One-Handed Weapons: A Death Knight Conundrum

21 10 2010

This has bugged me ever since I started Dual Wielding as a Death Knight. It still bugs me to this day. And it bugs me even more given the recent hullaballoo over simplifying stats and making sure each class has access to properly itemized gear. Changes in this vein include: all healers getting mana regeneration from spirit, reforging and the removal of ArP in favour of mastery (ArP was worth more to classes that did lots of physical damage compared to classes like Paladins and DKs whose rotations include magical damage). So what’s bugging me? Where are the one-handed weapons itemized for DKs?

Agility One Handers

Bad itemization, bad!

Oops. This post has been edited to reflect the truth

As excellent commenter Argon pointed out, not only can Fury Warriors also use one-handed DPS weapons again, but there are also a number of properly itemized one-handers for DKs and Fury Warriors that have popped up on Wowhead. So instead of deleting this post, which I considered, I’m going to turn it into a more positive one.

Thanks, Blizzard

Since 4.0.1 hit the servers, I’ve been noticing a lot of little things that just make life easier and more fun. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give thanks.

  • General UI improvements (everything looks a lot prettier and is generally more elegant now, especially the spellbook)
  • Guild achievements and leveling
  • The amazing transformation of Haste and making it a useful, interesting stat for DKs (it’s really cool to have a stat that isn’t a straight DPS increase like most are)
  • The new glyph system

That’s all I can think of for now. There’s lots more. The only reason I didn’t include reforging in the list is because it’s just so complex and I have yet to wrap my brain around my feelings toward it.

Does Anybody Really Enjoy Faction Champions?

31 10 2009

I don’t try to hide it. Whenever I down Jaraxxus, I sigh at the upcoming fight. I hate Faction Champions. I’d rather lose Eye of the Storm than do this encounter, which says a lot since I’m not a huge fan of PvP. I know there are a lot of other people who don’t like it (and some crazy weirdos who do) so I thought I’d compile a list of reasons why I don’t like it.

  1. Randomness. In very few other fights can you get gibbed so easily, especially while CC’d. I can break fear once every two minutes with my PvP trinket, but when I can’t break out? More often than not the melee champions start chasing me and kill me while I’m CC’d. Is there any other encoutner in Wrath where something so random can happen (and happens frequently)?
  2. I don’t get to DPS. I spend most of my time in heroic FCs casting Chains of Ice on the Death Knight and the Rogue to keep them off our casters. So basically I end up running around, away from the kill target, to cast Chains. That’s boring. It’s not the same as having a few interesting gimmick-things to do in an encounter, like switching essences in Twin Valks.
  3. It’s not PvP. One of the irritating things about this fight is that I would likely perform better if I used a PvP spec. Since it is a raid, and not a battleground, I find this to be something of a design flaw. I’m all for some off-the-wall talents being useful sometimes (like reduced Death Grip cooldown to help with Sparks on Malygos) but when it’s better to completely nuke your DPS in favour of a bit more survival? I’ll pass, thanks.
  4. Morale. I play on a PvE server, so there are a lot of people in my raid who just don’t like PvP. Whatever people say about FCs, it will always be a PvP encounter forced into a PvE situation to me. Again, this is bad design in my opinion. If anything, this is the kind of encounter that should be put behind a PvP barrier like Wintergrasp, since at least the flavour of PvP is retained. So when we do this fight, and half the raid is irritated even before we wipe, well, it just doesn’t help the raid’s morale.

So why don’t you like Faction Champions?

Onyxia and the Raiding Doldrums

16 09 2009

Ulduar has been out basically forever. Trial of the Crusader and its heroic modes are…well, not really the most exciting raids ever. I still think that a tournament was one of the worst ideas for a raid, regardless of the lore reasons. A whole raid in one room is simply not as interesting as a place like Ulduar was when it first came out.

As well, the normal modes of most ToC fights are basically jokes. Compared to Ulduar, where fights like Mimiron and Yogg-Saron actually required some solid playing to down. So how does this tie into Onyxia? 3.2.2 – I think – should be skipped. I know it’s mostly for the 5th anniversary of WoW, but I can’t help feeling like it’s only going to make Icecrown feel further away.

