Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DPS can be fun too

After scoring my T7.5 DPS chest off of Archavon it was time to play DPS and test it out. The guild wanted Gun Drak so we went and had some fun. It was also a chance to DPS after I revised my talents.

The best test came on Eck the Ferocious, it was pure single target. Valgard had vigilance on me so I went all out. Squeezed in my Orc racial twice, kept the Ghoul alive the whole time, and got a full minute out of my gargoyle.

I can live with 2770 :) I can't wait until dual specs become available. There are several reports out there of 5k+ dps using a 0/32/39 duel wield spec. That will also allow me to focus my tank spec a little tighter to provide even more mitigation.

I'm still 85 hit shy of the cap in my dps gear since I am sharing quite a few peices with my tank set still. Remember get def capped first, then focus on DPS and you will find plenty of parties to go to.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PvP for the PVErs in all of us

As you know by now, I don't PvP. I leveled my lock to 70 on a Ally Dominated PvP server and hated every minute of it. Especially the level 53 druid who thought it was fun to camp my unguilded ass outside of Nessingwary when I was 31. I did it, I transfered off with some friends and I don't regret it.
So I log in to see a pug forming for a 10 man Archavon and they need a tank. I had some spare time so I said I'd do it. I get invited as the last person in. But as things were organizing we lost a couple DPS. At the time I had a total of 3 other guildies on and two just got out of Hero HoS. No problem. Marxi and Kludiwen are in. Then the guy who was going to OT the fight drops. Valgard is on so we bring him in to tank and I change to OT. Next thing we know the PUG is 40% Chaos Brewing and none of us have even read up on the boss.

Gotta say Archavon is easy. Two tanks and the second taunts off the first when he lunges. Same mechanic as the bear boss in ZA.

After one-shotting the 10 man version we had two more guildies come online, Beercan the Boomkin, and Lampost the killer holy paly. Everyone wanted to do it as a 25. So we invite our guildies, 6 of us now, and pug the rest.

We picked up another prot warrior so I switched to DPS duties and we went on to two shot the boss in hero mode.

Yup, two more achievements for the list. I'm about to break 1,000 points and I'm not chasing the things. I also scored a new piece of DPS goodness. Notice the signs of quality I immediately went out and put two quality gems and got the +10 stats enchant put on it. I want to be welcome in pugs and not have people bitch about my gear when I join up.

One last point. So far I haven't said much about the raid difficulty in wrath. I actually consider myself a casual raider even though I beat Ghostcrawlers if your 80 your hard core statement with my DK by well over a week. But this is the 5th 25 man boss I've pugged and I've downed them all. Then again, I still hate that elemental boss in Heroic VH.

Dumb Mistakes

I hate when I make a dumb mistake and I made a big one this morning.

I feel like an idiot and I actually submitted a ticket.

Yup, yours truly looted an item I shouldn't have.

In my defense, I was on the phone, chasing my son, and tanking heroic Violet Hold.

All I saw was 73 hit rating on a trinket.

Mark of the War Prisoner

I didn't see 346 spell power on use. I needed since I am in desperate need of hit.


The only redeeming quality is that the only caster in the run was the healer and he doesn't need the hit.

That said I still contacted a GM to get it moved to him.

UPDATED 8:26PM: Spoke with a GM and they have escalated my ticket and says it should be transfered within a few days. The healer in question is surprised I am making the effort, but I may play a nasty toon, but I have integrety as a player. An amusing aside, after the reset this morning I went back with a guild run and got the same two bosses again, I hate the elemental, and at the end the mark dropped again. This time I let my Elemental Shammy have it.

Updated 1-4-09: The GM's finally moved the trinket to the healer who was quite pleased. Nice to know when I do f up, it can be fixed. Lesson learned, look at an item fully before rolling on it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Signs of Quality

Back in Classic there was an adage, if it’s good enough to raid in, it’s good enough to enchant. At least I’m told that was an adage in classic since I didn’t get my WoW start until BC. Speaking of BC, we added, not only should the gear be enchanted you better gem them, with a minimum of blue gems. This combined with the revered requirement for Heroics and the daunting at first Kara key chain ensured that random strangers in your pug or raid probably knew what they were doing.

Now comes wrath and no keys or attunements to speak of. (Violet Hold doesn’t count, all you do is talk to a guy). You can brag all you want in trade and display your epeen to the world, but actions speak louder than words.

So what are the little things you can do to show you’re serious about raiding? Start with the adage. If you plan on raiding or doing heroics, make sure every item is enchanted and armor kits don’t count. Put the good chants on, even if you expect to replace the item soon. Remember every wipe costs the entire group gold. So a little extra gold up front on everyone’s part will save repair bills in the long run. Gem your gear appropriately including activating your meta gem. Now I’m the first to admit my DPS boots I got Saturday only have a green gem in them. I haven’t found a Balanced or Sovereign Twilights Opal yet to slot in them.

Speaking of Rep, or the lack of needing it. You should still be chasing it down for better gear. That means wearing a tabard when you run a dungeon. Since your collecting rep for gear, make sure you have halfway decent gear to begin with. Starting at level 78 there is some great BoE craftables for all classes not to mention you should be getting some nice quest chain and dungeon blues. After all, if you can’t even make the effort to complete some full chains or run a regular dungeon, why should someone expect you’ll make the effort to perform on their raid?

Lastly, speaking of performance, you want to demonstrate that in your achievements. If you want someone to pug you in on their Heroic Naxx and you don’t even have any dungeon achievements under your belt it’s not going to happen.

In a way this sort of turned into a reverse PuG survival guide. All of these actions indicate you are a quality player that is worth taking on a run and separate you from the scrubs, wannabes, and ebayers. Like Momma always said, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Take some pride and demonstrate some quality.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Talent Spec Discussion post Heroic Naxx

Since I scored a Naxx 25 run last night I’ve been doing some critical reviews of my talent spec. Overall I am very happy with it, but I think I can do better in the DPS department without sacrificing my ability to tank and especially AOE tank. The second aim of this post is to discuss some talents I did not take and why I didn’t think their value weighed enough to drop something else.

Keep in mind I am not looking for a pure DPS build. In no way do I want to sacrifice my ability to tank. In a small guild like Chaos Brewing where there is only two tanks, we can’t afford to lose either one of them. Plus I do prefer tanking.

I may also contradict some of my earlier statements here and on various forums. I am OK with that, as I have had the opportunity to observe and test things in more situations. Learnings are never static.

I will break the remainder down into three sections. One, talents I want to pick up and why. Two, talents I will sacrifice to get what I want and why. Three, other talents considered and why I still haven’t taken them.

In last nights run the other two DKs both had Gargoyles and those added up to 6-10% of their overall damage, much higher on boss fights where it counts. Therefore this is probably one of the largest bang for your buck talents at 1 point.

I have seen enough fights where the magic damage is insane and therefore 1 point in Anti-Magic Zone will definitely pay dividends.

The other talent I want to pick up is 2 points in Unholy Aura. So many of the fights require lots of movement, providing yourself and the raid a 15% movement bonus will allow more melee dps time, and less overall damage as people are able to move out of the shit that kills them even faster.

And for fun, I took one point in corpse explosion. So many of the boss fights have adds that there will always be corpses laying around for some additional AOE output. Not to mention this is being buffed in 3.08.

So I need to come up with 5 talent points from somewhere else. I identified Impurity as my sacrificial target. Impurity impacts your spells, which are Icy Touch and Deathcoil. The only reason I cast Icy Touch is to get frost fever so lowering its damage isn’t a big sacrifice. Recount shows DC as 6.3% of my damage output in heroic naxx, why nerf it? Simple, the only reason I was tossing so many Deathcoils is I needed someway to burn off my Runic Power. Unholy Blight was over 10% of my damage and I had it up almost all the time and still had tons of left over RP. That’s where the gargoyle comes in. While on DPS duty I can’t dump RP into runestrikes and on bosses I know that the Gargoyle will add more overall damage than I’ll lose with deathcoils. Not to mention I will still be able to toss a few when the garg is on cooldown.

