Daily Thoughts: A Primer of Death Knight Tanking

Recently I posted a three part series about tanking Cataclysm heroics. I decided that only natural follow-up was to share a little of what I learned from my experience and how that applies to my previous experience tanking in back in WotLK. Tanking regular dungeons is pretty much the equivalent of tank Wrath heroics. If your healer is even somewhat coherent you’ll probably be fine. So regular dungeons don’t really need much strategy. If you do, however, have aspirations of taking your tanking to the next level then they are both a good place to gear up in preparation for heroics and also the perfect testing ground. This however isn’t a guide on how to get ready for heroics, it is instead a primer on what to do when you get there.

Step 1: Observation

This is an important step for any tank (it’s also not a bad idea for dps or heals either). Take note of your group. What is their gear like? Does the healer seem to barely have heroic blues at all or is he/she rocking raiding epics and 100k mana?  To take it a step further you could do an inspect and verify the gems/enchants on the healers gear. If they have gems and enchants, and they seem to be correct, then there’s a better chance your healer doesn’t suck. Next make a mental list of the crowd control abilities in your group. If you arrive at VP with another DK, a warrior, and a Paladin, you might have some trouble. With a good healer that is properly geared many dungeons can be done without CC at all, on the other hand, if your healer looks new you better make good use of any available CC. 

Step 2: Communication

This is really another important step for any tank. It’s a good time to state your intention to use (or in some cases omit the use of) CC. If everyone looks pretty well geared you might offer, “hey heals, your gear looks pretty sweet, think we could just power through this stuff”? If you are feeling more cautious or the healer prefers not to chain pull the instance, this is the point where you declare the CC ability/player with the symbol you’ll be using. Include the kill order symbols (skull>x>whatever). Try to be consistent throughout. If moon is sheep and square is trap, don’t switch it up later on. It can result in confusion and wipes. No matter what you declare skull is, people will always shoot at it. Try putting a skull on the healer and watch your dps go insane from confusion.

Step 3: The Pulls

So you’ve figured out what you have to work with and how you’re going to proceed. Now it’s time to actually pull some mobs. I’ll go over a single target or at least non-AOE-fest plan first. When using CC, it’s often a good idea to have one of your ranged CC options pull via their CC and pick the mobs up as they run towards the group. This way the free mobs are a little ways away from the controlled ones and you have a lesser chance of accidentally pulling them as you smash things on your keyboard carefully target and tank the mobs. Death and Decay is always a great opening move if there is more than 1 mob that you’re tanking AND you won’t pull controlled mobs. If you have marked a “skull” target make sure to grab that one first. I’ll typically start laying down my diseases on this one first, usually saving my Outbreak for an emergency disease refresh. If you have a caster mob that isn’t controlled, use Death Grip to grab threat and bring the mob away from the others.

Assuming you’re out of range of CC’d mobs use your pestilence to spread diseases (if there is more than 1 mob) to help threat on those targets. The main rotation you’ll be using as a DK tank is diseases > Death Strike (for mitigation/heath) OR heart strike for threat > rune strike (to use your runic power). Trash mobs won’t live long enough to need refreshing diseases most of the time. If you aren’t dealing with a large group or have controlled the excess mobs you shouldn’t find yourself needing to use any cooldowns.

For AOE pulls it is a little more complicated (sort of) and chaotic. Without any CC targets, DnD is ALWAYS the best opening move in a large group of mobs. It hits everything and does great threat. Keep in mind, this will NOT stop a DPS from pulling aggro on a single target but should make sure they’re all hitting you at the start. When pulling a tough AOE I’ll usually use my outbreak to save time getting diseases spread. My rotation ends up something like DnD>Outbreak>Pestilence>Some cooldown for survivability>Possibly a DPS cooldown for threat>Death Strikes for life>Blood Boil for AOE Threat. It is usually still a good idea to mark the initial kill target even on an AOE pull. If you can DnD then focus on one mob, you won’t have as much worry about DPS pulling off random targets and requiring you to taunt. Be prepared to use more cooldowns as needed depending on the skill and gear of your healer. AoE chain pulling is often the fastest and funnest method for a tank, but it can be very stressful on the healer. Make sure he/she is okay with that method or expect wipes or healers quitting.

Lions, tigers, Bosses – Oh My!

Death Knights seem to have it pretty easy on heroic bosses for holding threat and staying alive. For a boss you have a rotation something like Diseases>RS (if excess runic power)>DS or HS. I won’t open with outbreak on a boss since Icy Tough is pretty decent threat. The only real though in our basic rotation is threat vs survivability in heart strike or death strike. If you have a good threat lead use death strike as much as possible for the healing and the bubble and then death strike as a filler. Make sure to keep diseases up and use cooldowns in high damage phases or any time you seem to be at high risk of death. Use rune strike enough to not waste runic power and you’re golden. I’ll often use Dancing Rune Weapon with Runic Empowerment  and a DPS cooldown if I ever need extra threat or just for a nice burst damage. We DK’s have a great selection of cooldowns for pretty much every situation. Following these general ideas outlined in this primer and you shouldn’t have any problems tanking heroics…..except for bad healers, douche dps, and random acts of god. Good luck and happy tanking!

