Addressing the DK: 666 Acherus Drive, The Ebon Hold, E. Plaguelands

I took a brief break from Warcraft this past week, but I’m back and have caught myself up with some Death Knight news. I strongly suggest reading Kalc’s post at Unliving a Death Knight because it will give some background to today’s post. I have decided to weigh in on a few specific topics because without focus this article could go off on 4 or 5 tangents.

Blood Tanking

I wish the original post had been a bit more organized, and while I don’t agree with all of it, it raises a few good points. First off, giving DK tanks their proactive (Blood Shield) and reactive (Death Strike Healing) abilities in the same attack (Death Strike) is part of the problem here. It would be a more interesting system to give the proactive portion of tanking to Heart Strike. If you are unfamiliar, Death Strike costs 1 Unholy and 1 Frost Rune, and generates 2 Death Runes in its place, heals the Death Knight AND places an absorption shield called Blood Shield. Heart Strike hits multiple targets and costs 1 Blood Rune.

Consider a small change where Heart Strike provided Blood Shield. Now when the tank has death runes available, they can choose between proactive or reactive abilities based on the situation. This would be an improvement on what is already a pretty good system. If  we made this change then it would make more sense for Death Strike to generate Death Runes than it does now, since we use the Death Runes on Death Strike anyway, which is silly and redundant.

In regards to talents, I disagree that each tier has limited choice for tanks, but I am planning a long series of post detailing talent tier analysis later, so I’m going to avoid doing that now.

The other problem I will address is actually put forward by Tsukiyuri after the OP.

You forgot the point that our STD (Standard Tanking Debuff) costs us mitigation to apply. Mind you, it doesn’t matter if you have the Outbreak Glyph or not.

Without it > every 60 second you need to use an Unholy rune on a Plague Strike. This costs us half a Death Strike.

With it > every 60 seconds you need to spend 80 Runic Power on Outbreak. This costs us 2 + 2/3 Rune Strikes which using Blood Tap are equivalent to 1.066 runes.

Either way . . . you are losing mitigation. Your best hope is to have someone else in Raid apply the STD for you. Oh wait . . . Blizz told us that they agree that tanks should be self reliant for tanking debuffs . . .

They need to revert the change to Outbreak for Blood ASAP. This is a horrible change and it’s terrible tank balance to force Blood DK’s to sacrifice mitigation for our tanking debuff.

Death Rune Abilities

This thread received some feedback from Ghostcrawler, and in fact the feedback regarding presences was so good/encouraging that I scrapped that as a topic to cover in this post. Summarizing the issue with Death Runes is simple. We would like Death Runes to give us the flexibility to use whatever ability is most appropriate at the time. Another way of explaining it is this: If all of our rune abilities cost an Unholy, Frost, or Blood Rune (or any combination thereof), then a Death Rune can replace any of those for that ability. By creating abilities that cost Death Runes they create a situation in which we manage 5 resources in stead of 4, removes some of our flexibility, and increases our complexity. Ghostcrawlers response:

Only to an extent. (Abilities like Blood Tap were really the intended solutions for flexibility.) Death Runes were also included just to add variation to the rotation so that it didn’t become so predictable and metronome-like: Frost, Unholy, Blood, Blood, Frost+Unholy, Repeat.

Adding a Death Rune cost to some abilities is an elegant way to allow all 3 specs to fit an attack into their rotations. Otherwise, you’d see a lot of “Costs 2 Blood for Frost, and 1 Unholy and 1 Frost for Unholy” and so on. Some of these abilities are also talents — if you hate Death Rune costs, skip over them.

Erm. Ok. I suppose we can’t really tell Blizzard what their design ideas are, but this certainly feels different than the original design, where none of our abilities had a Death Rune cost. But let’s move forward. Being forced to have the same ability have a different rune cost for each spec would be a massive pain in the ass (for players switching specs too), and I agree that using the universal Death Rune (all 3 specs are capable of having a maximum of 4 Death Runes at any one time) is a pretty elegant solution to that issue. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but it’s good logic.

Currently 3 abilities have a Death Rune cost. Soul Reaper, Necrotic Strike, and Death Siphon. I am of two opinions here. The first is that this is one of the moments that the Death Knight community needs to take a deep breathe and relax, because this is a problem without a great solution, only mediocre ones. Death Siphon is a talented heal, and therefore comes with the inherent decision between healing or damage (like all DPS healing abilities). Soul Reaper is a critical execute ability for both Frost and Unholy (more so for Unholy), and will be a necessary part of our DPS priorities. My issue is not with the cost association, but the increased complexity derived from it. This is not the fault of Death Runes, but of the rune system as a whole, which won’t be changing anytime soon. Therefore I grudgingly concede the point to Blizzard here.

On the other hand, Necrotic Strike needs to revert to an Unholy Rune. It’s a critical ability for PvP, and the cost limitation is far out of line with that off other classes healing debuffs. Therefore DK’s need access to it at any time, and not just when Death Runes are available. Most random battleground playing DKs won’t notice the difference, but Arena and RBG comps certainly will, and it won’t be an improvement.

With the issues of Frost Presence and Unholy Presence addressed I’m encouraged that Death Knights could take a step forward on an upcoming beta build. Resource starvation and GCD capping are such serious problems right now that its hard to talk about much else until they have been tackled.

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5 thoughts on “Addressing the DK: 666 Acherus Drive, The Ebon Hold, E. Plaguelands”

  1. Hey dude. Great post. I also play a Blood death knight and I found this post helpfull. Great stuff. You have another subscriber right here 🙂

  2. Totally agree on the heartstrike needing to take more of a roll here. Great post. You have another subscriber here 🙂

    1. It’s always important to keep in mind the concept that Blizzard does want a design where good players can get more out of their character than mediocre ones. This idea still fits with that design. A player spamming DS and HS will still get some mileage out of their tank, but a players who smartly uses proactive and reactive tanking abilities can get more out of the same character.

  3. You totally agree. When I first started playing I would just spam away untill things died it wasn’t untill recently I realised that timing an paying attention was key 🙂

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