Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Well I was going to do a number-cruncher post...

...but then Blizzard decided to drop an info-bomb on us in the form of WotLK info.

EDIT: As of 4:10 PM, May 20th, Blizzard has put out new info on Death Knights. I've slightly changed my final analysis of Death Knights because of that.

For original sources and additional pictures check out these posts at MMO-Champion and WoWInsider:
MMO-Champion WotLK preview Part 1
MMO-Champion WotLK preview Part 2
WoWInsider Death Knight preview
Also make sure to check out the awesome trailer that Boubouille put together (at the bottom of both MMO-Champion posts).

I'll pick out the bits which are interesting to me. The first part is entirely Death Knight centric (shocking, I know...)
All players with a level 55 character will be able to create one Death Knight per realm, per account.
Okay, the fact that it started at a lower level than 80 or even 70 is old news to me, but now we have a hard number. Honestly 55 works for me. That gives a player time to play around in the "Old World" before going to Outland and learn a bit about the class.

Though the "one Death Knight per real, per account" thing comes as a bit of a surprise. Not that it changes much for many players, since most people don't play the same class twice, but still. At least this will stop people from making nothing but Death Knights for any alts they want to make after the first DK.

Spent runes automatically refresh after a set period of time, much like a Rogue's energy bar.
This falls into the category of things I expected. Even then, seeing it confirmed is a nice. This also means that, unlike Warriors and Paladins, for tanking Death Knights will not be needing to be punched in the face to effectively generate threat. I'm liking it already.

Death Knights also have a secondary resource called Runic Power generated by using your rune abilities. It will use the same mechanics as rage and increase when you deal damage, or slowly decrease if you're not using it.

Death Knights will have a lot of abilities that cost all available Runic Power with varying levels of effectiveness based on total Runic Power spent. (Same mechanics as Execute for warriors, or finishing moves for Rogues)
This one was unexpected, but not altogether unwelcome. Based upon this and later information this is merely fuel for an ability to be powerful or not, and not something used to power the ability itself. For example, it's like a Rogue's finishing moves. You still need energy (the runes) to use the ability, but the combo points (Runic Power) decides it's strength. Since this is a power you build up by dealing damage or using rune abilities I would have been worried about our reliance on it for tanking, but it seems to be more for DPSing. Either way, it's just additional fuel instead of the ignition for abilities so I'm not too concerned.

Death Knights will have spells equivalent to auras called "Presence", providing them with powerful self-buffs depending on their role in the group. (One for tanking, one for damage dealing, etc ...)
I'm a bit leery about this one from a tanks perspective. This sounds distinctly like how RF works, as far as buffing yourself, which would mean I would need to rebuff myself after a fight. I hope not. On the other hand, if it's an Aura-like effect hopefully it won't wear off like RF does, which will be a huge step in the right direction.

Also the fact that there is a Presence for DPSing means that Death Knights have more fluidity than Paladins and can more easily swap from a Tank to a DPS role which is a big complaint I have about Paladin tanking. I'm pleased about this bit.

An instant lifedrain spell (described as death coil without the fear component) will be available.
There is no way this will not have a long cooldown. Do not expect drain tanking. While I could be wrong, I really, really doubt it.

Death Knights will be the first class to use diseases as a source of damage, with abilities that become strong depending on how many diseases are already applied to the target.
This one is interesting in a "current class" way. In PvP, against Shaman, Paladins and Priests (or people with those classes on their side) Death Knights will lose a vital ability set. Since Death Knights rely on runes, thus probably can't spam abilities and use mana, rage or energy like other classes, one cleansed Disease can be crippling. This will mean that Death Knights need to be even more cognizant of what other classes they are fighting against than most of the other classes.

(MMO-C)"Army of the Dead" will spawn numerous undead minions to attack nearby hostiles targets.

(WoWI)Army of the Dead: This ability will temporarily summon a small army of Undead that will fight for you. It will apparently be channeled, which makes me think it will be closer to an AE attack like a Druid's Hurricane than an actual pet ability.
At first glance I was thinking of this ability as the Death Knight counterpart to Force of Nature. But the channeling part has me going "WTF?" It's use while Tanking or PvP is completely out. Maybe it will be cool, but I really dislike the Channeling part. We'll see.

