Death Knight 9.2 Tier Set Bonuses - Guide Writer First Impressions
Tier Set bonuses
have hit the PTR as part of the Shadowlands 9.2 Eternity's End content patch. Although currently untestable due to
PTR realms being unavailable
, our Death Knight Guide Writers have provided their initial impressions on these tier bonuses, offering insight into the implementation, relative strength, and even some valuable feedback.
We've datamined Tier Set bonuses for all 36 specializations in the 9.2 Eternity's End PTR. Check out all the bonuses and armor models below.
9.2 Tier Set Bonuses for All Specializations9.2 Mythic Tier Set Models
Our Guide Writers have provided initial first impressions on the 9.2 Tier Set bonuses. Check out all of our released opinion articles below.
First Impressions of the 9.2 Tier Set Bonuses
Death Knight Tier Set First Impressions
Demon Hunter Tier Set First Impressions
Druid Tier Set First Impressions
Hunter Tier Set First Impressions
Mage Tier Set First Impressions
Monk Tier Set First Impressions
Paladin Tier Set First Impressions
Priest Tier Set First Impressions
Rogue Tier Set First Impressions
Shaman Tier Set First Impressions
Warlock Tier Set First Impressions
Warrior Tier Set First Impressions
First Impressions of the 9.2 Set Bonuses
Our Death Knight Writers, Mandl & Panthea (Blood) and Bicepspump (Frost & Unholy), have dissected the newly datamined tier set bonuses to give a deeper first look as to how these bonuses will likely affect their specs in Shadowlands 9.2 Eternity's End.
Blood Death Knight Writer First Impressions
increases your Strength by 1% and the duration of
by 0.5 seconds, persisting for 10 seconds after
- Parrying an attack causes your weapon to lash out, Heart Striking your attacker.
now summons 2 Rune Weapons.
A Prelude to Endless Rune Waltz
The Blood Death Knight set bonus, aptly named Endless Rune Waltz in game files, is almost entirely centered around Dancing Rune Weapon.
On the face of it, one can discern some old friends in these set bonuses:
The 2 piece set bonus is a slightly tweaked
, with the strength bonus being a multiplier instead of a fixed amount, and lasting a bit after DRW is over.
The 4 piece set bonus is comprised of two effects:
A retaliatory cast on parry, which is completely new.
While some of these effects look very straightforward, others require a lot of caveats and hypotheses to evaluate. Let’s deal with the obvious first.
A Requiem of Old:
The two traits highlighted in the introduction to this article are the centerpiece of this set bonus. They strike a chord by modifying
in old and innovative ways:
spawns a second Dancing Rune Weapon to copy your abilities, and grants the same benefits as the first
except for the parry bonus (which isn’t tied to the weapon, but to the buff). You can clearly see the
bonus 5 RP whenever Heart Strike is cast
bonus 3 bone shield charges
(+ 1 bonus from the other Mouth of Hell effect, which we are not recovering this expansion) by sifting through old logs.
Fundamentally, coupled with the second
from the 4p, the 2-piece bonus will work in a very similar fashion to Eternal Rune Weapon - each time you hit Heart Strike (which you will do a lot as you will start with 9 bones instead of 6), you will gain 1% total strength and increase DRW’s duration by 0.5s. Expect DRW to roughly double in duration and to gain an effect similar in magnitude to Fallen Crusader’s 15% strength under normal play (assuming the buff and extension have no cap), with either combined 20% uptime or up to 50% uptime when playing
The very last effect of the set is a lot more complex, as there is a lot of potential moving pieces. They all revolve around the retaliatory Heart Strikes on parry - the first half of the 4-piece effect. To grok this, we’re going to have to dive below the hood and explain a few things.
What is a
has a number of defining properties in the way it is implemented in the game. A lot of them are visible from the tooltip:
It deals a moderate amount of physical damage to a target and its neighbor if outside of D&D, and up to 4 additional targets while in it.
