Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Death Knight leveling spec

A comment from David made me think it might be useful to write about my DK build and share my experiences with her so far. While I hope someone finds this useful, I didn't really have the time/gold to experiment with the different trees or even different Unholy builds, so it's quite likely that there are better ways to go about this. Also, as I'm writing this the Armory is down, so I'm going off my (shoddy) memory.

So let's get down to the interesting(?) stuff. From what I heard about DKs before starting playing one, I figured Frost was the relatively low DPS "tanking" build, Blood was more single target DPS, and Unholy had pretty good single target DPS with better AoE. Also, Unholy lets you control your ghoul like a pet and removes its limited duration, thus either helping you DPS or your bank account (Corpse Dust might be cheap, but if you have to use one every 2 minutes it'll add up). I ended up with this spec at level 71, with this being what I'm going for at 80.

Now, in general, while questing I've had pretty much no downtime between fights and hardly any problems with group quests, so I skipped over most of the "defensive" talents in favor of more DPS. This might change in Northrend, but it's working pretty well for now.

The Talents

These are the Tier 1 Unholy talents (numbers in parenthesis represent how many points the talent is):
  • Vicious Strikes(2) - More and better crits for some very of the most often used spells.
  • Morbidity(3) - Better Death Coil (runic power dump) and lower CD on Death and Decay (15 seconds instead of 30, for a 10 second spell). Basically, the 2 skills defining DKs from Warcraft 2 get improved. How can you go wrong?
  • Anticipation(5) - 5% dodge, not much to say.
As I said, there's no real need for extra dodge while soloing, and the other 2 talents are pretty good so it was a pretty easy decision.

Tier 2 brings us:
  • Epidemic(2) - Since you always want to have your victim as diseased as possible, having to renew them less often definitely helps.
  • Virulence(3) - Spell hit might be a problem against raid bosses or in PvP, but not an area I've had a problem with so far (especially with all the +hit on Outland gear). Making the diseases harder to dispell is strictly a PvP thing. Could be a good place to stick some filler points, but I ignored it in my build.
  • Unholy Command(2) - Better Death Grip mostly means better tanking. If you're soloing you don't usually need it.
  • Ravenous Dead(3) - Since we'll soon have a ghoul without limited duration, making it stronger is not a bad idea.
For Tier 3 we have:
  • Outbreak(3) - Increased damage for Plague Strike (one of the diseases) and for AoE damage spells. Pretty useful when fighting more than 1 mob.
  • Necrosis(5) - More DPS, plain and simple. Good filler, unless you prefer Virulence.
  • Corpse Explosion(1) - Seemed like a good idea at first so I picked it up, but then I ended up not really using it as it's a little too situational. It also uses up a rune, which can mess with your rotation (assuming you have one), so not exactly my thing. I suppose I could think of uses for it for PvP, maybe even raiding/instancing, but not that useful for soloing.
As you can see in my spec, I ended up filling all 5 points in Necrosis to move up the tree, but again - if there are other places you feel will be more useful for your points then go for it.

