Dual Wielding Come 3.2

2 08 2009

Dual wielding is fun. It comes with a few inherent benefits: less competition for weapons, especially 1-handed swords (which you’ll only fight rogues for) and overall better physical DPS scaling. The downside, apparently, has been a revamp of the way the Frost tree works. From the fall of 32/39 spec to what’s live at the moment, for any spec going deep into Frost (i.e. not the 10/61 Unholy spec or the 17/54 Unholy DW spec), Frost Strike has been the highest source of damage in any given encounter. This is especially true with regards to the ITx6 Machinegun rotation, which sacrifices use of Obliterates in favour of Icy Touches (for more RP and therefore more Frost Strikes).

But in 3.2, according to the testing going on in the EJ DW thread, Obliterate has become the strongest ability in Frost’s arsenal. This is a little bit disappointing, for a couple of reasons. First, it makes Frost play more like Unholy in that you’re focusing your rotation on maximizing a U/F rune ability rather than on an RP ability. This has led to a new priority system that looks something like this (with a spec that looks like this), from highest to lowest priority:

  1. FF
  2. BP
  3. HB (if Rime + KM)
  4. OB
  5. BS
  6. FS

There’s also some talk of the Glyph of Disease making a comeback for DW (since it allows for an extra Obliterate/GCD for Howling Blast), but I’m not sure how well this will hold up in practice, given the target-swapping nature of many boss encounters these days. Disregarding that, though, the Disease glyph does not re-apply Improved Icy Touch, so if you’re the one bringing the 20% haste buff, you’ll need to be using IT anyways, making it a the glyph a waste. So what glyph choices are there for this spec, then?

The two obvious choices are Obliterate and Frost Strike, two of the spec’s main strikes. Things aren’t as clear cut for the third slot. The options are:

  1. Glyph of Icy Touch (more RP for Frost Strikes, with the downside that there are very little extra GCDs in this rotation, meaning you might not be able to use all the extra RP anyways)
  2. Glyph of Plague Strike (minor damage boost)
  3. Glyph of the Ghoul (requires speccing into Night of the Dead to be worth it, probably inferior to PS)
  4. Glyph of Howling Blast (since this rotation uses both diseases, the utility of being apply to skip Pestilence in AoE rotations is lost)

My initial instinct (if the Glyph of Disease becomes impractical/you have to buff the raid with IIT) is to go with Icy Touch, since having extra RP around can be helpful for interrupting, popping AMS/IBF and using Death Coils when you’re forced out of range of the boss. None of the other glyphs provide significant DPS boosts, so in this situation I’ll lean towards utility (just as currently I run with the Howling Blast glyph over the Obliterate one in my ITx6 spec).

I’ll come back to this topic as I learn more/when 3.2 hits. On a side note, there’s also the worry that DW will overtake the current top DPS spec (2h Blood) and end up being nerfed so that it doesn’t pull a 32/39 and blow every other spec/rotation out of the water.

Update Aug. 4/09: As far as Runeforges go, you should be using FC/FC unless you’re up against a fight that’s single-target enough to allow you to hit the boss without intervals longer than 20 seconds (the length of a Razorice stack), in which case you should use Razorice. You’ll also want two slow weapons for Frost DWing.

Goodbye, loyal sword?

Goodbye, loyal sword?

That’s Bloody Hard!

12 07 2009

Recently I’ve been doing two major things in WoW: 10-man hard modes and trying out Blood DPS in raids. While the DPS itself is not significantly higher or lower than Frost for most fights, some of Blood’s unique mechanics help out a lot for hard modes, especially ones like Mimiron, Thorim, and Freya, where you will likely take significant amounts of incidental damage throughout the fight. (Frost is better for Hodir due to the many crits produced by Rime, Killing Machine, and Subversion.)

So first I want to outline what Blood has that the other specs don’t have (or have less of):

1. Self-healing. All classes have Death Strike but since it’s in Blood’s main rotation, you not only gain more health from it but also lose less DPS from choosing to cast it over something else (like Obliterate or Scourge Strike).