Some raiders I know are sort of in autopilot these days and I can’t blame them. Ulduar after months and months is pretty boring and ToC isn’t much better. Icecrown is supposed to be the saving grace of an expansion that’s had its fair share of rocky moments, but we have to get through 3.2.2 first. Personally, I couldn’t give two shits about Onyxia coming back. Some are excited, but remember how many people liked Naxx after a few months?

At this point, I really just want to see Icecrown. Enough of raids that only tangentially involve Arthas or are easy/boring. What’s keeping me playing isn’t the current content but what’s on the horizon: Cataclysm and Icecrown.

Bitterness, Take 2

23 07 2009

I saw this post on MMO-Champion yesterday and to be honest it made me die a little inside. As you may know, the Glory of the Ulduar Raider (normal and heroic) reward Proto Drakes are not going the way of their predecessors come 3.2. While I don’t like it when Blizzard flipflops around on their policies, I have to support this change. I posted about a different kind of bitterness earlier, about the mount changes, and this is a pretty similar thing, except, in my opinion, for less reasonable reasons.

The bitterness over the Proto Drakes comes from people wanting their special item to be rare, whereas the hubbub over mounts and epic flying came from how much gold one had to spend on the stuff. Personally, when I see a fancy mount that I want, generally it’s because I think it’s prettier than my current mount and also adds some variety to what flying mount I want to use. How many other people have the mount rarely comes into play when I decide to work on a mount. I want the Glory of the Ulduar Raider achievement because it’s a symbol of mine and my guild’s hard work, not because very few others have it. I wish people would suck it up and not be so damn silly.

My progress in the meta-achievement

My progress in the meta-achievement

When You’re Not Raiding…

9 07 2009

Right now, I like raiding. Trying out a new spec has been fun and challenging, and I have to say I get great pleasure in topping the DPS charts. Unfortunately, when it’s not raid time, and my Argent Tournament dailies are finished for the day, I really don’t have anything I want to accomplish in WoW. I can level my Warrior alt (lvl 47 at the moment), but when I get alts to 80 they simply sit in Dalaran doing nothing. I don’t need gold – I’ve got around 13k and nothing really to do with it – or mats for gear. I have two PvE specs at the moment (Frost and Blood DPS) so attempting to do PvP means swapping glyphs and talent specs a whole lot more than I want to.

So now I find myself browsing WoW-related sites, blogs and forums in my free time rather than playing. Blogging helps a great deal, giving me a WoW-outlet when I’m not raiding. But aside from this, there are few solutions I can think of to make me want to play more. I could apply to a guild that raids more often, but that’s always a ton of work and I would dearly miss the great people in my current guild. I could simply give up playing outside of raids.

That guy who only shows up for he really there?

That guy who only shows up for he really there?

What worries me about this feeling I’ve been having is not just that the current content (excluding raids) is unsatisfying, but that I don’t know what content could be added to heighten my enjoyment of the non-raid aspects of WoW.  What does the new patch have? More dailies, things to buy from Champion’s Seals, a new raid and a new 5-man. I look forward to the new raid/instance content, but the rest of it is trivial. I’m not a collector of pets, mounts, or tabards. Flavour items don’t interest me much. So it’s not so much that the patch notes for 3.2 disappoint me because they lack things I would enjoy, but rather that I really have no idea what Blizzard could implement to make non-raid content appealing.

I wonder if I am simply bored of WoW (or the whole MMORPG thing in general) and will soon quit, or if there’s something out there that could re-pique my interest.

An Open Letter

2 07 2009

Dear people who say the game is being dumbed down,

Did you enjoy reading a quest, only to have it tell you to head “northeast?” Northeast is quite vague. Sometimes the directions weren’t very accurate, and more often than not you were looking for some small object on the ground. As someone who levelled long before mods like Questhelper and Carbonite existed, I can tell you that this is not very fun. I also recall not having a mount of any sort until level 40. Then at level 60 I never had enough gold (500 gold was a LOT back then, what with there being no daily quests and all) to buy an epic mount, so I ran around on a 60% mount for a long time.

South, eh?

South, eh?

Did you like when many classes really only had one role, even if their talent specs seemed like they should be able to do more than one? Like when a Druid’s 31-point balance talent was Hurricane, on a 1-minute cooldown? And when tier sets for Druids, Priests, Paladins and Shamans were simply healing sets (which sometimes had strength on them for Paladins)? Do you remember not having dual specs, when you had to pay 50 gold if you wanted to do some PvP or tank/heal something?

