Leveling – 2H Frost’s Redemption

With Cataclysm exactly a week away there’s a single, vital question that should be on almost everyone’s mind: what spec should I be for leveling?

To an extent, it doesn’t particularly matter. Leveling isn’t intended to be so difficult that if you’re trying to do it with anything less than the optimal spec, you’re essentially screwing yourself over. Nor is it meant to be all that long, with 80 to 85 taking far less playtime than 70 to 80 ever did. Even if neither of those were true and leveling did require any sort of min-maxing in your build, the fact of the matter is: it just couldn’t be done! The number of variables one would have to take into account would be way too long to list, let alone actually attempt to calculate.

So why does a leveling spec matter so much if the content isn’t challenging or lengthy enough to demand anything even remotely resembling your absolute best?

Because unlike raiding and unlike arena, leveling is the one thing every single player in the game goes through. Because unlike any other aspect of the expansion, leveling is likely going to be one of the very first parts you experience on launch day. Because the fact that a section of the game doesn’t require you to do your absolute best doesn’t mean that a certain kind of person would be able to enjoy it to the fullest otherwise… which, for what it’s worth, is why most people also min-max in other areas.

It suffices to say that, yes, a leveling spec does indeed matter.

Fortunately for us, the answer is obvious: Frost 2H is the way to go.

Now, of course, I say this with some obvious disclaimers: As stated, one can’t really math out leveling specs, and so a lot of this is a mixture of opinion, personal experience, and common sense. Although that last one should be equally valid from person to person, the first two will obviously differ, and thus you may very well disagree with me on this subject… and be perfectly right while doing so! That is unlike, say, disagreeing on the best raid spec at 85. That’s a matter of objective numbers and math; it is what it is. This, on the other hand, is far more subjective, and there’s no way to really prove anything, so take it for what you will.

Going back to the matter at hand, why does Frost 2H reign supreme here, even when it lags terribly behind in actual raiding?

  • Increased run speed.
    • Run speed is vital. Each second shaved from running from mob to mob, quest item to quest item, npc to npc, is a second saved. People often underestimate the value of run speed because it occurs in little chunks – you never run from one zone to the next, after all – but it adds up pretty substantially over time. And, although it may sound mean-spirited, one also has to remember that there’s a high amount of competition for mobs at the beginning of an expansion – the faster you can get within casting range of the mob, the faster you can tag it!
    • Unholy shares this benefit, but it’s rather difficult for Frost DW to make use of.
  • Increased mount speed.
    • Likely as important as run speed, if not more so these days. Whatever time you aren’t running on foot, you’re likely spending mounted, and having that time go by 20% faster… huge increase. A lot of the zones require you to travel a rather decent distance from one quest hub to another – Deepholm, especially – and OaPH significantly decreases the time it takes.
    • Frost DW shares this, but Unholy can’t get it until 82 at the earliest.
  • Unholy Command.
    • Underrated, but rather valuable. It can’t be stressed enough; the less time it takes you to get from point A to point B, the faster you level, and UC let’s you bring point B (i.e, mobs) to you! One can certainly live without, but a decent boon. Think of it this way: if you save one second on each mob because of this talent, and you kill a mere 200 mobs a level, you’ll have saved over 15 minutes from 80 to 85. That’s pretty good when you think about it; with leveling taking as little as ~9 hours, that’s a ~3% reduction in total time required.
    • Frost DW and Unholy share this, but the latter has to deal with unreliable procs due to the ghoul stealing killing blows.
  • Not reliant on diseases.
    • Huge. Having to spend two runes and two GCDs of laughable damage is just horrible, and the worst aspect of leveling as a DK. Frost (2H and DW) can easily glyph HB – which is a hard hitter anyways, and thus no sacrifice to use – and ignore the use of PS altogether, what with FS not needing either and Obliterate being a small fraction of your leveling damage (as I’ll get to).
    • Unholy… Unholy hurts in this area. Badly.
  • Not reliant on runes.
    • With the new rune system, this is pretty important. Between the just discussed GoHB, Butchery, and MotFW, Frost 2H can essentially get away with casting HB, then spamming FS until the mob is dead, with absolutely zero downtime and while doing dps equal or plain superior to any of the other specs. Whatever minor gaps you have can easily be covered by an Obliterate. No, this rotation/playstyle wouldn’t be sustainable, but you don’t need it to be when mobs only live for a small handful of GCDs, not to mention when Butchery is helping to inflate your RP generation. This is one of the most underrated perks of Frost 2H for leveling, and it becomes especially important/noticeable as you level up and your haste takes a nose dive.
    • Frost DW and Unholy both lack MotFW, while Unholy also has to go without Butchery until 84 (if they’re getting OaPH first, which they would).
  • Not reliant on ghoul.
    • Not having to deal with your pet taking its sweet time getting up from the ground after dismounting? Not having to deal with a dps loss should you have to Death Pact? Not having to worry about maintaining SI stacks?  Not having to suffer if your pet manages to get itself oneshot/depsawned? For leveling purposes, the ghoul is a huge pain. It will inevitably slow you down, hurt your survivability, and will never give even close to its full damage potential.
    • Likely the largest factor behind why Unholy fails when leveling.
  • Access to two of the best “oh shit” abilities.
    • Lichborne + DC spam = full heal, while HC buys you plenty of time to run far enough to leash the mob and then mount up. Although the damage increase of mobs in Cataclysm isn’t that staggering, it’s substantial enough that you can get yourself killed if you accidentally pull a whole pack, or get respawns on top of you at an inopportune moment.
    • Frost DW shares both, while Unholy can only get the first, and even then, not until 81 (83 if you prioritize OaPH).

