Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Death Knight leveling spec

A comment from David made me think it might be useful to write about my DK build and share my experiences with her so far. While I hope someone finds this useful, I didn't really have the time/gold to experiment with the different trees or even different Unholy builds, so it's quite likely that there are better ways to go about this. Also, as I'm writing this the Armory is down, so I'm going off my (shoddy) memory.

So let's get down to the interesting(?) stuff. From what I heard about DKs before starting playing one, I figured Frost was the relatively low DPS "tanking" build, Blood was more single target DPS, and Unholy had pretty good single target DPS with better AoE. Also, Unholy lets you control your ghoul like a pet and removes its limited duration, thus either helping you DPS or your bank account (Corpse Dust might be cheap, but if you have to use one every 2 minutes it'll add up). I ended up with this spec at level 71, with this being what I'm going for at 80.

Now, in general, while questing I've had pretty much no downtime between fights and hardly any problems with group quests, so I skipped over most of the "defensive" talents in favor of more DPS. This might change in Northrend, but it's working pretty well for now.

The Talents

These are the Tier 1 Unholy talents (numbers in parenthesis represent how many points the talent is):
  • Vicious Strikes(2) - More and better crits for some very of the most often used spells.
  • Morbidity(3) - Better Death Coil (runic power dump) and lower CD on Death and Decay (15 seconds instead of 30, for a 10 second spell). Basically, the 2 skills defining DKs from Warcraft 2 get improved. How can you go wrong?
  • Anticipation(5) - 5% dodge, not much to say.
As I said, there's no real need for extra dodge while soloing, and the other 2 talents are pretty good so it was a pretty easy decision.

Tier 2 brings us:
  • Epidemic(2) - Since you always want to have your victim as diseased as possible, having to renew them less often definitely helps.
  • Virulence(3) - Spell hit might be a problem against raid bosses or in PvP, but not an area I've had a problem with so far (especially with all the +hit on Outland gear). Making the diseases harder to dispell is strictly a PvP thing. Could be a good place to stick some filler points, but I ignored it in my build.
  • Unholy Command(2) - Better Death Grip mostly means better tanking. If you're soloing you don't usually need it.
  • Ravenous Dead(3) - Since we'll soon have a ghoul without limited duration, making it stronger is not a bad idea.
For Tier 3 we have:
  • Outbreak(3) - Increased damage for Plague Strike (one of the diseases) and for AoE damage spells. Pretty useful when fighting more than 1 mob.
  • Necrosis(5) - More DPS, plain and simple. Good filler, unless you prefer Virulence.
  • Corpse Explosion(1) - Seemed like a good idea at first so I picked it up, but then I ended up not really using it as it's a little too situational. It also uses up a rune, which can mess with your rotation (assuming you have one), so not exactly my thing. I suppose I could think of uses for it for PvP, maybe even raiding/instancing, but not that useful for soloing.
As you can see in my spec, I ended up filling all 5 points in Necrosis to move up the tree, but again - if there are other places you feel will be more useful for your points then go for it.

