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Lichborne: A quick patch 4.1 primer for death knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

By the time you read this, there is a very good chance that patch 4.1 will be live, or the servers will be down while patch 4.1 is being implemented. If it's not this week, chances are that we'll see it next week. With that in mind, today seems like the perfect chance to get in one more quick rundown of patch 4.1's features for death knights. We'll discuss all the latest class changes, as well as look at a couple of other general changes that will affect death knights.

Class changes

New abilities and general changes All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown, including Mind Freeze, will now always connect. DPSers should almost always be hit-capped anyway, of course, but this will be especially useful for blood tanks who take some interrupting duties, which can happen quite often in 10-mans.

Many player-generated persistent ground effects, including Desecration, will now have a different visual effect for friendly and hostile players. If you're an unholy PvPer, this may help your teammates stay out of the bad stuff, so that's sure to be a welcome change.

Raise Ally now functions as a battle resurrection, costing 50 runic power to use with a 10-minute cooldown. It will share the global cap with Rebirth and Soulstone. How much you'll use this probably depends on your raid makeup and what other sources of battle rezzes you have in your raid or group, but it can't hurt to get it figured out. If nothing else, you'll probably want to create a quick mouseover macro to allow the casting of Raise Ally on fallen group members as easily as possible. This also means that the Glyph of Raise Ally will be changed so that it reduces the cast time on Death Gate. So I guess if you're really impatient to get back to Archerus and respec one of these days and you don't really want any of the other minor glyphs that badly, you're all set now.

Frost Frost got a nice little single-target DPS boost. Frost Strike and Howling Blast now do more single-target damage. Unfortunately, in return, Howling Blast now has a facing requirement, so no more spamming Howling Blast when you're running around kiting or avoiding standing in the fire unless you can take a page from the old hunter book and do a mid-air turn to get it off.

The biggest frost change is to Blood of the North, which will now permanently convert your blood runes to death runes. This is a change that should bring frost's mechanics into a bit more parity with the other two trees. Both the other trees' death rune producing strikes offer significant utility and are a meaningful part of their rotation, whereas Blood Strike for frost offered little more than a bit of filler damage. Rather than create yet another new strike or buff Blood Strike to ludicrous levels, they just let us bypass the blood strikes altogether. With the ability to throw out more Obliterates, we should also see an increase in damage from this change.

Unholy Unholy has seen very little in the way of changes this time around. Rage of Rivendare has been buffed a bit, and Desecration no longer triggers on snare-immune targets.

It is worth noting that there's some concern among min-maxers that frost's buffs have caused it to eclipse unholy in a major way in the PvE DPS department. We'll see how it plays out in actual practice in patch 4.1, of course, and whether unholy gets some buffs to make up the difference in the supposedly soon to be introduced patch 4.2.

Blood There've been some murmurs about blood receiving healing nerfs, but don't worry too much. Most of the reduced numbers you've seen out of datamining are nothing more than tooltip language fixes for existing hotfixed nerfs. In other words, we do heal less than before, but the nerfs have been live for a while, so those of you who are tanking veterans have already, in theory, gotten used to them.

There are, however, two relatively important nerfs to blood's capability. The first is that the Blood Shield mastery will now work only in Blood Presence. That means no more trying for large glyphed shields. This nerf is probably focused mostly on PvP and extreme soloing, but either way, keep it in mind if you want to try presence swapping for any reason while blood specced.

The other nerf is to our AoE threat. The healing portion of Death Strike will no longer cause threat. If you've ever had to peel a mob off a druid who stacked HoTs on you during a pull, you know how annoying heal threat can be. For a while, we had it working for us, but no more. It's unclear how much that healing threat was helping us, but at most, it'll probably just mean we need to use a few more Heart Strikes or Blood Boils. Regardless, watch your AoE threat a little more closely for a week or two so you can judge how much this nerf hurt you, if any.
New gear choices and gearing methods

Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman are new 5-man dungeons coming with the patch. They'll drop ilevel 353 gear, which is not quite as good as tier 11 raiding gear in most cases. If you're a non-raider or even a raider who's had bad drop luck or is looking to gear up an off-spec set, you may find some useful loot drops out of these dungeons. Check out our rundown of death knight specific drops for more information.

If you're looking to grab more PvP gear, you can also buy PvP currency with PvE currency. It may be just the thing you need to get a jump start on your resilience without having to put up with multiple battlegrounds of pain while you gear up.

Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms

The new dungeon finder Call to Arms feature will provide an extra rewards bag containing various useful treasures and a chance at rare mounts and pets to the role most in demand at the time of queueing. Since that role is likely to be tank almost constantly, death knights are in a good position to take advantage of that. Get yourself properly geared and specced for tanking with the following columns: These are the most immediate changes in the patch that directly affect our class, but of course, there's a whole lot more coming. Check out the official feature rundown, and stay tuned to WoW Insider for more patch 4.1 coverage today and in the days ahead.

Learn the ropes of endgame play with WoW Insider's DK 101 guide. Make yourself invaluable to your raid group with Mind Freeze and other interrupts, gear up with pre-heroic DPS gear or pre-heroic tank gear, and plot your path to tier 11/valor point DPS gear.

Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

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