Monday, November 29, 2010

Missing Out?

So before jumping into this post, I want to apologize.  I realize this is a DK PvP blog, and very little of my content lately has been class, or even PvP information.  But with the expansion so close, there just really isn't much in the way of news, on either front.  However, let me explain how things are going to work following the expansion's release.  First, there's gonna be a ton of DK content, while I'm leveling/thinking about specs, and then you can count on some serious PvP info once Season 9 goes live, and I have a chance to jump in there.  *Real* content is coming.  Just let me ask you to sit through a few more editorials while we wait for Cataclysm to go live.

Anyways, random preface aside, let me get into the meat of this post.

The New World

If the above image or Orgrimmar doesn't mean anything to you, then I'd suggest you're either playing the wrong side (*cough* I mean the other side *coughs*), or you've been out of the game for a very long time.  The world is very, very new, as everyone is now acutely aware.

But with Cataclysm coming, a lot of people are beginning to drop the whole "Wow, a new world, this is really cool" routine, and just focus on the good old min-max we're all so familiar with.  A good in-game friend of mine told me today that she had a group of players she'll be leveling with in Cata.  Their plan is to band together, take time off work, then shoot for the Realm First:  <class> to 85 achievements.

Sure, this is a completely valid idea, and should be lots of fun.  After all, it's a group of them, and they'll have fun leveling together.  But I can't help but question how much of the world they'll be missing out on by doing that.


I know, I know.  You're all gonna tell me the same thing.  "But Onike!  No one reads that silly quest text.  It's a waste of time.  You could already be halfway through the quest."  True.  And in the old game of "Go get me 10 boar tusks", this made a lot of sense.  The lore behind fetching 10 boar tusks doesn't really matter, in the grand scheme of things.  But it hasn't taken long for me to find that this simply isn't the same game it used to be.

If you haven't go roll a new character of your favourite race.  You'll find all the old quests that used to bore you totally gone.  Better than that, the content has done more than just change. 

It got good.

I've found myself actually fully enjoying the process of leveling, which is something I used to HATE with a passion.  Leveling was a boring, pointless grind, just serving the purpose of taking me to the endgame, where I could play the real game.  That is just not the case any more.  The content they're putting in with Cataclysm is a whole lot more interesting.

Remember how awesome Wrathgate was?  Remember thinking "Man, if only Blizzard could do this with all the quests."  And how everyone just thought, well then it wouldn't be special?  Well think again.  I won't say every quest has an epic cut scene, but there's a lot of them.  Zones have some serious continuity.  There's more than just level to level, ding to ding, happening here.  There's a story.  And it`s good.

The New, New World

So, if Blizzard has content that good from levels 1-10, simply designed to grab attention of new players, imagine what's in store for the primary content of the expansion?  You can count on the content being beyond good.  Which brings me to the point.

Do you want to miss out on all that?

Sure, if you power-level you'll have a chance to see the cutscenes.  They won't go away.  But they'll be nuisances, distracting you from the real goal of filling that experience bar.  And without the understanding of 'why' you're sneaking into a worgen meeting, seeing two of them argue, then kill a Forsaken spy wouldn't make much sense would it?  You'd only really have a chance to say "Oh.  Cool."  Then on with the next quest.

Now I'm sure you can take an alt through later, and experience all that content at a nice, slow pace.  Read that silly quest text and everything.  After all, that Realm First achievement only goes out once.  But you know what?  Powering through the content is going to spoil it, at least for me.  The new zones will only be really new once.  And racing for that Realm First, which will only really be impressive for a few weeks of your life, is not worth wasting some of the best leveling content to date.

I think we're all too focused on constant achievements.  Maybe, if some of these gogogogogonow player types took some time and smelt the roses, they'd find themselves enjoying the game a whole lot more.

As for me?  I'm not in any rush.  I'm going to level at my own pace.  I'm going to read the quest text, and I'm going to really enjoy the game.  After all, in my opinion, that's the point.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Season 9 Begins December 14th

This doesn't seem like a piece of news that has been a big deal throughout the blog-o-sphere, and the WoW community in general, but today while I was staring longingly at those blank Conquest tabs on my PvP screen, I saw that a little message had been added to the foot of them.

Season 9 will begin December 14th 2010.  This means, for those of you not near a calendar, or not being particularly endowed mathematically, it goes live exactly one day after Cataclysm goes live.  Also, by no coincidence, I'm sure, both these events take place on a Tuesday, just in time for maintenance.

