Death Knight Talent Trees and Skills – Patch 3.1.0 – Unholy

April 19, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

With 3.1 upon us, I have dove in and looked around at all the changes with the current build. Here I will be giving you my take on each of the changes for Death Knights tree by tree.

Doesn’t matter who smelt it, YOU dealt it! It’s stinky, toxic, and will kick major ass. That’s right! It’s time to talk about…


Is the hot chick at the party

Unholy has been given breast implants and a cooch that emits pheromones in such volume that all DKs go rabid when they get near it. This is not an overstatement at all. I will explain why at the end of this section.

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Death Knight Talent Trees and Skills – Patch 3.1.0 – Frost

April 18, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

With 3.1 upon us, I have dove in and looked around at all the changes with the current build. Here I will be giving you my take on each of the changes for Death Knights tree by tree.

Put on your mittens and earmuffs — mine are made from baby polar bears.  It’s time to go…


Wait… I thought I was a tank class

When I first posted the build 9347 notes I knew that Blizzard would screw up my class almost beyond recognition and the most recent (most likely LIVE) notes confirm this. Lichborne has been reduced entirely to a PvP talent and Unbreakable Armor blows royal cock for tanking. DKs have, at best, been relegated to dedicated OT duty in case shit hits the fan.

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Death Knight Talent Trees and Skills – Patch 3.1.0 – Blood

April 17, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

With 3.1 upon us, I have dove in and looked around at all the changes with the current build. Here I will be giving you my take on each of the changes for Death Knights tree by tree.

Hmmm, let’s start with…


Got some ROIDS

I was really hoping that Blood got the buff it needed to become viable against Unholy in terms of sustainable damage and my prayers were answered… to an extent. Let’s take a look into the world of the Blood DKs and how everything just got turned upside down for them.
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A Quick Rant on PvP in WoW

March 15, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

A long time ago a video was made and posted on youtube that was just over 30 seconds long. It made a simplistic depiction of WoW PvP combat using the analogy of Rock, Paper, Scissors. If you haven’t seen it, you should… right now. Go watch.

Or watch it here:

The reference I make here is to the traditional mechanic of balancing something in a game. The reason that PvP is currently (in this author’s opinion) unenjoyable is that Rogues are capable of beating every class in the game without much effort at all (except for possibly other rogues or mages). I’ve heard people attempt to argue this point with me by saying, “Trinket out of the kidney shot and you’ll be fine.”

The truth is that you WON’T be fine because a smart rogue will just blind you and resume his rotation. You die and you didn’t once get to play your character.

I would like to make it clear that Blizzard has fucked up pretty bad with the DK changes for this patch. Not because there are a lot of class nerfs, or changes to skills that cause us to lose damage, or little things changing like the duration on diseases… no. Blizzard fucked up this patch because they forgot that Death Knights are a hero class.

In an earlier post I made a reference to Star Wars Galaxies and how Jedi were what a hero class is supposed to be: difficult to obtain and beyond the scope of balance. Death Knights are NOT that class. We have been homogenized down to work exactly the same as every other melee DPS class. We have had defining talents removed from our trees. We have been changed to such an extent that now there is no such thing as an Unholy DK tank (unless he has > 59% avoidance unbuffed) any more, and Blood is almost to the same state (a 30 second Last Stand w/ bonus healing on a 1 minute CD is too good to invalidate blood as a tanking spec).

If Blizzard doesn’t get their act straight in the next 4 months, I quit. I’m making that publically known right now. I will most likely change all my account info and sell, or give away, my account. This is utterly ridiculous.

-Surazc Out

What’s a Tank to do with Dual Spec?

March 13, 2009

TGAPGeorge – Warrior Tank

Okay, so I’ve found a flaw in the upcoming Dual Spec extravaganza for Tanks… actually there are two.

The first flaw has been talked about already. And that is the fact that Tanks are very gear dependent. Being so, we spend a lot of time and trouble — a LOT of time and trouble — in getting that gear. So much so, the typical Tank only has a few pieces of DPS gear.

So the flaw, at least for us Tanks, is that when Dual Specs comes out, Raid Leaders across WoW will say, “Hey, Tank. You’re a superstar threat grabber and aggro holder, but we don’t need you for this fight. Flip over to DPS will ya?”

The results will be less than spectacular.

But we’ve all known about this DPS gear problem since 3.1.0 was announced. So what’s the second flaw? The DPS setup.

