Frost Deathknight playstyle and rotation guide

Patch 10.0.5 Last Updated: 4th Jan, 2023
Kwepp Frost Deathknight Author
Kwepp

Playstyle & Rotation

Rotation

Breath of Sindragosa Opener

  1. Remorseless Winter
  2. Obliterate (Use Howling Blast after if you get a Rime proc)
  3. Obliterate (Use Howling Blast after if you get a Rime proc)
  4. Horn of Winter
  5. Pillar of Frost, Breath of Sindragosa, Raise Dead
  6. Chill Streak (If talented and fighting more than 1 target)
  7. Use Breath of Sindragosa Priority List until Pillar of Frost has 2 seconds remaining
  8. Use Chains of Ice (If talented into Cold Heart) when Pillar of Frost has 2 seconds remaining
  9. Use Frostwyrm’s Fury (if talented) at the end of Pillar of Frost (<=1 second remaining)

Continue Breath of Sindragosa Priority List after this opener.

Breath of Sindragosa Priority List

    1. Chill Streak (If talented and fighting more than 1 target)
    2. Obliterate if you have more than 3 Runes
    3. Remorseless Winter (if you have the Gathering Storm talented)
    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. Abomination Limb when you need more Rime procs to sustain Breath of Sindragosa
    8. Arcane Torrent (if Blood Elf) when you have no Runes left and are at <30 Runic Power
    9. Remorseless Winter

    Horn of Winter usage varies a lot and should be used based on your current Runes & Runic Power, check the Horn of Winter section in ‘Cooldowns & When to Use Them’ below.

    Continue General Priority List Outside of Cooldowns after.

    General Priority List Outside of Cooldowns

    1. Use Chains of Ice to consume Cold Heart when at 20 stacks at the end of your Pillar of Frost (when playing Breath of Sindragosa)
    2. Use Chains of Ice to consume Cold Heart when at 20 stacks when you are buffed with Enduring Strength (when playing Obliteration)
    3. Remorseless Winter 
    4. Obliterate / Frostscythe (AoE) if you have a Killing Machine proc or have 3=> Runes
    5. Frost Strike at 5 stacks of Razorice (when playing with Shattering Blade) or when you are about to lose Unleashed Frenzy 
    6. Howling Blast if you have a Rime proc
    7. Frost Strike/Glacial Advance (cleave) if you have 75+ Runic Power (to avoid overcapping on Runic Power)
    8. Obliterate / Frostscythe (AoE)

    Frost Strike/Glacial Advance (cleave)

    Important Buff Management

    Icy Talons

    This buff is important to maintain throughout an encounter, not only for auto attack damage but also for gaining Runic Power from Runic Attenuation and potential Killing Machine procs from crit auto attacks. You will want to spend Runic Power through Frost Strike, Glacial Advance or Breath of Sindragosa to sustain this buff. When playing with Breath of Sindragosa you will easily be able to sustain Icy Talons because it is constantly spending Runic Power, so by sustaining Breath of Sindragosa you also sustain Icy Talons.

    Unleashed Frenzy

    Unleashed Frenzy works exactly the same as Icy Talons and you sustain it in the exact same way. If you are maintaining Icy Talons then you are also maintaining Unleashed Frenzy

    Rune of Razorice

    This is the most important debuff that you must maintain on your targets, dropping your Razorice stacks is a major throughput loss. So make sure to keep an eye on the debuff and make sure you are using your Rime procs (with Avalanche) as often as possible so that you don’t drop your Razorice stacks on your targets. 

    If you are not using Avalanche (which is generally not advised) then you will want to use Glacial Advance to apply Razorice stacks (this talent is only good in cleave scenarios with Obliteration) or you will want Rune of Razorice on your main hand weapon over Rune of Hysteria when dual wielding or Rune of the Fallen Crusader when using 2H weapons (although losing Rune of the Fallen Crusader is also a significant loss so I generally don’t recommend not using Avalanche, especially when playing with 2H weapons). If you do decide to not use Avalanche and apply Razorice with your main hand weapon, then make sure you also target swap on AoE/Cleave scenarios to sustain the stacks across your targets.

    If you are playing with Shattering Blade then this will alter your Razorice stack management, as you will want to make sure you Frost Strike as soon as you reach 5 stacks of Razorice, so you don’t waste any stacks/overcap and waste potential Shattering Blade value.

