Back in the ye olde days, when flying was restricted to only those who had ridden hard, fought long drawn out battles, defended their realm in all the nooks, crannies, dungeons and holes in the ground the makers could imagine, back then, the best of the bunch were able to fly, to soar high on the wings of sweet well earned victory. There was room for a Hero Class, a player that could swing the tide and turn battles around, a player that could harness the very bones of the dead in defense of his realm, a player that using deaths own embrace, could swing an axe and strike at the heart of the opposition. Back then, there was room for a Death Knight, A rare and heroic breed capable of signalling the end of the long fight against the kings enemies.
In time gone by, it took a long time to get to level fifty five. A player learned his skills and understood his craft. A player knew his way around a sizeable portion of the map, knew where to stand, where to fish, he knew where to mine or make his weapons and armour. A player of level fifty five had many achievements and accomplishements under his belt. A player of level fifty five had proven he was no 'flash in the pan, a 'micro-nova', but a player who was capable of bringing value to any group. The ability for that player to create a Death Knight seemed a fair and proper thing to allow. Death knights in turn, had value as the players using them were often world-skilled and game-wise.
The game has changed, significantly, it is very much easier to level up. With refer-a-freind, you can make level fifty five in less than a week, With heirlooms you can race through dungeons as if they were some kind of solo Battleground, within days of paying for world of Warcraft, you can qualify to roll a death knight and begin the macabre and systematic destruction of players enjoyment on so many levels.
Death Knights no longer have any value, they bring nothing to the game, and far from being hero class, they are now the class most likely to be played by some one who neither cares for, nor understands the games mechanics. Death Knights are more than likely going to be the biggest single instrument in countless dungeon wipes. Characters playing new Death Knights seem more often than not, to display a total disregard for other players, total lack of understanding of dungeon mechanics and have no incentive to do better. They are in short, an abused and disposable class.
For some, it is great fun to create a DK on another server, destroy peoples dungeons for a weekend, and then, amid peals of laughter, destroy the deathknight and generate bragging rights for the first break at school on the next school day.
Some Death Knights are good players,they know how to play their character, and many of the characters they are teamed up with in the Dungeon Finder. Some Death Knights know how to be the 'tank' and execute the process extreemly well. I will wager, they are less than one percent of death knights though.
I propose some simple and basic changes to Death Knight creation, a series of simple concepts that will re-inject the 'hero class' into the Death Knights.
I suggest a player should have three or four level 85 or top level characters on a server, before that player can convert a player of level 55 or better into a death knight. Upon creation of the Death Knight, skills and abilities transfer over to the Death Knight, such as fishing, cooking , gathering skills and manufactiring skills, and the name of the character stays the same. A partial talent tree could be used to retain a small selection of the original characters abilities, so that Death Knights would no longer be simple mele characters, but characters that can deliver extreme dps using their original talents as a Mage, Priest, Shaman, Paladin, hunter etcetera. The racial talents should be removed and all death knights should be skeletal.
Remove 'Death Grip' totally. Its a mechanism that is abused beyond comprehension in dungeons. There are several 'taunts' used in World of Warcraft, the Death Knights Death Grip succeeds more often than not in bringing mobs into the party, often a sure-fire way of killing the healer, or the High DPS dealing mage. Death grip has outlived its value and could easily be replaced by a taunt of controllable and meaningful proportions.
Why not allow the Death Knight to gain health upon the succesful killing of a Mob, a life exchange if you like. The higher the value of dps contribution made by the death knight, the greater the healing effect on the mobs death. For fun, giggles if you will, the death of a Town Guard, quest giver, trainer or a player five levels or more below the death knight, will erode the death knights health proportionally to the effort of damage delivered. Take on a couple of quest givers and your toast...
Have the Death Knight Training Armour and Weapon, gifted during training, to have little or no armour quality after they Death Knight leaves the training levels. Simply, the DK will make or purchase or aquire Armour, and cladding and arming his DK in a manner that will lead to character survival.
Make Death Knights permanently PVP enabled. If you want to wear the suit, wear the responsibility.
Take away the Death Knights XP bar, let the iLevel of his gear determine whether or not he can enter a dungeon, or raid, or battle ground. (In fact, take away everyones XP bar and let their gear count serve as admission ticket regardless of level.)
On the plus side, the more honor he earns in raids, bg's, dungeons and the like, the better the gear he gets, the superior gear that can only be worn by DK's. Gear far better than any other class can get, because the DK, being a hero class character, should have hero quality equipment and weaponry.