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Thread: Constructive DK discussion: Initial threat.

  1. #1
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    Constructive DK discussion: Initial threat.

    So it's not a secret that Blizzard's new baby, Death Knights, have gotten lots of attention as of late. With the upcoming patch 3.0.8, we're seeing two fantastic changes to Pestilence and Howling Blast, with the removal of their cooldowns. This, in addidtion to the changes to IBF and more, should be seen as a buff to DK tanking overall.

    This does not mean, however, that all of our woes are washed away. We still have a big problem with our initial burst threat. With no Shield Slam type of ability, we cannot generate aggro to start a fight off without needing the DPS and Healers to take it easy for a few seconds. This can sometimes be detrimental to fights like Patchwerk and certain trash pulling in various instances.

    With the understanding that there are multiple threads/discussions on DK threat in general, which provide some information on our initial threat, I'd like to attempt to consolidate our thoughts here.

    In this thread, please post any relevant information to the topic at hand. This includes, but clearly is not limited to:

    - Ideas/feelings on current methods
    - Ideas/feelings on what could be implemented/changed
    - Solutions for the time being

    Be as detailed as you want. Be as bold as you know how.
    Let's have a chit-chat =)

    Edit: Also, sorry for having not registered here before. I've been lurking for quite a while =\
    Last edited by Villegard; 12-21-2008 at 08:06 PM. Reason: Added note.

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    I'm wondering, would it be so bad to make Frost Strike a "causes a high amount of threat" ability with no RP cost?

    As far as I understand, this would only help. Could this be harmful to the PvP scene having no RP cost?

    Maybe remedy that by putting a 8 second cooldown on it or something?

  3. #3
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    As a Frost DK I've never had much issue with initial / burst threat. Between HB for AoE and Obliterate for single target, I hit pretty hard when I need to get mob(s) attention. The only time I've ever had initial threat problems is as Unholy using UB for AoE threat... it's fantastic for sustained AoE threat, but since it's essentially just another DoT you can't grab snap AoE aggro easily with it. HB tended to lose sustainable aggro on long AoE fights, but with the CD removal I can't imagine it'll be a problem anymore. There's also VERY few AoE / trash pulls I can think of that take any noticeable length of time where HB reaches the problematic threshold and loses aggro to the DPS.

  4. #4
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    If you are frost, you're probably using the Obliterate glyph, and then you can just open with an OB for a good amount of initial threat.

    For unholy its a bit rougher, and you probably just have to have dps that can hold off blowing their load for 2 globals.
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    Well that seems to me, the main issue. Obliterate is currently the most common solution.

    The problem with this is, if we open with OB, then getting into our normal rotation is slowed considerably, and the DPS is going to have to hold off anyway because our sustained TPS will have dropped due to opening with OB.

    Even still, for comparison sake, a Warrior opening with Shield Slam generates about 10k initial threat. A Death Knight opening with Obliterate gets 5-6k at most. That 4k doesn't seem like much, but... well it just is ok!?

  6. #6
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    Well you should NEVER "open" with OB. Without your diseases up, it'll never hit as hard. Pull with IT, smack with PS and then OB. If you're lucky you'll pick up a free HB proc to pile on top of it and you're off and running. Once your IT & PS are up, the diseases are also generating threat for you too, so you'd be remiss to skip them. If you're still losing aggro too fast, using DnD on a single target may seem like a waste of runes, but it's our only "high threat" move until they patch Rune Strike, but even then you won't be opening with RS very regularly (if at all). You can also use DG for a ghetto taunt to "force" the boss to focus on you for 3 seconds which can be enough for an extra GCD. Even though it says "immune" on bosses, they're only immune to the "pulling" part afaik... the ghetto-taunt still works as long as they're actually tauntable bosses.

  7. #7
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    Crunch, just a heads up, they were talking about using it with the glyph (increases damage from weapon value and reduces damage from disease numbers, making it require diseases less for a good hit).

    I think the issue at hand here is that, as opposed to a warrior who can charge and shield slam for (usually) a good chunk of threat, or a pally who can avengers shield and HotR straight out, we don't have the same reliable first hit threat moves. Our big hits require set up.

    This is all a bit general, but let's look at the different specs, for a starter.

    Blood relies on what for threat? Well, we rely on spamming hard Heart Strikes, filling Oblits and Death Strikes, and laying on Death Coils as we can. The healing helps create a baseline residual threat, but if we want to hold multiple mobs we need to use DnD (which of course eats up half our runes).

