Get the Desktop App for Battle.net Now
- All your games in 1 place
- Log in once
- Automatic game updates
I’d like to start by thanking everyone that contributed to the Unholy numbers thread. That is still an ongoing project, by the way, so feel free to keep posting parses here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/7350535124
With that out of the way, this thread aims to make sense of the numbers and results we’re seeing with Unholy, and put it into context with the spec’s current situation and representation in PvE content.
The single biggest observation I’ve made after pouring through so many logs is this: Unholy’s problems as a spec are not number related. It is more than capable of matching Frost assuming relatively equal skill and gear.
Simcraft currently shows Unholy as being slightly behind Frost, which is one contributing factor as to why players might shy away from it. Fortunately, Roth was recently able to hunt down a pretty large bug that devalues the damage of Unholy’s diseases and likely explains why the spec seems somewhat underwhelming in the sim.
This alone, however, doesn’t explain the spec’s unpopularity.
Thus, the inevitable question: Why don’t more people play Unholy?
The best possible conclusion I’ve been able to come with is, quite simply, Mechanics. Unholy as a spec suffers from mechanical flaws that turn many players off and drive them towards Frost. While our sample logs do demonstrate that the spec can put out decent numbers if these flaws are overcome, there appear to be many DKs (myself included) who would rather just stick to Frost for more easily adjustable play with similar output. This isn’t even taking into account certain raid mechanics with almost universally favor Frost over Unholy.
Before I discuss some of Unholy’s flaws, I want to make one thing clear: These are all issues that were documented and discussed during the MoP Beta. It is quite unfortunate that Blizzard chose to ignore the majority of our feedback about the spec, when a few simple changes would have made a world of difference. I sincerely hope that this same feedback is not ignored again.
Edited by Magdalena on 12/16/2012 11:20 PM PST
Unholy’s issues include:
*A weak cooldown in the form of Gary the Gargoyle. His Runic Power cost competes directly with Death Coil and Shadow Infusion stacking. At present gear levels, he’s just about worth casting but still better utilized during periods of heavy AMS soaking. Aside from mechanical issues such as a terrible AI, ranging and positioning, Gary’s damage is also poor.
Furthermore, the fact that he does not scale with our Mastery means that he becomes progressively weaker as we gear up (his not scaling with Mastery also deprecates the stat’s value). It’s bad enough that Euliat mathed out the inevitable during Beta: There will come a point where the tradeoff between summoning Gary and the 2 Death Coils he costs us will no longer swing in his favor.
This cooldown needs a serious reevaluation.
Unholy Frenzy remains marginally better, but still remains one of the few CDs with the dubious honor of being weaker and not worth using during Heroism.
*Significant target switching and rune desyncing issues. These go hand in hand. Using FU rune combos (Plague Strike + Icy Touch) is a relic of the Wrath-era system of Unholy when Scourge Strike was an FU strike. A single U rune Scourge Strike, however, combined with the F/B combo needed for Festering Strike means that using Plague Strike and Icy Touch is essentially sacrificing an immediate Scourge Strike, a Festering Strike AND future Scourge Strikes/Blood Boils due to the Frost Rune used on Icy Touch not being turned into a Death Rune.
Speaking of target switching, it is incredibly ironic and disheartening to realise that Unholy, the so-called “disease-centric spec” appears to have the greatest opportunity cost and rotational disruption WHEN applying diseases outside of Outbreak or Unholy Blight. I find myself envious of the incredible synergy that Blood DKs develop with free Blood Boil procs (Crimson Scourge), diseases being refreshed on their main target (Scarlet Fever) and being able to freely spread diseases when appropriately talented (Roiling Blood). I’m also envious of Frost DKs being able to instantly spread Frost Fever at range with a single button, with DW Frost not even being too worried if they aren’t able to apply Blood Plague instantly (due to the majority of their damage coming from Howling Blast and Frost Strike, neither of which depend on Blood Plague).
Some might point out that Unholy can talent into Roiling Blood too, which is true- unfortunately, rune desyncing comes into play once again here. Consider that we use F/B combos when using Festering Strike BUT only use a B rune ability to AoE: Pestilence to spread diseases or Blood Boil if diseases are up and ticking. Frost Runes serve zero functionality in AoE scenarios.
Blizzard is definitely aware of this, given that they added Blood Boil to Reaping in 5.0. This is certainly nice IF an Unholy DK already has 4 Death Runes from previous Festering Strikes, but it doesn’t address the actual issue. If anything, it added even more AoE setup for us because it means that preparing for a “perfect” AoE rotation would mean using Festering Strike twice before *actually* beginning AoE.
