Frost Deathknight playstyle and rotation guide

Patch 9.2.5 Last Updated: 13th Sep, 2022
Kwepp Frost Deathknight Author

Playstyle & Rotation

Breath of Sindragosa Opener

  1. Death’s Due (if playing Night Fae)
  2. Remorseless Winter
  3. Obliterate (Use Howling Blast after if you get a Rime proc)
  4. Obliterate (Use Howling Blast after if you get a Rime proc)
  5. Blood Fury & Enforcer’s Stun Grenade (off gcd)
  6. Pillar of FrostBreath of SindragosaRaise Dead (off gcd) and 
  7. Abomination Limb (if playing Necrolord)
  8. Use Breath of Sindragosa Priority List until Pillar of Frost has 2 seconds remaining
  9. Use Chains of Ice (to spend Cold Heart stacks) when Pillar of Frost has 2 seconds remaining (if using Cold Heart)
  10. Use Frostwyrm’s Fury at the end of Pillar of Frost (<=1 second remaining)

Continue General Priority List Outside of Cooldowns after Breath of Sindragosa has ended.

Breath of Sindragosa Priority List

  1. Death’s Due (If playing Night Fae)
  2. Obliterate if you have more than 3 Runes
  3. Remorseless Winter (if you have the Gathering Storm talent)
  4. Howling Blast if you have a Rime proc and are at 50> of Runic Power
  5. Obliterate if you have 3 or more Runes or if you have less than 45 Runic Power
  6. Empower Rune Weapon when at <50 Runic Power and 1-2 Runes remaining
  7. Arcane Torrent (if Blood Elf) when you have no Runes left and are at <30 Runic Power

Obliteration Opener

  1. Remorseless Winter & Empower Rune Weapon
  2. Death’s Due / Abomination Limb
  3. Pillar of Frost,, Raise Dead, Blood Fury, Enforcer’s Stun Grenade (off gcd) & Howling Blast
  4. Obliterate / Frostscythe (aoe)
  5. Frost Strike or Howling Blast if you have a Rime proc
  6. Obliterate / Frostscythe (aoe)
  7. Repeat Frost Strike or Howling Blast > Obliterate / Frostscythe rotation until <=1 seconds remaining on Pillar of Frost
  8. Use Frostwyrm’s Fury at the end of Pillar of Frost (<=1 seconds remaining)

Continue General Priority List Outside of Cooldowns after.

General Priority List Outside of Cooldowns

  1. Death’s Due (If playing Night Fae)
  2. Remorseless Winter 
  3. Obliterate / Frostscythe (aoe) if you have a Killing Machine proc or have 3=> Runes
  4. Howling Blast if you have a Rime proc
  5. Frost Strike if you have 75+ Runic Power (to avoid overcapping on Runic Power)
  6. Obliterate / Frostscythe (aoe)
  7. Frost Strike

Cooldowns & When to Use Them

Pillar of Frost

You will always want to use Pillar of Frost on cooldown. Make sure to pool 3-4 Runes before Pillar of Frost, so you are not Rune starved during your main damage window. It is also important to use Remorseless Winter on cooldown, so it will always line up with Pillar of Frost.

Empower Rune Weapon

You generally always use your Empower Rune Weapon with Pillar of Frost. This will naturally line up with your other cooldowns, but it will be off cooldown for 30 seconds before your Pillar of Frost is on cooldown, which is fine, and you should hold it unless the boss is going to die <=30 seconds.

If you are using the Breath of Sindragosa build, you will want to delay using Empower Rune Weapon for as long as you can until your Runic Power is <50 and you are running low on Runes. Then you use Empower Rune Weapon to give you a steady flow of Runes so you can keep your Breath of Sindragosa going. This will allow you to have longer Breath of Sindragosa windows.

However, on bosses like Artificer Xy’mox, if you are only going to be getting a short Breath of Sindragosa window (killing adds on the platforms) then you should not delay anything and use Empower Rune Weapon with Breath of Sindragosa.

Breath of Sindragosa

You will always want to use Breath of Sindragosa in conjunction with Pillar of Frost and your Covenant ability. These should all naturally lineup so long as you use your abilities on cooldown.

Frostwrym’s Fury 

This should always be used with as many buffs as possible (such as Rune of the Fallen Crusader or Abomination’s Frenzy) at the end of your Pillar of Frost window, or when there are a lot of targets that need to be bursted down. You will only use Frostwyrm’s Fury without Pillar of Frost if the boss will die before Pillar of Frost comes back off cooldown.

Enforcer’s Stun Grenade

You will always want to pair this trinket with Breath of Sindragosa; there are no situations where you would use it elsewhere. For Obliteration, you will always want to use this trinket with Pillar of Frost & Empower Rune Weapon.

