With the upcoming release of Cataclysm, I was reminiscing about how overpowered the "original" Death Knight was when WOTLK was first released.
Here's a link to the Original Death Knight Talent Tree. You can also see old talent trees by version number on wowprovider.com. For example, 22.214.171.12403 Alpha talents and 3.0.2 Beta talents.
My First DK PVP
I was level 58 at the time (wearing the DK starter gear) in Outlands. I had a Unholy AOE build and was grinding the Shattered Hand Grunts just outside Hellfire Citadel. I was typically soloing 4-5 Grunts at a time with no issues (it's important to note that I was 58 and they were level 62-63). It was amazing to say the least. =]
So, I had just killed Force Commander Gorax while soloing two other mobs, and then I repositioned myself to aggro 3 other mobs to keep the AOE grinding going.
While I was AOE grinding the 5 grunts, a level 77 NE Druid Boomkin (wearing the highest tiered 70 PVE gear at the time and some Northrend epics) flew over top of me, stopped, and then assumed a very safe distance from me. He starting blasting me with Starfire, Wrath, and Moonfire. I was able to keep my HP up with Death Strikes on the 5 mobs until a couple of them were dead, then I re-focused my attention on the pesky annoyance.
It was my first PVP experience with the DK and it's clear that we were both very surprised. =] While 3 other mobs were beating on me, I Death Gripped him and laid a beating that he would never forget. At the time, diseases removed HOTS so he couldn't heal himself very well, and the amount of damage I was doing to him must have been a huge surprise considering the 19 level difference. It was pretty much a faceroll on my part, and he ended up blowing through all of his cooldowns (and using pots) trying to escape.
I managed to get him down to about 5% health by the time the other mobs I aggro'd eventually took their toll (about 5-6 beating on me by then and because of his high level, he didn't aggro any mobs like I had).
He thought he was safe, but didn't anticipate (or knew about) the talent "Shadow of Death" however. =]
I transformed into a Ghoul and quickly ripped him to shreds.
Ahh.. good old "Shadow of Death". Here are a couple old videos of SoD in action: Link 1, Link 2. I apologize about the video quality (switch to 720p if available), but there are very few SoD videos out there.
When he returned to his body, he flew away never to return. So I quickly fired up my second account and whispered him:
Me: Dude! That 58 just kicked your ass!
Boomkin: what r u talking about?
Me: I was flying overhead and saw that fight.
Me: He totally owned you.
Boomkin: no.. i killed him..
Me: Barely. But he was 20 levels below you, and you died too.
Boomkin: i was on the phone
It was pretty funny. =]
History Will Repeat Itself With Cataclysm
WOTLK was released just before Christmas (Nov 13/2008) and a friend of mine kept saying how right after Christmas, Blizzard would nerf the Death Knights explaining how it was all part of their "business plan". Being a "Hero Class" I had hoped they wouldn't undergo too many changes - but it made sense and I knew that it was going to happen as well. Releasing a completely overpowered class during the best sales period of the year is an excellent way to boost sales, and then you can simply nerf the class after the busy sales period ends. And that's exactly what happened. The "Hero Class" really became nothing more than just another class that happens to start at Level 55.
With the new Cataclysm changes, I'm certain that history will be repeating itself.
Some of the new spells, abilities and masteries are completely overpowered. And you'll see a major nerf a few months after Christmas, yet again.
Every class has a turn at being OP'd for a certain amount of time, and this time it appears to be the Hunter's turn again.
(Note: These abilities are currently in beta testing, but keep in mind that the OP DK was also tested for months and months in beta but was still released in retail.)
Hunter Camouflage: Not only makes you look very cool, it also makes you completely immune to all forms of damage! You're invisible when standing still, you can't be targeted, you can change aspects while running, enemy traps will not trigger, AOE spells don't affect you, you don't aggro mobs even when right on top of them, and you can remove DOTs if they were cast on you prior to camouflage. It can be activated as long as you're not in combat - if you are, just hit Feign Death or Shadowmeld if you're a NE. And you can practically have it turned on all the time. =]
Here's a video that explains better:
The new Trap Launcher for Hunters is also a pretty overpowered ability, depending on how you use it. (Note: If you liked the ending "I'm A Hunter" song, you can listen to the full song here.)
For the DK, overpowered abilities include Dark Simulacrum and Necrotic Strike.
Necrotic Strike is interesting, it was "meant to bring back some of the old flavor from when death knights could dispel heal-over-time (HoT) effects." I'm happy about that.
And then other OP'd PVP spells include the Prot Paladin's "Blinding Shield" (AOE "Blind" with added damage) and the Mage's "Firestarter" talent (run while casting Scorch). "Curtain of Frost" still needs some work, but it could be OP'd for PVP if it does what the developers intend.
If you want to see all of the new Cataclysm spells, follow this link.
Of course, many of these new spells (if they make it to retail, which they probably will..) will allow a select number of classes to be massively overpowered for about 3-6 months and then they'll be dramatically nerfed after sales decline (the Paladin has been OP for awhile now, I think it's time). It's a good thing that I have 80's in every single class. =]