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.


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.