On to Tier 4:
  • On a Pale Horse(2) - 20% faster mounted speed? Sign me up. The shorter stuns are a nice bonus, but not such a big deal (unless you PvP).
  • Blood-Caked Blade(3) - More DPS again. Again, good for filler.
  • Shadow of Death(1) - More strength and stamina are nice. Turning into a ghoul when you die also has its uses, but not such a big deal. Most importantly, this is required for Master of Ghouls down the line, and we will be getting that.
So 3 points are no-brainers, another 2 in fillers, and we're moving on to Tier 5:
  • Summon Gargoyle(1) - Very helpful for long fights (mostly group quests). Get your runic power to 100, summon your gargoyle and watch it blast whatever's around. Just remember not to use your runic power for anything else while he's out.
  • Impurity(5) - More DPS for spells... I haven't tried it as it didn't strike me as such a good talent at first, but now that I think about it it doesn't look that bad. Let's tag this under filler too.
  • Dirge(2) - No, not that one. This one is actually useful, as opposed to just spamming your trade channel. More runic power never hurts.
Again, 3 points in new talents and 2 in fillers, and now we get to have a real pet in Tier 6:
  • Magic Suppression(5) - The reduced magic damage isn't that critical, and the improved Anti-Magic Shell isn't either, at least not while soloing. Feel free to skip this one. It is required if you're aiming for Anti-Magic Zone, though, so if you want that you'll have to fill this up.
  • Reaping(3) - Death runes can basically count as any rune, so getting 3/3 here really opens up a lot of new possible rotations, and gives you some flexibility when things aren't that straightforward.
  • Master of Ghouls(1) - Full control of your ghoul and no more limited duration. If Warlocks are Hunters in dresses, we're Hunters in plate. Yay, us!
We're almost there, Tier 7:
  • Desecration(5) - More DPS and helps catch up with those pesky runners. Pretty useful.
  • Unholy Aura(2) - The aura part isn't that interesting, and you get Unholy Presence at 70. Still, I hate having to switch presences all the time and I run with Blood Presence, so I decided to take this as well. I won't blame you if you put these 2 points somewhere else, though.
In Tier 8 we have:
  • Night of the Dead(2) - With Master of Ghouls we don't need a reduced CD for our pet (maybe for PvP, but I still don't see it) and we don't get Army of the Dead until 80, so this is really a waste of points.
  • Crypt Fever(3) - More damage for diseases, and required for Ebon Plaguebringer a little down the line. Especially good for AoE, as a lot of the damage is caused by diseases spread to other mobs using Pestilence.
  • Bone Shield(1) - Taking less damage isn't such a big deal for me, and although the extra damage is nice, it seems like 4 charges and a 5 minute duration would just make this too much of a bother for me. Still, it looks like a lot of people are picking this up, so maybe it is worth it.
So 3 points in Crypt Fever and 2 points to finish up the previous tier (unless you skip Unholy Aura, in which case you have yet more filler). On to Tier 9:
  • Wandering Plague(3) - More damage, especially if you're AoEing. It does depend on your crit chance, though, so keep it as high as possible.
  • Ebon Plaguebringer(3) - We took Crypt Fever for a reason. Now our diseases are even stronger, and the crit chance goes nicely with Wandering Plague.
  • Scourge Strike(1) - More damage than Death Strike for the same cost, this should replace it most of the time. You should still use Death Strike to heal up, though.
Must've been Christmas with all those goodies there, I almost feel bad that it only takes 5 points to move up to the next tier. With only 1 talent, Tier 10 doesn't give us much choice, but it's a good talent so I can't really complain:
  • Rage of Rivendare(5) - A little expertise for our PvPers, and more damage to our spells for everyone. Pretty good investment.
And finally, sitting pretty at the top, our 51-point talent is:
As you've probably noticed, there are still some points missing in tiers 9/10, which I decided to fill out and I put another point to finish off Blood-Caked Blade. If you prefer that point somewhere else, go for it - it was filler anyway. Now, you'd think we were done, but we still have some points left on our way to 80, so let's move across to Blood.

In Tier 1 we can have:
  • Butchery(2) - Getting runic power after kills isn't as useful as getting them while you're still fighting, but still pretty good. Definitely better than putting it in Blade Barrier (unless you're tanking).
  • Subversion(3) - Higher crit chance on a few abilities, pretty decent.
  • Blade Barrier(5) - Useful for mitigating damage, if that's what you're going for. But we already know that it isn't.
Then, Tier 2 brings us:
  • Bladed Armor(5) - Good thing we wear plate. It makes this talent really useful.
  • Scent of Blood(3) - I know I said more runic power is good, but not at the cost of 3 talent points when it's this unpredictable.
  • Two-Handed Weapon Specialization(2) - More white damage. OK, I guess, but I prefer Bladed Armor.
If you've been paying attention, you'll see this is where currently am, with 3/5 Bladed Armor. That means that as untested as this spec was so far, it'll only get worse for these last couple of levels. So, off we go into the unexplored Tier 3:
  • Rune Tap(1) - Without Improved Rune Tap, this feels pretty weak (especially with a 1 minute CD). Even with IRT, though, it's a 20% heal every 30 seconds, at the cost of a much needed rune.
  • Dark Conviction(5) - Extra crit is good. With Wandering Plague, it's great.
  • Death Rune Mastery(3) - Looks pretty good, and definitely something I would have taken if I were going Blood, but having Scourge Strike means this probably won't see much use.
With our last points, we go to Tier 4:
  • Improved Rune Tap(3) - Obviously, we can't take this if we don't get Rune Tap. And I don't plan to, so that makes it a "no".
  • Spell Deflection(3) - Parrying spells should be really useful for PvP. In solo, I don't see it making that much difference.
  • Vendetta(3) - It's not much, but I don't usually need much health at the end of fights. Seems like a good investment for my last 1/2 points.
So there you have it. Comments are welcome, and so are completely different spec suggestions.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Now what?

I don't know if it's related to not posting for a while, being busy, or what, but I'm having a really hard time finding things to post about. Well, that's not entirely true - I have lots of ideas, but they all seem too small to justify a post all by themselves. Thing is, with Christmas and New Year's, over the next couple of weeks I've got a vacation in Guam (sun and sea, yay!), a ski trip (snow and ski, yay!) and probably a business trip to China, so that means that even though things at work are finally getting less stressed, I still won't have time for anything. BUT... I'm going to go ahead and make myself post about stuff, even if it is only so I can say I posted something and try to get over it. You have my apologies for all the half-baked boring posts that will probably follow.

