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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Meta-Gems – Some Confirmation

Ever since they changed the requirements of Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond a couple beta builds ago, there’s been a lot of debate among the various dps specs/classes as to whether it’s worth bothering to use. In particular, I saw that Hamlet and Binkenstein (moonkin and elemental shaman geniuses, respectively) recently declared the meta – red gem sacrifices and all – to be worth using for their own classes.

To clear up the matter for Death Knights:

  • Unholy will never use it, unless your gear set up somehow has less than ~5 gem sockets total, assuming a random distribution of colors/bonuses. Even in an unrealistic set-up with nothing but a dozen blue sockets, unless at least half of those blue sockets give a strength bonus, you still wouldn’t bother with CSD! Questing or raiding gear, Chaotic is out.
  • Frost DW and Frost 2H won’t use it, unless their gear has less than ~9 gem sockets total, assuming a random distribution of colors/bonuses. Basically, you’ll use it when you first hit 85, but ditch it once the majority of your gear is from heroics (or better).

That’s all.

All three specs will likely end up using Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond; yeah, the 1% spell reflect is worthless, but you don’t have to sacrifice any strength via orange/purple gems to activate it, which is the real charm of the meta. The only real alternatives are Enigmatic Shadowspirit Diamond and Impassive Shadowspirit Diamond; if you happen to be socketing at least one orange and one purple anyways, you may as well proceed to use either of those two; or if any raid fights happen to utilize snares/fears, then of course the respective gem would pull ahead and be worth the sacrifice.

One may wonder why I don’t point out Fleet Shadowspirit Diamond as a possibility for Frost DW; although it depends on the specific socket bonuses available to your individual set of gear, generally speaking it’s a smaller sacrifice to pick up run speed from your boot enchant then it is from the meta, even considering the passive bonus a mastery meta has over a crit meta.

Anyways, just one of several little matters to clear up before 85!

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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Before Cata – To Be Done

I have no clue how to begin going about apologizing for my recent lack of blogging! I don’t know what’s been up with me, but I’ve been completely lethargic when it comes to writing; and for that, all I can say is sorry.

Of course, it doesn’t help that there hasn’t been much of anything to talk about. I mean, I can sum up the last couple week’s worth of changes in just a few sentences: The Unholy Might nerf is a straight up dps hit, of course, but not all that significant of one, and Strength should still trump Haste at the start of 85. The Mastery buff is free dps for Unholy, not quite covering for the aforementioned nerf, and it still leaves the rating as the worst secondary stat available to the spec. The change to Chaotic Skyflare’s requirement is just utterly bizzare, and whether it’s worth bothering to meet (as opposed to the alternatives of  using Enigmatic for Unholy or Fleeting for Frost) remains to be seen.

And… that’s pretty much it. Nothing else has happened for DK dps in some time!

Which isn’t to say we still need many changes at this point. There are a couple of bugs, which I’m sure will be fixed shortly, but aside from that? Unholy is in an excellent place. Stat balance could be closer, Virulence/Epidemic could be better, the Gargoyle could not be so weak, and our Ghoul could scale with crit… but overall, the spec has shaped up very nicely, and obviously things will never be perfect, especially since perfection is all in the eye of the beholder! Frost isn’t quite as well off; Runic Empowerment is Runic Empowerment, the AoE rotation is all sorts of messed up, Tier 1/2 are rather lackluster, DW is GCD capped, and so on, but the spec is perfectly functional, and I’m sure there are some who will love and thrive on the chaotic style of the tree.

All in all, though, things are wrapping up, and I wouldn’t expect any earth shattering (get it?) changes for us between now and the actual expansion.

Thus with the likely lack of any real upheaval for the class, there’s a variety of pre-Cataclysm odds and ends I would like to attend to before December 7th, and I figured I would share. Some of these will be actual blog topics while others will be modifications to the EJ guides; hopefully all of it will be of an interest, and should be enough to keep myself busy (and, thus, keep all of you pleased!). If there’s any suggestions for anything else you would like to see before launch day, feel free to suggest it, and I will happily consider it. After then… well, I would expect things to be busy enough that the topics will all but write themselves!

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