Tag Archives: AoE

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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


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Death Knight Tanking: Frost (61-70)

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

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


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


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

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.

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.

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.

/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


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


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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.]


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.


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.

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.


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


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Final Edition: Prot Paladin AoE Grinding (Part 1 of 2)

The last installment of the Protection Paladin AoE Grinding Guides has waited quite a while for the final piece of the puzzle. It has been asked for several times by my readers and while I took the request seriously I’ve certainly failed to deliver on that promise. At least until now. Well, sort of.

I am going to start off with some updates from the previous guides as recent patches have changed the way some things work. After the updates we’ll get into the juicy part and start talking about the portion we’ve left uncovered so far; AoE Grinding in Northrend.

As you read, keep in mind that the whole point of this post is tell you how to AoE Grind. This isn’t a tanking guide to tell you how to tank Heroics and Raids. Even once we reach level 80 and I begin discussing that, I’m still focusing the information here on AoE Grinding whether it be for mat farming, reputation farming, gold farming, elite mob solo thrill seeking, or showing off your greatness to those around you.

Part 1 here is going to cover the technical side of things, what you need to do with your character. Part 2 is going to cover specific areas for you to grind in. I’m splitting this post into two because I’ve had this portion written for weeks now, waiting only for me to get together a full list of specific locations across all of the zones in Northrend for you to grind. Rather that keeping you in the dark even longer, I’m just going to give you what I have right now and then write another post for the rest of it at a later date.

Update: Glyphs
In the AoE Grinding: Glyph Edition post I gave you what I felt at the time to be the best glyphs for helping you while you leveled. Since that time though, we’ve had some changes that definitely impact those choices.

I will break down the glyphs by level here, listing Majors first, then Minors, and each of those sections will have glyphs listed in the order that I would recommend them. Also, take note as you read this section that these glyphs I recommend primarily for the sake of solo leveling, not necessarily for raiding.

Level 15 1 Major: 1 Minor
Major Glyphs Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Consecration Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Judgement Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom
Glyph of Divinity Glyph of Blessing of Might
Glyph of Exorcism

If you like using Exorcism to pull at low levels then you might want to go ahead and use it’s glyph over Consecration. With Exorcism now having a cast time where before it did not, I’m not sure how much I would use the spell while leveling up, and so I’m not sure I could justify devoting a slot to a spell I use once per encounter instead of one such as the Glyph of Consecrate which will be used constantly.

Level 30 2 Major: 1 Minor
Major Glyphs Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Consecration Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Judgement Glyph of the Wise
Glyph of Divinity
Glyph of Exorcism

By this point the only Blessing you should be casting on yourself is Blessing of Sanctuary, so the glyphs for Might/Wisdom are now worthless. You probably aren’t going to have to recast Seal of Wisdom (SoW) very often, but just in case you find yourself cycling through SoW/SoL during combat, this is the best way to save your mana through the use of your Minor glyphs.

Level 50 2 Major: 2 Minor
Major Glyphs Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Consecration Glyph of the Wise
Glyph of Holy Wrath Glyph of Sense Undead
Glyph of Judgement
Glyph of Exorcism

I’m slipping Glyph of Sense Undead into the mix here because during your run through Eastern/Western Plaguelands you’re finally going to start fighting enough undead that having this increase in your damage is going to start paying off. Using this glyph prior to level 50 is going to be a bit of a waste in most cases, but where you level is what decides that. At the same time it’s usefulness takes another dip when you get to Outlands, but surprise surprise it picks back up in Northrend.

If you don’t like the idea of buying and replacing glyphs, then go for GotW over GoSU until you hit Northrend.

Level 70 2 Major: 3 Minor
Major Glyphs Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Divine Plea Glyph of Sense Undead
Glyph of Consecration Glyph of the Wise
Glyph of Holy Wrath

Divine Plea is going to help keep your mana topped off while using the glyph will help keep your health topped off. Once you hit level 71 I suggest you finally replace GoC with GoDP. You are also going to finally have enough attack spells on your action bar that you will find using the 969 rotation is the smoothest way for you to grind, so having an extra 2 seconds on Consecration is going to throw you off instead of helping you out as it did before, so I suggest dropping it for Holy Wrath instead. While the 969 rotation is used to describe the preferred rotation for tanking, it’s use applies the same to grinding.

As for minor glyphs, I suggest you stick with those three until Blizzard introduces some more minor glyphs to us, but only LoH and SU have any real importance, and SU only when you actually activate the ability associated with it and with the assumption that there are Undead for you to fight in the area.

Level 80 3 Major: 3 Minor
Major Glyphs Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Hammer of the Righteous Glyph of Lay on Hands
Glyph of Divine Plea Glyph of Sense Undead
Glyph of Shield of Righteousness Glyph of the Wise
Glyph of Holy Wrath

HotR and DP are your two primary glyphs that you don’t want to give up at this point. SoR and HW are interchangeable here though based on where you are going to grind. If you want to grind undead mobs then you’re better off with HW, otherwise you’ll get more use out of SoR.

I want to emphasize once again that these glyphs are for leveling and grinding, specifically here at level 80. If you want to tank dungeons and heroics then you’re going to have a different setup on your major glyphs when you hit 80 so that you can maximize your threat generation.

Update: Talent Points
There hasn’t been a whole lot of change in the talent department, but to give you a single glimpse at how you should spend your points, here you have it.

Level 10-30
Divine Strength 5/5: Increases your total Strength by 15%.
Anticipation 5/5: Increases your chance to dodge by 5%.
Improved Righteous Fury 3/3: While Righteous Fury is active, all damage taken is reduced by 6%.
Toughness 2/5: Increases your armor value from items by 4% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 12%.
Improved Devotion Aura 3/3: Increases the armor bonus of your Devotion Aura by 50% and increases the amount healed on any target affected by any of your Auras by 6%.
Toughness (+2) 4/5: Increases your armor value from items by 8% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 24%.
Blessing of Sanctuary 1/1: Place a Blessing on a friendly target, reducing damage taken from all sources by 3% for 10 min. and increasing strength and stamina by 10%. When the target blogs, parries, or dodges a melee attack the target will gain 2% of maximum displayed mana.

Level 31-60
Toughness (+1) 5/5: Increases your armor value from items by 10% and reduces the duration of all movement slowing effects by 30%.
Reckoning 3/5: Gives you a 6% chance after being hit by any damaging attack tht the next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec will generate an additional attack.
Sacred Duty 2/2: Increases your total Stamina by 8%, reduces the cooldown of your Divine Shield and Divine Protection spells by 60 seconds.
One-Handed Weapon Specialization 3/3 Increases all damage you deal when a one-handed melee weapon is equipped by 10%.
Holy Shield 1/1: Increases chance to block by 30% for 1-0 sec and deals 274 Holy damage for each attack blocked while active. Each blog expends a charge. 8 charges.
Ardent Defender 3/3: Damage that takes you below 35% health is reduced by 20%. In addition, attacks which would otherwise kill you cause you to be healed by up to 30% of your maximum health. This healing effect cannot occur more than once every 2 min.
Reckoning (+1) 4/5: Gives you an 8% chance after being hit by any damaging attack tht the next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec will generate an additional attack.
Redoubt 3/3: Increases your block value by 30% and damaging melee and ranged attacks against you have a 10% chance to increase your chance to block by 30%. Lasts 10 sec or 5 blocks.
Combat Expertise 2/3: Increases your expertise by 4, total Stamina and chance to critically hit by 4%.
Avenger’s Shield 1/1: Hurls a holy shield at the enemy, dealing Holy damage, Dazing them and then jumping to additional nearby enemies. Affects 3 total targets. Lasts 10 sec.
Touched by the Light 3/3: Increases your spell power by an amount equal to 60% of your Strength and increases the amount healed by your critical heals by 30%.
Guarded by the Light 1/2: Reduces spell damage taken by 3% and gives you 50% chance to refresh the duration of your Divine Plea when you hit an enemy. In addition, your Divine Plea spell is 50% less likely to be dispelled.
Shield of the Templar 3/3: Reduces all damage taken by 3% and grants your Avenger’s Shield a 100% chance to silence your targets by 3 sec.
Combat Expertise (+1) 3/3: Increases your expertise by 6, total Stamina and chance to critically hit by 6%.
Guarded by the Light (+1) 2/2: Reduces spell damage taken by 6% and gives you 100% chance to refresh the duration of your Divine Plea when you hit an enemy. In addition, your Divine Plea spell is 100% less likely to be dispelled.
Hammer of the Righteous 1/1: Hammer the current target and up to 2 additional nearby targets, causing 4 times your main hand damage per second as Holy damage.

