Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dual-Wield Frost Death Knight

Patch 3.2 was considered the revival of dual-wielding for Death Knights, after it had been nerfed to the ground back in 3.0.8 (I believe). My Death Knight had leveled with a Blood spec that I customized for my own needs as a solo player. After the latest patch, I thought I would give Dual Wielding a try because I heard good things about it. Luckily, my DK already had Dual Specs because I had tried an "Unholy AoE" build a while back and it was a mess. I couldn't get the hang of it and I'm pretty sure that I messed that spec badly. The rotation was also a mess as I didn't bother to research how it is actually done.

This time, I prepared myself. I got all my inspiration from Elitist Jerks' section on dual-wielding Death Knights. This was exactly what I needed: a good cookie-cutter build for post 3.2. I love cookie-cutter builds. In many cases they are not ideal for my case since I don't need skills that are very useful in a raid situation but useless if you go solo. The first DW build on Elitist Jerks' page is different in this respect because all the talents that are useful in a raid setting are also ideal for solo-ing.

The Spec

Thus, my Dual-Wielding spec became the following:

I didn't just blindly pick that spec but I looked at each talent and tried to understand how it makes sense. I won't go into details but Elitist Jerks claim that this is "the most promising frost DW spec" currently and I believe them. It has a lot of goodness in it.

You will also notice the glyphs that I picked in my spec. Although they are recommended as "ideal" for this spec, I would have picked the same ones had I not seen that article. I just love specs which make glyph choices obvious.

In short, as far as the spec, glyphs, rotation, rune forging and weapon choices are concerned, I followed the exact advice on the Jerks page. It just works.

The Weapons

If you haven't seen my Blood Death Knight gear article, then you should know that I'm still wearing the same equipment. I have stopped investing in gear for my DK because he's good enough the way he is and he won't have any problems leveling up in the next expansion.

For Dual-Wielding I needed a pair of nice 1-handed weapons though. Currently, due to the new mechanics of DW, it is ideal to use the slowest weapons possible, in both hands. Speeds between 2.5 and 2.7 are what you should go for.

So I turned to the interwebz and started searching for the ideal pair. I found the only weapon that is easily available to a solo player: Reaper of Dark Souls which can be bought from the Knights of the Ebon Blade at Revered. Fortunately, I was already Exalted with the Ebon Blade so not only did I have easy access to this weapon but I also got it at a discount. Well, 2 of them in fact, because this weapon can be equipped in both hands.

I'm really happy about finding this weapon since it's a ilvl 200 item, the damage and stats on it are excellent and the speed is as slow as it gets, at 2.7. It seems that this weapon was meant for Dual-Wielding Death Knights. Or Combat Swords Rogues.

The Combat

I won't go inti detail regarding the rotation. You can find the details on the Elitist Jerks page.

Essentially it's: apply diseases > Obliterate > RP dump. If Rime or Killing Machine proc, these take priority. Ideally, you should wait until they both proc and you will have a free Howling Blast that also crits.

The Good about this spec is that to me it seems as good - if not better - as my Blood spec. It certainly feels more fun. I like using 2 weapons more than a slow 2-hander. Now I truly feel like a rogue in plate.

The Bad is that at least in my case, mobs go down so fast that I don't have time to run through the ideal rotation.

The Ugly. Well, there's no ugly for me but there's plenty for the mobs I encounter. Very often I crit for over 4K and that's on par with the damage from 1H Blood. Wow! Another awesome perk from this spec is the abundance of Runic Power. RP is generated quickly and very often I'm barely halfway through my rotation and I fill up 130/13o RP. Thanks to this, I will throw in Rune Strike in my rotation without any hesitation, because it's on a separate cooldown. I'm even considering using Death Coil to pull mobs when I have excess RP. Yeah, I know that's not really part of the spec but what the hell.

The Conclusion

Post 3.2 Dual-Wield Frost is once again viable, fun, very powerful and similar in rotation to Blood. Try it if you haven't. There are high chances that you won't turn back to your old spec.


Anonymous said...

First off, WoW just WoW! I have searched and searched "the interwebz" for "WoW 3.2 DK guides etc" but patience is not always my strong side.>:D But then someone like you, that are able to explain the Death knight "system" (& much more) in such a simple and easily understandable language for ALL that are new, or even veterans in the WoW universe. "I found this! Sucess!" (Patience regained>:) I just find myself coming back to your BLOOD DK page/s & was just about to take that on, but, now im debating with myself if I should go the
new Frost DK route instead..(your page & others ofcourse) because its sounds like you are having just a little to much fun with it, ;) and it seems somewhat more rewarding (DW etc). Ofcourse that depends on what one likes & do I know. Im new to WoW really, just had a few different racial tryouts & so on, but I've found myself stuck with a warlock (lvl60+) that I liked & have stuck with him until outlands! Like you? Im usually a solo player (pve) BUT got a girlfriend that became as eager as me to park her warrior for a main DK character wich will be used mainly for other (fun&coolness that a DK seems to be>:) races/classes. A DK as a main for all others feels to good to pass up, it just feels right & we dont think that it would "destroy the story & fun" with other racials/classes. Would you recommend maybe a "DK Frost/unholy & DK blood combo" for us? Your guides should work just fine with two player party I think!? Im really sowy for the long post! I will recommend this blog too others (& a special friend "elite" WoW player with over 25 characters & played from the beginning but way behind the game right now but he's coming back.. soon.. & Im going to suprise the ba***rd)! >:D
Too all that think this is not enough, you can easily find link/s that Darth Solo have recommended like Elitist Jerks page above. (obviously)
A BIG thank you! DK ftw and new fun beginnings!! (I hope:)
-Exigent ^_^

Darth Solo said...

