Bloat – Unholy… Right?

Now, before I begin, to be clear – I’m no expert of other classes. Obviously not. That said, it doesn’t take an expert to be able to look at a talent and tell you whether or not it increases dps. It might take one to tell you by how much it increases your dps or how it compares to other talents but, as you’ll see, that knowledge doesn’t even matter.

Out of boredom, I decided to go through each tree of the following classes, taking every available damage talent and core utility talent (such as raid auras, decreased threat, increased range for casters, etctera). Occasionally I would have to take a talent which didn’t adhere to one of those two categories in order to move down the tree, but when such was the case, I took what I would consider the most attractive option available (such as increased movement speed, in the case of the Enhancement spec).

Example Shadow Priest Build
All raw dps + raid utility talents taken. Points left? 12.

Example Balance Druid Build
All raw dps + raid utility talents taken. Points left? 6.

Example Elemental Shaman Build
All raw dps + raid utility talents taken. Points left? 4.

Example Enhancement Shaman Build
All raw dps + raid utility talents taken. Points left? 1.

The fact that these are all hybrids isn’t intentional on my part – the pure dps classes (and Paladins/Warriors) simply haven’t had much work done on their trees yet, and thus it would be rather pointless to include them in this comparison.

Where am I going with all of this? Try to build an Unholy dps build for Cataclysm, and you’ll see instantly.

If you try to take all of our dps talents… well, you just can’t. It’s not possible. You run out of points. You don’t have the option to get a single non-personal-damage talent. Forget AMZ, Ghoul Frenzy, or any other non-mandatory manner of utility.

This is a direct contradiction of Blizzard’s words stating that they intended for specs to have more flexibility in talent choices, and actual rooms for stuff which isn’t straight up damage increases. As shown above, they’ve managed it with every dps tree they’ve significantly touched so far… aside from Unholy, that is.

And the worst part is? It’s not the Unholy tree to blame!

  • In the Shadow Priest build, 56 points are spent in the actual Shadow Tree.
  • In the Balance Druid build, 58 points are spent in the actual Shadow Tree.
  • In the Elemental Shaman build, 58 points are spent in the actual Shadow Tree.
  • In the Enhancement Shaman build, 54 points are spent in the actual Shadow Tree.

If you take every single dps specific talent in Unholy (sans Virulence, since that’s laughably weak), you spend 62 points. That’s not significantly worse than any of the above, and hence the issue – it’s not our primary tree which is actually that bloated, come Cataclysm, but rather our secondary tree, Frost, which is simply too damn attractive!

Pillar of Frost is just way too amazing for a 21-point talent, and the bottom of the Frost tree is much too generalized (relative to Unholy or Blood) in its talents, with talents like Icy Talons, Endless Winter, and Black Ice having universal appeal/worth.

Unholy is slightly heavy, relative to other dps trees, yes. To see expensive and dull talents like Desolation removed would be welcome, and is pretty likely to actually happen. But that’s not where the actual, main problem is.

Unholy is bloated, but primarily because of Frost.

It’s one of those things which I fervently hope Alpha/Beta testers note and bring to Blizzard’s attention, without misdiagnosing the problem, which can be easy to do. It’s something I’ll be sure to bring up, if I’m fortunate enough for an invite.

29 Responses to Bloat – Unholy… Right?

  1. Rebellion says:

    Frost is not bloated in your opinion ? 63 Talentpoints for DW frost w/o taking any utility is quite bloated in my book, when the masterybonus already stops at 51 points, thats 12 points over the requirement to reach the end of the tree. And its not like unholy isn’t interesting for frost as a subspec too.

    But to be honest I never thought blizzard will manage it. If they were able to clear the talent trees of boredom and make room for interesting stuff, that would mean that only cookie cutter specs were available and no thinking at all would be required.

    • Consider says:

      Currently you likely don’t take Brittle Bones, as it has no personal benefit (unlike the Warrior/Rogue version of the debuff), which would bring it down to 61. The difference then becomes that the beginning of Unholy (or Blood) isn’t that important – 16 points for it all, which is 5 less than Unholy has to sink into Frost.

      So Frost is a little bit better. Just not by much though, true.

