Upcoming – Frost and Unholy

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?

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Cata BiS – Frost 2H

Remember, Unholy BiS can be found here, Frost DW BiS can be found here, and the stats weights from which all of these sets were generated can be found here.

This is a bit delayed, I know; apparently a number of items got some of their socket bonuses/colors/stats changed around. Glancing through the previous lists, everything should still be perfectly accurate, save for the reforging aspect, which I’ll likely have to tweak once I actually put it into the EJ thread. The items themselves are what’s most important, and there shouldn’t be any differences there – at the most, one item a list, an that’s easily remedied.

One thing to note which was brought up in comments in one of the previous BiS posts: trinkets. All Catalcysm trinkets appear to have an approximate 16.67% (1/6) uptime, which is half the current normal of 33.33% (1/3). On top of that, the budget of the proc/use of a trinket appear to be the exact same as the budget of the passive stat – for instance, if a trinket has 200 passive whatever, the proc would equal out to be 200 of a stat (which, when combined with the uptime, means the value would be 1200). It’s a topic I can delve into more at a later date if so desired, but for now, simply something to keep in mind.

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Cata BiS – Frost DW

See title, insert standard disclaimer (could change before going live), and all that jazz. Remember you can view example stat weights here or see Unholy’s BiS lists here.

I’ll have Frost 2H up tomorrow evening, most likely, after which point I’ll get to discussing where each spec stands at level 85. Not that there’s much to discuss there, unfortunately; Unholy and Frost DW are near equal, ± about 3% relative to one another, pending specific encounter and personal gear. Frost 2H is about 10% behind either of those two, which is an insurmountable gap except in the most unusual of circumstances.

Getting on with it:

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Cata BiS – Unholy

Self-explanatory title; best in slot lists for Unholy based off of the stat weights generated and discussed in my post from last evening.

Doing this “by hand” (meaning without the use of a gear optimizer, program, or spreadsheet of some sort) are somewhat annoying, and thus it may be a day or two until I bother to tackle Frost. Gear choices and gemming is easy to figure out, for the most part; it’s reforging which can be taxing on one’s brain!

Anyways, jumping right into it:

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Cata Stat Weights – It Begins

I see no need for a prelude, as the title is self-explanatory enough, and I’m sure this is the sort of information people are quite eager for (as I know I was). May as well just jump straight into it.

A simple disclaimer: matters could certainly change between now and the expansion’s release. This information is all accurate as of the current beta build, however, and I would be surprised if anything radically shifted (although, as you’ll see, stat balance isn’t too hot at the moment, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if weights were to get fairly well tweaked).

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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:


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…