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Thread: Comprehensive Guide to Death Knight Tanking

  1. #281
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    There aren't really articles on DK tank leveling because there doesn't really need to be. If you're chain-running instances to level up, take the tanking trinity (5/5/5) and just start down your tanking tree of choice. Equip any tanking upgrades you get, you don't need to fuss about the defense cap too much while leveling. If you're soloing and running instances, you'll be fine taking a DPS spec and running Frost Presence with any tanking gear you have.

    The Northrend instances were designed to be tanked and healed by offspecs. Once you hit 80 and start hitting heroics, you'll want to be crit immune and such. If you're really curious about the crit cap while leveling, you need 5.6% crit reduction from defense to be crit immune against mobs that are 3 levels above you. Depending on what instances you're running, that may be more or less than you need. Also know that your defense skill will decay as you level up due to rating decay.

  2. #282
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    Dual wield math

    Hi, thanks for the great original posts. In the frost tanking section, the math on dual wielding contains two mistakes. First, attack power, and second, haste.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satorri View Post
    Frost Tanking: Like Pounding a Block of Solid Ice
    Fast 1-hand: Blood Fury, 196.7 dps, 1.5 speed, average hit: 295
    Slow 1-hand: Stormpike Cleaver (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=47148), 196.5 dps, 2.6 speed, average hit: 511
    2-hand: Sharpened Obsidian Edge (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=49498), 255.6 dps, 3.5 speed, average hit: 895

    If we take a tank with 5k AP, 0% haste from gear, and the standard 23% melee haste raid buff, then the average hit size and speed for each weapon will be roughly:

    Blood Fury = 652 dmg, 1.16 sec
    Stormpike Cleaver = 868 dmg, 2.02 sec
    Sharpened Obsidian Edge = 1252 dmg, 2.72 sec

    We’ll use three setups, (1) with two fast weapons, (2) with two slow weapons, and (3) with the 2-hander. Remember the off-hand weapon will do only 57.5% damage. The damage per strike will be listed with the two weapons combined where dual wielding:

    Melee auto-swings:
    (1) 652 + 375 = 1027 (per 1.16 sec = 885 dps)
    (2) 868 + 499 = 1367 (per 2.02 sec = 678 dps)
    (3) 1252 (per 2.72 sec = 460 dps)
    This part right here should have set off alarm bells. You got two different values for dps for cases (1) and (2) even though you were using weapons of equal ilvl and held the attack power constant.

    The mistake was adding AP/14 to your final weapon damage. AP/14 is a dps value, not damage. However, it must be added before haste is taken into account, so we first convert it to damage using AP/14*weapon_speed and then divide by the final haste-modified weapon speed.

    It seems you calculated the final weapon speed by multiplying the original speed by (1 - haste). The correct formula is to divide weapon speed by (1 + haste). I've included a link to WoWWiki's page on haste, and this is easily verifiable in game. (The bit about attack power, too, you can see for yourself in game.)

    Also, it's safe to assume that Obliterate and every other Death Knight instant strike are normalized attacks, therefore their contribution from attack power will be independent of weapon speed. I can't offer hard evidence for this, but, it's very safe to assume, and it's actually already in WoWWiki's list of normalized attacks, so.... Rune Strike, being a "next melee" attack, is not only not normalized but also gets an extra bonus from attack power.

    I hope you find this helpful. Here are the correct values (much rounding involved):

    If we take a tank with 5k AP, 0% haste from gear, and the standard 23% melee haste raid buff, then the average hit size and speed for each weapon will be roughly:

    Blood Fury = 830 dmg, 1.22 sec
    Stormpike Cleaver = 1439 dmg, 2.11 sec
    Sharpened Obsidian Edge = 2144 dmg, 2.85 sec

    We’ll use three setups, (1) with two fast weapons, (2) with two slow weapons, and (3) with the 2-hander. Remember the off-hand weapon will do only 57.5% damage. The damage per strike will be listed with the two weapons combined where dual wielding:

    Melee auto-swings:
    (1) 830 + 477 = 1307 (per 1.22 sec = 1072 dps)
    (2) 1439 + 827 = 2266 (per 2.11 sec = 1074 dps)
    (3) 2144 + 000 = 2144 (per 2.85 sec = 752 dps)

    If we take into account the extra 19% miss chance for dual wielding (...), then dual wielding auto-swings are about 15% more dps than 2h auto-swings. This is not due to the talent Nerves of Cold Steel, but rather more to the fact that attack power scales higher when dual wielding.

