Wednesday, December 3, 2008

T's Death Knight Guide, Part 3: Talents

This is part 3 of an ongoing guide that will later be compiled into one large "uber-guide" for up-and-coming Death Knights.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.


As previously mentioned, a Death Knight's talent spec does NOT determine his role. Each tree is capable of performing all 3 roles, just in differnt ways.

Here I'll give some sample talent builds and look at a few key talents within each build. This is by no means a definitive list, but I feel it hits all the major options. I won't do any full talent-by-talent breakdowns like I have in other guides, as the only tree I have any real experience with is Frost.

What makes this so difficult is there really is no WRONG way to talent a Death Knight. Sure, some are better than others, but across all 3 trees, there is no bad talent.


51/13/7 Cookie-Cutter DPS build.
Abomination's Might: Awesome group buff. Does not stack with Hunter's Trueshot Aura or Shaman's Unleashed Rage.
Hysteria: Can be cast on yourself or another player. Make sure NOT to cast it on someone low on health, though.
Heart Strike: This attack will replace Blood Strike in a Blood Knight's default spell rotation.
Dancing Rune Weapon: Amazing DPS boost, but do NOT use unless you're at full Runic Power, otherwise it's a waste.

50/0/21 Blood with Gargoyle.
Dancing Rune Weapon scales with gear. So, for DKs with limited high-end gear, the Gargoyle spec will provide superior DPS.

52/14/5 Blood Tank Spec
Honestly, probably the least effective tank spec. However, will help out your healers if they're undergeared. Make sure to keep those Blood Runes on cooldown for Blade Barrier.

63/8/0 Sam's Crazy, Super-Bloated, Insane Survivability Build
Honestly, the only real purpose this build serves is never dying. Ever.


17/50/0 +4 Frost DPS
This is essentially my Frost DPS build. The points in Rune Tap, Hungering Cold and Frost Aura are Wild Cards and can be spent elsewhere.
Note: Between Annihilation, Rime, Subversion and Dark Conviction, your Obliterate has an extra 32% chance to crit. That is what this build is designed around. Frost may not give the highest sustained DPS, but it has great potential.
Why only 2 points in Runic Power Mastery? Simple. 120 RP grants you 3 Frost Strikes. 130 grants you 3 Frost Strikes with 10 useless RP left over.

5/59/7 Frost Tanking, arguably the best tanking build for early gear levels.
Excellent physical mitigation from Toughness and Frigid Dreadplate.
Acclimation and Frost Aura also help with heavy magic-dealing enemies.
Lichborne and Unbreakable Armor give Frost Tanks other skills to use while Icebound Fortitude is on cooldown.
While Hungering Cold may seem like a great AoE tanking ability, I don't feel it's necessary. A 1 minute cooldown means you can only use it once on most AoE pulls. I feel you're better off using a combination of Death and Decay, Pestilence, Howling Blast and Blood Boil for multiple mobs. Plus, that RP cost means you're more than likely only using it part way through the battle.

17/54/0 Frost PVP Build
Frost's incredible burst potential makes it perfect for PVP.
This is really the only time I suggest taking Icy Reach and Deathchill.
This is where Hungering Cold really shines. Death Knight Frost Nova FTW.

10/56/5 Dual-Wield Tanking Build
Insanity! As everyone knows, Dual-Wielding causes extra parries. Every time (most) mobs parry, their swing timer resets and the next attack comes faster. Dual-Wield tanking leads to getting Parrygibbed. Right?
First of all, read this. Long story short: A DK Dual-Wielding 2 slow 1-handers actually has LESS chance of being parried than a Warrior using a fast 1-hander, as tanking Warriors do.
I've seen DW tanking builds that weren't heavy Frost, but I don't like them. Frost Strike cannot be parried. That is essential, as far as I'm concerned.
Dual-Wielding allows you to equip 2 good, defensive 1-handers. This should give better tanking stats over a 2-hander in most situations. However, the tradeoff is slightly reduced threat generation.
Please note, this build requires VERY good gear and is not recommended for entry-level tanking.


17/0/54Unholy DPS
Keep Bone Shield up at all times.
Don't forget your Ghoul Master of Ghouls gives you a very potent source of extra damage.

17/0/54Unholy DPS - AOE Variant
This build drops Night of the Dead for Corpse Explosion and Unholy Blight. Although, I am unsure how useful Corpse Explosion is in a group setting.

5/8/58 Unholy Tanking
Once again, keep Bone Shield up.
This build excells at higher gear levels, when Frigid Dreadplate is no longer necessary from the Frost build.

0/11/60Unholy-Bloat PVP
This build is geared toward GROUP PVP. I feel Frost is a better option for Lone Wolf PVPers. But, hey, go with what you want. I've said over and over how each tree is viable.
This is the only build where I suggest Desecration. Movement impairing effects are always great in PVP.


15/37/19 The famous Dual-Wield Tri-Spec
**Due to only one talent that increases melee hit rate, TONS of hit rating is needed.
This build relies on 4 factors:
1: Speed
Icy Talons and Improved Icy Talons are required.
2: White Damage
On average, 2-Handed builds will only have 20% of their attacks as white damage. Dual-Wielders will have far more. This is really the only time Necrosis is worth talent points for anything other than getting down to the next level.
3: Procs
Killing Machine and Blood-Caked Blade will go off all the time.
4: Howling Blast
Unlike Obliterate and the various Strikes, Howling Blast does not scale off weapon damage. This makes it the attack of choice for Dual-Wielders.

Part 4: Combat



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A part-time player trying to exist in a full-time world. Guild Master of Denarian on the Azjol-Nerub server.


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