Patch 4.0 Frost DW Talents

12 10 2010

Wondering how to spec in 4.0? Confused? Me too. This post is my attempt at creating a Frost DW spec that will do two things: get me to Cataclysm and help me get used to the new mechanisms and procs of DW Frost. Here’s the spec:

4.0 Frost DW talent specBrrrr

Some explanations:

Icy Reach vs. RPM: RPM lost a lot of its usefulness due to changes to other abilities, such as AMS not energizing runic power and Druids’ revitalize not giving runic power either. Icy Reach therefore provides more benefit in combat situations, since you should avoid capping your RP and a higher cap, if you are good at using up RP as it is generated, does not help you.

Endless Winter vs. On a Pale Horse: I lean towards EW because in the limited situations that both talents do anything, EW will help more. It frees you up to use your usual rotation and not lead to accidental wipes because you used up RP when you shouldn’t have. On a Pale Horse, on the other hand, is a more passive talent that, when it works, will help marginally, but will really not affect your gameplay very much. When you’re slowed, you’re still going to be slowed. Although both are narrow, I think EW has a more important effect when it is useful, since when interrupts are part of an encounter, they are often a significant part (see: Vezax, Jaraxxus, etc).

That’s all, folks?

The rest of the Frost talents for DW are pretty much must-haves, especially since many of them are new and the most important thing in the last months of WotLK is not to get uber DPS but to become used to how the new talents will work in tandem with the new rune regeneration system, which I’ll hopefully be able to talk about once the servers come back up.


Prime glyphs: Two are fairly obvious, here being: Obliterate and Frost Strike, stalwarts of Frost glyphing. The only competition is between HB and Icy Touch. After some experimenting with both, I think I’ve come out in favour of HB, mostly due to being given the nod by EJ and some testing here and there. HB just hits harder. And means that you can do quicker, better AoE damage due to not having to rely on Icy Touch/Pestilence, which suffers from the Pestilence nerf.

Major glyphs involve a bit more choice, but mine are as follows: Pestilence, AMS, Hungering Cold (or Blood Boil). Frost gets pretty mediocre returns from these glyphs, but there isn’t a lot of choice because Pillar of Frost is likely more of a hindrance than a help for PvE. Blood Boil and Hungering Cold are exchangeable depending on how useful HC turns out to be in raids (I’ve been out of the game for a while, also never had it in PvE specs before). AMS will most certainly be helpful for obvious reasons, fire bad, etc. Pestilence range increase is still good, and the rest just don’t do anything.

Minor glyphs: These also don’t do much, but if you’re curious I’ll be taking Path of Frost, Blood Tap and Horn of Winter.

What about you? Have any other choices in mind? Have you gotten on the servers yet?

Rolling Diseases: How to Effectively Spread the Plague

18 10 2009

Note: this post is primarily about Blood DPS (though it is also applicable to Frost, which often uses Glyph of Disease).

Rolling diseases is the term used for casting diseases while you have temporary buffs (such as Greatness, Fallen Crusader, Unholy Might, Unholy Force, etc.) that increase your Str/AP and then refreshing those buffed diseases with Glyph of Disease/Pestilence. The way Pestilence works with GoD is in the wording: “Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.” Compare this to Glyph of Howling Blast: “Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.” The HB glyph causes HB to apply Frost Fever while GoD allows Pestilence to refresh the diseases already applied to your current target.

Keep in mind that the decision to use Glyph of Disease (over Glyph of Dark Death) depends on how many on use/chance on hit AP/Str procs you have. The major ones you can get are: Darkmoon Card: Greatness, 2p t9, Sigil of Virulence, that sort of thing. The more you have, the better Glyph of Disease will work for you.


But Shop, how can I get all my procs to align?

The short answer is that you can’t. The long answer is that there are a few tricks that can help you set up your procs to align.

1) At the start of your fight, use HS-HS-DS (with the option of BT to get a 3rd HS if Unholy Might doesn’t proc) to get as many procs going as possible, then apply diseases.

2) Download and configure Procodile, an addon that can monitor internal cooldowns (ICD) of buffs (as well as the buffs themselves, but I use other addons to cover that). When you have it set up to track all the ICDs of your buffs, if you don’t get all your buffs up at the start of a fight, you can see in advance if and when multiple proc cooldowns will line up again. Considering how important this can be for your DPS, Procodile is a worthwhile investment.

How does Pestilence fit into your rotation?

If you are spell hit capped, you can wait until the last possible second to refresh your diseases. If you’re not, it’s best to leave yourself at least one GCD before your diseases fall off when you refresh. This way if your Pestilence misses you don’t lose your buffed diseases. Aside from this, fit Pestilence in wherever necessary, and where possible refresh disease right before you use DRW so you don’t waste a GCD on a Pestilence while DRW is up.

