Frost Death Knight PvP Guide

Death Knight Frost Spec PvP

Are Frost DKs in good shape? Yes. But that depends more on you than anything else. You certainly have plenty of damage 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 max level 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 Zygor’s leveling guide.

ContentsHuman DK in Season 15 Prideful Gear

Other Dk Pages:

 

Races for Frost PvP

All of the various races bring something to the PvP game, but certain races are better. For more info on all of the available races (and all races can be DK) then see the race list in the DK Overview page.

Alliance

    1. Human is the best option for ladder play as you get to use Relentless against heavy crowd control compositions while still having Every Man for Himself to break out of stuns
    2. Gnome is a strong alternative, especially against mages and survival hunters for the root break – the added 1% haste and the extra resource cap also help to slightly increase your overall damage
    3. Night Elf Shadowmeld certainly has its uses as does a bit of quickness.

Horde

    1. Orc is easily the best pick as you’ll get the stun reduction from Hardiness while still being able to play with Gladiator’s Medallion – you also get a nice damage boost from Blood Fury
    2. There are a lot of Blood Elves at 2200+ arena. Their debuff (Arcane Torrent) and extra Crit help. (source)

Professions

How to gear up in 8.3

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 Quiet Mind handy for just this purpose.

Descriptions are below the image and our picks are checked: Best talent
CD = Cooldown, CC = Crowd Control

Tier 1 Talents

    1. Best talentInexorable Assault increases your sustained damage more effectively than the others.
    2. Icy Talons
    3. Cold Heart

Tier 2 Talents

    1. Best talent Runic Attenuation provides more Runic Power for more Frost and Death strikes over a fight.
    2. Murderous Efficiency
    3. Horn of Winter

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Tier 3 Talents

    1. Death’s Reach
    2. Best talent Asphyxiate gives you and your team a good stun every 45 seconds. If your team already is good for stuns, then go with Sleet.
    3. Best talent Blinding Sheet has a 1 min. CD and will disorient opponents in front of you for 5 seconds. Damage, such as DOTs, may break the effect. An added CC for your group.

Tier 4 Talents

    1. Avalanche
    2. Best talent Frozen Pulse radiates a constant, small, damage field affecting all nearby enemies. This happens any time you have less than 3 full runes, which will be often.
    3. Frostscythe

Tier 5 Talents

    1. Permafrost
    2. Best talent Wraith Walk breaks roots and snares, and gives you much needed mobility.
    3. Death Pact

Tier 6 Talents

    1. Best talent Gathering Storm adds 10% damage to your Remorseless Winter and also .5 seconds to its duration for each rune spent while RW is active.
    2. Glacial Advance
    3. Frostwyrm’s Fury

Tier 7, Level 100

    1. Best talent Icecap causes your Frost Striek and Obliterate crits to reduce the CD of Pillar of Frost by three seconds.
    2. Obliteration
    3. Best talent Breath of Sindragosa

War Mode PvP Talents

    1. Gladiators Medallion removes any CC effect from you and has a 2 minute CD. It is especially useful since you healer will nto be able to dispel some of those effects.
    2. Chill Streak should always be taken and only used in kill attempts where targets are stacked.
    3. Heartstop Aura reduces the CD recovery rate of targets within 8 yards.
    4. Delirium has excellent synergy with Heartstop Aura and can make it very easy to train down a target by limiting their mobility
    5. Necrotic Aura causes all enemies within 12 yards to take 8% increased magical damage. Because most of your damage is magical, this is a flat 8% increase to your overall damage. This is great for consistent and spread pressure.
    6. Anti-Magic Zone is recommended when you are playing against a team with two DPS that have magical damage.

 

Frost DK PvP Stats

Stats are actually pretty close in value and their value will vary depending on your gear and what exactly you are doing.

Stat Priorities:

  • Item Level > Strength > Mastery > Versatility > Crit > Haste

Stat Explanations

  • Mastery increases all of your Frost damage. The increased number of strikes when Dual Wielding makes it more valuable than the others.
  • Versatility is an add to your damage (and any healing) and also to your damage reduction. It’s a pretty useful PvP stat if you can get decent quantities of it.
  • Crit with your Killing Machine will provide plenty of crits for your Obliterate and Frost Strike.
  • Haste speeds up everything you do, including Rune regeneration.

 

Gems, Azerite, and Corruption for the Frost DK

Well, you aren’t. Gemming for PvP, that is. Gem sockets are actually uncommon, but since they do appear on occasion. It makes gemming pretty easy. 1st number is BFA, 2nd is Shadowlands.

Major Azerite Essenses

    • Conflict and Strife – excellent choice for your major essence as it gives you Chill Streak, allowing you to pick up an all important fourth PvP talent while also increasing your versatility, making it easier for you to survive
    • Breath of the Dying – can be used if you don’t need an additional PvP talent, for example when facing a melee cleave like TSG

Minor Azerite Essences

Azerite Traits

Vs. Melee Cleaves

Vs. non-Melee Cleaves

Options

Corruption

    1. Gushing Wound – excellent choice to increase your damage for very little corruption
    2. Versatile – best choice for the passive increase to one of your favored stats
    3. Surging Vitality – alternate pick to proc one of your best stats

 

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 Zygor’s Gold Guide can do about about fixing your poverty.

