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Filed under: Death Knight

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

Lichborne: BlizzCon 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.

BlizzCon 2013 bought with it a new expansion, Warlords of Draenor, and while we did learn a lot about upcoming changes, very few of it was actually class-specific. Mostly what we got in class specific news was the level 100 talents, which, while awesome, will likely change pretty significantly even between now and the beta, to say nothing of when Warlords of Draenor goes live. That said, there were still a lot of very interesting system changes that herald great things for death knights, and we'll go over those today as well.

New Talents and Skills

The level 100 talents continue the storied tradition of level 90 talents in that they very obviously take their cue from the prime death knight, Arthas himself, the Lich King. They also address something we've talked about before, ability bloat. Instead of adding new skills, 2 of them simply replace existing things.

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Filed under: BlizzCon, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Common death knight questions in patch 5.4

Lichborne Common Death Knight questions in patch 54
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 patch 5.4 well underway, we're to the point where we can make some solid observations on the state of the class and take a look at what matters to death knights in this raiding tier. This week's column will attempt to answer some basic questions I've seen floating around the web from death knights about some of the basic realities of patch 5.4.

How are death knights in PvE?

Death knights, simply put, are doing pretty well. We're upper-middle of the pack DPS wise, which is a solidly comfortable place to be, and so far, there haven't been any hot fixes to change that. Frost is still edging out unholy on DPS for most fights, but unholy is close enough that you should be able to spec into it without being too much of a drain on your raid.

Death knight tanks are doing well, especially with a fix that allows Purgatory to "stack" with the legendary tank cloak proc. Assuming you have adequate stamina, mastery is still our best stat for survival, but Riposte ensures that if you need more threat, you can add some avoidance and get good DPS without sacrificing as much survivability as you otherwise would.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Death knight tricks for surviving the Timeless Isle

Lichborne Death knight tricks for surviving the Timeless Isle
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.

The first time you set foot on the Timeless Isle can be pretty intimidating. All of these massive, giant elite mobs. How's a death knight supposed to solo these? I'm here to tell you it's possible. There's both general tips and class specific tips you can take to hear that will help you survive and thrive on the island, whether your goal is to unlock the weekly Epoch Stones quests, track down a rare for a specific fun or useful drop, or anything else.

Back to the basics

Before you do your class specific tricks, it always helps to have the non-class-specific basics down first. And make no mistake, the mobs on Timeless Isle are a lot easier if you have the basics down. In this case, a little bit of gear optimization hurts. For example, if you don't have your hit and expertise to 7.5% each yet, try to get them there. The rares and higher level elites get easier if you're actually hitting them every time. In addition, once you start getting some of that timeless gear especially, consider springing for enchantments and gems for an extra edge.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Should you play a death knight in WoW?

If you're a new WoW player, finding the right class for you can be tricky. We've covered the game's standard classes -- druid, hunter, mage, monk, paladin, priest, rogue, shaman, warlock, and warrior -- but if you haven't quite found the right fit, there's the game's single hero class, the death knight, remaining. These fallen warriors were returned to life to fight for the Lich King, where they were fierce opponents who supplemented their weapon skills with dark magic. However, some death knights have broken free of the Lich King's control and now serve the alliance or the horde.

So just what is a hero class? While you might think that means it's a more powerful class, instead it's a more unique class -- or at least it was at the time it was introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion (and you'll need the expansion to play one). Today, some of the unique characteristics of the class mirror changes we've seen come to other classes, but the story of the death knight class -- which ties closely into the story of Arthas and the entire Wrath expansion -- is still a unique experience you won't find anywhere else in the game. That's not to put down the class: just don't expect it to be more powerful than any other class.

There is one newbie-unfriendly caveat: to create a death knight, you have to have another character at level 55 or higher, because death knights start the game at level 55. It doesn't matter what server your level 55 character is on or what faction it is, but you have to have one somewhere before you can create a death knight. This isn't to say that new players can't tackle death knights -- but you'll have to spend your first 55 levels playing another class.