It generates 5 bonus RP (plus another 2 per target hit if playing Heartbreaker).
If playing as a Night Fae and inside
, it also grants
One additional property stemming from how DK spells are implemented is also going to be hugely important for us here:
costs one rune
and -10 RP
. The 10 RP gain from “consuming” the rune is a negative cost on the spell, rather than being a spell effect.
Due to the way the set bonus is explained in the tooltip, it would make sense for this retaliatory
to cost no resource. As a result, unless the developers remember this peculiarity, one can expect at the very least that this 10RP gain will also be gone.
One thing is certain: the
will likely do its amount of AP damage to at least the initial attacker, and potentially cleave. As a result, you can expect around 300-400% total AP damage from this over a minute, scaling based on the number of attackers.
For every remaining element, we can think and reflect on what effects could trigger.
Hypothesis 1: The Retaliatory Heart Strike causes the DK to gain Runic Power (but not talents)
This effectively means that every parry in
and outside it grants 5 RP. Since the 4-piece bonus has a 100ms ICD, slightly desyncing an 8-target pull in M+ will cause you to gain enough RP to hit
every other GCD while
In a single-target scenario, this is a lot more lackluster, and even more so if bosses do not require the Death Knight to tank 100% of the time. Depending on these situations, you may expect to see ~25-30RP per minute.
Hypothesis 2: The Retaliatory
triggers talents, covenants and effects
As a Night Fae, this means that you literally will no longer need to stack up
just by yourself, as the 4-piece will massively help you with it every pull. Outside of this, you may get random refreshes while in
, but those would be pretty unimpactful.
, this can amplify the RP gain from those retaliatory Heart Strikes (assuming hypothesis #1 holds) by 10 additional RP. This means that, in M+, you will literally cap on RP every time you hit
, which leads to a difficult choice:
Do you spend that RP?
Do you spend the runes you have and waste even more RP in the process in order to extend
thanks to the 2-piece bonus?
This would also change the dynamics of when we decide to hardcast
, as this decreases the opportunity cost by providing more opportunities to generate Runic Power.
Hypothesis 3: The Retaliatory
interacts with the 2-piece (i.e. it doesn’t cost a rune but counts as a rune spent to extend
and provide Strength)
This unironically fixes hypothesis #2 in Mythic+ by making sure that the
extension is done largely passively. And, if the duration extension has no cap, you would be looking at 100%
uptime in Mythic+ in high density dungeons.
In raids, things get a lot more boring, since it would provide maybe 4-5 extra seconds extra of
in pure single-target, and that assumes that your target swings at you relatively fast, if at all, while you have
Where We Stand
I’ll be honest, both the 2-piece and 4-piece are a pretty flat, dissonant note in raids.
is a good idea, as it has lost power each and every expansion so far (it lost power first between Legion and BfA when we lost the second weapon, and then between BFA and today when we lost Eternal Rune Weapon as a possible choice). Having some of this power back, even if it is temporary, is not a bad idea.
That said, the set is mired in problems:
We’ve seen a large majority of encounters this expansion with 50% tanking uptime or with bosses that spent a ton of time casting. This tanks the value of this set bonus as it means you get less of a chance to parry, assuming you’re the person drawing the shorter straw on those encounters
The set bonus also double whammies on the strength of
, a legendary played primarily in Mythic+ for the same reasons. There may be a point based on tuning of both the set and the legendary where every other legendary choice is eclipsed. This is neither good for balance, nor for the economy, nor for anybody who crafted anything else (and we all know how frighteningly expensive base pieces are still). It honestly was great to have two great legendaries, with one being universal, and a second one filling a niche - and this set ruins this fragile balance.
Finally, the entire set screams of something designed on a spreadsheet while assuming more than one target wailing on the Death Knight. It feels largely weak in raids, although not entirely useless.
I forgot to mention - in every case, a rogue "helping" you by having
on their blades is actually a loss for you now. This is what happens when you tie a throughput bonus to auto-attacks.
