[Stolen from Zerokku sexcellent post with updates by Projectmayhem - updated for Cataclysm 11.07.10 and continually updated thereafter because I am awesome and I love you]
Last updated 01/03/10 - Updated some old glyphs and stuffDeath Knight Basics
Cataclysm Changes and New Abilities
The Death Knight is WoW's very first hero class. Players can create one death knight per realm, the player must have a Wrath of the Lich King account and a character of at least level 55 on their account in order to create a death knight. They start off with an epic quest chain from levels 55-58 and even get a free epic mount in the process. The term "Hero Class" refers to their unique lore and elevated starting level.
Many of their abilties revolve around diseases and damage over time abilties as well as "strikes", instant melee attacks that use up a rune and are strengthed by the death knight's own diseases on the target. Think of them as the love child of a warlock and warrior, encased in plate-mail.Resources
The death knight uses a very unique resource system to govern his spells and abilities known as Runes (bottom bar with six icons). Three rune types exist: blood, frost, and unholy; each with their own specific color and symbol. A death knight has 2 of each rune available to him/her, and only one rune of each type can recharge at a time. Think of the first rune as the "main" rune and the second rune as the "extra tank". There are also abilities that will turn specific runes into what are called "Death Runes" that are essentially a wild card and can act as any of the three rune types. Runes are the death knight's primary resource.
The death knight has a secondary resource to manage, known as Runic Power (blue bar below health), a sort of cross between energy and rage. Runic Power starts at 0 and is gained by using runes and through some talents. While only a few abilties use this resource, It is important to manage it none-the-less. Abilities like Death Coil or Frost Strike are often referred to as "Runic Dumps" abilities that do plenty of damage and use up some of the accumulated runic power.Class Roles and Specs
The death knight is a dps/tanking hybrid. They can perform both tasks extremely well and provide many useful buffs to the party/raid they are in. They are able to dual-wield and use most two-handed weapons . Like druids, they tank without shields, but with their face. Their tanking mechanics involve high armor and a high chance to parry, as well as self healing strikes and many defensive cooldowns.
Like other classes they have three unique talents trees:
The Blood tree enhances the death knight's tanking abilities and vastly improves the ability to heal itself and mitigate damage. Blood death knights are not as disease-dependent as Frost and Unholy. Blood also provides some healing utility and has a useful 10% Attack Power buff that applies to others in their party or raid: Abomination's Might.
Frost enhances melee abilities and is the only tree designed for Dual Weild or 2H DPS. It's special abilities focus on the use of Frost Runes (Whoda thunk it?). Frost provides a more crowd control options with Chillblains and Hungering Cold, and some anti-crowd control abilities with Pillar of Frost and Lichborne. Frost also provides some very powerful damage abilities like Frost Strike and Howling Blast. One of the most notable buffs this tree provides is Icy Talons, a 10% melee and ranged haste buff for the party or raid.
Unholy gives the death knight a permanent ghoul pet and enhances its damage done by diseases. It's special abilities focus on the use of wait for it... Unholy runes. It also provides the death knight with a number of magic mitigation bonuses, a gargoyle pet he or she can summon for a brief period of time, and an extra disease. The most notable buff the unholy death knight brings is Ebon Plague, a solid +8% damage for spellcasters.
- Instantly applies Blood Plague and Frost Fever to the target enemy. / 30 yd range, Instant, 1 min cooldownNecrotic Strike
- A vicious strike that deals 100% weapon damage and absorbs the next [ 75% of AP ] healing received by the target. For 15 sec, or until the full amount of healing is absorbed, the target's casting time is increased by 30%. / 1 Unholy, 5 yd range, InstantDark Simulacrum
- Places a dark ward on an enemy that persists for 8 sec, triggering when the enemy next spends mana on a single-target spell, and allowing the Death Knight to unleash an exact duplicate of that spell. Against nonplayers, only absorbs some harmful spells. / 20 Runic Power, 40 yd range, Instant, 1 min cooldownRunic Empowerment
- When you use your Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike ability, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune. / PassiveFestering Strike
- An instant attack that deals 150% weapon damage plus 840.54 and increases the duration of your Blood Plague, Frost Fever, and Chains of Ice effects on the target by up to 6 sec. / 1 Blood 1 Frost, 5 yd range, Instant
Taken from EJ. Note that these are min/max specs for PvE. These are guideline specs only - they often ignore survivability talents for the sake of an extra 0.1% DPS. Don't be afraid to experiment! Many of these specs have extra points left over to use.
These specs are all current as of 4.0.6, but may be outdated in future patches.
How can I maximize my DPS?
Death Knights DPS using a Priority System (say goodbye to pre-4.x Rotations!). These are your priority lists, taken from Elitist Jerks:
Diseases > OB if FFUU or DD or KM > BS if BB > Frost Strike at RP cap > Rime > Obliterate > Blood Strike > Frost Strike > Horn of Winter
HB if both Frost runes and/or both Death runes are up > DnD/PS if both Unholy Runes are up > FS > HB > BS > DnD/PS HoW.
Diseases > Dark Transformation > SS if both Unholy and/or all Death runes are up > FeS if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up > DC if SD, 100 RP, will overcap RP with anything else or if RC isn’t up > SS > FeS > DC > HoW.
Diseases > Dark Transformation > Death and Decay > SS if both Unholy and/or all Death runes are up > BB + IT if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up > DC if SD, 100 RP, will overcap RP with anything else or if RC isn’t up > SS > BB + IT > DC > HoW.
BBFFUU - Rune Resources (ie: BB = 2 blood runes active)
Excellent Death Knight resources
AM - Abomination's Might
AMS - Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ - Anti-Magic Zone
AotD - Army of the Dead
BA - Bladed Armor
BB - Blood Boil
BP - Blood Plague
BS - Blood Strike
BT - Blood Tap
DC - Death Coil
DG - Death Grip
DK - Death Knight
DnD - Death and Decay
DRW - Dancing Rune Weapon
DT - Dark Transformation
DS - Death Strike
DSim - Dark Simulacrum
EP - Ebon Plague
ERW - Empower Rune Weapon
FeS - Festering Strike
FF - Frost Fever
FP - Frost Presence
HS - Heart Strike
HB - Howling Blast
HC - Hungering Cold
HoW - Horn of Winter
IBF - Icebound Fortitude
IT - Icy Touch
IUP - Improved Unholy Presence
MF - Mind Freeze
MotFW - Might of the Frozen Wastes
NS - Necrotic Strike
OB - Obliterate
PoF - Pillar of Frost
PS - Plague Strike
RC - Runic Corruption
RE - Runic Empowerment
RI - Resilient Infection
RP - Runic Power
RPM - Runic Power Mastery
SD - Sudden Doom
SF - Scarlet Fever
SI - Shadow Infusion
SS - Scourge Strike
UB - Unholy Blight
UF - Unholy Frenzy
UP - Unholy Presence
Elitist Jerks DK subforum - http://elitistjerks.com/f72/
- Go here for up to date information about Specs, Gemming, Gearing, Priorities, anything and everything related to PvE
Arena Junkies DK subforum - http://www.arenajunkies.com/forumdisplay.php?f=111
- PvPer funfest. Read the stickies to l2p.