@Anonymous, thanks.
Well, I don't have experience with full Unholy so the only builds that I'm comfortable with are the 2 ones I already did: Blood and DW Frost. Both of these builds have talents in the Unholy tree as well. Of course, Unholy is viable as hell, it's just that personally I couldn't get the hang of it. For solo leveling, the Blood spec that I outlined should be very good. It made leveling very easy for me.

Mike said...

Just want to say great blog. I'm a long time solo player as well, having given up on the guild scene a ways back after finding they skewed too much to the raiding scene for my tastes. I've enjoyed playing a Warrior, Hunter, Rogue over the years and have settled in with my DK as my main since Wrath rolled around. I've been a Blood DK for a long time, but after seeing your post, thought I would give the DW Frost build a go. I really found it to be a pretty cool twist to mix things up, but took a little different take on the secondary talent tree. Even though the EJ site said the blood tree was underpowered compared to the unholy tree, I really think that the unholy talents like vicious strikes and outbreak didn't do much for me as a solo player. I went Blood with time tested talents like Butchery, Bladed Armor, and Dark Conviction that I thought would help more abilities and Vendetta to keep heath topped out for zero down time. Was curious to get your thoughts on this take? Once again, great site. Glad to see there are other hardcare solo players out there!

Darth Solo said...

Hey Mike thanks for the appreciation.

The DW Frost spec that I outlined is supposed to be the highest DPS one at the moment, according to Elitiest Jerks. I used the exact same one.

Having said that, there's nothing wrong with trying a variation of your own. The Blood talents that you've chosen are very solid and I'm sure your spec is as solid as they come.

I'm using DW Frost 100% of the time now and I'm not sure I'll go back to full Blood because it's too much fun. In regards to health, it doesn't heal as much as Blood but whenever I'm low I will throw a Death Strike and health is back up. More often than not, the mobs die so quick that they barely damage me so I don't miss the self-healing of Blood at all.

The reason why Unholy works very well with DW Frost is because you are essentially using 2 "fast" weapons that do a lot of "white" damage. Blood-Caked Blade and Necrosis are tailored exactly for this sort of thing. But like I said, go with whatever you enjoy best. And good luck to you!

Mike said...

DW is definitely a lot of fun. I'm not planning on switching back to blood anytime soon either. The only bummer is that I just picked up my Titansteel Destroyer for my Blood spec a month ago and now it's collecting dust in my bank because I'm having so much fun with DW! I guess you can't win them all...

Darth Solo said...

Ah well, the Titansteel Destroyer is an awesome weapon and cheap to craft. Don't worry too much. You might still need Blood for "endurance" fights. For example, if I had to solo a tougher elite, I would most likely switch to Blood.

On the other hand, I just realized that I should pick 2x Tankard O' Terror for my DW Frost DK. It's an awesome lv.226 weapon and right now it goes for peanuts on the AH: 600-700 gold at its lowest.

Mike said...

Yeah, the Tankard's stats looks pretty sweet. Hope it doesn't look like a beer stein though!

Mike said...

Correction, it does look like stein! I usually don't care a lot about how my characters look, i.e. matching sets, but not sure how I feel about watching my main swing around a couple of beer mugs for six months until better gear comes out! Prices sound pretty good on your server. Lowest I've seen on AH on Zangarmarsh is $1500g.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I haven't read the whole post, but have the jist of it, would like to confirm, well at least for me, spilling into blood, instead of unholy is by far better. After a lot of number crunching, I found out that bloodcaked, only made up for 3% of of my dps, and necrosis, only 2%. (On dummys. After spilling into blood, picking up the threat reduction, extra ap, and crit chance. I found my dps greatly increase. At first I thought the 18 in unholy was a good idea, but was dissapointed to find the small difference it makes, I do recommend having hit chance out of unholy if you have spare points though. Hope this helps

Darth Solo said...

@Mike unfortunately that stupid tankard, although it has awesome stats and very good dps, looks like a stein. I wouldn't want to DW 2 of those. Besides, they're missing +hit, which is a bummer. My 2x Reaper of Dark Souls have 1% hit each and they look way cooler.

@Anonymous no worries man. What matters is how much fun you're having with your chosen spec. That's especially true when you're not in an elite raiding guild which might demand a certain spec of you.

mike said...

@Anonymous Have to agree. I went back and tried Unholy with my DW Forst, but found I got more utility with the Blood tree. I liked the extra AP and crit chance that applied to everything vs the extra white damage of bloodcaked. I'm sticking with the Frost/Blood combo for now.

@Darth Have to agree that the Reapers look way cooler.