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World of Warcraft: 3.0.8 Death Knight Changes

New MMORPG.com World of Warcraft Correspondent Darry Huskey writes this article on the changes made to Death Knights with the recent 3.0.8 Patch

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For better or worse, Death Knights received some major overhauls in Patch 3.0.8. What do these changes mean for your Death Knight? Let's take a look at the patch notes together and spot some of the design changes in store for your character. Be aware that this isn't a comprehensive list; rather, this is the highlights. You can find the full list of Test Realm changes listed at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/patchnotes/test-realm-patchnotes.html

I would be remiss if I failed to mention, before we truly begin, that as of 3.0.8 you may now create a Death Knight on any realm, so long as you have a level 55 character. Now is as good a time as any to pester that guy from your job for bag money on his server.

In addition, this write-up doesn't really touch on the changes to the class meant to bring it in line for arena. The author's personal experience is in PvE. I won't try and pretend I understand the full ramifications of changes to skills in so far as how they alter the PvP landscape.

WELCOME TO THE GUN SHOW

The changes :

Bone Shield: The mitigation has been reduced from 40% to 20%.
Frost Presence: The bonus armor has been increased from 60 to 80% and magic damage reduction increased from 5 to 15%.
Icebound Fortitude now reduces damage by 20% instead of 50%. The amount of damage reduced increases with bonus Defense (to about 35% for 540 Defense, but can go higher).
Will of the Necropolis will now reduce the damage of any attack that takes the DK below 35% health by 5 /10/15% instead of boosting armor when wounded. It no longer affects the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell and retains the current damage reduction bonus.

What it means for you :

Death Knight tanking is a dance, in a way: sometimes, you spin gracefully and leave your observers in awe, sometimes you trip over your own feet and knock someone else over in the process. When Icebound Fortitude or Lichborne are active, you can watch with pride as your hit points take a nice, steady, slow dip downward, easily manageable and stress-free. When the cooldowns wear off, however, it becomes a crapshoot, as sometimes your innate avoidance leaves you tanking with a full bar of hit points and at other times it leaves your bar doing jumping jacks, spiking back and forth.

WoW  Screenshot

Tanking is still be reliant on the cooldowns, but the overall aim is to make your defenses more consistent by lowering your reliance on active damage reduction on a timer and increasing the amount of passive damage reduction. None of us is going to be marching in the parade of gratitude for efficiency reductions to some of our favorite toys, most notable Icebound Fortitude, whom some of us have grown to love like a family member. But I think a lot of Death Knights will be pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable tanking can be when you aren't clenching your keyboard tightly as you watch your hit points suddenly drop into the cellar.

SPELL DAMAGE? NO, THANK YOU.

The changes :

Frost Presence: The bonus armor has been increased from 60 to 80% and magic damage reduction increased from 5 to 15%.
Anti-Magic Shell: The cooldown has been lowered to 45 sec from 60 sec.
Anti-Magic Zone: This ability's duration has been cut to 10 seconds.

What it means for you :

A slight cut in the duration of Anti-Magic Zone means less for you than it does for your group, who were probably a bit spoiled by the old bubble. The rather substantial decrease in cooldown for Anti-Magic Shell and the passive increase in spell mitigation with the Frost Presence changes means less frontloaded damage and more mitigated spell damage. The changes stand in line with Blizzard's stated vision for the class, the "magic tank", and are necessary for the tank class that, typically, has the least hit points of the four.

WTS RUNIC POWER

The changes :

All multi-rune abilities generate 15 runic power.
Horn of Winter now has no cost and grants 10 runic power in addition to its stat buff, but has a 20 second cooldown.
Unholy Blight had had its cost reduced from 60 to 40 runic power.

What it means for you :

I may speak for the minority, but I've never really had a hard time generating runic power. There have been some frustrating moments in the past where I'd have liked to drop a Rune Strike or Unholy Blight and had to wait a few moments, but for the most part, runic power hasn't been too terribly hard to come by, especially with talents. These changes pretty much guarantee an abundance of runic power when you need it, generating faster and earlier, meaning the ability to toss an Unholy Blight in after Pestilence for tanks, always having a Frost Strike ready when runes are on cooldown, or more Death Coil spam. Those of you with certain talents may not see much of what you weren't already getting.

NECROPHILIACS BEWARE

The change :

Corpse Explosion: Damage increased substantially, added 5 sec. cooldown, and changed cost to 40 runic power.

What it means for you :

Corpse Explosion may find its way into a lot more Unholy builds, both on the tanking and DPS end of things. While the talent is still tethered by its reliance on the presence of a corpse, increased damage coupled with placing it on runic power instead of a costly Unholy rune make it a much more friendly option, Unholy's own little Howling Blast.

Speaking of…

DON'T GET TOO EXCITED

The change :

Howling Blast: Cooldown removed.
Killing Machine: Instead of a chance to be triggered on critical strike, this talent now has a chance to be triggered on each swing based on the swing time of the weapon (slow weapons more likely, fast weapons less likely).

What it means for you :

Early reports, as of this writing, already have the Howling Blast cooldown change revoked due to abuse at the hands of dual-wielders. Whether or not the change makes it live in any way is to be seen, though it will probably be changed to a reduced cooldown, rather than the steroid-pumped zero cooldown. The Killing Machine change makes the talent viable for two-handed Frost tanks.

RUNE OF NOT ENOUGH HIT POINTS

The change :

Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle (two-handed only) now grants 25 Defense and 2% Stamina.

What it means for you :

An extra 2% Stamina, or 4% for dual-wielders, probably isn't going to tempt too many away from 4% (or 8%) Parry. The real change is in the extra defense rating, which for Death Knights fresh to level 80 is substantial and basically covers the absence of a shield. For raiding Death Knights, Swordshatter will probably remain the rune of choice.

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