Feedback: Death Knights

Please use this thread to post feedback on the Death Knight class, once you’ve tested it in the Dragonflight Alpha.

Thank you!

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Quick question regarding Frost DK talents, mostly just something I am looking for clarification on.

In the talent preview, the Empower Rune Weapon talent in the Frost tree (the one that gave an additional charge) the tooltip before read that you would get ERW if you didn’t have it selected - meaning that Frost DK could go down to Abom Limb in the class tree and not worry about picking ERW in the class tree. Then in the Frost tree, you could pick the extra ERW charge talent and still get 1 charge instead of 2.

This tooltip seems to have changed and now it just says that ERW gets an extra charge - meaning if I don’t select ERW in the class tree but I take the extra charge talent… nothing happens. I don’t have Empowered Rune Weapon in my spell book if I go down this path.

Do I have to talent into it in the class tree for this talent to work? Is there just a tooltip bug or is the change intentional?

Thanks!

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Hello Death Knights!

We’d like to kick things off here with a talk about some future plans for both the Core and Unholy Death Knight trees. While all specs can expect iteration as we navigate through alpha and beyond, this update will focus on the two trees mentioned.

Core Tree

In next week’s Alpha, you can expect to see an updated layout to the Core tree. In its current iteration, the tree feels a little too linear, with lower variance in customization as you progressed down one of the branches of the trees. To alleviate this, we’ve added connecting nodes to Blood’s branch from both the Frost and the Unholy sides of the core tree before the 1st gate, and one after the second gate. We’re also adding more nodes above the first gate, to add some more flexibility when picking up utility options.

We’re also doing some talent re-arrangements to fix dependency issues (preventing players from picking up talents with 0 value based on their prior picks). Here’s a work-in-progress picture that might give a better idea of what that means.

In the core tree, we’re going to move forward with some known bugs. While most things that aren’t actually working should be marked as NYI (Not Yet Implemented), we missed one with Empower Rune Weapon adding charges (for Frost). It’s currently not giving a charge if you learn it in both the Core and Frost tree. This will be fixed in a future alpha build.

Rune Strike is intended to only be available prior to choosing a spec. Each of the specs first talent choices should replace Rune Strike. This will be fixed in a future build.

Unholy

As we move into future builds, we want to tackle two main issues we’ve heard about from the community. The first is the issue of cooldown desyncs which is caused by a few different talents and some oddly timed base cooldowns. This will be our first priority. Secondly, after these changes make it to the alpha, we will want to tackle the overall structure of Unholy’s talent layout. The tree layout changing will take some time but we want to give an early heads up that we are actively looking at it and you can expect changes in the future.

Our initial goals with this include:

  • Update the cooldowns of Unholy to better sync with each other and prevent the dreaded desync issues the spec has seen. Generally we should expect 45/90/180 second cooldowns for Unholy.
  • Reduce the number of “RNG” mechanics the spec has to deal with.
  • Restructure the tree layout to include removing some talents, updating existing talents, and adding new talents. We’ll mention some of these changes below, but this will not be a comprehensive of all changes coming.

Some changes to expect in a future alpha build:

