Death Knight Talents Dragonflight Preview

We’ve just posted a full rundown of how the re-imagined talent system will look for Death Knights in Dragonflight.

Once you’ve had a chance to fully digest it (and it’s a lot to take in), please feel free to answer the following questions.

How do you feel the new talent system fits the Death Knight class overall?

If you have any concerns, what are your biggest concerns?

What about the new design do you like the most?

Do you feel like this will make Death Knights play differently than they do now?

Thank you!


First and foremost - I do not really play Death Knight. I know the class, but it’s not something I regularly play. I find Unholy rather boring, and Frost was ruined by the prominence of Breath of Sindragosa for me. And I just won’t tank while there’s so much pressure on tanks in LFR/etc. However, I still wanna give thoughts as someone who wants to play it, but things have kept me from it:

(EDIT: To clarify, I literally have 5 Death Knights at level 50. I do not play it in Shadowlands as I do not like the playstyle currently. Feedback from people who don’t play a class is also important - as it gives the devs an idea of why some people may not play something.)

Rune Strike being a baseline skill seems weird. I can’t remember Frost and Unholy having that anytime recently, and I can’t think of where in the rotation that would even fit, as both Unholy and Frost have a pretty filled rotation as of now from what I recall.

Not bringing back Horn of Winter as an alternative to Warrior’s Battle Shout is a weird choice when you brought back Mark of the Wild - but as I said in the druid feedback, raid buffs are being handled very poorly right now and are resulting in “Bring the Class, not the Player” - shuffling the raid buffs around to multiple classes, like adding Horn of Winter for the AP would help that immensely.

I’m not too fond of how rooted in Death and Decay the class-specific talents are. Frost pretty much never uses it unless they’re Night Fae currently, but there’s so many DND talents that I feel like it’s going to force it into Frost’s rotation as well. Which kinda detracts from the identity of FROST Death Knight. Which was a big reason you removed things from some specs - to give the other spec identity.

I’m confused about Frost’s Row 3 - Killing Machine says it increases your health by 1% for each charge of Bone Shield - Frost doesn’t generate Bone Shield though, that’s a blood thing. Bone Shield isn’t mentioned in the baseline skills, the class tree, or So where is it getting Bone SHield from? Did you mix up the Frost and Blood talent somehow? (Blood also has a tier 3 talent that’s " Foul Bulwark: Each charge of Bone Shield increases your maximum health by 1%.")

Personally, I’m not happy to see Breath of Sindragosa survived the Talent Change, as I mentioned earlier. It’s one of the least fun playstyles and most punishing for a single mistake that’s ever been in WoW. But I know some people like it. I just hope it’s tuned so it’s not the clear winner this time. It sucks to have a spec ruined completely for you because a talent is tuned to be the supreme winner and it’s so impactful to the rotation it changes how it plays completely.

I can already tell there will be people mad they have to choose between Army of the Dead and Gargoyle. Gargoyle was one of the biggest requests I’ve seen on the forums, and I know people will be mad about this. I don’t know if you can choose more than 1 Rank 10 talent, but I’m assuming no.

(I will include this in both classes feedback, as it fits both)

Overall, from what I can tell, the spec-specific talents seem like a good mix of single target, AoE, Utility, etc. so that’s good. I can’t really tell too well when it’s in text - would have much preferred a talent calculator to see exactly how many points we can choose from and if the mandatory talents will make the choice less than expected. Like, if we get talent calculators and suddenly it becomes apparent that I can’t get X that I love because I need Y that’s mandatory, it’s going to feel bad.

This is also why we can’t really say if it will affect how the class plays, because we can’t tell when we don’t have a good idea of how many talents we can pick. Like, we know the number of points, but it’s hard to apply that to text, if that makes sense?


I am very excited to be able to give feedback on this soon as a DK main since WotLK. I had a quick look at the talents but want more time to digest them and analyze them from my perspective.


I went through the post many, many times (and I am sure I still missed some things). However, I wanted to capture what this system would be like for new players, veteran players playing a Death Knight for the first time, and the average Death Knight players. So, I will not be giving feedback as someone who plays in a min-maxing style, since that is not my personal focus.

Some of our biggest goals in a class and talent revamp are to increase player agency over your character’s progression and build, provide meaningful rewards while leveling, and reinforce your character’s connection to both their class and their spec. In addition, we felt we had to retain many features of modern World of Warcraft specializations. Specializations have many unique abilities, some of which might be central to the identity of the spec.

