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?


Talents Can Be Deceiving

16 05 2009

Often, if a talent (or glyph) says something like “increases the damage of x by” or “decreases the cost of x by” it seems like a great talent automatically. Especially if x is a skill you use often. Sometimes this method of analyzing proves correct, such as in the case of Glyph of Frost Strike, which is incrediblawesome. Other times, looking at talents and glyphs this way can lead to bad decisions. Some talents are more subtle in the ways that they increase your DPS and so it can seem unintuitive to take them. For an example, I’ll compare two talents, Morbidity and Dirge, for an Unholy Death Knight.

Morbidity Morbidity isn’t all you crack it up to be

A 15% increase in damage to Death Coil, a spell that Unholy uses a lot, seems great. The yellow numbers you see will get bigger, and so hooray, more damage being done! That said, if you consider that on an average fight, Death Coil usually averages ~10% of your total damage, 15% of that doesn’t seem so exciting anymore. 3 talent points spent here will give you a 1.5% DPS increase (I’m only considering the Death Coil part of the talent because as DPS, you rarely need to AoE so often that the cooldown on DnD becomes limiting).

A general rule of thumb in taking talents for a DPS class is that a good talent point is worth roughly 1% DPS per point spent. Not all talents reach this standard, but at ~.5% per talent point, Morbidity is lower on the totem pole than some others (even Necrosis, despite its nerfs). Note that certain fights will skew the amount of damage a certain skill can do. Take Hodir, for example. This fight may bring Death Coil up from its usual ~10% of damage due to the Singed debuff that makes Hodir take more spell damage. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a talent that’s more consistently awesome.

spell_shadow_shadesofdarkness Dirge, on the other hand…

See this post on EJ by Methods, one of the more mathy-skilled posters. Basically, what he says is that in a typical Unholy rotation, Dirge will net you 1.19 RP per second. Not only does this lead to more Death Coils than you’d otherwise get (1 every 40 seconds), you also have more RP available in general. This will make it easier to activate AMS and IBF, both extremely useful in almost every raid encounter. I believe that Dirge is more of a must-have talent than Morbidity, although its benefits aren’t immediately obvious.

Think critically!

Similar reasoning is applied when Frost DKs using the HB glyph choose to spec into Epidemic rather than fill out Dark Conviction. On the surface, 4% crit seems pretty sweet. It’s important to note that 1% crit does not mean a 1% increase in DPS. It’s closer to around a .5-.6% increase. Running a rotation with the HB glyph is all about getting Rime to proc and refreshing Frost Fever essentially for free. Epidemic, while it doesn’t always help you do more damage like Dark Conviction does, gives you more time to wait for a Rime proc, the using of which increases your DPS.

Next time you see a talent that looks exciting, think about what benefits it offers and compare those to other available talents. Especially when some talents don’t obviously increase your damage output, like Improved Unholy Presence (IUP). This is a hotly debated talent because it’s effect on DPS is hard to quantify. Sometimes, moving faster will get you back into melee range quicker, letting you start hitting the boss again, which is a DPS increase. The most important aspect of IUP is that it will help you survive, whether you’re moving out of fire or onto a pile of snow, you’ll get there faster and take less damage overall. Personal preference comes into play here. If you feel like you don’t need much help running out of hazards, don’t bother with it. If you frequently die on the edge of something that’s hurting you, give it a try.

In my opinion, the ability to choose between talents based on personal preference is what makes the Death Knight a great class when compared to, say, a Retribution Paladin. Ret Paladins basically take every DPS-related/non-PvP talent available to them, so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room or choice involved. I enjoy playing with a talent calculator almost as much as actually playing!