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Posts with tag 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

Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi's weekly look into Warcraft's past

Twitter Throwback Thursdays are one idea that World of Warcraft Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi has grabbed onto with both hands, and today was no exception. We saw the very first Naaru in the game, before they had a naming convention, and apparently before they stopped being boxing champions.

Alex followed this with an image showing his design for the DK starting area, a colorful but almost illegible flow chart that split the starting experience into chapters, and, from what I can read at least, had several recognizable quests and characters spelled out.

Next up was a screenshot of a very orderly queue in the DK start area on beta, apparently a bug was causing a bottleneck, which the beta players decided to overcome with an orderly queue, and stern admonishment for anyone who tried to skip their place in line.

Lastly, an image of the testing of the Battle for Undercity. While not much detail was provided on this now-removed feature, the image shows an Alliance group, with a couple of Horde flags, and a whole lot of deep freezes. It's great fun seeing old shots and remembering the days when that was a totally normal screen resolution!

Filed under: News items, Interviews

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

Patch 5.4 PTR: Vengeance changes

Patch 54 PTR Vengeance changes
If you're a tank in World of Warcraft you know what Vengeance is. Originally intended to allow tanks to keep up with increased DPS from improved gear with DPS stats on it while accumulating tanking gear that generally lacked those stats, it's turned into a means for tanking players to do chart topping DPS on some pulls (especially AoE ones with multiple tanked mobs). There's been a lot of discussion about what might happen with Vengeance in patch 5.4, and now we have our first look at what Blizzard is contemplating for the tanking specialization.
Rygarius - 5.4 PTR Patch Notes - August 2

Vengeance has received several changes.
  • Vengeance now grants Attack Power equal to 1.5% of the damage taken, down from 1.8% (The tooltip said 2% but it was actually 1.8%).
  • Tanks no longer receive Vengeance from many persistent area damage effects (standing in the fire) or from missed attacks (dodging and parrying an attack will continue to work as it has before).
  • There are now diminishing returns on Vengeance gains while tanking multiple targets. Each additional target grants progressively less Vengeance.


These changes are almost certainly aimed at reducing the very high DPS that we can see on trash pulls and boss fights with a great many streaming adds (such as Tortos' bats or the packs before Iron Qon) especially as we head into the final tier of gear for Mists of Pandaria, which would inflate these numbers even more. Raids that use tanks with the highest DPS tanks will probably feel these changes the most. As always, this is the PTR, so if you have an opinion on these changes getting on the test servers and testing them out is useful so you can give proper feedback.

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

Death Knight one-per-realm restriction lifted

Death Knight one per realm restriction lifted
WoW Insider received an email this morning about a small change that has us all a'fluster. Saruya sent us a notification that the restriction preventing players from having more than one death knight per realm has been lifted. We immediately logged into WoW to check this out, and as the eagle eyed among you will be able to see, this is definitely the case. I was able to make six death knights on Argent Dawn, with no issues whatsoever, and many more on other realms.

What's got us a little confused, though, is that we're not entirely sure when the restriction was lifted. Nethaera posted on the official US forums on April 14th, after the release of patch 5.2, that there was no update on when it would be lifted. This implies to us that it's a recent change, but it is conspicuously absent from the patch notes! Funny enough, when you assume there is not the possibility to create more than one DK per realm, you don't often try. So, we thought we'd post this here to clarify: you can now have all the DKs your cold, frostbitten heart desires.

Filed under: Death Knight

Ghostcrawler on Vengeance and patch 5.4

Ghostcrawler on Vengeance and patch 54
Yes, patch 5.3 isn't even out yet, and we're already looking towards patch 5.4. Thanks to Ghostcrawler, we have this to think about for the future, namely that Vengeance is getting capped at a significantly lower threshold in raids in the future. If you remember back at August of last year, Vengeance saw some significant changes that increased how fast it could ramp up in raids and also gave it a far larger maximum potential. It's been adjusted over time, but in general what GC said back last August has held true -- tank DPS in raiding really did go up. To the point where on some pulls it's not unusual to see tanks leading the DPS, sometimes by extremely large numbers.

Since this is a big change that will drastically lower tank damage output (25-man tanks with their 600,000 or more health buffed will lose roughly 300,000 AP on fights where Vengeance was capping at 100% of their health) I'm not surprise it won't be coming in 5.3 -- I am a little surprised it's happening at all, because we all knew Vengeance and tank damage would do exactly what it has done when it was changed. Still, I wait to observe if it has much practical difference since aside from AoE tanking where a multitude of hits can roll in a short window of time (that 20 second ramp up period) and the tanks can make effective use of all that AP I'm not sure it will matter. 5-mans and scenarios were not mentioned, so for now I'm assuming this is only for the raids mentioned.

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

Breakfast Topic: Which is the hardest class to play?

