We’re So Talented! DK Edition, Tier 2: Utility

Welcome to the second installment of Death Knight talent analysis here at Dreadblade. This week I will be fighting with people who argue that Anti-Magic Zone is useless looking at Tier 2 talents available to level 57 Death Knights. I consider this tier to be our utility tier. Each talent offers some benefits to your character and raid. Let’s dive in.

Utility Talents available at level 57

Lichborne – Draw upon unholy energy to become undead for 10 sec.  While undead, you are immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects, and Death Coil will heal you. (No cost, 2 min cooldown)

Anti-Magic Zone – Places a large, stationary Anti-Magic Zone that reduces spell damage done to party or raid members inside it by 75%.  The Anti-Magic Zone lasts for 10 sec or until it absorbs at least 136800 + ((STR * 4)) spell damage. (No cost, 2 min cooldown, base absorb scales with level)

Purgatory – An unholy pacts grants you the ability to fight on through damage that would kill mere mortals. When you would sustain fatal damage, you instead are wrapped in a Shroud of Purgatory, absorbing incoming healing equal to the amount of damage prevented, lasting 3 sec. If any healing absorption remains when Shroud of Purgatory expires, you die. Otherwise, you survive.  This effect may only occur every 3 min. (No cost, passive activation)

The Skinny

This tier of talents has me seriously torn into little bits. I like all the talents in this tier, and can see myself using all three on a pretty consistent basis. Obviously, this means I’m going to have to carry around that talent swapping reagent. The loss of the original effect of Glyph of Death Coil makes Lichborne (LB) a weaker talent than it would be on live, but it’s not without its uses, especially in PvP. LB prevents Sap, Polymorph, and Hex while breaking (and preventing) Seduce, Fear, and Mind Control. When in use you do run the risk of being exploited by a Paladin with Turn Evil. At this time it looks like Control Undead will not be able to be used against DKs with LB activated as it is a charm effect. Anti-Magic Zone (AMZ) is an iconic Death Knight ability that drives me into fits of ecstasy can be extremely powerful when used properly. Based on the raw numbers it seems to be slightly more powerful than the same ability currently on live, and now we can put this ability wherever we want (within 30 yards of your location). In addition, Unholy specced Death Knights will gain more damage absorption thanks to Unholy Might. Purgatory (PG) is a recent addition to our talent tiers, and may tae a few read-throughs before it’s clear what exactly it does. Based on my command of the English language and a few attempts to kill myself on beta, when you take a physical or magical attack that would normally kill you, you have 3 seconds to be healed (by yourself or others) by the overkill amount, or else you die. The ability is perfectly named. Basically you have a 3 second mulligan on a potential killing blow. To be fair (from a PvE perspective) this is pretty much only a tanking talent. But I’m a tank. So we’re cool.


I’m pretty sure about the use of my talents in this tier in relation to PvE. I’ll be starting Mists leveling with Purgatory, including dungeon runs. When learning new bosses and dungeons I would rather have the mulligan than the situational group cooldown (AMZ). LB just doesn’t appeal to me in PvE without the boost to healing granted by the old Death Coil glyph. Once I’m raiding I’ll probably be swapping out these utility talents based on the fight and our level of progression with it. Luckily I work with healers that almost never let the tank die before a wipe is imminent (seriously, I think I can count on one hand the number of times an accidental tank death caused a wipe this entire tier, and I think they were all when we single tanked Madness).

If I was to look at Dragon Soul, I can name two fights that I would use AMZ no questions asked (Yor’shaj, Ultraxion), and three encounters I would use PG instead (Morchok, Hagara, Spine). For Zon’ozz, Blackthorn, and Madness I see value in both talents depending on my spec or role, and what part of the encounter we were having trouble with.


Highest value here reside with LB and PG. LB is currently a go-to talent for PvPing DKs and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. PG is intriguing in a PvP setting. In a random BG where healing is sometimes non-existent I think you would be silly to use this talent, but it definitely has value in an RBG/Arena team situation where you trust your teammates to do your job. Personally I will be using LB in battlegrounds and PG in my arena teams.


4 thoughts on “We’re So Talented! DK Edition, Tier 2: Utility”

  1. For my current Unholy PvE DPS build, I spec into AMZ despite it being a slight DPS loss.

    AMZ has been horribly under-appreciated in Cata, because most people simply don’t understand the design of the ability. The ability is fantastic for a massive AoE spell damage burst, like the 4th platform of Madness with the elementium bolt. Reading the tooltip, most players assume that it will only absorb (10000 + 2 * AP) damage and then go away. In reality, it absorbs 75% of the total raid damage, and because that spell exceeded (10000 + 2 * AP) damage it breaks. So, really good if there’s a huge AoE burst, not so good for a series of small spell casts.

    For Mists I’ll reserve my choice until we see the raid boss mechanics. If there are fights with mechanics similar to those in Cataclysm, I’ll stick with AMZ. Otherwise I agree that PG is an excellent choice.

    For tanking I’m still uncertain what I want to do. There is no denying the power of a macroed Lichborne (napkin math puts the healing in heroic dungeon gear to something like 80k healing, and casting DC on yourself will also now grant you a nice shield if you have it glyphed!), but you need to be saving tons of runic power for it to be effective, and it’s less reliable than PG, which we should have to trouble surviving with our self heals.
    And then we still have to consider taking AMZ again if magic damage in Mists is high (like it was in T11), because our blood shield doesn’t deflect magic damage at all!

    Either way, I’m pretty ecstatic about these talents! This talent tier, to me, is exactly what the developers were promising- a hard decision that directly affects gameplay, with no clear cut choice!

  2. Regarding AMZ, the reason we got our Madness kill on our 6th pull was probably because I was Unholy and used AMZ on our stack point for elementium bolt. I’m convinced. And yes, it’s totally under-appreciated (even as a personal cooldown. Sometimes when AMS is on cooldown but I NEED some magic damage protection, boom, there it is).

    Additionally, we are receiving a 33% (ish) bump to its base absorb number, so its going to be slightly better than it is now, in addition to the modifier from Unholy Might. I will be Unholy spec for PvE, and will almost certainly use AMZ.

    I’m pretty down on LB to be honest. I like the talent, and I love how we abused it in Cataclysm with self-Death Coils, but I’m not seeing my DK having enough RP on a consistent basis to justify it. Its powerful, yes, but you have to plan relatively far in advance (High incoming damage and saving RP for it) and then everything has to fall into place to make it really shine. I just never feel that encounters work out that cleanly. And nothing is worse than popping LB only to see you only have enough RP for one Death Coil. Yuck.

    For tanking I expect to use Purgatory for a while until I know how the fights look, and when it might be more beneficial to use AMZ. I’m just not sold on LB, not matter how big the heal. Too much micro-management for my taste.

    Great talent tier though.

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