Monday, December 29, 2008

What defines a 'main'?

For the few people with too much spare time that have been following my blog, you've probably noticed that I've focused a lot on shaman stuff recently. Hopefully not exclusively.

Some time ago, I had three healers at lvl 70, priest, druid and shaman. I have several times been tempted to speed-level my paladin to 70 as well, but have resisted so far.

When I first started playing WoW, it was in May about 3.5 years ago. A friend "recruited" me. This was my first serious MMORPG. I'd tried both Ultima Online and Anarchy Online, but neither game really caught my interest. I had no clue what a tank or a healer meant. My friend was a night elf druid on Silvermoon (EU), and I also had a few other RL friends playing on the same server/side. (By the way, I have to give him credit for persisting his balance druid when Hurricane was still the 31-point talent.)

I made a gnome mage. But hey, no pigtails, no pink hair. White hair, which I've always been a sucker for (though I'm not awfully fan of drows, if you're wondering). I got to about level 14 before abondoning her. Then I made a dwarf priest. You know, the reason I chose a priest is that I wanted to Resurrect all those bodies lying around. This was at a time where a body would lie there forever if a player logged out while dead, which I found out when I got to level 10. After ressing about 20-30 times without a single success, I learned that it was pretty much pointless. Now I always use the /who function before trying to res someone.

My priest was abondoned at lvl 12, when I realized how bloody immature most alliance players are. In addition, Silvermoon was a "normal" server, which meant people talked crap all the time. I rerolled a tauren druid on Earthen Ring (EU) (RP-server, RP-PVP servers didn't exist yet), and made it to lvl 30. On the way there, I'd participated in starting a possibly legendary RP guild, learned a lot about instancing, and blown out a lot of temper on fellow players. I regret the last part. That's why I deleted the druid in favor of a troll priest. Which I deleted and started a new troll priest because I didn't like the look on the first one.

This new troll priest made it to lvl 60 eventually, but it took a loooooong time. In fact, I logged out outside inns/cities to not get rested XP, so I could have fun with the trip to 60. I was also a casual player, so I had a lot less playtime than the rest of the guys in my guild. Sadly, most of the guys dropped out, one after another. I know a few guys from my guild who still play, but none of the hardcore RPers. I believe RP was dying 1.5 year after WoW launch. Well, except for the total Drama Queen RPers and ERPers, both of which I tend to stay far away from.

I also earned my first raiding experience, raiding Zul'Gurub. Through some strange coincidence, that was also my first experience with problems regarding raidleaders. In retrospect, I made a lot of mistakes, and insisted on stuff I didn't reallly know too much about. But then again, my raidleader was far from perfect. In particular, I was annoyed that we spent so much time on Mandokir each evening, instead of moving on to the mandatory bosses. But no, we needed to gear up. But why would we gear up on a boss that's considered by many harder than the last boss? Bah.

At some point, I started an alt an another server, a newly fired up RP-PVP server. Ayeba, my current tauren druid. Around lvl 50ish, I paid for a transfer to Earthen Ring. I got to 60 just before Burning Crusade hit the shelves.

Interesting fact: I queued to buy the game as the store opened (not the midnight opening, just a regular store opening at 9.00), but waited almost a month installing the expansion? That's how busy real life can be, sometimes.

The first thing I did in BC was rolling a blood elf paladin. Like many other priests, I was tired of being squishy, and looked forward to the EZ mode healing paladins were in vanilla WoW. I was incredibly interested at first. Heck, I even skilled up cooking and fishing as I levelled. My interest lasted until to somewhere around the 30ies, then I was totally fed up with being a pally. Boring! Soloing as a pally is completely void of any button-pressing. It was slightly fun to level as protection and taking on packs of mobs, but it was still held no entertainment value.

So, back to my druid and priest, whom I took some time to level. At some point I rolled Kirba, orc shaman. It was just a result of a bit of shaman envy, but I didn't spend too much time on her.

My druid hit 70 first, but not too far ahead of my priest. I had severe trouble deciding which to stick to, and ended up doing a lot og PVP gearing on both. In the end, though, I lost interest in both, and levelled my shaman instead.

