Frost Death Knight DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Dragonflight 10.2.7

Last updated on May 07, 2024 at 11:20 by Bicepspump 42 comments
General Information

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Frost Death Knight in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Dragonflight 10.2.7.

1.

Frost Death Knight Rotation

Welcome to our Rotation page for Frost Death Knights. Here we will go over everything you will need to know to optimally play your spec for Raiding and Mythic+ scenarios.

2.

Mythic+ Rotation

Frost is a very interesting Mythic+ spec, as it has good single-target burst potential and AoE burst potential. However, this differs depending on your talents. For more information about Mythic+ as a Frost Death Knight, please check out our Mythic+ guide linked below.

2.1.

Easy Mode

If these rotations seem fairly complicated, then you may want to check out our Easy Mode page, which gives you a much more simplistic build and rotation to play.

2.2.

PvP

Since the guides on this page are for PvE content, if you are looking for a PvP rotation guide, then please visit our PvP page linked below.

3.

Single Target Rotation for Frost Death Knights

The single-target rotation is based on the following priority. I have not included the usage of your cooldowns here; find detailed explanations of those further down the page!

  • Shattering Blade Icon Shattering Blade Talented
  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper Talented
  1. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to stack/ keep up your Icy Talons Icon Icy Talons and Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy.
  2. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike if you have 5 stacks of Rune of Razorice Icon Rune of Razorice.
  3. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter on cooldown.
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you have 2 stacks of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine.
  5. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  6. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc or 4+ Runes.
  7. Use Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper if the target is below 35% health.
  8. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 70+ Runic Power.
  9. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  10. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.

Now, we will translate this into something a bit more readable!

  • Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to stack and maintain our Icy Talons Icon Icy Talons and Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy buffs. These will almost always be part of your talent setup and should be maintained. We also use it as a high priority when we want to consume Rune of Razorice Icon Rune of Razorice stacks with the Shattering Blade Icon Shattering Blade talent. Builds using this talent are not very common, but it is still important to keep in mind!
  • Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate to consume procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine and avoid capping on Runes. Killing Machine procs are triggered off your critical auto attacks, so we must spend them relatively quickly to avoid wasting any procs (remember that you can stack Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine two times with Fatal Fixation Icon Fatal Fixation!). We also want to avoid sitting at 4+ Runes available since that means we lose out on Rune recharge. You can recharge 3 Runes at the time max. Any time you are not doing so, you lose out on Rune recharging!
  • Spend your procs of Rime Icon Rime on Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast. We have this high in our priority since we want to avoid "overcapping" procs. This is when you generate a proc when you already have one, wasting one use. Casting a naked Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast (without Rime) is only ever worthwhile to maintain your Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever. It does not matter too much if you do it or not, though.
  • Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter on cooldown. The power of this ability varies with the talents you use, but it is still always a DPS upgrade to use on cooldown.
  • Use Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper on cooldown when the target reaches 35% health.
  • Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to avoid capping Runic Power. This priority comes after managing your Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine procs and Runes. For Frost Death Knight, Runic Power simply is not worth as much as Runes (in our core rotation, it is very important during Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa). We will overcap on it and not care generally!
  • Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate to spend Runes and generate Runic Power. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to spend the Runic Power you generate. This is the majority of your rotation where you build and spend your resources.
4.

Multiple Target Rotation for Frost Death Knights

If you are using Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance, then use instead of Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike whenever you would have used Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike. With Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury, it is recommended that you synergize with Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost and as many targets as possible.

The multiple target rotation is as follows.

  • Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance Talented
  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter.
  2. Use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay.
  3. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  4. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike if your Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy is about to fall off.
  5. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  6. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  7. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.

Your AoE rotation is almost identical to your single-target rotation, primarily being different due to Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance now being your Runic Power spender. Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay is also used in a new way, being your primary source of cleave to due Obliterate Icon Obliterate hitting up to three targets when you are standing in it. You generally do not care as much about Runic Power, and it is fine to cap it when prioritizing Rune Spenders. Your Rime Icon Rime vs. Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance priority is important to discuss here. Generally, you always prioritize Rime Icon Rime regardless of target count. The one exception is when you're at 7+ targets , and your Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter is not active (thus not giving you any benefit from Rime Icon Rime via Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm) OR when your Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy is about to fall off. It is pretty much only the Unleashed Frenzy condition that ever matters here.

