Tag Archives: Death Knights

The Death Knight Number Shuffle

28 Oct

I am not a theorycrafter really. I have a basic idea of how the stats work for the classes, and why we want some more than others, but I couldn’t tell you the exact values, or how people determine them, or even a vague idea of how people decide how to determine stat weights. All that having been said, I do want to talk about Death Knight stats for a few minutes. Basically, I am going to go down the line and list what each stat does for us (for each spec), why we would want it, and why we would not want it. I’ve noticed a rather disheartening trend among all of the so-called “guide” sites (noxxic, mr robot, EJ, icy-veins) in that NOBODY is giving the same information to the community. This is a problem because if 4 people are getting their information from any of the 4 different sites, who’s to say who’s wrong or right?

Strength: Initially, I wasn’t going to mention it, but I feel the need to do so because I *still* come across some numbskull DKs rolling on Agility rings or trinkets or what have you. Strength is our base stat. Long gone are the days of DKs using agility weapons, because we get absolute shit for benefit from them. If a DK is using an agility weapon, they’re doing it wrong. Some people have the sort of “golden rule” about a 3-tier improvement making agi weapons allowable based solely on weapon damage increases alone, but I think that’s shit. If you’re a DK, you should have strength on everything. All three specs get 2 AP (Attack Power) per 1 point of strength.

Blood – Blood DKs get an added bonus of having a parry rate conversion from strength. Roughly 90% of strength is converted into parry rating. To put this into easier-to-digest terms, if an item has 100 strength on it, and you’re a blood DK, it’ll give you the equivalent of 90 parry rating as well.

Hit: This is a simple one to explain. Hit lets you hit things more frequently. Easy, right? The percentage to never miss a raid boss-level mob is 7.5% (2550 hit rating at 90, or 2210 hit rating if you’re a draenei)

Frost Dual-Wield – Any dual-wielding class has things a bit differently. They will notice two sets of hit ratings on their character sheet when they mouse over it. Innately, it takes something like 15% hit rating to completely hit cap (aka “white cap”. Every attack that has white damage numbers is an auto-attack, whereas if it’s yellow numbers, it’s an ability). It’s worth noting that NO dual-wielding class will pour enough stats into reaching white cap. They will stop at 7.5% (“yellow cap”, or “specials cap”). The amount of hit rating it takes to white cap simply take too much away from the your other stats to be worthwhile.

Expertise: This one is relatively simple to explain as well. Every creature in wow (player-controlled or NPC) has a built-in chance to dodge attacks, and most have a chance to parry them as well (not all PCs do). Expertise removes the chance you will be dodged or parried (in that order). Now, prior to MoP, expertise was handled a bit differently in that up to a certain point, it would push some of both dodge AND parry off the table. Since 5.0, it is much more simply done. There is a maximum of 15% expertise. 7.5% (2550 hit rating at 90, or 2210 hit rating if you’re a have sword/axe/mace specialization and are using the corresponding weapon) will completely push dodge off the combat table, and the next 7.5% will push parry off the table.

Frost/Unholy – It’s worth noting that NO creatures can parry from the back or sides. If you are frost or unholy (or any other melee dps class for that matter), you should *always* be behind the boss whenever physically possible. Since you’re ideally behind everybody, you never have to worry about parry, so you can safely stop at 7.5% expertise.

Blood – Now then, obviously tanks don’t get that choice. They’re always in front of the boss, and as such will get parried sometimes. With this in mind, as a tank, you’re probably NEVER going to go for the 15% expertise level. The reason for this is because Death Strike cannot be parried. Basically, the most important ability that factors in your survival stops at 7.5% expertise, so why go higher?

Haste: Haste is a funny thing for Death Knights. Actually, it’s been a funny thing for a lot of classes since 5.0, but that’s not what i’m writing about. Haste makes our weapon swing faster, that’s the obvious part. Haste also plays a part in our rune regeneration, so it’s something that has the potential to be a big deal for all of the specs.

Frost 2-handed/Unholy - Haste is the biggest stat for 2-handers. Because of the way things work currently, haste will contribute more runes for you to hit the big button (either obliterate or scourge strike) more often. It also contributes more, proportionally, to your swing speed since you start off with a much slower speed.

Frost Dual-Wield - Prior to 5.0, haste was the big deal for all three DPS specs, but it doesn’t work like that anymore… more on that later.

Mastery: Mastery continues to be an interesting stat to look at across the board for all three specs of Death Knight.

Blood – Mastery is the king of the frickin hill for tanks. Death Strike is your mainstay of survivability, and mastery increases the percentage of your death strike that gets turned into a shield. For instance, i’m currently sitting at about 130% mastery, so to put it in easier to digest numbers… if my DS heals me for 10,000 then I will generate a shield for 13,000.

Unholy – Sadly, mastery is kind of the bottom of the heap for unholy specced DKs, and i’ll tell you why. Haste not only contributes to your swing speed and rune regeneration, but it ALSO contributes to your minion’s swing speed. It double dips, sort of. Crit has the same thing in that it increases your crit, as well as your ghoul’s crit. Mastery increases shadow damage, and while a significant portion of YOUR damage is shadow damage, your minion does NOT deal shadow damage.

Frost - Frost is a funny thing. If you are a dual-wielding frost DK, then mastery is going to be your kingpin. With Frost Strike being your heavy hitter (and dealing actual FROST damage instead of weapon damage like Obliterate), then mastery just makes your hardest hitter… hit harder. Conversely, for the 2-handed frosty DKs, frost strike is a much lower portion of your damage overall, so you don’t benefit as much from mastery.

Crit: Crit is, by and large, a pretty simple stat that is worthless to 3/4 of the Death Knight specs.

Unholy – As I mentioned before, Unholy is the only spec that really gets any actual benefit from crit. It’s not a strong a stat for you as haste is, but it IS stronger than Mastery in that your minion will double dip from any extra crit you already have. It’s relatively useless for Frost because most of your crits are going to come from Killing Machine procs, and it’s even more useless for Blood because your job is staying alive, not putting out big numbers… although we ALL KNOW that you’re tending to do both right now. So why do you need crit anyway, huh? Greedy.

