Thursday, January 8, 2009

Talent Spec Revised for Patch 3.08

EDIT: This spec is only truly viable in Heroics and Naxx 10. For the past several weeks I have been respeccing between dedicated DPS and dedicated Tanking. In 3.1 with dual specs this spec should no longer be used. 3/27/09

This will be a long post. Warning you now.

The purpose of this build is to provide enough mitigation to tank heroics and 10 man raids while providing solid DPS at any level of content. As this is a hybrid spec there are clear mitigation talents that will be skipped in addition to clear DPS talents that will be missed.

I tested this spec in Naxx 10 last night and believe its DPS to be better than my previous spec while maintaining all the same mitigation talents I already had.

The post will be broken down into sections.

Section 1) Unholy Talents
Section 2) Blood Talents
Section 3) Frost Talents
Section 4) Talents Skipped

Each talent will list the points taken, whether it is dps/threat or mitigation, and why.

Section 1 Unholy Talents

Vicious Strikes - 2 points. dps/threat
Buffs my primary attacks crit rate by 6% and its crit damage by 30%.

Morbitidy - 3 points. dps/threat
Increases my Deathcoil damage by 15% and more importantly reduces my death and decay cooldown to 15 seconds. When AOE tanking this is a must. Pumping up an attack (DC) that did 4.6% of my overall damage output doesn't hurt either.

Anticipation - 5 points. mitigation
Getting 5% more dodge is an absolute must for tanking.

Epidemic - 2 points. dps/threat
An additional 6 seconds on my diseases gives me more time to use scourge strike. Even better, with scourge strike glyphed I have more opportunities to refresh these. One scourge strike easily does more damage with a single global cooldown that an Icy Touch and Plague Strike combined with two cooldowns.

Necrosis - 5 points. dps/threat
Elitist jerks theorycrafters assure me that point for point necrosis leads to more dps than the strength gains from ravenous dead.

Blood Caked Blade - 2 points. dps/threat
This talent gave me 2.6% of my overall damage (with 3 points when developed) for the night, which is not bad. The problem I have with this talent is that I could get more damage for the same talent points elsewhere. The reason I have it once again is tree lock.

Shadow of Death - 1 point. dps/threat mitigation
This talent gives a nice little boost to strength and stamina. Both are good to have, not to mention self rezzing as a ghoul to put a little more damage out to help get the kill is nice.

Impurity - 5 points. dps/threat
I have done a 180 on this talent. Earlier I dropped it not believing it to be very good. I was wrong. Not only does this pump damage on death coils and icy touch, it also increases the damage of Death and Decay and more importantly, your diseases. With 5 points in this talent my frost fever and blood plague did 9.9% and 9.6% of my overall damage respectively. This is up from around 3%. Get impurity.

Dirge - 2 points. dps/threat mitigation
This is the talent that ensures you have lots of runic power. Runic power translates into lots of dps goodness through gargolyes, unholy blight, and deathcoils. It also runs Icebound Fortitude for tanking.

Magic Supression - 5 points. mitigation
Gives a pure 5% reduction on all magic damage taken all the time plus it improves your mitigation when you use your shell for soaking the really big spells.

Reaping - 3 points. dps/threat
Converts your blood runes to death runes. This allows more scourge strikes which do more damage per rune/cooldown than blood strikes. This also works with the synergy of the scourge strike glyph.

Master of Ghouls - 1 point. dps
My perma ghouls put out between 240 and 430 dps depending on fight, survivability, and buffs. That's a lot of damage for one talent point.

Anti-Magic Zone - 1 point. mitigation
This is a situational talent but very useful when it arises. Depending on your attack power this will absorb approximately 15,000 in magic damage. In addition, it converts magic damage it absorbs into runic power.

Unholy Aura - 2 points. dps/threat
This gets you in and out of combat faster when you need to move. That leads to more actual attack time. The best part is that it is raid wide.

Night of the Dead - 2 points. dps
Earlier I indicated that my ghouls were doing between 240 and 430 dps. Makes sense to always have a ghoul then. This talent can virtually eliminate the raise dead cooldown and it can also allow you to use army of the dead every 10 minutes.

Crypt Fever - 3 points. dps/threat
30% more disease damage please and a third disease which counts towards all your strikes that benefit from diseases on targets. When patch 3.08 hits this will stack properly when there are more than one unholy DK in the group.

Bone Shield - 1 point. mitigation
Even with the upcoming nerf this will be a staple of Unholy Tanking. 20% mitigation from all damage sources is a lot of mitigation and should not be missed if you are this deep in the tree. It also has a nice little damage benefit as well.

Wandering Plague - 3 points. dps/threat
I have also reversed course on this talent as well. My primary concern is there are times you just don't want to dps some targets and you have no control over when this procs. Even when we tanked Faerlina in the middle of her adds this did not cause us to kill an add when unwanted. When you add in the fact that 4.1% of my damage came from these three talent points there is no reason to pass this up anymore. Remember this has a chance to proc every time every disease ticks on every target. Even while tanking and your crit is 10% you have a 30% chance per second to proc this on a single target. By the time you have multiple mobs the proc rate of this per second will skyrocket.

Ebon Plaguebringer - 3 points. dps/threat
This further enhances disease damage, increases magic vulnerability, and grants a higher crit chance on that mob. More damage for me and my friends.

