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Patch 3.0.8: Analysis of Death Knight changes


Well, I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm certainly having fun playing my death knight. I can solo a lot of the more difficult quests in the game; my Blood self-healing along with my glyphed Death Strike keeps me topped off and out of danger almost all the time; and I bring desirable buffs to parties and raids.

I keep thinking to myself, "Something has to change! I can't have this much fun all the time!"

Well, guess what, WoW community? You've gone and done it. You've gotten us buffed. Great. Just great.

Of course, it's not all buffs we see in the 3.0.8 notes, but there's certainly a lot of them. Let's examine how 3.0.8 will affect you and your plate-armored dreadnaught.

Blood, buddy, step right up. Let's see what you've won!

  • Blood Aura now grants 2/4% instead of 1/2% healing.
  • Blood Presence now grants 2/4% instead of 1/2% healing.
  • Bloody Strikes will receive extra bonus damage from Pestilence.
  • Heart Strike no longer has a haste debuff but will now be able to strike two targets.
  • Pestilence no longer has a 10 seconds cooldown.
  • Vampiric Blood: In addition to its current effects, also adds 20% health temporarily.
  • Will of the Necropolis will now reduce the damage of any attack that takes the DK below 35% health by 5 /10/15% instead of boosting armor when wounded,
  • Dark Command: Range increased to 30 yards.
  • Dancing Rune Weapon cost reduced to 40 RP from 60 RP.

So, first and foremost, the added healing to Blood Aura/Presence is good. I love self-healing, but the 2% healing was a little paltry, I thought. 4% is a nice number, and with the nerf to the Death Strike Glyph (d'oh) I'll take what I can get.

Heart Strike being changed to a cleave is a fantastic change. The current HS debuff just isn't terribly useful and, as Ghostcrawler said, it never even worked right in the first place. I've often lagged behind in DPS on AOE/trash pulls as Blood because of my lack of good AOE damage, so an on-demand cleave as well as the extra Pestilence damage should help out with that considerably. I'm pleased. Just be sure you're not that guy that breaks CC by spamming Heart Strike. You might want to put Blood Strike back on your bar for occasions that require some delicacy.

On the tank side of things, Vampiric Blood functioning like a latter-day Lifegiving Gem on top of its already-good original effect is wonderful, especially on a one-minute cooldown. I've never specced into Will of the Necropolis, it being more of a tank talent and me being a single-minded DPS fellow, but this new version seems like a draw.

Lastly, most every taunt in the game was changed to have a 30-yard range, so the change to Dark Command is expected and welcome. As if we needed another ranged pull, of course.

Frost, you lucky scamp. Come open door number two.

  • Frost Presence: The bonus armor has been increased from 60 to 80% and magic damage reduction increased from 5 to 15%.
  • Horn of Winter now has no cost and grants 10 runic power in addition to its stat buff, but has a 30 sec cooldown.
  • Icebound Fortitude now reduces damage by 20% instead of 50%. The amount of damage reduced increases with bonus Defense (to about 35% for 540 Defense, but can go higher).
  • Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle (New, two-handed only) now grants 25 Defense and 2% Stamina.
  • Rune Strike: Damage decreased from 200% to 150% but threat increased to 150% from 100%.
  • Hungering Cold: cost reduced to 40 RP from 60 RP.
The change to Frost Presence increases our built-in mitigation considerably and brings us closer to other tanks in terms of armor. We have no block, for example, so we have to increase our mitigation in other ways (armor, parry, dodge, etc).

The Icebound Fortitude change is unfortunate but in line with Ghostcrawler's comments regarding reducing reliance on the ability (and the fact that it's horribly overpowered in PVP). I have to admit that I was pretty happy to have what amounted to Shield Wall on a one-minute cooldown, but this change is probably necessary for balance reasons.

Rune Strike's damage decrease was pretty expected; my Rune Strikes were hitting for 6-9k. That's great, but given Ghostcrawler's comments on how it was supposed to be a tanking tool, the damage decrease and threat increase is pretty fair.

Speaking of runes and tanking--a new tanking rune! Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle is perfect for tanks who want to free up some stat points that would've been allocated to defense, or for tanks who aren't quite capped yet. Yes, this is 25 skill, not 25 rating. It's a good rune.

The reduced cost of Hungering Cold means more room in DPS rotations if you so desire. I don't know of many tanks that use it, but the cost reduction is nice regardless.

And finally, Horn of Winter! What a great change. 10 runic power free in exchange for a GCD every 30 seconds, plus a buff? Maybe I'll actually remember to keep it up now.

Unholy, come on down!

  • Anti-Magic Shell: The cooldown has been lowered to 45 sec from 60 sec.
  • Bone Shield: The mitigation has been reduced from 40% to 20%.
  • Corpse Explosion: Damage increased substantially, added 5 sec. cooldown, and changed cost to 40 runic power.
  • Death Pact now grants 40% instead of 20% healing.
  • Night of the Dead now grants 40/70% passive area spell avoidance to your pet in addition to its current effects.
  • Outbreak will no longer receive bonus damage from Pestilence. The bonus from Plague Strike and Blood Boil has been increased slightly.
  • Raise Dead has now been split into two spells:
    • Raise Dead now raises a ghoul or pet ghoul (if talented). Requires corpse dust if no humanoid corpse is nearby.
    • Raise Ally now raises a fallen party member as a ghoul and has no reagent. Available at level 72. This should now last for 4 minutes.
  • Shadow of Death: The duration has been changed from 45 seconds to 25 seconds.
  • Unholy Blight had had its cost reduced from 60 to 40 runic power.
  • Wandering Plague will now properly reset after being cast
So, we've got some good buffs up there. A reduced cooldown on AMS is welcome, doubled Death Pact healing as well. Unholy Blight got a cost reduction too.

Corpse Explosion, I'm not sure how I feel about you. When I was Unholy, pretty much all of my RP was spoken for, and this change means that I need another few GCDs before I can use you. On the other hand, your damage was improved significantly. Sleep on the couch tonight and maybe we can work it out.

Unholy Blight's cost reduction means tanks (and DPSers!) can fit it into their rotations sooner, and that's a welcome change.

The Night of the Dead change brings the ghoul back in line with other summoned pets, which is important. Now your Glacierhammer or Ratface or Corpsethief can get right in the thick of things (not that they didn't before, of course, but if you had a really good name for them...)

The Raise Dead/Raise Ally split basically means you can summon an ally for twice as long as the normal untalented Raise Dead would allow, which would be great during long fights where you're low on battle rezzes.

And then a few unfortunate nerfs. Shadow of Death, I can live with. The Bone Shield change is probably the most painful one, though. Good death knight tanks realized that the bones only disintegrated with melee attacks, so it was possible to keep your mitigation up for a considerable amount of time against certain mobs/bosses. Sorry, tanks. It's probably for the best.

The pain from nerfs to the main Unholy and Frost tanking mitigators (IBF, Bone Shield) are lessened somewhat by the big mitigation boost from Frost Presence (which any respectable tank will be in to begin with). The change to Vampiric Blood and Heart Strike mean Blood tanking came out the best of the three where this patch's changes are concerned.

All in all, we made out pretty well. There were a few tanking nerfs, a few tanking buffs, and most everything else is of good-to-fantastic benefit to the class. It's a good time to be dead.


Hone your necromantic skills by checking out all of our Death Knight coverage (including Daniel Whitcomb's weekly Lichborne column) and reading up on changes coming with Patch 3.0.8!

Filed under: Patches, Classes, Buffs, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, Talents

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