How about when you didn’t get tier loot through tokens that multiple classes shared, but rather simply having the items drop, like Vault today? When pets and mounts took up room in your inventory? Do you remember questing in Blade’s Edge and Netherstorm without a flying mount? When the auction houses weren’t linked? When you could only fly from one FP to the next, and having to buy a new gryphon at each stop? When every raid needed as many Shamans as possible, lots of Shadow Priests, and many specs/classes were basically left out to rot?

Did you also know that a lot of MMOs have severe penalties for death, like XP loss, item loss, or any number of other things?

Do you remember how much these things SUCKED? I guess not.

I applaud Blizzard for doing their best to streamline what are the grindiest parts of the game while working to provide new raid content that satisfies people. Also, have you possibly noticed that the hardcore guilds like Ensidia are still here? When Naxx came out, and they cleared it within days (hours? I don’t recall), they stuck around. Blizzard may not be doing everything perfectly, but they’re doing a lot right.

What Is And What Should Never Be

30 06 2009

What? That’s the name of a Zeppelin song? I totally had no idea.

ANYWAYS. I want to rant about the whole idea of a “hero” class. In my opinion, this should be a lore-only aspect of Death Knights. In no way should players expect DKs to be better or somehow above class balance as Blizzard sees it. I see the hero class as being different in that they have a specific storyline. All Death Knights began when they defected from the Scourge to join either the Horde or the Alliance, so in a way they are heroes where most other adventurers are simply folks who picked up a sword and started killing boars for their livers. They also start at level 55 instead of 1, which should really be the only in-game difference between hero classes and standard classes.

We should NOT be (by design) more powerful than any other class. Obviously Blizzard doesn’t always know what’s OP and what’s not when they release a patch, which leads to either nerfs or tuning. I’m not saying I agree with every nerf or buff that a class receives (why is Frost being nerfed when Blood has better single-target damage?), but the ultimate goal of class balance should be exactly that: balance.

Telling people to suck it up and live with DKs being superior is not going to happen. Ever. And it shouldn’t. We’re already unique in that we have runes and RP (though the mechanic is similar to energy/combo points) and a very different set up of our talent trees that allows all 3 to tank and DPS (but Blood is still terrible in PvP). I personally think calling DKs a hero class in the first place was a bit of a mistake on Blizzard’s part. It inevitably comes up when people whine about nerfing DKs (warranted nerfs or not) and gives no real benefit to the class as a whole. We’re still really cool, hero class or no.

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.

On Changes and Bitterness

15 06 2009

The response to changes, nerfs, buffs, etc. in WoW that I least understand is bitterness. The “I worked so hard to get that when it was hard” reaction. What brings this to my attention are the recent changes to mounts and their pricing (full list of changes here). They are making everything except for Cold Weather Flying cheaper, including epic flying, which will now receive a faction discount. Some people feel frustrated and bitter with these changes, having spent possibly upwards of 20k gold on various riding skills for various alts. I’m of the opinion that this reaction is more applicable to more basic purchases, like materials and other things you might buy for resale value.

Unlike, say, your house, riding skills have no resale value. You bought it knowing that it was completely optional, cost a lot of gold, and that you’d never really get anything but faster flight time for a return. Same goes for BoEs that you buy for your alts – you’re going to equip them, not sell them. We should be looking forward, not backward; remember when you levelled your first character and 5000 gold was just a ridiculously insane number to even think of? Let alone the ~7000 gold it takes to get all the riding skills required to fly at 280% speed in Northrend? So consider new players wearing the shoes you once did, who are dealing with gearing up, learning new raid encounters for the first time and making their first 1000 gold.

Think of the children!

Don’t kid yourself, 1-80 is a giant slogfest of sloggy slogishness. The real fun comes at max level, when you can raid, PvP, dance around in LAWLPURPLZ in Dalaran, etc. Anything Blizzard does to alleviate the pain of levelling and in doing so the strain on our virtual wallets is a welcome change for me. It will bring more people to WoW and help get more of those people to 80. So every time Blizzard makes it easier, cheaper or faster to level, I’m just that much more likely to bring up another alt. Well played, Blizzard.

For reference, I have 4 characters with epic flying (one that doesn’t have cold weather yet), and I’m nothing but happy about the new changes to mount/riding skill costs.