      All Blizzard has to do is eliminate Desolation (throw it into Reaping or whatever) from Unholy, eliminate Icy Talons (keep Imp Icy Talons, just change the name, and unlink it from any other talent), and move Pillar of Frost down (swap it with Hungering Cold, if that’s ok PvP wise, perhaps). Both specs fixed!

      There’s a lot of other ways it could be managed, and I’m sure Blizzard could come up with something better than the above. It certainly can be done, though, and needs to be done primarily by reworking the top of Frost.

      • Rebellion says:

        Well as long as there are somhow worthy dps talents, even if it is only IT, in the first few rows, utility and gimmiks will never be that attractive. The problem imho is more of the kind, that we have two talenttrees which specialize into dps. Even more, both are specialized into physical dps.

        The priest for example – with the most optional talent points – can do so, because the other two trees are build around utility and healing and fitting dmg in there, given the nature of “no holy dmg while doing shadow dmg”, literally excludes any dps options of the one tree and leaves you with very few in the utlity tree.

        Balance Druids are already a bit diffrent. They have to chose between a tank/phys,dps tree and a heal tree, but given that the healing options do not exclude the dps options and only the phys.dps/tank tree excludes itself from magical dmg, they are already left with alot less of an option for utility.

        The Shamans are left with the least, not because of their talent trees which specialize into phys.dps, magic dps and healing, but because their class is more connected and their self buffs remain in diffrent trees. So is the elemental Shaman kind of forced to take a detour into enhancement for the weapon enchant and stronger support for himself and for his allies, while the enhancement shaman is forced to go into elemental to power up his procs and instant spells he uses regulary.

        Compared to these three the DK could be measured with a negative amout of utlity options, because you can hardly spend a point into some slow if there is a 1% of dps waiting elsewhere, at least as a min/max’er.

        Of course the final judgement is reserved for when we see the beta and more talents of other classes like warrior, who is in the same boat as us or the pure classes who have 2 dps subspec options (though some blood talents do still look nice) and I will then start to measure the bloat of our trees, but until then I’m not that suprised to see the current trees.

      • Sag says:

        This reply is really for Rebellion. I fail to see how having two trees for melee DPS is an issue. Rogues have three, warriors have two, if you want to say physical then I would say hunters have three as well. I am sure blizz will find a good balance in the end. If you look at unholy right now there are a lot of straight DPS increasing talents there X damage to PS, Y damage to SS, Z damage with diseases.

        I think several of these may get combined. Your count may end up being different than mine, but I think a talent like endless winter, while a flat DPS increase based on 3% more str, has that added bonus of free mind freezes and I think things like that is what blizz is aiming for. Unholy doesn’t seem to have anything like that. The closest might be morbidity, which give you 15 seconds off of DnD while giving added DC damage. Necrosis is still shadow damage to attacks, nothing changes for you, Impurity is still extra spell damage, nothing changes, hell you do nothing for sudden doom at all, it’s just a DPS increase. I would expect at least necrosis and impurity to be made 3 pt talents, if not wrapped into other talents.

        This is not to say frost doesn’t still have those flat DPS increasing talents, but GC said blizz couldn’t get rid of all of them. Frost, to me, just looks more complete right now. I also don’t think DKs can really complain with 2 out of three trees looking to be in good shape. I’m still trying to figure out how to make a good blood tanking tree without putting nearly every point in blood. I think I have 68 points in blood right now.

      • Alraiis says:

        Mightn’t the removal of talents like Icy Talons and Pillar of Frost just push us to a four-disease Blood sub-spec using Hemorrhagic Fever? Some of the talents are a waste, sure, but Bone Shield, Blood-Caked Blade, Two-Handed Weapon Spec and Bladed Armor are still solid and a fourth disease would be a fairly substantial gain.

      • Rebellion says:

        I’m sorry if I failed yet again to express myself properly, but what I was trying to do is provide kind of an anti-thesis for Consider’s thesis about that it is the “fault” of frost beeing to attractive. Compared to the hybrids in his initial thesis (the blog post) it is in fact the problem, that their trees are not attractive enough, and thereforce a certain “bloat” (lets say that means more than 51 pts in a tree) is not a problem for them, but it is becoming one if the first few points in a tree push your dps even by a smal margin. That is something we can’t do anything about, because I doubt Blizzard is inclined to make the first 20 talents in each tree utterly useless, just to reduce the “bloated” feeling in another.

