Death Knight Basics
Classes

Death Knight Basics

By David Piner -
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Welcome to the basics portion of our Death Knight guide. In this section of the guide you will be provided more information on the Death Knight including why you should play one, what profession and race you should choose, as well as being introduced to some of the unique mechanics that make this unholy warrior take on a play style unheard of in the other classes available in World of Warcraft. Enjoy!

Getting Started

Why should you play a Death Knight?

With all the other excellent class choices out there you may be wondering if the Death Knight is the right choice for you. Before you decide please note that you must have at least one other level 55 character in order to access the Death Knight class and you may only have one Death Knight character per server. Still not turned off the Death Knight? Well then, check out these defining aspects of the class listed below to see if this class is truly the one for you! 

  • Those who choose the Death Knight will find they start out at level 55 in their own instanced starting zone.
  • Death Knights use Runic Power to fuel Runes to create a unique play style unlike any other in World of Warcraft.
  • Use both magic and melee abilities to defeat enemies.
  • The Death Knight can chain enemies as well as drag them into close combat.
  • Free weapon enchants thanks to the Death Knight’s free Runeforging ability.

If the details listed above appeal to you then the Death Knight class may be the perfect choice to you!

Death Knight Races

What is the best race for the Death Knight?

The Death Knight can be any race, which opens up more choices than many players have experienced before. To narrow it down first decide if you wish to play Alliance or Horde (if applicable). Your choice of faction will dictate which zones your spend the most time in, who your comrades will be, and who you will consider to be your enemies.

Each race has its own advantages and disadvantages, but remember, the ultimate decision of which race you choose should be based on your own personal feelings rather than racial abilities. This will ensure that you love the race you are playing and will most likely never come to regret the choice. However, if you are looking for a more technical way to choose your race you may wish to check out the various racial abilities attributed to each.

Death Knight Professions

What is the best Profession for a Death Knight?

Choosing a profession can seem like a difficult task, but let me assure you that it is easier than you might think. Thanks to some changes made by Blizzard, currently every crafting profession in game will offer a basic bonus to a players stats. These bonuses are designed so that none are better than another. This means that for possibly the first time in quite a while players will be able to pick a profession based on their own personal preferences instead of picking one simply because it happens to help out their chosen class. So go wild and feel free to pick whatever profession suits your personal fancy.

Death Knight Runes and Runic Power

How do Runes and Runic Power work for the Death Knight?

Mana, energy, rage, or even focus may be what you eyes paid very close attention to while leveling up. You needed to pay so much attention to these things because these were the forces that powered your spells and allowed you to tromp enemies beneath your feet. Death Knights are the same, yet totally different.

As a Death Knight you will find yourself equipped with six Runes that can be found directly below your health bar. Each Death Knight has two Blood, two Frost, and two Unholy Runes. Death Knight abilities will require a set number and type (for example a spell may require one Unholy Rune and one Frost Rune to be useable) of runes to work. Once the ability has been activated the Runes used to power it will become inactive for a short period of time until they have recharged at which time they may be used again. If the Runes needed for an ability are recharging you will not be able to use that ability until they are active again.

Certain abilities can affect the recharge rate on your Runes or even convert them into a special type known as Death Runes. Death Runes are special because they can be used for any of the three Rune types; Blood, Frost, or Unholy.

Not to mention that each time you use a Rune the Death Knight will gain Runic Power. Runic Power is much like a Warrior’s Rage. Every time a rune is used your Runic Power will increase. The Death Knight has several abilities, such as Death Coil, that work solely off of Runic Power and can be used when you have accumulated enough. Also like Rage, Runic Power depletes over time, so be sure to use it when it is available!

Death Knight Presences

What are Death Knight Presences?

Much like Warrior’s various stances, Death Knights have access to several personal auras in this case known as Presences. The three Presences available to the Death Knight are:

  • Frost Presence - Strengthens the Death Knight with the presence of Frost, increasing damage by 10% and increasing Runic Power generation by 10%.
  • Blood Presence - The Death Knight assumes the presence of Blood, increasing Stamina by 8%, armor contribution from cloth, leather, mail, and plate items by 30% and reducing damage taken by 8%. Also increases threat generated.
  • Unholy Presence - The Death Knight is infused with unholy fury, increasing attack speed and rune regeneration by 10%, and movement speed by 15%, and reducing the global cool down on your abilities by 0.5 seconds.

As you can see these Presences provide powerful buffs to the Death Knight that compliment your chosen talent tree and help you fulfill your chosen role. Once a Presence has been activated the effects are continuous, and will last until the Death Knight changes them. The Death Knight may only have one active Presence at a time and if you choose to assume a new Presence all Runic Power you have gained will be instantly consumed.

Death Knight Specializations

What spec should I pick for the Death Knight?

There are three major specializations that a Death Knight can choose from: Frost, Blood, and Unholy. Available at level 10 each specialization has its own benefits and will offer the Death Knight a distinct play experience. Choose the specialization that best fits how you envision your play style. For more information take a glance at the description of each spec below:

  • Frost - Those who choose the Frost specialization will find their melee abilities enhanced in both AoE and single target damage. This spec is also filled with various damage mitigation and Rune timer reducing abilities that can help save the Death Knight in a pinch.
  • Unholy - Those Death Knights who choose the Unholy specialization will delve into a world where diseases reign supreme and ghoulish minions come to your beck and call. Unholy Death Knights truly love suffering and the Unholy tree reflects it by enhancing the various diseases and plagues available to the Death Knight as well as beefing up other spells related directly to death and suffering. Not to mention providing the Death Knight with a permanent companion in the form of a not so cute ghoul.
  • Blood - Blood is currently the official tanking spec for Death Knights everywhere and the tree certainly reflects it. Filled with talents that allow the Death Knight to self heal, as well as many spells that provide damage reduction and/or avoidance. This spec also provides a useful buff that increases the attack power of all party and raid members as well as increasing the total Strength of the Death Knight.

Death Knight Equipment and Stats

How should I choose equipment and stats for the Death Knight?

Choosing equipment for your Death Knight is as simple as knowing which basics stats are the best for the class. Know this and you can easily discern which pieces of gear you should pick up and which you can safely pass by. While each spec will require similar stats, you will find that some will be more important for certain specs than others.

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About The Author

David "Xerin" Piner
Get in the bush with Xerin every week for his column, Respawn, as he analyzes the hottest trends, buzz topics, and absurdities in MMO gaming. In addition to his ongoing war against early access titles.

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