What does this mean?

Besides the obvious, it means Blizzard is intending to make competitive arenas and Battlegrounds available almost immediately after Cataclysm goes live.  If leveling in Wrath was any example (which despite the increase in level being cut in half, I think is a fairly good estimate), then we can expect very few people to be 85 in less than a week.  Sure, some people will have played the beta and already figured leveling out 100%, and then take time off work and ding in a few very short days.  But I'm assuming most of you don't fall into that category.

Personally, I'm estimating at least two weeks (probably more) to get from 80-85.  This means That by the time the average player hits max level again, they'll be able to delve right into serious PvP.

But this also means, that if you haven't started thinking about putting a PvP team together already, you should be.  We now know the next PvP Season is going to be live in less than three weeks.  If you want to catch the first wave of PvPers, you want to be ready with some kind of a team by the time you're at 85.  In terms of arenas, this may mean simply grabbing a few friends who are already max level too.  But rated BGs may require you to wait for slower levelers, like yours truly, due to the larger size.

Get Ready to Rumble

Sounds cheesy, right?  I agree, it is.  But the fact of the matter is that if you're a PvPers, there is no reason for you to stay out of the ring longer than you have to.  Season 8 has been over for almost a month now, and I don't know about you guys, but beyond the amazing new questing content, I'm pretty excited about getting a chance to sink my teeth into some major PvP again.

So, gear up, get those leveling boots ready, and don't hang up your sword just yet.  Things are about to get really interesting all over again.

Until then, practice safe Death!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Shattering, and the Eve of Cataclysm

Well, it's here.  The moment everyone has been waiting for since Cataclysm was first announced over a year ago.  Besides the actual release of the expansion, this is by far the most exciting cataclysm-related change we've seen to date.  Elementals?  Cool.  Doomsday cult?  Also cool.  Blizzard has done a great job, though, of leading up to what is beyond a doubt the most exciting, world-breaking, jaw-dropping event predating the launch of Cataclysm.
Org got quite a facelift.

The Shattering.

Unless you've been living under a rock... actually wait.  If you've been living under a rock you're probably dead because said rock is now a few hundred feet underwater, or it melted, or it's now underneath a volcano... etc., etc.  Let's just say I'm assuming you know what the Shattering is.

And it's pretty freakin' amazing.

I have a couple regrets, sure.  I'm a little sad I never saw Azshara before the Shattering.  It was on my list to-explore before my computer died, and now I'm back online, it seems that I missed out.  But those regrets are minor.  The coolest thing is that the world as we knew it will never be the same.  And if that means the Plaguelands from which my blog got their header get a little greener... I'm okay with that.

Due to a combination of lag and installing WoW troubles, I haven't seen much of the new content.  Just Orgrimmar, Durotar, and the Northern Barrens (yes, if you didn't know the barrens is now TWO zones, not one).  But I intend to begin exploring the new world as soon as time permits.  It's an extremely exciting prospect.
I guess Thrall finally got tired of talking.

What now?

With the biggest pre-cata experience now behind us, the question is now- what do we do with ourselves?  We've got two weeks to kill before we can really jump into content and start leveling to the new endgame, but the endgame as we know it now is basically at a standstill.  Sure, I'll run around and do my Pilgrim's Bounty meta (because I'm cheap and don't want to pay for 310% flying), and yeah, I'll probably run some dailies and a few random BGs... but that's about it.

So, what can a player do?  The answer is, really, not much.  You can raid, of course.  Instances are still open.  But most titles and achievements worth chasing have been removed.  You're probably not too concerned with gear now, either.  After all, it won't matter in 13 very short days.  And unless you really like that content, I don't see raiding, or much PvP, on the horizon right now.

But if the endgame is stale, there's something calling to you that isn't.  The world.  Of Warcraft.  Remember it?

My recommendation?  Explore.  Take some time and smell the roses.  Roll a new alt, experience some of the early content.  Or, if you're like me and HATE leveling with a passion (I'll check out the new quests... just very slowly, and in my own time)- just run around.  Your level 80 might not be able to fly in the Old World for a fortnight, but you've still got that land mount.  Take a look around.

When I first logged in after 4.0.3 dropped, I saw someone ask something in trade chat which was oddly insightful.  "Does anyone else feel like a noob again?"  And I realized that was exactly what I felt like.  And you know what?  I liked it.

