Wednesday, March 11, 2009

DK Tanking Nerfs, 3.1 Spec

QQ Time.

I try to make sure my posts are constructive. I try to keep an objective eye towards balance when considering my class and WoW at large. BUT sometimes you see those patch notes and the sheer volume of the nerfs overwhelms. The DK class is getting a major design overhaul. Not a single one of the changes is a buff. Tanking is getting hit especially hard. Getting hit even harder is Frost tanking...

I'll give you one guess as to what my role and spec are on my DK.

So i have spent the last week and a half or so going through the 5 Stages of Nerfs (based on the K├╝bler-Ross model for 5 Stages of Grief)

1. Denial: "They aren't going to nerf tanks. Everyone likes tanks! Its those DPS DK's that are the problem, no wait its those darn PvPer's"

2. Anger: " Why me?!?! Were the warlock nerfs of Vanilla and TBC not enough?!?! First my warlock, then my priest, now my DK?!?! Blizzard is out to get me. Those damn warrior tanks at tankspot are responsible!"

3. Bargaining: "Just let me keep my cooldowns! No? Ok, how bout my avoidance? No again? Ok, how bout my threat? that too? Bloodsuckers..."

4. Depression: "I'm going to quit. I am going to re-roll. ok maybe just respec..."

5. Acceptance: "Ok so maybe tanking KT and the adds at the same time is a bit OP. Maybe I shouldn't be able to hold aggro over an OT on a secondary target"

But by god it was fun while it lasted.

Really though I do believe the nerfs are going to have to be tuned down or DK's will be quite underpowered compared to the other tanks.

As it stands in live we take more damage than other tanks when our cooldowns are not up, and much less when they are active. So they are removing one of the cooldowns, nerfing the effect of one and doubling the cooldown on the remaining abilities. They are giving us nothing to make this up. Net result= we take more damage than other tanks.

In live our avoidance from talents is 15% percent 18% if frost. thats 8% above what other classes get (except druids who we are 5% above) On test they have removed 10% parry from talents. If the idea was to balance the avoidance all tanks get from talents, how come DK's are now behind the curve?

I'm rambling a bit here but what is the deal with howling blast? Blizzard obviously has no clue what they want to do with this spell. 10 second cooldown? No cooldown. 5 second cooldown. Back to 10 second cooldown. Double damage to diseased targets? 50% damage to diseased enemy's? no extra damage to diseased targets? Causes disease on targets?

I logged on to the PTR yesterday and Howling blast was on a 10 second cooldown and according to the tool tip it did full damage to targets regardless of diseases. In practice the ability still did more damage when the targets were diseased but it wasn't the huge disparity that we have on live. It also crits for far less than in live. Not to mention the cooldown was doubled.
Frost isn't looking very strong...

Unholy the way to go?

With the nerf to Frost's primary AOE and tanking cooldowns coming in 3.1 it looks like I will be changing over to a different tanking spec. While blood has gotten many improvements I still feel it lacks in aoe and damage mitigation/avoidance. Unholy was always a solid tanking spec that was only short in the single target threat department.

I had gotten the impression that blizzard wanted less unholy DK's, but with the frost nerfs I feel I am being pigeonholed into Unholy as an all around tanking spec. This may turn out to be a good thing! I have had the feeling that my avoidance is reaching levels where Boneshield will start to have some nice up time. On top of that i hardly use Unbreakable Armor as it is and I see the new version as a sheild block that doesn't block as much damage and is only up for 15 seconds every two minutes. I'll Pass.

As I said before Unholy's single target threat was the only shortcoming of the unholy tanking spec. As of now on the PTR scourge strike is hitting quite a bit harder than it is on live. Buffing the unholy tree's main single target attack should help with single target threat right?

Blood does still hold some attraction for tanking. If blizzard buffs death strike to be comparative with obliterate damage, then I could see giving it a shot. The self healing portion of death strike can really add to aoe aggro (the spec's main weakness) as long as the healing isn't being wasted. I really liked the play style of blood, to me it flowed so much better than unholy. The lack of aoe threat is a big turn off for me though. I enjoy having everything beating on me during aoe pulls!

I am sure there are a lot more changes to come on the PTR and we won't really know more until closer to patch day. I for one am hoping that they re-think some of these changes.


Occeleta said...

Blizzard seems to have a tendency to over nerf/buff then tune afterwards. Instead of slightly tuning first go around. I believe this is so they get both perspectives of classes/abilities being overpowered and underpowered, so they can get an idea of what they really want to do.

Sometimes they get it nailed down before the changes go live and sometimes they don't. Look at Retadins in wrath beta. And how underpowered BM Hunters became when they wanted to make survival more viable. Now they are slowly trying to tweak them to be more balanced.

I'm not saying I believe that DK tanking won't get nerfed by the time it goes live. Just that i'm not holding my breath for these changes as they currently are. They'll either get fixed before they go live or after an outcry shortly after. Which is another theory I have. Blizzard likes to make those that have been OP for some time feel UP for a while.

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best articles to date. I love the different stages analogy.

P said...

@ Occeleta- I agree completely, that does seem to be blizzards M.O. I don't think all the changes will make it to live in current form. they already have changed a bit in the current release.

@ Anonymous

Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

My reading of the patch notes is quite different, changes yes but I don't see a big nerf there. I still don't see any of my toons beating my DK in PvP. I have seen classes reduced to close to useless and other raised to gods.

Some interesting comments on blizzard philosophy of blatantly op'd and up'd classes.