Feedback: Death Knights

In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Death Knights in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.

Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

The War Within Beta

All classes’ Hero Talent trees are available for testing. Please keep in mind that this is a Beta environment:

  • There may be UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
  • Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI).
  • Some new spell visuals and audio may still be a work in progress.
  • There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus at this time:

  • Finish work on changes to talents, especially wherever Hero Talents still need adjustments.
  • Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

Working from Feedback

Alpha feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.

Now that we are entering Beta, our focus on Hero Talent trees is shifting away from reworks and design changes and towards tuning and refining. We want to thank you so much for all the forum posts, videos, and discussions all over the internet. Your feedback and impressions have been invaluable for bringing their identities to life and making them fit into what you love about the classes you play.

We are looking forward to hearing from more of you as you get a chance to try Hero Talents for yourself. We are specifically interested in feedback or impressions on these topics:

  • Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree. This could be due to damage profile, utility, defensives, or something else.
  • Hero Talent trees that you feel are either too strong or too weak in power level compared to other options.
  • Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.
  • Hero Talent choice nodes that you feel could offer more meaningful choices.

Again, Thank You

Feedback throughout the Alpha test was highly impactful on our design of the game, and we look forward to refining every class with you in the Beta. Thank you!

The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team


Was messing around briefly with the festering scythe talent and it feels, clunky and overall pretty bad. Building up to 20 bursted wounds can take quite a while


Death Knight Unholy has alot of good choices, too many choices actually. Still, DK is fun in Beta.
Still, I enjoy Riders of the Apocalypse.
Compared to Hunter, DK is in great shape.
Anyone who mains Death Knights is in for some fun.


-Deathbringer feels like it hit the mark perfectly from a gameplay perspective. Unintrusive, good feedback loop in its gameplay. My only complaint would be the visual of the Exterminate scythes feeling a bit small, but that may just be me.

-San’layn currently, at least in my case, is not properly displaying any buff indicating the next Heart/Scourge Strike will trigger Essence or is a Vampiric Strike.

-For Blood, it feels like there’s a very strange balance of both trying to spend out Bone Shield stacks and coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to wind up overcapped rotationally. Especially as Deathbringer with free Marrowrends from Exterminate happening.

-New Frost feels fun. You can route down into 3/4 capstones in the Frost tree for a dual-wield Obliteration build, and it’s really fun. Breath feels like it’ll be a bit of a struggle for duration, but as long as the damage is tuned sufficiently to compensate it should work out.

-Cleaving Strikes changes are sufficient to reduce friction with Death and Decay into a non-issue for the most part. The situations where this would still be a noteworthy issue are situations where maintaining AoE uptime would be difficult to begin with.

-Haven’t tried Unholy, but I’m not particularly interested in either of its Hero Talent trees. I may give it a go just to see how it feels and if there are any issues (I’m imagining I don’t need to repeat the issue already presented with Festering Scythe, it looks like a poor stopgap).


Unholy Death Knight Feedback, Rider of the Apocalypse!
To note; these are all my perspective on the specialization and I don’t speak for the DK community as a whole. Please take everything I say as opinion rather than fact. Hope you enjoy the read!

Holy crap, whoever designed this hero specialization deserves a raise. From fitting the class fantasy perfectly, to making the kit flow within the existing rotation, I must send thanks to the devs who worked hard on this. After trying every other hero specialization on every class, this one was true to the saying, “save the best for last!”

The good
The class fantasy is amazing, more so in outdoors combat. Being able to mount up, charge in, and unleash an army of undeath alongside the riders is absolutely amazing. It flows very well into the existing unholy rotation without needing any additional buttons on a semi-bloated specialization.

  • On a Paler Horse truly does capture the idea of playstyle Death Knights have wanted since their inception.
  • The defensive capabilities means it’s going to be a solid specialization for solo content and into the higher-end content of mythic plus or raids.
  • Strong spread capabilities for your diseases making management a little less obtuse.
  • Stacking damage buffs are always a positive, in my own eyes.
  • Reducing DND cooldown is extremely beneficial to DK mains, as we’ve had many issues with it’s necessity for cleave over the years.
  • Having the ability to summon all four Horsemen truly makes you feel like the champion of Death Knights.
  • The mount redesign for the specialization is absolutely beautiful.

The not so good
Albeit an amazing specialization I do have some very, and I mean VERY minor negative opinions.

