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Lichborne: 3 silly little death knight problems


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

A few weeks back, I wrote a column singing the praises of the patch 5.2 death knight. I definitely stand by that column. Death knights remain a solid, fun class to play this patch. That said, there's always problems. Some of them probably won't ever be solved by patch changes. Today, we're going to look at some of the sillier death knight problems I've been dealing with lately, and see if there's any chance of relief for them.

My weapon won't drop

This is a problem I've had for ages. It seems like ever since Wrath, my death knight has had to wait a little longer for the weapon I actually want to wield because either it never drops or because someone else generally wins the roll or pays more DKP than me.

I, of course, do my best to do a little bit of every spec every patch because I want to be able to report on DK issues first hand, but my first death knight love and my main spec will always be some form of two-handed DPS.

This, of course, means I have horrible luck getting two handed weapons. When the latest expansion started, I literally could not get an item level 463 weapon until I get exalted with the Klaxxi and purchased one. My bad luck's continued since then. Despite having Crystallized Terror waiting in my backpack, I have yet to get my hands on a Shin'ka to use it in. Throne of Thunder has been more of the same. No matter how many Mogu Runes of Fate I spend, that Bo'ris just won't drop.

So, I've given in. Currently, I'm spending most of my time as dual wield frost, wielding axes from Tortos and Elegon. It's not my favorite setup, but I can't justify sticking stubbornly with an item level 463 weapon. I'm thinking of spending all my money on a Lionheart Executioner, Reborn though, just so I can maybe justify going back. Unfortunately, most blacksmiths I know are keeping those weapons for themselves for transmogrification purposes and need 30 days worth of materials to make one anyway, so it may be a while before I can do that.

It's hard to ask Blizzard for a fix for this, because part of the nature of WoW as a game is that loot drops have an element of randomness to them. One possibility, which they have worked with in the past, is making craftable weapons that fill the gap. The new weapons in patch 5.2, which take 30 days to get to a level where they're usable in end-game content, are a bit much though. Some weapon that could be crafted in closer to 5-10 days, even if it was ugly, might be nicer.

One fix they are implementing in patch 5.3 might help though. By giving bonus rolls a higher chance to give you a drop the longer they go without giving you a drop, it at least tilts the odds in my favor that I might get a weapon eventually, as long as I do the dailies to get the charms.

I want to use my pretty polearm, dang it

Transmogrification has been one of my favorite additions to the game. That said, I also wish it was a lot more permissive than it is. One of the big death knight specific areas where this comes up is the ability to use polearms. Polearms just have a size and power to them that makes them fun to wield as melee weapons. Plus, Draenei males do this really awesome flipping move with them.

Polearms used to be a pretty viable choice for 2-handed strength DPS back in the day. Since most of them came with raw attack power, their stats generally worked for us, and we could do DPS that was at or only barely below what we'd get from wielding a strength-bearing weapon instead. Well do I remember the days of diligently tracking down ever Kalu'ak quest so I could buy a Whale-Stick Harpoon the moment I hit revered.

Alas, as expansions have come and gone, Blizzard reduced polearms to agility weapons, meaning we couldn't really justify the loss of the attack power strength would bring. They also completely eschewed strength-bearing polearms at the end game because warriors with Titan's Grip couldn't use them due to graphics issues. This means that all the awesome polearms I have in my bank just begging to used in a set, from Hellreaver to Black Ice, just gather dust.

Luckily, there's signs this could be another problem that will be solved in a few patches. We already have one strength polearm this tier, and with the devs aiming to allow warriors to use polearms with Titan's Grip in patch 5.4, it could pave the way for more. Then we just need them to change transmogrification to allow polearms to transmog onto axes, swords, and maces, and we'll really be in business.

I miss that old ability from back in the day

All classes have undergone changes. Some of them have been major changes, such as when hunters went from using mana to using a completely new resource system called focus. Still, I'd argue that death knights have had the most drastic changes. As the first new class to be implemented since the game went live, we were certainly given some extra TLC during the Wrath beta, and come out of it a bit overpowered. Unfortunately, the devs decided they couldn't just tweak numbers and instead took entire skills and abilities away. I will always look back with fondness at the days when I was an unholy death knight with bone shield, a ghoul pet, the ability to turn into a ghoul, and an Unholy Blight spell that did constant damage to all my enemies and counted as a fourth disease to make my weapon strikes that much better.

But even with those skills removed, the biggest blow came with the complete removal of some of our specializations. Blood DPS, frost tanking, and unholy tanking went the way of the dodo. You will still see the occasional forlorn death knight lamenting and wishing for the days of Death Strikes that combined nigh immortality with massive DPS.

It is unlikely we'll ever see those old days back. You could argue that druids got their feral and guardian specs split out, but that was also a bit more drastic, in that they either had to split the specs or completely remove one of the feral forms. With death knights, you can leave most of the flavor of the trees intact whether they're limited to DPS or tanking.

The bright side with this one is that while we're never going to get all our old skills back, Blizzard does seem open to fitting in homages and small adjustments when it can. Unholy Blight, for example, recently came back as an alternate way to apply and spread diseases. It's not perfect, and it's not a return to the glory days, but it's a nice, useful trip down memory lane.

Learn the ropes of endgame play with WoW Insider's DK 101 guide. Make yourself invaluable to your raid group with Mind Freeze and other interrupts, gear up with pre-heroic DPS gear or pre-heroic tank gear, and plot your path to tier 11/valor point DPS gear.

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