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Cataclysm: Death Knight Preview.

So, for the few of you who haven’t yet seen the Cataclysm death knight preview, with some analysis by Zarhym and Ghostcrawler. go look now. I’l wait.

Back? Good. I’ve slept on it, and thought about it, and I’ve come to the surprising conclusion that this is in fact a buff.

What?” you may ask. “That’s crazy, Moody! They’re slowing our attacks? Two of our tanking trees are vanishing! How can you possibly call this a buff?”

Bear with me. As has been explained, our abilities in Cataclysm will work a lot like rogues do. Instead of us having to burn runes madly to keep up, we’ll have slower, harder hitting rune abilities to burn runes and generate runic, interspersed with free strikes and runic-burning abilities.

In short, instead of playing like we do now, our rune strikes seem to be powered like rogues’ abilities but will hit kinda like warriors’. Our runic abilities will be powered by using our rune strikes and fill in the gaps. And we’ll be able to set up our rotations to keep runes in reserve.

Let me repeat that. We’ll be able to set up our rotations to keep runes in reserve.

Why is this a big deal? Often, when I’m in the middle of flailing away and things start to go pear-shaped, I’m forced to drop what I’m doing to fix it. If I’m lucky, I have the runes available. If I’m very lucky, what I need to do doesn’t burn the runes, runic, and/or global cooldown necessary to keep doing my job. If I’m DPS, my damage plummets. If I’m tanking, we wipe. I call this Dancing with Runes, because for a large part, I don’t have any real control over what I can do when it’s not in my rotation.

In Cataclysm, Dancing with Runes looks like it will be lessened if not outright negated. I can burn reserve runes in case things go bad. I’m not so tied to global cooldowns that missing one spells disaster. And did I tell you that Haste affects how quickly the runes refill?

That got your attention.

Also, they point out that it seems that our strikes are weaker and we have to use a lot of them to get anything done. This has been my experience in PvP or Unholy tanking, where by the time I can ramp up to use my FU strikes, I’m dead or, well, the healer’s down and we wipe.

With our revamp, we can open with hard-hitting, rune-costing strikes, the new Necrotic Strike to absorb healing, and the new Outbreak to replenish diseases. I can see, right now, Outbreak + Pestilence + Howling Blast/Blood Boil/DnD being an opener for PvP. Ow! And this Dark Simulacrum thing screams PvP – but though no boss has a reflectable ability, what about adds?

And offtanking? Remember, in Cataclysm we get uncrittable by stepping into our tanking presence. Tanking presence + DPS  spec/gear = emergency offtank – reminiscent of early DKing when one of our threat tools was an ass-ton of DPS. For fights like Grand Widow Faerlina in Naxx, where you just have to keep the adds busy? Congratulations, you’re done. You won’t have as many of the tanking tools as a Blood tank (unless you dip into Blood as a subtree, and we’ve yet to see if that’s worth doing) but you should still have DG and Dark Command.

Look, a lot of this will change around by Cataclysm, but we do know that we’re getting a tanking stance, a tanking tree, and a revamp so we play more like rogues and warriors. I think, in the end, it will be a buff.

Of course, the problem is I’ve never played a warrior. Or, for that matter, a rogue.

So far, I’ve gotten feedback from one other DK, Nashiira. As I have her permission, and as she’s much more the Frost DK than I am, I’d like to share her take with you as well:

I must admit, my first reaction was to freak out once I heard about the changes to death knight tanking. Since the release of WotLK I have been frost and only frost. In fact only once in that time have I delved out of frost and tried my hand at unholy, but even then it was just to try out in a dps manner. Imagine my shock then when Ghostcrawler drops the blood bomb on us. Outrage! Foul!

Then I slept on it. Nope, still raging here!
I then slept on it another night. There still remains a little fire of disbelief but things will likely be better. See, we really don’t know what is going to happen. My brain’s initial actions are to place the changes into WoW how things are now here in patch 3.3.3. I don’t have a single clue how the Blood tree works now could tell you more than what a 1/4 of the tree does. Come Cataclysm things are going to be drastically different and we likely won’t recognize much of any of the three trees. I’m sure some of the major talents of each tree will be there like Howling Blast, Gargoyle and… whatever Blood has. In the end I’ll probably be doing much of what I am now but with a modified rotation. Plus it emphasizes 2H weapons which, in my opinion, looks way better than trying to look like wannabe rogues that Blizzard has tried to shove down the frost tree with duel wielding.
As for the rune changes and new abilities, preliminarily I think think they all look great. Then again back on the PTR for patch 2.4 I liked Magister’s Terrace <cough>. I, too, hate how if something goes wrong in a situation I have to hope to Morgraine that I didn’t just use up a rune elsewhere or be forced to wait up to 6 seconds to be able to make up for something I just did. “Oh? More than one mob got away and I’ve used my taunt and Death Grip? Better hope I have an Unholy and Frost rune AND didn’t just use Howling Blast elsewhere.” With the changes to regen I’ll likely have Icy Touch available for a couple of uses.
All in all I’m happy with the changes and to anyone still freaking out, please try to stay calm until we see the new talent trees. That’s when you can freak out a little bit more.

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