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Pondering Ghostcrawlers recent Death Knight Tanking Blue post

December 5, 2008

Points from Ghostcrawlers Blue post and my (opinionated!) view:!!

Ghostcrawler says:

1) Death knights seem to tank well when they have cooldowns available and take too much damage otherwise. The change here seems obvious – boost Frost presence’s mitigation while reducing the mitigation of some other abilities, especially Icebound Fortitude and Bone Shield.

2) One idea we have for Icebound Fortitude is to scale the mitigation based on defense skill. This lets the ability be less of a paladin bubble in PvP for dps knights, while still letting it act more like Shield Wall for tanks. It also has the side effect of making defense slightly more attractive to death knights. (Let me add before it’s asked that yes we understand Ferals have this problem too and we are working on it.)

3) Unholy is a very popular tanking spec, largely on the strength of Bone Shield. Expect to see some buffs to tanking talents in the Blood tree especially.

4) Rune Strike was intended to be a reactive tanking tool, not a rogue killer. We will probably chill its weapon damage and increase its threat.

5) We don’t like the behavior where DKs feel like they are supposed to drop Death and Decay to generate runic power before a pull. It just looks goofy. We will probably lower the runic power costs of Unholy Blight and Horn of Winter, which seem to be the primary reasons to generate RP. Horn of Winter will probably be something like no cost, 30 sec cooldown, generates 10 rp.

EDIT: I am refering to using DnD outside of combat just for the runic power (kind of like Bloodrage for warriors). It’s totally legit and intended to use it to start a fight to gain threat and hurt the bad guys.

6) There are some odd situations caused by Shadow of Death that we would like to fix. The talent isn’t designed to let you escape durability damage or rez by zoning into an instance.

7) There are some annoying parts of the non-pet ghoul. We want to lower the aggro range (for less accidental pulls) and spawn the ghoul in quicker when dismounting. The ghoul, at least Unholy’s version, could also use some AE avoidance like other pets.

My View..

I find a few days pondering a ‘blue post’ usually cuts out any initial gut reaction like ‘oh noes, they are nerfing us’!!!

Rather surprisingly the usual forum chatter after this one were a lot more positive than I expected. Many agreeing with the proposed direction Blizz ‘may’ be taking with DK’s (or lots of Rogues rolled DK!). Once again, it looks like PVP QQ’s lead to Blizzard class design questions. Although Ghostcrawler seems to have emphasised our tanking role here, and this is a good thing. As long as they don’t ruin DK tanking I’ll be happy, as PVP is way down my list of priorities.

From point 1, boosting Frost presence’s mitigation at the expense of Icebound Fortitude and Bone Shield potentially could increase our overall mitigation in longer fights, as both these abilities are for a limited duration. So this sounds positive. It’ll be hard to swallow if we don’t get something that will help against hard hitting bosses, but scaling Icebound Fortitude with +def from point 2 sounds like it may do that.

I hope they don’t break my Bone Shield as there is nothing more about this spell in this proposal. I like it as it is, if anything I’d like a lower cooldown, or more charges!! But I am realistic enough to appreciate that this won’t happen!! I’d actually like to see Bone Shield become a Death Knight spell rather than a feature of the Unholy talent build, with perhaps some extra charges/increase mitigation for Unholy DK’s due to their AOE role.

I’d guess point 3 is there because there are so many Blood specs running about… I’m unholy and I’d never moan about a talent boost to another tree where it is needed!! What I’d really like to see is Blizzard keeping their promise of dual talent specs because Blood could be an awesome single target tanking spec (and maybe already is… I’ve not played it yet). How cool would it be if we could have two specs one for AOE and one for single target tanking and they could be switched about as and when they were needed?

The proposed changes to ‘Rune Strike’ worry me a bit, they are 100% PVP driven. Rune strike is all you can do if you are AOE tanking with DnD and keeping up your diseases. I suppose increasing threat and decreasing weapon damage may allow this strike to scale… well I hope it does anyway.

I realised after reading this why I got so many ’spits’ from rogue players on my first walk to Ogrimmar after completing the DK start areas with my second DK, well one Rogue player did…. (and I know your name!!). In the light of this it probably wasn’t Role Play motivated!!

For Ghostcrawlers next point, I’ve not had too many issues with runic power myself, it favours a good rotation and actively using your abilities. However reducing cost of Unholy Blight will definitely make things easier! So this proposal got this DK smiling, I just hope they don’t reduce the time it is active for.