  • Deadly Coil: Reduces the Runic Power cost of Death Coil by 5/10.
    • This talent will be removed as a talent and wrapped into Death Coil baseline.
      • Developers’ notes: Deadly Coil has become quite important to how smooth the Unholy spec rotation feels and at this point is better served baseline than as a talent that can be opt-in or out of.
  • Unholy Command: Damage Dealt by Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Dark Transformation.
    • This talent will now read “Dark Transformation’s cooldown is reduced by 8/15 seconds.”
      • Developers’ notes: This should help Dark Transformation’s cooldown feel less RNG (or punishing for players who don’t manage Death Coil perfectly) and also align with the rest of their talents.
  • Infectious Wound: Festering Strike has a 20% increased chance of applying 1/2/3 additional Festering Wounds.
    • This talent will be cut or reworked.
      • Developers’ notes: While this talent may be repurposed rather than cut, we plan to cut the current randomness and rework it to provide a more consistent benefit, with the goal of better helping players play around the talent rather than hope it happens at the right moment.
  • Epidemic
    • Damage to be buffed.
      • Developers’ notes: With the new talent that allows Death Coil to cleave, the line on when to Epidemic and when not to Epidemic has been widened. This is not ideal. With the changes to Unholy Command and the damage increase to Epidemic, this should help cement Epidemic’s position at ~4 targets.
  • Army of the Damned: Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Apocalypse by 1 second and Army of the Dead by 5 seconds (and summons a Magus of the Dead).
    • This will be updated to reduce the cooldown of Apocalypse by a flat 45 seconds (and no longer be reduced by Death Coil/Epidemic).
      • Developers’ notes: This change will smooth out the cooldowns of Unholy to match our initial 45/90/180 sec cooldown windows. We are considering what to do with the Army of the Dead portion of the talent. Having the mastery of maximizing you’re your Death Coil casts to give you a chance at another Army of the Dead in an encounter feels like a great skill and mechanical hook for the talent while not completely harming your rotational impact the way Apocalypse did.
  • Summon Gargoyle
    • Developers’ notes: Currently, Summon Gargoyle does not feel like it rises to a capstone talent, and we have a few ideas in mind to better to solve that. First we plan to buff Gargoyle to better perform and shine in single target scenarios and also move it higher into the tree to be a little more accessible when the situation calls for its need. Secondly, we want to introduce a new and more powerful ability in this capstone position. As an example, “Dark Transformation empowers your Gargoyle and Army of the Dead for 20 seconds, increasing their damage by 50%." A talent such as this does a better job of “capping” a build that heavily focuses on Dark Transformation and your pets.
  • Tree Structure
    • The current tree has a few less than ideal dependency issues that we are looking to solve to prevent “trap” talent builds where we can.
    • The tree could also be a little more connected to allow for a bit more flexibility as you spec out your Unholy DK. As an example, Clawing Shadows’ current positioning feels a bit too restrictive at the moment.

Thank you all for the ongoing feedback! It’s greatly appreciated, and we look forward to more as we iterate throughout the testing period.

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This sort of communication is INCREDIBLE! Keep it up!

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And just like that, I’m so hyped about UDK.

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Very happy about these changes. I think they are on-point and really show you guys have a good idea of what needs improving. Very excited for future updates!

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I’d like to suggest a change to one of the choice nodes involving Chill Streak.

Currently there are two options, Enduring Chill gives a 20% chance per bounce to add a bounce, Piercing Chill incrementally increases damage taken from chill streak by 5% each time hit by it.

I like the 20% chance to have an extra hit, but the other one, especially once you hit 4 or more targets just won’t ever be worth it.

What I would like to propose is replace Piercing chill with a single target & defensive use of chill streak.

Currently, all iterations of chill streak are completely useless in single target. What I propose is a talent that makes chill streak bounce back and forth between the caster and their target. Each time the target is hit (5 of the 9 bounces) they take the base line damage from chill streak, and each time it his the casting DK it provides a shield equal to the base damage * 2+vers% or something.

This would allow chill streak to be used as a defensive, single target ability providing 4 small (stacking) shields over a 5 second or so span .

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Really really looking forward to the upcoming Unholy changes. The (possible) reintroduction of Tak’theritrix’s Shoulderpads legendary as a talent option is honestly so cool. Really hope that makes it into the changes soon.

Regarding the baseline tree, Abomination’s Limb and Improved Death Strike are rather large issues. Abomination’s Limb baseline is not going to be worth that talent slot. Without the Abomination’s Limb legendary affecting it…its very anemic. Highly suggest baking in the Abom Limb legendary effect to the baseline spell.

