Tag Archives: Talents

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

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!

DK talents, Just in time for 5.0

1 Aug

It has been a while since i’ve broken down the DK talents, and some things have made me rethink some of my earlier positions on them, so i’m going to give it a go once more. (Also, I will freely admit that I am *still* staggered by the amount of blog hits I get on my older DK talent breakdowns, so I figured something more up-to-date is in order.) As always, I will be approaching the talents from a purely PvE/raiding perspective.

If you want to see the entire talent tree, and tooltips, go here.

Tier 1 (Level 15) – Rolling Blood – Plague Leech – Unholy Blight

None of these choices really wow me, as a whole. Unholy Blight, while it’s cool to see it come back in name, isn’t the same awesomeness it was almost 4 years ago when DKs were introduced. In fact, it’s pretty sub-par, all things considered. If you want to spread diseases quickly, Rolling Blood is the way to do it, since it causes damage to all targets at the same time. It’ll probably be the talent of choice for most multi-target fights, with Plague Leech seeing some use for DK tanks to hit an “oh shit!” rune tap or something… but even then, there’s better options. Take your pick, but this whole tier leaves me underwhelmed.

Tier 2 (Level 30) – Lichborne – Anti-Magic Zone – Purgatory

Utility talents, and it’s a pretty nice one. Lichborne and AMZ will probably see the most use by DPS and tanks alike. Purgatory is kind of an odd choice, because 3 seconds is really only enough time to get of one big heal, plus an instant cast. As a tank, I would personally stay the hell away from Purgatory, because the boss doesn’t stop swinging in that time you’re covered in the shroud. It could be good for DPS in the same way that Cauterize is currently used by fire mages to some success in certain situations. Lichborne will probably be taken more by tanks due to the death coil healing that’s been so popular for quite some time now.

Tier 3 (Level 45) – Death’s Advance – Chillblains – Asphyxiate

This is kind of a no-brainer as far as pve goes. I’m betting a solid 75% of raiding DKs, regardless of spec, will take Death’s Advance just for the free base movement increase. Chillblains could be nice for add kiting in some situations (a la Magmaw’s parasites in early t11), but in general, DA is going to be the way to go for everyone.

Tier 4 (Level 60) – Death Pact – Death Siphon – Conversion

I highly doubt that *anybody* will pick up Conversion. I don’t even understand what the point of it is, to be perfectly honest. It’s not like ANY of the specs are pooling large amounts of RP at the moment, so you can throw that one out. Death Siphon sounds good on paper, but it’s really quite underwhelming, especially considering (as of the last beta build) it costs a death rune, which will muck up your entire rotation, regardless of spec (maybe a bit less so for unholy). Death Pact is far and away the strongest choice in this tier. 50% of your health is *enormous*, especially if you’re a tank. It actually turns your ghoul into a survivability cooldown as well as a DPS cooldown, so have fun with it. 3 minutes may seem a bit long, but it’s no more so than the length of your minion’s cooldown, and it doesn’t insta-kill your pet like it does currently on live. Also, it’s free.

Tier 5 (Level 75) – Blood Tap – Runic Empowerment – Runic Corruption

Far and away the most talked about set of talents that DKs have. As it stands now, Blood Tap is pretty much a wild card. I will freely admit that I will miss blood tap’s current iteration on live, but this reworking of it is… mind boggling at best. I believe that math shows Runic Empowerment to be the best rune game for blood and frost, if you can play rune tetris properly (thanks to Rades for the phrase “rune tetris”). Runic Corruption is more of a “safe” bet, and it’s currently what works for unholy on live with a good bit of success. If you’re bad at the rune gaming, RC is the safer bet, as it simply accelerates the regenerating runes for a few seconds. For a while, Blood Tap was off the global cooldown, so it could simply be macroed into Rune Strike (or Death Coil or Frost Strike, depending on what spec you are), giving it a “fire and forget” feeling to it. However, I believe that this has been changed (and PLEASE don’t quote me on this as i’ve not played the beta in a while) so it has been made considerably weaker. Chances are, you’re better off sticking with what your spec has on live currently (RE for blood/frost, RC for unholy). I’m hoping they do something different with Blood Tap in the near future to make it more viable, but if it’s truly back ON the GCD, then it’s just very meh overall.

