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

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

Frosty dps tip

Aside

dk-symbolQuick note – Recently the 2-hander dps cycle for Frost started to make more sense, and the extra bit that “clicked” was sometimes needing to wait rather than mash buttons (I love mashing buttons). When KM procs and the next Obliterate or Frost Strike will be a crit, but due to resource cooldowns and various random things the Obliterate ability is often not usable, but Frost Strike is. Generally I would hit Frost Strike if OB was more than 3 seconds away.

What made this frustrating is that sometimes the FS would trigger OB to come up, or the OB might seem it was 4-6 seconds away, and then snap to ready a second later. Meaning maybe I should have waited. Recently I said “stuff it” and started waiting. It has made a small difference, I think a slight DPS increase.

What is really hard is altering the “muscle memory” of the frost style to not snap that FS button. My finger literally hesitates over the button now, and I’m trying to re-train my fingers so that I’m mashing OB first, or better yet – not mashing at all. Some folks will say dps is easy, but not all Dps is easy; sometimes the hardest thing is not doing what you’ve trained yourself to do. Unlearn.

So it was worth it – the advice from EJ and such as always been to do this, just that its easier to read than actually implement.

Happy Killing

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Mortigen, back in the old days in Dalaran. When Naxx v2.0 gear was awesome, no transmogs were around, and we walked to school in the snow, uphill, etc.

Which? Unholy vs Frost presence for PvE DPS

Aside

In the 5.0.4 Mists changes again the style and some of the details for Presences for DKs. All the detail of the changes can be put aside as the rule remains unchanged from Cataclysm: All PvE DPS DKs use Unholy Presence.

If you wish to know more about the changes then I highly recommend the summary threads on the EJ forums, as they are concise and clear. In fact the thread covers far more than just the presence, it gives good reasons for most recommendations, and tells you when the choice is immaterial. Go forth and commit mayhem. Continue reading

Lichborne’s DK Summary

Aside

The wowinsider Lichborne collum has a snappy summary of the outcomes from the Beta for Death Knights as they stand now. Hop across and read, it is a reasonable summary and the comments grant perspective.

What I took away as interesting from the information was that Frost is going to remain as a two option spec, where dual wield and two handed weapons are options. Honestly I’m not so sure that I care for two handed Frost specs, but there are many circumstances where a diversity might be advantageous – such as balancing the needs of pvp vs pve for the DK specs. It seems to be heading in the right direction. That said, if it assists with greatly reducing the balance issues, then kill 2H Frost.

Counter to that, if 2h frost were to become “the most” useful spec for pvp due to some tweaks to the abilities (as much as I hate re-tooling pve for pvp aspects), then pve players still have Unholy 2H and Frost dual wield as selections. Lock in the roles, and allow pve and pvp selection to be readily viewable by presence and selection of weapon – Warriors have that locked in now anyway. Continue reading

Frost and Unholy Gear Guide for 4.2

Orcish Army Knife has a really good summary of gear for Frost and Unholy Death Knights, updated for patch 4.2. Just thought I’d share it in case there are some DKs who have not found it.

Why is it good? Well you can plan where you will get your upgrades from.

For example my only Wrist upgrade is either PvP, or a BoE drop, or one boss drop. So I purchased it now rather than waiting to get lucky. Sure, I needed to spend 12000gp on it, but it will be my wrist slot item until we are in the next content release, as I doubt I’ll get lucky with Lord Ry’s drop rate on wrist items.

Frost DK update for 4.1

The patch updates from 4.1 for the Death Knight class has changed Frost dps significantly. A Frost DK should review the new EJ notes which seem accurate to my quick testing (repeat wiping on Neferian) in last night’s raid.

Important updates:

  • Blood Strike is now removed from the rotation / priority, as Blood of the North gives Frost Death Knights all their Blood runes as Death runes. I love this, it feels so much better to be managing one less resource, and instead trying to balance the use of those extra runes for Obliterate strikes.
  • Unholy presence is now the default presence. This changes all the previous information for DPS as Frost, and is probably the biggest change in the update. It may also not stay that way, depending on what the percieved issues are with the Frost presence being almost redundant. I also really like this as it gives a great movement boost, which so many raids need. It is however still a huge debate in progress, being based upon all sorts of parses of combat logs. It may be that in a stand and spank fight the Frost presence might pull ahead, rather than Unholy presence which is excellent for movement fights. My bias is based upon doing kiting and high movement fights. I’d expect that eventually an optimal will be found.
  • Check your Glyphs, especially the Hungering Cold glyph. I’m finding that as Frost DK my job is often to kite something, so this glyph is very powerful as you can ignore the normal resources needed to trigger it. I’ve changed from the standard build to have better CC options for our raid, and hopefully the increased control will be a suitable compensation for a reduction in dps.

