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Battle for Azeroth Community Opinions: Class Changes and State of DKs
23/04/2018 à 21:44
Welcome back to the Battle for Azeroth Community Opinions series. This series will span the Battle for Azeroth Alpha and will cover multiple topics. We will focus on a specific topic every week and for this week, we've decided to delve into the DK specs!
We've invited some members of the community to give their thoughts and opinions on the current state of the DK specs on Alpha including, but not limited to some of the following topics:
New and replaced spells and talents
Losing artifact traits and legendaries
Feedback from Legion
The current state on Alpha
Please remember that these are opinions. You may not agree with the opinions stated in this article and you are welcome to your own opinion to the state of the class and spec. Please feel free to leave any feedback regarding this type of article in the comments.
Battle for Azeroth is currently in Alpha and things are subject to change at any point.
Make sure to check out our
comprehensive list of class changes
which is updated after every build. Here are the State of the Class articles we've done so far:
State of Druids
State of Mages
State of Monk
State of Paladins
State of Priests
State of Rogue
State of Shamans
State of Warlocks
State of Warriors
Banter is a terrible DK who retired because he was so bad. He did what all power hungry people do in his position, became a Discord moderator. His DM’s are always open on either Discord (Banter#7648) or on
. However, most people just ping @Banter in #general of the Acherus Discord, which works just as well!
Normally ridiculed in the Frost vs. Unholy debate for its simplicity, Frost actually plays pretty well on Alpha, in comparison to it’s accompanying DPS spec. Even without any changes to it whatsoever (outside of damage tuning), Frost is still an okay spec due to to its robustness coming from Talents, and not the Artifact.
However, Frost is notably very slow on the Alpha, and the loss of the magical floating toothpicks (
) is definitely a loss I’m still reeling from.
Does this mean we get 2h Frost back now?
We lost the Artifact, along with the fabulous perks and abilities contained within it. However, I’m not going to list the list of useless fluff abilities we’ve lost, whose effect could have gone unnoticed if they were nerfed during Legion (and from a TC perspective, me and my spreadsheets are glad they’re gone). Instead, I’m going to focus on the most devastating loss of all,
is a very simple, yet effective artifact perk, where it quite literally increases the damage of your
by a whopping 24% (at level 4), with a maximum possible increase of an astonishing 42%. This loss will surely be missed by “Howling Blargh” enthusiasts everywhere, especially those who had acquired the fine taste of the sacred “Machine gun Frost” playstyle. We can only hope that this this travesty will be resolved, by simply increasing the damage of
in BfA to compensate.
Other notable abilities missing include
and Thronebreaker, which were absolutely game changing perks. Hopefully these can be made baseline, or possibly even into talent(s).
The talents are still pretty good
I would love to spend time poking fun at the “massive” changes that have happened to talents, but I’m not allowed to turn this into a 72 page essay. So I’ll make this brief.
Literally nothing has changed from Live to Alpha (at the time of writing) in terms of talents, other than some talents moving left/right in some rows. The only thing worth mentioning about is how I had to retrain my muscle memory when picking talents on Alpha.
AoE change is probably worth talking about though.
The death of Breath (of Sindragosa)
Jokes aside, there actually has been one interesting change in Alpha so far, which has gone mostly unnoticed/undocumented since it didn’t appear in spell datamining (shoutout to Melekus for finding this). Before I get into the meat of it, first, some history.
has been a very refreshing spell since its introduction in WoD, and has brought DK’s the most entertaining play styles in the game (Such as “Chains of Sindragosa”), due to it inherently flipping the Death Knights resource system on its head. During WoD, we had hilarious scenarios where Blood DK’s would do absolutely monstrous amounts of damage in an Operator Thogar encounter, thanks to ridiculous amounts of adds appearing every few minutes and the possibility of keeping
up for long amounts of time. For many Blood DK’s, this was the most rewarding tanking had ever been, with the best players being able to almost permanently sustain
, while properly filling their tanking duties!
In more recent memories, Nighthold was a breath of fresh air for many;
, in conjunction with
tier 19 bonus
, gave Frost DK’s a fantastic high risk/high reward playstyle that heavily rewarded players that were able to balance their resource depletion and the timing of their resource generation abilities. For those that were able to pull off the difficult gameplay at that skill level, that tier was arguably the best Frost had ever been from a gameplay perspective. Contradictory to the strange Alpha changes though, Breath’s large AoE damage was never a problem in Legion.
So, what happened to
in Alpha? Breath has an cleave component, with its cleave damage value(s) being hidden from tooltips. On live, secondary targets take (100/n)% damage where n is the number of targets, e.g. 100|50 damage between 2 targets, or 100|25|25 between 3.
In alpha, the formula has been changed to be (60/n)%, leading us to get 100|30, or 100|20|20.
In a nutshell,
’s AoE has been stealth nerfed. It’s AoE is still very powerful, but it seems that if Breath is to be taken in future, it will not be due to its massive AoE damage. Which sucks.
Cool, but how does Frost play in BfA?
Frost in Alpha feels very “clunky” (slow, clumsy, obtrusive, sluggish, unwieldy), largely because of the asinine GCD change which I’m sure others have already mentioned in this article. If Legion Frost DK was “The Fast and the Furious”, BfA Alpha Frost DK would be “The Slow and the Useless”.
In short, literally nothing has changed in the Alpha besides the fact that we aren’t using the Artifact anymore. We lost a button, and frost is now very slow. If I missed anything, its probably because it’s not even worth mentioning (except maybe
). Hopefully we can get some more changes soon.
The obviously superior DK DPS spec, for its slightly harder difficulty, necessity to track abilities/debuffs and dealing with multiple pet AI; Unholy is unfortunately plagued with some of the same problems that Frost has: It’s the same spec, but slightly worse and far slower.
So slow that it's still 10/11M
Have you tried doing dungeons before receiving your artifact on Live? Imagine that but slower (thanks to the GCD change), and you basically have BfA Unholy! In its current form (at the time of writing), it is horrendously slow; while Frost could be called “The slow and the useless”, Unholy would be “It doesn’t work”.
To the contrary, Unholy is actually doing pretty well right now in BfA dungeons, thanks to our obscene pet damage and running
, etc). However, those large pet numbers are definitely not going to be left un-nerfed, and this playstyle will definitely not be final.
Unholy’s rotational sluggishness is mostly due to missing two main issues, our low Haste% and some key abilities from our artifacts.
Unholy is incredibly reliant on the artifact in Legion, and with literally zero changes to Unholy in Alpha (besides a missing artifact), Unholy is definitely feeling quite ill without it. The loss of
will definitely bug players.