        At the end what I further tryed is to mention, that proof of any thesis which compares diffrent classes has to wait until we see, what classes, which are more simular to us, have in the “bloat department” until we can really say if Blizzard failed because of the tree itself or because of the alternatives provided. If a rogue for example would have 45 interesting talents dps-wise then I’d think there is hardly any bloat in the tree at all, enogh space to get at least 5 talent points to the “fun stuff” while having 25 more to go into antoher tree or any combination of it what so ever.

        I hope I made myself more clear now.

      • Sag says:

        Rebellion, honestly I see frost as being the more attractive tree at this point. I have absolutely no interest in DWing, so for me frost would be a 2-hander, which means I could also (for personal dps) probably drop the icy talons line, since atk spd increase isn’t usually a huge DPS increase a spec like that. How well Might of the Frozen Wastes generates runic power though remains to be seen. At this point I would only spec unholy if my raid needed the 13% spell damage increase, or for pvp reasons.

        I am not a master warrior by any stretch, but for fury I have 64 talent point to increase damage/generate rage

        Blizz says whirlwind might not be so strong and I am not sure how much fury uses execute, so maybe I am off some, but that’s still a lot of talent points.

        Arms is a little more managable with 54, but that is only with 2/3 in imp mortal strike.

        from doing arms warrior research earlier most only get 2/3 imp mortal strike, they don’t pick up anger management, and there was a build without bladestorm as well. I believe that this was because of the attractiveness of +crit talents in fury.

        Also worth noting is that fury should be adding another talent to make DWing 1 handers viable. Not sure how it will work, but blizz has talked about it.

        @Alraiis at this point we don’t know if hemorrhagic fever will count as a disease for bonus dps. Obviously the build is not ideal since we don’t know values for things, but here is what I think you are proposing

        blood caked blade and SS could hit very hard in that build, but who knows what the final value of those end unholy talents will end up being. I can see blizz moving hemorrhagic fever down the blood tree some more and moving up something like Crimson Scrouge in order to really push people into giving up attractive DPS talents to get it. I’m pretty sure Blizz said they want people to have a reason to put more than 51 talent points into a tree, not allowing for other partial masteries is one of them.

      • Minaka says:


        I don’t really think you need to put points into Deflection in your arms build. Heroic Strike will probably be used more in Cataclysm, so Improved Heroic Strike seems like a better choice to me. (Not really a DK issue, but still…)

      • Sag says:

        @ Minaka
        I only put points into it because last I checked arms warriors do not use heroic strike at all, making the talent pretty much useless. This is subject to change with the expansion, but I have not followed the warrior changes. Here is the latest priority list I found for arms:

        1. Rend
        2. Overpower
        3. Execute
        4. Mortal Strike
        5. Slam

        EJ suggested using Heroic strike to burn extra rage, but I haven’t seen why use Heroic strike over slam when playing arms.

        Consider is right on one issue, try finding relevant uptodate information here:

  2. Nahela says:

    I get the feeling the trees have a lot more work to be done. Every other class/spec is getting a brand new ability talent in their trees while DKs currently only have shifted around re-tooled abilities (UA -> PoF, Hys -> UF). So unless they lazy-out on it, which I hope not, then we’ll probably see another major shift/cut in the trees even before beta.

  3. Kraav says:

    Don’t hold your breath on blizzard developers cutting some of the bloat from our talent trees. Ghostcrawler has a personal fucking hate on for DKs (he really does).

    At best we might see Bladed Armor, Icy Talons, and Desolation each changed to 3/3 from 5/5. Which is a start I will admit, but I am not holding my breath.

  4. Anaroth says:

    There are a couple of interesting design questions underlying their talent tree design.
    How many points do they want us to spend in our main tree?
    How easy should it be to get raid buffs?
    I’m not 100% sure on the answers to these questions and the design of the DK trees doesn’t really tell us anything.

    Blood has two raid buffs, and you can get them both while still getting a 51 talent point in another tree. While it’s the tanking tree, you can get those raid buffs (one of which comes with an extra disease), while wasting about 9 points in tanking talents.