Scars of Fraternal Strife

This trinket is quite unique in comparison to other trinkets, as it has a 30-second cooldown and a lot of very punishing negative effects, so I don’t think it will be worth using it over Enforcer’s Stun Grenade. I say this because Enforcer’s Stun Grenade has no negative effects and lines up perfectly with Breath of Sindragosa, so it is generally way more consistent. However, I am still going to give you a good idea on when to use it anyway. So with that said, you will want to use it on cooldown most of the time, as this will then naturally make The Final Rune (5th) line up with your second Breath of Sindragosa. The steps of this trinket usage can be quite a lot to take in, so here is a simplified bullet point guide to timings with this trinket: 

  1. Use this trinket on the pull and continue to use it on cooldown.
  2. First The Final Rune will be at 2min, perfectly aligning with your second Breath of Sindragosa.
  3. Second The Final Rune will be at 4.5min, 30 seconds into your third Breath of Sindragosa.
  4. In long encounters, your Third The Final Rune should be used at 8min (you will want to hold onto it for 1min so you can line it up with your 5th Breath of Sindragosa.
  5. After that, you repeat the uses from Step 3 as using it on cooldown will make your Fourth The Final Rune ready 30 seconds into your 6th Breath of Sindragosa.

You should always be using this trinket on cooldown. The only time that you will not want to use this trinket on cooldown is at Step 4 where you will hold it for 1 minute.

Cold Heart

This ability has very specific timings to follow, if you miss the timings, you will lose a lot of value from this talent, so it is essential that you get the timings right. You will wait to use your first Chains of Ice at the end of your first Pillar of Frost window and then use it again when you have 10 stacks of Cold Heart, and your Pillar of Frost has around 30 seconds left on its cooldown. After that, you should let it stack, and it should reach 20 stacks at the end of your next Pillar of Frost window. This is the cycle you will want to follow when using Cold Heart.

Abomination Limb

You will always want to use Abomination Limb with your cooldowns, mainly because it will supply you with a steady flow of Rime procs and apply Abomination’s Frenzy, which will further increase your throughput during cooldowns. Abomination Limb should always line up for your Breath of Sindragosa, or Pillar of Frost & Empower Rune Weapon if you are playing the Obliteration build.

Utility/Defensive Abilities

Anti-Magic Shell

This is one of the best abilities in a Death Knight's toolkit. It makes you immune to many magic auras and debuffs and prevents heavy amounts of magic damage when used correctly. If you pre-use Anti-Magic Shell before walking over a magic-based floor effect, it will make you completely immune to the damage and any additional effects it may apply to you while walking over it. It's important to note that using Anti-Magic Shell only prevents the application of magic debuffs and does not remove them once they have already been applied to you. So make sure you use Anti-Magic Shell before a debuff is applied. When absorbing magic damage with this ability, you also gain Runic Power, which can also be used offensively for a slight DPS gain.

Icebound Fortitude

This is your main heavy mitigation ability that also makes you immune to stun effects. This can be very useful in encounters that have stun mechanics, such as The Tarragrue. It does have a lengthy cooldown, however, so use it wisely. You can also gain more uses of this ability in longer encounters with the conduit Chilled Resilience.

Anti-Magic Zone

This has been nerfed since its first integration in the Shadowlands pre-patch. However, it is still a helpful raid cooldown that can help your raid team. It loses value based on how many allies are within it, so it will not be as strong in raids, but it's worth using along with some other healing cooldowns as an extra safety measure.


On its own, it's only beneficial in niche situations where you will be Feared, Charmed, or put to Sleep. However, when using the conduit Hardened Bones it becomes a valuable, extra mitigation ability that you will want to use in conjunction with Anti-Magic ShellFleshcraft, or Icebound Fortitude.

Death Grip

Death Grip is an iconic Death Knight ability that makes them stand out from other classes in the game. No other class can grip enemies into specific positions, making Death Knight very strong in add control encounters. Make sure to always keep an eye out for enemies outside of the rest, and grip them in so your group and cleave them down with the rest. It's also an effective way to interrupt a target from casting, even if they are uninterruptible, as it counts as a form of CC and not an interrupt. 

Death's Advance

A Death Knight's main weakness is mobility. Death's Advance usage is a key part of making a good Death Knight player. It's your only mobility spell if you are not talented into Wraith Walk, so it is crucial to use it at the right time. It also makes you immune to knockback effects which can be incredibly strong in encounters like Remnant of Nerzhul. You can increase its effectiveness with the conduit Fleeting Wind.

Raise Ally

Along with Druids and Warlocks, Death Knights are one of the only classes in the game that can resurrect an ally during combat. Raise Ally is an instant cast, so it is generally the best combat res if you need to get somebody back into the fight ASAP.

Sacrificial Pact

This is a useful tool that you will want to utilize when you are out of Health Pots and Health Stones, and are not within melee range of the boss to heal yourself instead of using Death Strike.

Death Strike

After taking a heavy hit of damage, you can heal a significant amount after using Death Strike, making your healer's life a lot easier. Ensure to utilize this ability after taking a large amount of damage if you are out of Spiritual Healing Potions and Healthstones.

Chains of Ice

Another helpful tool for Death Knights to use is Chains of Ice, which is very strong when an add needs to be slowed or kited by your tank. However, it does come at the cost of a rune, so using this too much will often leave you rune starved. Make sure only to use it when it's needed or called for. If you have multiple targets that need to be slowed simultaneously, consider using the talent Blinding Sleet instead of applying Chains of Ice to multiple targets. However, if you are using Cold Heart you will ideally not want to use Chains of Ice as a form of crowd control because it will most likely ruin your timings.