On Improved Icy Talons: melee haste buff

Improved Icy Talons

3.33: updated with some notes and strikethroughs, March 23rd 2010.

This is a really important buff, providing melee haste like a talented windfury totem. Either you provide it or a shaman does. In a 25-man raid, you should ensure someone brings it. In a 10-man, it’s a really nice benefit but not mandatory. Buff management depends on how progression-oriented your raid is. Normally I assume the buff is up in all my sims. DK and talented Shaman version are the same: 20% melee haste to the raid.

It costs 6 talent points though, so you have some trade-off to get it. Yet if another class brings the buff, 5 of those points are wasted in redundancy and the 6th gives you its par of 1% extra damage. Any Shaman can lay an untalented windfury (16% haste) but generally they’ve got better uses for that element if they’re not enhancement.

Key point in 3.3: if your 6 points are redundant due to a shammy, the 25% melee haste you personally gain are not as good an investment as spending the points in merciless combat and other talents.

In 3.33 the stacking has changed , so your IIT and your personal melee haste stack, giving 45% haste. More commentary in my 3.33 post.

In 3.3, if you did not have a shammy, the 6 points were better than alternative uses of the talents. I’m not sure this assertion in 3.33 yet.

How it procs

The raid buff procs when a target is hit by frost fever disease, which can be applied by glyphed howling blast or icy touch. It is procd by pestilence (I just tested it on dummies) contrary to many people’s reports. I’m not sure if rime proc’d HB or talented chains of ice do it (didn’t test).

It is fairly easy to keep up for its 20 second duration, since any frost tank will cast IT or glyphed HB every 20s unless they’re moving around or something.

Range of effect

The wowhead spell detail says 20 yards… of what, the disease? Totems have 30 yards. I’ll research, but perhaps one of my genius readers will tell us in comments.

Haste’s interaction with rune strike

Haste has a positive interaction with [spell]rune strike[/spell]. There are a few variables to how often you can hit with RS: (a) how often you dodge (b) how often you have a melee attack (c) how much runic power you have.

If you dodge two attacks sequentially before your next melee attack, the ‘next melee’ design of RS means you will only deliver one RS, not the two you’d feel entitled to. It is therefore logical that if you attack more quickly, you will deliver more rune strikes, and thus haste is good.

Also if you starve yourself of RP, you can’t convert the RS opportunity; so I recommend to keep a minimum of 20 RP at all times.

How good is haste?

My theoretical instinct is that runic power generation becomes markedly more valuable in a fast/fast dual-wield scenario, such that you’d eat up every Scent of Blood procs. Requires more analysis, or knapkin math for another day.

How to spec into improved icy talons

Spec templates:

  • for a two-handed tank with IIT, two-diseases
    • you can move to a one-disease glyphed HB spec easily, drop two from epidemic and move to your preferred talent and install the glyph
    • either one or two diseases, a 2H tank can give IIT easily
    • note 5/5 [spell]killing machine[/spell] is better than 5/5 [spell]Black Ice[/spell] by 2.1%, but does require you are good at using the KMs and not wasting them on Icy Touch.
  • for a dual-wielding tank, it’s more challenging to design a spec
    • two disease DW with IIT I don’t like this spec because it has low runic power generation
    • single disease HB with IIT this is a great spec

For more details, see my headline 3.3 frost posts on two-handed or dual-wield frost tanking and the rotation post for how you execute.

Also note Frost is intended to be a dual-wield, so you’ll do a bit more threat that way. Threat analysis in the next section.

Why wouldn’t I spec into it?

If you reliably have a shaman bringing talented windfury, you should not spec into it. You will generate more threat with the points elsewhere. (3.33 changed this)

In these specs, there is no compromise on survival, it’s only on threat. I have not dropped a single point out of the all-important avoidance or damage-reduction talents. It’s notable that one-disease specs do not have glyph of UA and have HB instead. I worked out the glyph is worth about 2.3% incremental damage reduction.

I ran Kahorie’s sim in various scenarios so I could test what changes when you talent into it or have it from a shaman. I ran it based on my own specs (5100 gearscore, average of i235 or so). The bracketed figures are indexed into percentage.

Spec With no Shaman With Shaman windfury
Two-handed, two disease, no IIT 5380 TPS (100%) 5589 (103.9%)
Two-handed, two disease, with IIT 5443 (101.2%) 5443 (101.2%)

Updated Jan 20 2010: when I did this post originally, I found that IIT was a 2% loss on threat, because of an undocumented behaviour in the way Kahorie’s sim handles raid buffs. I compounded it by simply doing my verification maths wrong (yes, I do some cross-checking so I don’t rely on Kahorie’s exclusively, but did my own maths wrong). Having run it again with the ‘melee haste’ raid buff on, I see the talent’s actually a net gain. My thanks to comments from Kiku who drew the discrepancy to my attention.

