Build 12644 – Masteries Return

This appears to be it. Little news, but what can you do.

Although Unholy’s mastery is still bland on top of bland, and Blood’s mastery was nerfed, the change to Frost’s is promising. Sure, X% frost damage isn’t exactly thrilling, but considering runic power generation would have been useless, anything’s an improvement, and it’s a sign that Blizzard recognizes the problem that was (and still is) developing with our rotations being GCD capped.

Note: Masteries aren’t actually available inbeta yet. The simply all got names (ours, and others), and many got tweaked in different manners, such as the Frost one.

Death Knight:


  • Life Shield – “Each time you heal yourself via Death Stike, you gain 50% of the amount healed as a damage absorption shield. Absorb increased further by mastery rating.”


  • Frozen Heart – “Increases all frost damage done by 20%. Damage gains increased further by mastery rating.”
  • Runic Empowerment test – Not a new ability, per se, but a sign they’re working on refining RE, presumably.


  • Blightcaller – “Increases the damage done by your diseases by 20%. Damage increased further by mastery rating.”
Others Affecting/Related to DKs
  • (Warlocks) Soulburn: Seed of Corruption – “Your Seed of Corruption detonation effect will afflict Corruption on all enemy targets. The Soul Shard will be refunded if the detonation is successful.”

Runic Power – Why It’s Broken

Not sure what I’m getting at with the title? Think about it:

What would it be like for Rogues if all they had was Eviscerate to spend combo points on? A direct damage move and nothing else? No buff (SnD) to keep up on yourself, no dot (Rupture) for greater sustained damage (in theory, anyways!), no utility (Expose) for the needs of your raid, no heal (Recuperate) for PvP or soloing? No options; one ability, and that’s it, and that one ability would have to suit your needs for PvP, PvE, solo, group, raid, whatever….

What would people say of the difficulty of feral dps if the only finisher Cats had was Ferocious Bite? No buff (Savage Roar) for PvE goodness, no dot (Rip) for greater sustained damage (in reality, too!), no incapitate (Gouge) for PvP pleasure? How high of a skill cap would the spec possibly have…

What would people think of the new Holy Power system if all Paladins had to spend it on was Templar’s Verdict, a single target strike, and not a thing else? No heal (Word of Glory) for Holy or Ret/Prot survivability purposes, no buff (Inquisiton/Holy Power) to keep up to allow individual abilities to be less potent on their own, no new AoE move (Divine Storm) becoming available? People probably wouldn’t be too ecstatic…

How fun would those specs be to play in such scenarios? How difficult would it be to balance combo point / holy power generation if all it could lead to was Eviscerate / Ferocious Bite / Templar’s Verdict spam? What type of posts do you think would pop up on the forums!

Now, obviously Blizzard would never have designed either the combo point or holy power system in such a manner. Yet, unbelievable as it may seem, the above scenarios are very reminiscent of the current state of the runic power system… and there’s hardly a whimper of recognition, let alone of protest, in regards to the problem!

All Frost has to spend its runic power on is Frost Strike and all Unholy has to pour its own into is Death Coil (and Gargoyle, but as a lengthy cooldown, it doesn’t change much of anything). That’s it. There’s no options to choose from, no thinking to apply, no multiple levers to turn for the sake of balance.

There’s nothing but FS and DC.

And that’s a problem – a huge one.

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Present Reality – Rotations

As requested in the very first comment of yesterday’s entry, I figured I would do a writeup on the rotations of both Unholy and Frost as they currently stand in the latest beta build. Although I’ve done this in the past, for both specs, those theoretical timelines no longer hold up due to a variety of changes which have occurred since then:

  • All single rune abilities, except Ghoul Frenzy, now generate 15 runic power pre-talents and modifiers.
    • Amusingly, if irrelevantly, even Path of Frost generates 15 RP!
  • All double rune abilities now generate 25 runic power pre-talents and modifiers.
  • Dirge and Chill of the Grave now generate 10 runic power.
  • Ghoul Frenzy was doubled in effect (as well as duration), and is thus worth using.
  • Outbreak does not apply Ebon Plague, and is thereby ignored for Unholy.
    • Almost certainly a bug, but working without such an assumption in the included charts.
  • Death runes from Blood of the North and Reaping do not function as intended.
    • Almost certainly a bug, but working without such an assumption in the included charts.
    • Death runs from Blood Tap work perfectly fine.
  • Butchery is now taken by Unholy, whereas it wasn’t previously.
  • Festering Strike was introduced for Unholy.

With all of that said and out of the way, the rotations for…

2H Unholy:

DW Frost:

What to make of these, what to make of these…

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The “Feel” – Unholy v. Frost

Before I begin, to be clear, this post isn’t about the numbers. Not at all. Analyzing them at this point in the beta is rather pointless, which is why I’ve avoided doing so (although in some rare cases, it’s worth noting, such as in the oddity that still is Howling Blast).

Instead, I figured I would share my perspective on the “feel” of both Unholy and Frost after having done instance runs as both specs, and spending substantial time on the dummies to get an idea of how the specs would play out on extended encounters (which aren’t present in simple five mans, naturally). This is simply my take on how the specs flow in actual game-play.

Utterly unscientific, heavily subjective and opinionated, but hopefully an entertaining (and, perhaps, informative) read!


Unholy and Frost feel completely different in this regard, more so than many probably realize.

As Unholy, I pay next to no attention to my diseases. Epidemic and FeS keep them going for ages – approximately ~2minutes on average – and so they require no real thought or effort to maintain on my part. I apply them initially and then that’s it. 5 man fights, trash or boss, aren’t even long enough for you to have to worry about reapplying, and boss fights would only call for you to do so once or twice. It’s incredibly nice to be able to focus on your rotation, procs, cooldowns, and the like, instead of worrying about the hassle of diseases dropping at inopportune or inconvenient times (particularly important if you’re the sole source of the magic debuff in the raid). This is one of the best improvements to the Unholy playstyle, in my opinion. Just as Affliction Warlocks don’t have to worry about casting Corruption every 18 seconds and Shadow Priests don’t have to stop and refresh SW:Pain in the midst of their rotation, neither does Unholy have to spend a sizable chunk of its time (and focus) on its dots.

Frost, on the other hand, has you applying them as much as ever. It’s not fun. Outbreak doesn’t alleviate the problem – it makes it worse. Yes, Outbreak is free in the sense that it doesn’t have a resource cost and that it applies both diseases at once, but it’s incredibly expensive when you consider it’s costing you an entire GCD of absolutely no damage. Not just that, but it’s annoying to use; you obviously can’t use it for all of your disease application needs on a boss encounter – let alone 5 man trash packs, where you’re often switching targets (and Pest, which I’ll get to later, isn’t the best option in a world where CC actually matters).

I’m not saying anything needs to change for Frost (although lowering Outbreak’s CD or, at the least, offering a glyph which resets the cooldown whenever you make a kill granting exp/honor for solo purposes, would be most welcome). It’s simply a very noticeable contrast between the two specs; and it fits, flavor wise. Unholy is supposed to be about diseases – until now, all that’s actually meant is that they hit somewhat harder. Woo-hoo. Now that also means they’re much more convenient to maintain and less troublesome to worry about. It might not seem like a huge deal (after all, diseases aren’t truly difficult or anything like that), but it’s a very nice feature of the spec.

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Latest Patch – My Commentary

If, by some odd chance, you haven’t yet read up on what the actual changes of beta build 12604 are, head on over here to familiarize yourself.

Otherwise, keep reading!