So why not start my "half-posts" with what happened over the weekend? My DK dinged 70 in Nagrand and went on to clear Blade's Edge. I must say playing an OP class is a lot of fun - there's hardly anyone else out there except for me, but since I can pretty much solo every quest* without help that's not a problem. I'll probably do Area 52 and Shadowmoon Valley too before going out to Northrend since I haven't quested in either of them, so it should be fun. I did get a chance to go to Northrend, though - I hopped on a boat at 68 to go train my trade skills. Can't say I had a chance to actually enjoy the place, though. I'll do that when I finish with Outland.

* OK, so I didn't try Durn... And I had a group for the Ring of Blood. There's a limit to even what a Death Knight can do. I think.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going to see the mistress

Like every Wednesday since the dawn of time, the EU WoW realms had their weekly maintenance yesterday. Since I was bored and didn't have anything to do, I decided to take Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning out for a spin. With one day, 5 alts and 2 making it all the way to level* 7, I figured I'd write a little "comparison" post. For those who aren't really interested, feel free to skip the rest of this post, but don't worry - I'm not leaving WoW any time soon.


Starting the game for the first time, you get to the server selection screen. Nothing special there, except that when you choose an RP realm, it pops up a screen with the RP Realm "code of conduct" and you have to agree to it. Other than the obvious annoyance (only once per server, so it's not really that bad) it gives me hope that RP realms will get better treatment than they do on WoW. From there we move on to the character creation screen. You choose one of two sides - Order a.k.a Alliance or Chaos a.k.a Horde. You can't have characters of both factions on the same server, regardless of whether it's a PvP* realm or not. Each faction has 3 races, each having 3 or 4 unique classes* to choose from which are sometimes limited by gender as well.

The game basics should be familiar to all of you - a lot of mappings are the same, and the basic fighting/casting mechanics are also similar. Characters all have Action Points, which are similar to a rogue's energy or pet's focus - skills use Action Points and they are regenerated fairly quickly throughout the fighting. On top of that, each class has its own distinguishing "mechanic" -
Squig Herders have Squig pets, Witch Elves have Combo Points*, etc. Leveling up you get to train new skills* - so far it looks like you get access to one new ability per level, which is nice since it gives you a chance to learn how to use it instead of dumping 20 skills on you and leaving you to figure out what to do next. Starting at level 11 (theoretically - haven't gotten there yet), you start getting talent points*, which are put into one of 3 trees*. From what I can tell, they're not actually trees, more like lines - everyone who puts the same number of points in a certain tree should have the same bonuses. At least that's what it looks like, I guess I'll know more if and when I actually make it to 11.

Phat Lewts

Items in the game are split into several categories (no surprises here):
  • Quest items - these items have a tab of their own in the inventory screen, and don't take up bag space. Yay!
  • Equippable - Armor (that you can dye), trophies (little adornments to your shoulder armor or belt that have no effect but are still nice) and jems*. Basically anything you can put on in some way or another.
  • Ruined Armor - From what I've seen you don't get actual "working" equipment from looting mobs. Instead you get ruined armor that you can repair at any merchant giving you the actual equipment.
  • Potions.
  • Trade Mats.
  • Trash.
The armor works more pretty much like in WoW, too - random drops are usually BoE, quest rewards BoP. There doesn't seem to be any craftable armor/weapons, which takes us to the next part - Trade Skills.

Trade Skills

Every character in WAR can learn one crafting skill and one "gathering" skill. Two crafting skills to choose from - jewelcrafting and alchemy* (also used to create dyes. Did I already mention that you can dye your armor? Yay!).

Gathering skills are also split into two types. Butchery and Scavanging allow you to "skin" animal and human mobs, respectively, after they're looted to obtain trade materials that can be used for either crafting skill. Cultivation lets you grow herbs (for alchemy) out of seeds and spores that you can loot from mobs, and (Magical) Salvaging lets you turn salvagable items (also looted from mobs) into items used for talisman making.

So, all in all, not as much variety as in WoW here, but I don't have enough experience with this yet to figure out how useful the trade skills actually are.

Moving Through the World

Finally, we get to the really interesting stuff. Each character has a "book", detailing the quests you're on, your achievements, all the usual stuff, but also tells the game's story from your character's viewpoint. Each zone is actually a "Chapter" in the story of one of the races, and they are added to your book as you progress in the game. I think this is really nice - it lets you those who are really into the story go read it at their own time/pace, while not burdening those who just want to get to the level cap (which is 40, BTW).