So, a lot of my comments in this section will center around the goal of “provide meaningful rewards while leveling, and reinforce your character’s connection to both their class and their spec… Specializations have many unique abilities…”

Since the days of our original talent trees in Vanilla, I think that WoW as well as the gaming community in general has evolved and changed over the nearly two decades. And, in this regard, I think a lot of your feeling of ‘progression’ and character power comes from visually based imagery. For example, as of now, the moment that you place your talent point into your tree, that feels good (especially, once you unluck your 8-point and 20-point thresholds). However, once the panel is closed, its back to the same thing.

Maybe to give a little more detailed of an example, let’s take the Anti-Magic Shell talents. For Row 2: Anti-Magic Shell and Row 6: Anti-Magic Barrier, is there a visual difference between the two such as increasing the size of the bubble, increasing the intensity of the color, or modifying the color of the bubble to the specialization of the DK? So, maybe it’s OK to have your typical Unholy green Anti-Magic Shell for Row 2: Anti-Magic Shell, but once you are more specialize as Frost and you select Row 6: Anti-Magic Barrier, the spell looks larger with white / blue runes instead of green. It’s one thing to flip a switch and someone point to a chart and tell you that something is better, but it is entirely different to literally see that your choice made a change to your character.

Another example would be the difference between Row 2: Obliterate and Row 5: Improved Obliterate. Earlier, I referenced closing the talent tree panel, and you simply go back to the reality of the same thing. So, let’s say visually, when I use Obliterate as a low level DK, my weapons have slight blue glow around them for that attack. If I level up a few levels and choose Row 5: Improved Obliterate and the attack looks exactly the same, then that is going to be a little ho-hum. However, if a player chooses (1/2) Row 5: Improved Obliterate and their entire weapons turn a lighter blue for that attack, then the change will resonate so much more with the user (that their character is growing more powerful). If a player chooses (2/2) Row 5: Improved Obliterate then their weapons turn an icy blue with an ever-so slightly larger glow, then that just reinforces that feeling of growth and power!

Also, it is worth noting, that each class and character shouldn’t be a spectacle of neon lights with every improved spell and ability. However, there definitely some middle ground for incremental visual enhancements representing the character’s growth in power.

Now, let’s move to specialization and growth. As fledging DKs, we are popping out of the box brand new with all of our basic spells and abilities. So, our Death and Decay should be the same from one Death Knight to the next (with its little unholy arms assisting the DK within the red runes). However, at a certain point in time, we become specialized. We become Blood Death Knights, Frost Death Knights, and Unholy Death Knights, and visually these spells should be able to represent this change, growth, and specialization.

For example, if I spend 20 points into my Frost specialization, then I should also see my DK’s Death and Decay do more than just call from a common graveyard. It should call for the assistance of the fallen from the frozen wastelands of Northrend! If I am an Unholy DK, then I should be able to call upon greater fallen foes and see larger arms like that from Necrolords or Stitches from Naxxramas. Maybe blood-red tendrils coming from the ground would be a good representation of the Death and Decay of a Blood Death Knight. This is what illustrates the specialization of a character – the same ability, but it is from a different class specialization.

Also, this unlocking of general spells should be visually represented in your general talent tree as well, even if it is a simple changing the color of the spell icon itself. Again, a quick, little 2-3 second animation transitioning the spell icon in the general talent tree, indicating your specialization. Your specialization is who you are as a DK, Warrior, Shaman, or any other class. Therefore, your depth into your specialization should be reflected in your general spells and abilities where possible.

Another fundamental change is that much more of your class is represented in the tree, instead of being awarded automatically while leveling up. Other than the starting abilities you obtain before you access the system at level 10, the vast majority of abilities are obtained via the tree.

I would like to put this into perspective a bit. If someone joins an MMA group or a dojo, then you would expect the speed, form, and power of their abilities to be pretty average. However, if you look at an experienced fighter who has 10+ years of training, then there will be a notable difference in everything they do compared to the novice. So, in this case, it would seem really weird if a novice had the same level of intensity as a professional (like level 14 Obliterate looking the same as a level 60 Improved Obliterate). Likewise, it would be weird if a professional demonstrated the same level of intensity as they did 10+ years ago. So, when Row 2: Obliterate, (1/2) Row 5: Improved Obliterate, and (2/2) Row 5: Improved Obliterate all look the same, it comes across as a little lackluster.

