Frost Death Knight DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated on Sep 30, 2018 at 10:01 by Abyssalwave 38 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Frost Death Knight core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Frost Death Knight.

The other pages of our Frost Death Knight guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Abyssalwave, a top level Death Knight player. He is a former US #2 hardcore raider who currently raids with Club Camel. You can also check out his YouTube channel.

1. Single Target Rotation for Frost Death Knights

The single target rotation is based on the following priority.

  1. Use Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice, if you have 20 stacks (try to use at the end of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost when the strength bonus is at the highest).
  2. Use Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury at the end of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost and after Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice.
  3. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter, if using Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm.
  4. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  5. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have 4 or more Runes.
  6. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 90+ Runic Power.
  7. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  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.

2. Multiple Target Rotation for Frost Death Knights

If you are using Glacial Advance Icon Glacial Advance then use it off cooldown. If you are using Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury then 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.

  1. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  2. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 90+ Runic Power.
  3. Use Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe, if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  4. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter on cooldown.
  5. Use Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe.
  6. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 70+ Runic Power.

3. Breath of Sindragosa

Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is a unique cooldown that offers a completely different playstyle from the other tier 7 talents. You may experience a significant amount of downtime outside of your Breath of Sindragosa windows, which is completely normal. Currently you will experience an average duration of 20 seconds without Heroism Icon Heroism/ Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, and about 24-26 seconds with Heroism/ Bloodlust. There are outliers where you do not get sufficient Runic Empowerment Icon Runic Empowerment procs, Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever procs or get a mechanic that causes you to go out of melee.

With the new version of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost being a 45-second cooldown, this means that it does not line up well with Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa and Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon. It is recommended that you keep using Pillar of Frost off cooldown and hold your second Breath of Sindragosa and Empower Rune Weapon 15 seconds until Pillar of Frost comes off cooldown.

3.1. Opener for Breath of Sindragosa

  1. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate (use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you get a Rime Icon Rime proc).
  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. Wait until you have at least 3 Runes ready.
  5. Use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon.
  6. Use Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.
  7. Use Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa.
  8. Follow the "rotation during Breath of Sindragosa priority" (below).

3.2. Rotation During Breath of Sindragosa

  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter on cooldown (for Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm, if you have taken this talent).
  2. 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.
  3. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate with a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  5. Use Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter, if you are using this talent and are low on both resources.
  6. Use Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent if you are a Blood Elf.

Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell is a defensive ability that can be used offensively to generate Runic Power. For example: on a fight like Vectis, if you have the Omega Vector on you you can Anti-Magic Shell while it is ticking on you in order to gain Runic Power. This can be used to extend the duration of Breath of Sindragosa. Make sure that the ability you are using Anti-Magic Shell on is magic damage.

4. Obliteration

Obliteration only changes your rotation when you cast Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost. The playstyle of Obliteration is very similar to what it was in Legion.

4.1. Rotation During Pillar of Frost

  1. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter if using Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm, also try to use this before casting Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.
  2. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  3. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike if you do not have a Rime Icon Rime proc or if you are going to cap Runic Power.
  4. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc or if Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever is about to drop.
  5. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike if you do not have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  6. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if you do not have enough Runic Power to use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike and do not have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.

5. Cooldown Usage for Frost Death Knights

As a Frost Death Knight, you have 2 DPS cooldowns. In addition to this, you gain another cooldown from your talents if you decide to use it. Below, we explain how they are best used.

  • 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.
  • Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon should be used as many times as possible throughout the encounter, making sure not to waste any of the resources it provides you with.
  • Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury should be used as many times as possible throughout an encounter. Ideally, it should be used against multiple targets (and it is worth saving for this purpose), but it can also be used against a single target.

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

6. 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 specialisation.

6.1. 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.

6.1.1. 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 in order to maximise the recharge rate over the course of the fight.

6.1.2. 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.

6.2. Dual-Wielding Versus Two-Handed

Despite historically being able to use both Two-Handed weapons and to dual-wield One-Handed weapons, Frost Death Knights can now only use most of their damaging abilities if they are using One-Handed Weapons. As a result, the Two-Handed playstyle is dead.

6.3. Mastery: Frozen Heart

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

6.4. Procs

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

6.4.1. 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.

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

If you have the Obliteration Icon Obliteration tier 7 talent, then this ability causes each Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike and Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to trigger Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine (for the duration of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost). Each time you trigger Killing Machine, you should consume the proc before getting a new one, so as not to waste any procs.

6.4.2. 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 300% additional damage, thanks to Rime Icon Rime. These procs should be used quickly, certainly before Obliterate or Frostscythe are used again to prevent them from being overwritten.

6.5. Advanced Cooldown Usage

6.5.1. Pillar of Frost

Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost grants you 15% Strength increasing by 1% for each rune you spend for 15 seconds, with a 45-second 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.

If you are using the Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa, it is best to stack Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost with this talent.

6.5.2. 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 2-minute cooldown.

Empower Rune Weapon should be used when all of your Runes are on cooldown and you have low runic power. It is useful in providing a large burst of DPS, so keep that in mind when deciding when to use it.

If you are using the Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa talent, Empower Rune Weapon is crucial to extending its duration, so saving it for such moments is important.

6.5.3. Horn of Winter

If you are using Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter as your tier 2 talent, 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, use Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter when you are low on Runes.

7. Changelog

  • 30 Sep. 2018: Revamped the rotation section.
  • 12 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch
  • 06 Aug. 2018: Fixed cooldown usage to show Frostwyrm's Fury.
  • 30 Jul. 2018: Added some notes into the rotation.
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