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Death knights are well equipped to handle any threat that a mage has to offer, but the opening sequence is key. The trump cards of this fight will be Anti-Magic Shell, Anti-Magic Zone, as well as Death Grip.
Create a ghoul if you do not already have one and immediately send it after the mage. How the opening sequence is handled will determine the rest of the fight. Run towards the mage and Chains of Ice to keep them still, followed up with an Anti-Magic Zone if you are unholy spec. The first reaction of the mage will be to blink, which is why you ran towards them initially. Now it is time to use Death Grip, which will draw them back to you. Immediately reapply Chains of Ice and keep the debuff on the mage throughout the fight. Cast Icy Touch as your rotation allows.
Apply spell interrupts like Mind Freeze and Strangulate as necessary. Keep enough runic power for Anti-Magic Shell, should he/she use the Shatter combo. There is no bad time to use it since all their attacks are magic based. The rest of the fight should solve itself in your favor so long as you continue to damage.
Currently, Retribution paladins are extremely difficult for death knights. As blood, you need to damage them to regenerate health, however whenever you are in melee range, they always seem to destroy your health too fast. Therefore, it’s important that you start popping cooldowns early. Try to anticipate their Hammer of Justice and use Icebound Fortitude to counter it. Try and keep them at a distance, damaging them with Icy Touch and Death Coil. Staying close to a ret pally will never be fun, so I suggest keeping them a few feet away, and only coming in for Rune Strike/Death Strike/Frost Strike combos. If you’re going to be close to them, only let it be for an instant, as their slow 2 handed weapon is going to cause damage faster than you can regen with blood abilities. Mark of Blood is relatively useless against DPS paladins, as their two-handed weapons don’t attack fast, so keep them away, make them pop bubble, run away, rune tap and prepare to kill again. Protection Paladins are similar difficult, but not for their damage, but for their toughness. Protadins will most likely avoid all your weapon blows, which gives them Mana if they have Blessing of Sanctuary. If they block an attack, it will most likely backfire some damage back to you, which is extremely dangerous for dual-wielders. Try using spells instead of attacking abilities such as Icy Touch and Death Coil. As Protadin have immense ammounts of HP and Armor, you will need a lot of time for them, so try not to waste your lifedrainers by using them with almost full HP. When the Paladin is above lvl 75, they will have their Shieldbash, dealing out big ammounts of damage. Also, All Paladins can fear undead for 20 Seconds. THis is practically removing your undead pet, or worse: can keep you feared in your Ghould form until you explode.
Against the same class, the only differences will lie in gear, skill and talent build. Eliminating gear and skill from the mix, on a purely build based competition, certain abilities are optimal against others.
For PvP, your enemy DK will most likely have some blood abilities. Rune tap is just too godly, unless they’re full frost or unholy. Regardless of your build, if you are against a Blood DK, look out for mark of blood. Any damage the marked target deals, returns 4% of his targets health. When Mark of Blood is on you, don’t attack your opponent with auto attacks, or weak attacks like Icy Touch. instead, save up your runes for Death Strikes, wait for Rune Strikes, and if you have the health, feel free to use Obliterate (only if you have the frost talents).
As a Blood Death Knight, against any DK with a pet, as well as any class that has a pet in general, it is usually more effective to place your mark of blood on the pet, rather than on the player. The pet generally attacks with faster, less damaging auto attacks, each replenishing 4% of its targets health. This works equally well against Hunter pets and Warlock pets, but not so effective on Water Elementals.
Against Frost DK’s, who have weaker Deathcoils, effectively trading it for Frost Strike. That means, they’re going to snare you with Chains of Ice, then get within melee range to alternate between Obliterate and Frost Strike for quick burst damage. Trying to keep them at range is the key. If they are dual wielding, all the more reason to Mark of Blood them.
Unholy DKs are going to kill more slowly, keeping someone confined with the area of Death & Decay and desecration. As Blood, again, try and stay out of their melee range as SS hurts, damage them from a range as much as possible. Blood DK’s should have the advantage in this situation, due to far superior health regen/=damage output.
As a bit of a psychological trick, it is sometimes worthwhile to wait for the enemy DK to drop a Death and Decay. When you see where their radius has been laid, feel free to add your own which partially overlaps it. If the enemy is not perceptive enough to realize what just happened you can often lure or pull them into fighting on your side of the D&D. They will presume you are taking damage from their spread while inadvertently fighting in yours.
