Death Knights: Then, Now, and Later

Death Knight
1 2 3 5 Next
Couple of disclaimers: I know this is the start of beta. My gear and raid experience really have no effect on the research I've done and my long time experience playing this class. I'm also just posting my own thoughts on the matter and wish to incite discussion in the current playerbase, not whine.

Introduction
I've been a Death Knight since beta, and there are a couple of concerns that have really begun piling up that I felt like laying on the table. To incite discussion, to point out facts, and to get others views, including other classes as long as it's constructive and intelligent and not just "lawl ur op already".

Wrath of the Lich King BETA and Live
For one, the first thing I noticed was all through Wrath of the Lich King. We were ALL over the place. Nerfed nerfed nerfed, buffed, nerfed, buffed again, nerfed. So much stuff happened to the class during that time that I didn't even have the patience to go through it all. But it made me wonder...what was BETA for? I was around testing DK's in beta, trying my best to see how they worked, and yet it seems that they didn't...really change much throughout testing. It's almost as if they were ignored and then fixed on live realms. I don't accept the fact that "you can never know until they go live" because I KNOW their were other serious testers pointing out problems on beta, not just d**king around with a new class.

Cataclysm Live
Two, Cataclysm. Most of the stuff we got were band-aid fixes or things that could have been figured out a LONG time ago. For one, with the new Blood tank spec, blood problems were all over the place with damage, Death Strike, Blood Boils, and other things. Unholy was off the charts with Unholy Might. Seems like they couldn't get a good ball rolling with them because it went from 10% (from Wrath) to 5%, to 20% then to 25%. Jeez. And finally, we have the normalizing of Obliterate and Frost Strike damage, bringing them closer together and making Killing Machine procs hold next to no meaning whatsoever, something that really turned me off because it made my spec, the only one I could play since I used to play DPS Blood DK (the "next to know one plays this" spec that alot of my friends liked :|), simpler to play than the old arcane mage. That's just insulting.

Mists of Pandaria Beta?
Finally, we have Mists of Pandaria. Among the talent trees, DK's are by far one of the least-choice based. At least three or four tiers of talents currently are incredibly single-sided and have almost no contest as to which talent to take based on your spec or what you're doing (PvP or PvE). No REAL changes to the class either to be honest, except more weapon damage changes (which I know everyone's going to get) and even MORE normalization of damage between Frost Strike and Obliterate. Not only THAT but we got two new class moves that I could find, Control Undead (Pretty sure warlocks wouldn't be excited if their new spell was "Control Demon") and a muddled Execute. Compared to most other classes who get cool things, like Demonic Gateway, Shroud of Concealment, Alter Time, and Shadow Guise, it just feels lackluster. It's like giving someone a new ability for leveling that should have been given as a baseline awhile ago. As if they just realized that Warriors have movement issues and gave them Charge, or that Mages can't escape fast and gave them Blink. Those are extreme examples but still.

Feedback Issues
My final issue really is the feedback I see. I don't recall the feedback from WotLK Beta forums, but when I see the Monk feedback, and Blizzard responding, and changing things according to suggestions and ideas to perfect the new new class they added, I get depressed. The only blue post I've seen in the Death Knight thread that was made was "Oh yeah, Death Strike is glitched in beta. Sorry." And that's it, despite the overwhelming consensus that we have so many issues right now it's not even funny; ALL the specs.

Closing Remarks
Sometimes I feel like they just listened to the whiners, that DK's are a class for noobs and anything given as constructive criticism on them is to be taken with a grain of salt because no experienced player could play a DK. I feel neglected and uncared for almost, as if they gave up trying to fix the class and said "WE'LL SWEAR THAT MONKS ARE GONNA BE BETTER" and started going overtime on them. I just worry that nothing will happen and Mists will be released and DK's will still be where we are. Broken, bruised, and neglected. I really want to give Blizzard credit, I do, but unless there's a surprise class redesign like the WARLOCK is pretty much getting right now, I don't see much more hope for this class in my future and I might just leave and GO Warlock. They seem to care a lot more about their older classes and the Monk than they do me.
Are DK's broken? I don't even know anymore. My chief complaint about this class that I seem to post with more than play is it's bizarre play style. Since Cata, I hit 85 and gave up on it. It's just too wierd for a two handed weapon class.