Need I go on?

The fact of the matter is that unlike Frost DW or Unholy, Frost 2H gets every single possible leveling talent, and lacks any single possible leveling handicap.

Some may question why I don’t suggest Blood. After all, the mobs do certainly hit harder, and we did lose a large chunk of our self-healing. With Rune Strike no longer being tied to avoidance and Blood Presence granting 20% increased rune regen, Blood’s dps is actually pretty decent, at least for solo purposes. The two main abilities of the spec – Death Strike and Rune Strike – don’t need diseases to do max damage. All in all, Blood should be pretty good, right?

It would be… if it didn’t lack both increased run speed and increased movement speed, probably the two biggest boosts one can get for leveling! In fairness, it can get the latter, but not until 82, and the former is locked to UP, and thus unreachable without sacrificing mass RS usage. Ultimately the greater survivability of the spec – which, honestly, just isn’t needed – doesn’t outweigh the loss in dps (relatively slight, but undoubtedly there) and the sizable increase in travel time.

As I said, simply my two cents. Feel free to disagree, but I can assure you this is what I’ll be on the 7th, and what I would strongly advise any DK attemping the realm first to use.


91 Responses to Leveling – 2H Frost’s Redemption

    • Frozen says:


      • Alrenous says:


        With the caveats that FS spamming 1000 mobs in a row sounds deathly boring, and if the blood dps loss isn’t important, I doubt unholy’s no-ghoul dps loss is important either. (Just…if you use the ghoul during levelling, understand it’s for shits and giggles, not because it’s useful.)

      • Hinenuitepo says:

        Been working this spec for the past week and it’s fantastic.
        While Cata mobs will indeed have more life, they’ll still die just as fast if not faster to frost’s burst … .and then you get to mount up/run past anyone foolish enough to be unholy!

  1. Skullflower says:

    Frost ftw 🙂

  2. Jayce says:

    Has anyone done an optimal spec for 2h frost leveling at 80/84? Ive been out of the loop but am planning to hop back in on the 7th.

    • PennyRush says:

      Spec for 80: http://wowtal.com/#k=C_H-56N.a6q.deathknight.XTEzW

      As you level, pick up Bladed Armor and Scent of Blood. They are the biggest kill speed increases available for leveling.

      • John Battista says:

        I personally go with Chillblains over IFP, the 4% extra RP is very tempting, but chillblains means you can kite a mob w/ lower dps loss (no CoI) and can effectively kite packs if the opportunity presents itself.

        Hopefully the haste drop off doesn’t make me regret my decision too much =/

      • PennyRush says:

        I would get Chillblains on a if I were leveling on a PvP server.

        But I don’t think its really needed tbh. Based on current mob HP, damage ratios, and combat times in Deepholme and beyond, it will be almost impossible to pull multiple mobs and expect to survive even with Chillblains.

      • Jayce says:

        Thank you sir for the reply 🙂 Working well so far.

  3. Waylandyr says:

    We had this exact discussion in guild today. What are your thoughts on the Oracles exalted trinket? That + Butchery is a SIZABLE amount of RP generated and lets you keep up the FS spam even more. DBW and War Token both have their downsides for leveling (mounting bug/long ICD for DBW and horrible rampup time for Herkuml.) and I’ll be changing them out once I start questing ( BRC grinding till 84= win)

    • PennyRush says:

      The Trinket is no longer unique so you can use 2 of them but it might be overkill. I’ll buy 2 of them just in case I have too much downtime but I think MotFW and Butchery is enough.

