Last updated 3/23/09
So What is a Death Knight?
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.
The death knight uses a very unique resource system to govern his spells and abilities known as Runes. 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. As they use their abilities, the runes will be exhausted and after a period of time (8-10 seconds depending) the runes will refresh. 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.
The death knight has yet another resource to manage, known as Runic Power, a sort of cross between energy and rage. 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.
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.
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
Like other classes they have three unique talents trees. However, the three trees are not as clean cut into tanking trees and dps trees as other classes are. In fact, death knights are often able to perfom either of those tasks in any tree they want, provided they pick up a few necessary talents here and there.
The Blood tree enhances the death knight's melee abilities and damage and vastly improves the ability to heal itself. Surprise surprise, many of these abilities are focused on using the blood rune. Blood also provides healing utility and has some useful buffs that the Death knight can cast on others in their party or raid, such as Mark of Blood or Hysteria.
Frost enhances melee abilities and focuses on increasing both AoE and single target damage. Again it's special abilities focus on the use of Frost Runes (Whoda thunk it?). Frost provides many abilities for damage mitigation, and is often a favored tree for death knights who wish to tank. Frost also provides some very powerful damage abilities like Frost Strike and Howling Blast. One of the most notable buffs this tree provides is a 20% melee haste for the party or raid.
Unholy enhances the death knight's diseases and damage over time spells. It's special abilities focus on the use of wait for it... Unholy runes. It also provides the death knight with a permanent pet ghoul, 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's bring is a solid +13% damage for spellcasters.
Taken from EJ
These specs are all current as of 3.0.9, but may be outdated in future patches.
Tanking specs -Deep Frost AoE 10/51/10
A great mix of aoe and single target threat.Frost/Blood Build 23/45/3
A very interesting hybrid that shines in single target threat.Blood Tanking Build 50/13/7
A successful blood tanking build. Yes it's missing a point, Throw that point into Lichborne for an extra avoidance ability or Blood Gorged for extra threat.Unholy Build 10/8/53
Bread and butter unholy tanking spec. Single target threat suffers, However its AoE tanking is some of the most efficient and stable in the game.DPS Specs -50/0/21 Blood dps
Spec based around Gargoyle as primary Runic power dump51/13/7 Blood dps
Spec uses dancing rune weapon over gargoyle, due to DRW's excellent scaling.0/32/39 DW Frost
A common and popular frost dual-wield dps spec.17/0/54 Unholy dps
Another common and popular spec. Many slight variations, but most follow a similar formula.
IT Icy Touch
Excellent Death Knight resources
SD Sudden Doom
BS Blood Strike
PS Plague Strike
HS Heart Strike
HB Howling Blast
FS Frost Strike
SS Scourge Strike
DS Death Strike
HC Hungering Cold
DRW Dancing Rune Weapon
CE Corpse Explosion
IBF Icebound Fortitude
CF Crypt Fever
BT Blood Tap
AMS Anti-Magic Shell
AMZ Anti-Magic Zone
UB Unholy Blight
ERW Empower Rune Weapon
DC Death Coil
BB Blood Boil
FF Frost Fever
BCB Blood-Caked Blade
BP Blood Plague
AoD Army of the Dead
DG Death Grip
DnD/D&D Death and Decay
Elitist Jerks DK subforum - http://elitistjerks.com/f72/
DK Info - http://deathknight.info/
Skeleton Jack - http://www.skeletonjack.com/