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.


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.

Tanking Your Glyph Knight… Wait…

5 06 2009

This is a continuation of my post at Big Hit Box about DPS glyphs, but this time focusing on tanking glyphs*. Choosing what glyphs to use as a tank is a little bit different than for a DPSer. Instead of going for straight min/maxing of DPS, where every % counts, tanks have to balance tank stats like avoidance and mitigation with DPS stats in order to stay on top of threat. Without further ado, I shall begin with Frost, as is starting to become/already is tradition here.

*This time posting the entire thing here and at Big Hit Box

Frost meatshielding (like what a fridge does for leftovers?)

There’s really only one mitigation-related glyph that’s specific to Frost, and that is the Glyph of Unbreakable Armor. Since UA is an excellent tanking cooldown for many situations (especially those where you’re taking a lot of relatively smaller hits, since UA absorbs a set amount of damage on all incoming damage), this is an excellent choice for Frost tanks. Also, Frost has such excellent single-target threat through the use of Obliterate, Frost Strike and Rune Strike that it’s not a problem to sacrifice a DPS-glyph slot for this one.

Glyph of Howling Blast is also a solid contender for Frost tanks. Where Frost DPSers can argue for the minor damage boost provided by the Obliterate glyph over taking the HB glyph, the convenience that this provides tanks is extremely helpful for any AoE tanking situation. This glyph basically does the same thing as the Disease glyph, but better; it does damage, gives more RP, and doesn’t require diseases to already be up on the target. Semi-questionable in Ulduar, where many AoE packs are untankable (like XT’s Scrap Bots and Freya’s Detonating Lashers), but a godsend for Naxx and Heroics. My guild also uses a lot of CC on Ulduar trash packs, so it’s not as helpful here. Depending on where you are in raiding and how your guild does things, mileage can vary.

The best threat glyph is probably Glyph of Frost Strike, since it’s Frost’s most damaging strike. Cutting the RP cost also allows you to use more Rune Strikes, another excellent source of threat. I prefer this over the Obliterate glyph because I think cutting an ability’s RP cost will have a more significant impact on your tanking than slightly upping the damage of another skill that usually does less damage.

If you decide not to use the HB glyph, then Glyph of Icy Touch is probably next in line. Rune Strike is probably the most-used tank ability, and a large chunk of crit for the ability will help your single-target threat.

Unholy tanking

Unholy is known for having somewhat weaker single-target threat than the other two specs, so depending on how comfortable you are with tanking bosses, your glyph choices may vary. Glyph of Rune Strike is one of the better options for increasing your single-target threat. Glyph of Scourge Strike is another, allowing you to forego weaker abilities like Icy Touch and Plague Strike for the heavier-hitting Scourge Strike.

Since Unholy tanks will almost always be taking Morbidity, as well as Impurity to further boost Death and Decay’s usefulness, the DnD glyph is a valid choice for Unholy tanks. Since you will start almost every pull with this, except in AoE situations (you can often drop DnD and pull the boss/mobs into it as your runes get close to refreshing), the glyph is a solid option.

The next glyph is pretty much mandatory due to how awesome Bone Shield is. That, my friends, is (surprise!) Glyph of Bone Shield. Buffing Unholy’s core defensive cooldown is awesome and 2 extra charges adds a not insignificant amount of uptime (which will scale with your avoidance as well).

Bloody tanks

Blood tanking glyphs follow pretty much the same logic as the other two trees: buff your defensive cooldown, your main nuke and Rune Strike. That means you want to use Glyph of Vampiric Blood, Glyph of Death Strike and Glyph of Rune Strike. There aren’t really any other solid choices for Blood because it typically uses the DRW glyph, which is completely useless for tanks, and the Dark Death glyph, which isn’t great because most Blood tank builds don’t take Sudden Doom (the talent that procs free Death Coils).

Glyphs you don’t want and why you don’t want them

Some glyphs seem like they’re pointed towards tanks, but haven’t been included in my list of what glyphs to take for each spec. These include the glyphs of AMS, Rune Tap, IBF and Dark Command. First, the AMS glyph: since AMS was nerfed to only absorb 50% of a DK’s health, extending its length is at cross purposes with the goal of using AMS, which is to absorb large spikes of damage (like Sarth’s Flame Breaths). If it lasts 2 seconds longer, it may simply end early due to having already absorbed the maximum amount of damage possible.

Rune Tap is usually fairly insignificant to a well-geared tank, and also takes up a lot of talent points to buff and make usable in the first place. Most tank builds don’t even take the talent, so the glyph is even less helpful.

The IBF glyph, which was previously bugged and added on to the amount of damage absorbed after its scaling with defense was calculated, now no longer boosts the skill’s absorption past 30%. It’s useless for tanks.

Glyph of Dark Command is simply not worth it due to the rarity of taunt misses (if your taunt doesn’t work, it was likely caused by one of 2 things: the boss was immune to taunt or suffered from taunt diminishing returns, which can make a boss immune if taunted too frequently).

Anti-Everything Shell?

