Once More – Into The Breach

It has been a plain ridiculous amount of time since I last blogged, for which I have received plenty of well-deserved flak, but such is how matters worked out, and it was probably for the best anyways. Perhaps it would have been better if I had been a bit more persistent with the whole thing, but I simply haven’t been terribly enthused about anything WoW related (or MMO related at all, for that matter) in a while, and writing without any motivation beyond “because I should” is just horrid. On the other hand, when you have a topic which truly interests you, which gets your brain racing in a dozen different directions trying to speculate, math, or reason out the possibilities… well, in such a case, writing is easy. The hard part in such a scenario is not how to start, but when to stop, and when you find yourself in such a situation, you generally welcome it… as I do now.

What, may you ask, has finally given me this sudden impulse to ramble?

No, it wasn’t the press release from last week which detailed Blizzard’s ingenius plot to merge Farmville, Pokemon, Kung Fu Panda, and, of course, Warcraft, to concoct a product which could rival crack or nicotine in terms of addictability (which isn’t a word, but should be).  For those who follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m actually pretty pleased with how Mists of Pandaria looks and I have few, if any, complaints. My largest concern isn’t that the expansion will be awesome, but rather that subsequent patches during the expansion’s life cycle may not live up to that initial joy. As I would argue was largely the case with Cataclysm, but that’s neither here nor there.

No, I wasn’t in the first wave of MoP beta, unfortunately, although such a thing is just a matter of time.  I did do the Annual Pass immediately, in combination with my account being open since January 2005 (which is crazy to think about, but another topic for another time, perhaps), so I’m not too concerned this time around.

No, it wasn’t some shocking Death Knight revelation any of the actual beta testers (curse their souls; unconcerned I may be, but jealous and envious of those with access all the same!) discovered. DK wise, things appear pretty much as expected, from what I read, which isn’t shocking – we didn’t get any drastic changes (beyond the ones inherent with the talent reform), as most of our mechanics stayed roughly the same, and our new abilities are all pretty unambiguous in their effects, so no real surprises there. If you’re happy with your DK now, you’ll likely be even happier in MoP. We didn’t get anything likeable taken away/nerfed (in usability; numbers are rather pointless to consider at the moment), and got plenty of quality of life improvements, on top of some new toys to play with. Which isn’t to say I won’ t spend some time during beta talking about Death Knights – I almost certainly will – just that I see little to talk about as of yet, and thus will hold off till we see a bit more/things develop/I get beta access.

The reason for this entry?

Warlocks, of all things. Crazier still, it’s about the potential of Warlock tanks – beyond the rare gimmick encounter like Illidan. The very, very real potential.

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EJ – Farewell

To get straight to the point:

Yes, I’m done maintaining the EJ posts. I won’t go into the many reasons why – most of them have been stated here or elsewhere, and the rest are probably easy enough to infer or guess at. At any rate, I apologize if this lets anyone down, but if I were to continue writing my guides, the quality would have inevitably dropped. Sure, modesty aside, the posts would have still been superior to most of the equivalents of other classes, no matter how much I let my work slip, but it would have fallen below my personal standards, and that’s what’s most important. Thus, I figured it best to step down sooner rather than later.

Although I won’t go into too much at the moment, there is one question I’ve seen asked a couple of times, and I wanted to go ahead and address it: Will I continue blogging here about DKs?

I really can’t give a simple “yes” or “no” to that, unfortunately. As long as I play the game I will, of course, be theorycrafting for my own use – figuring out what spec is best, how to gear, and all that jazz. That’s something I couldn’t imagine not doing at this point, and I find it enjoyable anyways. Whether or not I need to say anything publicly all depends…

If whatever individual(s) who takes up my place at EJ is lackluster at the job (inaccurate information and/or slow updating and/or missing essentials, and those sort of faults), then sure, I’ll inevitably blog here so people aren’t left in the dark or, worse yet, misled into playing in a suboptimal manner. If they’re doing an absolutely abysmal job that I just can’t stand idle knowing I could do better, then I might do new guides, although it would be a different format (starting from scratch… oh the possibilities there would be!), and it would probably be located here, not there. I’m not saying “suck, and I’ll return!”, but if there is one thing I can’t stand is watching someone (for lack of a more polite term) suck at something, and causing others to suffer, while knowing I could do far better.

If there’s a particularly interesting change to the class or to the game, then yeah, I’ll almost certainly blog about it. After all, I am still playing the game, so if I find something particularly thought-provoking, I’m sure I would love to ramble about it.

If someone really, really wants my two cents on a subject (and if the subject is deep enough for me to write an entry about), and they email/tweet/comment here about it, then I might come out of the woodwork and talk a bit. Who knows!

If there’s interest, I might do some write ups on RIFT. I am playing it (although, to be clear, that fact has absolutely nothing to do with my EJ decision or current feelings about WoW), and there’s no limit to the number of topics I could discuss in regards to the game. It’s just a matter of whether anyone here would be interesting in reading such talk, and whether the game ends up lasting.

