6.0 Death Knight Changes and Updates

5/23: Official alpha notes are out. Level 60 rune regeneration talents can now be triggered by the following abilities: Breath of Sindragosa, Conversion, Dark Simulacrum, Mind Freeze (glyphed), Outbreak (glyphed), and Raise Ally (unglyphed).

5/22: Build 18297 is out. Updating with current info. Also embedding relevant tweets.

Hello there! It’s time to talk about the changes we’ll be having on 6.0 and Warlords Of Draenor. The 6.0 patch notes were posted two weeks ago, but little has changed since then. Keep in mind I’ll be majorly commenting about DPS changes, since I have barely touched Blood on SoO.

The first big news were regarding two dps CDs: Army Of The Dead and Raise Dead. Army was now Blood-only, and dealt -75% dmg… but not anymore, it seems. Judging from the latest Celestalon quotes, they are very likely to backpedal on that change due to community criticism (“removal of an iconic ability“). They are also thinking of making it an instant, a very nice QoL improvement if you ask me (confirmed).

 

Raise Dead, on the other hand, is still getting changed to Unholy-only.

AMS: it is being effectively nerfed, as it now restores 2 Runic Power per 1% of max health absorbed and will need a full soak (max absorb) to grant 100 RP. My thoughts about it: if there’s no CDR trinket on T17, expect DW masterfrost to value haste over crit. Fortunately, Pillar Of Frost and Dark Transformation no longer cost any runes.

Other changes weren’t so relevant. DW is now Frost-only (well, if you were dual wielding as blood or unholy, you were doing it wrong), Horn of Winter is now just another raid buff (no runic, no CD, lasts 1 hour), Death Coil is now Unholy-only (bummer if you were using it as Frost to build Blood Charges), and Unholy Frenzy has been removed. You can see more minor changes here.

DoT bonuses are also gone. This means that abilities no longer hit harder when you have diseases on your targets. You are supposed to have 100% DoT uptime anyway, so it doesn’t affect rotations in the slightest. It’s just another QoL change.

However, there is one ability that has gone through some interesting changes: Scourge Strike. Now that it no longer deals additional damage with DoTs, it will be dealing 50% 35% of weapon damage as additional Shadow damage. Ok, that’s basically the same as before… right? So what’s the news? Well, now the shadow portion can critically hit and no longer ignores modifiers.

Let me explain why this is quite relevant: up until now, mods (like trinket procs) couldn’t affect the Shadow portion of SS. It also couldn’t crit. This last change is essential, since it could lead to stat double dipping. Let’s get mathy for a sec: May 18 update: seems that the patch notes weren’t right, and datamined info was. We won’t have the so-called “casino strike” back. Each portion (phys and shadow) will crit independently.

Basically, if each portion hits and crits independently, there’s absolutely no issue.

I.e.: Weapon DMG dealt: 1k, 0 baseline mastery (no Shadow damage increase)
 SS normal hit: 1k + 0.5k = 1.5k
 SS half crit (phys only): 2k + 0.5k = 2.5k (166%)
 SS half crit (shadow only): 1k + 1k = 2k (133%)
 SS full crit (both portions crit): 2k + 1k = 3k (200% - the normal thing)

Now, let’s say the Shadow portion is coupled to the physical hit:

 SS normal hit: (1k + 0.5k) = 1.5k
 SS half crit (phys only): (1k + 0.5k)*2 = 3k (200%)
 SS half crit (shadow only): (1k + 0.5k*2) = 2k (133%)
 SS full crit (both portions crit): (1k + 0.5k*2)*2 = 4k (266%)

Knowing the relatively low power of SS, an extra 66% doesn’t sound too horribly overpowered… yet. But this is because I’m using a 0 mastery setting. So let’s say that at the end of the first WoD tier we manage to stack around 30% mastery for some 50% extra shadow damage (just using easy numbers, don’t really know if/how/when those amounts are going to be feasible):

-Uncoupled:
 SS normal hit: 1k + (0.5k+0.5k*0.5) = 1.75k
 SS half crit (phys only): 2k + (0.5k+0.5k*0.5) = 2.75k (157%)
 SS half crit (shadow only): 1k + (0.5k+0.5k*0.5)*2 = 2.5k (142%)
 SS full crit (both portions crit): 2k + (0.5k+0.5k*0.5)*2 = 3.5k (200%)
-Coupled:
 SS normal hit: (1k + [0.5k+0.5k*0.5]) = 1.75k
 SS half crit (phys only): (1k + [0.5k+0.5k*0.5])*2 = 3.5k (200%)
 SS half crit (shadow only): (1k + [0.5k+0.5k*0.5]*2) = 3.25k (185%)
 SS full crit (both portions crit): (1k + [0.5k+0.5k*0.5]*2)*2 = 5k (285%)

So seeing how it begins to scale with mastery, it would all depend on how they’d deal with Dreadblade and how well the shadow portion could scale. It’s not impossible to balance around it and it’d be great for Unholy to have such a beautiful crit/mastery synergy (à la fury warriors), but it could lead to a quite erratic damage output, especially considering that with some luck with procs it could hit way too hard, and I don’t think we wish for that (in b4 nerfhammer).

Again, this is all speculation, but fact is that Unholy looks good for 6.0 (see below for another great news).


 

Getting back to the 6.0 changes, the pet gone for Frost and Blood represents a new issue with the lvl 60 talent. So here’s how they dealt with it: Death Pact now heals the death knight for 50% of it’s health, and absorbs 50% of the amount healed. The absorb lasts 15 seconds. Not much to say about it, since we don’t know how good Death Siphon is going to be in terms of damage and healing. As always, Conversion should stay PvP only.

Speaking of talents, what about the lvl100 ones? Take a look here. I’ll be briefly talking about them, since they are subject to changes (new and relatively untested).

All of them deal damage to multiple targets, and two of them have a defensive component. It’s hard to say since we have no empirical data, but for some reason I feel that Necrotic Plague is going to be the to-go choice (at least for Single Target DPS). First of all: it doesn’t have a defensive component, but it can award runic power (I foresee DPS dks taunting adds for RP). It also stacks, which leads us to the question: is the festerblight rotation coming back for Unholy DKs? Yes. They clearly seem to have it in mind.

 


Other Build 18297 news:

There’s a lot of damage tuning going around, so I won’t bother too much with that. I’ll focus on important mechanical changes.

There’s a new talent replacing Roiling Blood (now obsolete due to pestilence and blood boil merging), called Plaguebearer. This talent allows us to apply our DoTs without using any other ability. Before you think it’s a practically useless talent, let me tell you there’s a little more into it: it also adds 4 seconds to the remaining duration of Frost Fever and Blood Plague on your target, or an additional stack if you are talented into Necrotic Plague. This is particularly useful as it will let us get to max NP stacks on our target faster.

As I said earlier, I’ll be barely covering Blood changes, but it’s important to note that the spec went through a significant revamp to make it a little more reactive than the initial 6.0 version. You can see these changes here.


 

So that’s all for now. I’ll update this post, and hopefully make new ones with the future patch notes.

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