Frost Death Knight DPS Spec, Builds, and Talents — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out the best talents for each tier for your Frost Death Knight in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. We also have default talent lists for various types of content, such as raiding or Mythic+. If you play with Warmode on, we have your PvP talents covered as well.
Covenant Recommendation Change in Patch 9.1
Talent Choices for Frost Death Knight
|15||✓ Inexorable Assault||✗ Icy Talons||✓ Cold Heart|
|25||✓ Runic Attenuation||✓ Murderous Efficiency||✗ Horn of Winter|
|30||? Death's Reach||? Asphyxiate||? Blinding Sleet|
|35||✓ Avalanche||? Frozen Pulse||? Frostscythe|
|40||? Permafrost||? Wraith Walk||? Death Pact|
|45||✓ Gathering Storm||✗ Hypothermic Presence||✗ Glacial Advance|
|50||✗ Icecap||✓ Obliteration||✓ Breath of Sindragosa|
Talents can be freely changed when out of combat and in a rested XP area (such as an inn or a capital city). Moreover, Tome of the Still Mind and Codex of the Still Mind can be used to temporarily allow players to change talents anywhere, as long as they are out of combat.
Talent Guide for Frost Death Knight
- Level 15: Inexorable Assault
- Level 25: Murderous Efficiency
- Level 30: Player Choice
- Level 35: Avalanche
- Level 40: Player Choice
- Level 45: Gathering Storm
- Level 50: Obliteration
Breath of Sindragosa
- Level 15: Cold Heart/ Inexorable Assault
- Level 25: Runic Attenuation
- Level 30: Player Choice
- Level 35: Avalanche
- Level 40: Player Choice
- Level 45: Gathering Storm
- Level 50: Breath of Sindragosa
The recommended talents do not account for specific raid encounters, which can require a specific talent or build. For a boss-by-boss breakdown of the talent choices for specific encounters, you should check out our dedicated raid page listed below.
2H users should exclusively run Obliteration. It is generally competitive with dual-wield, only falling a few % behind in single-target. For AoE, dual-wield is significantly better.
Mythic+ can vary very heavily in the optimal talents that you take, depending on the affixes or the dungeons themselves. If you want advice that is specific to Mythic+, and how to deal with certain affixes and dungeons, then you should check out our Mythic+ page linked below.
Talents can and usually do change your rotation or add new abilities into your priority. For a more detailed breakdown on how your rotation will look with optimal talents, check out our rotation page linked below.
Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|✔ Inexorable Assault||✘ Icy Talons||✔ Cold Heart|
- Inexorable Assault is a passive that grants you a stack every 8 seconds, up to a maximum of 5. Obliterate consumes a stack to deal additional Frost damage. This extra damage scores critical hits independently from Obliterate and does not synergise with procs of Killing Machine.
- Icy Talons causes Frost Strike, Breath of Sindragosa, and Glacial Advance to increase your melee attack speed by 5% for 6 seconds, stacking up to 3 times (the attack speed increase stacks, but the duration cannot be greater than 6 seconds, with each new application simply refreshing it).
- Cold Heart is a passive that gives you a stack of Cold Heart every 2 seconds, stacking up to 20 times. Casting Chains of Ice consumes your stacks to deal extra Frost Damage.
Icy Talons is a weak choice currently, although it has synergy with Breath of Sindragosa since Breath of Sindragosa procs Icy Talons. It also synergises with Killing Machine since the increased attack speed gives more procs overall. However, neither of these synergies are strong enough to make up for the overall lack of throughput. The talent is also annoying and difficult to play, not helping its cause.
Inexorable Assault is a completely passive choice that works well with the Obliteration build. This is not because of any direct synergy but since Cold Heart has anti-synergy with Obliteration. With Breath of Sindragosa builds, it is a solid choice but generally does not win out in overall priority damage.
Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|✔ Runic Attenuation||✔ Murderous Efficiency||✘ Horn of Winter|
- Runic Attenuation causes your auto attacks to have a chance to generate 5 Runic Power.
- Murderous Efficiency gives you 50% chance to gain 1 Rune each time you use up a Killing Machine proc.
- Horn of Winter is an active ability with a 45-second cooldown that grants you 2 Rune and 25 Runic Power when used.
