Class Set Feedback: Death Knight

Forum Avatar
Community Manager
#1 - Dec. 1, 2021, 10:37 p.m.
Blizzard Post

In this thread, we’re gathering focused feedback on the Death Knight class set, coming in Eternity’s End.

Please note that initially in the PTR, class sets are a work in progress and will undergo substantial design changes in the near future. We’ll let you know the details of those changes as they are developed, both here in this thread and in our Development Notes thread.

Thank you for testing Eternity’s End with us!

Forum Avatar
WoW Developer
#99 - Dec. 10, 2021, 5:40 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Happy Friday Death Knights! Apologies for the delayed response, but your feedback here – and across all of the many different channels we’re reading and viewing – has been invaluable. Let’s talk about next steps and what sorts of changes we’re considering & bugs you should see addressed in future builds. Thanks to some of y’all for reporting these!

Frost -

  • Glacial Advance should fire when Killing Machine is consumed by Frostscythe
  • Looking into reports of Glacial Advance sometimes overwriting Killing Machine’s buff mid-flight

In general, Frost seems to be doing well from a a power level perspective and both bonuses have a bit more going on to them than at first glance. However, something we’ll be exploring in a future update (as in, likely not this very next build) is a sort of re-packaging of the 2-piece to keep it at the same power level but have more integration into the kit - likely aimed at generating or planning out Killing Machine applications, which in turn may make the 4-piece feel smoother to play.

Blood -

  • Endless Rune Waltz’s strength and Dancing Rune Weapon extension should only trigger when Heart Strike is cast, not based on the number of targets hit
  • Numerous inconsistencies with the 4-piece’s on-parry Heart Strike not triggering the 2-piece, or interacting with talents

Goals are to clean up the interactions between Heart Strike and the rest of the tier set - the intent here is for the 4-pieces’s Heart Strike to trigger basically any and all effects a normal one would. This should make it a lot more powerful in standard situations, while fixing the bug that’s letting people solo entire high level keys on their own (oops lmao). Beyond that, we’ll be adding an internal cooldown for the on-parry trigger to have better control over its output for future tuning. Looking towards future updates, a piece of recurring feedback so far has been the pretty stark difference in value and excitement between this set as it pertains to tanking in Mythic+ vs Raid tanking. While the nature of the set’s design is simply that it’s going to favor one over the other, it’s still worth exploring for ways to keep the sort of ‘endless’ value engine in multi-target scenarios while finding a better boost for our Raiders. There’s a few thoughts about how to achieve that (such as frontloading more of the 2-piece’s value), but you won’t see that addressed immediately.

Unholy -

  • In some instances, Unholy’s pet isn’t actually receiving the 20% attack speed buff as advertised
  • Overlapping applications of Soul Reaper (from the 2-piece and the base spell) will cause whichever was applied later to be slower to detonate than normal
  • A big one: When a unit dies with Soul Reaper on it, an Army ghoul from 4p isn’t being spawned - this was intended functionality to give the set value in cleave/Mythic+ that didn’t quite make it to PTR

Unholy’s a tricky one to balance given it’s based on Execute windows, but some of the aforementioned bugs are making it much worse outside of Execute than it’s intended to be. We’re going to make all of the above changes and watch a bit while revisiting exactly how the 4-piece’s summon should work. There’s been a lot of feedback that due to it being an Army of the Dead ghoul its duration should be upped to 30 seconds, but also desire to have it spawn Maguses via talents as well. What seems most likely at the current moment is moving to 30s duration and no Magus spawn, but we’re going to take a bit to decide which one to pursue. It’s worth noting that even with a buff to the 4-piece, it’s very possible to see it reined back in (or testing out the other option) due to tuning concerns, so your continued feedback, testing, and theorizing is incredibly valuable!

That’s all! TL:DR - expect all of the listed bugs to be fixed alongside some minor functionality changes, with later builds focusing on updates to the Unholy 4-piece, Blood 2-piece, and Frost 2-piece (in about that order of priority). Suffer well, knights.

