Unholy Death Knights: Mechanical Shortcomings

90 Draenei Shaman
4790
For your first point, unholy AE performs quite well on large numbers of targets with high health. Unholy takes time to ramp-up on the first two cycles applying diseases, Pestilence to spread them, then using Festering Strike to convert frost runes to death so the player can Blood Boil 4x on subsequent cycles. It takes roughly ~12 seconds (~1.5 cycles, including some Blood Tap procs) to fully ramp-up that AE.

The problem is that most AE groups don't last over 20 seconds or so, so that theoretical performance peak isn't actually relevant. And of course DW frost can AE while barely deviating from its single-target priority!

Your second point is not supported by data. In fact, it's almost exactly the opposite of what you say. Anything below 10% wait time or so is essentially completely GCD-locked.

DW Frost T14H: 3.79% time spent waiting on resources
2H Frost T14H: 5.76% time spent waiting on resources
Unholy T14H: 14.40% time spent waiting on resources

As you can see, DW frost is already completely GCD-locked, while Unholy is just fine. This is because DW frost uses the masterfrost priority, which involves spamming Howling Blast and thus has very few free GCDs.

2H frost is completely GCD-locked too. It's slightly looser than DW, but since it reforges to haste the GCDs freed from following the standard hastefrost priority rather than masterfrost are largely lost.

Regarding weapon scaling, frost does scale with weapon DPS roughly twice as well as unholy, and that could cause scaling issues further down the line. It's definitely a problem for Unholy; always has been.
Edited by Slant on 12/19/2012 6:35 PM PST
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90 Orc Death Knight
12740
If Im not mistaken, Blood Boil hits about 50% as hard as Howling Blast. Add in the fact that Unholy diseases and DnD both deal about 70-75% more damage for Unholy...it adds up. The problem is, it requires at least 30 seconds for everything to even out.
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90 Worgen Death Knight
15115
so i heard that the solution is to make Gurthalak scaled based on lvl.

~edit~ hah, but seriously, id like to see some of these mechanics changed. the rampup is currently the biggest thing that keeps me from playing unholy. i play DW because i like the fast almost hectic playstyle. unholy for my liking is just too slow.
Edited by Lidelse on 12/19/2012 8:12 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
12055
Personally?

I'd make FS a B strike and give Unholy a "all Frost runes are permanently Death runes" deal like Frost has.

That would solve nearly all of Unholy's issues.

Edit: Oh, and remove the RP cost from gargoyle.
Edited by Krinu on 12/20/2012 12:20 AM PST
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90 Worgen Death Knight
16910
We've got some good news via Twitter. The Dev team concurs with the notion that Unholy needs mechanical fixes rather than straight out number buffs: https://twitter.com/Ghostcrawler/status/281523269503434752

It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.
At this point, I would strongly urge Unholy Death Knight players to continue posting their parses from Tier 14 instances, along with explanations behind why they feel certain fight mechanics might be affecting their performance.
Preferably, only provide explanations for specific fights you've successfully completed or are near completing- bonus points if you're competing with a Frost Death Knight or have played Frost on the same encounters!

Here is our numbers thread: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/7350535124
Edited by Magdalena on 12/20/2012 4:14 AM PST
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90 Orc Death Knight
17020
Another tweet that is related.

https://twitter.com/CM_Zarhym/status/281551898320990208

This personally is huge news as I cannot remember anyone from blizzard specifically saying what class or spec they play. I find it sad though that we haven't had changes before. ( especially since someone so close to the design process plays unholy).
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90 Draenei Shaman
4790
Hah, yeah. That was almost certainly a mistake on his part.
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90 Human Paladin
8005
12/20/2012 09:12 AMPosted by Nangz
I find it sad though that we haven't had changes before. ( especially since someone so close to the design process plays unholy).


It's his new main he said. In other words, expect it to be the new frost mage in 5.2.
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90 Worgen Death Knight
16910
12/20/2012 09:12 AMPosted by Nangz
especially since someone so close to the design process


Lets not jump to false conclusions. Zarhym is a Community Manager, not a Dev. He's also been very open about playing a Death Knight in the past.

In any event, who plays what should not concern us- we have plenty of useful feedback to give concerning Unholy's feel right now (backed up with logs whenever possible) and hopefully giving the Devs an idea of what needs improvement.
Edited by Magdalena on 12/20/2012 9:38 AM PST
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90 Draenei Shaman
4790
Shrug, we had plenty of feedback in beta, and if you go back and read those threads you'll see that it is nearly word for word identical. Nothing in this thread is new. They're just listening to it now, because all the problems we exhaustively detailed back in beta led to people not playing Unholy at all. As predicted.
Edited by Slant on 12/20/2012 9:41 AM PST
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90 Worgen Death Knight
15115
It is frustrating to see most of this being redetailed, but, sadly the number of people that were super active in the DK beta discussion was far less than now. If actual live numbers is what it takes to get some work done, im happy people are willing to keep contributing.
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90 Undead Death Knight
8890
For your first point, unholy AE performs quite well on large numbers of targets with high health. Unholy takes time to ramp-up on the first two cycles applying diseases, Pestilence to spread them, then using Festering Strike to convert frost runes to death so the player can Blood Boil 4x on subsequent cycles. It takes roughly ~12 seconds (~1.5 cycles, including some Blood Tap procs) to fully ramp-up that AE.

The problem is that most AE groups don't last over 20 seconds or so, so that theoretical performance peak isn't actually relevant. And of course DW frost can AE while barely deviating from its single-target priority!