Runic Attenuation is the best choice for single target and AoE situations for Breath of Sindragosa. It generally generates the most amount of Runic Power, perfect for your Breath of Sindragosa windows.
Murderous Efficiency is still a strong talent, however due to it being dependent on procs, is more RNG dependent than the other 2 options. We recommend you sim your character to see which of the 2 talents is better for you. This talent commonly sees play in the Obliteration build.
Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|? Death's Reach||? Asphyxiate||? Blinding Sleet|
- Death's Reach increases the range of your Death Grip by 10 yards. Killing an enemy that grants experience or honor resets the cooldown of Death Grip.
- Asphyxiate stuns the target for 4 seconds. It has a 20-yard range and a 45-second cooldown.
- Blinding Sleet disorients the targets in front of you for 5 seconds. It has a 1-minute cooldown. When Blinding Sleet ends enemies are slowed by 50% for 6 seconds.
The talents in this tier provide no increase in DPS, and you should just choose the one that satisfies the crowd-control requirements of your circumstances.
Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|✔ Avalanche||? Frozen Pulse||? Frostscythe|
- Avalanche causes your Rime-empowered Howling Blast casts to deal Frost damage to your target and any targets nearby.
- Frozen Pulse causes your auto attacks to deal Frost damage to all nearby enemies when you have fewer than 3 full Runes.
- Frostscythe is an active ability that costs 1 Rune and deals Frost damage to all enemies in front of you. It benefits from Killing Machine in the same way that Obliterate does, and Frostscythe critical strikes deal 4 times normal damage.
Frozen Pulse is a competitive option in the dual wield Breath of Sindragosa build for single target. However, it is generally close to Avalanche, which is a passive talent that requires no extra thought. This makes Frozen Pulse an unwanted choice since it only adds complexity, without any extra damage.
Frostscythe is a competitive choice for dual wield builds. You can spread your Rune of Razorice debuff effectively since the ability applies it to all targets hit (if you have Rune of Razorice on your main hand). The 5 target cap and our big Obliterate damage makes the talent somewhat weak, but still competitive in Mythic +.
Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|? Permafrost||? Wraith Walk||? Death Pact|
- Permafrost procs each time you deal damage with an auto attack, granting you a 9-second absorb shield equal to 40% of the damage dealt. The absorption amount stacks up to 40% of your maximum health, but the duration cannot be increased beyond 9 seconds, with subsequent attacks simply refreshing it.
- Wraith Walk is a channeled spell that increases your movement speed by 70% for 4 seconds. While channeling, your movement speed cannot be reduced below 170%. It has a 1-minute cooldown.
- Death Pact heals you for 50% of your maximum health, but absorbs healing equal for 30% of your maximum health for 15 seconds. It has a 2-minute cooldown.
Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|✔ Gathering Storm||✘ Hypothermic Presence||✘ Glacial Advance|
- Gathering Storm causes each Rune you spend during Remorseless Winter to increase its damage by 10% and extend its duration by 0.5 seconds.
- Hypothermic Presence reduces your Runic Power cost of all abilities by 35% for 8 seconds. This ability has a 45-second cooldown and is off the global cooldown.
- Glacial Advance summons glacial spikes in a front line that deals Frost damage and applies Rune of Razorice to all targets hit. Casting Glacial Advance also triggers Icy Talons. It costs 30 Runic Power and has a 6-second cooldown that is reduced by your Haste.
Glacial Advance is a good talent for AoE situations and Mythic+. If you are using this talent, you should cast it on cooldown in 2+ target situations to replace Frost Strike. This ability currently is not as strong for Mythic+ and AoE as Gathering Storm.
Gathering Storm is very powerful and is fairly difficult to beat with the current talent row. If you spend enough Runes in your Remorseless Winter window, you can even refresh the buff at full stacks by casting Remorseless Winter again!
Tier 7 (Level 50) Talents for Frost Death Knights
|✘ Icecap||✔ Obliteration||✔ Breath of Sindragosa|
- Icecap causes your Frost Strike, Obliterate, and Frostscythe critical strikes to reduces the cooldown of Pillar of Frost by 4 second.
- Obliteration is a passive ability that is active when Pillar of Frost is active. It causes your Frost Strike, Howling Blast, and Glacial Advance to grant Killing Machine procs and a 30% to generate a Rune.
