Death Knight class and item changes changes in patch 3.1 PTR build 9684

Daniel Whitcomb
D. Whitcomb|03.13.09

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Death Knight class and item changes changes in patch 3.1 PTR build 9684
A New build went up on the PTR this afternoon, and as expected, there were another handful of Death Knight adjustments. Overall, not as many of them are nerfs as you might think, and some of them seem more adjustments in philosophy rather than straight up buffs or nerfs. We also got a handful of Glyph changes and even a sneak peak at our tier bonuses. Let's look at the changes after the break, courtesy of MMO-Champion:


* Frost Presence now reduces damage taken by 5%. (Old - Reduces spell damage taken by 10%)
* Guile of Gorefiend now Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Blood Strike, Frost Strike, Howling Blast and Obliterate abilities by 15/30/45%, and increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 2 secs. (Old - Increased all damage done by these abilities by 5/10/15%)
* Unbreakable Armor now reduces all damage from attacks. (Old - Only physical damage)
* Improved Frost Presence now decrease the damage done to you by 1/2% while in Frost Presence. (Old - Reduced spell damage done to you while in Frost Presence by 2/4%)

Tanking-wise, the biggest thing that pops out is the Frost Presence change. By switching over to reducing all damage taken, Blizzard continues to try to compensate for the "new crushing blow," massive magic damage. Of course, we still have Anti-Magic Shell and quite a few triggered "absorb all damage" skills, so we're still hardly slouches, but the main idea seems to be to get all 4 tank classes a bit more equally vulnerable to magic damage, and, once again, they've decided to nerf Death Knights and Druids rather than buff Warriors and Paladins. We'll have to see how it shakes down in the end.

Unbreakable Armor got a much needed buff of sorts by gaining to ability to absorb all types of damage. Whether that will be enough to bring it more equal to Vampiric Blood and Bone Shield may take a few parses to determine, but it's a promising development.

It seems that Blizzard's reneged on the more general damage increase change from a few patches ago, switching Guile of Gorefiend and similar skills back to straight critical strike damage. This should be welcome news for PvP Death Knights who like their burst damage, at the least.


* Death Strike now deals 75% weapon damage (up from 60% weapon damage), additional damage increased as well. (From 178.2 to 222.75 for Rank 5)
* Desecration is now also caused by Scourge Strike.
* Vicious Strikes doesn't affect Death Strike anymore.

The Death Strike change seems as much a Blood benefit as an Unholy benefit. Once again, it seems very possible that Blood DPS builds will want to strongly consider skipping Annihilation and just using Death Strikes instead of Obliterate. We'll have to see parses to be sure, of course. The tradeoff is that Vicious Strikes doesn't affect Death Strike, but a few nerfs to make up for the general damage increase are to be expected. It shouldn't affected an Unholy Death Knight's overall group DPS anyway since we'll be using Scourge Strike. It was probably meant more to prevent a Blood Death Knight from pumping up the damage on their own Death Strike a bit too much.

Putting Desecration on Scourge Strike is definitely welcome. Since many Unholy DPSers use the Glyph of Scourge Strike to reapply Blood Plague, we would rather not have to use an extra Plague Strike just to refresh desecration. This means they won't have to. This is certainly well needed and welcome change that should hopefully make it live if nothing else does.


* Dancing Rune Weapon now lasts 10 sec plus 1 sec per 5 additional runic power, doing the same attacks as the Death Knight but for 50% reduced damage. Cooldown reduced from 3 min to 1.5 min.
* Will of the Necropolis now affects damage that would take you below 35% health or taken while you are at 35% health. (Old - Only damage that would take you below 35% health)
* Might of Mograine now increases the critical strike damage damage bonus of your Blood Boil, Blood Strike, Death Strike, and Heart Strike abilities by 15/30/45%. (Old - Increased damage of all these abilities and Obliterate for 3/7/10%)
* Improved Death Strike now Increases the damage of your Death Strike by 15/30% and increases its critical strike chance by 3/6%.
* Bloody Strikes now Increases the damage of Blood Strike and Heart Strike by 15/30/45%, and increases the damage of Blood Boil by 10/20/30%. (Down from 20/40/60%)
* Spell Deflection now give you a chance equal to your Parry chance of taking 15/30/45% (up from 10/20/30%) less damage from a direct damage spell.

