RSS

Tag Archives: Frost

Death Knight Leveling: 55-75 Frost DPS

I’d like to tell you that leveling up as a Frost Death Knight is a hard thing to do, but then I would be lying. You see, Frost Death Knights have this thing called a God Complex where they think they can kill whoever they want to without harm or repercussion to themselves, all the loot belongs to them, their DPS is through the roof putting everyone else to shame, and so on. The bad news is, occasionally that will come back to bite you in the butt and score you a trip to the spirit healer. The good news is, that whole God Complex thing started because the majority of it is actually true.

Enough with the intro, let’s take a look at how to go about leveling and playing a Frost Death Knight.

Turn the page to find out more…

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling, Melee, World of Warcraft

 

Tags:

Mage Leveling Final: 68-80 (Frost & Arcane)

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
Part III: 40 – 58
Part IV: 58-68 (Frost & Arcane)
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Last time we got you up to level 68 in Outlands, so now it’s time to move it on up to Northrend. If you recently read the other guides up there you may remember that I mentioned that you can still pretty well solo all of the old world content, but that Outlands Group Quests really did require a group. In Northrend we go back to the way things were, with group quests not necessarily always requiring groups to complete at level. Some of them certainly require help, such as the Amphitheater of Anguish and such, but those are the exceptions not the rule.

The big change that you’re going to notice about Northrend is the amount of health that mobs have. Frost is going to notice that more so than other specs because of it’s lower damage. At least, that’s what I noticed when I took my Frost Mage there. Since then there have been some buffs to Frost that might make it a bit easier on you, but I found myself running out of mana frequently simply because of how many spells I had to cast to bring down the mobs.

Another big change you’re going to see is that you no longer get to use your flying mount(s). If you already have a level 80 character on the server then you can buy a book with your 80 that you can send to any of your own level 68+ characters that will teach them Cold Weather Flying to allow them to fly in Northrend. If you do not have an 80 on that server, then you’re screwed out of flying until level 77. Why? Because Blizzard said so, that’s why.

My first Mage made it to level 74 as Frost before I switched him over to Fire to level to 80. My most recent mage made it to 66 before I decided to try out Arcane for the first time and I never bothered looking back to Frost until it came time to make a PvP dual spec.

Important Spells
General Spells
Invisibility: Become invisible over 3 seconds, reducing threat each second; effect is cancelled by taking any* action, or after 20 seconds.
Ritual of Refreshment: Perform a ritual to summon a table. Requires 2 additional party/raid members and summons 50 stacks of Conjured Mana Biscuits.
Spellsteal: Steal a beneficial magic effect from the target, lasting a maximum of 2 minutes.
Teleport: Dalaran: Congratulations, you can now set your hearthstone wherever you want to and still be able to hit Dal at any time.
Portal: Dalaran: More grats, now you can actually make gold selling portals again!
Mirror Image: Creates three copies of the caster nearby, which cast spells and attack the mage’s enemies for 30 seconds.

Invisibility is your agro dump. If you cast it then your threat gets dumped over the 3 seconds it takes you to fade to invisibility. If you happen to be an Arcane Mage then you can make this an instant cast spell so that your threat is instantly gone. When you turn invisible all of your threat goes away. It also works fine as an Oh Crap! button as well, which is what you’ll use it for while questing, but it’s best use is as an agro dump.

The Ritual is what’s referred to as a “Mage Table” or just “Table” in case you find people asking you for one. There are 50 stacks available for people to take, but each character can only hold 4 stacks, and most players don’t bother taking more than one, so a single table will generally last all players through an entire raid.

Spellsteal, while great for PvP, has a lot of different uses. Now is when you really want to start paying attention to the buffs that are on the mobs you’re facing, both in solo questing and in running through dungeons/heroics/raids. There’s nothing like stealing a haste buff off of a mob and finding your 3 second cast now fires off in 1.2 seconds or using a single spell to snag +350 Spellpower and 50% Haste. You’ll also find mobs that have something like “Heals the caster for 30% of the damage they deal” which you want to steal just to prevent the mobs from healing, or other buffs that provide no value to you but that you need to remove.

The Teleport/Portal: Dalaran are pretty self explanatory. If you don’t know by now what they do then you’ve clearly purchased your account on eBay…

Mirror Image is an excellent spell for increasing your DPS, even if they do cast nothing but Frostbolt. With the set bonus from Tier gear this is a huge bonus to your DPS. You’ll probably use it more in dungeons and raids than anything else since you don’t get it until level 80 anyway, but it’s great for casting while questing, farming, or whatever.

Frost Spells
Frostfire Bolt: Launches a bolt of frostfire at the enemy, dealing Frostfire damage, slowing movement by 40% and causing additional Frostfire damage over time.

That’s right, I’m listing a “Fire” spell in the Frost section. Why? Because Arcane doesn’t give a crap about this spell, and while Frost didn’t care about it before it’s a bit more important to them now that their Brain Freeze talent allows it to be made instant cast and mana free when it procs. The good thing about FFB is that “Frostfire” damage counts and either Frost or Fire damage, whichever your target has the least resistance to. So if you’re fighting something that’s immune to Frost spells it will deal Fire damage instead. If it’s immune to both, then…why aren’t you running away?

Playing as Frost
There’s no reason to bother mentioning rotations here, you know that as a Frost Mage you’re going to Frostbolt the holy, ever-loving crap out of everything, and if you need to you’ll finish it off with Fire Blast, Cone of Cold, or Ice Lance. If you used the Glyph of I Wanna Be a Warlock (wuss) then you also have the option of just letting your pet finish them off.

Frost isn’t hard to play, it’s simple and it’s safe. You’ve got the best survivability and crowd control available to any spell caster in the game, and you’re a crit-tossing fool too. The same basic principles apply at this level that we’ve been seeing all along, keep yourself away from the mobs, keep the mobs slowed down so they can’t close the distance, AoE everything you can, spam Frostbolts like they’re going out of style (they’ve been out of style for a long time, but they still hurt so we’re good), and take advantage of any opportunity to freeze and then crit the mobs that you’re facing.

And when all else fails, Frost Nova, Blink away, and then run like the a pansy until you’re out of combat.

Playing as Arcane
Arcane Option 1: Arcane Blast, Slow, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 2: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast x2, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)

I’m going to leave these rotations up here in Arcane since I’ve only mentioned them to you one other time. This rotation doesn’t change from 64 up through 80 for leveling purposes except that you’ll eventually just drop all the slowing business for the sake of killing things faster. Taking the safe road is what Frost excels at; killing things before it matters is what Arcane is there for.

The two rotations listed up top there are for your solo questing. If you’re in a dungeon and you have a tank that’s going to hold agro for you then you can drop the silly business and move into what is going to be your true rotation for heroics and raiding at level 80:

Arcane Dungeon Rotation: Arcane Blast x4, Arcane Missile

There you go, you end up mashing two buttons for the rest of your life as Arcane.

Now, if you don’t have a Missile Barrage proc after the fourth Arcane Blast then go ahead and cast a fifth. If you did get a proc during or after the four casts, then go ahead and fire it off. My personal preference is to cast AM after no more than the 5th AB regardless of whether or not I get a proc from it. The reasons for that are mana conservation, since AB increases mana costs, and sustained DPS. It’s better to spend more mana on an AM cast without a MB proc than it is to keep on casting AB repeatedly.

If you get a Missile Barrage proc before you’ve built a full stack of 4 from AB, then hold off on casting AM until you have the four stack unless you’re either going to lose the stack of AB that you have already or your MB proc is about to wear off. Otherwise just hold off and make the most of what you’re given. If you read raiding forums and sites you might find people telling you to fire it off at 3 stacks or to fire it whenever it procs regardless of stacks, and so on, but I’ve tested it out with every configuration I’ve been able to and I always find more consistent DPS when I stick to four stacks, bar none.

Leveling in Northrend
The first decision you need to make when you move on to Northrend is which zone you want to level in. You basically have two choices if you go right at level 68: Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord.

If you look at the quest rewards for each you’ll see that BT has about 15x the number of Blue quality items as quest rewards than HF. For that reason, I personally prefer BT for my first zone. But, I’m a min/max styled player and I want the best that’s available to me. My personal opinion of the two zones is that HF is the more enjoyable zone to level in. Of the few blues that HF does offer as quest rewards, there are some nice caster trinkets you may want to pick up where BT blues are mostly armor and weapons.

If you want enjoyable, go with Howling Fjord. If you want good quest rewards, then go to Borean Tundra. Either way, it’s merely a suggestion on my part so do whatever you want.

General Tactics
Frost
AoE grinding is still your fastest, most efficient method of leveling, but it’s a bit harder when you first step into the frozen lands of Northrend. For that reason I suggest you start off with single target combat until you’ve gotten a feel for the mobs and hopefully a few item upgrades as well, and then move into AoE mode once you’re comfortable.

Other than that it’s simply business as usual.

Arcane
Arcane is all about burning down single targets. When you first reach Northrend you’ll want to use a slowing spell first and then DPS the targets down, and make use of your CC spells such as Polymorph if you happen to pull multiple mobs. After you’re more comfortable with your spec and facing the mobs that are there you’ll eventually move away from using a slow in favor of quicker kills. You’ll get to the point where your health just doesn’t matter anymore so taking a hit here and there is just part of the job.

Arcane is the most mobile Mage spec because it has more potential for significant, instant-cast damage. Arcane Barrage (ABarr) isn’t the hardest hitting spell out there, but it sure trumps Ice Lance. ABarr also has the chance to proc your Missile Barrage (MB) talent that makes your Arcane Missiles super-speedy missiles of doom, so you can stop to fire off the MB to get whatever casts you have time for out of it and then get back to moving if necessary. It won’t happen often, but at least the option is there for you where it’s not for others.

Talent Points and Glyphs

Frost Spec

Brain Freeze 3/3: Your Frost damage spells with chilling effects have a 15% chance to cause your next Fireball or Frostfire Bolt spell to be instant cast and cost no mana.
Incineration 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast, Scorch, Arcane Blast and Cone of Cold spells by 6%.
World In Flames 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Flamestrike, Pyroblast, Blast Wave, Dragon’s Breath, Living Bomb, Blizzard and Arcane Explosion spells by 6%.
Frost Warding 2/2: Increases the armor and resistances given by your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 50% and gives your Frost Ward and Fire Ward a 30% chance to negate the warded damage spell and restore mana equal to the damage caused.

Brain Freeze we’re taking for more instant casting goodness. It’s not a huge benefit to us, but it allows us to be a bit more mobile and FFB/FB will generally hit harder than your Frostbolt, especially if it crits. Incineration we’re taking to increase the crit chance of Cone of Cold, but also to allow us to move deeper into the Fire tree.

World in Flames is all about increasing our AoE DPS against trash packs or while grind-questing by increasing our chance to crit with Blizzard. The two points in Frost Warding can be moved if you want, but with Frost damage being present in Northrend dungeons and raids it’s what I’d suggest.

Special Note
This is the talent build I prefer when leveling as Frost because of my focus on AoE grinding. If you are going for a Frost Raiding spec, then you’ll need to do a respec to change up a lot of what we’ve done in Frost up to this point because Frost was not viable as a Raid spec when I started writing these guides. If you do want to raid as Frost, then I will refer you to the masters of such: SpicyTunas and Frost is the New Black.

