Frost Death Knight Quick-Start Guide For WoW Patch 5.4 – Stats, talents and spec, glyphs, rotation, reforging and gems, and ability priorities

The chill of the grave is spreading across Azeroth. That’s right – in WoW’s Patch [patchnumber] and Mists of Pandaria, everywhere, the old patch is dying. So, if you’re confused by this brave new world, don’t worry. This Quick Start Guide will soon have your talent choices, glyphs, stats, reforging, gems, and MoP rotation sorted out – as a Frost Death Knight, you’ll feel just like you were at home in Northrend again!

Updated [guideupdated] to World of Warcraft Patch [patchnumber]

Frost Death Knight changes in WoW patch [patchnumber]

Some rotation simplification

Frost “Rotation” and Priorities

Frost Death Knights can now choose to either Dual Wield or use a single two-handed weapon, with about equal effectiveness.

Single-target DPS as Frost

Two-Handed Weapon

  • Top Priority: Apply diseases if they aren’t on the target. Use Outbreak, or Howling Blast and Plague Strike, for this. Use Soul Reaper if target is below 35% health and it’s available.
  • Second Priority: If the Rime buff has activated, use Howling Blast. Use Obliterate if the Killing Machine buff is active on you or you won’t max out Runic Power by doing so.
  • Third Priority: Use Frost Strike.
  • Fifth Priority: Use Horn of Winter if all else fails.

Dual Wield

  • Top Priority: Use Frost Strike if the Killing Machine buff is active on you or you’re above 89 Runic Power. Use Howling Blast if both Death or both Frost runes are available. Use Soul Reaper if target is below 35% health and it’s available.
  • Second Priority: Apply diseases if they aren’t on the target. Use Outbreak, or Howling Blast and Plague Strike, for this. Otherwise, if the Rime buff has activated, use Howling Blast.
  • Third Priority: Use Obliterate if 2 Unholy runes are available.
  • Fourth Priority: Use Howling Blast if available. If not, use Frost Strike if you have 40+ Runic Power.
  • Fifth Priority: Use Horn of Winter if all else fails.

AOE DPS as Frost

  • Top Priority: Put diseases up on all targets, using Outbreak ideally, or Howling Blast and Plague Strike, then Pestilence to spread them.
  • Second Priority: Use Howling Blast. If not, use Death and Decay if both Unholy runes are available.
  • Third Priority: Use Frost Strike if you’re at maximum Runic Power. If not, Horn of Winter if nothing else is available.


  • Pillar of Frost and Raise Dead: Use as often as possible, ideally together.
  • Empower Rune Weapon Use when as few runes as possible are active, but otherwise as often as possible. Provides large DPS burst, so may be worth saving for burn phases.
  • Raise Dead – use it with other cooldowns.

    • Army Of The Dead: Use as often as – no, just kidding. Use before the start of a fight or during a phase transition – but be very sure that there’s nothing that your ghouls can taunt in any fight where you use it.
    • Anti-Magic Shell and Icebound Fortitude: our two big defensive cooldowns. Try to use them before you know heavy damage is coming in.
    • Raise Ally: Have this bound and ready to use, both in dungeons and if you’re one of a few combat-res capable people in a raid.


Make sure you’re in Frost presence (hurrah!). Make sure to cast Horn of Winter before a pull.

Frost Death Knight Talent Choices

[patchnumber] talent choices are meant to be situational – but here’s a good standard build to get started with.

  • Tier 1: Plague Leech – note that you’ll need to use this just before diseases drop.
  • Tier 2: Purgatory
  • Tier 3: Death’s Advance
  • Tier 4: Death Pact – gives you a strong self-heal if you have a ghoul active.
  • Tier 5: Runic Empowerment
  • Tier 6: Desecrated Ground – gives you a CD to remove control effects.

    Stats, reforging and gemming for Frost Death Knight

Strength, as always, is our best stat, followed by Hit and Expertise to cap (7.5% or 2550 points). Secondary stats differ: if you’re dual-wielding, it’s Mastery > Crit > Haste, whilst if you’re using a two-hander, it’s Crit > Mastery > Haste.

Reforging: Reforge for Hit and Expertise to cap first, then Mastery (DW) or Crit (2-H). Reforge from excess Hit and Expertise, then Haste.

Gems: DW: Go for Skillful gems in Red sockets, Sensei’s in blue sockets, and Fractured in Yellow sockets. 2-H: Go for Inscribed gems in Red sockets, Piercing in blue sockets, and Smooth in Yellow sockets.

Meta Gem: Reverberating meta gem.

Frost DK Glyphs

Frost DK glyphs are very situational, but these are three pretty good, very few downside options:

Major: Glyph of Icebound Fortitude, Glyph of Death Coil, and Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell.

Minor: Your choice!

Frost Death Knight enchants and item enhancements

You should almost always use a profession enhancement item if it provides appropriate stats instead of a general enchant.

