Hero Classes
Death Knight
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Death Knight Hero Class

Updated 2008-Nov-11

The Death Knight is being introduced as the first hero class into WoW. It is also the first new class to be introduced since the launch of World of Warcraft. However, since Blizzard is intent on catering for the PvP crowd, rather than the PvE playing experience the game was originally designed for, they attempt to create what they call "balance" of the different character classes, which means they try to make all the classes perform on a similar level. The end result of this attempt at balance is that there is nothing really heroic about a Death Knight, instead it is basically just like any other class in WoW.

What is a Death Knight?
The Death Knight class as it is being introduced in WoW with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, is a plate-wearing class that can wield heavy weapons such as maces and axes, both one and two-handed, and have the ability to dual-wield but cannot use shields. Like a Paladin, much of the damage a Death Knight cause is based on various forms of magic spells, rather than the use of a weapon alone.

The class is mainly meant as a tanking class, but is also capable of dealing damage similar to other melee classes. Unlike any of the other tanking classes, the Death Knight is capable of retaining a significant amount of this damage output, even while tanking.

Though labeled as a hero class, the Death Knight will not be able to do significantly more damage than any of the other classes in the game, the difference simply is that it is a class capable of tanking as well as acting as a dps class at the same time.

Requirements for making a Death Knight
Obviously, since the Death Knight starts at level 55, you cannot simply make a Death Knight as you please, as that would mean allowing you to skip the majority of the game.

First and foremost, to make a Death Knight you must have the Wrath of the Lich King expansion installed. Secondly you must have atleast one character of level 55 or higher in order to unlock the ability to create a Death Knight.

Once those requirements are fulfilled, you will be able to create 1 Death Knight on the realm where your qualifying character is. In other words, you will not be able to create Death Knights on any realm where you do not have a character of atleast level 55. You may only create one Death Knight per realm, and the 10 characters per realm, or 50 characters per account, still applies. On PvP realms you may also only create a Death Knight in the same faction as your other characters on that realm.

Playing a Death Knight
Death Knights start at level 55 in a new startup area based in the eastern most part of Eastern Plaguelands. Unlike other starting areas, the Death Knight starting area is instanced, meaning it works much like a Dungeon, where Alliance and Horde each have their own instance of the area, populated only by Death Knights of their own faction. It is worth noting that unlike any other startup area, the Death Knight starting area can only be accessed by Death Knights, and serves to train the player in Death Knight abilities as well as some introduction as to the lore behind the class. It is also impossible for Death Knights to leave the startup area until the initial quests are completed.

At creation the Death Knight is equipped with a full suit of plate armour of uncommon (green) quality, as well as two rings and a neckpiece, but no weapon. During the first few quests you will create your first rune weapon, and will then use it as you learn more about how to play a Death Knight.

During the learning quests the Death Knights will receive a complete suit of plate armour of superior (blue) quality, as well as two rings, two trinkets, and a sigil (relic). This armour is equivalent to lvl 62 blue armour from Outland.

As the class start at level 55 with an empty talent tree, rather than throwing 45 talent points your way and no idea what any of the Death Knight abilities are, you start with no talent points. Instead you will gradually receive talent points as you complete quests, and when you complete the final quest in the startup area around level 58 you will have the same amount of talent points as any other class of the same level.

Part of the Death Knight is that they receive a class mount, much like the Paladin Charger or the Warlock Dreadsteed. Unlike other classes however, the Death Knights have to steal a horse from the Scarlet Crusade, which is then later killed and sacrificed, and then resurrected as a Death Charger, the Death Knight's signature mount.
All Death Knights are also able to obtain a special flying mount - an armored skeletal gryphon - at level 70. Unlike other flying mounts in the game, this special flying mount scales in speed with the appropriate riding skill.

The Death Knight's powers are based on a system of runes and runic power. Your weapon can be equipped with up to 6 runes, which serve as a source of power for your abilities. Which runes you equip, out of the three available magic schools (frost, blood, and unholy), determine which abilities you can use, and how powerful these abilities are. Exactly how the rune switching works, and which runes you can use, is a little fuzzy as Blizzard has been reluctant to release any information on it, as well how it works in the beta has continuingly changed as the beta testing progressed. As you fight, the energy of the runes is consumed, and then slowly recharged, and you build up runic power much like a warrior's rage. This means that while playing a Death Knight, you will have to deal with cooldowns on two different resources, as well as the global cooldown. This gives the Death Knight a complexity similar to that of Druids and Warlocks.

Available races: All races.

Armour: Cloth, Leather, Mail, Plate.

Weaponry: One- and Two-handed Axes, One and Two-handed Mazes, One and Two-handed Swords. Beta information suggests that the Death Knight will be able to use polearms as well, though it is not yet confirmed. Death Knights will also be able to dual wield one-handed weapons, though it makes no difference to the damage output.

Magic types: Blood, Frost, Unholy

Main strengths:
  • Ability to summon controllable ghouls from dead creatures and players to fight for the Death Knight.
  • Able to tank while still causing a respectable amount of damage.
  • Able to physically pull enemies across a room (easier way to ensure enemies are tanked where you want them).
  • Strong survivability and several abilities to take on multiple enemies at once.
Main weaknesses:
  • Weak against enemies that have silencing or crowd control abilities.
Typical role: Tanking or dps.