      • Consider says:

        Assuming the proc doesn’t weaken as you level, it’s a very nice option, certainly. Otherwise, something like dual DV/DC is likely best, as rating trinkets start to take these huge hits the second you hit 81, not to mention the other downsides of DBW and HWT specifically.

      • Jonneh says:

        The most annoying downsides of DBW being that the procs are so far apart and lengthy, meaning alot of the time you waste a lot of one. Even having to cancel it to mount.

      • Zumal says:

        I assume most people have a mount macro. Just add the appropriate /cancelaura _______
        for each form and you’re golden. I did this a while back when I first got the trinket.
        Unfortunately, I’m not at a place where I can play WoW (yay work) so I don’t remember the exact
        wording in my macro, but you can figure that out easily by just looking at the buff icon. Just remember that you have to have multiple cancelauras because of the separate buffs.

      • Zalakria says:

        /cancelform is the catchall for all forms. Save yourself some macro space.

    • Kairal says:

      I’d assume that Herkuml isn’t too bad since you get a sizable amount of haste for MotFW procs.

      • Ðemøsthenes says:

        Hey Consider do you agree with glyphs PennyRush used in his talent set up, and as for gemming and/or reforging what do you suggest? Also anyone have idea when good time to switch professions from BS to LW?

    • PennyRush says:

      I tested the trinket. With 2 Trinkets and Butchery, I get 100 Runic Power per kill. Basically, I kill 1 mob then I just Frost Strike everything to death. I really don’t need any other buttons.

      I haven’t tested (because I can’t) if it gets weaker as you level but I imagine it doesn’t. With rating decay it might not be worth using past 81.

  4. Skullflower says:

    Would it be better to pick up this trinket: http://www.wowhead.com/item=44074

    and use those 2 points in Butchery for Bladed Armor?

    • Consider says:

      BA gives about 180 AP per point; two points of it (instead of butchery) are not greater than the loss of using that trinket (instead of heroic DV or whatever) – even if you factor in that the trinket is twice as potent as Butchery.

      That said, you could always just grab both. But if you’re going for one or the other, the talent is the lesser loss.

  5. Frostfright says:


    I’m convinced. (That was easy)

  6. Andeus says:

    I leveled in Beta as 2H Frost and it’s the way I’m gonna do it on live too, Obliterate/HB/FS are amazing. I did it with Razorice because I wanted to try the extra burst (the debuff builds up so fast you can easily get stacks on the mob) but I’m gonna go with the FC Runeforge on live.

    A few hints for leveling:

    Hyjal doesn’t have a portal to a capital. If speed is of the essence for you, don’t leave until you’re done there.

    If your leveling choices get you to Twilight Highlands for your last quests to 85, don’t underestimate the mobs. Getting hit for 15k is normal and sometimes you might get 3 of those on you at the same time. Try to be careful or you’ll die.

  7. Rebellion says:

    While leveling in beta I went with frost for my main spec and blood for my second spec. Usually running around in frost was enough but on some occasions (bugged content?!) blood proved to be usefull. That does not mean that I’d want to run around as blood all the time, but it certainly has its uses (finding easy dungeon access is one of the perks as a second spec).

    Even dw frost works well imho, I don’t have Lolmourne (damn you rng drop chance !) so I use a pair of venomblades (yeah … I hear ya ..) or what ever they were called. The loss of running around in unholy presence is not that huge, especially when you think about the fact that the last hit on a mob is usually a giant overkill and therefore easily negates 10% less dmg.
    I’m not sure how the procs work, so I just ask, but wouldn’t dw frost also grant more RoFC procs and therefore generate more selfheal ? Just curious.

    • Jonneh says:

      You replace shadowmourne by deepholme anyway from what I hear 🙂

      • Zumal says:

        I’d like to hear some opinions on this. A lot of us have Shadowmourne and it would be nice for Consider to make a post on when we have to retire the legendary blade.

      • Andeus says:

        To be honest, I leveled with a Heroic Bryn’Troll and I only replaced it when I got the amazing 2H Sword from the new “Ring Of Blood” in Twilight Highlands (was 84). Yes, some weapons have a lot of DPS but are lacking in stats. It could be that I valued BT’s Healing proc too, don’t recall. Also Shadowmourne’s AOE effect is quite useful when you pull more than one mob.

        I think that Bryn’Troll’s healing helped a lot and sped things up, that I would go for that as a leveling weapon.

