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.
With normal and flex modes in full swing, and Raid Finder due in the coming days, it felt like a good time to start looking at what gear we can pull out of patch 5.4's new raid, the Siege of Orgrimmar. Today, we'll look at the first wing, the Vale of Eternal Sorrows.
When gearing up, there are a few things to remember. Note that the item weights described in most guides assume best in slot gear with maximum level play. For example, haste has dropped to the bottom of the 3 major stats for all 3 death knight DPS specs. While some of this is due to bug fixes and changes in itemization, some of it is also a result of gameplay. These sims that returned haste as a low level stat also assumed their user was dressed in heroic warforged gear and using Plague Leech to get 2 death runes every 25-30 seconds and Anti-Magic Shell to gain extra runic power every 45 seconds without fail. If you aren't really in those categories, don't assume a piece of gear is trash for you without the sims to back it up.
In a similar vein, that new item level 540 flexible drop is probably going to replace your item level 502 raid finder drop even if it's not optimally itemized for your spec. Also, while the "haste for tanks" craze is still going on in some quarters, I still am not a huge fan of it, especially now that Riposte lets you get at least some threat off of avoidance. I will link normal gear choices, but most of these choices will drop in all 4 difficulties, with the possibility of warforged drops in normal and heroic difficulties.
- Bubble-Burst Bracers actually suffer from the devaluation of haste this tier, but may be useful if for some weird reason you are having trouble hitting your haste cap as a DPS death knight. Some tank death knights may be tempted to try these out for threat purposes as well, though they aren't the best tank bracers either. You'd probably want to aim for avoidance gear if you really needed more threat these days, to be honest.
- Chestplate of Congealed Corrosion has critical strike and haste, which, again, suffers from being an undesirable combination this tier.
- Corruption-Rotted Gauntlets have haste and mastery, so we're starting to see a pattern this tier. Just because haste isn't as desirable any more doesn't mean it's gone from gear.
- Pauldrons of Violet Eruption prove that Immerseus' tank gearing options aren't much better than its DPS options for death knights. Dodge and Parry aren't worthless, but we're still looking for mastery. Of course, these will at least give you a threat boost now.
- Treads of Unchained Hate have parry and hit, so they're essentially a threat option for DK tanks.
- Sorrowpath Signet has hit and critical strike rating, making it a decent 2-handed DPS ring as long as you need the hit rating. If you don't, you may wish to avoid this.
- Poisonbinder Girth has hit and haste, meaning you will essentially take it if you are hurting for hit rating. Otherwise, there is better.
- Darkfallen Shoulderplates have haste and mastery, making them another one of those awkward "so last tier" choices for DPS.
- Shockstriker Gauntlets are another avoidance choice for tank death knights. They're missing that precious mastery, but provide some threat and survivability in return.
- Gloomwrap Greatcloak features Parry and Expertise, making it a decent choice if you're a tank who likes to hit the expertise softcap.
- Rook's Unlucky Talisman ends up being a strong trinket choice for tanks. A lot of trash and bosses unleash AoE attacks, and having a way to mitigate some of that isn't a bad thing at all. Does your boss unleash a deadly frontal cone attack? Hit this trinket and weather the storm. This is one you will want if you are a tank. Just remember to use it.
- Bracers of Blind Hatred have critical strike and mastery, making them a solid choice for all 3 dps slots. They'll end up on a lot of best in slot lists for sure.
- Drape of the Despairing Pit has haste and mastery, meaning it's not optimal for any spec. Still, if you don't have your legendary cloak yet, this is also the only DPS strength raid cloak this tier without expertise or hit, so if you don't need those, it may end up being your best DPS choice until you finish the legendary quest line anyway.
- Xifeng, Longblade of the Titanic Guardian has both mastery and hit. With mastery continuing to be the most desirable dual wield frost stat this tier, you'll probably want to get a set of these if you're a dual wielder.
- Fusion-Fire Core is probably the weakest DPS trinket this tier, especially because the AoE proc doesn't hit your original target. Thus, while it may be decent for clearing trash, it will not be very effective on single target boss fights. There's better trinkets this tier for sure.
- Rage-Blind Greathelm continues the tradition of tank gear with dodge and parry. At least your threat will be through the roof while you wait for mastery drops, right?
- Breastplate of Cyclopean Dread has haste and mastery, making it a weak tier option for all DPS specs. This is compounded by the fact that the 4 piece DPS tier bonus is, if not weak, at least undesirable this tier for unholy. Frost, though, still wants the 4 piece bonus and should probably pick this up.
- Greaves of Sublime Superiority have critical strike rating and hit, meaning that as long as you need the hit rating, they are very solid for DPS death knights, especially the 2-handed specs. If you're unholy or 2-handed frost, you will likely want a pair.
- Greatsword of Pride's Fall has haste and critical strike rating, meaning it's not optimal for any 2-handed death knight spec. It's probably better than what you had before, but there's better.
- Chestguard of Cyclopean Dread has mastery and expertise, and more of the former than the latter, making it a solid gearing choice for blood tanks. Given that tanks definitely want the set bonuses this tier, you'll probably want to get this for your blood set.
- Choker of the Final Word, with dodge and hit, is not well itemized for tank death knights. It can be useful if you need to balance your avoidance with more dodge or hit the hit cap, though.
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.