FEEDBACK: Death Knight Class Changes

Unholy needs something to help it spread Virulent Plague. Why not give Epidemic the ability to spread Virulent Plague? The 6 second refresh is apparently not coming back. But at least give us something to make disease spreading more thematic to Unholy.


I would also like to attack the GCD issue that both dps specs face right now and give some insight into potential fixes of how to alleviate the issue.


This spec is notorious throughout all of bfa for having an extremely long opener before you actually have all of your cooldowns out and ready, and with the changes in shadowlands it looks like it will be even worse. An example opener right now in current bfa you usually finish using cds at around 7 seconds into the fight which is a very long time to buildup to feel like you can start to do damage. In shadowlands, you will also have to deal with gargoyle + unholy blight being on the gcd (and potentially being used) as well as the outbreak change forcing you to use the ability more frequently. I would propose that at the very least removing gargoyle, army of the dead and dark transformation off of the gcd or giving them something so that when the button is pressed you do not feel like it is a wasted global. Obviously I would want more abilities off of the global because I find it unfun, but I think these 3 are the worst offenders (especially since they are so infrequently used).


pillar being on the gcd is pretty problematic for me because it instantly makes talents like icecap and obliteration feel terrible to use (icecap because of the frequency in which you use pillar, obliteration because you have to wait a global to start making use of the talent). With breath it is not as much of an issue but it is still unfun to use a non dps global to activate a cooldown, especially when it does no sort of damage and only increases strength - which is rather boring compared to other cooldowns in the game (this does not mean remove pillar from the spellbook). Empower rune wep is something that would ideally be used in different ways depending on the talent of your choosing in the final row, but is also limited by its gcd. It does nothing interesting gameplay wise and is infrequently used, and I think therefore can come off the global as well.

As stated in my post above, grip on the gcd is also extremely unfun as it prevents you from making plays that you would have otherwise saved the day, or used it as a pseudo interrupt to finish locking down a healer in pvp.


Dark Transformation is a fantastic candidate for an on-use effect like the one Blade Flurry got. Just have it do some aoe shadow damage when activated. Simple.

Gargoyle they cant really do that with. It would need to be off the GCD imo.

Army of the Dead they totally could, but it could occur at the end. Just bake in the azerite trait Last Surprise (ghouls aoe explode when they die).

There are options. And Blizzard HAS to know about Unholy’s GCD issues. Its been talked about since Legion beta, if not earlier.


Hello blizzard,
It is I, Houston Jones, World’s Strongest DK. I have come to give my valuable opinion. I am a top tier DK always. I have done many raids easily, many PVPs easily. I have obtained the title of Hero of the Horde, that’s how awesome I am. I also have this really cool frost wyrm, it is called the Deadly Gladiator’s Frost Wyrm. No need to brag, but I died a lot and got carried sometimes. All the time. That doesn’t matter.

Okay, first of all, I want death knights to be as powerful as they were in season 5 when i first obtained my gladiator as a death knight (pre-nerf, preferably), but get this, I also got hero in s9 as a frost DK, so, I think that the strength of a s5 DK prenerf with the design of a s9 frost DK would be perfect. You see, in s9 you could run 7 death knights and 3 healers and get 3k rated on bloodlust, which was a noob battlegroup in which most blizzcon champions came from. Yes. I am not a blizzcon champion, but i beat them. HAHA noobs.

I think, if we spam necrotic strike blood tap necrotic strike again, empower rune weapon, necrotic strike more until our runes run out, and then decide we have frost strike in our arsenal, this could be a game breaking development. Also, I would prefer necrotic strike to scale with our attack power again, but also be just as strong in dual wield as it would be in 2h, unlike in cataclysm where 2h had a better necrotic strike.

I think that this rotation will make noob death knights unable to be at top level like the top level dks who can necrotic strike faster.

