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Filed under: Death Knight

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Vengeance is now Resolve

This is one of the bigger changes (and one closest to my heart now that I'm tanking again) - Vengeance is gone in Warlords of Draenor, replaced with Resolve. Resolve is basically Vengeance minus the stacking buff to attack power, because of the way Vengeance interacted on certain fights. To put it into perspective, last night was my first night seriously tanking, and I was number four on total DPS - it would have been far higher had I not forgotten I was tanking for the first fight. At present, with Vengeance and tank AoE for purposes of picking up threat (plus, I admit, some fairly beefy Shield Slams once Vengeance stacks all the way up) you can see some ridiculous tank DPS, easily surpassing dedicated DPS players.

The solution being implemented here is to overall increase tank DPS without an unreliable mechanic like Vengeance adding different attack power depending on how much damage the tank takes. This also removes the temptation for tanks to deliberately take more damage in order to get Vengeance stacked up faster. So Vengeance is gone, and Resolve is implemented. How does it work?
  • Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank (so no, it won't buff priest bubbles) based on the damage taken (ignoring avoidance and mitigation, same as Vengeance now) within the last 10 seconds, and your Stamina. This means stuff like Death Strike, Shield Barrier, things of that nature. If you cast a heal on someone else, Resolve won't buff it.
  • Each tank class' tanking mastery will now add 12% attack power, and the amount of attack power will scale with mastery as well. This is in addition to current affects, not replacing it - your tanking mastery will do what you're used to it doing, it'll just also do more.
  • Brewmaster monks will no longer deal less damage. That 15% damage penalty? Gone.
The goal here is for tanking damage to remain meaningful without overshadowing dedicated DPS players, something I feel is profoundly fair. Whether or not it works out for all classes we'll see when we get a chance to test it out, but the basic principle is sound - with tanks now using crit and haste (and the new stats Readiness and Multistrike as well - see Blood Craze here for just one potential use of Multistrike for tanks) we're in a situation where tanking DPS will likely go up just because they're wearing the exact same gear as DPS players. The age of Vengeance's unpredictable scaling probably needed to end.

The section of the patch notes detailing the change is, as always, behind the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Lichborne: Pros and cons of boosting a death knight to level 90

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

So you want to play a death knight. You've looked at the class, you've read our descriptions, and figured, yeah. That's something I'd be into. Or maybe you already have a max level death knight but want a second one for fooling around or trying new specs without giving up your carefully crafted setups on your main.

Whichever one it is, I say welcome to the club. That said, at this point in time, you have a unique choice to make, one you wouldn't have had to make it the past. Do you just start up your death knight alt, or do you wait a few weeks and use a level 90 boost instead? Today, we're going to look at the pros and cons of buying a level 90 boost vs. simply leveling your death knight from scratch.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Dungeon and LFR group Etiquette for DPS death knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

At this point in the game, max level 5-man dungeons may feel a bit superfluous. Even most newbies and third or fourth alts at this point are running them primarily for VP, having gotten most of their real item upgrades on Timeless Isle already. That said, this has lead to a bit of chaos. I know some of my tank friends are getting those end-of-expansion blues, in which they find that DPS are so over geared and so lazy that they are constantly stealing aggro, running ahead, and otherwise making the tank's job difficult.

As a tank class ourselves, we have no excuse for doing this, if only as a courtesy for our brother and sister death knight tanks. This week, we're going to go over some basic dungeon etiquette for a death knight tank, designed to make your healer and tank not completely hate your guts. If you're not running dungeons now, you may want to keep it in mind for Warlords of Draenor.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: More death knight depictions in pop culture

Cecil Harvey, Shadow Knight from the Square Enix game FInal Fantasy IV
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

In the comments of last week's article, commentors came up with other pop culture sources of death knight inspiration. A lot of them are great suggestions, some of which I didn't write about mainly because I haven't played them lately, others because they weren't technically games. Still a lot of the suggestions were fun enough that it feels like a good idea to take another week and look at another set of death knights and death knight precursors in games, books, and other pop culture sources. Thanks to all of last weeks commentors for their suggestions and thoughts.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: The death knight in non-WoW games

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.
So we're kind of officially in the lull between expansions. A lot of guilds have Garrosh on farm. By now, maybe you've at least defeated him in raid finder once or twice, and maybe you have full Timeless Isle gear for every one of your alts. So maybe it's time to dust off the console or the hard drives and spend a little bit of time getting into other games. But with Hearthstone still tragically lacking a death knight hero, how do you get your death knight fix? Death knights aren't completely unique to WoW, but they're not common either, at least not in the general concept of necromantic knights trying to break free of their dark past to good with their evil powers. Here's a few ideas, both mechanically and thematically, for playing death knight style in other games.

