Warlords Beta: Blood DK Changes (an initial view)

So I was very lucky to have been gifted a WoD beta key this week, thanks to a generous guildie, and as such I’ve spent a little time over the last few days fiddling around with the Blood Death Knight.

I’m not one for devouring actual content in a beta – I certainly didn’t do it during the MoP one – but I do like to try and see how classes are performing and what, if anything, has changed so as to impact how I feel about them.

Most important to me in WoD, of course, is the Blood Death Knight – the class I’ve played exclusively as a main since mid-Cataclysm (it was always my main-main since mid-Wrath, but I dabbled as a Tank/Healing Paladin for the first bit of Cataclsym).

So, now I’m in beta and able to see what changes are there, as well as what’s documented on sites like WoWHead, we can have a little overview of everything and how it impacts the class I’m aiming to continue to play.


 

Initial experience

No Rune Strike, no Blood Boil, no Raise Dead, no Heart Strike. Ability pruning has hit the DK hard. Instead you will:

  • Use Pestilence to spread diseases, and cleave groups of enemies
  • Use Death Coil to dump Runic Power
  • Death Strike seems to be under-resourced half the time so isn’t available anywhere near as much as it currently is in MoP

This all became surprisingly easy to adapt to.  Having two ranged attacks (Icy Touch and Death Coil) makes pulling a little nicer, although neither of them deal significant enough punch to out do a DPS critting on their opener.


 

Roundup of other Blood DK Changes

Mastery! Blood DKs now have a raid-wide buff other than Horn of Winter’s attack power buff, thanks to Power of the Grave. Not that with 20-man Mythic raids we should be missing any buffs, but it’s nice not to feel so noncontributory.

Army of the Dead is now Blood spec only (yay!) but doesn’t offer any damage reduction during casting (boo!).

Dark Command is now Blood spec only. I’m indifferent to this, but if we had a DPS DK who need to off-taunt anything (doubtful but ya never know) it’d require a Death Grip. But, not a big deal at all.

Improved Blood Presence means when you’re in Blood Presence, damage dealt is increased by 20%. Tasty!

Death Strike now only offers a 30% damage reduction shield, compared to 50% in MoP. It increases your attack power by 8% (which it currently doesn’t), but that’s still a hefty nerf.

Rune Tap now adds an absorb, rather than a chunk of HP. This would explain its appearance to be mediocre.

So that’s a very rough overview of incoming changes. I’m not 100% sure what I think of much of them, but for now the playstyle of Blood DK seems different but acceptable. I’m happy to continue on, which is more than can be said for some others (namely poor Disc Priests).

Reconnecting

I’ve been quiet the last few months. So quiet I even had one lovely twitter friend message me to see if I was still alive. I am, I’ve just been dodging curve balls thrown by life, and also ones I’ve thrown myself which have rebounded. Ive caught some and been bowled over by others.

I’m not in Harvest Moon anymore.  In fact Harvest Moon as a guild doesn’t exist; the guild is still there, with many of the same people, but it’s been renamed, has new leadership, and moved on without me. I got to the point of finally deciding if it gets to the stage where I’m thinking about leaving a guild I started and built, then perhaps I don’t deserve it anymore.

I achieved what I’d wanted with Harvest Moon; shown a limited-hours-a-week guild could progress, and build a decent guild on a very quiet server.

But in the end, the friendships I’d thought were there had changed or just weren’t what I thought they were. That’s fine; everyone has their own lives to live – including me.

So I’ve moved servers and joined a new guild and raid team where I can take very much of a back seat, relax and try and make sense of what I want from this game.

That’s where things get interesting, of course.

With Warlords of Draenor threatening to be so interesting I may pop, and with my own interests changing with the shadows, I’m still of infinite minds as to what I’ll do raid-wise. Obviously it’s a wider discussion to have with my team leaders, and make sure any decision I make suits us all.  Will I keep tanking? Or go easy-mode and play a ranged DPS? (shhh DPS, I’m – mostly – kidding!)

All I know is: I’ll enjoy WoD, I’ll find my place again, and in the meantime keep poking things to see if they squeak.

Looking to 5.4 and back at 5.3/5.2

So – 5.4, whereupon we go and kick Garrosh Hellscream in his huge orange nads, is due to hit servers on September 10/11, depending on you being US/EU-side. I don’t know about anyone else, but for me it’s high time to be getting my teeth into something new.

5.2, with its ISLAND FULL OF THUNDER and the huge Thunder King raid and dailies and Jaina being all shitty, was pretty nifty. The raid is gorgeous, the encounters amazing (for the most part), and the dailies… well. I actually did some. YEAH I KNOW.  5.3… Umm. What was in 5.3 again?

Oh yeah. TROLLAGEDDON! Everyone – EVERYone – is helping the Trolls prepare to kick the arse of Hellscream. Even those of us on the Alliance. Because Blizzard loves the Trolls SO HARD they think we all should 1) help them in their endeavours to overthrow the Big Orange Bastid, and 2) love Troll stuff in EVERY SINGLE PATCH.

Seriously… enough Trolls. Please.

For me, it’s been a decent month. We finally cleared Throne of Thunder on normal modes, and this past week even managed a heroic Jin-Rokh kill. Yes, we’re officially (albeit barely-technically) a heroic-mode guild now. We should have been 2.5 months ago, but – as Chris Metzen is want to say – whatever-whatever.

And so, it’s come to looking towards the next raid and content patch – 5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar.

 

Looks exciting, no?

The final patch of the expansion – or the final raid patch, at any rate – will be a make or break for Mists of Pandaria in my eyes.  The raid itself needs to be epic, but also have a story which evolves into something satisfying for both sides of the Red/Blue divide.

There’s no doubt that the Alliance have been relatively shafted with decent story – or favourable ones at that – for the last 3 years. Cataclysm was ALL THRALL, ALL THE TIME and MoP has so far been all leading up to Garrosh being the (much-maligned) centrepiece. I’m sure, though, that Blizzard will provide a conclusion to the patch that Alliance can be proud of.

It’ll probably involve Trolls, though.

Catching Up – Where has 10 months gone?

So the last time I wrote here, we were preparing for Mists of Pandaria after the long, long wait through the final 12 months of Cataclysm. Can you remember Cataclsym? I barely can. I remember the excitement of MoP on the horizon though – that feeling of something new just beyond our reach (although dabbled with, by me, in the beta). Mists was going to amazing! It was going to be a complete breath of fresh air after the initially-great-but-soon-rather-rinse-and-repeat expansion that was Cataclysm.

Yeah.

As it happens, it did turn out nicely. The zones were beautiful; the quests interesting (if, you know, you’re into quests); pet battles became This Huge Thing quite quickly. Even the Tillers proved interesting to many people as they worked to unlock the extra plots on their farm.

I took it slowly, as far as dailies and rep grinds went. It was weeks before I even considered working on faction rep with our new Pandarian allies. As it was, I began hearing of the Golden Lotus dailies. How they were… ooft. And you had to do so many of them before you could open up the next two factions.

But that’s all by-the-by. We’re into 5.3 now, with 5.4 breathing down our neck, and the game is in that mid-expansion weird bit. Things are no longer fresh, and even with what promises to be an OMG FREAKIN’ HUGE patch coming in 5.4, many people are focussing on what’s next…

At this stage, I’m happy to still be working my way through the game. The guild is going better than ever; our raid team stronger than ever. We still have some issues to iron out but at this stage of the expansion’s life, those issues – quiet nights, tired players – are common.

So much has happened in the last 10 months, though. Things I’ll write about in due course. Many opinions have been forged; friendships made; battles won, and battles which almost broke me. In due course.

But as we get closer to 5.4 and 6.0… remember: slow down.

A final look back at Cataclysm, and forward to Pandaland

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. An expansion that showed so much promise but which, eventually, would become something of a disappointment even to devoted fanboys.

Cataclysm was the first expansion I got to experience from Day 1. The changes it brought were, at first, something to get used – including the (now seemingly) minor change to the talent trees and spell abilities. The revamped 1-60 content, and being able to fricken’ FLY in Azeroth, was amazingly-well done and much-needed.

And that first tier – the new, hard heroic-mode dungeons; the 3-dungeon raids; the whole race to world and server first that I was able to follow was brilliant. Seeing the realm-first achievements popping up, and throwing a random strange a ‘GRATS!!’ really seemed to give the entire thing a huge buzz.

Trollolol
Then, we waited for the next content patch. And it had 2 dungeons, and no extra raid. And the sense of disapointment was astounding. I wasn’t even PROPERLY raiding at this point. I found the trollroics difficult but, in time, fun to run – but it was hardly enough to last us through to 4.2.

Firelands
The Firelands patch was much-anticipated. Not only a new raid tier, but a whole slew of new dailies which opened up gradually, revealing more story as you progressed. Sounds fun, don’t it? And it definitely sounded fun when pitched to us, but getting into it and finding out what a charmless grind it was… ugh. I still haven’t opened the second tier yet on my main. It was ruthless.

And the raid, by all accounts at the time (my guild at the time were still chipping away at T11 normal modes) was difficult, painful at times, and… red. Ragnaros not only wiped many raids, but also seemed to have killed a number of guilds through the sheer difficulty.

Dragon Soul
By the time DS came out, we knew we’d be having Pandaren in the next expansion; this was the end tier, and it needed to carry Cataclysm out with a bang. Instead… it whimpered.

The new 5-mans were fun, fast, and full of story (however subtle, and missed by some). The raid, now available to everyone via LFR, was OK. It had the amazing Spine of Deathwing encounter (another guild breaker), the fun BUTTON OF DOOM Ultraxion fight (“JUST PRESS THE FUCKING BUTTON”), and the platform-oops-you-fell fun of Madness. But it was all a bit… meh.

I enjoyed Cataclysm. But I didn’t love it. I loved Wrath – the entire continent to explore, the gorgeous art throughout – but Cataclysm was like little weekend getaways to various zones that are just next to ones you go to all the time. It lacked the sense of adventure and travel that Northrend and Outland gave.

The renewed 1-60 content is great, but unless you want to level alts for a living then there’s not much to offer. And, with the general lack of end-game – especially for non-raiders – there wasn’t much else to do than level alts or unsubscribe. Guess what many people chose to do?

Tonight, we get Mists of Pandaria.

It’s needed. It’s wanted. And it looks gorgeous. This will be the make-or-break of WoW for many players. The game needs to have substantial end-game, or replayability, to retain people in the long run. We’ll soon see if this will offer it (personally, I think it will, but then I’m unlike the majority of players it seems).

I’m going to be diving into it, wringing as much as I can out of it.

The differences for me, on a personal level, are that:

1. I am in the guild I always dreamed of being in
2. The scenery in MoP is breathtaking
3. There just seems to be so much to do: raiding, 5-mans, challenge modes, scenarios, farms, pet battles, OH MY.

This blog will hopefully be updated a little more regularly now that I’m not just spinning my wheels in WoW. If I get time to post — I’m off to adventure through Pandaland, dontchaknow?

MoP Planning #2: Embracing The Adventure

I’m a man of two minds. There is the half of me which admires and strives for accomplishment, regardless of obstacles (real or imagined), and the other that yearns for adventure, be it in the real world or through my imagination.

My two favourite memories from my childhood are winning the ‘Junior Boys All Strokes’ swimming competition at my school (despite not knowing I was in contention for it – I just liked swimming and winning), and the other was me, 8 years old, laying on the back stairs of our family home at the time, in a sunbeam, listening to bees buzz amongst the flowered-vines that lined the walls while I day dreamed.

I approach WoW with two minds, as well. There’s half of me what yearns to build a strong raid team, or accomplish the things I’ve wanted for so long (un-nerfed kills! overcoming difficulty through sheer determination and pig-headedness). The other half has me wanting to take things slowly, to take in the world of Pandaria, to find the little nooks of adventure that others race past on their way to the end-game.

To do both, I don’t necessarily need to sacrifice one in the short term to accomplish the other, but sometimes it feels like it. Doing the first requires some commitment, discipline, and bringing together others to all work towards these goals as a team. The other allows me to just fart-arse about however and whenever I please. I like fart-arseing about.

Is it possible, though, to be balanced with both without necessarily being behind the curve? I’m not going to be pushing the limits of either, but nor do I want to be leaning against the back wall.

In my last post, I covered how my experience in Cataclsym was spread across multiple characters, leaving me to linger too long in the mid-field without really accomplishing anything. I don’t want to make the same mistake in Mists.

While I do have plans to level up a few non-main toons, Reliq will be my focus. And he is a mighty adventurer (even if he does trip over things and fall to his death far too often). It will be his boots which are first muddied by the misted shores of Pandaria, the wind in his hair and soy sauce in his epic beard.

I honestly can not wait until those first moments of stepping into the game and seeing the world anew (albeit covered by hundreds of other players stealing your quest items).

Perhaps I’ll spend the first few days just driving around, as I have done in the beta, to see the world as launch day presents it to us.

I will imagine the sun on my char’s neck, the sense of adventure tingling his skin, the weight of the weapon on his back, and go forth to his inevitable death!

To Pandaria!

MoP Planning #1: Concept of a ‘Main’

When Cataclysm launched, I put my then-main Reliq, a Blood/Unholy Death Knight, to the side and instead focussed on levelling and gearing Baym, my Holy/Protection Paladin. My thoughts were that the guild I was in would benefit from having a healer/tank all set to go when we inevitably began raiding soon after launch.

As it was, the officers decided at launch, or soon after, that raiding would be on the back burner for some time to allow the guild’s members to focus on enjoying the content. By then, I was already set on Baym being my first level 85, and so he would be – and would remain my main focus in the expansion for the first 3 months or so, leaving Reliq to inch his way to 85 whenever I fancied a break.

