Saturday, April 19, 2014

Haste, Breakpoints, and Dual Weaponry

Haste:

What do you think of when you think of haste? Do you look at haste with affectionate eyes?


When I think of haste, the cold gleam of hate in my eyes should remind all those around me that I can be a grumpy death knight. Haste is, by far, the most complicated stat to deal it. It looks simple enough, haste makes you do stuff faster. But the value of haste defies understanding, it seems to actively resist being quantified into exactly how much faster and why. Sure, it makes you do stuff faster, but it also does things in a bumpy way. You can't get half an extra hit in per fight, just like your army ghouls, gary, and timmy can't get in half of an extra hit. So, unlike all the other stats, haste is riddled with steps along the way, where someone or other gets in one more hit with that extra juicy point of haste.


Despite all this, haste is generally considered crap for DW frost dks. It's our worst stat, point for point, and this is for a couple of reasons. The biggest of all these reasons is that we don't have any time to do more stuff. DWF dks are already "GCD capped", or using an ability every GCD, with very little haste. This isn't an inherent design flaw, but rather stems from plague leech and AMS. Plague leech generates 2 runes every 30 seconds, and has the added benefit of being used only when we need it. It also takes up a GCD to cast, so it ends up spending 3 GCDs every 30 seconds, or 10% of our time, just on PL. It's worth about 8000 haste, in terms of rune regeneration, and is actually better because it's on call for whenever we want it. AMS, in a similar vein, generates on-demand runic. With the regenerative magic glyph, and a decent amount of magic damage in the fight, AMS generates a LOT of runic. So much, that it ends up eating a large number of our GCDs as we try to keep up with the runic gain, which leads to BT charges, which leads to HBs which leads to more FS. It takes a while for the flood of resources to die down after an AMS usage.


While not letting us use more stuff with all of the extra resources coming in from PL and AMS, haste still gives us more white hits, as well as proc uptime, km procs, pet swings, ect ect. The non-rune related benefits of haste seem to be worth about 50% of it's total value, with the other 50% coming from actually being able to use the runes. When we are GCD capped to the point we are now, and unable to use half of the value of haste, the other half simply isn't good enough to compete with better stats like mastery and crit. And so, haste is weak, and feels bad because it leads to wasting more resources. Most DWF dks avoid haste like the plague. 


Breakpoints:

There seems to be one breakpoint worth reaching. The T16 2-set bonus is as follows: Killing Machine grants 500 mastery for 6 seconds, stacking up to 10 times. Now, haste makes the uptime of "death shroud" go up in a pretty linear fashion. More haste means more melee swings means more KM procs, which in turn means more death shroud buffs. However, there is also a pretty big step hidden here. Death shroud lasts 6 seconds, and in that 6 seconds you do a certain number of melee swings. Going from 5 swings to 6 swings is actually a really big deal, as it's an extra chance to extend the duration of a proc instead of proccing a fresh one a half second later. 

The most important, and only really viable, breakpoint I could find was for 8 attacks in the 6 second period. It doubles the uptime you have on a 10-stack of the 2-set. It's worth a net increase of about 1400 dps, or 0.4%, which is amazing for a single point of haste. It's easily reachable and worth reaching in current gear. 




The breakpoint is at 3686 haste. Below is a list of all of the breakpoints. 

Attacks:   Interval Between Attacks          Haste required      Haste from gear required   Haste rating

5 attacks: 1.2 1.08333333333333 0
6 attacks: 1.0 1.3 0
7 attacks: 0.85714285714286 1.51666666666666 0
8 attacks: 0.75 1.73333333333333 1.08672936259143 3686
9 attacks: 0.66666666666667 1.95 1.22257053291536 9460
10 attacks: 0.6 2.16666666666667          1.35841170323929 15233
11 attacks: 0.54545454545455 2.38333333333331        1.4942528735632 21006
12 attacks: 0.5 2.6 1.63009404388715 26779



Dual Weaponry: 

After calculating the values, I tried them out in simC. At 3686, (nearly exactly), the sim reported a huge increase in both damage and 2-set 10 stack uptime. I was overjoyed to have everything work out, and thought I'd be wrapping up soon. Then I tried the next breakpoint at 9460. There was none. I tried 15233, and uptime went from 25% to 40% in a single point of haste. 21006 was missing as well. The culprit of the missing odd breakpoints is the way simC handled auto-attacks. It activated main-hand and offhand attacks at the same time, causing a super breakpoints, gaining 2 attacks half as often. This was quickly fixed, thanks to Collision in the simC IRC channel, and yet upon trying out the new version, I found that the odd breakpoints had moved from on top of the even breakpoints to about ~2000 haste before they were supposed to be. This had me perplexed, until I ran through a simC output log and noticed the problem. At the end of bloodlust, the swing timer remaining for each weapon was different, and the dynamic adjustment in haste caused the weapon swings to desync. This gap between weapon swings led to the odd breakpoints, or breakpoints with the offhand weapon, to be in an unexpected place. This could be fixed simply enough, but to what end? Review of in-game logs show that melee hits happen 0.2% more often than they should, and not in perfect intervals. That could just be logs misrepresenting the information, but in-game testing also points to desyncing issues. If you autoattack a dummy out of range, wait a second, and move in range, you can watch your toon attack with both weapons at the same time, and then seemingly sync back to alternations, and then back to at the same time, over the course of several seconds. 