Another interesting fact: Ayeba (my druid) had alchemy 130, I never bothered to skill up further. But since she had herbalism, I got stack upon stack of herbs. I was too lazy to sell them at the auction house, so I just stored them at an alt. Guess who suddenly got a use for them when 3.0 arrived with Inscription. I skilled up to 360 in about a week, with almost no grinding involved.

Me and my wife also spent some time on our alts just after 3.0 arrived, while everyone else went crazy, including my pally. I haven't spoken too much on the rest of my alts, but I got a warrior at 37 (from the time I wanted to be end-game tank), a mage at 23 (which I haven't levelled since vanilla) and probably a dozen characters between 10 and 20. All of them are priests, shamans, paladins and warriors. This is another tendency: I want to be useful. A tank is useful. A healer is useful. A dps is techically useful, but there are often a dime a dozen on LFG.

Observation: Just before BC arrived, I hit 60 on my second healer. Just after LK arrived, I hit 70 on my third healer. If we follow that, just around the next expansion, my pally will hit 80. At the moment, I doubt it, but I shan't deny that it might happen.

Now, for what was originally the main point: Since I hit 60 as my druid, I've had a lot of times when I've announced in the guild that "This is my new main". Many of those have been after both hit 70. I don't want to do the mistake once more. What is a main, anyway? I'd say it's your main investment. While it's nice to gear up alts and stuff, the main is whose going to end up with the most playtime after switching.

All three characters have now set foot in Northrend. My priest as discipline (51/10/00), my druid as feral (0/51/10), and my shaman as resto (0/11/51) so far.

Experiences? My priest has great dps and good healing, but lives and dies by her mana. Drinking is inevitable. She's not good at handling multiple mobs. And hard mobs? Forget it. Part of the mana trouble could be solved by speccing Spirit Tap, though.

My druid also do great dps as kitty and got great survivability as bear. Squishy as heck as a kitty, though, more than my priest (well, d'oh, my priest shields all the time to get mana returns from Rapture and avoid loosing casting time). And healing as feral? Forget it. 3xLifebloom ticks for 98 each second. If I need to heal out of combat as a druid, I bandage.

My shaman, on the other hand, has nowhere near great dps, but no downtime. And since I hit 71 and got Shamanistic Focus, I can throw out shocks at every cooldown without risking going oom all the time. Easy mobs? Lightning Shield, collect a few and Chain Lightning (with the 2-set bonus from the Tidefury set) between shocks and melee. Hard mob? Earth Shield and we're set. Elementals for even tougher guys. Low on mana? Single mobs and Water Shield.

With that said, I've been intending to respec for some time. But I know that 3.0.8 will bring a free respec for shamans (it always does when they reduce the talent point cost of a talent for a class), which might or might not be worth waiting for. Further, what to respec to? Elemental? Enhancement PVE? Enhancement PVP? ... and so I wait a bit until I set my mind.

Now, for the question of main... it was after I spent time to skill up my cooking to 375 that I realized I may have already made the choice. My priest has both cooking and fishing skilled up, but not my druid. Taking the time investment to skill up my shammy might mean something. My priest still has more achievement points, if that counts for something. But Kirba has overtaken Ayeba in achivements.

I also intend to make a Death Knight sometime, but I'm too much in love with healing in PVP to ever make that my main.

I intend to keep levelling my shaman until otherwise decided. But is Kirba my new main? I don't know. Possibly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Observations, experiences, notes and thoughts on 60-70


Blizz obviously wants Shamans to use Healing Wave. They're buffing Healing Way so that it no longer stacks, but instead gives a 18% healing buff to Healing Wave from the very start.

I think they should move slightly further on. Suggesting the following buff (one of the two):

  1. Make it work like the pally talent Light's Grace, meaning instead of giving a buff to the target, it gives a buff on the shaman which improves healing wave by 18%, refreshened each time HW is cast.

  2. Make Riptide apply the Healing Way buff.

I've posted the suggestion on official Suggestions forum.

Outland revisisted

I'd like to share my observations from levelling my shaman through Outland, lvl 60 to 70, post-3.0 (WotLK). This is the third character I've levelled that interval, but the first one after WotLK. I don't have a DK yet.

