Introduced in Wrath of the Lich King, Death Knights were once unthinking, unfeeling, minions of the Lich King. Death Knights committed horrible atrocities in his name, slaughtering without remorse. However, when the Lich King was defeated, his former elite found themselves lost in the world, without a purpose.
These undead beings have spread throughout the world, attempting to find a new purpose. However, the world is not so quick to forgive those that once cause so much sorrow. Death Knights will have to prove their worth and earn the trust of those they travel with the only way they know how; by way of the sword.
Current Expansion: Warlords of Draenor
Choosing the Death Knight
Those who wish to choose the Death Knight will be walking a very dark path indeed. These undead beings are masters of melee combat, boosting their attacks with dark magic. However, these abilities are not just used for doing damage. Death Knights are also capable of using their unholy magics to tank, dragging enemies to them and using their unholy magic to keep the enemies attention.
Besides tanking and damage, Death Knights also bring great utility to the table. Death Knights can command the dead, freeze foes, and inflict their enemies with horrible diseases to weaken them. Death Knights can also empower their weapons, called runeblades, with forged runes to make them extraordinary.
Another selling point of the Death Knight is that they are a hero class. This means that they automatically start out at level 55. A big bonus for those who truly hate to level. They also get their very own storyline and starting zone that is well worth checking out.
Every race in the game, besides Pandaren, can become a Death Knight. The Lich King clearly wasn't picky about what race his minions of darkness were. This means Death Knights can be: Draenei, Dwarf, Gnome, Human, Night Elf, Worgen, Blood Elf, Goblin, Orc, Tauren, Troll, and Undead.
Death Knight Core Abilities
Every Death Knight comes with a set of abilities that are common to all who fall into the class. These abilities are often very distinctive and tend to define what makes a Death Knight a Death Knight. These are the abilities that other players will associate with the class. Examples of such abilities include: Horn of Winter, Path of Frost, Raise Ally, Death Gate, Chains of Ice, and Death Grip.
Every Death Knight can wear every type of armor found in the game. Cloth, Leather, Mail, or Plate, the Death Knight can put it on. However, most Death Knights choose to stick with Plate armor. This helps to protect them as they jump into the front lines of battles.
When it comes to weapons, the Death Knight has many options. This versatile class can wield: One-Handed Axes, One-Handed Maces, One-Handed Swords, Polearms, Two-Handed Axes, Two-Handed Swords, and Two-Handed Maces. Despite all these options, many Death Knights choose to stick with their trusty runeblades.
Death Knight Runes and Runic Power
Mana, Rage, Focus, or Energy may be the resource mere mortals use to fuel their powers. Death Knights, on the other hand, use a combination of Runes and Runic Power. A system that is almost totally different from most other classes.
Death Knights will find themselves equipped with six separate Runes that can be found directly below the player health bar. Each Death Knight has two Blood, two Frost, and two Unholy Runes. Abilities of the Death Knight will hae a set number and type of Rune they need to work. Once the ability has been used, the Runes that have been activated will become inactive and unusable for a short period of time. Once these Runes have recharged, they may be used again.
Certain abilities of the Death Knight can change the recharge rate on your Runes. Other abilities can also convert these Runes to what is known as a Death Rune. Death Runes can be used for any of the three Rune types, making them incredibly useful.
Besides Runes, Death Knights also make use of Runic Power. Runic Power is created each time a Rune is used. Death Knights have several abilities, like Death Coil, that work totally off Runic Power. Like Rage, Runic Power depletes over time, even if it is not being used. This means the Death Knight should use their Runic Power when it is available!
Death Knight Specialization
As the Death Knight levels they will be offered the choice to pick one of three separate specializations; Frost, Unholy, or Blood. Each of these three specializations will take the Death Knight down a different path, offering up varied spells and abilities along the way.
- Frost Death Knights can control the elements and do devastating damage to their enemies. This spec enhances the dual-weapon and two-weapon DPS abilities already had by the Death Knight.
- Unholy Death Knights spread infection and control undead minions to do their bidding, including a permanent ghoul pet. With a heavy focus on diseases, this spec focuses on AoE, Spell damage shields, and improved mobility.
- Death Knights who choose Blood are dark guardians, tanking foes to protect their weaker allies. This spec amplifies the Death Knights melee spells, weapons, and abilities. Unsurprising, this spec focuses on tanking abilities and gives the Death Knight extra lasting power.
Each of the above specializations will give the player a totally different play experience. Feel free to pick the specialization that best suits your personal play style or switch between each to mix things up! No matter what you choose, every spec is current viable in game and the Death Knight is always a welcome addition to almost any group.