Tier 6 (Level 90) – Gorefiend’s Grasp – Remorseless Winter – Desecrated Ground

This tier remains a disappointment to me since all the damage was removed from it. Gorefiend’s Grasp will probably still remain the tank talent of choice, with a 1m cooldown being very short, all things considered. Remorseless Winter, also with a 1m cooldown will see limited utility on add kiting fights, giving the option to pick something aside from Chillblains, if needed. Desecrated Ground (with it’s 2m cooldown) may see some *very* limited use in fights, maybe with fear/MC mechanics, but overall it won’t see a lot of people picking it for PvE, I don’t think.

All told, the talents still kind of underwhelm me at times, but as a whole, DKs will continue to work in MoP, because they’ve worked thus far. There are very few actual rotational changes being made, so we should end up playing pretty similarly to how we always have. This is both good and bad, because the learning curve should be minimal for returning DKs. Bad because it’s easy to get bored playing the exact same way. Of course, the addition of Soul Reaper should definitely change up things a bit for post 87 play. Also, I like Blizz’s idea of changing the rune cost for Soul Reaper to depend on what spec you play (1 unholy for UH, 1 frost for frost, 1 blood for blood). It gives the ability a way to fit into the rotation without screwing things up. Hell, having it cost a blood rune for blood DKs means they won’t have to put off death striking because of it. Thumbs up.

As for me, this will probably be the spec I go with, as a Blood DK, and as an Unholy DK. Honestly, Tier 6 is so damned inconsequential as DPS, i don’t even care. I can’t get over my disappointment there, Blizz.

Did Blizz really screw up DKs for MoP?

12 May

It never fails to surprise me that every time I look at my dashboard, generally my highest searhced pages are my DK posts. I figure it’s time to update my talent analysis for some of the newer beta builds that have come out… BECAUSE YOU ASKED FOR IT! :D As always, I preface this with my notification that again, this is still BETA information, and is subject to change on a regular basis. Blowing a gasket will not help anything, as Blizzard tends to be 3 or 4 patches ahead of what is currently on the beta. THAT SAID, however, constructive criticism and helpful feedback will go a long way, keeping well in mind that Blizzard is well within their rights to disagree with you and go a completely different direction.

Now then… if you’ve stopped by the beta forums, you may have noticed a lot of animosity between die-hard DK lovers and Blizz at the moment, because they feel like there’s a distinct lack of direction for MoP. Generally I stay away from extreme hyperbole (the class is unplayable! they fucking suck now! neutered my class! etc etc etc), because it’s usually ridiculous. However, I *do* feel like Blizz is uncertain what they want to do with DKs for 5.0. I’ve played my DK a little bit in the beta, and found that both unholy and 2h frost play *exactly* the same as they do on live. While I am appreciative of “don’t fix what’s not broken”, there’s a LOT to be said for giving people something newer than what they’ve been playing for the last couple years. DKs are liable to see a significant exodus if nothing changes between 4.0 and 5.0, just because you can only play the same thing for so long before it gets stale.

Here’s the rub though. Blizz HAS given DKs a few new buttons to push. First is “Control Undead” (woo-fucking-hoo /sarcasm), and the second is Soul Reaper (goddamn bloody fantastic, AND fitting into the DK lore). On top of this, we were given a couple new utili-damaging abilities in the level 90 talent tier in the forum of Gorefiend’s Grasp, Desecrated Ground and Remorseless Winter… And then, they went and pulled the blanket off of what could’ve been the most anticipated talent selection… to make them all impotent. Or, to phrase it better, none of them deal damage anymore.

Now… before I get into a rampaging obnoxious rant about things, I would like to point out something. EVERY other class has a damaging talent or output (damage or healing) increaser, SOMEWHERE within the tree.

Warriors: Bladestorm, Shockwave, Dragon Roar, Avatar, Bloodbath, Storm Bolt

Warlocks: Archimonde’s Vengeance, Grimoire of Supremacy, Grimoire of Service, Harvest Life*

Shaman: Echo of the Elements, Elemental Mastery, Elemental Blast, Primal Elementalist, Unleashed Fury

Rogues: Deadly Throw, Shuriken Toss, Versatility**

Priests: Archangel, Twist of Fate, Power Infusion, Halo, Divine Star, Cascade

Paladins: Sanctified Wrath, Divine Purpose, Execution Sentence, Light’s Hammer, Holy Prism

Monks: Chi Wave, Zen Sphere, Chi Burst, Rushing Jade Wind, Invoke Xuen, the White Tiger, Chi Torpedo