Level 61-80
Deflection 5/5: Increases your Parry chance by 5%. (Retribution Tree)
Improved Judgements 1/2: Decreases the cooldown of your Judgement spells by 1 sec. (Retribution Tree)
Benediction 4/5: Reduces the mana cost of all instant cast spells by 8%. (Retribution Tree)
Vindication 2/2: Gives the Paladin’s damaging attacks a chance to reduce the target’s attack power by 46 for 10 sec. (Retribution Tree)
Pursuit of Justice 2/2: Reduces the duration of all Disarm effects by 50% and increases movement and mounted movement speed by 15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects. (Retribution Tree)
Crusade 3/3: Increases all damage caused by 3% and all damage caused against Humanoids, Demons, Undead and Elementals by an additional 3%. (Retribution Tree)
Reckoning (+1) 5/5: Gives you a 8% chance after being hit by any damaging attack tht the next 4 weapon swings within 8 sec will generate an additional attack.
Benediction (+1) 5/5: Reduces the mana cost of all instant cast spells by 10%. (Retribution Tree)

Update: Pulling Mobs for AoE
At level 16 you get your first taunt that you will also be using to pull mobs, called Hand of Reckoning. It will taunt a target for you, though it can miss, and if the target is not already targeting you then it will deal Holy damage to them as well. This should be your primary method of pulling mobs throughout the game in order to take advantage of the damage that it deals (1 + half of your Attack Power) to mobs that aren’t already targeting you. You can use this spell to pull additional mobs to you after you’ve already started your AoE grinding, but be sure to use it on mobs that do not already have you targeted so that it will deal damage to them.

At level 20 you get a spell that can be used to pull, called Exorcism. You will generally deal more damage with Exorcism than you will with Hand of Reckoning, but it does have a cast time and using it does remove your ability to damage mobs with HoR if they target you from your Exorcism cast. It’s a ranged spell with a 1.5 second cast, so it’s fairly easy implement its use for pulling as long as you don’t try to cast it during combat which removes all of your avoidance.

The best way I have found to use both Exorcism and HoR in a single pull is to cast HoR on the first target followed by Exorcism either on the same target or an additional target. Personally I would target a second mob for the Exo cast so that I had two mobs that had already taken damage before I start my AoE rotation, but you can do it either way.

At level 50 (assuming you’ve spent your talents as I suggested above) you get your big pull spell which is Avenger’s Shield which will hit up to three targets and dazing them in the process. If you spend talent points in Shield of the Templar as mentioned above, then you also silence those enemies when you hit them which will help you in pulling caster mobs which are usually the bane of your Paladin existence.

Both Avenger’s Shield (AS) and Hand of Reckoning (HoR) can be used while in combat without sacrificing your ability to dodge, parry, and block enemy attacks. HoR needs to be cast on mobs that are not already targeting you to be of any use, but AS can be cast on any mob that is within range and still be beneficial. You can either use it to help kill the mobs you are already fighting, or to pull additional mobs to you.

If you wish to use all three of your pulling spells in a single pull then the best way to do it is to cast HoR on the first mob followed by Avenger’s Shield on either the same mob or one close to it, and then take advantage of the Dazing property of AS to cast Exorcism on another target. If you can use each of the three spells on different mobs then you can get the best results for killing the group quickly. If you have three groups of mobs, or one or two groups along with a pathing mob or two then you’ll have the best setup you can get. It’s alright to cast Exo when you’ve only got one or two mobs on you and they aren’t hitting you hard, but any more than that and you’ll be better off sticking to just HoR and AS.

New Spells: 68-80
Alright, enough with the updates; it’s time to move on to something new. First up on that list is our new spells that open up after level 68.

Avenging Wrath (Level 70) Increases all damage and healing caused by 20% for 20 sec. Cannot be used within 30 sec of being the target of Divine Shield, Divine Protection, or Hand of Protection.

Divine Plea (Level 71) You gain 25% of your total mana over 15 sec, but the amount healed by your Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Holy Shock spells is reduced by 50%.

Shield of Righteousness (Level 75) Slam the target with your shield, causing Holy damage based on your block value plus an additional 390.

Sacred Shield (Level 80) Each time the target takes damage they gain a Sacred Shield, absorbing 500 damage and increasing the paladin’s chance to critically hit with Flash of Light by 50% for up to 6 sec. They cannot gain this effect more than once every 6 sec. Lasts 30 sec. This spell cannot be on more than one target at any one time.

Avenging Wrath is what is often referred to as our “Angel Wings” because that’s the animation put up when you use it; a couple of wings that pop up behind the paladin. It’s a 20% damage increase for 20 seconds that also cuts your healing spells in half while it’s active. If you’re just grinding then you might as well use this whenever it’s not on cooldown just to help you clear the mobs faster. The cooldown is only 3 minutes, which is pretty standard for a cooldown buff.

Divine Plea becomes one of the most welcome additions to your arsenal, providing you with a near constant resupply of your mana while in combat (25% of your mana over it’s duration). It has a 1 minute cooldown and a 15 second duration, but if you’ve spent talent points in Guarded by the Light then you will refresh it’s duration every time you make an attack. “Attack” in this case refers to a melee attack, not a spell. So Judgement of Light will not reset your cooldown, but a melee attack will. This spell should be on you at all times. Use it right before a pull, shortly after a pull, or whenever you are not in combat and need to get some mana back.

Shield of Rightousness is a strong single target attack spell that fits nicely into your rotation. Use it to take down the mobs that you’re fighting even faster, but as a single target spell it’s not as important as other attack options if you find yourself low on mana unless you have only one mob to fight.

Sacred Shield is our reward for reaching the current (as of 3.3) level cap of 80. It’s generally considered more of a healer’s spell than a tank’s, but since we’re soloing here and it does have a useful effect we’ll count it as another tool regardless. It absorbs 500 damage by default, and the amount is increased by our spell power. As I write this my own paladin is only level 78 so I have no personal experience using this spell. As I ponder it though, I don’t think that I would include it in my default grinding rotation, simply because I don’t take much damage right now as it is. It certainly still has it’s place as a damage absorbing spell, but with so many other options available to us for healing and damage prevention I’m not sure that it will matter. Perhaps one of my readers can enlighten us though. (I know Cassinni’s out there somewhere.)

Grinding Locations: Northrend
Once you reach level 68 you have two options open to you. You can either stay in Outlands where your best AoE Grinding will likely be found near the entrance to the Black Temple raid entrance, or you can head on to Northrend. You will have an easier time handling the mobs near black temple, but you will get better rewards overall if you just head straight to Northrend.

If you reach Northrend at 68 then either of the starting zones in Northrend will suffice, otherwise you will do better in Dragonblight though you may have have some gear issues if you’ve skipped questing in Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord.

I will get into further detail on where to go and which mobs in particular you should be grinding on in Part 2.


Posted by on January 25, 2010 in Guide, Leveling, Paladin


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Mage Leveling Part III: 40-58

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

Level 40 is where you get your first big break because you finally get your frosty bubble, Ice Barrier. During the course of the 18 levels I’m covering in this post you will also end up with all of your Portal spells to get you to the various capitol cities for your faction as well meaning that you are able to get yourself and your part all over the world in a must faster and easier way than before, and it may even open up some opportunities for you to sell your ports and make some gold if your server if friendly to such.

Since you now have access to Ice Barrier it’s time to turn your AoE dreams into something even bigger than you had imagined. You’ll also be able to do a lot more AoE grinding for the sake of serious experience gain now where before it was more useful in speeding up your quests. It still works great for that as well, but you can now start facing more opponents at once which will become more and more profitable as you go on.

