So overall, I like the look of the changes and yes I like that Unholy is getting a stronger disease based flavour, despite the fact that it's at the cost of tanking in both frost and unholy. The lovely Moody comments about the warrior/rogue similarities and as someone who plays both those classes (albeit as lowbies) I can see the comparisons and sitting somewhere between those two classes in DPS terms works for me.World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will bring with it several changes to class talents and abilities. In this preview, you'll get a glimpse at some of the new abilities, spells, and talents in store for the death knight class, along with an early look at some improvements we plan to make to the rune resource system.
New Death Knight Abilities
Outbreak (level 81): Outbreak infects the target with both Frost Fever and Blood Plague at no rune cost. This ability allows death knights to apply diseases quickly when they are switching targets or when their diseases have been dispelled.
Unholy DPS rotation relies on diseases and it sounds like come the expac that's only going to be more so, giving us a quicker way to whack them on those mobs looks like a great plan. With the changes to the way runes work I'm pondering how many other attacks will drop the rune cost.
Necrotic Strike (level 83): Necrotic Strike is a new attack that deals weapon damage and applies a debuff that absorbs an amount of healing based on the damage done. For context, imagine that the death knight can choose between doing 8,000 damage outright with a certain ability, or dealing 6,000 damage and absorbing 4,000 points in incoming heals with Necrotic Strike -- the burst is smaller, but a larger overall amount of healing would be required to bring the target back to full health.
This ability is meant to bring back some of the old flavor from when death knights could dispel heal-over-time (HoT) effects. It also gives the class a bit more PvP utility without simply replicating a Mortal Strike-style effect.
Sweet PvP trick. I'd also like to see that 8000 outright damage stomping over mobs too, if this isn't restricted to a PvP build it could be handy in a PvE environment.
Dark Simulacrum (level 85): The death knight strikes a target, applying a debuff that allows the death knight to copy the opponent's next spell cast and unleash it. Unlike Spell Reflection, Dark Simulacrum does not cancel the incoming spell. In general, if you can't reflect an ability, you won't be able to copy it either.
Ding Ding Ding! Hello! I really can't wait to play with this.
Rune System Changes
While we're satisfied with the way the rune system works overall, we're making a few major changes to the mechanics that will ultimately help death knight players feel less constrained. Here's the rationale behind the changes, followed by an explanation of how the new system will work.
- In the current rune system, any time a rune is sitting idle, death knights are losing out on potential damage output. By comparison, rogues spend most of their time at low energy levels, and if they're unable to use their skills for a few seconds, that energy builds up and can be spent later, minimizing the net loss from the interruption.
- A death knight's runes, on the other hand, cannot be used until they are fully active. If a death knight ever goes more than a few seconds without spending an available rune, that resource is essentially wasted. Because the death knight is pushing buttons constantly, it can be difficult to add new mechanics to the class because the player doesn't have any free global cooldowns to use them. We can't grant extra resources or reduced cost, because there is no time to spend them. Missing an attack is devastating, and it's impossible to save resources for when they're most useful.
, each individual death knight ability has a fairly low impact on its own, making it feel like most of the death knight's attacks are weak. The death knight's rotations are also more easily affected by latency or a player's timing being just a little off. At times, it feels like death knights aren't able to take advantage of their unique resource mechanic, which can diminish the fun.
- The new rune system will change how runes regenerate, from filling simultaneously to filling sequentially. For example, if you use two Blood runes, then the first rune will fill up before the second one starts to fill up. Essentially, you have three sets of runes filling every 10 seconds instead of six individual runes filling every 10 seconds. (Haste will cause runes to fill faster.) Another way to think of this is having three runes that go up to 200% each (allowing extra "storage")
, rather than six runes that go up to 100% each.
Hmmm. I suspect this is the thing most likely to be tweaked, changed and nerfed/buffed and generally fiddled with in testing. Such a big mechanic change will take some getting used to, in the big scheme of things I've got faith in the dev team to get it right, but I do have some trepidation. I'm on the fence on this one.
