PvE Frost Death Knight Talents, Builds & Glyphs

wotlk classic pve frost death knight talents, builds & glyphs

When it comes to the Frost Death Knight talent builds, we can consider that there is only one standard build that is subjectable to a large number of variations depending on your personal preference. The standard build that we will present you with, is optimized in order to favor increased damage over runic power generation, having in mind that is most suited for BiS scenarios.

Talent Builds

build 1 1

The standard build offers several key strong talents that will be essential for high-end raiding, providing both powerful utility with the Improved Icy Tallons talent and serious damage in the form of Blood-Caked Blade, Necrosis, Howling Blast, and Unbreakable Armor. This build does not require any points in Subversion as by the time you reach high-end raiding your tanks will generate threat consistently. The standard build also benefits from full points spent on Black Ice increasing your overall Shadow and Frost damage by 10%. Considering that this build is specially tailored for characters that benefit from high-end equipment that possess high attack speed, taking full points into Black Ice will severely empower Necrosis!

build 2 1

This build is a variation of the standard build explicitly tailored for early dungeons and low-tier raids, providing you with bonuses such as Subversion to increase your overall critical strike chance and reduce your threat generation. This build does not benefit from Blood-Caked Blade as a tradeoff while also having points attributed in a different manner in the Frost Tree. You will not want to spend full points in Black Ice, favoring Killing Machine and Chill of the Grave instead for increased Runic Power generation and increased frequency of critical strikes due to Killing Machine. The rest of the build presents itself exactly like the standard build.

suggested build
Link to this build

This build is another variation of the standard build, granting you access to increased damage from Frost Strike while also empowering your overall attack power through the Bladed Armor talent. However, it does suffer from decreased DoT duration and normal Runic Power generation as it does not have any points spent in Epidemic and Chill of the Grave.

build 3

This build is another variation of the standard build, designed to offer you both the early stage bonuses such as Subversion and Chill of the Grave while also providing you with tools better suited for the later stages of the expansion such as Blood-Caked Blade and Necrosis. As a result of gaining those bonuses, you will be forced to spend fewer points on Subversion and Killing Machine. The rest of the build works exactly like the standard build.

Notable Talents

  • Black Ice is a talent that increases your overall Frost and Shadow damage. You will want to spend more points into this talent point when closing into a BiS build in order to maximize your damage output.
  • Annihilation is a talent that allows you to utilize Obliterate without consuming the diseases present on the target. This talent is absolutely mandatory, no matter what build you choose as Obliterate is your main damage tool besides your diseases.
  • Unbreakable Armor is a talent that allows you to increase your armor by 25% and your strength by 20%. This is one of the best abilities in your arsenal as it can be considered your “burst” phase ability, make sure to utilize it properly.
  • Threat of Thassarian is an absolutely mandatory talent as it allows your offhand to perform the same abilities as your main hand.
  • Killing Machine allows your melee attacks to offer you a proc that turns your next Icy Touch, Frost Strike or Howling Blast into a guaranteed critical strike. This talent is absolutely amazing early in the game, allowing you to consistently land critical strikes, however, you can forgo a point into this talent in favor of other talents when you approach an overall higher critical strike chance rating.
  • Rime is a talent that increases your Obliterate critical strike chance by 15% while also allowing Obliterate to proc an effect that resets the cooldown of Howling Blast and removes its cost.
  • Tundra Stalker increases your overall damage against targets afflicted with Frost Fever while also providing you with a 5 expertise rating. An overall amazing talent that you should not skip a point in.
  • Virulence is a talent that increases your overall spell hit rating by 3%. This talent is a must, especially when considering that spells such as Howling Blast, Icy Touch, and Pestilence can have a high chance to miss.
  • Epidemic is a talent that increases your overall disease duration by 6 seconds. This talent can be considered both mandatory and self-explanatory. The more time we have on our diseases upkeep, the higher the damage output will be and the easier it will be to maintain them on the target.
  • Necrosis is a talent that allows you to deal an additional 20% shadow damage based on each of your melee attacks. This talent is extremely useful when taking into consideration the fact that as Frost Death Knights we have a higher chance to proc it since we use Dual-Wield.
  • Blood-Caked Blade is a talent that gives you a 30% chance to hit with an additional attack dealing 25% weapon damage plus 12.5% for each disease present on the target. This talent, just like Necrosis, is extremely strong due to the nature of our Specialization, having a higher chance to proc it.
  • Chill of the Grave is a talent that increases your runic power generation by an additional 5 whenever you use Chains of Ice, Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Obliterate. This talent can be considered entirely optional, as it can be helpful in the initial parts of the game and mid-tier rating. You will want to swap this talent out for more beneficial talents.
  • Subversion is a talent that grants you reduced threat generation while also increasing the critical strike chance of some of your abilities. This talent can be considered one of the best talents you can acquire when beginning your journey venturing into dungeons. Later on, this talent becomes purely situational, only to be taken if you seriously lack critical strike chance or if your tank does not generate enough aggro.