Dodge/Parry: This is only going to be found on tank gear. If you’re an unholy or frost DK, and you have either of these on your gear, then you are doing it WRONG.

Now then, to break it down, the varied specs stat priorities SHOULD look like this.

Blood – Hit/Exp cap* > Mastery > Parry** > Dodge > crit/haste.

*I know that in a previous post I said that 7.5% hit/exp may not be the best way to go for raiding, and in fact I still stand by that feeling. However, to be completely optimal, you DO want to eliminate all chance for death strike to miss, so 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise is the OPTIMAL way to go, but between 4-5% of each is definitely satisfactory.

**As it stands currently, Parry is more valued than dodge because we have a higher value of baseline dodge (with zero gear on). About twice as much, actually. That in mind, we want to have about twice as much parry as we do dodge, because it will take that much more for the diminishing returns to even out. It’s also worth noting that the 4% parry given from Rune of Swordshattering does NOT SUFFER from diminishing returns… it’s a free 4%.

Frost 2-handed – Hit/Exp cap > Haste > Mastery > Crit

Frost Dual-Wield – Hit/Exp cap > Mastery > Haste > Crit

Unholy – Hit/Exp cap > Haste > Crit > Mastery

It should be noted that these priorities COULD be wrong. They are based on what I know and understand about the various specs with my own personal experience, but I have no math to back them up because… well, honestly i’m not very good with the maths. I don’t have stat weights for any of these. They are just “X is better than Y” in black and white, because that’s generally how it works.

Mogu’shan Vaults gear for Blood DKs

19 Oct

Now that Mogu’shan Vaults has been live for a couple weeks, and everything is out on LFR, I figured now was as good a time as any to put together the next gear list for t14 raiding. I’ll make a new gear list for Terrace of Endless Spring and Heart of Fear in the near future (probably around the times that those hit LFR as well).

As always, I prioritize hit/exp and mastery on all my gear. Dodge and parry are still good stats, but mastery is the top of the food chain for DKs at the moment, and it doesn’t get any worse the better your gear gets like dodge/parry do (diminishing returns are a bitch).

I’m going to change it up a wee bit and go down the line boss by boss instead of by gear slot.

The Stone Guard:

Beads of the Mogu’shi – This one is pretty much the exact counter to the VP necklace, so if you find yourself needing more dodge or expertise, go with the drop. If you find yourself needing more parry or hit, go with the valor buy.

Jasper Clawfeet - These are clearly meant to be DPS boots, but the mastery still makes them desirable for us. Only take them if you’ve had absolute shit luck for boot drops, and you’re not taking them from a plate DPS who could put them to better use. The socket, and baseline mastery make them better than the Sha of Anger’s quest boots, but still… don’t take them from a DPS.

Star-Stealer Waistguard - This belt is just plain sexy. Two sockets (plus a third from the belt buckle) mean MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF MASTERY. Also, it comes with mastery on it. There’s no reason to bypass this belt. Roll on it and pray for lucky dice.

Feng the Accursed:

Bracers of the Six Oxen - These are about equivalent to the VP bracers, with the exception of the hit. If you need more hit, go with the VP buys, if not, go with the drop.

Gara’jal the Spiritbinder:

Sollerets of Spirit Splitting - If you’ve made it this far, these boots are worth waiting for, and definitely better than the Jasper Clawfeet off of Stone Guard.

The Spirit Kings:

Breastplate of the Kings’ Guard - This is another item, clearly meant for DPS (haste what ew), but is still pretty good for us, since it has buckets of mastery. There’s also a BIG number of haste to reforge into something more beneficial (296 rating to turn into dodge/parry/hit/expertise)

Shoulderguards of the Unflanked - Red sockets weird me out on tank pieces, but even still this is a good shoulder piece. No mastery in it though, which is a shame really.

Elegon:

Band of Bursting Novas - A pretty solid ring, which seems to be another slot that we are going to have trouble filling in this first raid. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Vial of Dragon’s Blood - This trinket is *awesome*. Seriously, loads of mastery, and a huge dodge proc, and nothing to use manually? *sexy*. I would burn multiple coins on this trinket if I could. Very amazing.

Starshatter - This being the only two-handed strength weapon puts us in an awkward place, because all the DPS warriors, ret pallies, and dps DKs will all be fighting over this weapon. Stand your ground though, because it is BiS for all of you (until Terrace and Heart are released anyway).

Will of the Emperor -

Chestguard of Eternal Vigilance - The only real tank drop off the final boss of Mogu’shan Vaults. At least it’s a pretty good one, but the red and blue sockets are still weird as hell to me.

 

Itemization continues to be a weird-as-hell thing coming into the first raid of this expansion. I did discover, arbitrarily, that about 90% of our strength is converted into parry rating, however. That would explain a lot of the “Strength” socket bonuses on tank gear i’m seeing lately, but it’s still just… REALLY weird I don’t even know. It seems like they’re trying to have something for everybody, and while that’s GOOD, it tends to make itemization weird for us DKs who prioritize mastery above the rest of the planet, compared to, say Prot Pallies who have a *really* weird stat priority system. (Apparently they like haste now? I don’t even know). Anyway, Terrace of Endless Spring and Heart of Fear are released in a couple weeks, so expect to see follow-up posts regarding those two raids in the near future!

Runeforging, and other things.

12 Sep

The other day, four Blizzard developers did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), similar to their twitter Q&As from a couple years ago. This allowed them to pick and choose through (what was undoubtedly) a mass influx of questions ranging from all topics. The full transcript, sorted by each dev’s answers can be found here, but I do want to make special mention of one particular question/answer combo (that should be) of interest to every death knight out there…

A while back you guys said that “Runeforging will get some changes to make it less boring.”, but we have yet to see or hear anything about this. Is this something still being looked into? Or was it scrapped entirely?

As with many things, if we can’t do something right, we end up not doing it (yet). We still aren’t close to satisfied with the Runeforging system as it currently stands, but we also didn’t have an overhaul to that system that we were happy with. It’s a feature we’re still discussing and working on.

So, naturally I have *no frickin clue* what they could do with Runeforging, but I do have an idea that they SHOULD implement.