Enchanting your max level gear is easy. At max level you can only enchant your rings and weapons.

    • Weapon #1: Fallen Crusader will give you procs for a 6% heal heals and +15% Strength, which ain’t bad at all.
    • Weapon #2:  Razorice increases all Frost damage by a bit and is a constant buff.
    • Rings: Accord of Mastery

At lower levels you can enchant other pieces. You can use the top level enchants and they will scale down appropriately. Start your new DK and enchant all the heirlooms. You can enchant other pieces too, but if you’re going to keep leveling you’ll have to keep enchanting the new gear as you get it.

Obviously these numbers will change in Shadowlands, but the relative value will be about the same.

Heirloom items

Non-heirloom pieces

 

 

Gearing Up Your Frost Death Knight

The easy way: Heirloom gear until max level. As of BFA that’s about 13.5k per weapon and 9k each for all the other items. Got the gold?

When you hit level 120 you can but item level 400 pieces off the auction house for fairly low prices. You can find some higher level pieces, but they are not so cheap. World quests will get you items up to 420. ANd then there’s the better gear. See this post for that.

This next section is left here just for the heck of it.

Under level 90 Gear

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 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, so that’s worth a few points.

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.

If you’ve done a bunch of pre-90 PvP and have that honor you can pick up a couple of the Prideful Gladiator pieces from your base in Pandaria.

This will give you a bit of extra going into Draenor.

Level 91 Gear

Level 91 is something of the “twink” level. You can equip three pieces of crafted gear (item level 640 armor and 630 weapon) which will be way better than anything else you find till you get into the honor gear. You can also bump each of these items by 45 ilevel points (up to 715 in 6.2) which will put them on a par with the PvP value of the honor gear.

The only problem is that you’re looking at maybe 30-40k gold to buy and max out each item. If you’re not quite that rich then wait till 100 and get the PvP gear. Otherwise see our gold guide.

Of you have the gold (or a friendly, generous crafter:)

  1. Truesteel  Breastplate and legs.
  2. Steelforged weapon: Steelforged Greataxe
  3. 2x each Truesteel essence (TSE), greater TSE, powerful TSE to bump both armors to 685.
  4. 1 Steelforged Essence (SE,) greater SE, Powerful SE gets you to 675 for the weapon.
  5. Truesteel Grinder rerolls the stats on your weapon. You may have to do this a number of times until you get the stats you want.
  6. Truesteel Reshaper rerolls the stats on your armor. You may have to do this a number of times until you get the stats you’re looking for.

Level 100 Gearing

PvP gear in Warlords has two item levels, a lower one for PvE and a higher one for any PvP combat, whether it’s World or Arena PvP.  Most PvE gear will be inferior for this reason, but the best raid gear will be comparable and there will be no reason not to use it if it’s as good or better than the PvP rating of your item. The PvE piece might also have a gem socket.

Examples:

Bonuses

  1. 2 piece bonus: Using Death Grip increases the damage of your next special attack by 25%. Death Grip to Killing Machine Obliterate. That’ll hurt.
  2. 4 piece bonus: When you have Freezing Fog active (Rime buff,) your next Howling Blast will increase Frost damage taken on all targets by 10% for 8 sec.
  3. Also your two PvP trinkets give you a 15% damage reduction (Vs other players.)

Getting the Stuff

  1. Get your Honor weapon first. Conquest will require you to earn 7250 conquest points before you can get the weapon.
  2. Getting pounded? Consider getting both trinket now for the 15% damage reduction.
  3. Fill out your 4 piece set bonus with head, chest, legs, and gloves.
  4. “On Use” trinket, eg: Primal Combatant’s Badge of Victory
  5. Rings and Cloak, so you can get the enchants.
  6. Shoulders
  7. Boots and everything else.
  8. Escape trinket, assuming you already have a lesser one. If you don’t then you should get this much sooner.

Of course, if you’re getting your gear randomly from Ashran boxes or the like then you’ll gear up as best you can.

Modifying Stuff isn’t really going to happen. Crafted gear can have the stats rerolled as many times as necessary to get “the right stats.” PvP and dropped gear cannot be so modified. Crafted gear can also have its iLevel increased (expensive,) but the PvP gear will still be better in PvP combat.

Otherwise you’re left with the enchants, there being no gems (yet) for PvP gear.

 

 

Macros for the Frost Death Knight

Most of these, of course, you can take over to any other spec of DK. This forst batch lets you do things to your focus target, while still paying attention to your primary target.

#showtooltip Mind Freeze
/cast [@focus] Mind Freeze

#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast [@focus] Death Grip

#showtooltip Asphyxiate
/cast [@focus] Asphyxiate

#showtooltip Chains of Ice
/cast [@focus] Chains of Ice

And if you need to cancel your Lichborne effect:

#showtooltip Lichborne
/cancelaura Lichborne

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 or Frost Strike.

