Twitter Discussion – Good and Bad
July 16, 2010 27 Comments
A large thanks to any and all who tweeted in Death Knight related questions. I was unfortunately prevented from doing so, due to last minute dinner plans which I couldn’t avoid, but I was quite honored to see that many of my suggestions from the bottom of my previous post were apparently asked (and answered!).
Generally speaking, I was pleased with the responses, with only two real exceptions (as you’ll see below). There wasn’t anything shocking or new, per se, but it’s always nice and reassuring to see the philosophy behind changes and the current thoughts on how they’re playing out come to light.
- Q. Is there any intent to bring back the On A Pale Horse talent for Death Knights, possibly in a different tree?
- A. Yes, On a Pale Horse is back as a sub-specialization-accessible Frost talent in our latest internal build.
Excellent news for leveling, as On a Pale Horse is probably the best possible talent you can get in that regard. Even better is the fact that it won’t be relegated to a single spec, but instead accessible to all. It will mean Frost leveling and Unholy leveling will be largely equal, which honestly isn’t the case on live – not that it matters a ton, since leveling is a relatively quick process regardless, but still.
- Q. What is the intent and thoughts on changing the rune cost of Scourge Strike?
- A. In Wrath of the Lich King, it is closer to being a clone of Obliterate with a slightly different feel than we’d like. We want to change that. We’re also very aware of the rotational problems inherent in decoupling the Unholy and Frost runes. Rest assured, our solution will not be expecting you to Icy Touch alongside each Scourge Strike.
I love this answer, and it’s stuff like this which makes me remember that Blizzard, for all the flack they may get when they have something wrong, really do get it the majority of the time, and do know what they’re doing.
That they want to differentiate it from Obliterate has been postulated by myself and others, so that’s no real surprise. That part doesn’t terrible excite me: it’s the fact that they acknowledge the issue with the Frost runes, and say they have a solution in mind! Music to my ears. One rune Scourge Strike is fine by itself, it’s what it does with the rest of your runes which is currently a problem. That they’ve heard are feedback regarding the issue and have something in mind is excellent. I’m pretty eager to see what they’ve come up with – the possibilities are near endless.
- Q. Death knight tanks in Cataclysm seem to be gaining a lot of defensive buttons. As a death knight I love it, but will those numbers be changing soon?
- A. It’s possible that some of it may need to be scaled back, but we like the cooldown aspect of death knight tanking and would like to preserve it.
As Blizzard saw in Wrath, the cooldown model is a very fine line to walk. You can’t make us too weak without them, as there will inevitable be times where they’re down, but at the same time, you can’t make us just as strong as other tanks without them, because then we blow others away with them. It’s a tough design problem to crack, and I don’t envy the challenge it must be. If they can pull it off properly, however, it will certainly give DKs a different feel for tanking. Time will tell.
- Q. Since implementing and receiving feedback on the new death knight rune system, have you made any changes to it you can reveal to us?
- A. It still needs a lot of iteration. We don’t want there to be significant “dead time” in death knight rotations. Also, the Runic Empowerment ability has some bugs with displaying the current state of available runes, which complicate the situation. Look for more death knight changes in the near future.
This is one of the questions which had me a bit distraught. Dead time?! Our Frost and Unholy rotations have no such thing with the current iterations of the Cataclysm trees! I have said as much here and here, and have personally experienced the reality of that theorycrafting in beta. I’ve yet to see any proof – theoretical or actual – to the contrary, although if I’m wrong, by all means, point out my error(s). Our rotations have too much in the way of filled GCDs, if anything, at least once haste and mastery rating come into play.
For Blood, yes, empty globals are a very real problem. As I’ve said in the past and still believe, that’s largely because Blood doesn’t have a talent analagous to Rime for Frost or Sudden Doom for Unholy. Crimson Scourge is just laughable; of course 1 GCD every 30/45 seconds isn’t going to greatly help! There’s a lot of ways you could fix this, but one I’m a fan of: self-healing has an X% chance to make your next Rune Strike cost no runic power, and be usable without have to have dodged/parried. There’s a lot of different ways you could go, though.