    Frost? Well frost has some HARD hitting frost moves, though like blood the disease damage is not to be forgotten. IT can be a nice zinger, and so long as frost fever is up HB can be a solid threat kick. Depending on your style (i.e. BotN, Deathchill, deep frost to Tundra Stalker, etc) will determine how much you rely on different moves or your full rotation. Personally, I'd sooner put my focus on HB than Oblit, it's less conditional, it hits every target, and it hits quite hard, and at range.

    Unholy is a threat beast based on stacking lots of small contributions. DnD hits hardest with a good Unholy spec, diseases tick for more than the others, Unholy Blight (if you take it) adds a good margin, and your 3 disease stack makes your DS/ScS/BS all hit harder.

    But what do they all have in common? Well, there are usually 2 concerns over the span of a fight for threat:
    1.) Initial threat. Establishing your hold so the mobs are focused on you, a big heal won't pull aggro, and (though this is more the responsibility of the DPS) you have enough of a foothold that if the dps get an early crit they won't jump past you.
    2.) Sustainable threat. After the first 10 sec of the fight, assuming it'll last longer, it is a matter of sustaining enough steady threat generation that steady dps (with some spikieness for crits) won't out-pace you. It does you no good if you can charge and shield slam like a pro if you can't then use your SnB procs, Revenge procs, and keep your sunder stack smartly.

    So, side-stepping our focus of initial threat, what do we need for sustainable threat? Well, that's very dependent on your spec, what sort of things you rely on. Blood will perform best with your diseases up and your runes set in order to start spamming your Heart Strikes, without good disease setting all of your moves don't hit quite as hard and you lose a margin. For Frost, Frost Fever must be up at all times. 10% damage everywhere is serious, and otherwise in rotation you'll be relying on having the presence of Blood Plague to tick additional threat and shore up your BS's and OB's. For Unholy you need to be building your RP to set up UB, and you must have both diseases (with their ancillary 3rd) up ASAP.

    So what do they all have in common? We want both diseases up and rolling. This necessitates how start the fight. There is no way to apply both diseases with 100% assurance. Glyph of ScS is nice, but not reliable for that and only applicable to Unholy anyway. So the only way we can start a sustainable tanking threat is to open IT and PS.

    So how do WE handle initial threat? We have to rely on our talents. If you're a tank and you don't have Imp IT, I'd take a serious consideration of why. Regardless of whether or not you're frost, the improved Frost Fever is key de-hasting for survival (even if there's a warrior out there promising to Imp Tclap for you), and 30% more on what is inevitably one of your first 2 moves, is a big factor in the initial threat equation. The other side of that is not as easy to rely on for everyone, and Frost is actually the spec that may rely the least on this. Plague Strike, like it or hate it, is your way to apply blood plague, and it is not a homerun swing. That being said, Unholy has an advantage with a 30% (soon to be 45%) damage buff and a 6% crit buff (with crit damage bonus buffing). For Blood you can easily pick up Viscious Strikes (which I like for the good synergy with Bloody Vengeance, and the buffing of PS and DS) and buff that initial strike as well. I wouldn't take the talent for Frost, or at least I don't normally. Frost is the one spec that can usually get away without racing to drop Blood Plague. Point of fact, the removal of Pest's CD is going to open a door to Frost that I would quickly take, IT > Pest > (Deathchill) HB > PS > Pest then continue with your threat work. This would ramp up the initial threat of Frost, though even now I don't think it's THAT big a deal to stack both diseases first, spread them, then HB. With Deathchill, HB has had such a massive threat burst that even if someone got a mob's attention in that initial spread, it'll yank them right back.

    Personally, I haven't had initial threat problems in a while now. I can see where we're vulnerable there, and it may feel like we are more so than other classes, but I just don't see it any more. Improving tank gear has left me on a MUCH better footing with threat against my dpsers (in fact, the only concerns I ever have these days is against the people who have down their 4k dps routines because if I rush or make a poor setup initially in favor of ramping up more quickly, I can fall behind the pace I need to out-threat them in the long game).



    So, if you feel you're weak on initial threat, I have 2 questions for you, how are you trying to build your initial threat? And, what are the dps you're running with doing up front?