Arcane Spec

Frost Warding 2/2: Increases the armor and resistances given by your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 50% and gives your Frost Ward and Fire Ward a 30% chance to negate the warded damage spell and restore mana equal to the damage caused.
Icy Veins 1/1: [Instant Cast] Hastens your spellcasting, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting by 100% for 20 seconds.
Incineration 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Fire Blast, Scorch, Arcane Blast and Cone of Cold spells by 6%.
Mind Mastery +2 (5/5): Increases spell power by 15% of your total Intellect.
Prismatic Cloak 3/3: Reduces all damage taken by 6% and reduces the fade tie of your Invisibility spell by 3 seconds.
Arcane Meditation 1/3: Allows 17% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.

The points Frost Warding can be moved if you want to, but be sure they stay in the Frost tree so that we can get Icy Veins which is a huge boost to our DPS by cutting the cast time of Arcane Blast and reducing the channel time of Missile Barrage. IV is brutal, trust me.

Incineration is more important to Arcane than it is to the Frost build up there because it increases the crit chance of our main nuke, Arcane Blast. Mind Mastery is just finishing of the talent for the extra spell power which we can never get enough of. You can stop stacking spell power when you can one-shot Arthas on 25-man with an Ice Lance.

Prismatic Cloak is somewhat optional, but making Invisibility instant instead of fading over 3 seconds is a huge benefit in my opinion. It’s great for PvE as well as PvP, and reduced damage on top of it just makes it that much sweeter for me. Arcane Meditation is completely interchangeable if you’re not a fan. I personally use 3/3 Arcane Meditation and only 1/3 Student of the Mind which I have reversed in this guide. As for which is actually better, I haven’t decided yet.

Glyphs for Leveling
Major Glyphs: Frost
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.
Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.
Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.
Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.
Eternal Water: Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it.

If you are going to do a lot of AoE grinding, then I suggest you go for Evocation and Ice Block as those will be the most helpful to you at this point.

If you want to do more leveling via dungeon runs, then I suggest you go for Eternal Water and Frostbolt instead, as they will provide you with the largest boost to your DPS. Eternal Water removes one of your best AoE grinding tools, but you can deal with that if you need to. You may also want to swap Frostbolt for Ice Barrier if you plan to solo quest as well as run dungeons to give you more survivability.

If you want to increase your DPS you may also consider Molten Armor at level 62 for increased Crit Rate, though you’ll probably get more use out of that at higher levels than you will right now.

Major Glyphs: Arcane
Arcane Blast: Increases the damage from your Arcane Blast buff by 3%. (Requires Level 64)
Arcane Missiles: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Arcane Missiles by 25%.
Mana Gem: Increases the mana received from using a mana gem by 40%.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

Arcane Blast being your primary nuke and a buff to other Arcane spells, having another 3% damage from the buff can add up real quick. You’ll use it at 80 if you stay Arcane, so you might as well get it now.

Arcane Missiles is your second most common nuke spell, and considering the high crit rate that Mages generally have, an extra 25% damage when it happens is great. This is another one you’ll use at 80, so grab it now.

Mana Gem I list specifically for leveling purposes, because it is amazing for restoring your mana and thus reducing your downtime. I suggest you pair it up with Arcane Blast if you do take it.

Molten Armor is the third glyph you’ll be toting around at level 80, and another worth considering now. Additional crit is never a bad thing. I usually save this one for my level 80 slot, but go with whatever works best for you.

Minor Glyphs: All Mages
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.
Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection (I know, “Who doesn’t?” right?), so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
We’re finally going to change up our gearing priority a bit, but only once we hit level 80.

Prior to 80: Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

Level 80: Hit (until capped) > Spell Power > Haste = Crit > Intellect > Spirit > everything else

The higher you get the more important Hit becomes, but once you start reaching the cap it’s useless. Arcane needs less hit than any other spec since they get 3% from both the Arcane tree and the Frost tree, so once you hit 80 and start getting badge gear in particular you’ll generally be overflowing with Hit before you know it. I was over twice as much Hit as I needed for a long time after I hit 80.

If you’re getting into raiding then you need to give Haste some love until you start getting to the haste cap and then focus more on crit. As long as your primary nukes aren’t being cast in under a second then you’ve got room for more Haste.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2010 in Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

Tags: ,

Mage Leveling Part IV: 58-68 (Frost & Arcane)

Part I: Beginning
Part II: 21 – 39
Part III: 40 – 58
AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Once you hit level 58 it’s time for you to make your way on over to the Outlands. The easiest route is to head to any major city of your faction and head towards the Portal Trainer. There you will fine a portal to the Blasted Lands (which only a level 58+ can activate) which takes you right outside of the Dark Portal that leads you to the Outlands.

You will still have excellent opportunities to put your AoE grinding skills to use in Outlands, and in some cases even more so than you did back in vanilla content (I’m looking at you, buzzards). You’ll also notice that when they tell you it’s a group quest now, they actually mean it. If you were able to wear plate then you might be able to ignore that little warning, but since you don’t, you can’t. If it’s a group quest, and not not PvP related, then you can pretty well rest assure that you aren’t going to solo it. At least not on level. If you would like to prove me wrong on that point, then by all means do it. Just be sure to take a screen shot if you want me to believe it. ;)

Important Spells
General Spells
Teleport: Shattrath at level 60 lets us port ourselves to Shat, which makes traveling quite a bit easier, and helps to solidify our ability to set our Hearthstone in whatever zone we’re questing in, knowing that we can now teleport ourselves to any city we want (except Dalaran) with our spells rather than our hearth. We also get the portal version, Portal: Shattrath at level 65 so that we can teleport our party members as well.

Molten Armor at level 62 provides us with the Armor spell that we will use for most of the rest of the game. It gives us a bonus to Crit Rate equal to 35% of our Spirit as well as reducing the chance that we will be critically hit ourselves by 5%. It also deals Fire damage to enemies that hit us which is a nice little bonus even if it’s not very much.

Invisibility in all its greatness shows up at level 68, allowing us to become invisible for 20 seconds so long as we don’t take any actions (with a few exceptions which note such, like Herbalism’s Lifeblood spell). It also has a wonderful little feature that removes all of our agro when we use it. So if you find yourself in a dungeon and you just pulled off of the tank, or you find that you’re getting close to doing so, use this and then cancel it off of yourself and get back into the action without having to worry about your threat.

Frost Spells
Ice Lance shows up at level 66 giving Frost an instant cast at long last that has a small mana cost and similarly small damage, unless the target is frozen in which case its damage is tripled (quadrupled if you have the glyph).

Arcane Spells
Arcane Blast finally shows its face at level 64, making the Arcane spec viable and able to stand on its own Arcane legs rather than relying so heavily on other spell types. It is the key and primary nuke of an Arcane Mage.

Frost Rotations
Frost Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Frost Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast – [Ice Lance x2 when Frozen]

There’s that same old rotation for Frost that we’ve been using for next to forever. You’re the king of spamming a single button, and that’s all there is to it. Sure we’ve got Fire Blast to finish of the mobs which is likely a separate button, and if we take Brain Freeze then we’ll have a third for the instant-cast Fireballs, but otherwise you pretty well eat, sleep, and breathe Frostbolt spam.

If you want to change things up just a little bit then you can switch over to using Ice Lance whenever an enemy is frozen, or when you use your level 60 talent, Deep Freeze. Ice Lance is an instant cast that does 300% damage if the target is frozen, so if you get Frostbite to proc you can usually get 2 casts in there, Deep Freeze allows 3 casts during its duration (or 4 if you have a healthy amount of haste, which you probably do not), and Frost Nova will allow 1-2 depending on whether or not it crits since FN is broken based on damage where the others are not.

If you do get into the habit of using Ice Lance, just be sure not to cancel a Frostbolt cast in order to use it or else you’re losing DPS. Send the bolt, and then follow it up immediately with an Ice Lance instead. If you aren’t already queuing up your spells, or don’t know how to, then it’s time to learn that. I may need to include a video about queuing up your spells to show you how to do it in case you don’t already know. If you’re doing it right, then your Frostbolt and Ice Lance will basically hit the target at almost the exact same time. If FB hits and then the IL launches, then you know you’re actually wasting time and losing DPS.

Queuing Up Your Spells: Chain Casting

Alright, first thing’s first – go download the Quartz addon (link to Curse.com). Doing so will give you a movable cast bar that will also display the latency on the server to you so that you know when your spell “should” actually happen as opposed to when your interface thinks that it will happen.

The Red part on there is the server latency. The Yellow strip in the bar is where your spell is actually going to cast. The Blue part is the progression of the spell you are casting and it will continue to move right until it hits the Yellow strip for the actual cast. The Grey portion is just the background of the bar, showing the portion of time you have remaining before the actual cast.

Now, the “SWEET SPOT” is where you can activate your next spell and put it in the queue. Even though just looking at the bar you would think you can’t cast anything yet because you aren’t finished with the current spell, the game actually lets you put your next spell in queue so that you start casting the next one immediately. Now, the Sweet Spot covers a range because it’s actually a little bit different for everyone and other things in the game that you can’t see can impact how large or small that section is as well. Generally it’s at about 85-90% of the current bar reaching hitting the left side of the latency area.

If you aren’t used to queuing your spells then I suggest you go find yourself a training dummy and start practicing to get the hang of it. The longer you practice it the more you’ll grow used to the look and “feel” of your casting that you’ll know when you hit the Sweet Spot and when you didn’t, but hitting it before the cast goes off is the key to maximizing your DPS through your interface alone.

Now, on to Arcane.

Arcane Rotations
Arcane Option 1: Arcane Blast, Slow, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 2: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast, Arcane Missile, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)
Arcane Option 3: Frostbolt or Slow, Arcane Blast x2, Arcane Barrage, (Fire Blast)

Requires Level 64: Why? Because you don’t get Arcane Blast until level 64, that’s why. Until then I don’t care how much you want to call yourself an Arcane Mage, you’re not. You’ve got two spells up to that point – Arcane Missiles and Arcane Explosion. Two spells does not an Arcane Mage make you. But three? Now that is a different story.

Don’t bother with Arcane until 64. You can do it, it’s possible, but you’re unnecessarily taking the hard road to get there. Level as Frost, and then if you want to switch to Arcane do so at level 64 or higher, though preferably not 80.

The (Fire Blast) on the end there is just to finish off any mobs that might still be up. They should be dead before then, but just in case they aren’t.

As far as spamming the same buttons goes, Arcane isn’t much better off than Frost is to be quite honest. The big difference is that you’re going to be killing things on a mostly individual basis rather than using AoE. The key to doing this effectively while also maintaining survivability, without that fancy Frost Barrier you’ve likely gotten used to, is keeping your targets slowed so that they never reach you in the first place.

Slowing targets also gives you the added benefit of increasing the damage of all of your primary Arcane damage spells spells by 12% because of your Torment the Weak talent. I found the Slow spell to be incredibly valuable while leveling because it’s an instant cast and it slows for 60% where Frostbolt is only 40%, and it also slow attack and casting speed as well.

Arcane burns through a lot of mana, not necessarily because the spells have a high cost, but because the spell you’re spamming, Arcane Blast, increases the mana cost of every spell that comes after it until you use the stacking buff that it gives you. I’ll talk about the specifics of using the spell in the Tactics section. Because of this you will want to make use of your Mana Gems as well as your Evocation spell. Another good thing about Arcane is that the talent points I have you take for it will reduce the cooldown of Evocation from 4 minutes down to only 2, so you will almost never run out of mana without being able to get it back quickly.