The ideal rotation for Blood with GoD is to use the traditional 20 second rotation (IT-PS-DS-HS-HS-DC // DS-HS-HS-HS-HS-DC-DC) and simply cast Pestilence before the 21-second diseases run out. This is, however, in an ideal situation and you should be thinking ahead about what might happen to cause you to be away from the boss. One example is Icehowl: you want buffed diseases to stay up as long as possible but are frequently knocked away from the boss.

Some final tips:

  • First priority in your rotation is keeping buffed diseases going; if they fall off it’s not always easy to get them going again
  • Know when you will be away from the boss so you can refresh in advance
  • Cast Pestilence as little as you can while still keeping diseases up (i.e. don’t refresh halfway through disease timers without a good reason to)

Glyph of Disease: Revolutions

31 08 2009

This post may or may not be the complete opposite of my earlier post that generated some rather passionate comments.



Since then, things have changed a bit, especially for Frost. The main reason is the discovery that, much like how Lifebloom worked in previous eras, you can pop trinkets and time with procs to get the most AP, apply new diseases, and refresh the boosted disease ad nauseam (unless the fight is such that you can’t help your diseases falling off).

For Frost DW (if you don’ t have to provide the haste buff), you also aren’t losing much by ditching the IT glyph, which was the major disadvantage of using Glyph of Disease in previous patches. Frost DW runs in Blood Presence, and with the IT glyph frequently has an abundance of unusable procs and RP. So by using GoD, you lose the functionality of overflowing RP (for IBF and AMS) and gain significantly better disease damage and more space in your rotation.

Using the glyph comes with a caveat, however. Many fights simply don’t allow it to be used effectively, both in Ulduar and Trial of the Crusader. Basically, the glyph won’t help you if you have to keep applying diseases the standard way with Icy Touch and Plague Strike. Some examples of bad fights for the GoD are Northrend Beasts, Twin Valkyries, Faction Champions, Yogg.. the list goes on.

If you have the liberty of having two DPS specs, having one DW Frost with GoD can be very beneficial especially for sit-and-DPS fights like Vezax. Right now my secondary DPS spec is DW Frost with Endless Winter for free interrupts that I use for Faction Champions and other interrupt fights. If you’re not an off-spec tank, don’t be afraid to use one general one and another very specialized one for certain situations. My primary spec is Blood, which is good at basically everything but interrupting, since losing 20 RP at crucial moments in your rotation is frustrating (due to the Death Strike glyph and the large amount of RP that DRW uses up).

P.S. There’s a new, updated thread for Unholy over at EJ which I encourage you to check out if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Tanking Your Glyph Knight… Wait…

5 06 2009

This is a continuation of my post at Big Hit Box about DPS glyphs, but this time focusing on tanking glyphs*. Choosing what glyphs to use as a tank is a little bit different than for a DPSer. Instead of going for straight min/maxing of DPS, where every % counts, tanks have to balance tank stats like avoidance and mitigation with DPS stats in order to stay on top of threat. Without further ado, I shall begin with Frost, as is starting to become/already is tradition here.

*This time posting the entire thing here and at Big Hit Box

Frost meatshielding (like what a fridge does for leftovers?)

There’s really only one mitigation-related glyph that’s specific to Frost, and that is the Glyph of Unbreakable Armor. Since UA is an excellent tanking cooldown for many situations (especially those where you’re taking a lot of relatively smaller hits, since UA absorbs a set amount of damage on all incoming damage), this is an excellent choice for Frost tanks. Also, Frost has such excellent single-target threat through the use of Obliterate, Frost Strike and Rune Strike that it’s not a problem to sacrifice a DPS-glyph slot for this one.

Glyph of Howling Blast is also a solid contender for Frost tanks. Where Frost DPSers can argue for the minor damage boost provided by the Obliterate glyph over taking the HB glyph, the convenience that this provides tanks is extremely helpful for any AoE tanking situation. This glyph basically does the same thing as the Disease glyph, but better; it does damage, gives more RP, and doesn’t require diseases to already be up on the target. Semi-questionable in Ulduar, where many AoE packs are untankable (like XT’s Scrap Bots and Freya’s Detonating Lashers), but a godsend for Naxx and Heroics. My guild also uses a lot of CC on Ulduar trash packs, so it’s not as helpful here. Depending on where you are in raiding and how your guild does things, mileage can vary.

The best threat glyph is probably Glyph of Frost Strike, since it’s Frost’s most damaging strike. Cutting the RP cost also allows you to use more Rune Strikes, another excellent source of threat. I prefer this over the Obliterate glyph because I think cutting an ability’s RP cost will have a more significant impact on your tanking than slightly upping the damage of another skill that usually does less damage.

