Monday, September 28, 2009

FMN: 2H Unholy and the Return of Scourge Strike

Hello Scourge Strike my Old Friend!
I've come to talk with you again! :)

It's a wrap (sort of): the final installment of my testing is done, for now. I tested the 16/0/55 spec that has emerged from the 3.2.2 changes to rebuff Scourge Strike. This spec is very similar to the old 17/0/54 spec that was rampantly popular at LK release, and the one I raided all of Naxx/T7 with. Changes are that epidemic and reaping are dropped and the rotation is shortened to 10 seconds. Instead of maximizing Scourge Strike spam, the attack is just part of the rotation which maximizes death coils using glyphed Icy Touch and ensures desolation stays up via more frequent Blood Strikes. Consider over at Elitist Jerks gives a very nice write up of the spec, how to do it, and why to choose unholy over frost or blood.
My gear for the test was mostly the same as previous, however, I had a slight upgrade in my boots (actually, may not be a buff in this spec, as haste is more valued and the Heroic TOC boots I finally got are armor penetration heavy), and I bought the 232 badge shoulders to finally get the T9 2-piece bonus. The 'new' unholy has Icy Touch glyphed instead of unholy blight, along with the usual glyphs of Ghoul and Dark Death. There are variants for 2H unholy, using blood presence vs imp unholy presence. My opinion is that you should be using blood presence if you can; EJ theorycrafters are saying you need at least 200 haste if not more to make it work, but that's pretty easy to get on gear.

So, how did 2H unholy do?

The rotation I used was:



Your priority for 2H Unholy is:

Diseases (BP, FF) > DC (especially when rp capped) > SS > IT > BS > PS

Pros: In any fight with 3 or more adds unholy performs very well; if a fight has sustained aoe or multiple adds, this spec is probably the very best of any class in game (hello Onyxia whelps!). Solid burst for phase sensitive fights with gargoyle. Decent when out of melee range (can IT and death coil). Provides best caster buff for aoe in game. Perma ghoul for those that like the pet (and some added utility).

Cons: Not the absolute highest dps on sustained single target boss fights - the 'holy grail' of the min/maxers. Likely doesn't scale as well with gear. Less snap burst on single targets than blood, less snap burst on aoe than frost. Pet and other abilities can feel complicated.

I ran the spec for a full raid night. However, the first fight was an achievement run for my fairly new guild on Sartharian 3D with 23 players, and I tanked the whelps, so that data isn't useful for a dps test. The rest of my numbers are from heroic Northrend beasts attempts (which were doomed due to only one well-geared tank and having to pug 2 dps - what is that junk?) At any rate, I can still comment on the spec's grade, so here we go. As you can see, my dps wasn't horrible, and in fact on attempts that weren't horribly executed, it was more in the 5500 - 6500 range. The fight itself is not an ideal unholy dps fight, and yet the spec performed reasonably well. My disease damage jumped quite a bit, no surprise due to having a third disease and ebon plaguebringer. I've always enjoyed the playstyle of unholy, and I like having my gargoyle and ghoul. Having Army of the Dead up more often is a nice bonus - you can use it on most boss fights if you know when to pop it. The 'new' rotation is very manageable and provides those fun 'big hits.'

So, here's the report card on 2H blood:
1. DPS: Very good. Might be slightly behind blood on sustained single target, but not by too much. Multiple add encounters it's superb. A/A-

2. Raid utility: Ebon Plaguebringer is a required buff for casters, and unholy applies it to groups better than anyone. My raid has a boomkin, so less necessary on single mob fights. A-

3. Fun: Personally I've always loved the playstyle of raiding unholy with the pets. If you love pets, this is the spec for you. The new rotation is very symmetrical, big 2-handed hits, decent burst, not feeling totally helpless when out of melee range. Love that crazy aoe. A

Overall, I'll give this spec an A, and very very close to blood 2H. My dps is solid if not quite the same on 'benchmark' fights like Patchwerk, but on fights like Freya nothing can touch it.
Summary of all specs to come next!