Leveling in Outlands
The first thing you’ll notice about leveling in Outlands is that mobs have a little bit more health than what you’ve been used to fighting in Azeroth. Not so much more that it really matters, but you’ll notice it. So if you’ve been comfortable enough with your class to know that “this” combination of 3-4 spells kills any mob you face, then you might get bumped out of your comfort bubble…at least until you level a time or two.

There are a lot of gear upgrades for you in Outlands, and a mage can replace a decent amount of gear in Hellfire Peninsula alone.

General Tactics
Frost
I still suggest that you AoE grind everything you can for questing and if you’re running instances where your tank generates some decent AoE threat then focus almost entirely on Blizzard for that as well.

Just keep in mind while grouping, that not all tanks are considered equals when it comes to AoE on trash. Give your tanks a few seconds to establish AoE threat before you start using AoE yourself. Until then just cast single target spells on the tank’s target. Always keep an eye on your threat.

Arcane
As for Arcane, you’re not going to worry too much about AoE, instead you’ll be focusing on burning down single targets in the blink of an eye. I switched to Arcane at level 66 on my current Mage, Belsynis, and I went from doing 600 DPS with Frost to 1500 DPS with Arcane with nothing but a respec. You might not be the King of AoE anymore, but you can definitely lay the smack down when it comes time to kill the bosses.

Arcane is going to survive by slowing down its targets, and then firing beautiful beams of Arcane ownage through their target’s face. Slowing opponents gives you a boost to your damage, so use whatever means of slowing you have available. I personally prefer the Slow spell from the Arcane tree, but others prefer pulling with a Frostbolt for the damage as well as the slowing effect. Do whatever suits you better.

The key to max DPS with Arcane is to build up your four stacks of Arcane Blast and then fire off a Missile Barrage proc to send your Arcane Missiles out at super speed. If you don’t get a Missile Barrage proc in the four casts you have two options. You can either cast ABlast again hoping for the proc, or you can cast another Arcane damaging spell to remove the stack and start over so that you can conserve your mana. It’s also acceptable during leveling to fire off Missile Barrage procs at less than four stacks, but hopefully you have 3-4 ready when the proc happens.

I prefer to go with a fifth ABlast before giving up on the proc at which time I will cast Arcane Barrage if I am solo questing, or Arcane Missiles if I am in a dungeon. The damage bonus from the Arcane Blast buff applies to the full spell you discharge the stack with, so if you use Arcane Missiles then the damage buff hits all of the missiles, not just the first one.

Macro Suggestions
As for macros, I only have one to suggest at this point.

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Invisibility
/cast Invisibility

This macro will cancel Invisibility if you already have it on, or it will cast it for you if you do not. You may also want to macro the “/cancelaura Invisibility” portion to other spells to make it easier on you. You don’t necessarily need this macro, it just comes in handy. I used it on my first 80 Mage, but I haven’t bothered with my new 80. It’s up to you whether you use it or not, my play style just doesn’t call for it so I don’t use it anymore.

Addon Suggestions
For Frost I suggest you grab the ShieldMonitor addon (link to wowinterface.com) so that you can keep track of your Ice Barrier’s remaining strength.

I also recommend the MageAlert addon (link to Curse.com) for audio queues that your procs are active. It will help with any mage spec you decide to go with. I have used this addon since I rolled my first Mage back in 2008 and it has served me very well the entire time.

And finally I suggest you grab TidyPlates and its companion addon ThreatPlates to visibly monitor your agro on all of the mobs in the area. When you’re using AoE spells it’s hard to know which mobs are getting close to coming after you rather than the tank, so these are a huge benefit and I really wish I would have had them while I was leveling.

Talent Points and Glyphs

Frost Spec

Here we’re building onto the talent tree we already established in Part III.

Chilled to the Bone +1, 4/5: Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 4% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 8%.
Deep Freeze 1/1: [Instant Cast] Stuns the target for 5 seconds. Only usable on Frozen Targets. Deals damage to targets permanently immune to stuns.
Chilled to the Bone +1, 5/5: Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 5% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 10%.
Precision +1, 3/3: Reduces the mana cost and increases your chance to hit with spells by 3%.
Improved Frostbolt 5/5: Reduces the casting time of your Frostbolt spell by 0.5 seconds.
Improved Fire Blast 2/2: Reduces the cooldown of your Fire Blast spell by 2 seconds.

We finish of Chilled to the Bone and Precision for their full effects. Deep Freeze is great for questing and killing single mobs, and it’s now also very good for fighting bosses since it damages targets that can no longer be stunned. I have not tried it out myself since I haven’t switch over to a Frost Raid spec myself, but I do plan on trying it out soon so I can come back and report on it later. We also finally get around to taking Improved Frostbolt since a lot of times we do get forced into fighting single targets and it’s better to get them down quickly.

I move us then into the Fire tree for Improved Fire Blast to reduce its cooldown and help us maintain our DPS a bit better for fights that require us to move a lot. The point of going into Fire is to get World in Flames here in a few more levels so that we can get an extra 6% Crit Chance on our Blizzard spells for grinding. Fire doesn’t really offer us much beyond that, which is why we’ll duck back into Frost afterwards, but again this is when you have AoE grinding in mind, or when you’re going to run a lot of dungeons that will make use of your AoE strengths. If you’re looking for better performance for end game, you’ll most likely be branching off into the Arcane tree instead of Fire.

Special Note
This is the talent build I prefer when leveling as Frost because of my focus on AoE grinding. If you are going for a Frost Raiding spec, then you’ll need to do a respec to change up a lot of what we’ve done in Frost up to this point because Frost was not viable as a Raid spec when I started writing these guides. If you do want to raid as Frost, then I will refer you to the masters of such: SpicyTunas and Frost is the New Black.

Arcane Spec

Arcane Focus 3/3: Increases your chance to hit and reduces the mana cost of your Arcane spells by 3%.
Arcane Subtlety 2/2: Reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by 30% and reduces the threat caused by your Arcane spells by 40%.
Arcane Concentration 5/5: Gives you a 10% chance of entering a Clearcasting state after any damage spell hits a target. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next damage spell by 100%.
Spell Impact 3/3: Increases the damage of your Arcane Explosion, Arcane Blast, Blast Wave, Fire Blast, Scorch, Fireball, Ice Lance and Cone of Cold spells by an additional 6%.
Focus Magic 1/1: [Instant Cast] Increases the target’s chance to critically hit with spells by 3%. When the target critically hits your critical hit chance with spells is increased by 3% for 10 seconds. Cannot be cast on self.
Student of the Mind 1/3: Increases your total Spirit by 4%.
Torment the Weak 3/3: Your Frostbolt, Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Arcane Missiles, Arcane Blast, and Arcane Barrage abilities deal 12% more damage to snared or slowed targets.
Student of the Mind +2, 3/3: Increases your total Spirit by 12%.
Presence of Mind 1/1: [Instant Cast] When activated, your next Mage spell with a casting time less than 10 seconds becomes an instant cast spell.
Arcane Mind 4/5: Increases your total Intellect by 12%.
Arcane Instability 3/3: Increases the damage done by your spells and your critical strike chance by 3%.
Arcane Potency 2/2: Increases the critical strike chance of your next damaging spell by 30% after gaining Clearcasting or Presence of Mind.
Arcane Power 1/1: [Instant Cast] When activated, your spells deal 20% more damage hwile costing 20% more mana to cast. This effect lasts 15 seconds.
Arcane Empowerment 3/3: Increases the damage of your Arcane Missiles spell by an amount equal to 45% of your spell power and the damage of your Arcane Blast by 9% of your spell power. In addition, when you score a critical hit with Arcane Missiles, Arcane Explosion, Arcane Blast, or Arcane Barrage all party and raid members have all damage increased by 3% for 10 seconds.
Arcane Mind +1, 5/5: Increases your total Intellect by 15%.
Arcane Flows 2/2: Reduces the cooldown of your Presence of Mind, Arcane Power, and Invisibility spells by 30% and the cooldown of your Evocation spell by 2 minutes.
Mind Master 3/5: Increases spell power by 9% of your total Intellect.
Missile Barrage 5/5: Gives your Arcane Blast a 40% chance, and your Arcane Barrage, Fireball, Frostbolt, and Frostfire Bolt spells a 20% chance to reduce the channeled duration of the next Arcane Missiles spell by 2.5 seconds, reduce the mana cost by 100%, and missiles will fire ever 0.5 seconds.
Netherwind Presence 3/3: Increases your spell haste by 6%.
Spell Power 2/2: Increases critical strike damage bonus of all spells by 50%.
Arcane Barrage 1/1: [Instant Cast] Launches several Missiles at the enemy target, causing 936 to 1144 Arcane damage.
Ice Floes 3/3: Reduces the cooldown of your Frost NOva, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins spells by 20%.
Frostbite 2/3: Gives your Chill effects a 10% chance to freeze the target for 5 seconds.
Precision 3/3: Reduces the mana cost and increases your chance to hit with spells by 3%.

You’ll see that a large portion of the Arcane tree is designed around increasing damage or crit rating, either directly or by increasing stats such as Intellect and Spirit which provide those bonuses as well.

We move into the Frost tree after level 60 for some key talents there. Frostbite doesn’t help us a whole lot, but since we do occasionally drop into Blizzard mode when running instances it’s better than Improved Frostbolt which we’ll never cast except to pull, and even then only while we’re leveling. Ice Floes on the other hand reduces the cooldown on some of our defensive spells (Frost Nova and Ice Block) and especially Icy Veins which is the whole reason we’re going into Frost to begin with, even if we don’t have it just yet. Precision provides us with an additional 3% Hit Rating which stacks wit

Special Notes
If you’re leveling Arcane from the beginning rather than switch to it at level 64 as I suggest, then you want take Arcane Stability 5/5 rather than Arcane Focus and Arcane Subtlety so that you don’t have any pushback on your Arcane Missiles, which is your only real source of Arcane damage up to that point other than Arcane Explosion.

You may also wish to replace the two additional points in Student of the Mind with two points in Improved Counterspell instead, to provide a 4 second silence on your targets. It may be more geared towards PvP, but it also has its uses in Heroics and Raids as well.

Glyphs for Leveling
Major Glyphs: Frost
Evocation: Your Evocation ability also causes you to regain 60% of your health over its duration.
Ice Block: Your Frost Nova cooldown is now reset every time you use Ice Block.
Ice Barrier: Increases the amount of damage absorbed by your Ice Barrier by 30%.
Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.
Eternal Water: Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

The Glyph of Evocation is invaluable if you are soloing. You can get by without it, but it goes a long way towards reducing your down time to have it.

If you are going to do a lot of AoE grinding, then I suggest you go for Evocation and Ice Block as those will be the most helpful to you at this point.

If you want to do more leveling via dungeon runs, then I suggest you go for Eternal Water and Frostbolt instead, as they will provide you with the largest boost to your DPS. Eternal Water removes one of your best AoE grinding tools, but you can deal with that if you need to. You may also want to swap Frostbolt for Ice Barrier if you plan to solo quest as well as run dungeons to give you more survivability.

If you want to increase your DPS you may also consider Molten Armor at level 62 for increased Crit Rate, though you’ll probably get more use out of that at higher levels than you will right now.

Major Glyphs: Arcane
Arcane Blast: Increases the damage from your Arcane Blast buff by 3%. (Requires Level 64)
Arcane Missiles: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of Arcane Missiles by 25%.
Mana Gem: Increases the mana received from using a mana gem by 40%.
Molten Armor: Your Molten Armor grants an additional 20% of your spirit as critical strike rating.