For one thing, I think a “rune tracing” idea is long overdue. Something in the same line as enchanting scrolls have basically helped overhaul the profession entirely, rune scrolls could help overhaul runeforging entirely. But this would also generate a problem, if you get inside of Blizzard’s mind… This would make Acherus almost entirely redundant. The only reason anybody would go there would be to switch specs at some point. Honestly, is that such a bad thing? Do we really NEED Acherus anymore after we’ve broken free of the scourge at the Battle of Light’s Hope?  Personally, I would welcome a chance to never need to go back there again. My death gate spell isn’t even on my bars anymore (and honestly, hasn’t been in a long ass time). Last time I went back there? To runeforge my Gurthalak and Experimental Speciman Slicer. Last time I went there before that? When I unlearned my 2h frost spec and plugged a blood spec back in there (January maybe?)…

Now then, a lot of my search hits lately have come from people talking about “Blood Boil”.. I suppose that kind of makes sense, considering the title of an earlier post from a couple weeks back, but I’ve noticed a theme. A lot of people are saying (or at least google searching) that Blood Boil hits harder than Heart Strike, or that Blood Boil is overpowered, or that blood AOE is over powered, and varied and sundry other wordings, misspellings, and queries, exclamations, proclamations, and filth-ridden googleings that led people here.  I was pretty certain that I had touched on this before, but I realize that I didn’t give any sort of proof to back up my claims. This is where skada comes in. I tanked normal Dragon Soul the other night (wednesday), and these are the numbers I got from the entire evening… from the first trash pull just inside the doors, until we gave “Destroyer’s End” to a couple of 3rd or 4th alts.

I didn’t screenshot the numbers, Over the course of an entire DS normal run -

Blood Boil accounted for 6.5M damage, Heart Strike accounted for 3.6M.

BB had a smaller damage range (4.7k-33.6k), averaging 10.4k

HS had a lower minimum (1.8k) and a higher maximum (37.2k) with a higher average (14.7k)

Those numbers DO include Madness (i forgot to snapshot the numbers after spine), so they will be skewed a bit higher than normal, but the trend is going to be the same, at least at 85 with Dragon Soul normal gear (my DK is sitting at ilvl 394). Blood Boil does not hit harder than Heart Strike, and as such will not be preferable for single target other than when it’s free, or for refreshing diseases in between outbreaks. However, with HS’s limp-noodle-of-a-cleave, it IS preferable on 3+ targets though.

All that said, IS blood boil a little overpowered? Hrmm… maybe a bit, but I think it’s more that heart strike is UNDERpowered in comparison. HS just isn’t always a compelling enough choice to hit, even on single targets, because of the disease refresher mechanic. Of course, theoretically, you still have outbreak every 1 minute, so if you had REALLY bad luck with procs, you would only need to “force” a refresh every when it’s on cooldown, and then only once (because durations are hard).

The Big Book of Blood DKs

6 Sep

With 5.0.4′s recent release, and random spigots of incorrect or simply mistaken information, I thought that I would go and give a full on “How to Blood DK” guide for 5.0.4 and beyond (barring any weird changes that may be patched in). I shall warn you now… this may be a VERY wordy post. Also, this is geared to level 85s

“Wat buttan does I hit?”

Blood DKs abilities have changed very little from before-to-after 5.0, but the way you weave them into battle may be different than what you’re used to. Let’s start with our “rotational” priorities.

1st – Diseases (Frost Fever/Blood Plauge). These can be applied by either using Outbreak (1m cooldown), or Icy Touch and Plague Strike respectively. To be honest, you shouldn’t ACTUALLY be hitting Icy Touch/Plague Strike very often (more on that later). Any time you are facing any enemy, these diseases should be on them. Strive for as high of an uptime as you can possibly manage.

2nd – Death Strike (Blood Shield). Death strike’s purpose is two-fold. It heals back a percentage of damage we received over the last 5 seconds, (minimum of 7% of your max health), and creates an absorption shield equaling a percentage of the amount healed. (This absorption shield is made bigger by your Mastery stat, more on that later). Also, if you’re not actively tanking, the more death strikes you do, the bigger shield you have built up for when you have to take the boss back.

3rd – Free Blood Boils or Death and Decay – This is going to be a personal choice here. If your diseases have a long duration remaining, and Death and Decay is off cooldown, it is a dps gain to use it. If the diseases have less than half of their duration (under 15s), use Blood Boil to refresh them. The idea here is that free buttons are free damage, and free damage is never bad, except when it interfere  with your survivability (thus Death Strike ahead of BB/D&D).

4th – Rune Strike – Depending on which level 75 talent you picked, Rune Strike is always going to be what triggers it. More rune strikes means more regenerated runes, meaning more death strikes, meaning bigger shields and/or more healing.

5th – Heart Strike/spent Blood Boil – Heart strike is going to be where the majority of your actual blood runes go on single target fights. That said, because of Crimson Scourge, there is nothing wrong with using Blood Boil to refresh your diseases in between Outbreak cooldowns. Up to three targets at once, you’ll still want to use your blood runes on Heart Strike. More than 3 targets, and you can use them on Blood Boil.

6th (or whenever you have downtime) Horn of Winter – This gives you 10 runic power when you use it, and ensures that you’re always hitting buttons, as well as keeping the buff up (if you’re the one responsible for it… if you’re not, it’s still good for the free runic power).

Diseases > DS > Free BB/D&D > RS > HS/BB > HoW. Diseases are the most important to your survival because they apply the Weakened Blows debuff to any enemy, and reducing their damage output right from out of the gate is the single best thing you can do for mitigation. Death Strike is unique in it’s both reactive and proactive abilities. It heals you up, as well as gives you a shield (which only applies to physical damage, but it’s still very important). Blood Boil is simply a way to make sure your diseases are constantly rolling. Rune Strike is how you make sure you have as many runes returned through your regeneration gambits as possible. Heart Strike is purely a DPS button really. Horn of Winter keeps a buff up on your raid, and provides you a minor amount of RP, so you can rune strike more.

“OMG How I not die?!”

Death Knights have *absurd* amounts of defensive cooldowns at their disposal, and are easily one of the most survivable classes, both independently, and in a group situation. A well-played blood DK can keep a group going long enough on an unexpected healer death for that battle rez to fire off, whereas other tanks might simply melt away going “OMG HEAL ME NUB?!”

