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Death Knights in 4.0.1


So 4.0.1 patch is upon us.  All the class changes are being implemented in full force, leaving folks with the questions of what do I do next?  Well for Death Knights our talents and abilities have been changing it seems since every single patch, and 4.0.1 is no exception.

With a completed streamlined retooled talent tree, new mechanics and abilities it can be easy to feel lost.

Lets take a look at what specs, abilities and rotations we need to setup going into the new age.

4.0.1 Death Knight Changes

*Please note that only abilities available at level 80 and general changes I have listed below.

General

  • Runes now refresh sequentially instead of concurrently.
  • Haste now increases the rate at which runes regenerate.
  • Haste now increases the rate at which Ghoul energy regenerates.
  • Strength now provides parry instead of shield block value.
  • Plate Specialization added; Increases your primary attribute by 5% while wearing Plate in all armor slots. Blood specialization grants Stamina, Frost specialization grants Strength, and Unholy specialization grants Strength.
  • Ability queueing based on your latency now extends beyond actions with a cast time and to instants.
  • There is no longer a small amount of unavoidable partial resists on boss level mobs.
  • Relics are no longer class specific and can be used by any of the four hybrids not capable of wielding wands or ranged weapons.

Blood

  • Blood Presence reworked; now reads “You assume the presence of Blood, increasing Stamina by 8%, armor contribution from cloth, leather, mail and plate items by 60%, and reducing damage taken by 8%. Increases threat generated. Only one Presence may be active at a time, and assuming a new Presence will consume any stored Runic Power.”
  • Death Strike reworked; now reads “A deadly attack that deals X% weapon damage plus Y, healing you for 30% of the damage you have sustained during the preceding 5 sec (minimum of at least 10% of your maximum health).
  • Pestilence-spread diseases now deal 50% of their damage, down from 100%.
  • Blood Tap no longer generates runic power.
  • Forceful Deflection removed.

Frost

  • [New] Festering Strike: An instant attack that deals X% weapon damage plus Y and increases the duration of your Blood Plague, Frost Fever, and Chains of Ice effects on the target by up to 6 sec. Cost is one Blood rune and one Frost rune. Melee range. No cooldown. Trainable at level 64.
  • [New] Runic Empowerment: When you use your Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike ability, you have a 45% chance to activate a random fully depleted rune. Passive. No internal cooldown. Trainable at level 68.
  • Frost Presence reworked; now reads “Strengthens you with the presence of Frost, increasing damage by 10% and increasing Runic Power generation by 10%. Only one Presence may be active at a time, and assuming a new Presence will consume any stored Runic Power.”
  • Chains of Ice reworked; now reads “Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing their movement by 60% for 8 sec. Also infects the target with Frost Fever.”
  • Frost Fever now lasts for 21 seconds baseline, up from 15 seconds, snares attack speed by 20% baseline, up from 14%, and crits innately.
  • Icebound Fortitude no longer increases its effect based on additional defense.
  • Rune Strike is now on the GCD, instead of modifying your next auto-attack.

Unholy

  • Unholy Presence reworked; now reads “You are infused with unholy fury, increasing attack speed and rune regeneration by 10%, and movement speed by 15%, and reducing the global cool down on your abilities by 0.5 sec. Only one Presence may be active at a time, and assuming a new Presence will consume any stored Runic Power.”
  • Anti-Magic Shell no longer costs runic power and no longer generates runic power upon damage.
  • Blood Plague now lasts for 21 seconds baseline, up from 15 seconds, and crits innately.
  • Death and Decay now costs one Unholy rune, down from one Unholy, one Blood, and one Frost rune.

DPS

For DPS we have 2 options, Unholy and Frost.

Unholy

First comes first your talent specialization and glyphs at level 80 should be 4/0/32.

Please note that the prime glyphs suggested is for single target DPS.  If you play more of an AoE role you will want to swap out Scourge Strike and Death Coil glyphs and replace with Glyph of Death and Decay and Glyph of Icy Touch.  The minor glyphs are really up to you as they don’t provide any true DPS increases, but the ones listed in the build are the ones I would recommend for DPS minded Death Knights.

Rotations have moved more into a priority schema than the old fixed timing of abilities previous to patch 4.0.1.