2. Diseaseless damage. Before you get all up in arms about me and say that diseaseless Blood is dead, the only disease-dependant attack in Blood’s rotation is Heart Strike. What this means for hard modes is that, when you need to quickly mow down a low HP target, like Freya’s roots, Thorim’s Evokers, frozen people in Hodir and various adds in Mimiron, you don’t always need to set up diseases to do decent damage. Frost without Frost Fever up does very little damage (losing 15% from Tundra Stalker and another 20% from Glacier Rot) and Unholy loses 10% from Rage of Rivendare as well as the additional scaling from diseases on Scourge Strike.

If you set Blood up correctly or get lucky, i.e. if you have lots of RP or simply enough RP to maximize Death Strike damage with the glyph, you can hit things like Freya’s roots without wasting a valuable GCD on PS/IT to set up your damage. This might seem minor, but it really helps out a lot when time is limited (Mages die very quickly to roots!).

3. Burst damage. Combining DRW + Hysteria gives you a very potent burst rotation, and you also get DRW every 1.5 minutes. Unholy only really has Gargoyle (on a 3min CD) and Frost only has UA, which unfortunately combines a defensive and offensive cooldown, meaning you may use it for one purpose and later need it for the other. (Blood gets a choice between Vampiric Blood, Mark of Blood and Rune Tap as well, which helps out with its survival.) Burst is very helpful for hard modes are either DPS races (Hodir) or have short phases that require burst damage (XT) (Freya’s various adds).

4. Heart strike hearts you. The mechanics of Heart Strike are very nice (well, not for Hodir or Thorim much), mainly for Freya and Mimiron. On Freya, the 3-elemental phase (in 10-man anyways) often leaves you well away from the Snaplasher but close to the other two elementals. What this means is that you will be HSing both at once, and no other spec can really hit two targets for 5-6k consistently (Howling Blast has a cooldown, UB does damage over a longer period of time, Death and Decay takes time and lots of runes). On Mimiron, you get to smack two sections for lots of damage.

Hard mode is hard


I’ve done this fight as Frost. It wasn’t incredibly easier with Blood than Frost, but I definitely noticed the perks I’ve outlined here. One other minor benefit that Blood gets is 6% more stamina from Veteran of the Third War, which isn’t a big deal but it’s definitely a perk to have 30k+ HP in DPS gear. The best thing Blood has going for it in hard modes is that you can keep yourself alive very well.

For additional survival, you could spec into Night of the Dead for the ability to Death Pact more often, since you only lose 2 points in BCB to take it. This is useful for Freya, where damage is spiky but not continous, so you’re likely to have time to get the two GCDs necessary to summon and pact the ghoul. Unfortunately it’s less useful for more bursty fights like Mimiron, where damage happens at every turn.

So if you’re working on hard modes, and aren’t already Blood, give it a try.

Bloody Blood Blooding

7 07 2009

For the first time in a while, I tried out a Blood spec. My gear isn’t optimal for it – I only have about 188 ArPen and with Grim Toll I’m over the hit cap by a bit – but my DPS was pretty solid, definitely competitive with my usual Frost spec. For one, it was a lot more dynamic than I thought Blood was.

Another thing I noticed was how much I really wanted the changes they’re making to both Death Rune mechanics and DRW. Unlike the ITx6, I can’t spam rune abilities to make sure my rune pairs don’t get messed up. So when I end up with 4 Death Runes refreshing quickly, I’m going to get my Unholy runes refreshing in a pair and my Frost runes doing the same. Solving this problem will make the Blood rotation much, much simpler. The strange mechanics of DRW and Gargoyle in Unholy are also a stumbling block for both specs, and I’m glad Blizzard is simplifying them.

I actually wanted ArPen

One of the best things about being Blood, even just for a night, was actually appreciating the ArPen on my gear. So I really hope Blizzard can fix ArPen for Unholy and Blood.


The worst part about doing well as Blood was the lack of nerfs incoming for the spec. If I can do on-par DPS compared to my Frost spec, why is Frost Strike getting a 10% nerf in damage, which will mean at least a 5% decrease in my overall damage as Frost (because FS is usually ~50% of damage on a given fight). Why is Scourge Strike getting a big nerf, when Blood does equal damage as it in PvE?

With these changes, and the buffs to disease damage, as well as the simplification of some mechanics, it seems like Blood might be head and shoulders above the other specs once 3.2 hits. I hope my guild gets an Enhancement Shaman soon so that I can test it out more in 25-mans.

N.B. If you want to know anything about Blood DPS, read this thread.

What Should He Have Asked/Answered?

