Monday, December 28, 2009

The end of the line of casual upgrades

Enter 3.3. Emblems of Triumphs available for farming.

Fast forward a few weeks to today.

I've got no further upgrades to look forward to as a tank.

Not true. I do have a few left, but the list is incredibly short.

1. Farm the new heroics, hoping to get a Battered Hilt and then win the following need roll by everyone. I mean, it's worth so much that anyone will roll need even if they already have it to sell it to someone else, just like any BoE epic. In effect, I can do it as long as it is fun, but I don't have any desire to farm every mob in there just to increase my chance of it dropping by 0.01% per run.

2. Fly around and get Titanium, smelt Titansteel, and get crafted BoE gear that requires Crusader Orbs, purchasable with Emblembs of Triumph. However... titanium is a rare spawn node... Bah. Boring. I do grind sometimes on off-hours, though.

3. Buy stuff. Always an option. But then I'd have to grind gold. Bah. Boring. Can quest, though, there are some storylines it would be neat to finish before WotLK ends.

4. Join pug raids, particularly Onyxia 25-man, Icecrown Citadel, TotC 25-man, TotGC or VoA. Hope for some drops. I'm actually geared enough to tank ICC 25 now.

5. Get 2 frost Emblems of Frost every day from the random heroic, and 5 from the weekly raid. Slowly upgrade stuff. Next will probably be the +226 stamina trinket. 2.5k extra health? Now we're talking.

Meanwhile, I'm spending my Emblems of Triumph on ilvl 232 PVP gear. Joining an arena team now ... about time. I've got the solution to my schedule problem: I'll join a 2vs2 and 3vs3 with the same two guys. When I'm not available, they'll go with their 2vs2. When all are available, 3vs3. Then I don't need to drag down any arenamate relying only on me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When the blame hits the fan...

Imagine the following situation. You've just wiped. The tank died first, and held all threat until he started hugging the ground. He did no obvious mistakes like standing in the fire.

In almost any pug, 5-man or raid, the first question that will pop up is: Whose fault was it? The healer(s) or the tank?

I've encountered the situation several times. It's just as embarrassing and annoying every time.

The blame game

The main problem is the focus of the group: The focus should not be "whom to blame?", but "what can we do next time to prevent it from happening again?". It's freakin' hard to admit you did any mistakes when you need to eat through a heck of a lot of mean words in addition to the weight your conscience is already putting on your mind. Most people prefer to remain silent in such a situation, and that's a very bad starting point for finding out what could be done differently.

There are times when you just need to replace someone in your pug. However, that ought to be plan B or C, not plan A. Plan A should always be to try again, improving from last time.

The people that like to blame are also prone to leaving whenever something goes wrong. Just yesterday, we did the weekly raid quest to kill Razorscale in Ulduar 25. We waded in with no plan whatsoever and wiped at 2%. People started leaving. What the heck? 2%? It's nothing left. We were practically guaranteed to get him down on next attempt, and we did. Similarly, when the new 5-man instances just were released, I wiped with my group 5 times on Garfrost because people insisted on doing it as a dps race. While that is possible, it requires Frost Resistance Aura, Frost Resistance Totem, a very special setup consisting of only classes capable of removing debuffs including a paladin healer, or lots of lucky resists. Several people came and left. Only me and one other persisted. And we learned the encounter the hard way, how we were supposed to hide behind the boulders to clear the debuff stack. We got him down. It felt just as good as downing any raid boss the first time.

Some people cannot be unbroken

There might be some reasons for replacing people, however. Unwillingness to learn is the primary reason I want to kick people. People insisting on repeating the same mistakes despite a different strategy being agreed on in the chat. I'll give another example.