Much could be said about the loss of
, since they really did fix a lot of the awkward pauses with the rotation, and were essential to properly managing Festering Wounds. The lack of general resources do not help this cause either, with general rune/RP generation being worse than it had ever been in Legion.
With the Festering Wound mechanic/system currently obstructing the flow of the spec, thanks to the constant delaying of casting builders and spenders (
respectively), we can only hope that there will be changes to the system, possibly even receiving the aforementioned perks as talents.
Is Risen Skulker good yet?
I would love to spend time poking fun at the “massive” changes that have happened to talents, but I’m not allowed to turn this into a 72 page document. So I’ll make this brief.
Literally nothing has changed from Live to Alpha (at the time of writing) in terms of talents, other than some talents moving left/right in some rows. The only thing worth mentioning about is how I had to retrain my muscle memory when picking talents on Alpha.
However, some things are still uncertain with talents. Will Unholy (with the fantasy of “Scourgelord, master of all diseases”) get more than 1 disease as a talent, like Necrotic Plague (Festering Wound does not count, that's an affliction), and will
last another expansion?
The D stands for dead
truly has been the problem child of this spec, and has been a plague on theorycrafters with its inconsistent uptimes, and I honestly don’t think we will see her around for another expansion.
In the current BfA build,
is looking pretty run down. The resource changes alone have already rendered her borderline useless; the glacial pace of resource generation, alongside the GCD change and our low Haste, causes
’s Shadow Empowerment to simply never stack high enough to be useful.
One could argue that the content available doesn’t give us a chance to utilize her to her full potential (ie not raids), which is a very fair point. However, along with the problems already outlined, there is another more elusive issue which is causing her to hit like a wet noodle (in comparison to Legion), which was actually a blessing when given to us at the time.
...and make it double
One issue I overlooked, that was pointed out to me by Bicepspump (thanks fam), was that the former change to
’s RP cost (a buff at the time) is now working against players in BfA.
Throughout Legion, thanks to our high haste and resource generation from the artifact, players were struggling to effectively manage their RP, having durations were they had too little RP, and periods were they had too much (they did not have enough GCD’s to cast
). Blizzard actually had a genius solution for this problem, by simply raising the RP cost of
, which happened mid-Legion.
This fix was fantastic. It fixed the RP issues many players were facing, and it stealth buffed
, both of which indirectly benefited
’s further increased the potential ceiling of DA’s Shadow Empowerment).
However, now that we are back to a scenario where we are always struggling for resources, this change is one of the key things slowing our rotation down, and also a cause for
’s current predicament.
In short, literally nothing has changed in the Alpha besides the fact that we aren’t using the artifact anymore. The loss of the artifact sucks, but is exacerbated by our generally low haste and slow resource generation. That, alongside the still present mid-Legion
change, has caused a domino effect within the spec and general rotation, which is definitely not for the better.
Some people have claimed that Unholy is “literally unplayable” in its current form. While that is a silly statement, the kernel of truth within that sentiment is that the spec is currently just not fun to play. Hopefully, there will be some future changes which can cure the problems plaguing Unholy.
Hey folks, I’m Bicepspump (plays on the character Bícepspump on Stormscale). I’m an active member of the Death Knight discord and you can often see me answering questions or theorycrafting with the community. I’m always available on Discord if you have any questions or just want to chat: 💪Bicepspump💪#6318 (the emojis are part of the tag)
Similar to Unholy, Frost hasn’t received any changes that change the rotation significantly. However, unlike Unholy, the GCD change does affect the Frost DKs cooldowns.
(Not picked that frequently in the current patch) are now all on the GCD. This causes a clunkier feel to the rotation and a bit slower pace.
The loss of our artifact weapon brings with it some rotational changes. We now don’t have Sindragosa to breath frozen fire on our foes, a loss of both an insane AOE burst CD as well as juicy class fantasy feels. We’ll also be losing a resource generating trait (Over-Powered) that would give some extra runic power to the rotation. Furthermore, both
(AMS removed negative debuffs on use) and
has extra range) will no longer give us extra utility.
There has also been a couple of tunings to existing abilities. The
secondary target damage has been changed,
has been changed from AOE stun to AOE root and
gives less attack speed. These changes don’t bring any direct rotational changes, but will probably affect your talent choices again.
Just like for Unholy, many believe that there are more changes to come to the Frost DK. Changes that affect our builds and our rotation.
The current changes to Unholy in the alpha build are severely limited and do not change the rotation significantly in the present state. The addition of most CDs to the GCD doesn’t really affect Unholy since the absolute majority of our CDs are already on the GCD.
is the only CD that used to be instant but it's rarely taken on live.
The removal of our artifact weapon has a greater impact. The loss of the
ability both causes the opener to be very clunky, having to wait for runes after using the first wave of abilities, as well as limiting the uptime of the
Furthermore, there are two traits on the weapon which affects gameplay when we lose them.
proc 15% more often as well as allowing for two charges of the buff) as well as
(Abomination pops wounds when under the effect of
essentially gives you more resources over a fight. Losing it both makes the rotation slower, and reduces the effectiveness of your
is the cause of a substantial number of wound pops throughout a fight. Losing it affects the uptime of the
buff since you can’t pop enough wounds.
There have also been tuning to our already existing abilities. The most important being the reduction of our attack speed bonus from the
talent (100%-40%). Since more attack speed means more
procs, a reduction in the proc rate entails a loss of resources. This is another factor that slows down the current rotation on the Alpha and might make the other talent choices on the row more appealing.
In its present state, it’s impossible to tell what talent build will be the most optimal moving forward in the Alpha. However, we can say that not much have changed except a general loss of resources in the rotation. The overall consensus is that there are changes to come that will actually affect gameplay.
Hey, my name is Chewíe, an Unholy/Frost DK (Chewsday) in Wicked Vigilantes on Kazzak-EU and an active member of the Acherus class discord. You can find me on discord Chewíe#1234 and sometimes I stream at
Frost hasn’t seen many changes in the Alpha yet, but with the artifacts removal and the GCD changes there’s some things worth noting.
