Alpha – Frost Talents

Reminder: Complete trees can be viewed here.

Talents removed:

  • Toughness
    • Moved to Blood
  • Deathchill
  • Frigid Dreadplate
  • Unbreakable Armor

Talents Added:

  • Runic Empowerment – “When you use your Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike ability, have a 8/16/24/32/40% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune.”
  • Brittle Bones – “Your Frost Fever chills the bones of its victims, increasing their physical damage taken by 2/4%.”
  • Pillar of Frost – “Calls upon the power of Frost to increase the Death Knight’s strength by 20%. Icy crystals hang heavy upon the Death Knight’s body, providing immunity against external movement such as knockbacks.”
    • Costs 1 Frost rune, lasts 20 seconds, has a 60 second cooldown.
  • Might of the Frozen Wastes – “When wielding a two-handed weapon, your autoattacks have a 15/30/45% chance to generate 10 Runic Power.

Talents Modified:

  • Improved Icy Touch no longer further decreases the target’s attack speed.
    • Likely baseline.
  • Annihilation no longer causes Obliterate to not consume diseases and no longer increases crit chance. Instead, it increases the damage of Obliterate by 10/20/30%.
    • Obliterate likely does no consume diseases baseline, now.
  • Rime no longer increases the critical strike chance of Obliterate and Icy Touch, but has a 15/30/45% (up from 5/10/15%) chance to reset the cooldown on Howling Blast and to cause your next Howling Blast or Icy Touch (instead of just Howling Blast) to cost no runes.
  • Improved Frost Presence now increases damage dealt while in Frost Presence by 2/4%.
    • Presences redesigned, with each tree using its own namesake. Exact details of the new presences still unknown.
  • Frost Strike now has a base weapon damage modifier of 110%, up from the current 55%.
  • Guile of Gorefiend no longer increases the duration of IBF.
  • Howling Blast now costs a Frost rune, down from an Unholy and Frost rune.

These changes aren’t quite as interesting as they may first appear, unfortunately, but then again – Frost probably needed much less work than the other trees, even considering the new rune system.

Removed Talents

All the tanking talents are out, which is to be expected, along with Deathchill, which was always laughably weak, even for a single talent point. No surprises here.

Added Talents

Runic Empowerment is potentially amazing, but also a bit odd. On the one hand, it’s useful (and within reach) for all three trees. It will help combat the extra GCDs the new rune system grants by granting us free damage. But on the other hand? It refresh a random rune, and only one at that. What does Blood or Unholy do with a sole Frost rune, or Frost with a sole Unholy rune? Just IT/PS? Not only are both skills relatively low damage, especially when used by a tree other than their own, it causes your diseases to desync, which can throw off your entire rotation (priority or otherwise). There’s a couple ways to fix this issue, but most obvious among them would be to make it refresh any rune as a death rune – then you would have Blood use theirs for Heart Strike, Frost use theirs for Howling Blast, and Unholy use theirs for Scourge Strike. Other possibilities include just making it refresh the rune(s) used by your last ability (which it might already do, depending how one interprets the current wording), making it refresh just blood runes, or lower the chance and make it a mini ERW even. The talent has tons of potential though, and it should do well in shaking up our rotations.

Brittle Bones gives Frost some more raid utility, but if they don’t add some personal benefit to it, it will rarely be taken. Considering Blizzard has gone out of their way to add personal treats to raid buff talents for pre-existing talents, I’m sure they intend to do so for new ones, and thus am not concerned. Raid utility is always good.

Pillar of Frost makes up for the lack of Unbreakable Armor. 20% strength is nothing to scoff at.

Might of the Frozen Wastes is Blizzard’s attempt to make 2H Frost an option, and although it’s too early to say whether it will accomplish that, it’s obvious that it’s an incredibly strong talent. Let’s say you have your attack speed down to 2.0 (which, with all of Frost’s haste, most can accomplish in a raid). That’s 2.25 RP/second, over time, or a free FS every 15 seconds. Considering the damage buff FS is receiving, along with the new rune system and the change to AMS, that’s a pretty big deal. A million times better than CotG. It will be interesting to see if it’s too much (meaning DW Frost falls to the side), not enough (meaning people ignore it), or just right. Most likely one of the first two.

