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.

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

Some News, Some Thoughts

30 06 2009

Option to change factions in the works (source)

Some may herald this as the downfall of WoW (as with so many other things, like the mount changes) but to me it’s another way for a) Blizzard to make money, since the transfer will probably cost 25$ and b) to make the playing experience more customisable and fun. It also basically doubles any given guild’s recruiting pool. Not only can you recruit horde from your own server, but it gives you far more transfer options. Maybe you’ll be able to combine server/faction switches, for ease of guild swaps. Wild speculation aside, this change falls in line with other things we never thought we’d see like PvE to PvP transfers and dual specs. I look forward to more changes along these lines.

New Wintergrasp gear, the emblem change and the “ease of getting gear” dilemma

MMO-Champion recently reported new items being added to Wintergrasp (see the new items here), stuff that is either ilvl 232 or 226. While I’m not surprised at this (it happened with 3.1 as well) there has been a significant lack of whining on my radar about this addition compared to the conquest emblems dropping everywhere. First, the two changes are connected. If you have a choice between running Wintergrasp, BGs and fail-arenas for points and getting ilvl 213-226 gear and running heroics to get ilvl 200 gear, well, which one would you choose to gear up to raid the fastest? My guess is PvP.

The change that makes all heroics and entry-level raids drop Emblems of Conquest is intended (I believe) to make sure people still run that content. It’s never Blizzard’s intention to have old content completely abandoned, especially for fresh 80s, so a change was necessary to incentivize people into doing that content.

The change to the emblem system also has the effect of making t8.5 and ilvl 226 gear available from running heroics. Some are bothered by this, feeling like it’s a kind of undeserved handout. Personally, I have everything I want from Emblems of Conquest on my main (and have for a while, so much so that I bought Emblems of Heroism with them) so this change affects my DK very little if at all. I believe the situation to be similar for all other guilds who are progressing well into Ulduar. In the next patch, when this change occurs, these raiders will be doing the Crusaders’ Coliseum rather than raiding Ulduar anyways, and Emblems of Triumph will be the ones we want, not Conquest. So basically my alts get gear faster and easier, which is a plus in my books.

Raid lockout extension

Cool. Probably not necessary in the next patch (the new raid instance has what, 5 bosses?) but again it’s nice to have control over stuff like this, especially for guilds like mine who only raid 9 hours of 25-man a week.

Common token for all tier pieces

Sweet. AWESOME. I love this change. If you haven’t looked at the stats for the DK t9, I’ll tell you that the one piece with ArPen on it is the legs. All the other pieces are decently optimized, with one piece that has haste (unfortunately) and the rest a mix of crit, expertise and hit. Streamlining the way loot works in this manner also plays into Blizzard’s idea that picking your upgrades should be a thinking process, which means they don’t want us assuming that every single new item that drops is an upgrade. While this change is great, it’s a bit lackluster compared to the state of loot overall.

Things like relics and mail with spellpower are very class-specific. If you either are that class, or your raid has none of that class, it can be quite frustrating. I think it would be best to put niche-items like tanking guns into professions like Engineering and Blacksmithing or into the emblem loot system.  This (or a similar change) would mean less wasted loot overall as well as fewer rotting badges.

Expertise and You

22 05 2009

Expertise is one of the more confusing stats a DPSer has to look at, in my opinion. Less so than Armor Penetration, which seems to be going through changes daily. So what does it do, exactly? Expertise reduces the chance that a mob can parry/dodge your attack by a % depending on how much you have of the stat. To be fully “soft-capped” (read: pushing dodge off the table) you need 26 expertise (not rating). Since bosses can’t parry from behind, you don’t have to worry about that as a DPSer. It’s called a soft cap rather than a hard cap because a boss’s parry chance is something ridiculous like 18-19% and it’s simply not worth getting that much expertise. Different specs value this stat differently, and for different reasons. Let’s start off with Frost, because I love it so. Also, I’m only going to deal with 2-handed specs in this post because I have little to no knowledge about DWing and expertise.

