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Lichborne: Death Knight glyphs

Welcome to Lichborne, your weekly weekend look at the first hero class, the Death Knight. Daniel Whitcomb is back after dealing with some light administrative work back at the Ebon Hold.

Inscription seems to be coming on to the beta server in bits and pieces, especially when it comes to the much looked for glyphs. One or two classes seem to trickle in each build, and in the latest build, it is the Death Knight's turn. Today, we'll take a quick look at the new Death Knight glyphs, and figure out how useful they'll be to the various playstyles and specs of the Death Knight. As always, it's worth noting that these are beta numbers, so things could change by the time Inscription and Death Knights see the light of day on live servers.

Glyph of Dark Command - Increases the chance for your Dark Command ability to work successfully by 8% - When you're tanking, there's very little worse than a failed taunt at a crucial moment. If you plan to tank often on your Death Knight, this is probably a very good glyph to consider, especially if you're low on hit rating in your tank gear.

Glyph of Blood Boil - Lowers the damage of your Blood Boil by 20% but causes it to slow affected targets for 5 sec. (Movement speed reduced by 30%.) - While this glyph offers some intriguing functionality, I personally cannot see it being used much if Death Knights stay the way they do. Blood Boil, as a functional ability, is probably primarily for AE tanking. Unfortunately, with the taunt portion of the skill recently removed, the damage is the only thing Blood Boil has to gain aggro. The movement speed reduction doesn't really feel like it's going to make up for the lost threat from that damage. As it is, Unholy and Frost specced Death Knights already have Desecration or Chilblains to apply a movement slowing effect with even more ease, and without sacrificing diseases.

Glyph of Strangulate - Increases the range of your Strangulate by 20 yards - This one is going to see a lot of use by PvP focused Death Knights. Really, it means that you'll be able to shut down pretty much any long range magical attacker as long as they're within line of sight. It should give you enough time to close distance or get into Death Grip range or allow yourself or a teammate to escape from a barrage.

Glyph of Chains of Ice - Your Chains of Ice causes 240 to 260 Frost damage in addition to its normal effect - This glyph honestly doesn't seem incredibly hot at first glance. The Frost damage doesn't really seem to be worth enough to bother, unless it scales.If the damage scales with AP, then this may actually see quite a bit of use by PvP specced Death Knights, who use Chains of Ice quite often to keep their prey in melee range.

Glyph of Anti-Magic Shell - Increases the duration of your Anti-Magic Shell by 5 sec but increases the cooldown by 15 sec - Anti-Magic Shell as it currently stands is very much a "reactive" power: Wait for the Spell to cast, throw up Anti-Magic Shell as soon as it has less than 5 seconds to cast, and by the time it finishes casting, you should be able to absorb the brunt of it. Will adding 5 seconds to the duration really make it much better? I'm not sure.

That said, this glyph might end up useful if you're facing down a raid boss that casts some sort of massive long lasting spell less than every 30 seconds. But if you're looking to react to a frequently casted spell, the shorter the cooldown, the better, and that extra 5 seconds won't buy any more damage absorption on a direct damage type spell.

Glyph of Icebound Fortitude - Your Icebound Fortitude costs no runic power - If there's one consistent complaint when it comes to Death Knights, it's that its very hard to have a truly reactive tanking ability as a Death Knight. In theory, you should be using your rune cooldowns and runic power as fast as your global cooldowns allow so that you can pump out damage (and thereby threat) as quickly as possible. This is especially true for tanking, since Blade Barrier, which almost every tanking build will probably grab, does require that your runes be on cooldown.

Thus, this glyph will allow a Death Knight a true reactive ability, with no need to save up runic power or runes. Expect most Death Knight tanks to make room for this glyph.

Glyph of Death Grip - Increases the cooldown of Death Grip by 10 sec but stuns targets for 1 sec - I honestly do not expect to see this get much use. It is true that, in PvP, one of Death Grip's biggest weaknesses is that once you draw a person in, they can simply run back out again, but 1 second is barely a global cooldown, even with Unholy Presence. I'm just not sure this adds enough value. It seems better to me to have 10 seconds less to cast Death Grip again, and just count on Chains of Ice or the aforementioned Chilblains or Desecration to keep your target in range.

Glyph of Death and Decay - Your Death and Decay spell deals 10% additional damage but the cooldown is increased by 10 sec - Death and Decay is hurting right now, and no doubt. Once again, it got the nerf bat, and it's not really doing near the damage it needs to be doing. But what about this rune? If we assume that Death and Decay will be rebuffed to a more reasonable damage total, this rune might be worth playing around with for AE tanking. Death and Decay is certainly useful for establishing initial aggro on a large group, and 10% damage will only mean more threat.

If you can use Pestilence and Blood Boil to keep aggro and find ways to spend the runes for that extra 10 seconds, this might be a good rune for counteracting trigger happy DPS who insist on unloading their full arsenal from the word go.

Glyph of Icy Touch - Your Icy Touch does 10% less damage but generate 10 additional runic power - This rune might be useful if you're having trouble staying in runic power. The main question to ask yourself is if you can turn that 10 runic power into more damage or utility than you otherwise would have.

Death Knights trying to get runic power as quickly as possible to cast spells like Dancing Rune Weapon and Unholy Blight might end up taking this one.

Glyph of Unbreakable Armor - Unbreakable Armor grants an additional 5% parry chance but no longer increases your Strength - Frost tanks may find some use for this primarily if they find they can put out enough threat but need to be able to take a bit more damage. It really will come down to a choice of threat vs. avoidance here.