The Magic is Back.

The fact is, people have been saying for a long time that Cataclysm is make or break time for Blizzard.  They have an MMO that has outlived all life-expectancies normally tied into such a game.  WoW was slowly fading.  The only way to stop this trend was to create something so amazing, it made players at home again.

And by making me feel like a noob again, that's exactly what they did. 

Don't misunderstand me here.  That's not a bad thing, in my opinion.  In fact, it's a very, very good thing.  Sure, what got me 'hooked' on WoW was the people.  What kept me coming back was the incredible end-game Blizzard has to offer.  But what was the coolest thing about the game?  That magical feeling where you discover something for the first time.

Nuking the world has brought that back for me.  I can go somewhere, and have absolutely no idea what to expect.  In a way, I feel kinda sorry for people in the beat.  Because they've already seen all this, and some of that magic won't be there for them.

There's a whole world waiting out there, guys.  Go grab it.
Water in Durotar.  Yeah.  Didn't see that one coming.


Well, what was meant to be a quick little update regarding my thoughts on the Shattering has turned into something pretty huge.  I guess in retrospect, it is a pretty huge topic.  But let me wrap this one up for you guys.

We're in a weird period of transition.  People have been blogging about it really for several months now, often saying things like "This is the twilight of Wrath" (no reference to vampires intended.  I'm actually talking about time of day).  But if we've been in the twilight of the current expansion for months, I think it's safe to say we've left twilight behind and we're into the dawn of a new day.  It's still dark out, but you can just barely see the sun starting to poke its head over the horizon.  And somehow you just know.

It's going to be a good day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Onike's Triumphant Return

I'm back.  Yes, you can all cheer wild praises of joy at the prospect.  It's been an interesting week and a half - I never realized how dependant I was on having regular access to a computer until I was without one.  My laptop has officially bit the bullet, and it was replaced with a shiny new i5 acer aspire desktop which I got on sale, along with a beautiful 24" monitor which I also got on sale.  Very exciting stuff.  I'm still not really sure what to do with all that screen space.

I am currently remembering why I hate switching computers - a full install of WoW takes forever.  I'm about halfway after leaving my computer on all night.  It's very upsetting.  So I haven't been able to actually hop into the game for a proper look around at the game, or a chance to really mess around with any new DK specs, etc. etc., YET.  That stuff will be coming as soon as I get everything up to speed.

Since I'm sort of unable to blog about anything directly related with the live version of the game (and since I never got into the beta), I'm going to talk about something else, which just happens to be the only piece of DK news that I became aware of on my forced break from the game.

Tier 11.


That is seriously probably some of the coolest armor I've ever seen in WoW.  I'm SERIOUSLY stoked about this new set.  Like to the point that I'm almost certainly going to raid in Cataclysm, if ONLY to pick up tier 11.  I still maintain that our Season 9 set looks okay, but tier 11 is just so much more awesome.

But looking at the amount of effort that has clearly gone into our newest raid set, I have to question just how it can look so amazingly detailed, while our PvP set seems like an afterthought.  Not to say I'm not stoked for our Season 9 gear, because it looks AWESOME.  It's better than any other PvP set we've had through Wrath, in my opinion.  But look at that raid set.

Now I know that the vast majority of players raid.  It's probably the biggest chunk of the endgame for a lot of people.  And even people that don't consider themselves 'raiders' probably consider PvE to be their main source of killing stuff.  The percentage of the player base that PvPs and doesn't raid on top of that is comparatively small.  But I'd really like to see Blizzard put the time and effort that they put into their raids and their raid sets into PvP, and our gear.

I'm not the first player to complain about this, I'm sure.  And forgive me if you think I'm being deliberately inflammatory by blogging about something like this while I can't talk about much else.  But it's been bugging me for a while, and I felt the need to rant about it.

/rant off

Death Knights are looking better than ever moving into Cataclysm.  With more stable spec designs, a whole whack of epic looking armor on both sides of the divide, and a probably a whole lot more awesome to come with December 7th, everyone in the class right now, whether they kill bosses or players, has something to be seriously pumped about.

That's going to do it for me for now.  I can't wait to be back in the thick of it soon!  Look for some more DK-oriented posts coming up early next week.  Then after that... it's pretty much the release of Cataclysm!