(MMO-C)Death Knights will also revive an enemy (or ally) as a ghoul to use it as a pet with its own special abilities like a disease-inflicting strike and a stun.
When an ally is risen as a ghoul, a pop-up will appear and this ally will have the choice to control the ghoul if he wants to.

(MMO-C)Raise Dead -- Raises a nearby corpse to fight for the Death Knight for 2 minutes. If used on a player corpse, the player has the option to play as the ghoul for the duration -- gaining access to the ghoul's abilities.
The ghoul has the ability to do the following:
  • Leap to the target
  • Rend for decent damage-over-time
  • Stun target, and of course more

(WoWI)Raise Dead: This will raise an actual nearby corpse, including one of a fallen ally (even in Arenas) to fight for you as a Ghoul. An ally so resurrected will have the option to control their character as a Ghoul. Ghouls will get abilities to cause diseases, stun, and fear among other things, but it seems like they will be temporary pets all the same - at least, I assume PCs will eventually be allowed to resurrect rather than stay slaves of the Death Knight.
This ability sounds absolutely amazing! It's inevitable that an ally will die in some raid fight or in an Arena. If you don't have a druid, or if you are saving a combat rez for someone more important than a DPSer, you can get them up as a Ghoul where they can assist in the fight once more, even if it's only for a limited time. Plus a number of fights require people moving around, and ordering your pet around is rarely fast enough to remove them from all the danger. By having a player control your "pet", it will make it more useful.

The Death Knight's particular niche will be in tanking magic-damage-dealing bosses. They will have an ability much like a banshee's anti-magic shell, greatly diminishing the amount of incoming magic damage they'll receive in combat.

Anti-magic Shield -- Reduces the damage of the next magical spell cast on the Death Knight by 75%. It also converts the damage reduced into Runic Power.
This is awesome because it really is a much needed niche. While Warriors currently have spell reflect, it's their only real method of reducing incoming spell damage, and has a small window of time to cast it to properly reflect (and is next to useless against mobs and bosses with instant-cast spells). While there aren't many details on Anti-magic Shield, I expect it to have a longer duration and/or lower cooldown than Spell Reflect, allowing them to be excellent anti-magic tanks.

Death Coil -- Depletes all Runic Power, dealing 600 damage to a non-Undead target, or healing 900 damage on a friendly target.

Since this depletes Runic Power, I expect how much it hurts or heals to be dependent on how much Runic Power you have. This one is much Holy Shock, which could be a good thing healing ability, but will most likely be used as an offensive spell.

Death Grip -- This is the Death Knight's "taunt" ability. It also pulls the target to the Death Knight, forcing them to attack the Death Knight for a short amount of time. Yes, I said pulls the target; Blizzard is going to allow players to move mobs in the expansion both with Death Grip, and other knockback/pull abilities. This works on players too, so PvP balance ahoy!
I'm going to ignore the PvP implications, even though they are absolutely huge(!), and instead focus on the PvE side of things. This ability will make Death Knights amazing anti-caster tanks by being able to pull casters to exactly where they want them, instead of having to rely on LOS pulls. Hopefully it will not have a long cooldown, like Righteous Defender, and possibly have a talent that will reduce it's cooldown, much like Improved Taunt for Warriors.

Chains of Ice -- Roots the target in place. When the spell fades, it places a snare on the target that reduces in potency as the duration runs out.
This one isn't particularly noteworthy in and of itself, but there's some history behind the ability named Chains of Ice. Back in the original WoW beta, Mages had an ability like this, or similar. The fact that I can gain access to an ability I was denied makes me smile. I would imagine the existence of this ability relates to the limitations of the rune system.