I want to love my DK again. I loved it in Wrath, but Blizzard has to make the call on whether or not they are happy with a thing first. Hell, I really dislike the idea of a monk class (are they going to punch dragons? lawl.) but it is what it is. I can only hope for a class redesign, but I'd have no guarantees that I'd get what I want.
It is a bit of a mix up, to be honest. As much as I'd like to admit that I loved Frost at one point, it's always been a strange spec. All I've seen out of this class, and what it's devolved into is "HEY IM A HEAL TANK, THIS CAN EASILY BE BALANCED IN PVP AND PVE RIGHT?" which obviously it can't. One or the other will suffer if you do heroics no matter what. Then we have frost. I'm not really sure if I like the new "BIG YELLOW NUMBER" model that everyone seems to love. Killing Machine is a pointless proc, Howling Blast is beyond screwed up, especially with all these "DONT HIT MORE THAN ONE ENEMY" encounters I've seen recently with no Icy Touch alternative in the near future, and a lack of "decisions" in general in it's playstyle just makes me really hate my decision to play this class at all as long as I did. And Unholy? I'd like it to be a Pet/Disease class, but the pet is an overglorified DoT with a stun and the diseases are all but gone now, they get the same as everyone else with a SLIGHT buff to them.It's honestly probably a RP connection that makes me cling to the idea of a juggernaut Frost DK barreling into mobs and cutting them up and sucking the heat out of them. It's cool on paper, but in game I have yet to see them figure out ANYTHING that makes the spec work. Any of the specs for that matter.

Sometimes I wish they had decided to make this a caster and give us Necromancers. But then again, that might have screwed over Warlocks, being pets DoTs and destruction-like shadow spells. *Sighs*Really, you have a point Skaven. At this point I should probably just get ready to switch my main to something more fun and balanceable. Like the new Lock model, or maybe a Warrior. Idunno.
04/07/2012 08:26 AMPosted by Zabix
Compared to most other classes who get cool things, like Demonic Gateway, Shroud of Concealment, Alter Time, and Shadow Guise, it just feels lackluster.


We get Endless Winter at level 90, or atleast that is one of the choices.
04/07/2012 04:24 PMPosted by Shathlithdra
Compared to most other classes who get cool things, like Demonic Gateway, Shroud of Concealment, Alter Time, and Shadow Guise, it just feels lackluster.


We get Endless Winter at level 90, or atleast that is one of the choices.

Endless Winter is a talent. Demonic Gateway, Shroud of Concealment, Alter Time, and Shadow Guise are all class abilities for their respective class, as in everyone gets them ON TOP OF their talent abilities. Death Knights, for class abilities, only get Control Undead and Soul Execute move. That's why it's lackluster, because other classes get a cool ability anyone can use. They don't need to talent point into it.
Since Cata, I hit 85 and gave up on it. It's just too wierd for a two handed weapon class.


You serious? Our resource is a bit odd but really...it's not hard to get used to.

In fact for me the resource system for DKs is one of the draws.

Rune/RunePower >>>>> Rage
It's not so much that the problem is with the resources at all. I understand how it works, and could play it well (Keep in mind, I only got as far as the original five man heroics, got bored before it came to raiding). It's more so the fact that ours seems to be a system in which we have to pressing a button as soon as it lights up in the correct sequence in one second or less, each and every time. It just doesn't *feel* right when it comes to two handed DPS specs.
Skaven makes a good point.

It's not necessarily something you should avoid doing, but it seems way more prominent in DK specs, especially Blood and Unholy, but in Killing Machine procs for Frost as well, that you can't miss a beat in your rotation. A bit more than a second delay and your DPS starts dropping. With other classes, melee especially, there's leeway for you to decide what to do, figure out what's best. It's really not even in the best interest of a PvE or PvP fight to just be constantly hitting buttons and doing attacks, from a gameplay standpoint or from a practical standpoint. It's really the epitomy of what a "rotation" used to be, doing the same thing over and over again and not stopping unless you're in fire or something.