Very exciting time all around,

Practice safe Death!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Radio Silence

Ironically, just a few days after I wrote a lengthy post about the importance of hardware to your PvP, my computer decided to die.  It's in the shop being fixed (or at least to be given a time of death) right now, the general consensus seems to be a fried hard drive.  Which basically means a new computer for me.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I've been running WoW on a fairly small laptop, so if I invest in a newer, better computer my performance should go way up.  This is, however, a lot of money to have to drop, so needless to say I'm not thrilled about my predicament.

Basically, I've just managed to grab a public computer to post this, and I'm just checking in, to make sure that everything is still in one piece in the blog-o-sphere.  What me having no computer essentially means for you, my readers, is that I will be more or less unable to post until the situation is resolved.

So I'm asking you to please put up with a little bit of radio silence over the next little while.  I'm going to be largely absent without a computer, but once I get back, I assure you all, I will make it known.

Looks like this has been a month of new hardware all around for me.  Let's hope that doesn't happen again for a long while.

Until next time!

Practice safe Death,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hardware: The Hidden Basis of PvP?

I recently had the misfortune of losing what is, to many gamers, a very important piece of equipment.  My mouse.  It was a wirless mouse with two extra buttons alone the side (which I had bound to FS and HB), and I was sorry to see it go.  But this put me in an interesting place.

See, I run WoW on a laptop.  Which means, technically speaking, I have a trackpad, which is a built-in mouse.  I'm actually extremely comfortable with the laptop's built-in mouse, so I figured I'd take a crack at playing WoW using just this.

Bad idea.

I'd always had a vague notion that in the world of PvP, 'keyboard turning' was a major faux pas.  You don't want to ever tell another PvPer that you *gasp* keyboard turn, because that immediately puts you at the very bottom of a long ladder of PvPers.  It seems like the PvP community believes there is a special circle of Hell reserved for keyboard turners. 

I'd always largely considered this a bit of an exaggeration.  I have a friend who keyboard turns (granted, she plays a warlock, which is a casting class.  Melee classes like the DK move a whole lot more than they do), and she does fine.  What's the big deal about keyboard turning?  I'll just keep one hand on the arrow keys, and one had on my keybindings, and I'll tear it up?  Right?


I think I ran a total of three Battlegrounds keyboard turning my little DK around, and it was more than enough to last me a lifetime.  If I never find myself without a mouse again, it'll be too soon.  Maybe in less movement-intensive raid fights you can keyboard turn.  Maybe.  And maybe casters can sometimes get away with it.  But PvPing a melee class, I simply can not.  Which meant one thing.

It was time to go shopping.

The Mouse

Everyone has heard of crazy mice such as the legendary Razer Naga, which has an additional 12 buttons, just down the side, let alone everything else packed in.  But I needed a mouse right away, and didn't want to wait for it to be shipped in (no store within many miles of my house would ever carry specific gaming gear like that).  I've also heard mixed things about the Naga, people saying it's too cramped et cetera, et cetera.  So I went to a local Staples, and perused their selection of mice.

Eventually, I settled on the Logitech Marathon M705, in part because it was on sale, and in part because it is a very comfortable mouse to hold  (which is important when you use it as often as we WoWers do).  As it turns out, the mouse actually has a lot more features than my old one, with two buttons down the side (as before), but with also a left and right wheel button (triggered by pushing the wheel left or right) and a hidden button beneath the padded side (below the two standard ones).

What this means is that I've been able to bind a lot more of my abilities to my mouse, and this has (not surprisingly) seriously increased my performance.  Muscle memory hasn't quite set in yet, but a lot of my cooldowns and defensive OMG buttons are now a quick movement of my thumb away.  Where I used to have to clumsily hold CTR + A for my Chains of Ice (sure, I could have bound it to something else), I now simply twitch my thumb.  Where Army used to require a complex bending of my keyboard, I now flick my middle finger (taking flipping the bird to a whole 'nother level, if you ask me).  It's a lot more intuitive, especially for PvPers, where quick timing is everything.

Beyond the Game

 This whole situation, of course, got me thinking about hardware in general.  How much of a difference does it make?  Does buying a fancy keyboard, or a really nice mouse greatly improve you game?  Will I take some rogue apart the next time I PvP because my mouse is better than his?

