DK’s and Cataclysm’s Talent Trees

April 12, 2010

With the upcoming changes in Cataclysm, the single biggest strike to the DK class is the removal of our versatility in our specs. No longer will every spec be viable for tanking (yes, even Unholy is, sort of, now), with Blood being our tanking spec, Frost our physical DPS spec, and Unholy being a primarily spell/disease based DPS class. What should not be confused here is the presence of the death knight. Tanking will now be limited to the blood spec, but will be performed in the frost presence. The change is necessitated by Cataclysm’s major change to the talent structure – the “required” talents will now be factored into a tree, with each particular talent depending on how deep you spec into a tree. This is forcing the DK class away from offering what are essentially 6 trees, and consolidating into three. According to Blizzard, the advent of dual-class characters has removed the necessity of offering the ability to both tank and DPS in a single spec, and to a certain extent, this is correct.

It is my belief that the changes in Cataclysm are another attempt to open the game to those with less time or ability. By eliminating the cookie cutter specs that seem to prevail in other classes, the plan is to open up more “fun” abilities and allow the players to choose what are essentially cosmetic changes; work on balancing classes will become much easier, as there will, in essence, be only 3 types of each class to balance around. This also makes it easier on the player, but not necessarily as fun – part of the challenge of WoW has been to craft a spec around your play style, or vice versa. This, however, will be a major blow to the DK class – one of our strengths has been our versatility – despite the reputation of the class fostered by hordes of former huntards who decided they wanted to tank too.

So the question I ask is, “Why blood for tanking?” Well, a number of talents offered increased healing ability, and some damage mitigation. However, to me it seems that frost was the “tank spec” of choice. Talents such as unbreakable armor fall into frost, and frost presence will be required for tanking. With the DK lacking a shield, and the ability to prevent a percentage of damage simply by equipping a shield, DK tanks have relied on other forms of mitigation. Dodge and parry are the commonly mentioned stats, but there is another form of damage mitigation that can be essential to a DK: slowing the pace of the enemy. The slowing aspects (“anti-haste” if you will) of a DK sit firmly in the DK tree – and if it takes the boss longer to swing his axe/tail/claw, the less often you will be hit – and the less damage done, live firmly in frost. This means that the tank might not require a mage’s frostbolt. Given the overhaul, it would be reasonable to move some of the talents from the blood tree to frost, hopefully it will allow the class to shake the image it’s had in regards to tanking ever since patch 3.2.


Suffer Well: DPS vs Tank – Know What/What Not to Use

January 30, 2010

Welcome to Suffer Well, a column I’ll be penning approximately monthly.  In this series, we’ll be dealing with topics for new Death Knights.  To those of you with characters at 80, I apologize in advance; I’m assuming no knowledge of certain mechanics in WoW.  I’ve seen many a DK come in and do some things out of ignorance, not stupidity.  (Ignorance can be fixed, stupid is forever.)  Now, Stand at Attention you worthless resurrected ape…

In this column, I want to look at the difference between Tanking and DPSing, not only how the play styles are different for DK’s, but why some folks very capable during solo questing have problems in group settings.  The roles of a tank and DPS are, of course, different; and they require that a different set of abilities be used.  Through the course of this series, and the evolution of WoW, I’ll attempt to cover each of these more in detail, but let’s start off with some knowledge of what basic abilities should be used when.

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The “Other” Voice

January 21, 2010

Welcome to all.  I’m Rustbeard, better known as the poor dwarf hunter on Little Blue Dog.  I am, however, in the process of leveling my 2nd Death Knight, named Blackrune.

As Blackrune has recently dinged 70, I’m in the process of dual-speccing him, with the intent of tanking instances – which ought to be a change from the heroics everyone’s running.  So, stick around – I’ll be disucssing the Death Knight’s changing role both in tanking and DPS: from our uber-nerf in Icecrown through our place both in lore and in groups in Cataclysm.  This ought to be an interesting ride.