  • Shoulder – Greater Tiger Fang Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Accuracy or Enchant Cloak – Superior Critical Strike
  • Chest – Glorious Stats
  • Bracers – Enchant Bracers – Exceptional Strength
  • Gloves – Enchant Gloves – Super Strength
  • Belt – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Angerhide Leg Armor
  • Feet – Enchant Boots – Greater Precision or Enchant Boots – Greater Haste
  • 2H Weapon – Rune of the Fallen Crusader
  • Main Hand – Rune of Razorice
  • Off Hand – Rune of the Fallen Crusader

EJ and Icy Veins are now updated by the same person!

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Patch 4.3 Frost Death Knight (DK) Quick-Start guide – stats, spec and talents, glyphs, enchants, gems, reforging, and rotation / priorities

It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere – no, wait, that’s Red Dwarf. In Frost Death Knight land, there’s an atmosphere of hideous chilling death. And ridiculously high DPS meter totals. So, if you want to get a’frostin’ in Patch 4.3, we’ve got your spec, talents, glyphs, gems, reforging, enchants, and priorities right here!

Updated 29th November for Patch 4.3

Frost Death Knight Changes in Patch 4.3

Not much has changed for Frost – it was great in 4.2, and it’s still great in the new patch. We’re the beneficiaries of the new global melee DPS buff – giving us an extra 10% attack power – and, well, that’s about it for Frost DKs in this patch.

Our Tier 13 set bonuses are solid, but won’t change how we play.

Rotation / Priorities

Frost DKs, like most DPS classes in Cataclysm, do not have a ‘rotation’ as such. Instead, they work on a priority system – use the most important abilities whenever possible before less important ones.


Top Priority: Diseases. Apply or reapply diseases as first priority. Use Outbreak, or Howling Blast and Plague Strike, for this.

Second Priority: Obliterate IF Killing Machine has procced. Frost Strike if you’re approaching maximum Runic Power and you can’t use Obliterate with Killing Machine.

Third Priority: Howling Blast IF Freezing Fog (Rime) has procced.

Fourth Priority: Obliterate or Frost Strike if you’re on low Runic Power and Killing Machine hasn’t procced.

Remember that Howling Blast hits multiple mobs – use Icy Touch instead if there’s danger that you’ll break crowd-control.

Multiple Targets

Only use this for 3 or more targets.

Top Priority: Howling Blast.

Second Priority: Death and Decay if it’s off cooldown, Plague Strike to apply disease to each mob if not. Don’t use Pestilence to spread the disease here.

Third Priority: Frost Strike. Although if you’re on high Runic Power, you can also use it as Second Priority.


Best Frost Death Knight Spec / build

The optimal Frost DK spec depends on whether you’re heading for a single two-handed weapon spec or a dual-wield spec. The two specs are very, very close in damage, so it’s up to you which you chose based on available weapons.

Dual-Wield Spec – 4.3

Two-Handed Spec – 4.3

In both, you have a small choice of which Tier 2 talents to put points into. If you’re going to be interrupting, or like interrupting, chose Endless Winter, otherwise Icy Reach is your best in-combat option.

Stats, Reforging and Gems

Strength is by far your most important stat, followed by Hit to the Hit Cap (961 for anyone except Draenai, for whom it’s 841), then Expertise to the Expertise cap of 26, Haste, Mastery, and finally Crit.

Gems: Always choose a Bold Inferno Ruby unless a socket provides 20 or more Strength or 40 or more of another important stat. In the latter case, use either Fierce Ember Topaz or Etched Demonseye as appropriate.

Reforging: Reforge to Hit up to the hit cap, then Expertise to the Expertise cap. Then, reforge to Haste, or Mastery if that’s not possible.

Buffs: Stay in Unholy Presence. Sorry, but it’s better than Frost Presence. Use Rune of the Fallen Crusader if 2H and Main Hand Rune of Razor Ice, Offhand Rune of the Fallen Crusader if DW. Keep Horn of Winter up whenever possible.

Frost Death Knight enchantments

Remember, your profession may offer better enchantment options – check against the stat priorities above.

Head Arcanum of the Wildhammer (Alliance) or Dragonmaw (Horde)
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone
Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Critical Strike
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Major Strength
Hands Enchant Gloves – Mighty Strength
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Dragonscale Leg Armor
Feet Enchant Boots – Haste or Precision if you’re not hit-capped
Weapon Rune of the Fallen Crusader

Glyphs for Frost

Prime: Glyph of Howling Blast, Glyph of Frost Strike, Glyph of Obliterate

Major: Glyph of Dark Succor, Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell, Glyph of Hungering Cold

Minor: Glyph of Horn of Winter, Glyph of Blood Tap, Glyph of Path of Frost

  • Elitist Jerks Frost Guide – It’s a toss-up between this and Son Of A Lich’s Frost guide for the most complete – they’re both ace. Not updated for 4.3 yet, although there aren’t many changes, as we mentioned.
  • Son Of A Lich’s Frost guide Fantastic guide from a really great DK site. Check it out.
  • #Archerus IRC channel on – GREAT DK community.

You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we scour the blogosphere daily looking for the most interesting discussions and posts about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you, all in one place, right here. See what’s on the Pot today!

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