No, obviously not.  PvP is largely about skill, and simply understanding your class well-enough to kill other classes with it.  Does my mouse define my skill as a player?  Absolutely not.  But it does make a difference.  And maybe at some point I'll duel somebody and beat them with 100 health left.  And then I'll be talking to that person and learn they have a standard mouse, with a left and right click and a wheel in the middle, no extra features packed in.  And I'll be glad I've got my Marathon M705, because in that case it probably mattered.

Does a gamer's hardware define their play-experience?  Obviously your computer does.  Another notable DK in my guild runs WoW on a largely custom-built gaming rig.  She pulls a remarkable 50 fps while idling, with every setting turned up to Ultra.  Apparently the lowest she ever sees her fps is 30, and only in high stress raiding/PvP.

Whereas my Inspiron, with a built in chip-set for its graphics card, and a fairly small amount of RAM pulls an average of 8 fps, with every setting turned down as low as it goes. 

Does THAT make a difference?  Well... yeah.  It's a huge difference.  But not everyone can drop the kind of money that computer cost.  So it boils down to the little things.  Your mouse, your keyboard.  And sometimes, hardware can matter.

That's not to say a hardcore arena player could not sweetly kick my ass into the next millennium, regardless of mice or hardware.  I'm a horrible 1v1er, and the first to admit it.  But I've got a mouse that does everything I want it to.  And I've gotten a little bit better as a result.

So what can you take away from all this?  Maybe nothing.  But maybe the next time you let loose that SHIFT + CTR + ALT Q super-combo spell, you can consider how easy it would be with a mouse button.  And the next time you see a sweet mouse on sale, you might just pick it up.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Understanding Battlegrounds: Premades and Group Make-Up

With Cataclysm fast approaching, one of the highest priorities on this list of many PvPers is how everything will play out with the implementation of Rated Battlegrounds.  These will act as arenas have in the past, yielding a rating which will increase with every win, and allowing the purchase of high-end PvP gear with Conquest Points (which will be earned though arenas and rated BGs).  Since Season 9 is scheduled to go live a couple weeks after the release of Cataclysm on December 7th, by the time you've got a team of players up to level 85, you will most likely be able to jump right into competitive PvP.

What does this mean for us now?

It's in your best interest right now, to familiarize yourself with premades and group make-up for PvP.  Especially if you've not had a competitive PvP experience in terms of BGs through the duration of Wrath, or even BC and vanilla.  You should start thinking about putting your premade group for Cataclysm together now, not after the release.

That's not to say that if you can't find a team now, you won't be able to run Rated BGs come Cata.  You'll absolutely be able to fine one after the expansion releases, in fact it will probably be easier after the 7th.  Why?  Because lots of teams will be recruiting.  But you'll be missing out on one of the most important things you can gain between now and Cataclysm.

I'm not talking about gear, or character progression.  And I'm not talking about the bragging rights to say you tore it up in one of the most broken periods of PvP history.  I'm talking about one, last, valuable thing you can gain before Cataclysm.


Yes, it matters.  If you get a team together NOW, and you practice with them NOW, you'll have a leg up on everyone who's still trying to figure Rated BGs out after the expansion goes live.  You'll have a chance to really get used to working with your group,and what each individual player can accomplish, as well as what you can pull together as a group.  So, with that in mind, I'm going to be posting a series of posts running you through some strategies to try to consider once Cataclysm drops.  And today I'll talk about group make-up.

The Team

The size of your premade group depends entirely on how many PvPers you can  get together.  Maybe your raid group already wants to PvP and you'll be able to jump right into Alterac Valley (which is going to be a 25 man come Cata).  Maybe you're smaller, and you'll be running only 10 mans, and PuGing five players to run 15s.  Or maybe you'll be creating more than one BG team, because you have  so many players.

As Cynwise pointed out a while back in his post on Rated BGs, it's probably a good idea to shoot for AROUND 15 players.  That way you can always run 15 mans, or 10s if everyone doesn't show.  Or you can run an Alerac Valley with a few PuGs if you get extra.

But once you've decided on a rough number, a lot of the decisions about how you want your team to function is up to you.

Ask yourself this question:  "How do I want my team to work?"

Do you want a super-aggressive, all-out beserker team?  Do you want a team that will capture objectives, then turtle them effectively?  Or do you want a balanced, all around team that you'll adapt on the fly.

With those questions in mind, let me introduce you to the four kind of players I'm grouping PvPers into.