What’s the gain?

All melee gain by varying degrees. It’s brilliant for hunters, rogues and warriors. If they’re about, you will have boosted overall raid dps by a lot more than the small personal loss of threat.

Frost talent questions

Just before Christmas, I had a series of great questions from blogger Vigan about specific talent details in Frost. They were:

  • how does [spell]improved icy talons[/spell] proc?
    • and what’s the best way to spec into it? Answered above.
  • what is the relative value of [spell]scent of blood[/spell] and why choose [spell]runic power mastery[/spell] or [spell]icy reach[/spell]?
  • how [spell]threat of thassarian[/spell] works with rune strike
    • answer is it converts both the next off-hand and main-hand attacks into a rune strike
  • the value of [spell]hungering cold[/spell] in 5-mans
  • whether frost tanks should spec into [spell]rune tap[/spell].

Thanks for the provocation, Vigan. This post still has a few unanswered questions I hope to come around to in time.

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36 comments to On Improved Icy Talons: melee haste buff

  • Shazear
    Twitter: Shazear

    And something to remember on Parry-Haste capable bosses, the Haste has a net negative to your mitigation depending on your expertise. Mind you, current ICC bosses are showing no definitive signs of being parry-haste enabled, but I haven’t seen any logs to completely rule it out either.

    But this brings a good point for a Tanking Frost DK – how much should the tanks decision be based on the utility it brings to the raid? To ask a more pointed question, Looking at Rawr, and if I were to add a 4th attribute to evaluate being raid utility, what would you like to see out of that?

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Raid utility, I wouldn’t see as a factor you could easily include. Sounds like a raidcomp question more than anything. You’d need to model the varying advantage of Hysteria, for example, and even Abom Might’s value is a function of your RDPS. It’s probably too many factors for you to usefully rank it.

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    Oh bloody hell, I was cross-checking and it looks like Kahorie’s applying 45% haste instead of (what I think should be) 25%. Anyone know what’s correct? Here’s my EJ post. I might have to re-re-fix the OP!

  • Super Noob

    Just Decided to start working on my DK again and i was thinking about being Blood DPS and Frost DW tank (though i know it may have some problems in deep progression, but i wont really be doing much more than a few heroics at 80)… i was wondering why you put points into Bladed Armor, is it for threat purposes or something?… Sorry again, im just a nub DK still cause i haven’t been able to really do all the practice or research neccesary for it.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      You should read a bit more around here and so on, you’ll be reassured to know DW Frost does not have any problems in progression. Bladed Armour is a top-rated threat talent (due to our armour).

  • Super Noob

    Yeah, I have been reading what i can, but a lot of what i read its people really just BSing on stuff they dont really know, and honestly i know that i dont know so its best to talk to some1 who seems to know most (at least from what i have read) I just wanted to make sure it was as good as i was assumeing it was. If you could can you post a lvl 70 DW Tank build with IIT, I tried fooling around with it but i wasn’t sure, this is what i got though http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#j0xoZhxexh0Izc0fuzAo0b:TaZVMm Any comments about what i should do or shouldn’t do in regards to the spec would be much appriciated.

    • noob

      Actually at lvl70 you shouldn’t have to worry too much about IIT talent build. Blood is better for leveling as you have the ability to self heal and keep going.

      • Super Noob

        Yes i understand that for solo and stuff, i will be DWing for Dungeon Q’s and such, but at lvl 80 i would like to have a DW tank to be my new main spec (and not my lvling blood spec) I do not want to go in at lvl 80 and be compleaatly fail, but would settle for a little fail at 70.

  • Super Noob

    Very cool Thanks a lot, now just to get the 1k so dual spec (bro got hacked today and one of his toons stole 1k from my Guild Bank haha)… so by monday or so i should be a DK Tank! woot, though probally somewhat fail at first till i get used to it lol. Again thanks for responding to my posts and being nice to a DK Noob like me. :)

  • noob

    Looks like frost dk is going to get buff soon. This includes strength increase for unbreakable armor, off hand damage and etc.

    Icy Talons: The personal haste benefit provided by this talent is no longer exclusive with other sources of melee haste. This will allow death knights to always swing 4/6/12/16/20% faster when Frost Fever is applied. Windfury Totem and the party/raid component of Improved Icy Talons still do not stack.