You might be wondering why Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe is not mentioned anywhere in the AoE rotation. The spell is simply too weak to be worthwhile to press in any scenario. Even in the most ideal circumstances, using it perfectly is within a 1% DPS upgrade compared to just ignoring the spell completely.

Optimising your AoE damage is generally all about leveraging your Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay in your Obliteration Icon Obliteration windows properly! See the Obliteration Icon Obliteration priority in AoE further down this page for a more detailed discussion!

5.

Breath of Sindragosa

Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is a unique cooldown that offers a completely different play style from Obliteration Icon Obliteration. Currently, you will experience an average duration of 120+ seconds with Heroism Icon Heroism / Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, and 60+ seconds without Heroism / Bloodlust. There are outliers where you do not get sufficient Runic Empowerment Icon Runic Empowerment, Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever or Rune of Hysteria Icon Rune of Hysteria procs that can cut it short. Furthermore, mechanics can force you out of range , which will ruin your uptime of Breath.

5.1.

Opener for Breath of Sindragosa

  • Abomination Limb Icon Abomination Limb Talented
  • Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak Talented and Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc equipped.
  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter
  2. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate (use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you get a Rime Icon Rime proc).
  3. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate (use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you get a Rime Icon Rime proc).
  4. Use Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.
  5. Use Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa.
  6. Use Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead.
  7. Use Blood Fury Icon Blood Fury if Orc, Berserking Icon Berserking if Troll.
  8. Follow the "rotation during Breath of Sindragosa priority" (below).
5.2.

Rotation During Breath of Sindragosa

  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper Talented
  1. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you are low on Runic Power (less than 30 RP).
  2. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter on cooldown.
  3. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc or Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever is about to drop. Only use Howling Blast if you are above 30 Runic Power.
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you are nearly capped on Runes or have less than 45 Runic Power.
  5. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  6. Use Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent if you are a Blood Elf, and it will not overcap your Runic Power.

The Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa rotation is all about managing your Runic Power generation throughout the duration of your Breath. Your Runic Power drains at a rate of 18 per second, and you want to ensure this does not turn into a Runic Power deficit for long periods of time! The very first point to consider is the type of ability you use during your Breath. Never ever use an ability that costs Runic Power, as it will significantly reduce the duration of your Breath. Instead, you will pretty much only use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter, and Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast with procs of Rime Icon Rime (and Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper when that is talented)!

The start of your Breath will generally be very easy to manage. You will pool resources beforehand and have all your cooldowns available to help with your resources. Important to note here is to not blindly spam your Obliterate Icon Obliterate button. You can easily end up in scenarios where you have so many resources that you actually overcap on Runic Power and end up wasting it! Do not Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you are about to overcap on Runic Power and you have 3 or fewer Runes (in reality, we will overcap some Runic Power due to our very fast Rune recharge rate). We still want to use your resource cooldowns in this period as well. Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon should be used aggressively in order to boost that initial burst window with your potion, trinket (if you run an active on-use), Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost and Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust. You should also use Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter relatively aggressively. Once you are out of Runes and will not overcap Runic Power is the general advice. This should happen around 15-25 seconds after you use your Breath.

Once the initial resource-heavy phase is gone, you will start entering a region of potential Runic Power deficit. With good procs, you are fine and keep your Runic Power up, but with streaks of unlucky periods, your Runic Power will start to drop. This is the part where you want to actively manage your Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone (with Assimilation Icon Assimilation). You can soak up magic damage to generate Runic Power and help with the streaks of bad luck! Furthermore, this is also when you need to consider your second use of Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon. You do not want to hold on to it for so long that you end up dropping Breath without using it/ only getting a partial use. You do not want to use it too early either and potentially cap on resources. This is very much a "feel" cooldown where you need to get a sense of when you are unlucky with your procs and really require Empower Rune Weapon to keep going. The very general number is 60 seconds into your Breath. Furthermore, try and space out your Cooldowns appropriately and do not use them all at the same time. If used all together, you risk wasting resources.