        Link to the RoB 2H Sword mentioned above:


      • Ashe says:

        For comparison, the Deepholm axe: http://www.wowhead.com/item=61398 vs shadowmourne http://www.wowhead.com/item=49623.

      • Dascylus says:

        Don’t listen to them about what to replace Shadowmourne with.

        http://www.wowhead.com/item=55052 this is clearly the better option because of the 1900 top end. 1685 top end damage is NOT better than Shadowmourne because of the proc. Either craft that sword or wait until Twilight Highlands.

  8. Hardy says:

    What do you suggest for reforging? worth changing some mastery for hit? etc x

  9. Jonneh says:

    All very good points, and ofc the movement speed things being the biggest factors.

    I’d recommend to anyone who doesn’t have it to buy 310 mount speed also. If you’re looking for speed levelling, the biggest wastes of time are the times you spend flying from place to place.

    wtb the instant mount broom back :/

  10. Malifik says:

    If you’re leveling on a PvP server, I’d suggest at least one point in Chillblains at the start (taking that point from Unholy Command and then maxing UC at lvl 81). The slow is a huge boost for PvP combat, and I’m sure most players on a PvP server will encounter at least a few skirmishes on their way to 85.

    • Victor says:

      You think its better to level in unholy pres. instead of wearing a run speed meta and stay in frost?

      • Ashe says:

        UP is more than just runspeed, it also offers faster rune regen and 1 sec GCDs. 1 sec GCD is a huge dps boost assuming you have the resources to fill them (and with leveling, due to butchery and “downtime” between mobs, you do). In a 3 second window, UP does 3Y; in that same window, iFP does 2(1.15)Y.

  11. Ashe says:

    Although it’s obvious you are running in UP since you are talking about runspeed and that’s also the way 2h is done, you don’t mention UP in the post, you might want to. You also don’t have glyphs listed in the linked spec (Obl/HB/FS; DG/HC/whatever; DE/whatever/whatever).

    To my fellow DKs:
    Wall of text incoming (Do not read if you plan on leveling on Fenris 🙂
    I capped 10 DKs on Beta practicing for server first.The first few were 2h, but then Blizz removed Axe of Earthly Sundering (2h) from Deepholm for 4 months (added it back in about a month ago), so I leveled a number of DKs as DW (don’t have a shadowmourne, and there were a number of 1h quest upgrades).
    For lvls 80-83, DW and 2h are pretty much even; things die in literally 2-3 GCDs, so you are overcapped on resources in both cases due to butchery and high haste. It isn’t until Uldum and TwiHi that mobs live long enough that 2h becomes superior due to the extra resources from MotFW. So if you really want, you can do the first few levels as DW, but once you get the new axe about 1/3 through Deepholm, I’d recommend switching to 2h. Might as well just do the whole thing as 2h honestly.
    In terms of stats/dmg breakdown, I ran recounts for zone completions; Hyjal was about 65% frost dmg, Deepholm about 60%, and Uldum/TwiHi about 50% frost dmg (the decrease being attributed to less HB cleaving since mobs are more dangerous, as well as lowering mastery). Dmg breakdown was FS>Ob>HB with my rotation being DG/HB-Ob-FS-FS. That being said, mastery is a high value stat. I recommend reforging your current gear to increase your mastery as much as possible. When you start replacing gear around lvl 83/84, personally I value secondary stats at something like mastery>haste>hit>crit/exp.

    Trinkets: I doubt those Oracle trinkets with the butchery effect would be useful. As I mentioned, you are ridiculously overcapped in resources for 80-83, and by then you can start getting nice str trinkets which are probably better. As for DBW, it’s a pain in the ass since 2 of the 3 procs prevent mounting (crit and haste). The str proc is very potent and doesn’t prevent mounting. It’s up to you whether you want to add a cancelaura to your mount and lose those str procs or just manually click. Personally I replaced DBW as soon as possible, with Oremantle’s Favor from 1/3 through Deepholm, and kept hDC till Harrison’s Trinket of Panache.

    DG use:
    With the DG talent, and assuming you aren’t in the middle of the leveling pack and fighting for mobs, the ideal way to level is to land BETWEEN 2-3 mobs and then pull them 1 at a time inward to you. You can kill 3 mobs in a row without having to move, and you can maximize the uptime of PoF/trinkets doing it this way. This is far more efficient than landing on a mob A, killing and running towards then DGing mob B, then having to run again to get to C. I play a warrior and feral as well, so it took some getting use to the idea of landing between mobs and pulling to me and not charging between them.

