How to make a Death Knight in Wrath of the Lich King Classic
Wrath of the Lich introduced World of Warcraft’s first Hero class: the fearsome Death Knight. The class has a long history that predates Arthas, but players that choose to become Death Knights were fallen heroes raised by The Lich King to lead the undead hordes into battle. They were destined to become agents of darkness and destruction, powered by runes of blood and death, bound to the will of the Lich King.
But instead, the Death Knights broke free of his control, leaving you able to play the game as you wish — as long as you meet all the requirements. Here’s everything you need to know about making a Death Knight when Wrath Classic launches.
How to create a Death Knight in Wrath Classic
Once the prepatch for Wrath of the Lich Classic arrives on August 30, you’ll be able to create and level Death Knight characters. Uh, almost. There are a few, uh, provisos, uh, a couple of quid pro quos.
- Rule number 1: You can only have one Death Knight per realm. Ixnay on having a Horde and Alliance Death Knight on the same server.
- Rule number 2: You can’t create Death Knights on any Fresh Start realms until they have been open for 90 days, or you have a level 55 character on that realm.
- Rule number 3: You can create your first Death Knight without needing a level 55 character on the same realm, but any additional Death Knight character you make will require a level 55 on the same realm where you want to make your Death Knight.
As long as you meet the requirements, the Death Knight class should be an option on the character creation screen.
Death Knights have a unique starting experience
As a Hero class, Death Knights start at level 55. Since these characters are raised heroes, they don’t go through their racial starting zone. Instead they have their own, unique starting area. You start at Acherus, in the Ebon Hold, a Necropolis floating over the Eastern Plaguelands, and you play through a story introducing the class and its arrival in Azeroth.
At the beginning of your story, you’re still bound to the Lich King’s will. As you progress through the starting zone, you’ll learn more about your past and how the class works. The starting zone culminates with one of the best lore moments in the expansion. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say, it gives greater context an encounter later in the expansion, though the full ramifications wouldn’t be understood until the Legion expansion.
I recommend everyone go through the starting experience at least once. You’ll wind up with a level 55 character with four 14-slot Runecloth bags, so if nothing else, your Death Knight alt would make an excellent bank/auction mule.
Wrath Classic Death Knights and retail WoW Death Knights have some key differences
Death Knights in Wrath Classic have three Presences: Blood, Frost, and Unholy. These are akin to a Warrior’s stances, or a Druid’s forms. Frost Presence is the tanking “stance” in Wrath Classic. This might confuse some players as Blood Death Knights are the tanking spec in retail WoW.
Death Knights juggle two different resources. Their spells and abilities cost Runes and/or Runic Power:
- Runic power: Consuming Runes grants a Runic Power, which is the Death Knight’s version of Mana/Rage/Energy.
- Runes are somewhat like a Rogue or Feral Druid’s Combo Points, but they come in four different types: Frost (blue), Unholy (green), Blood (red), and Death (purple).
Most spells require one of more Runes of a specific type. For example, Scourge Strike costs 1 Frost Rune, 1 Unholy Rune, and 15 Runic Power.
Death Knights also have a unique way to empower their weapons called Runeforging. These are effects tailored to the Death Knight class and don’t stack with other weapon enchantments, so you have to pick either one or the other. In order to apply a Runeforge enchant, you must be at a Runeforge. Most of the time, you’ll use your Death Gate ability to open a portal to Ebon Hold and use the one there.
Go forth and conquer
With your Death Knight created and the starting zone completed, you are free to venture forth into the world and do all the content you want. Dominate Warsong Gulch with your flag carrying prowess. Own the damage meters in Naxxramas. Command the tanking duties on Sarth3d. Or just park in Stormwind and post auctions all day. It’s all there for you.
You’ll also have earned yourself a nifty new mount in retail WoW. Players who can complete the Death Knight starting experience in Wrath Classic before November 28 receive the Frostbrood Proto-Wyrm. So get to it!
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