DK 6.0 Transition Guide

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Frost Changes


In Mists of Pandaria, Frost Death Knights suffered from rotations that were designed to allow flexibility in ability usage, so that you could pool some resources in order to make decisions about which ones you spent and in which order. Dual Wield vs Two-Handed had different rotational priorities, with different strengths and weaknesses. However, tuning ended up such that you reached a point where you just had to spend all of your resources as fast as possible to avoid wasting any, and all of that depth went out the window. For Warlords, we’ve adjusted the tuning of several abilities and passives, to ensure that that doesn’t happen again, and the rotational decisions and skill are maintained.

The goal is that Two-Handed Frost Death Knights favor their physical damage, slicing through their enemies with heavy Obliterates, whereas Dual-Wielders favor blasting their foes with frost damage, but both overlap considerably to maintain a cohesive specialization.

  • Frost Strike’s damage has been increased by 100%, but its Runic Power cost has been increased by 5 (up to 25 Runic Power in Frost Presence, and 40 Runic Power in other Presences).
  • Icy Talons now increases attack speed by 20% (down from 45%), and haste by 5% (up from 0%).
  • Might of the Frozen Wastes now increases the damage of Obliterate by 50% (up from 40%) and melee damage by 35% (up from 30%) while wielding a two-handed weapon, and increases the damage of Frost Strike by 50% (up from 35%) while dual-wielding.
  • Razorice now deals 4% additional weapon damage (up from 2%), and increases Frost damage by 2% per stack (down from 3%).
  • Obliterate's damage has been increased by 30%.



What does this mean?


For 2 handed frost: it doesn't seem to make a huge difference in the play style right now in the beta. I'm getting fewer killing machine procs than on live because of the lower haste, and there is a little bit less of a dps loss if you accidentally use a killing machine proc on frost strike instead of obliterate. but otherwise 2h frost is still playing exactly the same. It feels about the same as it did in early MoP when we had slower resource generation and sometimes had to sit on a couple GCD's before obliterating.
For DW Frost: Masterfrost is still better most of the time, but now obliterate is worth putting in the rotation again in your openers and when you have a lot of resources. In a purely single target situation with no opportunity for incidental cleave damage. obliterate is now hitting for about 30% more dps than howling blast, albeit for 2 runes instead of 1, but then you get the chance at the rime proc to make the math even more complex. so it will also depend on what your resources are looking like. 2 howling blasts are still better than 1 obliterate by straight number of resources spent per dps gained, but by number of GCD's used obliterate is better. If you're generating a lot of resources then it may be better to work in an obliterate occasionally. if you find your rune starved though, Masterfrost may still be the better choice
I should also note: my oblterate vs. Howling blast testing was in my masterfrost gear. It's possible that with more haste/crit gear, and gemming for strength that obliterate could just straight up be better than howling blast. I'll do some more testing with it. Right now though 2H frost is doing higher dps than DW anyways, so that is something else to consider for 6.0 if you're currently masterfrost.

Blood Changes


Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights' tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolveabove), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button.

Additionally, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Blood Death Knights to value Haste and Crit as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to Critical Strikes, and Scent of Blood give defensive value to Multistrike. To solve GCD-capping issues and increase the value of Haste, we also removed the passive rune regeneration increase from Improved Blood Presence. Finally, we tweaked the targeting AI of Dancing Rune Weapon, and fixed it up to properly copy most Talents that you know.

  • Blood Rites now also causes auto attack Multistrikes to generate 15 Runic Power. The Death Strike damage increase it provided has been moved to Veteran of the Third War.
  • Blood Presence now increases Stamina by 20% (down from 25%), and armor by 30% (down from 55%).
  • Bone Shield charges can now be consumed at a rate of once per second (up from once every 2 seconds).
  • Crimson Scourge now increases the damage of Pestilence by 50% (up from 10%) and now also increases the damage of diseases by 30%.
  • Dancing Rune Weapon’s summoned Rune Weapon now remains fixated on the Death Knight’s target at the time of summoning, and copies the effects of Talents that are tied to the Death Knight, such as Blood Boil, Frost Fever, or Asphyxiate. Should the original target be dead or otherwise unavailable, the Rune Weapon will switch to assist with the Death Knight’s current target.
  • Death Strike now causes healing that scales in effectiveness with attack power, instead of based on damage taken in the last 5 seconds. This healing is affected by Resolve.
  • Heart Strike has been removed. Blood Death Knights should use Blood Boil in its place.
  • Improved Blood Presence now increases all damage dealt by 15%, instead of increasing rune regeneration rate.
  • Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces all damage taken by 40% 50% for 3 seconds. It also now has 2 charges, with a 40-second recharge time.
    • Will of the Necropolis has been redesigned. It now automatically triggers an immediate, free Rune Tap when you take damage that reduces you below 30% health. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 30 seconds.
    • Glyph of Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces Rune Tap’s recharge time by 10 seconds, but reduces the damage reduction it provides by 20%.
  • Scarlet Fever has been removed. Its effects have been merged into Scent of Blood.
    • Scent of Blood has been changed. It now causes Pestilence to refresh diseases, and increase the healing of your next Death Strike by 20%, stacking up to 5 times.
  • Veteran of the Third War now increases Multistrike chance, and haste, and Stamina by 10% (instead of up from 9% to Stamina), reduces the chance for attacks to be parried by 3%, increases the damage of Death Strike by 100%, and grants 1 Runic Power per second while in combat.


