-Depth Rotation Guide for Frost Spec DKs

Death strike uses Runic power.

Frost Fever is now your only disease and it has a chance to restore some Runic Power. It can only be applied with Howling Blast.

Your Weapon Runes

  1. 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. The boost to disease damage will fall off when the Fallen Crusader buff does and they will take on any new buffs that you have, again just for the duration of that buff.
  2. Rune of Razorice for the off-hand weapon.

Offensive Buffs and Cooldowns

  • Pillar of Frost adds 20% to your Str and should be used as it’s available, stacking it with other procs and buffs, if possible.
  • Empower Rune Weapon on cooldown, but only when your runes are depleted and Runic Power is low.

Basic Rotation

  1. Keep diseases up at all times.
  2. Cast your “go to” strike, preferably on a Killing Machine proc.
  3. Howling Blast on Rime procs
  4. Try not to cap Runic Power
  5. Keep an eye on your runes. Try not to have full runes just sitting there, doing nothing. Also try not to go to zero runes.
Duel Wield Rotation
  1. As above, applying diseases is your first priority.
  2. Keep your diseases applied at all times, this means making certain that Frost Fever and Blood Plague are present on your target.
  3. Use Frost Strike at max Runic Power or whenever Killing Machine procs.
  4. Use Death Strike if you need some healing, otherwise your Runic Power is better spent on Frost Strike.
  5. Howling Blast should be used whenever Rime procs. It also refreshes Frost Fever.
  6. Use your Runes on Obliterate when Frost Strike is not available/optimal.
  7. Howling Blast without the proc., using Death and Frost Runes. Leave enough runes for Obliterate.

Multi-Target Rotation:

  • Howling Blast
  • Remorseless Winter
  • Frostscythe


Frost Death Knight Gems

Legion has done away with gemming. The section below is for those with lower level gear that has sockets (rare in Warlords.)

Warlords and Earlier:

See the Warlords notes, just below this section. This section is for those with gear under item level 600,

Short on gold? “Perfect” gems have the same stats as the “regular” gems and one or the other might be available for a much lower cost. Baring that you can always check our Gold Guide for tips.

Dual Wield Frost (Mastery) 2 handed Frost (Haste)
Meta: Both: Reverberating Primal Diamond until you can get a Capacitive Primal Diamond:
Red: Both: Bold Primordial Ruby
Yellow: Skillful Vermilion Onyx Fierce Vermilion Onyx
Blue: Etched Imperial Amethyst Etched Imperial Amethyst
Belt buckle and Prismatic Slots: Both: Bold Primordial Ruby

Gemming in Warlords of Draenor

  • Gem sockets have a (small) random chance to appear on Raid and other gear, they are not as common as before. There are no meta gems or meta sockets, there are no socket bonuses, and all sockets are “prismatic,” which means that they will take any available gem.
  • The gems themselves are actually available. They are all prismatic, meaning they fit into any socket. None have Int, they all have secondary stats (Mastery, etc.) Apparently there are no Meta sockets or gems.
  • Older (Mists of Pandaria) gems work until item level 600, but the item squish cut them down a bit. What used to be 160 Int is now 10, for example. The new Prismatic gems are 50 points of Mastery or whatever.
  • Older gems (Mists of Pandaria and lower) that used to code for Hit now do Crit, gems that had Expertise are now Haste.

In Warlords the gemming plan has become easy. Assuming you actually have sockets…

  • Dual Wielding? Gem for Mastery.
  • Two Handed? Gem for Haste.
Gem Priorities
Greater Mastery Taladite: +50 Mastery
Mastery Taladite: +35 MasteryGreater Haste Taladite: +50 Haste
Haste Taladite: +35 Haste
Mists of Pandaria Gems, for gear under ilevel 600.
Meta Reverberating Primal Diamond: +14 Str & Increased Crit Effect
Capacitive Primal Diamond: +20 Critical Strike, and chance on melee or ranged hit to gain Capacitance
Red Bold Primordial Ruby: +10 Str
Yellow Quick Sun’s Radiance: +20 Haste
Fractured Sun’s Radiance: +20 Mastery
Orange Skillful Vermilion Onyx: +5 Str and +10 Mastery
Fierce Vermilion Onyx: +5 Str and +10 Haste
Blue Lightning Wild Jade: +10 Haste and +10 Crit
Green Sensei’s Wild Jade: +10 Crit and +10 Mastery
Purple Etched Imperial Amethyst: +5 Str and +10 Crit
Cogwheel Requires an engie helm, such as this.
Quick Tinker’s Gear: +38 Haste
Smooth Tinker’s Gear: +38 Crit
Fractured Tinker’s Gear: +38 Mastery

Enchantments for Frost Death Knights

Legion has done away with enchants, as it did with gemming. The section below is for those with lower level gear that has sockets (rare in Warlords.)