    Frost also has two raid buffs (one accessible, one not), and a accessible self buff talent that’s about as powerful as the unholy 51 point talent (and more useful given it boosts ae damage). If brittle bones had some self benefit, then you can spend 23 points in the tree taking talents that are useful for any build.

    Unholy has a good raid buff (high in the tree, although it also boosts disease damage), one very accessible single target boost (unholy frenzy), and a lot of utility / tree specific talents.

    Actually in some ways I think it is a better designed tree, and if the others were designed that way then there would be more incentive to go for more talents in the unholy tree. That said there is some stuff that should be redesigned in there, and another raid buff wouldn’t hurt.

    A couple of further things:

    The value of unholy frenzy is very dependent on whether focus, energy and rune recharge are affected by melee haste, if they are then it’s very valuable to rogues/ferals/hunters and DKs. it does affect rage generation so is already useful for warriors.

    If melee haste does change our rune refresh rates then (assuming they remove the personal haste from the icy talons range) an unholy DK is going to have 1.2*1.16 =1.39 baseline haste which means slightly more than a 7 second rune recharge time with no haste rating. Throw unholy frenzy and bloodlust on there and wham you have 5 second recharges. Honestly I think they need to nerf the base melee haste buff to say 10% rather than 20%.

    My ballpark estimate suggest that ghoul frenzy is actually a rather good dps talent, mostly because it’ll boost all ghoul damage, and as we don’t need FU rune pairs anymore it’s much easy to use.

    Unholy doesn’t have much use for Frost runes atm. Just spamming icy touch. My solution would be to switch reaping to work off frost runes that you use icy touch with. Suddenly you’d get fewer frost runes, and the talent would be useful for ae as well as for single target.

    As it stands neither dps spec will have much issue keeping up frost fever in a single target situation. Unholy will be spamming icy touch, and frost will be able to use rime procs. Blood plague will be a bit harder to put up, but there should be free death runes floating around for frost, and scourge strike will only hit about 50% harder than plague strike for unholy. This pretty much weakens the value of epidemic for dps builds at least (Taking 1 point so you can use outbreak efficiently might be worth it). Tanks have more issues as they don’t generate death runes from blood, and ideally want to be death-striking as much as possible.

    Unholy doesn’t really have much use for

    • Roth says:

      Unholy Frenzy will be good no matter what, seeing as its a 3 minute cooldown which costs nothing to activate. As far as how many talents they want us to spend in our main tree…I would imagine they want no more than 56 points spent on your main tree (hopefully they reduce that to 51…it would actually be kinda nice to pick up Butchery as an optional talent). I would also imagine that theyll come up with some sort of Frost rune ability for Unholy. Giving us 5 point Epidemic + Runic Empowerment makes little sense if all we use Frost runes for is IT.

      That would mean the 5 points in Epidemic would basically be spent to maintain 45 second Blood Plague…which doesnt make much sense at all considering how much work blizzard has done to kill the Shadowfrost playstyle.

    • Sag says:

      The you can get both abomination’s might and hemorrhagic fever with by taking only dps increasing talents in blood. With the exception of exsanguinate (which I am guessing would be a better choice than blade barrier for DPS), you can choose talents that have a damage increase attached to them. Given that bone armor is very low in the tree, (a 2% damage increase for a buff that will most likely stay up the entire fight for 1 talent point is very good) I would expect the damage increase on that to be removed in order to make it less attractive.

      Still in order to reach that in blood you can only spend 52 points in unholy, which (unless you are the buff/debuff bitch and your dps doesn’t matter as much) is probably not going to be a high DPS build. Unless maybe SS ends up hitting like a truck with that extra disease.

      Maybe this should be reserved for a discussion on blood talents, but could bladed armor become very attractive very quickly if armor numbers go up like they have in recent expansions?

  5. Anaroth says:

    Some more notes on the unholy builds.

    The magical part of SS will be hitting for less than 50% of the physical part with 3 diseases if we’re in unholy presence.

    A rough calculation shows that a fully talented IT and a fully talented SS won’t actually hit for much more than an annihilation talented obliterate (without the glyph which I i imagine will be removed).

