A DK Perspective

I’m just gonna get some inherent classist b.s. outta the way first by saying: some of favorite players are death knights.  Favorite tanking partner of all time: Aum.  He was tight, awesome, knew when to blow cooldowns and was willing to tank swap.  One of my favorite DPS: Deathtospies.  Came back to the game, and rather than leveling his rogue, rolled a death knight and has been rocking it ever since.

Oh, if I only knew how bad you deathtards™ had it, I don’t think I would have ever considered sinking the amount of time and energy I have into my fledging unholy/blood dynamo Nightfall.

I understand that they are a lot of bad players out there that rolled death knights.  I DO. Kurn has a survey up at the moment asking the worst tanking class (in general) and the overwhelming response so far is death knights.  I myself answered Death Knight, although a couple of years ago, it would have been paladins hands down.

While, as the above commentary suggests, I’m as guilty as the next person as labeling a class of players slightly above pond scum, in actuality, I do my darndest to keep those opinions to myself until I am actually confronted with a bevy of fail, and then I vocally call out the player, and don’t blame it on his or her class.

Why I expect everyone to act as rationally as I do, I have no idea (and just gloss over that Windsoar is rational bit, it’s sure to bite me in the ass soon I’m sure).  However, I was just totally unprepared for the massive amounts of monkey poo that people feel free to fling at DK’s before they even KNOW whether the person is any good at playing the class.

Let’s face it, death knights, especially coming out of Arthas’ training ground are massively overpowered and a hell of a fun to play.  Even people who dislike melee or tanking classes tend to try the Death Knight because the original investment is so minimal.  Roll a character, start on the cusp of Outlands.

A lot of players find that they don’t like it, but they stick with it hoping it’ll “get better.” Others just have so much fun smashing things with a big axe/sword/mace that they just can’t give it up: even when they know its not their best class.  And then there’s the normal brand of suck players who just never understand that they’re not good at any class, because, well… I don’t know why.  There are just bad players out there.

Today I started running random dungeons for the first time.  In that time I have ignored six players, all based on their reaction to my class (at least as far as I could tell.)  The absolute worst behavior that I exhibited, and which I’m a bit ashamed of even while managing to talk myself into the absolute necessity to save my own skin, was dropping group mid-pull.  I managed to exit the dungeon with 86 hit points to my name and saved myself a repair bill.

Why’d I do it?  I mean, I’ve died countless times for groups and come running back in, because, well, I look at regular randoms as the training ground for making players competent at their class in a group setting when they hit end-game.  However, when I entered the dungeon (in progress–they had killed the first boss), the first sentence uttered was “OMG, another fail DK.”

“No skin off my nose if you wanna wait for another dps,” I reply.

“HURRY UP HEALER.”  I then notice that the healer is outside the instance.  From the comments flying back and forth about how he hasn’t healed in awhile, I gather the healer is new to the group too.

The tank charges in to the trash to start moving Hadronox.  And doesn’t move.  Even when the two-add packs appear to flank our position.  Even when the packs begin zeroing in our healer.  Even after I drop a death and decay and begin death-gripping the most likely source of death for said healer.  As the entire wave of adds turns my way, I pop Icebound Fortitude and wait for the tank to roar, swipe, cry, bitch, moan something.  Nothing.  And so I leave just as a fellow DPS, also saving the healer, collapses.

Somehow, I cannot imagine myself dropping group if the tank hadn’t made the comment about my failure before we started.  I’ve grown very thin-skinned over my less than 24 hours of dungeoning as a death knight, and I refuse to be pigeon-holed as a failure before I’ve taken my first swing, dropped my first death and decay, or blown my first Horn of Winter.

Not once did someone ridicule my gear, talent choices, or general lack of dps.  At 74, my gear is nothing fancy having been gained from high-end Outlands quests as I worked towards Loremaster.  Add to that, I have been utterly lazy: gem slots are empty, enchants are not to be found, and on a good day I’ve remembered to put some kind of rune on my weapon.  My unholy spec is built for leveling, not dungeoning, and while I will always take a running buff when available on ANY class, I can understand min/maxers who ridicule those choices.  Same goes for my dps, which, judging by today, ranges from barely adequate to downright god-like depending on the group I happen to be in.

So next time you’re oh so tempted to pick on that errant death knight, remember to

Judge the player, not the class


22 thoughts on “A DK Perspective

  1. My main is a dk tank. She's very geared and I'm a pretty experienced tank. I tank ICC25 for my guild every week and I love it. [For the first time ever I'm the high threat tank of the guild and I do enjoy it for selfish reasons I must admit].

