Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What the bloody hell...?

Okay, I'm sure right about now everyone's wondering what in seven hells happened to me. "Kaziel!" you might say, "You said you'd be back to making regular posts now that you had a new job. It's been two *honk*ing months, and you've only posted three things, and nothing in the last month!" You would be right, and for this I am somewhat apologetic. I'm sorry because I've had a bunch of ideas popping around in my mind, but I've been too busy with other stuff to work on my Blog. While I'm not going to say I'm back, I am going to try to post a little more frequently. You see, my previous job kinda fell through (rather not talk about it) so since I had little reason to stay in Washington DC and a ton of reasons to leave and go to California, I did. For approximately the last month I've been prepping and moving from there to here, and here I finally am, happy and content if not a little (read: A LOT) hot.

Side note: If you're wondering why I titled my post like I was born in England, I have not, in fact, lost my mind. Instead have been watching too much Zero Punctuation, a brilliant and scathing review show by an Englishman living in Australia. While it rarely touches MMOs (or as he calls them "Mumorpugers" which seems like an ideal way to describe MMOs if you hate them), everything else is amazingly funny, in some cases making me laugh so hard I simultaneously cried and snorted (yes, snorted). If you are unfamiliar with a given show, give it a gander over at the Wikipedia then dive right in.

Anyway, as for the huge Death Knight post I was planning on writing, to hell with that. While there is a ton of useful information out there about Death Knights, all of it's changing so often, I might as well try to describe the crashing of the waves onto a beach for you.

There are only really three things worth posting about for Death Knights.

First is Death Grip, which has a forty-five second cooldown. My initial response to reading this was "Good god, Blizzard, you want Death Knights to suck at tanking, don't you?" This was until I learned of Blood Boil, an AOE taunt on a 15 second cooldown (reduceable to 11 seconds with talents) with no rune costs. All it requires is the target to have a disease on them (which of course is actually a lot harder than that sounds, since almost all diseases costs runes). Anyway, so we have, really, two taunts, it just has a small requirement (make sure you have an unholy rune), and it's great. Huzzah!

Second is how utterly and completely useless Death and Decay will be for almost anything other than occasionally doing AOE DPS. First off, whoever translated that bit on it having a fear effect needs to find a tall building, weigh themselves down and then throw themselves off of said building into rush-hour traffic. It does not have a fear effect, it has a stun effect as it has a (and I quote) "...chance to cause any affected to cower in fear." ... Cower. Not be feared, but cower in fear. I can only assume that the person who translated this to be reported to all the sites that reported the previous information has never actually played WoW. This is the only possible way such a horrible mistranslation could have gotten through

Now, this was great news when I found it out. It's like thinking you are getting piss in a cup, and finding out you are actually getting finely aged, couple-hundred dollar red wine. Unfortunately the other shoe must drop. What appeared to be a Grade-A Prime Rib steak to go with your piss-in-a-cup actually turns out to be moldy, rotted slice of roast beef to go with your amazing cup of red wine.

So, the other shoe that dropped. Death and Decay is on a 30 second cooldown with a 10 second duration. So 2 times a minute you can do some nifty-ish AOE damage to some things, but not very often, and it's ridiculously costly (one rune of each type currently). Now all of this would have just made it an "ehh" ability, but quite useful in PvP or tanking. But no, Blizzard can't allow that to happen. Instead we get a 30 second cooldown, 10 second duration and a 1.5 second cast time. I want to scream bloody murder. Cast times are almost universally a no-no in PvP, and a smart and/or lucky player will interrupt your Death and Decay, not only making you lose the spell, but cripping half or more of your repertoire. And cast times are even worse when tanking since it will mean you are getting a face full of "OH GOD IT HURTS!"

I mean, if Blizzard was really against Death and Decay not being able to be used on the move (which I don't get at all, but that's neither here nor there), give it a 0.5 second cast time. No on-the-move uses, but it's hard to interrupt and usable for AOE tanking, which is vitally necessary in todays age of Paladin Consecration tanks, which mean all 5-mans must have 50 hojillion trash mobs. As of currently, Death Knights are quite lacking in the AOE department (an intentional design, I believe, but with the game's current state of affairs, caused by the almost juggernaut-like abilities Paladins bring to trash mobs, it's a painful situation for most non-Paladin tanks.