2 06 2009

As I recently posted a comment here saying that AMS should only grant RP when taking magic damage (which I thought was the case) I feel this is probably pertinent information. While AMS only absorbs magic damage, it will actually give you RP from any damage taken. This screenshot is an example:


This discovery (new information, at least to me) won’t make any significant difference to DPS DKs. You can now AMS through XT’s Tympanic Tantrums to gain RP, though you’ll be wasting the cooldown in case you get light/gravity bombed. There are other situations where you take physical damage, such as from adds in Thorim’s arena or the Freya encounter, when there are simply too many for tanks to pick up and hold immediately. If you notice you’re getting hit, and don’t think you will need to absorb any incoming magic damage, by all means pop AMS and get some free RP.

For tanking, you now have another avenue for getting lots of RP quickly. The downside is that as a tank, you often want to have AMS up to protect you from the crazy amounts of magic damage that bosses put out. So I would keep in mind that AMS can energize you from any type of damage, but always think before you use it so you don’t become vulnerable and make your healers work extra hard.

edit: This appears to have been fixed and no longer works.

3.1.3, or How Will I Tank With 20% Less Bonus Armour?

26 05 2009

So tonight the patch notes for 3.13 dropped onto the interwebs from wherever Blizzard keeps them. Here are the two important Death Knight-related changes:

Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.

Death Knight PvP Gauntlets: The chance to refresh a Frost Rune when casting Chains of Ice has been removed. When equipped, these gloves now generate 5 additional runic power whenever Chains of Ice is used.

I may look angry but nerfs make me cry on the inside.

I may look angry but nerfs make me cry on the inside.

The armour nerf (owie)

I’m not sure where this came from, to be honest. I also don’t know if this is aimed at PvP or PvE. The main complaint about DK tanking seemed to always be about the ability to negate burst magic damage through IBF, Bone Shield and AMS. This nerf won’t do anything to change these strengths. If the nerf is PvP-related, I can see the reasoning behind it. Being able to gain a ridiculous amount of armor with no real loss of damage dealing is very strong against Rogues, Warriors, and other melee classes. I know that’s my strategy in arenas, anyways. So much of tank-damage is magical these days that I’m not sure this will have a game-breaking effect on PvE DK tanks, but I’ll have to see if I notice a difference when the patch hits.

Onoes my PvP gloves!

I saw this coming a mile away. Granted, I didn’t expect a glove bonus that I would be incredibly meh about, but such is life as a DK. Ghostcrawler has been responding to QQ posts on the forums saying things like “What if it [the problem] is the glove bonus” (Source)? Granted, the current incarnation of the glove bonus was probably too strong, and likely a result of Blizzard not really knowing what is OP and what isn’t for DKs. For another example of this, see the original t7.5 bonus (+10 RP on Obliterate, Death Strike and Scourge Strike) which turned out to be incredibly awesome. Then look at the t8.5 4-piece, which is pretty much trash and barely even worth considering, especially as Frost.

Although I am not enamored of the new glove bonus, I am wary of it becoming powerful. The nerf means we can’t cast CoI quite as much, but we’ll also be generating more runic power, an ability which can often get out of control. See again the t7.5 bonus. I don’t think this nerf will damage a DK’s ability to kite all that much, but it might force more strategic use of Death Runes. Rather than always using them on a Scourge Strike or whatever attack your spec uses, it might be better to save the runes for casting Chains.

A happy note

Since this post has otherwise been about nerfs, here is a change that may make you happy if you are a raider.

The flight time of Rocket Strikes has been increased, and Rocket Strikes will try to prefer players at range.

The Leviathan Mk II component of the V-07-TR-0N will become stunned during Phase 4 when the VX-001 component begins to cast the P3Wx2 Laser Barrage ability.

Proximity mines now deal less damage and have a lower duration. A small arming time has also been added so proximity mines will not immediately detonate on creation.

All extremely convenient (and not uber-nerfs) to the Mimiron encounter. I hated running back to the boss only to randomly get mines tossed into my path killing me before I could move. Stupid mechano-gnome and his Voltron powersuit thing.

How Not to Be a Fail Knight

14 05 2009

Similar questions have been posed by For the Horde and Gnomeageddon about their classes, each providing a list of typical class-related problems and solutions. So, what are some of the more difficult things to do as a Death Knight, in either PvE or PvP?

Timing Anti-Magic Shell (AMS)

In a raid, AMS performs two functions. First, it helps your healers by absorbing a lot of damage. Second, using it will often fill your RP bar to full (depending on what damage you’re taking). This makes it invaluable and, in Ulduar, usable on almost every cooldown. A couple of examples are Kologarn’s Shockwave, Hodir’s Frozen Blows, Ignis’ Flame Jets… the list goes on. Soaking up RP through AMS is helpful for all specs, though most of all Frost due to the uber-awesome nature of FS.

In PvP, AMS is more of a defensive cooldown. Save it for when your partner can’t heal/help you, or when you are being focused by spellcasters. If you’re going toe to toe with an opposing DK, AMS can give you an edge by preventing application of diseases as well as damage from DC, SS, and FS.

