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.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Uncritable: Easier than you think

So here it is, my list of easy to obtain gear that will get you past that magical 689 defense rating so the big baddies in heroics and Naxx won't stomp you into oblivion. This is not best in class gear. It is gear a casual raider like me can pick up without a lot of effort.

Head: Helm of the Ley-Guardian, its a drop in the Oculus. 68 defense.

Neck: Blood Infused Pendent, quest reward. 26 defense.

Shoulder: Pauldrons of Reconnaissance, quest reward in Halls of Lightning. 46 defense.

Back: Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions, Wyrmrest rep reward honored. 43 defense.

Chest: Breastplate of the Solemn Council, Wyrmrest rep reward revered. 76 defense.

Wrist: Svala's Bloodied Shackles, drop in Utgarde Pinnacle. 27 defense.

Hands: Tempered Saronite Gauntlets, crafted. 66 defense.

Belt: Waistguard of the Risen Knight, trash drop in the Drak'theron, I found mine in the AH. 42 defense.

Pants: Daunting Legplates, crafted. 88 defense.

Feet: Sabatons of Draconic Vigor, Wyrmrest rep reward revered. 58 defense.

Ring1: Staunch Signet, quest reward in Oculus. 25 defense.

Ring2: Gal'darah's Signet, drop in Gun'drak. 36 defense.

Trinket: Seal of the Pantheon, drop in Halls of Lightning. 65 defense.

Gem: The gear above will have 1 red slot. Deadly Monarchs Topaz, crafted. 8 defense.

Enchant: Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector, Argent Crusade rep reward revered. 20 defense.

There you have it, 694 dfense rating. All you have to do is some quests while leveling, 6 dailies, and 5 dungeons and you can be uncritable and ready to tank heroics and Naxx.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

DK vs Bear AOE Smackdown!

Back in the day, BC pre 3.02, Bear AOE was a pain in the ass. Step 1, make sure all the mobs you want to hit are no where near the CC. Remember CC. Seems so long ago. Step 2, mangle the main target. Step 3, apply the AOE lovefest. You did this by using swipe and a mouseover macro for lacerate. I'd typically begin the pull with barkskin and hurricane as well to keep the mobs from running to the healer. Pain yes, but really pretty straight forward once you got the hang of it.

Bear AOE after 3.02. Lol. Get the mobs in front of you, spam a beserked mangle and swipe. Game over.

DK AOE tanking is another story. Done right, it will stand up to heal threat and ranged AOE threat. Melee focus fire on secondary targets not so much. Then again, if DPS is going after a secondary AOE target they deserve whats coming to them.

So how do you do it. I picked the biggest nastiest mob to be skull and my focus target. Then I pull him and all his friends into a nice pool of Death and Decay. Next I hit my new friend with Icy Touch and Plague Strike to get my diseases up. By this time I have burned 1 blood rune, both frost runes, and both unholy runes. Pestilence makes it all good. Now I've got my diseases ticking away on everyone. They all hate me. Runestrike is proccing like crazy with all the mobs beating on me. Just remember to save enough runic power at the outset to treat the party with and Unholy Blight, assuming you can. Throw a few scourge strikes in on the main nasty and keep your diseases up and Blood Boil them in the second rotation and they all drop at your feet.


Gotta say, Bear AOE is sweet and deadly. But I'm loving the challenge DKs bring to the table to play well.

Now get out there and put an axe in somethings face.

Where's BB King when you need him

I've got the blues. Literally. And unfortunately figuratively. First the bad news. I saw an 80 DK advertising tanking any 80 in trade. I didn't need a run but I sent him a tell anyway to see whats going on. Earlier I said, if you see an 80 DK they probably know what they are doing. I was wrong. My new friend and I disagree on tanking. I'd like to think I'm right but I'll post both sides of the story and let you decide.

I can't fault him on his gear too much since mines not that great either. That said I sport 19.2k hp in blood presence and he only had 14.4. I asked him what his defense was and it was 486. Actually, mine was earlier in the day when I dinged 80 so no harm no foul. I asked him what spec, he replied, "Frost, only spec that can tank." As you know, I'm Unholy. I happen to agree with EJ that Unholy is completely viable and the fact that he laughed at me for being unholy tells me he's not very open minded. I pulled his armory. Yes he is frost but he is missing two important talents in blood. Namely Blade Barrier and Bladed Armor. Lower threat and lower mitigation<>good. The icing on the cake IMO was he was duel wielding, as a tank, without a lot of hit or expertise. Lower threat and parry instagib = dead tank and dead dps.

I'm scared he will tank a pug and 4 people will think DKs suck at tanking. I suggested my talent choices were approved by EJ and and hopefully he will go do some research.