Warlords and Earlier:

Get Strength where you can, then your next best stat (Mastery or Haste) when you can’t get Str.

Short on gold? While some enchants are pretty cheap, some of the others aren’t. At least you don’t have to worry about buying weapon enchants at 1-2k gold each. 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 cash flow.

In Warlords of Draenor the enchants are more available than the gems, but there are limits. The only items that you can enchant on WoD are your weapons, rings, neck, and cloak items. There are not primary stat enchants, only secondary stats (Mastery, etc.) There is, however a weapon enchant which will bleed your opponent.

Weapon Warlords:


Rings Warlords

Neck Warlords:

Cloak Warlords:


Other enchants, for gear under item level 600.
Shoulders Greater Tiger Fang Inscription: +15 Str and +5 Crit
Chest Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats: +9 to all Stats
Bracers Enchant Bracer – Exceptional Strength: +15 Str
Gloves Enchant Gloves – Super Strength: +25 Str
Belt Livingsteel Belt Buckle: Sockets your belt, pop in the best gem.
Leggings Angerhide Leg Armor: +19 Str & 11 Crit rating
Boots Enchant Boots – Pandaren’s Step: +10 Mastery and Slight run speed increase.
Enchant Boots – Greater Haste: +12 Haste


Consumables for Frost DKs

Note that Pandarens get twice the food buff. All food buffs last one hour and provide only one stat. There should by more interesting foods in Legion.




Elixirs – you can have one battle and one guardian elixir up at a time, but none are interesting at this time.


  • Stout Augment Rune: +50 Str for one hour. Occasionally drops from WoD bosses (in Raid Finder mode) and is also rarely found as mission rewards from your Garrison. Stacks with flasks and other buffs.




Professions for the Frost DK

In Warlords the profession bonuses are dead, However leveling professions is easier and generally cheaper than before.

Once you get into Draenor you will, fairly early on, get a scroll for each of your secondary professions which will raise your cap to 700. For your crafts you will get a quest that will award you with a similar scroll and a number of recipes. One of these will be a “secrets of…” recipe. Use that to generate materials to trade for new recipes, either at your Garrison or in Ashran.

Why get a profession since there are no bonuses? For the item level 640 gear that you will, eventually, be able to create. That gear requires level 91 to equip. Said gear require a lot of materials to create, your Garrison will be a help here if you create a professional building.

If you’re below 90 then you’ll have to do it (level your skill) the old fashioned way. See our professions page for more info on leveling up the various skills.

Several professions have definite value while leveling, others not so much. If gear is readily available on the Auction House, and you have the gold, then the professions are less important. Sometimes making your gear is the only way to go. Or hoping you win the rolls in the dungeons.

If you just want something to earn gold with, then the gathering professions are the most reliable choice. You can make plenty of gold with some of the crafting professions (Inscription and blackmithing have worked very well for me,) but it takes some work to find the sweet spots. Gathering isn’t quite the gold maker that it used to be, thanks to the Garrisons, but if you leave Draenor and gather some of the older ores, skins, or herbs you’ll make more gold than with the Draenor bits.

Note that all of the craftable gear pieces can be bought on the Auction House.

  • Blacksmithing allows you to make some nice plate gear and weapons, including starting raid gear in Warlords.
  • Alchemy better living through chemistry. Drink up and get heals, improved stats, etc.
  • Engineering makes a lot of useful gadgets, especially once you’re 90+ (and have Draenor Engineering.) Rockets, gliders, and shields all have use in the open world, but they’re not allowed in raids.
  • Inscription will let you make a very nice shoulder enchant, makes shoulder enchants for others, make all your own glyphs (and for your pals,) and make a few other items.
  • Enchanting lets you do everyone’s enchants, plus those rings and neck items.
  • Jewelcrafting creates useful rings, neck items, gems (of course,) and gemmed mounts.
  • Tailoring and Leatherworking are pretty useless for you.
  • The gathering skills are nice for making gold or supplying the appropriate profession.
  • Recommended skills?
    • If you have lots of gold: Blacksmithing & Engineering for the useful gear and toys.
    • Otherwise: take two gathering skills and level the profession skills later.


Death Knight Race Choice

Pandarens cannot be Death Nights.

None of the racials are very important to DPS ability save perhaps the Orc’s Blood Fury.