In the final part of Breath, you are dropping further and further down. No resources cooldowns are left to use, and you just hope for good procs. Here, you will distinctly prioritize using Obliterate Icon Obliterate over Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast with Rime Icon Rime, as well as Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter and Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper. You want to optimize your Runic Power in the next GCD in the hope of getting potential procs. You can also consider using Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay, giving you that 10 Runic Power for one more tick and potentially more procs. Also, make sure to really spam your buttons here so that any Rune proc is used up ASAP!

Finally, let us consider the scenario when you are forced out of range due to mechanics. In this scenario, it can be viable to spam Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to keep up your Breath! Try and make use of Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell and Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone to avoid using Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast since it is quite the waste of Runes to do it. Also, consider the extra Breath duration you gain by doing it. If your Breath is dropping 4-5 seconds after getting back to the boss anyway, using Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast will end up being a waste. In short, if you are forced out of range early in your Breath window, use all the tools you can to keep it up. If it is late in the window, only use naked Howling Blast Icon Howling Blasts if it will net you 5+ seconds or so of extra boss Breath uptime.

The discussion above is related primarily to your first Breath in a given fight. For secondary Breaths, the main difference is that you will only have a single charge of Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon. Make sure to hold this until you really need it! Furthermore, really pool properly for secondary Breaths, ideally going above 100 Runic Power before you press it!

6.

Obliteration

Obliteration Icon Obliteration is executed in a far shorter cooldown window compared to Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, putting more emphasis on the GCD-by-GCD decisions.

6.1.

Opener for Obliteration

  • Abomination Limb Icon Abomination Limb Talented
  • Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak Talented and Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc equipped.
  • Fyr'alath the Dreamrender Icon Fyr'alath the Dreamrender equipped.
  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter.
  2. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  3. Follow the "rotation during Obliteration priority" (below).

We cast a potentially naked Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast in this opener to immediately proc a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine in your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window. With Abomination Limb Icon Abomination Limb you do get a Rime Icon Rime proc, but if you don't run this talent, the Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast will be naked.

When to use your trinket, racial, and potion depends on the number of charges of Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon you are using, and whether or not Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust is used on pull. If you aren't running the Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon talent for a second charge, send all your buffs with your initial burst window. If you are using two charges and you are using Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust in the opener, use your potion 10 seconds into the fight, and save your trinket and racial to overlap with your second Pillar window. We do this because of the second Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost being fully within Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust and having all your buffs properly stacked up. Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy, Icy Talons Icon Icy Talons and Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm will be maxed out at this point and enable a stronger burst window at this point!

You have a high priority to stack up Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy in your first Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window, essentially ignoring Rime Icon Rime until you have stacked up 3 charges of the buff.

For AoE, the opener stays pretty much the same. The one difference is that you use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay a couple of GCDs in your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window! The idea is to generate two procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine and then put down your Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay. This optimizes the number of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine cleaves you can achieve in the window. Generally, you will hit your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost with one of your Macros, generate a further proc of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine and then use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay. In the event of getting a natural proc of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine, you would simply use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay one GCD earlier. If you are planning to use Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury at the end of your Pillar, use Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay as your second GCD! Since your final GCD will be the wyrm anyway, you do not need to care about proper overlap with Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay at this point.

We will generally run two charges of Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay in AoE. The way to use your second charge is right after a strong Death and Decay window! This often means you have left-over procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine to spend, as well as buffs such as Trinket, Potion, and Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon! Try and use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon right at the start of the initial window if you intend to use a secondary one. This second window then also benefits from Enduring Strength Icon Enduring Strength, making it strong as well! As a final note, using your second Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay right after the first one means you cannot end up in a situation where you do not have a charge ready for a Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window!

6.2.

Rotation Priority during Pillar of Frost (Obliteration)

  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper Talented
  • Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak Talented and Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc equipped
  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter.
  2. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you have a stack of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine.
  3. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to generate a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc if you are at fewer than 3 stacks of Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy or your Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy is about to expire.
  4. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  5. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike to generate a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  6. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to generate a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc, and you have 3 or more Runes.