Sound interesting? We'll break down just what death knights are -- and aren't -- below.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie, Death Knight

Lichborne: Downfall raid loot and patch 5.4 world boss loot for death knights

Lichborne Downfall raid loot and patch 54 world boss loot 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.

This week brings us to the end of our patch 5.4 raid gear guide as we take on Garrosh and the bosses guarding him. In addition, we'll take a quick look at what the world bosses of this patch have to offer a death knight. The disclaimers from previous weeks still apply, so keep those in mind. Read on for the breakdown.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: The Underhold raid loot for death knights

Lichborne The Underhold loot 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.

The Underhold is the third section of the Siege of Orgrimmar, and will be opening up for Flex raiders this week. With that in mind, today we'll look at the loot that drops for the 3 bosses contained within. As before, the same disclaimers from the last two weeks apply. While "Best in Slot" is all well and good, "Best in Slot" also assumes you are playing at the top of your game, using very specific rotations, talents, and glyphs, and using cooldowns at the proper times, and that the gear you're picking up is mostly heroic or heroic warforged gear. Also, upgrades are upgrades, so if you're wielding Raid Finder gear from Throne of Thunder, even non-optimal flex gear from Siege of Orgrimmar is probably going to be an upgrade. Keep that in mind when grabbing gear as well.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Gates of Retribution raid loot 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.

The second tier of Patch 5.4's Siege of Orgrimmar, Gates of Retribution, brings us to the Horde capital itself. There are four bosses to kill and much death knight loot to plunder. The disclaimers from last week's loot guide still apply. While best-in-slot guides are all well and good, keep in mind that what is "best" for you will change based on your skill level, talent choices, and your current gear, and that new gear at a higher item level, even if not optimal, may still be an upgrade over what you had before. With that in mind, let's dig in.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Vale of Eternal Sorrows raid loot for death knights

Lichborne
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 normal and flex modes in full swing, and Raid Finder due in the coming days, it felt like a good time to start looking at what gear we can pull out of patch 5.4's new raid, the Siege of Orgrimmar. Today, we'll look at the first wing, the Vale of Eternal Sorrows.

When gearing up, there are a few things to remember. Note that the item weights described in most guides assume best in slot gear with maximum level play. For example, haste has dropped to the bottom of the 3 major stats for all 3 death knight DPS specs. While some of this is due to bug fixes and changes in itemization, some of it is also a result of gameplay. These sims that returned haste as a low level stat also assumed their user was dressed in heroic warforged gear and using Plague Leech to get 2 death runes every 25-30 seconds and Anti-Magic Shell to gain extra runic power every 45 seconds without fail. If you aren't really in those categories, don't assume a piece of gear is trash for you without the sims to back it up.

In a similar vein, that new item level 540 flexible drop is probably going to replace your item level 502 raid finder drop even if it's not optimally itemized for your spec. Also, while the "haste for tanks" craze is still going on in some quarters, I still am not a huge fan of it, especially now that Riposte lets you get at least some threat off of avoidance. I will link normal gear choices, but most of these choices will drop in all 4 difficulties, with the possibility of warforged drops in normal and heroic difficulties.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: A final look at the patch 5.4 patch notes for death knights

Lichborne The death knight and patch 54
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 we've certainly discussed the patch 5.4 changes for death knights in the past, this week is the big week when patch 5.4 finally comes out and we put it all in action. With that in mind, today will be devoted at look at the patch notes from a death knight point of view and making some quick pronouncements about what we can expect when the servers the come back up.

The short version of the changes is this. All 3 specs are buffed overall, DPS more so than tanking. In PvE, blood is about the same, while unholy and frost specs are close enough together that you can either stick with your usual choice, or go with whatever you have the best weapons for. Unholy is slightly behind frost, but not so much that you'll suffer greatly.