Personally, it feels like the only class who does that now. Healers have choices, tanks have choices, the DPS even have choices, even the other melee. They can decide what to do, think a bit, look at their options. DK's can't really. There's really no incentive to in PvE. Frost has three buttons and one that's an AoE but's the only valid option when Rime procs, Unholy doesn't stray from it's two strikes, RP dump, and Dark Trans very much, and blood's rotation is far from "choice-based" as has been pointed out by multiple Blood DK's that using Death Strike as a "oh s***" button actually doesn't work and lessens your mitigation in the long run a majority of the time.

So in essence, if you like constantly hitting buttons and not really thinking about your decisions or what you're doing, I guess the DK is for you. Trust me when I say I've had my fair share of experiences where I could have Battle Rezed, but was too busy keeping up my rotation to even remember I had the option to do so. It's very stingy like that.
Well, thats pretty much every other class. And btw, 4.3 is very much Dual-Weilding prominent, it's the cookie-cutter spec. DW goes much faster than a 2H. 2H Frost feels very clunky and heavy to me. The rotation is set in stone, but i hope to see more abilites added to the rotation such as a ret paladin. It's not that the whole "Rotation" idea is different, it's just his attacks go slower. Its the same basic concept, "Hit what flashes". It's just with a ret pally you've gotta fill in the moments your waiting for your Judgement and Crusader Strike's cooldown to end.

As for a DK, it's very fluid and generally moves very fast. And we dont have as many abilities we can "Fill in the blanks" with.
To be honest, it's not really that fluid. And as far as filler abilities, that's not what we need. There's a difference between abilities and filler abilities, I think. If we needed a filler ability, we might as well just name it "Frost Strike 2" and make it do more damage and cost a bit more. Big decision I guess. But when compared to the move set that Warlocks or Warriors or Druids actually use in a rotation, it's a lot more interesting for them compared to us, even the Unholy spec which uses two strikes, Dark Trans, and Death Coil, mostly.The other issue really is the resource system. Runic Power is pretty fine, it's another form of rage, but it's connected to the real issue which is the runes. Now I'm all for interesting resource systems like Holy Power, the Lunar Bar that Druids have or whatever, and Chi for Monks, but Chi, Holy Power, the Bar, and even Embers for warlocks are all built up resources you spend.

The problem with Runes is they're a resource that's required to DO anything. As opposed to a Paladin who uses Holy Power to unleash a devestating attack, or a Shadow Priest who unleashes orbs to insta Mind Blast, Death Knights can't do anything without Runes. Hell, even Warriors have abilities that don't use rage to build rage. This causes it so that the rune system is inherently flawed and with the long-ish cooldown on the Runes already, it shows already.

Spec by spec, frost have periods of time where they literally can't do anything. I've sat there for 3 seconds waiting for an ability to pop up, unless I felt like SPAMMING Plague Strike, I guess. For Unholy, you have no leeway, you have to keep up your rotation completely to do all your moves, and anything outside of your rotation screws it up and eventually causes a period where you need to redo resources to fix your own damage output. The same seems to be the case with blood, as I've heard of many cases where people have no runes for Death Strike and get two shot in heroics.

There are, of course, other resources that work like that. Focus and Mana, for example, as all abilities of people who use those generally require some of their resource. However, that's because their resource has been worked out. Energy restores rather fairly, and if it doesn't you have at least two abilities that restore it when you need to a lot quicker. And mana? Come on, mana pools. That's the whole point of casters. But for Death Knights, we have two of each rune, eventually causing us to run out. As opposed to mana or focus, runes are more of a crappy restriction to the class that forces us to constantly be using things without any leeway or to not do anything for a period of time.

