Death Knight Class Changes for Shadowlands (Patch 9.0.2)
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.
- 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, Heart Strike or Howling Blast when you choose a specialization.
- When swapping weapons, the Off Balance debuff is applied and prevents the Death Knight from gaining the bonuses of Runeforge enchantments for 30 seconds.
- Dark Command is now learned at level 9 (was 14).
- Anti-Magic Shell is now learned at level 14 (was 9).
- All Death Knight specializations now have access to the following abilities
- 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 — Corrupts the targeted ground, causing Shadow damage over 10 seconds to targets within the area.
- 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 — Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing movement speed by 70% for 8 seconds.
- 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 — 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 — Your 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 — 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 — 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 — 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 — 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, Lichborne, Anti-Magic Zone, Raise Dead, and Death Coil.
Having recovered 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 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 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 bringing it to 50% armor has been added back); a couple of talents gained additional effects ( 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 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 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 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 damage has been increased by 25%.
- Death Strike damage has been increased by 21%.
Blood Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50
- Heart Strike (Level 52) — Increases damage done by 20%.
- Vampiric Blood (Level 56) — Increases all healing and absorbs by 5% and duration by 2 seconds.
- Ossuary (Level 58) — While you have at least 5 Bone Shield charges, the cost of Death Strike is reduced by 5 Runic Power. Additionally, your maximum Runic Power is increased by 10.
Blood Death Knight Talent Changes
- New Talent: Relish in Blood — While Crimson Scourge is active, your next Death and Decay heals you per Bone Shield charge and you immediately gain 10 Runic Power.
- New Talent: Death Pact — Create a death pact that heals you for 50% of your maximum health, but absorbs incoming healing equal to 30% of your maximum health for 15 seconds.
- Mark of Blood has had its Runic Power cost removed and healing increased to 3% (was 2%).
- Rapid Decomposition now has an additional effect — Your Blood Plague leeches 50% more health.
- Anti-Magic Barrier now reduces the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell by 20 seconds (was 15 seconds) and increases its duration and amount absorbed by 40% (was 30%).
- Voracious now grants you 15% Leech for 8 seconds (was 6 seconds) and has an additional effect — Death Strike's healing is increased by 20%.
- Red Thirst now reduces the cooldown on Vampiric Blood by 1.5 seconds per 10 Runic Power spent (was 1 second).
- Consumption and Bonestorm are now capped at 8 targets.
- Ossuary has been removed and will be learned by all Blood Death Knights in Shadowlands.
- New PvP Talent: Rot and Wither — Your Death and Decay rots enemies each time it deals damage, absorbing healing equal to 100% of damage dealt.
- Unholy Command has been removed.
Blood Death Knight Talent Tree
Below is the current talent tree for Blood Death Knights.
- Level 15 Talents: Heartbreaker / Blooddrinker / Tombstone;
- Level 25 Talents: Rapid Decomposition / Hemostasis / Consumption;
- Level 30 Talents: Foul Bulwark / Relish in Blood / Blood Tap;
- Level 35 Talents: Will of the Necropolis / Anti-Magic Barrier / Mark of Blood;
- Level 40 Talents: Grip of the Dead / Tightening Grasp / Wraith Walk;
- Level 45 Talents: Voracious / Death Pact / Bloodworms;
- Level 50 Talents: Purgatory / Red Thirst / Bonestorm.
Blood Death Knight Shadowlands Guide
Frost Death Knight
- Obliterate, Frost Strike, Frostscythe, and Glacial Advance can now be used with Two-Handed weapons.
- Might of the Frozen Wastes is back for Frost Death Knights.
- Might of the Frozen Wastes (Rank 1): While Dual-Wielding, your Obliterate and Frost Strike will also strike with your Off-Hand and you can engrave each weapon with a Runeforge Enchant.
- Might of the Frozen Wastes(Rank 2): Increases your Obliterate damage by 35% and Killing Machine proc chance when using a Two-Handed weapon.
- Frostwyrm's Fury is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Frost Death Knights at level 44.
