Frost Death Knight PvP Guide in Battle for Azeroth (BfA 8.0.1)

Last updated on Oct 31, 2018 at 11:25 by Mysticall 13 comments

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to play in a PvP environment. The guide will cover everything from talent choices, PvP talents, gameplay and rotation, and useful racial bonuses. It is most applicable to Arena content, but most talents and racial bonuses will work in Rated Battlegrounds and skirmishes.

1. Spec Overview / Place in the Current Meta for Frost Death Knights

Frost Death Knights are a force to be reckoned with in arena. They have the ability to singlehandedly force defensive cooldowns from enemies and have some of the strongest sustained damage outside of burst cooldowns. Even when a Frost Death Knight does not have offensive cooldowns active they can still force defensives with the large amounts of damage they can do.

1.1. Strengths of Frost Death Knights

  • Strong burst damage
  • Unmatched cleave and consistent damage

1.2. Weaknesses of Frost Death Knights

  • Limited crowd control
  • Predictable burst damage
  • Little to no mobility
  • Not a lot of self healing

2. Stat Priority for Frost Death Knights in PvP

The stat priority for Frost Death Knights in PvP is as follows:

  1. Strength;
  2. Mastery;
  3. Haste;
  4. Versatility;
  5. Critical Strike.

Strength is the best stat in all situations. Frost Death Knight Mastery (Mastery: Frozen Heart Icon Mastery: Frozen Heart) increases the damage of your frost abilities. Because all of your damaging spells are frost abilities, this stat is crucial for increasing your damage. Haste is also a good secondary stat due to it reducing the Global Cooldown on abilities and increasing your attack speed.

3. Azerite Traits for Frost Death Knights

Azerite traits are unlocked in you helm, shoulders and chest. With each Azerite level in your neck, you get closer to unlocking the center trait in your gear. These traits vary from increasing damage of certain abilities to helping increase your survivability. Depending on what traits you use, it can completely alter your playstyle and what talents you should be using.

3.1. Outer Ring

Below are the best Outer Ring traits.

  1. Archive of the Titans Icon Archive of the Titans
  2. Glacial Contagion Icon Glacial Contagion
  3. Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision/Battlefield Focus Icon Battlefield Focus
  4. Dagger in the Back Icon Dagger in the Back

Frost Death Knights do not depend on one single trait to increase their damage. Instead, they want a mix of the above traits. Archive of the Titans Icon Archive of the Titans increase your primary stat, Strength. This is an increase to your overall damage. Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision and Dagger in the Back Icon Dagger in the Back both increase damage dealt to the enemy team. Both of these traits are great for increasing your sustained damage. Glacial Contagion Icon Glacial Contagion is a great passive that will also increase the damage you deal with your Obliterate Icon Obliterate.

3.2. Middle Ring

Below are the best Middle Ring traits.

  1. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power
  2. Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call
  3. Earthlink Icon Earthlink
  4. Gutripper Icon Gutripper

The Middle and Inner Rings are important for additional damage. Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power and Earthlink Icon Earthlink give an increase to your stats. These are minor stat boosts, but still increase your damage. Gutripper Icon Gutripper and Heed My Call Icon Heed My Call will both help increase your single target and spread pressure.

3.3. Inner Ring

Below are the best Inner Ring traits.

  1. Resounding Protection Icon Resounding Protection
  2. Azerite Fortification Icon Azerite Fortification
  3. March of the Damned Icon March of the Damned
  4. Runic Barrier Icon Runic Barrier
  5. Longstrider Icon Longstrider

All of these traits give you additional ways of surviving. These are all passive, but are crucial to have.

4. Gear Recommendations

4.1. General Guidelines

In general, Frost Death Knights want to get trinkets that line up well with Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost. These trinkets can have a passive or on-use effect. The stat you want to be increasing is Versatility or Strength. The reason you want to increase these stats is because they increases your overall damage.

To be successful in 3v3 arena, you need to have multiple different traits in your Azerite gear. These traits should be Glacial Contagion Icon Glacial Contagion, Archive of the Titans Icon Archive of the Titans or Battlefield Precision Icon Battlefield Precision. You will also want either Overwhelming Power Icon Overwhelming Power or Earthlink Icon Earthlink in the Inner Ring.

Below, we list the items that have these traits.

4.1.1. Helms

4.1.2. Shoulders

4.1.3. Chests

4.2. Recommended Items

Dread Gladiator's Badge Icon Dread Gladiator's Badge is strong for the Versatility and the on-use Strength effect. The 2-minute cooldown lines up well with every other Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.