Oh, how I hate Nesingwary

I hate Nesingwary. Well, spesifically, I hate how Blizz is more or less forcing all shamans, druids and paladins to get through his quests in order to get a very nice healing ranged-slot item. It wouldn't be so bad if it were interesting quests with a good story and variation, but ... come on! We're talking 6 quests to kill 30 animals each, and then 4 elites. No challenge, lots of monotomy, just a boring grind. I did them with my druid and priest. The wand is very nice as well, but easier to replace than the druid/shaman/paladin-spesific item, as those only drops a few places. The only good thing about the quests is if you are/have a skinner interested in getting lots of skins. Just to add insult to injury, Blizz decided to make it a friggin' achievement as well.

In the end, I decided not to do it with my shaman, and that was only because I was lucky enough to get Totem of the Thunderhead in the Underbog. While said totem is more versatile, it is strictly less powerful when using Lesser Healing Wave as my main heal. Further, I refuse to dance Blizz' achievement dance. I don't do stuff because I get a nice achivement, I want to do stuff because it's fun. Thus, I intend to skip boring quests, boring grinds, and so on.

Want a 'mental or enhanced healer?

I levelled from some 50ish to somewhere around 63-64 as Enhancement, then switched to Elemental. At 69 I switched to Resto. And I've healed a lot of instances, as all specs.

Experiences while healing: Both enhancement and Elemental can heal fine when the tank holds aggro and takes decent amount of damage. None come even close to the huge difference Restoration can make when the shit hits the fan. I'm virtually unkillable when I pull earth shield to myself, riptide and spam Healing Wave. Of course, the group might still wipe, as I often have trouble keeping both myself and the rest of the group up. Very recently, while in the Nexus, we got a triple pull. But a Bloodlust, trinkets, Nature's Swiftness, Tidal Force and Mana Tide later, everyone was still alive. I was proud. Didn't even have to use my elemental, which I would have if it wasn't on cooldown.

Elemental has the best mana regen, probably thanks to Unrelenting Storm. Enhancement has the highest spellpower, as Mental Quickness gives a good chunk of spellpower even in healing gear. Strength of Earth Totem or Horn of Winter, one of which was always up, gave a good deal additional spellpower in combination with the talent.

Experiences while soloing: Enhancement and Elemental both works while soloing. More a question of personal preference. And without any elemental down, both had trouble soloing 3-man elites. While elemental, and unlike my experience as a priest, I literally never sat down to drink. I remember once when I managed to run out of mana. Conclusion: Elemental doesn't have any sort of extended downtime issues. When I respecced resto, my survivability went through the roof, enabling me to solo virtually anything. At the same time, soloing speed went through the floor. Go figure.

Water (glyphs), anyone?

At lvl 70, I have 5 glyph slots unlocked. I'm running Water Mastery, Water Shield, Water Walking and Water Breathing. For the last glyph, I've switched a bit around, using Flametongue Weapon while I was Elemental, Lesser Healing Wave after switching to Resto. I want to trade the last glyph for Healing Wave instead, as it'll benefit me both in PVP and PVE.

I just find it amusing that 4/5 glyphs has "Water" in it's name.

Same NPC, different spell

I also learned that a single mob can have some spells which are interruptable, and others which are not. For example, I couldn't interrupt Grand Magus Telestra's fire bombs, but I could interrupt her time stops. I'm not used to having interrupts at all. I like it. It rises the skill cap of how good I can do in an instance group. I think I'll have to write a separate post about healing styles as the three classes I've seriously experienced.

Revere me, baby

I've reached Revered with Cenarion Expedition, and that's as much time as I'm going to devote to that now. At 80, I'll try to two-man heroic Slave Pens to boost my rep while having fun, but I don't want to spend time grinding now. Besides, I can't even afford the training for an epic flying mount. According to, a heroic full clear gives 2,319 rep, plus 75 for each Coilfang Armament that drops. I guess I need about 5-6 full clears to get Exalted. If I don't find it entertaining, then it's not worth it. Hello, how much value does a virtual flying chicken have anyway?