Icebound Fortitude – Reduces ALL damage taken by 50%, lasts 12 (3 glyphed) seconds. 3 minute (90 seconds glyphed) cooldown.

Anti-Magic Shell – Absorbs 75% (100% glyphed) of magic damage done, up to 50% of the DK’s health. Absorbed damage generates Runic Power. Lasts 5 seconds, 45 second cooldown. (Note: the tooltip says 50% of the DK’s health, and I assume it means 50% of the DK’s *maximum* health. I am looking in to it to be certain though).

Dancing Rune Weapon – Mirrors the DK’s attacks for 12s, and grants an extra 20% parry chance for the duration. 90 second cooldown.

Vampiric Blood – Temporarily increases max health by 15%, increases healing recieved by 25% (or, simply increases healing recieved by 40% glyphed) for 10 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.

Bone Shield – Reduces ALL damage taken by 20%, lasts 5 minutes or until 6 charges are depleted. 1 minute cooldown. (It’s worth noting that this no longer costs an unholy rune. It’s arguably worthwhile to just use this on cooldown, as it lasts a pretty solid amount of time)

Rune Tap – Converts 1 Blood (or death) rune into 10% of your health. 30 second cooldown.

Army of the Dead – Summons an army of ghouls over 4 seconds. While channeling, the DK takes % less damage equal to his dodge + parry chance. (so if you’re at 15% dodge, 15% parry, you take 30% less damage for those 4 seconds). 10 minute cooldown.

Empower Rune Weapon – Empower your rune weapon, immediately restoring all runes from cooldown, and giving 25 runic power. 5 minute cooldown.

No other tank, to my knowledge, has THIS MANY DIFFERENT BUTTONS you can hit when you’re in trouble, or when you know there’s trouble coming, or to recover from OH DEAR GOD SHITSHITSHIT moments. I included “Empower rune Weapon” in this list, because one of my favorite past-times (especially when soloing things) is to wait till i’m in trouble, hit Vampiric Blood, death strike twice, ERW, and death strike two more times. That will fill your health bar more than enough to let the healers stop hyperventilating.

“Wat gear does I wear?”

One of the things that 5.0 changed, dramatically, for death knights is the importance of hit/expertise. Previously, even if Death Strike was dodged, parried, or missed, we would still lose our runes and receive the healing/shield from it. Currently, that’s not the case, but to help combat this, Death Strike can now only be dodged, not parried. What this means to us, is that Expertise is important up to the parry cap. A lot of websites will show you some bizarro stat priority that is something along the lines of:

Mastery >= Stamina > Dodge/Parry > 7.5% Hit/7.5% Expertise.

I don’t entirely buy this line of thinking, and i’ll tell you why. If Mastery (blood shield) is our most important stat (and it is), then why do we place such a de-emphasis on hit and expertise. In very low gear levels at 90, it’s VERY possible that a death knight is going to find himself with absolute shit for hit and expertise. And this means that our mastery is useless because we’re going to get our death strikes missed and dodged all over the place, which DIRECTLY translates into our best survivability tool. So, why are we forsaking hit and expertise again?  Now, don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying we should completely forsake dodge and parry to reach hit cap either, but the trick is to find a balance. I recommend shooting for between 4-5% hit and expertise before loading up on the dodge and parry. Especially now at 85, our gear levels can readily sacrifice some dodge/parry for hit/exp without giving up survivability. For me, the more “realistic” stat priority is probably closer to this:

Mastery > 4% Hit/4% Expertise > Dodge/Parry >= Stamina > 7.5% Hit/7.5% Expertise.

You’ll also notice that I moved stamina down from being 2nd in priority. As it is, DKs already get a MUCH bigger stam bonus than other tanks do, so prioritizing it so high (in gems and enchants) strikes me a quite a bit wonky. I would put it roughly on par with dodge/parry, possibly even a bit below it. That may be more personal preference than the rest of the stats.

Blurring the line between DPS gear and Tank gear

When you’re looking for gear pieces, you always want to pick something that has either mastery, dodge, or parry. Occasionally, you’ll see pieces with Mastery/Hit, or Mastery/Expertise on them. Y’know what? I would pick those pieces up too. Mastery is STILL your highest valued stat, and ignoring that is just plain silly. Besides, I already gave you my opinion on hit and expertise over dodge/parry ;D. That said, your biggest tell might come from socket bonuses. If something has a red socket, with a strength socket bonus, it’s most likely meant to be a DPS piece (but not always! Stand up for yourself in your knowledge that YOU KNOW your stat priorities). I can show you several pieces right now (coming out in Mists) that have dodge or parry on them, but still have a strength socket bonus. Why? Who the hell knows, but there it is. Anyway, ignoring socket bonuses is a time honored tradition for tanks anyway, so feel free to roll need on that Exp/Mast gear, and load it up with the Fractured gem of your choice. All of that having been said, it is going to be up to your raid leader/loot council/whatever to decide if you need it more as a tank, or if the dps needs it more. Arguments can clearly be made in either direction here.

“How does I glyph?”

Glyphs are funny things these days. By and large, they are mostly a preference choice, or situational glyphs. So lets take a look at them starting with the major glyphs:

Anti-Magic Shell - this is pretty much the only one I would say is “mandatory” for tanks. Why take 25% of the magic damage, when you can take 0% of the magic damage? This is a no-brainer.

Dancing Rune Weapon - If you are having trouble generating threat, this one is a necessary glyph, but honestly unless you’re a fresh 85 running against DPS in full dragon soul gear, you SHOULDN’T have issues generating threat. The problem with this glyph is that it takes a couple globals to reach the 60 runic power needed for DRW, and you can’t rune strike while you’re banking that much. Since Rune Strike is our highest threat generating ability, this seems a bit… counter-intuitive. Situational at best.

Death Grip – An extra 5 yards of gripping range can be nice for you, but it’s hardly necessary. Preferential thing.

Icebound Fortitude - This is an interesting glyph choice, and can DEFINITELY be nice to have for situational boss fights. High damage in short bursts occurring regularly make this a nice glyph to keep in your book, along with some dust handy to throw in or remove depending on the fight.