1.  The Melee dps

Melee dps is your front line in a Battleground scenario.  While other kinds of players will hang back and attack from behind, melee dps rushes right in (or maybe sneaks in if we're talking ferals or rogues).  They're very important to the group as a whole, because as long as there's a bunch of crazies breathing down your throat, an unorganized team won't have the smarts to take a minute, and focus down your healers (more on that later.)  Melee dps also often has a lot of interrupts available (especially if we're talking DKs) and can be a huge asset in bringing down the opponent's healers.

The Melee's biggest weakness is that it tends to die.  A lot.  Before casters go down, and sometimes before even the healers go down, it's not uncommon for a group to just go after whatever's right in front of them.  And in almost every situation, that's going to to be your melee dps.  Losing this front line means your squishier players are vulnerable, so if the other group takes the bait and goes for your melee, it's important for healers to keep them alive.

2.  The Ranged dps

Ranged enough.

The ranged dps essentially performs the same tasks as the melee.  They do damage.  Lots of it.  But unlike  the melee who need to be right beside a target to blow it up, ranged dps can nuke those baddies from behind your melee.  They can also be positioned more strategically, like little turrets, standing up on higher ground, or in other clever places, out of reach of the enemy melee dps.

The ranged dps also suffers from the unfortunate weakness of generally being fairly squishy.  A warlock is, as a general rule, easier to kill than a paladin.  Sure, there are some specs, like frost mages, that have more defensive cooldowns

3.  The Healer

Possible one of the most important roles in a BG, the healer is that guy that keeps everyone alive.  Once we've had a chance to get our feet wet with premade vs. premade Battlegrounds, I suspect one the main  points in team-building will be the number of healers to bring vs. the number of dps.  A healer doing their job can make or break an encounter.

With this in mind, it's EXTREMELY important to do your part (assuming you aren't healing) and keep your healers alive.  Keep those pesky dps CCed and off your heals as often as possible.  A poor-playing PuG (which is what a premade will probably streamroll a lot of before Cataclysm) might not target your healers, but count on other premades focusing yours down in the blink of an eye.  Healers are what makes Crowd Control in larger-scale PvP just as important as it was in places like the arenas.  Heals make or break a group.

4.  The Off-Healer or the Secret Healer

This is one of the sneakier things you can do with a premade group.  When your team breaks up into little groups to capture certain objectives, you can cleverly plant a player that can heal, but doesn't.  This means you have a character who is specced to heal, and geared and experienced enough to do the job, but have them dps, or pretend that they are.  See, in most cases (with the possible exception of a Holy Paladin, which has a much greater mana pool than any other pally spec), it's almost impossible to distinguish a healer from another member of your group.  Lets use the example of a priest.

What you would do with said priest, is have them specced for healing (let's say disc), but cast a lot of shadow spells.   Now a group that's got their wits about them will notice the priest isn't in shadow form.  But they're probably not going to be looking too closely at that, they'll be going after the paladin a few feet away that's healing like crazy.

Until the group's ordinary healer starts having trouble, you have this closet healer just pretend to dps.  Keep them off the enemy's radar.   THEN, once your main heals starts having trouble, they switch gears and start healing up a storm.  If the other group took the bait, and hasn't been attacking that first healer, this will almost certainly wipe the other group.  However, expect it to only really work once, after you've tricked the other team, they probably wont' fall for it again, and your secret healing player will be up at the top of the hit list with the rest of your heals.

Trees before 4.0.1:  The ninjas of the healing family.
Making the Group

Now, once you've got a rough idea of how you're planning to use each kind of character, you'll have to think about how exactly you're going to put them together.  Working with your team mates, and gaining some serious team synergy, is one of the greatest challenges you'll face as a Battleground group.  But if you take some time now, and practice, you'll find you've left this expansion with something lasting and important, that will carry you well into Cataclysm.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

3/31/2 - Frost AoE PvP

Since my last post that discussed specific spec/rotations really left a whole lot more questions than answers, I decided to throw up a more in-depth run-through of the spec I've been playing basically since 4.0.1 dropped.  No credit goes to me for creating this spec, or this rotation- I heard about it from Felandis (Also on The Venture Co. US), but I'm not sure he invented it either.  At any rate- let me dive right in.

The spec, done out nice and clearly in the WoWhead talent calculator is this.  Glyphs aren't a huge deal, the same standards apply to this spec as to any other frost DK spec.  If there's any confusion about what glyphs work for Frost PvP, I may discuss that in a future post.  For the time being, allow me to explain a little bit.

