There has been much conversation and consternation regarding Death Knights over the last little while since additional information was released. There are several things players are worried about but the big three are: Death Knights taking over tanking, Death Knights taking over PvP, and a mass proliferation of Death Knights in the game.

In this weeks editorial I give you a run down of these three main issues that people are up in arms about, and then provide my take on them and the Death Knight class in general.

Death Knights and Tanking

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A concept drawing of
the Death Knight.

Many tanks are upset that a new tanking class is being added to the game and that their raid spot or group spot will be replaced due to it. They are worried that due to a perceived higher damage output (due to using 2-handed weapons) that a Death Knight will be preferred. The main ability that has been announced that leads players to worry is Frost Presence that ups a Death Knights armor and threat, this is seen as a way to make up for not having a shield. Many players worry that in plate this could put them above dire bear mitigation levels.

One thing to remember is that Death Knights will not use shields though, so this means that they will not have a block stat and therefore take more hits and damage to begin with. It also means that in any fights where a boss is capable of landing a crushing blow, they will be able to be crushed. Neither of these things blends well with being a main tank in a raid.

Where they probably will fit extremely well is the niche that Blizzard has said that they are designing them for, anti-magic tanking. This has generally been the role of either Druids or Mage's/Warlocks (in fights like High King Maulgar, Illidan, Leotheras and others). One stated ability already will be the Death Knight's anti magic shield which will reduce all magic damage by 75% against them. This should allow them to fill a tanking spot in a raid and allow the damage classes to deal damage instead of becoming hybrids.

Overall it is hard to judge how the Death Knight will work exactly as full details are not available yet. With the constant shortage of tanks for most groups though, having an extra tank is not a bad thing. Don't forget too that many players will be using them as a damage class as well, since most players hate helping others out and instead want to just do damage (a sad but true statement on the average player). This means that likely most Death Knight players will end up doing DPS and taking DPS slots, which there are many more of.

Death Knights and PvP

There has been a lot of concern over another class being thrown into the mix with regards to Arenas and PvP. The thought of another Plate wearer, this one with high physical and magical mitigation scares many players. This is where Death Knights could really shine if not balanced perfectly. If they are too resilient to both types of damage and cause too much damage they could become the new must have class (replacing druids).

As with any other hybrid class though, there will be some give and take. A protection base Paladin for example is extremely tough, while a holy dies much faster. You could take a protection paladin into the arenas, and survive a long time, but you would not deal enough damage to do anything. This will likely be the case with the Death Knight class as well. At this time though not enough details are available.

The one thing that will allow them to rule PvP (at least short term) is their newness. When they first start showing up in PvP and in the Arenas, players will not have experience against them. This will make them very unpredictable, and it will take opponents a while to get used to their abilities and prepare counters. After a little while though they should be just another class.

Too Many Death Knights

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Another concept drawing of
the Death Knight.

The last of the big discussion points about the Death Knights is that there will just be too many of them. This is based on the fact that Blizzard has said that anyone with a level 55 character will be able to create a Death Knight that will start at level 55. It is very hard to argue with the logic that there will be too many of them.

Most players really despise leveling, they want to play the end game. This means that any player that has a max level character but no main alternate, will probably create a Death Knight so they have and alt to play with when their main class isn't required. The choice becomes "hmm, I want a rogue but then I have to level from 1-80, or I can make a Death Knight and just do 55-80". I know which way my choice would swing. There are also many players out there (myself included) that have many max level characters so that you can raid or PvP more often or just fill different roles depending on what is needed. To all these players, picking up another high level character (level 55) and getting them to the end game will be a no brainer.

This is a huge issue as I can easily see Death Knights becoming the most numerous class in the game above level 70.

Messiah's Take on It

This is a topic I am really torn on. On one hand, I really like the look and proposed feel of the new class. The Death Knight is described as a magic using death dealing fighter, who can raise the dead to fight for him. This is awesome stuff, and a class that will appeal to many players. It is a class that can DPS or Tank (and we always need more of those), and I like hybrids because they can fill multiple roles from one class.

On the other hand, it is in no way heroic as they were initially described. Everyone can have one. In fact, pretty much everyone will have one. With the only requirement being that a player has a level 55 character, many players will have more than 1. I know for a fact that I will create a horde and an alliance on to go with the level 70's I already have. To me that is just wrong. The class is supposed to be special, not the most common one out there.

I firmly believe Blizzard should return to their original plan of having to level a character to max level and then complete a difficult quest chain to open up the class to your account. This would limit the class to a reasonable number and at least give it an epic or heroic feel.

If this is what Blizzard sticks with then, why limit it to just Death Knights. Leveling a character is essentially a joke now anyway with the increased experience and quest rewards. Why not just make it so that as soon as you have one character above level 55 you can create any other character at level 55. Then at least the class distribution would remain roughly equal. Heck, why not just allow everyone to have a max level character when they create their account.

Sorry, I just don't see the logic here, other than caving to the masses so that they can have access to the class on day 1 of the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Although on the plus side it will effectively draw a huge number of players out of the two starting zones. Meaning that effectively on launch day instead of a single packed zone there are 3 zones being used, which isn't such a bad idea.


The Messiah has had his say, what’s yours?  What are your worries about the Death Knight class? Do you think everyone will / should have one? Are you as concerned over Death Knights becoming the new "everyone has one" class? I want to hear your comments and explanations.

Email me at: Byron Mudry - ([email protected]) or post in our forums thread!


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.

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