A Blog by Bajingobomb, Horde US-Malfurion

Raiding as a Death Knight – Best Practices

It’s really a shame that I chose to excell at the class that is now officially the new Ret Pally of WoW.  More brainless idiots have flocked to the Death Knight class than they did Paladins when they joined the Horde in TBC.  And just my luck, I happened to be the highest level guy on my server at Wrath launch, so naturally I was the one getting all the questions from every other crimson name in /who.  Stuff like…

Do you spec Blood or Unholy?

Why don’t you have Dancing Rune Weapon?

Do you use a 2h or dw?

Do runeforge-thingies stack with weapon enchants?

Do you have the spell that summons lots of ghouls?  it sounds really cool!

How much spell damage should I shoot for?

Naturally, these fine young contributors to society eventually reached level 80 as I did.  And zomg they’re all in Naxx now it’s soooo and there’s purples!!!!1

A few of my guildies took their newly-80 alts on a pug Naxx run this past weekend, a pug which featured 8 Death Knights.  8 Death Knights without a single piece of tank gear between them.

This inspired me.  These people so eagerly sought guidance from me during their journey to 80, so why should’t I continue to guide them through the end-game content?  As a result, as is my duty, I present…

Bajingobomb’s PvE Death Knight Best Practices Guide (aka How to Not Look Like a Total Fking Retard when you Group with Others).

Read these points, treasure them.  And for God sake, stop embarassing yourself.

1.  Pick up some tank gear, just in case.

I get it, you rolled a DK to do leet deeps, so did I.  That doesn’t mean I don’t happily snatch every throwaway piece of gear the primary tanks in my guild don’t need.  Here’s a news flash for you – when it comes to most raids, tanks are in much higher demand than DPS.  Pick up some tank gear and offer to offtank if there is already too much DPS.  The playstyles are virtually identical – use the same rotation you’d use for DPS, just use Frost Presence.  Oh, and use IBF.  It’s nice.

Blizzard designed our trees to be the first dps/tank class where all three trees can actually fill both roles well.  Unholy currently has the best AoE threat, but that doesn’t mean Frost and Blood suck.  Frost gives you some nice oh-shit buttons, but they certainly aren’t required.

Raids will find you invaluable if you bring some tank gear along and are willing to swap roles depending on the fight.  Death Knights, more than any other class, can nearly seemlessly switch between DPS and tanking roles without a respec being absolutely necessary.  The more you have to offer the raid, the more they’ll want to have you.

Stop making yourself look like a prick and pick up some defense gear ffs.

2. Don’t Death Grip random shit just cuz lolz its funny

Trust me, this is annoying as fuck to most people.  Yeah Death Grip is a lot of fun, but it also really pisses off tanks when you pop it just for the hell of it.  If you’re acting like a retard and using it just for the lolz, chances are you’re pulling mobs out of AoE, not to mention getting yourself killed.  A lot of idiot DKs I’ve seen seem to forget that Death Grip also serves as a mocking blow – forcing the mob to attack you for the next 5 seconds without anyone being able to do anything about it.

Seriously, just don’t use it if you’re not tanking or told to pull something.  It’s annoying, its bush-league, and it will get you blacklisted by a lot of people.

3. Don’t rez people as Ghouls just for the lolz either, especially if you’re Unholy.

Currently the Raise Ghoul spell is bugged and sometimes a person can ultimately not be rezzed once theyve finally died after being raised as a ghoul.  This pisses people off if you’ve raised a key member of the raid (like a healer or a tank) because they probably wanted them battlerezzed immediately anyway, and then they might not be rezzable at all.

Plus, if you’re raiding as Unholy and you have Master of Ghouls, raising somebody in your raid as a ghoul just for shits actuallty means a decrease in your dps – the person controlling the ghoul is not nearly as powerful as your pet with your talents figured in.

Again, mostly for the same reasons as with Death Grip, raising dead kids as ghouls generally makes people think you’re an idiot.

4. Don’t jerk off over haste gear, don’t even bid on it.  HASTE = BAD.

Haste is the worst stat you get get as a DK, which is a shame considering there is so much of it in the game at the moment.  If you’re wearing a piece without haste and a new piece drops that is a minor upgrade – skip it if it features haste.  You don’t need any haste because auto-attacks are a small percentage of your total damage output given the number of instant attacks you’re constantly using.

Haste is not totally worthless to you, and granted you can’t completely avoid having it, but you certainly shouldn’t piss and moan over a piece of loot with a lot of haste on it over someone who gains a lot more benefit from the haste stat.  This makes you appear to be both a noob and an asshole.

5.  Avoid Rogue gear.

You’ll probably see a lot of DPS warriors happily bidding on Leather DPS gear.  This is because it has AP and Agi, both of which are of good use to them.  Agility gives warriors melee crit, as it does you.

However, a fair amount of your abilities (Icy Touch, Death Coil, Death and Decay, Pestilence, etc) are spells.  Agility does nothing to increase the crit chance of these abilities.  Don’t make yourself look like an idiot by bidding on this kind of gear, as it only increases the effectiveness of half of your abilities.

