DW Unholy – It Might Happen

I’m not sure if I’ll post over the weekend but, in case I don’t, have a happy 4th of July!
(The Americans, anyways!)

After having explored the very real possibility of 2H Frost, it’s only natural to next contemplate DW Unholy.

Although the two situations are quite similar, they’re far from identical, and thus before I begin it’s very important to note the differences between the two untraditional specs:
  • While Blizzard went out of their way to specifically state that they wanted to bolster 2H Frost in the expansion, they never explicitly declared any similar intentions for DW Unholy.
    • That’s obviously not to say that Blizzard is against DW Unholy and that they would intentionally try to bring it down a notch if it became a viable (or even the optimal) option. Likely they don’t mind DW Unholy as long as 2H Unholy remains equally competitive. Still, it’s possible they don’t want to handle the hassle of balancing both styles in two trees, and thus will do what they can to avoid the headache here, while 2H Frost gets a pass (and actually a helping hand).
  • Due to the fact that dual-wielding specs inherently scale better with stats, it’s much harder to give a 2H tree a DW option without having the DW option overshadow the 2H one  then it is to give a DW tree a 2H option without the opposite complication.
    • Just look at the only two samples of 2H trees getting the option of dual-wielding: Frost and Enhancement. In both cases, the 2H style died. Admittedly, yes, that’s a very small sample size (and, unfortunately, there’s no precedent for a DW tree getting a 2H option to compare), but it still doesn’t bode well.
  • Frost used to have a 2H option, while Unholy has never had a real DW option. Thus bringing back the first isn’t the same as creating the latter.
    • Yes, back in Naxx there was the whole 0/32/39 spec which was the build to be, and which happened to dual-wield. I’m not sure I would really call that an Unholy spec, however, due to it’s near-even split between the trees. In a world with mastery, that definitely wouldn’t qualify.
That said, DW Unholy is just as real (if not moreso) a possibility as 2H Frost.

First off, DW Unholy currently is very, very close to 2H Unholy. The difference, if you ignore Shadowmourne and compare equal ilvl weapons, is no more than a couple hundred dps (compared to a couple thousand for 2H Frost vs DW Frost). It’s a slim enough margin that the EJ thread gets at least a post a week with someone throwing up sim results extolling the virtues of dual-wield. Of course, most of these posts end up having a small error which negates the whole thing meaningless, but the fact that even the slightest of mistakes can show DW as superior speaks of how minor the gap truly is. That means that due to itemization inflation alone DW could end up on top, even without any tree changes. That also means that new talents which might favor dual-wielding ever so slightly more than a 2hander style could push things over.
Speaking of which, secondly, you have Sudden Doom in Unholy proccing off auto-attacks. This obviously favors dual-wielding by a wide margin, giving it more than 2x as many procs compared to a 2H playstyle. Refer back to this picture which was made when I discussed Unholy’s potential GCD issues. In a 45 second window, you do a total of 6 DCs. You’re also going to do about 22 auto-attacks with a 2hander, and about 46 with two 1handers (and that’s assuming two slow one-handers – it could be possible that Unholy DW would prefer a fast off-hand to a slow. It’s likely, in fact).  Thus, during that 45 second period, 2H gets 3.3 SD procs while DW gets 6.9. SD can thus be seen as giving (6.9 + 6)/(3.3 + 6) = 39% more DC damage when dual-wielding.  Suffice is to say, at least at level 80, that’s easily enough to disrupt the balance of power between the two weapon setups. It will likely hold at 85, if the GCD problem doesn’t manifest itself.
Then, of course, there’s Runic Empowerment procs. Considering dual-wielding will provide more Death Coils, it will thus get more RE procs. That’s just icing on the cake, really, and will only come into play if GCDs aren’t such a burden as they appear to be shaping up to be.
On top of all that, let’s not forget that, overall, we’ll be doing less strike-dependent damage (which is the only thing which currently lets 2H win) in Cataclysm then we are now largely because of the fact that SS will cost one rune, which is a DPS gain but only because we can an IT + SS will beat its two rune counterpart. If some of our strike damage from SS is transferred over to spell damage in the form of increased IT usage, that’s an indirect nerf for 2H and an indirect buff for DW.
Oh, and we won’t be doing just less strike damage and more spell damage – we’ll also be doing an increased portion of our overall damage in the form of auto-attacks. There’s little question that we’ll be running in Unholy Presence and grabbing Improved Unholy Presence. That’s a sizable amount of haste, and although haste might also increase our strike/spell damage (by speeding up rune regen and affecting disease ticks), we won’t be able to take advantage of the increase in strike damage if our GCD issue isn’t resolve (and more disease damage benefits both specs equally). Auto-attacks, on the other hand, will obviously benefit regardless, and that’s another point in dual-wielding’s favor.
Suffice is to say, I don’t just see DW Unholy being a possibility – I see it as being *the* way to play Unholy in Cataclysm, at least with how things are currently set up. Even if GCDs remain a problem, even if Blizzard doesn’t go out of their way to give dual-wielding its own talent in Unholy… it’s going to happen, and it’s going to take more than just a Sudden Doom revamp to change it.

