I always enjoyed tanking as a DK in Wrath – you had a few different specs to play with, each of which was more or less viable – and you pulled pretty awesome threat with some excellent survival cooldowns. You could tank as Blood and get Vampiric Blood for boosted healing (and back then it increased Death Strike healing so it was amazing), Frost for Lichborne to heal yourself with Death Coil, or Unholy for Bone Shield and Anti-Magic Zone so you could get Realm-First 3-Drake Sartharion. It was great to have different options, but more importantly they were all fun to play.
Then Cataclysm showed up and fucked everything up.
I had been really excited when Blizzard had initially announced that Blood was to become a dedicated tanking tree for DKs in Cata. While the three trees offered some fun options in WotLK, DKs were missing some valuable tank benefits. We had no way reduce a mobs attack speed and you ultimately couldn’t get all the tanking cooldowns collectively, you more or less had to pick one. “Fuck yes,” I thought, “DKs are finally going to be fun AND fully viable as tanks!”
Due to the fact that we tried to raid as a 10-man guild at launch of Cata, I was called upon to fill a more or less full-time tanking role in the guild. I was happy to do so because I had liked tanking so much in Wrath and I was excited to check out how a full-blown tanking spec would perform in Cata. I quickly realized, however, that there were a few problems:
I had shit for avoidance, I sat around forever waiting for runes to be off cooldown, and Blood Shield was a steaming piece of shit
News flash, right? The only time frost was considered a good raid spec was at the outset of vanilla raiding when everything you pulled was immune to fire damage. Still though, Blizzard has made long strides since then in attempting to make all specs viable in both end-game PvE and PvP – so why is frost the seemingly lone remaining bastard child?
Anyone who has read the blog since I re-launched and cares to remember what I wrote for longer than 45 seconds might recall that I recently embarked on a new journey as a gnome mage. The intent was to give me an avenue to check out all the revamps to 1-60 brought by Cataclysm, and hopefully give me new things to rant about.
When I hit level 10, I thought long and hard about which tree I wanted to lock myself into until level 70. I ultimately decided to go with the frost tree just because my original mage had never been frost spec since the release of The Burning Crusade.
With heirlooms and a 50% slow on my main nuke, its pretty much faceroll to level as frost. The pet is next to worthless except for the extra freeze, but thats fine because that’s usually all I need anyway. I can easily down 5-6 mobs at a time with the ranged freeze + talented Blizzard slow – its mind-numbingly simple.
What I’ve realized from playing the spec though is that the same thing that makes it great for leveling is what makes it awful for end-game PvE. Frost is a spec that has a very specific “flavor” to it – it favors roots and slows, as you would expect, because frost is something that is cold. Without those mechanics, it wouldnt feel like a frost tree anymore.
The problem with it is that the damage has to suffer to give all those spells the “frosty” feel they come with. Why would you use Fireball if Frostbolt hit just as hard AND slowed an attacker? Why would you use Blast Wave for a daze if Frost Nova did equal damage and rooted? I get that, and thats probably a trade-off that people are happy with. It’s worked out for me so far in my leveling experience, and I can certainly see the appeal from a PvP standpoint.
That said, given that everything in raid content that counts (trash doesn’t) is immune to slow and root. Even the bottom tier frost talent has to have incentive to use it against mobs that are immune to freeze effects. You’re left with your gimpy damage that is being offset by utility that you literally cannot take advantage of. Fingers of Frost goes a little ways in mitigating it, but even then Ice Lance is never going to be your primary source of damage.
So what could they do to make frost raid-viable? They could probably sort it out with some creative glyphs – something that allows you to remove the slow effect from your frostbolt and increase its damage. But if they did that, what’s the point of being frost? As it stands, the slows/roots are what defines the class. Take those away and bump up the damage and you might as well be playing a fire mage – you’d be using the same basic rotation with procs thrown in (mind freeze may as well be hot streak as it is). Even then it would still be inferior because fire offers better options for getting dps on adds without having to fully abandon the primary target.
I guess what I am really saying here is that the leveling experience has given me an appreciation for something I thought was completely terrible. It’s actually fun being able to kite around elite mobs and solo shit I probably couldn’t burn down with the glass cannon approach of the other mage specs. I feel though that the aspects of the frost tree that make it unique will ultimately prevent it from ever becoming a fully raid-viable spec.
And maybe that’s fine. After all, it’s not like being the black sheep is something new to the Mage class…
Real Baddies of Badness
(Real Baddies of Badness)
Today we salute you, Mr. “Can’t AoE Tank in WotLK” Tank Guy
(Mr. “Can’t AoE Tank in WotLK” Tank Guy!)
Even when Blizzard eliminates the need for CC and gives you oodles of AoE threat gen, you still drop the ball.
(Ain’t need no Shockwave!)
Pull after pull, you sit idly by as DPS and Healers get smacked in the face.
(Didn’t seeeeeee that pat comin’!)
So go repair your broken weapon, Simpleton with a Shield, this rez is for you.
(Mr. “Can’t AoE Tank in WotLK” Tank Guyyyyy…)
Just wanted to share with everyone a few experiences I had while traveling from Dun Morogh to Elwynn Forest by way of the Deeprun Tram today. It seems that Death Knights (especially those in good guilds with mostly best-in-slot gear) might still be a little bit too insane for the average “casual gamer” that Blizzard has taken to catering to.
The first leg of my adventure involved a Fury Warrior who jumped me in Tinkertown while my ghoul and I were playing with a handfull of Ironforge guards. This guy charged in and unloaded everything he could on me, so natrually I was at about 80% by the time IBF and Bone Shield were gone. Not only did this guy die, but he served as the perfect target for the Howling Blast which also finished off the last 3 guards my ghoul hadn’t finished with yet.
Next, I encountered a Warlock on a fishing dock in Stormwind who decided it would be novel to DoT me up while I was running down the canals minding my own business. This dude thought it was hilarious that he knocked me off my horse in the water while he was safely up on the dock and was amused to /laugh at me several times while his DoTs ticked away. His laugh-fest was abruptly stopped when he was Death Gripped into the canal with me, silenced, and subsequently killed in roughly 5 seconds. Oh, and the DoTs took me to something like 85% health because gg AMS.
The final and most hilarious encounter took place on the outskirts of Goldshire, where a Balance Druid and Enhancement Shaman decided to put an end to my foolishness. Now I realize Army of the Dead cannot be used in Arena matches, but damn if you can’t use them in Alliance starting zones. My undead minions destroyed Treant and Spirit Wolf alike, although granted they quickly died to the Druid’s starfall. The best part of this fight was, with all of their best cooldowns blown, my ghoul literally solo’d the balance druid (I may have helped him by telling him to wait to Gnaw until he tried to heal himself), while I beat the crap out of the Shaman. Again, IBF and Boneshield win, and being able to also use AMS on top of it pretty much means anything a Shaman can do to me hits for nothing. Both of these guys died, though I was around 20% by the time the fight ended. Here’s the best part though…
With the fight over, another random Druid shows up and begins nuking me while im bandaging, leaving me at about 30% HP. This guy gets yanked over to me, the ghoul leaps up his ass, and we kill this guy before he knows what happened. So essentially, i won a 2-on-1 fight, and then won another 1-on-1 starting at 30% HP, all without even popping my damage-increasing cooldowns.
No wonder kids bitch up a storm about DK’s in PvP…I don’t really Arena much (see: never), so I hadn’t really seen it first-hand until today. I can imagine we’ll be seeing more changes coming eventually, cuz even I have to admit some of this stuff just isn’t fair.
Funny as hell, but not fair :p
So 3.0.8 finally went live yesterday, much to the dismay of fans of Volley and Summon Gargoyle. One of the things a lot of people were really excited about were some changes made to a few of the achievements involving time limits, namely Gotta Go! and You Don’t Have An Eternity.
If you still bother to read this site, you probably recall that my guild has been working the 5-Minute Malygos achievement for the past couple weeks. Well, as luck would have it, we finally nailed it this past Monday (01.19.09) and killed Malygos in four minutes, eighteen seconds.
Naturally, we were thrilled. The achievement took us one step closer to Heroic: Glory of the Raider, as well as moved us closer to the top of the food chain. So Tuesday rolls around, it’s patch day, the timer is increased to six minutes and we figure getting the achievement for those that sat out on Monday night would be pretty simple to pull off.
From the 3.0.8 undocumented changes posted this morning on MMO-Champion:
You Don’t Have An Eternity – Both normal and heroic version of the achievement have been changed to 6 minutes. (Up from 5) The encounter has been changed and made slightly harder, the achievement isn’t necessarily easier to obtain.
The actual change is that the power sparks summoned from the portals now have a 90 second maximum duration. That’s 90 seconds from spawn to gone regardless of if the spark is rooted or already popped – after 90 seconds all traces of it despawn.
Additionally, the explosion caused by the dragons breath has had it’s blast radius quadrupled, so melee needs to head for the hills after each breath if they don’t want the tank to blow them up.
If you read a few posts back about 5 Minute Malygos, you saw the basic strat was to stack up 4-5 sparks and then blow them all at once, reducing Malygos to nearly dead before P2 begins so he dies almost immediately when you enter P3. This strat proved to require the coordination of Druid roots and Death Knight grips to stack the sparks in place, as well as skillful manuvering of Malygos himself by the MT to ensure that the sparks get to the desired spot without first risking them being intercepted by the dragon.
Throughout our attempts at 5-Minute Malygos we routinely commented on how well-tuned the encounter appeared to be, something Blizzard has overall done an excellent job of on the vast majority of the achievements. The encounter was difficult and challenging, but most certainly doable with precise execution.
Conversely, the post 3.0.8 6-Minute Malygos at first glance appears to be a cluster-fuck.
The absolute best you can hope for is 2 stacks maximum at a time. By and large the largest drawback of the spark cooldown is that you now have no feasible way to get through P2 anywhere near fast enough to meet the timer, even with the extra minute. Granted, we only put in a handful of attempts last night, most of which were further hindered by crippling lag at the outset of P2 (which I could have sworn was supposed to be fixed…). However, I’ve now heard mumblings that Blizzard does not expect most groups to be able to actually complete the achievement now until better gear is available (ie. in 3.1 with the introduction of Ulduar).
So, ok, it’s harder now – so what?
True enough. It’s certainly still nothing compared to trying to execute fights like pre-3.0 M’uru or Kil’Jaeden, but that really isn’t the point and it isn’t why everyone was so irritated. What is so infuriating about this change is that it was just a cop-out change that hinders what was an enjoyable encounter “just because”.
No doubt, the biggest problem Blizzard probably had with the original incarnation of the achievement strategy was the “requirement” of four Druids and a couple Death Knights. Needing specific classes who bring specific abilities in order to defeat content is completely against their entire design philosophy at this stage in the game. Sure, that’s ok, I get it. They could have gone about it other ways…
If you don’t like the “requirement” of Entangling Roots, make the sparks vulnerable to other CC. Let a Paladin stop one with Repentance, let Mages sheep them, I don’t know, something. The argument that you “need” Death Knights is even worse, because a tank who can move the dragon quickly enough and to the right locations essentially can pull the spark to the desired location without Death Grip. Sure, it’s nice to have Death Grip to make it easier, but the point is that it wasn’t absolutely necessary like a lot of people thought.
Instead, we now have an encounter where less is less. The strategy is now limited by the encounter, not by skill. The encounter is now billed as harder, yet you get nothing more – still the same loot you’ve been disenchanting for the last 2 months. All you get is a lot more casuals who will get their achievement 3 months from now when they have gear to win a straight DPS race popping sparks whenever they want and blowing lust in P2.
“Hardcore” guilds, if you can even call them that anymore, will still pound away at it because it’s something to do and because they simply like to raid. But they’ll be having less fun doing it now because Blizzard decided to kill the encounter for the sake of letting your best friends tag along.
It’s really a shame that, in a game where Blizzard claimed the Heroic Achievements would become the new form of hardcore raiding while letting casuals still see all of the content, they now take steps to make the Heroic Achievements more casual-friendly – even if they are harder.
The fight has gone from one requiring careful planning and execution to one where you really just need to bring a big enough stick. And that really sucks.
It’s really a shame that I chose to excell at the class that is now officially the new Ret Pally of WoW. More brainless idiots have flocked to the Death Knight class than they did Paladins when they joined the Horde in TBC. And just my luck, I happened to be the highest level guy on my server at Wrath launch, so naturally I was the one getting all the questions from every other crimson name in /who. Stuff like…
Do you spec Blood or Unholy?
Why don’t you have Dancing Rune Weapon?
Do you use a 2h or dw?
Do runeforge-thingies stack with weapon enchants?
Do you have the spell that summons lots of ghouls? it sounds really cool!
How much spell damage should I shoot for?
Naturally, these fine young contributors to society eventually reached level 80 as I did. And zomg they’re all in Naxx now it’s soooo and there’s purples!!!!1
A few of my guildies took their newly-80 alts on a pug Naxx run this past weekend, a pug which featured 8 Death Knights. 8 Death Knights without a single piece of tank gear between them.
This inspired me. These people so eagerly sought guidance from me during their journey to 80, so why should’t I continue to guide them through the end-game content? As a result, as is my duty, I present…
Bajingobomb’s PvE Death Knight Best Practices Guide (aka How to Not Look Like a Total Fking Retard when you Group with Others).
Read these points, treasure them. And for God sake, stop embarassing yourself.
1. Pick up some tank gear, just in case.
I get it, you rolled a DK to do leet deeps, so did I. That doesn’t mean I don’t happily snatch every throwaway piece of gear the primary tanks in my guild don’t need. Here’s a news flash for you – when it comes to most raids, tanks are in much higher demand than DPS. Pick up some tank gear and offer to offtank if there is already too much DPS. The playstyles are virtually identical – use the same rotation you’d use for DPS, just use Frost Presence. Oh, and use IBF. It’s nice.
Blizzard designed our trees to be the first dps/tank class where all three trees can actually fill both roles well. Unholy currently has the best AoE threat, but that doesn’t mean Frost and Blood suck. Frost gives you some nice oh-shit buttons, but they certainly aren’t required.
Raids will find you invaluable if you bring some tank gear along and are willing to swap roles depending on the fight. Death Knights, more than any other class, can nearly seemlessly switch between DPS and tanking roles without a respec being absolutely necessary. The more you have to offer the raid, the more they’ll want to have you.
Stop making yourself look like a prick and pick up some defense gear ffs.
2. Don’t Death Grip random shit just cuz lolz its funny
Trust me, this is annoying as fuck to most people. Yeah Death Grip is a lot of fun, but it also really pisses off tanks when you pop it just for the hell of it. If you’re acting like a retard and using it just for the lolz, chances are you’re pulling mobs out of AoE, not to mention getting yourself killed. A lot of idiot DKs I’ve seen seem to forget that Death Grip also serves as a mocking blow – forcing the mob to attack you for the next 5 seconds without anyone being able to do anything about it.
Seriously, just don’t use it if you’re not tanking or told to pull something. It’s annoying, its bush-league, and it will get you blacklisted by a lot of people.
3. Don’t rez people as Ghouls just for the lolz either, especially if you’re Unholy.
Currently the Raise Ghoul spell is bugged and sometimes a person can ultimately not be rezzed once theyve finally died after being raised as a ghoul. This pisses people off if you’ve raised a key member of the raid (like a healer or a tank) because they probably wanted them battlerezzed immediately anyway, and then they might not be rezzable at all.
Plus, if you’re raiding as Unholy and you have Master of Ghouls, raising somebody in your raid as a ghoul just for shits actuallty means a decrease in your dps – the person controlling the ghoul is not nearly as powerful as your pet with your talents figured in.
Again, mostly for the same reasons as with Death Grip, raising dead kids as ghouls generally makes people think you’re an idiot.
4. Don’t jerk off over haste gear, don’t even bid on it. HASTE = BAD.
Haste is the worst stat you get get as a DK, which is a shame considering there is so much of it in the game at the moment. If you’re wearing a piece without haste and a new piece drops that is a minor upgrade – skip it if it features haste. You don’t need any haste because auto-attacks are a small percentage of your total damage output given the number of instant attacks you’re constantly using.
Haste is not totally worthless to you, and granted you can’t completely avoid having it, but you certainly shouldn’t piss and moan over a piece of loot with a lot of haste on it over someone who gains a lot more benefit from the haste stat. This makes you appear to be both a noob and an asshole.
5. Avoid Rogue gear.
You’ll probably see a lot of DPS warriors happily bidding on Leather DPS gear. This is because it has AP and Agi, both of which are of good use to them. Agility gives warriors melee crit, as it does you.
However, a fair amount of your abilities (Icy Touch, Death Coil, Death and Decay, Pestilence, etc) are spells. Agility does nothing to increase the crit chance of these abilities. Don’t make yourself look like an idiot by bidding on this kind of gear, as it only increases the effectiveness of half of your abilities.
In addition to the reduced-benefit from Agility, Death Knights also suffer when taking attack power over strength. There are plenty of talents in the talent trees that increase your overall strength to the point where you get nearly 2.25 AP per 1 strength. This means that Str gear will translate to more AP for you than AP gear.
