Following up on Saturday's First Impressions article, we have more details on Death Knight abilities for you, direct from the Worldwide Invitational where Wrath of the Lich King was playable. Note that the mechanics of these abilities are still being balanced, so it's possible that many of them will change prior to release, or even beta.
I decided to fill my role as an explorer of the fine world of Azeroth and ran around Eastern Plaguelands. At Light's Hope Chapel I came upon a Death Knight trainer, and of course I had to check out all of the abilities the class gets. While I didn't have time to check everything and get exact details, I did memorize the gist of many of the abilities. Check them out below! We also weren't allowed to film or take pictures of the screens, so sadly I don't have direct tooltip examples.
Death Knight Abilities
These are not all of the abilities; it's the ones I noticed you receive fairly early on in your leveling. It's also possible more will be added for these levels, or some of these may be removed before the expansion launches.
- Chains of Ice -- Roots the target in place, and once the target breaks free of the root, a movement speed snare is applied for the next 10 seconds. The potency of the snare weakens every second. 20 second cooldown.
- Raise Dead -- Raises the target corpse to fight by your side as a ghoul. If the target corpse is not humanoid, you need "Corpse Dust" to complete the spell. 5 minute cooldown.
- In the Unholy tree you can find talents that improve the damage done by your ghoul, as well as those that reduce the cooldown on Raise Dead and also increase the duration your ghoul stays out.
- Frost Presence -- Increases armor by 45% and threat generated by 25%.
- Mind Freeze -- 4 second interupt, also deals frost damage, but costs Runic Power. 10 second cooldown.
- Blood Boil -- This ability seems to work like the Warrior's Challenging Shout ability based on the tooltip information. It causes all of the diseases on targets within the range of the AE to "erupt," dealing damage and forcing them to attack you.
- Death Strike -- Deals 60% weapon damage and if the target dies within 6 seconds and rewards Experience or Honor it heals the Death Knight.
- Strangulate -- Silences the target, preventing them from casting spells.
- Death and Decay -- This is a ground targeted AoE from the description. It deals damage every second to any enemies in it and has a chance to fear them.
- Obliterate -- This ability deals weapon damage plus a flat amount per disease on your target, but removes them.
- Note: I noticed a talent that gives a fairly substantial chance to not remove the diseases when using Obliterate.
- Pestilence -- This spreads the disease from your target to nearby targets, dealing damage and inflicting any targets hit with the diseases being spread. Seems like a cleave ability.
- Degeneration -- This ability deals damage and places a stacking disease on the target. Tooltip says it stacks up to 3 times. Seems like a good ability to use along with Plague Strike to boost Obliterate's damage. Unknown if multiple stacks causes Obliterate to do additional damage, but doubtful.
- Note: This ability will also corrupt Healing Over Time spells on the target, causing the Damage Over Time portion of it to deal additional damage. Unfortunately I didn't have access to dueling a Priest or Druid to find out how potent it becomes, but it definitely seems like an anti-Druid ability for Arenas.
After playing around for a bit with the base abilities I came to the conclusion that the Death Knight will no doubt be one of the most challenging classes to play in World of Warcraft, with learning Rune management and how to properly allocate Runic Power into your various abilities that use it both being very important to the success of the character. You'll also likely never reach a point where you have nothing to do -- you simply have too many abilities to use and your Rune cooldowns are only 10 seconds each; you have two of each type on Rune on your sword -- but there's no word on whether being able to change them will actually go in -- it was mentioned back at BlizzCon.
Something else I noticed that ensures you'll never have one of those frustrations where your Plague Strike gets dodged and you're stuck waiting 10 seconds before you can actually do damage; your Rune cooldowns refresh instantly if your ability misses, is dodged, or is parried (only the Runes used on that ability). This didn't seem to hold true for "spells" like Icy Touch, though, as mine missed a few times while playing and it didn't refresh the Rune. Bug, perhaps? Or maybe it's only intended to function that way on the melee abilities... who knows.
Regardless, the Death Knight is going to be a very fun class to play if it goes live anywhere similar to the current state it's in; Blizzard has definitely done a great job of creating a hybrid tank/dps class that does its job as well as the others do, but in a different way. I definitely suggest everyone buying the expansion check it out -- though not right away -- I want to get mine to 80 as soon as possible! Once I've collected my thoughts on the talent trees for the Death Knight in general, I'm going to be writing another article concerning the trees and the Death Knight's potential impact on the PVP game -- especially in Arenas.