GCDs – What Changed; What Didn’t

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a post analyzing our GCD situation, and suffice is to say much has happened since then: Runic power gains have been globally nerfed. Unholy Presence now reduces the GCD. Weapon speeds appear to have 3.8s as the new “norm”, as opposed to the previous 3.6s of Wrath. The melee haste raid buff was reduced to 10% from 20%. So on and so forth.

What do all of these changes have in common? They all reduce the total globals we consumed, fortunately.

The big question is; does it do enough? Are we no longer capped, even without haste rating, or is the problem still as present as ever?

For better of for worse, it all depends on which of the two dps specs you’re looking at:

Frost

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, so I’m not quite sure what else I can add!

As always, I tried to be as generous as possible to the situation. I ignored any scraps of haste rating from gear. I ignored Raise Dead. I ignored Butchery. I ignored the potential use of Dark Simulacrum. I ignored Empower Rune Weapon. I tried to give the issue the benefit of the doubt, but short of plain distorting the facts, the spec is capped (on average over time), plain as day, and I just can’t make it appear otherwise.

And remember, this is just the dual-wielding rotation. I’ll leave it to your imagination what 2-hand Frost looks like with Might of the Frozen Wastes factored in! Spoiler: it consumes an additional ~3.5 GCDs directly, due to the extra Frost Strikes, and then another ~2.5 GCDs from Runic Empowerment procs (and the feedback loop therein) off of those FS. Essentially, that’s an extra 6 GCDs a minute – or a 15% increase. Whether that makes UP worth it is likely a yes, at least once you start being more realistic and accepting that at level 85, you’re not going to have 0% haste from gear!

At any rate, many may wonder why the GCD situation looks relatively unchanged, despite the RP nerf, from the last time I did such charts; that’s because, previously, glyphs had still yet to be touched and Ghostcrawler had said many times it was better to pretend they just didn’t exist at that point in time. The spec, or at least its dual-wielding version, would not be capped (at 0% haste, anyways) without Glyph of Frost Strike, for what that’s worth.

A bleak picture? Perhaps. Fortunately, Unholy is a shining light in the darkness!

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Failure – Datamining Letdown

With beta servers now live with the latest patch, there’s a handful of very, very important changes which datamining did not happen to catch:

  • Vampiric Blood no longer costs a Blood rune.
  • Path of Frost no longer generates runic power.
  • Blood Boil no longer generates runic power unless it hits a mob.
  • Death Coiling your pet no longer refunds runic power with the minor glyph if all of the heal is overhealing.
  • Single rune abilities now generate 10 runic, down from 15 last beta build and unchanged from live.
  • Double rune abilities now generate 20 runic, down from 25 last beta build and up from 15 on live.
  • Triple rune abilities now generate 30 runic, up from 25 last beta build and up from 20 on live.
  • Justice and Valor point vendors are now accessible.
      • Justice points come from heroics and the like, and currently can be used to buy a variety of ilvl 346 blues (which is the same quality of gear heroics offer).
        • You currently receive 75 Justice points per heroic boss. Items cost between 950 (offhands) to 2200 (chests, helmets, and legs), with plenty of item inbetween.
      • Valor points come from raids and the like, and currently can be used to buy a variety of ilvl 359 epics (which is the same quality of gear from normal mode raids – both 10 and 25, remember), including the chest, legs, and gloves of T11. The shoulders and helmet require the tier token to be purchased. Stats of T11 in its entirety (and the badge trinket, which is amazing) are as follow:

    The Vampiric Blood change is long overdue, and needs no analysis. Straight up buff, and a much needed one at that.

    The nerf to Path of Frost, Blood Boil, and Death Coil healing all go back to out of combat preperation, an area which was shaping up to be quite troublesome and which I had actually commented on earlier in the week. As you can assume after reading that post, I’m quite pleased with the changes. They have absolutely no real effect on in-combat performance or any such thing, but simply make it so we don’t have to start each fight with 100 Rp and 5 stacks of Shadow Infusion up (which we would have had to do due to the incredible ease, but now no longer can).

    The nerfs to base runic power generation… huge. It saves us about 3 GCDs per minute directly (from less FS/DC), plus an additional ~2 from fewer RE/RC procs. 5 a minute is sufficient to put DW Frost under the GCD cap, but only at 0% haste. 2H Frost is still going to go over. Unholy was already now under thanks to the Unholy Presence change – it should still be worth running in UP over FP, but it’s not quite as much a given as it was before. It will depend on haste/hit/expertise levels, and you’ll still go to FP for AoE-heavy encounters. I’ll generate some new GCD tables later in the evening.