    As written, with a 3.6 speed weapon, sudden doom should proc once every 17 or so seconds. With a 2.6 speed MH and 1.5 speed OH, it would proc on average once every 5 seconds 😛 What’s more these calculations were made without Icy Talons. Even with a more balanced sudden doom, A spell nuking DW unholy build is probably very viable.

    I hope they streamline the crypt fever -> ebon plague talents. As it stands you get a big personal buff from the 1st point (extra disease), a small raid buff from the next 2 (bonus disease damage ). The spell damage buff is still best brought by an unholy DK, but the personal buff is rather weak. I’d combine the talents, by removing crypt fever and making the ebon-plague bringer talent buff your disease damage by 10% per point.

    Above the 30 point mark the top of the unholy tree is full of medium powered dps talents. There’s 30 points which are pve dps boosts (the one exception is AMZ which is good utility but we can’t afford the prerequisite). By comparison frost has good 18 point for any build plus Hungering Cold which is good ae utility. Many of the frost talents are more powerful than the corresponding unholy ones. Ideally there should be at least 21 talent points up there, but I think 30 is too many.

    • Theldonn says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they completely removed Crypt Fever. Ebon Plaguebringer is a disease on its own and the intent of Crypt Fever goes against Blizzard’s design philosophy of buffs since Unholy DKs are the only class that can buff disease damage.

      • Sag says:

        Since only priests and DKs use diseases I don’t think it is high on their priority list.

  6. Baadshah of Dawnbringer says:

    Because of the high amount of respect Consider has garnered from most of the WoW community (thanks largely to his thread on EJ), I am going to bet that Blizzard has at least one developer watching this site for feedback.
    After all, Death Knights are about to experience their first ever expansion and major revamp. My guess is that, for all the criticism and accusations we often fling at them, Blizzard is quite anxious for some feedback regarding the proposed changes.
    Hence posts and comments over here may very well make it back to Blizzard.

    So I’d assume many of us have a “wish list” of talents we want to see gone, points reduced or not “have” to take. I’d be interested in hearing some of yours, here are mine:

    *Desolation (Tops the list of talents I want to see gone)

    *Morbidity (The effect is great, the extra points are not. Merge it into Reaping)

    *Reaping (Horrid on its own. Death Runes are great, but look at how Blood gets TWO runes and Frost gets damage bonuses for its Death Runes. This might be a perfect place to merge Morbidity into)

    *improved Presences (I like the fact that each spec will be forced into using its respective presence- good. It fits thematically and provides a good contrast between the DPS specs. Why bother with talents that “improve” them? Is Blizzard afraid Frost DKs will start using UP unless they make FP worthwhile? That says more about design flaws and breaking out of our “intended matrix” [*Cough* Shadowfrost *Cough])

    *Icy Reach (Tanks still don’t see a point in taking it up for range, and Frost DPS DKs have almost never touched it. I think the only time I ever took it was in 3.2 when I tried to test out Two Handed Frost in ToC gear)

    *Bladed Armor (Unless the value scales better in Cata, I don’t see this being taken for even tanks after the first major content patch, which allows them to generate just as much aggro without the AP bonus)

    *Magic Suppression (I don’t want this removed necessarily, since I understand its value in PvP. At the same time, I don’t like being forced to put 3 points into this just for my AMS to be able to do the job it currently does- not unless the talent had something more to offer)

    *Virulence (Please Blizzard, make up your minds about this one. Bloat is so horrid right now that Unholy builds aren’t taking this up, a.k.a. Unholy-the-most-spell-damage-heavy-tree. See a problem?)

    *Necrosis (Right now it’s fine, but in Cataclysm it’ll be the fourth 5 point talent that Unholy DKs will want to take if we assume Icy Talons, Runic Empowerment and Epidemic are all being maxxed out. Necrosis either needs to have its talent cost reduced for the same effect or be merged into something else)

    *Glacier Rot (Frost also had a bloat problem in itself. Try merging this with Guile of Gorefiend or Annihilation [Okay maybe not Annihilation if we don’t want Shadowfrost V2])

    *Brittle Bones (I get wanting to give us good utility as well, but if we assume Scourge Strike is staying the same way as it is right now, this would be horribly tempting but unreachable. I’m not sure where it should be merged into though)

    *Runic Power Mastery (Now this is a tricky one. I want to be able to find some way for both Frost and Unholy DKs to continue using it without having to sacrifice points you’d rather put in other parts of the tree. I see it like I see Brittle Bones: Very nice talent that increases DPS potential for both trees, especially when you take into account AMS soaking for Unholy. But how do you make it worthwhile?)

