Tuesday, December 23, 2008 I'm now Unholy?

I've been Frost since Beta - I wasn't in beta mind you, but I had already decided on my tank spec. I liked Frost because it seemed to be all about control...that and it wasn't a popular spec, of which I like being the underdog (underdog spec) and making it shine. So before patch 3.0.8 goes live (hurry up and go live!) I wanted to try out the Boneshield/Unholy tanking first hand.

I had a few specs in mind, but I decided on a 5/11/53 to test out instead of the more common 9/11/51 that a lot of Unholy DK's are using. Some of the key changes that I like in my build is the 3% increase of Strength from Ravenous Dead and the 2/2 in Unholy Command (which I use for my 2nd taunt).

So far I have noticed two things with respecing into Unholy 1. My DPS has increased and 2. My survivability has increased. I did some of my own testing using WWS in regards to Frost vs Unholy pre-Boneshield nerf and as expected, I mitigate a lot more damage as Unholy but as Frost I avoided more incoming attacks but took more damage - and took a lot more spell damage. Now, this is the same conclusion that is pretty common knowledge for Deathknights who read more then the WoW live forums - seriously, why do people in the LFG channel think that Frost is the "tank" spec? -. Now my only question is how will 3.0.8 impact me and my spec? Keep in mind that I roll with a Disicpline Priest all the time so my Boneshield uptimes are much higher then the average DK.

With the new Runeforge, new tanking Sword and the changes to the Tempered Titansteel Helm (getting a blue and a meta gem socket) I think Unholy will still be a better spec for me (hrmm, do I need to change my blog template to a more greenish theme because I'm Unholy now?). The only thing that I am thinking about is do I keep 11 points deep into Frost? Lichborn is nice, there's no denying it but seeing that a lot of Unholy and now Blood tanks that are in the 25 man raids are stating that it's not that needed...that those points can be better spent else where. And truth be told I can see where they're coming from, I rarely use it between IBF and Boneshield and Lichborne is a 25% Miss Rate on MELEE attacks, so it doesn't do much for spell damage. If I did drop it I would probably go with a 13/5/53 build which would help my TPS on single targets and also give me a self heal to take the place of Lichborne.

I actually find it amazing (in a good way) that a few points here and there really determine a build. I really like it in the fact that it allows you to customize your build to your play style. Take for example myself, I am with a Disc Priest all the time and when I run groups I am more then likely always with an Enhancement Shaman - Thus if I was still Frost my Icy Talons wouldn't stack.

Thursday, December 11, 2008 Upcoming Deathknight Changes

If you haven't seen them yet, here they are!

From Ghostcrawler: We have talked about making some of these changes and wanted to provide more details. You should be able to try these out yourselves on the PTR before they go live.

Our reason for most of these changes should be obvious, but some common themes are:
-- Making tanking still rely on cooldowns, but rely on them a little less.
-- Make Blood a more attractive spec, and particularly for tanking.
-- Chill out some of the defensive capabilities all DKs have in PvP.
-- Avoid having to use Death and Decay as an out-of-combat runic power generator.

1) Rune Strike -- damage decreased from 200% to 150% but threat increased to 150% from 100%.

This was changed because RS was the "Rogue Killer", and far be it for a class to kill a Rogue so it's damage was modified. This change is indifferent to me as a Tank I feel that the threat increase is rather nice.

2) All multi-rune abilities generate 15 runic power.


3) Anti-Magic Shell -- cooldown lowered to 45 sec from 60 sec.

This is hot, completely hot. DK's were suppose to be the spell tank and this ability not only helps that, but really will help out in PvP. I really like this change.

4) The healing of Blood Aura, Blood Presence and Death Pact has been doubled.

I'm not a Blood DK and I'm not in Blood Presence much, but for when I group with Lorren this will be hot...beyond hot, sexy hot.

I like the fact that Blizz is trying to make the Blood tree more appealing and make all three trees have their special niche.

5) Bone Shield -- mitigation reduced from 40% to 20%.

BS was shown to scale extremely well as your avoidance went up -- too well. I knew, along with many others, that a nerf to BS was coming. However, down to 20% was a bit too drastic, I was looking at 30% personally. There are some early numbers also showing that with BS nerf along with IBF nerf that Unholy falls behind Frost in tanking. Looking forward to seeing this in action to get more solid numbers out of it.

6) Icebound Fortitude – now reduces damage by 20% instead of 50%. The amount of damage reduced increases with bonus Defense (to about 35% for 540 Defense, but it can go higher). The stun immunity is intended to be its primary role in PvP.

This one I'm trying to take in stride - yet another PvE nerf because of PvP. I think Blizz needs to decide what type of game they want, PvE or PvP then attempt to balance for that type and whatever happens to the other aspect of the game happens.