    Gathering Storm

    It can be difficult to sustain Gathering Storm outside of Empower Rune Weapon or Bloodlust because it does take a lot of Runes to keep ramping up Remorseless Winter with Gathering Storm. However, you should always strive to maintain as many stacks and uptime on Gathering Storm as possible, especially in AoE/Cleave scenarios. 

    Everfrost

    If you are playing Everfrost then the importance of extended Remorseless Winter with Gathering Storm is even more important. Everfrost lasts 7 seconds, so you want to extend your Remorseless Winter enough so that you can recast it in time before the debuff drops from your targets. As long as you can extend your Remorseless Winter buff until it has 6 seconds left on your next Remorseless Winters cooldown, then you will be able to refresh your Everfrost stacks in time. Just like Gathering Storm, this is especially important in AoE/Cleave scenarios.

    Cooldowns & When to Use Them

    Pillar of Frost

    You will always want to use Pillar of Frost on cooldown. If you are playing Obliteration then make sure to pool 3-4 Runes before Pillar of Frost, so you are not Rune starved during your main damage window. Sometimes you may want to delay Pillar of Frost slightly to align it better with a Chill Streak, or Breath of Sindragosa but generally you want to use it on cooldown to get as much uptime as possible, especially when playing with Icecap so you don’t waste any potential cooldown reduction.

    Empower Rune Weapon

    You generally use your Empower Rune Weapon with Pillar of Frost when playing Obliteration. Empower Rune Weapon should always be used as a cooldown ‘enhancer’ as it were, it’s not a very strong cooldown on its own but has a great impact on your other cooldowns. 

    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, if you are only going to be getting a short Breath of Sindragosa window (AoE nuking an important group of enemies) 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 on cooldown, and ideally in conjunction with Pillar of Frost. You should also make sure that you will have an Empower Rune Weapon charge ready when you need it.

    Horn of Winter

    Generally you will use this when you are low on Runes and Runic Power, it acts as a great way to keep Breath of Sindragosa going when you don’t not have Empower Rune Weapon active. You should try and use it on cooldown so you don’t miss any potential uses, but make sure you do not overcap on Runes of Runic Power when using it, otherwise you’re just wasting resources. If you are playing Horn of Winter with Obliteration, then make sure to top yourself up with Runes (without overcapping) if you are lacking before you use Pillar of Frost, so you have a healthy amount of Runes for a decent Obliteration window.

    Frostwrym’s Fury 

    This should always be used with as many buffs as possible (such as Rune of the Fallen Crusader) 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.

    Cold Heart

    If you are playing with Icecap then this is fairly simple and you will want to use your Chains of Ice to consume your Cold Heart stacks at the end of every Pillar of Frost window, because the cooldown reduction from Icecap should naturally align well with Cold Heart and you will hit 19-20 stacks by the end of every Pillar of Frost if you use it on cooldown. 

    If you are not using Icecap then this ability has very specific timings to follow, and if you miss the timings you will lose a lot of value from this talent, so it is essential that you get the timing 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 28-30 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 without Icecap.

    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 which will help with stacking and sustaining Razorice stacks. You should always line up Abomination Limb with Breath of Sindragosa, or Pillar of Frost & Empower Rune Weapon if you are playing the Obliteration build. The only other time that you may use it differently is if you are using it as utility during an encounter that involves gripping multiple targets, but typically in these scenarios you will be using your cooldowns anyway to cleave the targets down.

    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 to sustain Breath of Sindragosa. When in magic damage based fights Anti-Magic Shell is insanely strong, and taking the talent Anti-Magic Barrier allows you to use it more frequently, as well as increasing its duration and absorb amount.

    Icebound Fortitude

    This is your main heavy mitigation ability that makes you immune to stun effects. This can be very useful in encounters that have stun mechanics. It does have a lengthy cooldown, however, so use it wisely. The cooldown of this ability can also be reduced to 2 minutes if you talent into Acclimation.

    Anti-Magic Zone

    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.

    Lichborne

    On its own, it's only beneficial in niche situations where you will be Feared, Charmed, or put to Sleep. However, when using the talent Unholy Endurance it becomes a valuable extra mitigation ability that you will want to use in high-damage encounters.

    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 what makes 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 certain encounters.

    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.

    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 and maybe proccing Runic Corruption afterward. 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 Grip of the Dead instead of applying Chains of Ice to multiple targets. If you are using the Cold Heart talent, then you shouldn’t use Chains of Ice as a utility cooldown unless it's absolutely necessary.