That leaves talents I haven’t taken that might have value.

The first one is Butchery, 2 rp per 5 seconds in a fight adds up to a lot of runic power, but the fact is I’m having trouble burning it fast enough as it is, so I have ignored this talent.

Two-Handed weapon Specialization still looks nice but I still think the additional 2% crit that I would lose from dark conviction to get this outweighs the 4% increase in weapon damage. I’ll continue to monitor EJ to see if there is a definitive statement on this.

Improved Icy Touch has a mitigation benefit of reducing boss attack speed. So far I just haven’t tanked an encounter where I needed this additional mitigation. Perhaps if I were main tanking Patchwerk 25 this would be required. But I’m not. I tank him in normal mode eventually.

Along those same lines I can’t justify the three additional points in frost to get Lichborne for the additional oh shit button that it provides.

Virulence increases the hit on Icy Touch and deathcoil. I’ve already said I don’t expect to use DC much so not a lot of help there and even with my 194 hit I only missed 5.4% of my Icy touches over the course of the entire night. I can’t justify spending points here.

Ravenous dead would be nice for the additional strength and ghoul survivability but necrosis and blood caked blade are just too valuable to scale back on.

Outbreak pumps the damage on three attacks that just don’t do a lot of damage to begin with. 3 points in here would increase my overall DPS by 1.4%. I can’t find 3 points I’d be willing to lose mitigation on or that already do less than 1.4% of DPS to move into here.

Desecration is also a great talent on paper and the other Unholy DK we brought in for Noth had this. But the fact is we were running all over the place. There were very few boss fights that did not require a lot of movement and frankly I’d rather have the magic mitigation from magic suppression than a part time 5% damage increase.

Night of the dead has been getting some love in the EJ Unholy DPS thread. When stupid dies, just pop another, why sacrifice 250 dps for 5 minutes? It’s a good question but I’d either lose the utility of Unholy Aura or lose mitigation. Therefore no NoD for me.

The last talent I am missing out on is Wandering Plague. Ostensibly this will increase the AOE damage I put out. But I am still concerned from a DPS perspective of being able to control my AOE damage. There are fights such as Faerlinna where you don’t want to damage the adds and this talent might cause you to do that.

So here is my new talent spec I’ll be running with. I pick up more utility, mitigation, and damage overall. As I continue to run heroics and raids I’ll keep a critical eye out on the performance of this spec and modify it accordingly.

Naxx 25

So I log in for some unexpected saturday night play and get an invite to DPS Naxx 25. Would you say no? Neither did I. What an opportunity to test whether my tanking/dps spec hybrid could actually dish out the pain. I slapped my DPS gear on and went to work.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I knocked out a couple of achievements.

Yup, three bosses down. Picked up my first emblem of Valor in the process.

We also made some progress on the Plague Quarter which made for a 4 badge night.

The holy pally from my guild made the run as well and was the only one in there. All the other pallies were ret and prot. Needless to say she did well when two pally healing plate drops happened. I didn't do too bad myself. As you can see, I picked up some nice DPS boots that I probably won't replace until blizzard releases more content. These fell off the first boss we took on which was Anub'Rekhan.

There were a few other drops that I would have liked but I had to pass since I already won something. C'est la vie. Loot is nice but at the end of the day it is the ability to perform and clear content that I'm interested in.

So how did I perform? I'd say pretty damn well since this was the first raid I've taken this toon on. I know there are DK's out there who claim 3.5k to 4.k dps and good for them. I'm still mostly in dungeon blues and a couple heroic epics. That said, overall I rocked the 25 man charts for a first run. There I am in number 4 position with 2250 DPS. However, it was very clear to me there are two things from a DPS perspective that would have really helped increase what I was capable of.

The first is obviously more hit. I'm somewhere in the 160 range in my DPS gear and that led to 24% glancing blows on the last Arachnid quarter boss Maexxna. That said, I was still 3rd on the meter on that fight and I was webbed against the wall once.

The second, as DPS on 5 minute plus fights I know the Gargoyle would have really rocketed me up the charts. On the last fight we brought in another DK who had the gargoyle and even though I'm better geared his overall damage on the fight calling in the gargoyle twice was greater than mine. Perhaps I might drop one point in Dark Conviction to pick one up for nights like this.

We only had 2 wipes, one on Faerlina and one on Noth. On Faerlina, its a good idea to put your ghoul away. Midway through the fight it decided to go attack the adds instead of staying on the boss which is a no no in that battle.

Heroic Naxx was a lot of fun and I can't wait until my guild finishes leveling everyone for 10 man Naxx. Its easy to enjoy the big runs when you don't have to plan them and deal with all the headaches.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I may be dumb but I can write

OK so I don't stack intel, but I did power level inscription today to 400.

Why would I drop 1800g on herbs and training to do that. Defense Cap, and some extra DPS when not tanking.
Look at that, 52 dodge and 15 defense for my shoulders. Doesn't get much better than that. Actually it does. I have a second set of shoulders I wear for DPS. Those bad boys get the inscription of the axe for an extra 104 AP and 15 crit rating. Of course I gave up a maxed skinning for this so that's a net -10 crit rating in DPS but I'll still take the AP bonus on top of the tanking goodness.

The only thing I don't like about inscription is the product you make isn't really a consumable the way Alchemy is. Needless to say I won't be getting rich off this profession. But then again, if money was the point I would have stayed with two gathering jobs.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pug Survival Guide

Ok Ok, this isn't just directed to Death Knights and it can be applied to anyone.

I pug a lot. Outside of raid nights I generally am not able to play the same time my guild does. Therefore, if I want to run a 5 man I have to pug it. In the last year or so I have really only had one bad pug and after a couple wipes on the way to the first boss I realized it wasn't worth it and moved on.

So how do I survive all the pugs with my sanity in tact?

Simple, I do some due diligence up front and set some parameters on the run.

Before I even hit the lfg channel and trade I determine what run I want to go on and whether I feel capable of tanking it or providing DPS. If I don't think I'm qualified, its not reasonable to go. The last thing I want to be is the weak link that causes wipes and gets me a bad reputation.

Next I check my friends list, and /who former guilds. I can check old guilds I've been in since I have always left on good terms. Generally between those two options I can find at least one person I know and trust to do their job. Once they are in, I hit them up for referrals to try to fill out the group.

So you've done that and you still need spots, well trade and lfg are your source for players. But don't just take anyone who says they'd like to come. This afternoon, I needed HoL regular to complete a couple Sons of Hodir quests that you can't do in heroic mode. So I start checking for players and had two 75's ask to come for an 80 dungeon. Even though they begged I passed and took more time to find players.

There are a couple easy checks to ascertain the quality of the player that wants to run with you. First shift click their name to get class and level. Second, I alt-tab over to and check them out. Not only does it show their gear, gems, and enchants, it also gives and idea of what spec they are and about what level of dungeon/raid they should be capable of assuming they are played decently. Patch 3.02 brought another great resource. You can look at their achievements. If someone is signing up for a heroic, I like to see some heroic achievements. Granted they may have just dinged 80 and then I look for regular dungeons.

Obviously, I would be very suspect of someone who has no heroic or dungeon achievements, little to no enchants or gems, as well as poor gear. If they seem genuine ask if they are on an alt and who their main is and do the same checks. If someone isn't willing to do that, chances are they either aren't capable or an asshat.

Speaking of asshats, well there is nothing you can do upfront other than learn who they are by experience. This is why I have a wipe rule. Generally, its 3 wipes on trash or 5 wipes total. I'm willing to ignore this rule if there is ample reason to believe that the group is capable but just had a run of bad luck.