Still to test is which of the off-spec talents are actually better, give the balance of diseases increased duration vs the persistent dps increase from other talents.

Unholy vs Frost presence for PvE DPS

A quick note to help clarify something obvious. Cataclysm has totally changed the choice of which presence to use. We are in a new and highly logical world where the two choices are Frost or Unholy. Please do not use Blood Presence for DPS any more, its a Tank Presence now.

Update 26-Sep-2011: Use Unholy presence for DPS. The rest of this post is based upon old information, and has changed. I would not expect an update to this now until after patch 4.3, or even in the next expansion.

From now onward the choice of DPS presence is between Frost and Unholy. Generally if you are an Unholy DK, then use Unholy Presence especially where fights require a lot of movement. When doing AoE where you have time to switch out of Unholy, and will not be moving back to single target quickly you can switch over to Frost Presence.

Also if you’re a Frost DK then use Frost presence for dual-weild and Unholy for using a two handed weapon (see links for proof). This is a deliberate change in style so that the spec matches the presence.

So the DPS rule is now: 2h weapon = Unholy, x2 single handed weapons = Frost.

I posted a long time ago in Wrath about which presence to use, but that post is now totally out of date. I’m posting this now because my old post still gets a lot of traffic and it needs to be corrected, and also because I’m starting to play a DK again and I’m having to retrain myself as well. Heck – I still switch to Blood sometimes by habit.

Apologies if this is stating the obvious. Happy Killing.

DK Gear from patch 3.3, Frost Emblems

Critical note: Justice points will make this table totally different, and you’ve got till early Oct (my total guess) to buy them using Emblems. Don’t asssume that the point change will make ilevel 264 gear cheaper! (source)

Reposted from my post at DK.info, here is a list of DK gear by Emblem type:

Building upon the regular gear guides, and the forum post for BiS for 3.2 by Futhark; here is a set of gear lists for items added in patch 3.3.

Updated list of the gear available from emblems, adding Frost emblem items for both PvE DPS and Tanking.

Slot Item EoH EoV EoC EoT EoF
Head Scourgelord Helmet dps         95
  Scourgelord Faceguard tank         95
  Helm of Thunderous Rampage       75  
  Thassarian’s Helmet of Conquest       50
  Conqueror’s Darkruned Helmet     58  
 
Shoulders Scourgelord Shoulderplates dps         60
  Scourgelord Pauldrons tank         60
  Pauldrons of Trembling Rage       45
  Thassarian’s Shoulderplates of Conquest       30
  Valorous Scourgeborne Shoulderplates   60    
Chest Castle Breaker’s Battleplate dps 264         95
  Cataclysmic Chestguard tank 264         95
  Scourgelord Battleplate dps 251         95
  Scourgelord Chestguard tank 251         95
  Thassarian’s Battleplate of Conquest       50
  Conqueror’s Darkruned Battleplate     58  
Legs Scourgelord Legplates         95
  Scourgelord Legguards         95
  Thassarian’s Legplates of Conquest       50
  Legplates of the Violet Champion     39  
  Valorous Scourgeborne Legplates   75    
 
Waist Malevolent Girdle dps         60
  Verdigris Chain Belt tank         60
  Belt of the Singing Blade     28  
           
Hands Scourgelord Gauntlets dps 251         60
  Scourgelord Handguards tank 251         60
  Gatecrasher’s Gauntlets dps 264         60
  Gauntlets of the Kraken tank 264         60
  Thassarian’s Gauntlets of Conquest       30
  Bladebreaker Gauntlets     28  
 
Feet Bladed Steelboots   40    
 
Wrists Wristbands of the Sentinel Huntress   60    
 
Neck Spiked Battleguard Choker     19  
           
Back Might of the Ocean dps         50
  Sentinel’s Winter Cloak tank         50
  Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak   25    
           
Relic Sigil of the Hanged Man dps         30
  Sigil of the Bone Gryphon tank         30
  Sigil of Virulence       25  
  Sigil of Awareness   25    
 
Trinket Herkuml War Token dps         60
  Corroded Skeleton Key tank         60
  Mark of Supremacy       50
  Shard of the Crystal Heart       50
  Mirror of Truth 40      
 
Ring Bloodshed Band       35
  Ring of Invincibility   25    

Note: The searches are very easy to custom create using WoWHead’s item filtering. By way of example, this is is all items usable by a DK which are purchasable with Emblems of Frost.