Arcane Blast being your primary nuke and a buff to other Arcane spells, having another 3% damage from the buff can add up real quick. You’ll use it at 80 if you stay Arcane, so you might as well get it now.

Arcane Missiles is your second most common nuke spell, and considering the high crit rate that Mages generally have, an extra 25% damage when it happens is great. This is another one you’ll use at 80, so grab it now.

Mana Gem I list specifically for leveling purposes, because it is amazing for restoring your mana and thus reducing your downtime. I suggest you pair it up with Arcane Blast if you do take it.

Molten Armor is the third glyph you’ll be toting around at level 80, and another worth considering now. Additional crit is never a bad thing. I usually save this one for my level 80 slot, but go with whatever works best for you.

Minor Glyphs: All Mages
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.
Frost Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Frost spells while your Frost Ward is active.
Fire Ward: You have an additional 5% chance to reflect Fire spells while your Fire Ward is active.

Mages have crap for minor glyph selection, so the only one I really care for is going to be Slow Fall. Get that one for your first slot at 15 and then fill in the others as they open up with whatever you fill like sticking in there.

I had some other glyphs listed here in the previous articles, but now that you’re getting ready to push on into Northrend I’m not going to bother with fluff that provides no real value, so these are the only Minor Glyphs I suggest as they’ll likely be what you use at 80. You’ll use Frost Ward in ICC for instance, and Fire Ward comes up in Ulduar a time or two, but at least they provide some lasting value at times where others generally do not.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Nothing new here at all. Spell Power and Intellect > All, with Hit, Crit, and Stam being next up on the usefulness list.

There are some specific quests I suggest doing for gear upgrades, and several of those are found in Hellfire Peninsula. You can replace most of your armor as well as your staff in Hellfire alone, and for this reason I suggest you go ahead and do almost every quest in the zone, at least until you get the achievement for questing. Overlord/Cruel’s Intention and Blacktalon are two of the key quests you want to be sure you complete.

For Nagrand I strongly suggest you get a group together or call on your guild mates to help you out with the Ring of Blood chain for another great staff upgrade. If you’re using a BoA Staff then you won’t need to upgrade it of course, but it’s still a great source of both experience and gold for doing the quest chain, and you can sell the weapon from the final reward if you want to as well.

Suggested Instances
Once you hit level 60 I suggest you run every instance you get the chance to in Outlands. Put yourself in the queue and then get right to questing. When the queue pops go run the dungeon and then put yourself right back into the queue and quest while you wait for the next one to pop. Do that over and over and you’ll find yourself hitting 68 in no time and likely a decent set of starting gear as you prepare to head into Northrend as well.

If you have rested experience then dungeons is the best way to burn through it and do so quickly. Not only will you get the rested bonus, you’ll also get the group bonus for doing it with a full group. That’s enhanced even further of course if you happen to be wearing the heirloom chest (+10% exp), shoulders (+10% exp), and/or ring (+5% exp).

 
22 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2010 in Class, Guide, Leveling, Mage

 

Tags: ,

AoE Grinding: Frost Death Knight Edition

I have covered the greatness of Paladin AoE Guides. I have revealed unto you the incredible power of Frost Mage AoE Grinding. And now I must bring forth, Frost Knight AoE Grinding!

You can't see my sparklies very well in that picture, but that's 12 mobs piled up there.



You can use the general information from this post in conjunction with the Death Knight Tanking Guides for AoE rotations I use for questing. I use pretty well the same exact concepts and rotations when doing AoE Tanking on my Death Knight when the situation calls for me to focus on AoE to grab and maintain agro in an instant so that I can then settle into a tanking rotation.

For the purposes of this article when you see any form of “(BFU)” it is an expression of the ability’s Rune Cost, where “(##)” will show the amount of Runic Power that is required for abilities with RP costs rather than Rune costs. When using our Death Runes they will be noted as “(DD)”.

This guide also contains only information up to level 70, so spells obtained only at higher levels will not appear in this guide.

Death Knight Specs: Quick Overview
Any Death Knight spec can do AoE grinding to at least some degree. Frost and Unholy are much better off than Blood is in the AoE category (though perhaps not so much in the survivability area), but any spec can technically do it. Some just need to branch out a little bit more than others.

All DK’s have access to Death and Decay which is a solid AoE ability though it does come with a heavy Rune cost.

Spending 11 points in the Unholy tree grants you access to Corpse Explosion which serves as a Runic Power version of AoE damage to be used when you are in a Rune Blackout (all runes used and on cooldown). Corpse Explosion does require a non-elemental, non-mechanical corpse in order to be used, but it is another option for AoE damage once you’ve laid down the hate and started piling up the corpses. But any corpse will do, including a fallen comrade.

With 8 points in the Blood tree you can have Scent of Blood 3/3 which gives you a 15% chance after a dodge or parry to have each of your next three auto-attacks generate 10 Runic Power which could be taken in addition to Corpse Explosion to help fuel its repeated use. I don’t know that it’s a great option, but there it is if you happen to be a CE freak (like me).

You can spend 14 points in the Blood tree to get both Rune Tap (B) which will restore 10% of your health when used, as well as Death Rune Mastery which will cause the runes used for Obliterate and Death Strike to regenerate as Death Runes. Having both Death Rune Mastery and Blood of the North maxed will give you four different attacks that will grant Death Runes to help fuel whatever ability you might want to use.

Since I’m focusing on Frost here, I will point out that I suggest you get all the way through the Frost tree (level 60 minimum) before you branch off into the other trees. As for the rest of the spec, I suggest you follow the guide I offer in my DK Tanking: Frost Edition guides.

Frost AoE: General Information
You can use either a single disease or a double disease method for this, though my personal suggestion is that you go with a double disease, dual wielding Frost build.

Howling Blast (FU) is your largest source of AoE damage, and using things like your Killing Machine procs and your Deathchill ability to maximize your damage by providing auto-crits go a long way towards burning down the largest group of mobs in the shortest amount of time. Rime procs will give you free uses of Howling Blast as well as resetting its cooldown, so keep a keen eye out for those as well. You may want to consider using an addon such as PowerAuras Classic to help you keep track of your procs if you have trouble with them.

With Frost you are going to make frequent use of Howling Blast for AoE damage and applying the Frost Fever disease, Obliterate (FU) to generate Rime procs for free Howling Blasts, Blood Boil (B) for DK-centered AoE damage, Pestilence (B) for disease spreading, and potentially Death & Decay (BFU) as well. If you branched out into Unholy for Corpse Explosion (40) then you have a Runic Power AoE as well, which is centered on the corpse that it’s used on.

Pulling



As a Death Knight you have several tools to use for pulling mobs. The most obvious of these is Scorpion’s famous move, Death Grip, which will pull the targeted mob to you and “force” them to attack you for three seconds. Some mobs are immune to the physical pull, but they will still agro you and chase you down after you use it. Death Grip has a pretty big cooldown all things considered, but it does not require any runes or runic power to use.

You also have two sources of ranged AoE pulling, in the form of Howling Blast (FU) and Death and Decay (BFU), which can both be used to pull a group of mobs instead of just one. Howling Blast is a bit better if you are pulling the group and moving on to pull others as well, where Death and Decay is probably better off cast as you near the end of your pull so that you can make use of its DoT (Damage of Time) AoE effect.

You also have two forms of single-target ranged pulls in Icy Touch (F) and Death Coil (40). Death Coil requires RP to cast, so it’s not the greatest spell for pulling, but when you find yourself high on RP and nothing else to spend it on just yet you might as well get some use out of it.

If you don’t have much, or any, Runic Power built up during a pull, feel free to use your melee abilities rather than simply body pulling. Primarily you want to use Plague Strike (B) for this in order to establish a disease, or Blood Strike (B) to get your Blood Runes converted to Death Runes for use in the next round.

There is one other spell I want to mention here for pulling, but it will actually be more useful after the next step happens to help get stray casters to come to your centralized area. The spell is called Strangulate (B) which is a single target, 30 yard ranged Silence spell that lasts for 5 seconds. When you use that on a caster they will rush towards melee range as long as they are silenced, and 5 seconds should be more than enough for you to get them within range of your AoE spells.

And of course you do still have the old fashioned, tried and true body pull which can be done either mounted or on foot, which simply requires that you get within agro range of the mobs. Some locations allow for or maybe even require that you use Line of Sight (LoS) techniques to agro the mobs and then move to a location that they cannot attack you from so that they must run around it to engage you; running to the other side of a wall is a perfect example of this as they will run around the wall as well and then stand there clustered together to help with your AoE.

Centralize
In my other AoE Grinding guides I mentioned a step here that I called “Corral”, which is basically just gathering all the mobs up into a central area so that you can AoE them down from there. You want to do that with a Frost DK as well, but it’s not quite so big a deal as it is with a Mage; instead it’s more like grinding with a Paladin where as long as they are within your AoE range you really don’t care how close they are to one another.

To be technical on the subject, you do want the mobs to be within 10 yard of each other so that you are able to hit them all, but with the exception of casters they should all be ganged up around you to begin with. Again, using the various spells mentioned in the Pulling section above and things like LoS are key to getting the mobs centralized and ready to burn them down.

Reposition
Where a mage wants to put some distance between himself and the mobs, a Death Knight just wants everyone to look straight into his scourgefire eye sockets and see their own deaths rushing forth to meet them. As a DK you need to embrace your tanking habits and be sure to get as many mobs as you possibly can to be in front of you so that you can make use of all of your avoidance on them. You do this by repositioning yourself which usually consists of just backing up while facing them so that they get in front of you.

Some mobs just move in odd patterns and constantly seem to move behind you no matter what you do. In those cases you can either plant your back against a wall, or just ignore that one mob until you’ve taken out the others. Another option that is open to you is to use your Hungering Cold (F) ability to freeze everything in place, reposition yourself where you want to be (with all the mobs in front of you), and then either wait for the spell to wear off or hit them with a ranged AoE like Howling Blast to break them all out again.

Strategic use of Hungering Cold can make the difference between a successful AoE grinder and an exceptional AoE grinder. Use it to freeze the mobs in place, use Pestilence to spread your diseases (which does not break the ice), and then use a bandage on yourself if needed to restore your health and also allow your other runes the time they need to cooldown. Once you’re ready (or the 10 second timer is up) spread your diseases again with Pestilence and then go back into your rotation. If you do not have the Glyph of Disease to refresh your diseases for you then you will need to reapply them via Icy Touch > Plague Strike > Pestilence. If you do have the glyph then as long as the diseases are still on your current target it will refresh them and spread them around once again.

Important Note: Because our survival talent from the Blood tree, Blade Barrier, doesn’t come into effect until our Blood Runes are on cooldown, I suggest you go ahead and use up any remaining Blood Runes during this step. If you haven’t spread your diseases yet or you did spread them but they’re wearing off, then use Pestilence, otherwise go for Blood Boil if there are two or mobs near you or Blood Strike if there is only one.

Death to the Living!
Once you’ve gathered up the mobs and got them in place it’s time to burn those suckers down. Each DK has their own personal play style, so if you have another way you prefer to do this then by all means go with your own if you prefer, and of course feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, or criticisms you might have.