We wiped times and times on the 9th wave in Halls of Reflection. The healer complained that I was taking too much damage, he couldn't possibly keep up. He wasn't superiorly geared, but neither was he particularly undergeared for the instance. He said I wasn't usually taking too much damage, except when I got stunned. Not strange. I got almost 60% avoidance normally, but when I get stunned I avoid 0% damage. That means I take more than twice the normal damage. We discussed in party chat, and decided on killing the mercenaries first. It worked like a charm. Except for one rogue, who insisted on killing the priests first, because "that's what had worked for him earlier". That meant I had to maintain lots of threat on two targets rather than one, and it took longer to burn down the primary target. Annoying. We were, however, successful. However, I dislike people doing it like that. At the very least, he could've protested on party chat, letting us know he disagreed before we actually got into the fray.

Call me undergeared, huh?

Another thing that annoys me is people entering the group, taking a look at my unbuffed health (about 32k now, was around 30k earlier) and leaving. They consider me undergeared because I don't have 40k health. That buggers me seriously off.

Before my current career as a DK tank, I was a druid tank and healer. Once I was pulled into a group in Trial of the Champion heroic, as healer. The tank was a druid with 45k health self-buffed. Great, I thought, the tank is well equipped, this ought to be easy to heal.

It wasn't. It was actually harder to heal than most other tanks I had healed. Why? It turned out he had skipped on all kinds of avoidance to buff his health sky-high. That meant he took much more damage over the instance than one who had had more balanced stats.

Consider it this way: Let's say the tank is going to take 1 million damage before avoidance but including mitigation (armor). If he avoids 30% of the damage, he will take a total of 700.000 damage. If he avoids 50% of the damage, he will take a total of 500.000 damage. That's 28.5% (the difference, 200.000, divided by the total, 700.000) less damage taken, a huge difference. Note that the difference is more than 20%, the actual difference in avoidance.

I go with balanced stats. That yields me less health than tanks going all-out stamina, but allows me to take less damage over the instance. While it is less effective against magic damage, there are almost no encounter that does not combine magical damage with physical (avoidable) damage. take Koralon in VoA 25. He hits for a lot of unavoidable magical damage with his meteor fist. At the same time, he auto-attacks. If I can parry or dodge on of those, I'll have better chances on getting healed in time compared to a tank who avoids nothing but has more health to soak the damage.

No, you can't depend on avoidance. At the same time, you can. The waves in Halls of Reflection heroic hits for a lot together. Since they hit separately, you get a lot more attacks incoming per second than a single boss with the same total damage would've given you. That's where you can depend on avoidance: As you take more hits, the number of actually avoided attacks get closer and closer to the number on your character sheet. See the difference between how much damage the tank normally and when he's stunned on those encounters, and you'll see.

I do have the Black Heart myself, but I've skipped it in favor of an avoidance and a mitigation trinket of higher item level.

When healing fails

Sometimes, though, it's just not enough. You've got a properly equipped tank, he's not taking unnecessary damage, and he's holding threat on all mobs. Blizz has in the latest 5-mans added a lot of abilities which hits a random target member. You need to keep everyone alive while not losing the tank.

There are a few things that can be done differently. Talents might matter. Sometimes they make a major difference. Once we had trouble with an encounter, I (tank) died first every time. The healer was a bit underequipped, but not horribly much so. He shared his frustration with us. I inspected the druid healer to see that he had skipped Nature's Grace, one of the most hardcore tank-healing talents. However, in most cases, talents are not the problem.

However, priority often seem to be a problem. Many healers overreach themselves. Some need to be told that while healing, the tank and the healer is priority. If they have trouble keeping up, let dps die first, not the tank. In particular, this holds true when dps takes excessive damage. Not moving out of the AoE on the ground? Dpsing while everyone else hides? Let them die. Sometimes the healer can carry them through their mistakes, but that's not how it is supposed to be done. If the healer has trouble keeping everyone up, they should die and usually will die first.

There might be some parts of the encounter that someone in the group is not familiar with. I've beat encounters with seriously underequipped people as long as they know exactly what to do.