Talents and the GCD
As of the 7.3 frost rework aimed at reducing reliance on
, the final talent tier has been a curiosity to me. This will be exacerbated with the GCD changes.
has been the go-to for a while now and encourages some peculiar gameplay to minimise rune/runic power overcapping (holding
) but ultimately wasting resources regardless - with this going onto the GCD, it’s going to be even more problematic. Picture - you use
with low resources and have the resulting global of rune recharge time, this followed by a rune-free
) is another global of rune recharge time - or
, a global of rune recharge time AND the chance to proc a free rune from
- all the while
causing your Obliterates to cost only 1 rune.
is largely unchanged beyond secondary target tuning - and mercifully remains off the GCD, though we will have to consider it in combination with a GCD
and a GCD ERW, it’s still fun to use as a burst CD.
is the worst offender in this row for me - effectively an overcap button, it floods you with resources and you have no hope in spending them fast enough. It’s also just not interesting gameplay, and turns the spec into a spammy mess. I think it suffers from an identity crisis after having it’s synergy with Breath gutted. This will also be on the GCD. Combined with the honor talent Overpowered Rune Weapon being nerfed to 60 second reduction, this talent will be less effective in PvP. The old iteration was a better ERW and i’d like to see it’s duration reduced (so it won’t disproportionately push
) and replace ERW baseline.
has been changed from a 5 second stun to an 8 second root, and had its ‘while
is active’ part removed. This was quite an irritating talent to make use of in that it relied on Pillar and wasn’t easily timed to counter abilities, not to mention subject to DR most of the time. It will be usable more frequently now but as a root it may be more useful for kiting.
. I don’t think this tier 3 talent has a place in a post-7.2.5 world. With the changes to
and it’s secondary effects (now having its own chance to proc
) it is a far superior single rune AoE spender without the cooldown leaving GA feeling redundant, not to mention awkward with it’s pathing.
A big part of the reasoning behind things being put onto the GCD was to see their animations - things like
have almost no animation, resulting in a global of standing doing nothing, i’d like to have some feedback when I press these if this is the path they are going to take.
is now on a 0.5 second GCD, this effectively eliminates
as an on-demand semi-interrupt as you have to finish your current global before using it. This has been one of the best uses for
in mythic+ for me and I deeply dislike this change. The shorter global makes it seem like this is the effect they were aiming for, rather than just a blanket shift to the GCD.
With the artifacts removal Frost isn’t impacted much when it comes to gameplay. Some defensive and healing capability is gone,
- a powerful Cloak of Shadows-esque magic debuff dispel, not a huge loss but discovering ways to subvert debuffs has been a fun part of Frost and very strong on some fights. Losing
is a big loss to our burst self healing. The buff to
’s heal based on damage taken in the last 5 seconds from 20% to 30% is a small counter to this loss.
is now gone, this was mostly a quality of life benefit in that it allowed us to keep attacking whilst outside of melee range up to 13 yards with
. Consequentially this makes the talent
more difficult to maintain in some situations, a good example being Guarm back in ToV, which this trait was a huge benefit on whilst he was doing his Headlong Charge.
, this is the big one from a flavour perspective, and it’s also a huge burst AoE cooldown we are losing. I’ll particularly miss the on-demand AoE stun Consort’s Cold Core opened up to us which made the spec so much more useful in M+.
Mobility and Frost
Frost is the only DK spec without a talent which affects
in some way. Unholy having Lingering Apparition and Blood having March of the Damned.
indirectly addresses the losses involved with mobility but fails to address the issue outside of combat like between pulls in M+. With the loss of
this will be painful. I doubt I’m the only one who experienced bosses being pulled before you’d even entered the room.
Unholy has seen very few changes so far in Alpha, and some underwhelming talents currently remain. With the loss of
and the flavour it brought to the spec, it can’t help but feel very barebones.
- This talent is very underwhelming, especially in PvE vs the competing talents. It has a niche in PvP but otherwise i don’t really understand its place. Bursting Sores on the same row is in a strange place in that it’s also competing with Ebon Fever and has seen little use in PvE for a while unless granted with
Unholy has one talent going onto the GCD,
. Tuning will dictate where this talent lies vs the competition but it now feels quite strange to use mid-fight.
on the same row has seen little use in legion, and is pretty underwhelming to use for a fairly expensive cost.
is still a sore spot as it still has its benefit when it comes to AoE in what should be a utility talent tier. The normal Ghoul’s energy spender whilst under the effects of
is a frontal cleave, and
’s is ‘within 10 yards’ - this has funneled people into this talent and away from
, which in BFA could be amongst the stronger slows any spec has to offer. I believe this talent is effective enough utility on its own without the added AoE benefit, in fact more powerful utility than it has on live in that its Hook ability is still off the GCD whereas
is now on the GCD.
One of the most encouraging changes promoting versatility in the spec affects the level 100 talent
. This talent came to the forefront in Tomb of Sargeras and has remained the go-to ever since. This talent feels like it should be our single-target burst cooldown, yet has eclipsed the competition in almost every scenario. A change on alpha toning down multiple attack-speed talents including
combined with the loss of the artifact trait
should help to level the playing field.
has seen use in legion on some add heavy fights and in m+ in combination with the legendaries Death March and
, with the loss of these
feels quite underwhelming. The gimmick of
cleaving whilst you are within
Mort et décomposition
is cool but having your active cleave limited to a 30 second CD feels pretty bad.
's interaction with
is no longer a thing. Having every other
instantly stacked to 3 with
felt cool and without that
can feel like a bit of a chore for such a short CD.
Unholy’s artifact loss is quite impactful, very sad to see
go, I’ve felt in Legion that
Armée des morts
has done for years but better - embedded into the rotation it’s very satisfying to set up and use vs the expensive 3 rune
Armée des morts
and its awkward pre-fight casting on some fights. However losing
will remove a lot of power from Army/
I’m mostly satisfied with the loss of
as it’s been a large part of
’s dominance, the loss of the ‘15% more frequently’ is unfortunate but the 2 charges have been a cause of irritation in gameplay. Having multiple
procs stack whilst your runic power is full can feel very bad when you don’t have
to fuel with them. All the while proccing
and watching your runes recharge helplessly.
- this is a decent loss as this did a lot of the legwork for
and an AoE loss outright and indirectly to
. Things like this have caused unholy to feel very resource-dry, with high downtime as a result being a major gameplay hinderance.
I’d like to see some of the underwhelming talents reworked or replaced, perhaps moved.
could be interesting if it did something else like add a wound to targets with
or function like Seed of Corruption but with Festering Wounds.
I’d like to see the gap between single target and AoE bridged in some way, for a long time on live Unholy has been funneled into Single Target or AoE and hasn’t been able to do one well without doing the other very badly at the same time.
based on its history as a 6 second cooldown spell could do something interesting in this place, perhaps stacking up the buff based on additional targets you burst a wound on.
AoE gameplay could be improved, I think
would be more interesting with the Death March CD effect baked in baseline, this would make
feel like more than just a glorified
Mort et décomposition
and would make
s during AoE feel meaningful as a tool to bring
off cooldown sooner.
I’d like to see
have more interplay,
made this cooldown more interesting to use, something which will be lost.