Dread Gladiator's Insignia Icon Dread Gladiator's Insignia has a good amount of Versatility on it and has a passive effect. This effect increases your Strength. This increases your sustained damage.

Jes' Howler Icon Jes' Howler gives you a large amount of Strength from equipping it. There is an on-use effect that increases your Versatility and your allies. This trinket is crucial to increase both you and your teammates' damage.

Dread Gladiator's Medallion Icon Dread Gladiator's Medallion is good because of the on-use Versatility effect. This increases your overall damage and lines up well with your burst cooldowns.

4.3. Weapon Enchant

Rune of the Fallen Crusader Icon Rune of the Fallen Crusader and Rune of Razorice Icon Rune of Razorice are the best weapon enchants for Frost Death Knights. Rune of the Fallen Crusader gives you a proc that will increase your total Strength by 15%. This significantly increases your overall damage. Rune of Razorice increases frost damage dealt to your target. This helps with increasing your sustained damage.

5. Talent Choices for Frost Death Knights

Level Choices
56 Inexorable Assault Inexorable Assault Icy Talons Icy Talons Cold Heart Cold Heart
57 Runic Attenuation Runic Attenuation Murderous Efficiency Murderous Efficiency Horn of Winter Horn of Winter
58 Death's Reach Death's Reach Asphyxiate Asphyxiate Blinding Sleet Blinding Sleet
60 Avalanche Avalanche Frozen Pulse Frozen Pulse Frostscythe Frostscythe
75 Permafrost Permafrost Wraith Walk Wraith Walk Death Pact Death Pact
90 Gathering Storm Gathering Storm Glacial Advance Glacial Advance Frostwyrm's Fury Frostwyrm's Fury
100 Icecap Icecap Obliteration Obliteration Breath of Sindragosa Breath of Sindragosa

While the above table provides a generally accurate overview of the viability of talents, some finer points are discussed in the sections that follow, and we recommend you read those for a deeper understanding.

5.1. Tier 1 (Level 56) Talents

Cold Heart Icon Cold Heart is the best choice in this tier. This gives you more single target damage that can be used often.

5.2. Tier 2 (Level 57) Talents

Runic Attenuation Icon Runic Attenuation is the best choice in this tier. This talent is crucial for your burst and sustained damage. By getting more Runic Power, you are able to use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike for damage or Death Strike Icon Death Strike for healing.

5.3. Tier 3 (Level 58) Talents

Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate is the best choice in this tier. This gives you and your team a reliable stun from range every 45 seconds.

5.4. Tier 4 (Level 60) Talents

Frozen Pulse Icon Frozen Pulse is the best choice in this tier. Because you will always have less than 3 Runes, this talent passively increases your sustained and cleave damage.

5.5. Tier 5 (Level 75) Talents

Death Pact Icon Death Pact is the best choice in this tier. This heals you for a large amount of health, but it does have a downside. It will absorb incoming healing so you do not want to be aggressive while Death Pact Icon Death Pact is active.

5.6. Tier 6 (Level 90) Talents

Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury is the best choice in this tier. Although this has a very long cooldown, it is crucial for killing enemies that are low or hitting enemies that are far away. If you want more cleave damage, against a team with two melee on it, Gathering Storm Icon Gathering Storm is the better choice.

5.7. Tier 7 (Level 100) Talents

Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa is the best choice in this tier. This will be your primary source of burst and cleave damage.

6. PvP Talents for Frost Death Knights

The first PvP talent tier will give you a choice between Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion, Relentless Icon Relentless, and Adaptation Icon Adaptation. Gladiator's Medallion Icon Gladiator's Medallion is the best choice in this tier. It is great for removing crowd control on you that your healer cannot dispel.

Necrotic Aura Icon Necrotic Aura causes all enemies within 12 yards to take 8% increased magical damage. Because most of your damage is magical, this is a flat 8% increase to your overall damage. This is great for consistent and spread pressure.

Decomposing Aura Icon Decomposing Aura decreases the max health of all enemies within 10 yards. This talent is great for when you are not focusing an enemy, but plan on swapping/rotting the enemy team.

Frozen Center Icon Frozen Center makes your Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter root all enemies within 10 yards. This is crucial for when you are using your burst cooldowns and you do not want your kill target to get away.

Overpowered Rune Weapon Icon Overpowered Rune Weapon reduces your primary burst cooldown, Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon by 50%, making it a 1-minute cooldown. Because you will be using this against teams with 2 melee on it, you can replace Frozen Center Icon Frozen Center for this PvP talent.

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone places an Anti-Magic Zone for 10 seconds that reduce spell damage taken by part or raid members by 60%. It is recommended to take this talent when you are playing against a team with two DPS that have magical damage. You can replace Frozen Center Icon Frozen Center with this PvP talent.