Scourge Strike - 1 point. dps/threat
This defines Unholy single target damage. Enough said.

Rage of Rivendare - 5 points. dps/threat
Extra expertise is nice, so is 10% more damage done to all diseased targets.

Unholy Blight - 1 point. dps/threat
Great runic power dump, great aoe damage. I'll use this before I'll use a death coil even on single targets. Patch 3.08 is reducing its RP cost to 40 as well.

Section 2 Blood Talents

Blade Barrier - 5 points. mitigation
This is a must have for tanking. Burn your two blood runes and get 10% parry. Don't tank without it.

Bladed Armor - 2 points. dps/threat
I'd really like to maximize this by pulling points from necrosis, too bad I can't since they are needed to break tree lock. If I ultimately drop corpse explosion its point is coming here.

Section 3 Frost Talents

Toughness - 5 points. mitigation
This has a benefit to movement when you are impaired but the real reason to take this as a tank it for the 15% armor. I suppose if you are super geared and brushing the armor cap in frost you can pull points from here, but you're not so take it.

Section 4 Talents Skipped

Subversion - 3 points. dps Blood
This provides a nice threat reduction but to be honest I haven't really had issues pulling threat.

Two Handed Weapon Specialization - 2 points. dps/threat Blood
Per EJ bladed armor produces slightly more benefit per talent point and will scale better.

Improved Icy Touch - 3 points. mitigation Frost
Slow the bosses attacks and additional 6%. So far I just haven't needed the additional mitigation. If this were a pure tanking build I would have this no questions.

Icy Reach - 2 points. dps/threat Frost
A bit more range on Icy touch would be nice on pulls, but the reason to take this if you are tanking is to open up Lichborne.

Lichborne - 1 point. mitigation Frost
Another fantastic Oh Shit button. Again if this were a pure tank spec I'd take this talent.

Corpse Explosion - 1 point. dps/threat Even with the buff in 3.08 this talent has proven lackluster in my eyes and I moved its point to Necrosis.

Virulence - 3 points. dps/threat Unholy
More hit on spells. Even though I need to stack a bunch more hit on my gear, the additional damage per talent point spent here is just not worth it compared to other options per EJ.

Desecration - 5 points. dps/threat Unholy
5% more damage would be nice, but the fact is most fights involve so much movement you won't be able to capitalize on this frequently. Not to mention you would have to use the incredibly low damage plague strike to re-establish this every time you move. Even the much maligned necrosis generates more damage per talent point. Looks cool but that's about it.

So that's it. You can find the full spec here.

I told you this would be a long post.


  1. So they don't see a benefit in 2-handed weapon specialization? Interesting.

  2. That's not quite the interpretation I had in mind. They see a benefor to 2h wep spec, but its benefit per talent point is not quite as high as bladed armor.

  3. I've seen conflicting information. Bladed armor, even full tank in frost presence, doesn't lend as much damage as you'd think. The trick is understanding that armor gives a portion to AP, AP gives a portion of its value to DPS (just pure numeric values I'm talking)... it's not a straight armor to dps equation. Everything I've seen indicates that 2h weapon specialization is a direct boost to damage, which equals a greater threat gain in frost presence.

  4. With 2 points in BA, I get 175 AP in blood and 275 in frost before buffs. 2h spec affects your melee and your strikes only.

    BA will impact everything including your diseases which get additional AP buffs through Impurity.

    As I said, elitst jerks gives almost the same value per talent point between the two talents, but BA is just a smidgen higher.

  5. From a budding (casual) Unholy DK tank, many thanks for your detailed explanation of your updated DPS/tank spec for the upcoming patch. The analysis and full explanation of each talent point in the spec is much appreciated as someone like me starts to move over from many years of pure DPS'ing (old mage main played for 3+ years) to the tanking world. And of course, loving the ability of the DK to be able to effectively do both when needed!

  6. I updated this on 2/2/09 to reflect dropping Corpse Explosion in Favor of Necrosis. In addition Necrosis is more valuable point for point than BCB post patch so I capped Necrosis at the expense of one point from BCB.

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  8. Just a note that this post was linked by WoW Insider's 'Lichborne' column today...the article is discussing DK dual-specs with the upcoming 3.1 patch, which would alleviate the need for a 'hybrid' spec like this one.

    p.s. this hybrid spec has been working quite well for me, but I'm also looking forward to having dedicated DPS and Tank specs.

  9. @ Steve

    Thanks for the heads up, and I'm glad to hear you are having success with it as well.

  10. What is your normal rotation with this build?

  11. Joe,

    Check out my posts linked on the side Unholy Tanking Primer and Threat Generation. If you are DPS the only differences really is you will use more DC's and Gargoyles for your RP dumps than UB and RS for tanking.

  12. "Slow the bosses attacks and additional 6%. So far I just haven't needed the additional mitigation. If this were a pure tanking build I would have this no questions." So what would you suggest removing, to get 3 points in it? I figured Night of the Dead, since its only dps, no threat (as far as i know).

  13. @ Anon

    For 10 man and heroics you don't need improved Icy touch and this spec will work just fine for DPS and tanking.

    However, if you have the spare gold until 3.1 is released you will get better performance by respeccing back and forth between a dedicated Tank and dedicated DPS build.