    Tier 11 is pretty decently itemized (not that it matters a ton, since reforging offers so much flexibility). With haste shaping up to be our strongest stat and four of the five pieces having it, we should be quite pleased. Then that trinket… delicious!

    Interesting stuff…

    Eloquence – Forget It

    I was originally typing something up on GC’s first blue post of the day concerning Runic Empowerment and GCD capping. Long analysis short, his post was excellent except for the line where he (once again) falsely attributed our GCD problems to haste rating (despite math/simulations showing the opposite and despite it easily being experienced by anyone on beta that even with 0% haste we’re locked).

    Unfortunately, I never completed that response because then he made a new post where he basically said that we only get global capped when we get procs (which is true),  and that’s ok because it only happens some of the time not all the time (which is only somewhat misleading). You see, his logic is faulty – yes, where RNG is involved you can’t use absolutes. That’s a fact of life. Sometimes we’ll get lucky on procs and get way overcapped. Sometimes we’ll get unlucky and sit for a few seconds twiddling our toes (much more fun then twiddling one’s thumbs, I assure you). Neither situation is the norm, however. Over time, on average, we will get a sufficient amount of procs to use all of our available globals and then some. Period. Extreme situations, such as those mentioned above, don’t skey things much one way or the other over the long run. Kahorie ran some numbers a week or two back using his sim, and was able to show us using 98% of our total GCDs. That’s pretty much as capped as you can be when RNG is involved!. Saying that if you ignore procs you’re not limited, and procs are rng, thus you’re fine because sometimes they won’t happen, is just nonsensical. The vast majority of the time they will happen more than enough for us to cap ourselves.

    Anyways, my second entry was much more thorough, but then I had to scrap that one too!

    Why?

    A new beta build has been uncovered, and with it a change which negates half of the above discussion to pointlessness:

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    The Latest – The Greatest

    Consider this my typical post-patch commentary. It’s been delayed a couple of days, but that’s because I’ve been busy actually playing the beta – a lot of these changes need to be experienced to be properly appreciated.

    Suffice is to say, this last patch was great, and probably the best (for Unholy) since the start of beta.

    Where to begin!

    Unholy DW is, essentially, dead, or nerfed enough to not be a threat to 2H Unholy for the foreseeable future (meaning up to 85 in blues; who knows beyond that with raid itemization yet known). The loss of Necrosis hits dual-wielding incredibly hard – much moreso than the removal of Dirge did. Remember, Unholy damage can essentially be split into four categories: pet damage, yellow spell damage, yellow strike damage, and white auto-attack damage. The first two are, for the most part, weapon independent (SD’s impact aside). The third category grossly favors two-handers, of course, and the fourth category leans heavily towards dual-wielding. Necrosis was a huge boost to that last slice of the pie, and with it now gone (on top of the introduction of Runic Corruption), the pendulum of balance shifts back where it belongs. I would still like to see Sudden Doom changed to a proc-per-minute system or some such thing, which would safely guarantee Unholy DW dead for the remainder of the expansion, but for now, the loss of Necrosis does enough. One monkey off the class’s back!

    Runic Corruption is amazing. No, it doesn’t help our GCD problems (which are as bad as ever), unfortunately. In fact, it makes them worse when you factor in the runic power cost reduction aspect of the talent! But aside from that (which is an issue I’ll go into later on in this entry), it’s perfect. It’s what Runic Empowerment should have been! The proc, over time, simply gives you additional Scourge Strikes and Festering Strikes (thus also giving more Death Coils, meaning more Runic Corruption procs, meaning more Scourge Strikes and Festering Strikes, meaning more Death Coils… so on and so forth!) by giving you a burst in rune regeneration. What makes it so superior to RE is one essential fact: it affects all three runes at once in an equal proportion. This means no messing with double-rune strikes and/or promoting PS/IT usage. This means no rune desynching or death rune desynching (the latter being the more real problem).  This means the proc is pure bonus and no drawback, which is what a proc should be! You should want to use it when it happens, and not question if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re just going to mess yourself up in the long run. You should want to use the abilities the proc makes available, and not put spells on your bars which do laughable damage and which you wouldn’t ever remotely contemplate anyways. Runic Corruption is perfect, and if there’s one thing Blood and Frost needs, it’s something along the same lines – not necessarily the exact same talent (although it would work great), but something which solves the same problems and has the same lack of drawback.

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    Patch Live – What Wasn’t Datamined

    I almost always end up having to make an entry such as this following a released patch. Despite how thoroughly one digs through the spell IDs and the like, somethings just cannot be datamined – and somethings which are datamined inevitably prove to be false or misleading.

    What can you do.