Often a dps can do something different that can change the outcome of the fight. CC a mob? Use a different totem (like Grounding Totem or Cleansing Totem)? Change Aura? Stun more, even at the expense of dps? Put a pet on a mob, letting it "tank" it and die rather than letting the tank take more damage?

Finally, most encounters are impossible to do without enough dps. If dps is lacking, it's neither the healer nor the tank's fault.

How to spot "problems" and solve them

I have three primary tools.

First, inspect. It will give you an idea of what gear level the tank or healer is decked in, and what talents he is using. A Blood tank is going to bring a lot more self-healing, but less AoE-threat. A paladin tank will usually take less damage from most hits because they block so much, but have no particularly defense against magic.

Second, recount. It will tell me what kind of spells the healer is using. Is the healer having trouble keeping you up? Perhaps he's not using Nourish at all (many druids seem to rely only on hots and Swiftmend, scarily enough).

Third, chat. Communication. This is and will always be the primary way of solving any kinds of problems. Talk with the group, acknowledge their frustrations and problems, and work with them to solve the problem you're facing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The other side of the fence is hereby desecrated

I have now tested out a lot of specs, in the following order: Unholy, Frost 2h, Blood, Unholy and Frost DW.

First and foremost, I found that I love the Glyph of Anti-magic shell. If I got it on before I get hit by a CC, I can ignore any attempts to CC me using magic for 7 seconds, often enough to drain half my opponents' health. Interestingly enough: It also allows me to run away from non-combat rogues. Combine Toughness, Da Voodoo Shuffle and Enigmatic Skyflare Diamond, and all movement-impairing effects last only half the original duration (actually: 53.55% of the original duration). Crippling Poison actually fades from me during the AMS duration, allowing me to safely run away, leaving a chained rogue behind.

Frost PVP

Supposedly, frost offers superior control compared to Unholy and Blood. I found the main controlling ability, Hungering Cold, to be a one-shot pony. Of course many would trinket it, but that's to be expected. However, since I'm mainly in BGs, and BGs usually are less than perfectly well coordinated, Hungering often broke almost immediately. Not only because of others attacking the targets directly, but because the targets were dotted and cleave damage.

I could put out a decent amount of burst damage if I could stay in melee, but PVP means you run in and out of melee range all the time. I have mixed feelings about the proc system; It's handy when you get a Killing Machine proc to know that you're going to deal a hefty crit with your next Frost Strike or Howling Blast, but unless I also waited for a Rime proc I would waste some of my dps. Technically. So I spent Killing Machine procs as they popped up. The problem is that killing machine seems to proc only on auto-attacks, and PVP has way less auto-attacks than PVE.

I missed a burst ability. A garantueed crit every 2 min is not much burst compared to Dancing Rune Weapon and Summon Gargoyle. Naturally, I also missed a pet, but that was not unexpected.

The worst part is that I felt very squishy. More so than Unholy. Unbreakable Armor looks like a nice cooldown for both dps and damage reduction, but requires a Frost Rune. Frost Runes are what is often lacking in PVP because I need to use Chains of Ice to stop my target from getting away after a Frost Nova or the like. Death Strike has no synergy with the rest of the tree, and heals for only 10% my total health. In addition, Unholy has three diseases that needs to be cleaned instead of just two, a clear advantage when facing dispelling classes.

I liked the fact that Iceblood Fortitude lasted so long. Owned several rogues with it. I also liked the snare, very handy. Howling Blast is also a good ability in itself, especially with the glyph, but it's not able to carry Frost alone unless you like the rest of the tree.

I never tried it as PVE dps. Proc watching like that is not my cup of poison.

Blood PVP

On paper, Blood offers increased survivability compared to the other two. 15% health back regularly, Rune Tap for 20% at a mere 30 sec CD, Mark of Blood, Vampiric Blood... I didn't test Improved Blood Presence and Bloodworms.