What does this mean?


There are a lot of massive changes to Blood DK's but none of it really drastically affects our "rotation" it's mostly changes in the "feel" of the class, how we're gearing, and how we scale for certain fights/situations. Self healing has been completely gutted, but in it's place our self shielding has been considerably buffed. If anything we will come out of this as stronger raid tanks for cutting edge progression, but it will be a lot more difficult to solo old content (or last tier raid bosses as some of us do to show off) and questing by pulling 20 mobs and aoe'ing them down,

  • Rune strike is gone, but you use death coil in its place. Death coil rune cost has been adjusted to 30
  • Heart Strike is also gone, but in it's place we'll basically just be spamming blood boil now. There is some utility that comes into play with the blood runes, as Soul Reaper, Rune Tap, and Strangulate also use blood runes. but most of the time we'll now be spamming blood boil. Both Blood Boil and Soul Reaper increase the healing of you next Death Strike by 20%.
  • Avoidance has not been removed completely. 1% Critical Strike now gives DK's 1% Parry. In 5.4 we stacked parry to gain more crit. now if we want we can just stack crit to gain more parry. It's worth noting, I don't know at the moment how viable of an option this will be, but almost all of my avoidance tank gear turned into Crit/Mastery. and my rings/neck became either crit/armor or mastery/armor. So if you're avoidance stacking now, you'll be crit stacking when 6.0 drops.
  • Self healing has been nerfed quite a bit, but shielding has been buffed to take its place. What this means is that in a party or raid setting, our relative survivability has not been greatly changed if there is a healer topping us off. however if you sometimes show up 10min early to raid to solo the trash, it's going to be a lot harder now. DK tanking is like a constant Malkorok fight now, you can keep loading up the shield, but it's a lot harder to heal your actual health pool.
  • Death strike now scales with Attack power, but it also scales with 'Resolve'. If I deathstrike on a target dummy with 587 ilvl, I'm healing myself for about 11k. taking off just 3 pieces of gear I heal for 7k. so there is considerable scaling to the healing portion of death strike based on attack power.
  • In addition to the above we have a new passive ability resolve. Death strike used to heal for 20% of the damage taken in the last 5 seconds. that has been removed and instead we have resolve. Resolve still increases based on the amount of damage we've taken in the last 5 seconds, and it gives a % increase to self heals and absorbs of all abilities. just pulling some random trash my reslove quickly scaled to almost 200%. however it's worth noting after killing the trash pack my HP had dropped about 20k (down to 115k from 135k) but I had about a 50k shield on me. So if you're doing things solo (lke questing), you're probably going to need to stop to eat occasionally.
  • Finally, Rune Tap is now a purely defensive cooldown. it's a mini Ice Bound Fortitude. this is another huge blow to our solo'ing ability, but actually a buff to our raid tanking. DK's largely lacked strong pure damage mitigation CD's for some hard hitting fights, and this will help us in that regard. It's a 40 second cooldown that stores up to 2 charges, and reduces damage taken by 40% for 3 seconds.

Some notes about gemming/stats for blood:
Strength = More attack power = larger death strike base heals
Mastery = larger death strike shields
Crit = Parry
Versaility and Armor = % damage reduction
Multistrike: blood gets a 5% bonus to multistrike, but you won't find much of it right now.
So, just to recap: There are a TON of blood changes, but as long as you put death coil on your bar in place of rune strike, blood will still play exactly the same way, it's just going to feel very different. You're going to have a lot less self healing, a lot more shielding, and the scaling/ramp up time of your self shielding may feel different. 