Now, as a tank I'll always have 540 Defense, however when I do choose to PvP, and I'm in PvP gear, my Defense will be significantly lower as PvP gear has resilience instead of Defense...not so hot.

7) Frost Presence -- bonus armor increased from 60 to 80% and magic damage reduction increased from 5 to 15%. We wanted to reduce the effectiveness of cooldowns but bring up base mitigation to reduce damage spikiness.

This was the main tanking buff that GC mentioned on briefly a few weeks ago. My only fear is that I don't want to tank like a Bear - IE shit ton of armor.

8) Corpse Explosion -- damage increased substantially, added 5 sec cooldown, and changed cost to 40 runic power.

CE is now useful! Yeee!

9) Heart Strike – we overhauled this ability. It no longer has a haste debuff but will now be able to strike two targets like a cleave. It still hits for more than Blood Strike, but you can still use Blood Strike if e.g. you don’t want to break CC.

Never spec'd Blood I don't have any in depth analysis on this, however the word of mouth from my Blood buddies is that they are excited to see HS get an overhall.

10) Horn of Winter -- now has no cost and grants 10 runic power in addition to its stat buff, but has a 30 sec cooldown.

I like this one as well...hoping to see that the glyph will add duration onto it as it is only a 2 minute buff.

11) Night of the Dead -- now grants 40/70% passive area spell avoidance to your pet in addition to its current effects.


12) Outbreak – this talent no longer receive bonus damage from Pestilence. The bonus from Plague Strike and Blood Boil has been increased slightly.


13) Bloody Strikes – the bonus damage from Pestilence has been moved here to help Blood AE slightly.

Which in turns lowers Unholy AoE damage...slightly, but a nerf to Unholy.

14) Pestilence -- no longer has a 10 sec cooldown.


15) Raise Dead -- now split into two spells: Raise Dead now raises a ghoul or pet ghoul (if talented). Raise Ally now raises a fallen party member (at no reagent cost).


16) New runeforge rune -- Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle (two-handed only) now grants 25 Defense and 2% Stamina.

Ok, granted the 4% Parry scales better then the 25 Defense - BUT! With this rune we can gem for other stats - dodge, parry, sta or go in for gear that has slightly less Defense on it because we have it covered on our weapon.

17) Shadow of Death -- duration reduced from 45 seconds to 25 seconds.


18) Unholy Blight, Dancing Rune Weapon and Hungering Cold – cost reduced from 60 to 40 runic power.

HC = Still useless for PvE, has some PvP applications now.

19) Vampiric Blood -- in addition to its current effects, also adds 20% health temporarily.

More Blood buffness!

20) Will of the Necropolis -- now reduces the damage of any attack that takes the DK below 35% health by 5 /10/15% instead of boosting armor when wounded


21) Many death knight glyphs have been changed. In many cases the negative consequences were removed.

This is a great addition as the Major Glyphs for DK's really sucked...really really bad. And not just a few of them, almost all of them.

22) New death knight sigils are now available, primarily from vendors, including a tanking-oriented sigil.

WOOHOO! I simply cannot wait for these! It's about time is all I can say!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 Hungering Cold...

Great name isn't it? I think so, which is why I made it the title of my Deathknight blog. However as an endline ability it's lacking...severly.

Purges the earth around the Death Knight of all heat. Enemies within 10 yards are trapped in ice, preventing them from performing any action for 10 sec and infecting them with Frost Fever. Enemies are considered Frozen, but any damage other than diseases will break the ice.
60 Runic Power, Instant, 1 min cooldown

This is Frost's 51 talent...looks decent on paper doesn't it? Well, in actual practice it's completely useless, not even worth the 1 point that it would take to get it because it doesn't have any situations where it would help.

Think about it...

Frost is the rune starved spec, to be able to have 60 Runic Power to use it you'd need to spec 3/3 Runic Power Mastery and 2/2 Chill of the Grave. So that's 5 points to even make it remotely possible to use. Now, take into account that it will break on any damage other then DK diseases and it becomes useless.

PvE Aspect- Heavy Runic Power cost, great way to spread Frost Fever except for the fact that Icy Touch (0 Runic Power, 1 Frost Rune) + Pestilence (0 Runic Power, 1 Blood Rune) is a must easier and faster way to spread Frost Fever. Specially as a Frost Deathknight you'll have Blood of the North so in essence it's more or less like spending 1 Blood Rune. I may not be a number cruncher like the guys over on EJ, but 1 Blood Rune > 60 Runic Power + 5 Talent Points.

PvP Aspect- Looks nice in PvP as a way to CC the opposition...oh wait...Runic Power cost again! As a Frost PvP DK you'll be spending your RP on Frost and Rune Strike...so again it fails.

My thoughts on making this end-line talent viable are...