    Useful macros:
    Macro DG and HB together (you can even go so far as to make a 4+ castsequence if you’d like)
    Macro mount summon and HoW (you will be mounting enough that you will rarely need to self-cast HoW, except for those inside-caves-times)
    Macro LB and self-targeted DC

    Also, best tip ever: Keep your hearth set to SW the entire time or else you will regret it. It’s easy to get TO the new zones, but not to get BACK.

    • Ashe says:

      Someone mentioned above that you can cancel the DBW buffs selectively (I wasn’t aware, thank you!). So the best mount macro is probably:

      #showtooltip Winged Steed of the Ebon Blade
      /cast horn of winter
      /cancelaura Aim of the Iron Dwarves
      /cancelaura Speed of the Vyrkul
      /cast [modifier:alt] Acherus Deathcharger; Winged steed of the ebon blade

  12. Malifik says:

    The major question I see cropping up is which zone should you go to first: Vashj’ir or Hyjal? Hyjal seems like the popular choice which could result in a larger than desired crowd at launch. IMO, when I was on beta, the quests seemed more clumped together in Hyjal as well, thus more chances to encounter a bottleneck with other players. Vashj’ir on the other hand is a much bigger zone compared to Hyjal, which also means more traveling. But if you can distance yourself from the starting pack, a lot more of the quests are instanced and easier to complete uninterrupted. Not to mention that when you’re finished with a Vashj’ir quest hub you get to go to an entirely new part of the zone, totally independent of the previous.

    Some problems I can see in Vashj’ir though are some of the mobs were buggy for melee classes (the whole Z axis thing) but casters generally had no problems (especially warlocks). On Beta I leveled a warlock through Vahsj’ir first, and a DK through Hyjal first, so I didn’t get to experience first hand Vashj’ir through the eyes of a melee class. I’m not sure if Dark Command worked underwater in Vashj’ir on mobs (i.e., actually bringing the mob to you, not just taunting), which would be a huge help; anyone able to confirm?

  13. trepor says:

    What meta gem are you going to use?

  14. Key says:

    When you say ~9 hours, is that a typo or do you mean 9 hours per level? Both are quite different from estimates I’ve heard.

    • Hinenuitepo says:

      I agree. If it only takes us 9 hours to get to 85, I’ll be sorely disappointed, but if it takes me 45, I’ll be significantly surprise.
      Not having been on beta, I’m hoping it’s closer to 15 at least, but who knows.

      • Skullflower says:

        It’s not a typo. 80-85 is a joke compared to how long 70-80 took. With no one around, I was able to level to 85 within 8 hours and 30 minutes on beta.

      • Ashe says:

        I leveled a number of characters from 80-85 in 9 to 9.5 hours total time. They boosted the 84-85 xp after shutting down Beta, so that will probably add another 30 minutes or so, and leveling when zones are busier will probably add another 30 minutes or so, so you’re looking at server first times around 10-11 hours probably. For someone who is new to Beta and sort of reading quests and more stuck in the pack, probably around 15 hours.

  15. Naomi says:

    I levelled my DK as blood in DPS gear using heroic Bryntroll for additional healing, I did this just after the buffed all the mob damage. The reduced downtime of blood gave me much less downtime, and I just found it much more pleasureable experience.

    I am confident Frost comes close with lichborne and use of cooldowns, but it just felt like hard work compared to blood using death strike and heart strike. Pulling multiple mobs and pestilence was viable as blood wheras with DPS specs this would result in significant downtime or even death with a large pull.

  16. Hinenuitepo says:

    Since we’re on the topic of leveling stuffs, any thoughts on whether it’s worthwhile to take the time to travel to a trainer at level 82? At level 84? Or would it be better speed-wise to just use your unlocked talents and keep plugging away.

    Travel time being such a huge limiter in leveling speed, with most of my alts I would only go to a trainer every 4-5 levels, even more so since the Shattering. How about for leveling our mains?

    • Dascylus says:

      I’d just wait until lvl 83, Necrotic Strike seems to be the only ability worth using when leveling. That 30% casting time increase debuff is pretty big in Uldum and Twilight Highlands.

      • Hinenuitepo says:

        Good point. Yes, I was pretty much assuming outbreak isn’t worth it when we’re leveling as frost., but good info regarding NS as a very useful ability against the stronger casters of the last couple levels.