I'm not saying my play is perfect, in fact I got two dps killed this afternoon with the spinning dwarves. But I didn't make that mistake twice and it was no worse than the rogue who pulled the first boss while he was charged before anyone was ready. Turns out with a good healer I can solo that guy in regular. Took awhile and I had to cycle my cooldowns but it can be done.

Happy pugging.

Unholy Tanking Primer

Back in the day, I learned a lot about tanking by reading Big Bear Butt and Of Teeth and Claws when I was playing my druid. Those sights not only taught me about the importance of defense cap and what early gear would achieve that, they provided basic rotations that in absence of any other knowledge would help you through the run. From my earlier polls I know some of you who want to tank on your DK came from DPS specs or even healers. Now that I have a few weeks of tanking as an Unholy Death Knight, I thought I’d share some do’s and don’ts so you can survive the runs you are on as well.

First, you need to get uncritable and stay there. Pre heroics shoot for around 500 defense and you’ll be golden. Heroics need 535 defense and Raids 540.

Before you make the first pull, lets talk about what needs to be addressed before your first hostile action. Every fight requires some planning and positioning prior to starting. In time with some experience, especially in guild runs, these will become almost automatic.

Planning: Figure out how many mobs and what their capabilities are. Also verify the likelihood you can pick up adds in the fight. It is at this stage you will assign CC and kill orders. Though I have to say, with my UDK, I haven’t really run across any trash that requires these and I’ve gotten lazy and stopped marking mobs. On guild runs, my DPS knows to assist me to stay on my primary target, in PUGs I occasionally have to remind folks of that. Generally speaking you want to focus on casters first, deal with ranged attackers so they don’t aggro your healer, and understand how you will keep all the hatred on you.

Positioning: This is also very important. You want to set up so that your ranged DPS and your healer can stay behind you in areas you already cleared. Trust me, you do not want mobs sneaking up behind you and instagibbing your lifeline. You can also use positioning to help deal with ranged and caster mobs. This is where LOS matters. If you have a corner to hide behind it forces the mobs to come to you even when they prefer to stay at range. Worst case have everyone stand way back, run up and pull then run back yourself so that you are out of range and the mobs must move forward. I know we are AOE tanks, but whenever possible you only want to fight one group at a time, your healer will appreciate it.

Now that we’ve covered planning and positioning at a high level, lets look at the pull and fight in more detail from an unholy perspective. Frosties, I just don’t have the background to help you much beyond concepts.

Pulling is pretty easy as a DK. We have 5 ways of pulling on our own. We can death grip, cast a ranged death and decay, use death coil if we have left over runic power from the last fight, use icy touch at short range, or do a body pull. Generally speaking I prefer to stay away from body pulls unless I plan on fighting where the mob is already located. Therefore I am limited to my ranged options and I usually don’t have enough RP to throw a DC out to get things started. So that leaves a ranged DnD or Death Grip. I make the decision based on the mobs in the fight. If there are a lot of caster mobs or ranged attackers I’ll drop a DnD on them all so they will aggro me and not the healer. The melee mobs will run to me and I can get to work on them. If I have a LOS option with lots of ranged mobs I’ll go ahead and use Death Grip and take advantage of LOS to get everyone to move. I know Allison over at WoWInsider doesn’t like DKs pulling with Death Grip but I think she had a bad PUG. Now when I say I’ll use DG to pull, I lay down a nice pool of death and decay at my feet so all the mobs will have to run through it and aggro on me. Then I pick my first kill target and yank it to me.

A couple last thoughts on the pull. Cast bone shield as early as you can prior to pulling. At the start of the fight with all the mobs up is when you will take the most damage, and the extra early mitigation will give your healer a bit more time before they have to light up the threat meters.

The fight is straight forward once you’ve pulled. I’m assuming almost all your trash pulls will be aoe fights. Since you started with a death and decay on the pull you have used 1 blood, 1 frost, and 1 unholy rune and have one of each left. The target I yanked to me, gets an Icy Touch followed by a Plague Strike. These two attacks use up the remaining frost and unholy runes while putting your diseases on your target. Follow this with pestilence. It will burn your last blood rune, hit all the mobs for a bit more damage and aoe threat, but more importantly, spread all your diseases to all the mobs in combat. At this point you will have enough runic power to cast Unholy Blight.

Let’s review, you have the high threat AOE Death and Decay up on all the mobs, 3 diseases ticking away on everyone, and Unholy Blight doing some serious damage to all the baddies every second. You are now in command of the fight. So long as DPS doesn’t focus on a mob you are not targeting, you will have the attention of every mob until its dead.

Back to the rotations. As soon as you cast UB you will be out of runic power and still waiting on runes to come back up for a second or two. That’s ok, stand there, you may get a weapon swing in. As soon as your runes come up, you want to use scourge strike and blood boil when the first 3 runes you used on death and decay come back. Your next strike will be scourge then blood. Remember, keeping your blood runes on cooldown should net you 10% more parry and you’ll need it with multiple mobs hitting you. From here on out use rune strike every time it procs.

Other things to keep in mind while fighting. Keep horn of winter up, the extra strength increases your threat and the extra agility increases your dodge. Try to keep all the melee in front of you so you don’t get hit from behind. Save your Icebound Fort for when things look real ugly. For single target fights use your DPS rotation. For Boss fights, read the strategies.

Lastly, pay attention to your surroundings. Keep an eye out for your healer first, DPS second. All this will become second nature in no time, even if you’ve been pew pew for years.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The RNG loves me still and other observations

Yesterday was a busy day for me. Its not often I can make the time for four heroics. When I wasn’t running a heroic I was sitting in trade and looking for group trying to find one. I had lots of interesting conversations and had lots of interesting runs.

First of all, alt-tab and are your friend. I showed the recount of my failed heroic pug of Azjol Nerub already. A quick check of gear and enchants/gems would have weeded all three dps out and would have saved me a repair bill. I did get back in there with a better pug and despite a little difficulty with the last boss came away with my first epic drop of the day. That’s right I walked with the Ancient Aligned Girdle. Guess I won’t be using any badges on a tanking belt anytime soon woot.

I saw and spoke to a couple DK’s while looking for a group. The good, a guy named Foereaver. If you’re on Sen’jin horde side and this guy wants to DPS for you, take him. I’m jealous of his skill and gear. The bad, a guy who wanted to DPS Heroic Drak Theron in greens. And the Ugly, I shit you not I saw a DK in mostly tanking gear with a one handed sword. It wasn’t even a tank sword. Pure DPS. Did I mention it was one handed. Guys, if you aren’t going to use a two hander, Duel Wield. Seriously.

So I did make it into Drak Theron Hero with a couple guildies, one pugged dps and a pugged tree to heal. The tree checked out as nicely geared and had enough heroic achievements I wasn’t worried, until he inspected me. I should have screen shot the conversation but it went like this.

“You can tank unholy?” – pugged tree
“You better believe it, better than frost” – Me (I know you frosties might disagree but I have an attitude when people don’t think unholy can tank for no reason)
“Yeah he’s great” – guildy one
“Ok, dazzle me” – pugged tree

35 minutes later when the Prophet dropped without a wipe and not a single mob aggroing on the healer I asked, “Were you dazzeled?”

Pugged Tree – “yeah you’re the best DK tank I’ve ever seen, I never even got agro like I do with my guildy warrior.”

For my efforts the RNG rewarded me with the Keystone Great Ring. I can’t wait to regem and enchant all my gear so I can wear this little piece of tanking goodness.

So the tree wanted us to do heroic violet hold. We dropped the pugged hunter and picked up my guildy boomkin and went in. I’ve never even seen VH before, how bad can it be.

Our first boss was Ichoron and he wiped the floor with us twice. It took us a bit to figure out how to drop the globes and for me to kite him around the room when he comes back to give the DPS more time to drop the globes. After that we one shot the dog and the dragon boss at the end.

