Blood – Some Thoughts

Typically, I try to stay away from writing on tanking matters. It’s not that I’m any less knowledgeable and informed of that aspect of the class/game; I tanked up until tier 9 on Consider, as well as having spent the entirety of Burning Crusade doing so on my druid, and in general just keep myself up to date on what’s what in regards to the role. Nor is it because I find tanking any less interesting or complicated than dpsing; quite the opposite, if anything, as tanks has to consider all the same things dps do, and then some. For every entry on a dps subject, there’s three of the same sort I could do for tanking!

The reason why I try to confine myself to dps is twofold; partially because there are many sources – notably Pwnwear – for high quality tanking Death Knight discussions already, and partially because (presumably) most of my traffic is likely dps oriented for one reason or another.

Unfortunately, all of that is rendered irrelevant by the simple fact that I’m currently locked out of my account on live (and none too thrilled about it), and thus am limited solely to beta!  It’s past the point where there’s anything interesting to play and test on there in regards to Unholy (stats are imbalanced relative to one another, some bugs are annoying, and some mechanics – SI/RC proccing on hit, not cast – are obnoxious, but overall, the spec is pretty solid) or Frost (it has a lot of issues, sure, but the same issues have been around for months, and thus there’s little new to say on the subject!), and thus I’ve spent some time as Blood tanking in heroics and raids, and figure I may as well share my two cents. If such doesn’t interest you, I completely understand, and simply don’t continue reading! This is a one time deviation, I assure you.

Before I begin, in short: Blood DKs on beta are currently in a fantastic position, in near every aspect, and those individuals like the questioner at Blizzcon who was concerned about the viability of the spec (because people perceived him, as an individual, as bad, but that’s beside the point!) need not worry a bit. If anything, nerfs are needed, not buffs.

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Stats – Scaling Basics

Stat scaling is an interesting, if rarely discussed, subject. It’s the reason why stat weights vary from tier to tier, and why gearing can be such a headache at times.

For the most part, stats actually scale in a very understandable manner: linearly. For the math inept among us, something which is linear is merely a straight line of some sort which can be reduced to the equation y=mx; in this case, with y being dps gained, x being the specific stat in question, and m being some sort of coefficient depending on the stat’s worth. The more valuable a stat is, the greater m will be, and vice versa. M is essentially that stat’s weight – simply normalized depending on the AP:DPS ratio of your spec/gear level. If a stat scales linearly with itself, it doesn’t matter how much of that stat you already have – you’re still going to get Y dps for every X of that stat. Period.

It is important to note that, in this context, we’re talking absolute dps gained, not the relative amount. E.g, if 10 strength gives you 50 dps, and strength scales linearly (it does), then it will give you that same 50 dps regardless of pre-existing strength amount. That said, that 50 dps may be a 1% dps gain when you have 100 strength to begin with, and only a 0.5% dps gain when you have 200 strength to begin with. Just something to keep in mind.

With that out of the way, which stats are linear? Attack power, strength, crit rating, and mastery rating.

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Simulating – What’s Where

The single most common question in regard to 4.0.1 also happens to be one of the sillest: “What spec does the most dps?” or some variation there of.

Consider this a simple stab at answering it.

I ran 100 hours of 5 minute fights. Each spec was in an optimized BiS set, reforged, gemmed, and enchanted as appropriate. The Frost sims were done as their best race, Worgen, with Unholy as theirs; Orc. Each were using an AP flask, str food, and speed pots. The Unholy sims assumed 100 RP/45 seconds from AMS usage. The ICC buff was, of course, turned off, although it would be easy to multiply the final number by 1.3 if you wished to factor it in. So forth.

The XMLs of each set up are linked in the spec/weapon name, so you can confirm the results (and just test stuff in general) yourself.

With that said, you’ll see things are quite similar across the specs… with the notable exception of Unholy DW!

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Theorycrafting – Do It Right

With the launch of both the Unholy and Frost Cataclysm threads, there’s been a burst of discussion and theorycrafting regarding the new specs and playstyles – which is absolutely great. There’s no question that the community has a ton to talk about and that several different perspectives generally lead to more accurate results than any one individual trying to figure it all out on their own for themselves. Productive conversation is always terrific and much desired, and EJ does a better job at promoting such talk than any other site of its nature.

The issue which I want to address is when people, who are almost always well intentioned, try to raise a point or argue a fact but go about it in the completely wrong manner.

Ultimately these posts have a negative impact on everyone involved.  The poster in question generally ends up with an infraction or, worse yet, a ban, both of which are obviously quite undesirable. The average reader who sees such posts becomes confused or mislead with what may ultimately be false information, thus detracting from the actual purpose of the thread. The ongoing conversation will be interrupted or led astray. The more courteous, discerning posters may feel obliged to respond to said posts pointing out the errors (or, worse, ignoring the errors and addressing it anyways) which can end up with that person generally receiving a warning from the moderators.

You get the idea.

Making a claim or arguing a point is great to do, and I love to see it… but there’s right way and a wrong way to go about it. One just need to keep some basics in mind:

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EJ Guide – Cata Frost’s Up

After much confusion as to who was actually undertaking the oh so exciting (sarcasm here, I assure you!) task of the thread and sorting that all out, I’ve thrown up the preliminary Cataclysm version of the Elitist Jerks Frost DK dps guide. It’s viewable here, for those interested.

I will note, it’s still very much a work of progress – more so than the Unholy version – but, of course, even what isn’t nearly complete or polished by my standards is still perfectly informative and decent enough for most use. I can’t emphasize that enough; although happy with the job I did on relatively short notice in a quite small span of time, I’m not terribly pleased with how it is yet. Heavy edits will follow, I assure you, but I need my sleep for now.

The one thing I am really on the fence about and would love feedback on is how similar to keep (or not to keep) the format compared to the Unholy guide. Obviously the two specs have different needs, and thus one will have certain sections which the other doesn’t, and vice versa – of course. I mean aside from that. I just can’t decide how different to make it. Stick with the Unholy format, as it closely resembles now, so as to make it easier for those who go from one to another, and because that format has been quite successful and highly commended? Or differentiate it more in various ways since it is a different spec with different needs and such?

Tough decision, and a dilemma which I worded horribly, but that’s the reason I must run off and rest!

Perhaps a clearer mind in the morning will make it easier to sort out.

EJ Guide – Cata Unholy’s Up

The title should be self-explanatory: I went ahead and posted the Cataclysm version of my Elitist Jerks Unholy DK dps guide. It’s viewable here, for those interested.

It’s still somewhat of a work in progress, but it should be more than sufficient for the time being, and it will obviously fill out and be refined between now and the release of Cataclysm (and continuing thereafter). Besides, even in it’s “fresh” state, it still blows most of the similar posts on EJ out of the water, if I do say so myself!

Besides, if this is how complete it is two months before the expansion even hits, just imagine how it will be two or twelve or twenty months after! Modesty aside, I’m quite pleased with it, especially since I pushed it out from scratch in about 24 hours.