Mind Freeze - We’ve spent all of Cataclysm with a 10 second interrupt cooldown, so 15 seconds probably feels weird as shit to us. This is a way to help combat that, some (reduces to 13s). I personally would *never* use this glyph because I am of the opinion that RP should be used for rune strikes. This will be another personal preference choice.

Outbreak – This is just a terrible choice for a glyph, if you ask me. Since Crimson Scourge was baked into a baseline talent ability, you should almost NEVER need this more often than every 60 seconds. Free blood boils that refresh diseases are one of the best things to happen to blood DKs in 5.0.4, and 40 RP is just way too high of a price to pay, for me, for having an ability i almost never hit after the start of a fight anyway.

Pestilence - This glyph has carried forward ever since the release of the DK class in Wrath, and ever since then, I have felt very hit or miss about this glyph. Is 5 extra yards useful? It can be, sure. Can it potentially get you into trouble as well? Sure. This glyph always has, and will always continue, to scream “personal preference”.

Shifting Presences - Another one of the nice, relatively unnoticed changes of 5.0 for DKs is that rune strike works the same way for blood spec, regardless of which presence you’re in. Now, of course, you lose stam and crit-immunity by shifting into frost or unholy presence, but you ALSO are far less likely to rip threat off your co-tank at inopportune times. This may be a worthwhile glyph to have for tank swap fights, but again, it’s all kinds of personal preference.

Unholy Command - This is a glyph I have grown to love the shit out of. Everytime your manage to get a killing blow, your death grip’s cooldown is reset. Chances are, you can strike one killing blow per trash pack, at least, so this glyph is SO awesome for 5-man groups.

Vampiric Blood - This is another glyph that has seen a great debate. A little bonus health, or some extra bonus healing? Guess what. This is a personal preference too. It always has been. Some people like having that 15% extra health as a buffer, some others like seeing the bigger green numbers over their head. It’s definitely something that’s worth keeping in your glyph list, just in case you wish to swap it out.

Are you seeing a recurring theme up there for the major glyphs? A lot of them are “Personal preference” or “Situational”. Hell *all* of them are, except for Anti-Magic Shell. This was Blizzard’s goal for overhauling glyphs, and I think it works beautifully for us. Now, let’s move on to the minors.

Actually, there’s only one minor glyph I really want to mention, because the rest are purely flavor glyphs (hooray for CORPSE EXPLOSION!)

Army of the Dead - I am of the opinion that every death knight in the history of ever should have this glyph in an active slot 100% of the time. Why? Well Army already doesn’t taunt raid bosses, so it’s not going to save THAT wipe. All it does is piss off the tank in 5-mans, and at worst, can cause you to play SPIN THE DRAGON, which leads to unnecessary breath damage and/or tail swipes. Get it, Glyph it, Love it.

“How does I talent?!”

I’ve already done several posts on the new talent tree, so I will try to keep this part somewhat brief. A lot of this is going to be (even more!) personal preference, or situational. Currently at level 85, this is the talent spec I am using. Generally, for progression, I will switch out Anti-Magic Zone for Lichborne to give myself *yet another* self-healing cooldown, but AMZ is generally more useful raid-wide on the fights in Dragon Soul.

For Level 15, on single target encounters, “technically” Plague Leech is the talent of choice, because it will let you rune tap on demand, and outbreak can drop diseases back on the target in a hurry. I stick with Rolling Blood, because right now, I just find it more useful. Also, it’s *amazing* to do some real AOE dps for once.

For Level 30, you probably want to avoid Purgatory until you have a *long* discussion with your healing team. In heavy profession I will switch out between AMZ and Lichborne. It depends on whether there’s more call for raid-magic damage, or tank painful ouchy damage. Personal choice here.

For Level 45, this is another personal choice, but I feel that Death’s Advance will, by and large, be your best bet the majority of the time. Asphyxiate is clearly meant as a pvp talent (and probably to stoke a bit of nerdgasms about force choking), so it’s usefulness is limited. Chillblains is situational at best, but there are other classes that are much better suited to kiting than a tank.

For Level 60, Death Pact is the clear winner. It’s a 2 minute cooldown (which lines up with your Summon Ghoul cooldown) and restores 50% of your health in one go. If you have 2 globals to pull it off, or you KNOW there’s a big hit coming that you can prepare for, this can be an absolute wipe saver. It really comes down to knowing the encounter. Death Siphon is wonky because it uses a death rune, and those are almost ALWAYS better used for Death Strike, and Conversion is just…. I don’t even know.

For Level 75, the debate rages on. I have become a big proponent of Blood Tap. I loves it. It feels so smooth in our rotation, and it’s a *smart* button, that you can macro into EVERYTHING. By “smart button” I mean that if there’s not a rune for it to regenerate, if you hit the button, it won’t waste those 5 charges. However, if you’re used to the rune-gaming that Runic Empowerment brings along, feel free to take that. There’s nothing wrong with either choice. RE has the *ability* to gain more runes than Blood Tap, but it also has the ability to gain less… this is part of the problem when dealing with RNG systems, and why I like Blood Tap so much. Your mileage may vary, of course.

“Wat is dis runeforge thing?”

Runeforging has never been a very complicated thing for DKs. There’s always been one choice for DPS, and one of two choices for Tanks, depending on several factors. This hasn’t changed any with 5.x. In spite of some reports to the contrary, Rune of Swordshattering still does not suffer from diminishing returns, and is a pure 4% parry chance. Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle is the rune that provides better effective health via stamina and armor. Both of them are perfectly legitimate options for tanks of all gear levels, and both of them continue to scale well with gear (although SSG might have a bit of a sharper curve. It starts off weaker at low gear levels, and improves much more strongly as your stamina and armor improve). There’s really not any wrong choice between the two, and you can pick either without looking like a nub. Don’t put Rune of the Nerubian Carapace on though… because I *will* point and laugh.

Now then. 3 thousand words on blood DKs, with changes more than likely to come at some point or another, and updates and yadda yadda. I felt like I had to put this all for several reasons.

A – Seriously, most of you people come here for Blood DK stuff, and end up looking at my posts that are several months old with outdated beta info.