      • Ashe says:

        If you don’t have a shadowmourne, then you will be upgrading your weapon in Deepholm, which means you will need to swing by Ebonhold and runeforge it anyways, so that’s when you can train Outbreak. Deathgate, train+runeforge, SW hearth, Deepholm port, back to questing in like 3 minutes.
        As for necrotic strike, I have to disagree, I think it’s entirely useless for leveling. For 2h frost, even though you will have extra U runes around, you should be able to fill up your GCDs with higher damage abilities. The speed debuff isn’t really necessary; casters take 3-4 seconds to start their first cast, which you interrupt with MF, and then they are dead before they cast a second (at least until LATE TwiHi when they have really high HP). Also, caster dmg isn’t as ridiculously high as it first was when they made readjustments. You also have AMS (off the GCD) every 45 seconds.

      • Xfrost says:

        Just hit the trainer whenever you finish a zone, DeathGate -> Train -> Hearthstone will cost you only 30 seconds more over just Hearthstoning when you finish a zone and need to get back to SW/Org to move on to the next zone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trainers are only for new spells….so yea, at level 81 83 and 85 i think for our 3, but necrotic strike is near useless so 85 is really all you need, you can use talents in the field….none of our spells/skills actually rank up anymore…

      but, if you follow the advice given above, hearthstone in SW and use Deaths Gate – you can be back to leveling in a very short period of time every 15 mins,,,, (hearth cooldown if you didnt catch that..)

  17. Don says:

    I agree, I don’t see a point going to a trainer at least for the first couple levels. Considering we don’t really care about diseases (If Frost).

  18. Xfrost says:

    @Consider, any verdict on #1 and #2 professions? I know LW is firmly in #1 but i expect blizzard to balance it out soon. Worth dropping JC/BS for LW+(Alch?) in the short term?

    • Hinenuitepo says:

      He’s commented on this in the EJ threads. (both of them)
      Generally, unless it changes, your best bet is still probably LW/JC, but several are viable at this point (and until Engi changes – which tends to happen late in expansions).

      I see no reason for Blizz to change that LW str enchant. I don’t see why they would, although it’s certainly possible.
      That’s why I am JC/Mining right now: I’ll stockpile Cata mats, then level whichever profession looks best in a few weeks (I have 1-450 mats for BS/Engi/LW already stockpiled).

      • Xfrost says:

        My bad, didn’t see that he updated the professions part of both threads. I’ll drop JC for LW then seeing as i’ll probably be needed to craft most of the BS stuff for the initial entry into cata for my guild. That and i cbf’d cutting gems for the AH even though its a money maker.

  19. Raxx says:

    I would hold fire re-rolling LW, it is almost certainly gonna get nerfed or bracer enchants brought in with 50 primary stats.

    • Xfrost says:

      Yeah thats exactly what i expect, though LW would still be good but it’d be a waste of gold/mats 😦

      • Zibi says:

        You forget one thing, if you level with skinning to get your LW up, then they nerf LW, you do get one benefit. All the people that are rushing to level LW because it’s broken OP will often buy leather on the AH, where it will be at a premium (read: ridiculous) price. You can mop up that amount of gold handily, allowing you to pay to level another profession should they nerf LW to the ground.

    • Keith. S says:

      Here are all of the bracer enchants. They are unlikely to change this before 4.1.

      Bracer Critical Strike Permanently enchant bracers to increase critical strike rating by 50.
      Bracer Dodge Permanently enchant bracers to increase dodge rating by 50.
      Bracer Exceptional Spirit Permanently enchant bracers to increase Spirit by 50.
      Bracer Greater Critical Strike Permanently enchant bracers to increase critical strike rating by 65.
      Bracer Greater Expertise Permanently enchant bracers to increase expertise rating by 50.
      Bracer Greater Speed Permanently enchant bracers to increase haste rating by 65.
      Bracer Precision Permanently enchant bracers to increase hit rating by 50.
      Bracer Speed Permanently enchant bracers to increase haste rating by 50.

  20. Hardy says:

    I’m going to be levelling as 2h frost, but which rune is better razorice or cinderglacier?

    razorice worth while up on every mob after 5 attacks will be 10% more frost dmg just depends how long the mobs are alive

    cinderglacier nice burst if u can open with 2 howling blasts before the mob has touched you. But downtime is a problem but moving between places will be the CD of it and depending on the procrate?

    Again worth it if mobs wont be alive long, but if they will razorice seems better.

    Atm im favoring razorice am i wrong to do this?

    how long are the mobs actually alive for? in deepholm, uldum and twilight highlands with icc25 hc gear, providing you only replace 2 rings and 1x 2h weapon and maybe a cloak from bis atm while levelling.

