Deathknight is often said to be a good build for beginners, the reason being the uniqueness of Krieg set. Unlike most items in the game that are random drops, this set can be acquired by farming certain bosses in Malmouth. The fact that you still somehow need to farm it is often omitted though. This guide is intended to provide guidelines to playing Deathknight before he gets Krieg set and Mindwarp.
The build is more or less a standart hackneyed Cadence Soldier with Necromancer as a support mastery for resistance reduction (RR).
Important note – as with any practical end-game build there are “hard” skill points that were invested into skills and bonus skill points that are, well, granted by items. Since skill growth is non-linear and many skills don’t win much from ultimate levels, bonus skill points often translate into more skill points rather than overcapped skills. If you don’t have that many skill points, whether because your’re still levelling or due to other reasons, you would need to gut something out of my build. The list below was sorted from most important stuff to things you could save on.
Main question is whether to get Oleron’s Rage or Menhir’s Bulwark. “Obvious” pick is Menhir’s Bulwark because it’s a shield build, but actually sheet DPS is slightly higher with Oleron’s Rage, by about 5%. Oleron’s Rage trivializes OA and movespeed issues, on the other hand 15% damage absorbtion and resistance to life reduction attacks will improve your survivability when it matters. I settled on Menhir’s Bulwark, but I can see someone else making a different choice in the end. When it comes to levelling though I think Oleron’s Rage is a 100% winner.
Cadence – max this, main damage skill
Fighting Form – 1 hard point for extra targets
Deadly Momentum – max this, main damage
Oleron’s Rage or Menhir’s Bulwark – max
Blitz – 1 hard point, mobility skill
Blindside – 1 hard point, might be worth more due to DA shed, but no spare skill points
Field Command – max, important source of OA, DA and armor
Warcry – keep at 12/12, doesn’t scale well above it. Useful debuff. You can save some points by investing less here, but I won’t recommend it
Break Morale – keep at 12/12, necessary RR
Spectral Wrath – keep at 10/10, necessary RR
Overguard – keep at 12/12, your bread and butter for surviving through worst situations
Shield Training – it’s a shield build so 10/10 at least.
Military Conditioning – keep at 10/10
Squad Tactics – keep at 12/12, or lower. It’s not super important despite the look of it.
Decorated Soldier – 1 point is a must, up to 8/8 to taste
Scars of Battle – 1 point is a must, up to 8/8 to taste
Fighting Spirit – 1 point
Menhir’s Will – 12 points
Mark of Torment – at least 1 point, more if got points to spare. It’s mostly a follow-up after Overguard is off.
Spectral Binding – 1 point or max, due to accelerating nature of the skill. That’s one of the skills where you can save skill points.
Ill Omen – picked only because of Stonewall Defender shield, which grants extra RR to this shield. Obviously if you don’t have the shield yet there’s no reason to pick it. I went 10/10 for more uptime, but I think 1 or 5 points might had been enough.
For guidelines on how to spend points during levelling see the Levelling section.
As I said earlier, I rush Falcon first because it’s amazing with Forcewave. The endgame build doesn’t have Falcon though. After getting Falcon you’re on a quest to reach Oleron, and obviously you need different devotions for Forcewave levelling and Cadence build.
- Crossroads (purple)
- Crossroads (blue)
- Remove Crossroads (blue)
- Empty Throne
- Ulzaad (bind Ulzaad’s Decree to Blitz)
- Chariot of the Dead (bind Wayward Soul to any aura¹)
- Crossroads (yellow)
- Assasin’s Blade (bind proc to Ravenous Earth²)
- Remove Empty Throne
- Remove Hawk
- Vire, the Stone Matron
¹ - after you switch from Forcewave to shield build and get enough durability, re-bind Wayward Soul to Mehnir’s Will. This will limit procc-ing Wayward Soul to when you’re low on health, moreover it’ll also increase proc chance to 100%.
² - if you aren’t deep enough into Necromancer yet, temporarily bind to anything
How to respec into Cadence:
- Remove Vire, the Stone Matron
- Remove Kraken
- Bull, bind proc to Cadence
- Remove Falcon
- Remove Crossroads (purple)
- Remove Stag
- Vire, the Stone Matron
- Remove Crossroads (yellow)
- 2 pt in Obelisk of Menhir
- Weapon: Wendigo Cleaver – Barrowholm faction item. Use Whipwine Powder augment from Coven.
- Shield: Stonewall Defender – craftable. Affix of choice – anything with %physical resistance, there are a bunch of them.
- Chest: Elite Coven’s Combatant Chestguard – Coven of Ugdenbog faction item.
- Shoulders: Elite Malmouth Vanguard Pauldrons – Malmouth Resistance faction item.
- Head: Elite Malmouth Defender Casque – Malmouth Resistance faction item.
- Rings: Coven Storm Seal – Coven of Ugdenbog faction item
Amulet: Bloodsurge – craftable, blueprint can be bought from Solael cult faction shop.
Alternative: Empowered Essense of Beronath – craftable
- Medal: Mark of the Voracious One – craftable, blueprint can be bought from Barrowholm faction shop.
- Malmouth Bladed Girdle – craftable, blueprint bought from Malmouth faction shop. Go for “of Attack” or “of Readiness” affix here.
Gloves: Turin’s Grip – random drop, will be better than most things you could craft, even though skill bonuses are useless.
Alternative: basic craftable heavy gloves with attack speed (“of Alacrity”, “of Honor Guard”).