13 Responses to DW Unholy – It Might Happen

  1. Anonymous says:

    Need to have gravity copy and paste this into their beta forums.

  2. Waffle says:

    I really hope that something does change so that DW doesn’t become *the* way to play Unholy as you’ve stated. I’ve always loved Unholy, always have and always will. I’ve played as Unholy ever since the first couple weeks of the Wrath beta. That being said, I really dislike dual wielding. I played a rogue for 4.5 years prior to switching to DK and got more than my fill of DW playstyle.

    Considering that Blizzard hasn’t stated anything about DW Unholy being an officially supported playstyle and the fact that it’s so early in beta, I have a feeling that we will be seeing talent changes that move Unholy DW farther away from being the powerhouse that you’re predicting, but anything can happen.

    I don’t mind if DW Unholy and 2h Unholy end up being so close that the difference is negligible, but if DW is better to the point where you’re stupid not to play that way, I’ll actually be quite sad.

    • dmdskitzo says:

      Lol i was a rogue forever too before switching to dk and i also want to keep the 2h playstyle but everything points to DW.

      Atleast if blizzard was made aware of this we could get more dw orientated talents in place of some of the crappier ones.

  3. kc102 says:

    I’d prefer if Unholy and Frost provided near equal DPS in DW and 2H builds, the only factors being personal preference and weapons.

    It’ll feel like fury, imo, today with how you have some points to throw around.

  4. dmdskitzo says:

    It will happen and then they will add a hidden cooldown to sudden doom procs.

  5. Roth says:

    I have faith that blizzard will make sure Unholy remains primarily a 2h spec. I very much doubt they want to deal with 2 DW trees.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Unholy should’ve been the tree for dw to begin with and frost being the 2h tree. Think about it…heavy disease and spell reliance…spell coefficient increase…the only thing keeping unholy from being dw is SS. Back in t7 unholy dw is viable and competitive, constant 3-4k IT spam was quite the dps and no need for SS whatsoever…until shadowfrost in arena killed it.

    While with frost, we get FS which is like a staple 2h strike…the old 32/39 relied on mainly its unholy department to shine. Blizz really dropped the ball with how they manage dw/2h relations.

    • Baphomette says:

      I always thought that Blood (the most weapons-oriented) had the most claim of any tree to being DW, with Frost the least.

      Then again, I’m of the belief that DW DKs of any stripe ought to be no more viable than 2H Shamans, so…

    • Rebellion says:

      What Anonymous said is quite true, Unholy would make alot more sense (especially with unholy presence) because its dmg is already distributed among a few dozen minor dmg sources. If it were not for that one point out of 55+ there would be hardly any 2H feeling in it at all. Frost on the other hand is the tree (even with DW) that depends on heavy hitting attacks.

      Dont get me wrong, I’m one of the guys that tried to make sure the DK turns out to be a 2H class instead of another Warrior/Shaman fail back in WotlK’s beta. Sadly we were not heared back then and even lost a whole spec to dw for the time beeing . I’d be happier w/ no DW at all tbh, but that wont happen anyway, but maybe its time that blizzard reinvents the trees to make them finally consistent of a clear line. At the moment the only thing I can foresee is that we will see alot of changes in the future even after cataclysm is released because alot of things won’t work out or need alot of re-iteration.

  7. Joe_nothin says:

    Well, i think that they will just change sudden doom to a PPM talent, like KM works now.
    Also, i honestly dont think 1 rune SS would stick, its just too silly. They stated numerous times that IT isn’t supposed to be a damage move, but a debuffing attack, similier to a warlocks immulate. That was the reasoining behing the first shadowfrost DW nerf. They would either make a new frost based move, with would be stilly since frost would not use it, being based on oblitirate, or go back to the FU SS.

    Also, i think you should make a post with a compilation of what you think needs to be changed with the class and have someone in the beta post it in your name. It would greatly help us all.

  8. Andeus says:

    As Joe_nothin above me said, getting Sudden Doom to be a PPM talent would be anice place to start.
    They could also make the Unholy masteries to affect only 2-handed weapons, maybe that would eventually balance things out with gear scaling.

  9. OtherStuff says:

    isnt there anyone in the F&F now that the NDA is lifted that can speak up about if the one rune SS is working out right now with the specs they are trying or if it just feels clunky, i assume the change to the rune system will make 1 rune SS way more realistic…i really dont understand why you would WANT to pay more for an attack when they are allready trying to give it to us with more ability to use more skills (extra runes) — it would also be nice to have more resources than we could use, but in a manner that we had to choose which ones to use as a priority as well — which would kinda turn the rune system into an artificial “Cooldown” that isnt a static number on each skill…..

  10. Sage says:

    Sad to say, but while I was actually looking forward to playing with this idea I think the new posting about the talent changes will likely make this a dream once more. It was a nice dream while it lasted!

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