Here’s a quick and easy guide to identifying the best in slot (BiS) relics for Frost Death Knights as well as how to identify what is an upgrade and what isn’t.
In Legion, identifying a realistic BiS list can be quite difficult/pointless thanks to the huge amount of randomness that Blizzard have introduced around gear. Without digging deep into simming your character, identifying true upgrades can be tricky.
Frost Death Knights are a classic example. Depending on what gear you have equipped your stat weights can very quite a bit, making upgrade decisions based off a default stat priority prone to error. Throw artifact weapons and relics in to the mix and determining what is and isn’t an upgrade is arguable harder than it has ever been.
Fortunately, in terms of relics, a lot of work has been done over on the Death Knight Discord to sim relics and their relative value against one another.
I thought I’d try simplifying it a little and looking at a general guideline for outlining at what point iLvl trumps the relic trait, particularly since there appears to be some misinformation floating around on the subject. For example, the Icy Veins guide currently states that “When choosing which relics to use, always take the one that grants you the highest item level, regardless of the benefit it offers.” Based on the data, statements like this one are not entirely accuarate and can lead to people making some poor decisions.
First it’s worth looking at the traits that can be enhanced by relics. To keep it simple, I’m only looking at the traits that provide a DPS gain.
The Frost Frost Relic Traits in order of DPS gain are below.
Ambidexterity: Increases off-hand weapon damage dealt by Frost Strike and Obliterate by 10%.
Nothing but the Boots: Increases critical strike damage done by Obliterate and Frostscythe by 6%.
Blast Radius: Increases damage dealt by Howling Blast by 10%.
Cold as Ice: Increases all Frost damage you deal by 1%.
Bad to the Bone: Increases the damage of your Razorice runeforge by 15%.
Over-Powered: Obliterate has a 10% chance to generate 3 additional Runic Power.
Dead of Winter: Increases damage dealt by Remorseless Winter by 5%.
From a DPS gain perspective, Ambidexterity is a clear winner, with Nothing but the Boots second, as we’ll see below.
Looking at the numbers
Looking at the sim data from the Death Knight Discord I’ve pulled out the numbers for the ‘baseline’ compared to +5 iLvls. So, looking at the chart below, the ‘baseline’ Ambidexterity Relic provides a 3,817 DPS increase over a relic that does not enhance a DPS trait. An Ambidexterity relic that is +5 iLvls higher provides a gaint of 5,728 DPS compared to a non-DPS enhancing relic at baseline.
Understanding the numbers
Lets use an example, we have an 850 ilvl Ambidexterity relic equipped and an 855ilvl Bad to the Bone relic drops. It’s clearly an iLvl upgrade (+5) but is it a DPS gain? Short answer, No. The 850 ilvl Ambidexterity relic provides a 3,817 DPS increase over the baseline, while the 855ilvl Bad to the Bone relic only provides a 2,640 DPS increase over the baseline. So in effect you lose around 1,200 Sim DPS by equipping the higher iLvl relic. In other words, blindly equipping a relic based on it’s ilvl may not be the best thing to do.
So, where can you pick up the Ambidexterity relics? Check out the list below. I’ve also included the Frost Relic that drops off Nythendra in Emerald Nightmare. With Ambidexterity Frost relics hard to come by at the moment, Nothing but the Boots is probably your most realistic option at a high ilvl relic until The Night Hold comes out.
Despoiled Dragonscale (Nythendra – Emerald Nightmare)
Decaying Dragonfang (Shar’thos – World Boss)
Screams of the Unworthy (Helya – Maw of Souls)
Clotted Sap of the Grove (Oakheart – Dark Heart Thicket)
Heart of Frost (Spellblade Aluriel – The Nighthold)
Nothing but the Boots
Unwaking Slumber (Nythenda – Emerald Nightmare)