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Lichborne: Reviewing death knight talents for patch 5.4

Lichborne Reviewing death knight talents for the patch 54 revamp
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.

Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street has indicated that Blizzard is pretty happy with the new Mists of Pandaria talent design, and I have to agree with him. While it does suck to wait 15 levels between new talent choices while leveling a new alt, otherwise the new talent system allows real flexibility and interesting, meaningful choices, arguably more than we had under the 51 or 31 point talent systems, where almost every tier had a clear best choice for whatever role you were playing.

That said, there's always room for improvement, and the devs have mentioned they plan to use patch 5.4 as another opportunity to go over talent trees and bolster talents that see less use or otherwise feel underpowered. With that in mind, this week we'll look at the death knight tree and pick out some candidates for a patch 5.4 redesign.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Survivability for the DPS death knight

Lichborne Survivability for the DPS death knight
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.

Death knights have long been notorious for their insane survivability since they were first introduced. Over the years, a lot of it has been nerfed, but a lot remains. While blood knight survivability feels somewhat obvious, it's a little harder to see what unholy and frost death knights have going for them. Today, we're going to examine how DPS death knights can use their skills to stay alive when the heat is on.

Anti-Magic Shell

Anti-Magic Shell remains one of the most versatile and underrated tools in our arsenal. By absorbing most of the magical damage from a massive magical attack, it allows us to stay in position longer than other classes, and save ourselves from own mistakes in some cases.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Why patch 5.2 is a great time to be a death knight

Lichborne Why patch 52 is a great time to be a death knight
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 5.2 in full swing, we've had time to take stock of the changes, not just in terms of new content, but in terms of the buffs and nerfs our classes received. I'm just going to come out and say it. As a class, death knights feel about the best they've been since the Wrath era. There's a lot of great stuff to be excited about, so let's go down the list.

Unholy is fun again

Unholy has, as a spec, been sort of on the outside since Cataclysm. Blizzard's revamp, which put unholy on a different rune spending scheme from the other specs and pulled it even further away from weapon damage and toward special ability damage, created a unique melee spec, but the complications and weaknesses that came with that spec were a bit much for many people, and with frost generally beating it in both DPS and simplicity, the spec gained a reputation for being played only by the most hard headed diehards.

Patch 5.2 came along and bought with it a much needed unholy revamp. The addition of Frost Fever to Plague Strike alone has helped make unholy's rotation smoother and more intuitive, as well as made target switching feel at least a little less punishing. AoE is still a little more awkward, but with Icy Touch on Reaping, you can at least get through that first setup and get to the main AoE rotation a lot more smoothly.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Tier 15 set bonuses and other death knight changes for patch 5.2

Lichborne Tier 15 set bonuses and other death knight changes for patch 52 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.

In the weeks since the patch 5.2 PTR has been up, death knight changes have held pretty steady. The announced unholy changes have stayed in place, and so far seem to be working out much as expected, making the spec a little easier to handle and overall promising to put unholy in a better place once patch 5.2 comes out. That said, there have been a few other tweaks added, as well as the revealing of the tier 15 raid gear set bonuses. Today, we'll dig into these changes and see how they're stacking up.

Tier 15 death knight DPS bonuses
I'm going to be honest, I'm a little bit in love with the current 2 piece DPS bonus, if only for the flavor. A few columns back, I mentioned that one of my wildest dream updates for death knights would be a Wild Imps style ghoul summoning, and the 2 piece tier 15 bonus is sort of probably the closest we'll come to that. We'll need more solid parses to see if stacks up damage bonus wise, but in flavor, I'm pretty excited for it. The biggest issue here may be if the summoned pets end up dying prematurely to mobs before they can do their damage.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Guide to PvE unholy death knights in Mists of Pandaria

Lichborne Guide to PvE unholy death knights in Mists of Pandaria
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 Mists of Pandaria less than a month, it's a good time to get caught up on your chosen class' mechanics and playstyle in order to get a good start in the new expansion. With that in mind, we've spent the past few weeks discussing the various specs and how they'll play. This week, we add to the collection with a guide to unholy death knights in PvE. As a reminder, the following guide is for the basics of the class and spec.

