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  1. #1

    Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Update - Added a few more details at the end of the Death Knight's post.

    Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight (Death Knight Forums)
    Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
    World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will bring with it several changes to class talents and abilities. In this preview, you'll get a glimpse at some of the new abilities, spells, and talents in store for the death knight class, along with an early look at some improvements we plan to make to the rune resource system.

    New Death Knight Abilities

    Outbreak (level 81): Outbreak infects the target with both Frost Fever and Blood Plague at no rune cost. This ability allows death knights to apply diseases quickly when they are switching targets or when their diseases have been dispelled.

    Necrotic Strike (level 83): Necrotic Strike is a new attack that deals weapon damage and applies a debuff that absorbs an amount of healing based on the damage done. For context, imagine that the death knight can choose between doing 8,000 damage outright with a certain ability, or dealing 6,000 damage and absorbing 4,000 points in incoming heals with Necrotic Strike -- the burst is smaller, but a larger overall amount of healing would be required to bring the target back to full health.

    This ability is meant to bring back some of the old flavor from when death knights could dispel heal-over-time (HoT) effects. It also gives the class a bit more PvP utility without simply replicating a Mortal Strike-style effect.

    Dark Simulacrum (level 85): The death knight strikes a target, applying a debuff that allows the death knight to copy the opponent's next spell cast and unleash it. Unlike Spell Reflection, Dark Simulacrum does not cancel the incoming spell. In general, if you can't reflect an ability, you won't be able to copy it either.

    Rune System Changes

    While we're satisfied with the way the rune system works overall, we're making a few major changes to the mechanics that will ultimately help death knight players feel less constrained. Here's the rationale behind the changes, followed by an explanation of how the new system will work.

    • In the current rune system, any time a rune is sitting idle, death knights are losing out on potential damage output. By comparison, rogues spend most of their time at low energy levels, and if they're unable to use their skills for a few seconds, that energy builds up and can be spent later, minimizing the net loss from the interruption.
    • A death knight's runes, on the other hand, cannot be used until they are fully active. If a death knight ever goes more than a few seconds without spending an available rune, that resource is essentially wasted. Because the death knight is pushing buttons constantly, it can be difficult to add new mechanics to the class because the player doesn't have any free global cooldowns to use them. We can't grant extra resources or reduced cost, because there is no time to spend them. Missing an attack is devastating, and it's impossible to save resources for when they're most useful.
    • Additionally, each individual death knight ability has a fairly low impact on its own, making it feel like most of the death knight's attacks are weak. The death knight's rotations are also more easily affected by latency or a player's timing being just a little off. At times, it feels like death knights aren't able to take advantage of their unique resource mechanic, which can diminish the fun.
    • The new rune system will change how runes regenerate, from filling simultaneously to filling sequentially. For example, if you use two Blood runes, then the first rune will fill up before the second one starts to fill up. Essentially, you have three sets of runes filling every 10 seconds instead of six individual runes filling every 10 seconds. (Haste will cause runes to fill faster.) Another way to think of this is having three runes that go up to 200% each (allowing extra "storage"), rather than six runes that go up to 100% each.
    • As this is a major change to the death knight's mechanics, it will of course require us to retune many of the class's current abilities. For example, each ability needs to hit harder or otherwise be more meaningful since the death knight is getting fewer resources per unit of time. Some abilities will need to have their costs reduced as a result.

    Talent Changes

    Next we'll outline some of the death knight talent-tree changes we're planning in Cataclysm. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a sense of how we're intending each death knight spec to perform.

    • One of the biggest changes we're making is converting Blood into a dedicated tanking tree. While we feel that having three tanking trees was successful overall, it's less necessary in a world with dual-specialization. In addition, the current breakdown isn't as compatible with the Mastery-based passive talent-tree bonuses we want to add (see below). We'd rather spend time tweaking and balancing one good tanking tree rather than having a tank always wondering if they picked the "correct" tree out of three possibilities.
    • Blood seemed like the best fit for tanking. Unholy has always had a strong niche with diseases, magic, and command over pets. Frost now feels like a solid dual-wield tree with Frost magic damage and decent crowd control. Blood's niche was self-healing -- fitting for a tank -- as well as strong weapon swings, which could easily be migrated to Frost and Unholy.
    • Our plan is to move the most interesting and fun tanking talents and abilities to Blood. For example, you will likely see Vampiric Blood and Will of the Necropolis remain, while Bone Shield will move over from Unholy.

    Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

    • Damage reduction
    • Vengeance
    • Healing Absorption

    Healing Absorption: When you heal yourself, you'll receive an additional effect that absorbs incoming damage.