Mages: Presence of Mind, Scorch, Ice Floes, Nether Tempest, Living Bomb, Frost Bomb, Rune of Power, Incanter’s Ward

Hunters: Wyvern Sting, Thrill of the Hunt, Readness, Fervor, A Murder of Crows, Dire Beast, Lynx Rush, Barrage, Powershot, Glaive Toss

Druids: Force of Nature, Incarnation, Soul of the Forest, Nature’s Vigil

Death Knights: Death Siphon

*Harvest Life replaces Drain Life, which is already a part of the warlock’s toolkit, so this may or may not “count” as far as we’re concerned. Even if we eliminate it from this list, they still have plenty of others.

**Versatility doesn’t offer a direct damage or stat increase, but giving Redirect no cooldown is definitely an overall damage increase for any fight with more than one target ever, so I think it counts.

It’s worth noting that some of the abilities I mentioned used to be in the talent trees as they exist on live currently, but a lot of THOSE cases make a difference because now they’re accessible to ANYONE who plays that class, regardless of what spec they are (Presence of Mind is no longer restricted to arcane mages, for example). Now then, after looking at all of that mess, do we see something a little bit out of balance here? Yeah. DKs have *one* ability that does damage, and it’s not a button most DKs are going to be hitting for the sake of DPS right now, it’s more a survivability/PvP ability (although, admittedly, not a bad one). I will freely admit that Rogues are the only ones who are probably as boned as Death Knights are in the form of damaging talents. I mean honestly, two ranged attacks, one of them a finisher? Urgh. BUT i’m not here to write about rogues, because I am mostly unfamiliar with them on the whole.

When the other 10 classes have extra buttons they can hit to deal damage or increase healing (or both, in some cases), and Death Knights are shown these really damn cool new talents at level 90, only to have their damage component cut off, it’s easy to see where a lot of the vitriol is coming from. I don’t think the DK community wants an entire overhaul of the class like Warlocks are getting, I just think they want a bit of variety and fairness. Add the damage components back to the level 90 talents, and that will bring things about equal with the other classes. A little bit of freshness can REALLY make a difference to a DK. Soul Reaper, while a *damn* cool ability, just isn’t enough when nothing else is different from how it’s been the last year or so.

Will the REAL Fuzzbutt, please stand up?

10 May

If you’ve been following me on twitter or my blog for a while, you may’ve noticed that I am somewhat impulsive. I tend to make rash decisions based on very little, empirical data… mostly relying on hearsay or VERY minor anecdotal evidence. I’ve spent a lot of talking about monks lately, and a tiny bit of time talking about DKs, but i’ve not spent a lot of time talking about druid-type things, because well… I wasn’t overly impressed with where they were taking the class for MoP previously. Since playing the monk so much, I figured it would be good to have a basis for comparison when it comes to tanking, so I dusted off my copied-over druid and shoved him into a few dungeons.

Keep in mind, first off, that this druid is considerably better geared than my monk is… he is at a 398 ilvl whereas premade toons start with a 378 ilvl, so that’s a relatively significant difference. Even with that in mind, holy shit on a cracker, what a difference there is in how the two tank. Right now, the monk’s rotation is panicky and spastic, and requires on a 100% uptime of one ability to even THINK about surviving (shuffle via BoK). When I took my druid into Temple of the Jade Serpent, it was like slipping on an old glove again. Bears on the beta feel smooth, and powerful and…

Wait, what the fuck is this? Lacerate is on a cooldown? Pulverize is gone? Swipe is (situationally) back in our single-target rotation? Wat the hell?

And what are these two new buttons i have? (Well.. actually only one is a new button, but Frenzied Regen has taken a SIGNIFICANT redesign from what it currently is on live.) Holy shit does that say 45% dodge? HOLY SHIT DID THAT JUST HEAL ME FOR 80K? /drool.

As you may have guessed, i’m starting to feel comfortable with the druid again (as it were). I may have been pretty rash in my earlier write-off of the class for Mists. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not writing off monks either, but right now they have a lot of work to do, and maybe I would do better sticking to what I know and simply adjusting… I mean it is kind of the druid way really. Take what we’re given, and make it work awesome.

So, let me take a brief minute and discuss what’s going on with bears in the beta.

