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.