Rotation
1st Rune Set: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Pestilence (B), Blood Boil (B), Howling Blast (FU), RP Dump
2nd Rune Set: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast (Free)], Howling Blast (DD), Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast (Free)], RP Dump

Technically our first rune set will actually be a sporadic mishmash of whatever you happened to use to pull all of the mobs to you, but we’re talking about the rotation here.

The first rune set establishes your diseases, spreads them around, and then hits with two AoE spells. Your Runic Power Dump for the first set is probably going to be Frost Strike (40). If you have enough points in Unholy then it can be used for Corpse Explosion (40) instead if you want more AoE.

Frost Strike hits hard and it’s great for chopping down your groups faster which will lead to better survivability overall, but CE will help bring down the group as a whole so use whichever serves best in your situation. If you’re taking quite a bit of damage then it’s better to increase your single target DPS with FS to kill some of them off, unless the mobs are already low enough on health that CE might finish one or more of them off for you. If you’re doing fine on your health then stick to AoE spells as much as you can so that you get the most damage on the most targets for the resources you spend.

In the second rune set we focus more on AoE damage to bring down the mobs as one. With the initial Obliterate we are hoping for a Rime proc to use Howling Blast, but if we don’t get one then we’re moving right along to a regular Howling Blast and getting those Blood Runes (Death Runes in this case) back on cooldown to proc our Parry buff again. Whenever Rime procs go ahead and use your Howling Blast; if that screws up your rotation because HB is on cooldown then simply replace the HB with Obliterate instead and try for another Rime proc.

Remember though that we aren’t trying to tank an instance with this, so we aren’t so much worried about maintaining threat as we are simply killing everything around us. If Howling Blast is available and you still have multiple mobs on you it’s perfectly acceptable to use HB instead of Obliterate for the AoE damage. Rime is more likely to proc when using two weapons instead of one, so it’s especially acceptable for a 2H build to use HB over Obliterate since the chance to proc Rime is lower.

I’M GONNA DIIIIEEEEE!!!
Settle down now, you’re a DK…you’re already dead. Before we get on into the next section, let us take a break and talk about what to do when things go wrong and suddenly you’re in trouble.

The first choice you have is something I already mentioned up above, which is using Hungering Cold to freeze everything within 10 yards of you for 10 seconds. This gives you time to either use a bandage or put your running shoes on and get the heck out of there (only a coward runs from combat, but only a “moron” throws his gold away on unnecessary repair bills).

Another option that we have open to us is Death Pact (40 RP, requires level 66) which requires you to sacrifice your ghoul in exchange for 40% of your health to instantly be healed. It’s a big heal and it comes in very handy. For this reason I save my ghoul for when I need heals rather than using him for extra dps, pulling, or whatever. The one thing you need to watch out for is the runic cost of Death Pact. If you are taking a beating, be sure to build up your RP but try not to use it unless you have more than 30-40% so that you can DP when needed.

You also have the use of Icebound Fortitude (20) after level 62 which will give you 12 seconds of damage reduction to lessen those blows.

You can also make an adjustment to your attack rotations, replacing Obliterates and/or Howling Blasts with Death Strike (FU) instead, to heal yourself for 5% of your maximum health for each disease you have on the target.

If things are really getting hot, you’ve already used everything available to you that we’ve talked about here, then the only other option you have left to you (besides potions and such which you should already be well aware of) is to make an emergency switch over to Blood Presence (B) which increases your damage by 15% and heals you for 4% of the damage you deal. By default you should be grinding in Frost Presence (F) which increases your Stamina by 6%, your armor from gear by 60% and reduces damage you take by 8%. Losing Frost Presence can be a very dangerous thing when you’re already getting beat on hard enough to be worried, but if you can dish out enough damage in a short enough amount of time then Blood Presence can potentially save your life by switching to it, landing a big attack for the heal (Death Strike is optimal for this), and then switching back to Frost Presence for your damage reduction.

All Your Sparklies Are Belong To Me
And now that they’re all dead it’s just a matter of collecting loot and moving right along to the next group. A lot of your damage is going to be dealt over time rather than in bursts. So when you do get procs like Rime and Killing Machine, it’s a good idea to move right into your next pull to take advantage of those if you aren’t in need of healing. Timing your Rime/KM procs so that they’re used together is an excellent way to bring down a lot of mobs in a short amount of time.

What Spells Do I Use Again?

Howling Blast Blood Boil
Corpse Explosion Death and Decay
 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 3, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Death Knight Tanking: Frost (61-70)

Death Knight Tanking: Frost – Last week’s post getting you up to level 60.

Introduction
As I write this article, my Frost DK is currently sitting at level 71. The image below will update itself as the Armory information is updated though, so you may see him at a higher level in this picture when you read this.



Last week’s post discussed getting up to level 60, your base spec as a Frost Tank, and the general tactics and rotations used for tanking. This time around we’re going up to level 70 and will get a bit more focused on the actual tanking practice, and discuss branching out into the other trees to finish off our primary tanking requirements.

I mentioned last time that I’ve been using a two-hander while I tank, and people on Twitter requested information about Dual Wielding instead, so that too will be included.

General Tanking Information: Weapons
When I mentioned on Twitter that I was posting about tanking with a Frost DK I had a lot of people ask about dual wielding. At the time I had only tried two-handed tanking and was doing well with it. As I know it’s a question that needs answering though, I went ahead and took a shot at it to see what kind of results I got.

Dual Wield Tanking

Psynister_Rapiers



I did a lot of searching for decent weapons that I could dual wield that would prove more beneficial than the sword that you leave the DK starting area with (and for the record, I do urge you to take the Sword rather than the Axe if you plan on tanking). The best I could find were ones that were rather easy to obtain, Adamantite Rapier (+15 Stamina, +16 Dodge Rating). They are crafted weapons from a Blacksmith, and my Death Knight is a blacksmith himself so he crafted his own. They require 12 Adamantite Bars (which is 24 Adamantite Ore) if you want to get some crafted for yourself.

The Rapiers require level 66 to use, so you have a few levels to gain before you can switch to them, but your DK sword or a solid two-hand drop from an instance should work just fine until then. The Rapiers aren’t all that great from a damage perspective, but they provide a nice boost to avoidance/mitigation that will help with your survival.

After crafting the rapiers I opened a Death Gate to Ebon Hold so that I could make use of my Runeforging skill to apply the Rune of Swordbreaking to them:

Rune of Swordbreaking Affixes your one-handed rune weapon with a rune that increases Parry chance by 2% and reduces the duration of Disarm effects by 50%. The Parry chance stacks on the two weapons giving +4% overall, but the disarm reduction does not stack with itself.

Two Handed Tanking

Psynister_Axe



I replaced the DK starting sword with the Shaarde the Greater which drops off of Tavarok in the Auchindoun: Mana Tombs instance. I did just fine using Shaarde, but I didn’t especially notice any great increase in my tanking ability while using it over the DK sword. If it happens to drop for you then grats on a new sword, and if it doesn’t then don’t sweat it.

At level 68 I left Outlands and hit up Borean Tundra in Northrend where I replaced Shaarde with the Axe of Frozen Death (+37 Strength, +54 Stamina, +28 Hit, +43 Crit), which is pictured above (at an odd angle). I now use this axe for when I’m tanking small groups or bosses that are not heavily melee focused, and for when I am questing. I am also trying out the Rune of the Fallen Crusader rather than Swordshattering (4% Parry, -50% disarm duration).

Rune of the Fallen Crusader Affixes your rune weapon with a rune that has a chance to heal you for 3% and increase total Strength by 15% for 15 sec.

Axe of Frozen Death is a reward for a three person group quest in Borean Tundra. The quest chain leading up to it isn’t very long, so you can get it pretty soon after arriving in Northrend, but the quest was beyond my capability to solo as Frost. I managed to get the guy down to 20% health twice, but after he killed me for the sixth time I enlisted the help of another DK in the area and we took him down after two tries.

(My thanks to @Tarinae, @Shawndra, @schwarzwald, @OreoNation, @TheAllianceGuy, @MvPruett, @mageic, @adlib421, @VariantAvatar, @krizhek, and @Nochecazador on Twitter for helping me get the link to Shaarde the Greater since I put this part in blog while I was at work where I cannot access Wowhead.com)

Dual Wielding vs. Two Handed
As far as holding threat goes, I didn’t notice a significant difference between the two styles. DW was a bit better on groups of trash while 2H was a bit better on bosses. I did have a little trouble tanking one boss as DW, but at that time I was still getting used to managing my procs and kept forgetting to add Obliterate to my rotation. In that fight I switched over to Shaarde after losing threat a second time and had no problems the rest of that encounter. I think this was probably a situation of Tank failure more so than a difference in the actual weapons though.

The more comfortable I get with tanking as a DK and the more I get used to my abilities, the more I begin to lean towards DW instead of 2H. With limited weapon choices in Outlands I believe that you’re best bet is to do what I did and stick to dual wielding during trash pulls and using a heavy 2H for bosses. Progressing into Northrend though, finding a pair for slow weapons to DW will give you the highest damage and most threat.

While the damage from Howling Blast is not impacted by your weapon choices, your damage and threat are tied into your weapons. The Threat of Thassarian talent causes Obliterate (and other attacks) to attack with both weapons when you use it, and the Rime talent gives your Obliterate a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and make it rune free for your next cast. The somewhat hidden benefit when those two are mixed together is that both of your weapons used during Obliterate have individual chances to proc Rime, so you get two rolls for that 15% chance each time you use Obliterate when dual wielding.

Since my choice of good one-handed weapons right now is fairly limited I will continue switching between the two styles, but as I find better options I’m almost positive at this point that I will end up dual wielding at level 80, and quite possibly sooner than that if I can find some weapons that don’t suck.

In the end Frost Tanks can do just fine whether they’re using 2H, DW-Fast, or DW-Slow. If you like to use dual diseases then you’ll be stronger if you decide on dual wielding slow weapons, while using the single disease method will work better with 2H or DW-fast.

If you are going to do a single disease style, then you’ll probably be a little bit better off either doing 2H or DW with fast weapons. If you want two diseases then you’ll want either DW with slow weapons, or 2H. DW with fast or slow weapons work in either case, but fast shines more in single disease where slow shines more in two diseases.

Frost Tanking Spec

Frost Death Knight Tanking Spec, Level 70



I’m going to point out one change I made to the spec from last week’s post, and that is replacing Acclimation 1/3 with Lichborne 1/1. That may get changed as I get into Northrend dungeons, but for Outlands, especially in the upper 60’s you need all the fear removal you can get. Even with the Human racial and the PvP trinket you get from the DK starting area, you still don’t have enough fear removal to take care of every encounter.

Rather than paying for a respec I just added a point into Lichborne and was at only 4/5 Anticipation when I actually hit level 70. But if you haven’t started your DK yet then I would suggest you go with this build instead of what I had before. If you have already followed the previous article’s advice, then don’t worry about it too much as it worked out just fine for me.

For the best survival at end game you will end up having points in Acclimation anyway, so it’s not bad to leave it the way it is if you have already spent your points as I suggested in the previous post. Acclimation is not going to help in every encounter or even every dungeon/raid, but there are certain encounters (Twink Valks anyone?) where the resistance offered can be significant. Of course, at end game you probably will not be using Lichborne since it’s more geared towards PvP, so the choice is yours whether you want more survivability leveling up with a respect at end game, or if you just want to deal with trouble now to save that shiny gold coin later down the road.

Lichborne 1/1: Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects.