    I no longer run randoms except for guildies – full groups of guildies. I'd suffered numerous abuses for being a dk tank [auto fail] etc, but the last straw was when I decided to do my random daily after finishing ICC25 – I'd just tanked Saurfang25 and I zone in to H-HoS with my 50k health [important only because 50k on my pally or warrior gets respect – not so the dk] to find people already pulling and they immediately begin screaming how omg I'm a fail tank etc. Now with a hunter already going full blast on a group of mobs and a dps warrior bladestorming through them – both ICC25 geared, any tank is going to have a time gathering all those already aggroed mobs up. I got called all manner of names and to make the rest a short story, swore to never run another pug random as a tank – it's just not worth the risk of abuse anymore.

    If I decide to run one [I don't need the badges now] I run as dps only – unless I have a guild group.

    That's what happens when you judge classes rather than people – you run the good ones out of pugs/randoms/raids/etc. So you are totally right – Judge the Player, not the class.

    • That's absolutely awful. My main tank is a paladin, and I never, ever run without my own crew. The new LFD system has actually inhibited me playing her as I can't get a string of players together from my own server, and those I like, I lose to the weird percolations of the random system.

  2. This, so much this!

    I rolled another DK alt recently, because I rather like them, even though I lose interest in outland pretty quick these days. When I did the last starting area quest, the one that sends you to SW/Org to talk to the faction leader, I went off to Stormwind anticipating the banana throws and spitting from NPCs. What I did not expect was the rogue that followed me from the gate to the throne room /pointing and lol-ing at me the whole way. Well, some others caught on, and by the time I got to where I was going, I had a small parade of lol-ers behind me yelling things about how the server doesn't need any more DKs and how I should GTFO. It was seriously the worst trolling I've ever experienced.

    Finally I whispered the rogue and asked what I ever did to him. He replied "u rolled a dk, u prolly suck"… so I asked him if he had one… "yeah but i'm good".

    It's disheartening, to say the least.

    • I have to say, my first DK experience was, fortunately, a good one because I played in beta. There, everyone was learning the new class, and a lot of cross-communication was enjoyed. Full DK dungeons and raids were the norm well into the 70's. I think if I'd had such a bad reaction just rolling a DK, I'm not sure I could have played one much longer.

  3. I'm grinning. I really am. I know those people, I meet them occasionally (although never in quite as dramatic a way as you or Rhii pointed out) – and after a few years of tanking on all sorts of classes I can only say "ah well – another one of those groups".

    I'm still amazed at how many of PUGers notice my cloth armour and shoulders on my new deathknight, but completely miss the two spellpower trinkets put there just to annoy people.

    It's good fun – aim for being insulted and see how far you can go.

    However, I think Spinks pointed out a day or two ago that Northrend seems to be worse than the outlands – I'll hold off final judgement until then.

    • I might have rolled with the punches a bit better if the third asshat hadn't responded to my "You're really being a jerk y'know" with "female?"

      I had a perfectly competent warrior tank the other day who was running the instance with a main hand dagger 😛 When the others in the group discovered his "fail" they vote-kicked him out of the group despite his good showing through 3/4 of the instance.

      • Yes… I got abuse for that after tanking most of TBC with a dagger. Actually a fast speed weapon helps with heroic strike threat and damage is normalized at 1.9 speed anyway for daggers – so it won't even hurt most abilities much.

        Nothing that'll do against vote-kicking, though, except add more people to some tanks ignore list.

  4. I would agree that (by and large) the class that has the most "failtanks" (or at least the ones that struggle) are Death Knights. However, I do try to give them a chance – everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves (whether how well they do or how well they DON'T know their class is up to them.)

    Actually, the first character I tanked on was a DK (or tried – I never thought I did fantastically well) and it really sucked that I was written off the second I ported in to the instance. Yes, I was learning, but I did try to do things correctly, use cooldowns, save the healer, etc.

    It also turned out that my tanking experience was so horrible (a combination of feeling rather flail while tanking and the treatment I received while in groups) that I quit tanking and the DK thereafter and haven't logged in to her since.

    • I hope you didn't start a tank after the LFD system emerged. I have so many groups rip brutally into tanks (even very good ones) that I refuse to tank for random groups on any of my three classes. All of my tank capable characters are tank ready (have an appropriate level gear set and are specced to tank); however, its just not worth the abuse.