Blood was not too bad, but it had a few serious disadvantages. I liked the fact that Death Strike crit like a truck as long as you've got 25 runic power, regardless of any diseases. Having diseases up merely increases the healing it does to you. I also liked the fact that most abilities require a blood rune, which does not mess up your Frost-Unholy rune moves. In addition, with Death Rune Mastery you've got plenty of Blood Runes and Death Runes available. Vampiric Blood -> Rune Tap -> Mark of Blood anyone? For BGs, one of the best features is that Blood has almost no downtime at all. The snare from Glyph of Heart Strike works for its purpose well, but does require that you start any attack with Heart Strike despite having no diseases up, just to apply the snare. Dancing Rune Weapon was awesome for burst damage, especially since it has only 1.5 min CD. The problem, though, is that if you're CCed, the blade does not deal any damage either, so you need to time it well. Compare that to Unholy: The Gargoyle's damage is fire-and-forget.

The disadvantages... Blood is very dependant on staying in melee range. Frost also requires melee to do much, but you can deal ranged damage with Howling Blast (and Death Coil, if you're desperate) and diseases tick for a decent amount. Unholy's diseases hit hard, the pet will often be in melee range even if you're not, and Death Coil can deal good damage from a range. Blood, however... it's diseases ticks as hard as rain and have short duration (you don't have talent points for both Epidemic and Endless Winter). Death Coil hits for way less than Unholy.

I also found the sustained dps a bit lacking. I've read that Blood is very dependant on Armor Penetration. I've got a decent amount of it on my PVE set (around 30-40%) but in my PVP gear I only have 10%.

In addition, any healing reduction like Mortal Strike and Wound Poison hurt like heck. They destroy the advantage Blood has in survivability. Truth to be told, outside of lower downtime, I never really felt the advantage Blood has in survivability over Unholy. In fact, I felt tougher as Unholy.

Unholy PVP

Now I'm back to my roots again. Unholy works best for me. I feel tougher than any of the other two specs. Why? I've tried to think of a few reasons.

Against magic damage, 6% less damage taken all the time and 100% of spell damage absorbed by Anti-Magic Shell actually makes a difference. Anti-Magic Zone is good, but I often use it as a desperation move on my part, as it requires me to stand completely still. Need to find out how I can use it better. One of the cases I know of is when I get frozen by a mage, entangled by a boomkin or rooted by an elemental shammy; Then I'm not going anywhere anyway.

Each of the three trees have their own 1 min tanking cooldown. However, Vampiric Blood and Unbreakable Armor need to be used when you're under attack. Vampiric Blood is effective even on low health, Unbreakable Armor is not. It's also useless against magic damage. Bone Shield, however, can and should be buffed up in advance. It even lasts 5 min. Since there's a CD on 2 sec for each bone, it lasts a minimum of 4 seconds after the first attack. That means that for any surprise attack by a stealth class, I'm taking 20% less damage the first 4 seconds. That's actually a fair amount of damage avoided, especially since you can't trinket the Cheap Shot, you need to save it for Kidney Shot and sometimes for the following Blind.

When we're on the topic of rogue stuns, On a Pale Horse is a good PVP talent. 20% less duration on the stuns, combined with the above, translates to me actually having a fair amount of health left after a rogue or feral druid opener. It's also good against warriors (especially protection, bloody annoying bastards).

The permanent ghoul is also helpful. In particular the stun. I actually put it on auto when defending a node. Hello, rogue, want to stun me? Have a taste of your own medicine. In addition, Death Pact is easily available.

Improved Unholy Presence offers a solid 15% movement increase. That's actually a pretty serious upgrade, and does make a difference. Among other, I can outrun a warrior who is bladestorming me, given that he does not start on top of me. I didn't have any speed enchant on boots when tseting the there specs, which makes the comparison a bit unfair. When I don't have a healer, I'm usually PVPing in Frost Presence. I did try the other two in Unholy Presence, but felt it compromised my survivability too much. Frost Presence offers much longer time to live, and longer time to live means longer time to deal damage to my opponent. In the end, I deal more damage over my total lifespan. Against healers I switch to either of the other two, though.