Glyphs are in a decently fun place. There’s lots of actual CHOICE involved here, instead of “OH MY GOD YOU MUST TAKE THESE OTHERWISE YOU’RE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD”

Except of course the Glyph of Rebirth. Seriously… I don’t care what role you are, you *have* to have this glyph. My other major glyphs are Maul (an old standby, and probably one that most bears WILL take), and Survival Instincts. SI glyph provides an interesting form of choice here. Reduce the cooldown & reduce the duration via glyph? It’s worth testing, at the very least. Of course, there are plenty of other glyphs that are worth considering. I won’t go into each and every one, but feel free to check out the list and decide for yourself what may work for you.

Talents, at the moment, are a bit less ambiguous for bears, in my opinion. The level 90 talents have been under EXTREME amounts of discussion, dissection, and dissertation on the beta forums, and there is probably an entire blog post I could devote to just those talents… but I will leave those discussions to people far more eloquent and well-versed in theorycrafting than myself. With the exception of the level 60 talents, the ones that I picked are pretty much no-brainers for bears. I picked “Incarnation” because it’s basically a second berserk, without the added gigglefits of hitting 3 targets, but that’s neither here nor there. Force of Nature is pretty amusing… it’s basically a bear’s “Army of the Dead”. Drop treants, watch them run around taunting everything in combat, profit. Soul of the Forest is a hard talent to skip over, but it’s also hard for me to give it a place right now, as well, simply because mangle giving me rage in GENERAL is bloody fantastic… I haven’t felt myself overly starved for rage when in any 5-mans, so I don’t predict raids to be much different.

OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIENow, I fully expect this is going to change in the future, but hitting Incarnation and then having Kiril proc (making me DOUBLY HUGE) is worthy of mass amounts of giggling. I had to screenshot it while it was still a thing.

NO HE'S NOT OVERCOMPENSATING THANK YOU VERY MUCHIn other news, i’m considering making my druid back into a night elf. You may remember that I race changed him the very day that Cataclysm dropped, and i’ve been modestly happy with that decision. (Oh darkflight, you made Atramedes *POSSIBLE*) But as i’ve gone on through Cataclysm, i’ve noticed that capes and helmets all look like absolute shit on worgen. Night elves, on the other hand, look 84 kinds of awesome with both of them on. If I were to go out with no transmogged gear (except for the weapon, because Kiril is an ugly son of a polearm), this is what I would look like, on the left over here. Damn… that’s kinda hawt. Maybe i’ll race change him back to his original elven self.

Roly Poly Patch Day

25 Apr

This is a beta patch, so don’t get excited. I wanted to discuss the new beta patch rolled out late last night/this morning. Actually, to be more specific, I wanted to take a look at the monk changes, since that’s pretty much the only thing i’ve spent any time on in the beta. So, away we go! (As per usual, I will focus on brewmaster, and maybe touch on some windwalker stuff… mistweaver doesn’t exist to me, as I don’t heal haha)

Baseline changes:

Blackout Kick - Now costs 2 chi, up from 1 chi. Base damage increased by 20%

Pretty good change, imo. The extra chi makes it feel more like a finisher, which is what it’s SUPPOSED to be (sub-50% health), and the damage increase helps offset the extra chi cost. Well thought out change for an ability that was in a bizarre place beforehand.

Crackling Jade Lightning – Now costs 1.5% of base mana, down from 3%. When dealing damage, you have a 15% chance to generate 1 chi.

The mana change is clearly directed more at misweavers, clearly, so it doesn’t matter to me. The chance to generate chi though is nice. Maybe this is starting to take a direction more towards Mistweaver, since it really seems useless for Brewmaster and Windwalker.

Detox - Now removes disease effects instead of bleed effects.

I saw this change coming from the moment I looked at the tooltip of this ability. Only having one class that can cleanse bleeds would cause all kinds of balance issues in pvp.

Fortifying Brew - Now increases your health by 100%, and reduces yoru damage taken by 20%. Lasts 20 sec.

A good change for an ability that really made no sense before. However, it’s another tanking cooldown for a class that, right now, is LOADED THE FUCK DOWN with tank cooldowns. I’m not sure I understand what’s going on there.

Grapple Weapon - Now grabs non-ranged weapons. If you steal a better main-hand weapon, your damage or healing will be increased by 5% or damage taken reduced by 5%.

The first part was most likely a pvp change to keep from making hunters and casters useless. The second half is most likely a clarification of what the ability does, because the previous tooltip didn’t make any damn sense.