  5. I consider myself lucky. Hunters and Death Knights seem to be the two most maligned classes in the game, and guess which two I play.

    In the case of my Hunter, I was blissfully unaware of the reputation that they had. He was my first (and for two years, only) character. I made him after just reading the game manual and thinking that the pet idea sounded cool. He's a Night Elf and everything. >.<

    But I've made myself proud by, later on in the course of my playing, reading up on the class and being good at it.

    As for my Death Knight, I made him because, at the time, I was doing nothing on my Hunter but the same Dailies every play session. I wanted a change of scenery, and decided to make my first alt. I'd heard that the Death Knight starting area is awesome, so I made one in January, not expecting to do much with him once I finished off the starting stuff. But by the time I got to that point, I'd grown attached enough to him to want to level him all the way. And since I'd only ever played a ranged DPSer, a tank would be quite the change of scenery, yes?

    I didn't tank for the first time until 70. I wanted the crafted Cobalt set so I could be reasonably sure I had a good starting tanking set. It was wobbly at first, but I always made sure to mention to the groups that I was a fresh tank. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, though, and I leveled him exclusively as a tank.

    I've had many people, from Guildies to random people in five-mans whom I'll never see again, tell me that I'm a good tank, and that good Death Knight tanks are rare. And at the risk of tooting my own horn, I do think that I'm pretty good. He's not decked out in anything fancier than Emblem gear, but I can hold my own with him in a Heroic.

    It's bound to happen to me sooner or later, but no one's ever insulted me (to my face, at least) right from the get-go based solely on my class. And if they ever do, well, I'll just let my skill speak for itself. 😉

    • I think what infuriates me about it is that I've played everything but a druid, and in my humble opinion, I fit right into the DK playstyle quite well. I have enough situational awareness to be good as an "off-tank" even in DPS form, I actually interrupt spells, and for my gear/level my dps is where I'd expect it to be. For tanking, I don't even bat an eye–the threat generation on a DK is just awesome, and I've got enough clickies on my bar to keep me occupied.

      I get more respect as a frost mage who casts nothing but blizzard spam pull after pull than I do before I even hit a mob as a death knight, and I just cannot sit back and let people be insulting for no reason. It's just not my nature >.> I actually heard a good suggestion on twitter today: put party chat on a hidden tab, and your LFD groups will go sooo much smoother. I am definitely tempted after yesterday!

      • No one deserves to be insulted for no reason. And believe me, when that day finally arrives for me, I'm not going to take it sitting down. (Anyone who knows me could tell you that even though I'm a pretty good guy, I can be an asshole when I have to be.)

        And since these days, Party Chat isn't used for general chit-chatting (which I miss), hiding it in its own special tab wouldn't be a bad idea.

        And not to overstep any bounds and presume to offer advice, I say that if you're good at playing the Death Knight, and you know you're good at playing the Death Knight, the hell with condescending fools who find themselves one neuron short of a synapse. I'd bet that if you don't feed them, most will just shut up and get the run over with. 🙂

        Oh, and I neglected to mention. First time visitor/commenter here. Hiya. Pleasure to meet you. 🙂

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  7. Ahh the feeling of being doubted just because you're a DK… yep, I know it well. I started my DK because I wanted to have a tank (due to a lack of tanks in our guild at the time – now we have 7 of them of course) and couldn't be bothered levelling one from 1.

    It's made me variously angry, frustrated, upset and open-mouthed in disbelief, and I won't deny I seriously considered giving up tanking because it was just too stressful. On the other hand, there were definite high points – I take care to be good at what I do, and getting compliments on being a good tank is a huge confidence booster. A few times people have said things like "oh no, not another fail DK", and been pleasantly surprised at the end of the run.

    Also, I'm not sure exactly when it happened but there came a point where I stopped caring about the idiots one encounters in randoms. I think once I'd tanked Ulduar and ToC10 it made me absolutely sure of my abilities as a tank, and no amount of bitching can make me doubt myself now, at least when it comes to DK tanking.

    The only thing I really miss is having an extra spec for 5-man tanking. My main spec is blood tank, and I have an unholy DPS spec too, but I levelled as DW frost tank and enjoy it a lot. Frost is also amazing for holding AoE aggro against idiot DPS, whereas blood… isn't.

    • I totally miss frost, but I did unholy/blood because I'm working on Loremaster and I wanted 1) Run real fast for normal questing, 2) A self-healing tank for soloing group quests and dungeons.

