3.1.2 and Its Impact on Frost Rotations

9 05 2009

3.1.2 is on the PTR now, and while it’s not a huge patch for most players, it will affect the way DPS Death Knights play. Here are the two changes that I’ll be looking at:

Don't leave me!

Don't leave me!

  • Darkruned 2-Piece Set Bonus: The bonus critical strike chance for Frost Strike and Death Coil has been increased from 5% to 8%.
  • Scourgeborne 4-Piece Set Bonus: The runic power gain has been reduced to 5 runic power from 10 runic power.

The t7.5 4-piece bonus, in its live version, is incredible. Over a long fight, you can get as much as 5-600 RP from it depending on your rotation/spec (it’s called “Fingers of the Damned” in Recount/WWS). It’s worth more DPS than the t8.5 bonuses, which the math wizards over at Elitist Jerks (EJ) have determined is not a significant increase in DPS Frost. The main attack of a Frost Death Knight works off Runic Power, so this change has me a bit worried about my DPS going down. (For reference, I am currently playing with 13/51/7.) Since Frost Strike already has a crit rate of ~60% due to Killing Machine, another 8 isn’t a big deal.The 4-piece bonus is similarly unhelpful to Frost because the spec’s main attack is unaffected.

The HB glyph rotation will take the biggest hit from the nerf to t7.5. Unlike a rotation that includes IT/PS, an HB rotation does not get the extra RP generated from the IT glyph. Instead, it relies on generating extra Obliterates by using Rime procs to put up FF instead of spending runes on IT. This in turn generates a lot of RP from the t7.5 set bonus. For Frost DPSers, at least, the HB glyph will lose a lot of its lustre when 3.1.2 hits. I’ll have to start actually using pestilence again!

Speculation over this rotation has been going on in the Frost thread on EJ. The jury is still out on whether this rotation functions better in Blood or Unholy Presence.

IT – PS – OB – BS – BS / OB – IT – IT – OB (Weave FS between attacks in order to avoid capping RP and maximize Killing Machine procs)

The advantages of this rotation over HB are:

  • More RP generation (post 3.1.2 nerf)
  • Two diseases = more OB/BS damage

And the disadvantages:

  • Less effective AoE rotation compared to the HB glyph rotation (have to use Pestilence)
  • Requires more GCDs
  • IT eating KM procs (it’s much less of a loss to damage if HB eats a KM due to its higher damage)

Whichever rotation comes up as having higher single-target DPS will win out for me in the end, but I’ll be sad to see the HB glyph leave. It was so much fun. However, I am not annoyed at Blizzard for instituting the nerf to t7.5. Having it completely overshadow t8.5 bonuses was just not right, even if the new ones still suck for Frost.

I think Blizzard is still learning when it comes to creating set bonuses for Death Knights. Consider the situation in 3.08, where the dual wield spec (0/32/39 and its variations) dominated the DPS scene. Despite Blizzard’s assertion that they wanted DW to be viable, the t7.5 set bonuses did absolutely nothing to help the spec’s DPS. A very similar situation is going to happen with Frost and the t8.5 bonuses: Frost benefits less from an increased crit chance (due to the way KM works) and even less from a slight increase in the scaling of OB (only 20% of damage to begin with). Compared to Unholy and Blood, where disease-dependent skills (Heart Strike, Scourge Strike) make up a larger proportion of DPS).

Frost isn’t dead

It’s just changing. As it stands now, the HB glyph is going to be less effective in single-target DPS rotations, but still strong for tanks and AoE. If I didn’t PvP so much, I’d consider setting up an alt-spec with the HB glyph for certain encounters. I hope, as some EJ posters have suggested, that Blizzard makes the t8.5 set bonuses more beneficial to a Frost spec. One way would be to have the 2-piece increase the damage of FS/DC rather than the crit chance.




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