And 3 points for Improved Death Strike in order to get Abom Limb is just…never going to happen for Frost and Unholy. It is such a big DPS loss for Frost and Unholy that we simply cant take it. Certainly not for baseline (aka anemic) Abom Limb.

Edit:
Just to add a bit more to this. Losing Improved Death Strike baseline really sucks tbh. It is a lot better than ppl realize. But losing it and needing to pay THREE talents points to get it back is really really steep.

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One thing Ive noticed in testing. Death Rot is super cool and feels pretty strong. But the 8 second timer feels a bit punishing. Keeping that up during mechanics is going to be fairly annoying/stressful.

Also, keeping it up every 45 seconds (for some players) when Unholy Blight/Dark Transformation/Apoc/Horn of Winter come up…is really awkward. We have to do some button gymnastics like UB/DT, Death Coil, Apoc/Horn of Winter. Or UB/DT/Apoc, Death Coil, Horn of Winter.

TLDR: Upping the timer to 10 seconds would help Death Rot a lot.

Edit: Also, the radius on Unholy Aura feels pretty small. Upping that to 10 yards would help a lot.

6 Likes

100% this. It feels genuinely impossible for a DPS DK to get Abom limb without a MASSIVE loss elsewhere in the tree. I’m a huge fan of the revamp we got in the new build, but was disappointed to see this unchanged.

Agree with this as well.

Please reconsider the routing here.

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Just got my first build running for frost DK. Generally I’d like to see more opportunities to dump RP or increase rune spending speed in the tree.

When I started trying out a rotation I quickly noticed that I was having difficulty avoiding capping on runic power. I like to use character customization systems to solve problems and iterate on my character at first. However, I saw basically nothing in the frost or base tree that would really help me with this very common problem. It occurred to me I could also try to spend runes faster to have more time for frost strikes, but there’s no options there either.

I also noticed I had no way of dumping RP in AOE situations. All available talents that could help with that had cooldowns.

My first experience is that while this is a lot more flexible in point allocation than the previous system, and is a lot better in that way, I still don’t really have options to meaningfully solve problems with my character’s play or customize in more straightforward and understandable ways. Considering there are a ton of nodes in the tree, having some broader options around resource expenditure would feel a lot better.

On a similar note it seems that talent expenditure can only increase gameplay complexity, rather than streamline or make things easier. Having some noob friendly builds, even if they end up a bit weaker, could be really helpful for the game overall to give both new players and new alts a jumping off point to learn the game and improve. The game should really take advantage of all the added space to offer more distinct options for the player and support different modes of thinking.

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One obstacle to this is going to be Death Rot. Unless Epidemic is attached to Death Rot to some degree, then Death Coil is almost always going to be superior.

Edit:
And if Epidemic isn’t included on Death Rot, then we’re going constantly be needing to figure out what target count Epidemic actually is worth using on. Including Epidemic on Death Rot just gets around all that awkwardness.

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Comments pertaining to Alpha week 2, week of July 17th

Core Tree

The repositioning of the middle section nodes (those that were in between the 8-20 points lines) to the upper section (above the 8 point line) of the class tree feels superb. The ability to move more freely between the Frost-Blood-Unholy trees without having to invest fully into their beginning feels great. One suggestion would be to add connector nodes from Asphyxiate to Choice Node: Runic Corruption/Rune Empowerment and from Wraith Walk to Unholy Ground. This would enable DKs to invest more through the Blood middle section, while still allowing access into meaningful choices on the Frost and Unholy sides.

The Unholy side of the upper section still feels like it is missing some gusto. In current content Sacrificial Pact and Control Undead have seen very little functional gameplay in comparison to the more practical options on the Frost side of Permafrost and Blinding Sleet. And while the newer options of Enfeeble and Brittle offer exciting new choices, they are plagued by one word - “chance to”. Often times “chance to” boils down to a mathematical question of ‘is this proc chance worth it’ when the player could take something that has a guaranteed effect elsewhere. Changing these effects to be much lower in total effect, by 50% or more, but making them permanent would make them much more enticing across all the specs. The could even be baked into a function part or raid utility buff similar to the Assassination Rogue debuff or a softer Monk debuff. Without either of these changes there is a chance that beyond Cleaving Strikes there will not be any reason to really explore these options when you can score more reliable choices elsewhere and then path down Death’s Advance and Suppression to get to Might of Thassarian, the next major node on the Unholy Side.

