Monday, August 30, 2010

Halion: a DPS DK Perspective

It's been a while since I had one of these posts, and yes, I know, most of you have killed Halion quite a few times by now. This is the type of fight that the mechanics are fairly straightforward, but there are a few tricks I can mention that might be helpful for maximizing dps nonetheless.

This is likely to be my final Boss review for DPS DKs prior to Cataclysm. I don't plan to discuss the three mini-bosses preceeding Halion, as they were puggable on day 1, and although you can still get ranked on World of Logs (I've been ranked on General Z a number of times), these fights aren't true boss fights.

Halion is is a fairly simple portal-type fight, in which your dps team is split in half for much of the fight. For most groups dps is not the primary concern - especially on normal difficulty - so your priorities on this fight actually are: 1) Don't die, 2) Balance dps in both realms, and 3) Do as much dps as you can given 1) and 2).

So, here we go!

Pull/Phase One: Tank runs in from just outside the circle, often perpendicular to the raid for optimal boss positioning.
As usual, it's helpful if your tank gives a decent count before the pull so you can summon your army. As most of you know I like to summon just in time to pop haste potion just before entering combat. Then, of course, run in and start hitting the boss.
It doesn't matter whether you're unholy or frost for this fight. For the most part there are no range issues to consider, and for heroic both specs do well on adds.
So, for phase one, you should simply dps your merry heart out. Depending on when your raid does heroism/bloodlust, you might want to save your pet cooldown. My raid heroes at start of P2, so some prefer to save their gargoyle/ghoul cd. Even with heroism in P2, however, I use my gargoyle at pull, because the cd is usually up again in P3 if I use it early. Two gargoyles without heroism > 1 gargoyle with heroism. I usually pop my second haste potion during P2 heroism.
During Phase 1 you'll be standing to one side of Halion hitting him with everything you can, and the only thing to watch out for is the Mark of Combustion; obviously, if you get it run to the edge of the circle until you are cleansed, then run back in. The flame trails after Meteor strike are actually very small and you can stand almost on top of them without taking damage. If you happen to have a few empty cooldowns, pop anti magic shield, stand on a flame, and death coil or frost strike away. Just make sure to stay in melee range when doing so.

Phase Two: Take the portal and start dpsing Halion in the shadow realm, but be sure to let the tank get agro first. We pop heroism here because we want to get through the phase as quickly as possible. The main ability to watch out for is the Twilight Cutter. On normal, you can survive getting hit with it, particularly with AMS up. On heroic, you'll usually die. Obviously, keep an eye on the orbs so you know where it will come from. There are two ways to do this effectively. One is to have the tank constantly turning the boss with the orbs, and the other is to have the tank stay still between Cutters, and only move when a cutter is about to start. On heroic, to be safe we just move the boss constantly. In any case, what I like to do is move as far to Halion's front left shoulder as possible without getting cleaved, stop, and dps. We can dps on the run fairly well, but, still we are at our best standing still. I stay in that spot doing dps until Halion has turned far enough that I'm on his back left hindquarter, just before I'm in tail swipe range. Then, I strafe to his front left and start over.

Strafe - DPS - Strafe - DPS.

During cutters, I try to stay pretty much in the middle of the cutters just to be safe (on normal there is more room to continue the strafe-dps-strafe-dps strategy if you want).
Drop Soul Consumption as far to the front left as you can, so you minimize running out time while still doing some dps.

Phase Three: Actually, DKs should almost always stay in the shadow realm, since melee are much less affected by the movement than ranged. If your raid is very melee heavy, you may be asked to move back to the physical realm. But for the most part, you'll be in shadow, where you'll continue the same mechanics as P2. The only wrinkle of course is you may need to slow dps is the physical realm falls behind. No additional tricks for more dps here, I'm afraid. If you popped your gargy early, however, you should have another chance to use it in P3.

DPS for DKs should be solid on this fight. There aren't any major dps buffs, but for the most part you should be able to stay in melee range and keep hitting the boss.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Post

There has been an almighty ruckus in various forums about the lack of work on DKs in Cataclysm, just in case you haven't noticed!

I can sum the whole thing up thusly: as early Cataclysm changes were being announced, Blue posts indicated Death Knights were getting their rune system reworked, primarily to address our gcd-locked situation. Various DKs in beta have demonstrated - in theorycrafting and in live beta servers - that we're more gcd-locked than ever. In addition, the class mechanics are simply borked. As new builds have rolled out, Death Knights have seen perhaps the fewest changes and the least blue posts in official forums of any class. And Death Knights have gotten very very little in the way of new or fun stuff, compared to most other classes.

