Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Joys of Being a Death Knight

I wouldn't have believed it possible but the Death Knight has almost stolen the thunder from my Hunter main. I've been playing the Hunter for so long that I never thought possible another class would lure me away with its gameplay. Well, to be honest, I was even starting to enjoy the "new", post-WotLK Retribution Paladin, more than the Hunter.

But the Death Knight... man, does this class rock! I think Blizzard really nailed it when they came up with the concept. There's nothing not to like about the Death Knight, that is, unless you PvP against them. And then there's that: constant bitching from many PvP players that Death Knights are overpowered and they need to be nerfed. I admit I am biased: I don't like PvP much. That's why it always angers me when a nice class/spec gets nerfed thanks to PvP QQ-ing. At the risk of alienating myself from all the PvP-ers, I believe that World of Warcraft is primarily a PvE game. That's how it was conceived. PvP was not the focus initially. I also suspect that most players who hate fighting DKs simply do not have the experience in fighting this class, although by now everyone and their grandma should know its strengths and weaknesses.

Well, enough ranting. I have a crazy idea on how to change PvP in this game but I will detail it in a future post. Here are the things I love about the Death Knight class in general (from the Blood spec perspective), in no particular order.

The starting experience. What can I say... pure genius on Blizzard's part. The story is truly epic and it gets you started as a Death Knight with a bang.

The starting blues and epic mount. That's one of the major factors that make the DK a hero class. No, it's not the fact that they are OP because they are not :) However, the gear that you end up with at level 58 and the free epic mount go a long way in making you feel really good about this class. Thanks to the really good quality blues, questing and leveling in Outland is trivial.

The flying mounts. Speaking of mounts, the Death Knight also has access to its own unique flying mount, the Winged Steed of the Ebon Blade. Although this mount could have been done better since to many people it looks like a flying chicken, the concept of a re-animated gryphon skeleton is very cool. As a bonus, this mount scales with your riding skill.

Starting at level 55. What can be more heroic than that? Perhaps starting at 65 with the future hero class of the next expansion*grin*.

The spell and resource system. What puts me off from the "vanilla" classes is their mana-based casting. It used to be a lot worse in Classic WoW. Even now, as a mana user you need to manage your main resource properly or else you're left stranded. As a Hunter, I'm still wondering why we have to use mana. I think a focus-based system (same focus that Hunter pets are using) would make a lot more sense. In fact, they tried that waaaaaay back in WoW alpha if I'm not mistaken. For some reason they dropped that and turned to good ol' plain mana. But I digress. The Death Knight's rune and runepower based system is a lot cooler and is another thing that makes this class unique. In an ideal setting, if you get your rotation right, you shouldn't ever run out of runes or runepower. When it does happen to me, it's usually for 1-2 seconds and it usually happens because I mess up my rotation somehow. On the other hand, I can't speak for raiders and PvP-ers who might find themselves in a different situation.

Plate. I sometimes like to call my Death Knight a "Rogue in plate", as in "Rogue DPS but wearing plate". Well, I'm sure good Rogues do more DPS than a Death Knight and maybe I suck at playing a Rogue but unfortunately my 70 Rogue has been languishing for months and I can't get myself to play him. The only alluring things the Rogue still has are stealth, lockpicking and vanish.

Death Grip. How cool is that? While many skills and talents are very similar between classes, except they have different names, Death Grip is a really unique skill. Many classes fighting against a Death Knight hate it. What I like about it is simply the fact that I can grab mobs from a distance. Telekinesis baby! As an added bonus, it interrupts spell casting. Furthermore, its only cost is a relatively short cooldown.

Path of Frost. Another skill that makes this class a pleasure to play. I don't have enough words for how amazing this is. I really appreciate that you can cast it while mounted, which one-ups the Shaman's similar Water Walking. Speaking of which, I really wish Blizzard would rethink Water Walking so that it doesn't dismount you.

Their voice and eyes. Another nice touch which differentiates Death Knights even from other classes of the same race.

Any race can be a death knight. Even gnomes. Unfortunately. While this doesn't really affect me because I prefer humans for my Alliance characters, it does a great deal for other players. Good call on this one Blizzard!

All skills and spells are instant cast! (With the exception perhaps of Army of the Dead. Again, this is from the Blood perspective). I confess: I hate spells with casting times. That's why I still hesitate to continue my 28 mage. Not only spells and abilities are instant, but the Death Knight has access to a bunch of instant weapon strikes that make huge, slow 2-handed weapons very important. Caveat: I've never tried dual-wielding frost because I like slow 2-handed weapons. Although, with the new buffs to dual-wielding in patch 3.2, I might just give it a try!