As our characters specialize while they are leveling, this is a representation of them becoming stronger – without gear. Not only are they gaining new abilities to fight, they are also improving the abilities they already know. So, when we have talents that represent us getting better with our abilities, but there is no visual representation to that strength, then the excitement is really only surface level and fleeting. I believe this presents a risk of undermining most of the time, passion, thought, and creativity placed into these talent trees.

In short, my biggest concern is that tons of time and effort will be placed into an amazing talent tree, and all of effort will then be completely negated by simplistic, static, and over-shared spell visualizations. Similarly, if half the DK spells from a Frost DK and a Blood DK look exactly the same, despite the power difference or specialization of that spell, then it doesn’t matter to most players how specialize their talent tree says they are. Players are looking at their character all day, not their talent trees. Talent trees should explain what they see in their character.

I will be honest, there was a lot to review and process, but overall, I do like the idea of the dual talent trees. Generally speaking, it would be nice to see some raw secondary stat control. Due to the RNG of gear and the lack of reforging, perhaps the ability to sacrifice a spell that I do not use often in exchange for raw Critical Strike or Haste would be a neat option to have to the side.

I really like that some of the Covenant abilities survived! Seeing Abomination Limb is pretty exciting in and of itself. To tie what I mentioned before, it would be neat to see a little class and spec identity here as well. For example, rather than a copy and paste of an ability whose visual appearance is based off of a Covenant, it would be nice if some visuals specifically tailored to the spec.

For example, maybe once you spend all 30 points in your specialization tree, as a Frost DK, Abomination Limb become the arm of Sindragosa as it swipes all nearby enemies. Blood DKs could have red / black variation of Abomination Limb, and Unholy DKs could have what is available now or an arm from Stitch in Naxxramas.

To me, without consideration for raw numbers and potential imbalances, it looks like the Frost DK will play similarly to how it does now, but it looks like there are avenues to change it up a bit if the player wanted to – which I think is my favorite part about the new design! Also, I like the number of talent points in combination to the available talents. This will be something we can deep dive into later, but on the surface it looks like you can pick up quite a bit.


Finally had a chance to have a good deep look at these talents. Massive thanks to MythicTrap for making the trees on their site. It made it significantly easier for me to visualize and learn from what will be available.

I think it’s best if I go spec by spec to give my thoughts on them. I’ll touch on a few very cool talents, address any concerns I have, and voice some questions that are probably just needing clarification.

Before we get into the talents, are there any planned changes to the Runeforging System?

General Tree

Every class has their general tree, and I am very glad to see Abomination Limb making it’s return in Dragonflight. This ability has become a core part of DK and I am excited to see it back.

I think the coolest “new” talent in the general tree is Death’s Echo. This is going to be a very welcomed change to have access to additional movement, an additional death grip (formerly only available as Blood PvP if I recall correctly) and additional death and decay (Unholy will be most pleased)

I do wish Wraith walk wasn’t so far out of the way, as it’s very nice to have for movement speed, but that’s a very minor thing I thought of.

One question and concern I have is regarding Horn Of Winter. Currently, HoW is never picked as a talent and it feels very clunky to use. If this is implemented (and hiding Rune Mastery which looks strong depending on proc rate) could it be removed from the GCD?

I’m also curious about Blood Draw. This talent looks cool, but how much does it heal from nearby enemies?

Overall I think the general tree looks solid. I think most of the “Major” stuff is put in a good spot, and I like the way it’s set up. I do wish there was another “route” to get to the end talents, but I understand that we probably shouldn’t be able to pick all 3 of the bottom line, with one exception as Frost (see below).


Ok first off. Thank you for giving us PvE chill streak.
Second, I want to echo my thoughts from my Feedback on Frost DK post on this ability:

I’m also happy to see Frostwhelp’s Indignation (renamed to Frostwhelp’s Aid) make a comeback. This was one of the best Azerite Talents in BFA and it helped make a couple other Frost Builds viable, so I am excited to see if they can make a comeback as well!

More specific to the general tree, but I am VERY happy to see frost have access to soul reaper now. Yes there is a choice to be made, but with the Empower Rune Weapon Talent in the Frost tree, you can technically get all 3 bottom talents from the general tree. Brilliant.

I’m very happy to see some talents/conduits/legendary effects from Shadowlands carry forward as well, and I’m looking forward to see what combinations are the best in given scenarios.