Glyph of Blood Tap - Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you - Blood Tap causes damage? Yeah, I know, I barely noticed either. Honestly, I've never really found much of a use for Blood Tap. I almost always have a much better use to put that Blood Rune to, and any Death Runes I need I get from talents. Even if I did use Blood Tap, I'm not sure the health loss is enough to justify using this rune.

Glyph of Scourge Strike - Your Scourge Strike has a 25% chance to cause Blood Plague and Frost Fever - The problem with this glyph is figuring out what to do with the extra runes. A Death Knight lives by spending runes as quickly as global cooldowns let him spend them. If you can't find a quick use for those extra runes that doesn't throw off your rotation, it'd be better not take this skill.

That said, if you can juggle it all correctly, it can mean an extra Scourge Strike, as well as a refreshing of Ebon Plaguebringer, which is also pretty handy. I expect a lot of Unholy Death Knights will grab this. You just have to be extra vigilant to change up your rotation a bit when it procs.

Glyph of Frost Strike - Your Frost Strikes have a 10% chance to Freeze the target for 8 sec - The problem with this attack is that it's mostly chance based. Do you happen to have no diseases on your target? Are your cooldowns and rotations in such a place that you can take advantage of the freeze? Or does it disappear suddenly as you continue to whack on the mob unawares?

This glyph is a bit random and rather undependable, and I don't see many Death Knights taking it. Still, maybe if you're PvPing with a Frost Mage, you might like the synergy.

Glyph of Plague Strike - Your Plague Strike does additional damage for each disease on the target - Plague Strike is one of the workhorses of the Death Knight. It's the quickest and easiest way to get Blood Plague up and does a decent bit of damage to boot. The concern with this rune is whether a "perfect" rotation really needs it. If you time your rotation right, you should, in theory, be obliterating away your diseases before reusing Plague Strike.

This is a glyph whose usefulness largely will depend on the individual Death Knight and their rotation. If you find yourself recasting Plague Strike while your Blood Plague is still up, this might be useful. It will likely be used primarily if you have Annihilation or Scourge Strike.

Glyph of Rune Strike - Increases the critical strike chance of your Rune Strike by 5% but increases cost by 5 runic power - The critical strike chance increase on this glyph is pretty sweet, but is it worth the Runic Power? It depends. As an Unholy Death Knight, one has to save all their Runic Power for Unholy Blight and Summon Gargoyle, so probably not so much.

It's going to come down to whether or not you have extra Runic Power lying about. If you spend it all on your talented abilities, chances are this glyph won't be worth it. But if you generate it faster than you can spend it, by all means, this glyph can only help you.

Glyph of Obliterate - Your Obliterate strikes for 20% additional weapon damage, but does 50% less bonus damage per disease - This will likely be useful for Frost and Blood Death Knights with their sole 2 diseases, especially if they have a nice high damage weapon. It's going to depend on scaling, primarily. Does the extra bonus damage on the diseases outweigh the weapon damage, or the other way around? In the long run, the weapon damage will probably win out.

Glyph of Bone Shield - Adds 1 additional charge to your Bone Shield - If you're an Unholy tank, there's probably no reason not to get this Glyph. More time on Bone Shield equals more damage dealt and less damage taken. I can't imagine not making room for it.

Glyph of Vampiric Blood - Your Vampiric Blood also heals you for 3% of your total health - 3% health is a little low. It does scale, but is it really enough to sacrifice a glyph slot? I'm not sure about that, but I tend to guess no. There's probably going to be better things a Blood tank can grab.

Glyph of Death's Embrace - Your Death Coil refunds 20 runic power when used to heal - Using Death Coil to heal is a bit of a science. You either need to be using your Ghoul as a tank (or sending him into AE damage), or timing Lichborne to be activated when you have enough runic power to target yourself and blast off a heal. Even then, all this does is gives you a slightly lower cost Death Coil (Unless you're deep Blood specced and the stars have aligned and Sudden Doom has procced right when you or your Ghoul need a heal). I'm not sure it's useful in enough situations to justify taking this glyph.

Glyph of Horn of Winter - Horn of Winter costs 10 less runic power - It all depends on whether you're a Horn of Winter Buff bot, or whether you find yourself using it a lot. If you use Horn of Winter a lot, and could find a better use for that 10 runic power (such as Unholy Blight or Dancing Rune Weapon or another Rune Strike), I'd say go for it. Just make sure you aren't simply overwriting a Shaman's totem.

Glyph of Raise Dead - Increases your Ghoul's total Strength by 10% - Ghouls have long felt like one of the more unfinished portions of the Death Knight's arsenal. They are fun, but they're also incredibly unpolished. They cost a whole hell of a lot to upkeep if you aren't fighting humanoids. They're also impossible to control unless you sink quite a few points into the Unholy Tree, and even then abilities seem to appear and disappear with each new build. If you have Master of Ghouls, there's a bug that's persisted for almost half a dozen builds that makes them permanent anyway.

Still, I could see a lot of Unholy Death Knights taking this glyph once everything is said and done, assuming the ideal that an Unholy Death Knight should be able to essentially summon a Ghoul at will stays in (and something is done about the cost of Corpse Dust, such as making Master of Ghouls remove it altogether).

Welcome to Lichborne, the new class column on the new WoW class, the Death Knight. Last week, we discussed playing catchup at release day. You might also want to check all the other articles in our Death Knight category, especially Death Knight tanking talents and our Death Knight galleries.

Filed under: Inscription, (Death Knight) Lichborne, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

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