As everyone will have found out by now, there’s a lot of WotLK info bursting out today. Gamespy’s report on Deathknight is particularly interesting.
In November, while arguing that each of the current tanks has its particular spot in the game, I wrote:
While details of how the Death Knight will fit into this are probably still several months off (I expect late beta before a reliable pattern emerges), a possible venue of implementation may be either a specialization against high magical environments, or perhaps an experimentation to create a parry tank (a current tankadin qualifies as a block tank) which would go pretty well with the dual-wielding or 2H tanking.
First and foremost, the DK’s proper tanking mechanism will determine which niche the class will occupy. Niches which currently remain largely unoccupied include, as others have pointed out, a proper magic resist tank. Alternatively and fitting to the shieldless tanking, the DK could be designed as a parry tank, holding aggro through DPS output and being at the top of its ability against fast-hitting bosses (and that would mean eating up one of the tankadin’s niches, but I digress).
And look what Gamespy reports on DK’s tanking mechanisms:
Death Knights don’t use a shield, so their primary forms of mitigation will come in the form of Parrying, and the inherent power of their Presences and rune abilities. Blood runes are currently being billed as the primary tanking abilities, so to speak, while Frost is envisioned as more of a crowd-control type of rune. Choosing the right tools for the job will determine your success when tanking, like activating the Presence that increases the Death Knight’s damage mitigation, as well as increasing the amount of threat that they generate.
The Death Knight’s particular niche will be in tanking magic-damage-dealing bosses. They will have an ability much like a banshee’s anti-magic shell, greatly diminishing the amount of incoming magic damage they’ll receive in combat. While the Death Knight should be able to capably fill in any sort of tanking role with some success, they should be ideal against bosses that primarily deal magic damage.
Now how this will all work out in practice will, as I stated previously, depend largely on how varied the bosses in Northrend will be, but beyond being right on the money with my speculations, I believe Blizzard has done the best thing they could to provide something sufficiently unique in terms of design to ensure that the DK will complement the tanking corps instead of replace it.
Oh, some of the fun in having mage or warlock tanks will definitely be removed, but on the other hand, it removes the need to build separate and specific sets for such tasks. I definitely like the way this is going.
I hope the warrior panic will stop now.