    • As a commenter noted and as I then confirmed, Festering Strike now increases Blood Plague and Frost Fever by 8 seconds, buffed from 6. It’s enough to ensure Unholy doesn’t need to use IT or PS in PvE… ever.
    • Dark Transformation now has a combat log entry, floating combat text notification, and poweraura upon hitting 5 Shadow Infusion stacks on your ghoul. It’s relatively ugly, but  it’s functional, which is what’s most important. Also, for the PvP crowd: Dark Transformation is no longer a magic debuff (nor a disease/curse/poison, of course), meaning it’s no longer dispellable.

    • Killing Machine now has a (beautifully done, in my opinion) poweraura attached to it.

    • Frozen Heart, the Frost Mastery, was nerfed – from 20% (meaning 2.5% per point) to 16% (which is 2% per point). Mmo-champion was right about what had happened, just not about the specific numbers.

    • The Frost Presence buff is currently a curse. Most amusing, and almost certainly just a bug.

    • Runic Empowerment still doesn’t have a combat log entry, floating combat text notification, or poweraura… but it does flash and highlight the rune (on your default rune UI) upon a proc. The highlight lasts for about 5 seconds or so, and is quite noticeable, although it still requires you to stare at the upper left (which is more a fault of the default UI than anything else).

    • Dancing Rune Weapon did not have its cooldown decreased, spell ID to the contrary.

    • Runic Corruption works perfectly. It has a combat log entry and a floating combat text notification, but no poweraura (yet).
    • As a ghost you get a “Return to Graveyard” button at the top of your screen. It… returns you to the graveyard you spawned at, shockingly enough! It has no cooldown, and can be used as much as needed. Nice little tool if you get your ghost stuck somewhere, I suppose?

    Build 12984 – RE’s Replacement

    It’s 4:40 AM EST, and I really should head off to sleep. I believe this is it, save a potential number change or two which isn’t that interesting. Boubouille has now covered us on Mmo-champion, and it appears that I didn’t miss a single thing (Frozen Heart, Frost’s mastery, has always been 20% baseline, so he’s mistaken there), so I can rest easy!

    I’ll post my thoughts on everything tomorrow, but nice changes in general.

    General

    • Switching presences now consumes all runic power, but no longer costs their namesake rune.
    • Our tier 11 sets are named Magma Plated Battlegear, Magma Plated Battlearmor and Gladiator’s Desecration for dps, tanking, and PvP, respectively.

    Blood

    • Death Strike now heals for a minimum of 10% of your maximum health, up from 5%.
    • [Tier 7] Dancing Rune Weapon buffed – Cooldown reduced to 60 seconds from 90.

    Frost

    • Frost Fever now has a base duration of 21 seconds, down from 30.
    • [Tier 2] Annihilation buffed – Increases the damage of Obliterate by 15/30/45%, up from 10/20/30%.
    • [Tier 3] Killing Machine changed – Now affects Obliterate, in addition to Icy Touch and Frost Strike. No longer affects Howling Blast.

    Unholy

    • Blood Plague now has a base duration of 21 seconds, down from 30.
    • Necrotic Strike heavily modified, now reads – A vicious strike that deals 100% weapon damage and absorbs the next [0.75*AP] healing received by the target. For 15 sec, or until the full amount of healing is absorbed, the target’s casting time is increased by 30%.
    • [Tier 1] Epidemic nerfed – Increases the duration of diseases by 4/8/12 seconds, down from 6/12/18.
    • [Tier 3] New talent; Runic Corruption – Reduces the cost of your Death Coil by 3/6, and causes your Runic Empowerment ability to no longer refresh a depleted rune, but instead to increase your rune regeneration rate by 50/100% for 3 sec.
    • [Tier 3] Necrosis removed.
    • [Tier 3] Unholy Frenzy changed – Health loss reduced to 2%/3seconds, down from 3%/2seconds.

    Runic Empowerment – GC’s Words

    Just a head’s up, I do read blue posts as soon as I can! Although I certainly appreciate the thought, there’s really no need for me to get dozens of messages via Twitter/Email/Forum PM whenever a DK-related one is thrown up! If I haven’t yet said anything about it, that just means I’m not home yet or otherwise not yet in a position to comment. Generally the first. Like I said, thank you, but just not necessary.

    Anyways, for reference, the blue post in question today:

    To begin with, let’s just go ahead and ignore the first paragraph. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with it (although there kinda is; more on that later)… it’s just stuff we already know either because of official comments in the past or plain common sense. Yes, obviously Runic Empowerment is intended to mix up our rotations. Yes, obviously if Runic Empowerment didn’t exist (and nothing was there in it’s place), Rime and Sudden Doom on their own would be insufficient to keep us on our toes. Yes some people dislike random mechanics because they make things more difficult.

    Yes, yes, yes. We knew all of this (and I, personally, would agree with it all).

    Thus, moving onwards.

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