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[US] Feedback: Death Knight Updates

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[US] Feedback: Death Knight Updates

In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Death Knights in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.
Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

Thank You

Before we continue testing The War Within, we’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who read and responded to the Hero Talent previews we posted over the last few months.

Looking to the Alpha

In this first Alpha build, every single class has at least one new Hero Talent tree available for testing, with the rest coming in the following weeks. We’re asking testers to initially keep several things in mind:

There are UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI)
New spell visuals and audio for several new Hero Talent trees are still a work in progress. Many trees are using placeholder assets for now that will be updated over the course of Alpha.
There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus right now that we are prioritizing over other concerns such as tuning or generic class updates/maintenance:

Finish building the remainder of the Hero Talent trees that are not yet available.
Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

With the Alpha build being playable and all of the discussion that will occur around the flood of data, we wanted to reiterate that the responses to our blog previews were highly valuable. The feedback we received allowed us to make some early improvements or revisions while we didn’t yet have a public test environment. It allowed us to take some big early swings on certain trees, and then react to early feedback quickly.
Going forward, we aren’t planning to publish any additional Hero Talent previews in blog form, since we’ll add the remaining classes to the Alpha as soon as they reach their ready-to-test state.

Working from Feedback

Several Hero Talent trees have received changes after reading feedback to the blog posts. Some of these were tuning changes to ensure that the Hero Talent tree felt competitive, while others were significant design changes. The feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.
Going into Alpha, we feel good about the shape of the Hero Talent tree designs. Keeping a consistent number of utility and defensives nodes across all trees, having parity between number of choice nodes, and the overall structure of the trees are things we’re confident in.
We’re also working on tweaking some core class designs as well. In some cases, it was necessary to make adjustments to the class or specialization talent trees before significant work was done on a Hero Talent tree. In other cases, we did work seeking to improve base class talent tree designs.

Alpha Feedback

Now that we’re in Alpha, we’re looking for feedback on how it feels to playtest these trees. We’re specifically curious about:

Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree.
Hero Talents that create frustrating or unsatisfying gameplay or rotations for your spec.
Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.

Throughput comparisons of Hero Talent trees are helpful, but we’re more interested in gameplay, feel, and choice feedback at this stage. Also, when possible, we appreciate it when you focus posts or articles on a single spec and Hero Talent tree, rather than combining feedback about multiple issues.

Again, Thank You

We greatly appreciate all your feedback on Hero Talent trees and are very excited for you to see everything else we’re working on. Thank you!
– The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team

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Community Manager

#2 – April 19, 2024, 2:14 a.m.
Blizzard Post

Hello Death Knights,
We wanted to take a moment to let you know that we are planning some updates for the Death Knight talent trees going into The War Within. While we’re still a few builds away from deploying the changes to the War Within Alpha, we’d like to outline some our goals with the changes, to give a better idea of what to expect.

DK Goals

Reduce the amount of resource flooding that affects each spec to varying degrees,
Reduce the throughput nodes toward the end of the tree. It currently has 9 such nodes that add a lot of tension and make it hard to flex into utility you’d otherwise like to take. While we don’t plan to outright cut the DPS throughput nodes, we will rather make them easier to pick up as you naturally progress through the tree. This will allow us to focus the capstones on much more utility or defensive focused talents.


Blood suffers from a lack of viable build options because it has to invest so heavily into the tree to feel like it functions. To some degree, all Death Knight specs suffer from this a bit more than other specs due to their unique leveling experience comparatively. We want to see where we can shift some abilities/talents learned in the spec tree that would make more sense baseline, to not only smooth out build diversity but also improve the leveling experience.


For Frost we want to take a look at Breath of Sindragosa to get it back to the more appropriate ~30 second duration to allow us more tuning knobs. This starts with the first note of reducing the flooding of resources available, one of the big offenders being Rune of Hysteria, which will see an update.
While we understand Breath is a very divisive ability it offers a very unique gameplay experience that not many of our other specs offer and while have no plans to remove that we do want to explore a potential alternative that feels fresh and exciting for players that wish to try something a bit different. Likely introduced as new capstone replacing Frostwyrm’s Fury which we plan to shift higher within the tree as a more easily accessible talent.


As for Unholy, we have some plans to reduce the opener complexity. It’s not nearly as intuitive as it could/should be. Unholy also suffers from the amount of things it needs to track to really function optimally and it is less than ideal and we are looking to reduce the amount of “plates that need to be spinned”.
Gargoyle is one area we’d like to explore offering a new playstyle. While we don’t plan on removing it we do want to create a choice node with it that offers a less bursty option and leans a bit more into a more sustained damage alternative.
We’d also like to revisit Sudden Doom and diseases to offer a little bit more gameplay experience than the two currently do for Unholy.
Lastly, while we don’t have plans to remove Festering Wounds we do want find ways to make the friction of playing with them less. Vile Contagion was an ability introduced in Dragonflight that had some excitement around it but it never quite got its time. We plan to reduce its cooldown to 45 seconds and we plan to update Festermight to function similarly to Ironfur so playing around the act of bursting wounds feels less punishing and doesn’t require as nearly as much set up.

More to come

While the above isn’t exhaustive and doesn’t encompass all of our planned changes, we want to start the conversation so that players have a general idea of what’s coming.
Thank you for your continued feedback and we look forward to hearing more when we unveil the changes.

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