Leveling areas still aren’t very imporant to you, but again it’s always going to be better for you to level in places filled with melee mobs than ones filled with casters and other ranged attackers. To give you some bit of direction, Tanaris offers great grinding opportunities with the pirates on the east coast as well as the local instance of Zul’Farrak. If you aren’t quite ready to take on some of those mobs, then I would personally recommend you go grind some of the mobs in Arathi Highlands if you want to grind. Otherwise, just quest wherever you find level appropriate quests.

Important Spells

Levels 40-49

There isn’t much in the way of new spells that you’ll gain in your 40’s, most of it is just going to be higher ranks of what you already have. Frost Nova, Ice Armor, Conjure Food/Water, Arcane Intellect, Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Frostbolt, Ice Barrier, and Conjure Mana Gem all receive a new rank which will be helpful for you.

Portals: Exo/IF/SW or Org/SMC/UC (level 40) Here you get your first set of portals to your faction’s major cities. They pop up in the same order that the teleport spells did with the druid city coming in at a higher level. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way it is.

Ice Barrier (level 40) Welcome to AoE Grinding like you’ve never seen it before. Who needs healers and tanks when you’ve got a wonderful frost bubble keeping you perfectly safe? You do not suffer pushback to spell casting while you have it up which means you can Blizzard while mobs are hitting you, it absorbs damage that you would have otherwise taken, and if you spend your talents right then when the bubble has absorbed the maximum amount of damage for you it explodes in a Frost Nova effect that freezes all of the mobs around you. Pure. Win.

Levels 50-58

Some of your big spells get rank upgrades here as well: Cone of Cold (twice), Frostbolt (twice), Ice Armor, Blizzard, Ice Barrier (twice), Frost Nova, Arcane Intellect, and Conjure Mana Gem.

Portal: Darnassus or Thunder Bluff (level 50) Here we finish out the Pre-Outlands portals so you can now port people to any of your faction’s major cities.

Summon Water Elemental (level 50) Next to Ice Barrier this is the biggest upgrade you’re going to find for improving your grinding abilities. You have to spend your talent points in the Frost tree to get it, but if you aren’t Frost then you probably aren’t reading this guide in the first place. And if you are Frost and haven’t been putting all of your points into the Frost tree up to this point then you obviously haven’t read the previous installments of this guide.

Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt

These will pretty well be the rotations you use for the rest of the game for single mobs as far as the Frost spec is concerned. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off. Frost Nova when and if you need to, but otherwise just spam Frostbolt to knock them down and then finish them off with an instant cast.

This will change a bit when you get up around level 64 or so because new spells open up, but until then you pretty well stick to the ones listed above here.

Note: These rotations are for single mobs that you want to take down. Ideally you will want to fight every chance you get using an AoE pull and rotation, but if you have to single target then this is how you get the job done. If you need a refresher on how to AoE Grind with a Mage then please refer to my post: AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition.

Special Mention: Ice Barrier

Ice Barrier is a game changing spell for a mage because it addresses the one problem that we cannot otherwise overcome; our squishiness. Mages can’t take a lot of hits because they generally have low health pools. They can’t stand up long in melee because all they have protecting them is a few threads of cloth rather than a suit of plate armor. But now we’ve got ourselves a bubble that absorbs damage for us.

The key to effectively using Ice Barrier is noting the duration and cooldown of the spell and keeping track of that. This spell has a 1 minute duration and a 30 second cooldown. The cooldown is the biggest drawback to the spell (because we’ll be fighting so many mobs at once), so you need to know how to overcome that. You want this spell to be active before you start pulling, and you want to burn its cooldown while you’re getting on your mount, while you’re pulling the next group, while you’re putting distance between you and the mobs after freezing, or while you’re moving but not mounted.

If mobs chew through your bubble in the middle of your pull then don’t worry about it, you’ve been doing fine without it for 40 levels so surely you can handle being without it for a few seconds. The priority in your pull if Ice Barrier wears off is to corral the mobs, freeze them in place, and then cast Ice Barrier while you’re getting distance between you and the mobs. This is another big reason why I prefer to run away from mobs to get my distance rather than using Blink. It gives me a chance to refresh Ice Barrier while also keeping a watchful eye on everything around me so that I can react to anything unexpected.

Get used to keeping Ice Barrier up at all times. If you’re in the middle of town or in a low level area then of course there’s no reason to bother with it. But if you’re in an area where there are mobs that you plan on fighting then keep it up all the time.

The Shattered Barrier talent gives your Ice Barrier a 50-100% chance of freezing all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when the barrier is destroyed. This can be used to your advantage in many cases, but some people don’t like for it to happen. If your IB is reaching its limit of damage absorption and you don’t want the freeze to take place, then be sure to recast IB before it gets destroyed. If you can’t stand the freeze effect when it breaks, then just don’t put the points in Shattered Barrier and instead put them in either Arctic Winds, Chilled to the Bone, or Improved Frostbolt (see talent section below).

And remember that IB is a Frost spell, so Cold Snap will instantly remove its cooldown if you find yourself in a bind and need to get the bubble back up immediately.

Leveling 40-49
As soon as you hit level 40 you need to put your talent point into Ice Barrier, and that one spell may potentially change the way you play your class all on its own. The early levels of the spell don’t seem to absorb a whole lot of damage for you, but you’ll soon learn how to gauge that amount and how to use and abuse your bubble in every situation. The starting amount is 3300 damage which seems like quite a bit, but when you’re pulling several mobs at once and they’re all hitting you it doesn’t last quite as long as you would hope.

The main change with adding IB to the mix is that you can get more confident in your ability to pull large groups and survive, or you can get more focused in your single target casting and focusing more on just burning them down than trying to keep yourself alive. Since IB prevents all pushback on your spells you don’t have to worry about keeping distance between yourself and your targets for the sake of casting your spells quickly. Just keep spamming your Frostbolts until the mob is dead or your bubble is gone.

The bubble provides you with some much needed defense in the form of immunity. It’s easy for you to get into an overpowered state of mind with it, and that’s a good thing. Just remember that while you can solo all of your quests with ease now, you’re still a squishy little cloth wearer when that ice is gone.

Leveling 50-58
At level 50 it’s time to introduce yourself to your friend in frostiness, the Water Elemental (WE). You now have all the tools you need to AoE your way up to level 80 if you want. WE is going to help you with pulling mobs, freezing, corralling, or simply killing them. The primary use for him in an AoE build is his Freeze attack which works exactly like Frost Nova except that instead of being centered on the caster it can be cast at range similar to how you cast Blizzard.

If your Frost Nova is on cooldown or if it misses a few mobs, then you can use WE’s Freeze spell instead. Sometimes you’ll find a nice cluster of mobs to begin with that don’t even require you to corral them into a single spot to start grinding. In cases like that you can skip most of the steps in my grinding guide and just start off with Freeze right off the bat followed by an immediate Blizzard from you. WE’s Freeze spell does have a cooldown on it, but it does not trigger your own Global Cooldown (GCD) when you cast it, so you can cast freeze and then immediately cast Blizzard, and you can have him cast Freeze in the middle of your Blizzard cast without it interrupting what you’re doing.

Summon Water Elemental does count as a Frost spell for the sake of using Cold Snap to finish off the cooldown of your spells too, so if you need the WE back in action on the fly then Cold Snap is how you do it.

Summon the WE whenever you need to increase your dps or be more efficient in your AoE, whenever you find yourself in a bind during an AoE pull, when you’re just bored and feel like casting something, or when you’re lonely and need a friend. Whatever you need him for, he’s there for you.

I tend to save him for when I’m doing big AoE pulls or fighting elites or instance bosses, but his cooldown really isn’t all that bad at 3 minutes if you want to summon him more often just to get his added dps. You can get the Glyph of Water Elemental to reduce his cooldown by 30 seconds if you feel you need him more often, or you can get the Glyph of Eternal Water if you want him around all the time and are willing to sacrifice his ability to cast Freeze. Since I use his Freeze all the time I have no desire to use the GoEW to keep the pet around all the time, but it’s an option if you feel it works well for you. If I wanted to be a caster with a pet though, then I would have rolled a Warlock. Just saying.

General Tactics
As far as general AoE Grinding goes, you’re pretty well going to be doing the same thing you’ve been doing since level 20 except that you can do even bigger pulls now that you have Ice Barrier.