Rogue header
I have been informed by The Management that the answer to this question is a rogue. This is probably objectively true. Rogues are a finicky class to play. Gearing can be an inordinate pain, with new pieces of gear often requiring complete regemming and reforging for optimal DPS output. Rotations, priorities, and situational attacks are also quite complex, and I have a lot of admiration for accomplished rogues. I have a rogue myself, and if I'm away from her for even a few days, it takes me a little while to get back into the rogue play style groove. However, I cannot truthfully say that a rogue is the most difficult class for me. My main is a druid, and I have played feral spec since I started WoW (though I raid and run dungeons mainly as Restoration - I prefer healer queue times, who doesn't?) so roguish game mechanics are pretty familiar to me. No, to me, the hardest class to play would be a death knight.

I have never been able to make sense of death knight mechanics. I can recite them: abilities consume runes, which produce runic power, which is necessary for other abilities. In practice, though, when I play a death knight it always eventually boils down to button mashing, which is not fun at all. So, despite having rolled a death knight at least three or four times, each in an attempt to finally stick with the class, I've given up. Death knights and me, we just weren't meant to be.

I still don't understand why, though, because honestly the concept behind both death knight and rogue mechanics is really similar! It doesn't make any sense that I'd be perfectly at home with one class but not the other. What gives, brain? I feed you and give you sleep when you need it, the least you could do is be more consistent in your virtual-world data processing, okay?! Alas, I cannot change the natural order of things, and death knight mastery will likely remain my World of Warcraft white whale. What about you, fair readers? What is the hardest class for you to play?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Mionee checks off soloing Cataclysm raids, begins bloodying Mists

Evidently, the EU realms are a hotbed of death knight creativity and initiative. While he might be among the best-known players for his crazy soloing accomplishments, Raegwyn is hardly the only DK to crack the code of soloing endgame content. Mionee, a savvy and seasoned death knight from top EU guild Envy, is also making name for herself from soloing a few little things. What kind of things? Everything from Deathwing, Ragnaros, and a challenge mode dungeon down to older content such as Yogg-Saron/0 keepers and the Lich King.

"The only normal mode encounters that cannot be soloed right now as a DK are Kalecgos in Sunwell Plateau, Valithria Dreamwalker in Icecrown Citadel (unless you're a draenei with Gift of the Naaru), Conclave of Wind in Throne of the Four Winds, as well as Hagara the Stormbinder and Spine of Deathwing in Dragon Soul," Mionee muses. "That leaves quite a lot of soloable encounters. On a more general note, what's left to solo are the heroic versions of some encounters, or the 25-man versions of bosses that have only been soloed in 10-man."

"To give a rough estimate," she continues, "by the end of Wrath of the Lich King, I was doing Mount Hyjal; by the end of Cata, I had completed nearly every possible heroic encounter from Wrath (a few exceptions aside); and right now, I have completed everything in Cata aside from the three above-mentioned encounters."

Mionee gives us the inside scoop on soloing some of the game's toughest content and answers the question of whether death knights are really overpowered, after the break.

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Filed under: Interviews, Death Knight, 15 Minutes of Fame

Death knight Mionee solos Madness of Deathwing

Proving once again that there is just about nothing that can stop the former servants of the Lich King, level 90 death knight Mionee from the Auchindoun server (EU-H) has managed to solo Madness of Deathwing. Although the kill was done on 10 man difficulty it didn't really make the fight any easier -- Mionee hit the enrage timer and lived just long enough past it to happily murder the giant metal-jawed dragon seconds before taking a dirt nap of his own.

Death knights have long been amazing at soloing content -- earlier this week, we featured a video of Aelobin, a level 80 death knight who soloed 25m heroic Baelroc. But it's absolutely mind-boggling to think that a player can gain a mere five levels and solo the final boss of the expansion prior, mere months after the new expansion launched. And it's even more entertaining watching a dragon being smacked around by a character who is smaller than even one of said dragon's teeth.

Check out the video above for the full fight and a jaw-dropping look at the capabilities of a death knight. And just because I'm curious ... what's the hardest thing you've soloed in game, past or present day?


Filed under: News items, Raiding, Death Knight

Level 80 Death Knight solos Baleroc 25-man heroic

Raegwyn has previously held the crown of death knight soloing, but from the ashes of the Firelands, a new pretender to the throne has arisen. In the header video, you can watch Aelobin, a solitary blood death knight, take down the Firelands gatekeeper, Baleroc, on 25-man heroic difficulty by himself.

And no, that's not a typo in the title, he really is level 80. You can check his armory if you like, as a link is provided in his channel. Aelobin has a mixture of Cataclysm blues and Wrath purples equipped, and as you can see one minute and 30 seconds into the video when the boss hits his enrage, he has managed to hit the avoidance cap.

Thanks to the changes to vengeance, Aelobin's attack power is also rather high, 1.5 million when he brings up his character pane at 1:59, awarding him a melee damage increase of 109,766 damage per second. It climbs still higher after that, peaking at almost 1.9 million attack power, and his damage meter reports his DPS as 275,715 for the entire fight!