Howling Blast

It's your new best friend.  This spec takes advantage of the new mastery system, introduced with the patch- which essentially gives you an extra 2% frost damage for every point of mastery rating you can get (Note:  mastery RATING, and you overall mastery are different things.  For example, my master is around 140, but my Mastery Rating is 14, giving me a 28% increase to all frost damage).  I'd recommend reforging crit on all your gear to mastery (since if you're in PvP gear, crit is really the only thing you can drop), since the bonus from mastery is better than pure crit.

What all this means, is that basically ALL your frost abilities are going to be hitting a lot harder.  And for the purpose of WPvP and BGs (which is really the only kind of PvP you can do until cata drops, since the arena season is done), being able to hit a LOT of enemies, really hard is a very nice thing indeed.  Howling blast with reforged mastery and my wrathful 1800 weapon hits for around 3.5-4k ish, (not including crits, obviously- those are exponentially higher) on every target.  This means assuming healing support, it's not impossible for you to AoE down an entire pack of allies (or horde, if you're on THAT side) with this spec.

The Rotation

I discussed this a little bit in my first post, but managed to confuse more people than I helped, so let me lay it down right here, very simply.  First, this spec does not use obliterate.  The reason being that obliterate ties up a frost rune, which eliminates one howling blast each time you use it.  One very important thing to keep in mind is that this is an AoE build.  Obviously in 1v1 situations, using the normal frost rotation makes a lot more sense (more on that later).
So with all that in mind, the way the rotation for AoE basically works is you start off with HB/HB then while your frost are on CD hit a couple PS (to get up another disease) then two BS.  As soon as your frost are off cooldown use HB x4 (since you should now have two death runes), then ERW, and rinse and repeat.  When Killing Machine procs, use FS (since OB ties up that sneaky frost rune).  Eventually you'll either be bursted down, or everything in sight will be dead.
Let's shoot for the later.

Single Target?  I know the question is going to be asked, so let me explain right here- that rotation makes less sense for single target dps.  Single target frost is a whole other animal.  It's a priority-based system which boils down to this:  1.  Get diseases up2.  Obliterate if both frost and unholy runes are all up (Or if both Death runes are up, OR if Killing Machine procs).3.  Blood Strike (if you've got two blood runes up)4.  Frost Strike5.  Rime (= HB)6.  Obliterate7.  Blood Strike (if only one rune is up)8.  Horn of Winter (a buff is better than doing absolutely nothing- and this should be kept up as much as you can).  This chart is a priority chart (for those who haven't seen one before), tier 1 is more important than tier 2 which is > than tier 3 etc. etc.  Conclusion:  AoE>Single Target  Here's the thing though, in a Battleground or in WPvP, 1 on 1 combat is pretty rare.  So, you're not going to find yourself single-target dpsing very often.  With that in mind, this spec really focuses more on AoE, and contributing a lot of dps to a lot of targets at once.  If you're totally new to frost dps post 4.0.1, and are planning to PvP extensively, I'd recommend learning to understand the standard AoE rotation before you worry about learning single-target dps (which is what you're going to have to understand if you raid a lot, obviously). Anyways, that basically covers AoE frost PvP.  Expect to top out damage frequently, but probably not get as many killing blows as other classes/specs might, since they go after one character at a time.  Used properly though, you can be a huge asset to your team with this tactic.  Bombing all the enemies down makes picking them off much easier for the rest of your dps. That's it for today folks! Practice safe death! ~Onike

Monday, November 1, 2010

Death Grip: Fun toy, or life-saving purple-y beam of doom?

Although DKs are sadly underrepresented in the blogging community as a whole, the few blogs that are written to our credit have covered one ability perhaps more than any other.  It has been one of the most controversial DK abilities, as well as one that caused more forums complaints that any other (besides perhaps miss-use of Army of the Dead in a raid).  You all know what I'm talking about:  Death Grip.

While this ability remains something of a niche tool for tanking in raid content (used only to pull casting mobs and such), it is absolutely invaluable in PvP.  As a Death Knight, Death Grip should ALWAYS be on your action bars, and if you aren't using it, I invite you to bust out your purple beam of doom loving self, and give it a whirl.  Just please, practice safe Death.

The don'ts.