    Vengeance: This new mechanic is designed to ensure that tank damage output (and therefore threat) doesn't fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will grant a stacking Attack Power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character's unbuffed health. For boss encounters, we expect that tanks will always have an Attack Power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Blood tree; these values will be smaller at lower levels.

    You only get the Vengeance bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Blood tree, so you won't see Frost or Unholy death knights running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to design tank gear more or less the way we do today; there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but the goal is that all four tanks will do about the same damage when tanking.

    • Melee damage
    • Melee Haste
    • Runic Power Generation

    Runic Power Generation: This will function as the name implies, and the new rune system will make generating Runic Power more appealing.

    • Melee damage
    • Melee and spell critical damage
    • Disease Damage

    Disease Damage: Unholy death knights will be able to get more out of their diseases, which are integral to the tree's play style.

    We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we're looking forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.


    Here are a few points of clarification:

    • We want to provide a 2-handed style for Frost since we recognize that pets are an acquired taste. We think we have the design space to do that now that we don’t need to support Frost tanking. We’re definitely committed to making Frost work as a dual-wield tree though -- that isn’t going away.
    • Outbreak is free with a 1-minute cooldown. It’s not supposed to completely replace Plague Strike and Icy Touch.
    • We’re not sure how we’re going to handle presences yet. We recognize the oddness of Blood death knights playing in Frost Presence and Frost death knights not playing in Frost Presences. We might rename the presences or take some other action.

    Mekkatorque Ramps Up Rhetoric
    Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
    In a surprising and bold manner, High Tinker Mekkatorque declared today that Operation: Gnomeregan is imminent, going so far as to explain his strategy for victory in a three-pronged offensive against Mekgineer Thermaplugg and his irradiated forces. Exiled Gnomeregan citizens will settle for nothing less than the reclamation of their great city.

    We now bring you breaking reports of the impending assaults on Gnomeregan from the field.

  2. #2

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight


    also FIRST LOL


  3. #3

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    FINALLY been waiting for this all effin day!!!

    now give me my rogue info before i die of insomnia!

  4. #4

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight's are part flying type?

  5. #5

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Healing Absorption sounds awesome. I don't quite understand how runes are changing though.

  6. #6
    Warchief Serj Tankian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    United States & Germany

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Sweet, can't wait! Tank love. <3

  7. #7

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Outbreak better have an RP cost, but otherwise awesome.

  8. #8

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Quote Originally Posted by crimsonhead
    FINALLY been waiting for this all effin day!!!

    now give me my rogue info before i die of insomnia!
    You might want to catch some sleep right now, you're 6 hours away from your info if they post as the same time as priest last night, and if they go to a eight hour cycle a little more.

  9. #9

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    aaaaaaaand DKs are OP in PvP again

  10. #10

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    So that's our shielding ability, will be interesting to see how it works.

    RIP Blood DPS
    but Frost shall be interesting with the new Rune changes and increased RP generation.
    It seems to me that we will oblit less for more damage and FS more.

  11. #11
    Does not like cats. Dark Side's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Medicine Hat, Alberta

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    I am overall pleased with these changes. I welcome the blood tank

  12. #12

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Nice tanking changes!

  13. #13

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizzlecrank
    Healing Absorption sounds awesome. I don't quite understand how runes are changing though.
    As far as I understand it, the runes will regenerate one at a time rather than simultaneously. This means that you have to wait twice as long after using a two-rune ability before the runes will both be ready again. However, they will make rune abilities hit harder to compensate for the reduced frequency of attacks which will result from this.

  14. #14

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    So how are they going to migrate a blood DPS play style to either frost or unholy?

  15. #15

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    'Cata comes out'
    'Orc DK level 85 enters WSG'
    'Alliance members type /afk'

  16. #16
    Dreadlord Ibbi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Oh great, more arcane blasts redirected towards me in PvP. >
    DISCLAIMER: Reader discretion advised. The above post is entirely fictional and purely for entertainment purposes only. Any similarities to real life events, animals, humans, persons, politicians, or any other form of entity, living, dead or in any other state of existence, is purely coincidental. The author cannot and will not be held accountable for such similarities or any other parallels that are imagined and/or drawn by you, the reader, between the above fictional work and real life events.

  17. #17

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Another PvP oriented, mostly, lvl 85 ability... :-\

  18. #18

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    All new abilities seem a bit too PvP oriented imo.

  19. #19

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Holy crap, these changes sound awesome, really can't wait Oo

  20. #20

    Re: Cataclysm Class Preview: Death Knight

    Quote Originally Posted by Barreveler
    So how are they going to migrate a blood DPS play style to either frost or unholy?
    They probably won't. I'm guessing that on the whole, tanking as blood may be similar to DPS as blood - kinda how Frost DPS and Frost Tank is currently almost the same rotation.

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