Make Hungering Cold cost 0 RP...yeah that's right. Now this would help with PvE but could put a dimishing returns on the PvP aspect. PvP isn't balanced so why make PvE suffer because of it? As a tank I could then use it for when I need to CC group encounters if my AoE DPS of my party members is weak. Refer to the below diagram...(don't make fun of my Paint skillz!)

Ok, the red circle is the group encounter, I then pull them back to the blue X and Hungering Cold the group, CC'ing all of them. I then Icy Touch a single mob from the encounter and bring it back to green X for my group can beat it down. Rinse and repeat as needed.

This would make HC situational in the fact that it couldn't be used for raiding, and would be used mostly for pulling group encounters. Keep in mind that as a Deathknight we have huge aoe abilities, so this would only be used in situations where we could not live while 4+ NPCs are beating on us.

Here's the meat of this post - A lot of classes got "situational" end line 51 talent points in Wrath. Hungering Cold cannot even be classified as that. It's an ability that is completely useless because of the Runic Power along with the fact that it breaks on everything but diseases. I don't mind situational end-line abilities...just make sure there are situations in which they should be used for.

Thursday, December 4, 2008 Deathknights, Tanking and You

So, I'm only level 73 but Khaeli and I have decided to take it slow and explore and quest in both Howling Fjord and the Borean Tundra. We aren't going to race to level cap like we did in EQ2 just to be stuck running other people through questlines and instances...we're actually enjoying ourselves! What a concept!

Now, throughout the early 70s I've ran into so many Deathknights not really knowing how to use their abilities, how to spec themselves - throwing points into every which direction and in general, not knowing how to tank. So here is my tanking guide for the low 70s Deathknight, I'll probably make another for when I turn 80 if I still see the complete lack of knowledge out there.

First off, lets talk about talent specs. At this level in the game it really doesn't matter but we're looking at the bigger picture here. I favor a heavy Frost build (if you couldn't tell by the name of this blog). Here is my armory page with my current spec. As I have my hockey helmet on snuggly, I have been viewing the live forums and have come to think of myself as a broken record when I see topics like "Frost tank spec help" as people are not putting points into the basic abilities. If you are serious about Frost tanking here is my list of MUST TAKE abilities in the Frost tree...

Frigid Deathplate- This is not a 3% Dodge or Parry, this is a solid 3% miss...it's huge! However I have been seeing a lot of Frost tank builds not picking this up...their thought process "Well it's not that much, only 3%".
Unbreakable Armor- I have yet to see a tank build not take it, Unbreakable Armor is to Frost tanking as Corn is to midwest farmers.
Toughness- 5/5/5 is the standard Tank build...it's not going to change, use it, love it, embrace it.
Tundra Stalker- If you go Deep Frost and don't get Tundra Stalker you're entire spec is fail...seriously 10% increase in spells & abilities that have FF (and you should have all your targets under FF 90%+ of the time) AND 5 Expertise...no brainer right?
Icy Touch/Talons Talents- If all you are doing is raiding end game and roll with an Enhance Shammy I would say don't bother as Wind Fury totem and Icy Talons don't stack. However, for a lot of us, the Echance Shammys are few and far between, so this is a solid pickup.
Frost Aura- No it doesn't stack with the Druid's MotW buff, however it also includes some resists that motw doesn't touch. DK's are suppose to mitigate spell damage more so then the other tank types, and this is one of the abilities in the Frost tree that make is possible.
Acclimation- You'll find people bashing this talent all over the live forums, but the reality is, it stacks quickly...it's situational, but when those situations arise often you'll be happy to have it.
Guile of Gorefiend- Lets pretend that it doesn't have any DPS boost at all...it increases the duration of Icebound Fortitude, which alone is worth the 3 points into it.

Where you spend your points from there on out is personal preference, just don't put them into Killing Machine as a tank or DPS really. We are not a white damage class, so it's a waste of 5 points that could be better spent else where. As to which Frost build is better...well I'm still trying out a few myself. Crunching some numbers to see if I do a 51 Frost build while picking up Shadow of Death (2% STA & STR increase) from Unholy to boost my HP.

2 Handers vs Duel Wielding

There are a shit-ton of posts on the live forums regarding this hot topic. Lots of mis-informed people stating that DW sucks without really knowing the reason why. It's viable, but your survivability will decrease while doing so. And since as a tank your main job is to survive, DW kind of starts to fade. There are some great on-going threads regarding duel wielding as a DK tank that can be found at Deathknight.info here, but also there are some great charts made by Berthold on Elitist Jerks that can be found below or at Elitist Jerks here.

Conclusion: 2H > DW

Now, Bliz may change things as they are mixing up some of the DK tanking mechanics as GC himself mentioned that DK's are taking too much of a beating for their liking. The specifics of such are still unknown but I am eagerly awaiting to read what their plans are.