Each chapter has a Rally Master - an NPC that serves as WoW's innkeeper and faction quartermaster at the same time. Every chapter has its own reputation*, with its own rewards - so far, the first tier lets you select a potion, second lets you select a piece of socketable armor and the third gives you a choice of green armor (much better than other quest rewards in the same chapter).

As for things to do, you have the usual quests and BGs* (for which you can queue up anywhere. Too bad that although I was queued the whole time I didn't get to play any. Not enough people, I guess), but you also have Public Quests. Public Quests are quests that take place in a certain area of the map, where any player can contribute to their progress while they are there - for example, killing 100 whatevers in that region. Killing mobs for the quest grants reputation for that chapter, and when the objective is completed the quest advances to the next step in the quest chains. If any step is failed, or after the quest chain is complete, the whole quest resets and goes back to stage 1. Of course, completing a PQ chain nets you loot - one chest that is rolled for by everyone who took part in the quest (basically, it's like a scoreboard of who contributed the most with another random roll thrown in for the fun). All in all, they were a lot of fun so far, even though I couldn't complete most of them. Additionally, practically every zone has World-PvP objectives that grant certain bonuses to anyone in that zone, but I still didn't get a chance to check it out and figure how exactly it works.


The game UI still has quite a few bugs and issues, although they are fairly minor ones (no crashes or anything that actually "stops" you from playing), and I'm sure they'll all get fixed eventually. The general interaction feels a little clunky and not as smooth as WoW, but that could be psychological. I would have liked to see some more players, but I'm already used to being all alone especically in the middle of the week. All in all, it was pretty good, and definitely has potential as something to replace WoW if I get tired of it, but we're just not at that point yet - neither me nor the game (it wouldn't have hurt them to wait a little longer and polish things up a little more).

* I figured I'd write this post in WoW lingo. For the appropriate WAR terms, see the list below.
  • Alchemist - Apothecary
  • Battleground - Scenario
  • Class - Career
  • Combo Points - Frenzy
  • Jem - Talisman
  • Jewelcrafting - Talisman Making
  • Level - Rank
  • PvP - RvR
  • Reputation - Influence
  • Skill - Ability
  • Talent Point - Mastery Point
  • Talent Tree - Path

Friday, December 12, 2008

Trading in my Holy Priest for an Unholy Death Knight

So, yeah... Busy, have I mentioned that? I'm hoping things will ease up sometime next week. Anyway, in the meantime I did get a little time to play, so I might as well blog about it.

First, it seems like I pretty much abandoned Alierah (the priest) in favor of Alierah (the DK). I tried, I really did. But when every time I tried logging on to her, I could never seem to make up my mind as to what it is I should be doing next, so I relogged on my DK.
I guess that means I should fill you in a little about her, so let's start with the basics. She's human (can't beat Diplomacy), miner/herbalist and she's 64 already (no matter what the armory says). After finishing up the Death Knight starter zone*, I quested in EPL until 60 and then went on to level my gathering professions (and getting the some exploration achievements while I'm at it). From there it was on to Hellfire Peninsula, which seems to be infested with Death Knights (not that that's surprising really), and is now sitting in Tereldor waiting to keep going in Zangarmarsh.
In case you're wondering, yes, DKs are ridiculously fun to play (read: OP). I could solo all the group quests in Hellfire without dying or using a potion. I did, however, use up 1 Bone Dust when my ghoul accidentally died one time.

In other (more ammusing) news, I've had a fairly ammusing "encounter" one of these days. I was questing around minding my own business, when there was there was another DK on the same "kill X mobs" quest as me. So we group up - makes sense, no? And then she had to share this very appropriate and relevant piece of information:

Now, I ask you, WTF? I mean, not that talking about that kind of thing bothers me or anything, but seriously, I've never seen you in my life, I dont know you**, why do you feel the need to tell me something like that? You don't see me going around advertising that I'm cranky 'cause I can't get it up, do you?

Anyways, that's what I've been up to lately. How about you? Anything interesting?

* Which is really great fun, and very nice story-wise. Highly recommended for everyone, even if you don't plan on ever logging on to your DK again in his/her life.

** Not entirely true. About 15 minutes before we met, she was crying in general in all caps that some quest or another was bugged. She didn't take it very nicely when I said there's a known issue where you can't complete the quest with you caps lock turned on... Well, sorry, I was only trying to be helpful, sheesh.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back, but still busy

So I finally got back to Japan on Sunday night, and have been too busy for my own good since. Between having quite a lot of catching up to do at work and having to study for my Japanese exam next week, I didn't get much time for blogging or logging in to the game.
I did have a few hours here and there when I was back home to log in, which I used to make a new Death Knight and see what that's all about, but I have yet to make the trip up north. Hopefully, things will settle down a little next week, so Alierah can go have some fun with walruses (or whatever it is people do in Northrend, I don't know).