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.

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