  21. xriccix says:

    what kind of roation are we talkign about with 2H frost? also would u say go back to UH for dungeons??

  22. Anonymous says:

    Rep-wise where should we level

  23. Lciee says:

    How is the dmg looking at 85 pre-hardmodes? I saw your gear lists which are excellent but I am unsure what the dps numbers are equaling towards those lists and specs. Is it a possibility for you to add them in? I.e. Pre-heroic BiS Frost – 17543 dps, Pre-heroic BiS DW Unholy – 16945 dps etc etc. Or is my thought correct in that DW Frost is the winner until raid BiS gear at which DW Unholy takes over?

    • Consider says:

      I prefer to avoid giving specific dps numbers for a variety of reasons. There’s just so many factors in play. If you want a rough idea, we’re doing about ~22k in full BiS, and a bit north of ~20k in normal raid BiS.

      At the top of the guides, I do think that I will be throwing up a short section – paragraph or two – discussing where the specs stand in relation to one another, since it’s such an often asked question, but I likely won’t go into too many specifics beyond the general ranking at each tier of gear, and by about what percent a spec is ahead/behind. If I say that X spec does 12345 dps and Y spec does 12354 dps… it just wouldn’t end well and, honestly, what benefit is there to it?

      • Lciee says:

        Yeah a paragraph or two describing the relationship would be fine. As a min/maxer I would just like to know how does your theorycrafting pan out for me i.e. at what point should I be X spec with my gear as it is providing more dps etc.

  24. John says:

    If one was aiming to be tanking while leveling up with mates – dare I ask to be suggested a tanking spec for low level 5mans/10mans? It seems the thread on EJ is only for ‘endgame’ tanking and doesn’t allow comments on anything outside of raiding.

  25. Lichloathe says:

    Hey pal. Great post. Glad you did it so I can just link it to everyone on the DK forums instead of rehashing it myself constantly. 😀

    I’ve been toying with what stat I want to focus on with Reforging while leveling. Previously I’d been thinking that Haste would be the most hilarious (since I can slam my 3.7 swing speed down to 2.1 for MotFW and have faster Rune recharge speeds), but I’m also thinking about Mastery now since you’ve been talking about spamming HB/FS (which is likely much better than spamming OB as I had been doing).


    • Consider says:

      Mastery is what I’m leaning towards. The base haste you have on top of UP and the downtime between mobs/quests should be plenty sufficient to keep you always having something you can do. The lowering attack speed aspect of haste is relatively unimportant for leveling – it only matters if it will let you get in an extra hit or two on the mob, and even then, it only matters if that extra hit or two is enough to shave off you having to use an additional GCD.

      • Lichloathe says:

        That’s what I was thinking too, though having Shadowmourne does kind of make having a faster swing speed tastier. 😀

      • Hinenuitepo says:

        Sadly, I’ve already put Shadowmourne away. I have better 2H and DW weapons now from heroics.

        Shadowmourne is a Lich King legendary.
        Legends often refer to the past.


  26. Winterblade says:

    Glyph of Bone Shield would solve Bloods run speed defecit, and I just switch to my secondary spec(Frost) for mount speed.

  27. Amends says:

    hey, just wanted to drop on and say that this thread is most likely what obtained me my realm first 85 death knight on Andorhal-US. thanks for the great advice and your continuing threads on EJ and here, they make me a more knowledgeable player!

  28. Nice that GC admitted that Mastery was seriously undertuned for some classes, calling out Unholy as one of the two examples where that’s the case. He even mentioned it was due (quite obviously) to the stat impacting insignificant sources of damage.

    That leads me to the hope that they’re going to resolve it soon. I know we won’t get more powerful, but having another stat to at least not avoid like the plague would be great.

  29. whataload says:

    What a load of crap this post. Blood spec + dps gear is the best leveling spec for DKs hands down. I don’t see you soloing group/elite quests as frost 2h, nor obliterate (pun) whole camps of mobs in one go. Run speed you say? There’s cheap enchants for that, or you can always switch on unholy aura if you need to walk.

    I bet you didn’t even try it…

    • Consider says:

      I did, and I got realm first for Death Knight (realm second ignoring class; lost to a druid, which is a given considering the strengths of Flight Form for questing).

      Blood spec + dps gear, even if it were to put out equal dps (which it doesn’t) while having greater survivability, just can’t cover the huge loss in movement speed, mount speed, lack of rune/runic downtime, and numerous other advantages of Frost.