I mentioned one of my favorite tactics in Part II that I called Running Through, and that becomes even more viable now that you have Ice Barrier backing you up as well. The potential threat of doing it at lower levels was that you were subjecting yourself to being hit which could potentially get you killed, but with the bubble on we really don’t care any more.

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.

Let me say it now, loud and clear IF YOUR TANK IS NOT A PALADIN THEN DO NOT CAST BLIZZARD! At least not right away. If you have a Warrior tanking then wait at least until the first Thunder Clap, preferably the second before you cast Blizzard. If you have a Druid tank then wait until he’s used Swipe a time or two before you get started. While you’re waiting for your tank to build up their threat just spam Frostbolts at the tank’s target.

If you have a Death Knight tank then save yourself the stress and repair bills and leave the group give him a few seconds to get his agro going. A DK tank can come in the form of any of the three DK specs. If he’s Unholy then you can usually start AoE after 3-6 seconds, if he’s Frost you need just a little more time, and if he’s Blood then you might as well give up on the whole AoE idea and just stick to Frostbolt spam.

Paladins have great AoE threat generation, so just make sure Consecrate has been cast (the ground will have a golden glow to it in sort of a cracked ground looking pattern), give it a second or two to tick, and then lay into them.

If you’re following my talent build then you’ve got a lot of potential for spike damage from multiple crits in quick succession. Because of this you have a lot of different opportunities to pull threat off of your tank, so you need to be mindful of these things and know when to pull back on the AoE throttle. Mobs will die faster if you’re casting Blizzard, but your group will die faster if everyone’s agro is all over the place. Know your role, and watch your agro.

Macro Suggestions
/cast Freeze

This macro is going to cast your Water Elemental’s Freeze spell so that you don’t have to use the default keybind or click on the icon. There are several different ways to get this same functionality, but I personally build it into a macro.

You can modify that macro however you’d like, but I wanted to show you how to activate WE’s spell in a macro format. I personally have it tied into the number 4 on my action bar when modified with the Alt key like so:

/cast [modifier:alt] Freeze; Fire Blast

It’s a simple macro that makes me cast Fire Blast by default, but if I hold Alt then it casts Freeze instead. The 1-4 keys are always my most active spells so I like to keep it handy, but since it has a cooldown I keep it on an Alt function rather than giving it a key of its own.

Addon Suggestions
The one addon that I’m going to suggest that you at least look into here is ShieldMonitor. It will display a bar on your screen that you can move wherever you want, and that bar will monitor the “health” of your Ice Barrier. It gives you a visible and numeric display of how much damage your IB can still absorb so that you’ll know when it’s about to break and when you might need to recast it if you don’t want it to break.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 40-58

Frost Talent Build: Level 58

Starting at level 40, the following is what I personally suggest for leveling your Frost Mage with a preference for AoE grinding:

Ice Barrier (1/1): [Instant Cast, 30 sec cooldown] Instantly shields you, absorbing 3300 damage. lasts 1 minute. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

Shattered Barrier (2/2): Gives your Ice Barrier spell a 100% chance to freeze all enemies within 10 yards for 8 seconds when it is destroyed.

Arctic Winds (2/5): Increases all Frost damage you cause by 2% and reduces the chance melee and ranged attacks will hit you by 2%.

Fingers of Frost (2/2): Gives your Chill effects a 15% chance to grant you the Fingers of Frost effect, which treats your next 2 spells cast as if the target were Frozen. Lasts 15 seconds.

Empowered Frostbolt (2/2): Increases the damage of your Frostbolt spell by an amount equal to 10% of your spell power and reduces the cast time by 0.2 seconds.

Arctic Winds +1 (3/5): as above, but 3% instead of 2% in both cases.

Summon Water Elemental (1/1): [Instant cast, 3 minute cooldown] Summon a Water Elemental to fight for the caster.

Enduring Water (3/3): Increases the duration of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 15 seconds and your Frostbolt spell has a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 part or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 seconds. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 6 seconds.

Arctic Winds +2 (5/5): as above, bu 5% in both cases.

Chilled to the Bone (3/5): Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Ice Lance spells by 3% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 6%.

Ice Barrier has already been discussed in detail up above, it’s main function is to provide you with protection by absorbing damage. Shattered Barrier gives you an extra layer of protection by freezing your enemies when Ice Barrier’s bubble is destroyed from absorbing too much damage.

Arctic Winds is a straight increase to our damage. The reduced chance that we’ll get hit by attacks is a plus, but the extra damage is what we’re really after here. Fingers of Frost serves multiple purposes, but at this level it’s primarily an increase to your DPS. By treating targets as though they are frozen your spells (including damaging spikes from Blizzard) gain the benefits of earlier talent points we spent such as Shatter (+50% chance to crit against frozen targets) and Ice Shards (increase the critical strike damage of Frost spells by 100%).

Empowered Frostbolt might seem a bit odd since we still haven’t put any points into Improved Frostbolt to reduce it’s cast time, but what we’re after here is more damage from Frostbolt, not necessarily a faster cast time. Chilled to the Bone gives us more damage to Frostbolt and Ice Lance (which we don’t have yet) which is always good, but the additional 6% speed penalty to chilled targets is what we need for our AoE.

Summon Water Elemental has been covered in the Level 50 section up above. Enduring Water used to be there strictly for the increased duration of your WE, but it now also provides a replenishment effect when you cast your Frostbolt, which will provide us with a great way to get our mana back since Frost misses out on talents that both Arcane and Fire have to reduce mana costs or increase methods of regaining mana.

Glyphs for Leveling
Our count now reaches 2:2 for Majors and Minors. I’m going to list the different options that I would suggest for each glyph slot in the order that I would suggest them. Look at each one and decide for yourself which ones you will use.

Major Glyphs
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%.

Frost Nova: Your Frost Nova targets can take an additional 20% damage before the Frost Nova effect automatically breaks.

Water Elemental: Reduces the cooldown of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 30 seconds.

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. Glyph of Ice Barrier is going to give you an even larger bubble which can be a great help and it’s your call whether you find it more valuable than Glyph of Ice Block which will reset Frost Nova when needed. Of the two I personally go with Ice Block because I like for my Ice Barrier to burst and freeze enemies for me, but it’s your call. The other two I consider acceptable choices for a Frost Mage in these levels, but I wouldn’t necessarily go for them myself.

Minor Glyphs
Slow Fall: Your Slow Fall spell no longer requires a reagent.

Frost Armor: Increases the duration of your Frost Armor and Ice Armor spells by 30 minutes.

Arcane Intellect: Reduces the mana cost of your Arcane Intellect and Arcane Brilliance spells by 50%.

Penguin: Your Polymorph: Sheep spell polymorphs the target into a penguin instead. (listed strictly for you Linux users)

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. If you are only leveling solo then go for Ice Armor so you don’t have to recast your armor as often, and if you’re doing a lot of group runs then go for Arcane Intellect instead since people are always asking for buffs and sitting to drink sucks. Penguin is about as worthless as you can get since it has no actually benefit, but at least it changes things up a bit.

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.

Suggested Instances
There aren’t any particular instances that need to be suggested for these levels, though all of them have some good gear that you could use and are great for your AoE. If you get to 40 and still haven’t done Scarlet Monastery then I strongly suggest you do that for the Illusionary Rod if nothing else. That staff will last you well into your 50’s and the other gear is an excellent base for getting through these levels as well. All of the SM instances are good for you actually, except for Armory which offers nothing for a cloth caster, but the AoE grinding in Armory is pretty nice as there are opportunities for such around every corner (literally).

You will find a lot of AoE opportunities in Sunken Temple as well as some decent gear upgrades. The instance is a bit annoying and a lot of people hate it, but with the new LFG system set up for random dungeons, you’ve got a fairly good shot at ending up there.

When you get into your 50’s you’ll want to look for a group to run Blackrock Depths for even better AoE fights and gear upgrades, and you’ll find the same in both Scholomance and Stratholme as you get to your upper 50’s as well. These three instances in particular are some of the best AoE spots you’re going to find in vanilla WoW and the loot is great for your level.

You’ll end up replacing most of your gear pretty early on once you hit Outlands, so don’t worry too much about running those instances, but if you’re looking for somewhere to go in particular, then those are the places I’ll suggest.


