Upcoming – Frost and Unholy
December 28, 2010 73 Comments
Between finals, the launch of the expansion, the holidays, acquiring a new job, visiting family, and a few other time consuming events all in the period of a mere three weeks, I haven’t been able to blog nearly as much as I would normally have liked – I haven’t been able to blog at all, in fact! Thankfully, things are now starting to die down, out of game and in, and should allow me to return to writing here on a regular basis, so long as there are topics to write about… which, of course, there now are, with Ghostcrawler having blogged this evening about how the decelopers view each class at the moment, in terms of general balance, and some of the specific changes we can look forward to seeing in the (likely couple month, if I were to guess) future.
The DK relevant info is as follows:
- For Cataclysm, we changed Death Strike almost completely into an ability for Blood DK tanks, which is a bit unfortunate. We want to make sure it is still a useful button for Frost or Unholy DKs who need healing.
- We also want to address DK mobility in PvP.
- Frost is likely overperforming on multiple targets.
- Unholy is likely overperforming on single targets.
- We want to make sure Unholy DKs prefer two-handed weapons.
- Necrotic Strike needs to be affected by resilience.
- Blightcaller simply isn’t working; we’re looking to redesign it to make it similar to Druid’s Symbiosis, where DK attacks do more damage to diseased targets.
My overall impression is that everything is spot on; Blizzard understands the issues (GC doesn’t touch upon all of them, of course, but those he does hit, he responds to correctly and in a promising manner) and they have a good feel for the current balance of the specs. Although it might be a bit early to claim this, they seem to be focusing more on number tweaks then overhauling entire abilities, which hopefully should prevent a lot of the turmoil the Death Knight class (and Unholy spec, specifically) underwent in Wrath due to the constant, radical changes to core spells and strikes. We’ll have to change how we gear – that’s inevitable with almost any change of decent magnitude – but we won’t have to be relearning our rotation, redoing our spec, and compeltely modifying the way we play, which should allow theorycrafting to focus on more important matters, then always having to play catch up to the latest whims of the devs!
As to the specifics?
Death Strike being too weak for dps is a given, and something which was discussed (among the playerbase) heavily during the end of beta. That, Death Pact, and Fallen Crusader are all the dps specs have left for self-healing, and with Death Pact having a lengthy CD and Fallen Crusader being weak/uncontrollable, DS is what we rely on when we want to heal ourselves up. The fact that it has a heavy damage cost is inevitable; at least let the heal be noticeable. As it is, it doesn’t even equal a health potion! Reassuring to know that they admit the problem, and are looking to tackle it. Of course, it would have been nicer to have a fix in place before we all had to level, but hey, better late than never!
PvP mobility… pass. Not something I’m knowledgeable enough to speak on.
There is no question that Frost is overperforming on AoE. This was seen months ago, and talked about to death during the beta process. Howling Blast is simply too strong; there’s no denying it, and a look at any parse of, say, Magmaw, with a Frost DK, will prove it clear as day. I’m glad to see they’re addressing it, but I’m still concerned that they’ll merely nerf HB and call it a day. HB is integral to Frost’s single target dps, and simply lowering it’s damage would just cause the another equal, but opposite imbalance. I discussed the matter months ago; it suffices to say that Blizzard has plenty of options to nerf the AoE aspect without hurting the single target.
That Unholy is overperforming on single-target is true, and I would argue it’s primarily due to the ghoul. It simply does too much dps while being immune to fight mechanics which force us (and others) to move. Were I a dev, I would nerf Dark Transformation to 75% damage (instead of 100%), and then allow the Ghoul to scale with our crit and our mastery. This would be just enough to do the trick to our overall damage, while also having the side benefit of making our ghoul a smaller fraction of our dps (overall), making all the secondary stats almost equally desirable, and making our Ghoul scale with more than just pure strength (which it scales with ridiculously well). If it still did too much damage overall, nerf the Glyph; change it to 20% strength, or who knows. Many ways it could be tackled, and likely something I’ll discuss in more depths sometime over the coming weeks.
Unholy DW dying is likely for the best, I suppose. Not much to say on the subject, besides being curious as to how they plan to accomplish it. Moving NotCS and/or nerfing/changing SD are the likely means, but who knows. Blizzard could always surprise us.
Necrotic Strike, as with all PvP matters, isn’t something I have the expertise to analyze, but I will say that the change seems very common sense based, and generally speaking, balancing decisions based off common sense are almost always for the best!
Oh, Blightcaller. Good riddance. The new version of the mastery sounds rather uninteresting, but whatever – it will be a million times easier to make attractive, and everyone likes bigger numbers, anyways. Unfortunately, however, without knowing the specific details, it’s hard to delve too far into the subject. Will it be all of our damage, or only our yellow damage? If our yellow damage, will it be all of our yellow damage, or just our strike damage? Will it affect the ghoul? If it affects the ghoul, will it affect all of his damage, or just his yellow damage? What percent will it be? Will Scourge Strike double dip into it? Those questions are just the first to come to mind, but there’s surely dozens more. Whatever they do, it’s unlikely – impossible, really – that the new mastery could be any more boring and any more impotent then the current one, so they can only go up! A side benefit of a buff in this department is that switching from Frost to Unholy or viceversa won’t require totally different gear sets.
Like I said, in general, I’m pleased with… well, all of the above. Not a single thing posted this evening troubles me. Sure, most of these issues could have been (and/or were) foreseen in beta, but whatever; better late than never, to be sure.
Anyways, I’ll leave it there for the evening. Once again, I’m sorry for the extended gap between blogging, but hopefully things should be normal-ish after this week. Much to discuss, I’m sure.