The third point, on the other hand, is a gleeful jaunt down Awesome Avenue, making a stop a the train station, to ride the Amazing Train to Wonderful-ville. I've seen Death Knight tanking trees, and that leak, or whatever it was that I edited into my previous Death Knight post has been changed. It was correct then, but Blizzard said "Nah, let's do something else!" and something else is fantastic! There is no tanking tree. Now, I'm sure this is the point where everyone looks at me and thinks I've gone off my rocker, but I haven't. It doesn't mean that Death Knights aren't tanks. They are still as tanky as all the rest of the classes, but the various tanking talents are spread out to each tree. The Blood Tree is still the "Hit things hard" tree, the Unholy tree is still the disease/summon tree, but now the Frost tree is the "Crowd Control" tree (more like the Mage's Frost tree, which will probably make it more of the cookie-cutter PvP spec than the Unholy tree...). An example is a talent-ability requiring 25 points in the Unholy tree:

Bone Armor: Instant cast, 30 second cooldown. The caster is surrounded by 4 swirling bones. Each bone reduces the damage from the next spell or melee attack by 40% but is then consumed. Lasts 5 min.

While this obviously has PvP and soloing potential, the biggest potential I see for it is to a tank. In equal measure is the talent "Will of the Necropolis" which is basically a three rankArdent Defender, with 6 Expertise at max rank. Now, before anyone starts bitching that it's unfair that they get this talent when we have to buy that effect in two talents, it's much deeper in the Blood tree (yes this one's in the Blood tree) than either of the two talents which give a similar effect to Paladins.

In the simplest way to phrase it, you are not pigeonholed into a particular playstyle, if you want to tank. You can be a Blood tank, an Unholy Tank, or a Frost tank, and all three of them have unique and valuable talents which help in that goal. I've seen some complain about not having all the talents consolidated into one place where they can just min-max them all to hell and back, but screw them. I like it this way. Something new, different and AWESOME! Gimme variety. Screw cookie-cutter one-design tanking builds. Hooray individuality!

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Also a vital note mostly unrelated to Death Knights, but entirely related to WotLK and tanking, is that Blizzard does appear to be removing Crushing Blows from the raiding, with some interesting changes on the horizon for Warriors. Shield block goes from what it was to this:

Shield Block: Increases your chance to block and the amount blocked by 100% for 5 sec, but will only block 1 attack. 30 sec cooldown.

With Improved Shield Block only decreasing the cooldown by 5/10 seconds, and NOT increasing the amount of charges Shield Block has. Simply put there will be no way to reach uncrushable for early endgame, which clearly means they are intending on removing crushing blows from level 80+ raiding (CBs may still exist for previous raids, but the additional levels and gear quality should make those hits feel like we're being tickled.) This explains the lack of an Anti-CB ability for Death Knights, and makes me much more relived about the potential imbalance I was seeing.
This, of course, creates another imbalance in the form of Dire Bear form with it's billions of health and armor, and no crushing blows to equalize the difference. As of right now, Bears still have those ridiculous modifiers and, unless Blizzard gets on the ball before release, will reign supreme come raid-time (or even in 5-mans) in WotLK. Good job Blizzard.

There are some complaints about this, beyond the obvious one of how they are going to balance Druids. This one boggled my damned mine when I heard it, but according to an endgame raiding Holy Priest, Crushing Blows create a sense of challenge and randomness to encounters that would otherwise be lacking from a healing perspective. ... I'm not kidding here folks. I had this conversation on my guild's Vent channel one night while we were doing Ahune. I was almost positive that my ears were failing me, but they were not. Ignoring the fact that Crushing Blows create a ridiculous obstacle for entry-level Paladins to overcome to just stand on equal footing with Warriors and Bears (can you tell I'm still bitter about that?), but once they get on equal footing, the other two classes are left behind by Paladins 8 charges every 10 seconds of uncrushability, making them less desirable in many fights. Oh and of course if you have a connection speed that is less than perfect, kiss your dreams of being a raiding MT goodbye, because you're now on a one-way ride to crushable-town.

Oh and here's a petty personal prediction: Now that Holy Shield will not be needed to even survive in raids, I predict that it will be made a baseline ability. Blow me, Blizzard.

5 comments:

2nd Nin said...

I am confused, the +Expertise talent and Ardent defender are in basically our last 2 tiers of the tree, how much further in can you really go :P?

Paladins never really had it worse getting uncrushable, it can be done in pre-kara blues, just very few people at that level take the time to gather them, or indeed understand those mechanics. Warriors have it easier, but its not hard for us to do at all.

Deathknights are supposed to be magic tanks as their niche (and 5 mans, but those don't crush), meaning having a crushable Deathknight might not be a major issue anyway if each of the tanks is really supposed to fill their niche.

Also Paladins are not Juggernaughts, being so is the perception but thats because most Paladins running 5 mans now overgear the instances horribly, and if we don't do it that way we will just go oom. Back when I was the correct gear level for heroics more than 2-3 mobs was pretty much a death sentence simply because my health pool, armour and avoidance were not high enough to survive that kind of pounding.

GrnTxtonBlk said...

Interesting comments. I mainly pvp with my priest and the prospect of another 2 hander chasing me down, this time with increased magic defense, frightens ny skinny bones.

Oh, and welcome back! Glad to be reading your blog again!

Kaziel said...

I am confused, the +Expertise talent and Ardent defender are in basically our last 2 tiers of the tree, how much further in can you really go :P?

With WotLK, they are adding two more tiers to each talent tree, going down to a new 51 point talent. This means what is the last two tiers will now be in the middling area.

Paladins never really had it worse getting uncrushable, it can be done in pre-kara blues, just very few people at that level take the time to gather them, or indeed understand those mechanics. Warriors have it easier, but its not hard for us to do at all.

I certainly won't disagree that it's possible in pre-Kara Blues, that doesn't mean it's easy. Maybe other people have just gotten luckier, or are viewing things differently but it took me over four months from when I decided to make Alixander my main and a tank to when he reached uncrushable status. And that was including having access to a few good pieces of Kara loot (Boots of Elusion, Moroes' belt, and the gauntlets from Maiden).

While I realize, in the grand scheme of things, four months may not be very long, but when your guild is waiting on you to be the main tank for their raids and you can't do that until you reach uncrushable the difference between waiting for a warrior to reach 490 Defense (took me a little over a month to do this) and a Paladin to reach 490 and close to or fully uncrushable is over three months! That's a ridiculous difference here people!

Deathknights are supposed to be magic tanks as their niche (and 5 mans, but those don't crush), meaning having a crushable Deathknight might not be a major issue anyway if each of the tanks is really supposed to fill their niche.

What about a guild that only has an off-tank Fury Warrior and a Death Knight to tank their 10-man raids? If we are to go by your idea that because Death Knight's niche is magic tanking and they don't need to be uncrushable (which is folly in and of itself because even caster mobs can and do use physical attacks which could crush), this guild would be boned. The Fury Warrior doesn't want to respec to prot, and the Death Knight wants to tank. So instead neither can do the job they want to, because Death Knights aren't supposed to tank?

The same logic could have been used on Paladin in tBC. "They are only AOE tanks. They don't need to be uncrushable." And replaced Holy Shield with a more powerful version of Repentance Aura for awesome AOE tanking. That would have pretty much blown chunks, wouldn't it? My guild (along with countless others no doubt) would have been completely screwed out of Kara because of our general lack of Warriors or Bears (long been an issue for us).

The point is if a class is intended to tank, it needs to be able to tank most, if not all bosses in the game. It may be significantly harder for it to be done by certain tanks (e.g. a Paladin or a Bear on Nightbane), but it is still possible. Your train of thought was the flawed game design which relegated Paladins to the back row healing in vanilla WoW. Blizzard realized what was needed and made sure that every tanking class could meet those needs, and I don't think they are going to abandon Death Knights just because something falls outside of their "Niche".

Oh, and Blizzard has stated repeatedly that, even if non-magic bosses are outside of a Death Knight's niche, they will still be able to tank them, just maybe not as well as other tanking classes.

Also Paladins are not Juggernaughts, being so is the perception but thats because most Paladins running 5 mans now overgear the instances horribly, and if we don't do it that way we will just go oom. Back when I was the correct gear level for heroics more than 2-3 mobs was pretty much a death sentence simply because my health pool, armour and avoidance were not high enough to survive that kind of pounding.

I'll concede this point. I was looking back through my archives earlier to get a timeframe of how long it took me to reach uncrushable and found a post about me tanking Heroic Mana-Tombs, and it being really hard without CC. Currently I can't imagine using CC on a heroic, but if I think about it I am pretty well geared.

It should be interesting to see how people play just after reaching 80, when everyone's clamoring for a Paladin tank only to see them be much weaker than they were by endgame tBC. I wonder if we'll hear any cries of a "Stealth Nerf" of some sort. XD

Honors Code said...

I think we should wait until we actually see the Paladin changes before making any conclusions

wowblogger said...

The BOL change will be imba for pallies in arena now and should help ease the imbalance.
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