Frost Death Knight PvP Talents and Builds (Shadowlands / 9.2.0)
Choosing the right PvP and PvE talents is a prerequisite to proper performance in PvP. This guide goes through the various talent choices available to you as a Frost Death Knight and gives you the best combinations you can take.
This page is part of our Frost Death Knight PvP Guide.
Talent Choices for Frost Death Knights
|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|
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.
Tier 1 (Level 15) Talents
Inexorable Assault is the best choice here due to PvP dynamics. In arena, uptime is much lower due to CC, so the uptime dependent talent Icy Talons becomes much worse. You will frequently lose stacks in a root effect or a Polymorph. Cold Heart is nerfed by 70% in PvP combat, so it becomes unusable as well. Inexorable Assault stacks even while idle in CC, making it the only usable talent in this row.
Tier 2 (Level 25) Talents
Runic Attenuation is a powerful overall talent that passively generates more spenders, and rarely over-caps you on resources. It will be valuable for both survivability and pressure. Murderous Efficiency has immense synergy with the talent Obliteration and provides significant on-demand damage for every burst window.
Tier 3 (Level 30) Talents
Blinding Sleet is a very powerful tool for setting up AoE burst windows with comps that prioritize this. Windwalker/DK and Demon Hunter/DK are both prime candidates for doing this setup. You will grip the healer into their DPS, use Blinding Sleet, get your Chill Streak out, and then they will AoE stun. Blinding Sleet can also be used to peel, by being a 5-second CC that does not DR with any other ability in your toolkit.
Asphyxiate is preferred when you really need an on-demand stun for a comp that does not rely on AoE setups. This would be valuable with Warlock or Shadow Priest.
Tier 4 (Level 35) Talents
Frozen Pulse is passive output with a pretty high uptime. You will never play around this talent specifically, but having free pressure to every burst window is fine. Avalanche is a nearly identical concept. However, it gets a lot of value when using the Necrolord Covenant because of the Rime procs generated during Abomination Limb.
Tier 5 (Level 40) Talents
All three talents in this row are situationally playable. Wraith Walk helps deal with some of DK's mobility issues. It is on a fairly long cooldown, but helps tremendously if you are rooted after your healer has already dispelled, or if you are LoS.
Death Pact is very meta-dependent. In dampening metas with a lot of sustain, and passive self-healing, it is very poor. In burst matchups, with windows where you need to survive just a few more seconds, it is fantastic.
Permafrost is the opposite. It is prioritized in dampening matchups and is not very impactful in burst situations.
Tier 6 (Level 45) Talents
Hypothermic Presence is also interesting, as it reduces the runic power cost of both offensive and defensive runic power spending abilities. Notably, you can use it with Death Strike and Death Coil when using Lichborne to heal yourself. The survivability uses make it a very powerful option.
Tier 7 (Level 50) Talents
Obliteration is so powerful it renders the other talents in this row unusable. It adds an enormous amount of on-demand damage to every Pillar of Frost, both through rune generation and Killing Machine. This synergizes particularly well with 2H Frost.
Icecap is a fine tool that increases the frequency of your burst windows. This is preferred with sustained damage comps, like when paired with casters or Arms Warrior. It sadly just cannot keep up with Obliteration, which is a win condition every 1 minute.
PvP Talents for Frost Death Knights
PvP Talents are very situational with their usage. They tend to fill certain niche roles in your own comp, or counters to other comps. Therefore, instead of a cookie cutter PvP talent setup, you will change them in the gates before a match starts, depending on the enemy classes.
General PvP Talents
Chill Streak is one of the highest output abilities in the game, but it requires the proper setup. In order for it to do its full damage, it must bounce between two nearby targets 9 times. Therefore, you want to set this ability up by using your Death Grip into an AoE stun from your partner or Frostwyrm's Fury. You can also use two single-target stuns. Since it applies a 70% slow, it is very difficult for an enemy team to recover after taking multiple hits. Landing a full Chill Streak can effectively end the game.
Strangulate is a very impactful crowd control effect. It costs no resources, has no cast time, and lasts 4 seconds on a short 1-minute cooldown. Because of this, you can use it every time you use Pillar of Frost on the healer and make the damage much more difficult for them to deal with. The healer's trinket will have a longer cooldown than your Strangulate meaning one of your setups they will not have an answer. This can also be used against certain classes to prevent them from using certain abilities such as a Priest's Greater Fade. This talent is very powerful into any composition as a result.
Bitter Chill is a powerful disruption tool. Every spec and every class in the game gets some benefit from Haste in the forms of faster casts, resource generation, and global cooldown reduction. This means reducing it by a whopping 8% can severely throw off the enemy's momentum and the power of their burst windows. The ability to reset this effect and chains by using Frost Strike just makes it even more consistent. This talent is key if you are having trouble surviving a burst-heavy team.
Situational PvP Talents
Delirium is a unique and powerful anti-movement effect that works against abilities that will move a player's character; namely, Mage's Blink, Monk's Roll and Transcendence, and Demon Hunter's Fel Rush. Because of this, this talent is generally taken against any of those classes to shutdown their mobility.
Dark Simulacrum is one of the more interesting spells in the game currently. It is extremely powerful against spammable CC effects, such as Polymorph, or Cyclone as well as powerful healing cooldowns such as Life Cocoon. It is a neat addition to Death Knight's toolkit, while having a high skill-cap and awareness requirement.
Dome of Ancient Shadow is very powerful for team survivability and should be used in almost every spell cleave where you will not be targeted. It provides an answer to the 'setups' of any comp that deals with magical damage such as those with a Fire Mage, Assassination Rogue, or Destruction Warlock. This also handles rot comps extremely well, as stacking in it allows your team to stabilize through the sustained pressure.
Spellwarden is a remarkably powerful survivability tool. It gets most of its value against wizard compositions, but can actually provide a lot of healing against any class with spell damage including other Death Knights or Retribution Paladins. This talent also provides a lot of disruption in the form of cast speed reduction making it a no-brainer into any spell cleaves.
Death's Echo is the ultimate utility answer. A second charge of very impactful mobility and anti-mobility options can be used against any composition you want to disrupt as much as possible. Compositions like Rogue/Mage and Hunter/Feral are prime examples where this PVP talent would come in handy. You can even get a second charge of Death and Decay to stop enemy drinks, pull out players in stealth, or get tremendous synergy with the Covenant Ability Death's Due.
Shroud of Winter is a very niche PvP talent. It does not have a set composition it is good against, because every class has abilities with important range thresholds on them. This talent is based heavily on what your team is playing and what it struggles against. If a certain crowd control setup has been too difficult to stop, or swaps during burst windows are causing your team many losses, this talent prevents both of those things by limiting the range at which they can happen. Experiment on your own with this very interesting PvP talent!
Dead of Winter is a strong PvP talent. This ability allows for Remorseless Winter to serve as an AoE stun every 45 seconds. This talent is chosen when your team has a lack of AoE stuns or cannot reliably get an AoE stun every minute with Pillar of Frost such as when playing with an Arms Warrior or caster.
- 02 Mar. 2022: Reviewed for Patch 9.2.0.
- 11 Dec. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.5.
- 02 Jul. 2021: Updated for Patch 9.1.
- 20 Mar. 2021: Reviewed for Patch 9.0.5.
- 20 Feb. 2021: Updates for the developing meta.
- 05 Dec. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands Season 1.
- 12 Nov. 2020: Updates made by new writer.
- 14 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands pre-patch.
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