    Got any more to add?

    • Roth says:

      All of our spells need to work off of melee hit and crit rates. We are a melee class…we shouldnt have to deal with spell hit/crit rates at all.

      Butchery should be rolled into Runic Power Mastery.

      Two-Hand Weap. Spec. should be rolled into Dirge.

      Necrosis should be rolled into Corrupting Strikes.

      Magic Suppression should be 2 points.

      Ghoul Frenzy needs the rune cost removed.

      Sudden Doom should be rolled into Reaping.

      Morbidity should be rolled into Virulence. (This is especially important for Blood tanks)

      I dont suggest all of these be done (obviously). But ~3-4 of those changes would go a very long way.

    • Rhaevos says:

      I will say that Icy Reach is a pvp talent, you will be hard pressed to find a competative build without that talent.

      • Sag says:

        I love icy reach for flag carriers in wsg, never underestimate what a 30yd snare can really do for you.

        Also something that most raids and instances in WotLK lacked were runners. I don’t actually remember a ton of them in BC either, but I remember running SM at level when 60 was the cap… I hated runners. Maybe this is something that will be bought back?

  7. Raaj says:

    So I was trying to build a modified Ragwynn self heal template for soloing, and I came up with this:

    Which begs the question, which mastery tree is used when you have the exact same amount of points in two different trees? I realize I could possibly pull two points out of desolation, and put them into blood, which would give me slightly less dps, and slightly more survivability, but the question remains. If my talents are exactly even, do I get part of both mastery trees?

    • Sag says:

      currently I believe you need to have 51 points in a talent tree to get mastery. This is another one of blizz’s ways of “preventing” people from finding ways to exploit talents in multiple trees.

      You’re probably best off modifying a blood tanking build in order to get the shielding mastery, along with the damage reduction talents in blood.

  8. Kraav says:

    I posted this under the Unholy write up but I wanted to add it here as well.

    I really dont understand the reasoning of so many strikes in unholy each using x1 U rune and each doing something required in pvp with and Unholy build.

    They NEED to change Scourge Strike into basically unholy’s version of Heart Strike, meaning when talented UH builds will not need plague strike. Why? With the change to how runes are working and the move of Scourge Strike to just x1 unholy rune my proposal makes sense, as unholy needs blood plague on the target, we will want to use necrotic strike in pvp, and then lastely there is scourge strike which is supposed to be a UH build finisher. Too many Unholy rune strikes with not enough runes, yes haste will affect refresh but you have to be high as a kite to think blizz will allow us to reduce our rune refresh to under 7 seconds.

    My proposal is this:
    Scourge Strike: 1 Unholy Rune, deals x% weapon damage+xxxx, and applies blood plague to your target. If YOUR bloodplague is affecting the target of YOUR scourge strike, then scourge strike instantly deals xxxx additional shadow damage.


    • Sag says:

      Maybe I am high as a kite then. I think they will. I think that they will also make sure that we will have to be gearing for haste, gemming haste, enchanting haste etc etc until our eyes bleed in order to do it.

      I would like to see how Blizz will change things next because currently oblit uses two runes, as does DS. SS was meant to be used in place of those, not PS. If blizz did something like change Oblit to one Frost rune, that would be awesome for unholy. True UH doesn’t have oblit increasing talents, but OB>IT if FF is on a target already. I’d say they are far from done with any class at this point.

  9. Matt says:

    I find it somewhat disconcerting that 2 hand weapon specilization is still un the blood tree, and buffed to 5%
    I know they want tanks to do more damage in cata, but its current placement in the tree would make it almost, if not totally worthless for frost or unholy to spec into it, due to the wate of points getting there.. I am all for their origional model of getting rid of “boring talents” like that, but 5% more damage, is alot, and should be available to frost and unholy aswell

  10. Mirthless says:

    is “” down or something. Since i can’t seem to be able to open the webpage.

    • Consider says:

      It is. The site likely went (way) over it’s bandwidth limit (again). That, or Blizzard served some legal notice. Most likely the former.

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