Frost in Blood Presence

None of the theoretically highest DPS rotations being bandied about on EJ currently use Blood Presence, but I imagine at some point in the future it will rise again. In any case, when examining expertise, which only affects melee strikes (Frost Strike and Rune Strike excluded), the first step is to look at how many of a given spec’s abilities are actually affected by expertise. For Frost, these are (%s next to ability names are how much of total DPS they comprise in a fight)*

  1. Obliterate (~15%)
  2. Auto-attack (~20%)
  3. Blood Strike (~4%)
  4. Plague Strike (if using it in a rotation) (~3%)

*See here for the source of my numbers

So for Frost, a total of around 42% of your damage comes from abilities (or auto-attacks) affected by expertise. If you’re running in BP, it can be extremely detrimental to have an attack or two dodged, since you will often be low on GCDs (global cooldowns) and have little room to redo failed attacks. As a result, expertise is fairly valuable for this spec and worth considering as a factor in gearing up.

Frost in Unholy Presence

Expertise loses a great deal of its value when running in Unholy Presence due to the fact that you have so many more GCDs, and are often left with 1-2 seconds now and then with nothing to do. If you get dodged or parried, you lose much less time than in Blood Presence, and so expertise loses some of its value for UP rotations. Keep in mind, however, that your white damage, a fairly major component of damage, can’t recover damage lost to parries, so with more expertise your auto-attack damage will go up, if only slightly.

Unholy in Blood Presence

Unholy, similar to UP Frost, has more GCDs open than some other DPS rotations. This is largely due to spamming Scourge Strike, a two-rune ability rather than using lots of single rune attacks. Nevertheless, let’s look at how much of an Unholy DK’s damage comes from weapon strikes. Same format as above.

  1. Scourge Strike (~20%)
  2. Melee (~20%) (~22% with Necrosis)
  3. Blood Strike (~5)
  4. Plague Strike (~3.5%)*
  5. Blood-Caked Strike (~2%)

*See here for source.

So that’s around 52% of total damage, with the rest coming from Death Coils, Unholy Blight, DnD, diseases and Wandering Plague. Necrosis adds value to expertise because it’s always going to be 20% of your white damage, which as I said earlier scales with your pre-soft cap expertise. However, due to having a relatively loose rotation, capping expertise isn’t essential.

Blood in Blood Presence

Blood is in a similar situation to Frost when run in Blood Presence. Since Heart Strike is a single-rune ability, and the most-used in a Blood spec, GCDs are limited. It’s more valuable to Blood, however, due to the larger amount of physical damage that it puts out.

  1. Heart Strike (~24%)
  2. Melee (~21%) (+~3% for Necrosis)
  3. Death Strike (~11%)
  4. Plague Strike (~3%)
  5. Blood-Caked Strike (~3%)*

*See here for source.

So that’s around ~56% of damage. Since you’re using a lot of Heart Strikes, and running in Blood Presence, it’s of paramount importance to get as close as possible to the expertise cap so your rotation doesn’t get screwed up.

Expertise vs. Strength

Some people say that expertise is a preference call. Do you prefer knowing for sure that all your attacks will land, and so as a result have an easier rotation? Or would you rather hit harder when you aren’t getting dodged? When considering gear upgrades with or without expertise, it’s somewhat personal, but with regards to gemming you should always go for strength. Basically, don’t go too far out of your way for expertise unless you’re extremely low on it (below 15-ish you’ll get dodged a lot). Also, as a DK strength affects the damage of everything you do, where expertise only the physical stuff, which makes up somewhere around half (less for Frost) of your total damage. It also loses all value after the soft cap since you should always, always be standing behind a mob to DPS it. (Mobs can’t parry from behind.)

In closing, a sample of my artwork, somewhat related to this posting.

It certainly is.

It certainly is.


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