For point 6, I’ve enjoyed minimal repair bills so far, so I’d better get my Epic mount skills before they do this!! I (naively) thought that this was done purposely to help with the usual nightmare of paying tanking repair damage bills. It is perverse that a good tank keeps other players repair bills down by increasing their own…. Please think about this Ghostcrawler if you ever venture to this part of the bloggosphere!! I’d guess other tanks would find this hard to stomach but Plate armor upkeep is expensive…..

For point 7, perhaps they can look at making it easier to shift from a passive to a defensive pet… the pull behaviour is ‘unfortunate’ at best (despite my slightly Ironic post about it!!). That’s my main issue with Ghouls, well if I be honest pet classes should be actively using their pet bars and shouldn’t moan about behaviours that can be beneficial if used in the right context. Some AOE avoidance would definitely be a bonus for Unholy perma-pets.

All in all, it’s good of Blizz to keep us in the loop…. we’ll see what comes out of these proposals

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Things I wish I’d known before I made my Death Knight

December 5, 2008

I made my first death knight at 4 minutes past midnight on the 13th of November, and the DK area was packed with excited new DK’s (many I guess are level 80 now!).  I had not read much on the new class because I wanted lots of pleasant surprises, so this led to a few mistakes!!  I was in a hurry to get through Outland, so this also led to me doing things one way, then wishing I’d done them differently. So I thought I’d compile a list so perhaps you’ll not need to repeat them!! 

Oh… if you have any to add, let me know and I’ll make this a work ‘in progress’.

1.  For the duel quest, you do not need to run about looking for other players, I did first time round!!  I even deliberately lost a few to ‘help’ a few players who asked.  For DK v2.0, I did things properly!  I dueled the Death Knight Initiate NPC’s and kept my Duel stats pure!!!

2.  Noth’s Special Brew is a repeatable quest UNTIL after the Light’s Hope chapel event.  I left Ebon Hold the first time with 3, and wished I had as many as I could carry.  So with DK v2.0 I left with 20 (I’m not sure if you can carry anymore than 20).

3.  The ‘Charm of Alarcrity’ trinket from the Goblin quests in Hellfire is truely awesome for levelling/tanking, it works particularly well with ‘Rune Strike’, so don’t sell it like I did first time round!!  Using this trinket with Icebound fortitude and Bone shield with Blade Barrier….. well try it you’ll see what I mean!!!

4.  Waiting till 60 for Outland , then till 70 will pay off because you level faster by questing and do quests faster if they are your level.  I did the former (questing in WP to 60), but rushed into Northrend the minute I hit 68.  Now I am not saying I struggled in Northrend, I didn’t, but I could have grinded up a good Scryer/Aldor enchant if I’d thought about it for those levels! You won’t do this when you start questing in Northrend believe me!!

5.  Getting Fishing and Cooking levelled will really boost your characters stats, especially in Northrend.  Also when you have your shiny new abilities, you’ll find it hard to go back, I didn’t with DK v1.0.  So for Death Knight v2.0 I did this as soon as I left Ebon Hold.  I didn’t take that long either!!  Check Out Highlander’s fantastic Cooking and Fishing guide on the Professions Forum.  Read it first, especially on the NPC’s who sell you recipes… it’ll save your flight paths!! 

6.  The axe/sword weapon you get in the early Northrend quests mean I would not worry about making an Outland Epic weapon as a BS… or even buying one from the AH. If you did I bet you got a shock!!

7.  Don’t buy levelling gear, you will not need it.  The only gear you may have to buy (or make) is 70 tanking gear, but rather than buy I’d recommend sweet talking your friendly neighbourhood BS, because the Cobalt set is easy and cheap to make. 

8.  You don’t need to buy you flight skills at 70!!

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Big Shoulders

December 3, 2008

My Paladin is a blacksmith, so on Monday night I had a sneaky look at the Blacksmithing gear you can make, and before I knew it I’d made the ‘green’ Cobalt tanking set, which gives a not too shabby 288 defence rating and decent stamina.  The mats for this set are extremely easy to get, 4 or 5 cobalt bars for each item. And it doesnt look too bad (the helm is a bit ‘Star Wars’ or Samurai!!).