Dual Specs allow us to have two sets of talents, glyphs, spells, and action bars. I believe Blizzard kicked ass on designing a fun, easy, and not-a-pain-in-the-ass way to do this. So when you do switch from Prot to DPS, everything is set for ya.

And therein lies the problem. Not with the mechanics, but with what it allows you to do. You can be DPS almost instantly. But what have you been doing all this time? What have you striven to learn and perfect?

That’s right! You’ve been a Tank.

So — shazaam! — in three seconds you’re DPS. What do you do now? What’s the best spell progression? Where should you be? What should you be doing? What key are you going to be stabbing — in a limp futile panicked manner — when a mob breaks away to go munch on some healers? (Your Taunt key, of course)

Now for some Tanks — and all I’m Tanking What?! readers — this won’t be much of a problem. We will have researched our new spec, gone out into the boonies for some one-on-one practice, and generally done our best to be our best. For the rest of the Tanks out there… well, I’m sure “Tanktard” will be a phrase that’ll quickly gain popularity.

Here’s where it gets really tricky. We’ve worked so hard to become good Tanks, it’s gonna be very difficult to switch gears to a completely different role. I’m not talking about waiting for threat, getting behind the boss, and letting fly. I’m talking about all our carefully honed skills kicking in during the heat of battle. dualspecoopsIt’s going to be tough remembering that you’re not supposed to be at the top of the threat meter. It’ll be weird hitting buttons normally used for tanking and getting different results.

It’s gonna be hilarious the first few times you switch spec and rush to tank, but forgetting to first put on the heavy plate.

Well, I’m not one to pose a problem without at least taking a stab at the solution.

So here’s my suggestion. Get as much DPS gear as you can. Try to put spells that do similar things in the same slots as their tanking counterparts. And practice.

Lots and lots of practice.

Death Knight Patch 3.1.0 Changes – Unholy

March 11, 2009

So, for the last time in this series I’m going to say, “with the 3.1.0 PTR patch notes currently live at MMO Champion, it is my duty to share with you my thoughts on the Death Knight changes, not only from the perspective of tanking, but from the class as a whole (with of course, an emphasis on tanking).”

Now it’s time look at the third Death Knight talent tree.  It’s called:


Unholy gets to see a new level of favoritism yet unknown by the DK class with the new changes (with the exception of one MAJOR change). Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Plague Strike now deals 50% weapon damage plus 189 and infects the target with Blood Plague, a disease dealing Shadow damage over time. (No longer removes a HoT)
  • Raise Dead cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The ghoul now only lasts for 1 minute.

The change to Plague Strike is DEPRESSING. Blizzard believes that a 20% gain in damage dealt makes up for the HoT removal in PvP? Blizzard believes that removing one of the most interesting and unique mechanics about the Death Knight is a good idea? Well then I want a stun. You heard it and saw it correctly. I want a stun. Forgive me this tangent on PvP, but this change is too serious to slip by just because this blog is primarily about tanking.

The reason that Death Knights had this wonderful mechanic is because it accomplished 3 things that all class and role designers try to do:

1. It was something only that added flavor to the class: the ability to both do damage and prevent HoTs until their disease was cured

2. It was a viable alternative to homogenization. The primary reason classes have stuns is to prevent HoTs from stacking with casted heals and kill someone before they regenerate their health

3. It gave Death Knights a unique purpose not only in a raid setting, but also in a PvP setting as well.

I understand the argument both directions. If you have too many Death Knights, then HoTs become 100% impossible because there are too many iterations of Blood Plague on everyone, by that same token, one Death Knight with pestilence can de-HoT an entire group of combatants.


If you’re fighting an entire team of rogues, and they’re communicating properly, you’re 100% screwed. Chain disables on everyone, sprints everywhere, blinds… but you don’t see rogues getting any of that removed because it makes PvP unmanageable, do you?

Back to the tanking discussion:

Raise Dead’s change is kind of necessary from the PvE viewpoint. Tanks adding DPS through a ghoul for almost the entire fight (4 minutes) is a little silly. Unholy closely emulates the warlock class and giving frost a equally viable (yet uncontrollable) ghoul is, by my own admission, pretty stupid.