I'm 95% sure that the autoattacks of the mainhand weapon are timed correctly, but I'm not sure what the hell is going on with the offhand. Luckily, the first odd breakpoint is at 9460, and that's not worth going for. Stick as low as possible haste, without going lower than 3686, and expect to see a little bit of extra damage!

Bonus: 

It's possible to force sync weapon swing timers by stepping out and in of range. That would bring the odd breakpoint right down to on top of the even breakpoint, which would be a DPS gain. Stepping in and out after every single melee swing..... (if you didn't lose any dps by stepping out of range)
Would make the death knight hokey pokey a way to increase DPS. 
Huge thanks to Arrak in #acherus and Collision/Reia in #simcraft for helping me get this all figured out. 
I'm trying out a new style with the google images because reasons. I like it, do you like it?

Friday, April 4, 2014

6.0 DK Changes, Part 1

Today is a good day. After months of drought, we finally have the first batch of changes for the 6.0 WoD expansion, and I'm going to take a look at the ones pertaining to DKs. Keep in mind all of these are, as always, subject to change, and the full list of changes can be found at battle.net, and mmoc.


Revised Level 100 Talents:

Necrotic Plague - A powerful disease that deals XXXX Shadowfrost damage per stack every 2 sec for 30 sec. Each time it deals damage, it gains 1 stack, and infects another nearby enemy within 8 yards if possible. You gain 5 Runic Power whenever a target infected with Necrotic Plague attempts to attack you. Replaces Blood Plague and Frost Fever, and is applied by any ability which applied either.

With a base damage of X, and gaining 1 stack every damage deal, the first tick will do X damage, and the final tick will do 15X damage. The total damage is X + 2X + 3X... or 120X. Under half of this damage (55/120) is done in the first 20 seconds, and the majority takes place in the last 10 seconds. The free spreading infection will be a very nice cleave boost, especially on streaming adds, without requiring constant reapplication of pestilence/BB. How high X is will determine whether or not this is worth sacking FF and BP and a talent slot for. From a DPS perspective, you will not often have targets trying to melee you, so the defensive benefit is likely to be moot.

Defile - Defiles the ground targeted by the Death Knight, causing XXXX Shadow damage every 1 sec for 30 sec. Each time Defile deals damage, it increases in area and damage by 5%. This growth can occur a maximum of 3 times per second. Enemies standing in your Defile deal 10% less damage to you. Replaces Death and Decay. 1 Unholy, 30 yd range, Instant, 30 sec cooldown

Defile has had it's duration increased from 10 seconds to 30 seconds, which is huge. Below are some tables of the overall damage with both 1 and 3 targets total. Assuming that the 10% less damage debuff applies to AE abilities, defile has the potential to be a great defensive CD as well, 10% less damage taken with 100% uptime is silly for both tanks and dps, and I expect to see that nerfed. 

With each defile tick hitting 3 targets:

Tick 1: X
Tick 2: 1.15X
Tick 3: 1.3X
Tick 4: 1.45X
Tick 5: 1.6X
Tick 6: 1.75X
Tick 7: 1.9X
Tick 8: 2.05X
Tick 9: 2.2X
Tick 10: 2.35X
Tick 11: 2.5X
Tick 12: 2.65X
Tick 13: 2.8X
Tick 14: 2.95X
Tick 15: 3.1X
Tick 16: 3.25X
Tick 17: 3.4X
Tick 18: 3.55X
Tick 19: 3.7X
Tick 20: 3.85X
Tick 21: 4.0X
Tick 22: 4.15X
Tick 23: 4.3X
Tick 24: 4.45X
Tick 25: 4.6X
Tick 26: 4.75X
Tick 27: 4.9X
Tick 28: 5.05X
Tick 29: 5.2X
Tick 30: 5.35X
Total: 92.25X

With each defile tick hitting 1 target:

Tick 1: X
Tick 2: 1.05X
Tick 3: 1.1X
Tick 4: 1.15X
Tick 5: 1.2X
Tick 6: 1.25X
Tick 7: 1.3X
Tick 8: 1.35X
Tick 9: 1.4X
Tick 10: 1.45X
Tick 11: 1.5X
Tick 12: 1.55X
Tick 13: 1.60X
Tick 14: 1.65X
Tick 15: 1.7X
Tick 16: 1.75X
Tick 17: 1.8X
Tick 18: 1.85X
Tick 19: 1.9X
Tick 20: 1.95X
Tick 21: 2X
Tick 22: 2.05X
Tick 23: 2.1X
Tick 24: 2.15X
Tick 25: 2.2X
Tick 26: 2.25X
Tick 27: 2.3X
Tick 28: 2.35X
Tick 29: 2.4X
Tick 30: 2.45X
Total: 51.75X