On the topic of rep

According to some article I read on Wowinsider, I don't need Outland rep. No? What about the jewelcrafting designs I need? It's not so bad, though. You only need to reach 350 before heading to outland, and that means getting friendly with Lower City, not a terribly hard feat. But since I now have lots of blue uncut gems, many of them from Brilliant Glass, I'd like to skill up on them before starting with Northrend stuff. Problem is, I lack the designs. Most of them are drops, but there are designs to be earned. Where, you ask? ... Shattered Sun Offensive. Why, oh why do you get designs at friendly which require 375 JC, while the earliest 350 one are hidden at Revered and Exalted? What kind of incredibly stupid design was this from Blizz' side?

Bottom line, I need to do a lot of dailies with Shattered Sun, or just move on to Northrend stuff immidiately. The third option is also possible, try to get the drop designs somewhere, but I'm not willing to pay (much) for them.

LFG? ... no. LFAchievement? Sure!

Here's a good thing about the achivement system... while hard, it's not impossible to get people to join lvl 70 instances which I haven't done. I still lack several, but I've gotten Steamvaults, Shattered Halls and Shadow Labyrinth that way. Still need the Tempest Keep instances, but I couldn't ask for people before 70 simply because I couldn't reach them.

Resto-spell or Resto-melee?

This is a honest question: Is it better to level as resto using spellpower gear and playing it like an elemental shaman, or using melee gear and playing it like an enhancement shaman? Obviously, spellpower is better for healing, but I don't mind carrying two sets... I do that anyway, just to have an enhancement set should I want to respec. "Know thyself" and I know that I'll try something else sooner or later.


I love Chain Lightning. Granted, it's worse than strict AoE spells for AoE pulls in instances and the like, but it's better for a few mobs when soloing. It's not like I can take on too many mobs anyway, resto or otherwise, because I'll run out of mana, unless I'm using my fire elemental to literally burn them down for me. I find myself using it much more than any other AoE I've previously had. I'll try soloing groups of mobs once Magma Totem is buffed, though.

Lvl 70 vs lvl 79

I've ran a few BGs at 70. Normally, that's not a big problem. Of course I die a lot more, but it can still be entertaining. However, did you know that alliance (at least on my battlegroup) already has 79 twinks? You're f'in' kidding me. That wasn't a lot of fun. Especially so since I seemed not to be the only one with that idea, we ran AB with 10 lvl 70s versus 2 lvl 70s on the other side. Needless to say, we got our behinds handed to us royally. Okay, I don't have a lot of resilience either, just somewhere around 100, but that hasn't prevented me from having fun earlier.

I had a lot of fun in AV once, though. Never died a single time, and we won without loosing a single tower. I also learned that a protection pally is a suprisingly good partner in AV. Sure, we couldn't kill stuff, but we could survive insanely long, preventing enemies from re-taking the flags we'd tagged.

And I think I'm in love with shammies. Again. I ran into a standstill where the horde and alliance where fighting heavily. Bloodlust, Earth Shield on a meleer, Trinkets, spamming heals, Mana Tiding, Strength of Earth, Windfury Totem and Flametongue totem to buff everyone up. And it seriously felt like I did the change that made us win that skirmish, allowing us to retake the GY.


Now, I have no less than 3 healers at lvl 70. Well, healer-classes. And for the moment, the shaman is the only one whose feet have touched the icy ground of Northrend. It feels a bit strange. I've had the other two for about 3 years, and my shaman is less than a year old, and have only been played seriously the last few months.

I've decided I want to try the "new" feral tree with my druid, and I'd also like to try soloing as penance-specced discipline priest. However, if I don't like either... perhaps I've found "my" class as a shaman.

By the way, I hate soloing as a priest. I need to drink all the time, can't solo hard mobs, take a lot of damage myself, and can be put in a plastic bag once I run out of mana. Anyone got a good suggestion of a talent build that might help? Discipline, preferably?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Die, Death Knight. No wait, Die again!

Special thanks to Nhani for lending me the picture.

Okay, second attempt. After advice from Seri, I'm writing in Google Docs, and then copy+pasting into Blogspot. Phew... Keep thinking calm thoughts.