If you decide not to use the HB glyph, then Glyph of Icy Touch is probably next in line. Rune Strike is probably the most-used tank ability, and a large chunk of crit for the ability will help your single-target threat.

Unholy tanking

Unholy is known for having somewhat weaker single-target threat than the other two specs, so depending on how comfortable you are with tanking bosses, your glyph choices may vary. Glyph of Rune Strike is one of the better options for increasing your single-target threat. Glyph of Scourge Strike is another, allowing you to forego weaker abilities like Icy Touch and Plague Strike for the heavier-hitting Scourge Strike.

Since Unholy tanks will almost always be taking Morbidity, as well as Impurity to further boost Death and Decay’s usefulness, the DnD glyph is a valid choice for Unholy tanks. Since you will start almost every pull with this, except in AoE situations (you can often drop DnD and pull the boss/mobs into it as your runes get close to refreshing), the glyph is a solid option.

The next glyph is pretty much mandatory due to how awesome Bone Shield is. That, my friends, is (surprise!) Glyph of Bone Shield. Buffing Unholy’s core defensive cooldown is awesome and 2 extra charges adds a not insignificant amount of uptime (which will scale with your avoidance as well).

Bloody tanks

Blood tanking glyphs follow pretty much the same logic as the other two trees: buff your defensive cooldown, your main nuke and Rune Strike. That means you want to use Glyph of Vampiric Blood, Glyph of Death Strike and Glyph of Rune Strike. There aren’t really any other solid choices for Blood because it typically uses the DRW glyph, which is completely useless for tanks, and the Dark Death glyph, which isn’t great because most Blood tank builds don’t take Sudden Doom (the talent that procs free Death Coils).

Glyphs you don’t want and why you don’t want them

Some glyphs seem like they’re pointed towards tanks, but haven’t been included in my list of what glyphs to take for each spec. These include the glyphs of AMS, Rune Tap, IBF and Dark Command. First, the AMS glyph: since AMS was nerfed to only absorb 50% of a DK’s health, extending its length is at cross purposes with the goal of using AMS, which is to absorb large spikes of damage (like Sarth’s Flame Breaths). If it lasts 2 seconds longer, it may simply end early due to having already absorbed the maximum amount of damage possible.

Rune Tap is usually fairly insignificant to a well-geared tank, and also takes up a lot of talent points to buff and make usable in the first place. Most tank builds don’t even take the talent, so the glyph is even less helpful.

The IBF glyph, which was previously bugged and added on to the amount of damage absorbed after its scaling with defense was calculated, now no longer boosts the skill’s absorption past 30%. It’s useless for tanks.

Glyph of Dark Command is simply not worth it due to the rarity of taunt misses (if your taunt doesn’t work, it was likely caused by one of 2 things: the boss was immune to taunt or suffered from taunt diminishing returns, which can make a boss immune if taunted too frequently).

The Glyph of Disease Problem

3 06 2009

In an earlier post entitled Talents Can Be Deceiving, I discussed a few talents that seem excellent on the surface but in fact can be troublesome/not worth the space in practice. Today I want to discuss the Glyph of Disease, partially in response to a comment on my glyph post over at Big Hit Box. The commenter stated that the Disease glyph is currently not worth using due to its buggy nature.* Despite this, I believe the glyph will still be a DPS loss for all current DPS specs. As per usual, I’ll begin with Frost.

*Current bugs include not proccing Icy Talons and sometimes diseases falling off too early.

But I want my Icy Touch…

Current (and past) Frost rotations have often excelled using only one disease, applied through Icy Touch. These rotations often involve the IT glyph, which means you will want to cast IT, rather than avoiding it. Since the Disease glyph is all about not having to waste two GCDs on re-applying diseases, it’s really not very effective here. Even double-disease Frost rotations, which often focus on Obliterate more than Icy Touch, will still not want to give up the extra RP from the IT glyph. Similarly, the Obliterate and Frost Strike glyphs contribute more to your DPS than Disease would.

What about the Scourge Strike glyph?

Unholy is probably the best candidate for the Disease glyph, though in my opinion it still isn’t worth it. The obvious glyph to switch out for it is the Scourge Strike glyph, which itself is only a way to re-apply diseases. The problem with getting rid of it is that you will no longer have the chance to chain long strings of SS – SS – BS – BS / SS – SS – SS. Since Unholy’s best damage comes from SS, you want to maximize its use. The other problem with Glyph of Disease, which applies to all specs, is that you’re essentially using a rune and doing 0 damage with it. It also generates less RP than its counterparts in Icy Touch/Plague Strike. Unholy gets extra RP from PS because of Dirge, while Pestilence will only be generating 10 RP. You also have to sacrifice the (minor) DPS of one Blood Strike per rotation in favour of Pestilence.