So, yeah. Kinda lackluster, but kinda worth getting anyway.
Boy. This is some spice. Assuming that the Heart Strikes do anything more than just AP damage - if it even gives some runic power or interacts with the 2 piece bonus, it’ll literally go from providing a large amount of RP very often, to straight up having
at 100% uptime on large target density instances.
Like, the set screams "Designed For Mythic+", to put it bluntly. It is disgustingly strong even if you include the most conservative hypotheses on how it will work (i.e. Heart Strike does AP damage and triggers 2p bonus).
This raises the question even further - should tier sets coming primarily from raids, and only after a period of time from other content, not be focused primarily on raid content?
Blood Death Knight Guide
Frost Death Knight Writer First Impressions
grants 8% Critical Strike while active.
through your target.
The Frost Death Knight set bonuses act as two very independent buffs to our kit. Especially the 4-set can potentially have profound implications on the talent and weapon meta.
grants 8% Critical Strike while active.
This is quite a bland tier set that doesn't change the current playstyle at all. It has obvious synergy with
due to the extended duration. However, since
is such a default pick in the current meta we won't see any mixup with talents. The set brings even more of the Frost Death Knight's DPS into
windows. When it comes to throughput, we generally see ~60% uptime on
, making this 8% crit buff an overall 4-5% or so. Since the Frost Death Knight already likes to stack crit, this will be helpful and nice in all scenarios, but not too impactful.
- Consuming a proc of
through your target.
Now this is where it gets really interesting. There are two aspects of this tier set that we need to consider. The damage component, as well as the possibility of equipping an additional Runeforge.
deals roughly 55% worth of an Obliterate in terms of damage. For pure single target, we can therefore consider this 4-piece as reading "your
s now deal 255% damage, instead of 200%". The extra portion can of course crit so it's 255% to 310%. For AoE, the extra procs of
will significantly increase our throughput.
isn't generally picked as a talent, but it's not because it's bad, it's because
is just way too good.
is the build that wins the most in AoE with this tier bonus, due to the increased proc rate of
window will pump out procs of
, potentially making the build superior in AoE situations! Looking at this from the 2H vs Dual-Wield debate, Dual-Wield gains more raw damage from this set due to its increase proc rate of
. However, as you will see, 2H gains the most overall due to the runeforge factor!
to all enemies it hits. By equipping this 4-set, we essentially get our
runeforge for free! Sure, it doesn't stack up the debuff quite as fast, and you'll have difficulties target swapping, but overall it will be very similar to the runeforge itself. It opens up the possibility of equipping another runeforge! For Dual-Wield, this actually doesn't turn out all too well. Frost Death Knights don't have many viable alternatives to the
combo. We have
which works okay with
builds but still only adds 2-3% damage increase. This can be compared to the 8-12% damage increase we get from our two best runeforges.
might look like a good alternative with a flat 5% stat increase, but it's unfortunately restricted to 2H weapons for some reason. Dual-Wield
builds really get the short end of the stick, having
be the only option that would actually provide a damage increase?
2H builds win big time when it comes to the second runeforge, gaining a huge amount from equipping an additional one (8% or so). Early simulations really highlight this fact, putting 2H
ahead of any Dual-Wield build by at least 2% on single target. I can definitely see 2H being a competitive and possibly superiour build in raids. It's important to remember that Dual-Wield
tends to be the more popular pick due to its versaility, but we'll see.
Finally, the 4-set provides an excellent way of efficiently spreading
to all targets in AoE scenarios. We do have this functionality in 9.1.5 through the
talent. However, it's actually not picked up due to the low damage of the spell itself. The 4p will now provide an easy way of getting that juicy 15% frost damage taken on all enemies in any given pull!
There are some questions that only testing the test on the PTR will answer.
triggers procs of
when specced into
. One can imagine that the 4p will trigger this effect, resulting in
windows where you'd use spam
s buffed by
. I think it's unlikely that it works this way but it would be very powerful if it did. It's also interesting to see if the 4p works with the
cleave. Again, a very powerful interaction that I think is unlikely to work, but we'll see. Finally,
usually has a chance of proccing
. One can imagine this would work with the 4-set providing a lot more resource regen.
