Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughts on DK tanking gems

So I was poking around the other blogs this morning really quickly before work when I saw Honorshammer's latest post: Patch 3.0.8 and Helms and one sentence stuck out to me:
In most of my analysis you will see disregard 'threat' stats like Strength, Hit
and Expertise. This is done with the belief that threat is a minor issue right
now. Gear decisions should be based on Survival stats alone. You'll get 'enough'
threat stats that come along for the ride.

From everything I've read about DKs, there's an interesting contrast. In most cases, DKs are fine for survival, but have some issues with threat generation. According to the EJ thread on DK tanking, most DK tanks once they get some gear on them are fine for taking damage (large health pools and armor levels for their gear quality make them easy tanks to heal, plus a lot of low cooldown "Oh Shit!" buttons).

Since I already am well over 540 Defense (was there before the patch, now I'm even more firmly above thanks to the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight and the Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle), I can consider other gear and gems than stacking defense. There are a number of options available to me.

As a general priniciple I'm going to completely ignore Red, Orange and Yellow gems since they don't have Stamina on them. Stamina is a "Blue" gem stat, so only Green, Blue and Purple gems have it on them.

Enduring: +Defense Rating and Stamina: While I'm already at the Defense minimum, these gems are still valid since they will allow for either freeing up Defense elsewhere if you would prefer gear that has little or no defense on them (Some good rings are heavy with Dodge Rating, for example). Also a very good option after you hit the cap for spell hit.
Vivid: +Hit Rating and Stamina: Since a Death Knight relies on both magical and physical damage, hit is a very important stat. By increasing hit, you'll have less misses on all of your attacks. Also, a miss means a thrown off rotation, which can be really bad for a Death Knight since they should be active almost 100% of the time.

Solid: +Stamina: Obviously this is a high value gem, since tons of stamina will help out against all situations.

Guardian's: +Expertise Rating and Stamina: Much like the Vivid gem, the Expertise lowers the chance of a Parry or a Dodge, which means that there will be less thrown off rotations. Plus Expertise will remove our minimal chance to get hit by parry-gib, increasing our survivability. It's wonderful to have double-duty stats.
Soverign: +Strength and Stamina: With threat being an issue, having more Strength helps to fix this issue, plus Death Knights have an ability called Forceful Deflection which gives 1 Parry Rating for every 4 Strength a DK gets, making Strenght another double-duty stat.
Regal: +Dodge Rating and Stamina: If you find yourself dying, but not having issues with threat, this is your best option for additional survivability.
Defender's: +Parry Rating and Stamina: The most undesireable of the various purple gems available to a DK. First off, due to just having a lot of Strength (my DK in a mix of blues and purples has around 800 STR) they will have a lot of Parry Rating. Since defensive rating stats (Block, Parry and Dodge) all suffer from Diminishing Returns now (implented, I believe, because of the Rogue who tanked Gruul and other bosses), so since a DK tank will already have a lot of Parry from Strength, getting more will do less than getting a Regal gem in general.

There is the option of choosing a AGI and STA gem, but that's a really bad choice in my opinion, since it gives so little crit, armor and dodge that it's almost painful, plus there's zero crit on tanking gear. Since crit is a stat that you get more for having more, since you're at an absolute minimum while in tanking gear, getting a little more is barely worth it.

Anyway, for now I'm gearing myself up with Vivids, Solids and Guardians'. I'm almost at the dodge cap for Expertise (have 21 expertise right now and need 23 or 24). I'm not sure whether I should concern myself with getting the additional 10% to completely remove parry chance. That's a lot of Expertise rating. Also working on getting my Hit capped for spells since I use Howling Blast and Icy Touch a lot as a Frost DK.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

100th post, but not what I promised...

So I haven't posted in a while. I had this grand plan of a huge WAR post, but it became larger than I originally planned, then Mythic added the two missing tanking classes (Blackguard and Knight of the Blazing Sun), and they just kept adding stuff (not a downside) that it became this Albatross around my neck. I finally decided to just say screw it, and go on without it. I still have the partially completed post and if anyone really wants to see it, I'll post it in it's broken form.

Anyway, what have I been up to? Well, work keeps me busy, which has been another thing prohibiting me from working on my blog (prefer to post while I'm at work during downtime... rather play games when I'm at home).

Still playing and enjoying WAR, though my guild formed of WoW friends kinda sputtered and died (coinciding with the release of WotLK... who would have thought!), so I joined Casualties of WAR (such a clever name), a guild formed of bloggers (but not only bloggers), and I play a couple of days a week with them.

Also playing WoW. As predicted, I've changed my main from Alixander to my new Death Knight. Was hoping to rename him Kaziel, but was made aware that a name is locked down for 3 months after a name change, so my options were either to transfer Kaziel (my mage) to a different server (didn't want to), delete him (no!), or rename him and then rename my DK to Kaziel later on (too much work). So I picked a new name for him (random name generator came up with Saiyarik) and threw myself into leveling with gusto!

I'm currently level 80, with a Frost tanking build and have completed, literally, every quest in Northrend, many of the group quests being soloed. DKs soloing capability is pretty crazy. Once I start gearing myself up with Naxx epics I'll start spending time soloing my way through old vanilla WoW raid content for rep (must... get... achievements!).

Also got myself to uncrittable by getting the Seal of the Pantheon a week or two ago. This is really hard as a DK before 3.0.8 since most gear's defense ratings are balanced around a tank having a tanking weapon and a shield, of which a DK deosn't do so well with.

Yeah, I know about the theories on EJ of DW DK tanking. I'm posting in that thread. AFAIC, with the forthcoming change to Killing Machine (the sole point of strength for a DW DK tank), DWing is mostly dead. I can see using DW tanking for certain spell heavy encounters (Kel'Thuzad for example) since you'll be able to maintain uncrittability without the new Rune of the Stonesking Gargoyle, plus can pick up double Spellbreaking runes on your tanking weapons for even less magical damage.

I've always been quite enchanted by Howling Blast, and my HBs seem to hit significantly harder than my Oblits anyway (averages around 400 more damage per attack, plus it's not parry, dodge or blockable) I'll probably put together a HB-centric build, picking up the new Killing Machine. Thankfully they are fixing it so that also the KB charge doesn't get used up if you have Deathchill active... or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, it's a win for those of us who like Deathchill for some awesome snap aggro, but also like KM. I'll generally use a powerful 2H like the Sword of Justice (despite being only blue, it's ridiculously slow speed and high stamina make it better than most pre-Naxx epics, like Titansteel Destroyer or Colossal Skull-Clad Cleaver) or Death's Bite and have a pair of 1H tanking swords ready to use for more magic-centric fights.

Anyway, my overall assessment on WotLK: Best MMO expansion, EVER. Not just best WoW expansion, but best MMO expansion. This includes City of Villains, which had previously held this title. While CoH/V may not have been my cup of tea, adding not only an entire new area, but adding an entirely new faction and making faction-based PvP valid, plus adding 5 new classes (with multiple new powers), it was no small feat.

While WotLK was missing quite a few things, even for an MMO expansion (looking at you 10-point Protection Paladin talent), what they did do was fantastic. Obviously there's the to-be-expected fantastic instances and bosses and new loot, new types of quest (oh all the mounts and machines and stuff that have their own spell bars!). But the one thing that really stood out for me amongst all the things done right was this: Mini-instances. I'm not sure what term Blizzard uses for them but it's when portion of an existing zone changes, either temporarily while you are doing a certain event, or permanently.

The first portion where this showed up was around the Wrathgate. Before, the place is flooded with Alliance and Horde fighting together to try to push back the Scourge menace and push into Icecrown Glacier. Then after the event everything changes (don't want to spoil it) and every time you go in there, you see the after effects of and don't see the undead everywhere in Wrathgate (addendum: remembering this awesome questline makes me want 3.0.8 even more so I can level up a Horde DK and see it from the Horde's perspective).

When you roll into Zul'drak you see it here and there (specifically when you go into the "Realm of the Dead" and when the Jaguar moves from one place to another). And then Blizzard just went hog wild, using it all over the place in Storm Peaks and Icecrown Glacier. I really can't wait to see the next expansion, because I expect Blizzard to be using this technique everywhere, and it will really feel like the entire world is evolving! Bravo Blizzard! Bravo!

Now, as I mentioned, Wrath is far from perfect. I felt, and still feel that Blizzard pushed it out a little earlier than they should have. Sometimes the changes to classes feel like things that should have been ironed out in beta, but at the same time I know Blizzard is always making these types of changes so it's hard to tell. But the lack of an 11-point talent for Protection is really a sign that Blizzard was rushing WotLK out the door. There are tons of other things that just don't mesh well, though none stick out in my head as prominently as the lacking of the Prot Paladin talent. Why was Blizzard in such a rush to release WotLK?

Well I think it was to compete with WAR. About the same time WAR hit the shelves, Blizzard did a massive Closed Beta invite (of which I was included). The Closed Beta servers slowed to a crawl. Maybe it was a stress test, but if so, it was never advertised as such. By timing this when they did, it gave those who wanted new content and were looking at WAR to sate their appetite an alternative.

Could I be wrong about WotLK being rushed? Completely. But by pushing out so close to the release date of WAR, they've sucked away a lot of players from WAR back to WoW (at a new high of 11.5 million players worldwide!). In the end they've hurt a potential threat to their dominance of the MMO genre, while reaching new highs. Even if WAR doesn't flounder and recovers from this (can't say how they are doing, where they were right after release or how much they lost since the normal sources of this info are about 6 months out of date), it took a good hit early on, which will hurt them.

If I was Blizzard I probably would have done the same thing. From a business perspective, it was a brilliant move. As a gamer who was going to play WoW anyway, it annoys me.

Anyway, not making any promises, but I'll try to get back into updating my blog. Hope everyone is enjoying whatever MMO is striking their fancy these days and having a Happy New Year!