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WoW Shadowlands – Update 9.0.1 Death Knight Class Changes

Dead, and loving it.

by Brandon Adams


World of Warcraft: Shadowlands pre-expansion Update 9.0.1 brings with it a bevy of various class changes, and the Death Knight was no exception. Many classes will find some of their more popular abilities that were removed many expansions ago returned, and their skill acquisition adjusted due to the massive level squish introduced in this same update.

Not every class received massive adjustments, but Death Knight certainly saw a healthy amount of class changes. Below is the full list of class changes to Death Knight in Shadowlands pre-expansion Update 9.0.1. For the full patch notes, be sure to check out the link here, where additional class changes are listed.

Death Knight – Shadowlands Update 9.0.1 Class Changes


  • Rune Strike is no longer a Blood Death Knight Talent and has been redesigned to be a Rune spender and Runic Power generating ability used during the initial Death Knight leveling experience. Rune Strike will be replaced with Festering Strike, Heart Strike or Howling Blast when a specialization has been chosen.
  • When swapping weapons, the Off Balance debuff is applied and prevents the Death Knight from gaining the bonuses of Runeforge enchantments for 30 seconds.
  • All Death Knights can now use the following abilities:
    • Death Coil – Fires a blast of unholy energy at the target, causing Shadow damage to an enemy or healing an Undead ally.
    • Death and Decay – Corrupts the targeted ground, causing Shadow damage over 10 seconds to targets within the area.
    • Raise Dead – Raises a ghoul to fight by your side for 1 minute. Only one ghoul can be up at a time.
    • Chains of Ice – Shackles the target with frozen chains, reducing movement speed by 70% for 8 seconds.
    • Lichborne – Draw upon unholy energy to become Undead for 10 seconds, increasing Leech by 10%, and making you immune to Charm, Fear, and Sleep.
    • Anti-Magic Zone – Places an Anti-Magic Zone for 10 seconds that reduces spell damage taken by party or raid members by 20%.
  • Runeforging now has five new runes available to engrave upon your weapon:
    • Rune of Sanguination – Your Death Strike deals increased damage based on the target’s missing health. When you fall below 35% health, you heal for 50% of your maximum health over 6 seconds. Can only occur once every 5 minutes.
    • Rune of Spellwarding – Deflects 3% of all spell damage and has chance to create a shield that absorbs magic damage equal to 10% of your maximum health. When an enemy damages the shield, their cast speed is reduced by 10% for 6 seconds.
    • Rune of Hysteria – Increases maximum Runic Power by 20 and your attacks have a chance to increase Runic Power generation by 20% for 8 seconds.
    • Rune of Unending Thirst – When you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, gain 5% Haste, 5% movement speed and heals you for 5% of your maximum health. Additionally, increases your movement speed while dead by 10%.
    • Rune of the Apocalypse – Your ghoul’s attacks have a chance to apply an additional effect:
      • Famine: Reduces damage dealt to the Death Knight.
      • Death: Reduces healing done.
      • Pestilence: Slows the target and deals damage over time.
      • War: Increases damage taken from the Death Knight.
  • PvP Talent changes:
    • Lichborne has been removed.


  • Rune Tap is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Blood Death Knights at level 19. Additionally, Rune Tap has two charges and the global cooldown is removed.
  • The following Talents have been adjusted:
    • New Talent: Relish in Blood – While Crimson Scourge is active, your next Death and Decay heals you per Bone Shield charge and you immediately gain 10 Runic Power.
    • New Talent: Death Pact – Create a death pact that heals you for 50% of your maximum health, but absorbs incoming healing equal to 30% of your maximum health for 15 seconds.
    • Mark of Blood has had its Runic Power cost removed and healing increased to 3% (was 2%).
    • Rapid Decomposition now has an additional effect – Your Blood Plague leeches 50% more health.
    • Anti-Magic Barrier now reduces the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell by 20 seconds (was 15 seconds) and increases its duration and amount absorbed by 40% (was 30%).
    • Voracious now grants you 15% Leech for 8 seconds (was 6 seconds) and has an additional effect – Death Strike’s healing is increased by 20%.
    • Red Thirst now reduces the cooldown on Vampiric Blood by 1.5 seconds per 10 Runic Power spent (was 1 second).
    • Consumption and Bonestorm now capped at 8 targets.
    • Ossuary has been removed and will be learned by all Blood Death Knights in Shadowlands.
  • PvP Talent changes:
    • New PvP Talent: Rot and Wither – Your Death and Decay rots enemies each time it deals damage, absorbing healing equal to 100% of damage dealt.
    • Unholy Command has been removed.