Breath of Sindragosa - Continuously deals XXXX Shadowfrost damage every 1 sec to enemies in a cone in front of you within 12 yards, and affects them with Mark of Sindragosa for 6 sec. You will continue breathing until canceled or Runic Power is exhausted. Mark of Sindragosa causes you to be healed for 5% of spell damage dealt by afflicted enemies. 15 Runic Power, plus 15 per sec, Instant, 1 min cooldown

It's possible to keep this up for a long period of time, starting with 100 runic gives you the 85/15, or 5.6 seconds, during which you can pretty easily generate another 50, which is another 3.3 seconds, after which you can AMS for 100-200 runic over 5 seconds, which is another 13 seconds, and you can continue generating runic as you go along. I'd imagine it's possible to keep it up for about 20-25 seconds max, but not much has changed about this talent since blizzcon, and I'll still need to know what X is before I can do much more with it. The defensive benefit is better than necrotic plague's, but worse than defile, IMO. 

LV 90-100 Perks:


All:
Improved Diseases - Increases damage done by your diseases by 20%.
Improved Soul Reaper - Increases Soul Reaper damage by 20%.

Blood:
Enhanced Will of the Necropolis - Allows Will of the Necropolis to be triggered again 30 sec sooner.
Enhanced Rune Tap - Reduces the cooldown on Rune Tap by 10 sec.
Enhanced Death Grip - Reduces the cooldown on Death Grip by 5 sec.
Enhanced Bone Shield - Bone Shield has 2 additional charges.
Improved Heart Strike - Increases Heart Strike damage by 30%.
Improved Death Strike - Increases Death Strike damage by 20%.
Enhanced Rune Strike - Rune Strike also creates a Rune Shield, absorbing the next XXXX Physical damage within 10 sec.

Frost:

Improved Razorice - Rune of Razorice deals an additional 12% weapon damage when it triggers.
Improved Cinderglacier - Rune of Cinderglacier has 3 additional charges when it triggers.
Improved Soul Reaper - Increases Soul Reaper's Shadowfrost damage by 40%.
Empowered Pillar of Frost - Pillar of Frost provides an additional 10% Strength and no longer costs any runes.
Empowered Icebound Fortitude - Icebound Fortitude reduces damage taken by an additional 10%.
Empowered Rime - Rime also increases the damage done by Howling Blast and Icy Touch by 20%.
Enhanced Death Strike - Increases Death Strike healing by 20%.
Unholy:
Enhanced Death Strike - Increases Death Strike healing by 20%.
Enhanced Dark Transformation - Dark Transformation no longer costs any runes.
Improved Scourge Strike - Increases Scourge Strike damage by 20%.
Improved Festering Strike - Increases Festering Strike damage by 20%.
Enhanced Fallen Crusader - Rune of the Fallen Crusader heals for an additional 7%.
Enhanced Death Coil - Increases Death Coil damage by 20% and range by 10 yards.
Empowered Gargoyle - Increases the duration of Summon Gargoyle by 10 sec.

Most of the perks are only number changes, which are irrlevent. The numbers only matter compared to each other, and don't make much of a difference in a vacuum, as balance is way too far off to even consider. I'll list the mechanical changes below, and talk about them a bit. 

Blood:
Enhanced Will of the Necropolis - Allows Will of the Necropolis to be triggered again 30 sec sooner.
This is.... insane. Will of the Necropolis has a 45 sec ICD right now, so this brings it down to only 15 seconds. True, the 25% damage reduction for 8 seconds is being nerfed down to 4 seconds, but it's still overall a massive buff, and makes blood a better tank at surviving more damage when already at low health. The free rune tap every 15 seconds is nothing to snuff at either. 

Enhanced Rune Tap - Reduces the cooldown on Rune Tap by 10 sec.
This brings rune tap down to 20 seconds, and when combined with the above change to Will of the Necropolis, it means you can rune tap 7 times a minute, (if Will of the Necropolis has no downtime)

Enhanced Death Grip - Reduces the cooldown on Death Grip by 5 sec.
Brings the CD down to 20 seconds, nice QoL change, will give blood a little more utility in certain raid encounters, and help the leveling process a bit. I wish this applied to DPS specs as well. 

Enhanced Bone Shield - Bone Shield has 2 additional charges.
Up to 8 charges baseline, nothing major, but a nice little defensive bonus for blood. 

