Change – Believe In It
September 12, 2010 57 Comments
Just a reminder, since Mmo-champion and other similar news sites have still not covered it, but new/changed glyphs are listed in one of my previous posts. I’ll do a page which organizes it nice and neat by prime/major/minor, with all of them (old and new) later today, most likely. The reason why I haven’t done so already is that, honestly, I expected Mmo tobe on top of thing… but who knows why they aren’t!
Anyways, on to the topic at hand: We finally got a sizable amount of changes. At long (long) last. The big question, of course, is what does it all mean? Did some of our problems get fixed? Did any of them get fixed? Why did they bother changing this, but not that, and that, but not this? So on and so forth; after all, change isn’t automatically positive, and although we received a lot of good in the patch, it wasn’t some magical cure-all for the ills of the class in beta.
Not even close.
It’s a start, and a decent one at that, but nothing more.
There were only two changes to Blood worth discussing: Blood Rites and Death Strike.
“Blood Rites? What are you talking about! That was nothing more than a new name for Death Rune Mastery.” Yes, very true. But why would they possibly change the name of a talent that’s been around for ages? Especially right when the talent is having issues (promoting the sacrifice of Death Strike for Heart Strike, right as the tree/playstyle itself would lean towards the exact opposite). It’s entirely possible the change is nothing – Blizzard just thought DRM was boring relative to Blood of the North or Reaping (and I would agree) – but I’m not so sure. DRM is quite conflicted at the moment, and considering they just changed one of Unholy’s lackluster passives, it wouldn’t shock me to see the same thing happen here. I would expect it, in fact.
Then there is Death Strike. The change, for DPSers, is a huge nerf. Huge. our self-healing has already taken a large hit due to the lack of passive healing from a presence, on top of the fact that DS itself was proportionally more expensive (and more difficult, for Unholy) to use under the new rune system. Now it heals for much, much less. Blizzard has stated they have been inteitonally nerfing the self-healing capabilities of many dpsers, but for most other melee, exactly the opposite has happened! It may not seem like a terribly important aspect of the class, but when you consider the difficulty leap in questing (Twilight Highlands mobs are no joke, I assure you), the lack will really hurt.
For tanks, on the other hand, the change (which in some cases is a nerf, in others a buff) was absolutely necessary. Remember, Death Strike is intended to be our version of block, and block now covers a percent of damage taken (as opposed to a flat amount)…. and that’s where the problems with the old version began. It healed for a flat amount which was independent of damage taken (much as block on live). This would lead to it being overpowered in various scenarios; particularly, any situation which involved less than raid level tank damage. The new version doesn’t have that issue; it’s essentially a reactive (but controllable) version of block. Instead of having a chance to take 30% less damage, we can recover 30% of the damage taken in the last 5 seconds ‘ on demand’. It makes the two mechanics much more similar.
The introduction of Blood Shield, which is more analogous to Critical Block than block itself, is another subject which I won’t delve too deeply into here, since most of you probably don’t care about tanking!
Once again, there happens to be only two changes of any real value: the replacement of Improved Icy Touch with Runic Power Mastery and the removal of Howling Blast’s cooldown.
One can’t help to be happy that Improved Icy Touch is now gone (technically, it was simply made baseline with the damage bonus being folded into Icy Touch, but that’s beside the point). IIT was all that was wrong with the old talent system. However… replacing it with Runic Power Mastery? What! RPM is slightly more interesting than IIT, I suppose, but it’s just as weak (if not moreso). In PvE, it’s essentially useless, especially with runic power gains being more predictable (due to the lack of Revitalize/Rapture, and Anti-Magic Shell’s RP being locked behind a deep talent). In PvP, with health pools being increased so substantially, there’s equally little incentive to hoard RP to try and burst someone down (since you just won’t be able to). Removing a bad talent? Great. Replacing it with an even worse one? Not good!
Howling Blast’s cooldown is practically pointless under the new rune system… if it ever served any meaningful purpose at all May as well remove it. It’s just an annoyance.
There’s one other thing about Frost worth briefly discussing. It’s not a change, but rather the lack of one: Glyph of Frost Strike survives. Is GoFS a potent glyph? Yes. Is GoFS a more interesting glyph than some raw damage buff? Yes. However, GoFS is a huge, huge issue as the spec currently stands. I’m sure you all can guess why: global capping! In my last GCD mapping, I even assumed GoFS would be removed, and we were still capped. Want to imagine how that picture would look if I went back and added it in? This ongoing problem we’ve been fighting against all beta just got quite a bit worse.
The best for last, or so they say.
Or, in this case, the most complicated for last.
Is the spec still GCD capped? Yes, as much as ever. The changes do nothing to affect that situations; Dark Transformation use essentially displaces Unholy Frenzy in that it will replace a Scourge Strike every ~60 seconds or so.
Is the spec still bloated in the sense that it can’t take any talents aside from those which are straight up dps? Yes, as much as ever. Try to spec it out at 85; 8/0/33 is what you’re going to get, and the only non-dps talent you pick up is a single point in Desecration which you have to take to move down the tree. Nothing else. There’s no room for anything else.
Is the spec still DW leaning? Yes, as much as ever. The removal of Improved Icy Touch and Dirge don’t hurt DW that bad… especially since, as discussed, Improved Icy Touch wasn’t actually eliminated but made baseline. The introduction of Rage of Rivendare doesn’t actually boost Scourge Strike damage since it’s simply balancing out the dearth of Vicious Strikes and Corrupting Strikes. On the other hand, Nerves of Cold Steel is still easily accessible. Sudden Doom still favors DW by a large margin. The new Shadow Infusion/Dark Transformation mechanic just plays off SD, further emboldening DW. A large portion of the spec’s damage is still weapon damage independent; a larger portion than ever, in fact, due to the mastery and ghoul buffs. This problem got worse, not better, I assure you.
All of that said, the new synergy between us and our pet is excellent. It’s just the sort of thing we’ve been lacking for ages now, and it helps make the spec “flow” better. The introduction of Contagion is well-warranted, considering how weak Unholy’s AoE was becoming (although the use of Pestilence is still going to be a bit odd, due to the sole Frost rune leftover). The buff to Blightcaller was greatly needed, as I was discussing just the other day how weak mastery was for the spec. The removal of Impurity in favor of Unholy Might is quite welcome; Impurity was rather weak, only benefiting death coil and diseases, whereas UM will affect literally all of our damage.
Suffice is to say, Unholy got a handful of very nice and much needed additions. But it most certainly did not get all of its issues worked out… far from it. The largest among them are as present as ever, and have just grown worse in some cases. Unholy’s general playstyle (sans Runic Empowerment, of course) is now quite solid, for the most part. They just need to tackle the ‘number’ heavy issues; GCD use, tree bloat, and DW.