What’s the best Death Knight talent build for leveling? – Updated 19th September –

author image by Jame | Story | 23 Comments | 16 Sep 2008

That’s what I’m trying to figure out at the moment. As I’m currently writing my Death Knight Leveling Guide, I’ve been testing various builds and trying to find out which talent build allows you to level the fastest.

I can’t say I’m a pro about the Death Knight class, it’s fairly new and the talents are changing every week, so it’s hard to tell, but I’ve done my math and my research and I came up with a build which I believe is the best for leveling, doing solo quests and farming.

You can view it on my blog. Please read my latest blog post and I encourage you to discuss it with me. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding my talent choices, feel free to ask on my blog.

Update: Things have once again changed with the latest beta patch, and I’m now recommending a totally different talent build. Read more about it on my blog.

I’ve also added a Death Knight FAQ to our class guides section.

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    Oct 29, 2008 @ 14:22 pm

    You should read my blogYou should read my blog posts about Death Knights. Here is the most recent one:

    You can also check out my Death Knight videos:

    And please, do an effort your spelling next time.

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    Oct 29, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

    Thanks for creating thisThanks for creating this webiste!!!!!! IT great… about the unholy talent tree….can some1 post a good unholy spec tree???/

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    Oct 18, 2008 @ 0:06 am

    Weirdest post I’ve read in aWeirdest post I’ve read in a long time, especially the end!

    Thanks for describing the Unholy talents, but only describing them doesn’t really prove that they are better for leveling or anything. I appreciate the effor though, but think about it, I could make a list of the blood talents and describe them and say that they are cool, and then say “this proves that Blood is best”, and it would be just the same as your explanation :p

    Anyways, I’ve done the math and compared the talent trees with numbers, and yes, Unholy is best for leveling :p

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    Oct 17, 2008 @ 22:26 pm

    Death KnightsOk, il make this simple. Unholy is the best solo and lvling Deathknight.There are many reasons for this.

    1. Unholy has the Necrosis talent, witch can increase damage performinh faster monster killing.

    2. Unholy also has a a few talents witch are indeed, VERY effective and useful for leveling. 1 of such is the Ravenous Dead talent. Another is Night of the Dead. And yet 2 more are Shadow of Death and Master of Ghouls. Having at least 3 of these talents (Especialy Shaodow of Death and Master of Ghouls)means you will have control of a powerful, talent-advanced pet, or ghoul. This way you can take on the role of a warlock/hunter using your spells, or continue fighting by your ghouls side with your melee power.

    3. You will have the Talents Anti-magic Shell and Anti-magic Zone, witch could very well save you against a deadly mage, or other spellcasters. And with its low cooldown rate, you can easily aproach such a threat with ease.

    4. Movement and travel around azeroth and The Outlands is of course of high importance for leveling. If your character is bulkey, slow, and not to quick at run speed, you will find it extremeley difficult to move around and kill monsters/turn in quests efectivly. The Unholy Aura and On a Pale Horse talents cover that weakness in a character. With faster movement speeds, mounted or on foot, you can outrun fleeing foes, travel to locations very quickly, and turn in all those completed quests in a very short time. That`s also 1 reason why a Retribution Paladin is a good leveler.

    5. In addition to your Necrosis talent, ypu can also pick up the Blood-caked weapon talent, witch if given the chance will increase damage dramaticaly against your oponent. Therefor you can kill those monsters even faster.

    6. This is a very long point, but it is indeed a great way to level faster.I bring you 4 more talents witch work in a destructive combo. Desecration, Sommon Gargoyle, Corpse Explosion, and Bone Sheild, if used together, can snare your enemies into a deadly trap. Using Desecration you can scare your oponents with the forces of the Undead, whislt increasing damage with bone sheild and other damage increasing talents. At this point you can use Sommon Gargoyle and Death and Decay to AoE bomb your trapped victims. There on you can use your ghoul/ghouls to kill off extra enemies then use Corpse Explotion to finish off such pitiful souls. Using this strategy, you will become nearly impossible to kill in both PvP and out in the wilderness.

    7. I begin to bore tyoing these tips as so i will finish breifly. If you so pocess the foloing talsnts, you can use them with the previous strategy to kill more enemies faster, and have them fuel your runic power. Unholy Blight, Rage of Rivedare, Impurity, Dirge, and Wandering Plauge brings a deadly and efficient killing method. Using tip 6 you can also generate runic power with Dirge, and add extra AoE damage with Unholy Blight. With your enemies infected Wandering Plauge will improve all your fevers and diseases from your abilities, and increase ALL these wonderful powers and spells with Impurity and Rage of Rivedare. This will make your spells beyond powerful in combo with your AoE abilities AND increase your damage output EVEN MORE!!! Soforth making you stinger and having you kill EVEN FASTER!!!. With that said that concludes my Deathknight review. Proving that Unholy is DEFENETLY ABSOLUTLY THE FASTEST WAY TO LEVEL AND SOLO EVER>! I know many people will mock these tips or beleive i am greatly mistaken or biasing this review, but once WOTLK is released you can find out that this review is top notch and perfectly true.