Enhanced Rune Strike - Rune Strike also creates a Rune Shield, absorbing the next XXXX Physical damage within 10 sec.
This is a pretty major mechanical change. Now, both death strike and rune strike create a shield. Rune strike will no longer be a filler, used during low damage periods to ensure you have the runes available to survive burst damage, but instead be a part of the survival cycle, depending on how they balance the shields. Assuming they are at least somewhat similar, and taking into account the fact that death strike shield no longer scales with short term damage and rather long term vengeance, I believe DS timing will be a thing of the past, and be replaced with a constant flow of DSs and RSs. 

Frost:
Improved Razorice - Rune of Razorice deals an additional 12% weapon damage when it triggers.
This is a pretty significant change, RoRI only deals 2% weapon damage now, so this will increase it to 14%. Still only a numbers change though, so not much to say, other than it looks like they are giving runeforging a look like they said they would. 

Improved Cinderglacier - Rune of Cinderglacier has 3 additional charges when it triggers.
I expect this change to put cinderglacier on the map. Considering how hard I expect defile, necrotic plague, and sindy's breath to hit for, and the fact that 5 charges is a lot better than 2 charges, this could well be the de facto runeforge by the time WoD rolls around.

Empowered Pillar of Frost - Pillar of Frost provides an additional 10% Strength and no longer costs any runes.
Nice QoL change, you'll no longer need to bank a rune right before pillar's CD comes up, and this should overall increase our pillar uptime by a small amount (more for less skilled players). You also get a free rune! 

Empowered Icebound Fortitude - Icebound Fortitude reduces damage taken by an additional 10%.
Nice to see a 50% buff to our main defensive skill, which has always felt very weak-sauce. 

Empowered Rime - Rime also increases the damage done by Howling Blast and Icy Touch by 20%. 
Another significant mechanical change. This will probably kill mastersimple, as even DW's obliterates will give you free, juked up HBs. Only time and math will tell. 


Unholy:
Enhanced Dark Transformation - Dark Transformation no longer costs any runes.
Nice, small QoL change, similar to PoF. We no longer need to bank a rune, and get slightly higher on DT, AND a basically free rune.

Enhanced Death Coil - Increases Death Coil damage by 20% and range by 10 yards.
Death coil range is the interesting thing here, and even that's not very interesting. It's nice, but we out of range rarely enough that it won't matter much. 

Empowered Gargoyle - Increases the duration of Summon Gargoyle by 10 sec.
40 second gary is nice, but still basically just a numbers change. the longer solid block of casting won't cut off as many casts, on a per fight basis, which is nice. 



Megablog:

Each point of Agility or Strength now grants 1 Attack Power (down from 2). All other sources of Attack Power now grant half as much as before.
Weapon Damage values on all weapons have been reduced by 20%.
Attack Power now increases Weapon Damage at a rate of 1 DPS per 3.5 Attack Power (up from 1 DPS per 14 Attack Power).

Leaving this here for my reference more than anything else, this is the most numbers we've gotten in ages. This isn't that interesting now, but will be very useful later on.


Army of the Dead now deals 75% less damage and is only available to Blood Death Knights.
Dual Wield is now only available to Frost Death Knights.
Horn of Winter no longer generates Runic Power, has no cooldown, and lasts 1 hour.
Necrotic Strike is now learned only by Frost and Unholy Death Knights.
Raise Dead is now only available to Unholy Death Knights, summons a ghoul as a permanent pet, and has a 1-minute cooldown.
Master of Ghouls has been removed.
Rune Strike now replaces Death Coil for Blood Death Knights.
Frost Strike now replaces Death Coil for Frost Death Knights.
Obliterate now replaces Blood Strike for Frost Death Knights.
Unholy Frenzy has been removed.
Our CD pruning! Overall, I think we got off pretty easy. Frost/unholy lost army, frost/blood lost raise dead, and death coil, and unholy lost unholy frenzy. All specs also lost HoW as a runic generator, and frankly, it was probably one of least interesting abilities. I have no idea what the comment about frost being the only spec that can DW means, as frost is currently the only spec that can DW. Other than CDs and HoW, we didn't lose anything.

A few things have happened for Death Knights. As described above in Ability Pruning, several cooldowns were made spec-specific. Rotations remain unchanged for the most part. One thing we did polish up is the effect of Diseases on the damage of other abilities. Diseases now do enough damage on their own to warrant using them, so having them act as multipliers on the damage of other abilities was extraneous, and just cluttered up the tooltips of those abilities. We removed those multipliers, and just baked in their benefit to the corresponding base spell. This slightly reduces ramp-up time.
Blood Boil damage has been increased by 50%, but no longer deals additional damage to targets affected by Blood Plague or Frost Fever.
Heart Strike damage has been increased by 30%, but no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target.
Obliterate now deals 25% more damage on both main- and off-hand weapons, but no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target.
Scourge Strike no longer deals additional damage for each disease present on the target. The ability now deals 50% of the Physical damage dealt as additional Shadow damage; this effect can critically hit and no longer ignores modifiers.