Unholy basics

Unholy, much like its sister trees, remains more or less unchanged in basic look and feel. Of course, there's enough tweaks that there's stuff to learn, but if you liked the way unholy played back in patch 4.3, you'll like the way it plays in patch 5.0.4 and Mists of Pandaria. The biggest change you'll notice is that the new version of Ebon Plaguebringer no longer has the magic damage debuff or the third disease. They have upped the damage on our strikes to compensate, but it's one more little piece of unholy look and feel that's gone.

Unholy is, of course, played with a two-handed weapon enchanted with Rune of the Fallen Crusader, as you will need its power to get the most damage from your strikes, and in Unholy Presence. You will also want to make sure you have your ghoul out as much as possible, as it makes up a not insignificant amount of your damage. If you don't want to deal with a pet or want to dual wield, you're better off switching to frost DPS.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Guide to PvE blood death knights in Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria Guide to PvE blood death knights in Mists of Pandaria
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 Mists of Pandaria fast approaching, we continue our basic guides to the specs as they stand in the expansion. This week, we catch up with blood tanks. As a reminder, the following guide is for the basics of the class and spec.

Blood basics in Mists of Pandaria

Blood has changed remarkably little in Mists of Pandaria. Our basic setup is still using Death Strike to get our Blood Shield up, while trying to keep threat at the same time. Vengeance is now based off the amount of damage you've taken in the last 20 seconds, which won't be a huge deal but may lead to some attack power and threat spikes in the long run. Be aware that, especially at the start of a fight, you may need to work slightly harder for threat.

The two things you will probably notice the most are the 1-second global cooldown and the loss of 30-second Outbreak. The GCD change was one that was very much needed for DPS death knights but wasn't really an issue for us. However, since Blizzard decided to make that GCD change global to the class, we do have to deal with it. It may cause some noticeable downtime. That said, it will also allow you to fit in more emergency health-gaining cooldowns faster, so it may be a fair trade. Overall, it's something that should be easy to get used to and may work to our advantage more often than not.

A 30-second Outbreak is a little more of a solid nerf, in that you will have to deal with Outbreak's being on cooldown just when you need it most, but Blizzard has taken most of that agony out of the equation, since Scarlet Fever now allows Blood Boil to refresh diseases. Just be sure not to let diseases completely drop, and you're golden.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne, Mists of Pandaria

Lichborne: Guide to PvE frost death knights in Mists of Pandaria

Lichborne Guide to Mists of Pandaria PvE frost 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.

With patch 5.0.4 barreling down on us and the release date for Mists of Pandaria itself a mere month away, we've probably seen our new class specs and mechanics get about as solid as they're going to get. With that in mind, we'll start in our guides for all death knight specs. Note that these guides will cover primarily the basics of group PvE for each spec.

This week, we cover frost DPS.

Stat weights and other basics

Frost hasn't changed much mechanically from Cataclysm, at least on the surface. We still have the same strikes and spells serving the same basic function. You can now switch more freely between dual wielding and two-handed frost, as you get both Threat of Thassarian and Might of the Frozen Wastes by default. Frost Presence is now the best DPS presence for frost death knights, in a move that should make literal-minded death knights happy. In addition, the runic power regeneration on Frost Presence helps make up for some the runic power generation talents we lost in the revamp. Your stats priorities are also more or less in the same order they were for Cataclysm, with a few minor changes and caveats.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: The latest Mists of Pandaria beta updates for death knights

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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.

Since the last time we talked, we have seen a couple of new updates to the Mists of Pandaria beta. There haven't been many earth-shattering changes for death knights, but some of the changes have been significant enough that it's worth talking about both what they mean for the class and what they may imply about future updates.