Stoneplate Greaves – craftable. Go for “of Attack” or “of Readiness” affix here.
Alternative: basic craftable heavy boots. Since they are cheaper than the above, try to get better affixes in this case.
Kubacabra’s Chausses – the only MI in the build. Relatively easy to get on elite, and you don’t need some super rare affix combo here to make it work – the build is tailored to work with anything.
Alternative: basic craftable heavy pants.
- Level 2 – 1 point into Soldier Mastery Bar, 2 into Forcewave
- Level 3 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 into Forcewave
- Level 4 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 into Forcewave
- Level 5 – 3 points into Soldier
- Level 6 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 into Forcewave
- Kasparov quest bonus point – I assume you already have 2H weapon by now, so invest it into Tremor
- Level 7 – 3 points into Forcewave
- Level 8 – 2 points into Forcewave, 1 point into Soldier
- Level 9 – 2 points into Forcewave, 1 point into Soldier
- Level 10 – 2 points into Forcewave, 1 point into Soldier
- Level 11 – 2 points into Forcewave, 1 point into Soldier
- Level 12 – 1 point into Soldier, 2 points into Rending Force
- Level 13 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 14 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 15 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 16 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 17 – 2 points into Soldier, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 18 – 2 points into Rending Force, 1 point into Rending Force
- Level 19 – 2 points into Rending Force, 1 point into Blitz
- Imbued Silver or Purified Salt in the weapon
- Wardstone into amulet and medal.
- Ectoplasm in rings (Forcewave could be a bit energy hungry, especially with enough cast speed stacked)
- Silk Swatch in the shoulders.
- Scaled Hide into pants
- Antivenom Salve in the belt
- Field Command
- Squad Tactics
- War Cry
- Break Morale
- Military Conditioning
Very important: before you begin levelling I need to warn you on one thing. The levelling is done with Forcewave, which is a high damage high aoe mid-range 2H spell. The final setup uses Cadence with a shield, which is medium damage with very low aoe. Based on the feedback I received switching from Forcewave to Cadence was pretty unpleasant for some, there’s an extra hassle of adjusting your playstyle as well. The chance of you just not liking the new playstyle exists as well.
This is a fundamental problem with this levelling path, fixing it is impossible. Designing an alternate levelling path so that it is less of a shock is a work in progress. And now that is is made clear, please proceed to the actual levelling path below.
Attribute points: you need the bare minimum of Spirit for Jewelry and the rest goes into physique and cunning, at about 50:50 ratio, but early game more into physique and late game more into cunning. Generally investing into cunning is discouraged, but for this particular character it makes sense because I’ll smooth some of the extremes later in the game. Always have about 5-10 attribute points to spare so you could adjust things.
Level 1-19: Start with Soldier. Levelling with Cadence early on is not a super fun experience, so I suggest to level with Forcewave instead. Get any 2H mace, preferably with “of Celerity”, get Forcewave, Tremor and Rending Force. Suggested by-level path:
Devotion-wise you should have around 7 points by level 19, which need to be used to get Falcon. Bind Falcon Swoop on Forcewave
Level 20-29: Plain and simple - go for Oleron’s Rage
If you happen to get the Guile relic blueprint then craft it, it’ll help you a lot till very late into the game. Otherwise craft Sanctuary. Also it is a point when you should start using components in your gear, at least some of them. Recommended ones are:
Level 20 is about when you’re expected to start using components, my usual early go-to’s are:
Aside from Ectoplasm these are basic craftable components, you don’t need a blueprint to unlock them.
Skills to get now, in no particular order:
This is a level range when you’ll probably encounter chthonian tyrants who drop Obsidian War Cleaver, which is a super good item for Forcewave. You need an “of Celerity” one, ofcourse – cast speed is a number one thing to boost dps of Forcewave.
Level 50-64: Level 50 is about time you should consider investing into Necromancer mastery, or perhaps even slightly earlier. Rush Spectral Wrath. Get skills you still haven’t got from the list above.
If you happen to reach Respected with certain factions then consider buying following level 65 items from the faction shop:
Malmouth Vanguard Cuirass from Malmouth Resistance
Dreeg Combatant Spaulders from Cult of Dreeg
Coven Combatant Casque from Coven of Ugdenbog
If you happen to reach Revered with Homestead then buy Elite Harvest Foodpads at level 70 from them.
Overall this level range is when which skills you get is less important than which gear you use. Optimizing your resistances is pivotal, but pay attention to armor as well. If you’re using level 65 gear pieces past level 80 you’re doing it wrong.
Level 90+: get gear pieces listed in the Gear List section and work on fleshing out the build. It’s pretty much complete by now.
When I started to write the guide back in 2018 Deathknight was a pretty popular class, so there was a lot of high end builds I could refer people to. Sadly, most of them are outdated by now, and it doesn’t seem like high end builders are interested in this class much. The reason is there’s a Warlord.
- Krieg Death Knight on budget, the Soul Reaver by me. If you’ve got Krieg but struggle to get Mindwarp check this build out.
- Beronath’s Death Herald by mad lee. The build was made after FG release, so it’s actual.
- Ghouls & Ghosts – pet death knight by Maya. Another build that was made after FG release.
- Warpblade - Krieg DW Aether Cadence Deathknight by veretragna. Also got a shield version. Not updated with FG in mind.
- Krieg DK by Zhuugus. A basic Krieg DK, but not updated with FG in mind. Also got a physical Forcewave version inside.