This is old news from blizzcon, diseases no longer scale ability damage up. This means pretty much nothing for us, other than what is described above, that we have slightly less ramp-up time. Disease uptime will still probably be essential, if the application remains as easy and painless as it does today.

In order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Unholy Death Knights, we reduced the power of their passive Unholy Might ability.
Unholy Might (Unholy) bonus changed from +35% to +10%.
Numbers nerf! 50 gold says by the end of WoD it's back up to 50%.


Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights' tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolve, above), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button. To tie those together, Blood's Mastery is being changed to affect both the size of the Blood Shield absorb, and the new Rune Shield absorb. Additionally, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Blood Death Knights to value Haste and Crit as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to auto attack and Rune Strike crits. Finally, we tweaked the targeting AI of Dancing Rune Weapon, and fixed it up to use most Talents that you know.
Heart Strike now only cleaves 1 additional target (down from 2).
Death Strike now causes healing that scales in effectiveness with attack power, instead of based on damage taken in the last 5 sec. This healing is affected by Resolve.
Blood Rites now causes Death Strike to also cause an absorb for 50% of the amount healed.
Rune Tap now grants an absorption shield that scales in effectiveness with Attack Power, instead of a heal based on a % of maximum health. It also now has 2 charges, with a 30-second recharge time.
Will of the Necropolis now grants an immediate charge, and makes your next Rune Tap free. However, its damage reduction buff now only lasts 4 sec (down from 8sec).
Mastery: Bloody Shields now increases the effectiveness of Blood Shield and Rune Shield by 16% (percentage increased by mastery), instead of adding the Blood Shield effect.
Riposte has been redesigned.
Riposte: After getting a Critical Strike with an Auto Attack or Rune Strike, you gain +100% Parry chance until you Parry an attack. This can stack up to 2 times.
Dancing Rune Weapon’s summoned Rune Weapon now remains fixated on the Death Knight’s target at the time of summoning, and copies the effects of Talents that are tied to the Death Knight, such as Blood Boil, Frost Fever, or Asphyxiate. Should the original target be dead or otherwise unavailable, the Rune Weapon will switch to assist with the Death Knight’s current target.

Blood stuff! Not my specialty, but I'll go into these changes a little. The primary difference between blood and the other activate mitigation models for mop has been that blood scales with mitigated damage taken, while every other spec scales with vengeance, or unmitigated damage taken. That means that every healer absorb, defensive cooldown, or even our own blood shields reduced the value of our next blood shield, and basically led to us shooting ourselves in the foot. That, combined with the short 5 second window for DS timing, lead to some interesting gameplay to try to overcome our weakness. This was called DS timing, and is described a lot more masterfully by reniat and tyvi in their respective blood guides on mmoc and EJ. Changing blood shield over to the new resolve system removes that timing, and to some degree removes an aspect of skillful play for the blood spec. However, at the same time it removes a major weakness of the blood spec, so I believe it's for the best. Combined with rune strike and rune tap also creating a shield, I expect blood rotation will look more like a flowing chain of DS, RS, and RT, trying to get as many DS/RS out as possible in the given period of time. It's possible this will popularize RE as the most throughputty talent for rune regen. The new riposte looks to be basically making crit rating a direct conversion into parry rating, (when 1 crit gives you 1 parry, they are essentially one and the same, assuming you have as many chances to crit as you do to parry), though it will fall very short on AE tanking.

Since the Ghoul pet is now Unholy only, that presents a problem for Death Pact. We revised Death Pact to not require an undead minion, but work a little differently. We left it at 50% heal, which is effectively a 33% buff to it from before (see Healing and Player Health above), and added a heal absorb for half the amount healed, instead. It should now be a relatively more effective heal for staying alive immediately, but with the downside of needing to heal through the heal absorb before you can be healed any further.
Death Pact no longer requires an undead minion, and instead places a heal absorb on you for 50% of the amount healed.
I felt a little indifferent about this change at first, but I'm pretty sure I agree with it now. Death pact is a major defensive cooldown, and one of the abilities I'm very happy was not pruned. It loses a little flavor without the pet sacrificing, (I suppose that's the sacrifice we have to make, flavor to make the game mechanics work) yet remains one of our few strong survival CDs. The anti-heal was an..... interesting way to handle the health absorb, and I'm not sure if it was entirely necessary. They've doubled health pools, but they've also doubled the damage dealt by creatures, so the "33%" healing buff described is only true when compared to other healing spells, this is a nerf compared to existing mob damage. It reminds me a bit of dark bargain, prevent/heal the damage now, and pay for it later. We'll have to see what this actually looks like in a raid setting.


