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Hand me downs: Death Knight

September 1, 2010

Welcome to the seventh instalment of my 10 part series on how to best prepare for levelling a new character of a given class. This time we look at the high-level starting, former agents of the scourge, Death-Knights! This guide will cover levelling specs, heirlooms and professions. It also assumes you have access to a level 80 character and a reasonable amount of gold.

Understanding a Death Knight

What I’m going to suggest here isn’t really in line with the rest of the guides. However, Death Knights are not in line with the rest of the classes (in that they have three definitely defined trees that you could clearly cut roles for. Just because the majority does things one way doesn’t make the definite way.) So I’m going to suggest levelling as the self-regenerating Blood spec, whether you wish to Tank or DPS. Death Knights use long-cooldown Runes to deal melee damage; this generates them Runic power which can be used for a few offensive, but mostly utility, moves. You would be well advised to use a spec and glyph set up like this:


You should fill up the Blood tree before moving on to Frost or Unholy. There are many different variations on all Death Knight specs, but that is a very solid Blood spec that will do you for just about anything – damaging, soloing, tanking. Whilst soloing, you should be in Blood Presence, for the extra damage and health regenerated. This spec gives you plenty of cooldowns (Rune tap, Mark of Blood, Vampiric Blood) to save yourself, cooldowns for damage (Dancing Rune weapon) and buffs abilities that will help you solo (Improved Death Strike means you can use that ability in place of Obliterate in your soloing/DPSing rotation and heal yourself for a lot.) Your basic rotations should look something like this:

DPS: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Heart Strike x2, Obliterate, spam Death Coil
Tanking: Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Heart Strike x2, Death Strike, spam Death Coil
AoE: Death and Decay, Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Blood Boil (Then back to normal rotation)

That’s roughly it. Death and Decay is a targeted area AoE. Pestilence spreads your diseases around, causing them to damage everything nearby and place full duration diseases on them. Blood Boil gives AoE damage for all Diseases up. Death Knights really are quite hard to get wrong! You want to maintain Horn of Winter at all times – it’s a very good buff. Blood Presence is the optimal soloing spec, and DPSing instances spec. Do not use Frost presence for DPS, you will be pulling insane amounts of threat. Visa versa, if you’ve signed up as tank, don’t think the extra damage and healing from Blood Presence will carry you through, mobs will get off you. If all of your other cooldowns have been used and you’re still in danger, pop Raise dead (you should have the glyph to make it free) and sacrifice him using Death Pact, restoring 40% of your health.

Heirlooms & gearing for Blood

Weapon: Bloodied Arcanite Reaper Enchanted with Crusader
Shoulders: Polished Spaulders of Valor
Chest: Polished Breastplate of Valor Enchanted with Enchant Chest – Greater Stats
Trinket: Swift Hand of Justice x2
The enchants are not vital, the main part you need is the Shoulders and the Chest for the experience bonus. The other items are just for optimum speed and levelling. You want to be looking out for preferably plate Gear with the following stats on it: Strength, Crit, Attack power, Stamina or Agility.

Professions for Blood

The main recommended profession for Death Knights is Blacksmithing – you will be able to craft lots of gear for yourself to wear, all the way from 1-80, and in Northrend levels you will be able to add sockets to your gear for extra gemming, giving you more of the stats you desire. Recommended Secondary profession can be Mining to support it, or Enchanting for the extra Attack power in Northrend, but that one is more up to you.


So there you have it! I hope this guide is highly useful to you. Watch this space for the next class to be covered, and happy levelling!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2010 1:54 am

    Hey Zal, Um, copy paste bug there I think 🙂 “The main recommended profession for Retribution is Blacksmithing – you will be able to craft lots of gear for yourself to wear, all the way from 1-80″

    main prof for Blood / DK’s in general is … and then … gear all the way from 55-80 😀

  2. September 2, 2010 3:28 am

    One little mistake at the end :

    “The main recommended profession for «RETRIBUTION» is Blacksmithing …”

    Otherwise the guide looks great, thanks for writing theses. 🙂

  3. September 2, 2010 8:55 am

    Ahh, you caught me. I do use a template for these, simply because I know how people like the format to feel the same if they’re used to using them. Alright, there may be a little convenience there too. Cheers both 🙂

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