My old main, a Druid, with his flying mount of choice.

My old main, a Druid, with his flying mount of choice.

The Non-Upgrade

30 05 2009

Blizzard’s new design philosophies, from raids to PvP to itemization, are very frustrating. Here’s a recent blue post from the notorious Ghostcrawler:

When bosses reward too well then groups finish the content too quickly and then ask why we haven’t released anything new yet.

If an item drops that improves some of your stats but lowers others, that is far more interesting from a game-design point of view than if you *always* knew you were going to get an upgrade. One thing I always stress is that games should be about interesting decisions. Deciding if you can afford the loss of hit to get more stren[g]th*, or trying to decide if the parry rating is worth losing a little stamina are interesting decisions. There are not always clear cut answers. It lets players demonstrate mastery of the game when they can make the right choice for their character. A best in slot item is not worth it if you have to sacrifice too much of another stat to use it. An item with tons of defense can be the best thing for you if you are wearing blues to hit the cap, or the worst thing for you if you are already comfortably above the cap.


First up, I don’t think gear is the deciding factor in clearing content quickly. Yes, it helps to have all the newest gear, but in reality I think the learning curve of various fights will have more to do with when a boss gets downed. Blizzard has also consistently been pushing back enrage timers, almost to the point of making them irrelevant on normal mode. Let’s take the XT-002 encounter as an example.

I'm back!

I'm back!

When my guild first encountered this mysteriously childish robot, we hit the enrage timer multiple times. The next week when we went back, and the encounter had been nerfed and the enrage timer lengthened, it became significantly easier. There were no significant gear upgrades in the intervening period – we simply came back the next raid day and beat him. People in the raid learned what to do and we came up with a strategy that functioned well enough to allow us to win.

And now to talk of the non-upgrade and the side-grade

The first week my guild was in Ulduar, we were sharding loot. We still shard a lot, and when you consider that much of the raid still has pieces from Naxx (myself included), it is disheartening to see loot drop the first month in a new instance and have to disenchant it. Is this going to continue in 3.2 and onwards? I certainly hope not. GC states that this forces us to make choices, which is more interesting than simply taking whatever drops. The way loot works, however, means that we rarely get to make these choices. Say that Rune Edge drops for my guild (I’m still wearing the Betrayer of Humanity). When I look at the stats, and see lots of armor penetration and agility, I become sad. I cannot take this weapon and trade it in for one that has strength and crit.

My choice ends up being between “take this mediocre upgrade that’s badly itemized for almost every class that wants it” and “get nothing.” You can hold out for certain items, but they could be months from dropping (grrrrr, Sigil of the Vengeful Heart!), which means that the obvious choice is to take the mediocre upgrade that has actually dropped.  If weapon drops were replaced with tokens, allowing you to choose between, say, Rune Edge and Worldcarver then I’d have to make an informed decision based on what stats I have and what stats I want most. That would be interesting.


GC says a best-in-slot item “is not worth it if you have to sacrifice too much of another stat to use it.” Best-in-slot is not one item, but a set of items which make up a best-in-slot gear set that will likely accomplish the main goals of gearing as a DPS DK:

  • The hit cap
  • Close to or at the expertise soft cap
  • Maximizing strength while avoiding armor penetration and other weak stats as much as possible

So if you acquire one part of the best-in-slot set, you won’t necessarily want to wear it until you have the other pieces. The interesting decisions are great in theorycrafting, and it’s important to know what items you really want should they drop, but the choices are often made by RNG. If Worldcarver never drops for you, but you see Rune Edge every week, guess which one you’re going to take?

These choices are also made less interesting by the prevalence of stats that are completely unattractive. While hit, crit and strength are all excellent to have, for a Frost DK like myself, especially one using a rotation with less than 30% of damage affected by armor penetration, any item with this unpleasant stat will likely be avoided unless my current piece is similarly terrible. For example, I upgraded from Ring of Invincibility to Strength of the Automaton because the former was itemized for classes that like agility and the latter for plate classes (well, mainly Warriors and Blood DKs, since they’re the only ones who really like armor pen). It isn’t interesting to choose between two badly itemized drops or one badly itemized drop and one well itemized drop. I want to choose between similarly well itemized pieces of gear that have different stats on them, like Death’s Bite and Inevitable Defeat.


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