Dragonflight brings a brand new overhaul to the talent system, giving us a wide range of talents and abilities to choose from and form builds with. In this section, I will go over different Talent builds for Raiding and Mythic Plus, as well as give a general overview of each Talent and its strengths/synergies with other talents.
There are areas in these talent builds which can be altered depending on your scenario. This can include utility and some throughput choices.
Death Knight Class Tree Discussion
The Death Knight Class Talent Tree has a fair few options, and most of the throughput options are at the bottom of the tree. Below you will find a layout of all of the options available to the Death Knight Class Tree, as well as some more info about notable talents.
Important/Essential: The talents highlighted in Red are essential talents that you will not deviate from. You should always use these talents as they are too powerful to not have.
Stepstone choice: In order to reach further down the tree, you will need to select a stepstone choice to bridge the gap between talents, so these are the talents you can pick as a way to continue down the talent tree.
Utility options (with 2 points to spare): After picking up all of the mandatory talents, you will have 2 points to spare for some additional utility, you can use these points to either pick up some of the Stepstone choices or the talents highlighted in Cyan which are utility options.
Empower Rune Weapon: Frost values a lot of resource generation (Runes and Runic Power), so naturally Empower Rune Weapon is going to be a very strong talent to use alongside your other cooldowns. It’s also essential for Breath of Sindragosa, without it you will not be able to keep it going for very long. For Obliteration you want the haste from Empower Rune Weapon, as well as the additional runes so you can keep pumping out more Obliterate’s. You will want to use this talent in all scenarios and damage profiles.
Abomination Limb: Is an AoE ability which gives you a steady flow of Rime procs, which is great for ramping up your Razorice stacks from Rime casts (when using Avalanche talent). It’s also very strong for encounters with add spawns, as one of its main strengths is gripping enemies together for you and your group to cleave down, which is an invaluable tool to have in some encounters. I recommend using this talent over Soul Reaper in any scenarios that involve more than one target (unless it’s a raid encounter which requires priority single target damage and passive cleave, then Soul Reaper will be better).
Soul Reaper: Usually you would not want to play this talent with Frost, however in Season 3 it has received buffs and is now a solid dps gain over Abomination Limb in single target/priority target scenarios for both Breath of Sindragosa and Obliteration. It does make maintaining Breath of Sindragosa a little more difficult during execute phase, but even with this hindrance it’s worth taking in single target scenarios for the extra throughput.
Runic Attenuation: One of Frost’s primary resources is Runic Power, so Runic Attenuation is a very important talent as it provides additional Runic Power, which results in you having more Runic Power to funnel into Breath of Sindragosa, and Frost Strikes.
Cleaving Strikes: In order to reach the talent Brittle, we have to take this talent, even in scenarios where we will not be using Death and Decay at all. However it isn’t useless once you are fighting more enemies. For Frost this talent makes your Obliterate hit an additional nearby target, so this talent is also really nice for two target cleave.
Blinding Sleet: If you are in a scenario where you need to disable/interrupt a group of enemies at the same time, you can take Blinding Sleet to blind them all. This only works on enemies that are susceptible to crowd control effects. This talent is useful in Mythic Plus as well as boss encounters that require add control.
Coldthirst: This is a good talent to pick if you are in a scenario where you are using Mind Freeze a lot. It gives you a bit of Runic Power (which is a nice throughput bonus and can really help with keeping Breath of Sindragosa uptime) and it also makes your Mind Freeze a 12 second cooldown instead of 14, which can be really strong depending on how frequent an enemy casts an important ability.
Proliferating Chill: When playing with the talent Cold Heart, this talent can be a strong throughput increase for 2 target scenarios. Cold Heart does a decent amount of damage, so hitting 2 targets with it is an obvious choice if you are going to be fighting 2 targets. You will want to pick this over Gloom Ward when you can make use of it.
Unholy Endurance: Lichborne is typically not very useful outside of immuning fear, sleep and charm effects, however this talent makes Lichborne a small personal defensive cooldown you can use in combination with another defensive like Anti-Magic Shell. It’s generally nice to have if you don’t need Death’s Reach / Grip of the Dead.
Asphyxiate: Just like Blinding Sleet, this is mostly used when you need to crowd control an enemy, however it only affects one target but the stun lasts for 5 seconds and does not break on damage (like the Blind effect from Blinding Sleet does). This is worth taking if you need additional crowd control.
Wraith Walk: This talent is very useful for getting out of root effects, as well as being a nice movement ability if you need it. Although this talent is a bit out of the way and requires you taking Death Pact, Assimilation or Asphyxiate to reach, so it’s quite a commitment that will mean you will have to give up other forms of utility/defensives.
Acclimation: This makes your Icebound Fortitude a 2 minute cooldown. Most of the time you will not use this, however if there is a scenario where you take a big hit of damage every 2 minutes, then this talent could be a good option.
