Tuesday, September 22, 2009

DK's receive yet another nerf

No big surprise here, right? After all there hasn't been a single patch since Wrath was released that didn't contain at least one nerf to the class. The latest though simply baffles me. When I initially leveled my DK I did it mostly as blood. And I loved the spec. I switched to Unholy when I began raiding because at the time it was clearly the Superior spec, with AOE damage off the charts. Blizzard felt that too many DKs were speccing into Unholy and decided to take a series of steps to "incentivize" players to spec into other builds. It culminated in patch 3.1 where they nerfed Unholy to a considerable degree which caused me to look again to my old favorite, Blood.

Unholy and Frost are still unquestionably the AOE kings, so when I read that Blizzard is nerfing the tree's primary strike (Heart Strike: Secondary targets of Heart Strike now take half as much damage) by reducing it's AOE component, I simply have to wonder what they are thinking. Coupled with the 13% Armor Penetration nerf, which incidentally will affect Blood spec the most, I am really not sure what to expect my DPS drop to be.

What's worse is I have yet to see a proper explanation from Blizzard as to why this is being done. Ghostcrawler has commented that Heartstike either needs to be balanced around single target, or double target capability. If it is to be balanced around double target, then that would undoubtedly caused Blood DKs to use Bloodstike on single targets instead and make the trees primary attack into a niche attack. I agree with him in that regard, but he is glossing over why heart stike was buff in the first place--as an incentive to encourage DKs to spec back into Blood from Unholy. Unholy got hit hard with the nerf bat in patch 3.1, but it's getting some buffs again in 3.2.2.

Subversion: Now also increases the critical strike chance of Scourge Strike by 3/6/9%.
Dirge: This talent no longer grants additional runic power from using Obliterate.

The Subversion change clearly means Unholy will want to spec into Blood vice Frost, and the buff to Scourge Stike will again make it better than Obliterate. Especially when the change to Dirge is factored in. The change to Dirge will reduce runic power creation just enough to ensure that not enough Obliterates can be used in any rotation to make it more powerful than Scourge Stike.

Unfortunately the change to Heartstrike also affects my gear choice. I had been holding off on upgrading to Tier 9 pieces in order to hang onto my 4-piece Tier 8 bonus because it is so much better than the lack luster Tier 9 bonuses. But now that the nerf is going live I am clearly being forced to upgrade. That being said, the ilevel 232 gear is not enough of an upgrade for me to jump at, so I will be replacing pieces as soon as I can get enough trophies for the ilevel 245 gear. Since I'm still waiting on my Axe to drop of the faction champions, it's likely to be a while before I get enough trophies. Which means I am likely to see a dip in my DPS, which will last a period of time before I can bring it back up though weapon and gear upgrades.