By the way, you’ll note that I haven’t even gone into issues with transitioning from our AoE priority to our single target priority and back again, since I would hope that would be obvious at this point.
*Too much AoE setup. A lot of this relates to the rune desyncing issues I mentioned above, so I’ll only carry on here to say that applying and spreading diseases in melee range often ends up not being worth it if our targets don’t have very much health. This is worse for 10 man raiders than for 25, and ends up becoming progressively worse for both as raids gear up and/or bosses get nerfed (thus favoring more burst over sustained damage).
It doesn’t help that our weapon scaling is terrible due to so much of our damage (ghoul, minions, diseases, etc) not being dependent on it. In fact, one of the main reasons Unholy became so much more popular in 4.3 was due to the presence of a weapon which we actually did scale well with- Gurthalak and its proc.
*Rampup. 5 stacks of Shadow Infusion, especially when Death Coil competes with Gargoyle, can be quite cumbersome to get up. This was somewhat of a problem in Cataclysm but become more exacerbated in Mists due to all the free GCDs we now have.
Admittedly, I personally do not find this to be spec’s most pressing issues in comparison to Rune Desyncing. I do however recognize that it plays into being exacerbated by our previously mentioned issues and will probably become more noticeable/cumbersome as bosses die faster.
While there are likely more issues some could find with the spec, these are some of my biggest complaints at the moment.
The trouble with suggesting solutions during an expansion is having to adhere to Blizzard’s “change as little as possible” philosophy (recently reiterated by Ghostcrawler on Twitter). While it is regrettable that these issues were not recognized and acted upon during Beta, we must operate under the assumption that ANY change during the MoP expansion will likely be minimal. Thus, our suggestions must operate under the assumption that we can’t expect major overhauls or revamps to the spec.
With this in mind however, here are some changes that I urge Blizzard to give serious consideration to:
1. Outbreak for Unholy no longer has a cooldown for Unholy.
2. Pestilence for Unholy no longer costs a rune.
3. Gary the Gargoyle now scales with our Mastery and has positioning issues fixed.
4. Blood Boil now costs 1 Blood/1 Frost for Unholy and has its damage adjusted to compensate.
What do these changes accomplish?
No cooldown-Outbreak and no-cost Pestilence eliminate target switching issues entirely. They obsolete Plague Strike and Icy Touch for Unholy (the latter is still useful when glyphed, of course), and you know what? That’s probably a good thing. They also fall in line thematically with Unholy: A spec dedicated to diseases should be adept at spreading and maintaining diseases with the greatest ease- at the moment, that honor is exclusively Blood’s (sidenote: I also find it ironic that, when taking Vengeance into account, Blood DK diseases often end up hitting far harder than anything an Unholy DK can hope to come up with).
For those wondering why I haven’t mentioned Glyph of Outbreak: The RP cost on the glyph gives it a far too steep cost for Unholy DKs to seriously consider. It’s really not an option. While there’s always the option of having the glyph give Outbreak a 1 U Rune cost for Unholy instead of RP (A far better and fairer cost than 40 RP), that pretty much just makes it mandatory for the spec.
One potential concern with no-CD Outbreak that I can see might be in PvP, if dispels are being employed (keep in mind though, that it’s currently very easy to reapply diseases with Roiling Blood once dispels have been burned). My only input/suggestion here would be to lower disease damage on players overall, to about the same levels as if the Glyph of Resilient Infection were being utilized. Even if this weren’t done, it wouldn’t have a strong bearing or impact either way.
Moving on, adjusting Gary the Gargoyle to scale with our Mastery has several benefits. For one, it no longer puts the cooldown in immediate danger of eventually being outscaled at higher gear levels by Death Coil. Fixing its ranging issues means it no longer wastes times trying to position itself and thus lose valuable moments of it limited uptime. A secondary, and perhaps equally important benefit is that this move would boost our valuation of the Mastery stat.
This is a particularly sore point with me; at the risk of sounding pedantic: We were promised greater secondary stat parity for Unholy DKs at Blizzcon ‘11 by Ion. To date, that has yet to be delivered on.
Finally, the Blood Boil change turns it into an exact AoE replacement for Festering Strike. We’ll Blood Boil less per rune cycle, but each Blood Boil will now count for more. We won’t suffer from orphan Frost Runes either, and might even gain some needed AoE burst with such a move.
In all of the changes I’ve suggested (Gary the Gargoyle aside), I’ve tried to be as number neutral as possible. Now, this isn’t to deny that Unholy’s numbers likely would go up with these Quality of Life improvements, which is why it’s within Blizzard’s capability to adjust the Unholy Might passive to compensate.
