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

Last updated on Aug 12, 2018 at 22:08 by Abyssalwave 35 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.

1.1. Breath of Sindragosa Rotation

1.1.1. 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 Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon, when you cast Breath of Sindragosa.
  6. Use Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter, if you are using this talent and are low on both resources.

1.1.2. Rotation outside Breath of Sindragosa

  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 Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter, if using Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm.
  3. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have 4 or more Runes.
  5. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 90+ Runic Power.
  6. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  7. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 80+ Runic Power.
  8. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  9. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.

1.2. Obliteration Rotation

1.2.1. 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.

1.2.2. Rotation Outside Pillar of Frost

  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.
  3. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate, if you have 4 or more Runes
  4. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 90+ Runic Power.
  5. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate with a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  6. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike, if you have 75+ Runic Power.
  7. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  8. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.

2. Multiple Target Rotation for Frost Death Knights

The multiple target rotation is as follows.

  1. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate if Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is about to fall off.
  2. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter (for Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm).
  3. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast, only if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  4. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  5. Use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon when you cast Breath of Sindragosa.
  6. Use Horn of Winter Icon Horn of Winter, if you are using this talent.

When Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is on cooldown, use the following priority instead.

  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. 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 Artifact weapon. 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.

4. 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.

4.1. 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.

4.1.1. 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.

4.1.2. 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.

4.2. 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.

The fact that the Artifact weapons are two One-Handed weapons further reinforces this fact.

4.3. Mastery: Frozen Heart

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

4.4. Procs

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

4.4.1. 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.

4.4.2. 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.

4.5. Advanced Cooldown Usage

4.5.1. 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. It also grants you immunity to external movement effects such as knockbacks (which could be useful in some situations).

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.

4.5.2. 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.

Note that if you have the Seal of Necrofantasia Icon Seal of Necrofantasia legendary, Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon will have 2 charges.

4.5.3. 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 resources.

5. ChangeLog

  • 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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