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A few weeks ago, I did a post over the new talents and what they would mean for Frost DKs and Death Knights in general.  Earlier today Blizzard released the new Talent calculator for all the classes except the monk, and DKs got quite the change.  Below is the new tree, the changes from the past, and my thoughts over the new talents as well as the Lv87 Ability.

As previously stated, the new trees have six sets of three, each of which has a focus.  You get to choose one of these talents per set, and each set is in increments of 15 levels.  Here’s the newly revised tree:

The new talent tree!

Alright, so what’s been changed?

LEVEL 15: SPREAD THE SICKNESS

Roiling Boil – No Change.

Vile Spew – A new talent. Basically, when you use it, one of your undead minions (either from Raise Dead or Army) explodes in an AoE Outbreak and deals minimal damage.  If Raise Dead wasn’t a 3 minute CD, I’d like this one.  However, it is, so that’s 1 AoE outbreak (and losing your ghoul’s DPS), followed by 5 rounds of manual refresh.  (Also, Corpse Explosion seems to have disappeared at this point)

Unholy Blight – This one makes me laugh a little, and not in a ‘haha’ kind of way. Unholy blight is now basically a shroud of Outbreak that lasts 10 seconds and infects everyone within 10 yards.  On a 1.5 minute CD, this would allow every other ‘manual refresh’ to be taken care of with the Blight instead.  (Outbreak is now the lv81 class talent.)

My Choice: Unholy Blight.  Hell Yes.  It’s back to being almost the original form that DKs started with, so there’s nostalgia value.  In addition, it cuts down on the manual reapply phases you’ll have to do, and its AoE outbreak.  Literally, what is not to love?

LEVEL 30: DAMAGE MITIGATION

Lichborne – No change.

Anti-Magic Zone – No Change.

Icy Grip – The new talent.  (Bone shield has moved to being a blood-specific ability).  Reduces the CD of your DG by 15 seconds and reduces the movement speed of the target by 50% for 6 seconds. I can see this really nice in PvP, to pull and keep enemies where they are, but unless the encounter has a Sapper-like mechanic.

My Choice – Since Bone Shield is gone, I’ll probably take either Icy Grip or AMZ, just depending on the fight.

LEVEL 45: CONTROLLING THE CROWD

Death’s Advance – Slightly changed, no longer requiring your Unholy Runes to be on CD.  Still a PvP talent.  Still can’t find the energy to care.

Chilblains – No change.

Asphyxiate – No change.  Still not a valid CC.

My Choice – Still Chilblains.  Nothing has changed here.

LEVEL 60: HEAL ME!

Death Pact – Making up for the fact that Vile Spew kills our ghoul, Death Pact now doesn’t.  It just deals 50% of its max health and heals you for 50% of your health.  Yes, they doubled the healing done and no longer kill your ghoul.  The drawback is that it’s still a 2 minute CD. Unholy will probably like this ability, with their never-die ghoul they can heal themselves.

Death Siphon – Changed. It now does less damage (2920 down from 4701 originally shown before modifiers), costs one Unholy rune, and is on no cooldown.  Your only limitation on it appears to be your GCD speed and your DPS loss.  It heals you for 75% of the damage dealt.  Unholy will also like this one because it is apparently affected by their mastery.  (RETRACTION: The tooltip was glitchy.  Death Siphon does have a rune cost, but still seems to be a GCD cooldown.)

Vampiric Blood – No change

My Choice – If I was unholy, I’d jump all over Death Siphon and Death Pact and see which worked better.  As frost, I’m torn between trying Death Siphon and sticking with VampBlood.  I’ll probably try out Death Siphon when it comes out.  I like the idea of having my own life in my hands at this point.

LEVEL 75: RUNIC RECOVERY

Blood Tap – No change, aside from still no CD.  Still on-use, still random.

Runic Empowerment – No Change

Runic Corruption – Only change is they put a hard number on the chance of proccing in the tooltip: 45%.

My Choice – Still Runic Corruption.

LEVEL 90: GETTIN’ FANCY

Gorefiend’s Grasp – The damage dealt was halved.  Other than that, no change.

Remorseless Winter – The damage was cut down to 10% of its old number (3777 down to 374), the range was cut from 10 yards to 8.  Other than that, it’s unchanged.

Desecrated Ground – No change.