    DPS pulling threat is not the tank's responsibility, it is the DPS's. I, as well as any other tank, I'm sure, take the issue to heart and feel the desire to rise up and make it as hard as possible. But at the end of the day, the DPS section's sole responsibility is to put out as much damage as they can without pulling off the tank. That last part should not get lost in the shuffle. If we are holding them back, then it is our concern with improving, but that should never be a matter of the first 5 seconds of the fight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satorri View Post
    If we are holding them back, then it is our concern with improving, but that should never be a matter of the first 5 seconds of the fight.
    Unfortunately, the way we work (setting up diseases before entering our rotation) prohibits us from being as comfortable as you seem to be. Maybe it's a matter of having full T7 or somewhat equal gear, but in general I don't see a great deal of the DK tank community having an easy time with initial threat.

    An idea that was brought to my attention was maybe pulling with IT and immediately HB (as Frost of course) which would allow us to PS, double BS and then revert to the beginning of our normal rotation of IT > PS > BS > BS > OB > OB etc. etc.

    Thoughts?

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    Satorri - Even with the glyph, you're still doing more Oblit damage with the diseases up. And like you mentioned in the rest of your post, I think we both look more at the overall fight beyond the first couple seconds and getting diseases up first are key to longevity. But I played an affliction warlock for 2 years so I know how important DoT stacking your base DPS is.

    Villegard - If it's a single pull, there is absolutely no drawback to pulling with IT & immediately using HB. You can get them both off and you're ready to PS when the mob reaches you. In AoE though, you're still better off waiting to stack your diseases & pestilence them around before you HB. The double HB damage on targets afflicted with frost fever is pretty crucial for proper threat generation. Yes it takes more setup, but you may have to crack the whip on your DPS a bit so they know not to unload right off the bat.

    It's funny when you think back to the good ol' vanilla WoW days... my old MT would tell us to give him at least 3 sunders stacked on the boss before the DPS even started in on him. I don't think it's entirely too much to ask for a hard count before your dps unloads if you're still behind in the gear process to stay ahead of them easily. If they can't check their egos at the door, just remind them of the repair bill if they get impatient.

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    Well the discussion is more so about how to create a situation in which the DPS doesn't have to hold off at all. Let's be honest, when a Paladin or Warrior tank takes initial aggro, DPS can pretty much go ape-sh*t right off the bat if the tank is well geared. With an equally geared DK, this isn't the case, and is what the problem is, overall.

    Edit: Also, I'm not really understanding people justifying Rune Strike as an initial threat jump. Do we really want to rely on a proc to get a comfortable instant lead in threat? Because I don't.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Villegard View Post
    An idea that was brought to my attention was maybe pulling with IT and immediately HB (as Frost of course) which would allow us to PS, double BS and then revert to the beginning of our normal rotation of IT > PS > BS > BS > OB > OB etc. etc.

    Thoughts?
    Yea that's what I would do when initial threat is a problem; and to make it even better, use HB with Deathchill for a certain critic.

    the fact that both IT and HB are ranged is good too, it allow us to do it before the mob catch us.

  12. #12
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    My point was simply that if you're too interested in getting ape-sh*t quality initial threat you could end up creating 20 sec of slower threat instead of accepting that it's going to take you 4.5 sec to get your best threat rolling.

    I mean it's a lovely idea to offer the same instant high threat value regardless of gear, but that is not necessarily the best way the class works. This is more of a concern for Blizz whether or not they want to adjust things so we have that high power initial threat burst.


    I think Frost Presence could actually use a slight tweak on it's threat modifier, and I do mean slight. Another 5-10% on damage to threat at most, and I think it might put us right on about the same level as a warrior/paladin in starter gear. Another point to take away from it though, if in my gear (which is more than half heroic epic level (ilvl 200ish) and half blue (including my weapon which is more threat than you may think), I can be less concerned with the initial threat, what that says to me is that we scale better with gear than our counterparts do. That means as we get deeper into raid content we'll surpass other class's threat more easily, and this will become less of a concern except for new endgamers.
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  13. #13
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    Dealing with our slow buildup to threat, I've told my GM how things work and since he doesn't have his DK at all past level 58, he usually takes note of what I said and he's a bright one so he usually does deduce that my reasoning is right: He tells the DPS to watch themselves due to the fact that he's not sure how much threat I can load out initially. I try to tell my AoE'ers when to go nuts, and it's usually after the first Pestilence. By this time, they've sat in my D&D long enough that if they do pull off, I'm doing something wrong.