And then there's Army of the Dead. With the other two specs, that's once in a while. As Unholy, I can use it more often, every 6 min. Nothing rocks calling those up when defending an Arathi Basin flag. I've even seen enemies turn away and head for somewhere else when I start bringing up my army.

A minor difference might also be the combination of stronger Death Coils and Lichborne for self-healing. However, it does not really compare to Blood's Rune Tap.

Finally, Desecration is a much better snare than I first gave it credit for. After all, it's automatically applied to everyone in the area. It allows better kiting of multiple enemies. While it is bad at stopping a single enemy from running away from me, it is probably better for allowing me to run away from an enemy. Besides, I've got Chains of Ice to stop someone anyway.

Aside from the survivability, there are also two other properties of unholy I love. First, the passive damage, namely the dots and pet. I can actually kite and bring a single enemy fairly low using dots alone. Kited a rogue all the way through the Warsong Gulch tunnel, only getting into melee with him for about 4 sec total to hit him with my Plague Strike and refresh Blood Plague on him, using Anti-magic shell to avoid getting snared myself. He did slow me with Deadly Throw, but couldn't catch up because I retaliated with chains myself.

Second, the burst capability. I've macroed Berserking and a trinket to Summon Gargoyle. As long as I can prevent the enemy from running away, the gargoyle deals really serious damage. Even better, it keeps firing even when I get chain-CCed. Has allowed me to win battles despite running around like a feared chicken because it kept firing.

On an unrelated note...

Disarming. It sucks. Royally. Death Knights have one semi-defense against it, though: Rune of Swordshattering. But that would mean sacrificing Rune of the Fallen Crusader, which is a serious dps upgrade. However, without it, rogues eat me for breakfast. Shadow priests and smart warriors too. If I get another identical weapon drop, I can have two different runes depending on the type of enemies I meet.


It's fun playing around, but Unholy really is my game. Not only mine, but 90% of the arena DK population, from what I can gather from reading various forums. With that said, many seem to play it as a support-spec, just applying pressure and allowing their team to set up the kill, often harassing a healer. Mind Freeze + Strangulate + Gnaw + Death Grip to keep healers busy for a long time.

Death Grip, you ask? Yes, it's a trick I learned from watching a PVP movie. You know paladins using Aura Mastery? Immune to silence and interrupts suck, huh? You can still stun them (though DKs are not the master thereof), but more importantly for us you can still Death Grip them. So when they use the mastery, move a bit away, and death grip right before the cast is finished. With good positioning, you can also pull them out of line of sight or range of their healing target. Fun, fun.

Posts I want to write:

  • Tanking specs testing results

  • When is it the healer, when is it the tank whose at fault?

  • When you no longer have access to any gear upgrades

Saturday, December 5, 2009

More DK talents, oh joy!

I apologize to those of you with no interest in this. It's just stuff I sort of think about anyway, and writing them down helps the though process, thus I might just as well make it public. Perhaps some other guy somewhere in the future has the same problem.

First, in my previous post I said that Endless Winter was the PVP talent. While this still holds true, I forgot that in taking it, you usually also take Toughness, Icy Reach and Lichborne, all great PVP talents. Losing out Endless Winter hurts. Losing all of them hurts practically too much.

I've boiled down my options a bit. Focusing on which specs can double for two purposes, I've gotten six possibilities.

Just a word of warning: I've had the 3.3 changes in mind while writing this. The Glyph of Icy Touch will in 3.3 buff Frost Fever by 20%. Scourge Strike will hit harder, meaning Reaping and Epidemic will provide more dps increase.

