Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to be an Effective Raider

Raiding is one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" kind of undertakings.

WoW is full of those. In a break from the norm around here at Unliving a Death Knight, this post will not be dedicated to Death Knights. This post instead is directed towards anyone and everyone who wants to get into raiding or wants to improve their raiding, and to help make the transition from raid attendee to an irreplaceable asset and member of an effective team.

I want to stress that raiding isn't supposed to be easy. It's not supposed to come naturally. Raiding is the most fun I've ever had in a video game, but more often than not it's challenging, stressful, and full of pressure on you to perform well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Frost Verses Unholy (Mists of Pandaria)

I imagine I'm not the only PvE Death Knight questioning my spec at this point in the expansion


So what spec should a concerned PvE Death Knight play?

Well, as you may imagine, the answer is not so straight forward. I'm going to start at the end with this article. I just made the switch from Unholy to Frost. While I still have a heartfelt attachment to Unholy, I realized that I was attached to what Unholy represented rather than what it brought to the raid. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bloody Tanking (Mists of Pandaria)

Blood tanking in Mists is a fight for survival.


It's certainly not for the faint-of-heart. From the moment the boss is pulled until that boss is nothing more than loot-laden carcass decaying on the ground, a Blood Death Knight must carefully time every button press, be mindful of every fight mechanic, and quickly analyze and react to any situation. This expansion is not going to be any easier than Cataclysm, and will severely punish any Death Knight tanking carelessly.

However, if you are a capable of playing a Blood Death Knight well, you will be an almost unstoppable force, more powerful than we were even in Dragon Soul.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unholy DPS (Mists of Pandaria)

Unholy remains the most nuanced, under-rated, and under-appreciated spec among Death Knights in Mists- making it that much more lovable.


Mists of Pandaria has actually been pretty great for Unholy Death Knights. We gained several new tools, got several outstanding issues addressed, and perhaps most importantly the Unholy spec has gained much flexibility.

The list of significant differences is seemingly small, but they really change everything.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Positive News for the Unliving

Death Knights have gotten quite a few nice changes on Beta.

In fact, most of these changes are changes that me and many others in the community have been begging and pleading for.

As promised, the WoW development team carefully reevaluated Soul Reaper, our new, massively powerful level 90 execute ability. They have decided that opposed to a Death rune or runic power cost (which was determined to be far too punishing a cost for DW Frost because they'd have to sacrifice Frost Strike) each spec will have their "signature rune" as a cost. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Breaking the Silence

It has been a while since I last posted

But I actually do have a reasonable excuse! 
Okay, maybe it isn't so reasonable, but (To quote a great man who would have made an excellent DK) let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up.

Death Knights are (on beta) very much in flux right now. Not only are several of our core mechanics getting revamped, but many of our headliner abilities are actively being tweaked by the development team. This includes (not limited to!) Blood's "Weakened Blows" tanking debuff, Death Strike, Blood Boil, Threat of Thassarian, Might of the Frozen Wastes, Soul Reaper (which will no longer cost a Death Rune, but the final cost is still undetermined), Runic Corruption, Timmy the Ghoul, Gary the Gargoyle (you're welcome Mags!), Army of the Dead, and more. The development team has also promised to look into the overall "feel" of the class- problems like Blood's downtime and damage-spikiness (very much circa 4.0.6!),  Frost's DPS disparity from 2H to DW and burst damage, Unholy's ramp up and HOPEFULLY AoE, and the rune mechanics in general.

So overall, there is a TON of content to write about, but it seems premature to say too much right now. Death Knights seem to be one of the current focuses of the development team, (headed up by a surprisingly open, straight talking Ghostcrawler!) and legitimate concerns are being well addressed.

Hopefully, speculation and propositions in the forums will turn into answers in the beta builds soon, and when they do I'll be sure to update Unliving a Death Knight!

Head over to the Beta Class Balance Analysis and [Death Knight] Soul Reaper and Death Rune fix beta forum topics for the discussion, and words straight from the developers!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Loving Ode to the Bestest Addon Ever: mRunes

Okay, I'll admit: I'm a horrible, horrible interface whore.


There, I said it. It probably has something to do with my Linux background, but it carries over in force into my WoW interface as well.

Many of my guildies live nearby and we often get together for raids or just to hang out. It just so happens that all of these guildies use what is essentially the vanilla interface of WoW.

How is this usable?!
*shudders* (Needless to say, none of them have a Death Knight as a main.)

The last time Kai came over, she took once glance at my screen during the raid and said "I don't think you and I play the same game!"

That made me giggle. (You're awesome Kai!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Looming Mists

I've very carefully avoided this post for some time now. 

However, news is coming to light today that the class changes for Mists of Pandaria are headed to PTR. Just like they did between Wrath and Cataclysm, they will push out the changes they've made to each class while keeping the level cap where it is and not releasing new zones etc until you purchase and install the final release of the expansion.

So where does this leave Death Knights?
With the advance to PTR, we're not likely to see very many further changes to Death Knights as a whole, so now seems like a good time to take a good hard look at where we stand.

First I'm going to point out here for the millionth time that this is still not the final release. Also, I'm hardly unopinionated, and I cannot even pretend as though I have an objective viewpoint here. So, before I bring out the hammer o' doom and bash you all over the heads with it, I'm going to give you some background (as I always try to do!) so that you can draw your own conclusions and judge my statements as peers.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How do Death Knights "Taste"?

