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Lichborne: Elementary death knight macros

Welcome to Lichborne, your weekly peek into the world of the death knight. Your host, Daniel Whitcomb, is enjoying the most wonderful time of the year, when a death knight can hang around in his natural habitat all day long without seeming creepy. Or no creepier than usual, at least.

As you approach the end game of WoW, one thing you may find out quickly is that the proper use of macros is a great way to take your game to the next level. Sometimes they streamline moves, other times they allow you to perform actions that would be otherwise impossible. Death knights are definitely no exception, and though we'd be here all week if I went through all the ins and out of macro theory, or even death knight macro theory, I figure right now is still a good time to get you started.

Let's look at a few basic essential macros for the various roles and trees of the class.
DPS and PvP

One of the most basic DPS macros for a death knight is the burst macro, in which you get yourself as buffed as possible before unleashing your devastating last attack. Here's one for Unholy:
#showtooltip Summon Gargoyle
/use 10
/use 13
/use 14
/cast Summon Gargoyle
This macro starts out by using your gloves (slot 10 being your glove slot). If you're an engineer, this is useful since you'll hopefully have some Hyperspeed Accelerators attached to your gloves. 13 and 14 are the trinket slots, so if you have anything usable on those trinkets, it'll be put to use. One warning here is that the glove enchants and most trinket enchants do apparently have a shared cool down of a few seconds, so you may have to choose one or the other if you're an engineer and your trinkets have on use abilities. I've just put all three in the macro for easier reference.

With that out of the way, the macro moves on to chug a potion of speed, then summon a Gargoyle. Since Summon Gargoyle is the only action in the macro that's on the GCD, it all works out. Also, since Summon Gargoyle acts as a pet and bases its stats off yours at the time of cast, having all those extra buffs on helps it out immensely. Of course, the downside to this macro is that you'll be chugging speed potions like a maniac, so consider that if you want to tweak it for your own personal use.
#showtooltip Dancing Rune Weapon
/use 10
/use 13
/use 14
/use Potion of Speed
/cast [target=player] Hysteria
/cast [target=player] Dancing Rune Weapon
Here's a similar macro for a Blood death knight which works under essentially the same principles as the above Unholy macro, with the same cautions and drawbacks, but substituting a few Blood specific talents. The [target=player] assures the mentioned buffs are cast on yourself. And yes, there is a reason we stick it on Dancing Rune Weapon, too. Dancing Rune Weapon, as it turns out, actually shows up in front of the target it's cast on. If you cast it on yourself, it will show up with you, behind the enemy (assuming you're back there like you should be in most group DPS situations).
#showtooltip Howling Blast
/cast Deathchill
/cast Howling Blast
Since Frost doesn't have a big old pet to summon, they're a little bit out of the loop here, but if you absolutely can't wait to get a Killing Machine proc lined up, you can always use the above macro for a nice bit of critical AE damage.
#showtooltip
/cast [target=focus] Mind Freeze
This is a pretty basic macro for when you're on interrupt duty on one monster but need to DPS another. If you have a good caller or a good addon, you can keep an eye out for the cast and use this macro to quickly interrupt it without breaking your focus on your main target. Of course, the disadvantage here is that you still have to be in melee range of the other target.
#showtooltip Hysteria
/cast [target=playername] Hysteria
This is a pretty basic macro. If you're Blood and your raid has dictated Hysteria should go to another DPSer, you can set this up by replacing "playername" with the name of your Hysteria target so you can quickly cast it without using sight of the enemy.
#showtooltip Leap
/cast [target=playername] Leap
/petstay
If you're an Unholy death knight, this tooltip will send your Ghoul out of danger. Simply change the player name to a ranged DPS or healer who you know is standing back out of harm's way. This probably won't be as useful in PvE anymore since Night of the Dead has pretty uber AE protection, but it could still save it in a PvP situation for sure.

Tank

#showtooltip Ability
/cast Ability
/cast !Rune Strike
This idea is pretty straightforward. Rune Strike is good. Rune Strike is cheap. Rune Strike does lots of damage and threat. But it's also sort of a pain to watch for the extra button to light up so you can press it. Luckily, since Rune Strike isn't on the global cool down, you can easily throw it on a macro. Pick an ability (and plug it into the macro where "Ability" is currently) you'll be weaving into your rotation constantly, and you should be able to grab Rune Strike pretty consistently. Just be aware that it can theoretically leave you short of RP when you really need it for Icebound Fortitude or Anti-Magic Shell.

It's worth noting that the above macro can also be modified by engineer DPSers for easy casting of some rockets. Just replace the Rune Strike cast with a "/use 10" to set off your gloves.
#showtooltip Bone Shield
/cast Blood Tap
/stopcasting
/cast Bone Shield
This macro can be used for Unbreakable Armor in the Frost tree as well. The idea here is to use your defensive talented cool down without breaking your rotation. Casting Blood Tap can help you keep the rotation going while still getting your defense on.
Moving on with macros

Now, it's worth noting that we're just scratching the surface. Once you get a better understanding of macro theory, you can create focus, key modifiers, and other such macros that offer a whole new world of bar space saving. One word of caution, though: Stay away from cast sequence macros. It may be tempting to create a lazy one button rotation macro, but that lazy one button rotation macro can't account for fight movement, adapting to changing combat situations, or using other abilities in emergencies. You will see better DPS in almost any basic fight by sticking with multiple buttons. Save combination macros for spells that really do work well together.

Either way, a good macro makeover is a great way to get ready for Patch 3.3. Arthas won't know what hit him -- mostly because he'll be too busy trying to decipher macro code, but hey. Take them where you can get them.


Welcome to Lichborne, the new class column on the new WoW class, the Death Knight, where we discuss Patch 3.1 cookie cutter builds, basic defense gear and Heroic defense gear for the Death Knight tank, 5-man Crusader's Coliseum gear previews for tanks and DPS, and basic Death Knight statistics and mechanics. You might also want to check all the other articles in our Death Knight category.

Filed under: Tips, Tricks, How-tos, Instances, Raiding, Guides, Death Knight, Macro Anatomy, (Death Knight) Lichborne

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