 

Daily Thoughts: It’s Not Christmas Anymore

Apparently today is the official day after the Christmas holiday time for my universe. Last night my significant other took down our tree and decorations in the midst of a living room cleaning frenzy, and today the tree at the office where I work is packed away into boxes to wait for the next year.

So, I’m now waiting for christmas again. Though, I sincerely hope it doesn’t take until december to find my presents, which apparently someone buried all over Azeroth. Yes, I’m talking about Archeology epics. This profession is a little soul-sucking, but I really want Zin’Rokh, the epic level 85 bind-to-account 2h weapon. Aside being a substantial upgrade for my ret main, would also look nice on my fury warrior and death knight once the paladin upgrades or finds a replacement. There is also a very nice healer trinket for my holy set or my resto shaman once he hits 85, and a caster ring, which lacks hit or spirit, making it a viable upgrade for my holy paladin, resto/ele shaman, or boomkin. The trinket and ring are also bind-to-account.

Although the grind to get any of these (which I haven’t yet, by the way) is pretty long, at least due to the nature of the BOA epics, only one toon needs to be an archeologist unless you really care about multiple toons getting the pets and mounts. Just last night I got the Fossilized Raptor mount and although it’s pretty cool, I have no desire to level archeology on any other toons. I’m glad I have the last of the fossil solves that I have any interest in, but we all know we really want the gear.

For those looking to start archeology, a couple important tips:

  • Do it now, they’re making leveling even longer in patch 4.0.6
  • After 100 skill you don’t get anymore skill points for leveling, so don’t solve any of your finds prior to that skill level, in 4.0.6 it seem they’re lowering the number to 50. So at least head to 100 prior to the patch dropping.
  • They’re also limiting the amount of fragments you can collect to 200 per race. Each solve takes a minimum of 35 fragments, rares solves up to 150 fragments. Some people were saving all the fragments of the race they wanted loot from (the 2h sword is from troll), in order to only solve that race once they were high enough to find the item. This won’t work after 4.0.6 either.
  • Unless you have a real preference of which toon gets pets/mounts/achievements, level this profession on your fastest character. Any toon with 310 flying, paladins for aura, druids for quick flight form, etc. The faster you can move the faster you get to dig sites and to the survey points
  • A decent guide/explanation of the profession can be found HERE.

Daily Thoughts: Argaloth

For those who were worried that cataclysm wouldn’t be hard, my repair bill after the Omnitron encounter in Blackwing Descent would serve to lessen those fears. There are also, though, quite a few who are now worried that cataclysm is too hard. For those people, I’d like to refer Argaloth. He is the first boss in Baradin Hold, the new VoA like boss area in Tol Barad. He drops current tier pvp pieces along with, you guessed it, a couple pieces of PVE tier. I’m not entirely sure if he has a stronger bias towards PVP, as so far after 3 kills and 6 epics, my guild has only seen 1 tier piece. Even better, it was for a class not represented in that raid. Either way, we still have a way to get some epics without too much trouble. Argaloth does serve the function as acting as somewhat of a gear check. Think of it as the entrance examto cataclysm raiding. In 10m at least (and I’d guess 25m would be similar) each dps player must average 10k dps during the encounter to not hit his rage timer. This really isn’t hard with basic heroic/badge gear and some cheap gems/enchants.

Wowhead was nice enough to put up a little description as well as strategy for Argaloth. Check it out after the break.

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Cataclysm Faction Reputation Guide

I’ve prepared a pretty inclusive list of all the cataclysm factions, links to their loot lists on wowhead, and if they have tabards, dailies, etc. Also past the cut is a list of each factions epic loot available. Continue below to see the list including Baradin’s Wardens, Dragonmaw Clan, Guardians of Hyjal, Hellscream’s Reach, Ramkahen, The Earthen Ring, Therazane and Wildhammer Clan.

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Daily Thoughts: Work in Progress

So, today’s Daily Thoughts is going to be a bit shorter than normal. I’m in the process of working out a Cataclysm faction rep guide with wowhead links, their epic loot, and the status of the daily quests. It should be up tomorrow and maybe a day or so after will be my thoughts on the Twilight Highlands. I haven’t quite finished the quest chains there as I hit 85 in the middle of one that I think is phased and didn’t pick up the rest of the quests.

I was thinking though, I have a lot of things that are a work in progress: My rep/faction guide, gearing up for raids, finishing the new cataclysm zones, getting jewelcrafting maxed out. At work, in real life, I have a ton of jobs in progress. It will be quite nice to wrap up a few of them, both in real life and WoW. Of course, as I complete projects at work I’ll get more, or else I’d be out of a job. And the same, after I finish jewelcrafting or getting the Paladin raid ready I’ll have more toons to level and gear, their professions to max and gear to craft. But that’s also the goal that Blizzard set out with WoW, to make sure there is always something to do. If there’s ever nothing more to do in WoW, Blizzard is out of a job, or at least out of income from this game. I wonder how long the game will continue. WoW in 3d? WoW in virtual reality? Oh the possibilities.