The Talents and the Changes
The bug's been around for a while, but now it's official: It's no longer a bug. As Ghostcrawler explains, Master of Ghouls will now officially make your Ghoul a permanent pet, with a pet bar and the already implemented names. In addition, some of the other talents and abilities surrounding Ghouls are being tweaked, such as Ravenous Dead, which will now offer a Ghoul up to 60% more strength and stamina from talents. You can also combine this with the existing Night of the Dead, which will continue to provide a way to keep your Ghoul out as often as possible, even if it gets caught in one two many AE attacks.
So the Unholy Death Knight, with the proper talents, will first have a controllable Ghoul. The pet bar provided by the talent will allow a Ghoul to become viable in PvP. Leap will allow them to chase down a runner or harry a ranged attacker immediately. Gnaw will allow the Death Knight to close with the attacker, keep a focused opponent locked down, or work in a pinch as a spell interrupt. Thrash should make Unholy Death Knights even more of an anti-caster threat in PvP. Huddle.. well, Huddle might make your ghoul last another second if he's being hit bad.
A Ghoul can get a very nice set of stat and damage boosts from talents and glyphs. The new Ravenous Dead is great because it makes your Ghoul scale very well with you. The extra stamina provides much needed survivability, while the strength means the Ghoul will provide a solid amount of DPS. Add the glyph on top of that, and suddenly the Ghoul is a machine.
In the meantime, Frost and Blood Death Knights can probably ignore the ghoul to their hearts content, and bring it out only when they really want a little bit more help.
But does it work?
So how are these nice buffs working out? Do they make talented ghouls damaging enough and survivable enough? Unfortunately, the answer is primarily yes and no.
Ghoul damage is awesome. VERY awesome. Jayde reports in his recent Unholy PvP analysis that it's actually doing about half of his damage. That's admittedly probably in part because... well, it's Beta. Scourge Strike, one of Unholy's damage mainstays, is doing far too little damage right now, so Unholy damage is probably lower than it should be -- low enough that a ghoul doing mostly auto attack damage can overtake it.
This, combined with a ghoul's low survivability, has actually turned out to be a liability in PvP. Due to both their awesome DPS and skills such as Gnaw and Thrash, canny PvPers have learned to take down the ghoul first, and rightly so. But not only does this then leave the Unholy PvPer without some of his best PvP tools, but it also leaves him without half his DPS! It doesn't look very pretty for him from then on out. If his cooldown is up, he can resummon the ghoul, but right now, even with the bonus from Ravenous Dead, the Ghoul will die pretty quickly and pretty easily no matter how often you resummon him.
What a Ghoul Needs
So the general path that ghouls are on is actually very nice. Power them up via talents for those to want them, but let the base form stay weak enough that those who don't can get along without them. The thing is tweaking the numbers just right.
I don't know if ghoul damage needs to go down so much as Unholy damage needs to go up, but there's probably a point at which we need to make sure that ghouls aren't so much of an Unholy Death Knight's DPS that it's a nearly unrecoverable blow to their DPS when they die. In that case, ghoul damage may need to be nerfed slightly, though hopefully not too much. Make sure personal Unholy DPS is at the proper level too.
Survivability is where ghouls most definitely need a helping hand. Even with Ravenous Dead, their health just isn't high enough. A bump to their base health, perhaps to Hunter pet levels, could help a lot there. You could also simply add a higher stamina buff to Ravenous Dead. Of course, I should probably take this opportunity to state once again that what pets really need is some resilience. Regardless, ghouls need more survivability. A good health boost would definitely be nice. Huddle is pretty lackluster, so it may need a buff or a redesign too, although it'll probably be better off once ghouls have more health for it to work with.
Once ghouls have that nice blend of health and damage going, they'll be in pretty good shape. The basics of ghouls right now are pretty sound, they just need some numbers tweaking, I think.
One thing I would like to see, though, is some minor glyphs that change the look of your ghoul. Not that he looks bad by any means, but... there's a lot of cooler undead looks. If I could use a minor glyph to make my ghoul look like a Geist, I'd pretty much be the happiest Death Knight ever, is what I'm saying.
And bring back the Explode button. It's somewhat of a pain having to take Corpse Explosion and set it up on a mouseover macro just so I can use a pretty nice ability that was once a nice little pet bar button.
And finally... What kind of a name is Eyeslobber? The ghoul names are sort of cool, but there's some really silly combinations.