Epidemic – Weaker Than Ever
July 5, 2010 46 Comments
Epidemic seems to be such an essential talent for a DK: it increases the duration of your diseases, which are the cornerstone of our rotation regardless of spec. I mean, if we have to waste less runes on Plague Strike and Icy Touch, we can spend more time using abilities which we actually care about – Death Strike, Obliterate, or Scourge Strike as appropriate. On top of that, there’s the fact that it’s so high up in the tree that it’s easily accessible to all three specs with minimal sacrifice.
All in all, it would appear to be one of those core talents to a dps DK, much how Omen of Clarity is to dps Druids or Deeps Wounds is to dps Warriors. Each and every class has some talents which are more than your basic X% damage/crit/hit increases, but are still so good and so easily reached they’re taken by all specs of that role, even if it’s not that spec’s primary tree. By first impression it would appear as if Epidemic fits that description to a tee.
Unfortunately, however, no… it doesn’t. In reality, it’s an incredibly lackluster talent which we take because there’s nothing better to move down the tree.
And the best part about it?
The talent grows even weaker in Cataclysm, and despite the fact that it’s getting additional ranks, we have no reason to put more point than the bare two we’ll still need to delve deeper into Unholy!
Currently, without Epidemic, you revert to a ~10 second rotation from what would otherwise be the classic ~20. What this means is that you do one less Plague Strike + Icy Touch and one more Scourge Strike per 20 seconds. This makes finding the value of the talent a very simple equation* : [((Average SS) – (Average PS + Average IT)) / 20] / 2 = dps gain per talent point.
Take any of your parses, any of your recount results in plug them into that equation. Try not to laugh at the result you get.
Don’t have a parse, or not seeing what I’m getting at? Fair enough – check out Devah’s latest Deathbringer Saurfang parse:
- Average SS was 11,398 + 5,645 = 17,043. Average PS was 7,600. Average IT was 6,005.
- [((17,043) – (7,600 + 6,005))/20]/2 = 85.95 dps per point.
Considering he did 17710 total dps, that’s 0.485% dps per point. Compared to almost any other talent – Desolation (which is about 0.85%), Necrosis (which is about 0.8-0.9%), or even Unholy Blight (which is about 0.6-0.8%) – and you see that such a number is shockingly low.
Now, yes, there is that asterisk you say earlier – such math ignores the additional GCD Epidemic grants you every 20 seconds, in addition to the additional 5 RP Epidemic costs you every 20 seconds. If you wanted to properly model this, you can just add the value of 5 RP/20 seconds to Epidemic (i.e, you would be comparing IT + PS to SS + HoW). If you do, you’ll find it’s still behind all those talents listed about as well as most others… with the sole exception of Morbidity, which is the single target which Epidemic competes with (to move further down the tree), and one of the few talents it beats.
The fact is, the talent is incredibly weak, and we only take it because the other option is even worse. If we could take those points and dump them into, say, Subversion, we would.
We essentially take it by default, but at least we take it – and take all of it at that.
There was a point, a few months back, where we didn’t. Where we forwent Epidemic because, despite it’s iconic and seemingly mandatory nature, it just wasn’t worth it. Blizzard didn’t like it, and nor did the majority of players. It was changed.
So surely we couldn’t possible be returning to such a time, now could we?
Yes, in fact, we could. We are. If Epidemic is bad now, it’s even worse in Cataclysm.
With Scourge Strike costing a single Unholy rune, Epidemic becomes nothing more than a talent which lets us trade one PS for one SS. There’s no additional GCDs or differences in RP generation to factor in. It’s much more straightforward in evaluating its worth, and its worth is obviously lessened. What more is that diseases are being increased to 30 seconds baseline, and Epidemic to a five point talent – this means that such a trade off will occur once every 90 seconds!
Wrath: Epidemic = 2 talent points = 1 PS + 1 IT for 1 SS + 1 HoW every 20 seconds= worse then basically every talent except the one it competes with.
Cataclysm: Epidemic = 5 talent points = 1 PS for 1 SS every 90 seconds = ?
The talent is weaker, and incredibly more expensive. Although it’s unfortunately too early to try and do anything exact with the numbers, I think it’s fairly obvious that Epidemic is absolutely atrocious. We’ll have to invest two points into it to reach the third tier of Unholy regrardless, unfortunately, because of literally no other dps option, but that’s no excuse for it being absolutely atrocious.
There’s a million and one ways to resolve this, of course:
- Increase the total effect. Epidemic is a decent talent in theory – trade having to use a weak ability for a potent one – but it doesn’t work if such a trade off happens only a couple times a fight. SS isn’t that good, nor PS that weak.
- The downside is that even if they changed it to increase disease duration by 90 seconds total, we still wouldn’t need invest more than the mandatory two in it. Thus such an option likely wouldn’t work out.
- Reduce the cost. Instead of 15 second increase for 5 points, why not a 15 (or 18, for divisibility’s sake) second increase for 2 points?
- The downside is that even if they reduce the cost but maintain the total effect, it’s still going to end up weaker then it is today, and it’s awfully weak in the present.
- Add another aspect to the talent; 2/4/6/8/10% disease damage, for instance, or something similar to maintain the flavor.
- There’s no real downside to such an addition.
- Nerf PS and/or buff SS. Instead of making the conversion more often or less expensive, make it more worthwhile.
- The downside is the huge balance implications which this would entail for one single talent.
- Combine any two/three/four of the above.
Could go on, but you get the idea. Something needs to change.
Wrath: Costs 2 points, trades a PS + IT for a SS + HoW every 20 seconds. Has another dps talent as an option if necessary.
Cataclysm: Costs 5 points, trades a PS for a SS every 90 seconds. Has no alternative for moving deeper into the tree.
Does that not speak for itself?
Unholy will put its two points in it… because it has to. DW Frost and 2H Frost will likely subspec Blood… because the first tier of Unholy is even worse than the first tier of Blood.
It’s a rather grim fate to resign such an iconic talent to.