This points even more to a respectably long cooldown on each rune (around 10-12 seconds for a full recharge). I would imagine that, generally speaking, there won't be small cooldowns on the common abilities of a Death Knight (beyond global cooldowns) since the class will be far more limited by what runes are available and not what cooldowns are up. This is a huge difference from Paladins where mana only becomes a problem in certain circumstances, and the class is far more limited to if an ability is still on cooldown. Will require some getting used to.

Death Pact -- Sacrifices the raised ghouls to heal the Death Knight.
When I first read this, my brain through it referred to Army of the Dead, until I read the bit about AotD being Channeled. So now I think it applies to the Raise Dead ability. But if that's the case, why phrase it as "ghouls" instead of "ghoul"? Hmmm...

Death and Decay -- Targeted, AoE Damage-over-time which pulses similar to the Paladin spell Consecration. Anyone affected by Death and Decay has a chance to be feared.
I'm looking at this and thinking: PvP spell. Yeah, it will have uses in PvE, but the fearing aspect means potential adds, which is never cool. Otherwise a fun looking ability!

Frost Presence -- Increases Armor by 45% and allows the Death Knight to generate 25% more threat. Only one presence can be active at any time.
Two very important bits of information here. First off is the increase to threat generated across the board, instead of focused. To clarify, when I say "focused" I'm referring to how Paladins get a large bonus to threat generated by Holy damage, but no threat modifier to any other type of damage. Death Knights are more like Warriors or Bears in that anything they do will generate additional threat.

While the large focused bonus Paladins get is nice, it's also limiting. First off, approximately 15-20% of a Paladin's total damage is from normal melee attacks, which get no threat modifier on them. In addition, any bonus damage from gear or buffs that's not Holy (Thorns for example) gets no modifier to it. If a Paladin is fighting a mob that has some sort of Silence (Maiden of Virtue) or has a mana burn/drain, it makes it a lot more challenging since they could have a period where they are only generating a very little amount of threat.

With Death Knights having a +25% threat modifier applied to everything, including normal melee attacks, that means when they can't use abilities for whatever reason, they are still generating a good amount of threat. This is a huge positive for them to me.

The second portion which is interesting is the armor modifier. Doing some quick math, Alixander has 16,469 armor current. I used Warcrafter and got how much armor he has without his shield, which is 11,137. 45% of that number is 5,012 armor, which would mean an equally equipped Death Knight would have only 16,149 armor. So Frost Presence makes up for the Death Knight's lack of a shield, right? Everything's even between Warriors/Paladins and Death Knights, right?

Not really. First issue: Shields scale faster than the rest of your tanking gear. Wearing my mix of Kara and BoJ purples, it's about even, but looking at Lore's Warcrafter info, it doesn't. He has 19,258 armor, and his shield accounts for 6,459 of it. Removing the shield leaves him at 12,153 armor, of which an additional 45% would only give him 17,622 armor. So at lower gear levels, 45% would probably put Death Knights ahead, but as gear continues to improve, shields will pull ahead and Death Knights will be left behind. Though in truth the difference betwen 19,258 and 17,622 is pretty minor. Maybe only 1-2% damage, so this may be a case of mountain making out of molehills.

The area where this will be a major inconvenience is Crushing Blows. A Druid lacks the ability to become uncrushable and just plows his way through them by having tons of health and tons of armor. Warriors and Paladins use their shields to increase their avoidance to 102.4% thus negating crushing blows. Death Knights appear to have neither of these. I'm hoping that they will get either a talent that negates crushing blows when Frost Presence is active, or a spell that allows them to somehow avoid crushing blows, otherwise Death Knights will not be viable raid tanks.

(MMO-C)Unholy Presence -- Increases Attack Speed and Movement speed by 15%. Only one presence can be active at any time. This was described by Tom Chilton as the "PvP" presence.
(WoWI)Unholy Presence will provide increased attack speed and decreased global cooldown, and is being billed as the PvP presence.

I'll be honest... this makes me happy in my pants. I like the way this looks, and having a "PvP" stance will be pretty sweet. Allows for much more flexibility in my class without needing an entirely different set of gear (though I will have another gear set too), something sorely lacking in Paladins.

