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Rajindo
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:24 pm    Post subject: Notes on Deathknights Reply with quote

I know Vu was thinking about doing a similar thread but I wanted to get my thoughts down while it was still fresh in my mind. Feel free to respond with your own observations about tanking and dpsing as a dk.

Swarms of new deathknights have invaded Outland and our guild has fielded more than a few. My own troll deathknight Zandivya is now 68 and poking her toes into Northrend, however, before I left Outland I managed to get into a group for Sethekk Halls.

Until the first boss I was able to play from a dps angle (currently I'm unholy spec with an emphasis on aoe talents). For an unholy with ebon plaguebringer my goal early in the fight is to get my diseases up and spread to the other mobs via pestilence. After that it's scourgestrike on the main target until I have enough runic power for Unholy blight or Gargoyle (depending how many targets we have). I experimented with tossing blood boil in as well but seemed to pull aggro. I'm not sure if that was an issue with our tank or if it produces too much threat.

When a dk does pull threat or takes some aoe damage we're well equipped to deal with it. Death Strikes currently heal Zand for 10% to 30% of her health. Between Death Strike and a quick pop of Ice bound fortitude a dk can offtank a mob till it's dead or the main tank picks it up. I also expect that fights with bursts of magic damage will make anti magic shell and anti magic zone very useful.

After the first boss our tank dropped. The others stood around a minute looking for another tank and I asked them if they'd mind if I gave it a try. So off we go with four people the tank with only a couple pieces of tanking gear.

From what I understand the basic dk tank rotation is something like frost fever, plaguestrike, pestilence (multiple targets), then death and decay. I first tried setting D&D down before a pull and then deathgriping a mob to me. That worked okay but a lot of the dnd uptime is wasted while the other mobs wander over. So I tried a deathgrip, FF, PS, Pes first then put down D&D. When this worked it worked very well. I would end the fight several thousand threat above the dps. However some mobs in sethekk stun and if you get hit by this before you can get your aoe going you'll have the same problem as any tank of holding threat.

After the first rotation, if things are still alive you get more interesting options. If you can get some scourgestrikes in, an unholy can start spamming Unholy Blight, cementing any threat you have on all the mobs. A non unholy most like will spam runestrike (btw for single targets runestrike is better than UB I'm sure). Bloodboil comes into the picture for an easy dump of your blood runes, furthering your aoe threat.

The main concern I have at this point is refreshing diseases that are starting to fade and making sure I have aggro on any newly spawned mobs. A good way to do this is to either grab that new mob and put your diseases up on him (thus procing desecration hopefully) and then pestilencing it to the others or just using pestilence on your current target and refreshing the ones up on him.

For bosses things become a little simpler. Before we start I have boneshield going. That allows us get into position before the healer has to deal with big damage hopefully. Next it's a standard dps rotation. Diseases, Scourgestrike, Rune Strike and deathcoil. To help the healer I was throwing in deathstrike as well. In addition to the regular rotation you may throw in Icebound fortitude if you think you're going to take a damage burst. Personally on the last boss when a party member got sheeped before an arcane blast I put a antimagic zone around him and then tanked the boss inside the shield.

All that technical stuff aside I actually had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to getting full set of tanking gear and trying one of the current instances.
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Vutak
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For tanking as unholy, I actually preferred opening with D&D, even despite the lost uptime... otherwise, you're doing Icy Touch > Plaguestrike > Pestilence before you have any AoE threat to cover up heals or any other strange AoE threat generation... Paladin seals come to mind, though they might've changed that. The one thing I actually didn't like about D&D was the 1/1/1 cost, which makes it hard to adapt or adjust to things happening in the first 10 seconds of the pull. Delaying casting it obviously helps to see if anything is going wrong with the pull itself, but the fact remains that you're down half your runes for 10 seconds, regardless.

As an alternative, it might be possible to use a solo AoE cycle: Icy Touch > Plaguestrike > Pestilence > Blood Boil > Death/Scourge Strike, though this delays AoE as well.

I actually preferred pulling with Icy Touch (or if I had leftover RP and needed an extra 10 yards, Death Coil) in order to save Deathgrip for taunting or repositioning mobs. Obviously, ranged mobs will need to be Deathgripped, but that's a different story. In this way, it may be more time efficient to Icy > D&D > blah blah blah, since you'll lose less time on D&D.