I recently read through a series of posts regarding the current state of Warlocks in Cataclysm (written by Cynwise, read the huge, well thought out series of articles here). Cynwise talks a good bit about the "flavor" of his favored class, and what it means to be a Warlock. It got me thinking about the corresponding "flavor" of Death Knights.

Now, I'm going to explain a little bit further here before we get to the core of this post. A classes (or spec's) "flavor" is the detail of the gameplay that sets one spec/class apart from others. Just like in real life, usually a particular "flavor" consists of many layered sub-flavors that add up to a recognizable result.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Runes and Runic Power- The Feedback Loop

Death Knights have the most complicated resource system in World of Warcraft.

This is not a debate. This is a statement of easily verifiable fact. Death Knights have Blood Runes, Frost Runes, Unholy Runes, Death Runes, and Runic Power. All of these  resources are linked together in a complex relationship that is very counter-intuitive. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

State of the Unliving Union

How far we've come,  

In WotLK Death Knights were brand new. As such, at the beginning they had severe balance issues. As WotLK progressed, however, it was easy to see that Death Knights were suffering a bit of an identity crisis. Every single spec could successfully fill a DPS or Tanking role. 

The scary part was how incredibly good they were at both.

As Cataclysm loomed with the newly revamped talent trees, the Blizzard developers saw an opportunity to separate Unholy, Frost, and Blood once and for all, giving each spec it's own distinct flavor.

Unholy became hallmarked by its usage of diseases, pets, two handed weapons and shadow damage.

Frost became a spec known for its massively damaging hits, AoE, frost damage, and careful management of both procs and resources. 

Blood became a tanking spec exclusively, and was given the unique mechanic among tanks to rely on active self healing and shielding. 

When Cataclysm dropped, however, it became quickly (and painfully) obvious that Frost's gameplay was boring and subject to a ton of random chance. Blood's gameplay was difficult and often ineffective. While Unholy's gameplay was in many ways more enjoyable than the other two specs, it was uncompetitive for DPS when compared to other classes and specs.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Unholy DPS (4.3 Cataclysm)

If Frost DPS is the golden boy of Cataclysm, Unholy is the unwanted stepson locked in the basement.


OUT OF DATE (look for updated guides soon!)


(Hint: Frost DPS truly is the golden boy of Cataclysm.)

But don't let that discourage you from playing Unholy! By no means is Blizzard's recent neglect of the spec indicative of its inferiority. In fact, I'd go so far as to claim the opposite. It's no secret that Unholy dominated Frost in every way (except tanking) during Wrath of the Lich King. Because of this, it seems to me (and many others) that Frost got a lot more development attention during Cataclysm, and Unholy wasn't given nearly as much attention because it honestly didn't need it as much.

Despite the apparent neglect, Unholy is a very complex, competitive, fun spec with unique and rewarding gameplay.

Frosty DPS (4.3 Cataclysm)

Frost Death Knights are incredibly powerful in Cataclysm.


OUT OF DATE (Look for updated guides soon!)


Despite the fact that as of 4.3 I no longer play Frost with my Death Knight, I still have an incredible amount of respect for it. It is without a doubt the highest AoE DPS of any Death Knight spec, and in many cases (depending upon fight mechanics) it is the highest single-target DPS Death Knight spec as well. The primary reasons for this are twofold.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bloody Tanking (4.3 Cataclysm)


Blood tanking is a sticky subject


OUT OF DATE (Look for updated guides soon!)


Everyone has their own opinion on the theory and mechanics, but SOMETHING out there is working, because some of the best tanks in the best guilds in the world are blood DKs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For new Death Knights

So you want to be a Death Knight, eh?

Well, before we get to the fun stuff I'm going to issue a little PSA here. Despite how easy it is to level a Death Knight, playing one well at max level can be very challenging. We have the most complex resource system, more cooldowns than most, and missing a beat or two is incredibly unforgiving.

If you find a challenge fun, you've come to the right place.

A quick breakdown of your class-
Death knights in general (no matter the spec) are massive damage dealers and takers that bring important utility to any raid. Your three specs are Blood, Frost, and Unholy.

For new WoW Players

So, you've just started to play WoW? Or maybe you're considering it?

Chances are you were recruited by someone. Contrary to popular belief WoW is a game centered around community and social interaction. Very few people play WoW by themselves. If indeed you were recruited by someone- stick with them like glue! Everything in WoW can be done with as big or as small a group as you prefer! Playing with a friend will simply be more fun, less confusing, and much easier!

If you're interested in WoW and you don't have a friend to get started with- that's okay too! But I encourage you to get involved with a guild and find a few people to hang out with! The game is multiplayer. Running around by yourself and saying nary a word to another player is a great way to ruin your WoW experience.

Who is this Kalc guy?

Kalc is my wow-pseudonym, short for "Kalcaryen", the name of my main.

And no, I don't have an impressive pedigree. I've been playing since the summer of 2010 (a wrath baby and a newb!). As I'm sure you are going to quickly find- I'm not in one of the top-tier raiding guilds, or even on a raid-centric server. Nor do I accomplish a ton of heroic progression or competitive PvP. I play WoW for fun, and to hang out with my friends. I do take my own PvE performance very seriously, however that isn't forced upon me by my guild or anyone else.

What is Unliving a Death Knight?

So why do I bother blogging about Death Knights?
The simple explanation is that Death Knights are a very complex class, with complex mechanics, and a great community.