  • A second DND to pay attention to with Morgraine is great on paper, but in practice it may not be as useful as placing your own.
  • On a Paler Horse not being able to be used while in indoor content (e.g. dungeons/raids) is slightly frustrating as it’s a very cool cosmetic idea.
  • Has very high burst potential but I can see it lacking in sustain over longer fights.

This hero specialization speaks to my cold, dead Death Knight heart. I really hope On a Paler Horse can be used indoors, even at a reduced speed to truly be the 5th Horseman at all times.
I’m quite excited to main this on live once it’s available, because it’s a masterpiece of a specialization.
The only big complaint I can make about Death Knight in the upcoming expansion is the tier set appearance. Quite ugly if you ask me, but overall, unholy is in a very good spot picking this specialization. I hope this read encourages people to try it out for themselves.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the center of Azeroth soon!


Seems bad design that we “choose” between fun mounted combat outdoors or a talent that actually improves the Death’s Advance ability. (On a Paler Horse vs Death Charge)

Mounted combat is literally unavailable in dungeons right? Even outdoor ones it doesn’t work. So everyone will pick Death Charge when they go to raid/dungeon etc. Since you know, you can actually use it in content that matters.

Like wut. Am I missing something? This doesn’t seem like a decision it seems like something you’ll flat out swap between depending whether you are in the world or in a dungeon.

Death Charge also seems like a bit of a rip off of the paladin move, dare I suggest removing this option entirely?


I would greatly appreciate it if Death’s Reach was easier to access, as it’s a crucial ability for PvP. Right now Frost/Blood have to drop 2 talent points that would otherwise be skipped (Raise Dead, Enfeeble/Sacrificial Pact) in order to access Death’s Reach. Blood/Frost ghoul obviously is pretty unimpactful and there’s only a few niche situations where we’d drop Runic Power on Sacrificial Pact.

A couple suggestions:

  • Swap Death’s Reach with Control Undead.

  • Make Raise Dead and Enfeeble/Sacrificial Pact avoidable. I don’t think either mechanic is important for Blood or Frost, so I’m unsure why Raise Dead is even the gateway down the right side of the tree. It’d be nice if Raise Dead and Enfeeble/Sacrificial Pact were on the right side of the tree leading into Soul Reaper.

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placing abomination underneath Raise army of the dead is super unintuitive. They just need to be a choice node. You can either spend 1 point and get Army or 2 to get abomination but it deletes army? yeah that doesnt make sense


Bone collector is a neat talent i guess, but its interaction with abomb limb is not great. Since abomb limb only pulls once once a second, and only things that are further than 8 yards away most of the time you dont net the same number of charges you do on live. And on a single target it feels like a wasted point. A really nice QoL change would be to allow abom limb to try to pull things in melee range if there are no targets at range. This would let it have some use on boss fights or pulls where everything is already in a nice little death ball.

I super do not like being forced into taking Bone Collector. I do not like the idea of a talent that is never going to come up in a ST raid fight being mandatory feels bad. As a Bdk that likes to do keys my gen tree still feels very much locked in. Kick competing directly with blinding sleet feels like a pretty trashcan choice. I simply do not have enough points to path to every single dmg based talent (mandatory pickups) and still get all the utility that I want, asphyx, blinding sleet, a melee kick, amz, and grip of the dead. Being forced to path through the crap they put before limb feels bad. Having soulreaper so high in the tree feels bad, I hate playing soul reaper in all content it feels terrible to use as bdk. Then also crimson scrouge is still borked, so being forced to take relish in blood to path down thru sang ground and rapid decomp feels super bad. That is a waste of a talent point, and so is pres of ebon blade. They will ramin a waste of a talent point until Crimson scourge gets to proc while DnD is already down. Otherwise you will cont to play the way we have for the last 2 years, chaining DnDs on CD, never getting procs. Bone storm strips all bone shields even above 10. I am guessing thats a bug. Even if its not, not having bone shield for 1 GCD, or even being at one chrage for 1 GCD can very easily get you killed in a high key. This is a terrible design and needs some iteration to help DKs who press it survive actually pressing it. Mass grip is easiesr to take and that feels nice, but the silence for another point does not feel good as so much of the Bdk tree still feels infexible. So many mandatory talent points. Buying back bone shield haste feels bad. Having to talent for Rune Tap feels bad. This button almst never gets pressed but its a thing ud rather have and never use then need and not have it. Leeching strikes is trash and needs god. Mark of blood is trash and needs god. Blood Feast does not even make sence why would anyone want this? The tree changes have been super good so far, but it sill needs some more cook. Please do not give up on us again.