I've been timing my use of Pestilence between the blood runes and its own cooldown. Since, talented, diseases last 18 sec, you can afford to see Pestilence come back up, futz about for an ability or two, then Pestilence again before Frost Fever goes down. Untalented, they'll be 12 sec and your Pestilence will probably need to be used as soon as it's up. Should you drop a disease or two, it's a fairly simple procedure to Icy > Plague > Pest., and you should have had more than enough AoE threat generated by then. Unholy has, of course, the advantage of Wandering Plague to build threat even if you've forgotten everything else.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My DK is also unholy specced at the moment. I haven't tried tanking for a group yet. Do either of you see either of the other specs as being viable for tanking? Is unholy just a preference or would you consider it a "tanking" spec?

Also, while on the subject, I've noticed a fair number of DKs wandering around as late as level 65 in their original set of DK armor. How soon did either of you begin replacing the DK armor in Outlands? I know I'll be somewhat heart-broken to give up any of it, it looks so cool.

*dreamfade*
NPC: "Thank you, great and terrible Death Knight! I now bestow upon you the Sou'wester hat of tanking to replace your current helm and ... umm ... are you crying?"

Me: "No ... I'm ... I just have something ... in my eye."

*end dreamfade*
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shuatahu,

Blizzard's plan is for all three trees to be equally viable for tanking and DPS. As such, there really isn't a "tanking" tree.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, as Rosh said you can tank with any of the three talent trees. The thing to remember is you still need to pick up the tanking talents in whatever tree you choose. You may find, in your travels, the misconception that only a frost dk can tank. This is just because you need to be in frost presence to tank...and people are stupid. I kinda wish they named the presences something else. I picked unholy because I like having a pet but bone shield is a very powerful tanking tool.

As to gear, you'll be replacing it slowly. I did just about all the quests in Hellfire and Zangar, then most of the ones in Terrokar and Nagrand. You can get a good chestpiece from Foot of the Citadel and a decent sword from the cenarion outpost. There's a shoulder piece at the refuge in Zangar and some boots I think. There's another couple sword upgrades in Terrokar and a couple trinkets. In Nagrand you can pick up three pieces of dps plate pretty quick.

So yeah, people will be wearing their starter gear to 66 probably. Zand didn't replace her bracers until questing in Northrend and still hasn't replaced one of her rings.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was also very attached to my original DK suit. I'm actually kind of sorry to have sold it off... I probably should've banked it as an RP costume. I started replacing my pieces fairly early (probably around 62-63). As with breaking Dungeon/Tier sets, once you "break the ice", it becomes easier to live with the clown suit. The biggest barrier is, obviously, emotional.

I know Blizz's idea is that all three trees were to be viable both as DPS and tanking, but I'm not sure how successful they are so far. I think what they were aiming for is something like the feral tree, where you can adequately fill both roles but that there are nuances to how you spend your 50-60 points that will decide how good you are at either.

The three trees clearly have different approaches to disease management, Rune Power use, as well as variation in stand-out talents at around 40 points deep. That, plus the general theme of the tree, is kind of deciding what it's best for, as I see it:


Arrow Blood has a clear self-healing theme and appears to focus largely on single-target. Heart Strike is a marginal upgrade on Blood Strike (+10% weapon damage +60) but remains dirt cheap. I would imagine most blood specs will include Annihilation (from Frost) and Epidemic (from Unholy) to maintain diseases, then capitalize by spamming Obliterate. Dancing Rune Weapon is lackluster for the moment, doing about as much damage as Summon Gargoyle, and is likely due for a buff. Since self-healing is generally a bad way to go as a tank and Will of the Necropolis only triggers at under 35% health, I'd say main-tanking prospects are grim for Blood. The only neat thing is that with Death Rune Mastery, after two Obliterates, you have two blood runes and four death runes, with the very amusing idea of Pestilence, then Blood Boil x5! You could also Heart Strike constantly, only pausing to throw Death Coils from Sudden Doom procs. Blood dumps Runic Power largely into Death Coils anyhow, since Dancing Rune Weapon isn't spammable.


Arrow Frost gets all sorts of crazy bonuses from Frost Fever and will obviously strive to keep that up above all else. Blood Plague actually only really helps Obliterate (which will probably be supplanted by Howling Blast, even on single targets), and I can almost imagine Frost tanks neglecting it without even noticing a loss in productivity. Frost Strike, as compared to the other 41-point strikes, is a RP dump and not a straight replacement of an existing ability and cannot be blocked/parried/dodged... that makes it especially good for tanks who need reliability in their threat generation. Howling Blast has several mechanics to nearly ensure that it crits, producing a substantial amount of AoE threat as well. Couple that with awesome tank talents (Acclimation, Unbreakable Armor, Frigid Deathplate, plus the low level Lichborne, Imp. Icy Touch & Toughness), and it just looks like Frost is meant to tank.