      I solo’d every quest, group/elite, from 80-85. AotD takes care of that easily and, besides, there are very few of such quests around these days anyways. Run speed enchant isn’t as great as the run speed from UP, and although you can switch, you’re losing all your RP to do so, which makes it unfeasible when grinding mobs.

  30. CitizenKain says:

    Hi, what is the optimal rotation I should be using for Frost 2 hand? Also, should I also still be using Fallen Crusader? Thx

  31. Legatus says:

    I leveled to 85 in frost 2hand and have to say after experiencing the content if someone feels they need the “survivability” from a blood spec to lvl is just doing something wrong.

    There wasn’t a single quest that was that difficult.

    I do suppose if your idea of leveling is grinding on mobs as many and as fast as you can you would want that but my god that would be a much slower process of leveling.

    • Magdalena of Turalyon says:

      Agreed. 2h Frost was excellent for leveling and I can’t think of a single quest where, barring me doing something silly, it didn’t do its job perfectly. I liked it so much that I’m keeping the spec on me for now as I complete quests in zones I missed, and for farming purposes.

      Sidenote: Already at nearly 13% haste in mostly blues and some terrible quality greens still. If we assume 17-18% in 4.0 BiS, I shudder to think how bad it’ll be by the end of 4.2!

  32. Ranala says:

    All you people, who think the survivability and utility of blood was not needed, must not have done the extra quests, where you had to grind down mini boss like mobs.
    All two minutes a lichborn heal is not impressive at all. I found myself frequently surrounded by two or three mobs. Blood is taking a little longer to grind them down, but I still had full health at the end, and I could continue with the next pack. I rather chain pull without downtime, then grind a pack, eat and grind the next pack.
    CoC in Twilight High was the only quest I wasn’t able to solo.
    I did start with a frost spec, but later on I switch so often into blood, that it didn’t make sense to go back to frost.
    I agree, if I had plaid the beta ,and if I would have been familiar with the quests, then Frost would have been faster. For the casual player, grinding from 80 to 85 without the ambition to be the server first at 85, a blood spec is way superior to the squishy frost spec.

    • Gimmy says:

      Just hit Hyjal. Any tips on not being half dead after fighting a melee mob for 5 seconds? Are we supposed to run LK heroics after we hit 80 still? These guys are tearing me apart in my ilvl 206 gear. DS heals are crap and the 2 minute wait for LB is too long. My warrior and rogue have better heals than this, and my hunter didn’t any any problems with similar level gear.

  33. Luca says:

    I think frost is better for levelling, but it depends on gear. I have started levelling from 80 with 4500gs (i think about 226 average item level) trying frost and blood at first.
    Frost gives a lot better dps output but it takes to much damage and i have to cast LB+DC every fight. Blood gives low dps but it guarantees immortality, nothing more to say.

    While suggest a spec we have to speak to everybody, not only to 6500gs 80s. I don’t really trust that a new player with pretty ridicolous equip from northrend can sustain a frost spec without trouble…

  34. SneakyDave says:

    I realize this may be a dumb question but: levelling 2h frost, do you run around in Unholy presence?

  35. lowlight says:

    Where is this run speed coming from? I am doing my first DK right now, and have gotten up to 83 so far. This post has really helped, but the only run speed buffs I see are unholy presence and bone shield glyph… What did I miss? I don’t see anything regarding run speed for frost under talents or spells learnt…

    • Azzuen says:

      You dps in unholy presence for all 2h dps. Regardless of frost or unholy spec, thus giving you the run speed benefit.

  36. Krom says:

    Hello everyone. This is a great post and I thank you for it. Please forgive my ignorance in advance but could someone please explain this part to me? I understand the On a Pale Horse talents which affects mounted speed, but I can’t find the run speed relevance.

    ■Increased run speed.
    ■Run speed is vital. Each second shaved from running from mob to mob, quest item to quest item, npc to npc, is a second saved. People often underestimate the value of run speed because it occurs in little chunks – you never run from one zone to the next, after all – but it adds up pretty substantially over time. And, although it may sound mean-spirited, one also has to remember that there’s a high amount of competition for mobs at the beginning of an expansion – the faster you can get within casting range of the mob, the faster you can tag it!
    ■Unholy shares this benefit, but it’s rather difficult for Frost DW to make use of.

    • Krom says:

      Azzuen says:
      January 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm
      You dps in unholy presence for all 2h dps. Regardless of frost or unholy spec, thus giving you the run speed benefit.

      Ahh I guess this explains it, my apologies.

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