Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes, Elitist Jerks are Wrong!!! (*Shock*)

Or: Haste Is Actually Pretty Good Right Now.

Most of you know how often I reference Elitist Jerks. There's tons of valuable information there for every class and it's the first, middle, and last (with maybe a few peeks elsewhere) site I go to for information about min/maxing my role/class play. The thread 'managers' such as Consider generally do a fantastic job keeping the original post updated with the 'state of the union' information so you can just look at that post for a jumping off point for DK info.

However, EJ can be wrong, and Consider's unholy thread - the 'CANON' of accepted unholy dps - was wrong recently.

First, a brief story.

During Tier 9 (I know, hard to remember that far back), Scourge Strike was not that strong, even if it was our main ability (that was before the physical and shadow portions were split off). Other than that, unholy was as it had been for some time - good, but slightly behind blood for single target dps while being supreme on aoe fights. The accepted spec was something like 14/0/57 or 17/0/54. I ran the canonized spec and rotations (including the delicious glyph of disease) for quite some time, when on a lark I equipped two one-handed weapons. I didn't change my spec. I just used one-handers. I did more dps on dummies - about 300-400 more. Hmmm. I tried it on boss fights in TOC, again, not changing anything except one vs two weapons. Dual-wielding was 400-500 dps better. I very slightly modified my spec (dropping the two-handed blood talent), and away I went with DW. I did fantastic dps, blowing away everyone in the three guilds I spent time in during that period (yes, that was while I was trying to find a new guild). Elitist Jerks 'experts' never caught on to that trend. I didn't care - I found it to be better, so I used it. Then when ICC opened, Blizz 'fixed' Scourge Strike to be more powerful - favoring the big 2-hander, and they gave us more armor penetration on gear, improving physical strikes even more. I went back to the 'traditional' 2H weapons. But the moral of this story is, EJ can be wrong.

Back to the present.

Kudos to Dreddnaught from my guild in identifying the current problem early. He'd been /whispering me for several weeks about how he felt haste was much better than the theorycrafters were saying. He had been testing it via simulations and looking at different gear, and found that haste was much more valuable for frost and unholy/frost subspec than was being said at EJ. He even made several posts about it over at wow official forums.

Turns out, he was right. Recently, Consider's front page post alludes to stat changes that may affect gear and perhaps even gemming choices. For frost subpec, haste is actually better than armor penetration, especially as gear improves. He now has stat weights seperated for blood subspec and for frost subspec.

This isn't as aggregious an error as some might think. First, to err is human (cut us all some slack eh? :)). Second, going against armor penetration in favor of haste goes against accepted thinking about DKs since their inception. Haste has been a poor stat in part because big two-handed swings don't proportionally get a lot out of speeding up a bit, and haste hasn't affected all that many of our abilities. But with the changes to Icy Talons and with gear scaling in general, haste IS in fact a very strong stat for DKs that take it.

We DKs have loved to talk about armor penetration scaling - which is indeed very good - but we have forgotten how impressively haste can scale as well. Haste ultimately scales better than just about anything because of the way it stacks. Even with arpen, there is a limit - you can cap it in great gear. With haste, talents and buffs stack multiplicatively, and there's almost always more you can keep adding for more improvement. While casters may talk about haste capping (getting spells below the gcd in cast time), for melee that doesn't apply. So, ultimately we shouldn't have been too surprised when it turned out to be so good. I for one am happy about it. It gives us three really nice stats (strength of course, and arpen is still very solid), and options for using both 2H and DW weapons. Still, what will it change? Answer: very little. Herkumi's War Token from emblems becomes a very good trinket. A few items with haste on them are more attractive. Should you gem haste? NO. Strength is still better, and will be from now until Cataclysm.

Conclusion: EJ CAN be wrong, but fortunately they eventually seem to get most things right. Sometimes you have to do what works best for you rather than go with the cookie-cutter info, but it's a very good place to start.

p.s., I'm still thinking about trying frost DW dps, but haven't had the opportunity. One reason is we're doing mostly heroic content and any one-handers that drop go to rogues/enh first so I still only have crappy one-handers. Second, dps is demonstrably NOT better for frost. World of logs parses has them 500-1000 dps less than unholy on many (but not all) fights. That's no excuse to not try it, so I expect I eventually I will do it, but I'm not eager. Maybe next week.