Lichborne’s p5.4 analysis on DKs

Aside

WoWInsider’s Lichbourne thoughts on the current patch 5.4 are good, so good in fact that I’m just going to link it. Have a read if you’re interested in what Death Knights have coming soon. It’s early days for these notes, but overall nothing I can see is major or especially bad. A DRW free is great for Blood spec.

Ref: Lichborne: Patch 5.4 patch note analysis for death knights.
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More than one DK per realm

Aside

Death Knights rejoice! Or moan longingly, or at least smile. OK don’t smile. Players can now have more than one DK per realm.

Why do I like this?

Well for a start I’ve a DK sitting on an old realm who has a fair amount of gold that I might transfer, and I also have enjoyed playing a DK of a different race and faction to see both the different cities and the different animations. Undead DKs have a two-hander animation I like, so there are probably more out there. Yes, I could see that with another class I guess, but I don’t like some of my lowbie alts anymore. Ok, it’s nothing world changing, it’s nice. And more Death Knights is a good thing.

walking-frozen-township

Wrathion Story part 2 done!

Those pesky pvp battles were an absolute pain, and now my DK is thankfully back to grinding drops from raid bosses and farming mats to get further through the quest chain.

Generally I hated the pvp battlegrounds. Almost all the fights demonstrated that an organised group will crush a typical pvp set of random players. The battlegrounds where we died constantly were blisteringly frustrating.

The battlegrounds were a core of us followed some simple strategies were good, and generally we either won or came very close to winning.

I learnt:

  • Any group is stuffed without a healer, and protecting the healer is actually fun. A particular Paladin teamed up with myself and another Death Knight and we roflstomped almost everyone for 2-3 minutes at a time before the Orb debuff made us crushable. As a set of three we moved through that Battleground together and it worked really well. Later it was a Druid who help me steamroll through the squishies are part of the fighting team.
  • Stay as a group. i.e. when 3-4 players stayed in the middle of the Orb Arena (not its real name) we smashed the others. Especially when we had two players with Orbs.
  • Fight within the game’s ideal zone. i.e. on the flags, carts, or in the center of the arena where you get the most points.
  • Personal cooldowns are not for emergencies, they are for every second in the game. A moment spent in combat without them is pointless.
  • Not that I intended to, but a particular Shadow Priest and Warlock on Horde are probably writing blog posts about how much Death Knights are broken and overpowered in PvP. I think I killed these particular two characters

Patch 5.2 Class Review – Death Knight

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GC has delivered a short blog as a review and update on their perspective for Death Knights, one part of a series for each class as a reflection of the changes made in patch 5.2. The intro to all the class updates was:

We don’t alter classes lightly, and every change comes only after a great deal of player feedback, developer thought, and careful analysis. We also know that while class changes can help keep things fresh, they can also mean that there’s a need to re-learn things about your character that you thought you already knew. We want to make this process clearer, more understandable, and easier to adapt to as we move into patch 5.2, so I’ll be working with World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street to write a short blog series that will provide an overview of the important changes coming to each class.

For the DKs is worth a read (source)…

We had three main goals:

  • Make some less attractive talents more compelling.
  • Improve quality of life for Unholy Death Knights.
  • Give a small PvP buff.

We didn’t feel like Death Knights needed many changes overall, and we try not to change classes for change’s sake, especially midway through an expansion, so you’ll see fewer changes here than for some other classes.

To address some issues with less attractive talents, you’ll see buffs to Death Siphon (more damage dealt) and Conversion (less Runic Power over time).

Unholy’s quality of life changes were mostly to solve the problem of “orphaned” runes. A Death Knight would, for example, Blood Boil twice and then Scourge Strike, leaving two Frost Runes, which weren’t sufficient to use Festering Strike. Now Icy Touch activates Reaping, which will allow those Frost Runes to convert to Death Runes. We also made Plague Strike apply Frost Fever to reduce the need to use Icy Touches. We also made Summon Gargoyle no longer cost Runic Power and changed the damage done to both Shadow and Nature to synergize better with Unholy’s Mastery, Dreadblade.

While we think Death Knights are in a good place in PvP overall, we did agree with the feedback that Strangulate has a very long cooldown for what it does, so we lowered its cooldown and also lowered Asphyxiate to match. Finally, it is worth pointing out that the tier 14 2-piece ended up being overbudget to the extent that we were concerned DKs would keep using it in the 5.2 raid. We nerfed the set bonus and buffed Death Knights to compensate. Blood is in a good place overall, but we did buff Blood Parasite dramatically, because it was just undertuned.

