Cataclysm class changes are coming thick and fast, and will be relentless through this week. To avoid overshadowing the rest of the DK changes, Ghostcrawler announced today that Death Knights would no longer be able to tank using all of the three talent trees, and would instead be getting a "Protection" talent tree, just like Warriors and Paladins.
This tree would be called "Blood" and the tanking abilities from the other 2 trees would be consolidated therein. This seems to set up Unholy as the 2-handed dps tree and Frost as the dual-wield dps tree.
I'm definitely surprised. We'll have to wait to see how the implementation goes down. With what little information we have, I'm firmly against this. One of the things I enjoyed about my DK was being able to switch specs as I got bored (or based on what type of content I was doing), and the flavor and playstyle of my character would change with it, while still allowing me to tank or dps. For instance, in Ulduar, I basically had to use Blood as my tanking spec because it was helpful on Iron Council and pretty much required on hard-mode Vezax. But lately I've been able to play Frost as my tanking spec because it is great for aoeing down easy heroics while I farm emblems: DnD, glyphed Howling Blast, Blood Boil, take a nap.
From the dps side, the flexibility of DK specs has helped keep my interest as I've been using a different spec at each tier. The transformation of the Frost tree into the DW tree dampened this somewhat, but there were still two distinct options for 2-handed dps. Specs are going to be a lot more limited going forward, and that's a bad thing.
But that's probably the point: balancing DKs has likely been hellish when they essentially have 6-7 talent trees while most other classes have 3, especially when tweaking one DPS tree influences a tanking tree, and vice versa. And they needed a solution to DK masteries, since the new system of investing points in a tree couldn't reasonably yield both DPS and tanking stats.
Honestly, I expected a more ingenious solution to the problem from the Blizzard designers (not that I could think of one). I'm disappointed.
But it's not the end of the world! I'll still enjoy my DK, and who knows what other changes they have in store. We'll find out tomorrow. Being the most recently-designed class, I'm expecting the new DK talent trees to be the most similar to their current incarnations compared to the older classes. But I'm very excited to see the promised revamp of the rune system to make it more flexible. Tanking can get frustrating as a DK when you really need some runes to react to an emergency and they just aren't available, and DPS has become all about optimizing rune usage, making DK dps a lot like Paladin DPS (where you are locked down by Global CoolDown limitations), except we also have to keep track of resources while Paladins just have to hit the right attack as soon as the GCD is up (not a dig at Paladins!).
It should be an exciting week for WoW players.