The one thing I urge Blizzard not to do is start buffing Unholy Might in order to encourage more Unholy representation. Not only is it lazy; it was proven to be a failure in Cataclysm (4.3’s surge of Unholy popularity was largely due to Gurthalak, more than anything else) and doesn’t address any of the spec’s issues.
That’s pretty much all I have to say for now. Thanks for reading.
P.S. You’ll note that I haven’t addressed the Rampup issue in my proposed solutions. This is pretty much because I believe that the minor QoL changes I’ve suggested alone would make a world of difference for Unholy DKs and likely make things such as rampup and even being balanced around a stronger Execute seem more acceptable and part of the spec’s package rather than adding to the list of annoyances as they currently do.
Edited by Magdalena on 12/16/2012 11:37 PM PST
A spot-on compilation of Unholy's issues, Magdalena. Thank you.
People don't favor Frost because of its damage (though that is a perk), they favor it because it's honestly more fun at this point. Don't get me wrong, I personally love Unholy's rotation... in single-target, where it's most reminiscent of Wrath's Blood specialization. Target-swapping and AoE, however, are major issues.
Unholy is bound to the diseases it specializes in, which are ironically immobile compared to those of Frost and Blood. Unholy has a hard time both spreading their diseases (without Unholy Blight) and maintaining them (without Roiling Blood). We have Pestilence, but due to its Blood rune cost, we're either left with long periods of little damage output ramping up to the diseases, or with singular Frost runes we literally can't spend on anything more than Icy Touch unless we sit on them waiting for a Festering Strike (neither of which contribute to AoE damage). The ramp-up itself is also problematic in AoE, as it leaves us with long periods of having no abilities to cast that would do any significant amount of AoE damage. Death and Decay is bound by a cooldown leaving us with no avenues to spend Unholy runes on until Dark Transformation comes up, meaning we have more focus on our Blood runes than our Unholy runes. As we have to use Scourge Strike to fill these voids, our AoE rotation currently consists of our single-target buttons with a few extras thrown in. This doesn't add flavor, it simply adds frustration- hitting every button as it comes up.
That said, I don't share the belief that Unholy's issues can be fixed with just minor QoL changes. Removing Outbreak's CD and making Pestilence free would help, but would also remove the role of Festering Strike and devalue the entirety of Tier 56. Blood Boil changing to a Blood/Frost attack would leave us with even longer downtime in AoE.
My suggestions- entirely separate from Magdalena's- are as follows (in order of, I expect, most controversial to least):
Otherwise I agree with Magdalena, especially as far as our Gargoyle is concerned. We've proven that the original argument of it "not needing to" deal Shadow damage is invalid, as its inability to scale with Mastery contributes to its rising opportunity cost.
Edit: Emphasized the change to Death Strike.
Edited by Leviatharan on 12/17/2012 6:38 PM PST
making Pestilence free would help, but would also remove the role of Festering Strike
As it is, Festering Strike is boring. I'd much rather see it interact with diseases in a more interesting manner, such as causing them to "erupt" and grant an extra tick on impact. Fits thematically as well.
This isn't necessarily true. Plague Leech would actually jump in value by a whole lot and not be awful to use for Unholy. Roiling Blood would still be valuable when we don't want to waste GCDs on Pestilence (don't forget, Roiling Blood is *almost* like having a ranged Pestilence, which is very nifty in situations with fast moving mobs).
On the whole I find this a more preferable situation than what we currently have with the tier, where Plague Leech usage isn't fun, Roiling Blood has the potential to be fun but only Unholy Blight truly helps with target switching without rune descyncing
I dislike the idea of having a cleave I can't turn off. As Frost I have the option of using Icy Touch and just Obliterating when I don't want any cleave- tonight's Lei Shi attempts were a good example of this. As Unholy, I wouldn't want diseases spreading at all times. I know some Enhance shamans have been complaining about the Lava Lash functionality- I'd rather not see that applied Unholy.
This would be OK for Unholy runes, but in order to avoid desyncing again, they'd need to attach it into Reaping if it were used to a Frost/Blood rune-turned Death rune. Honestly, if they insisted on Outbreak still costing something, I'd rather it cost an Unholy Rune and have the same Reaping Functionality applied to it- at least it's ranged.
He only scales with Spell Haste.
Yes, it's quite ironic that the melee minion scales with Spell Haste but doesn't scale with the other magical damage stat- Mastery.
His chaincasting issues also have to do with his horrid AI and being unable to position properly.