Blood Presence - DPS. Increases DPS and heals the DK slightly when attacked.
This will be the solo/DPS Presence. The first part is obvious, and the second part is primarily for when soloing. I like it. Also, if this Presence doesn't have a threat down modifier, then it will be a good Tanking Presence for 5-mans once you reach Raid-gear levels. One can hope...

Strangulate -- Depletes all Runic Power, dealing minor damage and silencing the target for up to 5 seconds.
I'm guessing the duration of this ability will be directly connected to how much Runic Power you have. Will it suffer from DR? Reserving judgment on this one until we get more details.

Blade Strike: Attacks the target and applies a disease.

Blood Strike: Deals Damage based on how many diseases are on the target.
Complimentary abilities. Looks nice. I expect both to work via Blood Runes.

Mind Freeze - Interrupts spell casting.
Hello! Guessing a Frost Rune spell, wonder what the cooldown and duration will look like.

That's it for the DK related stuff.

==============================

EDIT: Oh wait. Blizzard decided to clarify stuff for me

Talent Trees

Death knight talent trees are complemented by Presences -- self-only auras that benefit the death knight. Selecting the matching Presence for each tree augments the class abilities for that school of magic.

  • Blood: Talents in this tree focus on damage-dealing abilities. Blood Presence increases damage output by a percentage.
  • Frost: Talents in this tree focus on tanking abilities. Frost Presence increases threat and lowers damage taken by a percentage.
  • Unholy: Talents in this tree have a variety of functions including summons, diseases, and PvP-focused abilities. Unholy Presence increases attack speed and reduces the global cooldown on death knight abilities.


So... there we go! Each Talent tree is confirmed to be matched to one of the three runes, while they clarify what each rune does, which varied widely depending on your source. I'd heard everything from Blood is for tanking, Frost is for tanking, and Unholy is for tanking over the course of the last few months. It's good to hear something concrete.

Looking at the what Blizzard says each Rune will do, I'm thinking that I would use something like a 3xFrost, 2xBlood, 1xUnholy setup, or possibly a 4xFrost, 1xBlood, 1xUnholy. I'll have to see and experiment, but I know I won't have less than 3 Frost Runes while tanking.

They have also officially confirmed that Army of the Dead will be channeled, and unless it's Channeled and uninterruptable, it sounds like a PvE DPS ability only. Boo.

Anyway, yay for official info! And I'm much happier knowing I'll be a Frost-Spec Death Knight.

==============================

Now onto other cool info:

All raid dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King will have both 10-person and 25-person versions. So at level 80, every major encounter and every big boss fight can be experienced with a group of 10.

25-person raiding progression is not dependent on 10-person raiding progression.

There will be no attunements or keys to obtain, and you won't be locked out of a 25-person instance if you decide to attempt the 10-person version, and vice-versa.

25-person raids will earn more, higher-level rewards, in what should be the equivalent of one "tier" of loot quality.
WHOA! I MEAN... WHOA!!! This is huge! While of course some are griping about it (as is any change to "appease the casuals" causes) I view this as an awesome and welcome change. Now any reason I'd ever have for leaving OWL is gone. Even though I won't see the 25-man versions of all the fights (which I hope and expect are different) I'll still get to see everything or at least close to everything. Kaz is a happy little raid-monkey.

The removal of attunements is a not a bad change. I don't think it's really good, but it's not bad. It can have bad repercussions if a guild is too lax on who can come in their raids. Of course this is not a flaw in the game but a flaw in the players who do it.

As for the "getting worse gear" thing, that's fine by me. Like I care about gear that much. Nope.

Going by the first (Inscription) recipe, which requires Peacebloom, they'll rely on the herbalist gathering profession.
What I read from this: My Death Knight will be the prettiest princess, as he prances through the fields picking flowers and singing happy songs.

Note: I hate Herbalism.

Every player will get a new spell book page to which they can add six glyphs - currently, four major and two minor.

Major glyphs will be effective in combat - adding damage over time or stun to a physical attack, for example - while minor glyphs will give convenient or cosmetic improvements, removing the need for some spell reagents.