- Empower Rune Weapon and Pillar of Frost no longer incur a global cooldown.
- Howling Blast and Breath of Sindragosa now deal reduced damage on secondary targets.
Frost Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50
- Obliterate (Level 52) — Increases damage done by 20%.
- Empower Rune Weapon (Level 56) — Reduces the cooldown by 15 seconds.
- Killing Machine (Level 58) &nmdash; Your next Obliterate also deals Frost damage.
Frost Death Knight Talent Changes
- New Talent: Hypothermic Presence — Embrace the ice in your veins, reducing the Runic Power cost of your abilities by 35% for 8 seconds.
- 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 now has an additional effect — When Blinding Sleet ends, enemies are slowed by 50% for 6 seconds.
- Icecap now reduces the remaining cooldown of Pillar of Frost by 4 seconds (was 3 seconds).
- Frostscythe is now capped at 5 targets.
Frost Death Knight Talent Tree
Below is the current talent tree for Frost Death Knights.
- Level 15 Talents: Inexorable Assault / Icy Talons / Cold Heart;
- Level 25 Talents: Runic Attenuation / Murderous Efficiency / Horn of Winter;
- Level 30 Talents: Death's Reach / Asphyxiate / Blinding Sleet;
- Level 35 Talents: Avalanche / Frozen Pulse / Frostscythe;
- Level 40 Talents: Permafrost / Wraith Walk / Death Pact;
- Level 45 Talents: Gathering Storm / Hypothermic Presence / Glacial Advance;
- Level 50 Talents: Icecap / Obliteration / Breath of Sindragosa.
Frost Death Knight Shadowlands Guide
Unholy Death Knight
- Mastery: Dreadblade now also increases the damage of your Minion's abilities.
- Epidemic is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Unholy Death Knights at level 34. Additionally, Epidemic's range has been reduced to 40 yards (was 100 yards) and will fail to cast if there are no nearby enemies afflicted with Virulent Plague.
- Sudden Doom now causes your auto attacks to have a chance to make your next Death Coil or Epidemic cost no Runic Power.
- Scourge Strike now prefers targets with Festering Wounds while inside Death and Decay.
- Outbreak duration of Virulent Plague increased to 28 seconds (was 21 seconds).
- Virulent Plague no longer has a 30% chance for infected enemies to erupt to nearby enemies each time it deals damage, and area of effect range increased to 10 yards (was 8 yards).
- Army of the Dead Rune cost reduced to 1 (was 3).
- Scourge Strike and Clawing Shadows are now capped at 5 targets while inside Death and Decay. Both abilities will prefer targets with Festering Wound.
Unholy Death Knight Abilities Learned Above Level 50
- Dark Transformation (Level 52) — Dark Transformation grants your ghoul 100% energy.
- Scourge Strike (Level 56) — Increases damage done by 20%.
- Apocalypse (Level 58) — Apocalypse generates 2 Runes.
Unholy Death Knight Talent Changes
- New Talent: Unholy Pact — 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'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 to enemies.
- 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.
- 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 now has an additional effect — Apocalypse and 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. Strike your target with an unholy blow dealing Shadow damage, infecting the target with 4 Festering Wounds, and sending you into a killing frenzy, increasing Haste by 20% for 12 seconds.
- Bursting Sores is now capped at 8 targets.
Unholy Death Knight Talent Tree
Below is the current talent tree for Unholy Death Knights.
- Level 15 Talents: Infected Claws / All Will Serve / Clawing Shadows;
- Level 25 Talents: Bursting Sores / Ebon Fever / Unholy Blight;
- Level 30 Talents: Grip of the Dead / Death's Reach / Asphyxiate;
- Level 35 Talents: Pestilent Pustules / Harbinger of Doom / Soul Reaper;
- Level 40 Talents: Spell Eater / Wraith Walk / Death Pact;
- Level 45 Talents: Pestilence / Unholy Pact / Defile;
- Level 50 Talents: Army of the Damned / Summon Gargoyle / Unholy Assault.
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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