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ShadowFrost Explained - READ FIRST


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#1 Dunsparrow

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 01:38 AM

Edit: As of 3.1 this is now a dead spec. There is no possible way to salvage it or play it in any form. It is over. Fini. Kaput. Hope thats clear enough. I'll leave the rest of the post for reference, and there is still some useful info in terms of macros and what not.

ShadowFrost is currently the most popular spec for DKs in every bracket. Simply explained, ShadowFrost uses Unholy and Frost talents combined to maximize the damage of Icy Touch.

This allows DKs to do significant and sustained ranged damage with Icy Touch as their primary damage attack, and using Plague Strike and Blood Boil as utility.

The Spec

While there are a variety of small changes that can be made, the basic spec is: 0/21/50
Another less popular spec gets Bladed Armor instead of Killing Machine: 10/11/50

How It Works

The basic premise of the spec is you get the Frost talents which have the greatest effect on Icy Touch: Improved Icy Touch, Glacier Rot, Black Ice, Killing Machine and Deathchill.

Combined with the Frost talents are Unholy talents which further affect Icy Touch: Impurity, Ebon Plaguebringer and Rage of Rivendare (and to a lesser extent Bone Shield and Desecration).

Together, these talents have incredible synergy and give Icy Touch damage approximately equivalent to Scourge Strike and guranteed crits through Killing Machine.

Gearing

Sigil of the Frozen Conscience - This is the bread and butter of the ShadowFrost spec. It increases Icy Touch by 203 damage, but this is affected by debuffs on the mob (Glacier Rot, Ebon Plague, Rage of Rivendare) giving a much larger net effect than the listed 203 damage.

This Sigil is obtained from Venture bay for 30 Venture Tokens. All told, this will take you about half an hour to get.

As to stats, first and foremost, you need to get 5% melee hit or 165 hit rating to ensure your special attacks and white hits do not miss on most targets (some talents will still cause occasional misses, such as Arctic Winds from mages).

Next you will need 4% spell hit. You get 3% from the Virulence talent, so you only need 1% additional spell hit (which you will get easily from capping melee hit). Certain racials cause you to have 2% additional spell miss chance, so to offset this, you will need 6% total spell hit (or Virulence + 3% from gear). Typically this will be completely taken care of by getting 5% melee hit.

You will also want at least 75 spell penetration. You can get this through the cloak enchant and 2 stormy sky sapphires. This will offset most passive resist talents (MotW, Frost Aura) and will lower the chance your spells will be resisted by mages or paladins using auras. Some DKs prefer to get a full 130 spell penetration which will completely negate all resist talents/abilities except Acclimation. Most find that 75 is enough.

Once these stats are taken care of, hit becomes nearly worthless and Strength should be your primary stat choice, followed by attack power and crit.

Glyphs

Icy Touch - With a spec that spams Icy Touch, 10 extra RP per IT cast can be very beneficial in giving extra Death Coils and keeping Gargoyle active. This sigil also allows the player to instantly generate 20 RP, allowing them to use IBF fortitude at the very start of a fight. Many players consider this glyph mandatory.

Blood Boil - Since your primary attack uses a frost rune and applies 2 diseases, this glyph allows you to snare multiple enemies at range, while conserving frost runes for Icy Touch. Combined with the Reaping talent, you also get a Death rune in the deal, allowing even more IT spam. Like the IT glyph, this one is generally considered mandatory.

Ghoul - This is a highly useful glyph, at once giving your ghoul more survivability and more damage. Combined with the Ravenous Dead talent, this will put your ghoul over 18k hp in many gear setups. This gives your healer a better chance to heal it if its being targeted, as well as increases the damage of the ghoul's Explode. Some players choose not to get this glyph.

Plague Strike - Because this spec involves spamming IT for nearly as much damage as a standard Scourge Strike, many players choose not to get Scourge Strike at all. In this case, all Unholy runes must be spent on Plague Strike. With the Desecration talent, along with the hot removal affect of PS and the damage increaes from the Outbreak talent, this glyph provides additional damage, but is far less popular than other glyphs.

Runeforging

Fallen Crusader - As with all specs, Rune of the Fallen Crusader remains a powerful choice for ShadowFrost. It scales with your gear and provides a boost to Gargoyle and melee attacks, along with your Icy Touch and Death Coil. This is the most popular Runeforge by far.

Cinderglacier - This is the alternative choice for runeforging. While it does not provide as long of a boost as a FC proc, it does provide a greater benefit to IT and Death Coil than FC does and thus can be considered more bursty than FC is.

Presences

As ShadowFrost, it is often difficult to know which presence to use and good players disagree over what the "default" presence (or the one they use the most) should be.

Blood Presence offers the hardest hits and highest sustained damage. If your spec does not take Unholy Aura then you wont have a speed bonus in this presence and may want to avoid it. This presence is typically used in games which which take longer (for instance if you 2v2 with a healer and run into another dps/healer comp).

