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Lichborne: Patch 4.0.1 death knight mailbag


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights.

Since we're all winding down from BlizzCon, I figured this week would be a good time to sit back, take it a little easier and just sort out some questions I've been seeing about some the subtle nuances of the new milieu bought to use by patch 4.0.1. So today, I'll be answering various comments and questions sent via email and the comments of the last few Lichborne columns. Let's get to it.

Max asks:

I was wondering how leveling as a tank was looking for DKs in Cataclysm. Would you spend your justice points on a DPS or tank set in the coming weeks to prepare for leveling in the expansion?

Honestly, Max, I think the best answer here is simple enough: It doesn't matter. Honestly, by Deepholm, you will probably be replacing most of this stuff, so you shouldn't sweat too much about what to buy in preparation for Cataclysm.

If you do want to plan ahead, though, I'd say go DPS if you plan to solo quest. Even if you are questing as blood (and I think a lot of death knights will be doing just that, with good reason), having DPS gear will make the enemies die faster and shouldn't affect your survivability too negatively while soloing.

If you want to level by entering the random dungeon finder as a tank, though, then you probably do want tank gear. That said, this method will probably be slower than leveling via questing, be a lot more frustrating in the age of more difficult dungeons, and cause you to miss a lot of fun quests and dynamic story.

In short, I'd strongly suggest you grab DPS gear, spec blood, and level via questing through the new zones.

BAHilll asks:

In your example blood tanking build, I noticed that you have Glyph of Death and Decay as opposed to the Glyph of Heart Strike, which is what I had thought would be a better choice. Can you help explain why the Glyph of Death and Decay is a better choice?

My second question is regarding the choice of Blood Parasite vs. another talent. Does the 10 percent proc occur often enough to justify two talent points, and when the blood worms burst, how much healing are they doing for you and/or the group?
The Glyph of Death and Decay is going to be a lifesaver for you in just about any AoE situation. The base spell has a threat modifier and more targets, so having it up more often means better threat for you. That said, the Glyph of Heart Strike still has a place, but I would have it replace the Glyph of Death Strike. I chose Glyph of Death Strike for my example build because you will be using it a lot in Cataclysm, since in theory, you will be fighting a lot more single-target battles and you'll want to activate Blood Shield as often as possible. That said, Heart Strike still provides a very nice amount of damage and a useful cleave for three-mob groups, so it might be worth it to apply in place of that glyph if you're doing a lot of mixed-group fighting.

As for Blood Parasites, don't confuse them with Wrath-era Bloodworms. These are the real deal. They will heal you for thousands of damage over their lifespan, and they do spawn a good amount. They'll offer some real relief to your healer as well. There are some places where you can save points in the blood tree, but I would strongly, strongly advise you not to skip Blood Parasites for any solid tanking build.

Charlie asks:

I'm confused about this line: "Use Festering Strike if both sets of blood and frost runes are up." So are you saying that I should have all 4 runes powered up before I use this? I thought having 2 full of anything was a bad thing.
Having 2 full of anything is definitely a bad idea, which is why one of your top-priority moves in the unholy rotation is, in fact, to use Festering Strike if both sets of blood and frost runes are up. This will normally only happen at the start of a battle, or possibly if you got an incredibly lucky streak of Runic Corruption procs. At that time, you want to use a couple of Festering Strikes specifically to make sure you don't have those runes full, so they can take advantage of procs and not stay filled too long. After you do that, follow the priority list, and simply use Festering Strike after you've used Scourge Strike, whenever you have a single blood and frost rune set up.

In other words, you can cast Festering Strikes one at a time as the runes refresh, but if they're all refreshed at once, you want to get them on cooldown as soon as possible.

Sarapalin asks:

With the changes in blood, will dual wield tanking be a thing of the past?

In short, yes. While you can feasibly create a blood tank build with Nerves of Cold Steel, the fact remains that Nerves of Cold Steel itself will not be enough in and of itself to make dual-wield tanking viable. Since you'll only use your main hand damage for all of your weapon strikes, you just won't have the single-target threat to keep up with any competent, well-geared DPS unless they artifically throttle themselves. If you want to be working at 100 percent efficiency, you will have to pick up a two-handed weapon in order to tank.

Multiple people have asked:

Should unholy death knights be getting Scarlet Fever? The extra disease will let us hit harder, right?

Sorry guys, it doesn't work like that. Scarlet Fever doesn't count as a disease for damage multiplication purposes, and the 10 percent physical damage reduces the target's damage dealt, so he doesn't take any extra damage for having it on. It's not a completely useless thing for DPS death knights to take if they want to add some extra utility, but chances are your tank will have that debuff covered anyway, and it doesn't do anything extra for us. Besides, it's administered via Blood Boil and therefore may turn out to be too much of a crowd-control-breaker to use.

We have advice for everything from PUG etiquette and buttons you should push more often to Icecrown loot and gear stat weights. Check out WoW Insider's DK leveling guides, and visit Lichborne every week for more death knight strategies and tips.

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