The problem is my pally is on a different server from my DK, and is a Blood Elf (my DK is human). 

Now I know why I rolled a human… ‘Diplomacy’ for rep and ‘Every Man for himself’ for a free PVP trinket, as well as the idea that Humans fit the lore.  And I’ve even got my Human the Ambassador Title, and to level 70, so I was seeing if it was worth levelling Blacksmithing before continuing, because there was a distinct lack of defence drops in the early Northrend quests. 

I also planned to have a healer, tanker and DPSer on the same side, and my Horde characters are tanks, a prot specced Paladin and Warrior.   But before I knew it I had rolled a Horde death Knight and specced my Paladin Holy and my warrior Dual Wield with Titan Grip!! 

I’m planning on staying Unholy, and tanking my way to 80, so there was only one choice of Race, even considering the extra stam of a tauren, so I rolled an Orc!

The racials are awesome for DK’s, Command (+5% extra pet damage), Hardiness for 15% reduced stun duration, the +5 extra expertise in Axe Specialisation and the my favourite… Blood Fury, a free attack power trinket.  I don’t know why I didnt consider this to start with!! 

Now Orc’s probably don’t fit the lore as well as say a Human or Undead, but their Racials are an unholy wet dream.  Popping Blood Fury before pestilence makes for a serious amount of early DPS in a fight, and I expect this will be just the kind of boost that a tank would need for the first few seconds of a fight.  Also a 2 minute cooldown means I’ll be using it a lot.  A few hours later and I was a 58 Unholy Orc Death Knight.

My Hordies are on Earthen Ring, and my paladin already has the Ambassador title, so I don’t feel the urge to get it for my DK (well not yet anyway!!).  One other thing helped sway me… After the final battle, I made the long walk to Thrall in Ogrimmar, and did not run, a fellow DK joined in the fun with a little RP, and it was enough to box my Human DK for now! 

Ok, ok I’ll be honest now… racials pah, classes pah, RP pah………

 

Have You SEEN THE SIZE OF MY ORC SHOULDERS!!!!!!!!!

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My Ghoul’s middle name is Einstein!!

November 28, 2008

While questing in Terokkar Forest doing the questline that involves killing Orc Peons, I was doing my usual, rounding up the mobs while mounted in groups of 4-5, diseasing them all, then killing them AOE. 

 This is the first time I’ve grouped up ‘runners’ since dropping out desecration from my build, (the graphic lag was too annoying) and those pesky Orc Peons all are ‘runner’ types.  Now the anti runner abilities we have are fairly limited… long cooldown on Death Grip, and I need my frost runes for better abilities than slowing a runner (maybe not in an instance!!).    

 Enter my latest Ghoul ‘Dirtmuncher’ (erm……. cmon Blizz some of these names are questionable at least!!).  Now he seems to be intelligent enough to know he should be chasing the runners down for me.  I’ve seen other ‘clever’ behaviours, like he pounces on casters out of my AOE range that are blasting me.  In fact in defensive mode my Ghoul really covers my back!

I can see DK’s Ghoul’s getting blamed for pulls because of this, like poor hunters were, when groups needed a blame hound (a runner aggros anyway without a pet trying to kill it people!!!) 

 So well done Blizz, nice job done on Ghoul AI 🙂 

Well….. nearly they are a nightmare for pulls if you don’t remember to switch them off defensive, but I’ve hot keyed one of my mouse buttons to the pet attack button and toggle the defensive pet button if I need to.  I like keeping control of who my pet is attacking, it makes it easier for get phase 2 of diseases up without the pet killing your target!!  It’s handy if you have casters hitting you to switch to defensive 🙂

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Need more ra… runic power!!

November 26, 2008

Looks like I am having a rethink for my level 80 build.  I’ve realised the importance of having more runic power, so 130 is my target on the forth tier of Frost.  Furthermore making Obliterate not remove diseases means it should end up my strike of choice (third tier).  So Instead of going for 11 points in frost, I am going further up the tree and getting 19 points in there instead, keeping the ‘good stuff’ from Unholy. 

The reason for the re-think, I’ve seen bigger single hits from obliterate, but needed to recast my diseases on the target.  Also the benefits of 130 runic power are just too good to turn down, especially as my Glyph of Death Strike improves the damage/heals per 5 runic power. 

