A Blog by Bajingobomb, Horde US-Malfurion

Death Knight

Blood Shield Sucks and Made Me Hate Tanking

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

So let’s pick these apart from least-shitty to most-shitty.
Shit for Avoidance
When we started working on 10-man content (which was generally regarded as being way overtuned for the first tier when compared to 25-mans), I would frequently get face-fucked by bosses that our Warrior tank would handle with ease.  There was a running gag in the guild that I might finally have over 15% dodge by the time we killed Sinestra.
I remember working on Heroic Halfus shortly before our guild fell apart and remarking that I had 9% dodge and 11% parry, which our warrior had something like 12% to each in comparable gear and something like a 45% chance to block from his mastery.  Dude just straight up took a lot less damage than I did.  Yes, I realize Blood Shield is meant to serve as my version of a shield block, but more on that later.
Runes on Cooldown, Thumb up my Ass.
The most concerning change for me in Cata was how the DK rune system worked.  Rather than each rune having an independant 10-second cooldown, each PAIR of runes would now share that cooldown.  This meant that any one type of run would not begin cooling-down until both runes of that type had been expended.  Blood DKs get a talent that increases their run regeneration rate to make up for not gearing Haste, but things are still dreadfully slow.  Having never seriously tanked on my Warrior (or a Druid for that matter) in Cataclysm, I can’t say for certain if rage users have this same problem of resource availability, but from my experience tanking as a Warrior in Wrath I was never short on rage.
What it ended up doing to me was making tanking boring.  The Blood spec in Cata is designed to queue up a lot of death runes, so you can choose between spamming Heart Strike or Death Strike as the situation requires – more threat or more survivability.  The problem was that I was getting raped so hard in early content that I was pretty much solely using Death Strike (except when I HAD to use blood runes), leaving me with more open GCDs than any other class or spec I have tried to date.  You also face the problem of having to time your rune usage around the enemy attacks – using Death Strike after taking a hit is better than using it before – so you’re just sitting there waiting.  I realize other tanks must plan when to use things like Shield Block, and now Holy Shield, but they also have other buttons to hit in the meantime rather than just watching autoattack.
You’re left filling time with Rune Strike because you have to wait for that big hit to blow Death Strike, which in turn means you’re wasting the potential of Runic Empowerment while your runes are sitting there already full, waiting to be used.
Blood Shield Sucks.  It Sucks Hard.
This is the biggest one for me, and in a way it kind of feeds the other two complaints above as well.  Blood Shield from a design standpoint is a lot more unforgiving than the avoidance mechanics of other tanks.  Even Savage Defense, which bear tanks complain isn’t good enough, at least has the benefit of being a passive damage mitigation proc you gain just from doing your thing.  Warriors and Paladins also have the luxury of a passive avoidance in the form of blocking with a shield.  The discussion of Paladin mastery taking it in the ass compared to warrior mastery is one we’ll save for another day, but both are light years ahead of druids and especially DKs.
There was an awesome post I read a month or so ago (shows you how busy I am at work these days) where Blizzard responded to these concerns:  Blood – What is the Developer’s Design Goal?
There is actually a lot of good information here from the blues, but some of the things they say just really piss me off as someone who loves this class so much.  Namely, in a day and age where Blizzard has gone out of their way to make every aspect of the game more accessible to every walk of life, why do they think its fine for Blood mastery to be such a punishing mechanic?  I’m not bad at WoW, but I also probably couldn’t hack it in a guild like Ensidia.  Regardless, everybody makes mistakes and its something you have to accept in a raiding atmosphere.  I know the attitude of many guilds where I know people is that they won’t use DK tanks if they don’t have to because the playstyle opens the door to a greater detriment when a mistake is made.  A Warrior, Paladin, or Druid have passive avoidance built into their mastery, while DK avoidance is reactive.
Even if I’m the best player in the world, a single momentary lapse in judgment can mean the different between a wipe and a kill – but only if I’m a DK.  Why leave room for potential error when there are less risky alternatives?  I guess maybe if your raid is really dying for another battle-rez, but that’s about it.
Adjusting Blood Shield to be something more passive rather than based upon damage previously taken wouldn’t be a game-breaking change and it would put DKs back on an even playing field with the other autopilot tanks you’d rather bring today.
Having to sit on runes to use at the right time for Death Strike also can cause issues with disease applications at inopportune times.  Our diseases are directly tied to both of our standard tanking debuffs – damage reduction (scarlet fever) and attach speed reduction (frost fever).  The blue speaks to disease uptime and treats it as a decision you have to make between threat or survival – I call bullshit.  If you don’t put those diseases up again for 5-10 seconds, you’re taking 10% more damage from each swing and the swings are coming 20% faster.  Diseases are part of our survivability – not to mention the damage on their is laughable so claiming they are for threat is ridiculous.  You’ll never hear a Warrior, Druid, or Paladin cry mid-fight that they didnt have resources available to reapply their debuffs.  Bring back glyph of disease or give Blood a talent deep in the tree to lower the cooldown on Outbreak.
Anyway…
The whole thing really bums me out.  I truly love my DK – the skills, the talents, the lore, pretty much everything down to his silly modulated evil voice. I wish tanking wasn’t so much of a waiting game though, and more importantly I wish DK tanks weren’t considered liabilities in progression just for the sake of giving them a unique Mastery.
What do you think?  Maybe I just suck at my DK…
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Ok, so more nerfs inc prob

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


Raiding as a Death Knight – Best Practices

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.

Conclusion

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.