Death Knight survival guide

The first step towards defeating your enemy is to "Know thy enemy". Thus, here's a crash course to DKs for healers, with counter-advice rolled in. Terms to notice: DK = Death Knight. Core = abilitiy all DKs have. RP = Runic Power.


DKs have two types of resources: Runes and Runic Power. Almost all of their abilities cost runes or resources. None cost both. Some special abilities are free. From "idle", a DK has six runes and no runic power. Using abilities which require runes generate runic power. There's also a very common talent called Butchery which slowly generates runic power while in combat.

When a DK uses an ability which costs them a rune, the rune is put on cooldown for 10 seconds. Among the runes, there are three basic types: Blood, Frost, Unholy. An idle DK has 2 of each rune ready. There's also a fourth type of rune, Death Rune, which counts as any of the other. Death Runes are "converted" from other runes using either the core ability Blood Tap (notice the health cost) or through one of the Death Rune-generating talents, of which there are one in each tree. Blood: Death Rune Mastery, Frost: Blood of the North and Unholy: Reaping. Notice that these talents are "passive" in the sense that they work when you use some other ability. Further, all of these active abilities are melee-attacks, meaning the DK has to be in melee to convert other runes to death runes.

Why is this important? Here's the trick: Since each rune has a 10 sec cooldown, they can usually an ability requiring a certain rune twice before having to wait for the runes to come off cooldowns, and then they can't use other abilities which cost the same rune. I'll show in a moment which abilities this is most critical for.

There's also another ability to watch out for: Empower Rune Weapon. 5 min cooldown... but in PVP, you're bound to see it often.


Like a warrior has stances, a DK has presences. Like a warrior, you have no way of knowing which presence a DK is in unless you see him change it. The three presences are Blood, Frost (aka the tanking presence), and Unholy. Since it costs a rune to change presences and all abilities are usable from all presences, you'll see less stance-dancing than with warriors. In PVP, virtually every DK will use Blood or Unholy presence. The only thing we can really use from knowning this is that they have 1 sec GCD (like a rogue or a feral kitten) while in Unholy presence, which means that you can think of them like rogues in how often they interrupt your spells. Trading GCDs with them only works if they're in blood presence, otherwise you can't out-GCD them.


DKs are based around the concept of diseases. A lot of their abilities deal additional damage based on the number of diseases the DK has on you. Note that only the DKs own diseases count, so two DKs or a feral kitties doesn't drastically improve a DKs damage. Good thing 75% of all healing classes can remove diseases... sorry, druids, DKs are meant to be your counter.

The two basic diseases a DK has is Blood Plague and Frost Fever. Unholy DKs also have an additional disease, called Crypt Fever/Ebon Plague. Almost all Unholy DKs will invest enough talent points to get the last disease, which is better. Notice that this last disease always comes with one of the first two. That means; if you remove the first two diseases, you also loose Ebon Plague.

The ability which applies Blood Plague is called Plague Strike. The core ability which applies Frost Fever is called Icy Touch. Frost DKs can also apply the disease using Chains of Ice with the talent Endless Winter, or with their 50-point talent Hungering Cold.

Since a lot of DK abilities scale with the number of diseases, a DKs dps rotation starts with Plague Strike and Icy Touch (or sometimes Chains of Ice in the case of a PVPing frost DK), then moving on to other more hard-hitting abilities. Now, here's a thing to notice. With the exception of Hungering Cold, which in any case costs a lot of runic power, all of their disease-applying abilities cost runes. Translated to a healer: If you remove their diseases, they'll be forced to either reapply the diseases, or use their other abilities without the bonus damage from diseases. In many cases newbie DKs will do the latter, because they don't react fast enough when a disease is removed. That's fine with me, I don't mind they using lots of rune on abilities which nets them far less damage than the optimal. If they choose to reapply the diseases, they're burning runes which they could've used for more hard-hitting abilities, and they may only do it twice before having to wait for runes (barring death runes and the like).

Note that you'll often run into DKs with the talent Virulence, which gives them a bit of defense against disease-removing abilities.