The idea here is to weave your abilities to both generate and consume the maximum amount of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine procs! You can get procs of Killing Machine naturally, so make sure to be ready for when that happens to avoid overcapping on procs. It is important to ensure you have sufficient resources before entering the Obliteration Icon Obliteration window. This generally means saving some Runic Power and Runes ~5 seconds before the window. It is generally sufficient to enter with 2 or more Runes and 30 or more Runic Power. You can have less Runic Power if you have a proc of Rime Icon Rime.

Fatal Fixation Icon Fatal Fixation introduces a lot of flexibility in the rotation here and makes you generate procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine even if you have one already. The only time we actively play around this is right at the end of our Pillar window. For our final GCD, if we have the opportunity to generate a stack of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine to go to two stacks, we do so!

Note that Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike has a higher priority than Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast when you need to either stack or refresh your Icy Talons Icon Icy Talons and Unleashed Frenzy Icon Unleashed Frenzy buffs! It is more important to maintain these buffs than to spend the proc of Rime Icon Rime. Furthermore, you should also use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike above Rime Icon Rime procs when low on Runes. Due to them spending Runic Power, you have a higher probability of generating a Rune when using a Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike vs consuming a proc of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine!

With Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper talented, we will use it to generate procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine. This generally has a lower priority since the ability costs a Rune, potentially disrupting our weaving if are at low Runes. Only use it if you have 3 or more Runes available!

The final Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast is an edge case where you are unlucky with your procs of Rime Icon Rime. You might end up depleting your Runic Power but still have a lot of Runes. We then send a naked Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to trigger the next Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine.

Just like in the general AoE rotation, Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance becomes your Runic Power spender of choice within your Obliteration Icon Obliteration window as soon as you are fighting 2+ targets!

Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter is included in this window as well as a high priority. This abilities simply do so much damage for a single button press that it is worthwhile to use it even during the GCD-restricted Obliteration Icon Obliteration window! For Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak, it's only included if you still have the Season 3 tier set. In Season 4, we won't pick up this talent once we obtain the new tier set (the Season 2 one).

7.

Cooldown Usage for Frost Death Knights

As a Frost Death Knight, you have 9 Core DPS cooldowns. Below, we explain how they are best used.

  • Fyr'alath the Dreamrender Icon Fyr'alath the Dreamrender should be used on Cooldown but not during your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost windows! The damage of the on-use doesn't scale with your Strength so you don't want to waste 2 GCDs in your burst window pressing something that doesn't synergise with the burst! For Single Target, use it right after you have applied your first mark, before you have entered your first CD window. In AoE, use towards the end of packs when your main burst has finished.
  • Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak usage depends on your tier set status. If you still have the Season 3 tier set Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc. If you haven't replaced it, use Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak on cooldown to gain as much value from the set as possible! You might think it's worthwhile to hold this ability to align with your other CDs. However, this will quickly result in lost casts , so simply send it ASAP for maximum value! Once you have replaced your tier set, only use Chill Streak Icon Chill Streak in AoE if you pick up the talent. Again, send it on CD.
  • Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost should be used on cooldown, stacking it with potions or any on-use trinkets you have. Alternatively, you can save it for moments when you need increased damage. Don't hold on to it for long, though , since the cooldown is 30-45 seconds with Icecap Icon Icecap.
  • Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon should be paired with your Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa and Obliteration Icon Obliteration windows. For Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, use the first charge 0-5 seconds after you pop Breath of Sindragosa to boost your burst. Use the second charge when you start starving later on in the fight. For Obliteration Icon Obliteration, use it 3-7 seconds before casting your Pillar of Frost. This ensures you get full uptime of the Haste buff as well as helping pooling for the cooldown window. If you are in AoE and intend to spend both your Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay charges back-to-back, use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon closer to the start of the initial Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.
  • Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury is a huge cooldown in AoE scenarios and will deal a significant amount of damage. In AoE, use it towards the end of your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window to maximize its damage. It is not quite as powerful in Single Target, but it is still worthwhile to time it with the end of your Pillar. Obliteration Icon Obliteration builds want to delay the use until just after Pillar due to the high opportunity cost!
  • Cold Heart Icon Cold Heart governs your Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice usage. Generally, use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike at 16+ stacks of Cold Heart Icon Cold Heart. Ideally, time it with procs of Unholy Strength Icon Unholy Strength. You can also opt to use it with 20 stacks in your Pillar window and then 10 stacks outside of it. This ensures you time the stacks nicely with each Pillar window.
  • Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa should be used on cooldown. When running this ability, the majority of the encounter is spent inside this cooldown. You will start it at the start of the encounter and hold it for as long as possible. Once it drops, you either continue with your normal rotation until you can use it again, or build up Runic Power to send the cooldown again (you will have instances where the duration is longer than the cooldown itself). For secondary uses, make sure you start the window with 100+ Runic Power!
  • Obliteration Icon Obliteration alters your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost. Once active, spend every GCD either generating procs of Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine or consuming said procs. Use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon 3 seconds before your Pillar of Frost.
  • Abomination Limb Icon Abomination Limb should generally be used on cooldown. Hold it for add waves that need grouping up.
  • Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter should be used to generate Resources when you need to. Primarily used with Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa to help maintain the buff. Used when you are out of Runes, and using the spell won't overcap your Runic Power.