    Ghostcrawler wrote:

    You put 5 points in Icy Talons. While fighting (and applying Frost Fever), you swing 20% faster. If you have talented Windfury Totem on you, you swing a total of 40% faster.

    You now put a 6th point in Improved Icy Talons as well. You have a passive personal 25% haste at all times. When you engage in combat and apply Frost Fever, you now have 45% melee haste. If you have Windfury also, you still only have 45% haste since Windfury and Improved Icy Talons are exclusive.

    This is basically a 20% haste buff to any DK who has Icy Talons and Improved Icy Talons.

    • Draxxar

      Yea, trying to design a DW build to include IIT without being RP starved is rather challenging, especially since we’ll also want to pickup the new Endless Winter.

      So far, I’m leaning towards dumping KM and Epidemic to keep 2/2 CoG & 1/3 SoB. No Epidemic means less obliterates, but with the buff to IT threat, I would actually be a TPS gain. As for DPS, I guess it depends on the benefit of the added haste Vs a 3rd Obliterate.

      However, I’m not sure how much the lack of KM is going to effect threat.

      The other option is going the single disease route, but with the buff to IT threat, the build loses it’s value. Though I suppose you could just use IT on the pull then revert to single disease once you have a threat lead.

  • Melder
    Twitter: Cimegs5088

    I think for scent of blood, speccing more than 2/3 into it will be kind of a waste, especially as frost.

    I found some weird mechanism of it since i put 1 pt into it for my frost spec.

    1) It stacks, let’s say it proc 3 times in between 2 of your swing, it will stacks to 3 stacks.

    2) It MYSTERIOUSLY proc 3 stacks sometimes.

    Due to above findings, i think

    1) 1/3 SoB is enough for 2h frost tank.
    2) 2/3 SoB is enough for dw frost tank.
    3) The gain from third point just isn’t as much as the first 2, sorta like overhealing. HOWEVER, if you’re planning to invest the third point into it, dw will benefit more due to faster attack.
    4) i know it’s a 15% proc, but the points might be better off put it on other talents.

    I think as 2h spec, i had at least 2 stacks for most of the time. To speak of what i think about 2h frost tanking…

    1) if you have fs glyph, spending at least 1 point in RPM would be good.(or macro HoW with Rune Strike if you aint macroing them with other abilities within the rotation already)
    2) If you dont have glyph fs, the usefulness of RPM just sorta drop.

  • Give

    This is my favorite site for DK referencing. Much more condensed information without all the Theorycrafting BS.

    After experimenting with a ton of DK specs and trying to figure what is best for tanking purposes my default spec is almost a carbon copy of your single disease HB spec posted above.

    I have found that it is very low maintenance, easy to gear, easy to keep aggro from all except the most over geared DPS who have extraordinary TPS generation. TY for all your input. :D

    I do have one question:

    Is Frost Strike worth the one point, especially since I find myself using my Runic Dump more on Rune Strikes and Death Coils?

    If so how does it rate in desireability.

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Stop using death coil as a Frost DK, you’re not supposed to. Use Frost Strike.

      • Instructions
        Twitter: awfullyquiet

        The threat generation of Frost Strike (and damage done) is completely superior to DC. Average DC-noncrit for me is around 1500, average FS-noncrit is around 3k. The other dynamic part of it is that DC doesn’t effectively us Killing Machine, which, is a tremendous part of frosts threat generation. If you get good at timing your procs, timing KM+FS is the key to success.

    • Melder
      Twitter: Cimegs5088

      I think as frost, you don’t have as much flexibility on point allocations as compare to blood or even unholy.

      to make dc hit as hard as fc, the point invest in unholy tree just doesnt worth the value.

      FC > DC for frost tank and it’s there for a reason.

      Ofc, i still keep DC on my tertiary bar, for very rare occasion chain pull.

  • Malorax

    My proposed 3.3.3 DW Frost tank w/Icy Talon build:


    Endless Winter is too good to ignore now. Free Mind Freezes makes up for the limited RP generation a little bit, and more Strength = more Parry and threat

    Could toss points around between Scent of Blood, Black Ice and Chill of the Grave as you see fit.

  • Pestilencio

    Adds 2/2 Endless Winter
    Keeps 2/3 Scent of Blood, 2/2 Epidemic
    Drops Black Ice and Killing Machine
    Solid threat and maintains excellent RP generation while keeping IIT for the raid buff.

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