- As this is a major change to the death knight's mechanics, it will of course require us to retune many of the class's current abilities. For example, each ability needs to hit harder or otherwise be more meaningful since the death knight is getting fewer resources per unit of time. Some abilities will need to have their costs reduced as a result.
Next we'll outline some of the death knight talent-tree changes we're planning in Cataclysm. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a sense of how we're intending each death knight spec to perform.
- One of the biggest changes we're making is converting Blood into a dedicated tanking tree. While we feel that having three tanking trees was successful overall, it's less necessary in a world with dual-specialization. In addition, the current breakdown isn't as compatible with the Mastery-based passive talent-tree bonuses we want to add (see below). We'd rather spend time tweaking and balancing one good tanking tree rather than having a tank always wondering if they picked the "correct" tree out of three possibilities.
- Blood seemed like the best fit for tanking. Unholy has always had a strong niche with diseases, magic, and command over pets. Frost now feels like a solid dual-wield tree with Frost magic damage and decent crowd control. Blood's niche was self-healing -- fitting for a tank -- as well as strong weapon swings, which could easily be migrated to Frost and Unholy.
BOooooooOOOOo!!! In my eyes, the defining class aspect to the death knights is the versatility of all 3 trees to tank/dps in. You can effectively tank or dps in any spec, yes yes I know suchandsuch a spec is best for this and suchandsuch a spec is best for that but unless you're running ICC, you can play the game in any of the specs to tank or dps. I'll have a quite moment later to mourn the loss of bone shield. I almost feel like the dev team have given up on balancing the three trees. Yes, we get a dedicated tank tree, just like the other 3 tank classes. Yes it'll make it easier to know the spec, talents and whatnot, but, we're Death Knights. We're the only hero class in the game. We're supposed to be different. Ok. QQ over.
- Our plan is to move the most interesting and fun tanking talents and abilities to Blood. For example, you will likely see Vampiric Blood and Will of the Necropolis remain, while Bone Shield will move over from Unholy.
Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
Runic Power Generation
Melee and spell critical damage
Healing Absorption: When you heal yourself, you'll receive an additional effect that absorbs incoming damage.
Runic Power Generation: This will function as the name implies, and the new rune system will make generating Runic Power more appealing.
Disease Damage: Unholy death knights will be able to get more out of their diseases, which are integral to the tree's play style.
: This new mechanic is designed to ensure that tank damage output (and therefore threat) doesn't fall behind as damage-dealing classes improve their gear during the course of the expansion. All tanking specs will have Vengeance as their second talent tree passive bonus. Whenever a tank gets hit, Vengeance will grant a stacking Attack Power buff equal to 5% of the damage done, up to a maximum of 10% of the character's unbuffed health. For boss encounters, we expect that tanks will always have an Attack Power bonus equal to 10% of their health. The 5% and 10% bonuses assume 51 talent points have been put into the Blood tree; these values will be smaller at lower levels.
You only get the Vengeance bonus if you have spent the most talent points in the Blood tree, so you won't see Frost or Unholy death knights running around with it. Vengeance will let us continue to design tank gear more or less the way we do today; there will be some damage-dealing stats, but mostly survival-oriented stats. Druids typically have more damage-dealing stats even on their tanking gear, so their Vengeance benefit may be smaller, but the goal is that all four tanks will do about the same damage when tanking.
MOAR Diseases .... Bring it! (I'm subtly ignoring the blood tanking bits for now).
Stoppable Force has more detail and is a little bit more cynical than me, but he's also thought about it more so if you find my sweeping generalisations too, well general, head on over there.
And of course, I can't let this sort of thing go by without mentioning Skeleton Jack. Simply because he's got about 3 posts on the changes including one where he's just answering comments, some people have too much time. Also more skeptical, Skeleton Jack talks about Blizz rewriting the class as a whole. I can see his point, in the end though, so much of this is subject to change, I'm not going to cry about the sky-falling, well not just yet.
You can read the all the changes and further blue comments at the Blizz Cata Forums.