Forum Avatar
WoW Developer
#108 - Dec. 10, 2021, 9:12 p.m.
Blizzard Post

totally - apologies with my wording, I was meaning to say that it’ll be easier to get 4p value when there’s extra adds rather than imply that it actually boosts your AoE damage profile. I think you and others have had a lot of good analysis about the Unholy as a spec heading into 9.2 here and in some other threads, so I’m at least passing that on broadly to some other folks too.

Forum Avatar
WoW Developer
#120 - Dec. 15, 2021, 12:37 a.m.
Blizzard Post

quick update: the DK changes missed the cutoff for the PTR deploy you’re seeing now, so I want to apologize for everyone that was looking forward to them. the upside of this is that when the PTR -does- build, you should see some of the iteration mentioned in the previous post. I’m not sure when that build will be, but it’ll be accompanied with another larger post detailing current thinking & further iterations beyond that. thanks for understanding, and continued thanks for people discussing the sets out there to help make them the best they can be!

Forum Avatar
WoW Developer
#124 - Dec. 16, 2021, 3:02 a.m.
Blizzard Post

hey folks! similar to the rogue thread, it felt like death knights would appreciate the gift of a follow-up post to last week’s update with a look at some of the changes that will be coming in January, as a winter veil present to make up for not seeing iteration & bug fixes on the PTR this week.

for both of the bonuses we’re showing today, try to center feedback around your impressions of them on a feel-level; both the Unholy set and Frost’s 2-piece have generated a lot of discussion on that angle over their actual power level, so these iterations seek to address those concerns while capturing the original goals of the sets.


  • 2-piece Bonus: Every 5 Scourge Strikes / Clawing Shadows casts Soul Reaper on your target and summons a Ghoul for 12 seconds.
  • 4-piece Bonus: Soul Reaper causes your pet to deal 20% increased damage. If Soul Reaper’s secondary effect triggered, all of your pets gain 20% increased damage instead.

while we think there’s still value and excitement in a bonus that interacts with Soul Reaper & pushes Unholy’s more single-target/execute niche (as compared to Frost), it was clear that having an entire bonus inactive unless in execute was a bridge too far and could lead to some major tuning issues. this set seeks to retain that goal while also emphasizing the ‘undead commander’ fantasy of Unholy that the original promised.

before anyone asks, yes all pets means apoc ghoul, garg, aotd, you name it. go crazy.

for Frost, this bonus is a little more experimental, so really curious to see what people think of it - again, numbers may be too high/low, don’t make me tap the sign


  • 2-piece Bonus: Gaining a Rune has a 15% chance to grant Killing Machine. Consuming Killing Machine increases your Strength by 2% for 6 seconds.

the above bonus seeks to accomplish the previous one’s goal of ‘generate more KM procs for the 4-piece’ but in a way that feels a little more in your hands. Gaining a Rune here means both as part of talents and passives like Murderous Efficiency and Runic Empowerment, but also whenever a Rune refreshes naturally. The strength kicker also stacks, so hitting multiple KM’s within a moderate duration via fishing for 2p procs or talents like Obliteration gain a lot of value here as well.

It’s worth noting for the vocal group of players who only want to play Breath of Sindragosa, that those builds generate a lot of extra Runes as well which should hopefully still make it a viable option.

as for blood players - there’s nothing to share at the moment, other than there’s still a desire to find a middle ground for solo-tanking and multi-target tanking that feels good for the bonus, though more data and feedback on a non-bugged version is necessary before figuring out where to take it.

thanks for being patient, and we’ll see you all again in January!

Forum Avatar
WoW Developer
#190 - Jan. 13, 2022, 5:57 a.m.
Blizzard Post

Hey folks! Now that the latest PTR build is out, wanted to give some updates on the future of Death Knight’s sets + tuning, by spec.