My Choice – I’m extremely unhappy with the nerf to Remorseless, but I did see it coming.  The damage is negligible, which means it’s not particularly useful for ‘a little extra damage’ as I’d said earlier.  Now it’s basically a very impressive temp-CC on a minute CD.  I may end up taking Gorefiend instead to help tanks with add management.

LEVEL 87: SOUL REAPER

The 87 ability for DK is ‘Soul Reaper’, which takes no runes, is on a 6 second CD, and instantly deals 50% of the melee weapon damage.  However, after 5 seconds, if the target is below 35% health, it does an additional 50k shadow damage.  If the target dies before that, you get 50% haste.

It’s an execute, basically, but with a delay and the potential to give you 50% haste for a few seconds.  I really, really like this ability.  I can imagine it making doing quite a bit of damage.  It’s once again Shadow Damage, meaning it will probably be affected by Unholy’s mastery. (In my mind, this is infinitely better than the Control Undead, which was at least rumored to be the lv87 ability.  It’s been downgraded to lv69 at this point)

With all the Shadow Damage talents, I’m curious to see if it’s going to do anything funny to the Unholy mastery priority.  Probably not, but it would be interesting if it did, huh?

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Come 5.0, the old talent trees are out and the new ones are in.  It’s a scary change for some people, and yet for others it’s a welcome one.  Personally, I’m going to withhold judgment on the new talent system until I have a chance to try it out for myself.  That said, I think that I have a bit of insight on all the talents that have been released.

If you’ve not heard yet, the new system is broken up into three sections: Class Abilities, Spec Abilities, and Talent Abilities.  Class Abilities for are abilities that everyone who is that class has no matter what spec they are.  For DKs, this includes things like Death Strike, Pestilence, and Plague Strike.  Spec Abilities are the abilities that come from the spec you’ve chosen.  For Frost DKs, this is Howling Blast, Frost Strike, and the like.

Talent Abilities are abilities you select as your talents.  In the new system, there is going to be six sets of three abilities that all share a common theme.  You can choose ONE of these abilities.  Each set is separated by a 15 level gap.  For Death Knights, this means you’re going to start with the ability to pick three new talents right at the start.  Here’s what your talent tree is going to look like:

So much simpler!

Before we cover talents though, there’s one thing you all might be worrying about…

AAAHHH!  WHERE’S MY STUFF?!

If you take a look at the list of abilities, you’re going to notice that a lot of your passive abilities are missing.  Don’t worry, they’re not gone.  Instead of having Icy Talons or Killing Machine be normal talents, they’re now your passive Spec Abilities for Frost.  Here’re the frost-specific talents that made the jump to Spec Talents:

Blood of the North (55), Icy Talons (55), Howling Blast (55), Frost Strike (55), Obliterate (58), On A Pale Horse (61)*, Killing Machine (63), Pillar of Frost (65), Rime (70), Might of the Frozen Waste (74), and Threat of Thassarian (74).

* – On a Pale Horse is a Class Talent.  All death knights will have it.

To recap, this means you’re not losing your autocrits on Oblit, your free Howling Blasts, or your 30% chance to hit with your offhand on certain attacks.

However, what does appear to be gone at this time is Nerves of Cold Steel, Endless Winter (for free interrupts), Merciless Combat (12% increased damage on mobs below 35%), and Brittle Bones (4% increased strength and increased physical damage), among others.

Now that we’ve covered what’s staying and what’s going, here’s how our talents seem to break down:

LEVEL 15: SPREAD THE SICKNESS

Roiling Blood – I like the theory behind it for trash packs.  It would replace Pestilence in a rotation, giving both a little bit of damage and causing a pestilence for every diseased mob it hits.  The nice thing is, if you’re fighting two diseased targets, they’ll refresh each other, so you don’t have to reapply diseases to your target.  However, it does not help you at all against bosses.

Corpse Explosion – This one amuses me, but I don’t think it has as good a combat ability as the other two.  It requires that you’ve already killed something, which means that you are probably nearing the end of the fight anyway.

Outbreak – No change from what we’ve got.  Compared with Roiling Blood, you don’t get damage from the pestilence of Blood Boil, but you save a unholy rune every minute (your frost fever is never going to fall off due to Rime procs).  Also, if you take Roiling Blood, you’ll need 2 GCDs to apply both of your diseases.

My Choice: Outbreak/Roiling Blood.  I honestly can’t pick between the two.  I’m leaning outbreak, but I want to give Roiling Blood a shot, just to see if it makes any difference at all.