Modified Talents

Annihilation is a straight up buff, and doesn’t need any explanation.

The change to Rime is nice. The elimination of the crit increase will give Killing Machine a boost, as well as cause the stat weight for crit to not be quite so anemic. The greatly increased chance to proc the actual buff should be enough of a single target buff to cancel out the loss of the crit, and will be a huge leap for AoE fights, not to mention the fact that it will further mix-up our rotations and cover the gaps of the new rune system.

Imp FP is a must have talent. Yes, Frost will run in Frost Presence while Blood runs in Blood and Unholy runs in Unholy. I should have the specific details of the new presences confirmed shortly, but for now, simply take my word on it. 2% damage/talent point is ridiculously good. Just compare to Bone Shield or Two-Handed Weapon Spec.

Frost Strike being buffed was already uncovered a couple Alpha builds ago, and is no real surprise. Necessary with the new rune system and such, although it will make for some devasting burst damage in PvP.

Howling Blast costing a sole Frost rune is old news as well, but a welcome buff all the same. Glyph of HB will likely become mandatory, and IT will be unused by Frost.

The Imp Icy Touch and Guile of Gorefiend changes are simply tanking oriented, and Blood has those losses covered for (and then some).

What this means?

Certainly more complete than Unholy, which is good, since Frost already has a lot going for it, and doesn’t need as many tweaks. The tree already does solid dps, and has the most interesting playstyle (or so it can easily be argued) of the three specs, so why fix something which isn’t broken?

With that in mind, the likely DW build is something along the lines of this while 2H will lean towards this. Both of these builds assume that Brittle Bones is given some sort of personal incentive, but as I reasoned above, that’s a very safe bet. Otherwise, I don’t see a ton of wiggle-room in either of these builds. The only possibility is that Killing Machine and/or Black Ice lose some points for Necrosis, but that’s about it. Unlike Unholy, you’re actually able to get everything you could want, essentially, and picking up “fun” talents (like Acclimation, Hungering Cold, etcetera) is relatively simple.

I’ld be genuinely surprised if the tree, and thus those two builds, were to change drastically. Runic Empowerment is the only talent which likely needs heavy review, aside from possibly Might of the Frozen Wastes.

Blizzard is two or two so far, in my book anyways, and a quick glance at Blood has me thinking that their streak isn’t likely to change. But I’ll get to my post on that shortly.

11 Responses to Alpha – Frost Talents

  1. Baadshah of Dawnbringer says:

    A lot of information to take in. I’m divided/don’t know what to think on many, many areas. A couple of ideas that came to mind though (going to try not to repeat what’s already been brought up in comments):


    Just how serious are they about bringing Two Handed Frost back? If we think in the current “WoTLK frame of mind”, the artificial boost from Threat of Thassarian + Increased OH damage is what makes DW Frost superior to 2-h Frost.
    It’s POSSIBLE to build a 2-h Frost spec right now (and in fact, it syncs much nicer with the tree, infinitely less bloat), it just won’t do as much damage as DW Frost. If you have Shadowmourne Unholy and Blood just make more sense and have been proven to do more DPS than 2-h Frost Shadowmourne.
    So right now, I see a deep Frost 2-h specific talent that generates lots of extra RP. But will this be enough to make 2-h Frost viable vs. DW? Are they planning on vastly improving 2-h weapon stats to ensure that this talent is all we’ll need?


    As you’ve stated, bloat is a huge, huge problem in both trees. I just tried making a DW Frost build with the new tree, and it turns out that if you want every possible talent that will be a DPS boost, you need to spend 68 points in the tree. Yeowza.
    I wonder, is Acclimation there by accident, or is it going to serve a PvP purpose? And will we definitely be picking up Hungering Cold if it’s such a massive damage boost to Howling Blast? What about Virulence? Will the addition of 5 point Epidemic overwrite the need for that?
    And how strong does Runic Empowerment look for Unholy DKs?

