Again thanks to all the readers who sent me links. Blizzard went on a publicity spree and distributed new information about Wrath of the Lich King to every major gaming site: IGN Gamespy, Worldofwar.net, Tentonhammer, WoWInsider, to name just some of them. The news are mostly about three things: the new zones of Northrend, deathknights, and changes to raiding. I'm not going to talk about the zones, for the simple reason that I on purpose skipped reading about them, I'd rather see them from playing myself. But here are the major points on deathknights and raiding:
The only requirement for playing a deathknight is that you already have at least one character of level 55+. That's all, there is no unlock quest or any sacrifice of a previous character to become a deathknight. You can install Wrath of the Lich King and make a new deathknight right away, of any race, with the only limitation being that you can only make one per server. Why only one per server? Because the deathknight starts at level 55, and if you could make lots of them, they would become everyone's favorite crafting alt. Deathknights don't start naked, they come out in a mix of green and blue quality level starting armor and with a normal ground mount. They all have the plaguelands as starting zone, where there will be deathknight-specific quests to gear up and get an epic ground mount. I do expect this to get ugly, because most players on every server will want to try a deathknight, and with both factions and all races having the same zone as starting area and required questing area, there will be endless lag and kill-stealing.
Deathknights are designed as anti-caster tanks with high melee dps, which will be incredibly useful in PvP against mages and warlocks. They can also transform a corpse into a ghoul, and if that corpse belonged to a player, that player is given the option of controlling the ghoul. They will be wearing plate armor. Whether deathknights are good enough PvE tanks for regular dungeons is anyone's guess, but I'd expect the big raid guilds to stick to one or two protection warrior main tanks, using deathknights for caster bosses or as dps. But as only few warriors got a main tank spot in a raid guild, you can expect the number of warriors played to drop dramatically. Deathknights have blood, frost, and unholy talent trees, corresponding to the three types of runes they can use for their unique rune magic, so apparently they don't suffer from having to respec between a protection tree and a dps tree every time they join or quit a group.
On dungeons and raiding, Blizzard is expanding the heroic dungeons concept: Every 5-man dungeon in WotLK will exist in a normal and heroic version as in TBC, but now the two versions get completely separate loot tables. And now every raid dungeon will also get two different versions with different loot tables: a 10-man version and a 25-man version. So yes, even a small guild can visit every single raid dungeon in WotLK with just 10 raiders. Although obviously the loot for 25-man raids will be better, at least it will be easier to get to see everything. And again of course the devil is in the detail, we don't know yet how easy or hard these 10-man dungeons will be. But as a basic concept the idea is commendable.
No news on a release date, which is still scheduled at "when it's ready". And it doesn't look as if it will be ready anytime soon. I'm still hoping for November, but that might be optimistic. There will be a beta, and Blizzard is handing out beta access a prize for their latest artwork contest. I hope that I can get beta access by going to the 2008 Worldwide Invitational in Paris end of June, but there is no guarantee, I might only get the chance to stand in a queue for 4 hours to play WotLK for 10 minutes.