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Classese Death Knight Demon Hunter Druid Hunter Mage Monk Paladin Priest Rogue Shaman Warlock Warrior
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Death knight PvE abilites and raid utility

  • Death knights have 6 runes: 2 blood, 2 frost, and 2 unholy. Each has its own 10-second cooldown modified by Haste.
  • Death knights provide several buffs or debuffs to a raid:
    • All death knights provide Horn of Winter, a straight buff to strength and agility.
    • All death knights will often use Frost Fever, causing frost damage every 3 seconds and reducing the target's melee and ranged attack speed by 20% for 21 seconds.
    • Blood death knights give Abomination's Might, increasingly raidwide attack power by 10%.
    • Unholy death knights provide Ebon Plaguebringer, increasing all magic damage done to the affected targets by 13%.
    • Frost death knights [DPS] often have Improved Icy Talons which increases the melee and ranged attack speed of all party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%, and their own attack speed by an additional 5%.

Death knight PvE guide

Prior to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Cataclysm, tanking was possible in any of the 3 talent trees; Frost being traditional-style and unholy for magic bosses.

Blood spec is the death knight tanking spec, while Frost spec and Unholy spec are the DPS specs.

Death knights are able to dual wield and use two-handed weapons, however, this is only advised for the properly spec'ed Frost death knights. It is advised to put your higher DPS weapon in the main hand to maximize damage output when possible.

Death knight skills scale off Attack Power, not Spell Power.

It is advised that talent points and glyph space be invested in abilities that help the entire group, and abilities that increase the generation of Death Runes.

Blood Presence should ONLY be used if you are the tank. Even if you are specced in blood tree, use Frost Presence or Unholy Presence when you are DPS. However, it is advised that you do NOT DPS in blood spec as your DPS will be very low and you may accidentally pull the tank's agrro.

  • Do not Death Grip or Death and Decay in an instance while DPSing unless you know what you are doing. Death Grip taunts enemies, which isn't usually a good idea unless the alternative is a clothie taking the hits. Death and Decay causes high aggro on the caster.


Only Blood specced death knights in Blood Presence should be used for tanking.

Blood Presence is essential for tanking, as it increases your threat generation.

It is possible to dual wield while tanking. Only the Frost tree is designed for dual-wielding, however, and other specs will have massively reduced threat generation if they do so.

Death Grip is great for pulling casters. Use it to pull the caster into your AoE and out from areas where he may aggro a patrol, but be sure to use Line of Sight to pull the rest of the casters, too. Strangulate is another great means of pulling casters when up.

Death Grip is not always the best pulling method, however, against melee opponents. Death Grip will cause the melee foe to begin attacking immediately (without having to run to you), without the damage mitigation of Frost Fever. In harder instances this added damage can force a healer to heal sooner then they would like, possible before you have had a chance to build much aggro against the rest of the group that were still running towards you. In addition if the healer (or others) do get aggro you will have one of your taunts already on cooldown. Icy Touch is a convenient ranged alternative for pulling.


A death knight's hit cap is 8%. With two-handed weapons at level 80, this is a hit rating of 262.[1] For Death Coil, Icy Touch and Howling Blast, the cap is 17% hit or 445.91 hit rating. This can be decreased with Virulence (a first-tier Unholy talent) by 3% or 78.69 hit rating, and again by Misery (from a Shadow Priest) or Improved Faerie Fire (from a Balance Druid) by an additional 3%. Death knights choosing to dual wield have an additional penalty of 19% (16% with talent) to hit with both weapons, but this only affects auto-attack damage. Special attacks such as Blood Strike have the normal 8% cap. Raising hit over 8% is expensive, so ignoring the 19% miss and investing in other stats is the correct strategy.

Block is useless to death knights as they lack the ability to use shields.

Strength is a death knight's priority stat for DPS, and the key threat stat for tanking, as it increases attack power and parry rating. 4 STR = 1 parry rating. Although their item budget cost is the same, one point of strength is preferable to two points of attack power because several buffs and talents increase strength directly by a percentage.

Stamina provides 15 additional health per point, and is thus the key stat for tanking. Blood Presence and several talents and buffs further increase stamina.

Rune-based attacks generate Runic power. Attacks which require one rune generate 10 Runic power. Attacks which require two or three generate 15. Chill of the Grave and Dirge make specific attacks generate additional runic power.

