Death Knight Class Overview

Last updated on Aug 18, 2022 at 15:15 by Sellin 1 comment

Lords of shadow and all things necrotic, Death Knights are the newest class added to the World of Warcraft in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and offer some of the most unique gameplay of any class.

Death Knights are extremely powerful in both solo and group content. While solo, Death Knights have the strongest self-healing in the game and manage to do so while only sacrificing a small portion of their damage. Meanwhile, in parties and Raids they provide unique, powerful buffs to their entire group while being either one of the most durable tanks in the game or one of the strongest damage dealers depending on their chosen specialization.


Death Knight Playstyle

Death Knight utilizes a unique system called Runes. These runes regenerate over time or can be instantly refreshed with abilities such as Empower Rune Weapon IconEmpower Rune Weapon. In total there are six Runes; two Blood, two Frost, and two Unholy. Each Death Knight ability requires either a specific Rune or Runic Power. Runic Power operates similarly to Fury for Warrior or Bear Druid in that it is generated by attacking and using abilities and is spent to deal damage.

While not as inhibitive as Druid's forms or a Warriors stances, Death Knight has the ability to choose between three different presences, Frost, Unholy, And Blood. Frost Presence IconFrost Presence increases your stamina and the amount of armor that is contributed by your armor, Blood Presence IconBlood Presence gives you a flat damage increase and Unholy Presence IconUnholy Presence increases your movement speed and reduces your global cooldown while increasing the regeneration rate of your Runes.

Death Knight Class Crest WotLK Guide

Death Knight Specializations

Death Knight is able to choose from three specializations: Blood, Frost, and Unholy.

  • Blood — Focuses on large, slow attacks that maximize the utilization of each Rune. This specialization is primarily played as a Tank but in later tiers of Wrath of the Lich King will become a competitive dps specialization.
  • Unholy — Focuses on maximizing the strength of their pets and spreading powerful diseases.
  • Frost — Focuses on a flurry of quick attacks with a rotation that is constantly changing due to various procs.

What Specialization Should I Play?

All three Death Knight specializations fill different roles. Blood is primarily played as the tanking Specialization as it offers the most consistent survivability mixed with strong snap aggro whereas the other two specializations, Frost and Unholy, are more focused on dealing damage.

Unholy Death Knight brings the powerful 13% magic damage taken raid debuff in the form of Ebon Plaguebringer IconEbon Plaguebringer but also provides some of the strongest burst damage in the game. Unholy is hard to master, but when you fully understand how to utilize your procs and cooldowns to maximize the damage of your pets, such as Summon Gargoyle IconSummon Gargoyle, you will be able to deal some of the highest single target damage in the game.

Frost Death Knight brings the powerful melee haste buff, Improved Icy Talons IconImproved Icy Talons, but also deals massive single target damage. Frost is a spec that will test your ability to react to ever-changing conditions, with the focuses on taking advantage of procs such as Killing Machine IconKilling Machine to maximize your DPS.

Blood Death Knight offers the powerful attack power buff in the form of Abomination's Might IconAbomination's Might. Blood deals almost exclusively physical damage and puts a much larger emphasis on survivability making it the default tank spec. Many of your talents as Blood will maximize each rune spent as opposed to focusing on ways of dealing damage while runes are depleted or helping you regenerate them more quickly.


Races For Death Knight

In Wrath of the Lich King, Death Knight can be played as every race! Death Knight are masters of all things shadowy and necrotic that can take on either the Tank or DPS roles.


Gearing a Death Knight

Death Knights are able to wear Cloth, Leather, Mail, and even Plate armor right away due to starting at Level 55. Death Knight is able to use both One-Handed and Two-Handed Axes, Maces, and Swords, as well as Polearms. Often times as Unholy or Frost you will be dual-wielding weapons, and as Blood you will typically be using a two-handed weapon.


Death Knight Addons and Macros

Addons and Macros can greatly improve your quality of life in Azeroth and Northrend. Listed below are some of our recomendations on Addons and Macros to help get the most out of your time playing the game.


Death Knight Guides for Wrath of the Lich King: Classic

Listed below are guides filled with information to help you play your Death Knight optimally in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for Classic WoW. Death Knight is one of the strongest leveling classes in the game with an incredible amount of self healing and damage allowing for minimal if any downtime between pulls.


Can Death Knights Tank?

Yes! While all three specs are technically able to be played in a Tank role, Blood is considered to be the strongest due to its immense amount of self healing and its ability to scale better with gear than either of the other two specs. However it is not uncommon to see someone tanking as Frost. Though Unholy does not have as many benefits as the other two specs it is still technically able to tank, however it is not advised without an extensive amount of knowledge on the class and the spec and is oftentimes just worse than both Blood and Frost.


What is the best DPS spec for Death Knight?

Both Frost and Unholy offer great and unique benefits and it is hard to say which is the better DPS spec. Frost will oftentimes offer more personal DPS and provides some buffs that, while not unique to only Death Knight, can be hard to get access to in a group without a Frost Death Knight; the same goes for Unholy as they offer a massive group debuff for all your spell casters in Ebon Plaguebringer IconEbon Plaguebringer. As such, it can be difficult to say which is the 'best' DPS spec, but both are strong and have a place in every raid. Try out both and see what you enjoy more as they both have fairly different playstyles.


What race is best for Death Knight?

It depends on your goals and faction choice. If you are Horde, Orc is the the best option as changes to Blood Fury IconBlood Fury have made it more viable for Tanks and it will allow you to better take advantage of snapshotting your debuffs early into encounters. As Alliance, you can choose from any of the races, though if you are looking to tank either Dwarf or Night Elf are the best choices as Stoneform IconStoneform offers a small personal cooldown while Night Elves' Elusiveness IconElusiveness adds a considerable amount of dodge passively. If you are looking mostly for PvP, Human is your best option because of how powerful Will to Survive IconWill to Survive is, allowing you to have an entire extra trinket slot that would typically be dedicated to a CC-breaking PvP trinket.



  • 18 Aug. 2022: Page added.
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