Wednesday, January 28, 2009

T's Death Knight Guide 1-1: Roles and Resources

I'll spare the backstory. I assume everyone knows that Death Knights are the game's first Hero Class, etc. Plate, 2-handers, dual-wield, blah blah blah.


Death Knights are capable of tanking, damage dealing and PVP, regardless of talent spec. Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. This is a new design direction for Blizzard. Your spec will not determine your role, but rather HOW you perform it. Of course, some builds will be optimal in certain situations.

Here's the general breakdown.

Blood Knights will have very high, sustained damage against single targets, as well as increased survivability and group utility through healing mechanics and buffs.

Frost Knights offer the best mitigation against melee attacks, very high, bursty, crit-based damage potential, limited AOE and extra Crowd Control. Frost is probably the "best" tanking spec. Also, Death Knights looking to Dual-Wield will most likely want a Frost-heavy build.

Unholy Knights are best at AOE attacks, diseases and magical defense, as well as pet usage. Unholy Knights also gain speed increases that will pay off in PVP.


Death Knights use 2 different resources, Runes and Runic Power.

There are 3 basic types of Runes.


There are also special Death Runes.

Runes are used up by various spells and then recharge after ten seconds. For example, Blood Strike will use 1 Blood Rune, while Death Strike will burn 1 Frost and 1 Unholy. This gives the Death Knight a playstyle similar to Rogue, with the ability to be at "full power" at the beginning of an encounter, then using skills and quickly recharging to fire them off again.

Death Runes are granted by certain talents, such as Blood of the North, and will take the place of the other Runes. Death Runes are "wild cards" and can be used in the place of any of the basic three. This encourages Death Knights of all specs to use their off-spec attacks.

Runic Power functions almost identically to a Warrior's Rage mechanic. Each skill that the Death Knight uses that consumes one Rune grants 10 Runic Power. Those that consume multiple Runes will generate 15 Runic Power. This can be increased via talents. Runic Power can then be used for attacks. For example, Death Coil is a basic Death Knight ability that can only be used once the Death Knight has accumulated 40 Runic Power. Just like Rage, Runic Power degenerates over time outside of battle.

This is what makes the Death Knight a Hero Class. They are no more powerful than any other class, but rather, are more difficult to play and thus not suitable for beginners.

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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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  • Haddar - Level 80
  • Tarmr - HERBS!
  • Samodean - Wyrmrest Accord Exalted
  • Samodean - Finish Northrend Quests


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