Friday, May 15, 2009

Recent Developments in Death Knighting

There were a couple of patch notes for DKs a few days ago; mostly of little consequence. Note that for now, they only apply to the PTR. Hail of bullets incoming:

  • The Unholy talent Ghoul Frenzy had a 10-second cooldown added. The cooldown was added because the move generated Runic Power. Before a boss pull, I could just sit there and hit GF over and over start the fight out with a full RP bar. Since GF lasts 30 seconds, the cooldown should have no effect on its normal use; it just fixes this exploit.
  • Death Strike has had some confusing changes. The new change makes it do better healing if you are specced for it in the Blood tree. The ability has already been nerfed overall, but still provides some minor healing when you have your diseases on the target.
  • Both of our DPS tier sets had changes to their bonuses. The wildly overpowered 4-piece tier 7 bonus, +10 RP per FU Strike (SS, Oblit, DS) was nerfed in half, and it's still good. Meanwhile, the 2-piece tier 8 bonus was buffed from 5% crit on RP moves (DC, FS) to 8%. Previously, Unholy and Frost wanted to keep 4-piece tier 7 and ignore tier 8. Now, that choice is not so clear-cut, and is going to vary from DK to DK depending on what other pieces you need. In my case, 4-piece tier 7.25 is always going to beat 4-piece tier 8.10, so I won't be rolling on any tier tokens from Uld 10 until everyone else in my raid has them. It seems most likely that Unholy will want to keep 7.25 even over 8.25, while Blood and Frost will find the tier 8 itemization of expertise and armor pen over haste and hit to be more to their liking, justifying the loss of the stronger set bonus. The itemization for tier 8 just isn't as good for Unholy, and Unholy relies on its FU move more than any other spec, making the tier 7 set bonus even better.
  • Tangential effects: the equipment manager will help us dual-role DK's switch gear more easily, and 10-man raiders will now have more access to the awesome crafted belts and boots from Ulduar.
Since writing my guide to Unholy DPS and my guide and tips for Frost tanking when 3.1 first hit, I've discovered a few more things that can improve on those guides. Duck!

Unholy DPS
  • Correct use of Ghoul Frenzy: use it just before a pull, so your pet benefits for the first 20 seconds or so of the pull, and the rune will refresh before you need to it.
  • Use Blood Tap every time it is up. Little-known fact: it refreshes the blood rune as well as making it a death rune. This means that the best time to use it is right after you used both blood runes. The absolute best time is to use it right after you did a Scourge Strike using both blood runes (as death runes). That will mess up your rotation the least. If Bone Shield is down or has less than a minute left, use the "free" death rune on that. If Bone Shield is OK, use it on Ghoul Frenzy. This lets you fit GF into your rotation without hurting your SS spam.
  • Other good times to use GF are when you have a lull in fighting or have to run away from melee range. Any time you aren't going to be able to make use of the unholy rune, hit GF.
  • Spec: my original spec had points in Morbidity, which buffs DC and Death & Decay. There is less aoe in Ulduar, and I've seen math saying that the DC buff isn't worth the points in the talent. Instead of my previously recommended build, put those points in Necrosis. Here are my new recommended Unholy specs: 12/0/59 and 0/10/61.
Frost Tanking
  • I've fallen for the Howling Blast glyph. It applies Frost Fever. Though Blood Plague and Pestilence are still effective, for most aoe pulls this glyph means you no longer need to use them. Instead, you can shoot off an HB, benefit from the disease, use a Blood Boil that benefits from the disease, and still D&D. That's a lot of aoe threat. It fixes the problem I used to have with being unable to use D&D, Pestilence, and HB in the same rotation. I highly recommend it for offtanks especially. If you are your guild's main tank on bosses, it's much less useful on single targets and I've pick up a different glyph instead.
  • Spec: After playing around with the previously-recommended spec, I've moved around a few of the points in Unholy and Blood. I dropped points out of Morbidity (since HB/BB makes D&D's cooldown less of an issue and I never DC in this spec) and Virulence (don't need the minor increase to hit on spells). Instead, I added points to Hunger for Blood, which was buffed heavily in 3.1 and provides a lot of threat by fueling Rune Strikes and Frost Strikes. Here's my new Frost tanking spec, 14/51/6.

As they say in Ebon Hold, "Suffer Well, Bitches!"

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