Given the massive amounts of death knight changes in the last few patches, Patch 3.3 almost feels like a drought. Of course, that may be good news if you're a bit tired of adjusting your rotations and glyphs every patch. Then again, don't rest yet. Sure, there's only a few changes to Death Knights (so far), but they're big enough that they deserve some discussion. Let's look at them one by one.
Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle: There is now a 1-handed version of this rune in addition to the current 2-handed rune.
With the change to Threat of Thassarian to add allow extra Rune Strike damage, Blizzard did a lot to legitimize dual-wield tanking once and for all. In Patch 3.3, they're going one step further, allowing dual wield tanks who are having a bit of trouble keeping up with their defense or stamina a chance to enchant their troubles away. MMO-Champion's datamining has dug up a new enchant, Rune of the Nerubian Carapace, that looks like it should fit the bill. Currently, it actually has the same stats as the 2-handed version, but that will likely be adjusted as testing continues and the PTR is updated.
Of course, the big issue with dual wield tanking is parry gibbing, which is still an issue on many bosses. That said, if you can at least hit the expertise dodge cap at 26 expertise, you may be able to find a place where you at least aren't being hit with the extra damage too much.
Of course, either way, the new rune will presumably only be around for one content patch, at least in its current form, as we'll be getting uncrittable status from talents come Patch 4.0 or thereabouts.
Night of the Dead: Now reduces the damage your pet takes from area-of-effect damage by 45/90%, but no longer applies to area-of-effect damage caused by other players.
Pretty much every pet class has been hit with a change similar to the one above. Speaking as someone who played a hunter and warlock pretty extensively in PvP during the season 2-3 range, it definitely seems like one of Blizzard's major troubles has always been finding the right balance between pets that can be ignored in PvP, pets that can be obliterated with a couple hits in PvP, and pets that are overpoweredly strong or survivable in PvP. Here's another entry in that struggle. On the plus side, talented ghouls should now be even more durable in PvE battles.
Glyph of Icy Touch: Instead of granting additional runic power, this glyph now causes Frost Fever to deal 20% additional damage.
I suspect this is an an attempt to nudge unholy DPS death knights away from the new 10 second rotation that cropped up in Patch 3.2.2, eschewing Epidemic and Reaping. Without that extra runic power to cast a second Death Coil at the end of the rotation, the hope is likely that Death Knights will migrate back to the Glyph of Scourge Strike.
I'm still not convinced it'll be enough. Really, what you'll probably see (at least with enough haste) is just an extra Horn of Winter added to the rotation and a Glyph of Unholy Blight swapped out for the Glyph of Icy Touch. Still, this is definitely something that'll need some testing, and I will be very interested to see what everyone comes up with as it looks like we may have one more patch of heavy glyph and rotation adjustments for Unholy DPSers. It should also be interesting to see if the new Glyph of Icy Touch adds enough damage to be a viable choice for Frost DPSers, or perhaps even inadvertently trigger a return to single disease damage.
More Undocumented Changes
Strangulate's tooltip has been changed to indicate that non-player spellcasting will now be interrupted for 3 seconds. In other words, it's permission to use it for a nice handy interrupt against a silence-immune NPC spellcaster when you don't have the runic power to spare for Mind Freeze.
Desecration now lasts 20 seconds, up from 12 seconds. This is probably meant to bring it in line with Desolation, and to allow those who spec up to it not to worry so much about having to absolutely use plague or scourge strike every 12 seconds. That said, just about every reasonable unholy rotation I can think of, even AoE ones, would include one or both of those within every 12 seconds. But still, it's nice to the leeway.
That's all that seems to directly affect death knights for now, but the patch notes honestly seem pretty short for being the last major content patch before the Patch 4.0 and the Cataclysm expansion, so I rather expect we'll see more adjustments as the PTR progresses. Keep your browser pointed right here to WoW.com for all the latest!