Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Northrend Beasts: a dps DK perspective

I've blogged a fair bit about wow experiences lately, so today it's time for a more 'informative' post.

Obviously, Trial of the Crusader (TOC) is the content du jour, and probably will be for the next six weeks. I've assumed that most DKs out there are somewhat familiar with the fight. Many of us are intimate friends with Bosskillers, WoWwiki, and other sites that give fantastic information on boss fights. But in general, they list strats for melee, not DKs specifically.

Today (and in the ensuing series) I'll write about how to get the most out of your DK in TOC.

I'll assume for now you're familiar with the mechanics and priority/rotation of dpsing with your chosen spec. I posted a little on each spec previously, and as always Elitist Jerks has a mountain of information on this topic.

Phase 1: Gormok.
Pull: as soon as he's pulled, the tank should be turning him away from the raid. Don't worry, he won't cleave, but you do want to be behind him as always to reduce parry. Depending on what gear you have, you'll be having procs activating rapidly for the first 6-8 seconds. This is where a proc watch of some kind and an ap tracker are incredibly useful (in fact, the blood thread at Elitist Jerks has been discussing the bleeding hearts addon that I previously 'reviewed'). When your attack power has been fully or nearly fully buffed, you should pop your first cooldowns! They'll do the most dps with all your trinkets/sigils/set bonuses etc all lined up, so use your dancing rune weapon/hysteria/gargoyle/ghoul here. Gormok dead faster = less impales on the tanks. Save your army of the dead.

That part was easy. Now you settle in to dps. Depending on how your raid handles the snobolds, your approach to max dps will vary. If you have glyph of disease (GOD), request to stay on Gormok. If your raid leader wants you on snobolds anyway, when that second blood rune comes off cooldown, switch to Gormok, pestilence, and go back on snobolds. You don't want to lose that BIG rolling stack of diseases, no matter what the raid lead says. If you're not GOD spec, then switching is easier. If I'm blood, dancing rune weapon usually comes up again and I use it rather than save it for P2 since you'll get it again in P2 anyway. Make sure to Icy Touch and Plague Strike during dancing rune weapon to get a double stack of diseases up on Gormok.

Phase 2: Jormungar. Most guilds burn Acidmaw first. On Heroic, my guild has melee on Acidmaw until they submerge, then on Dreadscale subsequently. You guild may very well battlelust/heroism when they spawn or after they come back up. In any case, you should have a cooldown or two to pop with heroism and proc stacking. Make sure to use potion of speed. You can try running out from the sweep - I've never had much luck with that. If you're GOD spec, you can anticipate the timer and pestilence to refresh your diseases before the sweep. Make sure to let the tank get threat first when the Jormungar re-emerge each time. You can see where they're coming up even when they're underground. Be close, but not too close! Be careful of the green pools of slime as usual. Save a little runic power for when you get swept out of melee range; you can use your global cooldowns to Death Coil while running back in (unless you're frost).

I usually summon Army of the Dead immediately as the Jormungar submerge the first time. You'll lose the least active dps time, and you'll get the maximum use out of them. Sure, they'll die in slime, but saving them for P3 usually gets even less uptime. They die to Icehowl's aoe, and you'll have to use valuable dps time to summon them. Trying to get them up before a crash means they may die to the crash, and summoning them after the crash means you'll waste the dps time during the stun. So, use AOTD during P2.

Phase 3: Icehowl. If you've made it this far, there's no reason not to get the last beast down. I try to find a spot behind Icehowl that's away from as many people as possible to reduce the chance you'll get frozen. When Icehowl does his crash, be sure to have some runic power saved so you can summon your gargoyle/dancing rune weapon when your guild gets out of the way and Icehowl is stunned. If you summon your pet as you arrive at Icehowl's stunned behind, you'll do max dps during the stun.

When Icehowl charges, of course, it's imperative to avoid getting hit by him. Avoid the temptation to run to the middle if he's charging away from you - you can get hit as the charges someone else. Instead of facing where you want to go, strafe left or right as soon as you can run, then turn in the direction you want to go and run at full speed. This will ensure maximum distance covered, it will ensure you don't get stuck on a pillar, and avoids getting confused and turned around. Because if you get hit on heroic, it's very difficult to recover from.

Avoid three charges, and win!

As with most fights, strategic cooldown usage and maximizing time on target are key to providing max dps.


  1. That's a good post, some more subtlety to DPS'ing in there than I'd thought.

  2. Fun fact for all you GoD users out there: Pestilence on the Snobolds refreshes your diseases on Gormokk. That's the normal function of pestilence on other targets anyways, and even if you don't disease the Snobolds you can take advantage of its ability to refresh them on Gormokk. Unfortunately my timer bars don't show up when I switch targets (I use NeedToKnow) but I just throw in a pest once per Snobold and that seems to work well :)

  3. Forgot a couple other tips! In phase 2 and 3 stay in Unholy Presence the whole time. When I did this I saw a couple hundred DPS increase immediately for the fight because of all the running around you have to do. Switching between blood and unholy might work, but I think it might also be a waste of runes. Also, if you stay at MAX melee range when fighting Icehowl his little whirl knockback will not hit you, further increasing your DPS.

  4. I did that for a while.... but I didn't find it a dps increase. For blood it might be different though (which a ton of top DKs do). You're more likely to get better use of the extra gcds than an unholy or frost DK due to heart strike spam. Switching presences back and forth is a huge loss because of lost gcds AND runes. Staying unholy for P2&3 is a lesser loss, but as you point out the shrewd DK can minimize the off-target time fairly well. I generally stay in blood presence unless I'm blood spec.

    As far as GOD goes, if you refresh on snobolds, it will indeed hit Gormokk, but you'll lose your BIG Gormokk stack - so don't do it!
    You can't spread your big stack you've been rolling since the fight's beginning from Gormokk to the snobolds unfortunately.

    So if you are asked to switch to snobolds, just switch, IT>PS>BS>SS(HS), but save one blood rune out of each rotation. Switch back to Gormokk, pestilence to keep your big stack up on him, then go back to snobold until it's down.

    Again, the reason you don't pest your snobold diseases to Gormokk is because they're likely to be done with, say, 8-9k attack power, while your rolling stack on Gormokk is at 11k ap.

    THIS ONLY APPLIES FOR 3.2!!!! In 3.3, the pestilence refresh will use your current attack power rather than the higher fully procced attack power when you started rolling diseases. In that case, then pesting from snobolds would be just fine.

    Also remember this is a nuance for the northrend beasts fight only, because normally you can pestilence from the boss to the adds, dps the adds, pestilence from the adds back to the boss, and you'll still be rolling the same big stack from the beginning. It just doesn't work on this fight because you can't pest from boss to snobold.

  5. One more comment here.
    Tiger, I'd love to see your dps chain responses, too (along with any other readers)!

    If you don't have a blog of your own, feel free to copy/fill in/paste in a comment, and I'll at least give you a mention in my posts!


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