It's really annoyed me anyways. But hey, maybe I'm lying. If for some the majority of people in the forums isn't that big and a LOT of people love the direction of a punishing tanking spec, a simple-as-crap spec, and a spec that has really nothing to do with diseases or pets, then I guess I really am in the wrong class, because that direction sucks.
04/07/2012 09:40 PMPosted by Skaven
It's not so much that the problem is with the resources at all. I understand how it works, and could play it well (Keep in mind, I only got as far as the original five man heroics, got bored before it came to raiding). It's more so the fact that ours seems to be a system in which we have to pressing a button as soon as it lights up in the correct sequence in one second or less, each and every time. It just doesn't *feel* right when it comes to two handed DPS specs.


i felt right at home back as a Blood 2H DPS

when they removed that option - lets just say neither options offered pleases me

so yeah - its sad that as a '2H focused' class where you started out with 2 handers, and graduate from your 'school' as well with a 2 hander; your options for 2H is limited and only fun for selective 'tastes'

and 1 more thing - i dont get why they are 'obsessed' in keeping DW a frost only feature.

too hard to balance? pardon me - they are forcing 2H down on every spec's throat, and that didnt even work out well. DW unholy was viable enough that they 'had' to kill it. and lets dont get started on 2H Frost.

loot competition? with LFG, and now even LFR and dymanic rewards - sure, it takes time, but wont be as hard compared to old times

so really, why?
On the flip side, I never liked blood DPS, never played blood spec. But when they removed that option, let's just say my unholy loving self was pleased with none of the options left to me, as well.

In getting rid of one spec, they tried to make another spec more pleasing to the old blood. Unfortunately, they decided to throw in some bizarre Beast Mastery tricks into the same tree they were stuffing the old blood play style. So we were left with players of two specs scratching their heads.

I know I was, but I personally was distracted by the draw of 2H frost at the time. Yeah, yeah, I fell for it.
04/08/2012 06:59 AMPosted by Zabix
It's really annoyed me anyways. But hey, maybe I'm lying. If for some the majority of people in the forums isn't that big and a LOT of people love the direction of a punishing tanking spec, a simple-as-crap spec, and a spec that has really nothing to do with diseases or pets, then I guess I really am in the wrong class, because that direction sucks.


I am in the opposite camp. I tried to play a death knight character several times in Wrath and it never really clicked. I ended up deleting them every time.

When I decided to revisit the class in Cataclysm, it was as different as night and day. I initially went Unholy. However, it was a bit too much like my warlock with it's emphasis on pressure and pet usage.

I had never tried Frost before and was curious. I switched over and it was instant love.

What you call a simple-as-crap spec, I call the intuitive-straight forward spec. It's a nice break from my more complicated characters. I hope it continues to be straight forward.
None of the specs are hard to play actually very easy and the only clunky part is just your perception and nothing else. On a side note bringing back my favorite blood dps would be nice.
04/10/2012 05:24 PMPosted by Abyyss
None of the specs are hard to play actually very easy and the only clunky part is just your perception and nothing else. On a side note bringing back my favorite blood dps would be nice.


agreed 100%

What you call a simple-as-crap spec, I call the intuitive-straight forward spec. It's a nice break from my more complicated characters. I hope it continues to be straight forward.


Of course none of these specs are hard to play, I agree with that. But when it comes to Frost, you don't play anything. No, you just don't. Every Death Knight applies diseases, that doesn't count. Every Death Knight gets free spells to cast on procs, that doesn't count (Howling Blast).

So what are we left with as Frost DK's? Obliterate and Frost Strike. Guess what they're doing with that? Normalizing the damage to the point where there's literally no point in TRYING to get Obliterate Killing Machine procs because they both do like the same amount.

So essentially, I guess that means "Simple and Intuitive" and "A Break from my competitive specs" means "I hit this button for this resource and THIS button for THIS resource!", which I'm sorry, is not really playing anything.