Dodge and Parry are important for tanking. Because of Diminishing returns and the "free" Strength to Parry conversion, no death knight should ever gem for parry.

Agility boosts melee critical strike chance, and dodge chance. It is not an efficient way of achieving any of these things, but not useless either.

Intellect, spirit, spellpower, and spell penetration are absolutely worthless.

General tips

Death knight


Mages are squishy like all cloth wearers. You can help them out the most by keeping the mobs away from them, by using Death Grip, Chains of Ice, or even by taking aggro off the mage using Dark Command if necessary. Frost Death Knights can make use of frost mages spells to increase DPS. Remember your Hungering Cold is one of the few non-mage spells that a frost mages shatter will work with. Cordinating use of this ability can help you to CC adds while doing heavy burst damage on the target shattered opponent.


Rogues are the premier melee damage dealers and they excel in forms of crowd control. Unlike you, however, he only has leather armor to protect him from damage. Because of this, you should take the aggro and allow him to go all out on his damage. Allow him to sap/blind/gouge to take care of any unwanted extra attention from mobs.


As a death knight, you have several abilities that can compliment a hunter's ranged attacks well. Using Death Grip will keep runners away from the hunter and allow them to DPS more consistently, as well as Chains of Ice as a way to slow mobs. As a plate wearer, you can easily be a strong tank and thus be ideal for keeping pace with a Hunter's purely ranged attacks.

When specced Unholy, the Master of Ghouls capabilities allows you to have a constant pet just like a hunter, making a formidable combination. While specced frost, you can take advantage of the Hunter's freezing trap to freeze targets, empowering your spells like Howling Blast. Overall, a death knight is an excellent partner to a Hunter.


Both of you are very durable classes with plate armor, great burst and sustained damage abilities, and you have some abilities to heal yourself, whereas the paladin's healing abilities greatly surpass yours. Be sure to get Blessing of Might from him at all times, as it will increase your melee damage.

Overall, you are both very similar; heavily armored melee attackers with lots of utility. The single largest difference is that the paladin has only one ranged attack unless he is speced deep Protection or Holy.


A plate-wearing class much like yourself, warriors are DPS/tanking hybrids. If they are Protection specced, allow them to take aggro as you both break down your foes. If he is specced Arms or Fury, you may be the better tank depending on your talents. Let whoever has a more tanking-oriented spec take the damage.

Alternatively, against a powerful foe you, can share the damage. You tank first with [Blood Presence] until your health gets down to 20%, then have the warrior switch to [Defensive Stance] and taunt. While the warrior is tanking, you can switch to [Frost Presence] and use your healing abilities to regenerate some health so that you're ready to take aggro back when the warrior's health drops too low.


Warlocks are much like Mages, in that they have the least armor available of all classes, being cloth only wearers. To make up for this however, they come with awesome damage and their own pocket pet to either contribute to their damage, assist in crowd control, or to be their personal tank. Regardless, you should never allow a mob to directly hit the warlock, you or his pet should have aggro at all times.


Priests are also squashies, and as such you should keep mobs off them as much as possible. Priests come in 2 varieties: healing oriented (a Holy build) or dps/pvp build (Discipline or Shadow). Shadow priests deal damage much like yourself, and Discipline has talents more focused on pvp utility and survivability. Hold aggro as much as possible and have the priest heal you when necessary.


Druids have a large range of squishiness, depending on their shapeshift form. For simplicity, you should probably consider everything except Bear Form somewhat squishy. Moonkin Form is some what durable with a 15% reduction to all damage, however they are entirely DPS casters. You'll want to keep mobs away from caster druids, and allow melee druids (cat and bear) to stay on the mob.


The shaman will be wondering which totems he should drop. If you have Icy Talons, make sure to tell him not to bother with Windfury. If you're tanking and the shaman is healing, he probably has Earth Shield which is a reactive healing shield that he can put on you. Remember to speak to the Shaman about not placing Strength of Earth Totem as you will be using Horn of Winter as both of these provide the same buff and can not stack. It is better they place a different Earth totem such as Stoneskin or Earthbind.

See also

Death knights as tanks

External links


  1. ^ Death Knight Builds - Stat Cap Information. Death Knight Builds. Retrieved on 2009-03-13.