Changing gears. On to my literal blues. The RNG liked me. My first run tanking Hall of Lightning and look what dropped off Loken. This was on my Christmas, uncritable wish list and its now in slot 17. I know I still owe you the rest of my pragmatic gear list but we can start by saying I'm repping for Wyrmrest. But with this little beauty I'm now sporting a whopping 504 defense. Woot!

I also believe my spec can throw some DPS so here's what I accomplished in Frost presence without my Ghoul. Yes thats yours truly at the top of the damage meter throwing 1148 dps while tanking. Runestrike was about 20% and actually procced so much I had trouble keeping Unholy Blight up. All in all, not bad for never running the place before. Good thing I run in windowed mode so I can ALT-TAB to wowwiki for boss info.

Tankin with my pants on

DKs are a different breed of tank. You will never see us without our pants.

Did you ever inspect your tank after a boss fight in a heroic? Did you ever catch one without their pants? To the uninitiated this would be surprising. Any tank that has seen some serious progression knows its a trick of the trade to lose your shorts for a fight.

All three classic tanks rely on taking damage to generate threat. I know when my bear was armor capped and 45% dodge in the easier heroics or worse, running an alt through a lesser dungeon I had huge problems with rage starvation. As a bear, I'd typically put on my cat gear, or sometimes even tank as a cat. Warriors and Pallies are in the same boat. If they have too much mitigation the warriors don't get rage and the pallies don't need to be healed which refills their mana bars. Solution, they'd take their pants off.

Death Knights will never have that problem. Our threat is generated by our abilities which are independent of taking damage. We will never overgear the content we are running.

I thought about this as I look through gear lists trying to find what I can get the easiest that will satisfy my minimum mitigation requirements of 689 defense rating to become uncritable.

Sometime soon, after I do my spec rundown, I'll write what gear I'm after and why. Let me preface that by saying I'm a pragmatist. I don't have time or the wherewithal to chase down best in class gear for every slot. I'll be going after the easiest way to get my defense to 540.

Here it is, your moment of ding.

Time played 4 days 4 hours 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

Talent Spec Performance

Earlier I considered moving 3 points from Blood Caked Blade to Ravenous Dead since I wasn't initially impressed with BCB's output. I left my spec unchanged from this. I was also concerned about the lack of Subversion's threat reduction when I am in a DPS role and planned on testing it out yesterday.

I did. It was my first run in Halls of Stone. We had to pug one spot since our guild of 11 people didn't have enough on. You can see I took the top spot. The Shammy was lvl 77 elemental. The rogue was pugged while Valgard is level 78. Our Pally healer is already 80 and I finished the run 200k xp shy of dinging 80.

For the most part I went easy on the AOE since I was not tanking and on AOE heavy fights I pushed 1600dps. I wish I would have screen shotted one. We were in the area with all the non elite rock elementals and we pulled around 10 of them. Between 3 diseases, pestilence, unholy blight, and I went a head and did a dps no no and dropped the high threat Death and decay, my screen was entirely filled with numbers. I couldn't see anything.

So back to the decisions at hand, was threat a problem? No, not when I gave ample time before applying AOE. If I used pestilence on the first half on the initial rotation I could start to hit threat limits on secondary mobs. Single target threat was fine. Val even didn't bother hitting me with vigilance after the first one wore off.

Does blood caked blade do enough damage to justify its expense. I think so. Yes it came in at # 12 on my sources of damage and did 2.5% but it still adds up and I'll also defer to the research at EJ and keep it in over ravenous dead.

I did drop Lichblade after the run and replaced it with Swordshattering. I know the extra parry won't mean anything while doing DPS but soloing and tanking it should produce as much as Lichflame was, which didn't even make the top 15 sources of damage I put out.

Sometime in the next few days, I will post a discussion of all the talents I took and why.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Anecdotal Evidence DK's Aren't the Answer

There's still a lot of QQ about tank shortages. DK's were supposed to change that with our ability to tank and dps in any spec, right? So long as a DK is around you don't need a Warrior, Pally, or Druid.

In my grand sample of two Death Knights I know including myself, one was a tankadin and I was a bear. Net tank gain = 0.

Not only that, we are both working hard to find the magic 689 defense rating needed to be uncritable so we actually can tank. It's not like my bear where I could put 3 talent points in survival of the fittest post 3.02 and be good to go. I'm so glad I dropped all that coin on my Guardians Alchemist Stone. Damn it would be nice if that was bind to account, +57 defense rating sounds sweet right now.

So I've posted a second poll to see what role your former main was that you gave up to become a DK. My guess is most, DK tanks were tanks before. DPS may be a bit more varied. Just as it takes a special type of player to be a healer, I think it takes a special type to tank.

After all, who wants all that responsibility in a game.

Is Dodge the Answer?

