Alpha Leaks – So It Begins

For up-to-date notes on Alpha changes, visit this page, as more has been dug up since the time of this post, and any future findings will be added to that page, not this article.

Originally I was planning to continue my leisurely-paced introduction with my Burning Crusade and then Wrath of the Lich King history, but little did I know that the Cataclysm alpha client would be leaked to the public. Naturally that takes precendent!

Just a note before I proceed – I certainly don’t condone those breaking the NDA. If you’re fortunate enough to receive an Alpha (and/or, later, a Beta) invite, and agree to Blizzard’s terms, the least you can do is actually abide by them. Not only is it illegal to do otherwise, it’s unethical, dishonest, and plain ungrateful: I’m sure I speak for many out there when I say I would kill for the opportunity to be a part of the Alpha/Beta – not so much to be able to see the content before any other, although that’s obviously cool, but to actually have an impact in the game’s development, be it by bug reports or constant feedback… what gift could be a greater to an avid player of the game and active member of the community? As such, to know there are those who are essentially laughing at Blizzard’s face… it’s rather sad.

But, alas, what can you do? Once the information is public, it’s public, and those who ultimately let it to be so are culpable, not the ones commenting on the leak thereafter. The NDA prevents one from releasing private material – not simply analyzing it after another has released it. Besides, you can’t break the NDA if you’ve never agreed to it.

Thus, without further ado-

Death Knight changes:

  • Wandering Plague has had its damage halved.
  • Diseases spread from Pestilence deal half damage.
  • Scourge Strike has a base 140% weapon damage modifier, up from the current 70%.
  • Heart Strike has a base 100% weapon damage modifier, up from the current 50%.
  • Frost Strike has a base 110% weapon damage modifier, up from the current 55%.
  • Blood Strike has a base 80% weapon damage modifier, up from the current 40%.
  • Plague Strike has a base 100% weapon damage modifier, up from the current 50%.
  • Icy Touch has had its damage doubled.
  • Howling Blast only costs a Frost rune, has had its damage doubled, and now deals triple damage against targets affected by Hungering Cold.
  • Death Coil has had its damage doubled.
  • Frost Fever and Blood Plague have a base duration of 30 seconds, up from the current 15.
  • Ghoul Frenzy now last for 1 minute and heals your pet for 120% of its health over the duration of the buff, up from the current duration of 30 seconds and the current heal of 60%.
  • Rune Strike is now instant.
  • Ebon Plague now increases magical damage by 8%, down from 13%.

Changes to others which affect Death Knights:

  • Blessing of Might now increases AP by 10% instead of a flat amount. Likely doesn’t stack with AM/UR/TA.
  • Mark of the Wild now increases affected stats by 5% instead of a flat amount. Likely doesn’t stack with BoK.
  • Blessing of Kings now increases affected stats by 5% instead of 10%. Likely doesn’t stack with MotW.
  • Moonkin aura’s haste removed.
  • Swift Retribution increased to 20% haste, but only melee and ranged. Likely doesn’t stack with IIT/WF.
  • Battle Shout changed to increase strength and agility. Likely doesn’t stack with HoW/SoE.
  • Sunder Armor now decreases armor by 4% instead of 5%, and only stacks 3 times instead of 5 times.
  • Expose Armor now decreases armor by 12% instead of 20%.
  • Faerie Fire now decreases armor by 4% instead of 5%, but stacks 3 times instead of 0 times. Likely doesn’t stack with Sunder/Expose.
  • Misery and Improved Faerie Fire removed.
  • Master Poisoner now increases magical damage received by 8%, instead of incoming crit chance by 3%. Likely doesn’t stack with CoE/EP/EM.
  • Commanding Shout now increases stamina by a flat amount, instead of health. Likely doesn’t stack with PWF/BP.
  • Blood Pact now increases stamina by a flat amount, instead of health. Likely doesn’t stack with PWF/CS.
  • Restoration Druids’ Revitalize only restores mana to the caster, not mana/rage/energy/runic to the hotted target.

Death Knight changes:

The first thing you notice is that nearly all rune abilities and runic power abilities have had their damage doubled. This is necessary due to the new rune system (an explanation of which can be found here, although I plan to revisit the topic in a blog post later this weekend), and won’t drastically change our PvE dps (relative to where it would have been in the expansion with the old rune system, that is). It will, however, greatly boost our burst damage, especially with Empower Rune Weapon. Generally speaking, however, it doesn’t actually do near as much as you would think just glancing at the huge jump in numbers.

Disease duration being doubled is another by-product of the new rune system. If the duration were to remain the same, then we would have to spend twice as many of our available runes on reapplication, whereas this will keep us spending the same relative number. The same goes for Ghoul Frenzy.

The Wandering Plague and Pestilence nerf are unfortunate, but undoubtedly necessary. With diseases (and all other dots) to be inherently affected by crit and haste, our AoE damage – which is already incredibly potent – would have been overpowered. AoE damage as a whole is being lowered across the board for all classes, so it’s nothing specific to us, anyways. However that combined with the HB buff (the reduced rune cost; not the increased damage which can be explained by the new rune system) could actually dethrone Unholy as the preeminent DK AoE spec, and raise Frost up to that level. Time will tell, but the two will be incredibly close. The net effect of these two changes on single targets will be near unnoticable, for that matter.

Rune Strike being changed to an instant is no surprise, but a welcome buff which requires no explanation or break down.

Changes to others which affect Death Knights

In a word: buff consolidation. With the elimination of a flat attack power buff, a flat stat buff, and a generic haste aura, it will take a less specific raid composition to be able to perform optimally – a necessary change if 10 mans are to be considered competitive and serious raiding. On top of that, giving more classes preexisiting buffs will just further that goal. Good news for all.

Revitalize being touched is interesting, as the related discipline Priest talent – Rapture – remains the same. On the one hand, the current Revitalize promotes a dull playstyle (keep up Rejuv on the dps even if there’s no incoming raid damage!), provides an unreproducible function  (aside from discipline Priests), and adds one more element of RNG to vary our dps. But, on the other hand, it’s free damage! Still, once again, an essential change for the remaking of 10 mans.

All in all, the changes aren’t anything unexpected for those who have been following blue posts on the expansion. These are simply the natural consequences of all that the CM’s have been talking about this entire time. Regardless, it’s incredibly thrilling to actually see it being done and going “live” (in terms of the expansion’s current state, that is). I won’t even begin to try and comment on all of the other information that has been leaked – suffice is to say it’s amazing work, both due to the fact that it’s not even Beta yet and due to the fact that it’s simply phenomenal artwork/storyline.

Next post expect me to get that aforementioned history on my gaming background out of the way so I can go on to more interesting things… such as more commentary and analysis on the expansion!

Until then, have a pleasant evening.

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