In the lower section (below the 20 point line) it feels incredibly disappointing to have to spend three points to get to any meaningful capstone ability. In the prior build there was a reduction to both Merciless Strikes and Might of Thassarian to bring them from two point nodes to single point nodes. This move paired with the movement of talents made for a large quality of life choice in the upper and middle sections with the addition of these two ‘freed’ points. While it is possible to acquire both Empower Rune Weapon and Abomination Limb, the investment to do so feels more like a punishment than a choice knowing that if a player wants both of those abilities it will cost 8 ‘set’ points and the only choice left is whether to take Horn of the Winter plus Runic Attenuation / Will of the Necropolis / Anything else (should I just choose Horn I can get to both capstones). A large quality of life change to the lower section would be to reduce the three point nodes to two points, essentially ‘freeing’ up two more points to explore the class/spec defining options of this tree.

A final tentative suggestion would be to reconsider the talent Unholy Bond that increases the effectiveness of Runeforges. While this talent is thematically very interesting and does feel rewarding it can cause some mechanical issues with Frost DK. While I am personally not a two-handed (2H) Frost enjoyer like some, I can speak to the fact that mathematically 2H frost always plays from behind. Dual Wield having access to two Runeforges, typically Razorice and Fallen Crusader, means that it just inheritably has an advantage over its 2H brother. In live this is tentatively countered with the passive - Might of the Frozen Wastes - which is present in the Frost tree but is not changed from its current power level. If Unholy Bond stays as it is, and can be reasonably accessed by Dual Wield Frost, it is reasonable to assume that 2H frost will continue to be behind and will just be a casual gameplay style rather than a competitive one.

Frost

Overall the Frost tree feels exciting to look at in the upper and especially the middle section. A lot of the gained power from Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands has found it’s way back into the game. Returning powers are exciting to see alongside newer ones. The tree is very heavily positioned to be Single-Target focused on the left - Neutral Middle - Area-of-effect on the Right. In fact most of the tree feels very well placed until you get toward the bottom. Similar to the Class Tree, when you get below the 20 point line you run into needless high cost nodes that feel like they are there only to stop you from acquiring too many talents. It also feels disappointing to see that our capstones have remained the same as they were for the past few years with no movement forward. Breath of Sindragosa competing with Obliteration feels like the 7th row of talents from Live never went away.

If the tree were to remain with the same talents, a suggestion would be to swap Runic Command and Improved Frost Strike so they better align with their given specialties (AOE/ST as listed, currently on opposite sides). Touching back on my prior point in the Class Tree about 2H Frost, a unique solution to the problem might come in the form of implementing the newest Tier Set bonus into 2H gameplay only as it would be too good for Dual Wield in my opinion. You could achieve this by swapping Choice Node: Rage of the Frozen Champion/Frigid Executioner with Improved Killing Machine (and its attached Might of the Frozen Wastes). This would allow you to connect the latter two with Glacial Advance below, and you could rename this to be Arctic Assault - “Consuming a Killing Machine proc while wielding a two-handed weapon causes glacial spikes…”. This would allow 2H Frost to continue to use the Fallen Crusader Runeforge by allowing them to spread Razorice via Glacial Advance. This would bring them much close Dual Wield and could allow for easier tuning as you adjust the damage of Might of the Frozen Wastes to compensate for the addition of Glacial Advance. Another fix could be as simple as adding in a another node that achieves the same effect - adding a stack of Razorice to the current target via Killing Machine expenditures - that only effect the current target. This would not need to have a damage component and could just be baked into the fantasy that Improved Killing Machine strikes the target with large frozen piece of steel achieving the effect of Razorice. This could help keep the unique single-target identity of 2H Frost while granting it more competitiveness, and not borrowing too much from past content.