Did I mention the Loot Gods love me in a way that is probably not healthy for my marriage. That’s right the Bolstered Legplates dropped for me.

Three heroics and three epics, life is looking pretty good. It was only a week or two ago I was excited about blues from normal 80’s.

Maintaining Defense Cap is Harder than you Thought.

One of my more popular posts was getting uncritable is easier than you think. I believe it and I stand by it. Staying that way can be tough.

While running Heroic Drak’Theron I scored the Key Stone Great Ring. MMMM that’s some yummy tanking goodness. Armor, strength, Stamina, and some sweet dodge. The only problem is I am relying on both my current rings to maintain my defense. So for now it is in my DPS set since the strength on it is so good. Now its time to play the Defense Game. I remember this game on my Bear so I think I should be pretty good at it.

Blizzard loves giving you blue craftable primary slot items with defense galore on them. Then taking the defense off of all the upgrades. So in order to stay capped you start changing around gems, enchants, rings, trinkets, necks, and any other black art to keep your butt from going through the windshield at 90mph.

Once patch 3.08 drops we have a couple options to ensure we are defense capped. I’m not super thrilled with either of them at the moment, but when it comes down to it, capped defense is a must.

The first is the new rune for your 2hander. This puppy is scheduled to give a whopping 25 defense, that’s not rating, that’s the real deal. This is my preferred of the two options but I truly don’t want to lose 4% parry.

The second is the new sigil I spoke about here. 53 defense rating sounds nice, but I’m still concerned it might not be procced when you need it most. I know a lot of proc effects won’t refresh and I haven’t heard whether this one will. I’ll give up 4% parry before I rely on this right now.

Ideally, you will be able to stay capped without resorting to those and gems and enchants will be your primary means of doing so.

For gems you should focus on the following including your belt buckle, you did get a belt buckle didn’t you?:

Thick Autumns Glow – Yellow, 16 defense
Deadly Monarch Topaz – Orange, 8 defense 8 strength
Stalwart Monarch Topaz – Orange, 8 defense 8 dodge
Resolute Monarch Topaz – Orange, 8 defense 8 expertise
Glimmering Monarch Topaz - Orange, 8 defense 8 parry
Thick Dragons Eye – Prismatic, 27 defense Jewlcrafters only
Eternal Earthsiege Diamond – Meta, 21 defense and wasted 5% block

There are a few others with defense but you will be better off with these gems.

Now lets take a look at the enchants that can help us out.

Head – Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector, 20 defense 37 stamina – Argent Crusade Revered

Shoulders – Greater/Lesser Inscription of the Pinnacle – Sons of Hodir Exalted/Honored, 15 defense 20 dodge / 10 defense 15 dodge

Shoulders – Masters Inscription of the Pinnacle – Inscription 400, 15 defense 52 dodge

Back – Enchant Cloak Titanweave , 16 defense

Chest – Enchant Chest Greater Defense, 22 defense

Wrist – Enchant Bracer Major Defense, 12 defense

Hands – Vindicators Armor Kit, 8 defense

Legs – you better not replace your Jormungar or Frosthide leg armor

Feet – Vindicators Armor Kit, 8 defense

Now remember, I’m not saying go out and get every single one of these enchants and slot all your gems with these. Just use the minimum number of these to maintain your uncritable status and keep the rest focused on other useful stats.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alterac Valley FTW

I suck at PvP. Even when I ran a sl/sl lock with a shadow priest partner back in S1 I sucked. I'm not any good in WSG even with my druid. My hunter always gets meleed in AB since I'm terrible at keeping players at range.

But I can rock the charts in AV.
How did I destroy the damage meters you might ask? Especially since I just explained how much I suck at PvP. My secret, I'm a tank and AV needs tanks. All I need is a couple pocket healers and some DPS and I'll make sure Belinda and Vandar bite the big one and my axe is big.
The PvPers are happy because they get to kill each other keeping them off of me and don't have to waste their time fighting NPCs in a battleground.

What's wrong with this picture

The healer I was whispering was geared and experienced for Heroic AN. I was tanking. We never even cleared the first pull of the event on the first boss. C'mon, WTF?! the best DPS was 1041?! That's mediocre in T4 for a lock. Number 3 was a fury Warrior and #4 was a mage.

I'm an AOE tank, We pulled 3 mobs at a time, use your AOE. We can't afford to run the healer outta mana on Trash.

Without a doubt this was the worst pug I've had in over a year. Shame on me for not checking achievements and gear on DPS before inviting.

Culling of Stratholme got it right, Oculus got it wrong.

The most annoying part of Black Morass in BC was add management. If you didn’t have a pally tank you had to dedicate DPS to taking out the adds so they couldn’t go attack the Mideveh’s shield. Depending on the quality of the group, that could mean you didn’t have enough focused DPS on the main mobs and it was easy to fall behind or worse, run your healer outta mana and not give them a break. This was exacerbated by the separation that inevitably occurred between the add managers and the tank.

The other complaint I had about BM was the clearing before you really got started. It wasted time. Despite all of that BM was my favorite 5 man. The pace once it got started was non stop action.

Stratholme directly addressed those two issues. From the time you zone in, to the time you start can be done in minutes. Mobs worth killing are all in packs and are easily AOE’d down. In my small guild our level 80 DPS is basically all melee, I’d love to see what a good lock could do in there. The pace is non stop just like BM. The faster you burn stuff the more your healer can relax. This allows you to shift pressure off your healer and onto your tank for threat and DPS for speed.

After you’ve cleared the first two bosses and go talk to Arthas the pace doesn’t slack off. You are still constantly on the move heading towards the final two bosses. Every time I’ve been in there I’ve had a blast and the time slips by so quickly. I can easily see this becoming the instance of choice to grab 4 emblems and some rep.

The first time you did the defending Wyrmrest and you climbed aboard a dragon for air to air combat you loved it didn’t you. Tracking mobs in 3 dimensions suddenly added a bit of complexity to the ordinary kill x quests. Other than the easy 250 rep and 13g there is no reason to keep doing it. At the end of the day its cast the dot, hit the direct breath, heal and sprint as required. Got old real fast. Ice crown got it better jumping from dragon to dragon and fighting on their backs, though hunters might have a hard time with that.

The oculus is ruined by the disjointed pacing required by the dragon fights. I have yet to feel that flow from one pull to the next that you get in a dungeon or especially Stratholm. And after the first time you do the fights on the dragons they become more tedious than anything.

By the time you’re working dailies for rep, emblems, and gold I just don’t see the Oculus as a popular run.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Poll Results: DK Plans

Generally I like my job, but the past two weeks it’s forced me to go see the Borean Tundra in person. I know this poll isn’t closed just yet, but I can recall enough of the results to talk about it while I’m on the plane to kill some time. It’s that or prep for a meeting.

The poll basically asks whether you plan on being a DPS DK or tank, and at what level. 64% of you say you plan on tanking either heroics or Naxx. The results reflect the direction of the blog and the limited marketing I’ve done for it so far. Most of my articles are about tanking and the two articles that generate the most traffic for me deal with tanking. Y’all are looking for tanking info and hopefully I help answer some of your questions. I know when I was learning to tank with my druid I relied heavily on Karthis over at Of Teeth and Claws and Big Bear Butt.

My webstats tells me most of you found me by some replies I have left in various forums and blogs where I believe I have written a relevant post. This is pretty much the extent of my marketing with the exception of a post on Blog Azeroth.

What they don’t tell me is what other sources of DK information you use. I hope that if you are serious about playing a DK you use the Elitist Jerks Death Knight Forums and, I know I do. Both of these sources provide some great debate, insights, and mechanics that will help all of us be better Death Knights and ensure we don’t get a bad reputation.

Outside of those two sources of information there is WoWInsider of course as well as other Death Knight blogs. So I’m putting up a new poll with check all that apply. I am only aware of three other DK specific blogs. So if you read one of the other blogs let me know. You can tell me why in the comments if you like. Also, if there is a DK blog you like I haven’t listed put it in the comments and I’ll get it added to the new DK blogroll on the side.