Arrow Finally, Unholy has a few neat notions, none of which revolve around perma-ghouls. Unholy thrives when as many diseases are ticking as often as possible (because of Wandering Plague, and a couple of spell damage boosting talents) so although some of its bonuses revolve around Blood Plague, I think they'll aim to keep both diseases (and therefore Ebon Plaguebringer) up at 100% of the time. Runic Power is dumped into Summon Gargoyle (which is not especially RP-efficient, but adds substantial DPS) for single targets and Unholy Blight for groups. Scourge Strike is probably the single best Strike ability, owing to it doing entirely shadow damage. This makes it a great single-target threat generator and it'll be your standby unholy-frost ability whenever you don't need the healing from Death Strike. I think the great potential for Unholy lies in constant AoE damage (from Wandering Plague, Unholy Blight, Pestilence) and Bone Armor, which becomes much more interesting when your avoidance gets high... the more boss attacks you parry/dodge, the more boss attacks (percentage-wise) Bone Armor will be mitigating by a whopping 40%. Raji pointed out that this also makes them excellent secondary tanks for mechanics like Hateful Strike (like Gruul & Patchwerk) and Saber Lash (like Nalorakk, Halazzi & Mother Shahraz). As for ghouls, their best usage in tanking is probably to summon then immediately sac them for health if your healers fall behind (they're awfully fragile), since Night of the Dead can chip away at your cooldown very quickly.
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Rajindo
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Vu says is true, however, you should keep in mind that those points are with a perspective to maximizing mitigation. I don't think there's anything keeping a Blood tank from doing any five man or heroic (and from what I hear Nax 10 isn't a barrier either). We'll have to wait and see how it plays in a 25 man raid to see if the theorycraft matches reality. Even if frost is the 'best' tank I don't really care as long as the other trees can tank well enough that everyone gets though the instance alive.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All good info. Thanks!

Right now, I'm getting the feel of the class but haven't played it in any groups. For talents, I'm just picking what I like (mostly unholy stuff, though I've been branching off into ice lately). I figure a respec is inevitable so I'll just go with whatever sounds good for now and figure the rest out later.

My DK is currently 60 (pretty close to 61).
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to try (and probably fail) to keep this brief.

This is the Unholy tanking spec I'm currently considering. Quick notes:

- Lichborne is yet another panic button, since we're low on pure mitigation. The healers will probably need a break every now and again.
- Bladed Armor is, in theory, a threat-generating talent, since it's supposed to return a fair bit of AP. I would consider trading this for a damage reduction talent but none is immediately available.
- I have reconsidered my position on Wandering Plague, since I'm not likely to prioritize crit and a 4-5% chance to proc seems fairly crappy. Death and Decay should take care of any AoE threat I need anyhow.
- For glyphs: Death and Decay, for a slight bit of mitigation when AoE tanking... Icy Touch, for a tighter first spell rotation (IT / D&D > PS > Pest > Unholy Blight without having to wait for a rune to pop)... and Bone Shield, which will continue to get better as avoidance improves.


My understanding is that DKs of any specialization (though not necessarily any individual spec) should be able to tank heroics and perhaps even entry-level 10-man instances. 25-man might require something a little more beefy, though.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a pretty good summary for Death Knight DPS here. Unlike a lot of (100+ page) threads over there, this summary is pretty concise and helpful.

Also, I am loving my DK. The lore, the look, the mechanics, Death Grip. Love it! I made mine alliance, since I figured getting a jump up to 55 would be my best bet for seeing the Alliance side of things, but I'm enjoying him so much, I kind of regret not making him Horde so I can play him with you guys.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't thought about getting bladed armor but now I'm curious. If it works with impurity that's a very nice pairing of talents. Also I've found that soloing is easiest in my tanking gear, increasing my damage while all armored up seems good.

Right now I'm at odds about Night of the Dead. I've had runs where I just cannot keep my ghoul alive and reducing the cooldown on his resummon seems very worthwhile, otherwise though that portion of the talent is rather a waste. The other aspect of night of the dead, Army of the Dead, I haven't been able to play with yet. Presumably though you could reduce the cooldown by 10 minutes, which might make it usable on every boss. I'll just have to get to 80 and see how useful the skill is.