Thank you for the additional communication in this development cycle, and we all eagerly await to see what other exciting changes and content are coming this Alpha/Beta cycle!

9 Likes

I really like this idea. Except for it being limited to 2H. I agree it would be strong for Dual Wield Frost, but having a bit more flexibility in runeforges is something I’ve gotten used to VERY quickly, so I would like to see those options remain if at all possible.

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I totally get that viewpoint. But this is really just a tuning thing. I think the arrow is being pointed at the wrong problem. Unholy Bond is not only one of the coolest passive talents I’ve ever seen… But it’s also not the problem here.

Unholy also gets access to only 1 Runeforge just like 2h Frost. So the issue here isn’t Unholy Bond. It’s 2H Frost needing better tuning.

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Looks like no DK changes this week. Which honestly could mean good things (aka more work being done on the trees) .

One thing I would like to add to the pile is Unholy Assault. If Summon Gargoyle isn’t worthy of its capstone spot, then this definitely applies to Unholy Assault as well.

Unholy Assault is probably about the same power level as Apocalypse, give or take a bit. The talent tree for Unholy already has a bit of a disease theme with Brittle (the Unholy side of the main DK tree) , Unholy Blight and Morbidity. Why not lean even harder into the disease theme and bring back Necrotic Plague?

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Hi,

I’m Jess I’m a multi-class tank for Bungalow Boys on Kil’jaeden most recently playing Blood for most of Sepulcher and achieving title in M+.

I have been playing Alpha for the past few weeks and wanted to give some input on the Blood tree specifically. First however, I want to talk about the BDK fantasy and gameplay loop. I’ve played blood for a while and to me the fun of BDK and its core gameplay comes from resource management. Good Blood players knew how to spend runes to maximize damage and resource gen without over capping and without running themselves dry defensively. This playstyle is VERY unique amongst the tank specs. Most tanks have charges of their mitigation or have constantly flowing resources to reduce damage, but Blood is unique in its “reactive” self-healing playstyle. Even Vengeance as the other self healing tank is more of a rotational constant healing class it doesn’t pool and wait for big hits to start healing, it is constantly generating souls to heal with by doing its rotation. Blood for the longest time was a class that generated runic power and pooled it, sitting near max at all times waiting to take large amounts of damage. Rather than mitigate that damage you had Death Strikes at the ready to heal back. Good BDKs knew how to pool and manage their resources and the difference skill expression of playing Blood well was pretty significant. All of this said, I think the current Dancing Rune Weapon playstyle actively takes away from that fantasy and gameplay style. It is VERY powerful don’t get me wrong, it is pretty clearly one of the most powerful tanks because of its ability to avoid so much melee damage intake, however, it removes the resource management playstyle DK is known for. It makes a complex and fun class needlessly simple and turns it into a 1 button apm uptime machine. In my opinion this playstyle should be removed. I don’t think it is healthy for the class going into Dragonflight. Insatiable blade is a great talent that could stay, but extending DRW should go. The build variety on BDK during Alpha has been very minimal. The talent tree feels static because you’re just rebuilding the class we have core in Shadowlands. This brings me to my second point of critique.