Bottom line; Removing their diseases is worth it. Here's a tip for some shamans and priests: If you don't have it on your hotbars, bind a key to Cure Disease (Shammy or Priestly version) in addition to Disease Cleansing Totem and Abolish Disease. When you first get diseased, use the latter version (which ticks), and then spam Cure Disease on the next disease. Well, at least in the case of priests. For shammies you can argue that it might be better to spam the totem because of the 1 sec gcd rather than 1.5 sec gcd on Cure Disease.

Healing debuffs

Luckily for us, DKs doesn't have a healing debuff (like Mortal Strike). What they do have is the ability to remove HoTs. Plague Strike, the same ability I discussed earlier, is garantueed to remove a HoT. Further, the disease Blood Plague which it applies has a 25% chance on each tick to remove a HoT.

Does this mean that it's pointless to use HoTs against them?

Not nescessarily. A DK can only use Plague Strike twice before waiting for rune CD, and it provides less damage than other abilities. Thus, it's not garantueed that all your HoTs will be useless. With that said, priests, who only have one HoT, should avoid using Renew, as it's often wasted mana and GCD. Shamans shouldn't worry about Earthliving, as it's essentially free healing anyway. Riptide provides half healing up front anyway, and is often worth casting anyway, since you can do it while moving.

Finally, Druids... DKs are your nemises, right? Actually, it's not so bad. Since you can easily load up 5 HoTs on the same target (Regrowth + Rejuvenation + 3xLifebloom), 6 if you really want to (+ Wild Growth), it's still absolutely worth casting them. A single DK is unable to remove them fast enough.

Edit:Comments on this post from Paendorrah and anonymus poster disagree a bit, but it seems that Plague Strike and Blood Plague ticks remove an entire stack of Lifebloom, rather than just one application. That's bad news for druids, of course. In that case, it's not a good idea to stack up lifebloom. Stick to a single application of Lifebloom for the DKs targets.

Paladins, lacking any HoT, isn't affected at all. It all evens out, somehow.


While DKs have some ranged abilities, most of their damage is from melee abilities. Further, if they can't get into melee, they can't generate a lot of runic power for their signature ranged attack Death Coil. To help them stay in melee, any smart DK will ensnare their opponent. Their only core snare is Chains of Ice, which is rather unique compared to other snares. Note that while you're 100% snared, you're not silenced and can cast anything you want, cast-time or instants. In addition to the snare, a frost DK will also apply Frost Fever with it, with the talent Endless Winter. Further, most Frost DKs and often other specced PVP DKs will have 30 yards range on the snare, thanks to Icy Reach.

So, how to counter Chains of Ice? Moderately easy, actually. Druids can shift ouf of it anyway, priests can Dispel it, paladins can Cleanse it (which also removes a disease, lucky you) or use Hand of Freedom. Shamans... will have to suck it up. Outside of the enhancement talent Earthen Power, there are few ways to get out of it. Sorry.

Also notice that Chains of Ice costs a frost rune, meaning a DK can only apply it twice in a ten sec period. And if they're not frost, that means they can't apply Icy Touch, meaning less incoming damage due to lack of one of their diseases. On the other hand, most DKs will early blow Chains of Ice and Icy Touch, but that means they can't reapply their best snare again very soon.

The other two snares a DK has access to are frost talent Chilblains and the unholy talent Desecration. Chilblains, as I see it, is a PVP talent designed to lightly snare the opponent for a longer duration... as long as Frost Fever lasts, up to 18 seconds with Epidemic. But since druids can shift out of it and all other healers can remove Frost Fever, it doesn't really seem like a giant threat to us healers. The other snare, Desecration, is worse. It seems to work like Frost Trap, which means the only real counter is Hand of Freedom and trying to move out of it.


Outside of running up to their target, a DK has one way of getting into melee with an enemy... by pulling the enemy to himself. Enter the evil chain, Death Grip, a DKs staple tanking and PVP ability. Since it is instant and has 30 yards range, there are few counters to it. The only one I know of is Grounding Totem, and it might just as well swallow their initial Chains of Ice instead, as many DKs open with that instead. But that's not nescessarily a bad thing at all.

Though I said there are no counters, there are still something you should keep in mind. While flying through the air, there's nothing but your own reactions that prevent you from casting instants. And when landing, there's nothing that prevents you from running away, unless the DK snared you first. Your first reaction should be to cast some instant which will benefit you while being pulled, and then run right through them while using more instants.