And yes I've found my deathknight to be very enjoyable to play. I get a pet like a hunter, a big sword and self heal like a ret paladin, a spread of dots like a warlock, some nice aoe AND I don't have any finite resources, it's nice not to have to watch my mana.

If they make another healing class I'd like them to consider some of the dk mechanics.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Veering off topic, but for interesting healer mechanics, the Disciple of Khaine in Warhammer Online seemed pretty neat for the short time I tried one in the beta.

They build the resource used for healing by engaging in melee attacks. So in order to heal, you DPS a bit to harvest blood essence from your enemies to fuel your dark mending rites. You reap a sweet harvest of life from your enemies and bestow it to your fellow dark brethren! Bwah ha ha!

<cough> Sorry, got a little carried away there. But it was a pretty interesting combination. I only really got to try it out in a group situation in a PvP scenario, so I don't know how hectic it would be to have to melee and then switch over to healing in regular PvE encounters, but it's definitely different.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So after a bunch of hemming and hawing once I hit 80, I decided to go with this: 9/11/51. Here are some of the thoughts:


Blood:
- Bladed Armor works out to a ton of AP. I've just hit 80 and in Frost Presence, I have 18k armor before Toughness, so even 4 points of Bladed Armor means 400 AP... seems like a good buy to me.


Cold:
- Toughness and Improved Icy Touch strike me as easy picks, since they're both damage mitigation talents.
- Icy Reach wasn't necessarily the awesomest 2 points, but I like the idea of a longer pulling tool, as well as being able to apply my first disease as early as possible.
- Lichborne is, of course, an easy pick as well, since it's a great panic button that also allows a little self-healing (via Death Coils)
- Since my plan was to go 51 deep in Unholy and there wasn't much exciting left before 20 points in frost, I decided to throw some of theextra points into Blood.


Unholy: (by tier)
1) Vicious Strikes is largely for single-target threat generation (which will probably be via Scourge Strike), but also boosts Death Strikes if it'll help the healers to use it. Morbidity is a must for me personally because I intend to use Death & Decay as much as possible. Anticipation is straight mitigation.

2) Epidemic is a must, IMO, as it frees up a ton of time otherwise spent reapplying diseases; Over the course of a fight, this wasted time will add up. Virulence is a slight boost to damage and effectiveness of AoEs; Since this Unholy build is intended to really highlight that side of DKs, I felt it was a worthwhile investment. Unholy Command is an iffy one, I admit, but I very much like the shortened cooldown for position control. I think it will get more mileage in heroics than in raids. I skipped Ravenous Dead because I felt 1% strength per talent point wasn't necessarily a good buy. Though strength is, of course, awesome, I weigh in at 600 strength... that'd be an additional 12 AP and 1.5 parry rating per point, which felt a little light.

3) I skipped Outbreak because I feel Plague Strike and Pestilence are used mostly for utility and not for damage... and Blood Boil is actually no longer on my bars, a decision we can discuss when we talk about rotations. Necrosis (like Blood-Caked Blade) is odd to me, since DKs don't generate a ton of auto-attack damage... I was unsure of wanting to invest a full 5 points into it. Corpse Explosion is tons of fun, but not powerful enough to merit use in its current form.

4) On a Pale Horse was great for levelling, but I didn't like the stun/fear reduction so much. I hope in groups I will get support cleansing/warding, and can even pre-emptively pop Icebound Fortitude if I feel a stun could hurt me badly. Shadow of Death I took mostly for the +2% to strength and stam... a much better buy than Ravenous Dead for one point.

5) Summon Gargoyle is a much more powerful (DPS-wise) single-target RP dump than Death Coil, though I admit it doesn't get much mileage, even when I'm trying hard to use it. Impurity I'm still iffy on, but my napkin calculations on how much it improved AoE damage convinced me it was worth it. Dirge is a talent that seems well-loved on Elitist Jerks, but I'm not a huge fan... It may produce X more Death Coils per spell cycle, but I'm mostly concerned with having enough for Unholy Blight when it expires and that happens very, very handily without it.

6) Magic Suppression (and Anti-Magic Zone) is 6 points I wasn't sure about, since I don't know exactly how useful AMZ will be... the talent itself is damage mitigation, which is hard to argue with, but how much of the damage I'll take will be magical? Reaping was a last-minute removal. I only use the Death Runes effectively when soloing (so that I can squeeze 3 SS's into my second cycle) but I'm not sure it'll be as useful in group/raid play. I can still do my most important AoE cycles without it, so I decided to try living without it. Master of Ghouls might provide slightly more DPS, but I skipped it anyhow. Keeping a ghoul alive when AoEs are flying around seems challenging to me, and I'd rather have Night of the Dead for quick resummons than waste Death Coils on it.