Posted by on December 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

The time has come to share with you the greatness that is Frost Mage AoE Grinding. Grinding on my first Mage was really what solidified my interest in the game. Up to that point I really didn’t care all that much for the game. It was something to do, storyline was decent, play style wasn’t too bad, but overall it was just something else that I could play save that I actually had to pay as I played as well. Up until I started playing the mage I had seriously considered just letting my account expire and go back to playing Diablo II and D&D and leaving this game to my wife and her friend. [Shameless plug: Wife @Fynralyl and her NaNoWriMo Blog and her friend: @Catarith]

But I was reading through one forum or another one day and stumbled onto a thread about AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage and decided to take a look. I got the general idea, hit YouTube for a visual example of what people meant by some of the terms, and then set about doing it myself. I got into it right away and found out that it was in fact a quick and easy process. However, I also noticed that several of the suggestions given were flawed. Some things they told me to do were not effective while others that they told me not to do were actually way more effective than the contrary. So, I gave up on the forums, the blogs, and the YouTube videos and did my own thing. My performance increased greatly and my leveling speed increased right along with it.

So what I am going to share with you today is what I have found to be the most effective way to perform AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. I invite anyone who has done this themselves to join in with any thoughts, suggestions, experiences, and so forth that they have had as well. If you find something works better for you then go ahead and share it. If you disagree with something I’ve said then bring that up too.

Advice You Should Ignore
There are a lot of things that you will find in guides around the net that are not true. People will give you suggestions on how to spend your talents or which spells to cast or avoid, and while all information can help you improve on what you’re doing or prompt you to try something you hadn’t thought of before, that doesn’t mean that the information they give you is correct. Here I will cover some of the advice that I suggest you ignore. Take note of the fact that the statements I just made apply to me as well – this worked for me, but you may well find that it sucks for you and that you would rather go down the paths I tell you to avoid.

Misconceptions The following are all topics you will find discussed on forums and in blogs. I’ll tell you what many of those blogs say that I feel is wrong and then tell you what my thoughts on them are as well.

Frostbite Talent: Almost every AoE grinding guide you’ll find for Frost Mages will tell you not to take this because it will mess up your pulls. This is, by far, one of the single most effective grinding tools that the class has to offer.

Mana Shield: All of those guides that I just told you who don’t use Frostbite also tell you to use this worthless piece of crap of a spell. Blizzard has the highest mana cost of any spell you’re ever going to cast, and if you get a big pull and then find out you don’t have the mana to fire that bad boy off, then you’re well beyond screwed. You better hope you’ve got your running shoes with you. Forget this thing exists unless you’re in PvP.

Icy Veins: You’re also going to find a lot of guides that tell you that this is crucial to your grinding. Fact is, it’s not crucial at all. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps and can speed things up when it’s not on cooldown, but it is by no means crucial. Take the talent when you don’t have more important things to pick up instead. It’s great for having Blizzard do all of its damage in a short time, or firing off your Evocation in a shorter time, but it’s not necessary and I do most of my grinding without ever using it.

Frost AoE: General Information
If you have read my Paladin AoE Guides then you will know that I mentioned that there is no set rotation for AoE grinding with Paladins. For the Mage, it is pretty much the same. There are certain spells that you are going to cast, but not a specific order in which you are going to cast them as each pull and each situation can change what you have to do and how you have to react.

However, just like the Paladin’s guides, there are general steps that are always taken in pretty well the same order. I already mentioned the order in the Mage Leveling: 21-39 post: [Pull], Corral, Freeze, Distance, Blizzard, Clean Up

One difference that I will note right off the bat between Mage AoE and Paladin AoE is that I do not including Pulling as part of my rotation on a Mage where I do include it as a Paladin. With the mage you want everything in one spot and you want it to stay there, so pulling other mobs into the mix is generally a bad idea. So as a general rule of thumb, when you’re grinding with a Mage as soon as you’ve pulled the mobs you want, finish them off before you pull any more.

Getting Ready: Before you even begin to pull the mobs there are a couple of things you need to do. First thing’s first – Always, ALWAYS make sure you have enough mana to do what you’re about to do. Nothing sucks more than pulling a group of mobs, freezing them in place, and then wondering why Blizzard isn’t casting and then noticing you started the pull with 50 mana… Never go into a fight without mana. Second, make sure you’ve got your armor on. Personally, I suggest you go with Frost Armor when doing your AoE. Once you hit level 40 you will also have Ice Barrier, and I suggest you cast that as well as it will absorb most of the blows you take while pulling.

Once you’ve got your armor on and your mana’s up, then go ahead and start your pull.

Step 1: Pull There are various method of pulling mobs, but with mounts now available at level 20, which also happens to be when you get your AoE spell, Blizzard, the good old fashion Body Pull method is going to be your best bet. It’s not your only option, but it will generally be the best one you’ve got. So jump on your mount and run near all of the mobs that you want to AoE and allow yourself to draw agro simply by moving within their agro range. There are other methods that you can use depending on your situation which include casting a single Frostbolt on multiple mobs that are spread out, using Polymorph on a central mob and then pulling the others to it, and several others. Once you get into your 60’s you’ll have Ice Lance which is great for pulling, but otherwise stick to the body pulls.

Step 2: Corral For you city folks, you might note that corralling is basically the same thing as gathering up or grouping together, so that’s what you’re doing here if you aren’t familiar with the term. You need to gather up all of the mobs that you’ve pulled and get them bunched up together so that your Frost Nova will hit all of them.

This isn’t necessarily done by casting a spell so much as simply by running around towards or through the mobs that you’re pulling so that they all move closer together. The easiest way to corral the mobs does involve casting a spell, and that spell is Ice Block. I don’t use the method very often myself because I’m proficient in corralling as part of my pulling, but if you have a hard time doing it then just cast your Ice Block and go with that. By using Ice Block you make yourself immune to everything and the mobs will all run up to melee your block of ice until the spell wears off or you cancel it.

I suggest you practice corralling as part of your pulling, which is simply moving around so that the mobs get closer together, rather than relying on Ice Block as it has a cooldown that is far too long to rely upon it for every pull.

Call this step whatever you want to help you remember it. When I talked about AoE with a Paladin I didn’t bother including a Corral step because the paladin doesn’t give a crap where you are so long as you’re close to him. A Mage though, needs all of the mobs close together and he needs them there at the same time. So, I’m adding a step here that didn’t exist for the Paladin to help emphasize that point.

Step 3: Freeze The next thing on your list is to freeze the mobs in place. Your most reliable method of doing this is going to be by casting Frost Nova. It is possible to freeze them all with Cone of Cold if you put your talent points in Frostbite like I told you to, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on that. Stick with Frost Nova as it’s going to work every time so long as it hits.

As you get higher in levels you will get talent points that increase your critical hit chance, and your critical hit damage while your targets are frozen, which makes this all go a whole lot faster and smoother. But, the main reason for freezing them in place is so that you can get your distance and then cast Blizzard to hit them all at once so that you’re not wasting mana or time.

Step 4: Distance The next item of business is to put some distance between yourself and the mobs. You can do this one of two ways: cast Blink, or run. Personally, I just run a short distance and then call it good. Some people find that casting Blink is the way to go, but I disagree. The only time I use Blink instead of just running is when I am either Dazed, Stunned, or Rooted by the mobs that I am pulling. If none of those three things are happening, then I simply run and call it good.

There are a few flaws in using Blink that keep it from being my chosen method. You can accidentally blink into other mobs causing you to over pull, you can Blink over a glitched section of ground so that you basically waste the spell as you gain little or no distance at all, you can Blink into a glitch that causes you to fall through the world and die, or you can Blink out of the range of Blizzard causing you to run back towards them and waste whatever time you might have saved otherwise. I thought that Blizzard had fixed the glitches that send you falling through the world, but it happened to me last week in Redridge, so I know it’s still possible.

Step 5: Blizzard The spell, not the company. With your enemies safely frozen in a nice little corral of their soon-to-be death, cast Blizzard and let destruction rain (snow?) down upon your enemies. When you cast Blizzard make sure you put the far edge of the spell’s area as close to you as possible. In other words, try to leave as much of the spell’s area that isn’t on the mobs closer to you so that if the mobs break out of their freeze they still have to run through your Blizzard to get to you.