So, yes, I suppose I will still be blogging about DKs. The real question is how much and how often, and that is what depends on those three above factors. Time will tell, as it always does.

Anyways, I tried to keep this short, but I do want to take a quick second (as opposed to a slow second?) to thank everyone for their gratitude and such posted here and elsewhere. It truly is appreciated.

Musings – End Game

It’s been about a month since I’ve done a blog entry, and although I’ve been occupied with this and that, I certainly haven’t been that busy. If I had something I really wanted to talk about in that time, I could have found the minutes to jot down my thoughts on the subject, I’m sure. Yet, despite the fact that there’s been plenty of material – a patch, a hotfix, the current raiding scene, and so on – from which I could have easily drawn motivation, I haven’t felt the slightest impulse to tackle any of it.

It hasn’t been a matter of laziness so much as utter disinterest.

As of late, the game has just been terribly bland for me. It’s not that the current content is any better or worse than previous tiers (it has its upsides and it has its downsides), nor that this expansion in general has been any more or less than what was promised or expected. It’s just that, well… it’s precisely that, actually! It’s that the current content and the expansion as a whole haven’t been notably changed from the past. It’s the same formula Blizzard has used for the last six years, and although the formula may be brilliant, and although they may regularly stumble upon improvements to it, it’s still what it’s always been when you come down to it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, in some ways, the game is better than ever. Classes are more balanced (although certainly not close to completely so). Rotations are more dynamic (although still rather simple at the core). Raiding is more open (although have fun if you’re too good for normals but not good enough for hards, especially on 10 man). Fixes are faster (although most could still be avoided in beta/PTR, as always). So on and so forth.

By almost any objective measurement, the game has never been stronger. And, even as I write this, I agree wholeheartedly: The game as a whole is at the best it has ever been over its six year lifespan.

And therein lies the issue; as a whole.

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Dreadblade – Mea Culpa

Ultimately, how much dps we gain or lose by the upcoming patch isn’t terribly important. After all, if it’s too much or too little… it really doesn’t affect us, when you think about it. It won’t change how we play, nor how we gear. It might change one’s odds of getting a raid invite, but the nerf definitely isn’t that drastic as to lead DKs – Frost or Unholy – to being benched for subpar players of now superior classes. Sure, you might have to come up with some quick retorts when joking around with the top dps of your guild when they notice they’re suddenly beating you, but such is life! In general, you’ll continue doing everything exactly the same as you have – minus a thousand or so dps.

The mastery change, however, is rather huge. It can change how we play, and it can change how we gear. Or it can’t. It all depends on just how potent the stat is, and that’s a subject which has received much debate.

There’s dozens and dozens of ways to calculate stat weights, but for the purpose of this post, I’m only going to go through two different methods: the simulator and parse dps. These two aren’t any more or less accurate than the alternatives, they’re simply the easiest for people to comprehend, and the cleanest to show in a blog post format. If so desired, I can go over the other ways one can calculate weights, but it would simply echo the results herein contained. Interesting topic for another day.

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4.0.6 – Quick Thoughts

This week has just been killing me, and I promise some in-depth writing/math this weekend, but to answer some of the questions I’m seeing asked a lot, I figured I would throw up this quick post. I hate making statements without support, but I do promise I’m fully confident of all the following, and simply don’t have the time to get into the “why’s” now, although, as said, Saturday and/or Sunday, it will definitely be done:

  • DW Unholy is undoubtedly dead. No question, and hopefully no explanation needed.
  • DnD is still a fundamental part of our Unholy single target rotation; in fact, it’s a larger dps gain than ever. Mastery and Rage of Rivendare see to it. Speaking of…
  • Unholy mastery is still bad. As bad as it was? No, of course not, but worse than crit/expertise, which is all that matters – it means we’ll avoid it as much as ever. The core issue is the ghoul; if, theoretically, it affected him, or if, theoretically, our ghoul didn’t exist,  the stat would be perfectly desirable. As is, it isn’t… not to mention the DC/RoR nerfs coinciding at the same time don’t really help.
  • Our Frost AoE dps got nerfed, precisely how it needed to be done – with no affect on single target performance. A+.
  • Our 2H Frost single-target dps got a huge buff; enough to make it worth looking into, although I think it should still fall a percent or two behind the other specs… a minor gap, in the scheme of things, but enough for min-maxers to ignore it all the same.
  • Our Unholy AoE dps is more or less unchanged. The new mastery plus Virulence basically balance out the loss of the old mastery and the reduction in ghoul dps.
  • Our Unholy single-target DPS got hit, and rather hard at that. DC nerfed by 10%, SI/DT nerfed by 20%, RoR nerfed by 20%, Unholy Might nerfed by 50%, disease damage nerfed by ~10%, the Magic Suppression nerf, and so on… yeah. The new mastery and the Runic Corruption buff don’t even begin to outweigh all of that. There’s much to be said about this, but I would argue Blizzard slightly overdid it, and will support that position with some maths, as promised, later. Did we need a slight nerf? Yeah, definitely. UM, SI, and DT would have probably been sufficient on their own. The DC and RoR changes on top of it was just unnecessary, and pushes the pendulum of balance to the other end of the spectrum.
  • Magic Suppression 3/3 is essentially a must now… which really, really sucks, since with the RC change, we would actually like a point in RPM. Perhaps it will be worth drawing from IBT, but I’m not certain yet. Whatever else, say hello to 0 choice in our spec once again, beyond that one point floating in t1/2! Would have loved to see the PvE applications of Death’s Advance as well. Alas.

