Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DK Icy Talons Buff Clarification

My Frost DW DK post is something that I continue to get some good traffic on. Good traffic sometimes means good comments, and this has been the case for that particular article. Commenter Mihai left me a great tip the other day when he pointed out that:

"I see you went with 1/1 Improved Icy Talons yet your rotation is based on refreshing diseases through pest. I recommend doing a "manual" refresh of diseases (IT + PS) instead of that every 20 seconds, because, unlike the tooltip states, IIT does not proc off Frost Fever, but off applying the diseases (that means casting IT). If you don't hit a mob with IT, you'll lose the buff after 20 seconds, translated in a fair amount of own and raid DPS lost."

This is a great point that I hadn't even thought about or noticed until he commented (so thank you!). Now that I've been getting to raid a bit more on my DK (we started up with a new group, working from Naxx through where we can get as 10-mans), I've been able to play with this a bit more. Last night, while I was instancing, I used the DPS opportunity to watch my buffs like a hawk and to play around a bit with my rotation on-the-fly to see if I could juggle the Pest refresh with keeping my IIT buff up.

Exactly as Mihai mentions, the IIT will drop off after 20s if you do not apply the frost fever disease. The glyph that causes Pest to refresh your diseases just doesn't do it. However, Pest still spreads your diseases and can still occasionally save you some runes if used correctly, so I wasn't sure I wanted to get completely rid of glyph if I didn't have to. It would seem to me that there is perhaps a way to weave the use of both IT and Pest in so that you could still benefit from the glyph.

What I found is that the easy solution is just as Mihai suggests: go with a manual refresh and replace the glyph for something else. However, I did notice something that may provide a different route: since my HB is glyphed, that provides an application of frost fever as well. Sure enough, using the spell also refreshes my IIT buff. This added another variable to my musings.

Now, I *think* that HB is worth more damage than IT + PS if you don't consider the DoT portions of those attacks. It costs the same runes as IT + PS, so if the damage is better for HB, I could theoretically use HB to refresh my buff and then use Pest to refresh both diseases. What are the benefits of this, you might ask, apart from damage? Well, let's look: IT + PS take two runes, two GCDs, and are lower damage when the DoT/Buff portion is otherwise cared for. HB + Pest use three runes, two GCDs, and hit for higher damage over all again excluding the DoT/Buff portion, just on a single target. (I think my HB was hitting for easily over 5K while my IT and PS together were under 5k, not counting crits).

A further benefit is the the HB+Pest combo gives you AoE. You're going to have the burst of HB, plus the plague spreading benefit of Pest. While on one target it only *might* be better, it is most definitely the better choice in multiple target situations because you've just multiplied your DPS. There's also a couple ancillary benefits here too. First, if specced for it like I am, Pest will activate a Death Rune, and those are always helpful in a rotation. Hopefully it'll allow you to get off a couple more OBs, but in any case they're just nice to have. Second, if you proc off an OB (which you might be doing more of), you can get an HB for "free" runewise. This leads to even MORE OBs, perpetuating your cycle and ramping up your DPS. It feeds upon itself.

Since a lot of this is proc dependant, you really have to pay attention, but if you do it pays off. Here's what my rotation looks like: Apply diseases (IT+PS), OB, BS, FS, Pest. After that, I get into a rotation where I'm just hitting HB+Pest whenever my diseases are getting low, then hitting OB's and FS's the rest of the time. If I'm in downtime and I don't have two death runes up, I'll throw in the random BS, but it seems to work out decently well in combat. I know plenty of people can do math and line cooldowns up, but, perhaps because I find that I play less than ideally, those sort of rotations don't always work for me. This is one that just feels right AND lets me use the glyphs and spec I already have.

Sometimes, especially with bad procs, this approach can lead to some rune down time, but I think it generates pretty darned good DPS. For the instancing, it was hard to gauge, but it certainly felt smoother and AoE opportunities really jumped me up on the meters. Single target I'd been around 2.5k, I think I was closer to breaking 3k... and AoE I was always easily over 3k, nearer to 3.6k (this was mostly in VH heroic).

So, I guess what you could take from this (if you don't play how I play) is that both IT and HB refresh your IIT buff, and that knowledge may help you iron out your own rotations.

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