I don’t believe we are in competition since it’s so easy to quickly check a bunch of blogs for a new post. Plus I enjoy seeing what others have to say about our class and how to get the most out of our new toons.

Emblem of Heroism Priorities

So you’ve started heroics, maybe even hit Naxx up already. If so I’m jealous. My favorite healer has been but we only have 6 80’s so I’m still waiting. In the meantime I’ve collected a few emblems of heroism and need to decide how to spend them.

Right now, when you check out the badge vendor you won’t see much. I suspect Blizz will patch some more goodies in sometime in the future. The question becomes, what order to get your upgrades. I’ve said it before, I’m pragmatic. Best in class gear for each slot is nice but if I can get 95% of the benefit with 50% of the effort I’m ahead of the game.

So how should you decide to get your badge gear? Some people will say, get the cheapest upgrades first, others will say, save up for the T7 chest. Me, I’m all about the biggest incremental gain per badge. WTF scourge, you gonna explain that?

Damn straight I will, and let me tell you upfront, you’ll need a calculator. I used a spreadsheet.

First things first. Incremental gain per badge is simply the extra benefit a new item gets me over my current item divided by the badge cost. (New-Old)/Badges. That’s the easy part.

The harder part is weighing all the items. All items can be reduces to their Attack Power equivalency which gives a DPS rating. I used the stat conversions over at the EJ DPS Compendium. Since I’m unholy I used their Unholy conversions. This is actually pretty easy, just multiply the items strength by its factor, the hit by its factor, ect and add them all up. Now you can compare every item from a DPS prospective. Bigger the number the better the item. You can also do the same thing with tank points. You can use the tank points addon to get some quality ratings for each item. I devised my own since I will be adding the tank value to the dps value of each item and I want to put additional weight on the tanking benefit an item gets me.

Now that you’ve created a DPS value and Tank value for all the badge gear you might want, and your current items you can start your comparison. Remember, to compare DPS specific rewards to your DPS set, tanking to tanking, or items you think will work for both to both. Simply take the difference (New(DPS+Tank))-(Old(DPS+Tank)) This is the incremental gain calculation.

So when I ran the numbers my biggest gain per badge is Chained Military Gorget Neck piece. It’s a sweet epic with 33 defense, 41 strength, 75 stamina, 32 dodge, and 21 hit. This is obviously a nice piece, so are the epic belts and T7 tokens. So why does this rate so high for me? One it’s relatively inexpensive at 25 emblems. In fact I can buy it next time I log in. Second, and more important, my current neck piece blows. I’m wearing the quest blue from the Icecrown argent crusade chain. I know I have that on my easy to get gear, but I’m moving past that. Not only is this a nice tanking upgrade, all the plus hit and the 17 additional strength will really help with the DPS as well.

There is still another thing you need to consider in using your list you built. Always save enough badges for the top item on your list. You will not need to review your list until you either purchase the top item on it or you upgrade your target slot through other means.

For example, after I get my neck, I will focus on the T7 gloves. But let’s say I pick up a new set of gloves along the way before I get enough badges. I will need to update my current gear points, which will lower the incremental gain the T7 gloves will give me, which will then reduce their value per badge. This may mean the T7 gloves will not be my top priority anymore and I will have to move on to the next item on my list.

The whole point of this, is to get the most value out of your badges and to keep you from wasting them on gear that doesn’t do anything for you.

Just a couple of last thoughts. If all you plan to do is DPS, ignore the tank points on any gear and just calculate the incremental using the attack power equivalency. PvP’ers may want to replace tank points with some weighting for the stam and resilience that many items have.

Benefits of a DPS set

Earlier I suggested that all Death Knight tanks should have a DPS gear set. I've been taking my own advice and I'm pleased to say it is worth it. 400 more dps just by changing some gear out with the dps rep rewards and drops from the heroics I've been running lately.

This was taken from a CoT regular run, but the last time I was in there a week ago my DPS was upper 1,400's. This kind of increase also makes me welcome in more heroic pugs as DPS when they already have a tank in place. More flexibility = more runs.

Now about heroic DPS, you need to stack hit. Mine is still too low and you can see the results in all the glancing blows I had with my melee.

12.3% glancing is a problem. The difference on this Heroic Utgarde Keep run only total's 9,000 damage, but trust me when I say that will add up over the course of a night in Naxx. The glancing and miss will be much worse as the mobs there are 83 instead of 81 elites.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dual Wield Tanking Take Two

Previously, I've said I'm not sold on DWTs. Our friend GC says don't write them off yet.

Let the debate continue.......

Rep Gains in Wrath

Back in the BC day when I was playing my bear tank I had to grind rep. All Feral Druids did. Why? Earthwarden, plain and simple. This thing was so good many druids wouldn't replace it until well into SSC when they could afford to lose the defense it had on it.

Here we see me running up the stairs in Kara after my first ever Moroes wipe while tanking. Yup that's the big ass epic mace I lived in Steam Vaults for. No guild worth their salt would let a druid tank without have grinded to exalted with Cenarian Expedition to get it. To make matters worse, the guild I was in didn't do a lot of 5 mans so I had to pug all the runs. I'd get home from work and hit trade and lfg for SV or heroic SP.

So far things are a lot easier. In one evening I pugged Heroic Nexus, Heroic AN, and regular Halls of Lightning for the daily and picked up over 6,000 rep. Obviously I had a rep tabbard on. At this rate I can run whatever dungeons I want to get go from friendly to exalted for a given faction in 5 or 6 nights of playing. Even less on nights when I have my guild on and we can clear content even faster. This also allows you to focus the time you put into dailies into factions that you can't wear a tabbard for.

I predict a lot more people getting exalted in 4 or more factions this time around, and not pissing and moaning about it when they have to do it on their 3rd or 4th toon.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pug Joy

Three hours , two heroics. Took out Azjol-Nerub for the daily and traded out one dps and beat up the nexus.
I think I need a bigger toilet to flush this guy with. Reminds me of a story from a long time ago. Mrs. Scourge said we had a spider in the house. At the time where we lived we had big spiders and little spiders. The big ones were about 1". "Is it big or little". The answer was big. So I grab a tissue and proceeded to the living room to squish the damn thing. She didn't say it was BIG. Thing was the size of my fist and jumped. I used a golf club on it. Kinda like death gripping a mob into a rune strike.

Annomolus in Nexus gave us a little trouble but we one shot the big tree and the dragon. I picked up the Rift Striders off him for my trouble and was my only drop for the night. The only true tanking problem I had all night was on this fight. We tried to score the achievement by leaving all the rifts up. I got unlucky and took 6 different chaotic blasts within a couple of seconds and my health went down by half. IBF was on cooldown and for that matter so was bone shield and I dropped like a bad habit.

Nexus has a lot of caster mobs and AMZ would have been handy. Perhaps when we get duel spec I'll devote one to magic tanking and one to melee tanking.

Sigils in 3.08

So I got my first look at the new sigils. I'm sure you have too. I hope the "tanking" one gets changed before live.

First of all, 15 heroic badges for 53 defense rating. By the time you have 15 heroic badges you should be getting close to the defense cap anyway. Granted this does provide more flexibility in gearing decisions. What concerns me, and everyone else I've read is that its a proc on Icy Touch. Even if this procs 100% of the time you use icy touch, there is always the possibility it wears off prior to your next icy touch and all of a sudden you are critable for a short duration. If you are in the PTR please post feedback on this item to be defense on equip with no proc criteria.

Moving on.

Here's what I'm most likely to go get as an Unholy Tank. Until I can trust the defense sigil I'd much rather have a huge buff to my bread and butter strike. 203 to scourge is looking a lot nicer than 90 to blood strike.

Our Frosty friends will like Frozen Conscience, same damage but applies to Icy Touch which they buff through talents.

The Wild Buck, I'm not sold on. I think I'd rather keep dark rider with its 90 damage to Heart Strike than this.

Looks like Blizzard is batting .500 coming out of the gate with the new sigils. I'm sure our friends over at EJ will do the math on Wild Buck to see if it's ever worth taking. The frost and unholy focused sigils look sweet though.

Please bring your seatbacks to the upright position

Ok, Ok, the picture is in Barrens. And I actually took it a few weeks ago when I was going to level my herbalism. But it's been so long since I put an in-game shot up. I haven't played in close to a week. But I'm back. I'll be up to my usual shenanigans including pistol whipping Farva for saying it.

Before I left, I hit revered with wyrmrest and got my chest and boots. So now I'm repping for Argent Crusade to score some head enchants.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Strategic uses of Raise Dead

Raise dead, soon to be raise ally, is a situational raid DPS preservation tool. Some of you are asking me, scourge WTF did you just say? There are times when you can maintain high levels of raid dps but using raise dead.

The first and most obvious use is when a non critical role dies in a boss fight. You can ghoul your friends and get them back in the action to continue to lay the smack down on the boss. Why non critical, If you have a druid or a lock in the group you want to use their battle rez capabilities on healers first, then tanks. Therefore you don’t want to kill their ability to rez one of those players. Unlike a druid’s battle rez, since ours is instant we can get someone up while tanking, take that you furry beast.

Here is a more creative use of raise dead. Again it is highly situational. Lets say you have a caster that is just scraping the mana barrel towards the end of a long fight and you’re worried about an enrage timer. They’ve used all their tricks to regen their mana but it’s just not happening. With all the AOE damage a group takes on boss fights, they can sacrifice themselves and you can pop them back up as a ghoul to they can continue to add some damage.

The first technique is easy to pull off without much prior planning, in fact you can do it in your next pug. The second is probably best left for guild runs since it takes more coordination than most pugs have. The caster has to let you know they are done, and gonna sac themselves, the healer has to know to not waste their own mana by healing the victim, you have to know that they will need to be raised as soon as they drop to maximize the time they can say braaiiinssss.
This is essentially the same thing healers who are soulstoned will do to squeeze that last bit of healing out at the end of a long fight. Tricks like these can be the difference between a 1% wipe and a guild first kill.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm a Tank, why should I roll on DPS gear

So I'm still stuck in the great white north without Wow. So I'm limited to topics that I can write about without pictures, or in game research.

So far 78% of y'all have said in my poll you want to tank. Why the hell would I go out and tell you to get a DPS set of gear. Quite simply, you will spend a lot of time as melee DPS.

Like Feral Druids we can switch very easily between providing DPS and tanking. In fact we are supposed to be the DPS tanks. Even when tanking we do some nice damage and can compete with the best of them.

Why will you be DPS when you're a tank. One, when soloing, you want to kill mobs as fast as possible and good DPS gear that doesn't have itemization points spent on Stam or Defense will get the job done all the quicker. Two, while building out your defense set you can run heroics as DPS. Three, even in Naxx, it makes more sense from a raid optimization standpoint to have us OT and provide DPS if we are sharing tanking with a Warrior or Pally. Why because we can do twice the damage they can.

Just because we can be every bit as effective as a tank as any other class doesn't mean we should always be the main tank, we can do a lot more DPS than other tanks so plan on standing behind the bosses a lot of the time.

So what makes good DPS gear versus Tank gear. We all know for tanks we need defense, stamina, strength, parry, dodge, and to some degree hit and expertise. For DPS gear focus on hit, strength, and expertise. When you stand behind the mobs and they are not attacking you, you don't need dodge or parry. Consequently, as DPS you won't be using rune strike either.

So the trick is to get big bags and carry two sets of gear. One set for tanking and one for spanking. As a Bear I liked the outfitter addon(closet gnome and itemrack do the same thing). This allows me to establish gear sets for the role at hand and could incorporate gear changes into a macro. So as a DK, if you switch from blood/unholy presence to frost presence it will automatically equip your tank set. Of course if you are in combat only your weapons will change until you exit combat. The same holds for going from frost to blood. This saves you valuable time between pulls and ensures you have the best gear on for the job at hand.

I'll say it now, and I'll say it later. Because we have such a dps advantage over other tanks, we will OT and we will DPS even when we want to be the first person on the bosses shit list.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poll Results: My former main

Y'all took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting ranged DPS to be the greatest source of new DKs. Then again, I know my polls will be biased.

I remember my transition from ranged DPS to tanking/melee DPS. There is a learning curve, at least I had one. My first toon I ever raided with was an Affliction Warlock. Even though I participated in guild first kills of such bosses as Attuemen, Moreos, Maiden, and eventually Shade and Illhoof on this toon I always felt divorced from the action. I stood in back, moved when I needed to, and paid attention to my cast rotations.

Though I never played WoW pre-BC, I can see how ranged DPS could take it easy in a 40man raid.

When I rolled my Bear, and went out and researched how to tank, or supply melee DPS in cat form as needed, I quickly realized raiding with the boss smacking you around is a lot different than going pew pew in the back.

For those of you new to being the front line, expect more responsibility. When you are doing a 5 man or heroic, or even Naxx, as a tank or off tank you will be expected to know the fights. Not just the bosses, but the trash too. Marking mobs doesn't seem to be important so far in Wrath the way it was in BC, but you should still learn which mobs to kill in what order. Casters first.

You will also need to develop a greater level of situational awareness than you had raining death from a distance. As the tank you need to know where people are. You also need to know who's second on the threat lists of all the mobs. Because when one breaks free you want to know where its headed.

I know people joke that the tanks death is the healers fault, the healers death is the tanks fault, and dps deaths are their own damn fault. Use your threat dumps ya jerks. The fact is, when tanking you tend to take any ones death personally.

There isn't a post you can read that will teach you situational awareness. You just have to get that by experience. I'd also recommend getting experience in more than one roll. So you used to be a mage/lock/hunter. Now go out and roll a healer, even if its for lowbie instances. Learn what the other classes can and can not do. It will save your ass when all hell brakes loose. Trust me. I consider myself casual but I have one of every class at least level 60, 3 70's and my new pride and joy. I'm not the best frost mage or holy priest, but I have an idea of how they can work with me to get the baddie down.

As for the former tanks, you know what to do. Always keep an eye on the trade off between threat and mitigation and you'll be fine with the new DK.

Healers, my best advice as a DK is look at the mob, not your parties health bars.

Melee, remember we don't have a threat dump. We can talent lower threat for DPS but we can't clear it the same way a rogue can or to a lesser degree cower for cats.

If you haven't responded to the new poll on what you want to do with your DK please do so. Also for all you lurkers (I say that as if I have more than 5 people who have been here more than once) leave me a comment, tell me what's on your mind regarding DKs. We are a new class and our collective thoughts will define who we become. Let's make sure people want us for our abilities not for a perception of OP. After all GC says bring the player not the toon.

Ghostcrawler Speaks Again.

Here is the link on to the full text.

Runestrike, Icebound Fort, and Boneshield all took a hit from the Nerf Bat. Honestly, can't say I'm surprised. But all the changes actually make me a Happy DK. We are allowed to be happy as we kill everything in sight, right?

But keep in mind when considering the IBF nerf. It is set to scale with your defense so a DK at the defense cap is still getting the vast majority of the mitigation we are used to seeing.

Our mitigation should hopefully balance with the buff to Frost Presence. It is getting even more armor which should add another 2500 to 3000 armor beyond what you are getting now. It also gets an extra 10% magic damage reduction. Gotta love that.

Our AOE tanking abilities just got better, especially for Unholy. No more cooldown on Pestilence means you can spread your diseases that much faster when adds come running in. That means you can be even more effective in keeping them off your healers. Unholy Blight has its RP reduced by a third. You can now get UB up in your first rotation.