      Honestly, as a tank, I have no doubts. This is my third tank and I know what my buttons do. However, I'm not even GOING as the tank because I want the break between dungeons to work on Loremaster, so they're getting all frothed up over a random dps. What? I've had bad players from every class in the game not get a sideways glance, but because I'm a DK I must suck. /fail

  8. I never say anything, but I always cringe a little when I see a DK tank. I know a couple VER Ycapable DK tanks, but overall, their ability to hold threat/aggro seems sub par.

    I don't inspect, so I don't know if they are in a bad spec, bad gear or just poor playing.

    If I get into a run with a tank with a 4,500 GS tank I will usually see;

    – I have to work HARD to pull aggro off a Pally, even with a 1k GS advantage.
    – Warriors aren't quite as bulletprrof as Pallies, but they are easy to play with (as a DPS)
    – Bears are hit & miss. Some are good, some aren't. I have to make sure I use focus/assist
    – DKs overall are hard to DPS with, even using focus/assist. Yes there are really good ones I play with, but they are pretty rare. When I see a DK, I always have to chose between focus assisting him or the healer, so I can keep the healer from getting hit too much.

    Now, as far as people being nasty JUST because of class, that's is just 100% unacceptable. I can't apologize enough for the other jerks that do it.

    • I think the issue is the short leveling time + facerolling reputation.

      Most of the bad DK tanks I've seen (and I've seen a lot… I just finished leveling a resto shaman through LFG) have been first time tanks who rolled a DK because they heard it was easy.

      Even if you never tanked on your warrior before and you start in Northrend, you've had 70 levels of experience at being a warrior. Chances are you're more familiar with your tanking tools than a DK who has only had 15 levels to get to know his class. Add "new tank" and "DKs are op lol" to that mix and you get… well, disaster.

      The great DK tanks I know have mostly either tanked before on another class or have approached the DK seriously, with no expectation that they're going to just pick it up and be facerolling Arthas next week.

      • I agree that DK's have less time/experience getting to know their class; however, most people roll DK's to save the time and effort of going through 55 levels of the Old World. The problem I see is that DK's aren't given any "free time" to learn their toon in a dungeon setting without getting blasted for it. Before the LFD system DK's rolled with, well, other DK's–they got to practice death gripping everything, learning rotations, and basically, what worked better in a group setting without really putting anyone at risk.

        However, with the introduction of the LFD system, they get tossed in with all these *squishier* toons who are not expecting to protect themselves. That's understandable, but harder on the new DK. Everyone else gets their screw around time in Ragefire Chasm where the tank can't pick up crap but once every 60 seconds, yet they expect fresh DK's too be as awesome as the bear who's been playing for 50 levels through the LFD system.

        Unfortunately, the bad DK's I've known have often been very conscientious players, and not necessarily of the *faceroll* mentality. Some people adapt better to new classes than others, and honestly, the people attracted to DK's are often those who would not consider rolling a "serious" alt if there wasn't for the level break.

    • My favorite as a DPS: Whoever the hell holds threat! I've found paladin/warrior/bear/dk to be the most successful in about that order. My favorite as a healer: Warrior/Paladin/Bear/DK (warriors and paladins are pretty equal on the squish factor, but most warriors eek ahead b/c of cooldowns). My favorite as a tank: DK/Bear/Warrior/Paladin. (I'm a paladin, yes, it matters to me :P)

      Of course, this assumes all things being equal and everyone is sitting at the same level of competence. My experience with DK's as tanks is bad all the way around EXCEPT when I was tanking, so I definitely understand the *cringe*. I do it too. I just don't /emote it 😛

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  10. Read your post. You may not want the 2 cents on a spec, but thought I'd drop it in case you were interested…

    Lvl. 67 required: 2/3/53 http://talent.mmo-champion.com/?deathknight#C6eR4

    Lvl. 75 required: 10/3/53 http://talent.mmo-champion.com/?deathknight#B63LO

    Solo spec primarily, with just a touch of love for 5mans TPS issues. Try to AoE as much as possible and use DS over SS whenever you drop under 80% health. I can't think of a spec that will outperform while leveling if you are DPS and questing/grinding primarily with instances thrown in when you get a que pop.

    • I'll give it a whirl and see how I like it 🙂 I haven't been "playing" as much with specs this time around and did a fast and heavy breach down the unholy tree taking whatever looks yummy. However, I do wonder about of scent of blood at this point. I've found myself having to attempt to bleed runic power as much as possible without the talent.

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