Sunday, August 9, 2009

3.2 Frost DK DW DPS Run Down

Over the weekend, I took the plunge and dove into respeccing and regearing my Death Knight. For those who may not know, Death Knights got a full refund of talent points necessitating a revisiting of my spec. I was rather enjoying the playstyle I'd found, so I didn't wanna switch things up too much. However, I did want to see if the new changes in favor of dual wielding panned out like they were intended.

With that in mind, I went with a 14/57/0 spec. I filled up the "Nerves of Cold Steel" talent as well as the "Threat of Thasarrian" talent. I removed two points from Two Handed Weapon Specialization and kept almost everything else the same.

It's important to note that my aim is to be able to do two things well with this spec. The first, I'd like to be able to DPS in a PvE environment competitively. The second, I'd like to feel competitive in PvP Battlegrounds. Thus, some points are chosen for that sort of utility, even though I know it makes my spec not "the best" raiding spec or "the best" PvP spec. It's a hybrid spec. For instance, my PvP needs are what entice me to spec into both Rune Tap and Chillblains. Keep that in mind in your criticisms :-).

This also reflects itself in my choice of glyphs. You can see from the link above that I'm going with:
  • Howling Blast - To spread Frost Fever and, thereby, Chillblains. Awesome for keeping melee away from demolishers, etc.
  • Disease - One button, one rune refreshing of diseases. Totally a must for DPS as it lets you throw in a lot more Obliterates
  • Rune Tap - For the self/group heal. This is a utility thing that I enjoy. If you're looking for more DPS, go with the Glyph of OB as it is totally worth it.
  • Horn of Winter - These three minors are pretty much "no duh" choices.
  • Pestilence - for the obvious
  • Raise Dead - for the obvious
So, basically, in switching to a Dual Wield spec, I dropped my old glyph of Death Grip (which is great for levelling, but not all that useful in end game stuff, even if I really love the ability) and picked up the Glyph of Disease which is just essential for your rotation. I'm still ironing it out, but it ends up looking something like:

IT > PS > OB > FS > BS > Pest > OB > OB > FS (repeating basically Pest, OB's, FS as they come up and making sure my diseases never fall off. Also, I throw in a HB whenever Rime procs... looking for the shinies around your player)

It's pretty simple, fun, and puts up respectable numbers. With the addition of the glyph, I was doing better DPS than I was pre-patch right away even using my 2h weapon. Then I switch to my DW weapons and saw my DPS go up ~100 more on the same dummy. This is certainly not battle tested, but I would argue that my 2H weapon is far better than my 2 DW weapons, yet still I was putting out more DPS as a DW. It seems to me to confirm the general rumors I'm hearing that DW >> 2H for the Frost tree DPS spec.

I know that in the course of my research, it was tough to figure out what DW weapons to use. I know you want a slower weapon in each hand, but it was still hard for me to find "easy to get" 1H DPS weapons. I didn't want to farm anything, just purchase some stuff because I wanted to test it before I took the plunge. This basically limited me to emblems, seals, and/or currently achieved rep items. In the end, I settled on:
These replaced my two hander Death's Bite.

I'm also working on a DW tanking spec too, but I'll reserve a separate post for that.

So now that I've thrown all this out there, please feel free to shoot me advice and critique. I'm sure I've missed things or could have done things better. In particular, I would love advice on what to look for as far as DW stats on weapons. I find that I don't really understand that stats on them so much right now. Just keep in mind that I'm choosing to run with a hybrid spec for fun, realizing it means I'm not going to "top the charts" DPS wise in a raid. That's not the point of what I'm doing. I want to maximize this spec while retaining the utility in both PvP and some PvE (mostly heroics, maybe some low-end raiding). Thanks in advance!

(edit: In response to some comments and further research, I posted an update here with some clarifications about the IIT buff and how it affected my rotation.)


  1. How much dps are we able to pull with this? Average.

  2. Obviously that depends a lot upon gear. Currently, I'm slight about average-ly geared for 25-naxx. I have some drops, could use others, definitely not Ulduar ready.

    With that being said, I was solidly in the 2.5k DPS range. Since switching to DW, I was closer to 3k DPS.

    I don't think its 0.5k better, maybe 200 or so, but I think it fits me a lot better.

  3. The thing that none of you realize i guess is the fact that for a little less dps on your part if you go 2h you will bring a ton more utility to the raid. The DW spec is to jam packed with neccesseties. It's not always about topping the meters...

  4. @Fusion - Could you please provide some examples? I'm sure there are many people who could benefit...

    I've pointed out in the past that my spec is a hybrid PvP/Raid DPS spec since I take things like "Chillblains". My DK is really my personal fun toon and definitely not my main raiding toon. As such, I'm not trying to present this as "The" raiding spec, but as a spec that I enjoy playing with for fun and low end raiding.