- Breath of Sindragosa is an active ability with a 2-minute cooldown, which costs 16 Runic Power for each second that it is active (until canceled or until you run out of Runic Power). It is a frontal cone attack, which deals Frost damage to all enemies in front of you. Breath of Sindragosa now also procs Icy Talons (if you have the talent). You generate 2 Runes when Breath of Sindragosa both starts and ends.
Generally, Breath of Sindragosa and Obliteration are very close for single target. However, Breath of Sindragosa scales much better in AoE, making it the go to pick in most scenarios. Icecap is very weak and far from being competitive.
PvP Talents (War Mode)
In this section we will rank the PvP talents that are best for leveling and doing open world content.
- PvP talents enabled in the outdoor world.
- 10% increase in World Quest rewards at maximum level.
- 10% more experience gained while leveling.
- Earn Conquest Points which can reward gear every week.
With the benefits of enabling War Mode for leveling and PvE content, it is recommended to enable the feature to maximize your leveling and rewards at maximum level. However, you will make yourself available for open world PvP, and the possibility to be "ganked" while leveling or doing World Quests exists.
Frost Death Knight War Mode Talents
In this section we will rank the PvP talents best for leveling and doing solo / small group PvE content. Below is a ranking of both General PvP Talents and Frost Death Knight-specific PvE talents.
Frost Death Knight PvP Talents
- Dead of Winter causes your Remorseless Winter to stun an enemy for 4 seconds when it deals damage 5 times to that enemy. It also increases Remorseless Winter's cooldown by 25 seconds and reduces the radius by 5 yards. This is a strong talent if you are deciding to pull large packs of mobs or kite large packs of mobs.
- Necrotic Aura causes all enemies within 8 yards to take 8% increased magical damage. This has good synergy with abilities such as Howling Blast and Cold Heart.
- Deathchill causes your Remorseless Winter and Chains of Ice to root the target in place for 4 seconds. Your Remorseless Winter causes all targets within 5 yards to be afflicted with Deathchill. If a target is afflicted with Chains of Ice, then casting Chains of Ice again will afflict them with Deathchill.
- Delirium causes your Howling Blast and Frost Strike to apply Delirium to the target. Delirium reduces cooldown recovery rate of movement abilities by 25% stacking up to 2 times for 15 seconds.
- Transfusion is a 45-second cooldown that generates 20 Runic Power and reduces the cost of Death Strike by 50% for 7 seconds. If you are undergeared this is a strong survivability talent to take.
- Chill Streak deals Frost damage and reduces their movement speed by 70% for 4 seconds. It has a 45-second cooldown. Chill Streak bounces up to 9 times between nearby targets. This talent serves as another DPS cooldown in your rotation; it has a 40-yard range, making it a good choice for quickly pulling multiple mobs.
- Dome of Ancient Shadow increases the spell damage reduction effect of your Anti-Magic Zone by 60%, this is very strong in World PvP.
- Heartstop Aura decreases the cooldown recovery rate of abilities by 30% to all enemies within 8 yards. It provides a slight advantage over other players in longer fights.
- Dark Simulacrum places a dark ward on the target for 12 seconds; when the target spends Mana on a spell, you gain a duplicate of that spell. This ability has a 20-second cooldown and costs 20 Runic Power. It can be used to steal a very strong spell that can turn the tides of a fight.
- Cadaverous Pallor is a passive that has a 20% activation chance when you are hit by a spell; when this activates, the damage of that spell is completely absorbed and converted into a disease on yourself dealing Nature damage over time. It allows you the manage and survive through bigger magical hits by acting as a psuedo stagger effect.
Necrotic Aura and Chill Streak are good choices in PvE situations due to them adding to your damage output. Deathchill, Delirium, Heartstop Aura, Dead of Winter, Cadaverous Pallor, and Dark Simulacrum, have more of a place in PvP as opposed to open world PvE content, as they are tough to use on NPCs. Dome of Ancient Shadow can be used well in both PvP and PvE situations.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and updated for Patch 9.1.
- 04 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and added some more content.
- 09 Mar. 2021: Updated the Tier 15 talents for Obliteration.
- 24 Jan. 2021: Guide reviewed and completely updated.
- 02 Dec. 2020: Updated Inexorable Assault description.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Page updated for Shadowlands release. Updated talent recommendations.
- 13 Oct. 2020: Updated recommended talent setup.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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