Legion added a new dimension to class balance in the form of artifacts. As we prepare to send them off, let’s go over what the plans are, so far, and what we can already see on the alpha.
Where we lost the most - Artifact traits
On live, most of our spec-defining strengths come from our artifact traits. We provide unique utility in the form of
, a 33% uptime leech aura on 5 people, which can almost be considered a healing cooldown in M+. Our traits provide an easy way to kick ourselves back to 10
charges thanks to a second
(for 2-3x the duration of alpha), an absorb shield to mitigate some damage when
(massively stronger on live) fades, passive leech on
, massively increased
healing (thanks to
), to name a few.
All this has been taken, with no replacement. Even worse,
is also on the GCD now - it is no longer possible to cast
fades without losing the last tick, for instance. The start of a fight on alpha is excruciatingly slow, with the initial
now only giving 6 bones (1 immediately taken out by melee) instead of 10.
The loss of the old
is also very noticeable, the frequency of
s being drastically lower than on live, even when running with as much haste as possible. Currently, on live,
is much stronger and much more frequent than it is on alpha, which is noticeable even in normal dungeons. All this contributes to making Blood Death Knights feel like a shadow of the class they are on live.
What we will have - Talents
One of the latest builds significantly changed our talent line-up. Some changes were positive, some were… slightly less so. There is one recurring trend, however: some of our baseline abilities in Legion were flat-out taken away and put in as talents.
A perfect example of this is the second row of talents. In order, we have a nerfed-to-the-ground
(changed to make plagues and Death & Decay tick faster; RP generation by standing in
Mort et décomposition
is gone), a talent mirroring the effect of
, and our old artifact ability without additional traits (no
) along with a major damage nerf (from 87% to 40%).
Not only is there a clear winner in this row (
), but its gameplay got even crazier than on live: a
cast grants a stack per target hit. On anything beyond 2-target fights, it is impossible not to cap out those charges with the runic power economy present on alpha.
The next row of talents provides a deceptive bait and switch and a trap that most returning Death Knights will fall into. On live,
are effectively one talent (GotD is even stronger on live due to it not being variable). A previously strong talent has been taken, split it in two, and fed back to use as a “choice”. As it stands, you will pick the variable slow 90% of the time, which feels terrible as we had it for “free” along with better utility this expansion.
The next row of talents was most likely re-shuffled, as the new
feels like it would belong in a different row in order to provide some synergy with
(increasing max HP by 15%, up from 10%). Instead, one has a choice between having more
charges along with a minor max RP increase, or a talent that provides extra health percentage per
charge, a gigantic absorb shield and massive amount of RP benefit. In the large majority of cases, one would pick
as the two other options are clearly inferior.
There are similar issues with almost every row of our talents. They boil down to the following:
Row 1: The choice will come to whether
is tuned harder than the damage an extra rune provides.
is as bad as it is on live
Row 2: The massively buffed
blows both other talents away.
without the traits that buffed it is a complete no-show.
buffs an already meaningless cooldown (8% HP AMS);
is as good as it always was;
is as strong as ever
Row 4: Already covered -
will basically be a go-to
will be the go-to. Seeing how hard it is to actually get
charges, the trivial EH gain from the nerfed
really do not make sense, and neither do the legendary leg effect.
Row 6: Two self-healing talents and one damage+healing talent. One also comes at the time we need it the least (immediately after a DS)
Row 7: Even with a nerf to both
(from the removal of traits) and effectiveness,
blows both other options away.
As it stands, very few of these are actually effective choices, and a few of the new options are abilities and effects we had by default in Legion. There is nothing worse than having something baseline taken away and put behind a talent.
One major loss from Legion is Blood Mirror. This talent was similar to an artifact trait from both Demon Hunters and Guardian Druids, allowing us to trade some safety for damage. It is not unusual to see it do up to 10% of any DK’s single-target damage, by redirecting 20% of the damage taken. This gameplay style evidently seems to not have made the cut for BfA.
All in all, BfA feels bleak for blood. A lot of the issues with the spec that were addressed in Legion with traits, and those are now gone. The spec feels slow and unwieldy, and while it is not in as bad a state as a couple of other tanks, it very much feels like a large subset of our toolkit was ripped out under the guise of “new expansion”. For example,
has lost most of its teeth, with its duration being halved, its
generation effect halved, and the decision to put it on the GCD.
A lot of this is reminiscent of the iterative process that happened during the Legion alpha/beta development cycle. Much like before, the spec feels weak without a few defining pieces; most of the things that were added to make us “work” are now gone.
Hello I’m Melekus, I’m the main contributor to the Death Knight module in SimC, I write the Frost guide for the Acherus discord and I’ve been theorycrafting both Frost and Blood throughout Legion. You can contact me on Discord @Melekus#2334.
Blood has been up and down in Legion, it started with a barebones (pun not intended) spec that progressively got buffed patch after patch to end as one of the strongest tanks in raids (mostly due to having mass grip for Aggramar) and the best tank in Mythic+, thanks to their incredible self sustain and strong utility with tools such as
(aka mass grip),
Going into BfA, Blood looks like it is going to remain strong, but not as good as it is right now.
Some artifact abilities will be missed, the loss of the
combo will significantly weaken
, by making it much shorter and lowering our damage output and Runic Power generation during it.
was a significant effective HP (eHP) gain and
was insane utility in M+, providing 15% leech to the whole group for 15s every 45s.
On top of that, we also lose a lot of potential eHP from talents :
, Spectral Deflection, Blood Mirror and
are all either nerfed or removed, and there is no new talent to fill that gap.
Spectral Deflection and Blood Mirror being removed are a big hit (SD more than BM) to our survival against one shot mechanics, such as Argus Scythes at high stacks count.
is getting changed from 40% damage reduction for 3s to 30% damage reduction for 4s. It makes it more reliable against bosses who sometimes delay their abilities (such as Varimathras’ Shadow Strike, or Argus Scythes) but less effective as a survival tool.
is being nerfed by half, going from on average 16% maximum health increase to 8%, and it may very well not be used at all, depending on how the talents in its row are tuned.
The spec will also feel slower: openers with
will be at a much slower pace than live. You generate 6
charges with a single
cast, down from 10, generate 20 runic power with
down from 25, and the duration is 8s minus your gcd from 16 to 22 seconds (depending on artifact traits).
The spec will also play slower, with
losing its Runic Power cost reduction on
losing its Runic Power generation component, and because we’ll have a much lower haste % early in BfA that we have now this late into Legion.