I’ve also decided that my pull will be Icy touch, and that Death Grip will be saved for a runner/lost aggro taunt owing to its long cooldown.  So talenting Icy Touch up to 30 yards is a must for me. 

Until I can talent obliterate, I’ll be trading Death Strike for Scourge Strike in my rotations, depending on my health.  But once Obliterate is talented to not remove diseases, I’ll be removing Scourge Strike from my build.

Oh… and once I learn how to post links on this page I’ll be linking my final build and Armory page!!

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Death Knight Unholy AOE Levelling (v2)

November 25, 2008
I have found group pulls really boost your XP and help you level much quicker. 5 deads mobs in one pull = 5 times the XP!! An Unholy Death Knight has one of the best tool sets I’ve seen for AOE levelling, but it is a bit more complicated!
I’ve also found Unholy Blight (the 51 point talent in Unholy) more useful than Death and Decay for big pulls, I’ll explain why later! A couple of hours practising group pulls in Western Plaguelands is time well spent before hitting Outland, because the mobs are 50-54 there and a lot of areas are made for AOE. If you quest there as well, you’ll hit Outland at 60 with your group pull technique well on its way!!
This is what I’m doing at 64.
I have a Ghoul pet, so my first consideration is setting the ghoul to passive, this is not so important if you gather your mobs mounted, as I do (and I switch to pet defensive) but if you are pulling on foot it is a must, a defensive pet has a mind of it’s own!!! Next I mount up for my group pull with as much runic power as I can, and I don’t worry too much about period where I’m not doing anything other than auto attack, due to rune cooldown time. Your Auto Attack hits pretty hard, so I suggest you rotate about the mobs AFTER you have your diseases up!! Only having Auto Attack available is unavoidable, but a good rotation can minimise this time.
Before i pull I like to have bone shield up (it is essential!!), remember this also uses an Unholy rune, and runic power decays over time out of combat. I’ve improved Bone shield with Glyph of Bone shield for one extra charge so it is 20% more effective, a nice Glyph bonus and one I believe I’ll be keeping for end game. Bone Shield is essential because of the 40% damage mitigation, so if you pull 5 mobs, it effectively takes 2 out of the picture straight away!!! 3 doesn’t sound so fearsome, 5 is the magic number for AOE, I did manage 12 at one of the cauldrons in WP at 59 before I had Death and Decay (DD) and Unholy Blight (UB), needless to say I died on that pull but managed to finish the job as a Ghoul! I have also glyphed Death Strike because it is almost as good as a primary heal with 100 runic power, and it doesnt use runic power but one frost, one unholy.
I like to kill a single mob and build up my runic power before pulling a group, I then re-cast Bone shield which means you need to think about the Unholy Rune cooldown. I also set my interface so I can see the mobs health bars over their heads. You need to watch who you cast your second phase diseases on, making sure they don’t die before you cast pestilence!!! This is a mistake I have made a few times, it can send things pear shaped!!!
For my spell rotation I open with Icy Touch, then Plague Strike, then Pestilence to disease all my targets. I have talented my disease to 18 seconds and even doing this will leave a period where not all my targets are diseased. I have found getting a decent cycle catering for the rune cooldown to be quite complicated.
For Levelling I do not use Death and Decay, because this leaves you for runeless for quite a long time. One ability costing one blood, one frost and one unholy is expensive, and I’ll be using it more as an Instance ability ‘pull’ ability, so I am not discounting it. Just for levelling I’m not as interested in threat as I am in an active cycle, and getting both Unholy Blight and Death and Decay up while putting down lots of AOE damage means I am unable to use Death Strike as much as I’d like. This is not an issue for Instances because hopefully someone else is healing you!! So no Death & Decay and Unholy Blight is a nice runeless replacement. Ignore the QQ’s about this ability on the EU forums!!! People obviously should not bother with Unholy Blight (or death and decay) for single targets, it only truely shines with groups of 4-6 mobs!! Unholy Blight at 60 runic power it is also quite expensive, but you’ll find getting there isn’t too difficult if you do not use Death Coil, an ability I save for single targets or runners.
This leads me to another point, I have two bars set up, one for single targets, one for AOE, but that’s another post!!
For more AOE damage Blood Boil also add up on diseased targets with three disease!! With Reaping this also creates a Death Rune from a blood rune, and these are invaluable for an additional Death Strike if you are taking a hammering!!
I use Rune of Sword Shatterer on my 2 hander, for the extra 4% parry as well. You need all the mitigation you can get, because the more you have, the more mobs you can kill in one group!!
I’ve not yet found a good way to do this without any time periods where all 6 runes (or the ones I want) are on cooldown but here is my rotation, tweaked from my first version after last nights play!!