On to Tier 4:
  • On a Pale Horse(2) - 20% faster mounted speed? Sign me up. The shorter stuns are a nice bonus, but not such a big deal (unless you PvP).
  • Blood-Caked Blade(3) - More DPS again. Again, good for filler.
  • Shadow of Death(1) - More strength and stamina are nice. Turning into a ghoul when you die also has its uses, but not such a big deal. Most importantly, this is required for Master of Ghouls down the line, and we will be getting that.
So 3 points are no-brainers, another 2 in fillers, and we're moving on to Tier 5:
  • Summon Gargoyle(1) - Very helpful for long fights (mostly group quests). Get your runic power to 100, summon your gargoyle and watch it blast whatever's around. Just remember not to use your runic power for anything else while he's out.
  • Impurity(5) - More DPS for spells... I haven't tried it as it didn't strike me as such a good talent at first, but now that I think about it it doesn't look that bad. Let's tag this under filler too.
  • Dirge(2) - No, not that one. This one is actually useful, as opposed to just spamming your trade channel. More runic power never hurts.
Again, 3 points in new talents and 2 in fillers, and now we get to have a real pet in Tier 6:
  • Magic Suppression(5) - The reduced magic damage isn't that critical, and the improved Anti-Magic Shell isn't either, at least not while soloing. Feel free to skip this one. It is required if you're aiming for Anti-Magic Zone, though, so if you want that you'll have to fill this up.
  • Reaping(3) - Death runes can basically count as any rune, so getting 3/3 here really opens up a lot of new possible rotations, and gives you some flexibility when things aren't that straightforward.
  • Master of Ghouls(1) - Full control of your ghoul and no more limited duration. If Warlocks are Hunters in dresses, we're Hunters in plate. Yay, us!
We're almost there, Tier 7:
  • Desecration(5) - More DPS and helps catch up with those pesky runners. Pretty useful.
  • Unholy Aura(2) - The aura part isn't that interesting, and you get Unholy Presence at 70. Still, I hate having to switch presences all the time and I run with Blood Presence, so I decided to take this as well. I won't blame you if you put these 2 points somewhere else, though.
In Tier 8 we have:
  • Night of the Dead(2) - With Master of Ghouls we don't need a reduced CD for our pet (maybe for PvP, but I still don't see it) and we don't get Army of the Dead until 80, so this is really a waste of points.
  • Crypt Fever(3) - More damage for diseases, and required for Ebon Plaguebringer a little down the line. Especially good for AoE, as a lot of the damage is caused by diseases spread to other mobs using Pestilence.
  • Bone Shield(1) - Taking less damage isn't such a big deal for me, and although the extra damage is nice, it seems like 4 charges and a 5 minute duration would just make this too much of a bother for me. Still, it looks like a lot of people are picking this up, so maybe it is worth it.
So 3 points in Crypt Fever and 2 points to finish up the previous tier (unless you skip Unholy Aura, in which case you have yet more filler). On to Tier 9:
  • Wandering Plague(3) - More damage, especially if you're AoEing. It does depend on your crit chance, though, so keep it as high as possible.
  • Ebon Plaguebringer(3) - We took Crypt Fever for a reason. Now our diseases are even stronger, and the crit chance goes nicely with Wandering Plague.
  • Scourge Strike(1) - More damage than Death Strike for the same cost, this should replace it most of the time. You should still use Death Strike to heal up, though.
Must've been Christmas with all those goodies there, I almost feel bad that it only takes 5 points to move up to the next tier. With only 1 talent, Tier 10 doesn't give us much choice, but it's a good talent so I can't really complain:
  • Rage of Rivendare(5) - A little expertise for our PvPers, and more damage to our spells for everyone. Pretty good investment.
And finally, sitting pretty at the top, our 51-point talent is:
As you've probably noticed, there are still some points missing in tiers 9/10, which I decided to fill out and I put another point to finish off Blood-Caked Blade. If you prefer that point somewhere else, go for it - it was filler anyway. Now, you'd think we were done, but we still have some points left on our way to 80, so let's move across to Blood.

In Tier 1 we can have:
  • Butchery(2) - Getting runic power after kills isn't as useful as getting them while you're still fighting, but still pretty good. Definitely better than putting it in Blade Barrier (unless you're tanking).
  • Subversion(3) - Higher crit chance on a few abilities, pretty decent.
  • Blade Barrier(5) - Useful for mitigating damage, if that's what you're going for. But we already know that it isn't.
Then, Tier 2 brings us:
  • Bladed Armor(5) - Good thing we wear plate. It makes this talent really useful.
  • Scent of Blood(3) - I know I said more runic power is good, but not at the cost of 3 talent points when it's this unpredictable.
  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization(2) - More white damage. OK, I guess, but I prefer Bladed Armor.
If you've been paying attention, you'll see this is where currently am, with 3/5 Bladed Armor. That means that as untested as this spec was so far, it'll only get worse for these last couple of levels. So, off we go into the unexplored Tier 3:
  • Rune Tap(1) - Without Improved Rune Tap, this feels pretty weak (especially with a 1 minute CD). Even with IRT, though, it's a 20% heal every 30 seconds, at the cost of a much needed rune.
  • Dark Conviction(5) - Extra crit is good. With Wandering Plague, it's great.
  • Death Rune Mastery(3) - Looks pretty good, and definitely something I would have taken if I were going Blood, but having Scourge Strike means this probably won't see much use.
With our last points, we go to Tier 4:
  • Improved Rune Tap(3) - Obviously, we can't take this if we don't get Rune Tap. And I don't plan to, so that makes it a "no".
  • Spell Deflection(3) - Parrying spells should be really useful for PvP. In solo, I don't see it making that much difference.
  • Vendetta(3) - It's not much, but I don't usually need much health at the end of fights. Seems like a good investment for my last 1/2 points.
So there you have it. Comments are welcome, and so are completely different spec suggestions.

1 comment:

David said...

Thanks for all the info! I have been leveling blood for the past 4 levels, but now I'm ready to give Unholy a spin. I'll let you know how it goes!