When this makes it through the PTR and hits live, the first thing you need to do is review your sigils and glyphs. They are both getting an overhaul. As soon as I learn some details, I'll pass it on with my thoughts. Now where's my penny?

No more death and decay before the pull. Horn of winter no longer costs RP, but generates it. That's right blow your horn for free RP and DK goodness. You're friends will love you for it.

Having trouble hitting the defense cap to tank heroics and Naxx? We get a new rune that gives a massive 25 defense skill. That's right I said skill not rating. Holy shit. It also gives 2% stamina. This is a fantastic bridge as you gear up. However, once you have the gear for the defense cap, you will still be better with the rune of swordshattering for its 4% parry.

There are also a host of other changes to strikes that warrant further review when I have some more time. All told, I think our tanking just got better and I'm not overly concerned with the nerfs that are coming with all the buffs.

Live from Northrend

So I'm traveling, won't say where, but when I landed the outside temp was 7 degrees and plenty of snow. If there were mountains I'd say Icecrown but it has more of a Borean Tundra feel.

Since I don't have a lot of time here is my Heroic Nexus tip.

Bring a mage.

OK, I'll elaborate. You know those little rift mobs that spawn adds that you have to kill first. I have first hand witnessed a mage frostfiring them and killing them without aggroing them or their group.

I don't know if it works with a lock and shadowbolt or any other mage spell, but I know it works right now. Expect Blizzard to fix that sometime soon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not sold on Dual Wield Tanking

So I just came out of Heroic Drak, we never downed the first boss. Once again it was a pug run and I had my reservations about going but I need the rep so I can def cap.

The tank was another DK, frost spec. He was defense capped, but he was duel wielding. I know has an official thread regarding duel wielding and so far the gist is, with enough hit and expertise it might be viable.

I was worried about Parry-Haste but that doesn't seem to have been an issue with only 22 parries he caused. He did go down faster than Brittany's Spears' career and I don't know why. He has the big three early mitigation talents. Maybe we had bad healers, since we had two of them. Not sure.

What really amazed me was the threat problems. On AOE pulls, just pestilence and unholy blight were grabbing aggro from him in a big way. I didn't even think about using DnD. I'm sure his lack of threat is due to low hit and expertise, especially for a duel wielder.
Holy Crap!!! 17% Miss, 10% Glance, add in another 5% between Parry and Dodge, he only landed 67% of his attacks cleanly. Here I was bitching that my glance and miss were 15% combined and was not pleased with the impact it had on my output.

There is something to be said for BC's heroic requirements as well. We had a rogue in the group that was sporting 807 dps. That's acceptable, if you're T4 and level 70. Quite honestly, I don't think the big boy guilds would take me for dps with my 1500 in their heroics, and I'm OK with that.

Poll Results, Why did you roll a Death Knight

Let me start by saying, I'm a professional statistician. I will give some interpretation of my polls but I KNOW that the data is biased. Anyone coming to my blog has an interest in Death Knights beyond a passing fancy.

OK, 20 of you were kind enough to respond and not surprisingly nearly two thirds of you have switched to a Death Knight as your new main. 25% of you were interested in the lore, while the remaining 3 of you just wanted to OP.

Let's start with the idea of Death Knights are over powered. At level 58 in Hellfire we were. Out of the 10 toons, every class, I've taken through Hellfire, the DK was far and away the easiest. Now I don't have any comparison at level 80, but I know when I run or tank a dungeon I don't feel over powered any more.

The lore, Blizzard did a great job with it. Too bad I'm just not caught up in it. Prior to WoW, the last time I played warcraft was the original Orcs versus Humans. Even then I never owned it. So I'm sure I missed out on some of the grandeur of the back story. C'est la vie.

New mains, dominated the sample. I was surprised to find myself one of them. My original Wrath intentions were to continue to level my Bear and keep tanking with him. I guess I just like the complexity of the DK over being a feral druid. I know some of you are saying being a druid can be complex to, and they can. Managing which form to be in and when can be quite involving, but in the middle of a fight, you just don't change to cat form when your tanking very often. I should confess my first toon was an Affliction warlock which had complex damage rotations to perform well and the DK kind of reminds me of that but in a more forceful way fighting the mob face to face.

So now that we know why you rolled a DK, go check the new poll and let everyone know what you plan to do with it. I purposely left PvP off the poll. Quite frankly, if you want PvP advice and anecdotes you are in the wrong place.

Tankin Heroics one wipe at a time

So I ran Old Kingdom heroic yesterday. I wasn't supposed to tank. It was a pug group and I was brought in as DPS. The problem is, my 526 defense turned out to be a lot better than what our warrior was sporting.

The Pally healer we had was fantastic in his ability to keep the tank up. Things went reasonably well until we got to Jedoga Shadowseeker. She crit the tank and dropped him in one shot about a minute in. Luckily I was second on the aggro list. I popped my Empower Rune Weapon and changed to frost stance and managed to stay vertical as we slowly killed her. With the tank down and me in frost we didn't have the DPS to kill the minions outright so I would save IBF for her buff right after the sacrifice.

For my efforts I scored the Edge of Oblivion. A sweet Axe if I ever saw one.

My DPS on the run was Meh. I had two issues. Stupid like to die, a lot. I got to the point I just left him dead. So there's a dps hit. I'm starting to think my treatise on ghoul vs gargolye was not well thought out, assuming I seriously underestimated ghoul survivability. The second issue is best shown with a picture. Wow that's a lot of glancing blows.
Miss is a little high too.

Skeleton Jack did a great post about hit and expertise. Basically says, you need 295 hit for the hit cap to eliminate glancing and misses.

My hit is 54. Oops. Needless to say, this is a stat I need to go find as I finish getting my defense capped. The wyrmrest boots I'm repping for has 29 which will help and I have my eye out for a scroll of Enchant Gloves Precision for its 20 to hit as well. That still leaves me woefully short of the hit cap. However, as I saw first hand yesterday. Def Cap > Hit Cap.

You can't hit shit when you're dead.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ghouls vs Gargoyle

There is still a lot of debate, which is better. Stupid or the Gargoyle.

Let's start with some assumptions and do some math. I promise it won't be that hard, but then again I may be biased since I do math for a living.

Most reports seem to agree that Gargyoles do 550 dps for the minute they are up and have a 3 minute cooldown. On a five minute fight you could call him twice. Let's further assume you have enough RP to keep him up the entire minute both times. That gives 550*120 = 66,000 total damage.

Now lets make the big assumption, the boss fight is not AOE intensive and your Ghoul will stay up the entire time. Most the smart folks agree that ghouls contribute 200dps. Therefore ghouls will pump out 5*60*200 = 60,000 total damage.

Gargoyle 66 > Ghoul 60 game over get the garg.

Not that easy.

All the runic power that generated and ran the Gargoyle can be used for other fun stuff if you have a ghoul. When tanking, I can use the RP for Unholy Blight and Runestrike. I have a 3.5 second weapon swing and I convert 30% to rune strikes. My RS hits for 2542 on average while a weapon swing hits for 933. This means each rune strike adds 1609 damage. 5 minutes * 60 seconds divided by 3.5 per swing means I will get 85.7 swings in. 25 will be rune strikes which will add another 40,225 damage to my totals.

Plus, I will also have the RP to run unholy blight. I currently don't have numbers for how much it ticks against a single mob, but it ticked for 137 damage on my gun'drak run. To be conservative, I'll say I get 1/4 of that on bosses or 34.25 dps. Over the course of 5 minutes that gives me another 10,275 damage.

Therefore with a ghoul out I can do a total of 60,000 + 40,225 + 10,275 for a total of 110,500 damage between my Ghoul and rune strike and unholy blight.

