As a hero class new Death Knight characters start at level 55. In the old talent system that meant a multitude of talent points to assign rapidly while leveling. Now, it means one talent tier each level starting with 56. On Dreadblade, I will be doing a weekly analysis of Paladin and Death Knight talents. New DK talent tiers will be updated on Tuesdays, and Paladin choices on Thursday.
Disclaimer: Let’s remember that not all of Warcraft’s millions of subscribers are serious raiders or PvPers
Tier 1 talent choices are available to level 15 characters. Here are the Death Knight choices:
Roiling Blood: Your Blood Boil ability now also triggers Pestilence if it strikes a diseased target. (1 Blood Rune, no cd)
Plague Leech: Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on the target to activate a random fully-depleted rune as a Death Rune. (25 sec cd)
Unholy Blight: Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever. (1.5 min cd)
Blood Analysis (Tanking)
This is a great talent tier for Blood Death Knights in my opinion. We have 2 great situational choices, and 1 nostalgic choice with a sweet spell effect. A casual quester and 5 man dungeon runner will get plenty of mileage out of RB and UB, and much less out of PL. PL is situational and requires a better grasp of class mechanics, which I’ll get into shortly. Currently there is quite of white noise in the Death Knight community that PL is the superior choice all the time, but I don’t believe that to be true.
Trash and AoE Tanking
RB is the best choice in these situations in my opinion. I have never yet died to trash in which there was not some kind of serious mistake, and a damage dealing Pestilence is right up my alley. Having leveled for a bit as blood on the beta, I feel that RB is a strong choice for leveling purposes as well. This is, however, only useful when there is more than one target. On boss fights, you are going to need something else.
PL is the clear winner here. If the choice is hitting a double disease Death Strike too late, or a disease-less Death Strike when needed, the choice is easy. If, as mentioned in my previous post, Heart Strike was to provide Blood Shield this talent would be an even bigger home run. PL is basically half of a Death Strike (1 Death Rune) on a 25 second cooldown. The tooltip says this is a free ability (no resource cost), but that’s not entirely true. The cost is only truly free if Outbreak is about to come off cooldown. Otherwise its cost is basically 1 Frost Rune and 1 Unholy Rune. This might sound like you are losing out by trading two runes for one, but the cost is worth it because you are trading damage (diseases) for mitigation.
Unholy falls into the same place that Blood does. This spec has long had trouble with on-demand AoE damage, and RB gives us a great reason to use Blood Boil to spread our diseases while scoring some free damage. This will be my go-to talent choice when doing trash pulls or during boss fights that have a significant AoE requirement. PL is an exceptional single target choice for Unholy Death Knights. Because of the interaction with disease duration and Festering Strike we can usually expect to have Outbreak available to use again immediately after removing disease via PL. Why would we do that? Because in Mists of Pandaria Unholy Death Knights will need to be good at using Soul Reaper, an execute type of ability applied to our target on cooldown while under 35% health. PL is a talent that can help us make sure we can use Soul Reaper whenever its necessary.
Frost Death Knights are hardly in need of more AoE abilities, and may actually get more use out of PL than other specs. A Frost DK uses Howling Blast so frequently that removing diseases isn’t a huge concern. UB is probably the weakest choice here, and PL is certainly the best choice for single target fights, but between RB and PL during trash pulls and leveling I don’t think there is an obvious choice here.
The Forgotten Talent
So does Unholy Blight suck? Well, maybe. The final numbers passes have yet to come in beta, and maybe we’ll find out that 10 secs of UB every 90 seconds is a DPS increase (and if it is, we will flock to it like moths to a flame). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it though. The spell effect is very cool, it’s free damage and disease application at the same time, and it’s a spell that we have been asking to get back since it was removed. Those are perfectly good reasons to enjoy this talent in my opinion.