Hypotheticals – Unholy’s Up
August 6, 2010 64 Comments
Before I begin, a trio of very important notes!
First: To make sense of some of this post, be sure to have read “Hypotheticals – Frost First” in its entirety. This and that go together – both take place in the same theoretical patch, if you will, so changes (to Outbreak and RE, primarily) said there apply just as much here. I’ve tried to quickly sum things up where needed, but it’s best to simply check out that post to be safe.
Secondly, and related to the above: Remember, my goal here isn’t to try and invent new abilities or systems to solve our problems. A couple commenters seemed to forget that fact! We’re simply not that broken and, even if we were, I still wouldn’t try to do that – the simplest solutions are, often times, best, and besides, I won’t pretend to know what Blizzard can and can’t actually do. My goal here was pretty well outlined in the previous post, I thought, in the form of my wonderful checklist!
Third and last: Unholy is much more difficult to “fix” than Frost, which is why this post took me so many revisions (over a dozen, in fact) to get to a state I liked. Just think about all of its current issues: It’s gcd capped, it’s heavily favoring dual-wielding, two of its main foci (pets and diseases) are almost entirely passive and are entirely independent of one another, Runic Empowerment is Runic Empowerment, and so on. Tackling any one of these issues, in a vacuum, is actually pretty easy to do. The trick is to tackle all of these issues together, and to do so in a manner which not only solves them all, but creates a cohesive and fun playstyle which adheres to Blizzard’s vision of the tree. Whether I’ve managed to do that, I’ll let you be the judge.
Anyways, with that out of the way, where was I?
Make sense? Probably not. So, working left to right and following the arrows, the changes –
Everything I wrote in the Frost post still applies here. Make Outbreak a 2rune strike with minimal-to-no-CD capable of applying both diseases while dealing moderate (but far from outstounding) damage, and then relegate IT and PS to PvP use (you could even merge IT with CoI and PS with NS to emphasize this, for all I know).
The only new thing to note is that Unholy would require some means of changing the cost from UF to BF, for obvious reasons. This could easily be baked into an already existing talent (as its too weak to constitute one all on its own), or made into a minor/medium glyph.
Oh, Scourge Strike. I’ve had quite a few ask me over the past couple days what, exactly, I had planned for this gem of a strike. Afterall, it’s an ability which has been through a million changes already, and yet is still rather unsatisfying for a skill which is so iconic and so integral (in theory, anyways) to the spec. It’s boring. It’s not that potent. It’s relatively unimportant to the tree as a greater whole. It’s terribly flawed. So, what-oh-what would I do to fix it?
Remove the shadow damage portion and simply make damage increased by X% per disease. I’m sure my readers are intelligent enough to know that, due to current functionality, this is essentially how it already works. The tooltip is just misleading and plain confusing – there’s nothing wrong with it being pure physical, but there is something wrong with people naturally assuming otherwise.
Then, with that done, add text to the tooltip to the effect of “Effects which increase shadow damage also increase Scourge Strike damage”. Similar to Maul for Druids. Even if I don’t completely understand or agree with it, I accept Blizzard’s decision that they can’t make the strike do complete shadow damage for PvP reasons. Changing the text in this way would keep the flavor around, as well as (some of) the functionality, without balance issues the past version caused and without perception issues the present version causes. You could easily change some talents and the like around to make there be more active/passive shadow damage increases in the tree so that this actually matters beyond Ebon Plague.
Finally, give Scourge Strike a chance (maybe 100%, maybe not) to cause your Blood Plague to instantly tick on the target (without affecting the duration or time between ticks). This would accomplish a ton; it would make SS more attractive without boosting its personal damage, it would make our mastery more interesting and potent, it would make diseases less passive, and it would tie into my proposed Unholy Runic Empowerment talent.
In sum, the resultant tooltip would read something like, “An unholy strike that deals X% weapon damage plus Y, total damage increased by Z% per each of your diseases on the target. Effects which increase shadow damage also increase Scourge Strike damage” with a talent then saying “Your Scourge Strike ability has an X/2X% chance to cause your Blood Plague to instantly erupt” or some such thing.
It’s very important that you’ve read the Runic Empowerment section of my Frost post for this part to make sense. For a quick summation: I would change Rune Strike (and Runic Empowerment) to become the Death Knight’s version of the new Arcane Missiles, with each tree modifying the proc to suit its theme/needs/playstyle.
For Unholy’s version of RE, I wouldn’t make it an actual proc, in fact. The tree isn’t intended by Blizzard to be as proccy as Frost, and it doesn’t have to in order to be interesting and unique. Instead, I would make the talent something along the lines of, “Eliminates the chance for rune-based abilities to proc Rune Strike. Instead, your Blood Plague ticks have an X% chance to reduce the remaining cooldown on your Summon Gargoyle talent by Y seconds”. How high or low X and Y should be, I’m not entirely sure at the moment, but I would imagine 100 and 1 respectively, perhaps.