In pondering what this means…

Overall – yes, DKs are in a good place and do not need a large set of changes.

Further every time a class gets refined in a significant way the changes swing up and down to find a new point of balance. I’d rather not have a large set of changes applied mid-expansion even to fix Unholy’s dps output. Frankly it does not make enough of a difference to me. I love Unholy the most out of all the specs, but will use whichever Dps style is better overall for me. In a month we’ll be able to review the changes being introduced for priests and monks and evaluate if they needed tweaks. I bet they’ll need tweaks.

I think most DK players have a similar ethos. The choice given to players for which spec to play when each spec is basically the same is somewhat of an illusion; a final max will be found through theory-craft, and it will likely become the default. e.g. Mage, Hunter, Rogue, etc specs too.

Talents – Conversion is a great talent, as it is passive. A nurf hurts a little, but if overall damage is altered to compensate (as indicated) then ok cool. No worries. That meas it might be worth mucking around wit the others. Death Siphon is a wonderful ability that I use in raids regularly to help the healers, and if it does more damage then that helps my Dps role. No bad there.

Timmy’s been upgraded – Overall an update to Unholy was needed, and i totally agree with Timmy being altered so that he is more usable. This does not alter the need to understand the complexity of when to use Timmy, or how Timmy might affect the raids – and that is excellent as Timmy’s idiosyncratic behaviour is one of the complexities that I think Unholy should keep.

T14-2pc Dps set bonus – it was good enough that having the set bonus and using 483/476 gear was better than using 489 gear (I have the SimCraft numbers to prove it too). Yes, that might be “overpowered” a little, but it also means that the bonus provided a bridge for those who were struggling to get gear in other locations.

Blood – My gripe for Blood is still that the health shield disappears too quickly. I know it is manageable, but fight mechanics often are more important than the timing of Death Strike, and that means a shield dropping off without being fully used, or sometimes the runes are needed for other powers.

For the PvP changes – I honestly cannot say.

Issues to bitch about – as a class DKs have a very complex mix of resources to plan with – generate and use RP for some powers, but not others. It shits me. We have cooldowns on powers to ensure they cannot be spammed and be abused, but the DK class is as complex a beast that I’ve ever played (compared to Boomkin, Warlock, Tankadin, SPriest) in raids. i.e.

  • BattleRes requires Runic Power…why? This power is meant to be used to recover from a whoops moment, but often I cannot use it as I’ve just burnt RP doing DPS. Do druids have a mana/energy/rage cost to cast the bloody thing? No. What the hell.
  • Soul Reaper requires a Blood rune, with it’s own additional internal cooldown… why? Runes have cooldowns/regeneration already. Suggestion – take the blood rune requirement from it and let me spam it according to Blood Runes.
  • Outbreak alone is almost but not really enough to keep diseases up on targets when playing Frost (well the way  I play at least). This means using runes on “lesser” abilities. That is fine, but it is not as useful as it could be. Perhaps a tweak to cooldown? Not sure.
  • Bone Shield (blood) is not a fun and interesting mini-game. It is something to remember, which is just meh.
  • Blood Shield – as above.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Naxxramas Continue reading

Patch, Token, and Guild

It has been almost a week between posts, as a deliberate strategy to not smash a few folks in the head using text, to calm down a bit, and to reflect on what we’re about to get from Wow’s patch 5.2. The stupidity indicator in my mental framework was flashing warning yellow all last week, and moved to match the aggro indicator in red on Friday and Saturday. Nothing to post here except that I have maintained my intolerance for liars, thieves, and real estate agents (do real life things get an interest here from readers? - I’m not sure).

In good news our guild’s raid team is getting stronger again thanks to some players returning from hiatus and also switching back after looking for greener pastures. That is a minor compliment of sorts as I do not think many folks quite a guild then return, and it also shows that the remaining players are good enough to accept them back. Kind of proud of what our GM and the officers have built. Kudos to all folks, and welcome to the recent arrivals.

[ ... The angry part of my lizard-brain wants to suggest that some of these folks left guild for a reason and we're still the same people, and that it might open us to more drama. Well yes, you lizard bastard, shut it. I choose to see this as positive and good. Circumstances and people are not the same between two different days of the week. Do I judge a person once and keep that sentiment forever? Sounds like a path to a boring and unhappy life.