Also, this has nothing to do with class change, but I would really like to mail my brutal nether drake to my death knight. As you know, death knights did not exist in TBC so I was unable to get it on my death knight but I did obtain it on my rogue… two of them. So, as an inferior rogue class and it is lonely since like 2007 in my bank, just chilling, i think that it should be able to be used on my superior dk class because i died for this. That’s what being a dk means, u died for the ability to steal stuff from my rogue.

P.S. If any blizzcon champ wants to refute i still have screenshots. Get @ me.

Thank you,

Houston Jones AKA World’s Strongest DK.

I’ve played blood since wrath and at the beginning of each Xpac runes are slow to regen (haste). Once haste gear is obtained and you can reach around 20% haste rune regen is no longer an issue. Kinda like affliction lock until ilvl of gear gets to 2nd or 3rd tier of xpac their dot damage is kinda low.


Death Knight will see a couple of abilities tweaked in this Alpha update, based on feedback received. We think these should help their usability going forward. Thank you very much for your continued feedback.


  • Rune Tap global cooldown removed.
    • Developers’ notes: Rune Tap was made baseline in Shadowlands, but also had a GCD added, which was not present in Battle for Azeroth. We’re reverting this change to bring it back to its current functionality.


  • Outbreak duration of Virulent Plague increased to 28 seconds (was 21 seconds).
  • Outbreak AoE range increased to 10 (was 8).
    • Developers’ notes: We changed how Virulent Plague functions in Shadowlands. To compensate for the loss of uptime of Virulent Plague, we’ve increased its duration and increased the initial AoE application, so it doesn’t require such tight grouping to maximize the targets hit.

Much appreciated on the communication. Any chance of getting Unholy’s GCD situation looked at? Our opener is upwards of 15 seconds just to get everything on cooldown.


You guys really gonna do frost dirty like this huh? All these class changes and not a single one to balance 2h?


So this helps reduce the GCDs spent on Outbreak a tiny bit, but I would still argue that it has a rotational cost now that the other two specs don’t have.

The Unholy Outbreak/Virulent Plague duration problem:

  1. Outbreak costs Runes, Blood Boil or Howling Blast are free cost baseline or with a proc.
  2. Outbreak does significantly less damage for its GCD and Rune cost than Blood Boil or Howling Blast which both do AoE damage.
  3. BFA Outbreak lasts long enough to apply every add joining combat, SL Outbreak has to be reapplied to every add that joins, for an increasing Rune Cost.

Solution: Add extra ways to apply or spread Virulent Plague after the initial application.

  • Make Epidemic Baseline and let targets damaged by the aoe splash get Virulent Plague applied.
  • Make Virulent Plague spread on ticks like Necrotic Plague used to.
  • Re-add pre-Legion Pestilence spell to spread Virulent Plague to all mobs for a cheaper cost like Runic Power or cooldown exactly how Fire Mage Phoenix Flames is doing now.

The Ebon Fever Talent problem:

  1. This talent increases the frequency that you need to spend Runes and GCDs to achieve 100% uptime.
  2. Bursting Sores has a whole extra gameplay to Festering Wounds.
  3. Unholy Blight adds a whole extra modifier to the multiple pets summons.


  • Remove the reduced duration penalty with the Talent.
  • Replace the Talent with something different that causes something to proc off Virulent Plague ticks.
  • Redesign Talent redesigns Virulent Plague into Necrotic Plague, increasing damage per tick, duration extending with Festering Strikes or Wounds popping

The Virulent Plague Uniqueness problem:

  1. Virulent Plague lost its unique hook, no 30% chance of Virulent Eruptions, only Eruption on target death.
  2. Blood Boil and Frost Fever do things on ticks, Virulent Plague does not.

Ultimately comes back to making Virulent Plague more like Necrotic Plague which fit Unholy as its unique Disease better than Virulent Plague.

(Edited it to make it snappier)


Also as a separate topic to the Outbreak changes.

