Friday, October 23, 2009

Dual Wield Tanking in 3.3! And...

So in the patch notes for 3.3 PTR were just put out on World of Raids (no link since I only saw the post on RSS feeder as I'm at work), but one of the changes was:

Death Knights:
Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle: There is now a 1-handed version of this rune in addition to the current 2-handed rune.
I was like "WHA?" but then I thought about it for a second and it makes sense. I posted about it in my post "Back from Limbo" but even with the 3.2.2 addition of Rune Strike to ToT, the current implementation of DW Tanking is pretty much non existent. The crux of the problem is that DWing DKs (whether tanking, DPSing or PvPing) need a Slow/Slow setup and almost all the tanking weapons (which is the only effective way to reach the Defense Cap when not using a 2H and RotSG) are 1.7 speed weapons or faster. Completely ineffective as DK tanking weapons.

So Blizzard realized this and is having DW DK tanks take the same approach as 2H DK tanks: Use DPS weapons and have them give a Defense boost through the enchant instead the weapon. The 1H version to give 13 defense points per hand (IIRC) and a passive 1% health bonus.

Now, I should be thrilled for this. Honestly I am a bit. But not ecstatic. Why? Well, I've been feeling this way more and more lately: I (personally as in me, not everyone) am not as effective a tank as a DK as I was as a Paladin. It's a number of things that have contributed to this feeling:

  1. I have grown less pleased the rune system for tanking as time has passed. Sure, it has endless power and you need never fear running out of rage/mana, but at the same time it creates the problem that if you need a specific rune for something and you just accidentally used it, you're now up the creek no paddle. This is primarily an issue for talented tanking powers (Unbreakable Armor, Bone Armor and Vampiric Blood), which call for a rune of the type matching it's talent tree... This isn't much of a problem for Blood DKs, but Unholy and Frost are regularly using their Frost or Unholy runes on IT, PS and Oblit/SS and Blood Tap does not play well with Unbreakable Armor (I can't speak for BA, but I would imagine it's the same) so you can't one-button macro it if the matching natural rune is on cooldown. As a result of this Unbreakable Armor, despite being one of the best cooldowns I have, I almost never use unless I'm on a cooldown specific fight.

  2. The introduction of the Dual Spec. One of my major gripes in tBC was that my healing wasn't needed and my DPS blew (as it would with a Prot Spec and my only DD attack being Judgement). Even without dual specs, Prot Paladins now have 3 DD abilities at their beck and call, boosting their non-reactionary damage a lot. But now that I can spec to Ret if we only need a single tank, I feel I'll be able to contribute a lot if we only need a single tank.

  3. Less complexity. This one is really the biggest of the "personal" reasons, as in it only applies to me. As a Paladin in tBC I needed to keep track of a number of things, such as my active ability cooldowns (Holy Shield, Judgement, etc.), long cooldowns (which were primarily trinkets then) the placement of my enemies (and if they are running away from me) and the status of my allies. As a DK I need to keep track of all of those things in addition to tracking each type of rune (need to track them separately since there no overlap on them) and also my Runic Power. While I realize that Paladins have also increased in complexity with the 96969 rotation (assuming you don't use a macro) and the introduction of altered cooldowns like LoHs becoming a 20 or 15 minute cooldown and Divine Protection becoming a Shield Wall like ability, but even then they have about as much to track as DKs not counting runes and RP.
So in response to this, I finished getting the champion's tokens I needed to get the last of the BoA plate pieces, picked up the 2H Axe and tossed them over to Alix along with 1k and change for a dual spec (Ret!) and a copy of the Tome of Cold Weather Flight. Basically I was tooling him up for the 71-80 rush.

I hit 80 about two weeks ago and have been running a lot of instances both PUGged and guild runs and this past weekend I broke past the 540 defense barrier. While I know I was fine past 535 for non-raids, and I'm definitely not geared well enough for raids, it's still a major point to get past.

Now I'll just keep pushing on the non-raids, specifically ToC to soak up the purples I don't have yet from it, maybe even getting my guild to do a Naxx run (both for achievement's sake and for possibly more loot). So I'm back on the light side of things and pretty pleased as such.

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