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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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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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:

Frost

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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Eloquence – Forget It

I was originally typing something up on GC’s first blue post of the day concerning Runic Empowerment and GCD capping. Long analysis short, his post was excellent except for the line where he (once again) falsely attributed our GCD problems to haste rating (despite math/simulations showing the opposite and despite it easily being experienced by anyone on beta that even with 0% haste we’re locked).

Unfortunately, I never completed that response because then he made a new post where he basically said that we only get global capped when we get procs (which is true),  and that’s ok because it only happens some of the time not all the time (which is only somewhat misleading). You see, his logic is faulty – yes, where RNG is involved you can’t use absolutes. That’s a fact of life. Sometimes we’ll get lucky on procs and get way overcapped. Sometimes we’ll get unlucky and sit for a few seconds twiddling our toes (much more fun then twiddling one’s thumbs, I assure you). Neither situation is the norm, however. Over time, on average, we will get a sufficient amount of procs to use all of our available globals and then some. Period. Extreme situations, such as those mentioned above, don’t skey things much one way or the other over the long run. Kahorie ran some numbers a week or two back using his sim, and was able to show us using 98% of our total GCDs. That’s pretty much as capped as you can be when RNG is involved!. Saying that if you ignore procs you’re not limited, and procs are rng, thus you’re fine because sometimes they won’t happen, is just nonsensical. The vast majority of the time they will happen more than enough for us to cap ourselves.

Anyways, my second entry was much more thorough, but then I had to scrap that one too!

Why?

A new beta build has been uncovered, and with it a change which negates half of the above discussion to pointlessness:

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The Latest – The Greatest

Consider this my typical post-patch commentary. It’s been delayed a couple of days, but that’s because I’ve been busy actually playing the beta – a lot of these changes need to be experienced to be properly appreciated.

Suffice is to say, this last patch was great, and probably the best (for Unholy) since the start of beta.

Where to begin!

Unholy DW is, essentially, dead, or nerfed enough to not be a threat to 2H Unholy for the foreseeable future (meaning up to 85 in blues; who knows beyond that with raid itemization yet known). The loss of Necrosis hits dual-wielding incredibly hard – much moreso than the removal of Dirge did. Remember, Unholy damage can essentially be split into four categories: pet damage, yellow spell damage, yellow strike damage, and white auto-attack damage. The first two are, for the most part, weapon independent (SD’s impact aside). The third category grossly favors two-handers, of course, and the fourth category leans heavily towards dual-wielding. Necrosis was a huge boost to that last slice of the pie, and with it now gone (on top of the introduction of Runic Corruption), the pendulum of balance shifts back where it belongs. I would still like to see Sudden Doom changed to a proc-per-minute system or some such thing, which would safely guarantee Unholy DW dead for the remainder of the expansion, but for now, the loss of Necrosis does enough. One monkey off the class’s back!

Runic Corruption is amazing. No, it doesn’t help our GCD problems (which are as bad as ever), unfortunately. In fact, it makes them worse when you factor in the runic power cost reduction aspect of the talent! But aside from that (which is an issue I’ll go into later on in this entry), it’s perfect. It’s what Runic Empowerment should have been! The proc, over time, simply gives you additional Scourge Strikes and Festering Strikes (thus also giving more Death Coils, meaning more Runic Corruption procs, meaning more Scourge Strikes and Festering Strikes, meaning more Death Coils… so on and so forth!) by giving you a burst in rune regeneration. What makes it so superior to RE is one essential fact: it affects all three runes at once in an equal proportion. This means no messing with double-rune strikes and/or promoting PS/IT usage. This means no rune desynching or death rune desynching (the latter being the more real problem).  This means the proc is pure bonus and no drawback, which is what a proc should be! You should want to use it when it happens, and not question if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re just going to mess yourself up in the long run. You should want to use the abilities the proc makes available, and not put spells on your bars which do laughable damage and which you wouldn’t ever remotely contemplate anyways. Runic Corruption is perfect, and if there’s one thing Blood and Frost needs, it’s something along the same lines – not necessarily the exact same talent (although it would work great), but something which solves the same problems and has the same lack of drawback.

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Runic Empowerment – GC’s Words

Just a head’s up, I do read blue posts as soon as I can! Although I certainly appreciate the thought, there’s really no need for me to get dozens of messages via Twitter/Email/Forum PM whenever a DK-related one is thrown up! If I haven’t yet said anything about it, that just means I’m not home yet or otherwise not yet in a position to comment. Generally the first. Like I said, thank you, but just not necessary.

Anyways, for reference, the blue post in question today:

To begin with, let’s just go ahead and ignore the first paragraph. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with it (although there kinda is; more on that later)… it’s just stuff we already know either because of official comments in the past or plain common sense. Yes, obviously Runic Empowerment is intended to mix up our rotations. Yes, obviously if Runic Empowerment didn’t exist (and nothing was there in it’s place), Rime and Sudden Doom on their own would be insufficient to keep us on our toes. Yes some people dislike random mechanics because they make things more difficult.

Yes, yes, yes. We knew all of this (and I, personally, would agree with it all).

Thus, moving onwards.

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Change – Believe In It

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.

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