Blizzcon Wrap-Up

Six months since my last post. In my defense, there hasn’t been much to talk about.
Three weeks since Blizzcon, though, and nothing here from me? That simply will not do.

So. Warlords of Draenor then. Time for the lore buffs to pretend Mists never happened and tear their hair out over yet another non-Legion, non-Titan, non-Betentacled sidestory!

Blizzcon 2013 has created a number of high points for the future of the death knight class (and indeed, WoW as a whole), but also invited curious squints from onlookers. Problem stats removed, new stats created to invalidate what remains, and an additional tier of talents that makes me ponder the mathematical skills of whoever’s in charge of making them (why not just move all the tiers forward 5 levels, and start at 10 like pre-MoP, ending evenly at 100…). It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s dig in!

DISCLAIMER: EVERYTHING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE, INCLUDING TALENTS FROM THIS EXPANSION. Meaning I’m free to back-and-forth on my opinions all expansion long.

Defile

Congratulations, after eons of pissing and moaning, the community has finally earned itself its most beloved LK shtick. If I don’t sound terribly thrilled for it, it’s because every time I’ve heard outcries for this over the past 4 years, I’ve rolled my eyes and groaned aloud, “Maybe as a minor glyph, since it’s basically Death and Decay.”
Well… I wasn’t too far off.
Honestly, there’s not too much to say about Defile. It’s the most boring option of T100 – Take DnD, add growth gimmick; the other two at least bring new dimensions to our AoE rotation, this is designed more for general appeasement than it is adventurous. That said, if past experience has taught us anything, it’s that the talent option we least look forward to will end up being the most viable in practical scenarios.
If nothing else, I will say it has the benefit of snaring targets affected by its predecessor’s glyph a few seconds longer to make it a strong CC alternative to Howling Blast, and it has the least trade-off in AoE (which is to say, will probably be our go-to choice in AoE if talents remain as they stand, but I’m getting ahead of myself). I won’t disavow any knowledge of its existence like some talents (What leech?) but respeccing for it will be met with heavy sighs designed specifically to annoy anyone overhearing me in Ventrilo.

Breath of Sindragosa

It would appear that the staring contest is finally over. Ignoring just for a moment that DKs are now as close to being dragons as mages are (jelly, druids?), we now have a method of dumping Runic Power that directly benefits us in cleave scenarios… mostly.
Sure, it’ll drain every bit of RP we have if we let it, but that’ll make this epic room-clearing last resort spell feel more like a finishing move, as if you’re actually building up to something while you attack, which is sort of the point of RP dumps.
Two small problems.
One – and this is likely just me – I’m not really a big fan of cooldown-based AoE. You can’t affect anywhere near 100% uptime (boo hoo), but you’re also less reactive during fights with waves of adds (which is a good half of all dungeon/raid bosses). I can mildly tolerate DnD because the cooldown’s always been rather short and I have other abilities to fill the gap, but even then I’ll often forget to watch it come off cooldown in the heat of the moment; Unholy Blight’s always been more of a convenience than a necessary part of AoE, what with Pestilence/RB holding their own. Breath, on the other hand, has a monopoly on RP-based AoE. I can cap and completely drain my RP four or five times in the course of one minute as Unholy, you?
Second, T75 and Shadow Infusion say hi, because the cooldown apparently wasn’t enough of a trade. It almost makes it a non-option for Unholy, since DT is our only form of controllable passive cleave. But hey, at least Frost has an obvious choice in this tier.
IF it does eventually proc Tier 75 talents though, I would be interested in seeing how; does the initial cast have the whole chance, does each tick have a separate chance (if so, how high considering its low cost per tick), is chance affected by number of targets hit, etc.

Necrotic Plague

Had you only come to Unholy sooner!
Yes, I know, another LK spell, but one we didn’t already have – at least, not for the past 3 expansions. Basically, if Defile is Living Bomb and Breath is Frost Bomb, NP here is Nether Tempest.
Can’t imagine anybody suggesting that, eh?
Necrotic Plague has a lot of ground to cover, especially at the end (or beginning) of an era for DoT-focused specs. Just to get it out of the way:

  • No, disease count no longer affects strikes in Warlords, so NP isn’t some god-tier talent that makes you hit a single target as if you went to Baskin Robbins and dumped every flavor in diseases on them.
  • It’s not the return of Festerblight, since DoTs will scale dynamically, making it nigh impossible to game them.
  • Devs have already said they’re aware Unholy Blight could be exploited with this talent and plan to change that, so just assume for now that’s out.
  • It has an upper limit of 30 stacks, so you won’t find the boss taking millions in damage from DoTs after a 5 minute fight – in fact, Festering Strike might not even help it last that long.

See, the funny thing about NP is, it suffers from something of a paradox: it’s the strongest talent option in single-target, but the only way to keep it active long enough to make use of this fact is through a fight with multiple targets – but nothing says the DoT will be left behind when it jumps (hell, there’s a precedent for it not to, for veterans of the LK fight) which already makes a comparison to Nether Tempest inappropriate; that aspect alone makes it far below the weakest AoE option, unless you have an encounter with exactly 2 enemies kept within jumping range of each other at all times, each with 100% uptime.
Patchwerk, eat your heart out.
In theory you could make up for this by manually Plague Striking enemies up and down the aisle, except that we don’t know what will happen if the DoT jumps to a pre-afflicted target, which will absolutely be an issue unless you can PS at exactly 3 second intervals. If it overwrites, then you’ll never want more than one NP out at a time, meaning you’ll just be playing a game of Follow the Disease to keep track of it; if it combines, then there’s nothing preventing your opener from becoming PSx10 just to give some extra burst. The worst case is if it doesn’t retain the LK version’s ability to jump automatically if the target dies to any source other than the DoT tick, since you’ll just be flinging dozens into the nether the second someone hits a nova spell in a swarm of adds, even with a boss staring you down.
Presently it’s being advertised as a new take on a more “balanced” Wandering Plague, and I for one would definitely love to see that, as would any veteran Unholy player (it’s a disease, deep down you KNOW it’s a treat specifically for Unholy, so stop grimacing). If it becomes a viable multi-target option, it creates incredible potential for Unholy Rune-based AoE; that said, it’s also a space Roiling Blood is getting a serious crack at due to the soon-to-be dynamic nature of diseases. For now, it’s the talent to keep an eye on, and the one carrying my hopes for the coming tier.

Out With the Old…

First thing, armor pieces will now change their primary stats (Strength, Agility, Intellect) based on your spec. Not really relevant to DKs, of course, since it just seems like a solution to the problem of passives like Serpent Stance, Sword of/Guarded by Light, Mental Quickness, etc. I would be enthralled by the image of a DK having viable damage wearing Healadin plate, but we already had Transmogrification.
Dodge, Parry, Hit, and Expertise are gone. As someone who hasn’t tanked more than one fight at a time, I can’t really mourn the loss of the first two (though I doubt there’s any love lost for them either). The latter two will see me hanging banners from the doorways of every alcohol distributor in the game; they were never fun or interesting to stack, just another gate for you to pass if you wanted to get anywhere in PvE, and basically the sole causes of reforging.
Reforging’s gone too by the way, so I guess we’ll never quite see the golden age of just turning something on every piece into your top two stats. Alas; at least I won’t have to worry about ReforgeLite or WoW Reforge or Ask Mr. Robot anymore!
In their place, we’ll get to see 8 new stats (5 of which being rare Warforged-style bonuses that won’t affect item budget and add even more RNG to item collection), changes to Bonus Armor and Spirit into secondary stats, and the return of bare Attack Power and Spell Power to pieces. If they threw on Armor Penetration, I’d call it a pretty good year.

Amplify: Outright, this will probably be the big stat affecting DKs going into WoD. Remember all those times Frost DKs were screaming that Killing Machine was destroying their Crit weights, to the point where many confused (read: stupid) Frost players came to think it was a dirty word whenever another stat fell under it? And there was a huge demand that it get the Chaos Bolt treatment? Well, Blizz decided to go the other way with that and make a new stat for exactly that reason, absolutely obsolescing Crit in those scenarios. It doesn’t tackle the issue of Crit’s stat disparity, but at the same time you do have that bonus you wanted in the case of a KM proc. Score?
Right now, I just have to worry what they’ll do to base Crit multipliers when they add it.

Readiness: Meh. It would be more impressive to me if it double-dipped with Haste for us (a la Crusader Strike and the like for Paladins). I suppose this stat could be designed specifically with players like myself in mind who dislike relying on cooldowns to be competitive in PvE scenarios, but right now I’m just envisioning it throwing off my cooldown alignments – in a perfect world it would affect all ability cooldowns indiscriminately, but ultimately it will be far more selective, and a %-reduction won’t cut off the same number of seconds across the board, nor will it always agree with our rune limitations. I can’t really see it ever having a stat weight higher than Haste for Unholy (DT not exactly being a cooldown and all), though I can see it being more useful for shorter cooldowns like Pillar of Frost or Rune Tap… up to a point, whereupon PoF has 100% uptime and it makes WotN next to worthless.

Multistrike (% to hit same target +1 time, not Cleave): Honestly, I do ponder this stat the most of the new secondaries. According to Celestalon, it will affect DoTs, which has very interesting implications in the cases of Necrotic Plague and Defile – after all, they increase their stack count every time they deal damage, reducing (though never removing) the necessity for additional targets to reach their maximum potential. He also stated it wouldn’t cause Mind Blast to grant extra Shadow Orbs, which could mean it just won’t make Death Coil grant extra Shadow Infusions… or it’ll subvert everything I just said and make liars out of our T100 talents. It remains to be seen.

Life Steal/Avoidance: Because it wasn’t quite enough to give me plate armor. Extra survivability is always a boon, so, cheers mates. Life Steal seems awfully familiar though, can’t put my finger on it

Durability: Hooray for cheapskating on repair bills! Maybe I won’t need to keep this sacrificial dagger after all… Nah, I’ll keep it just to mess with people.

Cleave: Wait, I thought tertiaries weren’t supposed to directly, unambiguously affect performance?

Speed: Here’s the big one of the tertiaries for us. Remember how the only things we have in the way of gap-closers are a single talent pitted against two CCs, the multi-tasking Raid-unfriendly Death Grip, and a tiny sliver we get out of Unholy Presence? While it stacks with it, this stat removes anything unique about that “tiny sliver” (when everybody’s special…), effectively putting us back at two and a passive stat boost. Given the expected rarity of the stat, it’s not even fair to say everyone will get the same boost amount; it just muddles the movement speed pool entirely.
Yes, we have been told a dozen times over that we don’t really need that extra gap-closer literally every melee barring one has because we have such an assortment of ranged attacks… except, realistically, we’re stuck with just Death Coil and Icy Touch, or maybe Howling Blast if you’re Frost (Death Siphon’s not really even an argument, given its competition with Death Pact and how many Death Runes you can generate at range). We can cherry-tap enemies from a distance, but between a whole plethora of throwing techniques for Paladins, Warriors and Rogues on top of spells readily available in all specs for Druids, Monks and Shamans, we stopped being unique in that department before we started- especially when a handful of these can already make complete pseudo-rotations with theirs that fully utilize each of their resource pools, and still have both gap-closers and CC to spare.
Why am I excited about this stat? Because it accentuates our need for a reliable gap-closer, and maybe this year we’ll actually get one.

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One Response to Blizzcon Wrap-Up

  1. Pingback: Keeping Up With The Celestalon(s) | Morbid Musings

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