All DK's get free procs, disease application, and the use of abilities to help raids. So the only thing Frost has going for it is Hungering Cold, which was rendered nearly useless in PvP and incredibly "meh" in PvE. So again, I reiterate that "Hit 2 for rune spending and 1 for RP spending" isn't really "intuitive-straight forward". It's more like pointless. Reminds me of other MMOs that just give you like five abilities and you just hit whatever button you want and you do damage.

I completely agree that it's fun, anyone would find something mindless that gives them big yellow numbers, gear, and progression fun. But it's more like a break from playing the game altogether, not competitive classes. I'd rather feel like I TRIED and I'm good because I'm SKILLED, not because I'm bored with my main, which I'd LIKE to be this class, or because I can hit two buttons one after another whenever I want to practically.
Don't forget Runic Empowerment. It adds a bit of depth to frost and a whole lot to blood. Sure you can do alright without any knowledge of it but if you really want to push the limit you need to properly take advantage of it.

I'll agree that frost needs some work. The problem with the current rotation is the permanent Death Runes. I think instead of making them permanent they should've buffed Blood Strike to make it do somewhat decent damage or given us some other frost based attack to convert runes. I never had a problem converting runes it was just that we were forced to use an attack that was lolworthily weak.
Don't forget Runic Empowerment. It adds a bit of depth to frost and a whole lot to blood. Sure you can do alright without any knowledge of it but if you really want to push the limit you need to properly take advantage of it.

I'll agree that frost needs some work. The problem with the current rotation is the permanent Death Runes. I think instead of making them permanent they should've buffed Blood Strike to make it do somewhat decent damage or given us some other frost based attack to convert runes. I never had a problem converting runes it was just that we were forced to use an attack that was lolworthily weak.


I guess I can't necessarily say that Runic Empowerment doesn't add any depth. But with the normalization of damage between Frost Strike and Obliterate, the depth is removed. Before, it was a toss up between deciding if you wanted to use runic power or save the chance of procing a run and keep runic power. Now there's really no difference considering they both do the same amount of damage. In Frost, this essentially makes your resources mean nothing. RP does damage, Runes do damage. It's so minimal a difference that what's the point in calculating out anything?

THAT is my issue. Resources are trivialized. We're like mana to paladins, except we ONLY have the mana. I guess a better comparison would be older hunters. What the HELL was the point of their mana? That's what my class feels like. Our rotation has barely any strategy and my resources mean next to nothing. At least Frost does. I dislike being forced into using a pet.

The sad thing is, I don't even like to consider myself skilled, despite my attempts to try to understand my class. BUT because I can read tooltips of abilities, as a Frost DK essentially I top charts, only SLIGHTLY behind decent hunters and mages, without even trying. I haven't been paying attention to my runes or RP for like...monthes now and I still pull out high-end DPS. That's not a good class design, that's making the only class I've ever truly loved in this game incredibly n00b-centric.
Are DK's broken? I don't even know anymore. My chief complaint about this class that I seem to post with more than play is it's bizarre play style. Since Cata, I hit 85 and gave up on it. It's just too wierd for a two handed weapon class.

I want to love my DK again. I loved it in Wrath, but Blizzard has to make the call on whether or not they are happy with a thing first. Hell, I really dislike the idea of a monk class (are they going to punch dragons? lawl.) but it is what it is. I can only hope for a class redesign, but I'd have no guarantees that I'd get what I want.


I totally agree with you 4.0 ruined the class for me


...But with the normalization of damage between Frost Strike and Obliterate, the depth is removed.


My question would be why do this at all. Is it because of the complaints of wasting KM procs on Frost Strike instead of Obliterate? If this is the case, then ask why this is happening. It all leads to the same road. The speed at which this spec plays is just insane. I could understand it if this were the way the dual wield played, that would make sense to me. But it seems the opposite is true.

So yeah, to amend my first statement in this thread, yes, I do believe this class to be broken. We have two of the three DPS specs just making no sense whatsoever.

When it came time for 4.0 I found myself drooling over the idea of two handed frost. When I saw the way this was played I went back to unholy, and found THAT spec to be unrecognizable.

Can someone tell me where my class went?

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum