Faulty Thinking And The Armor Penetration Nerf

5 09 2009

In a recent blue post, Ghostcrawler stated that the ArPen nerf going live in 3.2.2 (on PTR now) was intentional. He claims the reason for this nerf is that people were focusing on ArPen at the expense of all other stats. So it needed to be nerfed to make sure that melee DPS and MM hunters wanted other stats.

Does anyone else see the faulty thinking involved? Ever since I hit 80, I’ve been gemming pretty much purely for Strength at the cost of socket bonuses and other stats. As it stands now, especially with the ArPen nerf, Strength eclipses Crit, Haste, and ArPen. So why are they nerfing ArPen as opposed to buffing Haste and Crit to make them valuable stats for DKs?

Instead of avoiding gear without ArPen, as GC stated was the case, I often find myself choosing gear with sockets and caring very little about the stats, be they Haste, Crit or ArPen. How is that any better? I’d prefer it if they were useful rather than simply stuff that isn’t Strength on gear. That’s what I like about my Mage – Crit and Haste are both valuable stats, which makes gearing choices a bit more interesting than simply taking whatever has the most Intellect, or whatever it might be.

The only gems that matter

The only gems that matter


[SPOILERS] Initial Reactions to Cataclysm

22 08 2009

Keep in mind this post contains spoilers for the new expansion, so if you’re not into that sort of thing you should stop reading now.

That said, I thought I’d share my reactions to a few things that’ve come out.

Armor Penetration removed completely, Haste changed to increase rune refresh rates (no longer melee speed), no more AP on gear

These are the major stat changes that are going to affect Death Knights. For one, gear selection will now be limited to strength gear (with the exception of Reforging, which you can learn more about here) since Agility gear won’t have any AP to make up for lost Strength. This means itemization will have to be better spread out to accomodate DKs (we’ll need 1-handers with Str) and definitely other off-pieces with it as well.

Another side effect of this change is that there will be more competition between plate-DPS classes – no longer will some classes refuse gear because it has ArPen or any other stat.

As to the Haste change, well, this one is the most problematic. Unlike casters, who have long 3-second or higher cast times to reduce with Haste, or Warriors who have rage dumps, DKs only have so many GCDs available. If Haste significantly affects the rune refresh rate, how will we (specifically Blood and Frost DKs, who have very few open GCDs) take advantage of it? Obviously it’s very early Cataclysm’s lifetime, so hopefully this is addressed or we’ll all end up in Unholy Presence.

I think the best part (and probably the most intended aspect) of the Haste change is that it will now be a valuable stat for tanks. Unlike the current incarnation, which just gives the boss more chances to parry your swings, the new Haste will be invaluable for most tanks. Since tanks are often using runes for things like DnD and defensive cooldowns more so than DPSers, faster rune refresh rates could be very helpful.

Worgen. Humans turning into wolves. AND THEY CAN BE DEATH KNIGHTS.

I’ll most likely be rerolling a Worgen DK as soon as the expansion hits. I’m really glad I’m Alliance, though, because Goblins are ugly.

As to the rest of the changes made to the world and new zones, I’m REALLY excited about it all. I remember the months before WotLK when all that information was filtering out, and frankly I am far more interested in Cataclysm. Not only is the raid content more interesting (Arthas has been something of a lame duck for most of this expansion, after the initial shock of seeing him pop up in various quest lines), but a revamp of old Azeroth was 100% necessary.

The old content was fine when WoW started out, but since then questing has been made (barring poop quests) just plain better. So admitting that, and doing something about it, is a nice acknowledgement that Blizzard cares about both old and new content. Making levelling better makes the game better as a whole. Much time is spent levelling, whether you’re on your first character or your seventh.

On a side note…

I’m in the market for a new mouse. Wired or wireless, somewhere between 40-50$. I also need a new (preferably a really good one) VGA cable to connect a laptop to an external monitor. Mine is crappy and has some issues. So if anyone out there is fairly tech savvy and has some tips, I’d appreciate it. Any thoughts on this mouse?

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.