7) Desecration made a ton of sense to me when I first took it... "+5% damage all the time!" I thought... but I don't generally Plague Strike every 12 seconds (I usually try to pull multiple mobs and juggle diseases with Pestilence). The nail in the coffin was the visual spam, which now irritates me enormously, for some reason. Anti-Magic Zone looks super interesting (especially once I get to know encounters), but I only *just* took it, so I can't speak much on it. Unholy Aura was a last-minute purchase, bought because of an unusual justification: It's a unique raid-wide buff that is spec-specific. It frees up boot enchants (or talent points) as long as you're consistently in attendance.



(con't)
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Unholy talents - con't)


8) Night of the Dead was taken with some misgivings, since it's neither a mitigation talent, nor a great DPS talent since in order to improve your damage, there must be situations where your ghoul is certain to die. That being said, I chose it to get more use out of Army of the Dead, and because I felt it was thematically appropriate for Tel, who I'd like to think is summoning the servants of his (now dead) House. Crypt Fever and Ebon Plaguebringer are absolute musts this deep into unholy, since most of the point of going this deep is to get a third disease. Bone Shield is the other big reason for coming this deep, for reasons I outlined earlier. I'm not sure it's super effective at this level of play, but for now, I'm using it as another panic button.

9) Wandering Plague I omitted for the same reasons I described earlier. In my tank gear, I'm still at about 10% crit, but I don't imagine it'll ever be any higher than that. I'm torn, as I know it improves my AoE damage, but intuitively, I don't think even 3 points will help that much. Ebon Plaguebringer is a flat +3% crit and +13% to magic damage, which I would imagine helps your two biggest damage dealers: D&D and Scourge Strike. Scourge Strike is, to me, a must since you need to replace Obliterate (since there's no space for 3/3 Annihilation in this spec) and because it simply does more damage than Oblit on account of it bypassing armor.

10) I actually considered moving the 5 points in Rage of Rivendare to other spots, but then saw some number analysis (on Elitist Jerks) about how much extra damage it produced (per talent point). Since I assume pretty much everything you'll ever damage will have Blood Plague after about 5-10 seconds into a fight, I guess this is a flat +10% damage boost, and 5 expertise to boot. It's hard to argue with that.

11) Unholy Blight doesn't really keep you from any particular goodies in other trees (I'm not personally fond of either 21-point ability) but isn't the cat's pyjamas, either. It can provide a steady source of AoE damage, but is nowhere close to the damage output of D&D. Really, the point (to me) was being able to dump your RP into AoE damage, which isn't possible in any other spec.



I'd like to talk about attack rotations soon, since a couple of people brought it up the other evening. Would anyone like to start the ball rolling?
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd like you to explain the removal of blood boil bit because it makes no sense to me. You've got blade barrier so you must be using those blood runes right? You've got your diseases spread to all the other mobs with pestilence right? Why aren't you using bloodboil instead of bloodstrike? I believe..(I haven't been able to play the last few days so I can't recall the exact numbers) that bloodboil does quite a lot of damage talented. Not as much as dnd but damn close and instantly.

EDIT: Now that I think about it this has something to do with keeping death & decay going eh?

That brings me to my other point. Outbreak/Reaping is a pretty important part of my talent spec. Let's say for example...

I'm tanking three or four mobs. We get a pat. I need the diseases on the new mobs so I pestilence them [1 blood rune]. The damage from the talented pestilence gets their attention as they wander into the aoe and now I use bloodboil [2nd blood rune] and they're cemented. With the second blood rune spent my blade barrier is renewed and I have two death runes which I can spend on a deathstrike or scourgestrike. Either of those generate 20 runic power and likely puts me at or near the rp I need to use Unholy Blight or (if the pat does magic damage) AMS.

AMZ btw is a very handy ability. You have to kind of train your party to use it when magic damage is flying around but its handy when you want to stop the healer from having a heartattack. I like to use it to start when we're pulling large amounts of caster/magic damaging mobs (elementals) as it makes the pull pretty much trivial. It's also handy when AMS is on cooldown and you need mitigation for that giant boss nuke you attack.

I can see where you're going with your spec but I'd be concerned about sacrificing a lot of versatility if things don't go as you want them to (if you have to move out of your dnd area or you had to use deathstrike that last rotation and can't dnd this time).
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