So, I figure what with requests in-world and on Twitter for advice I’d codify my suggestions and tips for leveling a new Death Knight.
Tip 1. Talent spec: Blood.
It’s not as important for the starting quest chain, but having tried the three Death Knight talent trees for leveling, I’d have to say my easiest time was with Blood.
Understand, I’m not telling you to play a Blood DK. I’ve found that as you level up and discover what your play style is, you may be happier in endgame centering on a different talent tree. I know if you have your heart set on dual-wielding, you’re going to be Frost/Unholy.
I’m just talking about getting your DK to 80, and I suggest the Blood tree for that. As you get runic power in battle, basically the only thing limiting your leveling uptime is your hit points – and Blood’s self-healing is the best of all three classes.
You might want to try a build like this one. This is at level 58 You can either go into the rest of the tree and finish Might of Morgaine, Blood Gorged and pick up Dancing Rune Weapon, or throw points into Improved Rune Tap or Vendetta, depending on whether you want more damage or more self-healing.
Tip 2. Glyph.
You wouldn’t think glyphs would matter much, but having a few for leveling really help. I’d suggest
Major: Death Strike & Vampiric Blood
Minor: Pestilence & Blood Tap
[EDIT] Boy is my face red, or would be if I still had a pulse. Blood Tap glyph keeps it from doing damage to you.
to improve your self healing, and give you a little more range on spreading diseases. Although your damage is mostly going to be physical, keeping your diseases going on your opponents boosts the self-healing you get from Death Strike.
Tip 3: Rotation.
With the build I posted, you want to put your diseases on, spread them if you’re fighting more than one mob, pump up your runic, get your Death Strike in, then deathcoil.
So Icy Touch -> Plague Strike -> Heart Strike (x2) -> Death Strike -> Death Coil -> Death Strike -> Heart Strike (x4).
This will look a lot like the Blood DPS rotation from Elitist Jerks. This is not an accident. This gets you used to a fairly demanding rotation, while you don’t have to worry about ruining four, nine, or twenty-four other people’s evenings if you mess it up.
What I do with changing specs is pick four keys, like 5 6 7 8 9, get used to a pattern with them, then bind the different abilities to those keys when I change specs so that I don’t have to change my pattern.
With these tips, you should be able to level fairly quickly to 80. I know in my own experience, Blood was the fastest leveling.
As far as what spec you should use when you hit 80? That is a topic for another post.