Option 1: Blood tank/PVP

Combining the PVP and tanking talents for blood, I get something like 51/17/3. Compared to a true tank, I lose Will of the Necropolis and only get three points in Anticipation. Further, I have only 3 points to put in Subversion, Death Rune Mastery and Sudden Doom combined. Both Sudden Doom and Subversion get better with Death Rune Mastery, as it provides two extra Heart Strikes during a 20 sec rotation at the expense of a Death Strike. However, since you both in PVP and tanking regulary take damage, perhaps the loss of a bit dps is offset by the gain of a bit more healing?

Generally, I think this build loses out too much mitigation for tanking and too much dps for PVP.

The other spec would 0/51/20 Frost DW or 17/5/54 Unholy dps.

Option 2: Blood PVP/dps

51/17/3 provides the essential Blood dps talents, and adds 17 in Frost for Endless Winter and 3 in Unholy for Virulence. Actually a fairly balanced build. The two points in Improved Blood Presence could be put anywhere else as well, for example Rune Tap and Scent of Blood (for PVP, mind you).

The loss of Epidemic hurts, though. I've played with the thought of only putting 11 points in Frost and the rest in Unholy, losing Endless Winter. However, that's going to hurt in PVP.

The other spec would be Frost or Unholy tank. Linking to the awesome site Gravity has a much better grip on pure tanking specs than me.

Option 3: Frost tank/PVP

9/55/7 succeeds in getting all essential tanking and PVP talents for frost, as far as I can see. Looks like an interesting option. Alternatively, 9/57/5 switches out the Glyph of Frost Strike with Glyph of Howling Blast, for a single-disease rotation. It drops Epidemic. I put the two spare points in Chill of the Grave, but an interesting option is to put those two points and a single point from Scent of Blood into Acclimation, but then you risk getting seriously Runic Power starved regulary.

The other spec would be 51/0/20 Blood or 17/5/54 Unholy dps.

Option 4: Frost PVP/dps

A suggestion here is 0/51/20 Frost PVP/dps, which includes On a Pale Horse. I don't have the weapons nor the talents points to spare to get DW dps.

The secondary spec would be Blood or Unholy tank.

Option 5: Unholy tank/PVP

It might work with an Unholy tank/PVP build. However, the main problem is that you lose Wandering Plague, only get three points in Blade Barrier, and lack Ravenous Dead, meaning your pet is a heck of a lot easier to kill, and only usable for keeping other players in combat. It's not a combination I would recommend.

The secondary spec would be 51/0/20 Blood or 0/51/20 Frost DW dps.

Option 6: Unholy PVP/dps

I like Unholy for PVP. I'd say something like 0/17/54 is the way to go. It'll serve moderately well as a dps spec as well. Includes On a Pale Horse.

The secondary spec would be Blood or Frost tank.

Playing what I like

All of the above are options that might to a lesser or greater extent work. However, that's only one part of the question what to do. The second is what I like to play.

Listing what I like about the various specs in various roles.

Blood is awesome for the self-healing, particularily in PVP. I'm not sure I like it as a dps spec all that much. For tanking, I like the skill cap resulting in being able to use Death Strike at the correct time. For max threat you will need to spam it. However, for survival, it can be handy to wait some seconds with Death Strike until you take damage. I've had success doing this with boss abilities that are announced in advance, such as Meteor Fist on Koralon and the big AoE on Emalon.

What I don't like with Blood is that it isn't so good for AoE, but then again I'm comparing to Unholy which rocks the AoE hard. In PVP it's also much more physical damage compared to the other two, meaning I don't tear through pallies and warriors as easily.

Frost is great for tanking because of the extra mitigation. It's also great to have Icebound Fortitude lasting 16 seconds, particulary in PVP where it means 16 sec of stun immunity. I like Howling Blast because of it's snappy aggro. What I don't like about Frost is that I need to watch for procs all the time and align them correctly for max dps. Fortunately this is less of an issue for a tank, and for PVP you can't afford to wait with procs, you blow when you get the chance. However, I'd like to try DW tanking in 3.3, and only Forst can offer that without a serious threat loss. I don't think Unholy can put out enough threat while dual-wield tanking. If I do that, I need to go with option 2 or option 6, combining PVP and dps with my other spec.