Skyrim: To be a dragonborn dark knight

Yes, I am playing Skyrim right now, so it's kind of fresh in my mind, but I'd argue, at the very least, that Skyrim's relatively flexible spec system allows you to play something similar to a death knight. For example, right now my Dragonborn is using heavy plate armor and dual ebony swords I have enchanted with frost and fire and renamed Lichborne and Hellmouth. While he mostly beats people (and dragons, giants, and bears) up with the swords, he also has a decent amount of work in conjuration tree, summoning and/or resurrecting undead minions. Once I get to level 100 in that skill, I can even get me a perma-ghoul if I want.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: 5 Abilities death knights could lose in Warlords of Draenor

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

On Twitter a few days ago, Technical Game Designer Celestalon asked on twitter what abilities people would hate to see cut in the great button bloat purge. Interestingly enough, when I saw the tweet, the first thing that come to my head was abilities I would LOVE to cut. Still, the tweet was inspirational enough that today I figure we can talk a bit about some abilities. What active, button pressing abilities could death knights stand to lose? What abilities would we like to see stick around even if they seem perfect for chopping? Here's 5 skills I think the devs may be taking a hard look at. Feel free to add any you think I missed in the comments.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Death Knight love story casts actors Brian Blessed, Joanna Lumley and more

Okay, guys, look - I could talk about how Death Knight Love Story is a fan film, machinima made with some decidedly interesting talent behind the scenes. Created by Hugh Hancock of Strange Company, (who's been making machinima since 1997) who also created Machinima.com (a little website you may have heard of) it's an ambitious project using motion capture in addition to in-game assets, and it has voice acting from people you'll have heard of like Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous fame, Anna Chancellor (BAFTA award winner) and Jack Davenport (Commander Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies). But the real reason I just about leapt at the chance to post this is the picture above, because that's Brian Blessed playing Arthas.

So yeah, I'm pretty much there for this. Check out Death Knight Love Story for yourself.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Machinima, News items, Lore, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Arts and Crafts

Lichborne: Hotfixes and Twitter news for death knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

We've got a pretty good set of death knight news to cover this week. While we're still definitely in the pre-expansion lull, Blizzard's been releasing little tidbits of information, mostly on twitter, and a few of the latest live server hotfixes have specifically focused on death knights. Today, we'll root through some of this new info and see how it relates to death knights, now and in the future.

DPS buffs for all
Rygarius
January 6

Classes
  • Death Knight
    • Frost
      • Icy Talons now increases melee attack speed by 45% (up from 30%).
    • Unholy
      • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 35% (up from 25%).

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Looking back at major 2013 news for death knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

Welcome to 2014. With this, the first Lichborne column of the new year, we're going to examine some of the biggest death knight related new stories of the past year. What were the big things that plagued us, and how were they resolved?

Patch 5.2 and the rise of unholy

2013 began with patch 5.2 on the PTR. This is the patch that gave us some long-needed updates to the unholy tree. Unholy had become a very unpopular tree. While some of this was due to the fact that it just didn't do as much damage as frost DPS, it was also in large part due to its unique rotation and rune-spending scheme, which left some ungainly gaps if you didn't apply diseases just so or pre-load death runes for your AoE rotation. Blizzard finally responded to these complaints in late December of 2012 by adding some changes to the patch 5.2 PTR, including Plague Strike adding both diseases for unholy and Reaping working for Blood Boil and Icy Touch, designed to ease the complaints. Just as a bonus, Patch 5.2 bought us what I still think were some of the most fun and flavorful set bonuses of the expansion, as well as some tweaks to make Conversion and Soul Siphon as enticing as Death Pact.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Learning to live with 3 weird death knight quirks

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

With the end of the year coming up, it's a good time to sit back and reflect. This week, my reflections on the death knight class have tended towards those little quirks, those mechanics that come up week after week in discussions, pet peeves to some people, things they may want changed, or things that are just a bit weird. This week, we'll look at three of these in particular, why they're sources of such controversy and frustration, and speculate on whether or not Blizzard might consider changing them in the upcoming patch 6.0.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Things to do until Warlords of Draenor drops

Proving Grounds in WoW

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

While some of us are still trying to kill Garrosh or grinding rep on Timeless Isle, it's probably safe to say that the expansion is winding down. With that in mind, how do you spend that time, especially if you're already tired of the latest raid? You can always dig into all those games you bought during the last Steam Sale, of course, but if you're planning to stick to WoW, this week we'll cover some stuff you can do to bide your time until you get that Warlords of Draenor beta invite.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: The pitfalls of class balance arguments

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

By the time this column is published, it will be official. Greg Tiberus Street, the man formerly known as Ghostcrawler, will no longer be Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft. For many years now, even if his job encompassed so much more, he was pretty much the target for class-based arguments. The most passionate, angry arguments for class changes were directed at him. In his final days as Ghostcrawler, I noticed he did a lot of tweeting about some of the aspects of his job and how the dev team saw class feedback from the community.

With that in mind, I want to take a look at the forms of class feedback and some terms that come up again and again as discussed by Ghostcrawler, not just as a tribute to Ghostcrawler, but as a way to hone our toolkit for when the Warlords of Draenor beta test drops and it's time for us all to give our feedback on the future of the death knight class.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Warlords of Draenor Q&A for death knights

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

Last week, we covered the basic class changes of Warlords of Draenor. This week, we're taking a few common questions about those changes and combining them with new information. We'll be discussing the new secondary stats and how they affect tanks, examine the possible return of dual wield tanking, and consider death knight lore in the new expansion. Without further ado, let's get started.

Q: Could dual wield tanking come back with Warlords of Draenor? After all, your weapons hit more now that hit and expertise are gone.

No. Ghostcrawler clarified recently that the miss chance for dual wield weapons isn't going away. You will still miss with "white" hits, it's just that your special hits will never miss (at least, not because of your gear). This will be exacerbated by the fact that blood death knight special attacks will not hit with the off-hand. The reason dual wielding works for frost is that Threat of Thassarian exists. It does not exist for blood death knights, therefore blood death knight dual wielding is still inferior and likely will stay inferior in Warlords of Draenor. The only real advantage dual wield tanking has is that you might get more Bloodworms, but that is not enough to offset the losses.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

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