Andrew hit on a possible alternative I was kicking around while getting ready for work this morning. Why not make Rune Strike dodgeable by players.

Here's my full thought process. Rune strike is a problem in PvP, gimping its damage output has a negative impact in PVE. As stated here rune strike accounts for 16% of my damage while occurring on 23% of my weapon swings. Gimp Rune strike on a boss fight and that lowers my damage output, which in turns lowers raid damage, extends the encounter, and puts further stress on the healers. Yes you can overcome the lower threat by applying a threat modifier, but didn't Blizzard say they wanted to move away from low damage attacks with high threat in Wrath?

PvP, rune strike procs frequently against rogues and cat druids with their fast attack speeds. We can lower the average damage taken by rogues and cats by allowing them to dodge the attack. They both have high dodge rates. I'd probably put the dodge against rune strikes on a diminishing return so they can't get out of it altogether. Now we've solved the rogue killer problem by allowing players to dodge rune strikes without impacting PVE.

Another thing to consider, rogues are caster killers, with their low damage fast attack weapons. Rogues traditionally shouldn't be going toe to toe with a plate wearer. If a rogue or cat doesn't want to grind themselves to death on our rune strikes they have plenty of options of getting out of combat or gaining range to avoid the damage.

This all boils down to don't nerf PVE for PvP reasons.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ghostcrawler Speaks out

Here's the link.

Here is my take on his points.

1) We take spike damage when our cooldowns have been used. Fully agree, but as an Unholy tank we can work around it. We can glyph boneshield and stack parry & dodge to ensure it stays up and provides its 40% mitigation for nearly a minute. In fact, if we can keep it up for 48 seconds we can use Icebound fort to cover the remaining 12 seconds until boneshields cooldown is up and cycle the two abilities. It just requires gear and skill. But if GC wants to give me better overall mitigation and leave the abilities for Oh Shit moments I wouldn't object.

2) Scale IB with Defense so its more valuable in PVE as an Oh Shit button. Hell yes. One of the issues I had with my bear was the on use of Badge of Tenacity and Moroes Lucky Pocket Watches were about the only buttons I could hit when my healers were silenced.

3) I'd love to see Blood be more viable as a tank spec. DPS wise, I had a lot of fun when rune strike and sudden doom procced at the same time. Blood is a lot of fun and I'd give main tanking a go with it when it gets a version of lichborne or boneshield.

4) The only reason rune strike is a rogue killer is because rogues stack two fast weapons to tear casters apart which just doesn't work on plate. I'm not sure I like the idea of lowering its damage and increasing its threat to deal with a PvP issue. Perhaps an internal cooldown that is shorter than a boss swing timer might keep it from proccing as frequently against rogues in PvP. I'll have to give this some more thought.

5) Not only do I drop death and decay before a fight, I also hit either rune tap or bone shield before a fight to get my 20 rp. Of course I need to go out and glyph my horn of winter still. I love this change.

6) I'll miss these benefits. I love saving my self by zoning or at least saving money by exploding myself. That said, I would call this a fix and not a nerf. :(

7) Did I mention I named my Ghoul stupid for exactly these reasons.

8) You mean I can save my 5 min cooldown to rez my Ghoul and still rez my friend for some extra damage in a bad fight. Yes please.

All in all, I like the proposed changes but have a little reservations about lowering the damage on rune strike.

Spec Happiness Take 23

So I had some time to run around and kill some stuff with my spec I thought I was happy with. Here are the results.....

Scourge Strike 21% of the damage, I can live with that.

Melee is 20%. Sure.

Rune Strike 16%. Even better I was able to convert 23% of my swings to Rune Strikes. I expect that will get even better when my small guild gets all 11 of us to 80 and move into Naxx.

Blood strikes, Icy Touch, Plague strikes and my dots, all make me happy. Wait a second, where the hell is Blood Caked Strike? I put 3 talent points into that and its not even in the top 8 sources of damage.

Oh there it is, number 11 contributing 2.7% of my damage. Basically dead last. I hardly used Unholy blight given the mobs I was hitting died in 3 hits anyway. Same with death and decay and death strike. 3 talent points for 3% of damage. Right now I can't say I'm impressed.

If only I could move those points to subversion, but alas I need the 3 points in Unholy to get blight. I think I'll move them to Ravenous Dead. I'll get a bit more strength and Stupid will get a lot more health.

On a side note, I'm not impressed iwht Lichflame from the Rune of Lichbane. Its clear that its 2% damage buff only applies to melee damage and not overall. Perhaps Fallen Crusader or Cinderglacier will be better. Crusader can proc a 30% Strength increase while Cinder procs extra strike damage. Maybe I'll try the Rune of Swordshattering for the extra 4% parry to try and proc more Rune Strikes.

Stay tuned, not even elitist jerks has posted a best Unholy tank spec.

I call him Stupid

I don't care what name my Ghoul has, I call him stupid.

Here we see Dirtflayer, erm Stupid, and I flying through the air as I carefully tiptoed through the mine field while it traisped along beside me.

Any fight that has AOE, he dies. Any fight that Raid Rule 1B applies (Don't stand in the crap that kills you) he dies. Any time he needs to jump across the gaps in Nexus he dies.

Granted I only took my hunter through Kara once, but I don't recall my cat getting killed this often. When I used to play my lock and PvP back in Season 1 my Felhunter did OK. And while questing my Imp had the curtesy to phase out.

Nope Stupid likes to get himself and me killed. Dense Mobs with a large aggro radius are his favorite. I used to keep Stupid on a defensive leash. Now I have him on a passive choke chain.

Perhaps I should change his name to Forrest, nah he doesn't run worth a damn.

Happy with my spec, I think.....

One of the aspects of Death Knights I like is we can DPS and tank with the same spec. Of course some specs will be better at dps while others are better for tanking. I’m going with an Unholy build that should be good for both through 10man Naxx.

Unholy Tank/DPS

It has all the early tier mitigation goodies and a lot of the sweet unholy DPS choices. I took the perm ghoul over the gargoyle because so far Unholy Blight and Rune Strikes eats all my runic power and, expect for my ghoul is stupid and stands in stuff that kills him, the ghoul is out and able to add dps a lot more than the gargoyle.

Here’s my dilemma. I want to put 3 points in Subversion because I run with a Prot Warrior frequently in 5-mans and will co-tank Naxx10 with him. Needless to say the 25% reduction in threat on single tank encounters will be nice, but the only place I can squeeze points from is Dark Conviction. It won’t be an entire DPS loss of 3% crit since I will pick up 9% crit on Blood strike which I use to proc blade barrier. But BB helps proc Rune Strike which is a bread and butter DPS strike.

I’ll be running some instances tomorrow with my Prot friend without Subversion. I’ll stay in blood presence and see if I have aggro problems. If I do, I’ll respec once again and hope recount doesn’t punish me too much.

Right now at level 79 with meh gear, I am doing between 950 and 1,100 dps while soloing quests depending on mobs and whether I can grab a few at a time. In groups it tends to be a bit higher since I have time to get through my entire rotation on the elite mobs. If my threat is too much, I'll learn real fast how much 3% crit means to my dps.

Time to give Death Knights a voice before we get a bad rap

Let’s start by tossing a few numbers around. Wrath has been out for almost 3 weeks and in that time has seen 1,384,615 Death Knights in its census. Holy crap that’s a lot of new plate. When I rolled mine a few days after launch and I had leveled my bear to 71 I hit Hellfire and all I could see were bucket loads of DKs. There were so many of us that I actually had to fight for mob spawns in Zeth Gor.

Not only was the place crawling with DKs they were doing some really stupid stuff reveling in supposed OPnes. 5DK ramp run, sure. Hell, I even kited a Void Reaver with no heals to Thrallmar so the mages could burn it down and lived. Ahh those were the days when people thought we could do anything and we pissed off everyone who hadn’t rolled one to.

Let’s add some perspective now. The census says only 198,854 of those Death Knights have hit 70. Woops, where did everybody go. We didn’t even make Fad of the Month. Just like every other class, playing a knight is easy, playing one well is not. Between 60 and 70 a lot of the scrubs realized it takes skill to tank, and a whole lot of defense which our training blues lacked. You also had to put a lot of effort into talent selection and rotations to get decent damage.

We can further narrow the list down. The census has only seen 41,977 Death Knights make it to 79 or 80. 97% of the unruly Mob that devoured Hellfire has been abandoned or just hasn’t made it yet. At this level we are only 8% of the population compared to Pallies 14%. Chances are, if you want to go into the Oculus and a DK wants to come as either DPS or to Tank they know how to play their toon. We didn’t powerlevel past all the Hunters, Locks, and Druids that had a 15 level head start on us without doing our research at Elitist Jerks and We know we need 535 defense to tank heroics and 540 to tank Naxx. We know what gear we need to get us there. We know to put 3 points in subversion for the sweet threat reduction in blood and unholy presence if we are dps. We know our ghouls on defensive will chain pull everything and keep it on passive and command it to attack specific targets. We also know our guildies are aware of our sacrificing our Bears, Pallies, and Warriors to tank things a little differently these days.

So when you see a fresh 80 Death Knight in trade or looking for group offering to tank or DPS give us a chance. When you see a 70 DK wanting to run Nexus, by all means don’t turn them away. When you see a 63 wanting to go to Slave Pens, ask them who their main is, and then check their armory.