How to play: Speccing, gearing, gemming and other details
We've actually already covered quite a few things you'll need to know in previous editions of Lichborne. Let's go back and take a look at some of those articles now.
Leveling your death knight from 80 to 85 While this guide focuses on levels 80 to 85, much of the advice will also apply for levels 55 to 80. If you take away one thing from the article, it should probably be that frost 2H will still probably be your best bet to level quickly, blood your best bet to level safely. Unholy is still doable, of course; it's just a lot harder to use Death Pact and Death Strike, since the unholy tree depends on heavily on your ghoul and doesn't use a frost/unholy strike that Death Strike can replace. You'll find model leveling specs for 2H frost and blood in the article as well.
Death knight talents, specs, and rotations for patch 4.0.1 The damage rotations and talent specs listed in this post are still more or less the ones you'll probably be using at level 85 in Cataclysm, and the damage rotations still work for, say, dungeon leveling through your 70s. The specs also come with glyph recommendations.
A guide to death knight spell alerts As you level, you may notice weird shiny graphics and auras appearing around your death knight. Often, these auras mean you have a talented proc ready for use. This article will let you know what's popping up, why it's popping up, and how best to use it.
Death knight regemming and reforging for patch 4.0.1 This article focuses mostly on reforging and regemming for level 80, but the basic information (and gem colors/stats) will apply to you at level 85. You'll probably want to save your money until level 85 to gem or reforge gear. You'll replace everything else too quickly for it to be worth it. If you pick up one of those random pieces of gear that have gem slots while leveling and you feel like you absolutely have to stick something in there, put in a strength gem if you're DPS or a stamina gem if you're a tank. Those two are still your go-to colors, even at level 85. Just don't waste money on an epic gem to slot pre-raiding gear.
The Bare Necessities: The least you should know
Frost 2H Get the slowest, highest-damage two-handed weapon you can find, and go to town. Focus on strength on your gear, with haste, mastery, and critical strike rating as your secondary stats, in that order. You'll use Unholy Presence because you'll need the GCD (global cooldown) reduction to use all of your resources in a timely manner. While solo leveling, you can probably mostly eschew diseases in favor of lots of Obliterates and Frost Strikes, with the odd Death Strike if you need to recover health, and Howling Blast when you proc Freezing Fog. In dungeon groups, though, go back to the rotation in the article linked above. If you want to start raiding, you'll want to make sure you hit 8 percent hit and 26 expertise, even if you have to shed or reforge other stats to get there.
Frost dual wielding This will work more or less like frost 2H, except you'll want two slow, high-damage, one-handed weapons, preferably ones with strength on them if you can, although agility weapons will work if they're still slow and high-damage. For gear, focus on strength, with mastery, critical strike rating, and haste as your secondary stats, in that order. Frost dual wielding will use Frost Presence, since Unholy Presence just exacerbates frost dual wielding's problems with hitting the GCD cap.
Unholy As mentioned in the article linked above, unholy is probably the most inefficient leveling tree, but it is doable. Get a slow, high-damage, two-handed weapon and focus on strength, haste, and critical strike rating, in that order. You'll still want to spread diseases and otherwise use a general raiding damage rotation (as linked in the articles above) for unholy. Use Unholy Presence, as you'll want the shorter GCD.
Blood Blood will use a slow, high-damage 2H weapon to maximize threat and damage from Death Strike and Heart Strike. If you choose to level blood, you'll probably just want to use Frost Presence while soloing in order to get a little bit of extra damage. Focus on getting stamina and mastery if you're tanking (dodge and parry replace mastery if you're not 80 yet or can't find gear with mastery on it). If you're soloing, you might as well start building a DPS set focused on the stats used by the DPS spec you plan to use for raiding or grouping, if any. You can use the basic attack method outlined in the diseaseless tanking Lichborne column to kill stuff quickly and easily.
We have advice for everything from new strategies for regemming and reforging, pre-expansion specs and rotations, and major changes for pre-expansion DKs . Check out WoW Insider's DK leveling guides, and visit Lichborne every week for more death knight strategies and tips.