    Ending. If you wish to know who I am on WoW and where to find me, look for Drakodon on the Maiev PvP realm. I am the only person with characters named Drakodon, so if you check the armory, all those Drakodons are MINE, with the exception of the human paladin as you see, I HATE the Alliance. I am a Blood Elf Paladin just past leve20, tho i deleted many of my 70`s in the past in search of the ultimate character. This Deathknight Preview will be what I am looking for. I am also very wealthy on the game, my 24 paladin on the Silvermoon Realm, has 576g witch is insane for my level, and i got it in roughly 7-10hours. If you are looking for me you`ll know where i am, Maiev, Horde, Drakodon. See you there, and when WOTLK comes out, i am saying just this and this alone………..

    I am promising you Frostmourne…

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    Sep 30, 2008 @ 19:03 pm

    It’s already in the guideIt’s already in the guide yes, every time you get a talent point, I say where it should be spent and explain why when it’s necessary.

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    Sep 30, 2008 @ 13:18 pm

    Talent to take per dingI like the guide for the DK so far. Been in the beta too but haven’t played much further than the starting area.

    What I’d like to know is what talents to take when ever I ding or for the DK when ever I get my bonus talents from my turn-ins.

    Making a talent-spec isn’t that hard but getting the most out of a talent-specc while leveling is something else, so is has there been made a level-by-level talent-specc yet or is it still too early ?

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    Sep 20, 2008 @ 17:52 pm

    OhDarn, didn’t see the guides link before, my bad 😀

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    Sep 20, 2008 @ 6:38 am

    Well, for starters, youWell, for starters, you could click on the big “Guides” button at the top of the screen, or on the menu to your right :p

    Youl’ find everything there, Leveling Guides, Class Guides, Gold making guides, instance guides, etc…

    So the answer is yes, my leveling guides go from 20 to 70 (and soon to 80). The ones for outland have been out for nearly a year now. They are all in our leveling guide section.

    As for gold making, I didn’t write one myself, but we have a lot of them.

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 23:42 pm

    GuidesBy the way, do you have a leveling guide for the outlands? I could realy use one, my paladin is lvl 59 so far, i’ll be lvl 59 an hour or 2 after i get my laptop back.
    Most of my toons are Alliance, how about yours?

    Or any money making guides by any chance? 😛

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    I have no idea about theI have no idea about the patch release date. I guess it should come within 2 or 3 weeks.

    And don’t worry about your spelling, it’s fine 🙂

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 2:34 am

    CoolCool, sorry about the spelling errors. =/
    Well i can’t wait until the patch is available, by the way, when might that be?

    and im on the Shu’Halo server, it’s too bad that it’s not a pvp server, but the guys are pretty cool anyways.

    Thanks for the information 😀

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 1:42 am

    1. Yes
    2. You need to have a1. Yes
    2. You need to have a level 55 character on your account, this unlocks the creation of the Death Knight. Death Knights start at level 55.
    3. Yes
    4. Full green gear, and they get full blue by the end of their starting area quests (when they ding 58 approximately). I’ll list all the items tomorrow by the way.
    5. Runic Power is more like warrior’s rage. But not exactly. You get runic power when you use certain abilities, like your basic abilties: [url=]Blood Strike[/url], [url=]Plague Strike[/url], [url=]Icy Touch[/url]. Each generate 10 Runic Power.

    And then you have abilities which cost runic power, like [url=]Death Coil[/url].

    I’ll be writing an article about all this basic stuff tomorrow anyway, it will be posted in the [url=]Class guides, Death Knight[/url] section.

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 1:34 am

    Coldarra, the Euro betaColdarra, the Euro beta server 🙂

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 1:31 am

    A few questionsThere is also a few other questions I have on the DK.

    1- Will they be able to dual wield? I’m pretty sure they will because in one of he talents it says “increase weapon damage in offhand by X amount”.

    2- How exactly will we obtain the DK class. If anyone knows, and at what level would they start at?

    3- Will they be able to use Polearms?

    4- What gear do they start with, if any.

    5- How exactly does this Runis Power work? Does it regenerate like Mana?

    Any nswers would be appreciated, none expected since it’s not out yet. Thanks in advance! 🙂

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    Sep 19, 2008 @ 1:14 am

    Yes, I doYes I do 😀 I should’ve looked it over a few times.
    About the frost build, it would be something I would use later on at around lvl 65-70 as some people do with paladins -> start with retribution and end with protection.

    By the way, may I know which server you play on?

