DK tank 3.3.3 Icy Touch spam

Quite a few tanks really don’t like the idea of an Icy Touch spam build. At its most extreme, this kind of spec involves skipping any talent which helps you do strikes like [spell]obliterate[/spell] in favour of those which help you slam Icy Touch. The playstyle is then use death runes for icy touch.

Many tanks do not like it out of principle, and strongly argue against using it, because Blizzard have said they will nerf it if they see enough player behaviour changing.

I’m pragmatic: this makes me fall on the side of discouraging people from IT spam, and to recommend they instead spec fairly normally but use IT when required for a threat boost.

The forums have a thread discussing how you would spec into it, and other talking about why you should not including talk about whether Blizzard have any alternatives. Satorri has his view there too.

The way you can classify any spec is to consider its three factors: survival, threat and utility. If you decouple threat and damage, like Icy Slam does, then raw damage output (dps) is utility.

Thus, if you’re in a normal 10 or 25 man raid, and you have ever wiped at 1%, you know that damage output is important. If you had IT Spam spec, and wiped at 1%, then in my book you contributed to that failure. If you wiped at any other point due to survival issues, then again an IT Spam spec is likely the cause; they generally don’t have as many survival talents.

Unbreakable abomination

Anyhow, the only IT Spam spec I like so far, but I would never use it myself, we’ve called the Unbreakable Abomination. It’s like a mini-buffbot spec, with both IIT and 10% AP raid buffs. It is single-target oriented and has very crappy AOE, and has to use IT for threat, so whilst it boosts raid melee dps it ruins your own. The spec has good survival though, so it doesn’t fail that important factor, and great utility albeit sucky damage contribution.

I am fairly confident the net dps benefit to the raid from both raid buffs outweighs the personal dps loss.

The 10% buff

The new 10% raid buff does throw a spanner in the works, because now a devil’s advocate could say: because the dpsers hit so much harder and you have 10% HP and dps too, who cares how you spec? My view is you should just do it properly anyhow, so you can get the boss kill with honour. If it’s going to be easier, then your response should be to go with a normal hard-hitting spec and kick the ass out of the boss, not go with some high-threat twinkle-toes version. Be tough!

A guild officer did a quick calculation on how much this buff helps. (I love my guild).

You know what’s really interesting is the dps gain allows you to have someone die about halfway and still have enough dps to beat the boss. That is really significant. Some encounters were so finely tuned, you can’t die, you can’t lose anyone (dps, heals or tank).

With the 10% buff, that’s changed: now you can probably lose a dps halfway and still pull it off (assuming everything else was going to lead to a kill, of course). Here’s the thread on this 10% topic.

So what is the right Frost tank spec then?

I would just drop epidemic, go with a normal priority. You’ll find diseases dropping off after your second obliterate, so put them back up. You will do IT a bit more often than before (but not twice as much). You gain threat from this but do not compromise much on damage output, and can spec into a bit of utility.

You should spec into IIT whether DW or 2H tank. It’s a net gain in both cases.

For a template build: for 2H, I’d use this spec and for DW this one. Then think about what your raid situation is and adapt to suit. Some more discussion on 3.3.3 specs start over here.

Personally I took advantage of the extra threat and spec’d into even more utility and 5-man convenience, with [spell]Chilblains[/spell] for slowing, like this. I also still have a single-target-only Blood spec.

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9 comments to DK tank 3.3.3 Icy Touch spam

  • Instructions
    Twitter: awfullyquiet

    Re: Unbreakable Abom.

    I haven’t checked the forum yet, but, this portion is really YMMV, based on raid composition, of course, This would be more beneficial in a 10 man raid as the homogeney of buffs would make it nigh irrelevant in 25 man content. But in the same token, are you gaining enough rDPS to compensate for the lack of dps you’d produce in an IT spam spec over deep blood or deep frost?

    If the answer is no then, again, I’ve come to the same conclusion as you, I’d never use it.

  • Gloom

    I just dislike the whole idea of what I consider to be an exploitive build. Ok Blizzard have given DKs an ability that makes threat no longer synonymous with damage, but min/maxxing to the extreme is what provokes knee-jerk tweaks to counter-act, and I refuse to be party to that.
    I use my IT now in exactly the same way as I always have, it gives me more than enough threat without having to resort to parlour tricks and it’s very useful when having to pick up a rogue mob (it happens to the best of us), taunt then IT – problem solved.
    It’s also useful in heroics when you have a lone mob just before a pack, IT the lone mob, head into the pack and begin AE threat. Before I sometimes had an issue when a trigger happy DPS would open up on something I’ve just tapped for threat and it’s gone rogue before I’ve reached the pack. It’s a little thing, but a nice tanking refinement.

  • I just hope that they do tone down the threat modifier a bit for the right reasons. Not because its being spammed but because its too high.
    As long as I survive and the boss sticks with me, I’m a happy camper. I wouldn’t really consider wiping on a boss with 1% while using IT spam as fail. Tanks are supposed to hold threat, survive and the Dps that comes with it is really secondary.  Also, Tanking as a Death Knight can now be a little different (it’s not anymore just DPS-ing in Frost Presence)
    My two cents.

  • hrbngr


    note that the specs u linked are not working in wowhead for some reason, could you update the spec links when u have a chance?


  • Drunktank

    Hey Gravity,
    The links to talent builds aren’t working for me.  I get just a blank slate.  Problem on Wowhead’s end?

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    You’re right, they’re not working for me either now.

    Please report the issue to wowhead in this thread, as I have. The links still work in some browser/OS combinations.

  • Same problem, reported it to the thread that Grav posted.
    .-= Chev´s last blog ..Attendance Issues =-.

  • Underoaths

    i have tried out an IT spamming spec and my threat is running at about 18k tps whereas with my normal blood spec its running from about 6k-11k the spec i chose isn’t straight reliant upon icy touch either, you can do just a normal frost style tanking rotation however you have ALOT more versatility because at times you will have 6 death runes so pending cds on abilities you are prolly gonna be a more “reactive” tank

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