  • Obliterate, Frost Strike, Frostscythe and Glacial Advance can now be used with two-handed weapons.
  • New Passive: Might of the Frozen Wastes
    • Rank 1: While dual-wielding your Obliterate and Frost Strike will also strike with your off hand and you can engrave each weapon with a Runeforge Enchant.
    • Rank 2: Increases your Obliterate damage by 35% and Killing Machine Proc chance when using a two-handed weapon.
  • Frostwyrm’s Fury is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Frost Death Knights at level 44.
  • Empower Rune Weapon and Pillar of Frost no longer have a global cooldown.
  • Howling Blast and Breath of Sindragosa now deal reduced damage on secondary targets.
  • Pillar of Frost duration reduced to 12 seconds (was 15 seconds) and cooldown increased to 60 seconds (was 45 seconds).
  • The following Talents have been adjusted:
    • New Talent: Hypothermic Presence – Embrace the ice in your veins, reducing the Runic Power cost of your abilities by 35% for 8 seconds.
    • Runic Attenuation proc rate has been adjusted to bring Dual Wield and Two-Handed closer together and the Runic Power gain has been increased to 5 (was 3).
    • Blinding Sleet now has an additional effect – When Blinding Sleet ends, enemies are slowed by 50% for 6 seconds.
    • Icecap now reduces the remaining cooldown of Pillar of Frost by 4 seconds (was 3 seconds).
    • Frostscythe now capped at 5 targets.


  • Mastery: Dreadblade now also increases the damage of your Minion’s abilities.
  • Epidemic is no longer a Talent and will be learned by all Unholy Death Knights at level 34. Additionally, Epidemic’s range has been reduced to 40 yards (was 100 yards) and will fail to cast if there are no nearby enemies afflicted with Virulent Plague.
  • Sudden Doom now causes your auto attacks to have a chance to make your next Death Coil or Epidemic cost no Runic Power.
  • Scourge Strike now prefers targets with Festering Wounds while inside Death and Decay.
  • Outbreak duration of Virulent Plague increased to 28 seconds (was 21 seconds).
  • Virulent Plague no longer has a 30% chance for infected enemies to erupt to nearby enemies each time it deals damage, and area of effect range increased to 10 yards (was 8 yards).
  • Army of the Dead Rune cost reduced to 1 (was 3).
  • Scourge Strike and Clawing Shadows now capped at 5 targets while inside Death and Decay. Both abilities will prefer targets inflicted with Festering Wound.
  • The following Talents have been adjusted:
    • New Talent: Unholy Pact – Dark Transformation creates an unholy pact between you and your pet, igniting flaming chains that deals Shadow damage over 15 seconds to enemies between you and your pet. While active, your Strength is increased by 5%.
    • Unholy Blight’s disease now stacks up to 4 times and has an additional effect – Your minions deal 3% increased damage per stack to enemies affected by Unholy Blight. Additionally, it applies Virulent Plague to enemies.
    • Soul Reaper has been reworked and now costs 1 Rune and has a 6 second cooldown. Strike an enemy for Shadow damage and afflict the enemy with Soul Reaper. After 5 seconds, if the target is below 35% health this effect will explode dealing additional Shadow damage to the target. If an enemy dies while afflicted gain Runic Corruption.
    • Defile now has an additional effect – If any enemies are standing in the Defile, it grows in size and deals increasing damage every second.
    • Army of the Damned now has an additional effect – Apocalypse and Army of the Dead summon a Magus of the Dead for 15 seconds who hurls Frostbolts and Shadow Bolts at your foes.
    • Unholy Frenzy has been reworked and renamed Unholy Assault. Strike your target with an unholy blow dealing Shadow damage, infecting the target with 4 Festering Wounds, and sending you into a killing frenzy, increasing haste by 20% for 12 seconds.
    • Bursting Sores now capped at 8 targets.

- This article was updated on:October 12th, 2020

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