LEVEL 30: DAMAGE MITIGATION

Lichborne: Same as what we’ve got now.  The immunity is decent in PvP as well as any fights with charm, sleep, and fear effects (which would probably be ‘none’), however it can be combined with Death Coil to heal yourself.  Personally, I never have the RP necessary to heal myself properly with this method, so I’ll pass.

Anti-Magic Zone: A raid cooldown, kinda.  It’s an AoE damage reduction.  Works as seen in the game now, but for any spec.

Bone Shield: Also one we’ve got now.  It’s your personal damage reduction, on a minute cooldown.

My Choice: Bone Shield, unless the raid is light on CDs.  Then I’d swap to AMZ.  Bone Shield’s up-time should be 100%, so you’re taking 20% less damage at all times.  Sold.

LEVEL 45: CONTROLLING THE CROWD

Death’s Advance: PvP talent.  I’m sincerely disinterested.

Chilblains: Same as what we’ve got now.  I love these things, but I’m always the one kiting.  If a fight doesn’t have adds, it’s useless, but then again, so is anything in this tier.

Asphyxiate: this was infinitely more awesome before they added the 5 second duration.  As it is now, it’s a neat little gimmick.  It replaces our ranged silence with a ranged stun that acts as a silence if the target is immune to stuns.  It also has half the cooldown as strangulate.  Interesting, but I don’t like it.

My Choice: Chilblains all the way.  I love these things.

LEVEL 60: HEAL MEH!

Death Pact: I have two main complaints: the cost (40rp and a ghoul) and the cooldown.  As frost, your ghoul is a 3 minute cooldown and is probably macroed into your pillar of frost, so it’s almost never up.  No ghoul, no DP, and you don’t get your health.  Even if it was up at the right time, you’ll lose DPS by losing your ghoul prematurely.

Death Siphon: A new one.  It’s basically a Death Strike that costs a death rune, as opposed to a normal one.  Unholy will like this one, as it’s probably affected by their mastery.  Frost, it’s more iffy than not.  75% of (the unmodified) 3116 the tooltip shows isn’t a lot in terms of healing.

Vampiric Blood: You get health, increased maximum health, and increased healing.  On a minute CD, I like vampiric blood a lot.  You can use it to pick up 15% life long enough for the healers to pull you back up to full on fewer spells.

My Choice: Vampiric Blood.  Unless Death Siphon does way more damage or our health pools get squished to having 8k being a lot, I’ve got to give it a pass.  I can see VB saving me way more often than DS.

LEVEL 75: RUNIC RECOVERY

Blood Tap: Old, but changed.  The 1 minute cd was removed, making it infinitely more viable.  However, my biggest complaint about Blood Tap compared with everything else is it’s on-use.  If you forget about it, you’re never getting runes back.  DKs already have a lot to think about; Rune Recovery shouldn’t be one.

Runic Empowerment: What we’ve got now as frost death knights.  I can live with it.

Runic Corruption: What unholy death knights have. The buff stacks instead of overwrites, so if you get it to proc with 2 seconds left, you have 5 seconds of regen, not 3.

My Choice: Runic Corruption.  I’ve been waiting for this for a while.  Hopefully it’s going to make frost much less RNG-based than it is.

LEVEL 90: GETTIN’ FANCY

Gorefiend’s Grasp: I love the idea of a targeted AoE death grip.  Use it seriously to pull adds to a tank… or use it to be a dick and pull all the adds to your healer.  (Don’t do that, or you won’t get heals next boss >.>).  It makes me laugh just reading it.

Remorseless Winter: Possibly the coolest DK ability.  It’s an AoE slow, that turns into a stun, that doesn’t need to be maintained.  While the range is a little short (only 10 yards), you don’t need to stop what you’re doing to use it.  Snare trash or adds, or even use it on a boss for a little extra damage.  A flat-out amazing ability.

Desecrated Ground: Kinda reminds me of Desecration.  It’s with Lichborne as a PvP ability in my mind, however.  Plus, it does less damage than Remorseless Winter on a twice-as-long cooldown.  It just can’t compare

My Choice: Remorseless Winter.  I suspect you’re going to see a lot of DKs with this.  Gorefiend is funny, but not anywhere near as useful.

Despite my thoughts, feel free to pick whichever you like from each.  Blizzard has said they are attempting to cut out min/max builds where everything is optimized for DPS.

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