If you have taken Frostbite and Improved Blizzard then each time your Blizzard hits them it has a chance to freeze them again as well. Sometimes a mob will manage to escape your Blizzard without being frozen again (and again, and again), but even though you only have a 15% chance to freeze them from Frostbite, each spike from Blizzard has a chance to trigger that 15% chance so it happens a lot more than you would expect from such a small number. But, since it is a chance rather than a guarantee you never know how it might turn out.

Step 6: Clean Up Clean Up is where you have to make a decision and why a set rotation doesn’t actually exist. This is where you have to make a judgement call based on the situation.

If you still have multiple mobs that are still alive and they are not close to dying, then you either want to repeat Step 5 by casting another Blizzard, or go back to Step 3 and try to refreeze them if your Frost Nova is not on cool down.

If you have multiple mobs that are close to dying then I generally suggest you finish them off with Cone(s) of Cold or Arcane Explosion(s). Because of the extra benefits of your Frost talents I would generally suggest you use Cone of Cold for this if you know you can catch them all in it’s area, but if not then go ahead and use Arcane Explosion instead. You have more potential benefit from using CoC, but AE is the safer route if you’d rather do that for getting started.

Visual Representation
Rather than going with specific examples as I did with the Paladin series, I’m going to give you a bit more visual look at how things are done. Some of my other fellow bloggers have picked up this method, so I figured I would give it a shot myself to see how well it works for me.

Pull (a body pull using a mount)

Corral (grouping the mobs simply by positioning yourself in a central area)

Freeze (using Frost Nova, or a Water Elemental’s Freeze spell)

Distance (by running, or casting Blink)

Blizzard (there’s only one Blizzard, ladies and gents – only one)

Clean Up (Arcane Explosion in this case, Cone of Cold or other spells work too)


Posted by on November 18, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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Mage Leveling Part II: 21-39

Part I: Beginning

Once you get to level 20 some parts of your leveling will become easier, and some will not. The first change that you are going to find is that having the ability to teleport all over the world is absolutely amazing. It’s probably my favorite trait of the class overall. For that matter, it’s my favorite trait of every class in the game.

One change you are going to find with your questing and such is that being able to AoE grind through your quests is going to make them fly by a whole lot faster. Some quests are not impacted by AoE grinding at all, like ones that have you bring back Mr. Mob’s head, or ones where you have to deliver an item from Location A to Location B (though teleporting can help with that), and so on. But a lot of quests involve killing a certain number of specific mobs or collecting a number of items that drop from certain mobs. These are the ones where AoE grinding really shines and where your leveling process starts burning some serious fuel.

Where you level is not especially important, just try to focus questing to some degree in areas that have a lot of mobs grouped together that are melee mobs rather than ranged attackers or spell casters. My first Mage leveled through the 20’s in Hillsbrad Foothills much like my Paladin did. The Mage I am leveling right now did these levels, mostly, in Ashenvale. If you want to follow my path then feel free, but as long as you are questing in an area that is level-appropriate for you then you should be just fine. Just remember to stay away from the caster mobs and ranged attackers as they are the only ones that pose any real threat; at least from an AoE standpoint. If you’re going against mobs 1v1 then by all means just kill everything you see.

This post is about playing your mage and getting them leveled up to 39. I am going to talk about AoE grinding a bit, but that’s not the focus of this post. That will be in the next post in this series where I discuss the particulars of grinding. If you want to find out about how to AoE with a Frost Mage then you should probably look at that post rather than this one. AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition

Here I am going to show you how to spend your talent points, which glyphs you should get, what spells you should cast or avoid, general rotations, etc. So the scope of this post is the mechanics of leveling a mage, not the technique of casting your spells.

Important Spells

Levels 21-30

Counterspell (level 24) This is an excellent spell that should always be somewhere on your screen. I don’t necessarily recommend it be on your primary action bar, but have it somewhere that you can access it. It’s great for PvE (when facing casters), and it’s excellent for PvP. Check the macro section down below for this one.

Conjure Mana Gem (level 28) This spell creates a gem that you carry around in your bags that acts just like a mana potion, restoring amounts of mana that scale with your level. The gems you make early on in the game are always single use, but as you get to end game you will mage gems that have three uses. Creating a gem costs more mana than it returns, so note that it’s something that should be prepared ahead of time.

Ice Block (level 30) This is your first “oh crap” button. It throws a solid block of ice around you for the duration making you immune to, well, everything. The drawback to it is that you’re stuck there until it wears off or you cancel the spell. Use it when you pull too much, when you have Frostbite proc in the middle of a pull that can’t be fixed, when you’re about to die, when you’re covered in DoTs/Poisons/Disease, when you fall off a cliff and can’t find Slow Fall, or when you want to see yourself in a funny little pose since it keeps you exactly as you were when you cast it. If you have the Glyph of Ice Block, use it any time you need to reset your Frost Nova cooldown. And do not feel like you have to wait out its duration. If it’s accomplished what you need it to, feel free cancel the spell early and go back to your business.

Teleport: Darnassus/Thunderbluff (level 30) At level 30 you get access to your faction’s Druid city teleport. I don’t know what the reasoning is for putting these off until level 30, but apparently Blizzard does.

Levels 31-39
Mage Armor (level 34) gives you Resist Magic 5 which isn’t great, but not bad, and also allows you to regenerate 50% of your regular mana regen during combat. A lot of people love this spell and use it in place of Frost Armor. I rarely use it myself, but it’s still a decent spell.


Teleport & Portal: Theramore (level 35) Here you are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Theramore. This portal actually sells pretty frequently for me on my Alliance server as it’s an easier way for people to travel to that portion of the world. Tips for portals vary on every server, so you’ll have to see for yourself how much gold you might be able to make off of it. On my Ally server this portal sells for 3-5g and I see people asking in trade chat for it every other day or so.

Portals: Stormwind, Ironforge, Exodar (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. My Alliance server still sells all portals and these typically bring in a 10g fee each. You don’t get the portal for Darnassus for a few more level yet, but that one sells for the same.

Teleport & Portal: Stonard (level 35) You are able to both teleport and open portals for your party to travel to Stonard. This portal used to sell almost constantly as it was the shortest way for you to reach Outlands for the first time since it’s just north of the Dark Portal. Now that those portals exist in every major city you might as well forget the fact that this one exists. I do find an occasional request for it from groups that want to run through Sunken Temple on my old Horde server, but for the most part people just don’t need it anymore.

Portals: Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon (level 40) You can now open portals for your party members to be teleported to these major cities. Selling portals is an easy way to make a few gold, but again it varies on each server. On my Horde server the only portals you ever really see people asking for are Org and TB, with an occasional ask for Undercity as well. The only time you ever see anyone ask for Silvermoon is when there’s a holiday event going on. For my Horde servers you’re lucky if you can get 2g for a port to any of the Horde’s major cities.

Leveling 21-30
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: This will pretty well be the rotation you use for the rest of the game for single mobs. Basically your life revolves around Frostbolt spamming and throwing out a Fire Blast or Cone of Cold to finish them off.

As you may notice, at this point Fireball is completely gone from my rotations and it will see very little, if any, use throughout the rest of my playing. The only time I go back to Fireball from this point on is when I am fighting a mob that is resistant or immune to Frost damage.

If you feel a need to throw a Frost Nova out there to stop a mob that’s rushing into melee range then feel free to do so. If you like Cone of Cold more than Fire Blast then feel free to use it as well. I generally stick to using Fire Blast as my finishing move, but as you get higher in levels and mobs start having more hit points I begin to use Cone of Cold more frequently for the sake of having more chances to proc Frostbite and freezing the mob in place. Doing this gives you a chance of ending many of your fights without taking a single hit.

Remember that you have your Mana Gem for when you need to restore your mana. Unless you’re in the middle of a horrible pull and already running out of mana then using the Gem by itself should give you enough to finish the fight. If you need more mana than that, then feel free to use a Mana Potion in addition to the gem.

Leveling 31-39
Rotation Option 1: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Fire Blast
Rotation Option 2: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Frostbolt
Rotation Option 3: Frostbolt, Frostbolt, Cone of Cold, Frostbolt
Explanation: Nothing new here.

