Similar questions have been posed by For the Horde and Gnomeageddon about their classes, each providing a list of typical class-related problems and solutions. So, what are some of the more difficult things to do as a Death Knight, in either PvE or PvP?
Timing Anti-Magic Shell (AMS)
In a raid, AMS performs two functions. First, it helps your healers by absorbing a lot of damage. Second, using it will often fill your RP bar to full (depending on what damage you’re taking). This makes it invaluable and, in Ulduar, usable on almost every cooldown. A couple of examples are Kologarn’s Shockwave, Hodir’s Frozen Blows, Ignis’ Flame Jets… the list goes on. Soaking up RP through AMS is helpful for all specs, though most of all Frost due to the uber-awesome nature of FS.
In PvP, AMS is more of a defensive cooldown. Save it for when your partner can’t heal/help you, or when you are being focused by spellcasters. If you’re going toe to toe with an opposing DK, AMS can give you an edge by preventing application of diseases as well as damage from DC, SS, and FS.
Balancing DPSing and Survival
In almost every Ulduar encounter, melee has to move to get out of something. Missiles, Overloads, Fire, Weird Glowy Stuff, etc. It’s not incredibly hard to just strafe sideways out of whatever is hurting you, but the problem remains that when you’re moving you may not be in melee range or even paying attention to your DPS rotation. So, when you’re running around avoiding whatever is ailing you, consider these things. Always remember, though, that survival comes first.
- You have ranged abilities. Use them.
- Don’t let your diseases fall off, even if you’re running in and out.
- Pay attention to your rune cooldowns. Do you have time before running back to the boss to use more than one rotation of ranged abilities?
The longer you’re away from a boss’s melee range, the more important it is to keep tossing ranged attacks and refreshing your diseases.
Macroing Rune Strike to Everything
/cast blood strike
/cast rune strike
This is great for levelling. You rarely need to do anything complicated with a mob and the faster you kill it the quicker you get to the next mob. In PvP and raiding (well, mostly tanking rather than DPSing) doing so can quickly become problematic. First, PvP. In the first arena I played with Rune Strike macroed to everything, I often found myself lacking the RP to cast AMS, IBF or Hungering Cold. Add to that the importance of keeping RP to DC if your opponenets are at range and macroing Rune Strike can be dangerous.
If you’re tanking in a raid, the same principles apply. You need to have RP available to use defensive cooldowns to survive. Rune Strike should always be secondary to your survival as you should be able to generate enough threat to keep the boss on you without it anyways. If you’re DPSing, macroing Rune Strike can be slightly beneficial since in certain fights (think the ton of little flower adds that Freya spawns) you have the opportunity to parry and dodge random attacks.
Using Your Cooldowns
Each DPS spec has cooldowns to increase damage, for 20-40s at a time. When is the best time to use them? A well-known saying applies: early and often. One caveat applies: many fights have specific phases where the boss takes extra damage or you need to pull off some burst damage. Some examples of this are XT, Emalon, Razorscale, hard-mode AoI (Steelbreaker does crazy things!), and the list probably goes on to bosses I have yet to experience. In these instances, save your cooldowns or at least time them so they’ll be up at the important times. In other fights, like Ignis and Kologarn, the fight is fairly constant and the more you use your cooldowns the more damage you’ll do.
The hardest cooldown to manage and use properly is Army of the Dead. There are places where it shines, doing about 100,000 damage if allowed to DPS one target without being distracted by shiny adds or AoE’d down by a brisk gust of wind. AotD ghouls will also taunt any non-boss (mobs that don’t have a skull where their level should be) thing in the area. As a result, you won’t want to use AotD on Ignis because of the importance of the OTs and dragging constructs around. On the other hand, Razorscale is the perfect fight to use army for these reasons:
- You know in advance when you need an extra burst of DPS (landing at 50% or waiting for the final harpoon to be shot)
- There are no (or very few) adds around during the DPS burst phases
- LOL LOOK AT ALL THE GHOOLS!!!!111
Even if you’re DPSing, you should also remember your IBF as, in certain situations where you might take lots of physical damage (XT’s tantrums), it helps out your healers quite a bit. If you ever have to pinch tank, it’s good to pop your IBF to ease the transition (especially since you’ll already be taking extra damage from not being in tank gear/spec).
The hardest part of properly playing a Death Knight is to keep track of and efficiently use all of your resources. This goes for runes as well as cooldowns. Don’t get tunnel vision in either PvP or PvE, keep thinking, and you too can avoid being a Fail Knight.