A few suggestions. Paladins: Cleanse or Hand of Freedom. Priests: Dispel Magic or Power Word: Shield. You might also time a Psychic Scream the moment you land. Don't cast Abolish Disease until you actually have a disease on yourself, and priority on removing snares before diseases (unless you can do both at the same time). Druids: Nature's Grasp, Barkskin or shift to Bear, so you can Enrage and Bash the DK as you land. Shaman: Frost Shock the DK so he has a harder time getting you into melee or use Grounding Totem if it's off cooldown.

The huge danger of Death Grip isn't that you're getting pulled to the DK. It's that you get pulled to the DK and his friends. If that happens, you're probably screwed.

Snares... the other way around

Here's one of the DKs huge weaknessess.... they're very suspectable to snares themselves. They have no inherit ability to break snares, and only Death Grip to get into melee. A good frost mage will screw a DK around any day. Unfortunately, priests and paladins can't exploit that. Druids, on the other hand... ready to get your revenge? Root the sorry buggers. Shamans should keep the DKs perma-snared. Unfortunately, Chains of Ice is a better snare than Frost Shock and Earthbind Totem. However, it is possible to build up enough range so that they have to reapply Chains of Ice, or wait for it to come off cooldown. Toughness and Imp Ghost Wolf help a lot here.

Silence and interrupts

DKs, as the only class I know of, have both a silence and an interrupt at their disposal. Good thing they don't pack a lot of stuns as well. I know only of their pet ghoul stun.

First, their silence. It's called Strangulate and packs a 30 yard range and a 2 min cooldown. Okay, I can live with that. But then there's the Glyph. 20 yards additional range? 50 yards range on a silence? Are you kidding me? I don't know what blizz is thinking here. Earlier, they've reinforced a 30 yard base range on most ranged attacks with talents pushing them to around 36 yards, and a few a very few classes/specs being able to reach a bit above 40 yards. Healing has always been set in stone to 40 yards range. And now DKs can silence u s from 50 yards range? ... No, I don't understand what they're thinking at all. Okay, that was a bit of rant. Until they choose to fix it, we'll have to live with that.

Second, their interrupt. It's called Mind Freeze, and has (fortunately) melee range. Except the cost, it's identical to Pummel. Frost DKs can remove the cost completely thanks to Endless Winter. Notice that without being frost, the cost of 20 runic power means that a DK can't use it from the start of combat, and they need to use no less than two attacks to get enough runic power to use it. Translation: If they've got an empty runic power bar, you don't risk an interruption. You still risk being silenced, but juking/fake-casting won't prevent that anyway.

Health regeneration

All DKs have a core ability called Death Strike which will heal them for a serious amount when used. The good news about this one is that they can heal themselves in place of doing a lot more damage with other abilities. Blood DKs have a particular hefty amount of health-restoring abilities.

The important observation: Even if you see a DK on low health, chances are that he can get his health up relatively fast. Unlike a warrior, you can't rely on bursting them down while on low health, but it's still worth trying. Just make sure you keep your priorities in the right order, like trying to stay out of melee. Should they get you in melee, they can restore a lot of health.

Other stuff to know

Defensive cooldowns

DKs have a large number of defensive cooldowns. These are the ones to look out for:

  • Icebound Fortitude: Core ability. Don't waste stuns while this is up.

  • Anti-Magic Shell: Core ability. Prevents any harmful magic effect from landing, and gives the DK additional runic power. Short duration, only 5 sec, so wait for it to fade.

  • Anti-Magic Zone: Unholy talent. Major pain for casters. Here's the big thing: It's stationary, so you can just pull the DK with you out of it.

  • Bone Shield: Unholy talent. Also improves offense. Dispel or Purge it if you can, otherwise ignore it.