  • Unholy Blight moved from Tier 11 to Tier 5.
    • This was necessary to facilitate the Gargoyle change. It also allows Blood tanks to dip into Unholy and pick up some decent AoE threat generation while DnD is down.
  • Scourge Strike (Tier 9) now deals 55% of weapon damage as Shadow damage plus 185.63, increased 9% per each of your diseases on the target.
    • I’m not quite sure what to make of this. It seems, at first glance, like a nerf… but 27% extra damage is SILLY.
  • Night of the Dead (Tier 8 ) now reduces the cooldown on Raise Dead by 45/90 sec and Army of the Deat by 5/10 min. (Previously reduced cooldown when you hit the target)
    • Neutral change. It basically just made permanent what was once stacking.
  • Desecration (Tier 7) now causes all Plague Strikes to cause the desecrated ground effect. Targets in the area are slowed by 10/20/30/40/50% by the grasping arms of the dead while you cause 1/2/3/4/5% additional damage while standing on the unholy ground. Lasts 12 sec.
    • Damnit. I was hoping this never happened. Desecration is one of those skills that you know is essential to maxing out Melee DPS, but it has the unfortunate side effect of covering the ground, and with it: void zones, plague clouds, runes, etc.
  • Anti-Magic Zone (Tier 7) no longer requires a rune to activate.
    • Finally. Now they just need to take it off the GCD and we’ll have a tanking viable cocoon of safety for magic damage.
  • Unholy Aura (Tier 7) renamed Improved Unholy Presence and changed to: While in Blood Presence or Frost Presence, you retain 8/15% increased movement speed from Unholy Presence, and your runes finish their cooldowns 5/10% faster in Unholy Presence.
    • Uh oh… you see that second part? DPS REJOYCE! YOU HAVE BEEN PAMPERED. Expect to read more on this below.
  • Magic Supression (Tier 6) is now a 3 point talent and You take 2/4/6% less damage from all magic. In addition, your Anti-Magic Shell absorbs an additional 8/16/25% of spell damage. (Previously a 5 point talent)
    • 2 more free points, 1% free magic reduction… only a buff. Too bad it still only lasts a maximum of 7 seconds.
  • Master of Ghouls moved from Tier 6 to Tier 4. It now also reduces the cooldown of your Raise Dead spell by 60 sec.
    • Now ALL unholy DKs can have pets. Shit.
  • Summon Gargoyle moved from Tier 5 to Tier 11.
    • And it was returned to its former glory damage. Why didn’t Howling Blast get the same treatment?
  • Blood-Caked Blade (Tier 4) now has a 3 sec internal cooldown.
    • Wonderful. It also procs off the damage for the weapon that caused the strike. A big nerf to DW DPS.
  • Shadow of Death removed from the game.
    • WHAT!?
  • Outbreak (Tier 3) no longer affects Blood Boil. It now affects Plague Strike and Scourge Strike.
    • Increases the damage of an already high-damage skill… I like it.
  • Necrosis (Tier 3) now only affects main hand auto attacks. (Previously affected all auto-attacks)
    • Another change in the downscaling of DW DPS.
  • Virulence moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1. Morbidity moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
    • Because Frost tanks will NEVER pick up Virulence and have T2 unlocked from Anticipation it is safe to assume this is purely a DPS change. Moving Virulence to T1 gives unholy DPS a decent (3% hit on spells) boost and allows Unholy DKs to completely skip Morbidity (though why they would do that, I don’t know).
  • NEWGhoul Frenzy, Tier 6, 1 point talent – Grants your pet 25% haste for 15 sec and heals it for 30% of its health over the duration. 1 Unholy Rune. 45 Yard range. Channeled. 30 sec cooldown.
    • Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Notice that you have to channel the skill. I’d rather have Shadow of Death for the stat increases.

Unholy Blight being moved to Tier 5 (without a subsequent nerf) makes it a top tanking talent now. You don’t have to go balls deep in DPS talents to get to the prime AoE DoT threat generation. What’s funny to me is that with all the changes to the unholy tree, there really isn’t anything there for tanking any more except for Anticipation, Bone Shield, Magic Suppression, and Anti-Magic Zone.

Unholy has transformed into the DPS tree of choice for AoE. Blood will still ALWAYS be better in the long run for single target DPS because of the changes to Blood Strike and Heart Strike. Expect to see those either changed, or reverted, before long because as they stand they are simply too good.

Death Knight Patch 3.1.0 Changes – Frost

March 10, 2009

Surazc – Death Knight Tank

First of all, let me say welcome to our new visitors from wowInsider. Enjoy the site and if you have any questions, let us know!

Okay so I’m saying it again: with the 3.1.0 PTR patch notes currently live at MMO Champion, it is my duty to share with you my thoughts on the Death Knight changes, not only from the perspective of tanking, but from the class as a whole (with of course, an emphasis on tanking).

The spec for today, boys and girls, is:


The only change to frost “skills” is that Icy Touch now has a 15 second duration base for Frost Fever. This is also true with Plague Strike for the unholy tree.

