Frost tanking has always been and will remain in 3.3 a very solid choice. You can tank with either dual-wield or a two-handed weapon and both are viable. DW is slightly higher threat at the moment yet is best suited to a character with 30+ expertise skill.
For dual-wield frost, I have a full post you should read.
For 3.3.3 highest-threat 2H spec, see this forum post here. It shows that whilst the Icy Touch buff, predictably makes [spell]black ice[/spell] talent more valuable than before, 5/5 Killing Machine is better plus that you should spec into IIT.
Original post continues:
Here I’ll talk about two-handed frost tanking.
Frost tank spec templates:
- Base spec: Frost 13-51-7
- Spec with haste buff
- I also have detailed analysis on improved icy talons (haste buff) with specs
- Single-disease howling blast is further below.
- I have detailed analysis of talents’ threat values.
A very balanced tree. Has the best snap-agro for AOE, excellent single-target threat and a mix of damage reduction talents. Formidable in Heroics and can MT raids too with the same spec, so deserves to be a very popular tree.
- Tank cooldown (Unbreakable Armour) is fixed in 3.22 to become useful. An average tank will take 13% less damage with UA up. Glyphed, they take 15% less (calculations).
- Glyph: the new glyph is OK: not great (effectively it adds 5% of your armour, making UA a +30% armour talent), but nor is it a waste. I suggest to take it unless you need more threat, in which case you can happily drop it.
- UA at 20s has a longer duration than Blood’s 15. Factor that into your thinking; five seconds more 13% damage reduction does make up for it not being as powerful say as Unholy’s 20% reduction.
- Heavy tree means you have little flexiblity in talent choices.
- Extra 3% miss-chance is valuable at even low avoidance levels in Icecrown raids because it reduces the chance of spikey melee damage
- Also has flat 2% less damage and 6 second longer duration on IBF
- Acclimation is actually quite good, but it’s just hard to get in a tank build, particularly useful in Twin Val’Kyrs and Lady Deathwhisper. Here’s how I’d spec into it. It’s a mitigation talent, so you should consider it. I left it out of the main linked spec because many people consider it for PvP only.
- I found 2/2 epidemic is better threat for both single and AOE targets than 3/3 scent of blood.
There are a few points you can move around to suit your own situation.
In terms of threat per point, Scent of Blood gives more threat than Subversion, and Subversion gives more than Dark Conviction.
With points you do have to move around, this diagram shows you the options (note the Merciless Combat is crossed out, but now I think it has some merit in raids with hard enrage timers like Festergut).
Within Frost tree itself, I personally like 1 [spell]Runic Power Mastery[/spell] as a quality-of-life talent, because it gives me more buffer above the 20 RP I keep for IBF. You don’t need 2 there, that’s a waste. Note that even 1 point of RPM gives you no more threat, it just makes it easier to maintain a 20 RP minimum.
I like [spell]icy reach[/spell] for improved range very much for pulling amd gaining agro on runners. The range on HB extends its targetting distance, but does not effects its radius of effect. It hits your target, and then does a 10 yard AOE around the target. In Icecrown, it is very useful for kiting or slowing with chains of ice and should be considered.
Jan 22, ’10: That said, for more threat in the base spec above I have just changed it to be higher threat, with [spell]Merciless Combat[/spell] and [spell]Deathchill[/spell] now included. This is because Festergut and other Icecrown fights are tightly tuned, so it helps for the DK to generate more threat and damage. Deathchill is a tps boost too (use it on an Obliterate) but mostly it’s included for on-demand snap agro with howling blast.
Talents I flagged as situational talents are those which you could take depending on your role as a tank.
In order of priority:
- rune strike or frost strike
- frost strike, rune strike, unbreakable armour or howling blast.
Glyph of Disease is useless in this spec. Zero tps increase because blood strike and icy touch hit hard.
In Icecrown 3.3, glyphs of FS and RS give the same net threat (even when calculating the +17% threat boost on RS). Outside Icecrown, RS would give more threat because you get all your dodge. However, because RS is a passive threat boost unlike FS which actively requires you use GCDs, I would favour RS.
Minors are the same for all DK tanks: pestilence, raise dead and blood tap.
The hybrid spec (21/41/5) doesn’t generate enough threat to be viable. I checked it.
Howling Blast, single disease
If you glyph for HB and use a single-disease priority (you never use plague strike), you can still deliver solid TPS. My calculations are you would do about 5% more threat in a two-disease spec than in a glyphed-HB-spec, so if you have threat problems, don’t go this way.
Whilst Obliterate hits for 10% less (my sim showed 3360 damage vs 3751 with two diseases), you will do more of them, and each Oblit gives you a chance to proc Rime, which is a free HB.
To play Frost well, whether HB spec or not, you need to watch your Rime procs. It’s more so with this HB spec, because you have less tps in the first place, so you want to take advantage of each proc you get. You must think in terms of priority and not rotation.
In the spec, you do not need epidemic because you will most likely have frost fever up reapplied often from howling blasts. That frees 2 points.
Overall, it’s a valid alternative to two-diseases and worth trying.
Spec: Howling blast spec, having moved 1 point into scent of blood and 1 into rune tap. Other choices are improved death grip (handy for trash), acclimation, endless winter (if you’re doing a lot of interrupting casters), hungering cold (faction champions or if you undergear Heroic 5-mans), and so on. See my diagram above.
Dual-wielders can use an HB spec too, just take the appropriate DW talents.
See my rotation and priority post for specifics.
Stat weightings for threat
The EP values for stats for tank threat, based on Bluedragon stats, for Frost tank in 3.3.
this post’s discussion is now in the forums.
ExpertiseRating (before cap) | 2.83
Hit rating (BeforeMeleeHitCap 8%) | 2.34
Strength | 2.34
ExpertiseRating (After Dodge Cap) | 1.52
CritRating | 1.45
ArmorPenetrationRating | 1.31
Agility | 1.1
AttackPower | 1
SpellHitRating | 0.4
HasteRating | 0.34