Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Death Knight Cataclysm Changes

Okay, so the Lich king is dead, people are looking ahead to Cataclysm and never more so since Blizzard has released its proposed class changes.  The Death Knight ones went up a few days ago, I've had a few days to think about them and since everyone and their best mate with a WoW blog is going to be talking about class changes I figured that I might as well get in on the act.

It's going to be quite interesting to write about the changes as they've been portrayed as of this date... I'll be able to look back at this in six or so months time and see what eventually becomes of the portrayed changes.

My main focus whenever I think about what could happen to the class is "don't panic!".  All the changes do is to give a feel for the direction that DKs are heading in, they do nothing to define DPS output, threat generation or survivability.  We know nothing about the numbers involved.  Just because Icy Touch currently does x amount of damage with a threat multiplier of y whilst in Frost Presence, that doesn't mean that those numbers are going to correlate to what we're going to see when we're big, grown up level 85s.

Are Death Knights going to be broken?  No.  Are they going to be perfectly balanced when Cataclysm drops? No.  Is everyone going to be happy?  No.  Are the game designers going to do their best to keep Death Knighting fun and flashy?  I'm pretty sure that they will manage that!

I'm just going to cover the new abilities today - there's an awful lot of things that could be said about about the whole preview and if I attempted to do it in one go then I'd end up glossing over a lot of stuff or have a massive post that takes days to write...

First up is...

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.

This is going to have no rune/runic power cost and a 60 second cooldown.  Ranged attack?  Melee?  Don't know.

This is going to have a number of uses, but due to that one minute cooldown it won't relegate all our other disease applying abilities to the bin.  If we want Frost Fever on a target, we use Icy Touch, Chains of Ice or glyphed Howling Blast.  To get Blood Plague onto a target, it's Plague Strike or nothing.  Glyph of  Disease on our Pestilence lets us refresh our diseases at the cost of one Blood Rune.  Hopefully these are going to stick around (with the exception of that Chains of Ice thing... not always what you want!)

Outbreak, will have a few uses: First off, getting your diseases onto your target in half the time in PvP.  I suck at PvP and know nothing about it so I won't comment any further.  Secondly, as a DPS it means that I can get stuck right into my F-U pair attacks without losing one because I have to get the diseases up - also saves me a global cooldown.  The other use will be as an "Oh Crap!" button when tanking or DPSing because if I've got distracted and let the diseases fall off, I have to start over and fix things.  If I need some fast Death Strike healing at that point, then I'm sorted!

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. 

Yeah... okay... I guess.  It's Mortal Strike for Death Knights pretty much...  PvPers will probably like it but It's rarely going to come into use in PvE.  There's the occasional encounter where a boss heals itself, but the numbers that we're looking at here; boss HP and healing vs. the healing absorption amount will mean that it's squarely aimed at the PvP brigade.  Good on 'em!  Make sure that you use it on every gnome that you see, please.

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. 

This could be interesting depending on a couple of things:  First of all, how many spells are subject to Spell Reflection?  Secondly, when the debuff is on a target do we copy the spell no matter who it's cast at?  These questions are going to determine whether it's yet another PvP ability, a PvP and a PvE tanking ability or something that we can all use... time will tell...

Maybe I'll have a look at the Rune system changes soon...

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