Balancing DPSing and Survival

In almost every Ulduar encounter, melee has to move to get out of something. Missiles, Overloads, Fire, Weird Glowy Stuff, etc. It’s not incredibly hard to just strafe sideways out of whatever is hurting you, but the problem remains that when you’re moving you may not be in melee range or even paying attention to your DPS rotation. So, when you’re running around avoiding whatever is ailing you, consider these things. Always remember, though, that survival comes first.

  1. You have ranged abilities. Use them.
  2. Don’t let your diseases fall off, even if you’re running in and out.
  3. Pay attention to your rune cooldowns. Do you have time before running back to the boss to use more than one rotation of ranged abilities?

The longer you’re away from a boss’s melee range, the more important it is to keep tossing ranged attacks and refreshing your diseases.

Macroing Rune Strike to Everything

For example:

/cast blood strike

/cast rune strike

This is great for levelling. You rarely need to do anything complicated with a mob and the faster you kill it the quicker you get to the next mob. In PvP and raiding (well, mostly tanking rather than DPSing) doing so can quickly become problematic. First, PvP. In the first arena I played with Rune Strike macroed to everything, I often found myself lacking the RP to cast AMS, IBF or Hungering Cold. Add to that the importance of keeping RP to DC if your opponenets are at range and macroing Rune Strike can be dangerous.

If you’re tanking in a raid, the same principles apply. You need to have RP available to use defensive cooldowns to survive. Rune Strike should always be secondary to your survival as you should be able to generate enough threat to keep the boss on you without it anyways. If you’re DPSing, macroing Rune Strike can be slightly beneficial since in certain fights (think the ton of little flower adds that Freya spawns) you have the opportunity to parry and dodge random attacks.

Using Your Cooldowns

Each DPS spec has cooldowns to increase damage, for 20-40s at a time. When is the best time to use them? A well-known saying applies: early and often. One caveat applies: many fights have specific phases where the boss takes extra damage or you need to pull off some burst damage. Some examples of this are XT, Emalon, Razorscale, hard-mode AoI (Steelbreaker does crazy things!), and the list probably goes on to bosses I have yet to experience. In these instances, save your cooldowns or at least time them so they’ll be up at the important times. In other fights, like Ignis and Kologarn, the fight is fairly constant and the more you use your cooldowns the more damage you’ll do.

The hardest cooldown to manage and use properly is Army of the Dead. There are places where it shines, doing about 100,000 damage if allowed to DPS one target without being distracted by shiny adds or AoE’d down by a brisk gust of wind. AotD ghouls will also taunt any non-boss (mobs that don’t have a skull where their level should be) thing in the area. As a result, you won’t want to use AotD on Ignis because of the importance of the OTs and dragging constructs around. On the other hand, Razorscale is the perfect fight to use army for these reasons:

  • You know in advance when you need an extra burst of DPS (landing at 50% or waiting for the final harpoon to be shot)
  • There are no (or very few) adds around during the DPS burst phases

Even if you’re DPSing, you should also remember your IBF as, in certain situations where you might take lots of physical damage (XT’s tantrums), it helps out your healers quite a bit. If you ever have to pinch tank, it’s good to pop your IBF to ease the transition (especially since you’ll already be taking extra damage from not being in tank gear/spec).

The hardest part of properly playing a Death Knight is to keep track of and efficiently use all of your resources. This goes for runes as well as cooldowns. Don’t get tunnel vision in either PvP or PvE, keep thinking, and you too can avoid being a Fail Knight.

What Runeforge Should I Use?

10 05 2009


NOTE: Updated for 4.0.1

From the limited data WordPress provides me on Google searches that lead to my blog, it seems people want to know what runeforge they should be using for DPS.


The reasoning behind using Fallen Crusader over the other enchants is that the +15% strength it provides (it was nerfed from 30%, but its ppm [proc per minute] was increased, which greatly increased its uptime) affects ALL the spells and strikes a DPS Death Knight will use. Cinderglacier and Razorice have a narrower scope and so are generally less useful.

For Frost Dual Wielding, you should be using Fallen Crusader on OH and Razorice on MH. Razorice on MH stacks it faster, while the proc rate for Fallen Crusader on MH/OH is the same.

Tanking is a different ball game

Stoneskin Gargoyle is the optimal choice here. 4% armour and 2% stamina? Yes please.

PvP is another metaphor describing how it’s different, almost like it’s a horse of a different colour

For BGs, I would suggest using Fallen Crusader due to the damage and healing. In arenas, however, Swordshattering is worth consideration due to cutting disarm time in half. If you face a disproportionate amount of warriors and rogues, Swordshattering could be a boon and worth losing the DPS/healing of Fallen Crusader. You’ll also get more Rune Strikes from the extra parry chance. That said, this is really only a good option if you know that you face more melee, especially rogues and warriors, than other classes. Against spellcasters this rune goes to waste, which is a large downside.

Spellshattering is simply not worth consideration. 4% spell damage isn’t all that important and you’ll most likely never get silenced, especially if you play with a healer as a partner. Mages/Spriests who think outside the box, or even opposing DKs might silence you on occasion, but it’s not threatening enough to be worth runeforging to prevent.