First with the new, then with the old:

Hand of Doom is an excellent addition for PvP, as goes without saying. The only issue is it’s impossible for an Unholy spec to get both this and On a Pale Horse / Endless Winter, and it’s impossible for a Frost spec to get both this and Resilient Infection / Unholy Command. Somethings got to give somewhere. Now, of course you can’t get every desirable PvP talent in any one build, but both options in each scenario seem like a high trade-off either which way. But perhaps this is the sort of decision Blizzard wants PvPers to make with the new trees? Who knows. Any which way, in Unholy’s case, I’m thinking a Blood sub-spec is the clear winner, while for Frost it’s a bit more questionable – it really comes down to how common cleanses are and thus how valuable RI is. Who knows; certainly not myself.

Scratch all of that. I was thinking it was tier 2, not tier 3, when typing this up, for whatever reason. Horrible oversight of mine. In that case, I have no clue what the point of the talent is! Blood PvP might be a possibility, I suppose, but Blizzard has said before that although they don’t mind Protection PvP specs, they don’t plan to go out of their way to ensure their viability. Thus, following that chain of logic, why would they add this new talent to Blood where only Blood can get it? The PvE uses seem terribly limited, tank or otherwise. Who knows. I’ld either move this down to tier 2 or, better yet, combine it with Endless Winter.

The reduction in point cost to Crimson Scourge, Sanguine Fortitude, and Blood Parasite are excellent improvements. Previously, it was difficult to get everything in the Blood tree you would want as a tank – and impossible to do so while also picking up Runic Empowerment and/or Morbidity. Between these slimmings and RE becoming baseline, the latter of which I’ll get to later, the tree flows much better. You can get everything which is essential from a “numbers” perspective, while leaving you with a couple of points for “fun” talents – such as the aforementioned Blood Parasite. Although some specific talents still need work, the new tree as a greater whole now fits much better in the Cataclysm design philosophy. Hopefully Frost and Unholy will see some similar modifications soon.

As to the rearrangement of several talents, I’m rather indifferent to it all. All of the moved talents are still above tier 2, and thus only reachable to Blood – so if you’re going to get both two talents anyways, and their cost is identical, it hardly matters if they trade places. It doesn’t hurt, sure, but I don’t see how it helps much. Perhaps future changes will make it all fit together. Or perhaps I’m just missing something right now. No big deal either way.

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Build 12604 – Has Some Meat

A decent amount to chew on for this patch. I’ll post my thoughts once I’m sure this is it.

Death Knight:


  • Frozen Plate Specialization – Increases your Strength by 5% while wearing only Plate armor.
  • Defender’s Plate Specialization – Increases your Stamina by 5% while wearing only Plate armor.
  • Single rune abilities now generate 15 runic power (pre talents and presence), up from 10.
  • Double rune abilities now generate 25 runic power (pre talents and presence), up from 15.


  • Hand of Doom – “Reduces the cooldown of your Strangulate ability by 30/60 sec.”
    • Tier 3 Blood. Two point max.
  • Crimson Scourge – Reduced from a 3 point talent to a 2 point talent. Effect at max rank identical.
  • Sanguine Foritude – Reduced from a 3 point talent to a 2 point talent. Effect at max rank identical. Moved to tier 3 Blood from tier 4 Blood.
  • Toughness – Moved to tier 3 Blood from tier 4 Blood.
  • Improved Blood Presence – Moved to tier 4 Blood from tier 5 Blood.
  • Blood Parasite – Reduced from a 3 point talent to a 2 point talent. Effect at max rank increased to 10% (up from 9%).


  • Festering Strike  – An instant attack that deals 150% weapon damage plus 840.54 and increases the duration of your Blood Plague, Frost Fever, and Chains of Ice effects on the target by up to 6 sec.
    • 1 Blood, 1 Frost cost.
      • I’m not one to say I told you so, but…
  • Chains of Ice – Reduces movement speed by 60% for 8 sec.
  • Runic Empowerment – Now baseline. Effect identical as previous max rank.
  • On A Pale Horse – “You become as hard to stop as death itself. The duration of movement-slowing effects used against you is reduced by 15/30%, and your mounted speed is increased by 10/20%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.”
    • Tier 2 Frost. Two point max.
  • Chill of the Grave – Your Chains of Ice, Howling Blast, Icy Touch, and Obliterate generate 5/10 additional runic power (up from 2.5/5).
    • Possibly a bug, but Blood Boil appear to now benefit from this talent as well.
  • Nerves of Cold Steel – Moved from Frost tier 2 to Frost tier 1.
  • Improved Icy Touch – Increases the damage of Icy Touch by 10/20/30% (up from 5/10/15%).