Let the QQ begin!!! In fact, one of the very few Ghostcrawler posts addressing Death Knights has been merely to chastise us for QQing, and to tell us to settle down. Thanks for that.

My position throughout has always been; wait and see. Blizzard has always done a good job in the end with class development, and it's inevitable that some classes have to wait while others get worked on first. Is it annoying that we haven't heard much from the devs on our class? Absolutely. Is is poor PR from a company that should know better, to not at least tell us that we'll get fixed? Definitely. It leaves openings for people to insert all kinds of 'the sky is falling' proclamations as is public forums grand tradition to do. And certainly, if Blizzard does indeed think DKs are 'fine' as they are, then I like many others have a variaty of alts waiting in the wings ready to go. I could always level one of those first while waiting for Blizz to realize they need to fix us. I'm still not that worried, though. I have a very hard time believing Blizz thinks DKs are fine, with all the evidence to the contrary.

So, we'll have our day in the sun.

Our pasty white undead flesh could use a little, eventually.

On a side note, my guild's recent achievement-hunting has resulted in very little work on the last remaining hard modes (LK & Halion), but we'll get there eventually. We had a <1% fail on neck deep in vile achievement, the last achieve we need for our 25 man drakes, so I'm sure we'll do that again next week and hopefully soon get back to heroic modes. Halion in particular isn't a terribly tough heroic fight, and Halion has several of the last remaining bis items I need, outside of tokens.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Milestones n fun n stuff

A few of my guildies have been bored recently, so they've been knocking out fishing achievements. One of them unsuccessfully tried about 3000 casts to get the Dark Herring (mine took about 200 casts), but he did get the turtle and also got the Ironforge fish in about 30 casts. I have yet to get the Ogrimmar fish after 3000+ casts, and I've sorta given up. I also lack the fishing derby achievement for the meta, but I'm never online for the contests, so not sure if I'll ever get that one.

In any case, a few other 'milestones' for my Warcraft toons have kept things fun.

I had a 20k fight on my DK, which admittedly isn't that hard on Blood Queen Lanathiel 10 man heroic. It's just that I've never been the first bite in 10 or 25 man before. At the time, recount suggested what would have been a top 50 parse on WOL, but we didn't have anyone parsing combat logs. Still, it was fun so I thought I'd satisfy the 'screenshot or it didn't happen' crowd. ;)

Despite my limited Wow schedule, I've spent a little time here and there leveling two of my alts, my hunter and my warlock. One of my goals is to have them 'Cataclysm ready' by release date, so I've occasionally logged onto them to nudge them in that direction. It seems the best way in general to level quickly is to quest, but if you have limited time, just doing the random 5-man dungeon is very effective, since the mobs give double xp and they usually go very quickly to the 33k dungeon completion xp bonus, along with the emblem. At any rate, I've been working a little extra on my hunter this week to get her to 80, and she's got 1 1/2 bubbles to go! The 'class I'd never play' has made the long journey to 80! Tea party at 7. Next up, gnome warlock does Northrend (he's 75 at the moment). That will make my DKs, shaman, rogue, hunter, and warlock sitting at 80 for now....

Last but certainly not least, my unscheduled raid has managed to run for 1-2 hours each of the past two weeks, accomplishing an achievement or two towards the meta-achievement.... Drakes here I come! Hopefully before Cataclysm anyway. ;) I have a few achievements left, but when I have the drakes, I'll try to remember the screenshot of that too :) Some guildies finally got Bane of the Fallen King this week, but unfortunately I don't spend enough time on 10-mans to try for that, so we'll see what happens in 25-man attempts. It was fun doing some hardmodes in Ulduar with my guild last night, but naturally somewhat anticlimactic. Still, in my first visit to observe Algalon, he did offer us a friendly chat before we punched his phase ticket to nowhere.

Hope you're still enjoying your Wow time, or if not, your hiatus until Cataclysm arrives!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 'Little Things'

Given that this expansion is winding down, I suppose the paucity of posts on my favorite topic, DK dps, is no surprise.
The mechanics, strengths, and weaknesses of the class are well known.
DKs aren't going to see any changes prior to Cataclysm.