#showtooltip Name
/startattack
/cast Name
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();

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:  “use 13”.  “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

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’ (or just @mouseover or @focus.) 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

Death Grip – Hold down shift and it girps your focus, otherwise whatever you have targeted.

#showtooltip Death Grip
/cast [nomodifier] Death Grip
/cast [target=focus,mod:shift] Death Grip

You can use something similar with other abilities. Hold shift and it zaps your focus, otherwise your main target.

#showtooltip Strangulate
/cast [nomodifier] Strangulate
/cast [target=focus,mod:shift] Strangulate

Arena targeting: Assign one of these to each arena number (1-2, 1-3, or 1-5) and it will zap that opponent without losing your current target. Change ‘Spell Name’ to the ability you want to use, such as Strangulate.

#showtooltip Spell Name
/cast [@arena1] Spell Name

Fun with Gorefiend’s Grasp – With no mods it fires off the ability with you as the focus, bringing all enemies to you. Hit 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 your 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 player on your 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. Keep this as one macro or make it into several.

  • /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.

Your Priority List (Rotation)

  1. Diseases – Your disease’s are always a high priority as any death knight spec. You won’t be worrying so much about blood plague being active on the target all the time so you will want to maintain it via outbreak, unholy blight (if talented) or plague strike if you chose Plague Leech as your Tier 1 talent. Your frost fever will be kept up from rime procs used with howling blast/icy touch or via chains of ice when slowing your target.
  2. Obliterate – Obliterate is our hardest hitting ability as a frost death knight and give’s us alot of burst damage. You want to aim to get as many obliterates off as you can to maximize your single target damage. You should aim to use every possible killing machine proc on obliterate for maximum damage.
  3. Frost Strike – This ability is used as your runic power dump. You will use this to get rid of excess runic power or when all your runes are on cooldown and you have nothing left to use.
  4. Howling Blast – You only want to howling blast when you have a rime proc, are trying to deal AoE damage or provide a slow to multiple target’s when spec’d into chilblains. Note that when Rime procs the free Howling Blast it causes it to also do 20% more damage (with your perk.)
  5. Pillar of Frost – Pillar of Frost is our dps cooldown and its super strong. Pillar of Frost increases our total strength by 20% and has a very short 1 minute cooldown. To get the most out of this ability you want to stack it with as many procs as you possibly can for maximum burst potential. While pillar of frost is active you are immune to knockbacks and death grips making it easier for us to stick to certain classes.

Basic Rotation

  • 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 to dump runic power
  • Howling Blast as it procs, unless you’re trying to A of E and apply diseases.
  • Procs as they appear, preferably for Obliterate over Frost Strike.

Crushing Damage (AKA: Bursting.)

At any given time try to line up as many of these as possible.

Buffs:

  • Frost Presence, its most optimal when bursting for you to be in frost presence so you generate 20% more runic power and your frost strike costs 15 less runic power to use. There are times in an arena environment where you just cannot leave blood presence and this is fine but you should be looking for opportunity’s to switch to frost presence whenever possible.
  • Horn of Winter, this is our standard class buff that increase’s our total attack power by 10% for 1 hour. You should keep this buff active at all times.
  • Your Strength flask, if allowed: Greater Draenic Strength Flask: +250 Str for one hour

Cooldowns

  • On-Use PvP Trinket, a 20 second duration strength proc on a 1 min cooldown. This trinket perfectly lines up with your pillar of frost so you should macro both pillar of frost and this trinket together.
  • Blood Fury – If you play an Orc you should put this ability into your pillar of frost macro as it lines up with every second pillar of frost and gives you a nice increase to your attack power.
  • Berserking – If you play a Troll you should put this ability into your pillar of frost macro as it line’s up with every 3rd pillar of frost. The haste increase you get from this during pillar will increase your chance to gain more killing machine procs therefore giving you more burst potential.
  • Pillar of Frost – Pillar of Frost is our dps cooldown and it’s super strong. Pillar of Frost increases our total strength by 20% and has a very short 1 minute cooldown.

Procs

  • PvP Proc trinket, a 20 second duration Strength proc on a 45 sec internal cooldown.
  • Rune of the Fallen Crusader, your weapon enchant proc that increase’s your total strength by 25% and has a chance to heal you for 3% of your total health. This proc is huge when combined with pillar of frost and your other strength procs and its often worth waiting for this proc before bursting.
  • Killing Machine, you should try to get a killing machine proc just before you pop your cooldowns so you can begin bursting with a huge obliterate crit.

Now head out and kill someone!

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4 thoughts on “Frost Death Knight PvP Guide”

  1. why would a dk pay for an enchant when we have runeforging as a DW frost DK razorice + fallen crusader is best, dancing steel is a good enchant but not worth sacrficing extra frost damage or 15% extra strength.

    1. My best advice for PvP (which I’m not too hot at, either?) Hotkey your main powers and practice on the target dummies until you don’t have to think about them. Especially your CCs and Interrupts. Don’t open with Death Grip, save it for when they blink or disengage away. Skill matters, a lot, but it’s also a gear race, so the sooner you can get yourself into top gear the better. Lastly: lots of practice.

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