Major Glyphs

These are some recommended combinations of glyphs, suited for specific types of PvE content:

Glyph of Disease allows you to refresh your diseases upon a target by utilizing Pestilence while also refreshing the diseases on all targets affected by the spell, not only your primary target. This glyph can be considered mandatory, as it will allow you to spend more runes on Obliterate while also making the upkeep of your diseases easier.

Glyph of Obliterate increases the overall damage done by Obliterate by 25%. This glyph is mandatory, considering the fact that the best spell in our arsenal is Obliterate.

Glyph of Icy Touch increases the damage done by your Frost Fever by 20%. While many players choose to utilize the Glyph of Frost Strike, instead of Glyph of Icy Touch, this glyph will produce massive results considering that we will always have our disease present on the target. Choosing not to utilize this glyph will result in the loss of passive damage in favor of a slight reduction in the runic power used for Frost Strike.

Glyph of Frost Strike reduces the runic power cost of Frost Strike by 8. This glyph has been utilized by a lot of players that favor the use of Frost Strike over the increased passive damage given by Glyph of Icy Touch. This glyph can not be considered mandatory, being much more of a player preference choice.

Glyph of Howling Blast will allow you to infect your targets with Frost Fever when using Howling Blast. Considering that Howling Blast is a rather weak ability when it comes to Single-Target, this glyph can be considered rather weak. You can choose to utilize this glyph in order to spread your Frost Fever easier in AoE scenarios where mobs have low health pools such as dungeons.

Minor Glyphs

Glyph of Pestilence allows you to increase the range at which Pestilence affects targets by 5-yards. While this may not provide massive gameplay improvements, it will still be considered a quality of life boost.

Glyph of Raise Dead allows you to call upon a ghoulish companion without the need of a reagent. This glyph in itself will prove to be very much helpful, as you will not have to spend any more resources on reagents and you will also have more space in your bags.

Glyph of Blood Tap allows you to cast Blood Tap without requiring to suffer the penalty of a health cost. This glyph is self-explanatory, aiding you in performing your rotation optimally without the loss of any survivability.


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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1 year ago

Early talents don’t seem right, hope that isn’t some private server build.
Your auto-attacks are not dealing that much damage compared to Obliterate or FS before ICC, there is no reason to boost it through Unholy talents.

Increasing the disease time from “Epidemic” is a noob trap, if you are doing your rotation correctly they will not run out, but you can drop 1 point in there if you are new to the FDK and want to grant yourself some room for a mistake.

However, its a considerably better to go 13 in Blood and maybe 5 in Unholy, FS should be your top damage dealing spell, so having extra runic power from Butchery is great, while Bladed Armor allows you to drink +2000 armor pots instead of haste ones – the damage increase is nearly the same, but they should cost much less which is very ice

Reply to  Klayton
1 year ago

Basics do top dmg mostly or a little less then ur obliterate btw

Reply to  Garm
1 year ago

Yes, but in ICC, because of the armorpen boost. In Naxx and Ulduar its very far from your main source of damage.

I’m sorry, but the more I look at it the more I dislike it – only 2 points in Black Ice is again, what you do with armorpen build, because this talent has 0 synergy with arp, but it boosts your Obl and FS, which is what you need early on.

I don’t want to go too hard, but I would need to know what is your source or where did you test it to understand why do you recommend this build, because using this build with Necrosis and BCB over so much needed early crit and AP from bladed armor will cripple most newbie DKs who will follow this guide.

Reply to  Klayton
1 year ago

Lemme get your build lol

Reply to  Vorpz
1 year ago

Here you go: https://www.warcrafttavern.com/wotlk/tools/talent-calculator/deathknight?t=B000116666677788888aaaddddffiiikllmmmssstttuxyyyEEEEEIdA11100444449999C111
If previously this was just theorycrafting, I am out-dpsing my peers in raid considerably enough to know that build is affecting it

Reply to  Nevermore
1 year ago

hey ive just started using this unholy subspec and i really like it, nice guide!

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