As a general disclaimer, tuning for Tier Sets as a feature is happening across all classes asynchronously, so while it may feel to you that some sets are being buffed/nerfed unjustly, our intention is to hit the same target across the board - while there will naturally be variance, this means that comparing future plans detailed in this post to classes that have yet to receive tuning or more recently received an update to their functionality isn’t super productive. Let’s start with the good news!

  • Unholy

This set’s update just hit PTR this week finally, and so far it seems like it’s being well received. As some of you may have noticed, the 4-piece is a little different than the one posted a while back, but overall seeks to keep an Execute theme to set while not tying the entirety of the set’s power to just those windows.

There’s unlikely to be any major updates left beyond tuning from here on in, but one change that will be coming (hopefully in the next update) is a change to make the 2-piece only stack Harvest Time on Scourge Strikes/Clawing Shadows that cause Festering Wounds to burst. This is to address the feedback that while in your execute window, you just mash Scourge Strike/Clawing Shadows without any regards for Unholy’s core gameplay, which would feel unsatisfying but necessary to perform optimally.

Overall, interested to see how this one performs now that Raid Testers can get their hands on it, and will be seeing tuning after it’s had some time to sit.

  • Blood

Coming in the next update will be a change aimed at addressing how Blood’s set performs in Solo Tanking/Raid Content (where you are only tanking a fraction of the time, and the amount parryable attacks is often not under your control) and how it performs in Mythic+ / AoE tanking, where it performs far better. The change (which is also being applied similarly to Protection Paladin’s set, as they have a similar bonus & dichotomy) reads:

‘Whenever you take damage, your weapon has a chance equal to your parry chance to lash out, Heart Striking your attacker. Dancing Rune weapon now summons 2 Rune Weapons.’

This change has a few advantages, like still triggering when you’re not the main tank (but still in range), and triggering more often vs certain enemy types and bosses that wouldn’t have been affected previously, like those that predominantly cast spells. This change will also ship with a higher internal cooldown than it previously had (because of how often it’ll activate, and frankly because y’all already had a bug that let you solo entire dungeons once this cycle already), but like all bonuses is subject to tuning.

Lastly, there’s still an issue we’re tracking down not allowing the 4-piece’s Heart Strike to function as an actual Heart Strike, which has proven a bit trickier to fix than intended - this will also represent a pretty significant power increase, as they’ll be able to interact with the 2-piece’s strength stacking as well as generate Runic Power.

  • Frost

Lastly, the bad news. The proposed bonus we talked about last time has proven to be a lot more difficult to implement than we’d hoped, and considering Frost has a functional & balanced 2-piece, it’s been hard to prioritize solving it over focusing our efforts and dev time on more critical elements of the patch. At the risk of leading you on, there is a chance a new bonus could be considered on the conditions that 1) the aforementioned elements are finished with time to spare and 2) we have the QA resources to support testing it later on, which isn’t a non-zero chance, but the more-than-likely outcome is what’s currently on PTR will stay without major overhaul for 9.2’s launch.

To reiterate from a previous post - Frost’s set is exactly on-target for our tuning goals at the moment, and any rework or update would be to repackage that same power level in a potentially more interesting fashion, so this isn’t a concern that Frost Death Knights will have a ‘bad’ or undertuned set. Regardless, we know for those of you that were looking forward to testing it that this news is disappointing, but it felt better to give you a transparent look at the why & how rather than to stay silent and cause further harm & expectations down the road.

So TL;DR - a power-neutral update will be coming for Unholy to fix a rotation issue during Execute, Blood’s being updated to smooth out the best and worst cases, and Frost is likely to stay as-is. After the next update where Blood & Unholy are updated, it’s likely that these posts will become less frequent (and certainly less lengthy) as we’ll be moving into the stages of reacting to feedback with smaller, mostly numerical tweaks to hit our final tuning targets before it’s ready to go.

I want to say thanks to all the Death Knights who’ve been instrumental in shaping these sets into what they’ll be in the future, both in your testing and the effort it takes to document bugs and write-up informative posts. Have a great week!