Blade Barrier 5/5: Whenever your Blood Runes are on cooldown, you gain the Blade Barrier effect, which decreases damage taken by 5% for the next 10 sec.

Anticipation 5/5: Increases your Dodge chance by 5%.

Pay special attention to that conditional statement at the beginning of Blade Barrier’s effect. Both of your Blood Runes need to be on cooldown before its effect happens, so be sure to use those runes when they’re available so that you don’t short yourself on one of your primary defenses.

Glyphs
Glyph of Obliterate: [Major] Increased the damage of your Obliterate ability by 20%.
Glyph of Unbreakable Armor: [Major] Increases the total armor granted by Unbreakable Armor to 30%.
Glyph of Howling Blast: [Major] Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.
Glyph of Frost Strike: [Major] Reduces the cost of your Frost Strike by 8 Runic Power.
Glyph of Disease: [Major] Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.

Glyph of Pestilence: [Minor] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: [Minor] Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Blood Tap: [Minor] Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you.

I switched my glyphs up a bit from last time so that I’m now using Howling Blast and Disease. I still like the use of Disease for leveling/questing purposes since I do so in an AoE grinding style, but Disease is not so much a need as it is a convenience. For pure tanking purposes, Disease is actually a fairly poor choice.

Since I prefer the Two Disease approach to tanking, Obliterate becomes more and more useful to me. Howling Blast is a big contribution to both damage and threat, and it shines really more in a single disease build than a dual disease, though it is still useful for either one.

My current plan is to replace Disease with Obliterate, and hang on to Howling Blast for the time being. I am trying to decide whether I will be better of with Frost Strike or Unbreakable Armor for level 80, and there’s a fair chance I might take both of them and drop Howling Blast when I get there. I’ll certainly keep you informed on that part as I go along.

New Spells: 61-70
We get some new spells/abilities in the level range that are key to our tanking abilities (hello Taunt). We also get some that are just plain useful (Path of Frost).

At level 61 we get one of our big attacks, Obliterate. This spell does good damage and its damage is increased when its target is diseased. Normally using this spell consumes the diseases you have on the target, but thanks to our Annihilation talent that is no longer the case. In addition, our Rime talent gives Obliterate a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and cause our next Howling Blast to consume no runes.

You also get Path of Frost at 61 which allows you and your group to walk on water. Any damage at all breaks the effect, but you can instantly cast it again as long as you have a Frost Rune available. A special note on this one, it essentially makes water into solid ground, so unless you want people to hate you it’s not a good idea to cast this when you know your group is jumping down into a body of water expecting to live and then they end up dead instead.

At level 62 we get one of our signature tanking skills, Icebound Fortitude which makes you immune to stuns and reduces damage taken for 12 seconds.

At 64 we receive Blood Tap which damages us for 6% of our health (so the more you have the more it hurts) in exchange for converting a Blood Rune into a Death Rune (which can be used as any type) and ending its cooldown. It’s great for when your runes are on cooldown and you need some emergency threat or damage. Most often I find myself using this ability either for a Blood Boil or Death Strike, though I have used it for a necessary Pestilence, Hungering Cold, Obliterate, and Howling Blast as well. Be sure to use it when at least one of your Blood Runes is used, preferably both, and then use it as needed.

When we reach 65 we finally get our actual taunt, Dark Command. It’s a single target taunt with an 8 second cooldown, but since our only other taunt has a ridiculous cooldown on it, we’ll take this one gladly.

Also at 65 we get our first real party buff in Horn of Winter. It increases Strength and Agility for your group for two minutes. It has no cost, so you might as well keep it active at all times as long as you’re somewhere that fighting can take place.

At 66 we get our first “oh crap” button in the form of Death Pact. This spell allows you to sacrifice your Ghoul which instantly heals you for 40% of your health. At this point I usually don’t bother bringing out the ghoul unless I intend to sac him in the first place and instead just have him reserved for boss fights or emergency heals. If you use it like I do then be sure to remember that the GCD is in effect after summoning the ghoul, so you have 1.5 seconds between the summon and the heal, so don’t wait until the last second to use it.

At 67 we get a nice threat booster from Rune Strike. It’s a bit of an odd attack as it can only be used after you dodge or parry an attack, but on your next attack after using it you hit the target with a high threat attack instead of a normal auto-attack. The best way I’ve found to use this one is to just macro it to my attack keys and spam them in between attacks to use them whenever they’re available. Of course if you use this method of macro then you want to either be spamming the next attack you plan on making or one that you know the required runes are on cooldown.

Moving on up to level 68 we find Anti-Magic Shell. It costs 20 RP to cast it, but you’ll receive 75% damage reduction from spells in return, and the damage absorbed will grant you RP as well. It has a short duration and a long cooldown, so make sure you use it wisely.

We finally finish up our Presences at level 70 with Unholy Presence. Your movement speed gets increased by 15%, as does your melee haste. I primarily use this one for the increased movement while I’m questing and such, but the melee haste is a big deal too and it’s definitely noticeable at this level. If you fight in Unholy Presence you’ll find your runes going on cooldown a lot faster than usual, which means you’ll wait longer in between special attacks each time you burn through your runes and have to wait for them to cool down.

Learning the Rune and Runic Power System
This section probably should have been brought up in the first post, but I didn’t think about it when I was writing it, so you’ll have to settle for this post instead.

Knowing how your Runes and Runic Power work is going to be the overall deciding factor on whether you can fill your role or have your name listed amongst the thousands of Death Knoobs that plague the servers today. Do you want to have a clue as to what you doing, how you’re doing it, and why? If so, then continue on. If not, then turn around and bend over, and I’ll show you what right where you can stick your rune blade.

Runes
All DKs have six runes, two of each type (Blood, Frost, Unholy), and they provide us with our primary resource for using our abilities. There is a fourth Rune type called the Death Rune which can be used as any type of rune you want it to be. The Frost and Unholy trees both have talents that allow you to convert your Blood Runes into Death Runes, and the Blood tree has a talent that converts your Frost and Unholy Runes into Death Runes.



For describing the use of runes I’m going to use just the first letter of the tree to describe them, so we all have: BB FF UU

As a Frost Tank we’re going to use our Blood Runes (B) individually, and for the most part our Frost and Unholy Runes will be used in pairs (FU). The paired FU runes may be in a single ability such as Obliterate and Howling Blast, or individually by use of Icy Touch (F) and Plague Strike (U). Our Death Runes will be used for whatever spell happens to be the most important at the time, which we’ll get into details on a bit later.

Frost generates Death Runes from the Blood of the North talent, which makes your Blood Strike and Pestilence spells cause your next Blood Rune to proc as a Death Rune instead.

To borrow a term from the Comprehensive Guide to Death Knight Tanking (best DK Tank resource I found), a “Rune Blackout” occurs when all six of your runes have been used and are on cooldown. During these blackouts is when you want to use your Runic Power so that you can fill in the gap before your runes come back up and you can get back to business.

When you have a large pool of RP you want to spend it on Frost Strike to pump out additional damage and threat on a single target, but you want to reserve 20 RP at all times so that you can use Rune Strike, which is a big buff to your threat.

Tanking Trash

You might notice that I’ve made an adjustment to the rotation here, switching Blood Boil and Howling Blast. The reason for that is because now that we have the Blade Barrier talent from the Blood tree, we need to get rid of those Blood Runes early on to activate the talent.

I also removed the AoE rotation as I’ve decided I’ll have another post dedicated to DK AoE that will cover that. With this post we’re sticking strictly to tanking and since you never know what crazy things might happen in a dungeon you’ll need to get used to thinking on your feet in those situation anyway rather than trying to rely on remembering some random rotation you read on my blog.

I have also broken the rotation down into two “sets”. Each set is a cooldown of your runes, so each set rotates through the use of all of your runes.

First Rune Set: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Pestilence (B), Blood Strike (B), Howling Blast (FU), Frost Strike (60+ RP only)

Second Rune Set: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (Death Runes), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], (decision time)

The First Rune Set establishes your diseases, spreads them around, and then hits with an AoE to solidify threat on the group. It also uses both Pestilence and Blood Strike to convert our Blood Runes into Death Runes to allow for more Obliterates and Howling Blasts in the second set. Frost Strike will use up extra RP if you have 60 or more, otherwise it should be ignored in favor of using Rune Strike.

You have the option of using Obliterate instead of Howling Blast at the end of the first set in hope of a Rime proc, but with AoE being the staple that most of your DPS are likely to use you probably want to get some more AoE threat than just your diseases. If you’re in a guild run where you know people will work with you then go for Obliterate, but if you’re in a PUG then just play it safe and Howling Blast for now.

The Second Rune Set is where we dish out our serious damage and also where our Rotation becomes our “Rotation”. Obliterate will hit our primary target and has a chance (two chances if dual wielding) of a Rime proc if it hits. Those Rime procs are what we’re hoping for each time we use Obliterate. If you get a Rime proc, then fire off a Howling Blast. If you don’t, then use another Obliterate, and so on. If Obliterate hits, then both weapons hit and you get two rolls for a Rime proc. If Obliterate misses, then both weapons miss so no Rime procs for you.

We also have “(decision time)” in that second set, where you need to make the call on what to do next. You can either use your remaining FU runes for another Obliterate, or you can use Icy Touch/Plague Strike and then use your Blood Tap ability to refresh a Blood Rune as a Death Rune and use it for Pestilence. If you go for Obliterate then you risk having both of your diseases fall off. If you go for the IT/PS then you’re only using two Obliterates, and if neither of those gave you a Rime proc then you’re low on AoE damage/threat and are going to have to make up for that in the third set by using Blood Boil as either one or both of your Blood Runes which means they will not become Death Runes in your fourth set, which means you’re rotation just went out the window.

You also have the option of using a straight Howling Blast in place of one or the other of those Obliterates, relying on straight ability uses rather than procs. A proc is always a gamble, but if you’re dual wielding then you have a higher chance of getting those procs. If you take the chance on the Obliterates, then chances are you’re going to get at least one Rime proc out of the deal and you should easily maintain threat. If you don’t take the chance on the Obliterates, then you’ll probably still hold your threat, but you won’t be tapping your potential at all.

Tanking Bosses
Now that we have our hard hitting abilities, it’s time to change up the boss rotation as well.

Boss Set One: Icy Touch (F), Plague Strike (U), Blood Strike (B), Blood Strike (B), Obliterate (FU), Frost Strike (60+ RP only)

Boss Set Two: Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Obliterate (FU), [Howling Blast if Rime procs], Frost Strike, Frost Strike

I like to establish a nice burst of crit when I open on a boss, and the best way to do that is to us your Deathchill buff which gives you a guaranteed crit with your next Icy Touch or Howling Blast. Deathchill requires a Frost Rune to cast it, but the buff lasts for 30 seconds. So use it and then wait for your Frost Rune to cooldown before moving in to attack. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, but I wouldn’t want to blow a Frost Rune in the middle of combat, so I use it here instead.

If you are using the Glyph of Howling Blast, and the boss has adds, then open up with it and replace the first Blood Strike with Pestilence. Otherwise open with Icy Touch instead and follow the rotation above.

Blood Strike hits pretty hard, gaining an extra 25% damage from both diseases being applied, but the big reason why we’re using it is to convert those Blood Runes into Death Runes for round two where we can lay down some serious Obliteratious Hate. (Yes, I just made up the word “Obliteratious”.)