In addition to the reduced-benefit from Agility, Death Knights also suffer when taking attack power over strength.  There are plenty of talents in the talent trees that increase your overall strength to the point where you get nearly 2.25 AP per 1 strength.  This means that Str gear will translate to more AP for you than AP gear.

So what does this mean?  Leather often has Agi/AP, Plate often has Str/Crit.  Crit rating now affects both melee and spell crit in Wrath (same goes for Hit), which makes it worlds better for Death Knights than agility.  This means you want to wait for the good plate drops, not the leather ones your fellow plate-wearers are happy to take.

6. If you spec Blood, cast Hysteria on somebody else.

Hysteria is disgustingly good, but not for you.  Blood relies a lot more on physical damage than the other DK specs, but it still relies a fair amount on your spells, primarily Death Coil.  This means you do not get 100% benefit from Hysteria.

So who does?  DPS warriors and cat druids.  Both are the only dps specs which rely entirely on physical dps.  Most people still haven’t become keen on cat druids in raids, but you’re almost certainly going to have a DPS warrior or two in your raid (because their damage is insane).  Stick Hysteria on one of these guys instead of yourself and you’ll look pretty smart.

7. Don’t have anything on your weapon other then Fallen Crusader or Cinderglacier.

This is speaking in terms of DPS specs, of course.  If you have Razorice you might as well kill yourself.  Same thing goes for Lichbane.  Bad.

If you’re blood, Cinderglacier is also bad.  But it’s arguably good for bother Frost and Unholy.  You can’t go wrong with Fallen Crusader as any spec, it’s simply too good for words.  It may not have the coolest glow effect of the available runeforgings, but you’ll get over it.

8. Don’t pop Army of the Dead because you think it will help your damage.

Army of the Dead can seriously fuck up a boss encounter.  The ghouls don’t give a shit who the MT is, they just know they want it to be them.  You’ll have 10 ghouls running around taunting the boss and turning it all over the place.

It’s most definitely a fun spell to pop, but once your ghould army makes Saphhiron breathe on the raid you’re gonna have a lot of pissed off people to answer to.


I’m not going to stretch this out to the point where it’s a full theorycraft thread, you can find that stuff on EJ.  The point of this is to give you the basic things to do and avoid doing just to convince people you’re at least competant at your class.  Yeah, I know I sound like a condescending prick, but I’ve seen A LOT of awful DKs the past couple months.  Don’t take it personally, you guys need some help.

Thanks for reading.


4 responses

  1. Slickwilliam

    One more thing to add in the ‘stop failing you mouthbreathers’ line of thinking:

    A great way to not look like an a-hole to your guild is to accept the fact that some people beat you to 80 on their DK’s and are better at the class than you will ever be.

    Further your current main that you DON’T suck with is way more valuable to the raid than Arthastoo that you rolled up two weeks ago. Don’t gimp your guild because YOU have to be the 15th amazing death knight in your guild.


    January 17, 2009 at 3:05 am

  2. The motherless elf

    I switched from mage to death knight but i did not do it to be forced into offtanking. I hate tanking and i absolutely suck at it but I do damn good single target and aoe damage as unholy.

    It doesn’t stop people from asking me to offtank over and over though. How do i avoid people asking me to do it? Its too stressful for me.

    February 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm

  3. larkshadow

    I made a DK when they first came out, but then let her sit on the shelf as I got my paladin (my main) to 80 and fairly well geared. My DK didn’t get attention again until I got bored with heroics for their own sake and had 3 sets of epic gear (ret/holy/prot – just in case), and couldn’t really get better short of raids.

    She was tons of fun to level to 80, and remains lots of fun pvping. But in groups as dps or tank? she sucks. I refuse to play a crappy character, so she sits, ignored, unless I have the very rare hankering to go pvping. I want to make her better, though, which brought me here. Thank you for this no-nonsense post; there were a couple of things here I had not thought of from the perspective mentioned here, and I am a pretty good player, with a reasonable amount of intelligence.

    Unfortunately, many people playing DK’s don’t care if they suck, so I’m not sure how much of your target audience you’ll reach. But hey, it’s great that you’re trying. Now off to do more research into not sucking.

    December 3, 2009 at 8:35 pm

  4. larkshadow

    oh – and as for being “forced” to off-tank? The easiest way to avoid the question is of course to play a character that can’t tank. Barring that… just say no. If you’re as bad as you say, say no not only for your sake, but for theirs as well. Nothing worse than being saved to an instance with a crappy tank – or being kicked from the group you’re saved to because you suck. Bad feelings all round.

    Better for everybody just to say “hey, I don’t like tanking. Got a spot for DPS?”

    ‘course, my philosophy is “whatever the guild needs,” which has caused me to learn to tank, and to heal (something I never thought I’d like). It’s all about having fun, and it’s the shared experiences of raiding that make it fun for me, so I don’t really care what specific role I play.

    If you DO have a particular role you hate, don’t do it. Everybody will be happier. People who are unhappy/bored/frustrated with the role they’re currently playing – especially if they feel coerced to do it – aren’t having as much fun as they might otherwise, and what’s the point in that? You’d just be bumming everybody else out with you heheh.

    December 3, 2009 at 8:40 pm

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