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I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the details of the spec in the future, but just an observation for when creating new DKs. Can we at least have the option to use Exile’s Reach to level a character to 10? Plaguelands is really dated content (visually and story-wise) and not worth revisiting if you ever create another DK.

I’m even fine leaving it as an option, but also give Exile’s Reach as an option too?

btw, just feedback as a whole lately on DK fantasy

It seems like blizzard has slowly moved away from being “undeath” knight over time.
Now death knight can be an actual “death” reaper or vampire as well. Way different to the original Wrath class and way more attractive to main in my opinion. Decaying skelly man was kind of boring and ugly to play nonstop imo.

This seems to have been happening slowly, in Shadowlands the land of afterlife they played a role and things like that. I like it a lot this way.

Blood DK

Please move Heartrend out of the bottom of the tree

Heart Strike has a chance to increase the damage of your next Death Strike by 20%.

When you look at the rest of the tier 3 talents, they are all in pairs and synergize well with each other

Shattering Bone / Bonestorm = Bone Shield charges
Iron Heart / Bloodshot = Blood Shield
Red Thirst / Umbilicus Eternus = Vampiric Blood

Even the new talents of Blood Drinker/Consumption match with the talent below it(Carnage)

But then you have Heartrend & Purgatory. These talents have no synergy with each other and it sucks that I am forced to take Hearthrend if I want a cheat death. I would rather have them put a defensive talent there.


For Frost:

Please look into removing or changing icecap to make it flat CDR. DK is incredibly global and uptime dependent and icecap has been and will continue to exaggerate this issue. Pillar being our main damage source should not have such a variable cool down time. Tuning around a variable timed cd with as much impact as pillar of frost can’t even be easy for you guys. Do us and you the favor of making it flat cdr or just removed.

Honestly the frost changes you have made feel great, I’m a huge fan of the animations for the new death bringer hero talent tree, GA on km procs looks and feels great. DW oblit is considerable again. All around huge changes and I appreciate it but please just look into icecap :pray: .


Blood beast proc chance feels too low, even if you have to nerf it to compensate, higher uptime chance to proc chance, leading to possibly even more than one at a time would feel amazing thematically. They seem to only last like 3-4 seconds too making the time frame to “store damage” into them for big explosions awkward.


On a Paler Horse and Death Charge need to be combined into one talent instead of a choice node.

As it is now, I’m swapping the choice node every time I leave a dungeon so that I can use it in the open world. Then I’m having to swap into it every time I get into a dungeon since it is a dead point otherwise.

Get rid of the choice node and just make it Death Charge, and add the “While outdoors you are able to mount your Archerus Deathcharger in combat.”

It only affects the power of the talent in outdoors content, which is a place that power largely doesn’t matter.


Mostly a Frost player here, and I just want to say I absolutely love most of what we’ve been getting here for awhile now. Even so, I really feel the need to draw attention to a longstanding complaint a lot of folks have expressed in the past.

DnD cleave does not feel good.

I get it, it’s better now in the beta, especially with horsemen helping out with uptime, but it still isn’t great. I’m willing to admit the simple solution of “just make it an aura” or “put cleave on Remorseless Winter” isn’t the best from a variety or balance perspective, so Blizzard isn’t keen on ditching the existing formula.

That said, I find it increasingly frustrating that DnD and Consecration are treated as AoE limited auras for functionality beyond being abilities in and of themselves. I feel like I’m burning a GCD for what should really be a quick DPS cooldown similar to Pillar of Frost. DnD has basically no identity as an individual ability, and that frankly sucks.

I want to get feedback from other folks here, seeing how a lot of other changes are just great all around. I’m really positive overall about the state of the class going into TWW, but I’d like to keep this particular conversation going, at least for a bit longer. Curious about what you guys think!


On a Paler Horse needs to be removed from the game. I get that it fits the fantasy, but the ability is simply not balanced, not can it ever be.

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For Unholy (specifically san’layn):

Having one of the hero talents really lean into diseases is fantastic and a great addition to unholy! Vampire Strike looks wonderful and it’s doing pretty good chunks of damage when casted.

However, there is a huge issue with how Gift of the San’layn actively discourages you from using other abilities during Dark Transformation. You spam Vampire Strike and ignore all other abilities. This feels bad no matter how you wanna spin it. We have a unique resource system that’s at its worst when you ignore all other abilities to spam your highest priority button.

