Death Knight Class Changes for Shadowlands (Patch 9.0.2)

Last updated on Nov 16, 2020 at 10:30 by Stan 5 comments

On this page, you will find a list of all Death Knight changes coming in Shadowlands.

In addition to the class changes listed here, Death Knights also gain access to class-specific Death Knight Covenant Abilities that can be used anywhere in the open world, Legendary Powers obtained through Runecarving, Soulbind Conduits, and Anima Powers that only work in Torghast.


General Changes

  • Rune Strike Icon Rune Strike is no longer a Blood Death Knight Talent and has been redesigned to be a Rune spender and Runic Power generating ability used during the initial Death Knight leveling experience. Rune Strike will be replaced with Festering Strike Icon Festering Strike, Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike or Howling Blast Icon Howling Blast when you choose a specialization.
  • When swapping weapons, the Off Balance Icon Off Balance debuff is applied and prevents the Death Knight from gaining the bonuses of Runeforge enchantments for 30 seconds.
  • Dark Command Icon Dark Command is now learned at level 9 (was 14).
  • Anti-Magic Shell Icon Anti-Magic Shell is now learned at level 14 (was 9).
  • All Death Knight specializations now have access to the following abilities
    • Death Coil Icon Death Coil — Fires a blast of unholy energy at the target, causing Shadow damage to an enemy or healing an Undead ally.
    • Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay — Corrupts the targeted ground, causing Shadow damage over 10 seconds to targets within the area.
    • Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead — Raises a ghoul to fight by your side for 1 minute. Only one ghoul can be up at a time.
    • Chains of Ice Icon Chains of Ice — Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing movement speed by 70% for 8 seconds.
    • Lichborne Icon Lichborne (previously a PvP Talent) — Draw upon unholy energy to become Undead for 10 seconds, increasing Leech by 10%, and making you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep effects.
    • Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone — Places an Anti-Magic Zone for 10 seconds that reduces spell damage taken by party or raid members by 20%.
  • Runeforging has 5 new runes available to engrave upon your weapon:
    • Rune of Sanguination Icon Rune of Sanguination — Your Death Strike Icon Death Strike deals increased damage based on the target's missing health. When you fall below 35% health, you heal for 50% of your maximum health over 6 seconds. Can only occur once every 5 minutes.
    • Rune of Spellwarding Icon Rune of Spellwarding — Deflects 3% of all spell damage and has chance to create a shield that absorbs magic damage equal to 10% of your maximum health. When an enemy damages the shield, their cast speed is reduced by 10% for 6 seconds.
    • Rune of Hysteria Icon Rune of Hysteria — Increases maximum Runic Power by 20 and your attacks have a chance to increase Runic Power generation by 20% for 8 seconds.
    • Rune of Unending Thirst Icon Rune of Unending Thirst — When you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, gain 5% Haste, 5% movement speed, and heals you for 5% of your maximum health. Additionally, increases your movement speed while dead by 10%.
    • Rune of the Apocalypse Icon Rune of the Apocalypse — Your ghoul's attacks have a chance to apply an additional effect:
      • Death: Reduces healing taken by 1%.
      • Famine: Reduces damage done to the Death Knight by 2%.
      • Pestilence: Slows the target by 15% and deals damage over time.
      • War: Increases damage taken by 1%.

Overview of Blood Changes

Beyond the necessary number-related tuning that always happens when a new expansion comes out, we are receiving some changes around our mitigation, extra abilities and cooldowns, and a couple of talent changes. The following abilities are now baseline: Rune Tap Icon Rune Tap, Lichborne Icon Lichborne, Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone, Raise Dead Icon Raise Dead, and Death Coil Icon Death Coil.

Having recovered Anti-Magic Zone Icon Anti-Magic Zone will make quite a large difference in terms of toolkit usage, as it allows us to truly support our group, by providing a flat 20% magic damage reduction to anybody standing in it. This is most definitely a skill you will want to have accessible somewhere.

A small talent reshuffle also happened. In particular, Ossuary Icon Ossuary was made baseline (which is great!). Being a level 58 passive, however, means you will be losing it for all of the Shadowlands pre-patch and most of the levelling process. In its stead, Blood Tap Icon Blood Tap has been shuffled in and provides a small number of Runes per minute, on demand.

Fundamentally, however, nothing has changed — the rotation is still the same, the resources are relatively unchanged (the 8.1 Uldir change to Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield bringing it to 50% armor has been added back); a couple of talents gained additional effects (Voracious Icon Voracious being the best example).


Overview of Frost Changes

There are not too many changes that change how Frost Death Knight plays in Shadowlands. The talent tree has undergone a slight rework, which will help talents that were never used in Battle for Azeroth see play in Shadowlands.

The biggest and most notable change to Frost DK in Shadowlands is the revival of Two-Handed Frost and the Might of the Frozen Wastes Icon Might of the Frozen Wastes passive ability, which allows Two-Handed Frost to be playable. This is exciting, since before you needed 3 weapons in order to switch between Frost and the other Death Knight specs.


Overview of Unholy Changes

There are a few changes that have changed how Unholy Death Knight plays in Shadowlands. The talent tree has undergone a slight rework, which will help talents that were never used in Battle for Azeroth see play in Shadowlands.


General Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50

  • Sacrificial Pact Icon Sacrificial Pact is learned at level 54. Sacrifice your ghoul to deal Shadow damage to 8 nearby enemies and heal for 25% of your maximum health. Costs 20 Runic Power and the ability has a 2-minute cooldown.

Blood Death Knight

  • Rune Tap Icon Rune Tap is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Blood Death Knights at level 19. Additionally, Rune Tap has 2 charges and has been moved off the global cooldown.
  • Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay damage has been increased by 25%.
  • Death Strike Icon Death Strike damage has been increased by 21%.

Blood Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50

  • Heart Strike Icon Heart Strike (Level 52) — Increases damage done by 20%.
  • Vampiric Blood Icon Vampiric Blood (Level 56) — Increases all healing and absorbs by 5% and duration by 2 seconds.
  • Ossuary Icon Ossuary (Level 58) — While you have at least 5 Bone Shield Icon Bone Shield charges, the cost of Death Strike Icon Death Strike is reduced by 5 Runic Power. Additionally, your maximum Runic Power is increased by 10.

Blood Death Knight Talent Changes


Blood Death Knight Talent Tree

Below is the current talent tree for Blood Death Knights.


Blood Death Knight Shadowlands Guide


Frost Death Knight


Frost Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50


Frost Death Knight Talent Changes

  • New Talent: Hypothermic Presence Icon Hypothermic Presence — Embrace the ice in your veins, reducing the Runic Power cost of your abilities by 35% for 8 seconds.
  • Runic Attenuation Icon Runic Attenuation proc rate has been adjusted to bring Dual Wield and Two-Handed closer together and the Runic Power gain has been increased to 5 (was 3).
  • Blinding Sleet Icon Blinding Sleet now has an additional effect — When Blinding Sleet ends, enemies are slowed by 50% for 6 seconds.
  • Icecap Icon Icecap now reduces the remaining cooldown of Pillar of Frost Icon Pillar of Frost by 4 seconds (was 3 seconds).
  • Frostscythe Icon Frostscythe is now capped at 5 targets.

Frost Death Knight Talent Tree

Below is the current talent tree for Frost Death Knights.


Frost Death Knight Shadowlands Guide


Unholy Death Knight


Unholy Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50


Unholy Death Knight Talent Changes

  • New Talent: Unholy Pact Icon Unholy PactDark Transformation Icon Dark Transformation creates an unholy pact between you and your pet, igniting flaming chains that deal Shadow damage over 15 seconds to enemies between you and your pet. While active, your Strength is increased by 5%.
  • Unholy Blight Icon Unholy Blight's disease now stacks up to 4 times and has an additional effect — Your minions deal 3% increased damage per stack to enemies affected by Unholy Blight. Additionally, it applies Virulent Plague Icon Virulent Plague to enemies.
  • Soul Reaper Icon Soul Reaper has been reworked and now costs 1 Rune and has a 6-second cooldown. Strike an enemy for Shadow damage and afflict the enemy with Soul Reaper. After 5 seconds, if the target is below 35% health, this effect will explode dealing additional Shadow damage to the target. If an enemy dies while afflicted gain, gain Runic Corruption Icon Runic Corruption.
  • Defile Icon Defile now has an additional effect — If any enemies are standing in the Defile, it grows in size and deals increased damage every second.
  • Army of the Damned Icon Army of the Damned now has an additional effect — Apocalypse Icon Apocalypse and Army of the Dead Icon Army of the Dead summon a Magus of the Dead for 15 seconds who hurls Frostbolts and Shadow Bolts at your enemies.
  • Unholy Frenzy has been reworked and renamed to Unholy Assault Icon Unholy Assault. Strike your target with an unholy blow dealing Shadow damage, infecting the target with 4 Festering Wound Icon Festering Wounds, and sending you into a killing frenzy, increasing Haste by 20% for 12 seconds.
  • Bursting Sores Icon Bursting Sores is now capped at 8 targets.

Unholy Death Knight Talent Tree

Below is the current talent tree for Unholy Death Knights.


Unholy Death Knight Shadowlands Guide


More Patch 9.0.1 Class Changes

You can find other Patch 9.0.1 class changes linked below.



  • 16 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands release.
  • 11 Oct. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands Pre-Patch.
  • 05 Sep. 2020: Updated for Beta Build 35755.
  • 08 Aug. 2020: Death and Decay's Scourge Strike is capped to 5 targets.
  • 13 Jul. 2020: Unholy Blight changed.
  • 20 Jun. 2020: Frost Fever (Rank 2) is now available to all specializations.
  • 15 Jun. 2020: Rune Tap moved off GCD. Virulent Plague duration increased.
  • 09 Jun. 2020: Reviewed for Alpha Build 34615.
  • 02 Jun. 2020: Updated intro with links to Anima Powers and Covenant Abilities.
  • 25 May 2020: Reviewed for Alpha Build 34490.
  • 08 May 2020: Reviewed for Alpha Build 34278.
  • 29 Apr. 2020: Updated spell tag for Cold Heart in talents.
  • 28 Apr. 2020: Updated for Alpha Build 34137.
  • 21 Apr. 2020: Page added.
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