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

A wee bit of Tanking

We ran through MV last night and due to some silly guild happenings we were a few folks short. We were able to grab a darn excellent Shadow Priest via pugging, to fill the roster. As an aside it was well beyond my expectations to find somebody who has experience on 2-3 characters in MV and is also polite and intelligent. From a pug no less. Its like it 2009 all over again.

Missing a few players might be bad news sometimes, but last night I chucked on my Blood set and mashed the DeathStrike button through the Mogu’shun in a manner to make the designers cringe. I’m sure that I didn’t walk-taunt-move-stay-still enough in some parts, and the mechanics are still gibberish to me in the later bosses. Our regular Blood DK gave me all the help I needed by prompting for each taunt, and while I can normally see a debuff or action from which he is reacting to, last night it was tough to spot.

A few hours of killing, only a few wipes, at an even pace we had all but the last boss dead and unfortunately I hit the “in-home” enrage timer just after 11pm, and had to end the run. Frustrating to not down the Emperors after all that, but then we did start a little later than expected and they’ll be standing there till we come back.

I’m also pissed off that Elegon did not drop anything useful for me that I could bid on. There was plenty of Plate gear that dropped, but nothing for upgrades either way. Selfishly, I’d have liked a two-hander to replace the crappy Blue I’m still using. Or it would be nice to see an end to the fun mini-game of waiting for the Plate Wrist dps to drop too. Love randomness, its so fun.

Three fat Mogu staring at a dinner plate?

New t14 set bonuses

Tier 15 death knight DPS bonuses are now (ptr): better.

Death Knight T15 DPS 2P Bonus – Your attacks have a chance to raise the spirit of a fallen Zandalari as your Death Knight minion for 15 sec.

Death Knight T15 DPS 4P Bonus – Your Soul Reaper ability now deals additional Shadow Damage to targets below 45% instead of below 35%. Additionally, Killing Machine now also increases the critical strike chance of Soul Reaper.

Thoughts are:

  • dps-2 – A freebie ghoul is cool, however the degree by which this is actually useful and effective is subject to each encounter’s mechanics. The base dps increase might be good, but that will be subject to stuns, movement, tricks, special roles, etc. It is a bit meh, but I can see some use.
  • dps-4 – An increase to Soul Reaper is great, especially with the crit chance increased. Sounds darn good.
  • Both – it is good that both abilities are not granting a special extra button/ability – I hate that. The change in play to use Soul Reaper is something that we’ll see wash up as a boost, and I suspect it will be a great boost. Fights where there are many things to sequentially kill (Garalon’s legs) really shine for SR.

Image of DK T15 Armor Set

Aside

Well an image, straight from MMO Champion. Thoughts?

I hope it get “refined” a little, because I don’t understand what the intend of the armor is.
Also its odd that the armor would leave the back of the neck exposed, but perhaps its just highlighted because of the contrast. And odd that the Human model can’t actually see out of the “creature” mouth.

And perhaps the two huge teeth/horns might be the wrong way up. And there are no creature features except teeth and horns. Stuff it, I’m just being grumpy. Not sure. I’ll say one thing, its better than the T14, which is not overtly difficult.

Mathy question on DK set bonuses and gear item levels

dk-symbolOn first drop I was stoked – the tier gear is something that I crave due to the old days when the BiS gear was almost always Tier only, and all the rest of the gear was a poor shadowy reflection of the Tier gear. And the Tier generally was a great looking matched set and transmog was still a gleam in the lead dev’s eye.

I had the pleasure of getting a few Tier tokens from kills (four items in two weeks – DPS LFR Chest and Normal Gloves, and also LFR Chest and Gloves) and now have a ponder-some issue for DPS gear is due to a difference in item level between my current Chest item (489), and the Raid Finder DK set Chest (483).

TLDR = To get the Tier 14 2 set bonus I have to drop the chest item level down 6 item levels. Is the set bonus of +10% damage to key dps abilities better than 6 item levels of stats other stats?

I’m really not sure. It is likely an overall dps loss, but if so by how much? Does that DPS loss become mitigated by the 4 set bonus if I can get those drops instead? Hmm.

In thinking through the solution I compared the 489 Tier 14 with the 489 Breastplate I was using and they are almost on par, with the current one (King’s Guard) a smidge ahead. This however does not include the benefit of adding either of the Tier bonuses themselves, which I’d argue makes the Tier Breastplate at 489 better.

By comparison the items show a clear difference, which is to be expected with 6 ilevels.

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Left is the LFR T14 Chest, and the right column shows the 489 King’s Guard chest.

Overall gains of 62 Str, 590 Mastery, and 186 Haste vs the 694 Crit is the point of differentiation, as the Stamina and Armor is moot.

So then I thought to apply the stat weightings for  Frost DKs via Wowhead. The goal was to see what difference for teh item alone was, in terms of marginal upgrade or significant upgrade.

This showed the combined weighting value of 156,784 pts for the T14 LFR Chest, and 161,280 for the 489 Chest; meaning a difference of only approx 3% in the two items. Ignoring that this is probably not the way to use item weightings (?) it shows that the LFR item is only a minor downgrade.

It also made me realise that even if I know what the weighting is for the items themselves, I do not have a dps value to compare too, as I cannot ratify a specific DPS figure increase against items level without a set of repeated simulations (like SimCraft).  I don’t know a way to settle what the difference is. Fark. Continue reading