BR= Blood Rune, FR= Frost Rune, UR = Unholy Rune DR= Death Rune, x=Cooldown o = Available rune.

 

 

BR

BR

FR

FR

UR

UR

1

Icy Touch

o

o

x

o

o

o

2

Plague Strike

o

o

x

o

x

o

3

Pestilence

x

o

x

o

x

o

4

Blood Boil

x

drx

x

o

x

o

5

Death Strike

x

drx

x

x

x

x

6

Unholy Blight

x

drx

o

x

x

x

7

Icy Touch

x

drx

x

x

x

x

8

Plague Strike

o

drx

x

x

o

x

9

Pestilence

x

dr

x

x

o

x

10

Death Strike

x

drx

x

o

x

o

11

Death Strike

x

drx

x

x

x

x

12

Blood tap

dr

drx

o

x

x

x

13

Death Strike

drx

drx

x

x

x

x

 Note: Occasionally you will need to silence casters but that is a runic power ability and only on a few occasions have I needed to use a blood rune to do that with Strangulation.  I do not use Death Grip, unless there is a runner.  I have tried to maximise the number of death strikes, and try to use them with as much runic power as I can to max the return from Glyph of Death Strike.

It’s a long ‘rotation’, more of the whole fight to be honest!  I have my disease at 18 seconds but this rotation takes into consideration 12 sec diseases. 

Hopefully you pick the right mob to start your disease phase, I cycle about the group because I’ve found Auto Attack hits really hard with the 25% shadow damage talent, so the mobs go down quite fast.   I’ll try to post a video of this rotation, but there are already a few good ones out there. 

I use Blood tap (which I have also glyphed to remove the 6% health penalty) to death strike a little earlier.  Use it is you are losing a lot of health.  If the group’s health is still high at the second disease phase, I use Blood Boil at point 10 instead and go back into an Icy Touch -> Plague Strike -> Pestilence -> Blood tap cycle, either way it is best to end the fight with a few death strikes. 

For most pulls this table does me fine, and I can use Scourge Strike for some of the Death Strikes above if my health is ok, because it uses the same runes.  

This rotation is pretty much my staple at 64. There is no such thing as a definitive rotation, you need to react to whatever the pull throws up, but this one seems to be working for me. I’ve not included any spell caster silences, Anti Magic shield etc, and you will be using these depending on the make up of the group you pull, the silence is a runic power abilities and so far I’ve found I have no problem generating runic power if I actively use my abilities.

Melee groups are easier without a doubt. I have also found Death Knight AOE a lot more fun and a bit more complicated than doing the same thing with my 70 Protection Paladin (much as I love playing my Pally, this is true!!!)

I’ll do something for instances when I have a few more under my belt!! Do you have any better rotations/suggestions for levelling? All are tips welcome!!!

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Ambassador Lichbane

November 22, 2008

Well I did it today 🙂  I didn’t plan where I would get the achievement but it happened at the most appropriate place it could have…. In Uldaman at the Corpse of a Paladin 🙂  A nice 550 Gnomeregan Exiles reputation to take me to exalted with them.

Some pointless facts about the journey:

I made 115K XP and 64g from quests, 208g made in total including vendors and loot, just under 2 gold was spent on flights.  It took 758 quests (although i know it can be done with less if better planned) and I had 1day 23hours /played at 58 when I got it.  It could have been done faster as well but I made lots of coffee, had a few phone calls and watched the Scotland vs Argentina match while half playing!!

Now the fun begins…. I quickly got to 60 doing cauldron quests in Western Plaguelands, and bought my 59/60 skills, finally getting Death and Decay and Unholy Blight.  Even without them I was AOE’ing lots of mobs in WP to level quickly.  Should be fun when I can use the extra two damage spells.  I respecced getting rid of Desecration because of the graphic lag it caused my machine.  I’ve a geforce 8800 Ultra and it couldn’t cope with it!!  God knows what it would be like on a lesser card!!

I can now start messing about with spell rotations and seeing what the Unholy DK can do, and I’m looking forward to it!!!