Single Target Priority Rotation:

*This is done in Unholy Presence

  1. Get your Diseases up, and keep them up
  2. Activate Dark Transformation
  3. Scourge Strike if both Unholy and/or Death Runes are up
  4. Festering Strike if both pairs of Blood and Frost runes are up
  5. Death Coil on Sudden Doom proc
  6. Scourge Strike > Festering Strike > Death Coil > Horn of Winter

AoE Priority Rotation (3 or more mobs):

*This is done in Frost Presence

  1. Get your Diseases up and spread them with Pestilence
  2. Activate Dark Transformation
  3. Death and Decay
  4. Scourge Strike if both Unholy and/or Death Runes are up
  5. Blood Boil + Icy Touch if both pairs of Blood and Frost are up
  6. Death Coil on Sudden Doom proc
  7. Scourge Strike >Blood Boil + Icy Touch > Death Coil > Horn of Winter

Stat Priority

  1. Hit until cap
  2. Strength
  3. Haste
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery
  6. Expertise until cap
  7. Agility

Frost

There are 2 talent builds for Frost

Dual Wield 3/31/2 and 2H Frost Build

For both of these the Prime glyphs are set, there really is no solid choice for Major glyphs so pick what you want, for minor glyphs the recommended ones are in the above linked builds, similar to unholy.  Switch out Glyph of Obliterate for Glyph of Icy Touch for improved AoE.

Single Target Rotation:

*Dual Wield is performed in Frost Presence, 2H is performed in Unholy Presence

  1. Diseases up (Frost Fever applied via Howling Blast)
  2. Obliterate (if both Frost/Unholy pairs and/or both Death Runes are up, or if Killing Machine procs)
  3. Blood Strike (if both Blood runes are up)
  4. Frost Strike
  5. Rime
  6. Obliterate > Blood Strike > Horn of Winter

AoE Rotation:

*Always performed in Frost Presence, both dual wield and 2H

  1. Howling Blast (if both Frost runes and/or both Death Runes are up, or if Killing Machine procs)
  2. Death and Decay
  3. Plague Strike (if both Unholy runes are up)
  4. Frost Strike
  5. Howling Blast > Blood Strike > Death and Decay > Plague Strike > Horn of Winter

Stat Priority:

Dual Wield

  1. Hit until cap
  2. Expertise until cap
  3. Strength
  4. Mastery
  5. Crit
  6. Haste
  7. Agility
  8. Hit until spell cap

2H

  1. Hit until cap
  2. Expertise until cap
  3. Mastery
  4. Strength
  5. Haste
  6. Crit
  7. Agility
  8. Hit until spell cap

So there are the basics of the DPS builds, rotations and stat priorities for the DPS builds.

Tanking

With 4.0.1 there is only 1 viable tank tree for Death Knights and that resides in the Blood tree.  Currently there is a debate about just how good bloodworms are for self healing, though they on the PTR they have shown to provide some substantial healing in just 5 mans.  Also there are questions out there on if Virulence should be taken in a tank build.  For now I will focus on a build without virulence.  Please keep in mind there is a lot of theory crafting currently on-going with blood tanking with 4.0.1 and what I am outlining below is simply a guideline and most likely will change.

Blood Tanking Build: 33/0/3

Currently the tanking aspect is very largely undefined.  However in an effort to provide some guidance.  All tanking is now done in Blood Presence.

Single Target Rotation

  1. Get your diseases up
  2. Rune Strike
  3. Death Strike
  4. If Scarlet Fever is not up – Plague Strike to get Crimson Scourge, then Blood Boil to apply Scarlet Fever
  5. Heart Strike
  6. Icy Touch if you have a spare Frost Rune

AoE Rotation

  1. Death and Decay
  2. Get your diseases up + Pestilence
  3. If Scarlet Fever is not up – Plague Strike to get Crimson Scourge, then Blood Boil to apply Scarlet Fever
  4. Death Strike
  5. Blood Boil
  6. Heart Strike
  7. Rune Strike
  8. Icy Touch if you have a spare Frost Rune

Stat Priority

Once again this is not well defined yet for tanks but with the removal of defense the following are some guidelines:

  1. Stamina
  2. Hit until cap
  3. Avoidance stats (Dodge + Parry)
  4. Strength
  5. Mastery
  6. Expertise

9 Comments on Death Knights in 4.0.1

  1. Raalnel

    @Avatar, Very nice and helpful.

    For the frost dps duel wielding spec, when you say hit capped, are you talking about the 27% or just the 8% for abilities?

  2. Dkguy

    I’ve found that its best to get around 25 dodge and 25 parry (percent of course) due to the fact that diminishing returns is shared, then after 25 reforge everything into mastery, since its a guaranteed reduction of damage done to you

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