It's difficult to say where Blizzard is going with our class in Mists, if only because they haven't said much. They've started talking on the beta forums, but they haven't directed anything at the death knight class yet. This isn't completely surprising. Our class is not in a horrible place right now, and the beta's young. Chances are we'll get our turn eventually.

That said, having developer feedback is useful for figuring out how to mold your own feedback. Knowing what a developer intends with a certain change can help us test that change with a better understanding of how it fits in to a larger vision. In absence of that, however, we can still look at the implications of these changes to see what we come up with.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Lichborne: Mists of Pandaria beta first impressions for death knights

A Death Knight in the Jade Forest
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.

Having finally had a chance to play the Mists of Pandaria beta, I'll be looking this week at the basics of the experience for a level 85 death knight coming into Jade Forest, the first zone in the leveling experience.

The setup

Upon logging in to Mists of Pandaria for the first time, you will, of course, have to choose new talents. With the talent system being so radically changed, there's really no around it. Luckily, it's a relatively painless process. Having played around a bit with most of the choices, I'm not sure if many of the choices are that dynamic, but your mileage may vary.

On tier 1, you may see some blood death knights going for Unholy Blight to have a nice bit of runic power AoE, but other than that, the three choices are pretty clearly split between the three specs. That said, it's not a horrible tree, either. You can pick some cool stuff that'll help with your desired role and keep on playing, and I like that. It's just not going to be a free choice, per se. At the moment, it just appears that there's almost always a clear winner for most situations on any given tier based on your preferred spec, role, and playstyle.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne, Mists of Pandaria

Spiritual Guidance: Priest healing strategies for Cho'gall in The Bastion of Twilight

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

I've had this idea for a social experiment in my head for the past few weeks, where you lock five priests together in a room with nothing but Highland Spirits and force them to have a round table discussion about Lightwell. While I work on my hypothesis and proposal -- and find a way to bait Fox Van Allen into this possum trap -- you guys can finish reading up on the finer points of healing Cho'gall as a holy or discipline priest. Seeing as this is the last boss of The Bastion of Twilight, this will be the final installment of Spiritual Guidance's priest healing guides for this tier.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Cataclysm: Justice point conversion revised

Blizzard has updated the currency conversion rates to make farming instances before Cataclysm more lucrative. The new following conversion rates go into effect in Patch 4.0.1:
  • Emblems of Triumph = 11.58 justice points (up from 2.75)
  • Emblems of Frost = 11.58 justice points (up from 2.75)
  • Justice point cap = 4,000 points (around 345 emblems)
  • Justice points over cap = 47.5 silver each after patch 4.0.3 (down from 2 gold)
The full statements from Blizzard are after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Wrath of the Lich King Retrospective: Naxxramas

With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in WotLK Retrospective.

When people talk about raiding in Wrath of the Lich King, a lot of the complaints often boil down to Naxxramas. It was out too long before a new tier of raid content, the fights were too dumbed down from the original raid's difficulty and it was too easy. It was an unimaginative way for Blizzard to cut corners and save time developing Wrath. While I'm personally critical of Naxxramas as a raid instance in its current implementation, let's look at these points and discuss their validity.
  • Naxxramas was out too long before a new tier of raid content. This one's pretty subjective, but we can consider two factors. First, Naxx went live with Wrath's release in November 2008, alongside Malygos (Eye of Eternity) and Sartharion (Obsidian Sanctum). Malygos' itemization was half a tier superior to that of Naxx itself, so that items that dropped in the 10-man version of Eye of Eternity were equivalent to those that dropped in 25-man Naxx. Malygos-25 drops were superior to anything that dropped in Naxxramas off anyone but Kel'Thuzad himself. So while we could say that this entire tier of raiding lasted from launch until the release of Ulduar in April 2009, it's unfair to single out Naxxramas as the sole offender. Furthermore, Trial of the Crusader launched in August 2009, meaning that Ulduar's duration as the top tier of raiding was only a month shorter than that of Naxxramas/EoE/OS. Are we really arguing that the 20 bosses of those combined three raids had so much less raiding potential that an extra month or so wasn't at least subjectively justifiable?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Gold Capped: Casual auctioneering


Want to get Gold Capped? This column shows you how. Basil "Euripides" Berntsen, also of outdps.com, the Hunting Party podcast and the Call to Auction podcast will endeavor to fill your head with so much economic wisdom that you won't be able to see straight afterwards!