Healing Sphere - Now costs 2% base mana up from 1.5% base mana. Now instant cast down from 1.5s cast. Now has a .5s cooldown.

A curious change. I can’t imagine they’ll want tanks casting this on themselves in the middle of combat all the time, so I don’t quite understand why they removed the cast time. IMO, if they’re going to nix the cast time, they should make that a mistweaver-only passive. 

Spinning Crane Kick - Now costs 2 chi, down from [sic] 1 chi. During Spinning Crane Kick, you can continue to dodge and parry.

I’m not particularly surprised by this change. SCK felt too powerful and spammable at a cost of 1 chi. Keeping the ability to dodge and parry just lets tanks use it to solidfy aoe threat. All the other tanks have aoe abilities that don’t remove their dodge/block/parry ability, so it only makes sense that this one wouldn’t either.

Tiger Palm - Now deals 50% additional damage if the target is above 50% health.

Another good change, probably made to counterbalance the change to blackout kick. They definitely want to make sure you use one above 50% health, and one below 50% health.

 Transcendence - Now has a 45s cooldown, down from 3 minutes.

I haven’t played at level 87 so I can only comment on this ability in speculation, so… Sure thing, alright then. lol

Talents:

Charging Ox Wave - Now affects all nearby enemies within 5 yards, down from 40 yards.

This makes a lot of sense. Having an ability that knocks back all enemies within 40 yards is a little ridiculous. 5 yards makes more sense.

Chi Torpedo - Chi Torpedo replaces roll.

I feel like this was most likely a pvp change, because having 2 rolls, with a movement speed increase, and then chi torpedo, and then flying tiger kick (or wtfever it’s called that windwalkers have) means WAYYYYYYYYYYYY too much mobility for monks. Just sayin.

Dampen Harm - Moved to level 75 from level 60. Now has a 1.5m cooldown, up from 30s.

30 seconds of the cooldown for this talent was WAY too good in pvp and for tanks. This makes a lot of sense. The change from level 60 to 75 is pretty much an indifference as far as I care.

Healing Elixirs - Moved to level 75 from level 60.

My guess is this was moved solely so you had it to compete with Dampen Harm. The two of them mixed together would just be too powerful.

Karma *new* - Reduces all spell damage taken by 90% and clears all magical effects on you, reversing them back to their original caster if within 40 yards. Lasts for 6s. 1 chi, instant 1.5m cooldown.

This is an interesting new talent (the tooltip shows at level 75 as well, so it makes sense to choose between this, Dampen Harm, and Healing Elixirs). I could see the cost being increased to maybe 2 chi at some point in the future, because this could be ABSURD in pvp against classes like DKs, warlocks, and shadow priests. I am also imagining the cooldown being increased, but it looks to be a fun addition to the toolbox.

Leg Sweep - Now lasts 5s, down from 6s.

Meh. An aoe stun is an aoe stun, and 5s vs 6s is really not that big of a difference if you ask me. 

Zen Sphere (Formerly known as Rolling Force Globe)Summons a Zen Sphere at the target location. Deals (x) damage to the 3 lowest health enemies within 20 yards of the sphere every 1s. If the enemies die from the Zen Sphere, they combust, dealing (y) damage to enemies within 8 yards. Use Zen Sphere again while active to detonate it, instantly dealing (y) damage to all enemies within 20 yards. 1 chi, 40 yard range, instant.

If i’m reading the tooltip changes correctly, instead of having the Force Globe be a boomerang that combines healing and damage to anyone in it’s path, this is instead a stationary object that is strictly for damage dealing. Losing the healing aspect of this is a bit sad, as it could’ve been a fantastic little ability for monks of all specs to throw out on high-AOE damage times. Overall, not a terrible change.. 

Rushing Jade Wind - has been reworked and now has a 30s cooldown, down from 45s. Summon a whirling tornado that travels 0 yards in front of you, dealing 5454 nature damage to all targets in it’s path and increasing damage taken bu your Spinning Crane Kick by 30%. For 8s after you cast Rushing Jade Wind, you move at 200% speed while using Spinning Crane Kic, and reduces Spinning Crane Kick’s chi cost by 1.

This has “AOE fight” written all over it, and I really like the way it’s been reworked. It’ll probably be a staple for trash on dungeons, and on fights with lots of add phases. I’m certain this will see some good use.