Rogues are not a very difficult class for death knights due to our parry chance and heavy armour. Using your Rune Strike will make your melee attacks more powerful but don’t use your Death Coil unless you decide to kite him.
Stun is still very bad for DK’s, so save your trinket for his kidney shot. A good strategy if you have runic power is to trinket out of his from his cheap shot and pop Icebound Fortitude to block a Kidney Shot. If blood, asap put Mark of Blood on him as with a rogue’s fast attack speed it will very effectively counter his ability to damage you for 20 seconds. Try and keep the rogue at range, damaging him with death coils or ghoul, and alternating with Icy Touch and Chains of Ice depending on the situation. Often times, against Rogues, you might not even want to attempt the Icy Touch, unless frost spec. If you can break out of their stun lock and pop some cooldowns to mitigate the damage, and kite the rogue, the fight should be yours.
If you have a Glyph of Raise Dead you could try to get lucky, better in unholy presence because of reduced global cooldown. When he cheap shots you, trinket out of it, summon a ghoul for 20 runic power and Icebound Fortitude to get away from his Kidney Shot and turn the tides of the gank.
If you happen to stumble upon a rogue, or get him with a DaD, and he tries to fight, use Icebound Fortitude ASAP, as he’ll use KS ASAP as well. If he spots your immunity and waits, at least it is not as devastating, as the stun is mostly bad when you have unused runes, and you can spam them before it wears off.
Casting any disease on a rogue is a good way to stop vanish, but CloS can remove them once. Instead, cast Unholy Blight or Summon Gargoyle whenever you can, as they’ll keep attacking even while vanished.
Another good way to stop a running rogue is to tell your ghoul to follow you and then attack him again, if he stealths in the meantime he’ll know where to find him.
Shamans are about as diverse as druids, but far less annoying as they can’t shift out of Chains of Ice unless specced minor Enhancement. Enhancement Shamans are melee-oriented, whilst Elementalists are casters and Restoration are healers. The totems you’ll have to watch mostly are the earthbind totem and the grounding totem, The Earthbind Totem is an aoe slow of 50%, which is an easy kite for him, Icy Touch it or let your ghoul jump for it ahead of you. The grounding totem eats a spell and could send that gargoyle off to deatroy nothing (unconfirmed). Putting up improved Anti-Magic Shell will cause the reflected spell to be absorbed and thus cost no runes, you can spamfill your own runic power. Regardless of spec, they rely mainly on magic damage, so Anti-Magic Zone is always nice to have. Save your Death Grip for when he runs in his instant wolf form to heal.
Enhancement shamans deal most damage with instants, of which the toughest are melee range, but they lack ways to get close to you, and can be kited easily. The two Spirit Wolves he spawns with Feral Spirit (11th Tier) have low health but like most pets, they attack fast, so putting Mark of Blood on one can be a good tactic, but it might be better used on the Shaman if he spams Stormstrike especially when dual-wielding, and the DoT from Flame Shock will have higher DPS and Mark of Blood will benefit more. Applying Mark of Blood on the Spirit Wolf while the shaman retreats or is not focusing on causing damage to you works well too.
Elemental shamans are pretty easy, just Chains of Ice and Strangulate him for some pummeling, then pop Anti-Magic Shell for some more one-on-one time. They can summon great elementals, but they are melee, chain them and you won’t hear from them for 5 seconds. When he blasts you away with Thunderstorm, just pull him with you and chain again.
Restoration shamans generally do provide as big as threats as previous talents, however some of the more experienced players may require more effort. but seriously, they dont have the push nor the elementals from tree 1, nor the for non-blood DKs annoying wolves from tree number 2. Moreover, most heals are casts and can just be Deep Freeze-ed. Please add any problems you might encounter.
Warriors are only strong at melee combat, and the common warrior will decide to close in on you with Charge to start the battle. You have two approaches to counter this: use Death Grip to pull him in and prevent a stun, or stay within a distance and cast Chains of Ice to prevent him from moving at normal speed.
From there, you should figure out what type of warrior you’re dealing with: arms, fury or protection? If Protection, activate Frost Presence to raise your armor over his, whilst having the upper hand with shadow and frost damage attacks. If the warrior is Fury, then try to keep your distance, as he can gain extra attack speed through Flurry if he scores a critical hit. You may want to watch out for racials like Berserking as well. Use Unholy Presence to raise your attack speed and movement speed as well. Arms warriors can reduce your healing through Mortal Strike; it is up to you to choose between Blood Presence for extra damage and healing yourself a little bit, or Frost Presence to prevent lots of damage coming from his burst DPS.