B – I’ve been to several different “theory-heavy” sites, and not all of them say the correct things. Hell, not even all of them say the SAME incorrect things. I felt compelled to set the record straight on some things (BONE SHIELD DOESN’T COST A FUCKING RUNE ANYMORE PEOPLE. HOW DID NO ONE ELSE NOTICE THAT?), and give my own PERSONAL experience with others, instead of going with what the sims and theorycrafters have only pitted and postulated about. Empirical evidence. Or something, I dunno. (gimme a break, i’m running out of words here)

C – Navimie took a comment out of context, and now picks on me that I don’t care about my readers. Clearly this is not the case because I’M DOING THIS FOR ALL OF YOU AS MUCH AS MYSELF. In spite of this, she’s actually a VERY nice person… more on this at a later date.

D – I will admit to getting pretty excited when I see large amounts of blog hits, which I have been getting lately. I don’t write BECAUSE I WANT BLOG HITS OMG, but the traffic is a wonderful side effect, and it makes me feel good to know that people are giving a solid shit about what I have to say. Plus, I feel like my point of view, while not necessarily unique, has it’s own unique voice to lend to certain situations.

Suffer well, or something like that. In case you couldn’t figure it out, i’ve decided on my main for Mists :D

Soloing Things – Cataclysm Edition!

3 Sep

Pre-expansion boredom has continued to creep my general direction, so i’ve spent some time doing things I haven’t usually cared about. I did some archaeology and fishing on my druid (WEIRD right?). I found myself grasping for more THINGS to do to occupy my in-game time. I had dropped skinning on my DK in favor of mining, because a crit bonus for a tank is pretty useless, by and large, but a stam bonus isn’t terrible. Then it occurs to me that I will have *two* stam bonuses come MoP (actually, I do NOW too, but that’s neither here nor there honestly) from mining and scribe-only shoulder enchants. So, I was pondering dropping inscription for… something else. This is when it occurred to me that I never got my Therazane rep high enough to buy the enchants, because well… I was a scribe damnit, what do I need THOSE things for?  A quick check of the reputation pane showed me at honored. “Ugh, not even revered? I’ll have to fix that before tuesday.” So, I went and dug (and dusted off) my Therazane tabard, and had a thought… “Why not try soloing some of the level 85 normal mode dungeons?”

First stop was Grim Batol. The *real* boss here is the trash. Holy crapski does that stuff hit hard. On the plus side, you can wipe out a good portion of it with dragons AND… since you’re solo, you can ride more than one! (I only did one drake because I wanted to weaken it, but not kill it, because I don’t get rep for what the drake kills). A couple moderately painful trash pulls later, and i’m staring at General Umbriss. Umbriss was a piece of cake really. Good gear, and rolling blood to bring the troggs down fast, (plus LOTS of Crimson Scourge procs) avoid the Blitz charges and Ground Slams, and he’s dead before you know it.

Shambled my way towards the next boss, and the trash leading up to him *kicked my ass*. “Huh… I remember those guys hitting hard… this might take a bit of work.” After a brisk corpse-run, and jog back to where Throngus was pathing, I pulled the trash much more carefully. They still kicked my ass, but I lived through it. (Nicely timed interrupts, AMS, AMZ, the whole 9 guys. These packs are no joke) After healing back up, I waited for him to path back towards me, and pulled him. His first weapon-draw was Mace… For the hell of it I wanted to see if I could survive those hits. I *probably* could’ve, but it was just easier to kite him and death strike a couple times on the run-by, making sure I avoid cave-ins. After the mace was his shield. Simple enough to run around, and the arrows don’t hurt very badly either (i ended the shield phase at ~50% health, and could heal up quickly afterwords). Main thing to remember is to make sure he’s not near a cave-in area when he weapon-switches… Nothing worse than having to try and edge around perma-ground-AOE in order to attack him. Dual swords was the easiest by far. The debuff was laughable, and I’m not entirely sure he ever penetrated my blood shield with them. Another mace & shield phase, and he dropped like a rock. Then one more pack of those god-forsaken casters with the Ettin chained up. I learned from my earlier mistake, though, and killed them without TOO much pain.

I honestly didn’t think I would be able to solo Dragha at all. I fully expected that the fire elementals would blister me beyond healing, but honestly it wasn’t terrible. Well timed Anti-Magic Shells (about every other elemental), and simply saving a couple death strikes for AFTER the explosions you can’t AMS through made it not terrible. When Dragha gets on Valiona, the damage goes up a bit, but not terribly so. Make sure you don’t stand in the shit on the ground, and you should generally be fine. This is all about timing and self-heals. Also, Valiona didn’t do her giant breath attack… not sure if that’s a bug or intentional, but I was grateful either way.

After Dragha, the trash is painful. The empowered elementals can really mess you up if you’re not paying attention. There was actually one point where I dropped down to 42 HEALTH. Not 4200, not 42000, but 42. Period. Anyway, Careful pulls lead me to Erudax, which turned out to be a much easier fight than I expected. Chains of Ice the solo add that comes out after Shadow Gale, and make sure you’re standing in the safe spot when it happens.  Congrats, you just soloed Grim Batol. Don’t you feel special? Pat yourself on the back (I sure as hell did).

After Grim Batol, I went to Lost City of the Tol’Vir. (I should note that I didn’t *mean* for talking about GB to end up so long, but there it is anyway. LC will be much shorter, because I said it will). The trash in Lost City is nothing to write home about. Pretty tank and spank, kill casters first, watch out for the pygmy firebreathers, yadda yadda yadda. The first boss, General Husam is also surprisingly straightforward. Don’t stand in the bad shit, and… well, don’t stand in the bad shit. Shocker.

Lockmaw is also a lot easier than I expected. The poison dot that he puts on you is easily healed through via death strike, and the baby alligators are blown up pretty simply with a couple well timed blood boils to keep diseases rolling on them. Enjoy your croc-skin boots, and move on, there’s nothing to see here.

