Around when the DK Q&A came out, I was pretty unhappy with Armor Penetration as a whole. Back then, I was Frost specced (in those days Obliterate was not the primary source of damage) and thought that I would never want to see ArPen on my gear. Ever. When 3.2 hit and I started Dual Wielding, things changed. Obliterate was a lot better than it was and as a result so was ArPen. Since then I’ve switched to Blood and ArPen is the best stat besides Strength, but that’s beside the point.
The worst thing that happened to DKs since Wrath was when Unholy Death Knights started using Obliterate. Deep Unholy, that is (not counting the 32/39 builds of old that used Howling Blast). Why, you ask? Well, on the surface Obliterate and SS aren’t very different. They’re both use an Unholy and a Frost Rune and hit for some % of weapon damage plus some other damage.
It’s the texture that matters
To me, though, SS and Obliterate feel different. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like casting Death Strike, Obliterate, and Scourge Strike each have unique associations. In this comparison, Obliterate is on the generic side since its only unique aspect is that it removes diseases (which can be talented away). Its respective glyph is also a flat damage increase rather than one that’s dependent on other factors.
Moving on, though, I think it’s important that each talent tree uses different strikes or else they’ll all start feeling the same. So when I read that Scourge Strike was being redesigned in 3.3 into an attack that initially does physical damage and then shadow damage based on the physical part, well, I was happy. I used to be despondent about how ArPen sucked for 2/3 specs, but Blizzard has managed to quietly make it useful while maintaining each tree’s uniqueness. Well played, Blizzard, well played.