Tobold posted an interesting question yesterday regarding whether Death Knights were overpowered. Since I've been playing my Death Knight recently and had conducted considerable research on the class prior to its release nearly two weeks ago I think I have some solid impressions on the matter.
First and foremost what is overpowered? I've heard many definitions of what it might be, but doesn't it really come down to a particular point of view? At our core I think most of us are partisans, each looking out for the well being of our favorite class above all others. Which of course is only human nature. My favorite class in WoW is the Druid, which I happen to not be playing at the moment. For some, their favorite class might be the Paladin, or the Warrior or Rogue. The point being, that out impressions of other classes are made through the eyes of our chosen class.
So just what is overpowered? Is it defined by the amount of negative posts on the official WoW forum? How many people post or even read that forum? I think we can all agree that whatever the number is, it is a small fraction of the total playing WoW today. We already know anecdotally that on maintenance day (today for instance) and on days where the servers are experiencing problems many more people than normal flock to the boards and they screech to a halt. So we know from that that some small number actually peruses the boards on a normal basis. I call those who flock t the board to complain a tempest in a teacup. So from my point of view forum posts can not define what overpowered is or isn't.
I do not think I can define overpowered, but I think I can recognize it when I see it, to coin an old adage. Take for example the Retribution Paladin. Just a few short weeks ago--in the first two weeks immediately after patch 3.0.2, the Retribution Paladin was as seemingly close to god mode in WoW as you can get. Especially in PVP where it wasn't all that unusual to see one charge into a small group of players defending a tower or flag, or even just standing around and not only kill them all, but walk away nearly unscathed. There were all sorts of denials by Paladin players, or rationalizations, but in the end a truth was known. There wasn't another single class in the game that could replicate with any sort of regularity what was being seen on a daily basis on the battlefields. That, to me, is the definition of overpowered.
The question now is do Death Knights stack up to that? I'm not entirely sold on that idea, but I can say that they are clearly very powerful. They're akin to the Retribution Paladin, which one small difference. They heal through the act of doing damage. One spec (Blood) more so than the other two however. Paladins have to stop DPSing to heal, which to some in this argument might make a difference and to others doesn't. However, it's that healing ability that I think makes most of the difference. Each of the three specs is roughly equal, but I think Blood has an advantage. There literally is no downtime between fights and I went 8 strait hours leveling from 65 to 68 without stopping to rest or eat even once. Admittedly that was with the fantastic starter gear, but even in Northrend I can duplicate that feat. But here's the rub, I can do the same thing with my Shaman too. As could others I know. So is that truly a sign of being overpowered? I'm not convinced.
Ultimately how Death Knights perform in the battlegrounds and the Arena will rear its ugly head. And as we've witnessed in the past, Blizzard will wield the nerf bat based on the loudest whining on the forums. Arguments of significance on either side not withstanding.