On the plus side, I’m happy to see some official confirmation of the Runic Empowerment bugs. It’s very obvious to beta testers, but still, this is the first time a blue has recognized it. Always nice to know you’re not seeing things!
- Q. Do you plan to give the Unholy tree a more centralized focus, instead of split between Scourge Strike, diseases, ghoul, auto-attack, Anti-Magic Shell?
- A. In a sense, that IS a centralized focus. Unholy death knights are about diseases and Unholy pets. Frost is about icy attacks and runic power. Blood is about tanking and self-healing.
And this is the second answer which I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see. Unholy death knights having half a dozen different themes isn’t necessarily problematic… except for when none of the various aspects interact with one another, which is currently the case. My diseases are completely independent of my ghoul which is completely independent of my Scourge Strike, and so on.
Compare to Frost. Oblit plays into Rime to foster Howling Blasts, which then generate extra runic power for Frost Strike. The haste talents benefit your auto-attacks which, in turn, proc more Killing Machine, thus benefiting those additional Howling Blasts and Frost Strikes. So on and so forth. It all synergies so well.
Unholy… not the case. If they want to keep Unholy being about ghouls, diseases, shadow damage, anti-magic, and everything else, that’s fine, they just have to make these different parts of the spec influence one another. Making Sudden Doom proc off our ghoul’s auto-attacks instead of ours would be one very simple, very easy way to start this process. Or make ghoul’s have an attack which does damage based on our diseases on the target. Or make SS give some haste/damage to our ghoul. So on. Make talents play with one another. Make our ghoul more than just an auto-attack bot.
- Q. Dark Simulacrum for death knight has a pretty long cooldown. What’s the reasoning behind that exactly? (just curious)
- A. It’s been reduced to 1 minute in the latest build, but it’s also an extremely powerful ability with which we expect players to pull off fun and scary things.
Without being able to test the reality of the ability in PvP, who knows how strong it will be, but it certainly looks lovely on paper. The shorter the cooldown, the better!
- Q. Is there a plan to support dual-wield tanking for death knights (something like Threat of Thassarian versus Might of Frozen Wastes)?
- A. It will be technically possible to dual wield and tank, but it will not be optimal threat-wise.
Unsurprising. It’s hard enough to balance DW and 2H in Frost (and Unholy, although its an unintentional problem for the latter), let alone Blood. Blizzard can only tackle so much.
- Q. Death knights are the only tanks without a stun, which is pretty key for a few things, like adds on Heroic Lich King. Any plans to give them one?
- A. There’s a video of a death knight solo-tanking 10-player Heroic Lich King. Impressive stuff. But just like stuns are incredibly good on Lich King, there are a number of fights where mechanics like Death Grip, or the ability to pre-drop a Death and Decay to pick up spawning adds, are incredibly useful. That’s part of class and encounter diversity.
I agree with Blizzard’s sentiments 100% here. We’re perfectly fine in this regard.
- Q. It seems that our DPS with Runic Empowerment is very random, will that be changed?
- A. Runic Empowerment is being changed to a trained ability so that all specializations can access it without feeling forced to, since we see it as a core part of death knight gameplay in Cataclysm. The way the talent is engineered, it should never disrupt your rotation, but rather give you bonus resources layered on top of your rotation. The proc rate is high enough that the actual variability in procs over time shouldn’t be excessive.
Considering Runic Empowerment was shaping up to be a must-have talent for any of the three specs, making it baseline is a rather logical next step. Why not? Gives more room for taking fun/utility talents. RE at a 45% proc rate is perfectly fine in terms of RNG, by the way. It’s almost every other runic power dump – nothing that excessive.
Anyways, I love stuff like this, and wish Blizzard would do it more often (although I completely understand why such isn’t necessarily doable). Good news, for the most part, and fun to read into.