Anti-Magic Barrier: As mentioned earlier, Anti-Magic Shell is an incredibly strong ability for multiple reasons, so increasing its duration, reducing its cooldown and increasing the absorb amount is useful.
Anti-Magic Zone: Most of the time you will want to take this talent as it is a raid cooldown, while it is not very strong for Frost, it is still a useful raid cooldown which can be utilized by your Raid or Mythic Plus team for magic damage encounters. If you are in a situation where no Magic damage mitigation is needed, then you can save yourself a point and pick something else.
Assimilation: When using Anti-Magic Zone you do give up a potential offensive spell cast, so gaining some additional Runic Power from Anti-Magic Zone is a nice bonus. If you are able to time your Anti-Magic Zone/have it assigned in a certain time of the fight, you can use it to gain a lot of runic power and delay your Empower Rune Weapon more during Breath of Sindragosa, so this is actually a very strong talent to take in raid scenarios.
Death’s Echo: You get a lot of value from this talent as you gain 2 charges of Death’s Advance (which greatly helps with mobility), 2 charges of Death Grip (which is super nice for gripping adds into place) and 2 charges of Death and Decay which works really well in AOE as you can use Death and Decay back to back, for 20 seconds of Obliterate cleave.
In this section I will be discussing each of the talents in the spec tree, where you would want to use them and how they synergise with other talents. This should add some context to the choices in the builds above.
Glacial Advance: This is one of the first optional talents that you will come across, and it is mainly used as a substitute for Frost Strike in cleave scenarios when playing with Obliteration. It applies Razorice to enemies it hits so it is a very good way to spread Razorice stacks across multiple enemies. You will not want to use this when playing with Breath of Sindragosa, as just like Frost Strike, you will want your Runic Power to be spent on Breath of Sindragosa, not this ability.
Frigid Executioner favors Obliteration due to the increased Obliterate damage. While it can also be solid for Breath of Sindragosa, you will be using Abomination Limb alongside Breath of Sindragosa and the Rime procs from Abomination Limb give Rage of the Frozen Champion a lot more value for Breath of Sindragosa due to the steady flow of Runic Power.
Cold Heart: This is a single target oriented talent, and can be enhanced with Proliferating Chill which makes it hit an additional target, turning it into a 2 target cleave ability. There are multiple conditions on when to consume Cold Heart stacks, and those will be explained in the Cooldowns & When to Use Them section of this guide.
Fatal Fixation: Sometimes when playing Frost you will lose out on some Killing Machine procs, simply due to additional procs while you already have Killing Machine mid gcd, so this talent really helps to alleviate that issue. This issue is also quite common, which makes this talent very strong for both Breath of Sindragosa and Obliteration.
Frostwhelp’s Aid: This is a talent which is primarily AoE focused. You don’t get a lot of value from this talent if you are only fighting one target, and this talent starts to pick up when hitting 4 or more targets. The Mastery gain from this talent is very strong, but only when you can build at least 4+ stacks, otherwise you are probably better off spending your talent points elsewhere.
Horn of Winter: Solid option if you need additional Runic Power and Runes with a relatively low cooldown. It can be good for getting a top-up of Runes before an Obliteration window, but also really good for extending Breath of Sindragosa. This talent also leads to Empower Rune Weapon, which is another solid choice for having extended Breath of Sindragosa windows by having 2 charges of Empower Rune Weapon.
Chill Streak: This ability is typically only used in 2 target cleave scenarios, as it would normally only be able to bounce between two enemy targets. However in Season 3 this ability is going to be very important as it is the key to our new tier set bonus. You will want to use Chill Streak in every scenario because of this new set bonus, as it makes Chill Streak able to bounce off of you (so it’s useable in single target scenarios) and also has a chance to give cooldown reduction to Empower Rune Weapon, Chill Streak itself or generate a Rune with each bounce. You will want to use it on cooldown so you can get the max out of the 4 set bonus and I will go through the new tier set bonus and its interactions with Chill Streak later on in this guide.
Icecap: Generally this talent is a super solid pick, because it reduces the cooldown on your Pillar of Frost everytime you crit with Obliterate, Frostscythe and Frost Strike. As Frost is a very crit oriented spec, this means that you will often get a lot of value from Icecap, the more uptime on Pillar of Frost, the better! It also has an interesting Interaction with Cold Heart. It makes it so you do not need to preemptively consume your Cold Heart stacks (typically around 10 stacks) to make your next Cold Heart 20 stack line up with the end of your next Pillar of Frost window. Instead you can just let Cold Heart stack up and your Pillar of Frost should naturally align really well with Cold Heart (lack of uptime may change this though).
