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Patch 6.0 Death Knight Changes


Patch Day today, and brother it’s a game changer.

Sentry Totem posted the Patch 6.0.2 Blue Notes that outlined all the changes. It was a big patch, and there was much to say. Here are the changes for Death Knights.

A number of changes were made for Death Knights. Several cooldowns were made spec-specific. Frost and Unholy’s rotations remain unchanged for the most part. Blood received revisions to their Active Mitigation design to bring them up to par with changes to other Tanking specializations. Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced.

Ability Pruning
See the Ability Pruning section above for a discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Death Knights, this focused on removing abilities that were redundant, cooldown reduction, or abilities that were not used often.

– Blood Parasites has been removed.
– Blood Strike has been removed.
– Dark Command is now only available to Blood Death Knights.
– Dual Wield is now only available to Frost Death Knights.
– Frost Strike replaces Death Coil for Frost Death Knights.
– Obliterate replaces Blood Strike for Frost Death Knights.
– Necrotic Strike has been removed.
– Raise Dead is now only available to Unholy Death Knights.
– Rune of Cinderglacier has been removed.
– Rune of the Nerubian Carapace has been removed.
– Unholy Frenzy has been removed.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
The biggest change here is the merger of Blood Boil into Pestilence. This change effectively turned Roiling Blood into a passive ability; which we replaced with a new talent, Plaguebearer. For Blood specialization, we removed Rune Strike and are adjusting the cost of Death Coil so that it can be used in Rune Strike’s place.

Another change was to polish up the effect of diseases on the damage of other abilities. Diseases now do enough damage on their own to warrant using them. Having diseases act as multipliers on the damage of other abilities became extraneous and cluttered up the tooltips of those abilities. Those multipliers have been removed, and consolidated their benefits into the corresponding base spell. These changes also results in a slight reduction to ramp-up time.

– Horn of Winter no longer generates Runic Power, has no cooldown, and lasts 1 hour.
– Blood Boil has been removed and its effects have been merged into Pestilence.
– Pestilence now deals damage to all enemies within 10 yards, and spreads any diseases on targets hit to the other targets hit.
– Army of the Dead now deals 75% less damage.
– Master of Ghouls has been removed and its effects have been merged into the baseline Raise Dead ability for Unholy Death Knights.
– Threat of Thassarian has been removed and its effects have been merged into Might of the Frozen Wastes.
– Rune Strike has been removed. Blood Death Knights should now use Death Coil in its place.
– Dancing Rune Weapon now lasts 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds).
– Death Coil now costs 30 Runic Power (down from 40 Runic Power), and has a 40 yard range for both hostiles and allies.
– Sudden Doom no longer reduces the cost of Death Coil.
– Icebound Fortitude now lasts 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds).
– Boiling Blood has been removed and replaced with Plaguebearer, a new Level-56 talent for Death Knights.
– Plaguebearer causes Death Coil and Frost Strike to extend the duration of Frost Fever and Blood Plague, or add a stack of Necrotic Plague.
– Pestilence now deals 50% more damage, but no longer deals additional damage for diseases being present on the target.
– Pillar of Frost now increases Strength by 15% (down from 20%).
– Obliterate now deals 25% more damage on both main and off-hand weapons, but no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target.
– Rune of the Fallen Crusader now increases Strength by 20% (up from 15%).
– Scourge Strike no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target. The ability now deals 100% Physical weapon damage, and 50% Shadow weapon damage. These two effects can independently critically hit.
– Vampiric Blood now increases the amount of healing received by 15% (down from 25%).
– Glyph of Vampiric Blood now increases the amount of healing received by an additional 10% (down from 15%).

Frost Changes
In Mists of Pandaria, Frost Death Knights suffered from rotations that were designed to allow flexibility in ability usage, so that you could pool some resources in order to make decisions about which ones you spent and in which order. Dual Wield vs Two-Handed had different rotational priorities, with different strengths and weaknesses. However, tuning ended up such that you reached a point where you just had to spend all of your resources as fast as possible to avoid wasting any, and all of that depth went out the window. For Warlords, we’ve adjusted the tuning of several abilities and passives, to ensure that that doesn’t happen again, and the rotational decisions and skill are maintained.

The goal is that Two-Handed Frost Death Knights favor their physical damage, slicing through their enemies with heavy Obliterates, whereas Dual- Wielders favor blasting their foes with frost damage, but both overlap considerably to maintain a cohesive specialization.

– Frost Strike’s damage has been increased by 100%, but its Runic Power cost has been increased by 5 (up to 25 Runic Power in Frost Presence, and 40 Runic Power in other Presences).
– Icy Talons now increases attack speed by 20% (down from 45%), and haste by 5% (up from 0%).
– Might of the Frozen Wastes now increases the damage of Obliterate by 50% (up from 40%) and melee damage by 35% (up from 30%) while wielding a two-handed weapon, and increases the damage of Frost Strike by 50% (up from 35%) while dual-wielding.
– Razorice now deals 4% additional weapon damage (up from 2%), and increases Frost damage by 2% per stack (down from 3%).
– Obliterate’s damage has been increased by 30%.

