My last post illustrated all of my reasons why a playstyle with downtime benefits from being played skillfully, and why it can be a fun and interesting playstyle. However, the fast-paced style of today also benefits from being played skillfully, and it also can be a fun and interesting playstyle. While I personally prefer downtime, the message I seem to have failed to convey in my previous post was that neither downtime nor no-downtime are objectively bad.
Subjectivity is a whole other matter. Many players picked DWF for it's current fast-paced playstyle, which they have enjoyed for a long time, and is familiar to them (while mastersimple is a recent invention, low downtime has been a spec feature for as long as I can remember). To lose that would be to surrender an important, subjective reason for playing the class. On the other hand, countless others dislike the current playstyle, and see the potential of downtime to be the playstyle they have always wanted. Both groups of players feel like they have something to lose, and are fighting to defend their playstyle of choice.
Choice is at the heart of this matter. The choice of playstyles is nothing more than that, a choice. A choice is a powerful thing, and perhaps an active choice will save half of us from losing our playstyle of choice. Recently, Celestalon and whomever writes the patch notes has been promoting rotational choices as a good gameplay option, and I believe this certainly qualifies.
"For Energy-based gameplay to function well, the primary limitation on ability usage should be Energy, not time. That breaks down when a rotation becomes limited by available GCDs, rather than by Energy. Windwalkers were hitting this “GCD-cap” too easily, causing scaling problems as they geared up, and removing rotational choices." - http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/13423478/warlords-of-draenor%E2%84%A2-beta-patch-notes-august-19-19-08-2014#monk (Windwalker changes)
"Seraphim is a choice. Savage Roar can be glyphed, another choice." - https://twitter.com/Celestalon/status/505373892287160320
Hunters have a ton of talents which grant rotational or short CD abilities, to support this design. However, they were lacking in rotational depth. The gameplay of most of them boiled down to "use on cooldown". No need to think about preparing for when you're going to use it, or how it interacts with your rotation, etc. So, we're going to make some tweaks to try to add some rotational depth to several of the talent choices." - http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/13978297949?page=3#60
Adapting a low-downtime and high(er) downtime talent seems like a reasonable solution to give death knights a rotational choice between the 2 distinct playstyles.
Here is an example of some talents that would do the job:
Draw forth the infection from an enemy, consuming your Blood Plague and Frost Fever diseases on the target to activate two random fully-depleted runes as Death Runes. No Cooldown. Also increases rune regen by x%.
Increases all damage done by x% while your diseases are active on at least 1 target, further increase your disease damage by x%, and allows your diseases to benefit from haste.
Victims of your frost fever or blood blague are also afflicted with soul pox. Soul pox deals X shadowfrost damage every 3 seconds and increases the damage the target takes below 35% by x%.
There are many other possible solutions, such as locking a playstyle into a weapon choice, (DW remains fast paced, 2H becomes the downtime spec), any number of talent choices I haven't considered, or simply the choice between gearing towards haste vs. another stat. All of these choices have a problem though, as does the choice philosophy in general.
One choice will be mathematically better than the others. I feel pretty comfortable saying that it would be impossible to balance the choice to be exactly equal, and that even getting close would require a significant amount of developer time, which in turn might get other things cut.
There is also the issue that each potential solution would lock you into other effects of a talent talent you dislike, for example, hating PL and still wanting no downtime. The problem with making a weapon division is weapon availability is outside of most player's control, at least at the start of progression when it matters, so it's not really a choice at all. Leaving the problem alone would leave a lot of death knights unhappy, whether they leave downtime or no-downtime as the optimal choice.
If they could balance 2 (or, titans forbid, 3) talents close enough together, then you could choose to either gain or lose a miniscule amount of damage to go with your prefered playsytle, and I believe that many players would happily make that choice.
So my question to you is, do you see a solution I've overlooked? If not, how would you solve this problem? If they were to provide a talent option, how close would it have to be to work for you? Would you give up 5% DPS to play your preferred style? 1%? 0.05%? How close does it have to be.
Or share your talent ideas!