    I think it is consistent across many classes that you could always trade utility for a DPS loss. Some are just better trades than others and I would be interested in how those numbers stack up. Do you have a link to some sources that could perhaps point out what you're talking about?

  5. I see you went with 1/1 Improved Icy Talons yet your rotation is based on refreshing diseases through pest. I recommend doing a "manual" refresh of diseases (IT + PS) instead of that every 20 seconds, because, unlike the tooltip states, IIT does not proc off Frost Fever, but off aplying the diseases (that means casting IT). If you don't hit a mob with IT, you'll lose the buff after 20 seconds, translated in a fair amount of own and raid DPS lost.

    I for one went with a 0/53/18 pure PvE spec (down to 5/5 Necrosis and 3/3 Blood-Caked Blade), with slow MH and fast OH for more KM and BCB procs. I'm pulling an average 3.5k DPS with mostly UD10 (non-tier) gear. I'm planning to try a slow/slow combo and see how my dps will be affected, just haven't found a suitable OH yet.

  6. I had wondered about that, good point. I may rethink my spec here and get rid of Icy Talons because of that. Not that it isn't good, but if I'm going to use the glyph, you're right that I'm probably wasting those points.

    I'll also try the manual refresh like you said... at least of IT every 20 secs (so maybe manual once ~every two rotations)... I'm not sure how smooth that'll be rune wise since that glyph is pretty nice.

  7. I for one only use that glyph in my tanking spec (7/54/10). For DPS spec, I went with FS, Oblit and IT as majors. And I don't feel it's such a big loss in DPS having to refresh my diseases manually. Getting rid of IIT is IMO a way too expensive trade-off, both in PvE (one of the few raidbuffs DK's have) and in PvP (melee haste ftw).

  8. Yeah, that's probably smart. It's a shame it doesn't refresh with Frost Fever. I want to have my cake and eat it too, but, as usual, the cake is a lie.

  9. 10/54/7 is the current DW spec i use and i currently can hold 4k dps on the single target dummy in the hold now with CD rotations i get to about 4.5k

  10. Actually, Imp Icy Talons does proc off of Frost Fever, not Icy Touch, this is easily proved since you have the glyph that causes Holwing Blast to apply Frost Fever. Just hit HB and watch your buff bar. I was tanking with that glyph just a little while ago and rarely used IT at all and had constant up-time for IIT. Far as purely DPS DW Frost goes the optimal spec that I've found is

    The added AP from Bladed Armor is fairly negligible especially when compared to the added DPS you get from Blood-Caked Blade. I briefly debated dropping a point in deathchill for a point in the blood Subversion talent but opted for the force crit ability instead vs. the 3% I'd get from the talent point as the forced crit is useful for tanking (Deathchill + Howling Blast) and is nice for PvP and I believe it actually has a higher raise in crit percentage for Oblit than the 3% if you couple Deathchill w/ Oblit every CD.

    For glyphs I go with Oblit, Pestilence and Frost Strike and my rotation is IT, PS, Oblit, Blood Strike, Pestilence >>> Oblit, Oblit, IT, Pestilence (FS rune dump and HB if procc'd while waiting for rune re-up which is about 2 GCD's) and just keep repeating the second phase but substituting Unbreakable Armor for IT when it's off CD which gives you 20% uptime without disrupting your runes.

    The death rune swaps with the blood rune every rotation so that you can constantly keep your diseases up using Pestilence and get in 2 oblits per round every round.

    Last note, definitely go with slow weapons as Obliterate will be your top dmging ability (with FS pulling third behind melee dmg most likely) and strikes with both weapons at once. Also, with slower weapons the benefit of haste (IIT) increases because haste is percentage based.

  11. Note: this is Copy & Paste from an Email via Fulguralis

    @Anon - You're mostly correct except for a very slight clarification. I wrote about the IIT buff previously in depth here:, but the short version is that IIT procs off of anything that APPLIES Frost Fever. Thus, HB and IT both work as I've said, but Pestilence (with the glyph) will NOT work (since it merely "refreshes"). That's a very minor, but very important consideration to keep in mind.

  12. i switched from unholy to frost spec my dps went up a 1000 dps with 2 (nighttime)1h axe ther is a program on curse named(parrot) tells u when crit stikes r ready its not easy to get figured out u basicly turn off everthing but killen machine,frost fog(rime)im still getting use to it but it is great dps im hitting 2900 on target dummy constant i could barely get 1800 on unholybut the guildie that showed me and helped me is doing over 5k in raids dps its tricky but if u want killer dps on death night check it out

  13. Cool and thanks for the addon tip!