  • Anti-Magic Shell – Now costs 0 Runic Power (down from 20).
  • Ebon Plaguebringer – Reduced from a 3 point talent to a 2 point talent. Effect at max rank identical.
  • Dirge – Your Death Strike, Plague Strike, and Scourge Strike generate 5/10 additional runic power (up from 2.5/5).
    • Possibly a bug, but Blood Boil appear to now benefit from this talent as well.
  • Virulence – Increases your chance to hit with your spells by 2/4/6% (up from 1/2/3%) and reduces the chance that your damage over time diseases can be cured by 10/20/30%.
  • Reaping now includes Festering Strike.
Others Affecting DKs:
  • (Warlock) Dark Intent  – You link yourself with the targeted friendly target, increasing both of your haste by 3%. When you or the linked target gains a critical periodic damage or healing effect, the other gains an increased 3% increased periodic damage and healing lasting for 7 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. Dark Intent lasts for 30 min.
    • The reason I include it is that, due to the wording, we (or, at least, those who are Unholy specced) will likely be the best recipients of the spell (short of the warlock himself, of course). That could certainly change, of course, but still.

Build 12539 – Little For Us

I’m exhausted and have work in the morning, so actual analysis (not that much is needed, considering how little changed for us) and commentary will have to wait until tomorrow.

Logged on to beta, and there’s no longer any doubt that this appears to be it for us: just about nothing. Of course, that should make the next patch all that much more fulfilling… but, because of that, the wait all that much more agonizing! What can you do, what can you do.

Death Knight:


  • When a rune-based ability misses or is dodged/parried, the rune(s) go on cooldown for 10 seconds (as opposed to the current time, which is less than a GCD and thus irrelevant) if the other rune of the pair is already on cooldown. If the other rune is still up, then the miss behaves as on live.


  • Dark Simulacrum – Cooldown reduced to 1 minute (down from 2 minutes). Cost increased to 20 Runic power (up from 0 anything).


  • Icy Touch – Tooltip no longer states increased threat in any specific presence. Note, this was already the functionality on beta; this is simply a wording correction.


  • Anti-Magic Shell – Tooltip no longer states runic power generation upon absorbing damage. Note, this was already the functionality on beta; this is simply a wording correction.
  • Ghoul Frenzy – Increases ghoul haste by 50% (up from 25%).
  • Unholy Frenzy – Increases melee and ranged haste by 20% (up from 10%).
Others Affecting DKs:
  • (General) Ability Queueing – Previously you could queue your next ability when your current cast-time one had latency-time left; This functionality now applies to all abilities, including instants.
    • I’m probably doing a really bad job of wording this. Basically, if you’ve ever played a caster, you know you can cast your next spell before your current one ends (Blizzard’s solution to the previous need for stopcast-macros). How long before is a function of your latency. Now, you can do that with instants, too. If you just casted Icy Touch, you can queue up Plague Strike before the gcd is over. How long before it’s over should be a function of latency, but it seems to be higher than simply (Latency/100) seconds.
  • (Warlock) Jinx – Your Curse of the Elements also effects all nearby enemy targets within 20/40 yards of the cursed target, and your Curse of the Weakness also reduces the targets energy, rage, focus or runic power generation by 5/10% while active.
Random Yet Interesting:
  • SPELL_FAILED_IN_COMBAT_RES_LIMIT_REACHED = “You can no longer resurrect during combat”;