The Deathknight Periodic damage Haste problem:
Many other class spells gain more ticks in the same duration with more Haste.

  • Consecration gains more ticks with more haste.
    Death and Decay / Defile / Deaths Due and Remoresless Winter does not.
  • Rend, Garrote, Deadly Poison, Ignite, Agony, Immolate, Shadow Word: Pain, Flame Shock and many more, all gain more ticks with more haste.
    Blood Plague, Frost Fever and Virulent Plague do not.

I’d just like some equality here. :stuck_out_tongue:


I really like a lot of these suggestions. While this change to outbreak is welcome, it will still be significantly worse to use compared to the live version, especially in encounters where not all of the mobs are entering the fight at the same time, or are initially spread out before coming to a centralized location.

This problem is further realized in mythic +, where current unholy has quite a large setup for maximizing AoE damage, and in its current form outbreak is only one of those globals (and runes). In Shadowlands, you are almost forced to spend more than one rune on your dot, or just straight up do very low amounts of single target damage while you wait for them to get within 10yds of the centralized mob, though this is unlikely to be the go-to playstyle with current tuning as epidemic is still quite strong, and you are able to benefit from sudden doom procs, which means you want all targets dotted as soon as possible.

Other ways to spread our dot, or at least making a bit of a grace period so that it will spread for a couple of seconds on its own will be much appreciated, and will reduce the amount of low-dps-globals that the spec will have to use throughout fights (which feels lackluster, and makes you miss the previous version of outbreak).


Doesnt make a lot of sense to take away Unholy’s ability to promote its disease spread. We keep hearing things like:

Its very confusing that one spec gains increased capability to spread its dot…and another loses part of it. Unholy has had the ability to control its disease spread since WotLK. And it didnt require tons of runes to accomplish.

Now we are completely at the mercy of how effectively mobs are bunched together…unless we want to spend a ton of runes.


Miscellaneous Blood Feedback:

  • Now that it costs no resources, using [Mark of Blood] in an AoE situation can result in using 20%-25% of your cast time, which is probably an excessive amount on top of the normal rotation if someone were to talent into the ability. There may be other ways to address this than taking it off the GCD, but that would be one solution. (Another solution is increasing the duration and cooldown)
  • [Dancing Rune Weapon], in the current state of the game, increases damage by an insignificant amount and is almost exclusively a defensive cooldown; it doesn’t make much sense being on the GCD unless it actually got a substantial damage buff.
  • It might be worth looking into making [Death and Decay] and [Blood Plague] scale with Haste like most DoT effects in the game. I don’t see much purpose in making these abilities scale worse than those available to other classes, especially since BDK is one of the lowest damage tanks in AoE situations.

In looking at some of the Death Knight Legendaries, I am overall pretty happy with what was introduced (pending testing) for 2/3 of the specs.

For unholy specifically, a lot of the choices seem like they are focused on death coil, death and decay or dark transformation. While these three buttons are heavily used, coil and DnD are no longer unholy specific, and the legendaries that were used are rather uninteresting. It remains to be seen if it will work with epidemic, but if not it looks like it would promote using death coil in aoe, which feels awful to use. I for one would much rather have at least one legendary that would focus on our diseases (maybe necrotic plague in legendary form?). As an example to how this could work, it could maybe buff the amount of damage your dot will deal with each wound bursted, to give meaningful decision making behind wounds again now that the Festermight trait is gone in Shadowlands.

For Reanimated Shambler specifically, I for one do not enjoy the feeling of having such a massive increase in aoe potential be down to a proc chance (at a mere 1.5ppm at that). On top of that, there were many issues with this weapon trait in Legion, such as when the target it was attacking dies it would no longer explode but just smack other targets - which would mean losing out on potentially 8 wounds in aoe.

Please reconsider some of the legendary choices for Unholy. There are numerous possibilities that can happen with the spec.


