At level 58, you can step through the Dark Portal and set foot on the Stair of Destiny, situated at the edge of the world, east of Hellfire Peninsula. Once you are here, you fly to Honor Hold, west of the Stair of Destiny and begin your quests to help save Outlands from the Burning Legion.
At level 58, for the first time in the Lore of World of Warcraft you will encounter Death Knights – a class that have taken over from Hunters as the most despised class in the game. They aren’t despised because of the class mechanics, or because they’re labelled as an heroic class – but because they are rolled by people who invariably do not have an appreciation of the game, the mechanics of the game, or an understanding of the class they’re playing.
I have a Death Knight. I’ve played him since the class first became available, over a year ago.
When I made my Death Knight character, I devoted some time to finding out about the class, its strengths and weaknesses, how to play the class correctly, how to be a benefit to any groups I was in. As every patch came out and Death Knights received nerfs, or buffs, or respecs, I learned what had changed, why, what I had to do now compared to what I had to do then. This is all part of playing the game and being the best you can be.
Death Knights, when played correctly, are an absolute boon to a raiding party. Death Knights when played incorrectly however are an absolute liability. When they’re played incorrectly, they break the golden rule of raiding: “DON’T BE THAT GUY”.
- Don’t be that guy who joins as a tank, but has 49 points in blood spec, none of them tank-specific, and thinks that by using Frost Presence, he is now a tank.
- Don’t be that guy who zones into the instance with 7 minutes of resurrection sickness.
- Don’t be that guy who then engages the first mobs in Blood Furnace and dies almost instantly because you fail to see that resurrection sickness costs you 75% of your armour and your damage.
- Don’t be that guy who then exclaims “Healer?!?! WTF?!?!?” when you die while your raid party are all too stunned by your sheer ineptitude.
- Don’t be that guy who then refuses a resurrection from the Priest/Shaman/Paladin in the group, and instead takes resurrection sickness again – because you didn’t see the messages to accept resurrection, while resetting the time of your resurrection sickness debuff.
- Don’t be that guy who then hearth stones out to his home city of Stormwind thinking that doing that will clear the debuff, despite everyone in the party telling you that it won’t.
- Don’t be that guy who, after making everyone wait, then engages the mobs without throwing down Death and Decay because “I don’t have that on my action bars”.
I met THAT GUY and the Blood Furnace run we were on never got to the top of the stairs, yet we were in there for 30 minutes. It was as comical as it was painful.
One of the downsides of Death Knights is that players will play a class up to level 55, then roll a death knight and forget all about the class they just abandoned.
Speaking from the experience of levelling a hunter, a warlock, a shaman, a paladin and a mage up to at least level 55, you are not a master of that class you’ve just abandoned. At level 55, things are just starting to get interesting as you start to finalise your available talents, work out rotations, understand your role in a party. In vanilla WoW, at level 55 you were approaching end-game raiding, and from level 55 to 60 you really honed your skills.
Over the course of levelling Stormshaper, a lot of people cannot deal with the instances in Blackrock, which are all around the level 55-60 area. So many times Stormshaper took part in PuGs that disintegrated after the first wipe. People would skip over entire swathes of content, knowing that as soon as they hit 55, they’d go and roll a Death Knight.
So, 55 levels of playing a class is then forgotten as soon as the Death Knight is rolled.
As a Death Knight, you absolutely steamroll through the (absolutely brilliantly scripted and designed) starter zone and you learn a lot about the lore behind the Scourge and the roll of the Death Knights. As its a starter zone, you don’t really need to use a lot of theorycraft to smash mobs to pieces. In the Death Knight starter zone, the mobs ARE designed to be smashed to pieces.
When the Death Knight hits Outlands, the mobs are a little tougher and you have to fight a little harder, and perhaps have a bit of a rotation worked out so you can maximise your DPS and survive any multiple mobs you pull towards you. If you’ve decided to roll a tank, then you have to research the role of a tank in a raid group, the talents you should have to aid in damage limitation and mitigation, and you should have some understanding of dungeon mechanics. These are all pre-requisites of raiding, but for so many people, they’re not even on the agenda.
If you’re THAT guy – you’re basically ruining the instance for four other people who are there to help each other through the instance for quests, or loot, or whatever. As Illidan Stormrage said “You are not prepared!”.
Stormshaper is still questing in Hellfire Peninsula and has progressed to level 64 and the change in gear is enormous. All of her pre-Outlands gear has been replaced. I’ve kept all the various trinkets, because you can never have enough trinkets, but the gear on offer in Outlands is a real step up from the gear she had in Azeroth.
The XP bonus from the BoA items means her level advancement is faster than usual, I can remember hitting 64 on my hunter when he went to Zangermarsh. At this rate, I’ll be able to head to Northrend directly after completing another zone in Outlands.
In terms of standout gear, I replaced the BoA dagger with the Diamond-Core Sledgemace that drops from The Maker in Blood Furnace. The Diamond-Core Sledgemace is now her main hand weapon, imbued with Windfury Weapon and the Venerable Mass of McGowan is her off-hand imbued with Flametongue Weapon.
The mace is a smashing upgrade, and to receive it on her second run of Blood Furnace (after the aborted first attempt documented above) was a fortunate stroke of luck. Thank you, Random Number Generator.
Oh, by the way, Stormshaper completed a few outstanding quests, and she received the achievement To Hellfire and Back, so on that note, she’s off to help the Cenarion mob in Zangermarsh.