7. Racial Bonuses for Frost Death Knights

Racial bonuses can provide interesting PvP benefits. Here are the best races to choose for each faction.

7.1. Horde

Orc is the best race for Frost Death Knights, thanks to the passive Orcs have (Hardiness Icon Hardiness) reducing all stuns greatly improves survivability.

Alternatively, Blood Elf is also a good race. The passive you gain (Arcane Torrent Icon Arcane Torrent) is a great ability to remove important buffs like Blessing of Protection Icon Blessing of Protection or Enveloping Mist Icon Enveloping Mist.

7.2. Alliance

The Human bonus (Every Man for Himself Icon Every Man for Himself) is a good way to escape stuns and works great with the Relentless Icon Relentless PvP talent.

If you do not what to play Human, the Dark Iron Dwarf racial (Fireblood Icon Fireblood) is a strong defensive that can also help increase your burst damage.

8. Playstyle for Frost Death Knights

The Frost Death Knight has one role when in an Arena: do unrelenting sustained damage. Frost Death Knights lack crowd control with a very small amount of utility for teammates. Players should focus on maximizing their sustained damage as much as they can. Death Knights lack mobility, which is why when you get to the enemy you should deal as much damage as you can to them. With relatively short cooldowns, Frost Death Knights have the ability to use their burst rotation and force cooldowns as soon as the Arena begins. They have great sustained damage and very short burst cooldowns.

8.1. Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Although Frost Death Knights lack crowd control, they still Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate to setup crowd control on healers.

8.1.1. The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns.

If the enemy healer uses their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. In the opener, Frost Death Knights should focus on sticking to an enemy and dealing large amounts of damage to the target.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. Use Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice to keep your primary target slowed.
  2. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to apply Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever.
    • It is important to maintain Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever on as many targets as you can.
  3. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate to avoid capping Runes, or if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  4. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike whenever you have the Runic Power for it.
  5. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you have a Rime Icon Rime proc or to reapply Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever.
  6. Use your burst rotation.

8.1.2. Burst Damage

When you have the enemy healer in crowd control and you are trying to kill an enemy, you use your burst damage.

  1. If you get a Rime Icon Rime or Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc it is important to use them immediately.
  2. Use Death Grip Icon Death Grip on your kill target.
    • It is important that you have a teammate stun your kill target.
  3. Use Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost.
  4. Use Empower Rune Weapon Icon Empower Rune Weapon.
  5. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter.
  6. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast when you have a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  7. Use Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice if you have 15+ stacks of Cold Heart Icon Cold Heart.
  8. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate until you are almost capped on Runic Power.
  9. Use Breath of Sindragosa Icon Breath of Sindragosa.
  10. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.
  11. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
    • Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate as often as you can as long as it does not make you cap on Runic Power.
  12. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike whenever you have the Runic Power to use it.
  13. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast if you get a Rime Icon Rime proc.
  14. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate.
  15. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike whenever you have the Runic Power to use it.
  16. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate with Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine procs.
  17. Use Frostwyrm's Fury Icon Frostwyrm's Fury if Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost is active and your kill target is low on health or the enemy team is stacked.

8.1.3. Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Use Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice to keep your primary target slowed.
  2. Use Remorseless Winter Icon Remorseless Winter off cooldown.
  3. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast and Obliterate Icon Obliterate to generate Runic Power.
  4. Use Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast to also apply Frost Fever Icon Frost Fever.
  5. Use Obliterate Icon Obliterate to avoid capping runes, or if you have a Killing Machine Icon Killing Machine proc.
  6. Use Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike whenever you have the Runic Power for it.

8.2. Defensive Techniques

Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell is your primary defensive ability. This is very strong against caster classes. With a relatively short cooldown, use this if you are being focused and need to negate incoming spell damage.

Icebound Fortitude Icon Icebound Fortitude is another strong defensive ability. This will give you immunity to all stuns and reduce all damage on you. Use this when you are in a stun and being focused.

Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone should be used when your team is stacked and the enemy team is doing strong single target or spread spell damage. This is a PvP talent.

Death Strike Icon Death Strike is an ability that uses Runic Power and heals you for 35% of all damage taken in the last 5 seconds, minimum 10% of your maximum health. This means that if you need to be healed and you healer is in crowd control, you can spend Runic Power on Death Strike instead of Frost Strike Icon Frost Strike.

Death Pact Icon Death Pact heals you for a large amount of health, but absorbs incoming healing so you do not want to be aggressive while Death Pact Icon Death Pact is active.