You can read more about these cooldowns, as well as about any cooldowns you gain from talents in our dedicated section.

8.

Optional Read: Mastering Your Frost Death Knight

Following the guide up to this point will allow you to play a Frost Death Knight at a very high level. That said, below, we go into a bit more detail about some aspects of the specialization.

8.1.

Runes and Runic Power

Death Knights use a dual resource system of runes and Runic Power. While it is quite straightforward in how it works, we will explain it here for the sake of completion.

8.1.1.

Runes

You have a total of 6 Runes, which are available by default. Some of your abilities have Rune costs, and whenever you use an ability that consumes one or more Runes, those Runes will immediately begin recharging. The exact amount of time it takes a Rune to recharge depends on how much Haste you have.

Whenever a Rune is consumed, you gain 10 Runic Power (more on that below).

At most, 3 of your runes can be charging up at the same time. It is therefore optimal to keep at least 3 runes on cooldown to maximise the recharge rate over the course of the fight.

8.1.2.

Runic Power

Runic Power is a resource that resembles Rage, in the sense that it decays when out of combat, but does not decay during combat. As mentioned above, consuming Runes generates 10 Runic Power per Rune spent, and this is the primary means of generating Runic Power, although some abilities also help with this. You can have a maximum of 100 Runic Power.

8.2.

Dual-Wielding Versus Two-Handed

Two-handed builds are viable in the Dragonflight. They do viable damage and have a damage profile that does well in certain scenarios.

8.3.

Mastery: Frozen Heart

Mastery: Frozen Heart Icon Mastery: Frozen Heart increases all Frost damage that you do.

8.4.

Procs

Frost Death Knights have two procs that will regularly show up in the rotation, so you must understand them.

8.4.1.

Killing Machine Procs

Your auto-attack critical strikes have a chance to make your next Obliterate Icon Obliterate (or Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe, if you have taken this talent) a guaranteed critical strike. Thanks to Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine at Level 58, you get Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine Rank 2 which makes your next Obliterate Icon Obliterate deal Frost Damage, meaning it will scale off your Mastery and ignore armor. Killing Machine works based on the number of auto-attack critical strikes you have had since the last proc. For dual wield, the first time you get an auto-attack critical strike after your previous proc, you have a 30% chance to get a new proc. If this fails, the next auto attack has a 60% chance. If this also fails, you get a 90% proc chance and then a 100% proc chance if 3 auto-attack critical strikes have failed in a row.

Wielding a Two-Handed weapon and talenting into Might of the Frozen Wastes Icon Might of the Frozen Wastes increases these proc chances. You simply have a 100% chance to trigger a proc every time you get a critical auto-attack. Still, due to the lower attack speed of a Two-Handed weapon, and since you only have one weapon to attack with, you still get 28% fewer procs when with Two-Handed builds.

Generally, these procs should be used right away to ensure that no procs are overwritten.

If you have the Obliteration Icon Obliteration talent, then this ability causes each Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance, Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper and Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to trigger Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine (for the duration of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost). Aim to never overcap Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine, never actively generating one if you are already at the max charges (1 by default, 2 with Fatal Fixation Icon Fatal Fixation).