    And of course: Reaping and Morbidity. What, oh what, are we going to do with these two tempting but inaccessible talents? Of course, I will admit that I am thinking in the “WotLK frame of mind” when it comes to Morbidity, since we know Cataclysm will not have as strong a focus on AoE.


    This is just a question for all of you who were around and watched as the BC and WoTLK Alphas were going on: Based on what you saw with previous expansions and previews, how responsive will Blizzard be to players who critique these changes?
    I’ve heard Living Bomb was quite awful in the WoTLK alpha (lower damage and turned the caster into the LB, radiating damage to enemies around you), but lots of customer feedback caused changes to be applied several times to it, until it became what it is now.
    So, what are the chances Blizz will see all this and rethink some of what they’ve done?

    P.S. Hope you don’t mind, some of my questions are more general and not as much related to Frost.

    • Rebellion says:

      The bloat in both trees really baffles me. So far their whole goal of reducing boring/static talents hasn’t even started (at least I hope so), and 2h Frost beeing viable is also nowhere near accomplished I’d say.

      I just need a beta code, I have to tell them something :D.

  2. Nyth says:

    From what i know from last beta, and what they have said so far. Blizzard is going to be more critical regarding feedback.
    On DKs especially they listened too much to the beta community who wanted DKs to of course be just right, which in the eyes of the player is always stronger than the other classes 😛

    Most of the changes are still very dodgy until beta. I’ll enjoy playing the beta though, I really liked it in WotLK.

    • Nyth says:

      More on the topic of the changes (forgot i can’t edit here yet :P).

      I’m somewhat concerned by the bloat of the trees. I never liked the old trees as there was nothing to choose mostly because you only had pvp and tanking talents. But now it seems there are too many dps talents.

      I hope hungering cold turns out to be worth it though, that talent is a lot of fun.

      In any case I’m pretty contend with the looks so far of all 3 trees. It seems that both dps specs are really going to be set apart.
      I just hope they don’t mess up dual wield for frost as they try to fit 2H frost in. I don’t really have a major preference, but I always found dual wield very fitting and enjoy the flurry of attacks a lot at the moment.

  3. Neinball says:

    The effect of runic empowerment looks to me as a means of getting our secondary runes to refill faster, since it effects only fully depleted runes. As such the individual rune itself won’t be very useful until it procs a second time to get UF or something else like that.

  4. JC says:

    As to the ‘what use is a single rune’ with Runic Empowerment… Isn’t HB now a one-rune ability? Same with SS, I think. So… could still be quite useful.

    • Consider says:

      Yes, that’s true for both HB and SS, but you’re hardly getting both in a single build. The issue is what does Frost do with a single Unholy rune, and what does Unholy do with a single Frost rune. IT/PS are relatively weak for their unrelated spec, and it’s not like you need to reapply the disease(s) that often. It’s a fine talent, don’t get me wrong, just seems rather awkward if you don’t get your tree’s primary rune.

      • Owt says:

        Maybe they intend RE to take into account what Mastery bonus you’re getting and simply have that type of Rune regenerate. Not sure if that’d be possible, but if so it would make a little more sense ( Although, would this maybe push the talent over budget? )

        There’s also the possibilty that they simply are adding a new attacks, or increasing IT/PS to a decent damage ( Unlikely, but maybe ) There’s a lot that could be done with this talent, but I’m not sure if any of it is supported by the wording ( Looks like Raevyn wiki or w/e it was got taken down 😦 )

      • Consider says:

        “When you use your Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike ability, you have a 8/16/24/32/40% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune.” is the exact wording of the talent.

        Although that doesn’t really fit your speculation, it wouldn’t surprise me if the talent were to change. Although making it always bring up your tree’s rune might be a bit too strong at 40%, they could always lower the percent and then do that. Fun talent, whichever way they take it.

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