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    Sep 18, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    Of course you may get a copyOf course you may get a copy of my guide when it comes out, everybody will get a copy! It’s free 😛

    You just have to come on this site and there it will be 😉 Check the [url=]release dates[/url] every now and then and you’ll know exactly when the guid will be published.

    About this frost build. It’s an interesting build, it makes more sense than the blood build below.

    However, for leveling, Frost major isn’t the fastest method currently, the tree is just too defensive and too focused on spells rather than melee. You can level with it of course, and you’ll do fine, but it won’t be as fast as if you were Blood/Frost, or Unholy/Something.

    Anyway, the talent trees are still being tuned in beta, so you can expect changes before the release. But as it stands right now, Blood/Frost is imo the fastest way to level, followed closely by Unholy.

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    Sep 18, 2008 @ 9:05 am

    Hey, thank you for posting.Hey, thank you for posting. There are a few flaws in this Blood build, let me explain.

    While leveling up, what you’re looking for is:

    Talents which increase your damage output (the faster you kill, the fater you level)
    Talents which help you to reduce downtime (lifedrain talents or some defensive talents)

    For a Blood major specced DK, the vast majority of your damage comes from melee. The damage you get from Death Coil is pathetic in comparison to the rest. So as a Blood specced DK, you don’t care much for more runic power generation.

    Two-handed weapon specialization is a must have
    Blade barrier is great, 10% more parry for just 5 points is extremely good, and will make a big difference when you try to solo tough elites.

    You don’t need Rune Tap. While in combat, you want to spend your blood runes on something else. And you already have so much lifedrain (blood presence, blood worms, mark of blood, vampiric blood, death strike). Rune tap is really overkill.

    Blood Aura also isn’t something you should take while leveling. It’s more useful when you’re raiding, which is after you’ll hit level 80.

    Death Rune Mastery also isn’t very useful as a Blood major DK, you don’t need to convert those Unholy/Frost runes into something else, because you need them all the time for Obliterate or Death Strike anyway.

    Sudden doom is also not great for 5 points, as I said above, Death Coil is a ridiculously little part of your damage. Also, 20% chance on heart strike is really not much, considering you’ll cast Heart strike only twice every 10 seconds, in the best case scenario (when you’re not using your blood runes for something else).

    I could agree with taking Butchery and/or Scent of Blood, it’s not bad, but as I said, you don’t really need that much runic power as a Blood major Death Knight. But the main argument I have against the above is that you could get so much more from a minor in the frost tree instead.

    Look at this build for example: [url=]Blood/Frost[/url]

    With just 19 points in the frost tree you get:

    [*]20% Haste — This is HUGE. This alone makes your DK more powerful than if you had spent 17 Points in all the talents I advised not to take above.
    [*]+3% Critical chance on all strikes, and the ability to use obliterate without consuming your diseases. This is also great boost to your dps. Obliterate is getting a boost next beta patch btw. Making this choice even more logical.
    [*]+15% Armor — Not only does this make you more durable, but it has great synergy with Bladed Armor, and gives you extra strength.
    [*]Lichborne — A great little extra to help you solo tough elites or survive tight situations. It’s also getting a boost next beta build, adding a 2% extra damage for 15 second when used.

    Do you agree with me? 😛

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    Sep 18, 2008 @ 2:29 am

    The Frost buildThis is a Frost/Blood build I made. I think it will come in handy. Post and tell me if it’s good.

    P.S: may I get a copy of your deathknight guide when it comes out?

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    Sep 18, 2008 @ 2:22 am

    A few specs I would definetely useThis is a build i would use for blood spec, I also have the good builds for the other 2 specs, they’re awesome. 😉

    I will be putting the other 2 up shortly.

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    Sep 17, 2008 @ 17:11 pm

    No I haven’t, but now INo I haven’t, but now I will. Thank you for the link 🙂

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    Sep 17, 2008 @ 16:36 pm

    hey Jame,

    have you browsedhey Jame,

    have you browsed the forums at ?

    there are a few nice topics that get into detail about leveling builds and spell rotations that may help you out.


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    Sep 17, 2008 @ 10:57 am

    Heya Kostada, thanks forHeya Kostada, thanks for posting your build 🙂

    I definitely agree with you that blood is the way to go for leveling. Your build is definitely viable too.

    However, I have a different opinion on what second tree to take. I’m convinced that Blood/Frost is slightly better than Blood/Unholy, for pure leveling purposes.

    I explain why on my blog, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting 🙂 Check my latest post about [url=]Death Knight Talent Builds.[/url]

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    Sep 17, 2008 @ 1:02 am

    Best Death Knight Talent Build For LevelingThe current best leveling spec for a Death Knight is (as of now) Blood. Here is a spec I found reliable for leveling a DK.


    Great guides James! Keep up the good work!


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