For a more in-depth look at what's changed, read on.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Death knights in Hearthstone

It looks like patch 5.4 is more or less solidified for death knights. There was an expected nerf to Howling Blast, but it's pretty much universally seen as a good thing, as it prevented the ability from becoming so strong it made using Obliterate practically worthless. There was another buff to Soul Reaper as well, which should make it strong enough to justify using for patch 5.4. Overall, while patch 5.4's death knight class fixes have very obviously been band aids, quick and dirty adjustments to the usual suspects, they work from what they need to do and should leave us viable until the inevitable patch 6.0 overhauls.

With that in mind, I thought we'd take a break from the class analysis this week and talk about something near and dear to my heart, Hearthstone. Death Knight, alas, was one of those classes that did not get their own hero in the base game, so I figured it might be fun to brainstorm what a death knight Hearthstone deck might look like. It could be the perfect thing for an expansion, anyway.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: The latest patch 5.4 news for death knights

Lichborne The latest patch 54 news for death knights TUESDAY
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.

It's been a few weeks since we last discussed patch 5.4 from a death knight perspective. In that time, we have seen the dreaded fix to the RPPM bug for rune regeneration, but we have also seen unholy buffs as compensation. The first numbers pass for death knights also brings a good chunk of buffs to the death knight. Let's dive in and take a look.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: New mastery ideas for death knights

Lichborne New mastery ideas 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.

One of the more intriguing general class changes on the 5.4 PTR has been the complete redesign of frost mage mastery. Frost mages currently get Frostburn, which deals extra damage on specifically frozen targets and adds extra damage from their water elemental. With most bosses being immune from freeze mechanics, you can imagine this mastery doesn't do much good for PvE mages. Thus, the redesign on patch 5.4 grants frost mages Icicles, which allows them to do more mastery-based damage in all situations.

Death knight masteries aren't in quite as dire straits as the frost mage mastery was. Blood Shield, in fact, is downright solid. Our DPS masteries, on the other hand, are rather bland, being straight elemental damage buffs. They also come with some compatibility problems which causes the mastery stat to turn out low value for non dual wielders. With that in mind, this week we'll speculate on what Blizzard could do in the upcoming expansion to make mastery a little more enticing for death knights, especially for DPS.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Patch 5.4 Vengeance changes explained

Patch 54 Vengeance changes explained
If you remember from last week, Vengeance is being changed in patch 5.4. If like me you've been curious about how it will specifically be changing, Lore over on the official forums has our first explanation of the changes and how they'll shake out. Here's the breakdown.
Lore - 5.4 Vengeance Mechanics - Info Request
Here's some details on exactly how the multi-target diminishing returns are set to work in 5.4. Warning: here there be maths.

The basic, concise explanation is as follows: The Nth strongest (based on pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS) mob that has hit you in the last 5 seconds grants 1/Nth of full vengeance with their attacks. N is recalculated on every hit taken.

So here's an example. Say you're tanking 3 mobs – we'll say it's a boss and two adds. The boss has pre-mitigation average auto attack DPS of 1500k, one add does 400k, and the other add does 300k. The game will form a list of those mobs from 1-3, like so:
1. Boss: 1500k DPS, 1/1 (100%) of normal vengeance is granted
2. First add: 400k DPS, 1/2 (50%) of normal vengeance is granted
3. Second add: 300k DPS, 1/3 (33.333%, repeating of course) of normal vengeance is granted

This would of course continue as more mobs are being tanked (granting 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, and so on). Also, if the second add were to land a hit at any point when the first add hasn't attacked you in the last 5sec (such as if it swings first), that attack would grant 1/2 Vengeance instead of 1/3.

Hope that clears things up for the theorycrafters.


So if tanking a small group or adds that accompany a boss mob, this change will have little effect - it's when tanking huge packs that the vengeance decay will be most noticeable. The calculation based on most damage seems interesting to me - hopefully the calculations won't be such that vengeance fails to stack properly.

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

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