High Prophet Barim is easy, but a rather long fight. The first phase is basic “don’t stand in bad shit”, and the damage taken is pretty low overall. The second phase (shadow phase?) is what makes this fight long. Killing the spirit is relatively easy, but you have to constantly move him around the floor the entire time. Since you’re SOLOING this place, you’re the only person that’ll get soul fragmented, so letting them catch up to you and go kaboom can probably wear you out pretty well, just keep moving. Backwards walking is enough, since the fragments move slowly and don’t move for several seconds after they first spawn.

Once you’ve killed Barim, hop up to face Siamat… I should warn you now, this fight is *hard*. Luckily, DKs are uniquely suited to handling this fight. Even still, expect to take lots of damage, and almost die a couple times. Pull the boss, kill the adds. Use your AMS liberally(since you can’t interrupt the damn adds), and burn the adds down as quickly as possible. Rune tap as much as you can, cause your health will fluctuate lots. When Siamat himself becomes damageable, go all out. Ignore the others. Siamat, himself, doesn’t hit for very much physically, but he continues spawning adds that will lightning bolt you throughout. At this point it’s pretty much a race to the finish. Heal yourself as much as possible, use your cooldowns (don’t forget about Empower Runic Weapon! That’s as much a survivability CD as it is a DPS one. 4 death strikes under vampiric blood can account for LOTS of health). If you’re good, use your CDs properly, and maybe a bit lucky, Siamat will fall before you. This fight is honestly about cooldown usage above anything else.

5.0.4 makes my blood boil!

29 Aug

Okay… I hope you’ll pardon the pun in the title. I’m actually quite thrilled at the DK changes i’ve run across. Crazy amounts excited about the blood DK changes. I spent some time playing with it last night, and some little things REALLY caught my attention that just made me happy. A lot of them are tiny little quality of life issues, but still, some of them are just AWESOME.

I went in and blew through Naxx 10 solo, just to get a feel for things. Initially, I was going to play around and test out the different rune regeneration talents (level 75 tier). The first one I went to check out was Blood Tap, and the first boss I went after was Patchwerk. I gotta be honest guys, after doing Patch with Blood Tap on, I was sold. I didn’t even WANT to try Runic Empowerment (because I already know how it feels, it’s what blood’s been using ever since release). Macroing Blood Tap into all of your main abilities really is the ONLY way to regenerate runes guys. It is so smooth and seemless…. it’s just awesome.

Another thing that I hadn’t really paid attention to before, but made itself ABUNDANTLY clear when fighting Patchwerk… Crimson Scourge is now baseline for blood DKs. Previously it was a talent that we didn’t really pick up because… well blood boil was kinda worthless, even with that extra damage. Well, now I can freely admit that blood boil STILL doesn’t hit very hard, but now, they’ve made a pretty big changed to Scarlet Fever… For those of you playing along at home who AREN’T clicking on links… Blood Boil now refreshes diseases.

Let me say that again, in case you just skimmed over it without paying much attention.

Blood boil. Now. Refreshes. Diseases.

Holy batshit you guys, that’s amazing. Not only does it solve the problem generated by moving Outbreak back to a 1 minute cooldown across the board, but when combined with the Scarlet Fever passive, it means that our diseases pretty much will NEVER fall off the target. Why’s that? Because you ALWAYS have blood runes to get rid of. The *easy* answer is that you can simply replace heart strike with blood boil, but that’s a relatively inelegant solution (although perfectly viable). Ideally, you’ll want to use heart strike as much as possible, only spending a rune on blood boil if your diseases are JUST about to fall off and you don’t have a proc. It is possible, but probably won’t happen that often. Generally, save runes for heart strike, and CS (Crimson Scourge) procs for blood boil.

Now, a caveat to the above statement. Crimson Scourge *also* gives you a free death & decay. It doesn’t reset the cooldown on it, but it’s extra damage. This is one of those things that Blizz gives you a way to seperate yourself from the pack. It’s perfectly acceptable to do nothing but blood boil. Your diseases will guarantee to never fall off, and you’re only sacrificing a modest amount of DPS. But the DK tanks who can properly weave in heart strikes, and even Death and Decay (I confirmed that it DOES do more damage, even on a single target at zero vengeance, than blood boil) properly will squeeze out that extra bit of dps. With the way vengeance no longer has a cap, I suspsect that it’ll become more and more significant as the content you run becomes harder.

Now… The other thing I noticed while playing, that I hadn’t noticed before, was the Scent of Blood change. Interestingly enough, this accrues with *every* auto-attack swing. This will be a little more curious to see how it plays out in the grand scheme of things, but I suspect that some of the absolute “Best of the Best” tanks will somehow find a way to time their death strikes properly after getting a couple stacks of this. Big damage incoming? Stave off the Death Strike for a bit and get a couple charges. Take the big hit, heal yourself back up massively, watch the healers go “wait what just happened?”, laugh yourself silly. Fun times for everybody!

This ties in to my (ever ongoing) indecision on which class i’m going to play for Mists. I figure I will spend a week on each toon (druid and DK), exclusively. Raid tank with it, run 5-mans with it, the whole shebang. At the end of each week, I will post my overarching thoughts, and then I will compare the two. My comparison may go into another blogpost, it may not… I haven’t exactly decided yet.

By the way… Pretty much ALL THE TIME, my DK will be on the Headless Horseman’s mount. LOOK AT MY HORSE, MY HORSE IS AMAZING!

MoP Rep Gear – Bears & DKs

25 Aug

So when writing my gear lists last week, I stumbled across something unexpected. It turns out that there are 4 factions who have rep gear, purchasable with VP, that is 489 ilvl epics. Of course, these are probably going to be gear pieces you would be interested in, but which factions have the best pieces for you? Which factions should you focus on, or ignore?

It’s worth noting that each of these factions ALSO have ilvl 450 blue gear, that is purchasable with JP at honored. It’s possible that you may run across honored without even trying, so these may be an early, good way to boost your ilvl getting ready for heroics as well. I will mention each faction, and what they offer to both DKs and bears, much in a similar way that my other lists were formatted, except they will be by faction instead of by gear slot.

Golden Lotus - In addition to some nice gear, the Golden Lotus also have mounts purchasable at exalted. Win!