    Rune Strike:
    (1) 1995 + 1147 = 3142 dmg = 1835 dmg more than auto-swing
    (2) 2908 + 1672 = 4580 dmg = 2314 dmg more than auto-swing
    (3) 3966 + 0000 = 3966 dmg = 1822 dmg more than auto-swing

    Obliterate (with 0 diseases on the target):
    (1) 1389 + 798 = 2187 dmg
    (2) 1561 + 898 = 2459 dmg
    (3) 2125 + 000 = 2125 dmg

    Special attacks such as Rune Strike and Obliterate are not affected by the increased miss chance for dual wielding.
    Remember that you are unique, just like everybody else.

  3. #283
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    On DK tank leveling, I don't think any of the level 80 guides are not actually unhelpful, but rather I would look at it like this:

    What you should be getting from guides is help in understanding how the game works, how talents and attributes work, and for the sort of feedback on how interactions work that can only come from playing it out.

    While you're leveling you should be experimenting and learning, not following someone's prescribed path or method. When you're leveling you can tank instances with a DPS spec and a few pieces of high-stam or tanking gear. You could also go full-on with a tank build. Either way I think it is paramount that you be reading talents and spells and learning them as you go. You should be learning to make intelligent decisions for yourself. If you only ever do what other people tell you, you will not likely ever reach a higher level of mastery because you never take the time to understand it for yourself.

    So if you're leveling DKs, do yourself the favor as you get each level and really read what each point you spend gets you. Pay attention to your spells and how they hit, to your procs and how often or what sort of pacing they come at. Learn the class. Leveling is an opportunity to do that, not an obstacle to get around so you can get to 80 as fast as possible and start the "real" game.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  4. #284
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    Thank you Pim, I think I posted this, but I deliberately fudged a bit on the normalization and haste interactions to make quick numbers. I'm sure folks will find your corrections helpful though.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  5. #285
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    Hey Satorri,

    Just wanted to say zomg awesome guide haha helped me out quite a bit ^^ ended up going UH tank cuz I like the play style more vs. blood and you don't see to many UH tanks anymore. I'm doing (I think anyway) pretty well with it pally tank friend of mine says I'm tanking pretty much as well as him haha. I have a little trouble with single target but thats mainly if Im stupid and miss an RS or let my diseases fall off anyway just saying awesome guide haha ^^.

    ~Veranox Hyjal.

  6. #286
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    Satorri,

    Thanks for the guide. I have a question about dual-wielding frost tanks though. You answered my question a several weeks back about tank weapons and defense. Now, it has come to my attention after discussions with a guildie, it seems that dual wielding frost tanks seem to be at a "Stamina" disadvantage. My example is for non-ICC gear -> Tyrannical Beheader 137 stamina where as the Nighttime offers 37 stamina. Time that by 2 and you get 74(dual-wielding). This is a substantial difference in stamina and seems to put dual-wielding frost tanks at a disadvantage. It makes getting over 40K health unbuffed a real challenge as well. Any thoughts or suggestions on this?

  7. #287
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    Frost, in general is at a health disadvantage, when you consider the popular spec of choice is blood with stam stacking. If you're choosing to play frost, you're choosing a smaller health pool.

    But health isn't why you've chosen frost.

    You've chosen it to be a little different, or because you run a lot of heroic dungeons, in which frost is great. I run DW frost as a tank in ICC and it has so far treated me just fine.

    You're going to have a smaller health pool, might as well get comfortable with it.

  8. #288
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veranox View Post
    Hey Satorri,

    Just wanted to say zomg awesome guide haha helped me out quite a bit ^^ ended up going UH tank cuz I like the play style more vs. blood and you don't see to many UH tanks anymore. I'm doing (I think anyway) pretty well with it pally tank friend of mine says I'm tanking pretty much as well as him haha. I have a little trouble with single target but thats mainly if Im stupid and miss an RS or let my diseases fall off anyway just saying awesome guide haha ^^.