Now to be fair, the Gargolye is only consuming RP for 2 minutes out of 5. But you do have to build a cushion prior to summoning it. So lets add 2 minutes worth of UB and RS to its damage. That gives me an additional 4,110 damage from UB and another 16,550 from rune strikes. Now its total jumps up to 86,660 damage.

Therefore Ghoul > Garg.

Dam this is turning into a long post. It's still not that easy.

The difference between the two is 23,840. If you divide that by Ghoul DPS that means you have 120 seconds of using the ghoul you can spare for its damage to be greater. If your ghoul dies in less than 3 minutes on the fight you would have done more damage with the gargoyle.

A couple more things to consider from a tanking perspective. The extra damage you get from UB and RS when you spec Ghoul contributes to your threat. Not only that, you have an emergency heal with Death Pact, assuming it isn't already dead.

From a DPS perspective, you shouldn't be getting all the rune strikes so it comes down to losing a minute of UB, not that big a deal, and a minutes worth of Death Coils to use the Gargoyle. If you're all about burning down the boss take the Gargoyle. If you want to look good on the entire run, take the Ghoul. Then again, if you are DPS there are a lot of points in my tank spec that can be freed up to get both.

So there it is, for an Unholy tanking/dps build the Ghoul is preferred to the Gargoyle.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lucky Bastard and some Runestrike Love

I'm a lucky bastard yes I am. I had some time to squeeze in a Gun'Drak run trying to improve my defense and become uncritable. The run went smooth as butter except for two problems.

On the second boss I disconnected as soon as I started the fight. I managed to log in and find one dps still up and my healer. I grabbed aggro back and we proceeded to burn him the rest of the way down. Woops.

The other problem came on Gal'darah. None of us knew he had a whirlwind, and wowwiki didn't tell us. Prior to the fight our healer asked us to close in tight so she could AOE heal through the charges. Well first whirlwind comes and we loose 2 dps and our heals. Thanks to IBF, Bone Shield, and shadow of death, we still got him to 18% before we wiped. Needless to say, Gal'darah does a whirlwind. Stay out of it.
The good news is, he dropped my tanking ring. This is the second dungeon I've received the drop I needed for my defense gear on the first try. Guess the RNG is making up for a year of no Moroes Pocket Watch or T4 helm for my Bear.

My total defense is improving and I've actually deviated a little from my easy to get gear since I take upgrades as I find them. Right now I stand at 525 and I still only have 399 natural skill. What does it take to get that last point?! As you can see my avoidance is starting to look nice as well and I clear 45% when blade barrier is up without any buffs other than horn of winter. When I'm in frost stance I'm also pushing 21,800 armor.

Last thing I want to talk about from my Gun'Drak run is runestrike. I did a total of 365 weapon swings over the entire run. 107 were converted to rune strike for 30% of my swings. This pushed RS to the top of my damage output. This was a heavy AOE tanking event and you can see death and decay along with unholy blight did a good chunk of my output. Pestilence itself didn't show up very high but it pushed a lot of disease damage out.

I continue to be impressed by the DK's tanking ability, both to withstand punishment and to dish out the threat and the damage. One of the things I like best, is when I have DnD and Unholy up, loose patrols just increase my DPS.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Talent Spec and Why

No pretty pictures with this post but I will link my spec here. There are three reasons to consider talents, 1) does it provide mitigation. 2) does it provide increased threat. 3) does it provide some useful utility. If a talent doesn't address any of these three reasons and is not needed to break a lock in a tree, do not take it. So without further ado, here are my talents listed out, how many points, and why I took them.

Blade Barrier - 5 points. Whether I'm AOE or single target, I make sure to burn both my blood runes to proc this and get a nice 10% increase to my parry. In my current gear this brings my avoidance up to 45%. Without a doubt, this is a must have in every tanking spec for its mitigation. Not only is it 10% more parry, it means more Runestrikes. Who doesn't want more of those. Well the bosses you tank don't but we don't care about their opinions.

Bladed Armor - 5 points. In Frost presence this ups my AP by well over 600 points, half of which is incremental to being in blood presence. This is a pure threat talent.

Dark Conviction - 5 points. 5% crit on everything you do. Pure threat goodness.

Toughness - 5 points. This is another pure mitigation talent. If you don't have this you shouldn't be tanking. 15% more armor is sweet, especially since it has synergies with Bladed Armor to help increase your threat.

Vicious Strikes - 2 points. Increases the damage you do on your primary single target attack. More threat means dps can burn harder.

Morbidity - 3 points. While it does increase the damage on death coil, the primary reason to take this is to lower the cooldown of Death and Decay to 15 seconds. This allows you to keep your AOE threat at its peak 80% of the time. Not only that DnD is a high threat ability. Warlocks with their Seeds of Corruption can cast to their evil little hearts content when you have this talent.

Anticipation - 5 points. Extra dodge pure and simple. This is the last of the 3 mitigation talents that all tank specs must have. Like Blade Barrier this also will allow you to throw the smack down with more runestrikes. Woot!

Epidemic - 2 points. Let's face it, Icy Touch and Plague Strike aren't exactly the kings of dishing out damage by themselves. With this talent, the wonderful diseases they create last longer. This gives you more time to use your precious runes on scourge strike and therefore this is both a utility and threat selection.

Necrosis - 5 points. More damage pure and simple = more threat.

Blood Caked Blade - 3 points. Free attacks that don't consume a weapon swing or a GCD. This tends to run about 2.5% of my overall damage output. That adds up to quite a lot of extra threat.

Shadow of Death - 1 point. This talent covers all three reasons. Mitigation is helped with a boost to your stamina. Threat with a boost to your strength. Utility, because you have to die twice. Boss kills you with 3% left, no worries you self rez as a ghoul and can help burn him down as he runs from player to player ganking them all.

Impurity - 5 points. More damage on some of your key single target and aoe abilities.

Dirge - 2 points. This helps keep your runic power up. It's like viagra for rune strikes.

Magic Suppression - 5 points. Mitigation pure and simple when armor just doesn't do the job.

Reaping - 3 points. If you want death runes you want reaping, and you do want death runes. These little babies are what allow you to get some extra scourge strikes in. Even better you get these by burning your blood runes so you can proc blade barrier. I love the fact that blizzard put so much synergy between mitigation and threat in so many of our talents.

Master of Stupid (I mean Ghouls) - 1 point. This is a utility selection as it doesn't help when tanking. The damage it puts out doesn't add to your threat. It doesn't help with mitigation, and he dies in AOE intensive fights. I like my Ghouls for the extra damage they give me when I'm not tanking so I keep this point.

Crypt Fever - 3 points. Increases the Disease damage you have out there. Let's face it, if you're not using pestilence to get on the CDCs shit list you're not aoe tanking. Your standing in the middle of a pack of mobs hoping they don't like your name.

Bone Shield - 1 point. If you are an Unholy tank, you are bone headed without bone shield. This is pure mitigation and make sure you buy the glyph for it too. On single target fights, you can stack enough avoidance to keep this up for longer than a full minute which gets you past its cooldown. Healers will love you for the extra 40% mitigation from ALL sources of damage. This is the Unholy talent that makes the folks over at EJ think, "you know, unholy might be better at tanking than frost." Take it or spec Frost.

Ebon Plaguebringer - 3 points. This gives you a 3rd disease to spread around you dirty dirty little girl. More threat plain and simple.

Scourge Strike - 1 point. This will be your bread and butter attack against single mobs. Lots of tasty damage means lots of ill will from the boss. Guess he won't be sending you a Christmas card this year.

Rage of Rivendare - 5 points. This is another one of those great talents that provides both threat and mitigation. It pumps the damage done by targets you've infected and gives you more expertise. More expertise means you trigger the bosses parry-haste less often, means you don't get hit as frequently. You are already this deep in Unholy, take it.

Unholy Blight - 1 point. AOE threat galore. Yummy.

So there you go. I know there are some great talents I left out, but the trade offs are part of the fun of the game.