The Frost Death Knight receives a somewhat bland 2-pieces and an exciting 4-piece. Mostly geared towards AoE but definitely strong in single target as well. The 4-piece allows us to pick up an additional Runeforge, something that 2H builds will see the most gain from. Furthermore, the 4-piece also pushes the
forward, especially in AoE scenarios. I think we might see 2H
becoming the new meta in raids, and possibly also in Mythic+.
Frost Death Knight Guide
Unholy Death Knight Writer First Impressions
- Every 5
on your target.
20% attack speed for 10 seconds.
's secondary effect triggers, summon an
The Unholy Death Knight receives a tier set that heavily focuses on execute and our
talent. I believe it has the potential to make Unholy the best execute class in the game.
- Every 5
on your target.
grants your pet 20% attack speed for 10 seconds.
Both a passive increase in the number of
s, as well as a pet attack speed increase that has the potential to see
being used outside of execute. To bring a specific example, a 5 minute fight would add roughly 15
s, 4-5 of those being in the execute range. Outside of execute,
deals damage roughly equal to a naked
, essentially making this part of the set increase your
damage by 20%. During execute, you'd get an extra 25%
s, a significant damage increase. The pet attack speed component is also nice, especially since our pet auto attack damage is a significant portion of our damage (~13%). I don't think it's worthwhile to cast
outside of execute to keep this buff up. The low damage of
seems to make it too costly to use. We might see it used specifically to buff our
windows, but we'll see!
One worry I have with the 2-set is how it will work with overlapping debuffs. Having a
debuff on your target and refreshing it with either the 2-set proc or by manually casting
could pose a problem. If the debuffs don't properly run in parallel, we might end up with a minigame where we have to track the debuff closely (as well as making the 2-set proc a bit useless in execute itself). Finally, the set doesn't scale in AoE at all. Our pet uses energy to deal AoE, something that attack speed doesn't help with. The number of extra
casts wouldn't scale in AoE either, unless
cleave would proc it more often.
's secondary effect triggers, summon an
This is where we get the real execute value. Again, taking the example of a 5 minute fight, we'd manage to proc ~22
secondary effects (18 manually and 4 from the 2-set) during execute. This would result in 22 Army ghouls, almost three full casts of
! We obviously don't get to time our CDs with all the ghouls as we usually do, and not all of them will last for their full 30 seconds duration. Overall though, this will increase our execute significantly! Imagine hitting execute range, popping
and then summoning a large amount of ghouls from
s. You'll reach up to 20 active ghouls, a true army!
Another interesting aspect of this 4-piece is its impact on
on a mob that dies before the buff expires. This is generally not worthwhile, as the
buff we get only really refunds the initial cost. As we now gain a ghoul for 30 seconds, the value of doing this has increased significantly. If you previously didn't use
on mobs that died too quickly, simply because it wasn't worth the hassle, you'd now aim to snipe as much as possible (obviously prioritising getting the sub 35% damage proc when possible). This all assumes that the on-death proc of
actually counts as a "secondary effect", something for us to test on the PTR!
When it comes to power, even if this set doesn't add the most amount of overall output, it might add the most overall
output. The last 35% of any given boss is most often the most important part (as long as the boss doesn't die at a high %...). Simply bringing the most execute therefore makes a spec desirable. We again have no AoE scaling at all (except the questionable sniping opportunity). Being great at priority damage isn't something one should feel bad about though.
Unholy gains a tier set that has the potential of making it the god of execute. I believe our damage profile will be hightly desirable, helping us secure that raid spot! We'll potentially see ourselves using
outside of execute, and the talent itself will be even more powerful in its row. AoE scaling is an issue with the set but I don't think that's too worrying, especially if it provides us with the damage profile it does.
Unholy Death Knight Guide
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