Sunday, September 13, 2009

Death Knights in 3.2.2

I am the first to admit that I have not been keeping up with all the 3.2.2 PTR changes, until today, when I finally decided to see what is expected for the next patch. In fact, for the first time I had high hopes because so far death knights have not had a very graceful patch history and the rumor around the block was that we are getting actual buffs.

If you are doing the same, I suggest you do not trust (at least not at the time of writing this) what it says on the official World of Warcraft PTR patchnotes. They do not yet include the changes PTR testers are experiencing on the servers. Naturally, there were a lot of various changes but here I am limiting to are relevent to death knight tanking, since that is my real forte.
  • Heart Strike now has a its total damage increased by 10% for each of your diseases on the target to the primary target, and half that to the secondary target.
  • Vampiric Blood now lasts 10 seconds (down from 20 seconds).
  • Frost Presence now reduces damage taken by 8% (up from 5%).
  • Threat of Thassarian now also affects Rune Strike.
  • Unbreakable Armor now increases your armor by 25% and increases your Strength by 10% for 20 seconds.
Reading the above makes me personally happy for all those death knights out there, who like me, are tired of being nerfed and beaten to perform less and less. But, as always, I find something in these notes that I cannot quite understand and we will get to that soon.

But first, lets talk about the goods news. The two most exciting news for me, personally, are the buffs for Frost Presence and Unbreakable Armor. The first of course, is self-explanatory because as a class without block, death knights are extremely squishy compared to warriors or paladins. More mitigation will take us a long way.

The second is that Unbreakable Armor finally becomes a useful cooldown. Up until now, it has provided with a fixed damage mitigation, based on your armor: 5 * Ar *0,01. After the patch, it should get a major buff and become 25% increase to your total armor. Lets examine what this means for a typical DK tank with a healthy 25k armor.

In the current game, this will provide a 1250 points of mitigation from every hit that you take. Come 40k hits from General Vezax and it doesn't take a genius to figure using this talent is useless. True, it gives a strength bonus so it is good for threat but that is hardly a selling point. Now after the patch it will instead provide a nice 6250 armor increase. For anyone wondering how much this mitigates, on a level 83 raid boss it is an extra 27.3% of mitigation.

This makes frost death knights viable for a lot things, which includes tanking encounters where your life expectancy is depended on your cooldowns, the examples which are quite numerous, like Iron Council hard mode, General Vezax, or even tanking the adds on Anub'arak (that's in Trial of the Crusader ofc).

Alright, moving on.

The Threat of Thassarian is an obvious one, it never made sense why that talent would not include Rune Strike, considering the Blizzard ever had the intention of making two-weapon tanking viable for us again. No Rune Strike, no tanking. As simple as that.

Now for the nerfs. The first does not really hit me that hard personally, for I rarily find myself in a situation where I try to aoe tank anything in blood spec. True, when tanking the adds in Anub'arak (still in Trial of the Crusader) blood spec's cooldowns and self-healing are crucial, so the ability to hit for nice threat on both adds with the same strike has its benefits. But we will coup.

The nerf to Vampiric Blood definitely annoys me. Much less for fights where you only temporarily need a cooldown like surviving a surge of darkness on General Vezax but you will feel it for fights where the longer you can prolong your cooldowns, the longer you live. When in 25-man of Anub'arak (yeah I'm using this alot aren't I?) and when your debuff begin to stack 15+ the hits are coming down too hard to survive without cooldowns. If dps takes too long to bring them down, you die.

Naturally, both the Glyph of Unbreakable Armor and Glyph of Vampiric Blood have been updated to fit the new upgrades. For Vampiric Blood, I would say that even if you have not glyphed it up until now, it becomes almost mandatory after 3.2.2. For Unbreakable Armor, the increase of armor goes up an extra 20% so if you plan to take full advantage of this new cooldown, the glyph will be necessary.

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