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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Presumption – DKs Are Done

Edit: Since there was some confusion in comments, to be clear, this is just a “what if we really are done” sort of post, hence the added emphasis to assume. It’s not me actually thinking we are or losing confidence in Blizzard. I still believe we’ll be just fine in due time and that there’s no cause for worry but, if I turn out to be wrong and this is it, then this post is basically my sentiments on the matter.

Let’s just go ahead and assume that, yes, Death Knights are essentially finished in the eyes of the developers. Sure, they’re all but guaranteed to pass through our trees at least once more to eliminate or otherwise condense talents such as Improved Icy Touch and Virulence but, at this point, such talents aren’t even our largest, more demanding issues. And, yes, of course they’re certain to do a number tweak patch (consisting of more than a 5% nerf to Blood Strike) at some point between now and the end of beta. Then… nothing.

So, let us say that’s it – and what indications (few and far between they may be) we’ve received would say that, yeah, that is it!

That means we would go live with Runic Empowerment as is, with the Frost Presence/Unholy Presence discrepency as is, the AoE rotations (if one can call it that) as is, the contradictory nature of DRM and the Blood Mastery as is, and so on.

What would that mean for us?

It wouldn’t mean our dps/tps/survivability would be behind. That’s a number issue, and is thus independent of everything else. Yes, our dps might end up being too low (or too high) regardless, but it won’t be because of any thing else but the number pass itself. Think of it this way: you could have a rotation which consisted of nothing but spamming Blood Boil every single GCD, and although that would be horrible in a million different ways, the numbers could still be just fine, potentially.

It wouldn’t mean our class would be unplayable. Mechanically, we function. Some things aren’t very user intuitive (AoE rotation for Frost/Unholy? Runic Empowerment?) or convenient (Tank CDs costing runes?), but that doesn’t mean that, at the end of the day, we couldn’t do our job. Of course we could – it just hearkens back to the numbers.

It wouldn’t mean that the class would be ruined for life. Of all classes, we know how much can change patch-to-patch. Just look at all the different stages Unholy DPS has gone through during Wrath: 0/32/39, Blood Subspec, Obliterate, 10-second Epidemicless, Reapingless variants, Frost Subspec, and so on. A patch can change a ton, so even if Cataclysm were to go live with us being in a less-than-desirable shape, there’s nothing to say 4.1 couldn’t turn it all around in a complete one-eighty.

But, obviously, there are some very real implications to us being “finished” as is, otherwise we wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of it. The question is, what are those actual consequences?

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New Abilities – Why Not Steal

This week has been quite uneventful, to say the least! No new beta build. No Death Knight related blue posts (although ones for every other class!). Nothing promising from the multiple interviews coming out of Gamescon (“No further major class changes are planned for the beta. From here out it will be primarily tuning,” for example, can’t be good for us, although what is tuning and what’s a major change is a matter of opinion/semantics, I suppose). And then, on a personal level, I’m still dealing with my new computer, not to mention I’ve been totally caught up in another project, which has made my posting quite sparse.

But, hey, such is life. Simply have to think positive!

A new beta build is almost guaranteed to hit this coming week (and it should contain Archaeology, of all things). DK-related blue posts will happen at some point in the future, certainly. Even if nothing “major” is planned for any class, it’s rather unarguable that we’re in destined for many “tweaks” and general “tuning”. On the personal level, my new computer should be finished which means I’ll be able to stream/fraps regularly (current comp just can’t handle it, not with fluent play at any decent level of quality).

Things shall turn around, but in the meantime, there’s not much for us to talk about which hasn’t already been discussed to death over the past two months or so that we’ve gone without any serious solutions to our issues – I mean, the beta DK thread is currently debating runeforges, of all things!

So why not have some fun?

Let’s be honest – we didn’t get the most exciting new abilities for Cataclysm. Outbreak doesn’t do anything we can’t already do with existing spells; and it’s not even strong enough to replace that which we already have. Necrotic Strike is a bit on the different side, but it’s only of any real use in one aspect of the game, and even there, it’s going to wreck havoc on our playstyle with it’s single Unholy rune cost, not to mention healing absorbption won’t terribly differ from the equivalent damage in most cases. Dark Simulacrum is actually unique and pretty cool, so no complaints there. One for three, however, isn’t the greatest track record. And this is on top of the fact that we didn’t get any new talented abilities either (Pillar of Frost being little more than a renamed Unbreakable Armor).

Although it’s looking less and less realistic by the day, what if Blizzard decided we really could use something unique and, just maybe, useful, too?

Now, obviously the sky’s the limit when trying to come up with new abilities. For every possible problem, there’s a hundred ways to address it, and for each way to address it, there’s then a hundred different variations as far as the specifics go. Thus, sometimes, it’s best not to come up with something new for to the game, but rather new to the player. In other words, steal NPC abilities and adapt them to fill a current hole in our arsenal.

It’s been done many times before, with Mage’s Flame Orb being one of the most recent and most recognizable instances of such a deed, so why not us?

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