On the other hand, Blood will have very strong survival tools to heal back up if you manage to survive the hits :
is getting buffed from 20% of damage taken in the last 5s to 30% (current amount with the
artifact traits is close to 25%) and we have new talents that increase our ability to recover from large hits with
), or that increase our healing over time (
or the new version of
) and even though we lose
, I expect the spec to still be one of the best in Mythic+.
With the changes to tank mitigation tools on alpha, Blood is probably one of the best specs against magic damage.
All tank’s main mitigation tools were changed to instead increase armor (or stagger amount) based on your main stat (strength or agility). This makes tank mitigation scale very well against physical damage, but magic damage will be harder to survive without externals.
This is less an issue for Blood Death Knights because of how the spec is built around
and the ability to recover from damage rather than preventing them.
On top of that, we still have
to specifically counter magic damage, with a new talent that lower its cooldown to 45s, and increase its duration and absorb amount by 30%, and multiple defensive cooldowns that work against any type of damage in
, or in case of fatal damage,
One artifact trait that I won’t miss is
damage by 25% when Blood Shield was up felt like you were passively losing on dps when you were actively tanking, which is the opposite of mechanics like Rage from Damage Taken and Pain for Damage taken (Protection Warrior/Vengeance Demon Hunter), Grand Crusader procs (Protection Paladin) or Bristling Fur (Guardian Druid) that instead rewarded you with damage or at least resource generation when you were taking damage.
Blood Death Knight will still have to spend more resources on maintaining
at the cost of Runic Power generation (and therefore damage) when taking melee hits, but it’s not inherently a bad thing. My opinion is that it’s a good aspect of the spec’s identity, even though I wish there was some kind of reward for it (for example RP generation when
charges are consumed).
Frost is in a good spot at the moment as the “easier” specialization for DPS Death Knights. Its core mechanics can be dumbed down to “press the shiny buttons and don’t cap resources” with additional complexity added by talents such as
Losing the artifact will not be a problem for the class’ design in the long term : it will take some time to get used to playing without
but it won’t affect the core gameplay of the spec in the long term.
The GCD changes will affect current Frost marginally : our major dps cooldown,
, is on a 60s cooldown and lasts 20s and having it on the global cooldown is not a hindrance. Two other cooldowns that are being put on the gcd are ERW and
ERW is already a weak cooldown, as resetting your runes in current content saves you from around 10-12s of downtime but may never need to be used depending on the fight (moving out of melee range regularly, or just good luck on your procs may prevent you from having empty globals while in melee range).
It’s a bigger deal for
: used to recover resources over its duration, this talent requires to be used at low resources to avoid overcapping either runes or runic power when it ends. Putting it on the global cooldown and extending its duration makes it harder to plan because you now also have to take into account the full gcd of resource generation before casting resource spenders. It makes the talent better as a resource generation tool (because of the 2s buff) but it will be harder to manage your resources efficiently by the end of it; which leads me to the biggest offender :
This talent is an overcap button. In PvE it doesn’t provide an interesting gameplay and basically removes any resource management issue you would have for its duration. It was what made
really good during Nighthold and their interaction is the reason why they share the same talent row since 7.3.
just provides too many resources to be spent reliably without resource capping.
was ideal for that, because it drains your Runic Power off the global cooldown, letting you concentrate on rune management without worrying about RP capping.
Since 7.3, this talent has been mostly used in PvP and is combined with the Overpowered Rune Weapon honor talent and
to generate a very strong burst window every 60s.
This talent remains in my opinion very problematic by design, and I hope it will be reworked or replaced in Battle for Azeroth.
Frost has yet to see changes on the Battle for Azeroth alpha, but I don’t think it will change a lot : the spec already had a small rework in 7.3 that fixed most of its issues. The artifact used to increase damage on specific spells (Nothing but the boots,
, 3 of our best 4 traits, all increase our highest damage abilities by a substantial amount) and a rebalancing of the spells’ individual damage will most likely be needed.
Utility-wise, there are good things and bad things going into BfA : first of all is
being on the global cooldown. Snapshot interrupts will be harder to pull off, and you will have to stop dpsing to use it. Grip was extremely powerful in certain situations (you could for example grip a Dreadborne Seer in Arcway to interrupt their otherwise non-interruptible casts) and I think this small nerf puts DK more in line with the other classes.
Then there’s the
change, it is turned into an 8s AoE root with 5 seconds of setup every time you press
(20s cooldown). Depending on how many classes share such abilities this could make frost DK really valuable in keys where you want to kite trash mobs.
I started playing WoW in TBC, and maining Blood DK in MoP. I was a top 10 US raider back in WoD (although as we all know, US is awful at WoW :) ). I also did more or less
all the TC work for Blood in WoD, and much of Legion Blood TC is based off my work in beta (notably my huge writeup on talents from back then). Nowadays I moderate the Death Knight discord (
), and clarify mechanics/interactions/general tanking theory for people there. But I don’t really think anyone cares about any of this either way, so enough of that.
Legion Blood was a spec almost entirely focused around two buttons:
solved all your problems and was up almost every time you would need it). BFA changes this to some extent; DS is now more expensive since
was reworked, although currently more powerful (30% of damage taken instead of 20%; I am however not confident that this will last to the end of beta, as it was 30% in Legion beta too, and DS works vs magic damage unlike most BFA mitigation).
has been absolutely gutted due to the loss of the artifact (No
, no Vamp Fangs), and a large nerf to
. In and of itself, that isn’t a big deal, however the problem is that
has also been massively nerfed; 8 second duration, on the GCD (seriously?), and you only get one Rune weapon due to the loss of the artifact. The cooldown is only 2 minutes now, but it hardly compensates as
was already very unreliable. In addition,
has been nerfed, and
(and Mirror is completely gone even if you specced that instead of
before), meaning you effectively lose another cooldown on top of this. The combination of fewer and weaker cooldowns means either bosses will be tuned around this lack, or healers will be picking up the slack; either way it is a reduction in tank agency. Personally I would have liked to see
nerfed and small tweaks to other CDs (to make them all more even but still impactful, and gameplay more about mixing and matching cooldowns to the situation rather than everything revolving around
) rather then deep blanket nerfs.
Other notable losses from the artifact include
(combined with the nerf to
, this is a massive Effective Health Pool (EHP) nerf), and
(overall a good change, as Blood was far too dominant in M+ and this trait was a large reason for it). The
removal may end up being an issue however, as Blood has always struggled with EHP (and in Legion,
was probably the single biggest change to Blood during the expansion that took it from ‘not that great’ to ‘very good’ in mythic content). And I say this even though I hated the specific mechanic of
(rewarding the player for playing badly, ie overhealing, is ridiculous on principle, although as I said the EHP was badly needed in some form). Ultimately however the amount of EHP you need depends on how hard enemies actually hit, so depending on tuning, the loss of
may not end up being as critical as it might first seem.
is a nice addition, however I would be surprised if it ends up functioning at full effect against all raid mechanics (still anything that even slightly reduces reliance on Wraithwalk is never a bad thing).
with its 10 second cooldown is actually a pretty ridiculous source of Runic Power for DS as well in the right situation, but even if it doesn’t get changed, it is very situational as you need a steady stream of buffs to dispel.