I moved on to play my shadow priest, Aotearoa, around this time as a break from PVE, and got half-decent on her as a PVP mind-melter. Good fun. But in due course, my attention was being dragged back to what was, in my heart, my first love: my death knight, Reliq.

He is the toon people know me by. It’s the name I use on Twitter, everyone who knows me in-game refers to me as “Rel”, and if you shouted the name out in the street I’d respond (although probably keep walking, because humans confuse me).

So, finally, about 6 months into Cataclysm I took to playing Reliq properly. I’ve levelled and geared other characters in the last 12 months or so, but Reliq has always been the main priority, especially since branching out earlier this year and starting my own guild and raid team. Reliq is our main tank, with only occasional-appearances by other toons (usually my shaman Pakeha), but I now have a definite main.

The crux of the matter, and reason behind this post, though, is my feeling of lost time from Cataclsym; I spent so much time faffing about, that my experience of this past expansion seems fractured due to not having a focus at the start.

I don’t intend on making that mistake in Mists of Pandaria.

While I do intend of levelling each tanking class to max, and getting them geared enough to raid (in time), my main focus will be Reliq. He is the one I will run challenge modes and scenarios on. He is the one who will have his own farm and work on his Tiller reputation. He is the one with the raid achievements first, and priority for everything else.

MoP looks to be an exhaustingly-exciting expansion, based on what we’ve seen coming for end-game content, especially the non-raiding content.

Mists of Pandaria Cinematic – Favourite Shots

Thoughts on a Blood Death Knight talent build in Mists of Pandaria

I haven’t had a chance to delve too deeply into the Blood DK changes for MoP as yet, but by all accounts they’re minimal (compared to the changes other classes are), but I thought I would at least look at the upcoming talents now we’re getting close to 5.0.4 landing, with the hope that the system as it is now on the beta/PTR is final.

As you all know, the talent trees have seen a complete revamp, with the ‘must have’ talents now being given to you automatically when you choose your spec, with others being selectable from 3 per ‘tier’. Here is the window as it appears for Death Knights, with the talents I’ve chosen already selected.

Now, these have been chosen with a mix of 5-man and raiding in mind, as that is my general bread and butter. Some talents will be moved around, but for the most part I’m happy with this.

Disclaimer: I am not a theorycrafter. I am interested in my class, and go to decent lengths to be knowledgable about it, but for me it’s all about gameplay, not the stats.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, especially if you have some information to help me choose a better setup, or if I’ve missed the point of a talent altogether.

Level 15
Roiling Blood
Wow. The thought that I could spread my diseases so easily just makes me giddy. I’ve seen this in action in a video, and seeing the black tendrils leaking out to all enemies in a back with a simple Blood Boil (itself already dealing Shadow Damage) is lovely. For AOE tanking, and trash pickups especially, this is ideal.

I can’t see the point of Plague Leech here, and Unholy Blight strikes me as a pure DPS or even PVP ability.

 

Level 30
Anti-Magic Zone
I was tempted to take Lichborne, since it is very useful – especially in 5-mans where your one healer may decide to sit on his hands for a minute, leaving you to fend for yourself. But in a raiding situation, AMZ makes perfect sense to me – and an extra raid wall is always good.

 

Level 45
Death’s Embrace
Moving faster is always a good thing, especially in 5-mans. I was very tempted with Asphyxiate, as a ranged silence is nice and the crowd-control element would be useful, but really your DPS should be taking care of CC IMO.

 

Level 60
Death Pact
Oh my giddy aunt, this is a useful talent. Again, useful for those moments when your healer is picking their arse and leaving you near death: raise a ghoul, then sacrifice it to get a great self-heal. Use Vampiric Touch right before this, and you get healed for even more. Lovely. Death Siphon and Conversion also look very good, but until I get a chance to put them into practice, I’ll be sticking with what I know.

 

Level 75
Runic Empowerment
It’s actually a toss-up between this and Runic Corruption, and I may go with RC if I find my runes – despite depleted ones being regenerated with RE – slow to come back into use. This is a funny tier of talents, as it’s all about those bloody runes, which – to be quite frank – I pay little attention to until I see I’m nearly resource starved. How this will play out in MoP will be interesting. I will say, though, that my limited time in the beta has seen me starved of runes more often than not, but I can’t remember which talent from this tier I’d chosen.

 

Level 90
Gorefiend’s Grasp
Like Roiling Blood, anything which makes everything around you stand up and take notice is a good thing, in my mind. Remorseless Winter is, in my eyes, more a DPS ability to control packs of mobs until the tank can get to them, while Desecrated Ground I see being more useful in PVP, or in fights where there is a mind control or something.

 

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