Blizzard have posted a detailed explanation of changes coming to the Death Knight talent trees and  abilities in general, both for the core tree and Unholy.

DK Tree (Source)

Hello Death Knights!

We’d like to kick things off here with a talk about some future plans for both the Core and Unholy Death Knight trees. While all specs can expect iteration as we navigate through alpha and beyond, this update will focus on the two trees mentioned.

Core Tree

In next week’s Alpha, you can expect to see an updated layout to the Core tree. In its current iteration, the tree feels a little too linear, with lower variance in customization as you progressed down one of the branches of the trees. To alleviate this, we’ve added connecting nodes to Blood’s branch from both the Frost and the Unholy sides of the core tree before the 1st gate, and one after the second gate. We’re also adding more nodes above the first gate, to add some more flexibility when picking up utility options.

We’re also doing some talent re-arrangements to fix dependency issues (preventing players from picking up talents with 0 value based on their prior picks). Here’s a work-in-progress picture that might give a better idea of what that means.

In the core tree, we’re going to move forward with some known bugs. While most things that aren’t actually working should be marked as NYI (Not Yet Implemented), we missed one with Empower Rune Weapon adding charges (for Frost). It’s currently not giving a charge if you learn it in both the Core and Frost tree. This will be fixed in a future alpha build.

Rune Strike is intended to only be available prior to choosing a spec. Each of the specs first talent choices should replace Rune Strike. This will be fixed in a future build.


As we move into future builds, we want to tackle two main issues we’ve heard about from the community. The first is the issue of cooldown desyncs which is caused by a few different talents and some oddly timed base cooldowns. This will be our first priority. Secondly, after these changes make it to the alpha, we will want to tackle the overall structure of Unholy’s talent layout. The tree layout changing will take some time but we want to give an early heads up that we are actively looking at it and you can expect changes in the future.

Our initial goals with this include:

Update the cooldowns of Unholy to better sync with each other and prevent the dreaded desync issues the spec has seen. Generally we should expect 45/90/180 second cooldowns for Unholy.

Reduce the number of “RNG” mechanics the spec has to deal with.

Restructure the tree layout to include removing some talents, updating existing talents, and adding new talents. We’ll mention some of these changes below, but this will not be a comprehensive of all changes coming.

Some changes to expect in a future alpha build:

Deadly Coil: Reduces the Runic Power cost of Death Coil by 5/10.

This talent will be removed as a talent and wrapped into Death Coil baseline.

Developers’ notes: Deadly Coil has become quite important to how smooth the Unholy spec rotation feels and at this point is better served baseline than as a talent that can be opt-in or out of.

Unholy Command: Damage Dealt by Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Dark Transformation.

This talent will now read “Dark Transformation’s cooldown is reduced by 8/15 seconds.”

Developers’ notes: This should help Dark Transformation’s cooldown feel less RNG (or punishing for players who don’t manage Death Coil perfectly) and also align with the rest of their talents.

Infectious Wound: Festering Strike has a 20% increased chance of applying 1/2/3 additional Festering Wounds.

This talent will be cut or reworked.

Developers’ notes: While this talent may be repurposed rather than cut, we plan to cut the current randomness and rework it to provide a more consistent benefit, with the goal of better helping players play around the talent rather than hope it happens at the right moment.


Damage to be buffed.

Developers’ notes: With the new talent that allows Death Coil to cleave, the line on when to Epidemic and when not to Epidemic has been widened. This is not ideal. With the changes to Unholy Command and the damage increase to Epidemic, this should help cement Epidemic’s position at ~4 targets.

Army of the Damned: Death Coil reduces the cooldown of Apocalypse by 1 second and Army of the Dead by 5 seconds (and summons a Magus of the Dead).

This will be updated to reduce the cooldown of Apocalypse by a flat 45 seconds (and no longer be reduced by Death Coil/Epidemic).

Developers’ notes: This change will smooth out the cooldowns of Unholy to match our initial 45/90/180 sec cooldown windows. We are considering what to do with the Army of the Dead portion of the talent. Having the mastery of maximizing you’re your Death Coil casts to give you a chance at another Army of the Dead in an encounter feels like a great skill and mechanical hook for the talent while not completely harming your rotational impact the way Apocalypse did.

Summon Gargoyle

Developers’ notes: Currently, Summon Gargoyle does not feel like it rises to a capstone talent, and we have a few ideas in mind to better to solve that. First we plan to buff Gargoyle to better perform and shine in single target scenarios and also move it higher into the tree to be a little more accessible when the situation calls for its need. Secondly, we want to introduce a new and more powerful ability in this capstone position. As an example, “Dark Transformation empowers your Gargoyle and Army of the Dead for 20 seconds, increasing their damage by 50%.” A talent such as this does a better job of “capping” a build that heavily focuses on Dark Transformation and your pets.

Tree Structure

The current tree has a few less than ideal dependency issues that we are looking to solve to prevent “trap” talent builds where we can.

The tree could also be a little more connected to allow for a bit more flexibility as you spec out your Unholy DK. As an example, Clawing Shadows’ current positioning feels a bit too restrictive at the moment.

Thank you all for the ongoing feedback! It’s greatly appreciated, and we look forward to more as we iterate throughout the testing period.