  • Lichborne: Frost talent. Don't waste stuns or fears while this is up. Scary how they can chain Icebound Fortitude and this, giving them 27 sec of stun immunity. They're also no longer considered humanoid, meaning Hex won't work on them. But wait! There's light at the end of the tunnel. By activating Lichborne, the DK is considered undead. What does that mean? Good news for a priest or a pally. A priest can then use Shackle Undead on the DK for quality crowd control. For a paladin, some buttons suddenly become usable. Exorcism and Holy Wrath for quality burst damage (sadly, they're immune to the stun) and Turn Evil for crowd control. I haven't confirmed this, but if the DK is feared while Lichborne fades, the fade doesn't automatically break just because they've changed type again. What does this mean? Try to get in a Turn Evil right before it breaks, and watch them run around like chickens.

  • Unbreakable Armor: Frost talent. Nothing particular to worry about for healers.

  • (Glyphed + Improved) Rune Tap: Blood talent. There's no real way of preventing them from using it.

Ghoul self-res

Unholy DKs, and some off-specced Frost and Blood DKs with the talent Shadow of Death will, when brought to 0 health, automatically rise to unlife as a ghoul for a limited time. There is an important delay from when they die to when they're in control of their character again, during which the DK is immune to all damage. When you see it, run away. The best way to handle such the ghoul is to just outlive it, as it will die on it's own in a bit. They can still pack a good amount of damage, but seem to loose all their snares and Death Grip. If you're a priest, Shackle it. If they've got a pet ghoul, it will still be active until they die for good.

Ghoul pets

All DKs have the ability to Raise Dead. For non-Unholy DKs, this will give them a guardian for a limited time which they can't directly control. On the other hand, Unholy DKs with the talent Master of Ghouls will gain a pet without duration, which they can control for additional fun. At least for them. They also gain additional abilities, namely Leap (which means it's hard not to have this guy on top of you all the time), Huddle (which means that it's very hard to focus-kill the ghoul pet of a smart DK) and Gnaw (a DKs only stun).

The ghoul does a non-trivial amount of dps on their own. What to do about the pet? If you're a priest, Shackle it (unless the master is a zombie as well, in which case he makes a better shackle target). Also try to catch both when you Psychic Scream. If you're a druid, you can treat it the same way as a hunter pet, except that you can't hibernate it. If you're a shammy, you can (in BGs, not in arenas) use Earth Elemenetal totem to get him out of your face, but at the expense of other earth totems. Otherwise, you can try to Earthbind both the DK and the ghoul. If you're a pally, you may use Holy Wrath and Exorcism to try to burn it down, or Turn Evil for crowd control. However, the first two mentioned abilities have cooldowns, and it might be very handy to save those cooldowns in case the DK should activate Lichborne (see above). While Turn Evil doesn't have a cooldown, you need to weigh up the result against the risk that you eat a Mind Freeze, rendering all your spells unavailable for 4 sec. Apart from the ghoul stun, the pet is less of a treat against pallies with their high armor.

Mark of Blood

A blood talent which is worth worrying about. It's not dangerous to ourselves as we rarely melee enemies, but it can really be dangerous if they use it on your arena partner. Remove it if you can, otherwise try to convince your ally to hold back for a bit and mitigate damage until the mark runs out.

RP-sustaining abilities

There are two abilities whose duration depend on how much Runic Power the DK has/can generate, namely the blood talent Dancing Rune Weapon and the unholy talent Summon Gargoyle. These two abilities can last for a really long time if the DK can keep generating runic power. They vanish as soon as the DK run out of it.


Apart from the pet stun, a DKs only CC is the frost 51-point talent Hungering Cold. It requires a lot of runic power, but has no inheret cooldown. Try to avoid being caught with your arena partner.

And that's all, folks. Hope you've learned something. I'll probably learn more myself too, in which case I might update the guide.

Edit: Thanks to all commenters, I've added edited the post with the clarifications you've shared with me.

Die, Death Kn.... No, wait, Die, Blogspot!

You ... are ... kidding ... me...

Okay, I temporarily hate Blogspot.

I wrote a long article about facing Death Knights in PVP, and lost everything. Auto-save? Yes, it auto-saved after I accidently removed all I wrote. Bloody hell, it should have a auto-save which allowed you to go back to an earlier version of the document, or at least checked if the size suddenly decreased a lot.

Drat. I'll see if I can rewrite it, but right now I'm a bit annoyed.