Unholy Presence offers the highest burst damage at the cost of some sustained damage. This presence is most useful in situations where you wont be able to spend a lot of time on a target before the escape (for instance a paladin kiting away from you with freedom or if a rogue is on you stunning frequently) or when you need to burst. Empower Rune Weapon is much stronger in this presence because the shorter GCD allows you to cycle through runes faster. If you dont have Unholy Aura, this presence should probably be your default.

Frost Presence offers by far the best mitigation. If your healer needs to drink or you expect a big burst (e.g. the other team bloodlusts) it is crucial to be able to switch to Frost on short notice to mitigate damage.

Playstyle

When you actually get into arena, you will be dealing primary damage with Icy Touch, while snaring targets with Desecration and Blood Boil. Spreading diseases with Pestilence is important to do better overall damage, make dispelling diseases harder and allow Blood Boil snares on multiple targets.

Deathchill will not be consumed if Killing Machine is active, so don't be afraid to pop it any time during a burst attempt. If KM procs then you will get 2 crit ITs in a row.

Corpse Explosion can be a very effective nuke. With Ebon Plague on the target, Glyph of the Ghoul and Ravenous Dead, this ability, when used on your living ghoul, can hit (NOT crit) for 25% of your ghoul's health (+13% from Ebon Plague) which will typically be 5k or more. The downside is the target must not be moving, so its best used on a target you have stunned or otherwise immobilized. Combine this with Deathchilled IT for huge combos.

Macros

Strangulate
Will Strangulate focus if one is set or your current target if no one focus is set or focus is dead, and cast Deathchill.

/cast Deathchill
/cast [target=focus,exists] Strangulate; Strangulate

Corpse Explosion
Will cast CE on your Ghoul.

/target pet
/cast Corpse Explosion
/targetlasttarget

Gnaw/Leap Focus
Will cause your Ghoul to Gnaw your focus target or leap if he is out of range.

/cast [pet][target=focus] Gnaw
/cast [pet][target=focus] Leap

Presence Swap
Will allow you to switch back and forth between Unholy and Frost Presence with 1 keybind.

/cast Unholy Presence
/cast Frost Presence

Totem Stomp
Rune Strikes (if its up) and causes your ghoul to attack listed totems. Highest priority at the bottom of the list.

/cast Rune Strike
/petattack [target=Windfury Totem]
/petattack [target=Mana]
/petattack [target=Earthbind Totem]
/petattack [target=Disease cleansing totem]
/petattack [target=Grounding Totem]

If you have any additions or corrections, please post them. No more ShadowFrost threads!
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#2 Nex

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 02:02 AM

One of the most common questions regarding shadowfrost is:

"What presence should i use?"

The answer is "All of them".
Blood for highest sustained damage.
Unholy for highest burst.
Frost for when you need to limit incoming damage.

For the best result switch presence accoring to the situation and the setup you're playing/facing.
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#3 Bidj

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 02:27 AM

Nice, thank you for posting this.

Maybe could you make the Playstyle part longer.
I will not write it myself because my English suxx a lot but it could be interesting to explain the probably most used way to set up a kill, in 2s for example, against healer + dps.

I think of this kind of stuff:
* Set the healer as your focus
* Put as much pressure as you can on both opponents.
* Try to put one of your opponent to about 60% of his health & and wait a KM proc. [I mean, at the same time]
* Call for the help of your mate if needed
* Strangulate your focus [I personally have a Strangulate + DeathChill focus macro]
* Profit of your at least 2 crits in a row
* If needed, use ERW to finish your target

I hope this can help. And sorry again for my ***** bad english level.
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#4 Kadrix

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 02:44 AM

Stickied, thanks for making the thread Dunsparrow.
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#5 Dunsparrow

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 05:43 AM

Nice, thank you for posting this.

Maybe could you make the Playstyle part longer.
I will not write it myself because my English suxx a lot but it could be interesting to explain the probably most used way to set up a kill, in 2s for example, against healer + dps.

I think of this kind of stuff:
* Set the healer as your focus
* Put as much pressure as you can on both opponents.
* Try to put one of your opponent to about 60% of his health & and wait a KM proc. [I mean, at the same time]
* Call for the help of your mate if needed
* Strangulate your focus [I personally have a Strangulate + DeathChill focus macro]
* Profit of your at least 2 crits in a row
* If needed, use ERW to finish your target

I hope this can help. And sorry again for my ***** bad english level.