Of the three spec trees, the unholy one felt the most one-dimensional to me. In both the frost and Blood trees I debated a few routes but the unholy one felt like there was just a strictly better option most of the time. I did like in this tree that there were more ways to reach army of the damned as a bottom row talent, in that you could take any of the three main routes to get there.

I have questions about the Morbidity talent. The way it reads is “Diseased enemies take 3/6% increased damage per disease they are affected by.” Does this apply to all diseases? Or just ones applied by the Death Knight? Does this apply to all targets attacking? The wording seems vague and like you could overload on Unholy Death Knights to just add infinite damage. I think this needs to be clarified.

One talent I was surprised to see is Reaping. It looks like we’re really leaning into the execute dream of Unholy DK. Depending on what other execute classes get as talents, this build will be the best Execute build we’ve ever seen.

I was hoping to see a return of the tier set bonuses as a talent, though maybe those are off the table, but I like the way the tier set interacts with the current rotation and playstyle of unholy DK.


I like how we’re leaning into the fantasy of Blood DK. The 10/20/30% stamina increase and 3/6/10% damage taken reduction talent is going to be a mainstay.

The one I am really looking forward to messing around with is Unquenchable Thirst. I think it’s a really cool talent idea. What I don’t like about this talent is that there is bound to be some gameplay around cancelling vamp blood early for extra damage. I don’t like the thought, as a tank, of cancelling defensives. I don’t think that fits the playstyle or the ideas of a tank. What I would rather see is the talent absorb Death Strike healing to a point, then burst for damage but Vamp blood doesn’t get cancelled. Then you can plan death strikes for when to “burst the thirst”, allowing for high level planning and gameplay, but you aren’t sacrificing survivability to do it. With it’s “infinite scaling” I can already see Rextroy making a video about one-shotting players with this ability.

Outside of that, the blood tree does feel very basic, but well composed. I like the added effect to Tightening Grasp, which will just make Blood DK do even more damage, but if that’s where we’re going with Tank damage I’m here for it.


Overall, I’m impressed. There are some questions and potential issues, but the routing and the identity shaping of these talent trees seems fantastic. I have not been a fan of our current talent systems since their inception in MoP, so I am glad to see them leaving and I have been advocating for talent trees to return, so I am thrilled to see this effort by Blizzard, Thank you all very much from the bottom of my heart.

I think these talent trees will really help with spec identity. There are going to be hundreds if not thousands of possible combinations for every spec in the game and I am looking forward to shaping my talents to the content I am doing. I hope Tomes and Codex’s stick around to facilitate that in a raid environment.


I guess I didn’t really address these questions in my feedback above.

  1. I think the system fits DK well. I like what abilities are available for all DKs. I’m excited to try out Soul Reaper in Frost to see how it feels.

  2. I did address concerns about each of the 4 trees in my feedback.

  3. What I like the most about the new design is the options and flexibility. I didn’t pay too much attention to the exact numbers of the abilities because I’m sure there will be tuning to come, but I think the abilities that have been chosen, the legendary effects preserved, and the general format is really good.

  4. I think this unlocks the possibility of new playstyles. As I mentioned, the Unholy Tree feels like it has the least amount of flexibility to what the “optimal” build might be. The frost tree excites me because I’ve always loved frost, and some of the abilities really excite me.

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I was watching Nnoggie’s video on the general DK tree this morning, and he pointed out something that I overlooked but I completely agree with.

Gorefiends Grasp is still set to be a blood only Talent. I think this should be placed where Abomination Limb is now, and Abom Limb moved up higher into the tree and more accessible.

Video for context: Dragonflight Deathknight Talent Tree Preview + Feedback - YouTube


To start, I’d like to state that I primarily play Frost and dabble in Blood, yet I’ve never played Unholy.

I think it fits well, especially since some of the legendary effects and Abomination Limb are making the trip to Shadowlands with us.

I have a few:

  1. In the 6th tier of the class tree (the tier with the choice nodes), the far right “Unholy” column has basically one choice for most raiding content: Enfeeble. Control Undead is virtually useless unless it’s specifically considered in encounter design and the choice node of Death’s Reach and Grip of the Dead will only be viable on bosses that have adds. I would suggest baking Control Undead into Unholy’s Improved Raise Dead talent, so makes their ghoul permanent and gives them a cool gimmick to play with. Control Undead could then be replaced with a better talent on this tier.