Tigereye Brew - Now costs 3 chi, up from 1. Now has a 60s cooldown, down from 90s. Now increases your damage and healing done by 15%. (Level 60 talent).

3 chi seems like a pretty steep cost for a moderate dps/hps increase. It doesn’t show a duration in the tooltip, at this point, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure it HAS a duration, because a stacking buff like this would just be way too strong to ignore otherwise. I’m betting it drops to a 2 chi cost at some point, because 3 is just.. a lot.

Tiger’s Lust - Now has a 30s cooldown, down from 60s.

I hadn’t paid much attention to this, but this seems wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too strong to be on a 30s cooldown when compared to similar abilities like Will of the Forsaken and Escape Artist. I don’t know what they’re playing at here.

Brewmaster abilities:

Avert Harm - Now reduces damage taken by 50%, up from 20%

This is, most likely, to keep monks from getting exploded by large amounts of damage re-directed from everyone else (half of 80% is 40%, the old way. Now half of 50% is 25%, so it’s a net damage reduction for the entire raid)

Brewmaster Training - Blackout kick portion reworked – After you Blackout Kick, you gain Shuffle causing the 3 attacks taken to become staggered within $115307 (that’s really what the tooltip says atm lol).

This is a *fantastic* change. Blackout Kick was really just another way to deal damage before, and having it be chi-free when parried made it fit really oddly in the brewmaster’s toolbox. This makes a LOT more sense in the grand scheme of things. BOK will still cost 2 chi, but now it’ll be another form of “active mitigation” that Blizz is so into these days, and I think it’ll fit nicely into the toolbox.

Clash (formerly Clashing Ox Charge) – You and the target charge each other, meeting halfway and stunning all targets within 6 yards.

This still seems kind of like a wonky ability, due to the whole “meet halfway” mechanic. I haven’t actually been in the beta since patch yet to see whether they’ve fixed the bug of it not always working with casters, so we’ll see. The aoe stun portion is pretty nice though.

Dizzying Haze - Now costs 20 energy, up from 10. Now reduces movement speed by 50%, up from 15%. Misfire chance now stacks up to 3 times.

The energy cost of this was never the issue. Nor was the movement speed reduction. The fact that it’s still a 3-stack still is all kinds of weird to me, and I don’t understand why that’s the one thing that DOESN’T get changed. I just don’t understand.

Summon Black Ox Statue - Now instant cast, down from a 1.5s cast.

Brilliant. Having a tank cast in the middle of combat to put another one of these up is a surefire way to get his ass gibbed, and this is the perfect solution to that. Bravo.

All in all, a lot of these changes are really good. A couple of them don’t make any sense to me, but getting some insight in where Blizz wants to take the monk class is always helpful. My only complaint, really, is Dizzying Haze still. Argh.I really wish they would make DH just a 5% misfire chance with 1 stack, that way using the targeting reticle wouldn’t be so damned awkward. BUT i think i’ve ranted enough about that already. Also, this post has gotten a lot more wordy than I was expecting. Overall, I see a lot of things monks have to rejoice over right now. Running forward for 30 seconds and then taking a couple steps backwards (or more like sideways, in all honesty) is still a net gain in the end.

ETA: A few addendums i’ve noticed after playing in the beta for 5 minutes or so.

Shuffle, as an active ability has been completely removed. Instead it is entirely worked into Blackout Kick. Holy fuckberries you guys. If it weren’t for Tiger Palm increasing our Guard amount, this might eliminate it from our rotation altogether. Holy crap.

In regards to Dizzying Haze: They have reworked it slightly to where it DOESN’T stack, unlike how the tooltip (as per mmo-champion) reads. Instead it is indeed just one stack. Also, the reticle will stay up on your screen from DH allowing you to quickly throw it where you need without having to hit a button, click, hit button, click again. It now works like the Wild Mushrooms. Good change Blizzard. Very good job. I stand completely corrected regarding Dizzying Haze.

Breath of Fire has also been reworked. Instead of dealing more damage based on the stacks of Dizzying Haze (since it doesn’t stack anymore), it now deals a DoT over 8 seconds when it hits them. Whether or not they’ve fixed the conical aspect of the spell remains to be seen. Also, the cooldown appears to have been removed. *thumbs up*

All in all, this patch is a complete effing win for Brewmaster monks. Thanks be to the game designers.

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