In Warlords all of your racials that were for Hit or Expertise have been slain. Some new racials have been added. All races can now offer something that adds to total damage.


Worgen – 1% extra crit, sprint ability is quite nice every two minutes.

Draenei – Heal over time,  bonus to Str.

Human – Escape ability can break some PvE mechanics. Faster rep gain is helpful, if you’re looking for Rep., bonus to secondary stats (+2% to each.)

Dwarf – Stoneskin sheds some effects and reduces damage, +2% critical effect on damage and heals.

Gnome – 5% more Runic Power, an escape from snares will have occasional use.

Night Elf – 2% extra dodge is an Ok ability, but is more for tanking. Shadowmeld has some very situational use, such as when the tank loses aggro. 2% faster run speed and +1% Crit, by day, which becomes +1% Haste, by night.


Orc – Blood Fury for more damage

Goblin – Rocket Jump can be a useful movement ability, 1% Haste is a decent stat, esp for 2Hand Frost.

Troll – Increased attack speed as a cooldown.

Undead – Wash away fear, sleep, charm; drain life and restore some health from it.

Tauren – Increased Stam, War Stomp stuns close opponents, +2% critical effect on damage and heals.

Blood Elf – Arcane Torrent silences casters and restores some Runic Power, +1% Crit.


Macros for the Frost DK

Death grip your mouseover target. Useful for wandering targets.

/cast [@mouseover,exists][] Death Grip


“Time to Die” macro – ties all your buffs together. /use 14 uses your “on use” trinket, if you have one and you have it in the second trinket slot (slot 14.) If it’s the first one use ’13.’ Test this on a target dummy so that you know exactly how it works. Try to line this macro up with a Fallen Crusader proc.

/cast Pillar of Frost
/use Draenic Strength Potion
/use 14



How to Get Your Death Knight to the Level Cap Fast

Zygor's Battle for Azeroth GuideFrost DK leveling is easy, maybe too easy, especially when you have some nice gear. Tons of damage to make up for any lack of toughness.

Still, it’s a long way to max level and there are thousands of quests and a bazillion mobs to kill (not to mention other players, but they don’t count here.) Sorting out which quests are best and which series of quests will get you to 110 the fastest is another game entirely, which is why we highly recommend Zygor’s Guide.

Zygor’s is an in-game guide and it transforms the whole leveling process: you just pick your starting point, at any level, and the guide tracks which quest you’re on, tracks the quest objectives, and automatically advances and updates as you complete your tasks and quests. In addition, a waypoint arrow is set automatically, so you never have to wonder where to go. All the way to 110 you will never wonder what to do next or where to go.

Playing with Heirlooms and/or Recruit a friend? Gaining a few levels in the dungeons or in PvP? Zygor has your backThe guide knows what level you are and will correctly suggest where to go next. It will even help you to dump all of your obsolete quests. Better yet, you will probably never need to look at your quest log again.

Grab your copy here or read our review, first.


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10 thoughts on “Frost Death Knight DPS Guide”

  1. hello i have dk dual with heroic axe 657 ilvl and my dps in hm normal is @15k … i do rotation stats enchants right why is the reason ?

    1. That’s a tough question to answer. Just having “the right stuff” for gear and enchants and “the right talents” is only part of it. For example, if you’re spending a lot of time moving or chasing then you’re not attacking. If you’re dispelling buffs (glyphed icy touch) or otherwise helping your team you’re not attacking. If you’re clicking instead of keybinding your abilities then you’re not attacking as efficiently as you can. If you’re just a bit slower then the other guy then your DPS will be lower. If, for some reason, you miss your procs then your damage drops. If you’re typing insults to your Rogue pal then you’re not attacking. 😉

      See what I mean? I’d work on the target dummies and in he proving grounds and experiment with different things. I’m assuming that you’re far from being a noob, since you have those axes, but people can also be smoother with their abilities and better with their reactions. You might also want to grab another Frost DK and work those dummies together and give each other feedback. Use Recount and see if some of your damage is coming from the wrong place.

      Does that help?

  2. Pingback: Death Knight Changes Coming in Warlords of Draenor

  3. Great guide, my main is Blood/Frost DK. Only have one question, Roiling Blood spreads you diseases to all adds within range plus damage. I have tried unholy blight but wouldn’t Rolling Blood be better?

      1. Thanks.

        Pestilence has a very short range, unless glyphed. Unholy blight makes sure everything in the area is infected, without glyphs or any other abilities. It makes it much easier to keep your diseases up on the whole group, all the time. You’ll also note that Blood Boil in not part of the listed rotation, for Frost DKs.

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