New Abilities – Why Not Steal
August 20, 2010 48 Comments
This week has been quite uneventful, to say the least! No new beta build. No Death Knight related blue posts (although ones for every other class!). Nothing promising from the multiple interviews coming out of Gamescon (“No further major class changes are planned for the beta. From here out it will be primarily tuning,” for example, can’t be good for us, although what is tuning and what’s a major change is a matter of opinion/semantics, I suppose). And then, on a personal level, I’m still dealing with my new computer, not to mention I’ve been totally caught up in another project, which has made my posting quite sparse.
But, hey, such is life. Simply have to think positive!
A new beta build is almost guaranteed to hit this coming week (and it should contain Archaeology, of all things). DK-related blue posts will happen at some point in the future, certainly. Even if nothing “major” is planned for any class, it’s rather unarguable that we’re in destined for many “tweaks” and general “tuning”. On the personal level, my new computer should be finished which means I’ll be able to stream/fraps regularly (current comp just can’t handle it, not with fluent play at any decent level of quality).
Things shall turn around, but in the meantime, there’s not much for us to talk about which hasn’t already been discussed to death over the past two months or so that we’ve gone without any serious solutions to our issues – I mean, the beta DK thread is currently debating runeforges, of all things!
So why not have some fun?
Let’s be honest – we didn’t get the most exciting new abilities for Cataclysm. Outbreak doesn’t do anything we can’t already do with existing spells; and it’s not even strong enough to replace that which we already have. Necrotic Strike is a bit on the different side, but it’s only of any real use in one aspect of the game, and even there, it’s going to wreck havoc on our playstyle with it’s single Unholy rune cost, not to mention healing absorbption won’t terribly differ from the equivalent damage in most cases. Dark Simulacrum is actually unique and pretty cool, so no complaints there. One for three, however, isn’t the greatest track record. And this is on top of the fact that we didn’t get any new talented abilities either (Pillar of Frost being little more than a renamed Unbreakable Armor).
Although it’s looking less and less realistic by the day, what if Blizzard decided we really could use something unique and, just maybe, useful, too?
Now, obviously the sky’s the limit when trying to come up with new abilities. For every possible problem, there’s a hundred ways to address it, and for each way to address it, there’s then a hundred different variations as far as the specifics go. Thus, sometimes, it’s best not to come up with something new for to the game, but rather new to the player. In other words, steal NPC abilities and adapt them to fill a current hole in our arsenal.
It’s been done many times before, with Mage’s Flame Orb being one of the most recent and most recognizable instances of such a deed, so why not us?
A rarely noticed weakness of Unholy Death Knights is the lack of any sort of Execute-phase dps increase. By this, I mean either something passive (such as Frost’s Merciless Combat) or active (such as the original Execute itself, of course). We do the same abilities for the same numbers regardless of whether the boss is at 100% or at 1%. This isn’t a huge deal, really, but it does make us an exception to the majority these days.
Infest could be the perfect solution.
Scrap the AoE aspect of it and give it a maximum duration. The tooltip might read something along the lines of “Deals X damage to the target, and an additional Y damage every second for Z seconds. Damage is increased by Q percent for every P percent of health the target is missing. This effect is removed is the target reaches more than 90% health”. Sure, you could always use it on the target if they’re at max/high health, but it likely wouldn’t be worthwhile. In PvP it would have some very interesting interplay, potentially.
Alleviates a fault of the spec. Inspired by (but not copied from) a popular, well-known NPC ability. New and different to players. Plenty of knobs to turn as far as specific number balance goes. Useful for both PvE and PvP.
[Pain and Suffering]
In an ironic turn around from our state in Wrath, Unholy is not only the weakest AoE spec we have in Cataclysm (which isn’t terribly important), it’s also the least functional! With the current rune costs of Pestilence, Blood Boil, and Death and Decay, Unholy’s AoE “rotation”, if you can call it that, is going to be a wreck. Icy Touch spam would have been awkward enough on a single target, but having to resort to it for AoE?! Plain bizarre.
Even if they were to modify/eliminate the resource cost of our exisiting AoEs, as they likely should do regardless, Unholy would still lack anything to set it apart from Blood or Frost in the AoE department, with those two trees having Heart Strike and Howling Blast, respectively, to differentiate them.
Pain and Suffering would be a nice, simple means of fixing the issue. It’s nothing fancy – a conal AoE which deals direct shadow damage and puts a short duration stackable DoT on the targets – but it would work. You wouldn’t even have to change the functionality at all, simply the numbers (the actual damage and how high the stack can go). Give it a resource cost (UF if Blood Boil/Pestilence stay at one Blood, BF if they go to runic power), and you’re good to go.
Could always add a glyph which makes it apply Blood Plague, Desecration, or something else interesting for PvP use easily enough
A fault of the class has often been burst. We’ve either had too much or too little. Considering we lack a heal reduction debuff and any real CC/stuns, combined with the somewhat rigid nature of the rune system, it’s difficult to simply tweak the numbers and fix. Our abilities can’t simply hit hard, because we can always use ERW to chain half a dozen of whatever it is in a row. Necrotic Strike is supposed to be an interesting approach to this problem, but I’m somewhat skeptical of how well it will play out based on the current state of the skill.
Soul Reaper could be the answer. It’s delayed burst, essentially. We wouldn’t be able to spam it, due to the nature of the ability, and thus it could hit pretty hard. At the same time, it wouldn’t be uncounterable due to the span of time before the real damage actually hits.
Although aimed at PvP, all it would take to be used in PvE is decent scaling.
[Rune of Blood]
This is aimed at a fault in other classes, not in us. More specifically, Vampiric Embrace and Judgment of Light are unique forms of raid utility which stand out in a game of increasing buff/debuff overlap and in a raid environment where overhealing is going to be severely curtailed.
On top of this, with the loss of Vendetta/Exsanguinate and Blood Presence, we have little in the way of self-healing while dpsing (without flat out murdering that dps!).
Rune of Blood is the answer. It could easily be made into a self-buff along the lines of VE or a target debuff along the lines of JoL.
If you take the first route, to keep it distinct from VE, you could always eliminate the group aspect and give it some additional personal benefit (like % healing taken, perhaps). If you take the latter rotue, to keep it distinct from JoL you could always have it heal the target’s target (i.e, the tanks) whenever *you* strike the target, for an interesting twist. Who knows.
Druids – Entangling Roots/Cyclone, Hunters – Ice Trap, Mage – Polymorph, Paladin – Repentance, Priest – Mind Control/Shackle, Rogue – Sap, Shaman – Hex, Warlock – Banish/Fear, Warrior – Intimidating Shout, and Death Knight… ?
We lack a real CC (or even a fake one!), something the dps spec of every other class will now bring in Cataclysm.
Ice Prison is straightforward enough, and really doesn’t need any explanation.
And they say stealing is bad!
I could, of course, go on with this all night, and there are some itneresting spells (Defile and Death’s Respite, for instance), which I certainly want to touch on another evening, but I believe I get my point across. Something new for us doesn’t necessarily have to be something new to the game, and it can be just as effective, no doubt. It’s not all that unrealistic, even, to see something like one of the above implemented.
Whatever else, it makes for fun speculation.