Unholy Changes
In order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Unholy Death Knights, we reduced the power of their passive Unholy Might ability, and added a new passive ability to make Multistrike more effective.

– Necrosis is a new passive ability for Unholy Death Knights.
– Necrosis causes Multistrikes from Festering Strike, Pestilence, Plague Strike, Scourge Strike, and Soul Reaper to also deal a burst of Shadow damage. The amount of burst damage is based on Attack Power, not the damage from the triggering Multistrike.
– Unholy Might now increases Strength by 10% (down from 35%).

Blood Changes
Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights’ tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolve above), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button.

Additionally, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Blood Death Knights to value Haste and Crit as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to Critical Strikes, and Scent of Blood give defensive value to Multistrike. To solve GCD- capping issues and increase the value of Haste, we also removed the passive rune regeneration increase from Improved Blood Presence. Finally, we tweaked the targeting AI of Dancing Rune Weapon, and fixed it up to properly copy most Talents that you know.

– Blood Rites now also causes auto attack Multistrikes to generate 15 Runic Power. The Death Strike damage increase it provided has been moved to Veteran of the Third War.
– Blood Presence now increases Stamina by 20% (down from 25%), and armor by 30% (down from 55%).
– Bone Shield charges can now be consumed at a rate of once per second (up from once every 2 seconds).
Crimson Scourge now increases the damage of Pestilence by 50% (up from 10%) and now also increases the damage of diseases by 30%.
– Dancing Rune Weapon’s summoned Rune Weapon now remains fixated on the Death Knight’s target at the time of summoning, and copies the effects of Talents that are tied to the Death Knight, such as Blood Boil, Frost Fever, or Asphyxiate. Should the original target be dead or otherwise unavailable, the Rune Weapon will switch to assist with the Death Knight’s current target.
– Death Strike now causes healing that scales in effectiveness with attack power, instead of based on damage taken in the last 5 seconds. This healing is affected by Resolve.
– Heart Strike has been removed. Blood Death Knights should use Pestilence in its place.
– Improved Blood Presence now increases all damage dealt by 15%, instead of increasing rune regeneration rate.
– Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces all damage taken by 40% for 3 seconds. It also now has 2 charges, with a 40-second recharge time.
– Will of the Necropolis has been redesigned. It now automatically triggers an immediate, free Rune Tap when you take damage that reduces you below 30% health. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 30 seconds.
– Glyph of Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces Rune Tap’s recharge time by 10 seconds, but reduces the damage reduction it provides by 20%.
– Scarlet Fever has been removed. Its effects have been merged into Scent of Blood.
– Scent of Blood has been changed. It now causes Pestilence to refresh diseases, and increase the healing of your next Death Strike by 20%, stacking up to 5 times.
– Veteran of the Third War now increases Multistrike chance, and haste by 10% (instead of 9% to Stamina), reduces the chance for attacks to be parried by 3%, increases the damage of Death Strike by 100%, and grants 1 Runic Power per second while in combat.

Death Pact
Since the Ghoul pet is now Unholy only, that presents a problem for Death Pact. We revised Death Pact to not require an undead minion, but work a little differently. We left it at 50% heal, which is effectively a 33% buff to it from before (see Retuning Healing Spells and Player Health and Resilience above), and added a healing absorption shield for 50% of the amount healed instead. It should now be a more effective heal for staying alive immediately, but with the downside of needing to heal through the healing absorption shield before being healed any further.

Death Pact no longer requires an undead minion, and instead places a healing absorption shield on the Death Knight for 50% of the amount healed.

There were also a few other miscellaneous changes. The Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced. Level-60 and Level-75 talent rows have swapped places, so the important rune regeneration talents could be acquired earlier. Conversion was changed to cost different amounts by specialization, instead of reducing Runic Power generation differently by specialization. This way, Runic Power beyond what you spend on Conversion is not penalized.

– Anti-Magic Shell now restores 2 Runic Power per 1% of max health absorbed.
– Desecrated Ground now also makes the Death Knight immune to Roots and Snares.
– Conversion no longer has an initial tick, and now costs 30 Runic Power/second for Blood, 10 Runic Power/second for Frost, and 20 Runic Power/second for Unholy.
– Level-60 and Level-75 talent rows have swapped places.
– Level-60 rune regeneration talents can now be triggered by all Runic Power spenders
– Blood Tap now generates one charge for every 15 Runic Power spent.
– Runic Empowerment now has a 1.5% chance to trigger per Runic Power spent.
– Runic Corruption now has a 1.5% chance to trigger per Runic Power spent.

Good thing we’ve got a month before Warlords of Draenor is released. There’s a bit of a re-learning curve that needs to be addressed.