I would like to point out how awesome this is.

The talent Epidemic in the unholy tree increases the disease duration of your diseases by 3 seconds per talent point. A lot of Death Knights felt forced to take that skill because without it they could not go through death rune rotation without having their diseases fall off and their damage nerfed.

Well, not any more.

I see this as working out in a very positive light for the DKs out there in the world simply because if your DoTs last longer (as a tank) then you have to worry less about threat generation in an area. Sitting currently on Frost for its tanking cooldowns I have planned out my future spec: Surazc’s Frost Tanking Spec.

This talent layout still gets you the very best of the Frost tree while picking up an interesting change from Blood. Before the 3.1 changes, this build was focused on maxing out damage in an area by holding HB until a Killing Machine proc’d, but now it focuses more on generating large amounts of area threat through DoTs and holding targets in place with Hungering Cold so that your threat can build and single target DPS can have fun with huge numbers.

  • Hungering Cold and Howling Blast have switched places in the talent tree.
    • This wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for…
  • Howling Blast (Tier 11) now deals 50% additional damage to targets infected with Frost Fever.
    • I’m sure all the Frost DKs out there know that this is a huge downgrade for us. See, not only did the talent get moved down to the 51st point, but it also was nerfed.
  • Unbreakable Armor (Tier 8) now reinforces your armor with a thick coat of ice, reducing physical damage from all attacks by 0.05 and increasing your strength by 25% for 20 sec. The amount of damage reduced increases as your armor increases.
    • This is an interesting change, the extra 15% strength adds to your parry chance almost what the removal of the +5% parry gave you. Judgment on this change is withheld until I see how the reduction scales.
  • Blood of the North (Tier 8) now affects Frost Strike as well as Blood Strike.
    • Increasing the amount of damage Frost Strike does is a big upgrade for Frost Tanks, especially with the changes to Scent of Blood.
  • Chillblains (Tier 7) now reduces movement speed by 15/30/45%. (Previously 10/20/30%)
    • A buff because the talent was moved deeper into the tree (cough, Howling Blast, cough). PvP oriented change… though it would be good for Gluth Zombie kiting.
  • Endless Winter moved from Tier 6 to Tier 4.
    • Again, a PvP change
  • Chill of the Grave moved from Tier 5 to Tier 4.
    • Mostly a PvP change, but has some serious implications for Blood DPS
  • Runic Power Mastery moved to Tier 1 and is now a 2 point talent. Increases your maximum Runic Power by 15/30. (Previously 3 point talent that increased runic power by 10/20/30)
    • While the free point is good (always is) a DK MT should NEVER max out his Runic Power because he should be using Rune Strike macros.
  • Black Ice (Tier 2) increases your frost damage by 4/8/12/16/20%. (Previously 6/12/18/24/30%)
    • This change I understand for PvP reasons… but from a PvE perspective I don’t get it. They nerfed Howling Blast and now they’re nerfing this too? There is no justice in the world.
  • Glacier Rot moved from Tier 1 to Tier 5 and is now a 3 point talent. Now diseased enemies take 7/13/20% more damage from your Icy Touch, Howling Blast and Frost Strike. (Previously 5/10%)
    • Ahhh, the changes to Black Ice make more sense now. While the bonus damage on Howling Blast has been reduced down to 1.5X we have received an extra 10% damage here with Black Ice giving 20% extra. (Read: Howling Blast deals 1.8X damage w/ Frost Fever)
  • Improved Frost Presence – Replaces Frost Aura and grants you an additional 4% magic reduction. Big deal.

The real question is how do these changes affect tanking? Well, first of all, Blood of the North in conjunction with the changes to Glacier Rot makes Frost Strike now the hit of choice for both DPS and tanking DKs. Frost Strike will be a BEAST when it’s used (and this should only be when you have 52 runic power, or when you are significantly ahead on damage).

With the new mechanics of Unbreakable Armor it is yet unknown if it helps tanking magic damage. Also helps with initial agro generation. I can see UA becoming the new opening cooldown for DK tanks. It allows healers to get set up, while boosting the damage you put out (and hence, the agro you generate) substantially.

All in all, the changes to the frost tree were more for PvP balance and Duel Wielding downscaling rather than PvE tanking improvements or nerfs. I understand completely why the Howling Blast change was done: Impurity + Howling Blast was simply too good. The changes to the disease mechanic are one of the larger boons to tanks (free damage? Yes please!) as is the addition of Frost Strike to BotN.