You don’t get any new offensive spells in this range, you just get higher ranks of the ones you’ve already got. Refer back to the section above for specifics.

General Tactics

There is one thing in particular that I want to point out right now. As you begin gaining more levels the mobs you are fighting are going to gain more hit points which will require you to cast more spells due to the fight taking longer. The longer a fight lasts, the more likely the mobs are to close in and start attacking you. Do not be afraid to stop casting a spell in order to save yourself. It’s alright to take off running half a second before your Frostbolt goes off. There’s nothing wrong with that; especially if you are close to dying. It’s perfectly acceptable to run away like a little girl, screaming your head off while you wait for Frost Nova’s cooldown to pop so that you can freeze the mob in place and then get back to killing him. There’s also nothing wrong with throwing a Frost Nova the second the mob comes within range and running away all together.

For a Frost Mage a strong offense truly is the best defense you can have. You defend yourself by attacking your enemies and slowing them down or freezing them in place. You don’t have to constantly be on the move and you don’t have to kite every mob that you face, but the abilities that you have give you the time and the opportunity to almost completely control the field.

I’m going to introduce now a tactic I like to call Run Through. It’s most effective when using either Frost Nova or Cone of Cold (or Dragon’s Breath if you’re a Fire Mage). It’s best represented in Rotation Option #3 up above. Assuming that you do not get a Frostbite proc from your Frostbolts, the mob is generally going to arrive near to melee range close to when your second Frostbolt is cast or in the middle of the third. I like to be aggressive on my Frost mage, so I take right to the mob’s face; so if he’s closing in after my second cast I don’t wait for the third cast I just start running into him after the second.

As you get close to the mob cast Cone of Cold and keep right on running through them. You can then cast Blink if you want or just keep on running a ways before turning around and going back to Frostbolts to finish them off. This is going to accomplish a few things 1 you’re going to deal additional damage with an instant cast, 2 you are going to put distance between yourself and the mob, and 3 you have yet another chance to proc Frostbite and freeze the target in place.

By running through a mob to do this you also open up the option of them causing a Frostbite proc from hitting you with a melee attack while you have Frost Armor on which will freeze them in place for you and make your job a whole lot easier. If you remember back in Part I, I mentioned that my hit points are just another resource for me to use, and this is what I mean by that. I’m giving away a few hit points by giving the mob a chance to hit me, but what I’m gaining out of the deal is another chance to proc Frostbite.

AoE Grinding: Frost Mage Edition
Here are your basics of AoE Grinding with a Frost Mage. For more details you will need to refer to the next post in this series which will discuss the details of AoE grinding across all levels.

Generally speaking you want to pull a group of mobs, at least 3, into a central location, Frost Nova to freeze them in place, and then move out of melee range before casting Blizzard. Now, that’s a very generalized version of it, but it’s essentially what it is. There are a lot of tricks that you can use to help you in this, and sometimes you have to sacrifice your cooldowns to make some of them work.

Step 1: Pull The first thing you have to do for any type of AoE grinding is pull the mobs. The easiest way to do this is to jump on your mount and ride around into all of their threat ranges.

Step 2: Corral The second thing you have to do is get them all bunched up together. If you’re still on your mount then ride away, turning a bit here and there to get the mobs next to the others. It’s a bit hard to explain how to do that, but practicing will help you understand. The point is to get all of the mobs close enough to each other, and to you, that a single Frost Nova will catch all of them.

Step 3: Freeze The third thing you have to do is stop them from moving. The best option for this Frost Nova, though at later levels your Water Elemental gets an ability called Freeze which is a ranged Frost Nova that works just as well if not better. Be aware that in this stage you will occasionally miss some of the mobs. It’s good to have items with +Hit on them for doing this, but they aren’t required. You don’t miss very often and even when you do it can still be managed.

Step 4: Distance The fourth thing is putting distance between yourself and the mobs. The traditional way of doing this is to use Blink to teleport yourself a short distance away. However, Blink is not 100% reliable and can often teleport you right into another mob, or group of mobs, if you haven’t been keeping an eye on your surroundings. Personally, I don’t Blink at this point unless the mobs have managed to Daze me which makes you move slower. If I’m not dazed or otherwise rooted in place (nets, webs, etc) then I simply run. I run about 10 yards away and then turn around. Whatever method you choose to use for moving, be sure to turn around and face the mobs when you’re done. The optimum distance is twice the size of your Blizzard’s AoE circle or just slightly further. Going too far means that the mobs will be out of range for Blizzard, while not going far enough means melee mobs will be hitting you in the face while you cast.

Step 5: Blizzard Now it’s time to cast your Blizzard and watch the pretty numbers fly by as they all start to die. You want to position your Blizzard so that all of the mobs (or at least all that you can manage) fall within the area of the damage. You also want the furthest edge of Blizzard’s effect to be as close to you as possible. When a mob is frozen, that freeze breaks after they’ve taken a certain amount of damage, and Blizzard deals a lot of damage. So by keeping the area as close as possible it means that when their freeze breaks they still have to walk through the AoE damage to get to you. Since we also have at least one point in the Improved Blizzard talent (minimum level 20) your Blizzard now has a chill effect that will slow the mobs down. And since we have points in the Frostbite talent, every spell with a chill effect has the ability to freeze the target in place. And every time Blizzard deals damage it chills them, meaning that every time it hits it has a chance to proc Frostbite.

Step 6: Clean Up After you’ve cast your Blizzard you need to decide what’s next. If the mobs are still alive then you have to finish them off. You can do that by either casting another Blizzard if they have a lot of health, or casting Arcane Explosion of Cone of Cold if they just have a little bit of health left. If the mobs are already dead, then your only form of clean up is collecting your loot.

If you are fighting caster mobs in addition to melee, then pulling them and rounding them up into a single group isn’t going to be as easy. Until level 30 your only real option is to have the caster’s location be where you coral all of the rest of the mobs, or to line of sight the caster and coral everyone there.

At level 30 you get an excellent spell called Ice Block. It freezes you in place and makes you immune to everything for its duration. The great thing about being immune to everything is that caster mobs will move into melee range and just start attacking the ice, as will everything else. This gives you a coral method to use when facing casters as well. If you happen to be using the Glyph of Ice Block (level 30) then every time you use Ice Block it resets/removes the cooldown on Frost Nova so that you can immediately cast Frost Nova again. If my pull has gone bad I’ll use Ice Block just to let everyone come to me and start all over again.

Another thing to note about Ice Block is that it gives you a great opportunity to change the direction you’re heading after a Pull. When you go to initiate your Coral you can use Ice Block to do it and then rotate your camera to take a look around the area. Find which direction is clear of mobs so that you know which way you’re running, and have that be the direction you go when you pop out to initiate your Freeze. Playing with an AoE Mage was the reason I turned off the Smart Pivot option in my UI > Camera options. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s what causes your camera to rotate to the direction your character is facing if you rotate the camera with a click-and-drag left click. It allows me to look in any direction, for as long as I want, without having to hold down my mouse button to keep it there. If you aren’t aware, the default settings allow you to hold down both the left and right mouse buttons to run, and when doing that it causes you to run whichever direction the mouse moves. So if you hold down the two mouse buttons coming out of an Ice Block you will run the direction that your camera is facing instead of the direction that your character is facing. When you do it, go ahead and shake the mouse left and right just a hair when you first come out because it’s the movement of the mouse while the right button is down that forces your character to turn that way, but the turn is instant so once the character takes off running the way you want them to you can stop moving the mouse and use whatever method(s) of movement you use normally.

Because we’ve combined Frostbite with Improved Blizzard, we have the chance to constantly freeze the mobs in place during your Blizzard. That is why Frostbite is so essential to a good Frost leveling spec even though so many other people claim to hate it. If you find that Frostbite is messing up your pulls then the answer to that is simple, remove your Frost Armor before you pull. If you don’t have Frost Armor up (or Ice Barrier after level 40) then you aren’t going to freeze the mobs in place during a pull because there are not chill effects to make it happen.

I personally keep my Frost Armor spell on all the time, regardless of whether or not it might proc Frostbite and “ruin” my pulls, because I can handle the pulls that other mages apparently feel are dangerous. As I said, if my pull goes a bit bad, then I’ll just Ice Block and let them mobs come to me and then Frost Nova once the Ice Block is over. The duration of Ice Block lasts longer than all of your freezing abilities, so the mobs will break free before your Ice Block wears off. If you use the Glyph of Ice Block then your Frost Nova will already be available when IB wears off so you pop your Frost Nova and then jump right back into the steps above starting at #4-Distance.

If none of those options work because something else comes along and fouls it all up, then welcome to being in a world you don’t control! In this case, put your true mage skills to the test and kick the crap out of them anyway. You’ve got a ton of tools at your disposal to handle the mobs you’re facing, so put them to use. If you need to sheep one, then do it. If you need to Cone of Cold to try to proc Frostbite for Blizzard, then do it. If you need to run around in circles while you wait for Frost Nova to cool down again, then do it. If you want to Arcane Explosion spam hoping to slay them all anyway, then do it. If you took the Glyph of Evocation at 20 as I suggested, then try to run around until Frost Nova is up again, freeze them in place, and then hit your Evocation to restore 60% of your health and mana, and then slay them all.

If the crap hits the fan, then turn the sucker on high and start flinging that crap wherever you can until you’re either the last one standing or you’re all alone in the graveyard. These are the moments that help you grow more confident in your ability to solo content, or that teach you what mistakes not to make again.

I love screwing up an AoE pull with way more mobs than I could take on otherwise and still pull it off without a single Blizzard being cast. I’ve taken out 8 mobs with nothing but Frost Novas, Cones of Cold, and Fire Blasts while running around in circles because my attempts to freeze the mobs kept missing or not freezing. It’s not always easy, but it sure is fun when you come out of it still standing.

Macro Suggestions
There are a few new macros to bring to your attention at this point.

Counterspell: Cancel whatever spell you might be casting and immediately cast Counterspell.
/cast Counterspell

Ice Block: Stop whatever you’re doing and cast Ice Block
/cast Ice Block

Sometimes a big spell is about to go off and it needs to not happen. If stopping that spell is potentially more important than casting the one you’re on, then make the call and counter the spell. Heals and Mana Burns are the primary target for this unless you’re low on health and need to stop a dps spell from killing you.

Ice Block sometimes has to be cast on the fly simply to save your life rather than to help you in your AoE grinding. When that is the case, don’t bother with trying to get that one last spell off, just throw the barrier up and deal with the situation once it wears off.

Talent Points and Glyphs: Level 21-39


Starting at level 21, this is how I would suggest spending your talent points.
Ice Floes +1 (3/3) Reduces the cooldown of Frost Nova, Cone of Cold, Ice Block, and Icy Veins by 20%.

Piercing Ice 3/3 +2/4/6% damage to all Frost spells.

Shatter 3/3 +17/34/50% critical strike chance against targets who are frozen.

Arctic Reach 2/3 +14/20% range to Frost Bolt, Ice Lance, Deep Freeze, and Blizzard spells and +20% radius to Frost Nova and Cone of Cold spells.

Cold Snap 1/1 Resets the cooldown of all Frost Spells.

Icy Veins 1/1 +20% spell haste and reduces pushback on channeled spells by 100% for 20 seconds.

Frost Channeling 3/3 -4/7/10% Mana cost of all Frost spells and reduces threat generated by Frost spells by 4/7/10%.

Winter’s Chill 3/3 Gives +3 chance to crit with Frostbolt, and a 33/66/100% chance that your Frost spells will increase your chance to crit the target by 1%, stacks up to 5 times.

Cold As Ice 2/2 Reduces the cooldown of your Cold Snap, Ice Barrier, and Summon Water Elemental spells by 10/20%.

Ice Floes is simply there to reduce the time on our cooldowns. Every spell that it effects is useful for AoE grinding as well as leveling in general, so reducing the cooldowns on those is great. Piercing Ice is just a general increase to all of our damage; the more damage you do, the few spells you have to cast. Shatter is going to increase the chance to crit when targets are frozen by 50%. That’s a huge boost to our crit and since every spell you’re going to use has a chance of freezing your target, that means you’ve got a whole lot of potential for landing crits. Shatter is the reason why we want Frostbite.

Arctic Reach helps with the range at which we can cast our spells. That means you can get off more Frostbolts before an enemy can close in on you, and it means you can cast your Blizzards from a greater distance as well. In addition to that it increases the radius of Frost Nova and Cone of Cold. The increased radius is crucial to what you do as a Frost Mage, but it’s also a hard thing to judge because neither of these spells shows you visibly how large their radius is to being with. It’s something you’re going to have to learn on your own and just become aware of. With practice you’ll start picking it up instinctively and you’ll just know when you can catch someone with it and when you can’t.

Cold Snap is easily one of the best talents you ever get. It completely resets all of your Frost spells and makes them available to you again. So you can blow all of your cooldowns, hit Cold Snap, and they’re all right back ready to use again. Icy Veins is a great spell for two reasons: 1 the increase spell haste means all of your Blizzard damage happens in a shorter amount of time (or other spells if you’re fighting single mobs), and 2 removing the effect of pushback means that you get the full bang from your mana-buck from your Blizzard even if you’re getting punched in the face while you do it. I don’t cast it on every Blizzard, but there’s nothing wrong with using it every chance you get. The haste from Icy Veins also works on your Evocation, by the way, so if you need to refill your life/mana in a pinch that’s the way to get it done.

Frost Channeling is last up on the list. The reduced mana here is the primary reason for taking the talent as Blizzard is a huge mana cost spell. The reduced threat is nice when you’re running with groups though it serves no purpose at all when soloing. Winter’s Chill is a stacking debuff on the target that gives you an additional 1-5% chance to crit each time you hit them with a Frost spell. The extra crit chance goes for all spells, not just Frost, but Frost spells are what stacks it from 1-5%. Cold As Ice is strictly to lower the time on your cooldowns.

Glyphs for Leveling
The only glyph slot that is going to open up for you at this level range will open up at level 30.

I recommend the Glyph of Ice Block for level 30 which resets your Frost Nova cooldown when you use Ice Block. It’s great for AoE grinding so that you can make sure that your pulls go off as smoothly as possible.

Some people prefer to go with Mage Armor here instead to get mana regeneration during combat, but since I prefer using Frost Armor I don’t personally recommend it. Since I can summon my own water on the fly and have mana gems I don’t really care about regenerating mana during combat. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not my personal play style.

Gearing Up for Spellcasting
Your gear priorities don’t change: stack Spell Power and Intellect, take Stam/Hit/Crit when you can find it, and the other things don’t really matter. Hit becomes increasingly important as you level, so take it when you see it if it’s not going to cost you too much Spell Power or Int.

Again, Tailoring can provide a lot of useful upgrades for you around this level so you might want to check with a Tailor if you aren’t one yourself.

You are still going to be more likely to find a good staff at these levels that a one hander plus an off hand item, but just go with whichever you find that can give you better stats. A lot of the Inscription off-hand items open up during this level range which can give you additional spell power, so if you find a nice off hand go ahead and take it, but you’re still more likely to find a better staff overall.

And as always, keep an eye out for good wands that provide stats. If you find that you are actually using your staff for anything other than killing off mobs that are low on health, then you’re probably doing something wrong; like using Mana Shield for anything other than PvP.

Suggested Instances
I would highly suggest in your twenties that you run through either Deadmines (VC) or Shadowfang Keep (SFK) (both, if you can manage it) for good gear during those levels. You can find a staff, gloves and ring in VC, and excellent robes in SFK that will last you well into your 30’s.

In your thirties, Scarlet Monastery is the place to be. You will get gear from here that will last you into your 50’s. You can get inside the doors of all four sections at level 20 if you have someone run you through, or you can start joining LFG for it at level 28. For a mage you can find shoulders or an off-hand item in SM:Graveyard, a great robe and an excellent staff in SM:Library, and while SM:Armory offers very little, there are a couple of items in SM:Cathedral that can really help you out as well. Primarily SM:GY and SM:Lib are the areas for you to focus on, and both of them can be ran with a group of people around level 30 with little problem. Especially with your AoE skills.

Edit: (10/29/09) Added level listing for spending talent points.
Edit: (10/30/09) Finished Ice Block section near the spell description at the top and added Ice Block information to General Tactics section as well.


Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Guide, Leveling, Mage


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