Anyways, off to crash, but just some minor things I wished to address.

4.0.6 – PTR First Glance

The PTR is up for the next balancing (not content) patch. The DK changes, courtesy of Mmo-champion, are as follows:

Blood

  • Blood Strike damage is increased by 12.5% for each of your diseases on the target, up from 10%.
  • Heart Strike now deals 120% weapon damage, up from 100%.
  • Blood Boil base damage increased by 20%, from 297 to 357.
  • Blood Presence now increases armor contribution by 30%, down from 60%.
  • Death Strike now heals for 15% of the damage sustained, down from 25%.
  • Crimson Scourge now has a 5/10% chance to proc from melee attacks on a target infected with your Blood Plague. (Old – 50/100% chance to proc from Plague Strike)
  • Will of the Necropolis no longer regenerates a Blood Rune but makes your next Rune Tap free instead.

Frost

  • Runic Empowerment wording changed to add “successfully” use Death Coil, Frost Strike, or Rune Strike.
  • Rune Strike now deals 180% weapon damage, up from 150%.
  • Might of the Frozen Wastes now also has a 4/8/12% chance to proc from your melee attacks. 15/30/45% chance to proc from auto attacks remain the same.
  • Killing Machine no longer affects Icy Touch.

Unholy

  • Scourge Strike now deals an additional 18% Physical damage done as Shadow Damage for each disease on your target. Up from 12%.
  • Unholy Might now increases your Strength by 5%, down from 10%.
  • Desecration now also affects Necrotic Strikes.

Suffice is to say… wow. Some of these changes are great, some are horrible. Some are justified, some less so. There is a lot here to take in for all three specs, although it’s obvious this is only the tip of the iceberg (as evinced most clearly by the lack of any sort of Howling Blast tweak, Unholy mastery change, and so forth). Unfortunately, this came out at a bad time of day for me, and I have to leave for work shortly, so I can only offer my initial thoughts and commentary to it all; math and more in-depth analysis will come later, of course!

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Guide(s) – Other Forums?

The last two things I wanted to get done for Elitist Jerks before Tuesday – more stratified stat weights and the FAQ – are all but finished, and will be thrown up before the end of the evening, most likely. Once those are complete (on top of a couple other minor odds and ends, such as discussing DW verse 2H for each spec, which I’ll also knock out), the guides should be in a very strong place for Cataclysm and likely won’t need any factual work done for months. Obviously if there’s anything you believe to be inaccurate, lacking, or otherwise missing, I’m always open to feedback, but I can’t think of much else the two could use without going overly in-depth into a particularly complicated area or a particularly simple one… that’s probably the most difficult aspect of threads such as those: balancing between giving detailed enough information without being overly detailed and balancing between explaining without handholding. Fall too far either which way, and there’s bound to be issues.

At any rate, to the matter at hand: I’ve been wondering if anyone would see any value or benefit in me making one or two guides for the official forums and/or mmo-champion forums. These wouldn’t merely be truncated versions of my EJ ones, but done from scratch entirely, and although it would inevitably contain much of the same information, it would skew more towards that “explaining” end of the spectrum, whereas EJ already leans slight more to the “details” side, and likely could afford to go a bit farther down that route, especially if I did this.

There would be several benefits to be gained: reaching a wider audience (not just on the posted locations, but it would also likely draw more people to the threads on EJ, or even here), helping those who probably need it most (let’s be honest, the sort of person who visits the official forums but isn’t familiar with EJ likely is newer and less knowledgeble of the game), making the official DK forums a somewhat more intelligent place (not that I’m deluded enough to think it would stop even half the stupid threads there, even if it prevented one a week, that’s something), and so on.

To be clear, I’m not asking if any of you readers would use such a thing. Odds are, if you’re here, you’re familiar with EJ and not the sort who needs this sort of thing anyways, although you might still be interested in why certain things are as they are and what have you. I’m asking if you think it would be a good idea, in general, for the DK community and player-base.

I’m very interested in feedback on this subject, so if you wouldn’t mind spending a couple seconds voting and/or commenting, I would be quite grateful! I have mixed feelings, myself, and can’t quite make up my mind.