Making money in game can seem complex. Well, it is. The real pros have addons and UI customizations most people would never bother developing, keen understanding of the chains of supply and demand in the in-game economy, as well as inordinate amounts of time to spend in the auction house. What if you're just out to fund your epic flyer, though?

If you're reading my column to see whether there's a cap on the amount of gold you can stuff into a guild bank, chances are you've already carved out a niche for yourself. If, however, you don't plan on spending any more time in the AH than you absolutely need to, what can you do to make more money there than you make grinding dailies?

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Filed under: Economy, Gold Capped

Tabletop WoW: A roll of the dice

Gamasutra has an interesting article exploring the creation of the World of Warcraft line of gaming books released by White Wolf's Swords and Sorcery imprint. Written by Luke Johnson, the co-developer of the line from White Wolf's end, it has a lot of good detail for fans of tabletop (or pen and paper, as my circle of geekish souls always called it) roleplaying games as to the challenges and difficulties of converting a sprawling property like WoW from the rigidly controlled computer game to the much more expansive format of live gaming.

I own pretty much every book White Wolf's put out (both in terms of their WoW property and in general, I buy a lot of gaming books) and I have to say I found Luke's points about how the relationship between White Wolf and Blizzard as far as developing the lore in these books to be absolutely fascinating. Blizzard clearly wants to keep the development of the property and its lore firmly in their control, which on the one hand is totally understandable and yet on the other hand really shackles the writers hired to work on these books. You can't just throw in that Orcs like to eat human babies - any cultural note, even an offhand reference to humans having a lot of festivals throughout the year or trolls not liking large groups, needs to be accepted or rejected by the folks at Blizzard, which can really slow down the production of the books. The upside to this kind of supervision is that the RPG line can be used as a sourcebook for troubling lore questions for nerds like me. The downside is that it takes much, much longer to release the books if they have to go back and forth to Blizzard and wait for the team there to have time away from making the MMO in the first place to check what you wrote and decide if they want Harpies to be offended by flutes. The tightrope they walked between providing content and satisfying the folks at Blizzard is a problem I'd not considered in adapting something like this.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Lore, RP

Essences to Motes, pros and cons

We had an idea like this a while back, but now Sweet from Korgath has come up with an even better one. Make 10 Essences equal one Mote just the way that 10 Motes equal one Primal. Since 2.1, Essences (the random crafting widgets that used to drop in Azeroth) are dropping in Outland, and since most of the recipes that use them are pretty old by now, players don't have much to do with them. Way back, we'd suggested an Alchemy Transmute Essence-to-Mote recipe, but Sweet's idea is better-- why not just make them all the same thing?

Drysc rains on the parade, however, by saying that because Essences drop so much back in old Azeroth, it would be necessary (in his view) to nerf their droprate there. And that in turn, would cause problems for lower level players who couldn't make it to Outland (Drysc assumes that lower level players are still farming Essences the way all 60s used to, but I might disagree with him there). Also, he says, it would increase the amount of Motes and Primals floating around, obviously, and Blizzard doesn't want those to be super easy to come by.

But surely there's some conversion rate they could hit on which would make Essences worth just a little more than worthless at level 70. If too many Essences drop in Azeroth, then make it 15, or 20, or whatever. Better than vendoring stacks of Essences picked up while Mote-farming just because no one will buy them on the AH.

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