    No, my issue is this: Death and Decay. I have no idea how to properly use this skill and it's starting to frustrate me. The skill just takes a lot of runes to activate and is our Thunderclap. However with the cost of runes the skill does, it makes it very cumbersome to even use it as often as we should. I just simply don't have either the practice or I just don't feel comfortable with the skill.

    From what I could muster while doing Sartharion as a DK unholy AoE'er:

    D&D > IT > PS > Pest, UB.

    But my rotation at that point gets lost. I seriously have no idea what to do after UB and that's probably my fault seeing I'm playing the DK as a dps and not a tank. Well..let me refer: My tree of choice is usually frost and main tanking. More than one thing just makes it harder for me. I'm not sure if it's the fact that I freeze up when there are multiple mobs to take care of and I don't have the greatest mind to multitask the way that fight requires you to be =/

    Maybe i just ain't that good in a tanking scenario that requires more than 3 things to tank. Eh well.

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    Tony - Sartharion's probably a bad example to worry about rotations. In normal AoE pulls you can plan ahead and get all the trash adds into your rotation at the same time. In the Sarth fight, we're constantly picking up new adds and trying to build threat on them. I tend to leave my DPS'ers focused on Sarth until I've got about 4-6 adds saved up and I'll throw down a new DnD right when I tell them to burn them down. For a Frost tank, I tend to use HB a lot on freshly spawned adds... even without frost fever on them yet, it's good for pulling multiple mobs at range sometimes. For Unholy, though, I'd imagine you'll need to focus your RP usage on keeping UB up full time and just use IT to pull to you or DG if it's up. In either case though, given the pre-planned rotation-based nature of the DK, fights like Sarth or Gothik's dead side where adds are just randomly funneled into the fight it can be a little trying to keep up with proper threat generation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crunchbite View Post
    Tony - Sartharion's probably a bad example to worry about rotations. In normal AoE pulls you can plan ahead and get all the trash adds into your rotation at the same time. In the Sarth fight, we're constantly picking up new adds and trying to build threat on them. I tend to leave my DPS'ers focused on Sarth until I've got about 4-6 adds saved up and I'll throw down a new DnD right when I tell them to burn them down. For a Frost tank, I tend to use HB a lot on freshly spawned adds... even without frost fever on them yet, it's good for pulling multiple mobs at range sometimes. For Unholy, though, I'd imagine you'll need to focus your RP usage on keeping UB up full time and just use IT to pull to you or DG if it's up. In either case though, given the pre-planned rotation-based nature of the DK, fights like Sarth or Gothik's dead side where adds are just randomly funneled into the fight it can be a little trying to keep up with proper threat generation.
    That's what I found to be truthful as well. It's very hard for me to plan something on Sartharion because the adds are so random. Sometimes one add will come out of the fireballs, sometimes 4-5 will. Then I have to worry about the whelps afterwards and that's another group to deal with. Then I still have to try to find the fire elementals...I just don't find that I, myself, do a great job when it comes to that. I discussed this with an Officer when he had told me that I need to do a better job when it comes to grabbing the fire adds but I can only do so much. If 3 spawn, fine, one IT, one taunt and one DC will do..but 4 and more I find it a lil tough to manage.

    Also, I find that IT sometimes doesn't do enough threat. I mean, I hit IT on one mob that hasn't gotten hit but if a caster did an AoE heal at that point, I have to use a second IT or something else to get it's attention and that STILL isn't enough to pull off of the healer. I don't know if healer's threats are skewed or I'm doing something wrong, but it's very annoying to pull and add off of a healer.

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  16. #16
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    I'm learning the DK tank myself, having played a warrior since launch, for nothing more than understanding how my fellow tank classes operate.

    I have noticed this also, but one of the above posters made an excellent point, ramp up your icy touch. it's your bread and butter skill, USE IT.

    Also, maybe as a tipp make sure you get death rune mastery in blood, it will open up your rotation when combined with the blood strike mastery when using obli, and after a good rotation you should be operating on nothing but death runes.
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    I'm really not certain the group makeups of your raids that are causing initial threat problems unless you have zero rogue/hunter in it. A fight like patchwerk even unholy I'm going to open up with Icy touch since I can hit him before he's even to me, the moment he's in range PS then SS and double blood and go... Generally we have 3 HAT rogues atm with us in the 25man and 2 hunters so there's a bit of additive threat going in from them as well the second he lands in melee range (just range for the hunters).