(PS Frost Fever doesn’t seem to be extended by infliction of sorrow during DT, I submitted a bug report but not sure where else to say)

On that subject, Stop giving us random resource procs Visceral Regeneration does not feel good, it is stressful to not be able to spend our resources. It is stressful to be unable to spend our runes or runic power with this design. I feel like this talent needs to be scrapped or heavily redesigned to fit into the design philosophy of not being flooded with resources.

I get the idea with Infliction of Sorrow eating diseases to do damage, but it’s missing the mark and feels really bad when you get a proc outside DT and now all your diseases are gone. My fix? Make it do damage and extend diseases always, and have the damage doubled during DT.

For Frost (specifially Deathbringer/Obliteration):

The big issue I see right now is that the way cooldowns align right now is super wonky. Both pillar and Frostscythe have CDR elements to them that make lining stuff up weird. You want Reaper’s Mark to explode during pillar, and if you’re taking Frostscythe that hit would feel fantastic with the str bonus pillar gives. My suggestion is have these two abilities proc KM during pillar for obliteration and to have Icecap grant pillar 2 charges, rather than a CDR.

My other issue with frost is that tuning seems to still encourage an obliterate-only mentality for obliteration builds. The damage Obliterate does vs other abilities in the kit is too much. To get Rime procs to do reasonable damage with current and future talent tree builds costs too many talent points. My suggestion is to increase damage of base obliterate, then have KM procs cause guaranteed crits and deal increased damage based on crit %

With all the additional stacks of icy talons we get through talents, it is debilitating to lose stacks because we had to spam obliterate. Increase icy talons duration, please.

Thanks for listening! all the talent changes are a huge step in the right direction and I love the themes of DK hero talents. I hope more positive changes can be seen in the future before launch (:


I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because other feedback threads have been comprehensive and yet the feedback on Frost has been largely ignored.

Unholy feels great overall. Plenty of spec choices, shiny new toys that make things better, and the rotation feels good. Rider of the Apocalypse for fills the class fantasy of unholy perfectly, especially with the changes to the unholy tree.

Frost on the other hand… it’s still vastly inferior to unholy. The rotation feels pretty much the same, and is still boring, failing to even reach the original design of the modern spec in Legion.

The fact that the community has provided so much feedback and the response has been ‘but we like breath’ is pretty insulting. Hence I don’t see the point in providing feedback.

Deathbringer remains poorly designed with no lore hook beyond ICC. Much more could be said, but what’s the point when it’s all been said before. The best thing about Deathbringer is the animations, and that it synergises perfectly with frost.

Sadly that isn’t enough to save frost. Frost needs everything from Deathbringer being available in the frost tree as talents under a massive rework, and then a replacement hero tree focusing on the Lich King, mourne blades, or something- anything that actually has more lore than Deathbringer that can take DK to new places - particularly frost.


Following up from this, I spent some time on San’layn.


-Feels like it turns Dark Transformation into a more fully-fledged cooldown window. Your ghoul gets stronger, you get a lot stronger, and you start dishing out slam after slam.
-The utility modifications present in the tree are nice. Not gamebreaking, but a partywide movespeed increase and group leech on a cooldown are very nice small additions in the context of M+.
-Vampiric Strike feels, looks, and critically does hit hard.

-Feels like it encourages some degree of degenerate spamming inside of Dark Transformation windows, akin to Shadowlands S3/S4 tier set for Blood DK and how it emphasized Heart Strike.
-Blood beasts seem weirdly tuned/are likely to get changed in some way.
-I’m not sure if Vampiric Strike is benefitting from Defile or some other increases that it probably should benefit from.


-Makes Vampiric Blood feel like a more meaningful offensive cooldown. This feels like a more thought-out version of Blood’s Dragonflight S2/S4 set bonuses. The condensing of Vampiric Blood into fewer nodes for similar/better uptime/cooldown reduction has helped with delivering on this.
-Once again, the utilities provided are nice.
-In Blood’s case, San’layn feels like it encourages a similar focus on Vampiric Strike, but outside of Vampiric Blood windows Blood DK is more inclined to follow a builder-spender-builder-spender cadence than Unholy seems to be, so this doesn’t feel as problematic.

-Honestly, my only complaint for Blood is more of a visual error where Vampiric Strike is not replacing Heart Strike (or Scourge Strike, for that matter) outside of the respective specs’ cooldowns that trigger Gift of the San’layn. I’m not seeing a buff indicating the proc will happen either.

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