Your second point is not supported by data. In fact, it's almost exactly the opposite of what you say. Anything below 10% wait time or so is essentially completely GCD-locked.

DW Frost T14H: 3.79% time spent waiting on resources
2H Frost T14H: 5.76% time spent waiting on resources
Unholy T14H: 14.40% time spent waiting on resources

As you can see, DW frost is already completely GCD-locked, while Unholy is just fine. This is because DW frost uses the masterfrost priority, which involves spamming Howling Blast and thus has very few free GCDs.

2H frost is completely GCD-locked too. It's slightly looser than DW, but since it reforges to haste the GCDs freed from following the standard hastefrost priority rather than masterfrost are largely lost.

Regarding weapon scaling, frost does scale with weapon DPS roughly twice as well as unholy, and that could cause scaling issues further down the line. It's definitely a problem for Unholy; always has been.


I don't doubt you, at all. You are, after all, one of the great DK gurus who loves to beat the crap out of the evil maffs for us. But there is definitely more of a feel to GCD capping in unholy more so than found in 2H frost. Even at a haste rating between 4k and 4.5k it feels as if there's resources to spend, and not enough time to efficiently spend them.

Perhaps a more succinct way for me to put it is this: With Frost, you know the exactly what do, when to do it, even when you have more resources than you can spend. There's a clear road to take to get you back to being on top of your rotation. Perhaps too easy for some.

With unholy mechanics, it feels as if you don't have enough GCD's to dump your resources to get back to being efficient. Too many runes? Festering Strike can dump some fast, but is situational in terms of keeping up DPS. Too much RP: Well, if you're maxed out like a bad boy you can be eating 3 GCDs dumping all of it (hopefully, this gives Timmy some protein bars). Which isn't terrible, but meanwhile, you've got unholy and death runes building up during that time. And soon enough, it's time to take another bite out of the spam sandwich.

TLDR: The numbers don't lie. But assuming they're the gospel, then something definitely *feels* wrong.
Edited by Skaven on 12/20/2012 12:55 PM PST
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90 Draenei Shaman
4790
Well remember the sims are looking at a straight-up patchwerk fight. When you move out of melee range you're regenerating runes, and 15% wait time is only 1.5s every 10s, so any loss of DPS uptime, or server lag, or delay in your own reaction time, can GCD-cap you for the next regen cycle. And of course if you're using RE or RC your rune generation is subject to RNG and feels very feast/famine. (But you should be using Blood Tap for Unholy).

And looking at T14, there are a ton of fights where you can soak Runic Power with AMS. Pretty much every fight lets you do this, and when you get all that extra Runic Power, you'll cap GCDs.
Edited by Slant on 12/20/2012 1:08 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
12055
And looking at T14, there are a ton of fights where you can soak Runic Power with AMS. Pretty much every fight lets you do this, and when you get all that extra Runic Power, you'll cap GCDs.

IIRC, it's better to save Garg for AMS-fueled RP caps, since he's barely a damage boost otherwise.

Anyway, I stand by my original idea: Make Festering Strike a Blood Rune strike (or remove it entirely and bake the functionality into Blood Strike, woo keybinds) and permanently convert Frost runes to Death runes for Unholy in the same way the Frost gets permanent Blood runes as Death runes.

- It fixes the AoE problem
- It smooths over Unholy's interaction with Death Strike
- It removes the requirement for pretty much every single ability in Unholy's arsenal to be on the Reaping passive
- It makes Necrotic Strike easier for Unholy to manage in PvP, and helps balance it with Frost
- It increases the number of Scourge Strikes we'll throw, which helps increase our scaling with weapon damage
- It stops the awkward "one blood rune leftover on the pull" synchronization problem Unholy has

Unfortunately, it also moves us closer to a GCD cap. This would devalue haste somewhat. However, Mastery would go up due to dealing more shadow damage.

Tell you what - I'll go recompile a version of Simcraft that has this change implemented. Then I can give some numbers.
Edited by Krinu on 12/20/2012 4:03 PM PST
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90 Night Elf Death Knight
12055
Done with the sim work! I'll give a brief summary here; if anyone wants the modified SimCraft executables or the full parse, I'll post them somewhere people can access them.

For those who didn't read my earlier posts, this is a simulation done with the following assumptions:
1. All Frost runes are permanently changed to Death runes.
2. Festering Strike's rune cost has been changed from 1 Frost, 1 Blood to 1 Blood.

THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES:
- About a 12% increase in runic power generation, presumably due to no rune synchronization issues.
- Roughly an 8% DPS increase - possible better tuning could increase it, but I didn't do much in terms of rotational adjustments or reforging. I'll do some more stat weight calculations to figure out exactly what should change, but my gut says that Crit is much closer to Haste in terms of value.
- Idle time dropped from about 15% to about 4%.
- A huge spike in Scourge Strike usage: Nearly a 30% increase. Should have a decent effect on weapon damage scaling, as weapon-based attacks are now about 40% of Unholy's damage, up from 35% or so.

Does anyone have any other modifications they'd like me to test? I've toyed around with the idea of making Mastery increase Ghoul damage, making the Gargoyle free, and other changes. Let me know if there's any interest in this.
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90 Worgen Death Knight
14820
On one minor note, unholy can really use the energy cost removed on Gnaw. Having to toggle claw on and off can be a hassle. It would be like a hunter who needs to turn claw off to use Lullaby, it just makes no sense why they haven't changed Gnaw yet.
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