So what does this mean? Leather often has Agi/AP, Plate often has Str/Crit. Crit rating now affects both melee and spell crit in Wrath (same goes for Hit), which makes it worlds better for Death Knights than agility. This means you want to wait for the good plate drops, not the leather ones your fellow plate-wearers are happy to take.
6. If you spec Blood, cast Hysteria on somebody else.
Hysteria is disgustingly good, but not for you. Blood relies a lot more on physical damage than the other DK specs, but it still relies a fair amount on your spells, primarily Death Coil. This means you do not get 100% benefit from Hysteria.
So who does? DPS warriors and cat druids. Both are the only dps specs which rely entirely on physical dps. Most people still haven’t become keen on cat druids in raids, but you’re almost certainly going to have a DPS warrior or two in your raid (because their damage is insane). Stick Hysteria on one of these guys instead of yourself and you’ll look pretty smart.
7. Don’t have anything on your weapon other then Fallen Crusader or Cinderglacier.
This is speaking in terms of DPS specs, of course. If you have Razorice you might as well kill yourself. Same thing goes for Lichbane. Bad.
If you’re blood, Cinderglacier is also bad. But it’s arguably good for bother Frost and Unholy. You can’t go wrong with Fallen Crusader as any spec, it’s simply too good for words. It may not have the coolest glow effect of the available runeforgings, but you’ll get over it.
8. Don’t pop Army of the Dead because you think it will help your damage.
Army of the Dead can seriously fuck up a boss encounter. The ghouls don’t give a shit who the MT is, they just know they want it to be them. You’ll have 10 ghouls running around taunting the boss and turning it all over the place.
It’s most definitely a fun spell to pop, but once your ghould army makes Saphhiron breathe on the raid you’re gonna have a lot of pissed off people to answer to.
I’m not going to stretch this out to the point where it’s a full theorycraft thread, you can find that stuff on EJ. The point of this is to give you the basic things to do and avoid doing just to convince people you’re at least competant at your class. Yeah, I know I sound like a condescending prick, but I’ve seen A LOT of awful DKs the past couple months. Don’t take it personally, you guys need some help.
Thanks for reading.
So as you may or may not know, my guild <Devierum> is kind of badass. We’re the top guild on our server with the first-kills of Malygos (25), Sartharion + 3 Drakes (25), and most recently, Sartharion + 3 Drakes (10). Oh, and also we had the first DK on our server to 80 😉
Anyway, the guild is now ranked somewhere in the top 100 worldwide, which we’re all pretty proud of. We discovered that if we bust our asses a little bit and knock out “The Immortal” and “You Don’t Have An Eternity”, we would be ranked nearly as high as top 20 in the world. So guess what we’re doing this week?
We won’t be attempting Immortal until later this week, but Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted entirely to 5-minute Malygos. For those unfamiliar, the basic idea is to save all the sparks up in a little clump until you have 4-5 of them together all held down with roots. You stop dps a bit before 50% (ie. when he enters Phase 2 and summons the adds), pop all the sparks at once, and unload on his ass doing something like eleventy billion % bonus damage. The goal is to get him down to 1hp before he summons the adds, so that he dies as soon as Phase 3 begins and you land on the drakes.
We work on it. And work on it. And work on it. Part of the problem is you have to depend on RNG to a point, because if you get poor spark positions it’s a real pain in the ass. Myself and the other DK use a Death Grip rotation to get all the sparks pulled to the right spot, but even talented the cooldown is too long to pull two consecutive spark spawns.
Anyway, last night, things are going VERY well. We have a few close attempts that we purposefully wipe at the beginning of phase 3 because we’ve exceeded 5 minutes by 10 seconds or so. Finally, the stars align, we get incredible spark spawns, we demolish his HP, make it through Phase 2 with about 25 seconds left on the timer and…
Malygos uses the next 25 seconds to talk before he breaks the platform.
At this point, its impossible for us NOT to kill him (as he only has 1hp left and we’ve dotted him up before the floor shattered). So that’s it, he’s dead at 5 minutes, 4 seconds.
Whether it was lag, which we suspect might play a role as Phase 2 always hangs for about 10 seconds (gg instance server shared with Naxx) or just bad luck – Malygos and his stupid speech can eat a big fat one. Anyone in the guild will tell that I’m probably one of the biggest lore whores we have, but this was just ridiculous. We’re sitting on Vent screaming and he’s just chattering away, and the platform takes an ETERNITY to fall. See what I did there?
Ah well, maybe next week…