Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sequencing Even In Death

As I mentioned yesterday, I rolled a Death Knight and I liked it. The moral ambiguity of the class reminds me a lot of why I chose to roll a Warlock in the first place. The playstyle is addicting and fast. The trees are varied and fun. You start at 55. What is there to not like?

As such, I believe I have found a "main" alt. That is to say, I think I'll be spending a lot of time on my DK. Warlocking is still and will always be my main squeeze, but DK is an excellent change of pace while not abandoning my "evilness". Thus, I brought a warlock's mind to the playstyle of a knight of death and devised a rotation and some macros for playing the class.

I don't know if its the best, but I'm pushing about 480DPS on a level 55 dummy at level 58. That can't be all bad, right? So, here's what I've come up with, feel free to compare notes.

First of, lets run through my cast bar:

  • Button 1: Blood Strike
  • Button 2: Macro "Plagues". I will post this macro in just a moment. This button's purpose is to use spells that apply a disease.
  • Button 3: Macro "Ill". I will post this one in just a moment as well. This button is used for spreading your diseases (ew... but oh so wicked).
  • Button 4: Death Coil... not to be confused with the Warlock Spell of the same name. This one will only do damage to mobs, heals from friendly undead.
  • Button 5: Death Grip. Ever want to be Scorpion from Mortal Kombat? Yeah, awesome spell. Great for pulling or ping ponging a mob around between multiple DKs.
  • Button 6: Chains of Ice. Sort of a DK shackle with diminishing returns over time. Haven't used it a whole lot yet but I'm sure it'll be handy.
  • Button 7: Mind Freeze. Caster interruption spell. Good to have handy as well.
  • Button 8: Raise Dead. 'Nuff said. Fun to raise your buddies as zombies.
  • Button 9: Vampiric Blood. This is a Blood tree only spell and increases my blood tap. Haven't used this one a whole lot yet, but it is mid-range in the tree and will probably start being useful in the "real world".
  • Button 0: Blood Tap. Almost a reverse of Life Tap for Warlocks. Get the talent in the blood tree where it heals your party and you can almost be healer... but we don't that around here. This is just really nice to have to keep you alive.
  • Last two: Not shown, but I always put my pots on these.
Macros:
  1. #showtooltip
    /castsequence [nomod] reset=target/ Pestilence, Death Strike, Blood Boil
  2. #showtooltip
    /castsequence [nomod] reset=target/ Icy Touch, Plague Strike
Okay, so with my short descriptors and now the macros, you may be able to see a playstyle forming here. At least that is my hope.

Single Short Lived Targets
My goal here is going to be to apply an initial disease early (which in turn amplifies your blood strikes) and then go to town with blood strikes. Thus I'd get a button sequence sort of like this: 2, 2, 1, 1, repeat. Add 4 (Death Coil) in there as you generate runic power. This seems to work pretty well and keeps up a nice DPS.

AoE Type Target Pulls
The goal here is to spread your diseases around and do some AoE damage while DPSing a main target. Thus, my button rotation looks like: 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 1, 1, repeat. Again you can add death coil in there. This is rough to keep up you diseases as they expire, so you may want to swap back to that 2 button when you can to keep up the DoTs. As I'm blood specced, I don't want to cut out my blood strike though, so you just kind of got to feel it out. The nice thing about the 3 button (the second macro) is that you'll spread your disease around, do a nice little hit that will heal you per disease, and then pops all the diseases on all the targets in range. Its a nifty little rotation and should prove quite useful. Death coil is probably less of a priority here, but it does do some nice damage.

Single Target Bosses
I haven't really gotten a chance to work much on this, but from dummy work, I would do the same strategy as I used with short lived bosses. There is no real reason to spread you disease, then might as well focus on your heavy hitters. So I'm going to use that same rotation.

Results
Like I said, with both rotation types I'm pushing over 400 DPS in the blues at 58 straight out of the starting area. That seems pretty decent to me, but I don't really know. My goal here is not to try to say that this is THE spec or THE rotation, but to give an idea of how to play a basic death knight using the same logic that helps make a Warlock effective. I choose the blood tree for its obvious vampiric ties. The health regen is fun. Fuubaar is doing the unholy spec and loves the little minion you get there. We both use similar rotations and get similar DPS numbers. If you love pets as a Warlock, you might like unholy. If you like sucking life while killing, go blood. If you want to tank, that's what that icy tree is for.

All in all, a REALLY fun class and something I can see getting to 80 after my Warlock. I promise not to deviate too much on DK stuff on the way unless I see a lot of interest, but after spending some time working this all out last night I wanted to share. I'm also working on a pre-raid gear list. I'm hoping someone else does a better one that I can just point you to, 'cause its a lot of work :-).

To make a gear list I'm just going to be using the affliction template over at Loot Rank and searching through each slot. It won't be necessarily "the best", but it will give a general idea of what stats are good for 'locks, and what is out there. I will try to stick with "easy to obtain" items, mostly looking for the best quest rewards and maybe some non-heroic instance drops. This will probably take me some time, so don't expect it soon, but I wanted to say that I'm working on it. If someone else does a better job in the mean time, I'll definitely bow to them :-).

Edit: The Warlock's Den has a wonderful Warlock gear guide for the new continent. Not exactly the pre-raid list I want to put together, but really nice all the same.

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