After quite a bit of playing around on the alpha, as an unholy dk main there are a few standout discrepencies with the spec itself.

Apocalypse - While i do appreciate the thought in reducing the cooldown of the ability to match that of Unholy Frenzy it causes some issues with other abilities. Namely those abilities are Unholy Blight, and Summon Gargoyle. With its 1 minute and 15 second cooldown currently we end up in a situation where if you are using Unholy Blight as a talent, as well as Unholy Frenzy there is an inherient feeling that you need to hold your Apocalypse and Unholy Frenzy for when blight comes off of its cooldown, 15 seconds later. This also leads to a desync in cooldown with Summon Gargoyle, a single target burst ability where its 3 minute cooldown never lines up with Apocalypse. If you ended up needing the utmost burst possible in a situation, you would also want to hold Unholy Frenzy, and Apocalypse for Summon Gargoyle to overlap the haste benefit of Unholy Frenzy with both. Due to these situations, i feel the Rank 2 update to Apocalypse ends up with little actual benefit to it.

Outbreak - The recent change to increase its duration is a welcome one for sure, but there is still an imposing issue with the ability, spreading. While i can understand the change due to Vurlient Plague being one of the only damage over time abilities in the game that doesnt have the pandemic effect as an optimization possible to be made by applying the dot before it expires. This creates an awkward situation for Virulent Plague in AoE, where you want your damage over time ability on the enemies as soon as possible, yet are punished in a way by doing so even a split second too early. The reapplication and spread nature of Outbreak in BFA has been an amazing quality of life situation for the already information heavy situation unholy finds itself in for optimization.

Festering Wounds - These honestly just feel a bit awkward at the moment. The lack of any active interation of Festering Wounds with the spec itself makes them feel almost like a discount combo point. Where you are in a situation where you shouldnt, or in some situations cant, use an ability without having wounds available on a given target feels wrong. While this is an issue already present in BFA the Azerite trait, Festermight, helps to make wounds feel like you can interact with them, rather than them just being another resource to keep track of for the sake of un-needed complexity when the abilities that utilize them could do the same thing without the wounds present. I understand though that changing festering wounds could require a rework of several talents in the tree, something id like to see at the very least is more interaction made for Festering Wounds to feel more satisfying to utilize properly.

Unholy Pact - The recent change to buff its strength while it is active is a very welcome one to be sure. But i cant help feel that this ability is still lacking in syngergy with the spec itself. For a situation where youd want to utilize this talent, you would generally get more of a benefit out of Unholy Frenzy due to how Unholy as a whole operates in an Area of Effect situation. Where as Unholy Pact would give a baseline strength bonus and some passive damage to enemies in the chain between you and your minion, Unholy frenzy allows for the application of many more Festering Wounds to the targets you wish to do damage to. This allows executing upon Unholy’s AoE potential much more satisfying, where Unholy Blight just gives some passive extra damage that boils down to little more than an addition to a button you would be pressing already. I feel the final talent row should change gameplay in some way, rather than just be a passive part of the spec. Where other talent rows can easily change gameplay with each choice, this talent as a whole feels out of place in its row.

Pestilence - This talent is very, very cool in theory, but its current interaction with death and decay results in a lack of a use case for this talent. Epidemic is very much an amazing AoE talent choice, so much so that its hard to justify utilizing any other talent. That is, unless the wound cap on Pestilence is increased or removed entirely. Being capped at 10 wounds total across the entire duration of death and decay ends up always being less powerful than Epidemic in real world situations, added ontop of this is the low damage of death and decay itself causing it to be not worth casting in a single target situation (this is how it should be!) and we see a situation where Pestilence just never has a place to shine. A simple uncap of its festering wound generation could give it a place to shine.

Harbinger of Doom - This is just severely undertuned. Getting on average less than 1 extra sudden doom proc per minute doesnt ever feel like its impactful on regular gameplay, where the Rune generation of Pestilent Pustules or Soul Reaper can allow for an impactful talent choice.