Death's Advance Icon Death's Advance, although not exactly a defensive ability, should be used when you need to get to an enemy or to avoid incoming crowd control.

9. Best Team Compositions for Frost Death Knights

Now that you have the correct talents and understand your damage rotation, it is time to step into the arena with your team. With spells like Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost and Death Grip Icon Death Grip, Frost Death Knights have a very aggressive playstyle and you will want to focus on cleave damage.

9.1. 2v2 Arena

In 2v2 Arena, you will be focusing on single target damage. You will want to use Death Grip Icon Death Grip to grip the healer close to the enemy DPS you are focusing and use your burst rotation. This will maximize your cleave damage during your burst damage. It is important to note that although Death Knights lack mobility, you should focus on hitting a target that you can touch. If your primary target is too far away it is okay to switch targets until your Death Grip is available.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 2v2:

  • Frost Death Knight + Mistweaver Monk
  • Frost Death Knight + Restoration Druid
  • Frost Death Knight + Holy Paladin
  • Frost Death Knight + Discipline Priest

9.2. 3v3 Arena

Your role in 3v3 is similar to 2v2 Arena. You will want to focus on maximizing your single target damage, but make sure you are doing cleave damage if the enemy team is stacked. When your team has damage, you will want to use Death Grip Icon Death Grip on the enemy healer and have one of your partners stun them. For example, if you are playing with a Windwalker Monk, you will use Death Grip and the Monk will use Leg Sweep Icon Leg Sweep to get a triple stun. Once the enemy team is stunned you should use your burst rotation. If they are in range, use Mind Freeze Icon Mind Freeze on the enemy healer.

Here is a list of the best team compositions for 3v3:

  • Walking Dead (Frost Death Knight + Windwalker Monk + Holy Paladin/ Restoration Druid)
  • Shadowcleave (Frost Death Knight + Destruction Warlock + Holy Paladin)
  • TSG (Frost Death Knight + Arms Warrior + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid
  • Hero Cleave (Frost Death Knight + Havoc Demon Hunter + Holy Paladin/Restoration Druid)

10. Useful Macros for Frost Death Knights

Macros are crucial to be successful in PvP. They allow players to use abilities on enemies without having to target them. This helps increase overall damage/healing and general awareness in the arena. Here are a few macros that all Frost Death Knights can benefit from.

10.1. Asphyxiate 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Asphyxiate
  • /cast [target=arena1] Asphyxiate

Using this macro will use Asphyxiate Icon Asphyxiate on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to stun an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

10.2. Death Grip 123 Macro

  • #showtooltip Death Grip
  • /cast [target=arena1] Death Grip

Using this macro will use Death Grip Icon Death Grip on arena enemy 1. This makes it easier to crowd control an enemy while staying focused on your target. If you want macros for the second and third enemies, simply change the arena1 to arena2 or arena3.

10.3. Death Grip Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Death Grip
  • /cast [target=focus] Death Grip

If you find that you do not have much room on your action bars, you can use a focus macro. This is much simpler to use than the arena123 macro. Put an enemy on focus and this macro will use Death Grip Icon Death Grip on that player while you are still focused on your target.

10.4. Mind Freeze Focus Macro

  • #showtooltip Mind Freeze
  • /cast [target=focus] Mind Freeze

This macro will use Mind Freeze Icon Mind Freeze on whichever enemy you have on focus. Because you will be primarily using Mind Freeze Icon Mind Freeze on the enemy healer or your main target, you should only need this focus macro.

11. Changelog

  • 31 Oct. 2018: Added Gear Recommendation section.
  • 26 Oct. 2018: Updated guide for Patch 8.0.1.
    • Added stat priority and Azerite traits sections, and talent table.
    • Updated all regular talents sections.
    • Updated Racial Bonuses, Burst Damage, and Sustained Damage sections.
    • Updated Defensives and Macros sections.
    • Removed Gear and Artifact Traits and Relics sections.
  • 16 May 2018: Added an Arena Compositions section.
  • 30 Mar. 2018: Made several updates to the guide and its structure.
    • Added sections for Macros, Strengths, and Weaknesses.
    • Moved Gear, Artifact Traits, and Relics sections to the end, since they are not that important.
  • 02 Feb. 2018: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.5.
  • 24 Dec. 2017: No major changes needed for Patch 7.3.2.
  • 23 Sep. 2017: Several changes needed for Patch 7.3
    • Removed Artifact Trait descriptions.
    • Changed recommended tier 2 regular talents.
    • Changed recommended tier 6 honor talents.
    • Updated burst and sustained damage rotations.
  • 09 Jun. 2017: Frost Death Knight PvP Guide was created.
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