Finally, between the loss of a chance to generate extra
charges, and the loss of
charges/stacking them up on the pull is more difficult, meaning fewer runes are left for
, further reducing DS frequency (it is also harder to bank RP due to lower cap/higher DS cost). Note that even though Legion
is gone, you will likely still want to keep
stacks fairly high, as the rate at which you lose them is fixed regardless (ie there is only the up front cost of getting the stacks up), and if you keep stacks high, you effectively have more ‘banked’ incase you need to skip a
for DS instead, which gives you flexibility. There is also an Azerite trait that works off
Talents have received a small overhaul, however most of the changes do little to change the fact that some tiers are still very homogeneous and therefore a single talent will be the one chosen in 90% of cases in those tiers (tuning over the course of beta will likely change which one it ends up being in different tiers, but this fundamental problem is unlikely to disappear without mechanical or design changes to talents). A good example is the
tier: all three talents are talents that give you extra healing, scaling with number of targets you are fighting in slightly different ways. Currently
is the best in this tier, but obviously it will depend on final tuning (Rapid Decomp is just laughably bad with current tuning).
vs Bloodworms vs
is fairly similar, in this case Bloodworms wins out currently because they do very high damage (auto-attack damage hasn’t been properly scaled to account for the global reductions to AP ratios for all abilities, so anything auto-attack based like Bloodworms currently deals a lot of damage relative to other abilities), provide okay healing over time, and don’t come at a resource cost like
(which was also nerfed for some inexplicable reason from 3% to 2% even though it wasn’t a very good talent to begin with).
In terms of the
is likely to be the favorite just due to tuning (but again, that can change), although it is fundamentally pretty similar to
(which is a reskinned Blood Tap) in that they are both single target damage talents that provide extra healing, either directly in the case of
, or indirectly via generating RP to use for
in the case of
might end up seeing some use on AoE.
is basically a choice between
is better vs predictable burst (but has been nerfed),
is better for passive EHP (it is still a poor talent due to all the same reasons it was poor in Legion, but now there isn’t really an alternative in cases where RT isn’t useful).
’s use is likely to be extremely niche as even vs magic damage
is just better.
In terms of
, well it is similar to
is still weak for all the same reasons it was weak in Legion (and it is on the GCD now too making it even worse),
has been nerfed so heavily that
might actually end up being slightly competitive in cases where you need another (weak) cooldown. The reworked
is almost completely worthless; there is an Azerite trait that increases DS healing based on
charges, but it isn’t nearly strong enough to make this talent worthwhile.
is pretty much a case of
for 5 mans, and
if it allows you to hit a ‘breakpoint’ in terms of getting
up for a specific mechanic in a given fight, otherwise
. Very similar to the same tier in Legion.
was effectively split into two and nerfed as well, making the ‘utility tier’ even more lackluster then it already was in most situations and is likely to make kiting for things like Necrotic more annoying.
As should be pretty clear, overall talent power has been significantly reduced; talents that used to be nearly worthless in Legion like
are actually competitive now due to how much weaker talents are in general, even though none of their core flaws have been addressed meaning they are still extremely awkward.
There are still absolutely zero talents/baseline abilities that add any sort of depth or complexity to the spec (
is probably the closest thing to that, or
if it was actually worth using, but they are obviously very poor examples), just like in Legion. Soulgorge could have fit that role in Legion if it had gotten a few tweaks to actually be usable/been tuned properly (I wrote about the kind of changes it would have needed part-way through Legion before it was removed), but this didn’t end up happening. BoS used to fill this role in WoD, and Vengeance in MoP, but those are obviously not coming back for a whole bunch of reasons. Ultimately however adding complexity isn’t about re-adding a specific ability/mechanic: there are plenty of things that could be done other then these specific examples, although since this didn’t happen in Legion I am not holding my breath for it happening in BFA.
Wraithwalk still exists, a mobility button so awful you want to avoid pressing it at all costs unless you absolutely have to. Although now that most mobility buttons are on the GCD in general, it is in good company in terms of being annoying.
Gorefiend's Grasp is still almost entirely unique utility; the small nerf to it doesn’t really address the core issue of fights like Aggrammar making raids feel like they ‘have to’ bring 2 Blood DKs. Players should never be brought just to press 1 button; in WoD/MoP when you brought extra DPS DKs to grip they at least did good damage as well, while a 3rd tank Blood DK is just there to hit grip and contribute almost nothing else.
The overall design goal of making magic damage threatening for tanks is likely going to mean changes for
later in beta. It could end up being as simple as
healing based on physical damage taken/
only reducing physical damage, or it could be a far more radical rework to
, which would kill off any last vestiges of Blood’s old identity. Or maybe it will just stay this way and Blood might end up being OP because of it. Honestly I heavily disagree with that tanking model, but there isn’t really room here to explain in detail.
With the more or less across the board nerfing of cooldowns, the loss of a few key artifact traits, and lower
frequency/slower overall pace, there is even less control over your own survival in BFA then in Legion (For the sake of clarity, I have to emphasize that the complaint is about control/choices/complexity within the spec itself, not power relative to other specs; relative power is up to spec tuning and could end up any which way by the time live rolls around, and a powerful spec doesn’t equal engaging or deep. Sadly a short write-up like this doesn’t have the room for me to properly argue the point). Talents are more or less the same (just with a fresh coat of paint in the sense that different talents are the ‘always pick’ ones) as there are still no complex talents, and talents in general are far weaker so the choice matters less to begin with. Perhaps yet to be implemented Azerite traits or additional talent changes will address some of these concerns, but from what has been revealed so far, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
As far as tanking goes, I am looking at blood in two scenarios: raid tanking and dungeon (mythic +) tanking. Overall in legion, I think it is safe to say that Blood was one of the standout tank specs in the game and really shined in raids during both Tomb of Sargeras and Antorus the Burning Throne. It was also probably the best tank spec hands down for mythic + simply because they could provide a vast amount of utility with both
leech and mass grip. The problems that blood faced was surviving large hits due to the lack of mitigation its kit offered, however it seems like they have at least tried to fix that problem by changing up some of the talents.