Guardian Druids – Bears *really* clean up with the Golden Lotus. The 489 shoulders and chestpiece are about as nice as you can find outside of raiding (and would probably only be replaced by tier pieces. I haven’t honestly looked at tier itemization yet). Also, feel free to pick up the ring. Haste may be garbage, but jewelry has always been one of those hard to find, harder to replace pieces.

Surehand Grips – 450 gloves. Crit/Mastery, no socket.

Amulet of Swirling Mists - 450 neck. Haste/Mastery, no socket.

Mogu Rune of Paralysis – 450 trinket. 751 mastery, stun use.

Imperion Spaulders – 489 shoulders. Hit/Crit, yellow socket (60 agi)

Softfoot Silentwrap – 489 chest. Hit/Expertise, blue/yellow socket (120 agi)

Anji’s Keepsake – 489 ring. Hit/Haste, no socket.

Blood DKs – The weird itemization we saw in heroic blues continues on here for DKs. Why they have strength as a socket bonus on a clearly-tank item is beyond me. Perhaps they changed the Str-to-Parry conversion rate to make it far more attractive… I dunno. Anyway, Either 489 chest will work out for you, just depending on which you prefer to have more of. It probably would be worthwhile to pick up both and swap them out according to what feels better to you.

Serrated Forearm Guards – 450 wrist. Expertise/Mastery, no socket.

Gorget of Usurped Kings – 450 neck. Dodge/Hit, no socket.

Mogu Rune of Paralysis - 450 trinket. 751 mastery, stun use.

Cuirass of the Twin Monoliths – 489 chest. Dodge/Expetise, blue/yellow socket (120 str)

Dawnblade’s Chestguard – 489 chest. Hit/Expertise, blue/yellow socket (120 str)

Shoulders of Autumnlight – 489 shoulders. Dodge/Expertise, yellow socket (90 stam)

Alani’s Inflexible Ring – 489 ring. Dodge/Parry, no socket.

Shado-Pan – The Shado-Pan also have some mounts purchasable at exalted. The cloaks alone make these guys worth working on until revered, at the very least… besides, their mounts look effing SWEET.

Guardians – I know the “Hawkmaster’s Talon” has a kind of bunk on-use ability, but that much agi is hard for anybody to pass up, and it would be well worth a pick up on fights where you spend a lot of time DPS-bear’ing instead of actively tanking.

Tough Mushanhide Leggings – 450 legs. Hit/Mastery, no socket.

Mark of the Dancing Crane – 450 ring. Crit/Haste, no socket.

Red Smoke Bandana – 489 head. Hit/Mastery, meta/blue socket (180 agi)

Lao-Chin’s Liquid Courage - 489 trinket. 1619 stam, 15s mastery use.

Hawkmaster’s Talon – 489 trinket. 1079 agi, 15s haste use.

Blackguard Cape – 489 cloak. Hit/Mastery, no socket.

Blood DKs – Nothing special here really. I’m surprised to see such a big stam socket bonus on the helmet, but I expect that’ll be corrected sooner or later. Again, this is still beta.

Thunderstone Ring – 450 ring. Parry/Hit, no socket.

Yi’s Least Favorite Helmet – 489 head. Dodge/Mastery, mega/blue socket (270 stam)

Lao-Chin’s Liquid Courage - 489 trinket. 1619 stam, 15s mastery use.

Yi’s Cloak of Courage – 489 cloak. Parry/Mastery, no trinket.

The August Celestials - More awesome (flying!) mounts that kinda remind me of Mushu. These guys have your “stepping stone” blue cloaks before picking up the 489′s from the Shado-Pan.

Guardians – Nothing particularly noteworthy here. It would figure that somewhere along the line we would have a VP purchase with haste on it… Arginfriggin boots.

Bladesong Cloak – 450 cloak. Crit/Haste, no socket.

Refurbished Zandalari Vestment – 450 chest. Haste/Expertise, no socket.

Fingers of the Lonliest Monk – 489 gloves. Expertise/Mastery, no socket.

Quilpaw Family Bracers – 489 gloves. Hit/Crit, no socket.

Tukka-Tuk’s Hairy Boots – 489 boots. Hit/Haste, no socket.

Blood DKs – Standard valor point gear here. Nothing spectacular to see.

Cloak of the Silent Mountain – 450 cloak. Parry/Expertise, no socket.

Leggings of Ponderous Advance – 450 legs. Crit/Mastery, no socket.

Battle Shadow Bracers – 489 wrist. Parry/Hit, no socket.

Gloves of Overwhelming Swarm – 489 gloves. Parry/Mastery, no socket.

Yu’lon Guardian Boots – 489 boots. Dodge/Parry, no socket.

The Klaxxi - This appears to be one of the few factions that has level 90 weapons for sale with rep, and the only place that the Alliance can get a scorpion mount. They do have the 489 necklaces for sale as well, so they’re definitely worth sinking time into.

Guardians – The belt is weird, with a crit rating socket bonus, but whatever. Drop whatever kinda gem you like in there.

Cruel Mercy Bracers – 450 wrist. Crit/Mastery

Choker of the Klaxxi’va – 489 neck. Hit/Crit, no socket.

Dreadsworn Slayer Legs – 489 legs. Crit/Mastery, red socket (60 agi)

Klaxxi Lash of the Borrower – 489 belt. Crit/Mastery, blue socket (60 crit)

Blood DKs – The Klaxxi are weird, in the direction of tanks. They have mastery on two pieces of plate that are clearly meant for DPS. Take your pick, I suppose.

Chestplate of the Stone Lion – 450 chest. Hit/Mastery, no socket.

Klaxxi Lash of the Consumer – 489 waist. Parry/Hit, blue socket (60 parry).

Kovok’s Riven Legguards – 489 legs. Dodge/Expertise, red socket (60 str).

Paragon’s Pale Pendant – 489 neck. Parry/Hit, no socket.

In general, this is your basic, JP/VP gear list, with the added oddity of needing rep to buy these items as well. In addition  to that, the JP pieces are lower ilvl than what you get from heroic dungeons… VERY weird if you ask me, but whatever I suppose. I’m not sure how it’ll work out, by and large, but I assume either people will buy these items or they won’t. I suppose it doesn’t much matter anyway, because when the second full content patch of MoP comes out, we’ll be largely ignoring these items anyway.

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