While Death Grip may seem like a safe bet at any point in a PvP encounter, there are some major don'ts that you should keep in mind when using it.  First, keep in mind DG has a 30 second cooldown.  While not a tremendous number, that's 30 seconds that you will be without arguably the best peeling move in the game.  So, keep these things in mind when DGing it up.

1.  Is my enemy a healer, or a damage-dealer?  If the answer is damage-dealer, look around and make sure there are no healers nearby.  While pulling that annoying boomkin might seem tempting, killing that sneaky priest behind him is infinitely more valuable for your team.

2.  Is my enemy fairly close to me?  If so- don't DG.  Just chains of ice him, then run up and take his head off.  Simple, beautiful, and elegant. 

3.  Is my enemy extremely far away?  While chasing after that elusive rogue sprinting away may be tempting, I wouldn't recommend it.  If the enemy is out of range of DG, and just ignore them.  Running into the enemy team at random to pull them towards you will only end one way- and it won't be pretty.

4.  Is my enemy running towards me anyways?  This might seem obvious, but seriously- I've seen it done.  And done it myself before.  Sometimes that shiny DG button is just too big a temptation.  But let me state here and now, that if you enemy is a melee class, and running towards your team ANYWAYS, you should NEVER DG him.  He'll reach you in a few seconds anyways.  Don't waste that precious CD.

5.  Is my enemy over-geared, or tough to bring down?  The main purpose of DG is to pull dangerous, ranged enemies towards your team.  Especially when two groups of players are standing off against each-other, that one key squishy being dragged towards your side against his/her will can be a huge moral boost to your side.  Your team will probably instinctively focus on the DGed enemy, even if you're in a worst-case, random PuG scenario.  If you pull someone that has either A) a ton of AoE damage potential, or B) is just tough to kill, you're actually working against your team.  You'll either be significantly weakened, and easy prey for the remaining Alliance (or Horde if you took the wrong side), or you'll spend so much time trying to kill that freakin' paladin, that your team will find itself overrun with enemies.

The Dos

Most of the things that can go WRONG with DG in a PvP situation are pretty self-explanatory.  But, there's a subtle difference between not using DG wrong, and using it oh-so right.  So, let me list some of the best times to launch your enemies to their own demise.

1.  The interrupt.  It may be a little-known fact among DKs that haven't spent much time PvPing, but DG actually acts as an interrupt.  If you see a healer, within range of DG, casting a big heal, pulling them towards you will not only bring said healer within range of your vast array of weaponry, but also stop the heal they were casting, leaving anything short of a very good healer disoriented, and easy picking.  This is possibly the best, and most general use of DG in PvP.

2.  The mob factor.  When you're in a situation in one of the larger BGs or just in a big showdown in WPvP, where you find yourself in a face-off with the other side, DGing ANY enemy usually spells certain doom for them, since no one can take 10+ players single-handedly.  Sometimes, when the healers (which even in this situation should be your main target) are out of reach, just picking off the enemies one by one with DG can be a good strategy.  Also, in Alterac Valley, this method can be applied to your boss' room, before too many of your towers have been capped.  DGing a baddie into the throne room with you will sick the NPCs on them, and you probably won't even have to lift a finger.

3.  The CC.  While DG on its own is not a direct CC, it can turn into one.  In situations where slowing an enemy is the best thing for your team, combining DG with Chains of Ice, can give your team the boost they need to succeed.  Some of the big times this is especially worthwhile:  On the enemy flag carrier in WSG, or on that obnoxious melee chasing your destroyers in Strand.  CoIing your opponents after a DG is just good practice in general, but sometimes the precious seconds it buys make the difference between victory and bitter defeat.

4.  The chain.  Probably one of the more niche-y tactics that work with DG, this is actually a cool enough idea that I will probably discuss it in a future post.  But, let me say that it basically boils down to have DKs line up, and use DG one after the other, essentially pulling a bad-guy much further than DG normally should.

The conclusion?

DG is more than a cute toy, it's one of the most deadly abilities in the PvP DK's arsenal.  But like all weapons, it can be misused, or abused.  Just try to keep common sense in mind when applying it to your game, and you'll find it slowly seeping into the core of your DK.  Eventually, you'll probably come up with plenty of epic ways to employ it that I've never even dreamed of, and when you do, I'd love to hear about them.

But for the time being, keep your head about yourself and try to practice safe Death.