Frost Death Knight Review - Battle for Azeroth Community Opinions
Throughout the pre-patch, we'll be launching a community opinions article for every class and spec. We're continuing our Battle for Azeroth Class Reviews and in this post, we'll be taking a look at the state of Frost DK. See if this spec appeals to you in Battle for Azeroth!
We reached out to the Frost Death Knight community to give their thoughts and opinions on the changes and current state of the spec.
If this spec appeals to you after reading this article, check out our
Battle for Azeroth Frost DK Guide
- 12 year old Moderator in the Acherus discord (Banter wasn’t allowed to have a funny note because of Melekus)
💪 - Frost Death Knight guide writer, theorycrafter and contributor in the Acherus discord.
- Useless minion and raider in <Wicked Vigilantes>
- Simulationcraft developer and theorycrafter focused on Frost Death Knight and tanking.
- Tzo is a helpful minion in the Acherus Discord and raids in Afro Ninjas.
The Death Knight roleplayer’s favourite spec, Frost Death Knight, has received arguably the largest amount of changes regarding its talent tree in Battle for Azeroth. Many Frost DK’s will remember this expansion for the Nighthold playstyle, where good players were able to keep up their
for long durations, which for some, has led to the most mechanical (and fun) gameplay they have ever experienced in the game.
While we still have
, we won’t be pulling off 100 second long breath windows anytime soon. And unfortunately, not everything from the talent revamp came out as cleanly as it could have.
Far and above the biggest issue with Frost in BFA is its lack of resource generation. Throughout BFA’s dev cycle,
was tweaked several times, starting at 1.8% (same as Legion value) and eventually going down to 1.5%.
As a result, the spec has become more resource-starved, with a lot of dead globals and up to 30% wait time.
builds aren’t really affected by this change: the high amount of Killing Machine procs paired with the
talent conveniently alleviates the rune generation issue, and leaves the spec with relatively low downtime. However,
builds feel the full brunt of this drought.
to compensate would likely address these concerns, however, this tweaking would in turn also shift power away from
, the talent’s strength relying on other builds being more resource starved. To fix these issues, in addition to solving the resource droughts,
would likely: need to see a bit of power gain,
to simply hit harder, or some mechanic updates (such as the popular idea of
having a passive which increases KM damage).
(Note how this equation doesn't even touch upon
, which is simply a trap talent at this point, due to how bad it is, from both a rotation and a tuning point of view. More on this later.)
With all this downtime, Frost is free to use cheaper spells (such as
) in single target in order to try and fill those dead moments in the rotation. This is not as much of an issue in AoE. With
being used more frequently, and
being used as an AoE rp spender, it feels much more fluid than its single target counterpart.
This results in a painfully slow iteration of Frost which is quite boring and goes against its identity as a fast paced spec.
Mastery Buff and Its Impact on Talent Builds
, was significantly buffed in 8.0, increasing the rate at which you gain 1% damage to your Frost damage abilities by 33%. This significantly increases the efficiency of builds that rely less on
, and specifically hits
This change has led
to be much more competitive with its alternatives, even on single target, since the spell replaces
in parts of your rotation (or just completely in aoe situations). In the same manner, that change also affects how good
is because the talent makes
and Killing Machine the core of your rotation, both of which feel very underwhelming in Frost’s current iteration.
isn’t your core damage spell anymore (especially if you talent
to use on Killing Machine procs), and Killing Machine is more of a resource generator through the
talent than a damage proc you can play around. It kind of feels like the spec lost a part of what made its identity, namely big
crits, and is now more focused on resource management (even with the currently lackluster resource generation) and
Why the Level 100 Talent Tier Doesn’t Serve its Purpose
The design intent behind the last talent row seems straightforward:
reduces the cooldown on
, Frost’s only baseline burst tool.
by increasing our damage and resource generation during it, and
: an advanced cooldown that requires proper planning and execution to play optimally. However, the fact that
has two resource generation mechanics attached to it (the % chance to generate rune, and its synergy with
) makes it the only viable talent to fix the resource starvation issue. It puts Frost Death Knights in a really awkward spot where they have to choose between starving to death for resources, or playing a currently suboptimal talent to reduce the massive downtime.
At the moment,
is by far the best talent in the row and we have to choose between being competitive dps-wise and not being starved for resources. The vast majority of death knight players do not enjoy sitting around waiting for 30% of their time in a fight.
Why not just buff
back to 1.8% like it was in Legion then? It’s not as simple as that because of
’s identity: if the spec’s resource generation tools are buffed as a whole,
will just become a resource overcap talent and will significantly drop in power (even though it’s already weak compared to Breath). Moreover, there’s also the risk that the spec will return to Nighthold’s
playstyle, heavily rewarding long breath uptimes, and arguably encouraging players to straight up ignore some raid mechanics for their dps.
, this talent just doesn’t feel nearly as spec defining as the other two mechanically speaking, and is also currently severely undertuned. This has been a trend throughout Legion, first with
and then with Hungering Rune Weapon, two talents that lacked a clear identity in PvE compared to the
It is also worth mentioning that Icecrap throws
’s synergy with
off, which has led this talent to fall into obscurity.
Time to Get Rid of your
For those that played Frost with
throughout Legion, you’re probably familiar with WeakAuras that told you when to use
optimally. The list of conditionals for this legendary was long and complicated, and the WeakAura made it much simpler to manage.
However, due to the change to
, where the strength modifier scales with runes spent over its duration,
usage is now much simpler. It synchronizes pretty well with
’s cooldown, and the optimal way of using
is to simply use it as far as possible into your pillar window.
It’s a welcome change to make
less overwhelming as a mechanic to play around, but it also reduces the impact of good decision making around damage procs (such as Unholy Strength), and instead, we now only need to properly track
(and prepare our resources accordingly).
and Frost Utility
gives us a “get out of death free” button. Filling the void left by the
Artifact trait, we are no longer tied to melee range, Runic power, and the use of our 3-minute defensive cooldown to use our emergency healing cooldown.
is still the same, but on a longer cooldown and talented. Male Troll players might have personal grudges against this ability since it makes them look like Quasimodo when using it, but it is nevertheless a bad movement speed ability. Not being able to use any offensive abilities during it, giving the movement speed during a very short period of time and having a relatively long cooldown are all factors that testify to this fact.
is as problematic as before, we do have a baseline movement ability in
now. The passive slow reduction and on-use knockback immunity may prove useful in specific situations and the movement speed doesn’t lock you from doing anything as
The overall utility of Frost has gone down in BfA with the loss of the
artifact trait; it is now much more difficult to handle soaks as a DK and requires pre AMS’ing the soak rather than just shrugging off debuffs without warning. Frost also lost its AoE stun: even though Winter is Coming was potentially awkward to set up in Legion, it was still powerful.
is now on the global cooldown and pulling off last second grips to cancel a cast will require a bit more thought.
, was also nerfed and now costs 30 runic power to use. This becomes particularly awkward with the current resource issues.
This doesn’t mean Frost is left with nothing; however, with the addition of
it has numerous applications in locking down dangerous enemies in both PvE and PvP, and Blinding Sleet is still a good tool to help your group line of sight packs of mobs to better group them up after the disorient wears off, or as an AoE interrupt on a fight like Portal Keeper.
While powerful, easy to use crowd control was removed, Frost still has potential that can prove to be valuable if put into the right hands.
What about 2-handed Frost ?
So a quick note for all of the Frostmourne enthusiasts, 2-handed Frost actually had a working niche for a little bit in the Alpha/Beta. It had some awkward niche applications with a couple spells (namely
), and while some spells were more powerful with a 2h (because their damage doesn’t scale with off-hand weapon damage), the kit as a whole was far better using a DW setup.
However, this niche was removed when both
were changed to require 1-handed weapons to cast. Blizzard doesn’t seem interested in supporting a 2-handed version of Frost anytime soon.
You Didn’t Talk about Azerite Traits
Because the Frost-specific ones all look like they’re boring damage increases and won’t add anything interesting in terms of decision making.
Overall, we have a mixed outlook for Frost in BfA. There is definitely more of what we love, and a bit more complexity outside the general rotation (such as
) is a welcome addition. It is also nice to see the talents overall being more useful and each row having an identity (row 56 for single target increase, row 57 for resource generation, etc.) but we are obviously quite concerned with some specific talents, as some of them being completely “dead on arrival”.
Additionally, It’s not too farfetched to say that the issue talents can be made more competitive in a later patch/through a small hotfix. However, the issue of resources and downtime will likely deter people from playing it if they enjoyed Legion Frost.
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