8.4.2.

Rime Procs

Your Obliterate Icon Obliterate has a 45% chance, and your Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe a 22.5% chance to cause your next Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to be free of cost and deal additional damage, thanks to Rime Icon Rime. These procs should be used quickly, most importantly generally, before Obliterate or Frostscythe are used again to prevent the buff from being overwritten. It is not always the highest priority, but you should still try and prevent overwrites.

8.5.

Advanced Cooldown Usage

8.5.1.

Chill Streak

Throws a snowball at your enemy that bounces to nearby enemies, dealing damage each time. Significantly stronger with our Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc Icon Death Knight Frost 10.2 Class Set 2pc, both giving us increased damage, as well as being useful in Single Target (due to self-bounces). Send this ASAP when it comes off cooldown to get as many uses in as possible. Holding the ability to synergize with your other Cooldowns is a DPS loss due to missing out on uses over a longer period of time!

8.5.2.

Pillar of Frost

Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost grants you 20% Strength, increasing by 1% for each Rune you spend for 12 seconds, with a 1-minute cooldown.

You should use this ability on cooldown and ideally couple it with any potions or on-use trinkets you may have. That said, it can sometimes be better to save it until a high-priority target becomes available. When using Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa you should always pair it with Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost and Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon.

The ramping nature of this cooldown puts greater emphasis towards its end compared to its start. Abilities used just before it finishes will hit significantly harder. This is the reason why we send our Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury towards the end of our Pillar in AoE, as well as why we ensure our Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay overlaps the end of Pillar, ensuring the final Obliterate Icon Obliterate cleaves.

8.5.3.

Empower Rune Weapon

Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon grants you 15% haste and generates 1 Rune and 5 Runic Power instantly and every 5 seconds for 20 seconds. It has a 120-second cooldown.

Empower Rune Weapon should generally be used in conjunction with Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost. The extra haste and resources help to make the most of these damage windows.

If you are using the Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa talent, Empower Rune Weapon is crucial to extending its duration. You use the first charge with your opening burst to benefit fully from Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust as well as trinkets and potions.

You will often run with two charges of Empower Rune Weapon. As a general rule, you'll want to use the first charge aggressively in your opening burst. The second charge will be used much later to extend the window as much as possible. Generally, you will use this second charge at 60 seconds, but streaks of bad luck can force you to use it earlier. Try to be greedy, but of course, do not delay to such a degree that you end up dropping your Breath without full value from the second Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon charge.

For secondary Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon greedily when you start starving.

With Obliteration Icon Obliteration, it is ideal to use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon 3-7 seconds before your Pillar window. This helps with pooling while maintaining full Pillar uptime on the Haste buff. The one exception comes in AoE when you are planning a secondary Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay window after the first. In this scenario, use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon close to your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost to create more overlap with your secondary Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay.

8.5.4.

Remorseless Winter

Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter deals damage and slows by 20% to all targets around you over 8 seconds. The damage and duration can be significantly increased with Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm, Biting Cold Icon Biting Cold, and Everfrost Icon Everfrost.

Always use this spell on cooldown. An important part of this cooldown, when talented into Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm, is that you can refresh its duration with the maximum of 10 stacks rolling. If you can spend enough Runes to increase the duration by 10 seconds, you can then recast Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter and keep the 10 stacks. This is a huge damage increase and should always be aimed for. In some scenarios, you even have multiple seconds left on the buff once the cooldown comes off. In this case, wait until there is less than 2 seconds remaining on the buff before you recast it.

Everfrost Icon Everfrost works similarly, but you instead refresh a debuff on your enemies. It does not require quite as many Runes to be used as Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm to be extended.

8.5.5.

Frostwyrm's Fury

The huge AoE burst of this spell warrants saving it for any potential add phases. As the value grows linearly with added targets, one use of this spell on three targets is better than three overall uses. Do always try to time it with the end of your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost window in AoE. For Single Target, use it just after your Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost when you have Obliteration Icon Obliteration talented (inside Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost when you are running Breath).

8.5.6.