If you have over 60 RP, then go ahead and hit the boss with a Frost Strike as well. If you don’t, then ignore it for now and save your RP for Rune Strikes to generate extra threat on the boss each time you Dodge or Parry his attacks.

When your diseases are getting ready to fall off, go ahead and reapply them, make use of Blood Strike whenever your Blood Runes are available to convert them into Death Runes for the next set, keep your RP down around 20-40 by making use of Frost Strike, take advantage of Rune Strike every chance you get, and don’t forget your other buffs (Unbreakable Armor, Icebound Fortitude) as well.

After level 65 we finally get our Taunt, Dark Command, which should be able to handle any threat situations that arise, and Death Grip is a good backup if by some poor roll of the dice it actually misses.

I already mentioned it in the New Spells section above, but I’ll list it here just to bring it back to mind. At level 66 you get access to the most potent heal in the DK arsenal – Death Pact. It requires you to sacrifice your ghoul to cast it, but it restores 40% of your total hit points when you use it. It’s one of the best heals in the game overall, surpassed only by the Paladin’s Lay on Hands spell.

Addons and Macros
You may want to get an addon to keep track of your procs, especially Rime (or Freezing Fog, as the proc’s buff is called).

The addon that I use for my scrolling combat text, Parrot, is able to set sound notifications to specific triggers, one of which is Freezing Fog (Rime). If that’s something you’re interested in then you may want to give it a shot.

For those that need a visible queue you’ll want to use something more like Power Auras Classic, which I have installed and uninstalled a few times now. I love the concept, but don’t care so much for the follow through on the addon, but I’m finding that the audio isn’t quite good enough for me since I like to have other sounds on at the same time as well as audio warnings from Deadly Boss Mods, so I’ve installed PAC once again and will see how I like it with the DK.

There are also a number of addons that you can use to monitor your Rune cooldowns as well as your Runic Power. I can think of five of them right off the top of my head, but which one you use is a matter of preference so you’ll have to decide which one for yourself. There are similar addons that monitor the DoT timers of your diseases if you’d care to use one of those. I’m not so big on that myself, so I don’t use one, but they are available if you wish to make use of them.

The only Macro that I’d like to bring to your attention right now is the one that you’ll use for your Rune Strike ability, which you can tie into as many macros as you want.

#showtooltip
/cast Blood Strike
/cast Rune Strike

It’s that simple. Just replace Blood Strike with whatever other spell(s) you have on your action bar and you can spam all you want in between attacks.

Some of the addons I’ve already mentioned are also capable of notifying you of when you have dodged or parried an attack, and they can help save your fingers some effort if you would rather use Rune Strike with an addon than simply spamming buttons.

Alternate (Recommended) Spec for Level 60
I have updated last week’s post to include this as well, but just in case you aren’t in the habit of checking my old posts, here it is anyway. This is a revised spec for level 60. After spending five days doing almost nothing but running random dungeons and leveling my professions I needed to make a change.

The change isn’t huge but it is significant, especially for the mid-to-upper sixties. I removed the single point in Acclimation and replaced it with Lichborne, which makes you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects for 10 seconds. When you run randoms in your 60s you are going to run into a LOT of Fear effects. Enough so that my human racial and my PvP trinket were not enough to take off all of the fear at times.

The magic-based damage reduction from Acclimation isn’t bad, it just didn’t provide enough benefit (especially with only one of the three possible points spent in it) for me to take it over Lichborne given how often I had to deal with fear and how seldom I had to deal with spell casters.

That being said, when you get to level 80 you’ll find Lichborne to be almost worthless as its main purpose for end game is PvP rather than heroics or raiding. If you don’t mind dealing with the fear while you’re leveling then you can save yourself a respec and just go with Acclimation.

Frost Death Knight Tanking Spec, Level 60-Alternate

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling, World of Warcraft

 

Tags: , ,

Death Knight Tanking: Frost

[NOTE: This post is meant to cover you only up to level 60.]
[NOTE 2: I have updated the spec details and link for level 60 to help you in tanking Outlands instances. Removed Acclimation 1/3 with Lichborne 1/1. Details below.]

Psynister_DK_65



Introduction
As I write this article, my Frost DK is currently sitting at level 65. The image below will update itself as the Armory information is updated though, so you may see him at a higher level in that picture when you read this. The picture updates, but the Psynister I leveled for this series of posts made it to level 80 and then got deleted and replaced with a new one, which isn’t being leveled as Frost.



About a week or so ago I posted about A Death Knight Tank, one named Khanus in particular, and how how that DK inspired me to want to finally make a DK of my own and actually focus on leveling him as a tank to see for myself just how hard it would be to successfully fill that role with a DK.

I planned on leveling a DK sometime within the next couple of months or so, but circumstances changed a bit here and there and I decided to roll him early rather than waiting. I’m pretty well known for my patience outside of the game, but for some reason when I’m in a virtual world that aspect of my personality disappears and when I want something I want it now. I didn’t have a character named Psynister on this server just yet, so that’s how this fellow came to be.

I didn’t want to be just another Death Knoob out there, so when I got started with this guy I did my research first and smashed faces later. I did a lot of reading on different blogs and forums to get everyone’s general views of how to tank with a DK and I found a lot of really good information out there. I found a lot of bad/old information as well, but we don’t need to waste our time with that.

General Tanking Information
The first thing that I want to throw at you here, besides the unnecessarily long introduction up above, is that all three of a DK’s talent trees are capable of tanking. You can find that little tidbit of information just about anywhere you look for tanking info.

That being said, only Frost and Blood are really considered to be high end tanking specs at this time. Recent nerfs to Unholy have reduced their effectiveness. That doesn’t mean they can’t still do it, especially if an experienced player is behind the keyboard, but if you’re new to DK tanking then stick with Frost or Blood.



Tanking with a DK is different than tanking with other classes. You don’t really have a set rotation you’re going to go through (sorry, no 96969 business over here), and while you do have two taunts, one of them has a long cooldown and both of them are only single target. So you can’t slip into a single style of play and assume that it’s going to work for you all the time. You need to be flexible, and you need to be able to react to the situation as it changes.

Death Knights have a very unique system of resources as well, having to manage both a Runic Power pool and a Runic system as well. Managing those can be tricky at first, and using abilities without being aware of their Rune costs can completely kill your ability to act as a tank. Focusing too much on your Runes though makes you waste your Runic Power, which means you’re throwing away additional DPS which in turn is throwing away threat. It sounds pretty complicated, and when you’re new to it it certainly seems that way, but the longer you play with it the more natural it will become.

Frost Tanking Basics
I was misinformed from previous playing experience and discussions prior to the two or three most recent patches, that Unholy was the main spec for AoE tanking. However, the real king of AoE threat generation comes from the Frost tree.

Frost tanks have two primary styles of play: single disease, and dual disease. You also have the option of using either a two-handed weapon for big hits, or dual wielding weapons for additional stats and smaller, but faster attacks. My personal style of playing works better with dual diseases right now, and up to this point I have only tried two-handed tanking and so cannot comment on the dual wielding yet. [Dual Wielding is covered in the follow up post, however.]

Frost Tanking Spec
Alright, it’s time to get a little more specific about how to tank with the Frost DK, and the first order up on that list is what sort of spec you should be running. As I mentioned, I did a lot of research before I actually rolled this character, and the spec I am using is what I felt was the best route for me to take after that research.

DK_FrostTank_60b




Alternate (Recommended) Spec for Level 60
This is a revised spec for level 60. After spending five days doing almost nothing but running random dungeons and leveling my professions I needed to make a change.

The change isn’t huge but it is significant, especially for the mid-to-upper sixties. I removed the single point in Acclimation and replaced it with Lichborne, which makes you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects for 10 seconds. When you run randoms in your 60s you are going to run into a lot of Fear effects. Enough so that my human racial and my PvP trinket were not enough to take off all of the fear at times.

The magic-based damage reduction from Acclimation isn’t bad, it just didn’t provide enough benefit (especially with only one of the three possible points spent in it) for me to take it over Lichborne given how often I had to deal with fear and how seldom I had to deal with spell casters.

Improved Icy Touch 3/3: Your Icy Touch does an additional 15% damage and your Frost Fever reduces melee and ranged attack speed by an additional 6%.

Toughness 5/5: Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.

Black Ice 5/5: Increases your Frost and Shadow damage by 10%.

Annihilation 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your melee special abilities by 3%. In addition, there is a 100% chance that your Obliterate will do its damage without consuming diseases.

Killing Machine 5/5: Your melee attacks have a chance to make your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast or Frost Strike a critical strike. Effect occurs more often than Killing Machine (Rank 4).

Chill of the Grave 2/2: Your Chains of Ice, Howling Blast, Icy Touch and Obliterate generate 5 additional runic power.

Frigid Dreadplate 3/3: Reduces the chance melee attacks will hit you by 3%.

Glacier Rot 3/3: Diseased enemies take 20% more damage from your Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Frost Strike.

Deathchill 1/1: When activated, makes your next Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike or Obliterate a critical hit if used within 30 sec.

Rime 3/3: Increases the critical strike chance of your Icy Touch and Obliterate by 15% and casting Obliterate has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and cause your next Howling Blast to consume no runes.

Hungering Cold 1/1: Purges the earth around the Death Knight of all heat. Enemies within 10 yards are trapped in ice, preventing them from performing any action for 10 sec and infecting them with Frost Fever. Enemies are considered Frozen, but any damage other than diseases will break the ice.

Improved Frost Presence 2/2: While in Blood Presence or Unholy Presence, you retain 6% stamina from Frost Presence, and damage done to you is decreased by an additional 2% in Frost Presence.

Blood of the North 3/3: Increases Blood Strike and Frost Strike damage by 10%. In addition, whenever you hit with Blood Strike or Pestilence there is a 100% chance that the Blood Rune will become a Death Rune when it activates. Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune.

Acclimation 1/3: When you are hit by a spell, you have a 10% chance to boost your resistance to that type of magic for 18 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. [Revision: Replaced by Lichborne]

Lichborne 1/1: Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec. While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear and Sleep effects. [Revision: Replaces Acclimation]

Frost Strike 1/1: Instantly strike the enemy, causing 55% weapon damage plus 137.5 as Frost damage.

Guile of Gorefiend 3/3: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Blood Strike, Frost Strike, Howling Blast and Obliterate abilities by 45%, and increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 6 secs.

Tundra Stalker 5/5: Your spells and abilities deal 15% more damage to targets infected with Frost Fever. Also increases your expertise by 5.

Howling Blast 1/1: Blast the target with a frigid wind dealing 518 to 562 Frost damage to all enemies within 10 yards.

Glyphs
Glyph of Howling Blast: [Major] Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.
Glyph of Frost Strike: [Major] Reduces the cost of your Frost Strike by 8 Runic Power.
Glyph of Disease: [Major] Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.

Glyph of Pestilence: [Minor] Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: [Minor] Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.

I am currently using Disease over Howling Blast because I really enjoy AoE grinding while I quest, but as far as tanking goes Howling Blast is probably going to be better for you overall if you plan on sticking primarily to dungeons or questing with groups rather than solo questing and grinding. I am also using the Death Strike glyph in place of Frost Strike to test it, but I’m going to replace it tonight because I completely misread what it did and get very little benefit from it where reducing the runic cost of Frost Strike will grant me more threat generation during boss fights.

As for the minor glyphs, you want those two glyphs and you want them before any others. Pestilence is higher priority than Raise Dead, so if you are only able to get one of them for some reason, go for Pestilence.