Such a talent would make the new SS all that much more important and potent. It would finally provide a link between our focus on Scourge Strike, focus on diseases and our focus on pets (hey, who said it had to be the ghoul?) by tying the tree together. It would eat up more runic power, thus aiding in eliminating our GCD problems. Diseases would get another bump in value. Depending on how often you could ultimately summon the Gargoyle, it would give us a much different feel for pets (by constantly having two of them up) than Hunters or Warlocks, as befitting our lore and flavor. It would be passive enough that it wouldn’t require constant attention or a mod to truly take advantage of, but rng and active enough so that good players would make better use of it then bad players.
In short, it may be simple, but it would be wonderfully effective at helping solve many of our numerous problems.
(And, for those concerned, spread diseases from Pestilence could easily be excluded from proccing the reduction)
I’ll cut right to the point – change the cost to runic power, let it affect Gargoyle, and potentially tweak the duration/potency.
The resource cost change is a given – runes are more precious than ever, and yes, it may be easy to substitute a SS for a GF every minute, it’s not exactly fun, nor is it entirely logical to have us sacrificing our key strike for a boost to our minions which, to a DK, is supposed to be expendable and nothing but a mere tool. Losing out on a Death Coil occasionally is a much smaller matter, not to mention it aids in shifting the focus away from DW and to 2H by lowering spell damage and increasing strike damage. You could always make the cost more/less than 40 RP to help influence the GCD balance whichever way it needs to go.
Affecting Gargoyle ties it into the proposed Runic Empowerment, as well as makes timing important. See the cooldown about to come up from Garg by GF just fell? You’ll have to decide if it’s best to cast GF immediately (and then again once the Gargoyle is out) or hold it off and just cast it once after the summon. A relatively simple decision – the latter case is better in the majority of scenarios – but still, a simple intelligence check never hurts.
Tweaking the duration/potency is all a matter of numbers, of course.
The pièce de résistance of this all!
Change Sudden Doom from proccing a resource-free Death Coil to a resource-free Scourge Strike, and instead of us proccing it, our Ghoul/Gargoyle does.
This ties everything together – you SS to generate RP and to proc diseases which in turn shorten the cooldown of your Gargoyle which in turn helps proc more SS, and the cycle goes on. Diseases affect pets, pets affect strikes, strikes affect diseases (and pets, via RP generated). Everything matters, and not just that, but it matters because of how it plays with everything else! And, at the heart of it all, you have SS. SS becomes our signature strike, as integral to our play as Frost Strike for Frost.
Plus, it once again shaves off spell damage while buffing strike damage – which, with the other changes, should put us solidly back in 2H territory.
The massive amount of personal, passive haste Unholy Presence provides is a huge reason the tree is currently so GCD capped. Besides, since when has the Unholy tree been about personal haste? Pet haste, certainly, but personal haste? Psh. That’s been a Frost thing, and is so now more than ever. Plus, run speed is too good and too important to be locked into a presence – make it a tier 1/2 talent.
As such, I’ve been floating a variety of changes in my head and on Twitter, but currently I would say change FP to increase Frost damage and runic power generation and to change UP to increase Shadow damage and pet haste. Both fit their respective specs perfectly, and there would never be a fear one tree would eventually switch to the other presence.
I’m quite interested in suggestions in this regard, as always.
I’ve already covered ERW and AotD in the Frost post. The only thing I might do is add AotD to the Runic Empowerment talent, such that Unholy would be able to use it an extra time or two each fight, but that’s not a huge deal.
Unholy Frenzy is fine – just remove the health cost. Changing it to a heroism type spell would be great for our raid utility, but I’m not sure how realistic that is.
I covered Gargoyle, so there isn’t a ton to say. The auto-attack issue needs to be resolved – either completely disable it unless silenced/interrupted, or make the Gargoyle a melee-focused pet (make the melee attacks pure shadow damage, if it helps).
Everything I didn’t mention in this post or the last – current RP generation rates, for example – I would leave untouched.
So, in summary, what would that do to the Unholy playstyle?
Basically what the picture says!
Although you would use each ability – strike or spell, disease or pet – for its own personal damage, that alone makes for a rather dull spec. Instead, everything would play into something else, which would ultimately come full circle:
- You would use Outbreak to apply diseases, which are naturally fundamental.
- You would use Festering Strike to convert to death runes and to increase the duration of diseases, both feeding into more Scourge Strikes.
- You would use Scourge Strike to force disease ticks.
- You would use diseases, aside from the obvious reasons, to maximize your Gargoyle uptime.
- You would use Gargoyle and Ghoul and care to buff them with Ghoul Frenzy to increase Scourge Strike.
So on. The trees could easily be made to fit such a rotation and playstyle, and it’s a rotation/playstyle which I, personally, think would better the spec (and the class). It’s also one which would be somewhat less rigid and dull then the current one, but less proccy and RNG than Frost, as befitting Blizzard’s view of the tree.
The spec would radically favor 2H over DW now. It wouldn’t be GCD capped (and if it was, there’s plenty of knobs to turn). The various focus would all interact with each other, and ultimately come back to Scourge Strike. Runic Empowerment would be interesting. So on.
And, with a mere minute to spare, I make my self-imposed midnight deadline!
Thoughts and such are welcome, as always.