The way inscription is going to work is you'll have a series of mats that you need to do and then you'll create a scroll that will actually do the buff of the spell in question. Each scroll will have a specific use, so you won't create a generic scroll, it'll be a special scroll that will upgrade this fireball to do this type of thing. Right now we're still trying to make sure we've got that kind of mechanic down. That's actually most of the work. Most of the work is figuring out how that all works, what the materials are, how that comes together, and once we have that, then figuring out what the individual spells are and what the individual spells are and what the effects are going to be is going to be relatively easy.
This is very interesting. So since Major Glyphs are the real deal, but there's a hard limit on how many you can have that will really mean a lot of number crunching to figure out what's the best choice. Will be interesting to see if there are more than one Glyph per spell, or if it's just one effect (for example Frostbolt has a glyph which makes it's chilled effect last longer, or if we can get extended chilled or increased range, or other stuff). Also can you stack Glyphs? The Potential strength of 4x +Damage to Frost Bolt Glyphs is scary.

Glyphs can be sold at the Auction House.

Allowing enchanters sell their enchantments at the Auction House is still planned.
EPIC WIN! (maybe I will continue to level Kaziel, since he's an Enchanter).

A raid encounter in the Nexus will let players free drakes and then fight on their back, allowing them to use their abilities. Bronze, Green, and Red drakes will be available and each one of them will have his own set of abilities. The boss fight is tuned around the abilities of the drakes and players will be able to pick any combination (e.g. 3 Green, 1 Bronze, and 4 Red). There's a boss fight that has lots of adds in it, and one of [the drakes] can apply this buff to a bunch of adds while another one can basically consume the buff and get health back from all of it and also assume a tanking role. So your tank is then healing himself based off of this debuff that another one is applying to everyone.
Okay, just gotta say... This sounds pretty freaking sweet. That's about it.

Developpers think they didn't reward PvE enough in the Burning Crusade, and will try to change that in WotLK.
Not that I'm complaining, since I love PvE, but... What? I mean, when they say "PvE" do they mean it like "Not PvP and Not Raid" or just "Not PvP"? If it's the former, then I understand, but the latter makes no sense at all. *scratches head*

Heroic dungeons weren't rewarding enough in BC, Wrath of the Lich King will change that and make player feel that Heroic instances have their own tier of loot instead of a few additions to the normal loot table. Expanding the Heroic Badge system will be a major step to achieve this.
Uh... no duh. Of course it didn't help that fully half of the Heroics had almost the exact same loot tables as the normal versions, other than the final boss fights. Way to go Blizzard.

The Arthas storyline will play out through the patches as well. So Arthas doesn't die in shipping Wrath of the Lich King. Arthas will die in a content patch.
I, Kaziel of Durotan, Lore-Monkey extraordinaire, approve of this message.

Anyway, that's the key points for me. There are some cool other stuff, but none of that really makes me go gaga. Yeah, I pretty much skipped over all the PvP stuff. Hard for me to get excited about WoW PvP with WAR still on the horizon (and with the Friends and Family Alpha only just now starting for WotLK, I really do expect WAR to come out quite a few months before WotLK sees the light of day).

And I'm back!

1 comment:

Suicidal Zebra said...

Great post Kaziel, pretty much mirroring the thoughts I've posted elsewhere, though most of my thoughts have been how Deathknights compare to the existing hybrids rather than focussing on the class.

Just one note I'd make on the Deathknights Disease mechanic, and no, it's not to reflect on how similar it is to the old Paladin beta strike system ;). All the classes which feature a specific buff/debuff type have both a talent which makes it harder to dispell and in most cases cause the debuff to stack quicker that it can be dispelled. If such a design decision continues through to Wrath (and I'd be very surprised if it didn't) I don't expect DK's to be too worried about Cleanse, maybe a little more concerned about Shaman and Druids' abolish mechanic but not significantly so. After all, Rogues, Warlocks and Mages and S-Priests tend not to avoid Priests, Paladins, Shaman and Druids. If anything, the reverse it true.


Good to see you're back ;).