Lizard-brain is a term I stole from a sci-fi novel where the storyteller explains basic animalistic reactions we have like attraction, anger response, survival, and such as being powered by the lizard-brain rather than the reason. I really like it. Eat, food, lunch... ]

For the raid team it means strength and diversity. We are stronger is a very practical sense as I am hoping that the more casual players (myself included) will be able to be slackers again. I love raiding, but hate that I let the team down with an early finish time each raid. It is a pain for everyone. The advantage of having 12-13 players in a raid team vs 8-10 is irrefutable. I still plan to be online and sub-in when needed, but can slip away when I need to in prep for the early starting work day.

We also get diversity from (hopefully) adding more classes to our mix. We lack a regular Warlock and a regular Paladin in the raid team, two classes of the three on one of the tier tokens. This means that our resident Priest is bloody well geared in main and offspec. Good for him too I say, but sheesh we had a lot of Mages, Druids, Death Knights in the runs. We don’t have a lot of Rogues, but then does anyone?

Tokens – T15 tier tokens seem to be reusing the classes of the T14 Tokens. Well shit, that’s just poor. I was hoping against all historic precedent that it would be switched around for each Tier in Pandaria. yes, I know that is a bitch for some teams, but for us it means we’re over saturated in a few classes for the entire expansion.

The class mix is:

  • Token A – Rogue, Death Knight, Mage, Druid
  • Token B – Warrior, Hunter, Shaman, Monk
  • Token C – Paladin, Priest, Warlock

I maintain that the tokens should be for any class, and let the raiders divvy them around. But hey, I’m just a casual and don’t understand what “real” raiders want. Sarcasm.

Appearance wise I maintain that the DK tier set looks dumb. I’ll revise that in game when I see it on screen – for now the teeth look lost. The human figure looks like it is half eaten. The armour is also inelegant. Did the designers run out of skulls for Death Knight gear and have a heap of Hunter teeth left over? Perhaps they ordered too many.

A positive is that the models match our spec choices, which makes transmog use somewhat appealing. There – I said something positive about the dental mistake that T15 is for Death Knights.

T15-DK-Helms-nom-nom-nom-nom

(Help! I’m stuck inside this abstract sculpture of teeth, and all I have is floss)

Looking forward I am anticipating the T15 raids to be good. The hype machine has certainly been telling me that they are fantastic, and I’m happy to take that expectation to heart. The content devs have even been doing the promo interviews amongst the big blogs and shows to demonstrate how much of a push T15 has. It had a promotion vid and also an official video too. Effort has been made by Blizzard, will it be enough?

The smaller changes in Patch 5.2 are interesting too.

Old patterns becoming available from Blacksmithing is meh, as it added no additional raid patterns (meaning ilevel 476+) out of the gate. I have no use for an ilevel 463 item now, and now also cannot upgrade that item as the upgrade vendor has left. That means it’s LFR or nothing for the quick upgrades. Whatever – don’t argue it, I get it. It shits me that the system was offered in the first place to act only as a patch jump.

When we see T16 replace T15 the gear divide from new level 90 to raider will be even wider, and there is a likely scenario where new patterns and the upgrade vendor will return. A telling mistake in previous patches was the time to get from newbie through to raider very late in the expansion’s life. Plans can be made to mitigate that.

I’m also a bit underwhelmed by the Archaeology changes for the Klaxxi. Here is a race that used to serve and worship the Old Ones as gods when they were active on the planet, and the archy material is a few new items and some achievements? Lost opportunity to do fantastic stuff right there.

Heck, the entire last Tier could be Klaxxi + Garrosh with aplomb. Imagine if T16 is a hash of old gods and the rejection of Garrosh by the Horde. It stinks of a good story. Even better if Garrosh is not thrown out because of being corrupted by old gods, but because of his own ambition. Let Garrosh raise alone to attempt to rule all of Azeroth, let him burn all before him, let his drive for power and absolute rule be the force that compels his followers and emboldens his naysayers.

Actually now that I read that, leave the Klaxxi/Old Gods out of it, and lets see a true natural menace appear in the world again. Garrosh can be the return to a true evil overlord in the story. No cop-out corruption, or misguided passion for purity. Give me a downright evil bastard and I’d consider switching factions to Horde just to feel the story of betrayal. Perhaps T15 bosses will open a few stories when they start falling…

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew Continue reading