Blood got a few nice buffs this time around. Improved Death Strike's new critical strike chance, combined with Might of Mograine's return to critical strike damage, could once again arguably push Death Strike over Obliterate with the right build. Since Dancing Rune Weapon's cooldown has been sliced in half, that reduced damage should still leave it overall buffed very nicely as well. Even tanking Blood Knights can rejoice, with some extra help avoiding magic damage coming their way along with Will of Necropolis working on the off chance you hit exactly 35% health.

The Bloody Strikes change is a bit harder to pin down, but it may be that, with Blood Boil becoming a more prominent AE now that Pestilence is being nerfed, Blizzard didn't want it too powerful. This one is a bit of a blow for a Blood Tree that is already the weakest at AE damage in the class, though. It may be that Blood Boil not needing diseases to work is enough of a tradeoff, especially for Tanks looking for snap AE aggro.


* Glyph of Blood Boil has been removed.
* Glyph of Heart Strike added - Your Heart Strike also reduces the movement speed of your target by 50% for 5 sec.
* Glyph of Unbreakable Armor - Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Unbreakable Armor by 20%. (Up from 1%)
* Glyph of Death Strike - Increases your Death Strike's damage by 2% for every 2 runic power you currently have (up to a maximum of 25%). The runic power is not consumed by this effect. (Old - Increased your Death Strike's damage by 1% for every 5 runic power you currently have.)

One of the biggest (but far from the only) complaints about Death Knights in PvP is the sheer amount of ways they have to slow you and keep you in melee range. The removal of the Glyph of Blood Boil may be a sign that Blizzard agrees. Notably, Blood Knights will get a semi-replacement to the glyph that works only on Heart Strike. It's likely they'd need the extra snare the most, since Frost and Unholy Knights get a few extra snares via talents. Then again, not every Unholy or Frost Knight may take those talents.

Word is the that Glyph of Unbreakable Armor change is actually just a wording change and not a 19% buff, but we'll see how it looks on test.

Glyph of Death Strike is a slight buff, capping the total damage buff at 25% instead of 20%. Since it needs less Runic Power to reach that 25%, it also makes it easier to use. Once again, this may drive some Blood Death Knights to try Death Strike instead of Obliterate in their rotations.

Tier Bonuses

* Item - Death Knight T8 Melee 2P Bonus (Class: Death Knight) -- Increases the critical strike chance of Death Coil and Frost Strike by 5%.
* Item - Death Knight T8 Melee 4P Bonus (Class: Death Knight) -- Increases the bonus damage done per disease by 20% on Blood Strike, Heart Strike, Obliterate, and Scourge Strike.
* Item - Death Knight T8 Tank 2P Bonus (Class: Death Knight) -- Increases the damage done by Rune Strike by 5%.
* Item - Death Knight T8 Tank 4P Bonus (Class: Death Knight) -- Anti-magic shell also grants you 10% reduction to physical damage taken.

We're lucky enough to be one of the two classes to have their Tier 8 bonuses out, which also means we don't have much to compare these to. Still, they seem plenty strong at first glance.

On the DPS bonuses, increasing the melee critical strike of our primary rune dumps is a nice solid bonus that everyone should use. The 4 piece set bonus looks incredibly delicious, although it does somewhat discourage Blood Death Knights who were planning to replace Obliterate with Death Strike in thier rotations, especially with the Death Strike glyph getting a nerf. Add Death Strike to the four piece bonus, and we have very little to complain about unless some of the other melees get some insane bonuses.

The tank bonuses on tier 8 are at least looking a bit more tank-focused than the silly tier 7 bonuses, if nothing else. Rune Strike should be one of those buttons you press a lot while tanking unless you are absolutely runic power starved for some reason, so an extra 5% damage is a nice bit of extra threat.

The 4 piece set bonus seems a bit more iffy. 10% physical damage reduction on Anti-Magic Shell? That might at least be useful for large groups of trash mobs, but it seems on bosses that if you're throwing up Anti-Magic Shell, you're likely doing it to take the brunt of an attack the boss is already winding up, and if the boss is winding it up, chances are they aren't meleeing you. It's not a horrible bonus for trash clearing, but it doesn't quite seem like a game changer. Overall, though, I'd declare the Tier 8 tanking bonuses at least better than tier 7.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.
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