Tanking Trash (Up to level 60)
Trash tanking is where all of your AoE spells really shine. The other members of your group dictate where your AoE spells get cast in your “rotation”, whether you need to front load the AoE threat or if you’ll have to time to start and spread your diseases first.

The research I did frequently pointed out that being able to react to your situation is the key to being a good DK tank, and I have found that to be entirely true. As such, I have developed my own rotation here for what works well for me, based solely on how I like to play. There may very well be a better rotation to use out there, but this is what works for me.

Disease Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Howling Blast, Blood Boil
Heavy AoE Rotation: (Icy Touch), Blood Boil, Blood Boil, Howling Blast, Pestilence

I prefer using the disease rotation because it gives me the most control over threat during the fight and it gives me the chance to use my AoE spells on other groups of mobs that might get pulled in unintentionally for whatever reason. A lot of people like to power level through vanilla content and then start grouping in Outlands having no idea how to participate in a group.

I would like to say that most of my pulls go off smoothly without having to worry about patrolling mobs or accidental agro, but that’s not the case. I’ve found in my experiences in Outlands so far that it’s better for me to stick with the Disease Rotation up above so that I can hit the AoE spells for instant threat on bad pulls rather than blowing them all at the front of the fight with my intentional pull and then having to run around generating crazy threat on multiple mobs that are chasing my healer.

In the Heavy AoE Rotation I put Icy Touch in parenthesis because if you have the Glyph of Howling Blast then that spell will apply the disease for you which is the main reason I suggest casting it. If you don’t have the glyph then cast Icy Touch first to both establish a disease that can be spread immediately after the AoE as well as to build a solid level of threat on at least one of the mobs in case things don’t work as planned.

Howling Blast is going to deal AoE damage in a radius centered on the target you cast it on while Blood Boil is going to deal AoE damage centered on you. So when you cast Blood Boil, make sure you’re near the mobs that you need to generate the threat on or else you’re wasting the cast.

I most often use the AoE rotation when additional mobs get pulled that I was not intending to have to deal with, which is primarily a patrol in a dungeon I’m not especially familiar with and as such did not see. When a group of mobs comes in that I wasn’t expecting I move in the direction that the mobs are moving, and use my AoE spells on them.

I start off with the double-Blood Boil because when these pulls happen the mobs are almost always already mixed into the group and heading for the healer or whoever may have pulled them, and that usually means that the mobs are right next to me. If the mobs get pulled and are not already next to you then you can either use Howling Blast instead, you can run towards them and use Blood Boil, or you can wait for them to get closer to you and Blood Boil from where you are (if they have to get through you to get to whoever their target is). By default I will run towards the mobs to hit them with the AoE threat because that puts me right in the middle of them and better able to react to the situation in case my Blood Boil misses, it gets me closer to other mobs that might have been outside the range when I used the AoE, and if my AoE burst isn’t enough to put me at the top of the threat list then I’m close enough to throw another one at them immediately.

Tanking Bosses
Tanking bosses is a whole different ballgame all together. Since our strongest method of generating threat on trash mobs is AoE we have to completely switch our rotation to build and maintain maximum threat on a single target. This is where your other spells are going to come into play and where you’re going to refresh your diseases by casting the basic spells that apply them (Icy Touch and Plague Strike) rather than refreshing them by using the Glyph of Disease or using Howling Blast to reapply your Frost Fever.

I like to load a lot of DPS onto a boss at the beginning of the fight and then settle into a rotation.

Boss Rotation: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Death Strike, Frost Strike

When you are about to pull a boss, you want to be sure to use your Deathchill buff which gives you a guaranteed crit with your next Icy Touch, and starting with a crit is great for building your initial threat. Deathchill’s crit boost also works for Howling Blast (if the boss has adds so you pull with AoE), Frost Strike (if you have runic power built up to use it right away), and Obliterate (level 61) spells if you decide to pull with those instead. I would personally use either Icy Touch of Howling Blast for the initial pull, and since IT requires only a single Frost Rune it gets my vote for being the spell of choice unless the boss has adds that will also be hit with Howling Blast.

Plague Strike is the second attack and requires you to be within melee range, but deals Shadow damage to the boss and applies your second disease, Blood Plague.

Blood Strike is a great way to boost your threat, and since we have both of our diseases applied it’s a perfect time to use it. Blood Strike deals an extra 12.5% damage for each disease you have on the target, so using it after IT and PS grants an extra 25% to the Blood Strike’s damage.

Because of the cooldown situation of our runes, the next spell on the list is going to be Death Strike which will damage as well as healing you for 5% of your maximum health for each disease on the target; Since we have two diseases applied, that means we’re healing ourselves for 10%. You may need the heal, you may not, but the attack is dealing damage regardless which will build threat and the heal is just an added bonus. If you started the fight off with some runic power already built up then you can skip this attack and move on to Frost Strike instead.

Frost Strike comes up next to make use of our Runic Power (RP). Assuming you hit with the previous spells you should have enough RP built up to use this when starting the fight with no RP at all, even if you are not using the glyph. This is a nice, hard hitting attack to use up your RP. Your only other option for using RP at this level is Death Coil, which is a decent attack that can be used at range, but I prefer sticking with Frost Strike unless something causes me to be distanced from the boss.

At level 60 you don’t have access to Obliterate just yet, so for now you are going to rotate between the spells already mentioned. When your diseases are getting ready to fall off, go ahead and reapply them with Icy Touch and Plague Strike (even if you have the Glyph of Disease), make use of Blood Strike whenever your blood runes are available, keep your RP down around 20-40 by making use of Frost Strike, and when you feel like you need a boost to your health go ahead and take advantage of Death Strike for the 10% heal.

If you are facing a boss that has an attack such as Fear, knock back, stun, or something that otherwise has a chance of putting distance between yourself and the boss, then you may want to make use of the time to get back to melee range of the boss by casting Death Coil. Your two ranged attacks right now are Icy Touch, Death Coil, and Howling Blast so if you get separated from the boss go ahead and make use of one of them while you move back in so that you continue to generate what threat you can while closing back in. I recommend Death Coil first, Icy Touch second, and Howling Blast third for the sake of making the best use of your resources.

If anyone manages to pull threat off of you then your only option for this level range to taunt them with is Death Grip. Since this is the only “taunt” we have right now I never use Death Grip for pulling a boss unless it’s absolutely necessary. If one of the dps pulls the boss off of me by jumping the gun then I will use it at that time, but using it to start the fight off seems like a bit of a waste to me, so I save it until it’s needed. For trash pulls, Death Grip is fine to use whenever needed, especially to get a caster within melee range, but for bosses I like to save it. There’s nothing wrong with casting Death Grip to start off a boss fight, but from my experience it’s unnecessary and better saved for a time when it’s actually needed.

Watch Your Buffs
I want to point out that the spec that I suggest above gives you a couple of buffs that you need to keep an eye out for.

Killing Machine: This talent gives your auto-attacks a chance to make your next Frost attack (Icy Touch, Howling Blast, Frost Strike) an auto-crit.

Rime: This talent gives you the Freezing Fog buff which makes your next Howling Blast cost no runes to cast.

You don’t want to miss out on free critical hits, and you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage. Better yet, you don’t want to miss out on free AoE damage that will automatically crit if you happen to have both of them proc at the same time.

Killing Machine is a PPM (Procs Per Minute) buff, meaning that it can only happen so many times each minute. Because of this you are going to have a higher chance of getting this buff by using a slow, two-handed weapon than you will from dual wielding and/or using fast weapons. Killing Machine isn’t taken quite so often by dual wielding Frost tanks, so if you are not using a big two-hander then you may want to consider spending those five talent points in Icy Talons instead to reduce your target’s attack speed while also increasing your own, and you may swap the one point in Acclimation to Improved Icy Talons to provide a melee haste buff to your party as well as a constant haste buff to yourself.

Because of the Death Knight’s unique resource system(s), you need to be able to manage both resources without digging yourself into a hole of inactivity where all of your runes are on cooldown and you have no runic power to use. Using your Runes too fast on low damage or low threat spells is not going to pay off for you in Runic Power. Similarly, though somewhat opposite, not using your Runic Power means that you’re wasting the resources generated by your Rune abilities. Use your Rune powers to deal the damage you need to supply your Runic Power, and then burn through your Runic Power while your Runes are cooling down. Keeping that cycle up is how you manage a constant stream of threat on your targets.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Death Knight, Guide, Leveling

 

Tags: , ,

Real PUGs of Power: Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys

Over the weekend I decided to go ahead and roll that Death Knight Tank I had mentioned last week. I have a post in progress to discuss the details of tanking with a Frost DK that should be coming out sometime this week, but if you want details on him right now then you can check out his armory link: Psynister. I bet you didn’t see that name coming, did you?

Today I want to tell you about an especially great group that I found myself in over the weekend. Generally when I queue for a random I run the dungeon and then regardless of how good/bad we did I go ahead and leave group and go find fresh group all together. That seems to be the norm from how quickly most people drop group after the final boss is down.

There was something different about this group though, so I went ahead and stuck with them. I think three of us asked at about the same time after the first run if everyone was up for another. With some amount of surprise from me everyone said yes. The second dungeon went down and we queued up as a group again. I think all together we did three dungeons, but there may have been a fourth in there as well.

I think as a group we functioned extremely well in the dungeons that we ran, and it was interesting to see that even though both the warrior and myself were queued for both Tank and DPS, the role of Tanking was mine every time we queued. I’ve seen the LFG tool swap people’s positions before so I know it can change, but every time it came up as mine.

Generally I like to keep my Real PUGs of Power posts to a single person, but this group worked so well together that I’m throwing them all in there together. Deciding on the title was a bit of a challenge this time since it’s about four people instead of only one, but it works for me even if it is a bit awkward. With four people deserving some praise, I initially was just going to write a regular post about it, but I think something like this shows a bit more sincerity when I say thank you.

Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys
Bethannie, Druid Heals
Nikedawg, Warrior DPS
Aldy, Mage DPS
Adolat, Priest DPS

Psynister’s Notebook presents: Real PUGs of Power

(Real PUGs of Poweeeer)

Today we salute you Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Win’s Guys.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full Of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)

You’ve shown us how a real group clears an instance.
With DoT’s, HoT’s, AoE’s, and Whirlwinds.

(I think we could one-shot Arthas!)

Taking down bosses and trash mobs with ease,
And acknowledging the strengths of every member.

(Great job with the heals!)

Pathing mobs get pulled, no problem.
Mage’s pet was set to aggressive, who cares?
The tank got mind controlled? Lets bring him down!

(Dang it, I wanted to kill him!)

So crack open an ice cold Frost Tank’s heart, you group full of epic win.
There’s no such thing as an unbeatable instance, when the five of you group together.

(Mr. I Had A Group Full of Wiiiinn’s Guys!)

PuG_of_Power_DK1

In case you’re wondering, yes the warrior did really try to kill me when I got mind controlled just before the boss in that screen shot went down. We were both trying to fill that tank spot each time we queued, and he never got it. I planned to give him the chance regardless in the next run since I have yet to be chosen as DPS, but the group needed to split right after that boss, so I never got the chance. It was all in good fun (at least, I think it was…) and I think we all had a great time and enjoyed the group.

Hopefully luck will be on my side and I’ll find myself queued up with them another time in the future.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Death Knight, Leveling, Real PUGs of Power

 

Tags: ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,156 other followers

%d bloggers like this: