Recently, I’ve been playing on my Mage alt, who is Frostfire specced for raiding (Frost for PvP). It has driven home why I play a Death Knight DPS rather than a Mage or any other caster class as my main. Mages are great fun in PvP – they get to use a giant arsenal of snares, slows, stuns and various other things to deal with an opponent. Unfortunately, in PvE you end up spamming Frostfire Bolt/Arcane Blast/Fireball/Frostbolt and waiting on procs.
As a DK, I’m pressing a button every second (due to playing in Unholy Presence). This means in a 5 minute fight, I’ll push ~300 buttons, give or take a few due to running around/no runes or RP to use/using abilities without a cooldown. I also have to watch procs (Killing Machine) and use cooldowns (Unbreakable Armor), but for the most part I’m spamming abilities in no defined order (a mix of Obliterate, Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Frost Strike).
In addition to the difference in mechanics, playing melee has a distinctly different feel to it, as well as playing very differently in certain fights. In Ulduar, there are a good deal of melee-friendly fights: Ignis, Vezax, Mimiron (phases 2 and 4), XT… etc. These are fights where ranged are often forced to run around, unable to cast, waving their hands around like chickens with their heads cut off (okay, maybe not so much that last thing) while melee stay in and hit the boss a lot.
As a Mage, I feel a little bit helpless when I’m running around. I can try to time my running with being able to re-cast Living Bomb and using up a Hot Streak proc, but since I often don’t control when I have to move, I’m stuck with Fire Blast. As a DK, I can Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Death Coil if I’m forced out of melee range. Often, running out of stuff as a melee class doesn’t mean running out of melee range.Take Hodir, for example. Snow Drifts often drop close to the boss, which means you can be safe from Flash Freeze and still be hitting the boss at the same time.
The biggest difference between melee and ranged playstyles is the cast time, especially for channeled spells. Having played a Mage, I now understand why they seem to die so inexplicably often. If you’re .2s away from casting a Frostfire Bolt, you don’t want to move. You want to sit there and finish casting, damnit. DKs can pretty much GTFO whenever they please. Yeah, your diseases might fall off, but resetting your rotation isn’t a big problem (especially for the Frost rotation that I use, which casts plenty of Icy Touches anyways).
A thank you to all those who made being a melee possible:
Bosses’ fat, squishy asses
My guild for recruiting a DPS DK