There were also a few other miscellaneous changes. The Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable, and balanced.
Anti-Magic Shell now restores 2 Runic Power per 1% of max health absorbed.
Major AMS regen nerf. Right now, the conversion rate is 1 runic per 1000 health, and AMS absorbs up to 50% of your max health, which meant about 350 runic for a max absorb, in BiS gear. With such a short CD on AMS with the CDR trinket, AMS was a very important part of playing a DK correctly, and the difference between using AMS intelligently or not could amount to as high as 10%-20% dps on certain fights. With this nerf, a fully absorbed soak for 50% of your health (which isn't that hard to get to be fair), will only grant 100 runic. While most of the runic over 100 was wasted, this will make soaking runic from smaller damage sources much harder, and actually reduce your damage as you gain more stamina. I expect people who want to parse as high as possible to actively remove stamina buffs to soak just a little more runic per AMS. 
Overall, this can be considered both a negative change, because it lowers the skill ceiling on how well you can play a dk, and a positive change, because it helps (slightly) to address the fact that we are GCD locked with no haste and a 1 second GCD baseline.



Mastery: Blood Shield now also passively increases Attack Power by 12% (percentage increased by Mastery), in addition to its current effects.
This is a necessary change, now that vengeance no longer increases damage done, to help tank damage scale with gear.





And that's all I have to say about these patch notes in their current state. I'm sure we'll see more information released over the next few months, and as we incorporate this into simC, and start getting some hard numbers, we can begin to run balance checks on the new talents, specs, and rotations to see if anything has changed on that end.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stat Weights; We've been doing it all wrong.

Today, I've made the biggest breakthrough of my already extremely profitable career of being a DK nerd. A thought came to me, a glorious thought, a crazy thought. When we sim our stat weights, we only sim a certain range of stats. Strength, crit, haste, mastery, sometimes hit and expertise if we're feeling peckish. But we leave all the other stats untested. No one has ever been daring enough to sim every stat, before today. As it turns out, we've been doing things wrong ever since DKs were released in wrath.

Not surprisingly, I found only minor gains for parry, dodge, armor, agility, and block rating, but several stat weights blew my mind. The value of intellect, and spirit has been so far underestimated that it's a wonder we're even remotely competitive at the moment. Of all our major class issues, our clunkyness (clunkiness? clunkatude? clunkylunkymonkey?), our scaling problems, and our wonky mechanics, the fact that we have so low DPS is the biggest challenge we face.

And now we have the answer. We must fight smarter, now harder. Our brute force approach, applying as much strength as possible to the problem, could only ever have been folly in hindsight. We are now death knight scholars, and will solve our problems not by hitting our foes really hard on their shields, but rather hard enough in the..... smart places. Attached are the newest stat weights for DW frost, I'll get to the other specs later, but I can only imagine similar results.


Disregard my clearly not photo-shopped colors.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Death Knight Audits

What is an audit?

An "audit", in this context, consists of me reviewing your toon's armory profile, and logs for certain fights, and making suggestions on how to improve. I'll help you make sure your gear choices, reforges, and itemization is as min/maxed as possible, and that you are doing the rotation perfectly. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask in the Q&A thread on MMOC, or the page on this blog, and nothing will be changing in that regard. However, if you want personal help for your toon, you now have a way to get it. 

Where do I get this audit?


You can find the page to create an audit at http://sentrytotem.com/help-me, which is a newly launched website I'm lucky enough to be a part of. Simply hit the "Submit Request" button, make an account, and put in your logs/armory, as well as details like any specific requests for fights to look at, what spec you are, and anything else you think will be relevant. 


How much is this going to cost?

This process is completely free, with the option to tip. Any tips will be going towards my 2014 blizzcon fund. 

This post is too small!

It is rather short. What else can I talk about? How about a sample ticket!
(Click for bigger picture)



In another random, unrelated tidbit of news, Celestalon tweeted that, of the 3 cases of "players finding better rotations than the optimal rotation in mind during design" DKs hold 2 of them. Masterfrost and Festerblight. Go us!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Destiny

Destiny Softworks

If you're on here for WoW related things, feel free to ignore this post.



So, what is Destiny Softworks? Destiny softworks is my dream; I want to be a game developer. One of the reasons I've spent so much time trying to understand class mechanics in WoW is because it was a good place to start in understanding game design in general. I've spent the past year learning how to use various tools for game design, and teaching myself about how the whole process works. Turns out, it's more complicated than it looks and is made up of a lot of different parts.

I'm not going to go into detail into all those parts, at least not here, but I will admit that I'm more proficient at some than others. Despite my skill or lack thereof in all of these fields, I've actually managed to create a small game over the past month that I'd like to share with you. You'll be able to find links under the VIP man page above.

VIP man is a 5 minute side scrolling shooter. You control a superhero clearly not based on superman at all, with either WASD or arrow keys. Click to shoot out your laser beams, which will help you destroy the enemies! Can you defeat the aptly named boss monster?