Unholy Changes

  • Mastery is going to be your best stat for SoO, followed by crit. When you reach level 100 this will change to include more multistrike. With low gear your going to gear Mastery >= multistirke, then as you get higher gear in mythic (and probably subsequent tiers) you will gear more to multistirke >= Mastery.
  • Unholy frenzy has been removed.
  • Pestilence has been removed and its effect has been rolled into Blood Boil
  • Plaguebearer is a new talent to replace Roiling Blood becasue of the pestilence change. This talent now increase the duration of your diseases on your target when you use Death Coil.
  • Unholy Pres now gives 20% haste instead of 10%.
  • AMS now gives 90%~ less runic power from damage sources.
  • Army of the Dead is now Instant
  • Raise Dead is unholy only.
  • Death Pact now heals you for 50% but absorbs 25% of max heath from incoming healing for 15s.
  • Diseases no longer modify your ability damage (Scourge Strike)
  • Diseases no longer snapshot and ar dynamic like other dots.
  • Unholy Aura now increases haste by 5% and Versatility by 3%, instead of attack speed.
  • Death coil is now 30 RP instead of 32
  • Your Level 60 talents are now based on runic power use instead of ability use.
  • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 10% (down from 35%)
  • Necrosis is a new passive ability for Unholy Death Knights. Necrosis causes Multistrikes from Festering Strike, Pestilence, Plague Strike, Scourge Strike, and Soul Reaper to also deal a burst of Shadow damage. The amount of burst damage is based on Attack Power, not the damage from the triggering Multistrike.

--Contributed by Krazyito

In general feel and playstyle Unholy has not changed very much from what it currently is on live.


If you have any more feed back please comment below. I kind of threw this togetther with a friend of mine that I know.

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You forgot unholy sad.png


Quote (since i don't know how to format)

In order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Unholy Death Knights, we reduced the power of their passive Unholy Might ability, and added a new passive ability to make Multistrike more effective.

  • Necrosis is a new passive ability for Unholy Death Knights.
    • Necrosis causes Multistrikes from Festering Strike, Pestilence, Plague Strike, Scourge Strike, and Soul Reaper to also deal a burst of Shadow damage. The amount of burst damage is based on Attack Power, not the damage from the triggering Multistrike.
  • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 10% (down from 35%)

End quote


Granted this doesn't really tell us too much beyond the fact that unholy "may" value multi-strike going into wod. However, in the beta, they feel relatively unchanged in terms of rotation and play style. 

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Added a section for Unholy DK

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just wanna inform u that in 6.0 lvl 90 as Unholy, its Mastery/haste and not mastery/crit, because there isnt any gear with multistrike on at lvl 90, at lvl 100 u need Multistrike/Mastery

Edited by DenGrummeFrQ

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Could you explain more why haste over crit at 90? I have to talk to my DK friend again, but my understanding is that haste got devalued because of the loss of snapshotting. 

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It is still Mastery/Crit. Haste has extremely little value for Unholy. Every sim I have from my own character, to the presets, and then T17 N/H/M shows Haste as our worst stat, which is to be expected. It will be Mastery/Multistrike once WoD drops, but Crit will always have a greater value than Haste.

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Couple of issues here.

- For DW Frost, Mastersimple is still competitive with Masterfrost, at both 90 and 100. This means no Obliterate.

- For both DW and 2H frost, you still ignore Killing Machine, at both 90 and 100. There is no reason to delay attacks or pool resources for Killing Machine. Yes, I know that sounds wrong. I know it makes no sense. I know Blizzard wrote a whole essay about how they were fixing this. They didn't.

- Also for both Frost subspecs, even though the attunement is Haste, the stat soft-caps at very low values, around 250 at lvl90 and 400 at lvl100. DW frost wants mastery (same as live) and 2H wants crit (at 90) and versatility (at 100).


- This is subjective, but I really feel you glossed over Frost downtime. Without Plague Leech, both frost subspecs have huyuuuuuuge downtime. 2H is still very slow even with Plague Leech, but DW feels OK with it and mastersimple. Also note that is at lvl90 in end of expansion gear; you won't have this much haste at lvl100 until patch 6.4.

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From mendenbarr ("EJ Frost/Unholy/Advanced tactics author, runs the DK blog at , consultant for the DPS Icy Veins DK guides, and proud member of #acherus, the IRC DK chat run by Magdalena.")  , cross posted at two sites:

Edited by potatoewow

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