Empower Rune Weapon: You will mainly want to use this talent when you are in need of a second charge of Empower Rune Weapon. This second charge can be utilized in two ways; to either extend your Breath of Sindragosa or to have a 1 minute rotation of Empower Rune Weapon for Obliteration (although this doesn’t align as well when you use Icecap).
If you use it for Breath of Sindragosa then you will want to use it as a way to keep your Breath of Sindragosa going throughout an encounter, and as most if not all of your damage in this build is from Breath of Sindragosa, having 2 charges of Empower Rune Weapon is very important, which makes this talent very valuable.
Bonegrinder: As Frost is very crit oriented, this talent can be pretty good. However, it’s not as easy to proc when playing with Breath of Sindragosa and you will find a lot more uptime with Obliteration. The crit buff has a relatively short duration and you need to keep consuming Killing Machine procs in order to keep the stacks up.
Shattering Blade: This is a rather unique talent that only really works with Obliteration. It requires you to have dual wield weapons instead of 2H, because you need Rune of Razorice in order to reliably reapply Razorice stacks, and Rune of the Fallen Crusader is just too strong to not have. Ideally you would also play Avalanche with this so you can generate Razorice stacks with Rime procs as well. It’s purely a single target talent that you will create a build around, and it loses a lot of value when you do not have high melee uptime on the boss, so keep that in mind when speccing into Shattering Blade.
Avalanche: This allows Frost Death Knights to use a different Enchant/Runeforge instead of Rune of Razorice, which opens up a lot of possibilities (including Rune of Hysteria for longer Breath of Sindragosa windows). It also makes Obliteration a lot more of a viable option, because you can have both Rune of the Fallen Crusader on your weapon, and still benefit from Razorice stacks on your targets. Overall it’s a solid talent that I recommend using for most if not all builds.
Obliteration: This is one of the key talents for the “Obliteration build”, which is oriented around really hard hitting Obliterate casts. It works very well with the tier set bonus because it further increases the damage of your Obliterates. When playing with this build you will be weaving Frost Strikes / Rime procs in between Obliterates during Pillar of Frost in order to get a guaranteed proc of Killing Machine for each Obliterate. So this makes Obliterate have strong burst damage every 30-60 seconds (depending on how much you crit, and whether you are using Icecap or not).
Runic Power is not very valuable when running this build, as you generally have a lot of Runic Power to play with anyway and not much to spend it on except Frost Strike and Glacial Advance (if talented), so your priority when playing Obliteration will be Rune management so you are able to Obliterate as much as possible, especially during Pillar of Frost.
Absolute Zero: You will only ever take that talent if you are in a scenario where you need frequent front loaded burst AoE with Frostwyrm’s Fury. This talent basically just makes it up more often so it can be good for Mythic Plus situations where you will want to have front loaded AoE burst frequently throughout the dungeon. However it is even further out of the way so you will need to give up some other valuable talents in order to get this one. It also has a stun component which is nice for some PvE scenarios, but is not really the primary reason why you would choose this talent.
Breath of Sindragosa: Just like Obliteration, this talent is build defining and will be the center piece for the “Breath of Sindragosa build”. In complete contrast to Obliteration, Breath of Sindragosa is a talent that focuses around Runic Power. The playstyle can be quite punishing, because if you lose uptime and stop generating Runic Power then your Breath of Sindragosa will be cut off prematurely and you will need to wait until it is off cooldown again (which is really bad, because with this build you don’t do much damage outside of Breath of Sindragosa.
You will notice that a lot of the talents that are used with Breath of Sindragosa (such as Horn of Winter, x2 Empower Rune Weapon, Rage of the Frozen Champion etc) are ways to generate Runic Power which is what Breath of Sindragosa revolves around. While the tier set bonuses do not directly interact with Breath of Sindragosa, it is still really important to get more Killing Machine procs because that can then proc Murderous Efficiency, which gives you more Runes to spend so that you can generate more Runic Power to sustain Breath of Sindragosa. In conclusion, it’s a very strong talent/build that really does shine in multiple scenarios, as well as being a fun playstyle that rewards well planned movement, Rune management and Runic Power management.
[Raid] Breath of Sindragosa (Single Target & Cleave)
[Raid] Breath of Sindragosa AoE (4+ Consistent Targets)
[Raid] Obliteration Single Target
Weapons: 2H with Rune of the Fallen Crusader
[Mythic Plus] Obliteration
Weapons: 2H with Rune of the Fallen Crusader
Build Note: Mythic Plus builds will vary a lot based on affixes and key level. This build is an all round generic Mythic Plus build, however you will want to tweak your talent choices based on the key level and whether it’s a Tyrannical or Fortified week.
For Fortified keys I recommend taking a point out of Enduring Strength and putting it into Frostwyrm’s Fury, so you have a consistent 3 minute AoE burst window. However, if you are doing high keys then using the build above will be more well rounded for both trash mobs and boss encounters.