26 06 2009

Some people asked what questions I think should have been asked and answered. So here goes (in no particular order).

1) What’s the deal with Armor Penetration? I know it was addressed (kind of) in the Q&A, but I would really like to know if there are plans to make this stat valuable to Frost and Unholy DKs and how it might be accomplished, not just a vague implication that it will be. This stat was prevalent on Ulduar gear and, unfortunately, badge gear, and yet was useless to me and the Unholy DK in my guild. I’m not sure if it appears at a similar rate for gear from the next raid, but it’s already on both the new plate DPS Blacksmithing recipes, as reported by MMO-Champion. Will we have to continue avoiding many upgrades due to Armor Penetration, and what possible fix(es) is planned for the stat? Perhaps a talent that converts ArPen rating into something else, like frost/shadow damage done?

2) The Glyph of Disease, though I don’t use it, is rather buggy. Will this glyph be fixed in an effort to make it a more viable choice for those who want to use it?

3) Why is Blood being let off the hook nerf-wise while Frost and Unholy (which do similar to less DPS in PvE) both got significant nerfs to their main strike? Was this a PvP-related change? Will we see Blood nerfed in PvE but given buffs to its PvP viability?

4) Will we get one-handed weapons itemized for DK DW in the next patch? In Naxx, we got rings with strength. In Ulduar we got capes and necks with strength. There are even guns with strength now, for warriors. I can’t imagine Blizzard wants us rolling on tank weapons to DPS with, so it’s problematic that Frost is being made the DW tree while all one-handed weapons have agility on them.

5) With the buffs to shield block mechanics, will we see any similar changes to Unbreakable Armor, which as a tank cooldown functions very similarly to shield block (and so ends up being vastly underpowered compared to Bone Shield and Vamp. Blood)?

6) Will Blood Plague see a buff? It used to remove HoTs, but now has no added effect, where Frost Fever reduces attack speeds, so now the two diseases feel unbalanced.

7) Courtesy of commenter Jezzlez: Will we see a tweak to each tree’s main Tanking Cooldowns to make them dependable tools again, but without needing to be stripped down because of their PvP dominance…? (again)

If I think of any more, I’ll edit them in. Similarly, if any interesting ones come up in the comments I’ll put them up here as well.

Death Knight: [Obscure and Irrelevant]Q & A[That We Already Knew]

25 06 2009

Welcome, welcome! As you may have been aware of, Blizzard has been releasing class Q&As, and most recently the Death Knight version appeared. If you haven’t seen the thread yet, take a look, then come back and read why I think it was a big waste of time/anticlimax. I’m going to go question by question, starting with #1. (I’ll re-post the question and summarize the answer.)

Note: Square brackets are my snarky comments.

Q: Where do death knights fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do you see them going from this point forward?

A: Death Knights have a unique resource mechanic [I hadn't noticed this. Thanks for informing me, Ghostcrawler!] Nerfing AoE damage [Unholy Blight] and defensive cooldowns [he failed to mention nerfing our armor and HP this time I guess?]

Okay, so question #1 is broad and essentially reiterates what we’ve already gleaned from the patch notes, which is a reoccurring theme in this Q&A. Let’s move on and hope there are more meaty questions farther in.

Q: What is it that makes them unique compared to all other classes?

A: Unique resource mechanic. [Where have we heard that before?] Death Knights don’t have a dedicated tree for tanking, PvP, etc. [Only DW, amirite?]

GC’s answer to this question basically told us what we already knew about the class from release. Things are not looking good.

Q: How do we feel about the current viability of dual-wielding? Are there plans to improve it or have it fit a specific role for the class?

A: Repeat of things already in the 3.2 patch notes. Blah blah Frost is the new DW. We don’t really care about 2h Frost anymore (nerfing it is not a “goal” but neither is keeping it alive a priority). Blood and Unholy DW specs apparently stopped working all of a sudden [there have been reports of its success in Ulduar from the EJ forum] because Frost got a DW talent.

So GC doesn’t care about 2h Frost. What was that about no significant changes in patch notes anymore? Not having to completely rethink the way I play every patch? Hm.

Q: Do we have plans for any changes or improvements to Dancing Rune Weapon?

A: Read the patch notes, guys. [Maybe they should have released this before the patch notes, and then I would have cared.]

Nothing to say about this. It’s a question we already knew the answer to.

Q: What are our current thoughts on the status of death knight tanks and do we have plans for further changes?

A: DK tanks are overpowered [I thought warriors were tanking everything, GC?] and are really the only good choice for tanking hard modes. Nerfs incoming that we also already knew about.

See commentary above. 3.2 patch notes > Q&A (far less expectation of actual helpful information).

Q: Are we satisfied with stats such as Armor Penetration, Haste, and Hit having very different values depending on which talent spec a death knight is using?

A: No different tier sets for different specs. Making ArPen work for more than just Blood.

In what possible way could this be accomplished? Armor mitigates physical damage, and ArPen removes some of this mitigation, thereby increasing physical damage dealt. This is great for Blood, which does lots of physical damage, but for Frost and Unholy, where 50-60% of total damage is allocated to either Frost or Shadow damage, this stat is basically a joke. Unless they plan to somehow make it affect magic damage for Frost Strike and Scourge Strike (which are melee abilities) or make them physical damage abilities (boring), I’m at a loss. This needs to be addressed because of how prevalent ArPen as a stat is and how undesirable it makes many pieces of gear (read: all Ulduar plate DPS bracers except the one from Mimiron-25 hard mode).

Q: Would it be possible to save runeforge enchants to primary and secondary talent specializations or add rune forges to more convenience places than Acherus?

A: Runeforges are already good, no changes incoming.

Who cares? Most people have two weapons, and even if you don’t you’ll only need to change specs to go into an instance (most of the time) at which point other members of your group can just summon you back from Acherus. This leads to another problem with the Q&A: issues that are so unimportant I’ve never heard anyone QQ about them seriously.

Q: Are there plans to change or improve the Frigid Deadplate talent?

A: No plans.

WTF? Who was complaining about Frigid Dreadplate? No Frost tank ever avoids this talent or complains that it’s worse than Anticipation (dodge > miss), which was apparently a concern for GC.

Q: Is there any plan to improve Will of the Necropolis?

A: No plans.

See above.

Q: Is this a bug or something in particular we are investigating? (Referring to how sometimes the combat log records Mind Freeze as having interrupted a spell and yet the spell goes off regardless.)

A: Server-client disagreement, server wins.

I think we knew this about WoW already. Sometimes you lag behind the server.

Q: Do we have plans to change any of the death knight’s self-healing abilities?

A: No plans.

Apparently people think we can survive too long without a healer. Lots of classes can survive without a healer, we just do it differently. Rogues Vanish, Mages Blink, Paladins Bubble, Warlocks have an escape mechanism… etc. Since DKs don’t really have an effective way of running away, we get the ability to heal ourselves. Seems fair, right?

Q: Would you consider adding a Mortal Strike-like ability to death knights in the future?

A: Probably not, no.

I wasn’t ever expecting a Mortal Strike effect, and I doubt any other DK was either.

Q: Will Chains of Ice ever be subject to diminishing returns?

A: No[t yet].

It’s a snare that we can cast twice every 10 seconds, or four times every 10 with Death Runes. If we do that, our damage is completely gimped since we’d only be left with the runes to cast Plague Strike.

Q: Will ghouls ever get their voices back?

A: Long-term plan to bring them back.

I don’t care. I’ve got other issues! The overriding problems with this Q&A:

  1. Questions often already answered by 3.2 patch notes
  2. Questions and answers were uninteresting/uninformative
  3. Questions didn’t address any of the important issues in any detail (ArPen, itemization, tanking, 2h Frost…)

I’m left wondering what the point of the Q&A series really is. My initial reaction upon reading the DK version was that it could act as sort of a primer to new DKs, but that went out the window with the whole “ghoul voice” thing among other questions clearly not directed at new Death Knights. Calling it a class Q&A raises the expectation that it will answer important and useful questions about the class, rather than simply provide a bunch of repetitive crap and some stuff no dedicated DK really cares about. Better luck next time.

Death Runes Got Smarter

25 06 2009

I’ve been on the PTR, but I don’t feel right about posting my results since I’m really not quite sure what spec or rotation is optimal for Frost quite yet. I will say that switching over to this spec and equipping two one-handers yielded about a 100 DPS loss on a dummy from 2h on live, using the ITx6 rotation. I predict that the winning rotation for Frost will be a dual-disease OB-centric one, because that’s where Blizz seems to want us and are clearly leading us in that direction.

Wild speculation and absolutely unreliable testing aside, I found out something rather interesting on the PTR this morning. If you’ve been using the ITx6 rotation, which often finds itself with 6 Death Runes, you will be pleased to hear that they’ve gotten smarter. Basically the deal used to be that if you used an ability that would consume a Death Rune (i.e. none of the basic rune available, such as a Blood Rune for Blood Strike) then Death Runes would be used from left to right, Blood first, then Unholy then Frost. This was problematic because we wanted our runes to refresh in U/F pairs for Obliterate rather than having two Unholy Runes up at once and no Frost.

What happens now is that your Death Runes remember which rune they actually are. What this means is that if you have 6 Death Runes available and cast a Plague Strike, it will use up an Unholy/Death Rune rather than the first rune available on the left. In addition, if you Obliterate with 6 Death Runes up, it will use one Unholy and one Frost rune, making it even simpler for you to refresh runes in pairs. Yay!

The 22 RP Blues, or How I Came to Love Horn of Winter

17 06 2009

As a DK, I often find myself short of one resource or the other. Either I have too many runes and RP and not enough time, or empty space in my rotation because I screwed up my timing on AMS or am somehow cooldown-less. One ability steps in to save the day: Horn of Winter. If you’ve used Blood Tap, Empower Rune Weapon, and are otherwise empty on runes, Horn of Winter is the only thing left to generate RP. The perks of the spell (even if a Shaman is covering the buff): it’s free and it generates 10 RP. This means that for you Frost DKs playing with the same rotation as me (ITx6 machinegun), you’re going to have a lot of GCDs to fill and sometimes not enough RP. Next time you don’t have ANY runes or RP available to use abilities that do damage, use Horn of Winter.

It took me a little while to get used to turning what was once a once-every-3-minute spell into a use-on-CD ability. It will help you squeeze in extra Frost Strikes and Death Coils, and you’ll never again forget about it and lose the buff if you’re the one providing it to the raid. So just as AMS is used as an offensive cooldown for Frost (purposely activating it and taking spell damage, like walking through fire or other kinds of bad), Horn of Winter can be used in a similar manner. Give it a shot.

Tanking Your Glyph Knight… Wait…

5 06 2009

This is a continuation of my post at Big Hit Box about DPS glyphs, but this time focusing on tanking glyphs*. Choosing what glyphs to use as a tank is a little bit different than for a DPSer. Instead of going for straight min/maxing of DPS, where every % counts, tanks have to balance tank stats like avoidance and mitigation with DPS stats in order to stay on top of threat. Without further ado, I shall begin with Frost, as is starting to become/already is tradition here.

*This time posting the entire thing here and at Big Hit Box

Frost meatshielding (like what a fridge does for leftovers?)

There’s really only one mitigation-related glyph that’s specific to Frost, and that is the Glyph of Unbreakable Armor. Since UA is an excellent tanking cooldown for many situations (especially those where you’re taking a lot of relatively smaller hits, since UA absorbs a set amount of damage on all incoming damage), this is an excellent choice for Frost tanks. Also, Frost has such excellent single-target threat through the use of Obliterate, Frost Strike and Rune Strike that it’s not a problem to sacrifice a DPS-glyph slot for this one.

Glyph of Howling Blast is also a solid contender for Frost tanks. Where Frost DPSers can argue for the minor damage boost provided by the Obliterate glyph over taking the HB glyph, the convenience that this provides tanks is extremely helpful for any AoE tanking situation. This glyph basically does the same thing as the Disease glyph, but better; it does damage, gives more RP, and doesn’t require diseases to already be up on the target. Semi-questionable in Ulduar, where many AoE packs are untankable (like XT’s Scrap Bots and Freya’s Detonating Lashers), but a godsend for Naxx and Heroics. My guild also uses a lot of CC on Ulduar trash packs, so it’s not as helpful here. Depending on where you are in raiding and how your guild does things, mileage can vary.

The best threat glyph is probably Glyph of Frost Strike, since it’s Frost’s most damaging strike. Cutting the RP cost also allows you to use more Rune Strikes, another excellent source of threat. I prefer this over the Obliterate glyph because I think cutting an ability’s RP cost will have a more significant impact on your tanking than slightly upping the damage of another skill that usually does less damage.

If you decide not to use the HB glyph, then Glyph of Icy Touch is probably next in line. Rune Strike is probably the most-used tank ability, and a large chunk of crit for the ability will help your single-target threat.

Unholy tanking

Unholy is known for having somewhat weaker single-target threat than the other two specs, so depending on how comfortable you are with tanking bosses, your glyph choices may vary. Glyph of Rune Strike is one of the better options for increasing your single-target threat. Glyph of Scourge Strike is another, allowing you to forego weaker abilities like Icy Touch and Plague Strike for the heavier-hitting Scourge Strike.

Since Unholy tanks will almost always be taking Morbidity, as well as Impurity to further boost Death and Decay’s usefulness, the DnD glyph is a valid choice for Unholy tanks. Since you will start almost every pull with this, except in AoE situations (you can often drop DnD and pull the boss/mobs into it as your runes get close to refreshing), the glyph is a solid option.

The next glyph is pretty much mandatory due to how awesome Bone Shield is. That, my friends, is (surprise!) Glyph of Bone Shield. Buffing Unholy’s core defensive cooldown is awesome and 2 extra charges adds a not insignificant amount of uptime (which will scale with your avoidance as well).

Bloody tanks

Blood tanking glyphs follow pretty much the same logic as the other two trees: buff your defensive cooldown, your main nuke and Rune Strike. That means you want to use Glyph of Vampiric Blood, Glyph of Death Strike and Glyph of Rune Strike. There aren’t really any other solid choices for Blood because it typically uses the DRW glyph, which is completely useless for tanks, and the Dark Death glyph, which isn’t great because most Blood tank builds don’t take Sudden Doom (the talent that procs free Death Coils).

Glyphs you don’t want and why you don’t want them

Some glyphs seem like they’re pointed towards tanks, but haven’t been included in my list of what glyphs to take for each spec. These include the glyphs of AMS, Rune Tap, IBF and Dark Command. First, the AMS glyph: since AMS was nerfed to only absorb 50% of a DK’s health, extending its length is at cross purposes with the goal of using AMS, which is to absorb large spikes of damage (like Sarth’s Flame Breaths). If it lasts 2 seconds longer, it may simply end early due to having already absorbed the maximum amount of damage possible.

Rune Tap is usually fairly insignificant to a well-geared tank, and also takes up a lot of talent points to buff and make usable in the first place. Most tank builds don’t even take the talent, so the glyph is even less helpful.

The IBF glyph, which was previously bugged and added on to the amount of damage absorbed after its scaling with defense was calculated, now no longer boosts the skill’s absorption past 30%. It’s useless for tanks.

Glyph of Dark Command is simply not worth it due to the rarity of taunt misses (if your taunt doesn’t work, it was likely caused by one of 2 things: the boss was immune to taunt or suffered from taunt diminishing returns, which can make a boss immune if taunted too frequently).

The Glyph of Disease Problem

3 06 2009

In an earlier post entitled Talents Can Be Deceiving, I discussed a few talents that seem excellent on the surface but in fact can be troublesome/not worth the space in practice. Today I want to discuss the Glyph of Disease, partially in response to a comment on my glyph post over at Big Hit Box. The commenter stated that the Disease glyph is currently not worth using due to its buggy nature.* Despite this, I believe the glyph will still be a DPS loss for all current DPS specs. As per usual, I’ll begin with Frost.

*Current bugs include not proccing Icy Talons and sometimes diseases falling off too early.

But I want my Icy Touch…

Current (and past) Frost rotations have often excelled using only one disease, applied through Icy Touch. These rotations often involve the IT glyph, which means you will want to cast IT, rather than avoiding it. Since the Disease glyph is all about not having to waste two GCDs on re-applying diseases, it’s really not very effective here. Even double-disease Frost rotations, which often focus on Obliterate more than Icy Touch, will still not want to give up the extra RP from the IT glyph. Similarly, the Obliterate and Frost Strike glyphs contribute more to your DPS than Disease would.

What about the Scourge Strike glyph?

Unholy is probably the best candidate for the Disease glyph, though in my opinion it still isn’t worth it. The obvious glyph to switch out for it is the Scourge Strike glyph, which itself is only a way to re-apply diseases. The problem with getting rid of it is that you will no longer have the chance to chain long strings of SS – SS – BS – BS / SS – SS – SS. Since Unholy’s best damage comes from SS, you want to maximize its use. The other problem with Glyph of Disease, which applies to all specs, is that you’re essentially using a rune and doing 0 damage with it. It also generates less RP than its counterparts in Icy Touch/Plague Strike. Unholy gets extra RP from PS because of Dirge, while Pestilence will only be generating 10 RP. You also have to sacrifice the (minor) DPS of one Blood Strike per rotation in favour of Pestilence.

Death Strike doesn’t care about your diseases

Blood is different from the other two specs in that you don’t need diseases up to be doing full damage with two of your main nukes, Death Strike and Death Coil. This means that allowing your diseases drop off before you’re finished with your second set of runes isn’t really a big problem. The Disease glyph would require you to always refresh diseases before they run out, which would only complicate Blood rotations. You also lose out on a Heart Strike, your main nuke (unlike Frost and Unholy, who lose only a single Blood Strike, which makes up a much smaller % of total damage). Like Frost, you also lose DPS on any glyph you might replace with the Disease glyph.

Tanking might possibly sort of want the glyph

Unless you’re a Frost tank using Glyph of Howling Blast, the Disease glyph does have some applications. Mostly for tanking large packs of adds. In the end, however, it is largely a convenience, since you can simply tab target and cast pestilence on a secondary target to refresh diseases on all other targets. If you’re tanking a large amount of mobs, likely with a combination of DnD, Unholy Blight, Howling Blast and Blood Boil, having diseases fall off on one target is probably not worth fixing with a glyph slot. There are better glyphs.

So even though it’s current incarnation is quite buggy, I don’t think this glyph is worth using barring an overhaul of the way it works.

ITx6 Revisited

3 06 2009

I’ve been raiding with this spec for about two weeks now, and as I get more and more used to it (it takes a while) my DPS improves. When I first started with it, my DPS went down a bit from the dual-disease UP rotation, simply because the rotation is far less structured. Watching Erekose’s video also helped immensely, though it took a while for me to understand his advice. My personal best with the new rotation was tonight, when I felt it really started to click. The DPS is a bit skewed by the fact that the fight took a total of 2:35 and Hodir is the best fight for a Frost DK (we crit a great deal and so can take excellent advantage of Storm Power).

I'm so awesome.

I'm so awesome.

Anyways, here are a few tips that might help soften the steep learning curve that comes with Unholy Presence and this rotation. First, let’s look at the beginning of the rotation and what it’s built to do. For reference, it is IT – BS – OB – FS – BT – IT – FS – OB – FS. The purpose of such a seemingly complex starting rotation (rather than simply going OB – OB – BS – BS / 6x IT) is to set your runes up so they refresh in pairs, separated by 2-3 seconds. This is especially important for your Unholy and Frost Runes. Because you’re going to be using Obliterate to convert to Death Runes, and you want to use all available Death Runes for ITs, you always want to Obliterate with an Unholy and a Frost Rune. Having these refresh together makes it much simpler to do this.

Aside from keeping your runes in pairs, the most important thing to pay attention to is the 2-second window after a rune refreshes where you can still use it and have it come back in 8s rather than the 10 if you use it immediately. This gives you a window to use up some RP before continuing the rotation. In addition, you should avoid using Frost Strikes over rune abilities except in the following conditions:

  1. Killing Machine procced
  2. All runes are on cooldown
  3. You’re about to cap RP

If the choice comes down to slowing your rotation down and capping RP, you should use FS before continuing forward. It’s your most damaging attack (the whole purpose of the ITx6 rotation, which is sort of a misnomer since you won’t really be using 6 in a row, is to maximize Frost Strike through using weaker abilities that generate more RP). and you never want RP to go to waste.

Practice makes perfect

If you are confused, sit on a dummy and practice until are confident in your ability to get your runes to refresh in pairs. Even when you have been using the spec for a while, you can still screw it up mid-fight, or simply have it delayed by moving away from the boss. The benefit of this spec in these situations is twofold; it’s malleable, and not unforgiving if you screw up your rune pairs. In addition, since you’re using so many ITs being out of melee range isn’t always so terrible.

When you inevitably mess up, the best way to get back to good rune pairs is to Obliterate with pairs of Unholy and Frost Runes. Avoid using two Unholy as Death Runes because this will delay the rotation further. And most importantly, don’t panic and cap RP or start spamming Obliterate willy nilly. It’s a hard, but rewarding rotation.


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