Everything in that game was done solely by me (other than the music), in my free time, and my word it shows. To that end:




Well, in a manner of speaking. You'll notice that VIP man is a bad game. The weakest aspect, in my opinion, is the aesthetic. The other parts of the game aren't amazing either, but that's because it's more of a proof of concept than something that I actually want to be good. I've begun work on a game that I hope will eventually evolve into a fully featured good release, one that I can sell, but until it gets a bit further along, the chance of any compensation is small. To that end, Destiny Softworks is now hiring without being able to pay a salary!

What are we looking for?

I'm looking for an artist. Fancy yourself one? Looking for a long term investment instead of a short term payoff? Apply today!

What will you be working on?

A small quantity of concept art, and then a fair number of 2D sprites and animations, as well as backgrounds. I'm not ready to reveal too much about the game yet, but it's got a lot to do with castles and siege warfare, so if you want to design some catapults, you're in luck!

I'm not interested. This isn't death knight related, why are you writing about this?

Well, the blog is called Destiny Softworks, not death knighty stuff. If you have no interest in my journey towards game design, fear not, just ignore all of the posts with the game design tag and nothing will change. However, this is both an integral part of my life, a major motivation for time I've spent on dks in the first place, and my dream. If you're not interested in working with me, but you are interested in checking out games made by me, or potentially being an alpha or beta tester, just stay tuned on the blog.


I might be interested, where can I talk to you more about this?

You can reach me at jake.richards@gmail.com
For wow related stuff, I'd prefer if you still used the comment system on my blog, my twitter, or my mmoc PM box/dk help thread to contact me. Anything game design related feel free to stick in my email.

What if you can't find anyone to do art with you?

Then the game will just have to be done with my... *cough* unique style of art.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Death Knight: The Ranged Class

Death Knights have always been a melee class, we're soldiers of the lich king that spread disease and hit stuff in the face with weapons. However, out of all the melee, DKs probably have the most range abilities.
There are times when being a melee DPS is a weakness, when you need to be stacked away from the boss for a mechanic, or when the boss flies in the air. There are also times when being in melee is a lot more dangerous than being in ranged, all up close and personal, and the question that came to my head was "how effective would a DK be  as a pure ranged dps?" That's the question I hope to answer today.

Frost DW:

Perhaps the best suited spec to this line of thinking, frost DW's primary attack of HB is ranged. To start off, let's take a baseline example to compare with. This is the default T16H DW profile, running with a mastersimple rotation. Note that all default profiles run for 450 seconds, or 7.5 mins. http://pastebin.com/U9t85GUd



Now we'll go through the action list, and remove any that we can't do from a range, and then try to optimize it a bit. I'm going to assume for the purpose of this exercise that our pets can still attack the boss in melee, and add in death coil as a runic dump. http://pastebin.com/Z7czJZ7n



So the damage drops down to about 25% of what you can expect in melee damage. Well, that sucks. Stat weights, interestingly enough, shift mastery to the bottom, despite the majority of your damage being frost damage. This is likely because of how important FS is to our frost damage portions, and with frost damage making up 72% of the ranged dk (HB + FF + Frozen Power),  it makes up 77% of our damage as a melee (FF + FS + FP + HB). This is with 0 FSs for the entire fight though, and it makes me wonder what happens if I set it to a shorter burst. If you're out of range of the boss for the entire fight, you're doing something wrong. Let's try a 100 second fight, which could be thought of as a long air phase. 



Not bad, So for a full 100 seconds we can do about 1/3 of our full potential at ranged. What if we set that even shorter? Let's try a 30 second fight.



So we can see for a 30 second burst, we can do about 1/2 the damage at range that we can do in melee. Not too bad, but still not something you want to be trying to do. Obviously as you get shorter and shorter, it gets closer and closer, until you reach about 95% at 1 second (1 HB GCD without a melee swing), so we know that the longer we remain at range, the more it costs us. 


2H Frost:

Once again we'll be starting off with a baseline. Same deal as before, T16H 2H frost profile, though this time we'll be skipping the stat weights. http://pastebin.com/3tBJ08tn


And now we add the range profile, once again removing any melee only abilities and adding in death coil as a runic dump. Since this is 2H, I also changed the primary rune dump to be HB. http://pastebin.com/8uKnZDDE


Surprisingly, we get even more damage for a full duration ranged fight as 2H than we do as DW. True, some HB damage is lost due to the lack of mastery, but the innate double damage bonus for 2H's frozen power seems to be more than enough to make up the difference. Anyway, let's see the results for a 100 second fight!





Very similar to the DW results, other than pulling slightly ahead for range DPS. I guess we can add on best range dps to 2H's limited list of strengths. Next up is the 30 second burst!



Lower melee, and higher range damage again. That frozen power really makes a difference. So that, how the rune dump at ranged spec went, let's take a look at the spec that can only use a runic dump at ranged!

Unholy:


Starting us off will be your run of the mill, average joe unholy profile lifted from simC's default!


And here is our ranged profile. These profiles do include a full runic bar from AMS every minute, so that might help a little. Let's see! http://pastebin.com/mD1380i9
(Update: With the suggestion provided by anonymous in the comment section, I've added in icy touch and blood boil as a runic dump, with death siphon used after they are converted into death runes, and the results go way up.)