It's very entertaining viewing, and congratulations to Aelobin on the kill, and on getting Share the Pain at the same time! A cursory check of his raiding achievements indicates that this isn't his first trip into the Firelands at level 80, either. Cutaia noted that, actually, this is the first boss he's killed in Firelands. Thanks, Cutaia!


Filed under: News items, Raiding

Would you want to see another hero class?

When World of Warcraft launched, we were told that one of the features that would make it into the game was the hero class, although at the time there was no definition of what, exactly, a hero class would be. We ultimately found out when Wrath of the Lich King gave us the game's first hero class, the Death Knight, a class that started at level 55 and had unique mechanics, blue gear to start with, and a starting experience unique to the class.

Neither Cataclysm nor Mists of Pandaria have introduced another hero class. The former instead chose to bring us two new races, the goblin and worgen, while Mists of Pandaria added the pandaren race and the monk class, but the monk starts at level 1 like any other class. Forum poster Lobster asked point blank if monks were a hero class, and the answer was a definitive no from Ghostcrawler.

Ghostcrawler - The Term "Hero Class"
"Hero class" meant that the DK started at higher level (and also with a lot of blue gear and so on). We thought it made sense for the DK story because you're treated as a high-level character and veteran of past events. We didn't think that made as much sense for the monk, especially when there were so many low-level pandaren running around, and the (perhaps flimsy) justification for non-pandaren monks learning how to be monks from the pandaren. We might very well use hero classes again if it makes sense for a future class though.


This got me thinking: do we want another hero class? Clearly, Blizzard isn't ruling it out. As the game continues, max level increased, and we all find ourselves having to get from 1 to an ever increasing number, the idea of starting at level 55 (as per the DK) or perhaps even higher starts to have some serious appeal.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

Death knight glyph changes in patch 5.0.4

Glyphs in Patch 504 Death Knights
When the new 5.0 patch flips over on Aug. 28, will you be ready with glyphs? Blizzard is recycling old glyphs instead of making new spell IDs and charring old ones. Some glyphs are staying the same, some are new, but some share IDs with old Cataclysm glyphs.

Below is our list of new or changing glyphs for death knights. This is not a list of changing tooltips, just which glyphs you ought to have if you want to automatically have the new glyphs when the patch flips over.

There are no brand new death knight glyphs.

Glyphs that are changing into new majors:
Glyphs that are changing into new minors:

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Death Knight, Mists of Pandaria

All-DK guild squeezes WoW in ice-fisted military death grip

Knights of Menethil
Most players seem to have some form of love-hate relationship with death knights. They adore the solid utility of the class, or they deplore its highly tuned versatility. They embrace launching a character from the relatively rarified atmosphere of level 55, or they scorn the ranks of players who are still trying out class mechanics and tactics in Burning Crusade and Wrath content. Most players seem to loosely string together all of these opinions, leaving death knights blinking like deer in the headlights when facing the wall of preconceptions in a pickup group.

You'll find no such equivocation in The Knights of Menethil. This all-DK guild on Moon Guard (US) roleplays its military aspect and origins in vengeance-soaked lore with an icy-fisted gauntlet of iron. The group has turned the story of death knights into what officer Eredis calls "as engaging a storytelling experience as any other class that people play" -- not only for itself but also for the rest of the realm.

The Knights of Menethil are what you might call approachable creeps. "[Approachability is] vital for any guild, but especially for one where the bosses appear to be grim, paranoid, morally ambiguous hard-noses when in character," says Valdiis, also a guild officer. We interviewed the leading triumvirate of the Knights of Menethil to trace what GM Celuur calls an evolution of its original story of vengeance against the Lich King and true service to the Alliance in the name of the last true king of Lordaeron,Terenas Menethil II, to the new goal that finds a place for every undead knight.

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Filed under: Interviews, Death Knight, 15 Minutes of Fame

The Azeroth Ethicist: Cheating (or not cheating) the roll system

Image
I was healing a Well of Eternity PUG a few days ago when I got a whisper from the group's warrior tank.

Warrior: Could you help me out with something?

Me: Sure, what do you need?

Warrior: If Varo'then's Brooch drops at the end, would you roll on it for me?

Me: Um ...

I'd been off in my own little world watching health bars and thinking about next week's Shifting Perspectives column and hadn't paid any attention to the group's composition. It turns out the DPSers were a mage, a hunter, and -- oh, there we go -- a frost death knight. So in the event that the strength trinket dropped, the warrior tank wanted me to roll on it and, if I won, give it to him over the DK. He probably asked the mage and the priest to do the same thing, but the group was quiet in party chat, so I have no way of knowing.

We had a small and, to his credit, civil conversation over it, and there are a few issues here on which I'd like to get readers' opinions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion