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Updates to Death Knight Class and Unholy Trees on the War Within Alpha

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The Death Knight class and Unholy trees have seen some notable updates in this week's Alpha build and we're looking at them in more detail.

Class Tree

  • Blizzard added a new talent called "Unyielding Will" that removes harmful magic effects when activated.
  • Blood Draw moved to third gate.
  • Mind Freeze and Coldthirst are now optional.
  • Icebound Fortitude moved to Frost starting position.

Unholy Tree

  • The layout has been updated for better flow; left side is disease-focused and the right side is pet-focused.
  • Unholy Assault and Festermight swapped with Morbidity and Superstrain.
  • Sudden Doom changes to ease Runic Power overflow.

Upcoming Changes

  • Blizzard teased changes to Blood to address Abomination Limb.
  • Fixes for the Arctic Assault Frost talent are also in the works.

Community Manager Kaivax explains the latest Death Knight changes in the blue post below.

Blizzard Logo(Source)

Hello again Death Knights!

Today’s new alpha build has some further updates to the Class and Unholy trees, mostly as it relates to their respective layouts. We heard plenty of feedback on how the Class tree fell short in some of our stated goals especially in the latter half of the tree. To address this, we’ve split out the newest choice node into individual nodes at the capstone level and added a new talent Unyielding Will that removes harmful magic effects when activated.

Blood Draw is no longer at the capstone level and has moved to an optional location in the 3rd gate. We’ve also reduced the ranks of Osmosis, Subduing Grasp, and Runic Protection which feels more appropriate for their effects. We’ve also restructured talents throughout the 3rd gate of the tree to something that should feel better to navigate in addition to the latter talent half restructure we’ve done some updates to the pathing in the 1st gate.

Mind Freeze and its follow up talent Coldthirst are now available on the left side of the tree and are completely optional based on your talent preference. To accomplish this, we shifted Icebound Fortitude to the starting position for Frost. We hope this latest round of updates feels much less restrictive and generally more exciting to navigate. Thank you for all the class tree feedback and we look forward to hearing your feedback on the lates revision.

Unholy’s talent tree changes were a little smaller in scope, but we aimed to address the primary concerns for the natural flow of the tree and some choices feeling at odds with each other and what your build is asking you to do. The general idea of the changes shifted the left side of the tree to be more “disease focused” and the right side “pet focused” while the middle has choices that are appealing to both types of builds. The biggest shift you will notice is the movement of Unholy Assault and Festermight functionally swapping locations with Morbidity and Superstrain.

Ruptured Viscera has moved to the right side of the tree and is less of a “gating” talent pick for something that should feel more optional. Lastly, this build has a functionality change for Sudden Doom to help address a few of the problems with the most recent changes as it pertains to Runic Power overflow and Festering Wound generation. Sudden Doom will now reduce the cost of your next Death Coil/Epidemic by 10 Runic Power (was free).

We tested removing the Runic Power cost reduction completely but found that it was easy to become starved outside of cooldowns leading to some higher than desired downtime. What is also nice about this change is it gives us a better tuning hook for future balancing of resources if we find the amount to be too little or too much. The second part of this change is a bit experimental in nature, but Sudden Doom will now make your next Death Coil/Epidemic burst a Festering Wound. Internally with testing we have found it creates a natural cadence in which you want to press Festering Strike instead of relying only on passive wound applicators.

The other perk of Death Coil bursting a Festering Wound when consuming Sudden Doom is it helps ease the friction of what to press during your cooldowns. This has created a little additional complexity in your rotation outside of cooldowns as it can require you to pre-plan a little more when Apocalypse is coming off cooldown. That said, we’ve been playing with it and while it does require a bit of forethought during your rotation the tension hasn’t felt negatively impactful. We are very eager to hear your thoughts on this change when you have a chance to play it in game.

Our next round of Blood changes didn’t make this build, but we would like to address the concerns over Abomination Limb and it no longer generating Boneshield charges as the last round of changes heavily impacted Blood more so than the other specs. With the update to Bloods talents, we are looking at ways to compensate the change to Abomination Limb to ease the loss of Boneshield charges on pull.

We are also aware of an issue with Frost’s newest talent Arctic Assault generating Runic Empowerment which is not intended and will be fixed in an upcoming build.

Thank you for all your continued feedback and we will see you next week for an additional round of updates.

Blizzard highlighted the Death Knight changes in the development notes. We'll be exploring them in more details in the days ahead.

Blizzard Logo(Source)

  • DEATH KNIGHT
    • New Talent: Unyielding Will – Anti-Magic Shell’s cooldown is increased by 20 seconds and it now also removes all harmful magic effects when activated. Now a capstone talent available after Rune Mastery and Subduing Grasp.
    • The class tree has had further adjustments in talent locations and pathing updates.
    • Osmosis healing received while Anti-Magic Shell is active is increased by 15%. Now a 1-point talent (was 2).
    • Runic Protection armor increased to 6% (was 3%). Now a 1-point talent (was 2).
    • Blood Draw cooldown reduced to 2 minutes (was 3 minutes).
    • Blood Draw is no longer a capstone and is now available in Death’s Echo old location.
    • Icebound Fortitude is now the first available talent on the left of the tree replacing Mind Freeze.
    • Runic Attenuation is now available directly after Icebound Fortitude.
    • Death’s Echo now a capstone ability available after Will of the Necropolis and Subduing Grasp.
    • Subduing Grasp now reduces damage by 6% for 6 seconds when you pull an enemy (was 8% at rank 2). Now a 1-point talent (was 2).
    • Vestigial Shell no longer a choice node with Null Magic and is available in the right capstone space.
    • Null Magic no longer a choice node with Vestigial Shell and is available in the left capstone space.
    • Unholy
      • Sudden Doom now reduces the cost of your next Death Coil/Epidemic by 10 (was free).
        • Developers’ notes: With the update to Sudden Doom’s proc rate it further flooded Unholy with Runic Power and you weren’t able to spend the RP down fast enough in a lot of scenarios to prevent overcapping. This next iteration we are going to try a reduced cost Death Coil or Epidemic to help combat the problem of Runic Power overcapping. Internally we tested this as a full removal of the cost reduction but it left quite a bit of downtime in the rotation and felt particularly bad outside of cooldowns. A 10 Runic Power cost reduction felt reasonably well both inside and outside of cooldowns.
      • Sudden Doom now also causes your next Death Coil/Epidemic to burst a Festering Wound.
        • Developers’ notes: We are looking into ways to increase the frequency you apply Festering Wound with Festering Strike so we are exploring having a Runic Power spender burst a wound instead of only rune spenders or Apocalypse. Internally with testing we have found it creates a natural cadence in which you want to press Festering Strike instead of relying only on passive wound applicators. The other perk of Death Coil bursting a Festering Wound when consuming Sudden Doom is it helps ease the friction of what to press during your cooldowns.
      • Updated the spec tree with a few additional talent re-locations. Notable movements are:
        • Superstrain and Morbidity now located on the left side of the tree directly after Death Rot.
        • Unholy Assault and Festermight are now located in the middle of the tree after Army of the Dead.
        • Eternal Agony is now available after Dark Transformation.
    • Frost
      • Fixed an issue with Absolute Zero being available prior to the 3rd gate being unlocked.

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