I am going to be comparing the alpha version to the current live version and to make a quick comparison, it is horrible. To have a defensive go from something that allowed offered a lot of burst damage in mythic + and raids due to its increased duration and runic power generation for the entire duration to it now being on the gcd and only lasting 8 seconds is disorienting. Using
was one way that allowed blood to gather a lot of mobs during mythic + and feel relatively safe because you had a cooldown that was relatively long in duration and was off the global. Now, you have to use it prior to pulling or mass gripping the mobs only to enjoy your 6 seconds left of parry before you start to get chunked down. Either the GCD requirement needs to be removed, the duration of
needs to be increased to account for being on the global or both need to happen so that it can still feel like a meaningful cooldown. If both were to be reverted, to prevent it from being the legion version of
, maybe the runic power generation could be halved so that it is not ‘overpowered’ in certain scenarios.
was a very unique ability that existed in Legion, which mostly provided group wide utility in the form of leech. In the current alpha version, it is very lackluster to use as it is competing against two relatively strong talents in its row already, with
scaling with more mobs already. I don’t think
fits well as a talent as it doesn’t seem to have much use without providing leech to your party members. With that being said, I do think they could keep it in that talent row but provide a smaller amount of leech than what was in Legion so that you can have the option to take that if you choose to do so.
Tiers 75 and 90
If I were to be worried about talent rows, it would definitely be these two. In tier 75,
is now half as good as it was in Legion and now it loses its synergy with
since they are now on the same talent row making it a mediocre talent at best. Since
no longer synergizes with
, it now makes no sense to accumulate extra
charges since you gain no extra benefit from it making the talent seem extremely useless. In tier 90, both
seem extremely useless in any content. Giving a Blood Death Knight leech is not something they necessarily want, especially after they have already healed themselves with
. Most if not all of the healing from this talent would go into overhealing and is not needed.
has a ridiculous runic power cost and heals for next to nothing considering one base
will do 5x more healing for 50% extra runic power. This ability would either need a very small runic power cost or be able to be applied to multiple targets with one cast for it to be useful in any situation.
Even though frost feels the best to play out of all Death Knight specs, it is still very sluggish due to recent GCD changes. My biggest complaints about frost is that with
, ERW and
on the GCD, it feels like talents such as
are significantly weaker since that is now 2 globals you will not be spending runes. On current live, frost is a very ‘fast paced’ spec meaning that you are constantly hitting spells filling nearly every global with a significant form of damage. With these gcd changes, you now have a lot of downtime at the beginning of your ‘burst’ phase, which is neither fun or interesting gameplay wise.
Another complaint that I have with both live and alpha frost is the lack of movement. Frost is still the only spec that does not have a talent that increases the speed or duration of
(which still has a temporary animation), making it one of the least mobile specs in the game if not THE least mobile spec. If
is still going to exist as a Death Knight’s form of movement, at least make it similar to Paladin steed where you can still use abilities during it rather than a channeled ability.
As far as talents go, I think that frost is in a pretty good spot outside of a few exceptions.
not only adds another spell on the GCD making the spec even more sluggish, but it is an on demand 2 runes and 20 runic power on a 45 second cooldown when frost already has erw. The talent is not necessary and could be replaced or changed to something that is on a moderate (20s) cooldown that can be used to instantly refund a rune and is off the global cooldown. This would let the spec keep its flow and give the player more control as to when they need the resource.
was a talent that was used widely in both PvE and PvP scenarios throughout Legion as it provided an AoE stun. Without the AoE stun, I worry about frost’s viability in mythic + dungeons and PvP environments since they no longer have the ability to lockdown targets for a short time. Since frost no longer has a ‘necessary’ utility (AoE stun), there is now no reason to bring them to a group when you can instead bring a Windwalker monk. If Blizzard does wish to remove a lot of the stuns in the game, maybe replace one of the T60 talents with one that reduces the cooldown on
so that they can at least stun a single target reliably rather than relying on RNG.
The last talent I want to discuss is
. The fact that it is now on the level 100 row makes it very unappealing since you already have two unique abilities that are commonly liked by most of the playerbase (
is both a long cooldown and does nearly the same thing as
, which is refill your resources over its duration. The problem with it is that there is nothing you can do to both dump runes and runic power at the same time anymore, so the flood of resources feels wasted and bad. I would replace the talent or at least move it to another tier so that it is no longer the cooldown that ‘defines your spec’ in the level 100 row.
Unholy is so far the spec that I am most concerned about as far as it not functioning well on alpha. With the loss of the artifact traits and weapon, it is in a disorienting state and is very awkward to play with a lot of things not synergizing well.
played a huge role in how Unholy played in Legion, allowing it to summon temporary ghouls and bursting a large amount of wounds instantly. This not only allowed talents such as
to synergize extremely well, but it also fit the class fantasy of summoning temporary ghouls to aid you in combat for a short time. If this spell is not kept going into BFA, I do worry how unholy may function unless it were to get a complete rework or a lot of the talents changed.
Armée des morts
After having a tier with a reduced cooldown of AotD, it feels uninteresting to have it become a 10 minute cooldown again without it providing that much of a dps gain. I do think reducing the cooldown of it would be the best direction to go with this spell so that it is used more often, enhancing the feel of the spec.
The wound system in Legion was a somewhat unique playstyle; however, I’m not sure that it can be kept going into BFA. Right now with no changes, I find that the wound system is very clunky and odd to play since you lose
artifact trait, which both greatly contributed to how wounds were managed. Now to have a somewhat playable build, you have to take all talents that aid in wound management in order to cringe through playing the spec.
I do wish this talent would be changed so that the skeletal minion would now deal shadow damage so that its damage is not completely irrelevant. The only time this talent is taken is for PvP purposes, and it is only for removing the cooldown of pet summon rather than the damage component. If the damage component is not changed, I believe it will go another expansion with no use and should be replaced.
Unholy saw a lot of use out of all three T100 talents throughout Legion. I do like the ability
as an ability, but I do believe that it should be baseline and used as an execute ability like it was in past expansions. This execute was both useful in PvP and PvE and felt rewarding to use it effectively. I find the legion version somewhat boring to use and don’t feel much of a reward for using it correctly. If this talent were to be replaced, I think it would be interesting to bring back Necrotic Plague as a talent and give Unholy a different playstyle in cleave fights.
With both of these spells being widely used in Legion, I do think they could make for interesting talents to bring into BFA. Making the legendary shoulders’ effect a talent would keep
feeling like a cooldown rather than a button you hit every 45 seconds.
Volstatsz is a Blood Death Knight raider and theorycrafter, and a moderator in the Acherus class community on Discord. He currently raids with Incendiary Legion - Stormrage (US). You can find him on Twitter at @Volstastz, Twitch at
, and Discord at Volstatsz#2351.