Ebon Fever - Right now, this talent causes the Outbreak change in shadowlands to just feel even worse, even with the duration increase on Virulent Plague it ends up feeling like you are refreshing your Damage over Time ability far too often. in a spread multi target situation, we end up spending many of our precious runes on just keeping our passive damage effect up and it really hinders the spec as a whole to take this talent.


Honestly the legendary choices for Unholy are just…not good. Or fun.

Shambler? Passive and super RNG. Frenzied Monstrosity? Passive. Death’s Certainty? Just bad. Especially bad without Epidemic on it. Deadliest Coil? Huge potential GCD issues here long term. Also doesnt have Epidemic.

These just arent “fun”. These are all really boring, really passive and really uninspired. We are a diseases and pet spec…why are we focusing so strongly on Death Coil and Death and Decay?

–Give us something for Gargoyle thats as cool as Frost DK “Absolute Zero.” Maybe a Plaguewyrm that applies Festering Wounds and refreshes Virulent Plague?
–Make Frenzied Monstrosity actually change our ghoul into something cool. Bonestorming Marrowgar minion maybe? Sludge Belcher with Chain Hook?
–Reanimated Shambler: Dark Transformation summons a Super Zombie, etc etc.
–Give us something for Army of the Dead, maybe. Weve been asking for 3+ years to have it actually feel worthy of an 8 minute CD. This is a really good chance to do so.

Unholy has so much passive damage in its rotation already. Virulent Plague, the Ghoul, army of the dead, auto attack…these make up HUGE portions of our overall damage. Dont give us more passive + rng ability on our LEGENDARIES. Give us cool, and inspired, stuff that we actually have control over.

More active stuff please.


Honestly, just augmenting abilities that we already have with cool effects (20% passive damage/haste does NOT apply) is just as good.

A controllable Shambler, for example, is actually really awesome. And actually makes us feel like we control our minions. Even if only for a moment before they explode.


While the interesting new talent, Hypothermic Presence plays well, I can’t ever see it operating correctly in it’s position. It’s hard to think a small of window less RP spend is worth more than a talent that can end up doubling the amount of damage Remorseless winter does. I also find this talent feels out of place.

I would suggest moving Hypothermic Presence to Horn of Winters place at the level 25 row. Horn of Winter is a talent that doesn’t see much play on Live, and It also competes with hypothermic Presence for similar gameplay. However I think Hypothermic Presence is actually a better talent. It has a easier to understand and use, while seemingly higher skill cap.

Another reason to move it is, it synergies with the other talent on this row. Glacial Advance. All of BFA Glacial Advance went unused. I believe with adjustments to either Glacials cost and damage, or cooldown, hypothermic presence would make for a good alternative using this talent. You have the possibility to promote two talents, instead of both going unused for a while, and also HoW’s fairly lackluster play also.

However you can’t just move Horn of Winter to the 45 row. As of currently gathering storms tends to just be better in all scenarios. PvE raiding and m+, and PvP. I think adding a ST talent here would be healthy, while having GS be the all purpose talent, and a buffed glacial advance being the clear cut AoE talent.

Also Please highly consider taking Death Grip off the GCD. This would be the biggest buff dk could get on alpha. Thank you.


It’s a shame GA doesn’t see more play. It performs very well in AoE, it’s just the ST loss you can’t take in comparison to GS.


Still no idea why GA has a cooldown. Its limited by the availability of RP anyways. Its a natural throttle for the ability.

Also feel like it could probably have some utility added in to help it in the single target department to make that row more appealing for choices. Maybe a puncture debuff or something similar that allows the next Obliterate against that target to deal bonus damage, consuming the buff? (It would have to be limited to obliterate to prevent abuse for aoe with Frost Scythe). This could also allow you to tab through priority targets hit consuming the debuffs as well for light cleave, and then applying again with GA.