Frost Death Knight Breath of Sindragosa build changing in patch 7.3
I don’t play Frost very much on my Death Knight, and part of that is because of the raw dominance of Breath of Sindragosa, which requires you to collect certain Legendaries to maximize the build. And if you don’t have them… well, we’ve all played Diablo 3 (or by now, enough WoW) to know what that’s like. But it’s a lot easier to farm for a Legendary in Diablo than it is in World of Warcraft, so I am reading these changes to Frost DK’s in patch 7.3 with interest.
I’m always leery of big changes to a spec in the middle of an expansion. I think Blizzard understands that a lot of players feel this way — if you invest a lot of time and effort collecting Legendaries to suit a spec it really sucks when they break that. So what are they doing to Frost and how will it shake out in actual play?
So far, Blizzard seems to be trying to spread the damage currently done by Breath of Sindragosa around, so that it isn’t the absolute best talent and all Frost builds must lead to it. You shouldn’t (at least in theory) need to get absolutely the right Legendaries that boost Breath just to the spec work — so Blizzard is boosting damage from baseline abilities as well as other talents. It’s similar to the Arms Warrior changes in 7.2: talents have been moved to make certain combinations impossible (thus encouraging alternate builds) and the spec’s baseline abilities have been made more compelling. The end result should be you more options in terms of talent selection.
In these proposed changes, BoS gets a damage buff to compensate for losing Hungering Rune Weapon interaction. I’ll be honest — I’m not a good enough Frost DK to know how this is going to fall out. I think it’s an interesting approach but the breaking up of Murderous Efficiency and Horn of Winter concerns me. I think that’s going to hurt.
Frost DK’s, here’s the complete post so you can take a look for yourselves — and you want to get on the PTR post-haste to see what you think.
The next PTR build should have a round of changes aimed at addressing various concerns with Frost. The major issues we’re focused on are:
- The spec is too dominated by Breath of Sindragosa (which has knock-on effects on talent choice throughout the tree).
- Breath of Sindragosa, when you do use it, can be maintained for far too long. In addition to causing the talent/legendary lock-in around it, it means the demand for continuous time on target is very strict for extended periods of time.
- The spec has many talents/legendaries that (individually or taken together) flood it with resources. Breath contributes to this by encouraging you to take all of them, but it’s also a problem on its own.
- Talent balance generally has to be reviewed, especially after addressing all of the time.
We’re trying to limit the scope of the changes in the patch, to address the above without opening up the core rotation for changes.
- All damage abilities increased by 27%
- Hungering Rune Weapon (L58) and Glacial Advance (L100) swapped positions
- Breath of Sindragosa damage increased by 10%
We want to preserve the identity of Breath of Sindragosa, including the steady resource drain being the main limiting factor, and the expression of skill in optimizing around that. So in trying to avoid less natural solutions like capping the duration or redesigning how it works, we’re trying to limit the talent/legendary synergies that cause huge variance in how long Breath can be maintained. And breaking the Breath of Sindragosa/Hungering Rune Weapon interaction, on its own, goes a very long way toward making Breath’s duration more reasonable again. DPS adjustment for the change is being put mostly into the baseline spec rather than into the power of Breath, because it’s currently so far ahead of other setups.
- Murderous Efficiency (L56->L57), Frozen Pulse (L57->L90), and Runic Attenuation (L90->L56) swapped positions
- Hungering Rune Weapon duration 12s (from 15s) and additionally grants 20% haste
- Bugfix: Hungering Rune Weapon correctly generates a Rune every 1.5s instead of every 1s
- Murderous Efficiency chance 50% (from 65%)
- Horn of Winter cooldown 45s (from 30s)
- Koltira’s Newfound Will generates 1 Rune (from 2) and now causes Obliterate to deal 10% extra damage
Using even a small subset of all of the above effects causes the rotation to be quite flooded. They are all being either weakened in power (with compensation to the baseline spec), or given non-resource-granting effects for part of their value. In addition, the two most egregious offenders (Murderous Efficiency and Horn of Winter) can no longer be taken together.
Overall, there should now be a much broader set of talent combinations that produce a good-feeling rotation in which there are resources to do something on most GCDs, but you’re still able to spend them down. Including, for example, during Hungering Rune Weapon, which is overly hectic or frustrating right now when you can’t spend all of its resources.
In addition, the talent rearrangement puts Frozen Pulse on a row with two predominantly AoE talents, which is a better home for it. The Frozen Pulse/Icy Talons (“machinegun”) synergy is preserved, but can no longer be taken alongside Runic Attenuation as well.
NB: The Hungering Rune Weapon bug may be fixed on live shortly as well, after we test the fix and analyze the impact.
- Icy Talons bonus 15% (from 10%)
- Shattering Strikes bonus 60% (from 40%)
- Freezing Fog effect 20% (from 30%)
- Obliteration duration 10s (from 8s)
- Frozen Pulse damage reduced by 39%
Minor talent rebalancing to match the above rearrangements and talent changes; numbers are likely to be updated as the rest of the changes settle into place.
EDIT: Added Frozen Pulse change which was missed when I copied changes into the post earlier. As with the other changes, this is meant to make Frozen Pulse balanced within its new row, and meant to be accounted for in the overall DPS increase above.
Breath can retain its role as a talent that encourages building around it to some degree (and its synergies with things like Runic Attenuation, Koltira’s Newfound Will, and Seal of Necrofantasia are preserved). But without the overpowering Hungering Rune Weapon interaction, there is a lot more room for other builds to compete, and we’ve buffed the spec’s baseline damage a great deal to shift the landscape towards all talents being closer together in DPS. As always, we’ll continue to examine all of these changes based after people can start to test them on PTR.
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