Perhaps more so than many other specs, the changes to Blood in Battle for Azeroth are being defined by the loss of artifact traits – Blood received a bottom-up revamp with Legion, completely changing gameplay and introducing brand-new rotational abilities. The core rotational gameplay of Blood was heavily influenced by a few key artifact traits, and their loss has currently left Blood with a few distinct areas of weakness. New talents and talent layouts two weeks ago were the first major changes to the spec on Alpha, and it’s likely these will need more work before Battle for Azeroth.
This trait took
from a modest defensive cooldown to an absolute powerhouse, making a Death Knight nearly invincible while it was active. Combined with multiple ways to reduce its cooldown, this trait marginalized other defensive cooldowns for Blood significantly. While this is an arguably positive outcome – there’s not really a deep gameplay choice to be made in cooldown planning when the answer was almost always “
is up again,” – but without anything to fill the gap, Death Knights will be left in a place where our baseline cooldowns are mostly niche abilities. This pushes the
talent even more strongly into the kit – even before accounting how much stronger it currently is than other talents on the row.
This trait had an impact on
on a similar scale as
. While a relatively minor change to damage output,
dramatically changed the way Death Knights could handle initiating an encounter – allowing a 9-10 stack
from a single use of
, leaving three runes free to build Runic Power with
. Combined with the amount of longevity these stacks would have thanks to the 40% parry, using
on pull allowed Death Knights, essentially, to jump straight into their normal rotation without a dangerous ramp-up period, during with the Death Knight would have very little control over their damage intake and feel significantly resource-starved.
What’s Gone: Blood Mirror
This talent was introduced in Legion, and it’s very likely that Blizzard is unhappy with the way it ended up being used. Currently, it is taken by Death Knights to push damage when
is unnecessary, or at the highest levels of play, to push that last bit of damage to phase a progression boss before some difficult mechanic. Blizzard has typically disliked presenting choices to tanks between survivability and damage output, and choosing between Blood Mirror and
was a clear-cut example of this kind of trade-off.
What’s Gone: Blood Tap
Blood Tap isn’t really gone; it’s been re-skinned as
. The new talent occupies they same space and has a slightly different mechanism. The only real difference is how cooldown reduction is generated; by tying it to rune spenders,
will now scale with your haste, making at least in theory equally viable throughout the course of the expansion.
What’s Gone: Heart of Ice, Spectral Deflection, Tremble Before Me
These talents all saw little use during Legion, and were often awkward and niche abilities, or else had too much randomness to be used effectively.
What’s Changed: Armor-based Mitigation and “Coefficient” Scaling
As with all other tanks, Blizzard is tying core mitigation abilities to armor – for Blood, this means
and Veteran of the Third War.
was significantly buffed to account for the drop in post-Armor damage Death Knights will be taking – since the effectiveness of
is based on the damage you take, an increase to armor is a decrease to
Healing. On pure numbers, the new
will be more powerful than in Legion, but there are just too many open questions to say with certainty how it will play out in practice. These changes are meant to compliment a change Blizzard recently announced to how armor will work in difficult content. Currently, armor reduces physical damage by the same percentage, no matter how strong or weak the attacking enemy is. In Battle for Azeroth, armor will be less effective as the power of enemies grow. This is intended to give the Armor and primary stats on tank gear more value. Right now, it is very hard to know what that will mean, as Blizzard hasn’t shared any details about how this mechanic will work – presumably, bosses from each subsequent raid tier will have more “armor penetration,” but we have no indication of how that will be reflected in-game. This could make gearing up a new tank very complicated or could have a purely superficial effect. One interesting question is how this will affect the soloing community – if it works as it seems to be envisioned, Death Knights and other self-heal tanks may see older max-level content much easier to solo, and current content much harder.
The range of
is being reduced significantly, from 20 yards to 15 yards. Though it may be easy to think of this as a 25% nerf, because we’re discussing a radius this actually reduces the area of effect by 44%. Additionally,
is being broken into two talents, with the
Mort et décomposition
snare being reworked and placed in its own talent,
. Blizzard has stated that they’re unhappy with the degree to which Blood’s unique utility set is so dominant in higher-tier Mythic+, and these changes are likely an attempt to scale that utility back. It’s unfortunate, but more than anything it will make skillful Gorefiend’s use an even greater discriminator of Blood Death Knight skill. It would be nice if, with this change, Blizzard would find a way to add a visual indicator of Gorefiend’s area of effect – the ability has always been a somewhat awkward guessing game to use correctly, and with the area reduction, expect the number of times a Gorefiend’s just barely fails to gather the entire intended group to increase.
What’s Changed: The Great Talent Shuffle
Many of the talents have been moved around on the tree to compete differently. It’s hard to know what the intent is, but presumably it’s an effort to break Blood out of the Legion paradigm, where at most 2 or 3 rows were ever changed. As it stands, several talents directly compete with talents that provide a mathematically similar benefit, making the choice an algebra problem. Examples of this include
. Additionally, some of the talents appear to have been originally nerfed with the intent of keeping them in their original places, and then later shuffled.
in particular highlight this – these two talents had tremendous synergy with each other, but both were dramatically nerfed or changed completely and then put on the same row.
is especially puzzling, given that everything that could make extra charges of
in any way valuable are mutually exclusive with the talent.
While the ability name is an old standby, giving Blood a short-cooldown knockback immunity/forced movement resistance/snare immunity is new-ish. Blizzard has always doubled down on their insistence that Death Knights should be a slow but inescapable class, but without giving the class a meaningful way to implement the “inescapable” part of that, it has always felt more like an excuse to leave Death Knights with minimal mobility. How well this ability will serve that fantasy in gameplay will depend entirely on encounter design – if an effect can be handled by
, but can also be handled just as easily by another class’s mobility, than
is just a gimmicky, weaker version of a mobility cooldown. The challenge is designing encounters where
would convey and advantage without being mandatory – Mythic Kil’Jaeden is a fight where knockback immunity would have been very strong, but so much so that it risks making Blood “mandatory” for certain fights. We already have enough encounters where DPS Death Knights are forced into an offtank role just for
; it’s a precarious tightrope to walk to keep
from becoming another reason to have a Blood Death Knight as a third tank on specific encounters.
Let’s take a moment to mourn for Thoughtseize, which was poised to be a very interesting and unique take on offensive dispels. Though it was, essentially, just a better version of Spellsteal, the ability that’s replaced it is an incredibly mundane dispel effect. The 25 RP is less a unique benefit than it is compensation for losing a GCD from rotational play.
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