Frost Death Knight in 7.3

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Game Designer
#1 - July 15, 2017, 12:22 a.m.
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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‚Äôs 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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#169 - July 18, 2017, 7:59 p.m.
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I believe a few more updates actually made their way into the next PTR (some potentially still in progress):

--Obliteration now causes Howling Blast to grant Killing Machine, as well as Frost Strike. This should help with feeling like you can use Rime procs without interfering with Obliteration.
--The overall damage buff is 21%, not 27%. Just a new estimate of what's correct to roughly account for all the talent changes. Rest assured the goal is to find the accurate amount by which the talent changes would hurt total DPS and correct for that, even before looking into possible further adjustments for class balance.

Finally, the L75 row is generally redesigned. The overall situation seemed to be that Permafrost did a rather low amount of shielding, but was usually taken because the other options had so little use. Some of this might be a little preliminary, but the ideas on PTR are:
--Permafrost shields for 75% of autoattack damage (from 30%).
--White Walker redesigned to: "Wraith Walk cools down 100% more quickly anytime no enemy is within 10 yards."
--New talent Inexorable Assault (replacing Volatile Shielding): "For every 2 seconds spent in combat without melee attacking, you gain a stack of Inexorable Assault. Each stack causes your next autoattack to deal additional Frost damage."
(PTR numbers might vary slightly from the above)

Both of the new talents are going in a direction we want to better explore on slow melee specs like Frost: helping to address time off target, without power-creeping general movement capability. Overall, sprints and gap closers are very prevalent on melee specs (likely too much so across the game), and it's been increasingly hard to deliver on slower, heavy-hitter melee archetypes. Most of that discussion is much longer-term, but I wanted to give some context for trying to resist the direction of having every melee spec use a short-cooldown sprint/charge, and try to branch out into more class-appropriate ways of dealing with the problem.
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#192 - July 19, 2017, 1:27 a.m.
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We're definitely walking an unusual line with a talent that on its face does damage, but is on a "utility row." The goal would be that you can't use it to gain damage in non-movement situations (and we may have to tweak the timing or other aspects of exactly how it works in order to do that).

And on a fight where you are forced to sometimes be off-target (which is common), Inexorable Assault would add damage, to be sure--but so does essentially every movement talent on any spec. The fact that it has a place in your damage meter breakdown is unusual but is a bit of a red herring. It's still merely recouping some damage that you'd otherwise have lost, no differently from a talent that lets you get back to the boss more quickly.
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#268 - July 24, 2017, 9:09 p.m.
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Row 75 on next PTR:

Inexorable Assault updated to: "While in combat with no enemy within 8 yards, you gain Inexorable Assault every 1 sec. Each stack causes your next autoattack to deal [100%AP] additional Frost damage."
It's stealing the distance-based mechanic from the proposed White Walker--where we agree it didn't always accomplish as much as we'd want. Also, the attack-based version of IA would likely have been awkward to waterproof against weird rotational shenanigans.

The third talent, this iteration, will be a version of Volatile Shielding that increases AMS's absorb and RP generation (and nothing else). In keeping with IA--we're experimenting a bit with allowing some damage payoff in a "utility" row in the case of a spec like Frost that isn't getting strong movement bonuses.
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#355 - Aug. 25, 2017, 1:44 a.m.
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Just to clarify the numbers--the DK "buff aura" on PTR is +23%, which is intended. The patch notes say "14%" because this is a 14% increase over what's on live (+8%).

Part of the apparent reduction in the patch notes is that 5% of the 7.3 buff was advanced into a live hotfix a few weeks ago. So the "increase" from live, in the 7.3 patch notes, looks 5% smaller.