Death Strike doesn’t care about your diseases

Blood is different from the other two specs in that you don’t need diseases up to be doing full damage with two of your main nukes, Death Strike and Death Coil. This means that allowing your diseases drop off before you’re finished with your second set of runes isn’t really a big problem. The Disease glyph would require you to always refresh diseases before they run out, which would only complicate Blood rotations. You also lose out on a Heart Strike, your main nuke (unlike Frost and Unholy, who lose only a single Blood Strike, which makes up a much smaller % of total damage). Like Frost, you also lose DPS on any glyph you might replace with the Disease glyph.

Tanking might possibly sort of want the glyph

Unless you’re a Frost tank using Glyph of Howling Blast, the Disease glyph does have some applications. Mostly for tanking large packs of adds. In the end, however, it is largely a convenience, since you can simply tab target and cast pestilence on a secondary target to refresh diseases on all other targets. If you’re tanking a large amount of mobs, likely with a combination of DnD, Unholy Blight, Howling Blast and Blood Boil, having diseases fall off on one target is probably not worth fixing with a glyph slot. There are better glyphs.

So even though it’s current incarnation is quite buggy, I don’t think this glyph is worth using barring an overhaul of the way it works.

Guest Posting at Big Hit Box

29 05 2009

I just put up a post over at Big Hit Box about glyphing for DPS Death Knights, and I encourage you to go check it out there. I won’t be reproducing the whole post here because it rehashes some of the Frost stuff I just covered in my HB Glyph vs. Obliterate Glyph post, so if you’re interested just click the link. Enjoy.

Unorthodox Glyphing

28 05 2009

I wanted to title this post “Rogue Glyphing” because unorthodox is kind of a lame word, but then people would think I was writing about Rogues. And we can’t have that.

Rogues begone!

Rogues begone!

Anyways, one poster (Erekose) over on Elitist Jerks has been conducting a one-man crusade in favour of replacing the Obliterate glyph with the Howling Blast glyph. It sounds insane at first, but when you look at the reasoning behind it as well as the rotations currently producing the best results for Frost, it starts to make more sense.

Reason #1: Obliterate is <10% of total damage

When using the ITx6 rotation (which goes something like this IT – BS – OB – OB – FS – BT – IT – FS – OB – FS / IT x6 [weaving Frost Strikes as always to maximize use of KM and avoid capping RP]), Obliterate ends up around 7-8% of total damage. If you’re confused (I’m still learning how to effectively use this rotation), watch this extremely helpful informational video (also by Erekose). A side note: the video puts forth the idea that having your runes refresh in pairs separated by 3-5 seconds leads to a smoother rotation. Erekose posted his WMO from a Mimiron fight, which you can see here (he also made it into the WMO Scoreboard, which lists top parses for each encounter), and my numbers on a recent Mimiron wipe correspond to Erekose’s. So the Obliterate glyph works out to being 20% of ~7%, which is somewhere around 1.5% damage. Not a big increase for a major glyph slot.

Reason #2: Utility

Almost every fight in Ulduar has some kind of AoE component, with the exceptions of Hodir, Ignis, Vezax and the Assembly of Iron. 9/14 is pretty good. On fights like Mimiron, you will be able to keep Frost Fever up on every part of Voltron in phase 4 without casting Pestilence, or worrying about when your diseases are going to fall off secondary targets. Same goes for Kologarn, Freya’s adds, Auriaya’s adds, Razorscale’s adds, etc. The HB glyph also allows you to apply Frost Fever to groups of mobs at a distance. This is especially helpful when it is difficult to get in melee range of an add, especially ones who die quickly, to cast Pestilence.

In sum, you gain:

  • A more efficient AoE rotation
  • Ability to apply diseases from range
  • More Blood Boils (don’t have to use a Blood Rune on Pestilence with the glyph)

And you lose:

  • Approximately 1.5% DPS, assuming this loss isn’t made up for in AoE situations (hard to gauge)

Deciding to use the HB glyph instead of OB is largely a matter of playstyle preference. If you are okay with using Pestilence a lot and having a slightly more complex AoE rotation, stick with Obliterate. If you liked the HB rotation in Blood Presence, you may want to give this new setup a try. Also, the existence and success of this rotation and glyph choice is another nail in the coffin of 4-piece t7 as well as Armor Penetration (this rotation does very very little physical damage, ~24% in Erekose’s parse). Avoid both if possible (though the tier 8.5 pieces are reasonably well itemized, except for the helm, regardless of crappy set bonus).

A caveat:

ITx6 rotations (and even the other Unholy Presence rotation I posted earlier, IT – PS – OB – BS – BS / OB – IT – PS – IT – IT, are far better when you have the Sigil of the Vengeful Heart. If you don’t, but want to run the ITx6 for some other reason (it still puts out competitive DPS), use the Sigil of the Frozen Conscience over Awareness.


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