So, I'll probably write here and there about my DK, but otherwise, my blog will remain.... just a blog. :)
Well, unless I get into beta and then I'll have something to write about again.

In any case, I still have folks dropping in on my server to ask about their DK and how to improve their play, so I thought I'd write a short reply here.

As usual, I'll point to Elitist Jerks (see my links) for a plethora of information on Death Knights. Whether you're a frost or unholy DK, EJ is a one stop shop on how to play. Of course, there's Tankspot which has some decent forums and threads as well. In any case, I don't try to reinvent the wheel when they do it so much better than I ever could.

The interesting thing is, the last several people stopping by Baelgun to say hello looking for help have pretty much known all their basics. They know gearing choices, rotations (priorities!), and so on. And yet, they're looking to improve even more.

Good for you guys!

What to say, though?

I don't really have a lot to add for the experienced DK, but I'll make just a couple of comments.
1) Do the 'Little Things' that maximize dps.
Example: on a fight like Saurfang, summon your army ~8 seconds before the start of the fight. This allows your runes to refresh just as the fight starts. Haste pot 1-2 seconds before the fight starts. Then you can haste potion again when your gargoyle is off cooldown. Don't be lazy. Don't worry about cost. Do every little thing possible to get every last little bit of dps out of your toon. It all adds up.

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice dps to ensure you successfully complete a fight. Sometimes you can go nuts. This week, just like last week, we found our raid still not full, so we cleared VOA again. As I mentioned, this time I decided to try to maximize dps and 'cheese' the Emalon encounter. Despite missing several of our best dps (which shortens the fight and increases personal dps ratings), we beat Emalon shortly after the first big add. I didn't switch to the add. I DnD'd. Even though I'm sure I could have done better, I finished with a #6 rated parse on World of Logs. Who cares, you ask? It's just Emalon - old news. And yes, it is old news! I just wanted to have fun and see what I could do. Two messages here. Do every thing possible to maximize dps, but also stay within the parameters of raid success. My raid didn't need me to switch to adds, so I didn't - but other times, personal dps loss is secondary to raid success, and you know which comes first!

2) Think at least 1-2 rotations ahead. The thing about PVE as opposed to PVP is that encounters are scripted and well known. Most likely you already know a lot about the fight before you ever attempt it. Once you see it the first or second time in person, you know what it's all about. It's not changing. You need to take each fight, and think ahead. Putricide phase change coming soon? Hold your gargoyle until the adds are out, so you can burst the oozes down faster. Valkyr coming soon? Drop DnD where they will be, and save a blood rune for a second so you can pestilence to them as soon as they come down (breaking the normal rule of spread diseases first, then DnD. Why? because you have free runes and DnD will last long enough, and you want all your runes free when the Valks have landed). Think about each move and anticipate. Watch your runes. Death Coil when you have a free gcd, rather than waiting to the 'end' of the rotation.

It's very difficult for me to come up with concrete suggestions to veteran players that already know the class well. Still, what separates the top players from the many good players out there?

Doing the little things, and thinking thinking thinking.

Good luck out there, guys!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cataclysm Release Date: Take #3009

I stopped by my local GameStop to get my pre-order in (I'm slow, I know) for Cataclysm and asked what information they had on the release date. They said 'November,' but of course we all know that that may mean something, or nothing.

Ever since Blizzcon last year there has been speculation, and literally dozens, if not hundreds of release date threads on official forums.

"Logic" or "evidence" has been mulled over non-stop, and optimistic predictions of a Spring 2010 release have faded into oblivion amid jeering "LolFails."

Primary arguments have been:
1) looking at the announcement, beta, and release cycles of the game and its two previous expansions. This examination suggests an approximately Oct-November 2010 release.
2) The announcement at Blizzcon last year that said people would be whining about goblins and worgens by the next Blizzcon. This suggested a release date by the end of the summer

In any case, with closed beta well under way, we can say with some confidence that it's unlikely the end of summer scenario is accurate, which leaves us with Q4 predictions, and hopes that nothing occurs to slide the expansion into next year.

I need to plan my time off work, after all.

My guess is 18 November.
It could be 11 November.

Sooner - while surprising, would be ok with me. As long as they can get Death Knights properly put back together after they've ripped the stuffing out of the class.

And I sure hope it's not later. I want my Cata!

What's your take at this point?