Unholy Death Knight in WoD Beta

This may come as a shock, but I have a few Death Knights on my roster. Actually, I play a few on my server. I have two Frost (2H and DW) and a Blood DK for farming and all-around indestructibility. I think having to deal with a pet has kept me from playing an Unholy Death Knight. That may be the reason my Hunter hasn’t moved past level 85. Spreading my focus between a man and his pet doesn’t feel like fun, especially since my “focus” is an abstract construct at best. I’m the same guy who went from playing an army of plate-wearing killers in PVE to a PVP abuse-sponge wrapped in leather.

Not normally how I roll, is what I'm saying here.

Not normally how I roll, is what I’m saying here.

Unholy DK’s seem to be a favorite in PVP, and plenty of PVE end-gamers rave about them. Then Preach comes along and gives some feedback on his Unholy DK experience in the Warlords of Draenor beta. I may be thawing a Frost DK and letting him get crazy.

Final Boss Podcast – Death Knight DPS


I have a thirst for knowledge. I also have a long daily commute. But since I can’t read while I’m driving, I tend to prefer to get my information via podcast. Getting back up to speed with Death Knights, I began searching for podcasts discussing DKs. I lucked out when I found the Final Boss podcast, because a) it was a podcast, and b) they discussed DPS Death Knights with two top-shelf DK’s – Arv, formerly of Blood Legion and now a member of Vodka, and Mendenbarr of the guild Midwinter.

They also have the podcast in video format!

There’s an Aftershow as well, and you don’t get that in any podcast form. They’re doing it live!

Patch 5.4 – Unholy Death Knight DPS

As Preach himself states, the Unholy Death Knight is one of the most unchanged specs in the game. It’s consistant, it’s great, and it works. I personally don’t play Unholy, but I think I might give it a try.

It feels like I probably should have posted this on Friday the 13th. Bit more of a haunted, zombie-like feel to the class. But enough of my words. Here’s words from Preach, and those words are gospel. Enjoy!

Brawler’s Guild – Rank Three for Death Knights

By this point, I had become adept at killing much like a baby is adept at filling its diapers with green horror-paste. Between the guidance of Icy Veins and my own Death Knightly skillzone, possessing Clockem was inevitable.  All I had to do was get through one last rank of opposition.  That’s all.

But Clockem watched me from the vendor shelf and decided he didn’t want to be my new Fight Friend.  Maybe there was something in my Death Knight’s style that he felt made me unworthy to possess him.  Maybe he saw the madness that possessed my Death Knight when he fought and thought that fighting for a crazy person was no way to go through life, even when that life existed only to fight for crazy people.

Clockem had the industrious notion to make sure he was protected from being Pokemon-napped by executing his own agenda, and that was Operation: Rank Three Will Kick You In The Dick.  This even applies if the one being kicked has no dick to speak of, which reflects the impressive aggression of the plan.

My thought was this:  Bitch, you have spiked boxing gloves on the ends of your life-stealing arms.  You are going to use those gloves to beat rabbits and frogs into bloody pulps, and you will do so for my general amusement.  I will step on the necks of every Rank Three opponent, throw a fistful of coins at the vendor, and Clockem will begin to dine on a full diet of violence and blood.


Rank Three

Blat – Slime.  Unpleasant.  Nasty. Hose yourself off after this fight.  Death Knight feedback:


Sanoriak – This flaming lizard will light you up in short order if you’re not paying attention.  This is a fight about interrupts, movement, and beating this thing down.

Ixx – Theoretically, this bug should be a breeze.  Theoretically, Lindsay Lohan should be in prison until she’s two hundred.

  • Use  Lichborne as your tier 2 talent, since it is the only talent in this tier that will provide you some actual usage during the fight against Ixx. Simply treat Lichborne as a self-healing cooldown, which can be used to extend your survival in the arena by a few seconds.  U
    • se  Death Pact as your tier 4 talent, because the fight against Ixx is short enough that you can make full use of the heal; your ghoul will still be alive when you need the healing from Death Pact. 

    The fight against Ixx is made considerably easier if you use the full combination of offensive cooldowns at the start. Frost Death Knights should use  Army of the Dead,  Raise Dead,  Pillar of Frost, as well as making use of  Empower Rune Weapon to gain an excellent amount of burst DPS.  Unholy Death Knights should use  Army of the Dead,  Unholy Frenzy, as well as making use of  Empower Rune Weapon.To defeat Ixx, simply use all your offensive cooldowns at the start of the fight and DPS the boss while standing still. There is no damage that you can mitigate through  Anti-Magic Shell in this fight. You can use  Icebound Fortitude to reduce the damage you take from melee attacks.


Mazhareen – Another fight that looks simple on paper.  She’s another hockey fight, just straight-up melee.  However, her damage ramps up as he health decreases so skip the foreplay and get right down to business.

There you have it.  If you’ve made it this far, you are now a Rank Four member of the Brawler’s Guild.  Clockem can’t hide any longer.  Come forth, minion, and be counted in the pet stable!

Great.  Just great.

Great. Just great.