Insert Witty Title Here

Today’s post is going to be a relatively brief one, discussing some recent changes to DKs in beta, just for the sake of staying up to date.

Because I try.

Perks

Build 18689 saw the removal and streamlining of the type of boring throughput perks I complained about; there are now half as many perks (earned every 2 levels), but they now actually create at least moderate playstyle change (… usually). Of course, since exactly the kinds that were eliminated comprised the majority of Unholy’s perks, a new one was formulated that saw the return of a convenient bonus exclusively to Unholy’s arsenal: Our Tier 15 4-set.

In case your memory of Tier bonuses is as bad as mine, it’s the one that lets you use Soul Reaper earlier.

Personally, I find this to be an amazing addition. I spent most of the last few months with the ToT 4-set, so now that I’ve upgraded, my muscle memory is, for all intents and purposes, completely borked. Not only does this provide a substantial bonus in the case of optimal usage, but it also makes timing the skill a little more forgiving due to the larger pool at which it can be used.

I’m still a little disappointed that Enhanced Fallen Crusader and Empowered Gargoyle remain – given that they’re relatively passive and contribute virtually nothing to the actual feel of the spec – but at least EFC gives us more benefit from the runeforge than the rest of the class (like Improved Soul Reaper), and I suppose I can always find some use for an extra 10 seconds of Gary uptime.
Worst case, that’s 10 more seconds of using him to draw fire, right?

Overall, I give this change two thumbs up.

Necrotic Plague

And this one about 17 thumbs down.
I have a collection of them from the massacres. It’s a hobby.

I will concede that perhaps we were a bit vague with our feedback with Necrotic Plague, and a lot of it was that it was too good compared to the other talents, especially because of its tanking bonus… but the expectation was that this would lead to buffing the other talents and, at worst, the removal of its current tanking benefit.
Instead, a damage nerf out of left field. Not what we expected.

Normally, I avoid going into numbers. However, I feel this needs to be addressed, because this was not the direction our feedback was pointing, which is rather… upsetting.

Celestalon noted that it was “super OP”, leading to the nerf (now that tuning passes have begun). Presently, we’re still cracking the numbers (it is apparently difficult to set Simcraft to only use 10 Festering Strikes for every Unholy Blight, though early sims showed a loss for mimicking the ToT Festerblight rotation), but some hands-on tests by #Acherus members have shown that optimizing NP is just barely better disease output than not having a talent at all; calculator math for the linked logs says the difference is just over 4%… for Unholy, with the highest possible uptime and stacking, on just the diseases (lower overall!). Changes to Frost’s rotation have also made it less optimal to use Plague Strike and Howling Blast for rapid stacking compared to Obliterate, even for DW (which was in no small part why I was actually sort of rooting for them to have a shot at it, if it shakes up their playstyle too). Sure, you can say there is still the cleave potential, but it was generally stronger to just open with Unholy Blight (or hit Pestilence) anyway.

The problem with Necrotic Plague was never the damage it dealt; yes, it “blew the other two talents out of the water”, but the point we were stressing is that the other two needed to be made worth their cost, to create actual competitive choices. Now, even Necrotic Plague might not be – which means no more Festerblight after all, no more point to Festering Strike, and the death of disease interaction.
Except for Blood, of course – the one spec we were stressing it really was too powerful for. The tanking bonus it provides has not been touched on whatsoever, and although Blood’s downtime has been lightly addressed by the addition of a Butchery-esque regen (which presently still needs thorough testing), it may just be the icing on ambrosia cake.

Yes, that video is in real time. Watch the NP stacking and be very afraid.

Anti-Magic Zone

Celestalon recently stated that the dev team is currently satisfied with AMZ’s position in the talent tree, in spite of the perceived lack of choice for raiders. His justification for this is, essentially, that raiding is too small to be concerned with.

To use the colloquialism, bullshit.

The abilities and talents that each class and spec are balanced around are used in general three areas:

  • Solo PVE: Questing, leveling, world encounters
  • Performance PVE: Raiding, dungeons, end-game content
  • PVP: Arena, battlegrounds, dueling, ganking world encounters

Right off the bat, “raiding” is just the most common representation of Performance PVE, which makes up a solid chunk of content. As an expansion carries on, the number of players concerned with Solo PVE decreases, as they bring more characters to level cap and graduate into the newest end-game content or replayable battlegrounds; eventually, Performance PVE and PVP make up the greater two thirds of content to balance around.
The difference is, PVPers and Solo PVEers can also choose anything with only minor scrutiny. The concern for them isn’t that a talent is “optimal”, because there is no “optimal” for those who concern themselves with completely dynamic encounters; they rely primarily on their own skills to justify their playstyles, with talents as mere supplements – even the worst talent can be made worthwhile in the hands of a decent PVPer, and the best talents can be made void in those same scenarios. Performance PVE, however, relies on being both skillful and optimal, which is why we have theorycraft in the first place.

PVPers and Solo PVEers can benefit from nearly all of the mechanics Performance PVE is balanced around, but the inverse cannot be said to be true. Many encounters are designed with enemies who are completely immune to the kinds of crowd control we use in lieu of gap closers. We often can’t afford to spare resources for a situational skill if it does not outweigh the benefits to our raid. And we certainly don’t enjoy our raid leaders sitting us because we tried to use a talent or spec we wanted, over what the 24 other people counting on us needed!

Yes, raiding isn’t everything… but it’s the face of the third that cares the most about what it picks.

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