Before he uses Demoralizing Shout on you, use Strangulate; it can also prevent you from being feared and then being stunned with Intercept if he decides not to heal himself. Whatever you do, keep getting behind him, and use all your strikes accordingly. Constantly refresh Plague Strike on him to keep up the DoT disease. Only use Frost Strike on a protection warrior whenever you have lots of Runic Power to spend.
Buffs: you have one main buff, much like the Warrior his AP buff and at higher levels Commanding Shout to raise maximum health. Keep up your buff, which is Horn of Winter due to the increased strength and agility gained, useful to dodge their abilities. Rune Strikes can be used after the Death knight dodges or parries an attack made against him. If you are Unholy spec, Scourge Strike ignores armour, whereas Death Strike does not, so save your frost and unholy runes for Scourge Strike.
Warlocks excel at long ranged DoT and has alot of HP but not much armour. Make sure you death grip and Strangulate him quickly and Icy Touch + Plague Strike. Death Strike can heal you for large amount due to locks’ low armour so use it often. Mind Freeze his Fear and Drain Life.
Anti-Magic Shell gives you 5 seconds (7 with glyph) of Fear as well as spell damage immunity, pop it when the warlock tries to fear you. If you have Lichborne, use it for fear immunity if you have the upper hand and rip the Warlock apart, or, if you cannot close distance fast enough, use it to break his first fear.
Mark of Blood is a most interesting spell on a lock, as the great amount of dots should only replenish your health. It is at this point uncertain, but can easily be checked <wink>, if the mark needs to be on the lock before dotting or if the dots get ‘marked’ at the same time the lock is, in which case you could just use mark as an emergency save, or if nothing happens at all to the dots.
–Min’s– Imps die pretty fast from any damage, and are mostly used as batteries or for their buff, both which you can remove with a few simple strikes. Voidwalkers should, of course, not be paid attention too. Felpuppies can eat your diseases off a lock, making your Strikes rather less powerful. They are nearly immune to spell damage, so only kill if you are blood, or just give them a Mark of Blood and let him eat away. If a lock has a succubus, he could seduce-kite you, so tear the fragile thing apart when the lock can’t harm you. Felguards are dangerous, they’re about as strong as a BM hunter’s pet, but can easily be chained to the ground for extended periods of time.
The key to fighting a Hunter is keeping him as close to you as possible, as this will render most of his moves completely useless. You can start off a fight by using Chains of Ice to slow him down, making it easy to get into his melee range. His first reaction will be to Disengage to distance himself from you, at which point you can pull him towards you again with Death Grip (Be careful in the use of Death Grip as a good hunter will use this chance to lay their trap, if they have not done so already). Simply stack your Diseases on him, saving Frost Runes to refresh Chains of Ice, and dps away. It might be handy to use Icebound Fortitude, to prevent a Beast Mastery Hunter from using Intimidate or other possible stuns, and make any dps he can do while in your melee range truly negligible. You can use your Ghoul to occupy his pet, or add some extra dps on the Hunter. If you attack the hunter with your ghoul, remember to instruct it to attack him again if he feigns death or taunts it with his pet.
If you are blood spec make sure to place Mark of Blood on their pet and try to summon your rune weapon as quickly as possible. If the hunter is Beast Mastery and uses Bestial Wrath, then switch to Frost Presence to ride it out and keep Icy Touch on him and his pet.
Having Icy Reach to increase your Icy Touch and Chains of Ice range to 30 yards helps against hunters considerably. You do not want him to kite you with Aspect of the Cheetah.
Druids can be a tough fight for Death Knights, and much will depend on the skill of the druid you are fighting and their spec.
A feral druid will likely shift to bear form to try to mitigate your high physical damage. He won’t do high damage in this form, so use Blood Presence to heal yourself and keep your diseases up on him and try to hit him with attacks like Death Coil, Scourge Strike, Frost Strike, etc that are not mitigated by armor. You should win the damage race. When the druid gets low he will try to heal himself, and preventing this is what will win you the match. Use Icebound Fortitude when he seems likely to heal to try to waste his Bash. If he tries to Cyclone you Mind Freeze to interrupt it and the fight will likely be yours before his Nature school recovers.