  2. Frost Death Knights don’t currently make use of Death and Decay, so the emphasis on talents that improve it in the Class tree are either wasted picks for people who choose that spec (which would feel bad) or the rotation needs to be redesigned to make Death and Decay worth using. Having a talent that allows it to generate Runic Power on damage would make it worthwhile for Breath builds, for example.

  3. Death Knights already feel like the slowest class in the game. Having talents that improve Wraith Walk and Death’s Advance would be nice. Wraith Walk is particularly annoying to use because it’s channeled, so we can’t even DPS on the move while using it.

  4. Overall, the Class and Frost trees have a lot of talents that are “___ has a chance to…” I counted 6 such talents in the Class tree and 7 in the Frost tree. That’s a lot of randomness when you combine it all together. I suspect it might lead to boss pulls where the stars align and we’re topping the meters, only to have a string of bad luck on the next pull and hit like limp noodles.

  5. I would consider Dancing Rune Weapon to be a core aspect of the Blood DK play style, yet it’s basically an end game talent based on its current placement in the tree.

I like that there’s some potentially cool talent combos and new passives for us to utilize. If Frost’s Cold Heart talent works with Proliferating Chill, that could be very strong in 2 target cleave situations. The addition of Chill Streak to the PVE environment is going to be fun, especially in M+.

I can also see how this setup is going to be more effective in promoting build diversity, since I’ve used the talent calculator on Mythic Trap to design a potential single target Frost build, then realized I was missing a lot of great AOE talents that I’d want when doing keys, etc. Right now, Frost is incredibly static in terms of talents, so that’ll be a welcome change.

Yes, I do, since there are several new abilities to play with.

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Taeznak (One of the DK Mods in Acherus & Theorycrafters) did a good post for the Frost & Unholy Trees.


Hey Guys,

Just finished watching Max, Atlas, Dorki, MuffinCookie & Taeznak talk about the 4 DK trees, and I have some thoughts on things they did and didn’t say during their conversation. (Link for context: Talking Death Knight Talent Trees w/ Atlas, Dorki, MuffinCookie & Taeznak - YouTube)

One of the items that I’ve seen addressed in this video and had my own thoughts about is that the final three talents, Empower Rune Weapon, Abomination Limb, and Soul Reaper, and how they are somewhat inaccessible. I think there are two solutions here.
#1) Add routing to these talents from the Rune Mastery and Blood Draw talents, allowing them to be reached from an additional line. I feel this is less likely since there would likely be a build to allow all 3 choices to be taken, though I haven’t done the math on whether that is true.
#2) Change these talents. Empower Rune Weapon is fine. Put Gorefiends Grasp where Abom Limb is, and put Army of the Dead where Soul Reaper is.
Gorefiends is such a strong ability, that locking it behind Blood DK again is really sad to see. What I would like to see is this:

  • Replace Abom Limb with Gorefiends Grasp.
  • Replace Death’s Advance with Abom Limb
  • Change Blood Scent to 3% speed from 3% leech
  • Make it funnel into Wraith Walk & Death’s Advance
  • Make Suppression (3% Avoidance) funnel into Sacrificial Pact & Death Pact

I think these changes will centralize where the utility options are. Movement increases will be together, Abom Limb being with a Stun in Asphyxiate and Anti-Magic Barrier for other forms of utility, and allowing all DKs to situationally access Gorefiends will be very impactful I feel.
Additionally, the extra CDR on Gorefiends can still be locked to Blood, or you can give it the Empower Rune Weapon Treatment, and allow them to access a second charge with the blood tree talent.

Now, one of the hot takes mentioned at the end of the video was to put Army of the Dead where Soul Reaper is. I love this idea. Army of the Dead is one of the most iconic abilities in all of WoW. It truly encompasses the identity of a DK and is really fun to use.
So once again, I have a few ideas of how to make this work.

  • Replace Soul Reaper with Army of the Dead
  • Replace Lichborne with Death’s Echo (This makes all 3 choices in row 7 passives)
  • Put Soul Reaper where Death’s Echo was
  • Put Lichborne where Control Undead is
  • Make Control Undead Baseline. (This is an ability that sees little use outside of a few very niche scenarios in some M+ and outdoor world content. This talent will never be chosen IMO over other options and should just be made baseline)

I think these changes will help enhance the DK tree, and provide more meaningful and interesting choice for all DK specs, while allowing DPS DKs to regain some overdue utility.