I suppose I can emphasize my proposal to have Death Strike be a Blood/Frost ability for Unholy.
Frost and Unholy both have advantages. But current encounter design vastly favors the Frost advantages (great burst, no ramp up, easy target switching) over the Unholy ones (pet ignores boss mechanics, very strong during execute, stronger on movement fights). GC often mentions minimizing homogenization and allowing certain specs to have advantages in different areas. Thats all fine and definitely what we want, but the Unholy and Frost issue has two problems, which I will break down (tl:dr in bold below):
Ramp up: Great (no ramp up)
Target Switching: Very Good (DW), Ok (2h frost....losing an obliterate can hurt, depending on the situation)
Pet ignores boss mechanics: Ok (they still get a ghoul 50% of the time)
Strong during execute: Very good
Stronger on movement rights: Good (not as good as unholy, but howling blast is no slouch if in range)
Ramp up: Terrible (30 seconds for DT, longest ramp up in the game?)
Burst: Poor (unholy frenzy and gargoyle have long cds and deal their damage over long periods of time)
Target Switching: Terrible (without Unholy Blight), Poor (with Unholy Blight)
Pet ignores boss mechanics: Great
Strong during execute: Great
Strong on movement fights: Great (for a melee spec...strong diseases, pet, DnD, death coil, gargoyle if available, very high movement speed)
I realize this is subjective and my opinions may not be perfectly accurate, but it makes my point well enough. Notice the issue though?
Tl:dr: In the areas where Unholy has advantages, Frost still does perfectly fine. Worse, yes, but still good enough. In the areas where Frost has advantages, Unholy is absolutely abysmal. Burst? Unholy Frenzy shortening my rune cooldown from 7.7 seconds to 6 isn't "burst", neither is relying on an unreliable pet (gargoyle) that barely benefits from our haste.
Keeping all that in mind, as well as understanding we are not in beta anymore, I'd recommend these changes for Unholy:
Death Strike costs B/F
Blood Boil costs B/F and has its damage increased 100%
Pestilence is free
Plague Strike now also applies Frost Fever
Unholy Frenzy now activates Dark Transformation (if your ghoul is already transformed, it's duration is refreshed to 30 seconds)
Those simple changes would fix almost every issue Unholy has. Yes, I'd like to see many more changes take place. But within the limitation of being mid expansion (not exactly mid, but you get my point) I'd like to see the above changes. Unholy needs them.
Our numbers are fine, but our mechanics are really awful.
Edited by Rothulean on 12/17/2012 5:48 AM PST
The reason I flat out refuse to play unholy on my dk is for 1 reason and one reason only:
pet pathing mechanics.
I don't want to hear "we're working on it." What "we're working on it" says to me is "go frost."
I wouldn't mind pets if they didn't do retarded things. But when a large chunk of your dps can be erased because your pet is too busy staring at the boss instead of actually dps'ing the boss, sorry, I like the idea of unholy, but there's no way I'll play it.
Do we even get the full time on our gargoyle? It takes elapse 5 second to fly down and position itself, that sometimes I am left wondering that question. The ramp up on DT has also further reduced the efficiency of the gargoyle. The AOE is also clunky....extremely clunky, with an elapse setup time of probably 15secs (give or take some RNG).
1) Instead of a gargoyle (I know it had been historically Unholy's signature ability), give us a plaguehound or something melee. It would relieve us of some of the AI issus with positioning (that hopefully won't be tied into a complex macro). With a shadow dmg melee attack to help scale with our mastery.
2) The 5 Death Coils for a DT too much of a ramp up. Having it need 3 stacks instead seems like a sweet spot between burst and ramp up.
3) Death and decay applying/refreshing diseases would be a fantastic idea, and would help relieve a frost+unholy runes in conjunction with pestilence.
4) (I got this idea from a post on the DK forums). To improve the overall feel of Unholy, why not have scourge strike with a malefic grasp-like mechanic, increasing the ticking of our diseases.
You did a great job summarizing the problems with the spec. I'll focus on solutions. I would do something like this.
Note: In every case where something appears to be a pure performance buff, imagine I put "and damage balanced to be unchanged at current gear levels" immediately following whatever bugged you.
Note2: Many of these issues are caused by Scourge Strike costing 1U rather than 1F1U. Like most DKs, I support changing Unholy back to a FU/B paired spec, like Blood and Frost. I actually feel that would be less disruptive than special-casing everything to 1B1F like I have below. It's worth bringing up, but I don't think the devs will go for it for whatever reason.