Cold Heart

Cold Heart Icon Cold Heart turns your Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice slow into a powerful nuke that ramps over 40 seconds. This, unfortunately, makes it misalign with our 60 seconds Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost cooldown. As a rule of thumb, use Chains of Ice when above 16 stacks of Cold Heart. Do try to time it with procs of Unholy Strength Icon Unholy Strength, using Chains of Ice if this proc is about to fall off and you are above 16 stacks. It is also a good idea to use Chains of Ice in your Pillar of Frost window, as long as you have not specced into Obliteration Icon Obliteration. If using it in Pillar of Frost, use it as the last GCD within that window.

8.5.7.

Horn of Winter

If you are using Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter, then you should cast it as often as you can whenever nothing on your rotational priority list is available. If you are using Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, make sure to use Horn of Winter when you are low on Runes within the Breath of Sindragosa window. It is important to not hold on to it for too long as you will end up losing casts overall. Use it as soon as you cannot use Obliterate Icon Obliterate and it will not overcap Runic Power for you. Around 15-25 seconds into your Breath.

8.5.8.

Breath of Sindragosa

We have already covered the opener and priority when running this talent, but let us put it in words. Before using Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, you want to pool some Runic Power (60+ with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, 100+ without). Do not worry too much about pooling any Runes. Breath of Sindragosa provides 2 Runes on activation, which is generally sufficient to get going. Once you have activated your Breath of Sindragosa, your highest priority is to prolong it as much as possible. This means using Obliterate Icon Obliterate to consume Runes and generate Runic Power. You should not simply mash this button as much as possible, though.

At the start of your Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, you will most likely have a lot of Runic Power, making it important to not overcap on Runic Power as you hit your Obliterate Icon Obliterates. Only use Obliterate if you have more than 3 Runes (avoiding overcapping on Runes) or if your Runic Power deficit is greater than 20.

There are other spells to use within your Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa window. Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast should be used with procs of Rime Icon Rime (as long as you are at a healthy level of Runic Power, 30+ or so). Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter should also be used when available (your Breath of Sindragosa window is the easiest time to extend your Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm stacks).

Using your resource-generating cooldowns smartly in your Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa window is also crucial. Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon and Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter will give you the resources needed to maximize your Breath duration. Still, don't hold on to them too long since you'll then end up losing the value of multiple uses. Especially Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter should be used as soon as doing so won't overcap you on resources.

8.5.9.

Abomination Limb

This talent can either be used as a single-target moderate damage cooldown, a big AoE burst cooldown, or as a utility tool to help grip adds together. For any fight that has adds, you should save this cooldown for when they spawn. Both to maximize your own damage as well as the damage of your party. For pure single target, you simply use this spell on cooldown.

9.

Changelog

  • 07 May 2024: Reviewed for 10.2.7.
  • 22 Apr. 2024: Reviewed and Updated for Season 4, changing wording around Chill Streak and the old tier set.
  • 21 Mar. 2024: Reviewed for Patch 10.2.6.
  • 23 Jan. 2024: Added more detailed Fyralath priority.
  • 15 Jan. 2024: Updated frostscythe priority.
  • 15 Dec. 2023: Updated Obliteration priority to not be greedy with double KM.
  • 15 Dec. 2023: Clarified DnD usage in AoE.
  • 01 Dec. 2023: Clarified Obliteration rotation with single ERW.
  • 12 Nov. 2023: Moved Remorseless Winter priority up and clarified refreshing with gathering storm.
  • 06 Nov. 2023: Updated for Patch 10.2. Added Soul Reaper usage, clarified various bits and expanded on Chill Streak use.
  • 04 Sep. 2023: Clarified gameplay around Fatal Fixation.
  • 10 Jul. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.1.5.
  • 01 Jun. 2023: Expanded on Breath rotation and added Obliteration secondary burst window.
  • 01 May 2023: Reviewed and Updated for Patch 10.1. Primarily changing Frostwyrm's Fury usage.
  • 20 Mar. 2023: Updated rotation for 10.0.7, adding discussion about Fatal Fixation.
  • 24 Jan. 2023: Reviewed for Patch 10.0.5.
  • 11 Dec. 2022: Reviewed for Dragonflight Season 1.
  • 28 Nov. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight launch.
  • 25 Oct. 2022: Updated for Dragonflight pre-patch.
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