Unholy is great for having a permanent pet, great AoE, powerful dots and great debuff. In addition, I find the rotation fits me fine, much more than Blood and Frost. It feels like they're slightly less tough as tanks against physical damage, but way better against magical damage. I think Desecration is a kind of bad snare. It takes so long to kick in that the target has time to get out of the area, provided they're moving in a straight line. Without Chains of Ice to fall back on, I'd have given up Unholy for PVP a long time ago. For PVP it's also great that Ebon Plague counts as an extra disease for removing diseases.

Conclusions... sort of

Of the six main options below, I find option 5 to be the worst. Option 1 and 3 combines tanking and PVP, but at the expense of dps. I might end up sacrificing so much dps that I have trouble bringing my enemies down, and that's going to hurt.

I want to test out what I like about a single-disease Howling Blast glyph Frost build somtime, option 3. Perhaps I like it, perhaps I don't.

For the moment, I'm using Option 6, Unholy PVP/dps and Blood tank. It works out well, but I'd like to try the other options as well. If I don't find any I like, I'll return to Unholy PVP/dps. It rocks.

I also think that tanking and PVP are the two most important aspects of the game for me. If I deal 500 or even 1000 dps less (as long as I'm above 3k) it does suck a bit. Howevever, if I take 10% more damage as a tank, it's downright devestating. Similarily, if I can't stick to the enemy (in effect, get snared all the time), I'm going to end up so annoyed I might just skip out of PVP alltogether. That means I'm much more inclined to go with option 2 or 4, since they don't sacrifice anything from the tanking spec, and effectively go dps with a pure PVP spec.

I'm going to pay a lot in respeccing and reglyphing in the following weeks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

WTB Triple-spec

Blizzard has stated that they don't intend to implement anything beyond dual-spec anytime soon. I can see some logic behind their reasonings; If you implement 3 different specs, why stop there? Why not 4? And then some would cry for 5... Better to leave the beast alone by only giving two specs.

What bothers me about the dual spec system is that I enjoy three aspects of the game. PVE dps, PVE tanking and PVP. With only two specs, I will have to choose either to optimized for two purposes and lacking for the last, or optimized for one and compromised for the two others.

With my druid, it was even worse. Ideally, I wanted five specs with my druid. Tanking, PVE dps, PVE healing, PVP dps, PVP healing.

For the moment I'm running a
Blood tanking spec and a Unholy PVP spec. It works out fairly well. I use the PVP spec when going dps, and still manage to put out above 3k thanks to my gear. I'm wondering if I can reach 4k with the last gear upgrades and a hardcore dps spec.

However, I'd like to experiment with other specs as well. If they don't work out too well, I can always return to status quo.

For tanking, I need mitigation and avoidance talents. No matter what tree I spec into, I'll need Toughness, Improved Icy Touch, Anticipation and Blade Barrier. I don't need all of them to tank 5-man, but for any pug raid I join they're essential. In addition, there's the tree-spesific tanking talents.

For dps, I need the dps-talents of the tree, which various greatly depending on what tree it is.

For PVP, I need a mix. Survival is important, so is utility, but you need dps as well. However, no matter what tree I spec into, Endless Winter is almost a nescessity, along with a more permanent snare. Blood has Glyph of Heart Strike, Frost has Chilblains and Unholy has Desecration. In addition, Virulence can make all the difference in the world against some classes.

For all three aspects of the game, Epidemic is a talent I love. Cleans up rotations, makes losing the enemy in PVP for a few seconds less painful, helps keep up AoE threat... I love it.

Finally, I'd love to have One a Pale Horse in one of my two specs. It's so handy to have an on-demand 20% extra riding speed, both in BGs and when travelling generally. However, only Unholy specs get it easily. Blood or Frost tank specs can't get it at all. Blood and Frost dps specs can get it without sacrificing too much, by sticking at least 17 points in Unholy.

Note that my PVP is limited to BGs and WG for the moment. Might go arena sometime, have a friend I can go with, but we haven't worked out a good schedule for it yet.

I've thought of a few combinations that might work.

A Blood tanking/PVP spec might work, if I sacrifice Endless Winter, but take the Glyph of Heart Strike. Even a tanking spec can attain almost all dps talents in Blood. Tons of survival.

A Blood dps/PVP spec might also work. Less survival, but more dps thanks to the talent points freed up to go into Unholy. Still need Glyph of Heart Strike.

The problem for me with Blood PVP is that with 51 points spent in blood, I don't have points enough for both Epidemic and Endless Winter. Endless Winter is generally more important for PVP, making 51/17/3 the spec of choice for a pure PVP spec. However, that spec lacks the mitigation talents for tanking, and has to chew to a lot of suboptimal dps frost talents to get Endless Winter. However, it is a possibility in the same way as my current Unholy PVP spec. Unholy does, however, benefit more from +10% shadow and frost damage than Blood does.

Frost have a ton of choices connected to it. Unlike Blood, you can successfully go DW or 2h, either might work. I'd love to try DW tanking sometime. However, that sometime will have to wait 'till 3.3. I don't have the gear to attain 540 defense without the Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle. 3.3 will add a similar Rune for one-handers, called Rune of the Nerubian Carapace.

Further, since I lack two slow and solid one-handers (above ilvl 200), I'll have to go for 2h until I can get some solid 1h upgrades somewhere.

The next choice for Frost is the Glyph of Howling Blast or not. It allows a single-disease rotation, ignoring Plague Strike and Blood Plague completely. It allows 5 obliterates during a 20 sec rotation rather than the normal 4, but each hit for less. However, that's another 15% chance to proc Rime. It is not a valid choice for a hardcore dps specs. The loss of the damage from Blood Plague hurts, and throwing a Howling Blast from the very start in AoE might steal aggro from tanks that need a bit time to get proper threat on all enemies, particulary other Death Knights.

However, for PVP, for the price of a some dps, you gain a ranged AoE snare with Chilblains. For tanking, you gain even more and snappier AoE threat; Howling Blast -> Blood Boil -> Death and Decay. For either, you can completely avoid casting Icy Touch at all provided Rime procs on one of those Obliterates. No need for Epidemic at all.

So... Frost can offer a HB glyph tank/PVP spec, or a non-HB glyph tank/PVP spec, or a non-HB glyph PVP/dps spec.

Unholy... well, to be honest, Unholy PVP completely sucks without Endless Winter. The snare from Desecration takes a few moments to kick in, and on a moving target often doesn't kick in at all until they're out of the desecrated area. The snare does have it's uses, but it's not completely reliable. That means I don't want to attempt to make a PVP/tank spec. The spec I have now, PVP/dps, works fairly well, but not exactly superb for dps.

So... I'll try to boil down the options I have. It's a safe assumption that if possible, I'd like to delve into two different trees. Before I had tanking gear enough to tank seriously, I ran Unholy dps/Unholy PVP, but it's kinda fun to have different options to fall back on.

  • Blood tank/PVP, Frost dps

  • Blood tank/PVP, Unholy dps

  • Blood tank, Frost PVP/dps

  • Blood tank, Unholy PVP/dps. My current setup.

  • Frost tank/PVP, Blood dps

  • Frost tank/PVP, Unholy dps

  • Frost tank, Blood PVP/dps

  • Frost tank, Unholy PVP/dps

  • Unholy tank, Blood PVP/dps

  • Unholy tank, Frost PVP/dps

Choices, choices...