The movement through the talent tree feels poor. Even from the first section of talents you’re met with choices I don’t think are interesting. having to spend a point for 2x blood boil, 3 points into 30% stamina and 10% damage reduction. You’re a tank spec and one with low armor, how are you going to ever give up Blood fortification? You immediately throw away 3 points into a talent that is more boring than anything else on the tree, it also competes with 30% damage to heart strike one of your highest damaging abilities. It just feels horrible, neither of those options are fun or interesting, and it doesn’t add anything to the tree other than being a gatekeeper to later talents. When I compare Blood to Guardian or Paladin it is incomparable how linear and unimpactful my choices feel. I don’t feel like I can move through the Blood tree and make something unique and interesting, it just feels like I’m picking up the fractured pieces of the class I’m already playing on live. And that makes me sad because there is a couple cool new spells Blood gets. Leeching Strikes and Unquenchable Thirst are both super interesting and fit the thematic very well, but if we are pigeon holed into playing DRW extension I don’t think these will see the light of day.

There is also the problem of the middle of the tree. This is the main culprit of the feeling of rebuilding the class I already had. Previously baseline ossuary is now locked behind blood tap and a choice node that I may not even want, Heart breaker is locked behind relish and Death’s Caress (Which I honestly can’t believe was made into a talent, especially so low in the tree). This Talent tree is feeling a lot like how Protection Warrior felt coming into Shadowlands where all the good synergizing talents were separated so that you couldn’t take them together, and Warrior is now the least played tank by far. Rather than having the Blood tree be a tree where you pick up the pieces of your former class, I think there needs to be some iteration on interesting abilities/mechanics that enhance your playstyle in different ways. Maybe right side has blood boil enhancements where your blood boil hits spawn a pool of blood and you can talent into an ability that sucks the blood from the area around you to create a large absorb shield. Or iterate more on bone shield to make our active mitigation stronger and more interesting. Design some talents that enhance blood shield, which is a super fun mastery to play around on some high damage intake fights, most notably stopping Rygelon stack applications or making Blood Shields to prevent large damage from Vexiona.

Blood Death Knight desperately needs some more love to bring back some of its core fantasy and gameplay loop while adding new talents / playstyles that enhance that gameplay, and giving back some of our baseline toolkit that was fractured and spread throughout the tree.

Sorry for the long read, I hope the feedback is useful and I’m really looking forward to Dragonflight the Alpha has been amazing so far.

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100% agree (and as a blood DK I might not even want to put 3 points into imp DS anyway unless I specifically wanted to take Abom Limb). I would much prefer to see that imp DS talent in the blood tree where it seems to more properly belong, and open up Abom Limb to be chosen by DPS DKs so it is not always ONLY the BDK who has to talent for that in fights where it is needed.

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You highlighted (almost) all the things that I wanted to give feedback on!

I agree that while DRW playstyle is strong, I truly do not like how it feels to play. It feels bad spamming one (or with the changes for alpha, two) buttons instead of the flow of abilities that I was used to using prior to the Endless Rune Waltz 4-set + Crimson Rune Weapon. I really just dislike having to spam abilities to maintain maximum uptime on DRW as my gameplay focus and thought the previous playstyle was much more enjoyable. If I wanted to spam buttons I would main prot paladin. I really cannot be excited about the prospect of playing through an entire expansion with this playstyle after doing it in 2 tiers of content already in Shadowlands.

I agree that much of the tree feels uninspired and am appalled at what abilities come as baseline for DK since we were once a “hero” class. I imagine playing a new DK as throwing down D&D and taunting and gripping stuff in to hit with my ONE dps ability (if playing frost or unholy). Yikes. It also feels super bad that some other classes start with mitigation, interrupts, and movement speed as baseline abilities and we have to choose them as talents.

I continue to be concerned that in the blood tree, it is possible to take the improved Gorefiend’s Grasp talent without taking the Grasp node. Further, it is extremely problematic that the imp GG talent is multiple points and Purgatory is locked behind that. While I understand that Purg might be used by high level key pushers who want GG, I also know that I (and many other BDKs) use it when doing raid progression on a new boss and I would waste 3 talent points getting Purgatory for progression on a single target boss, which would make me very unhappy. I hope that a resolution can be found that would make more sense here.

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Honestly Improved Death Strike should be baseline. That is a significantly larger loss than most ppl realize. Improved DS saved me a ton as a dps.

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