Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Death Knights get a "Prot" talent tree


Cataclysm class changes are coming thick and fast, and will be relentless through this week. To avoid overshadowing the rest of the DK changes, Ghostcrawler announced today that Death Knights would no longer be able to tank using all of the three talent trees, and would instead be getting a "Protection" talent tree, just like Warriors and Paladins.

This tree would be called "Blood" and the tanking abilities from the other 2 trees would be consolidated therein. This seems to set up Unholy as the 2-handed dps tree and Frost as the dual-wield dps tree.

I'm definitely surprised. We'll have to wait to see how the implementation goes down. With what little information we have, I'm firmly against this. One of the things I enjoyed about my DK was being able to switch specs as I got bored (or based on what type of content I was doing), and the flavor and playstyle of my character would change with it, while still allowing me to tank or dps. For instance, in Ulduar, I basically had to use Blood as my tanking spec because it was helpful on Iron Council and pretty much required on hard-mode Vezax. But lately I've been able to play Frost as my tanking spec because it is great for aoeing down easy heroics while I farm emblems: DnD, glyphed Howling Blast, Blood Boil, take a nap.

From the dps side, the flexibility of DK specs has helped keep my interest as I've been using a different spec at each tier. The transformation of the Frost tree into the DW tree dampened this somewhat, but there were still two distinct options for 2-handed dps. Specs are going to be a lot more limited going forward, and that's a bad thing.

But that's probably the point: balancing DKs has likely been hellish when they essentially have 6-7 talent trees while most other classes have 3, especially when tweaking one DPS tree influences a tanking tree, and vice versa. And they needed a solution to DK masteries, since the new system of investing points in a tree couldn't reasonably yield both DPS and tanking stats.

Honestly, I expected a more ingenious solution to the problem from the Blizzard designers (not that I could think of one). I'm disappointed.

But it's not the end of the world! I'll still enjoy my DK, and who knows what other changes they have in store. We'll find out tomorrow. Being the most recently-designed class, I'm expecting the new DK talent trees to be the most similar to their current incarnations compared to the older classes. But I'm very excited to see the promised revamp of the rune system to make it more flexible. Tanking can get frustrating as a DK when you really need some runes to react to an emergency and they just aren't available, and DPS has become all about optimizing rune usage, making DK dps a lot like Paladin DPS (where you are locked down by Global CoolDown limitations), except we also have to keep track of resources while Paladins just have to hit the right attack as soon as the GCD is up (not a dig at Paladins!).

It should be an exciting week for WoW players.


br3ntbr0 said...

I've always envied prot pallies and prot warriors having a tree dedicated to tanking. The real problem for DK tanks is a lack of block to mitigate damage like those two specs/classes have.

Without it, we need larger health pools (ala druid) but don't. I can't tell how many healers I've come across that flat out hate DK tanks because we are "squishier" to them. And many have this opinion considering equal gear levels, so they don't think this is just a gear problem.

Here's to hoping the tanking focused Blood tree brings more mitigation. TBH, I think the whole thing could be fixed by buffing frost presence, but they probably don't want to do that since you can be frost presence in any spec.

I remember in the early days of patch 3.3, I couldn't tank Halls of Reflection, yet prot pallies and warriors with very close gear scores had very little problems in the exact same group when they subbed in for me :(

Hatch said...

In Block's current incarnation, our lack of it is a huge issue. It's so strong in heroics because there are a larger number of smaller hits, and things get better (but not fixed) in raids. Block is getting changed in Cata, so this will be less of a problem. But it's a big problem now and makes us the worst tanks for anything but the highest-end raids.

But hopefully Blood will include something that emulates block (maybe you have a chance to heal back a fraction of the damage you take or something) so we don't keep being the only ones without it.

If they don't, at least they can put talents in the Prot tree that buff mitigation without making PvP DKs invincible.

br3ntbr0 said...

Hopefully we find out today, Cataclysm info for DK's is slated to be released today!

Hatch said...

"But hopefully Blood will include something that emulates block"

BAM! The crystal ball *nails it*!