Army of the Dead! C'mon, admit it. This spell is pure win. It's true that you gain access to it only at level 80 but how many classes can boast such an ability?

The rotation. Speaking for myself, I really love the blood rotation. That doesn't even mean I'm doing it perfectly, but it works for me and I enjoy the play style a lot.

So what's there not to like about the death knight class? Well, for one thing, a DK might be your PvP nemesis. That's fair. For another, you simply don't get this class. Or, you think your Mage/Hunter/whatever is more fun than a Death Knight. Or... any other personal reason. As for me, although my Hunter will always remain my main because he's the principal breadwinner (Herbalism + Mining FTW), my pulse will always race faster when I switch to my Death Knight.


Nepenthe said...

One thing is for certain about death knights, you can pretty much solo anything at lvl 80. Start farming Doomwalker aka Lootwalker for 500g a pop. It’s an outdoor raidboss in shadowmoon valley.

Too bad I can’t do it on my druid :p

Celebrandil said...

While a DK undoubtedly has incredible solo abilities, I somehow don't think you can solo Doomwalker unless you are wearing ilvl 226 (Ulduar 25) gear.

On a sidenote, DK talents have been redesigned and rest in 3.2, don't know if this is another hidden nerf.

Celebrandil said...

"redesigned and reset" of course...

Man I need an edit button ^^

Anonymous said...


First paragraph :)

Dalt said...

That is a great write-up and it's rekindling my plans to make a Draenei Death Knight. Perhaps I will do one on my blog and track his progress. That could be a fun diversion for awhile.

Besides, GotN and Herioc Inspiration would be nice racials for soloing elites (and I just like male Draenei). Professions, however, are the thing I can never quite settle on. With all the back leveling I want to make sure I get them right the first time.

Unknown said...

My DK is my banker. I took enchanting and skinning as trade skills. Nothing like being able to disenchant things sent in from my other toons and farm some leather to sell while actaully leveling him.

I chose to be a Night Elf. A shadow melded death knight. Kind of like the boogieman jumping out to grab you in the dark. Plus i like the exagerrated sword play style.

Anonymous said...

The DK talents were reset because some of the talents became passive, and a few other changes. Not sure that I like any of them.

Darth Solo said...

@Nepenthe holy crap! Doomwalker! I've completely forgotten about this bugger. He even ganked me once on my Hunter. Dude, from now on this guy will be my life's mission! 500G a pop! I'm gonna have to solo him on either my Hunter, Prot Pally or Blood DK.

@Dalt thanks. Stay tuned. In a couple of days I'm gonna post a series of articles about a pretty solid Blood build for solo-ing. Also gear and related stuff.

@Wildcat0695 of course, DKs also make excellent bankers if you can bear to park them in a city :) On the other hand, you can make one on each server that you have characters if you wish. Oh and DKs are great for providing some cash to brand new characters on a new server, provided you meet the minimum requirements for starting a DK.

Joar said...

I'm with you Darth - my Death Knight was my second toon to 80 and I absolutely love it. I enjoy the PvP side of things as well, so he's been a huge hit for me there - especially since my original warlock main tends to be a bit squishy on the PvP side of things. But tearing through "group" quests is absolutely my favorite part.

Darth Solo said...

Heh, come to think of it, my DK was 2nd to 80 for me too. 1st was Hunter, 2nd DK, 3rd Pally.

Savin (Nay) Wangtal said...

Any class with self heal is always going to be more fun to play.

I wished they had stick with Focus for hunters as well, but that didn't workout because--drum roll please! QQ-ING!
Yes, they removed Focus because people QQ that they couldn't kite something to kingdom come Hunter's focus only regen when they stand still. That's why they were given mail armor, and their strikes actually hits as hard as MS did.
But what's done is done.

Darth Solo said...

I believe they are still thinking about a change to the Hunter resource system. I read a thread somewhere, perhaps the recent Hunter Q&A. I think that would be great because a Hunter is not a magic user per se.

Grandpow said...

hmm this person who wrote this sounds like someone i no in game

Statu is that you??

Darth Solo said...

Who me? Nah. I used to know a single person in game and he left a long time ago. Now I don't know anyone and I play all by myself. Hence this blog.