More experienced druids will use Nature’s Grasp to root you and run away to heal, if so then a quick Anti-Magic Shell may waste his Nature’s Grasp. If he succeeds in rooting you then Death Grip him back before he gets too far to give yourself some more time (he will simply run away again as you are still rooted, so it is not a permanent solution) and then Strangulate as he goes out of range to silence him and hope that this gives you time for the root to fade. Chains of Ice is a waste of runes as he will simply shift out of it. If the druid doesn’t move far enough away before healing then wait until his heal is nearly done and use Death Grip or Strangulate to interrupt.
A balance druid is more dangerous, as they will try to root you and nuke from range, while shifting out of Chains of Ice, preventing you from keeping them close to you. Try to interrupt their initial Entangling Roots, which will force them to blow their Nature’s Grasp instead. If you have Runic Power then Anti-Magic Shell will prevent them from rooting you immediately and cause them serious problems. If (likely when) they succeed in rooting you then wait for them to run and start casting and use strangulate to silence them if they are still in range. Summon a ghoul and send it at them, then go Frost Presence and use Anti-Magic Zone and try to survive the onslaught. Do not use your Death Grip, ghoul stun or Icebound Fortitude unless the situation is dire, as they will be needed later. If the druid allows the root to fade or you can trinket out of it AND they already used their Nature’s Grasp, then death grip them to you immediately. If they keep it refreshed or they still have Nature’s Grasp to root you, then you will have to survive until the diminishing returns on roots prevent them from refreshing it, THEN Death Grip them to you. In either case immediately unload on them as quickly as possible in Unholy Presence.
If they stand and nuke then use Mind Freeze only on Nature spells (NOT Starfire) as if you lock out their Arcane school they will be free to Cyclone you and run or heal while your Mind Freeze is on cooldown, and otherwise you should quickly gain ground your melee strikes are far more damaging than his spells. Unfortunately a smart druid will instead now Typhoon or Bash and use travel form or Dash to get away from you then root your ghoul and kite you until they can root you again. If he shifts to bear then use Icebound Fortitude to prevent you from being Bashed and then you pretty much have to hope that the several hits on their low armor form, followed by as many Death Coils as you have runic power for will kill them, as if they get away you are in trouble. A timely ghoul stun can be a big help at this point.
Restoration druids will generally use the same tactics as balance druids to do damage to you. A restoration druid’s nukes will be much less powerful so you have much more chance of surviving a full duration root and nuke. A restoration druid will have to nuke in low armor caster form instead of Moonkin, so a death grip followed by an Unholy Presence broadside may yield a quick kill for you at lower gear levels if they aren’t quick or knowledgeable enough to shift to bear form to mitigate it. In any case your ghoul can do heavy damage to them while they nuke you. Nature’s Swiftness will allow them to root or cyclone you instantly, and they will probably use it in place of Typhoon (which they won’t have) to get away from you. If their primary aim is to heal themselves and others then you will have a hard job locking them down. Keep your ghoul on them and try to keep Blood Plague on them and everyone else you can to remove HoTs.
The priest is a strange fight for the death knight. The trump card of any priest is the ability to heal and stave off damage, to which the only natural response is to lay as heavy a load of diseases as possible and focus on burst DPS. As opposed to other classes that you can pick away at with leisure time to spare, priest shields have received multiple upgrades over the last few patches, between actual mechanic changes and glyphs, and so this will be the indicator throughout the fight as to what happens.
Of note, it is important to remember three skills: Chains of Ice, to keep them still; Plague Strike, to strip away HoTs; Obliterate (or Rune Strike if available) to add burst damage between shields. Secondarily, Death Grip to close the gap (should one open), Death Strike to self-heal, and Anti-Magic Shell to prevent incidental damage. Runic power plays a larger role in priest fights than any other, due to its ability to translate into fast damage.
It is assumed that any fight is conducted with focus on Death Strike for health return. For the priest though it is important to let the diseases and circumstantial damage take care of the shield while “big damage” moves are used exclusively while the shield is down. Burn runes on whittling the shield and building runic power, then unload as fast as possible when it drops. If high powered strikes are used on the shield the priest will focus on fear and/or slowing spells (Mind Flay) while the shield is on cool. To counter this, you have to focus fire as hard as possible while the shield is down, forcing them to resort to large heals or HoTs, which can be interrupted or removed accordingly.
Forcing the priest into a healing pattern, instead of a defensive pattern, while doing your best to keep your own health as high as possible will result in a win for the death knight. It is a similar fight to the warlock, excepting that damage has to be unloaded at specific windows of opportunity.