Range: 195k DPS

Anyone else surprised? Just me? As it turns out, unholy is going to be using a lot of lackluster abilities like IT and BB that doesn't hit the target while at ranged, which isn't surprising at all, but manages to kick ass at actually doing damage while at ranged. How? Pets. Unholy's minions take care of a whopping 40% of it's damage at range, with diseases pulling in another 20%, and only a mere 40% leftover to the occasional death coil, and death siphon hits. So it seems that unholy is actually the king of ranged dps, provided your pets can actually attack that is. Let's take a look at a 100 second fight next! 


Range: 288k DPS


Not only does unholy blow frost out of the water with it's ranged damage, it also blows it out of the water with it's melee damage. It should be no surprise that unholy bursts higher, frost having 1 min PoF, and unholy having gary and UF on a 3 min timer. Bigger CDs lead to bigger bursts. To finish us off, let's take a look at 30 second bursts. 


Range: 590k DPS

This only further throws the advantage in unholy's favor, but keep in mind that gary is up for the entire duration of this test, and we might see a different result if we took a slice of the fight in which we were not able to cast gary. You can also see that unholy clearly should be bursting higher at the start of near every fight, and frost will catch up over time. For those of you looking to rank, going unholy would be a great choice on very very short fights. 


Conclusion/News:

I found these results interesting and hopefully you did as well. I was rather surprised to learn that unholy is the best ranged dk, but in hindsight it makes sense. It's possible I might revisit this later without pets, but that inherently gimps unholy far more than frost, and the point of this exercise was to see what dk did the best when stuck out of range of a boss on a stackup point, where pets would be able to continue to attack the boss. A few other unrelated notes:

AMR, which I consider to be a wonderful tool, currently has a hidden feature which adjusts stat weights based on whether or not you have the amplification trinket. While an impressive display of ingenuity, and very useful when trying to compare gearsets and the value of the amp trinket compared to other trinkets, it's caused some subpar results to be generated as far as gemming and reforging advice goes. Unholy in particular is being advised to gem pure mastery, which you should pretty much never do. I suggest taking the trinket off before using AMR as a reforge/gem tool, which you can do in-game, or by selecting the trinket in AMR and changing it into any other trinket, preferably one without reforgable stats. You can follow the discussion at http://forums.askmrrobot.com/index.php?topic=8142.0 

WoD news is still .... not here. I'm guessing it's under NDA alpha right now, which hopefully will not last much longer. I'll probably be looking for people who get early beta access to help me test stuff out, as it's statistically unlikely that I get into the beta early on. Until then, I have some non-dk related news to share, which should be coming out some time in the next few days. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jan 6th Hotfixes/News

Hello everybody!

Yes, I'm still here. I've been taking it easy for the past few months, as nothing has really been changing for DKs. However, we have some new balance changes, and some interesting news. I look forward to making a lot more posts when WoD news starts coming in full swing, but in the mean time:

Hotfixes:


  • Icy Talons now increases melee attack speed by 45% (up from 30%).
  • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 35% (up from 25%).

Overall, these buffs work out to be about 2% for DW, 3.5% for 2H, and 7% for unholy, on ST. Both frost specs gain pretty much no more AE damage, as icy talons doesn't effect AE, other than more KM procs meaning more stacks of the T16 2-set. Roughly 1% increase on 8 targets. Unholy, on the other hand, gets a pretty damn large increase on AE damage, about 8%. Magdalena got pretty much the same results before I even started. That's what I get for spending a day in NYC. 

Here are the new 580 BiS balance numbers:


DW still leading the pack, but 2H and unholy are amazingly close now. 2H is still an easier spec to play, and offers greater burst and less reliance on pets, but unholy wins in AE damage, both for 3 targets and 8 targets. The specs are now very, very close. 



A very basic look at the new stat weights, to prove that little has changed. 

DW still stacks mastery above all else, and haste remains the weakest stat, thought not by much, even though the profile has a measly 4k rating.  Str remains crap, at least for gemming purposes. 

2H still wants some haste, but plenty more crit. This profile has 17k crit and 6k haste, and yet the values are basically equal, with the small amount of AMS soaking in by default. Not much has changed here.

Unholy got a higher strength multiplier, which made str worth more. However, the str multiplier means you have more strength, which increases the value of crit, haste, and mastery. So, not much has changed here either. You still want a "balance" of stats. 


These changes have been implemented in simC, and should be released with version 541-3. 


In other news, we got this wonderful little tidbit from twitter:


So it's within the realm of possibility that we'll be seeing some form of festerblight risen from the grave, come back to serve us as a loyal minion. If there is a way for festerblight to continue in 6.0, I'll find it. Until the next round of DK changes, or the next interesting thing I find to share, 
Happy New Years!