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

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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

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.

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.

Death Knight DPS spec change

dk-symbolA few posts ago I told folks that I’d be going Blood for dps in PvE in 3.1. And after a few runs it is just not fun, not my cup of tea. I find Blood dps messy, too opportunistic, and the rotations are intolerant of lag, and intolerant of interruptions. And that aint good.

I initially chose Blood as it was close to the diseaseless spec that I was using before that, but with or without DRW, UB, or any other combo – it just feels scattered. So my Blood vs Unholy choice comes out a strong Unholy.

My lag sits anywhere from ms 500 to 800, and in 10 and especially 25 man raids that means the UI is chugging to keep up, and my abilities do not fire with a sharp snap. Instead they tend to get queued, and sometimes fire and sometimes just disappear. The paranoid part of my brain says that Blizzard may have changed the way abilities get loaded to be even more optimised for great connections, but I have absolutely no proof of that. It just feels that way.

So now I’ve spec’ed back to Unholy for dps. Its odd, but Unholy dps feels good. I leveled as Unholy and the spec feels somewhat like what I have always expected. Like comming home. Unholy also seems more forgiving of lag, and the kind folks at EJ say that Unholy is also more forgiving of bad gear. Well my gear is good (thank you very much), and Unholy feels solid. Very very solid.

Key to my appreciation of the Unholy tree is:

  • the Improved Presence, where I can get the speed buff from Unholy while in Blood Presence. Almost all fights I see now have an advantage to having increased speed. 15% might not be much compared to Cats, but it counts.
  • Permanent ghoul, which costs nothing to summon and dismiss with the Glyph. That is a must have, and wonderful for Instance runs. I need to find a mod that tells me when my Ghoul is almost dead, so I can heal it, or wipe it for extar HP. (any ideas folks?)
  • Bone Armour gives a dps buff and slight help with inbound damage.
  • Disease spreading for AoE is stronger and Pestilance + UB is very strong AoE. Grated it blows a heap of runes really quickly, but thats the point. Unload a lot of AoE attacks early and then ping a target while the runes refresh.

The Death Knight is akin to a plate wearing Warlock, and unholy with perma Ghoul is as close as you get. It means that once again I switch my stats around a bit for more hit and AP rather than Crit (being as spell damage is from AP and spell hit). But hey, what raider does not regularly drop 100g a week in gems, patches, and enchants?

Performance wise I can’t tell you, yet. I think I’ve dropped a small amount of single target dps to gain a shit load of AoE capacity. If I get my rotations rolling and get lucky I don’t have to refresh diseases which means much more dps. If the Gargoyle was out at the same time, I think I’d be smashing mobs left and right.

And I can’t wait to see. Watch this space.

Unholy vs Blood Presence for PvE

Update (3 May 2011): Patch 4.1 has changed Frost Death Knights again, so now the use of Unholy presence is viable and desirable, but the jury is still out on exactly which circumstances require which presence. For now use Unholy for Frost, especially if you have a need for high movement.

Old info (9 March 2011): Cataclysm has totally changed the choice of which presence to use. Please do not use Blood Presence for DPS any more, its a Tank Presence now. I have written an updated post on this topic, but the content is repeated here.

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. 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.

Original post is below.

dk-symbolI ping’ed a question about Unholy vs Blood presence for Death Knights in PvE, to Skeleton Jack. The response left little doubt in my mind of his opinion.

Noted SJ, I won’t ask again. :)

heya SJ,

How about this old topic: Unholy vs blood presence, as a blood spec dk

I was doing HoA (? big boss that is a 4 minute dps race), and was told to switch from Blood to Unholy. Could the reason be the fight being very short? The reason I ask is that I thought that blood was better overall, and increased the damage on all abilities.

I’ll have to try some target dummies. And then I remembered you posting something along the lines of “blood always for dps pve” and it got me thinking.

cheers,

Andrew

The response goes:

DO NOT USE UNHOLY PRESENCE TO DO PvE DPS OR I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL BEAT YOU WITH A STICK!!!

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Unholy love for PTR 3.0.8 Notes

Overall I like this patch. Lots of changes, with the highlights that I like the most:

  • Death Knights on any Realm – does this mean you have a 55 on one realm, and then you create a 55 on another? If so that’s strange but good for allowing re-balance. Not that I need anothert DK, but its good regardless.
  • More graveyards is a good thing, and hopefully we get a few more places to run from in Northrend and Outland too.
  • Run speed while dead has been increased, yay.
  • Most of the DK changes are great, but a touch of love for the Frosty tanks might have been good. I can see the Unholy changes really helping, and I love the fact that Horn is now no cost and gives RunePower. I can’t see Gargoyle as a real option still, the RP cost is too high compared to chat the Ghoul can do.
  • Swipe for Feral cats at 71 is wonderful.
  • Tapping a target makes it yours, and any action that Aggros is a tap. Woot.

All the notes after the fold, and yes, I see the improvements while being dead as very worth while. Its part of how I manage Aggro. :)

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