    As for the Sartharion blazes as unholy... well It's been confirmed by tanks of every class that hunting down the little blaze guys sucks to a high degree. Personally it's one of my least favorite tank tasks in game. Their spawn rate isn't fixed and is completely unpredictable (at least that's my experience of it) so some goes at the fight you have very few and other times you'll get a ton at once AND they'll appear during the flame tsunami so the moment they spawn they're already buffed. IT doesn't, as tony mentioned, provide enough threat reliably to always turn their attention from a healer, DG is on too long a cooldown and D+D can be tricky. Myself I build up 100runic power to start, ussually the 1st one appears I pop UB and try to replenish my runic power dragging them about spreading pestilence, switching adds for the fresh diseases from it, Blood boil occasionally and everytime I can hitting UB. I try to drop D+D whenever there's about 4-5, but also hold off doing it until whelps are about to spawn at that point in the fight. If you don't have the D+D glyph i'd say until it's nerfed every DK tank should have it, it's incredible atm and does keep quite a few of the adds from hitting you. Another thing I'm probably doing is cutting desecration from my spec next week since I'm moving around so much the damage bonus isn't all that helpful and slowing to mobs it does creates a negative effect on the fight by slowing a blaze as I'm avoiding the tsunami which buffs the add.

  18. #18
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    Tony, the lay out you described is usually the one I use for aoe pulls and sadly will often put me in a 3-4 sec rune blackout. What I've taken to doing whenever possible is to hit Blood Tap and a quick BB for the aoe groups, this usually helps ensure I have the RP for UB (RS's sometimes leave me a little behind).

    It is a bit awkward though, no one likes having 6 runes on CD, feels like a rage-starved warrior, or an OOM pally. I'd love to see them re-work DnD's cost, but I don't know how they would that would be appropriate to its power.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satorri View Post
    Tony, the lay out you described is usually the one I use for aoe pulls and sadly will often put me in a 3-4 sec rune blackout. What I've taken to doing whenever possible is to hit Blood Tap and a quick BB for the aoe groups, this usually helps ensure I have the RP for UB (RS's sometimes leave me a little behind).

    It is a bit awkward though, no one likes having 6 runes on CD, feels like a rage-starved warrior, or an OOM pally. I'd love to see them re-work DnD's cost, but I don't know how they would that would be appropriate to its power.
    Unfortunately, we may be stuck with how D&D works and here's why:

    You can't logically put it in an RP cost. Unholy Blight is considered to be the AoE consecrate ability for most DKs, and Unholy is by far the strongest AoE capable talent tree. By effectively placing D&D as an RP cost, you will phase UB out easily enough. However, it should be noted that UB will cost 40 RP instead of the 60 it costs at this time come 3.0.8.

    As much as this would be a problem, I would love that they would put D&D as an RP cost instead of a rune cost. There's no way to lower the rune upkeep of D&D, it would make it far too powerful in some situations. However an interesting idea is if they did make it an RP cost, you could potentially outload a lot of threat through AoE this way. Imagine if D&D cost you 60 RP instead: You would effectively change your rotation to follow suit:

    IT > PS > Pest > BB > OB > DC dump

    Not the strongest of starts however your main target will effectively have a strong base in threat at this point. It is, however, where this now comes into play:

    BB > BB > OB > OB > UB > D&D.

    This would keep the adds from running away thanks to BB blasting the targets around, and furthermore frontload a LOT of damage after the first 20 seconds on the targets. The biggest problem I see with this is that you're effectively slowing down your AoE potential for a big burst every 20 seconds. A realistic change to the rotation would be to have UB or D&D at the first rotation and the next one in the second rotation. This would ensure that we were always having an AoE dot going and potentially reduce the AoE situation.

    It'd be very tricky to play with D&D and thus probably not going to be touched. So I hate the idea of it being on a rune system instead of RP but it is what it is.

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  20. #20
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    Yeah, I don't think I really want DnD as RP either, since that would make it impossible to lay down up front, and I do rather like that mechanism. If I use it smartly I can even lay it out as I'm running in so that the runes are quicker to come back up once we're fully engaged.

    I need to think on it actually, maybe there is a smarter way for it to be costed, something I can suggest to Blizz.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
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