- Shadow Infusion dropped to 3 stacks
- Dark Transformation free but on the GCD
- Dark Transformation duration dropped to 18 sec
- Gargoyle cost dropped to 32 RP
- Gargoyle attacks deal a percentage of weapon damage as Shadow.
- Unholy Frenzy deals a percentage of weapon damage as Shadow over 3s on weapon strikes and Death Coil.
- Blood Boil cost 1B1F for Unholy only and increase damage by 50%. This allows runes to sync during AE.
- Pestilence costs 1B1F for Unholy only. This allows runes to sync during AE.
- Death Strike cost 1B1F for Unholy only. This allows Unholy to, well, use Death Strike. Which they can't right now.
- Scourge Strike applies Blood Plague and thus replaces Plague Strike for Unholy, much like Howling Blast replaces Icy Touch for Frost.
- Reset Outbreak cooldown on killing blow granting experience/honor.
- Sudden Doom also resets the cooldown on Death and Decay but does not make it free.
- Death and Decay damage nerfed so it is definitively only worth using on 3 or more targets even with stacked mastery.
Edited by Slant on 12/17/2012 10:19 AM PST
And make the unholy pet not die in two globals in pvp.
If unholy is balanced around a pet it should be on the same mechanics as a hunter pet. 10s resummon.
Right now peeps just waste it twice in 10 seconds and then you are minus all that pet burst/utility/dmg for almost 2 minutes. Freakin depressing watching that thing get wasted. You get cc'd, pet dead. Pet los's you, pet dead. You try to use coils for burst instead of pet healing, pet dead. Ghoul sac, pet gonna die shortly.
Yeah i know noobs don't know to waste the pet, but we don't face noobs all day every day. Shorten the summon cooldown or make it like hunter pets.
The mechanics of unholy would probably be more acceptable if the rewards for dealing with them were greater.
Unholy is the master of diseases? Ok. Lets have them be affected by haste, like a caster dot.
DT has a long ramp up time? Ok, he now does 150% more damage and hits like an <expletive> truck.
Unholy does have issues with aoe, but I personally would'nt mind it as much if unholy just destroyed on single target. However, its going to be an uphill battle when frost does better aoe, just as good single target, and I am slaving through pet management, DT management, and setting up aoe rotations and dealing with orphan runes while the frostie next to me headbutts his obliterate key for more damage.
Nobody gets that. Difficulty is not rewarded with superior performance. If it was, feral druids would be #1 DPS. They ain't. Everybody is supposed to be balanced to the exact same numbers. Anything else would be unfair.
Obviously performance varies, but that's not by design, it's just because balance is extremely difficult to achieve.
Great thread, your obviously passionate about this awesome spec.
Magdalena, at the risk of asking too much from you, can you justify this:
The single biggest observation I’ve made after pouring through so many logs is this: Unholy’s problems as a spec are not number related. It is more than capable of matching Frost assuming relatively equal skill and gear.
with a summarization of the numbers? My in-game experience/testing is that Frost has significantly higher single target damage. Also during my trawls through world of logs, the observation I've made , is Frost is doing better. I'm of the opinion that Unholy's damage is underpowered.
Edit: Sims also have Frost significantly higher
On glyph of outbreak, the rp cost is way t0o high. If the rp cost was lower, say 20 rp, that would go a long way to fixing target switching problems.
Edited by Hemalador on 12/17/2012 4:22 PM PST
Frost is doing better on raidbots (and thus in the actual game) for three reasons.
1) Frost really is tuned a bit higher than unholy, as we've seen from sim results. Not a ton, and not anything that you'd notice without a large enough dataset to minimize RNG, but higher.
2) Frost has many mechanical advantages, as detailed in this thread. Unholy's one and only real advantage is its very strong execute, but that doesn't apply to many fights. Mostly just Elegon.
3) Sample bias. "Everybody knows" that frost is better, so everybody plays frost, including all the "good" players. There are so few Unholy parses in worldoflogs that the data set is nearly unusable.
If through some combination of buffs and well-tuned gear Unholy were to beat Frost on single targets by a substantial amount (>5% minimum), many players would switch to Unholy. It happened in 4.3 with the Unholy Might buffs combined with Gurthalak being Shadow damage and affected by Unholy's mastery. But they wouldn't be happy about it, because all those mechanical problems would remain, they would just be masked by bigger numbers.
Edited by Slant on 12/17/2012 4:42 PM PST
Threats of violence. We take these seriously and will alert the proper authorities.
Posts containing personal information about other players. This includes physical addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and inappropriate photos and/or videos.
Harassing or discriminatory language. This will not be tolerated.