I think these are more generalized and obvious DK facts. You're right about everything but I expect junkies to already know how to focus strangulate and ERW burst since you do these things as any spec. I wanted to keep this generalized to just shadowfrost since that is what the vast majority of questions that crop up on these boards are about.
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#6 Galbraith

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 05:48 AM

Good post.
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#7 Inzil

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:44 PM

Great guide!
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#8 shiverslol

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:53 PM

"Once these stats are taken care of, hit becomes nearly worthless and Strength should be your primary stat choice, followed by attack power and crit."

Hmm Not sure why you don't wan't any spell Pen, since most of the damage comes from IT. Down to prefferance i suppose, but i would say get some spell pen before going strengh mad.
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#9 chill

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 05:55 PM

i posted this in another thread, but i'll reiterate it here

i don't think the 10/11/50 spec you linked is correct. without killing machine icy touch is going to crit with a 5-10% chance on an opponent with resilience.

10/11/50 should have a point in scourge strike using that as its main attack, and it is more like traditional deep unholy/blood with 11 points for lichborne, and i wouldn't consider it shadowfrost since you don't focus on icy touch very much for damage

my 2 cents on stats:
shadowfrost has much less emphasis on expertise than other builds since a large portion of your damage comes from spells. also, haste (and unholy aura) does increase the # of procs per minute of killing machine. and i'll second the poster above me for emphasis on spell penetration
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#10 Inzil

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 06:35 PM

Okay well, im 21/50, one question though
How will this spec work in pve?
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#11 Dunsparrow

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 09:49 PM

Okay well, im 21/50, one question though
How will this spec work in pve?


http://elitistjerks.com/f72/

I have been adding things people have mentioned that I forgot. Thanks for the corrections.
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#12 Nitestrike

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:27 AM

Okay well, im 21/50, one question though
How will this spec work in pve?


I usually get 3.5-4k patchwerk DPS (based on synced Recount) in 25 man pugs that I run, using unholy stance because it feels more normal as melee to have 1 sec GCD. Wearing 1 T7.5, 2 T7, and the rest PvP gear.

Its actually not a bad spec if you have a shitty weapon like what i'm using, and the Deadly Chest/Pants are some of the better items for shadowfrost PvE since stats like ArP and Expertise are pretty close to as worthless as resil.
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#13 Narakina

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 09:43 AM

Thank you very much for this thread played about 15 games about reading this yesterday and went 130 rating points up to 2230 and did the 10 wins in a row title achievment =)
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#14 Zenoth

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 09:05 AM

I was wondering why you put the 1 pt in Wandering Plague in your shadowfrost spec, is wandering plague better than rage of rivendare for pvp? you've already got enough pts in unholy to skip wandering plague and go right for rage with 4 pts, so if wandering plague is better then why not go 3/3 and then 1/5 rage, but if rage is better why not go 0/3 plague and 4/5 rage? is there some allure to putting a single pt in wandering plague im not aware of?
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#15 Darklordxenu

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 10:46 AM

I was wondering why you put the 1 pt in Wandering Plague in your shadowfrost spec, is wandering plague better than rage of rivendare for pvp? you've already got enough pts in unholy to skip wandering plague and go right for rage with 4 pts, so if wandering plague is better then why not go 3/3 and then 1/5 rage, but if rage is better why not go 0/3 plague and 4/5 rage? is there some allure to putting a single pt in wandering plague im not aware of?


Its due to a misconception that 1 point in wondering plague (or 3) totem stomps grounding. It doesn't.
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#16 Dunsparrow

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:07 AM

Its due to a misconception that 1 point in wondering plague (or 3) totem stomps grounding. It doesn't.

You made this post due to a misconception that I think it eats grounding. I dont.

WP stops drinking, uses bone shield charges, breaks stealth and probably a lot of other things. As far as value for 1 point goes, I consider it highly valuable. If you don't, don't get it. Just don't assume you have all the answers.
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#17 spiz

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 02:03 PM

You made this post due to a misconception that I think it eats grounding. I dont.

WP stops drinking, uses bone shield charges, breaks stealth and probably a lot of other things. As far as value for 1 point goes, I consider it highly valuable. If you don't, don't get it. Just don't assume you have all the answers.


Regardless, with 1 point WP still accounts for around 2% overall dmg. Not much different then RoR would provide, other then its over a longer period of time and does have the utility that Dunsparrow outlined; making it well worth 1 point.
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#18 leepstore

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:04 PM

/cast [target=focus,exist] Strangulate; Strangulate

But if no focussed target is up it doesnt work. Anyone know the command which makes it use on focused only if focus is up, if not it goes for ur normal target?
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#19 Dunsparrow

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:34 PM

/cast [target=focus,exist] Strangulate; Strangulate

But if no focussed target is up it doesnt work. Anyone know the command which makes it use on focused only if focus is up, if not it goes for ur normal target?


exists, with an 's'

/cast [target=focus,exists] Strangulate; Strangulate
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#20 leepstore

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 02:49 PM

awsome ! thats what i needed. didnt need the mindfreeze;P
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