    ~Veranox Hyjal.
    You do have Runestrike macro'd into all of your attacks so you don't have to think about it correct?
    Quote Originally Posted by WarTotem View Post
    You know you just called yourself an asshat, right?

  9. #289
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilithium View Post
    Frost, in general is at a health disadvantage, when you consider the popular spec of choice is blood with stam stacking. If you're choosing to play frost, you're choosing a smaller health pool.

    But health isn't why you've chosen frost.

    You've chosen it to be a little different, or because you run a lot of heroic dungeons, in which frost is great. I run DW frost as a tank in ICC and it has so far treated me just fine.

    You're going to have a smaller health pool, might as well get comfortable with it.
    Thanks for the input. I know it doesn't compare with the HP of blood, however it seems a bit off. Would you mind linking me your armory? The displacement of stamina just on weapons alone is over 60 points >:\ That's 2 stam gems. I know dual-wielding frost tanks are supposed to be like beating a block of ice. I notice this when healing them on my druid. It seems they are easier to heal (take less damage) than most blood tanks, but HP's are a big deal when in places like HoR (heroic) and other more difficult 5 and 10 man dungeons... It's not an issue for me really, other than it just seems a bit off or lop-sided...

  10. #290
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    My armory as per your request.

  11. #291
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilithium View Post
    My armory as per your request.
    Thanks for the link. Quick question after viewing your armory. You are using fast/fast weapons. Does this ever cause you to have threat issues? My guildie says he has threat issues when doing fast/fast... I'm still leveling my DK, almost 73, and I'm spec'd frost with slow/slow. The "tanking" single handed weapons do have more stamina than the DPS weapons, however the off-set here is threat.

    I'm sorry for all the "noob" questions. This is my first DK and it is much different than my pally of druid tanks I have. Both are over 40K health...

  12. #292
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    With Fast/Fast, your threat comes from a steady stream of rune strikes. With 2/2 in CotG and 2/3 SoB I'm able to fuel these rune strikes, rarely missing an opportunity. In fact, in most heroics rune strike is often second on my damage, behind howling blast and ahead of oblit.

    Proper use of horn of winter, blood tap, and AMS also aid in making sure I've always got the rp needed to keep rune striking with the fast weapons. An average of 7-8k tps isn't uncommon in heroics, and usually a tad more in raids.

    I wouldn't entirely recommend gemming, gearing the way I have unless you're prepared for a slew of "You're gear isn't gemmed right" from the mass of blood tanks you'll encounter. I gem for avoidance, and usually honor gem bonuses. It works for me, but then I earn my uniquity (new word).

  13. #293
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    Lilith handled the questions quite well, I don't have much to add.

    On the matter of weapons and itemization though, it's a bit of a variable. DPS weapons don't have the same regulation on certain stats the way gear does. Blizz has suggested that when they design tank gear they deliberately keep stamina levels consistent for a given level, so you're not usually choosing between health and anything else on the gear stats themselves. They do not extend the same to the dps weapons. They do keep high stam values on tank weapons, so dual wielding tank weapons will get the desired survival increase you're after, but that is always the choice to balance between survival and threat.

    There are some dps 1-handers that range higher in stamina, and similarly there are some 2-handers that are lower (particularly polearms aimed at regulating Bear health). If you are looking at the best gear you can get from 5-mans, then you are correct. If you want to use two slow weapons for threat you will shed some stamina in the process.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  14. #294
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    The one thing I forgot to add, but feel is worth mentioning for this particular topic is arena weapons. They have loads of stam, and nice slow speeds for hitting hard, and often have gem slots for added flavour.

    From my standpoint, they're a bit of a headache to acquire, but then I'd rather get my eye scooped out with a melon baller than do arenas.

  15. #295
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    I'm not a big fan of arena weapons, personally. They spend a LOT of itemization on Resilience and most of the rest into Stam. They have no Str, no Agi. The end result is that they have zero avoidance unless you add it through sockets, and the Resilience is usually wasted since defense is not hard to come by.

    If you are interested in Stamina and nothing else, you can't get much better, and if you are an avid gladiator you can get high dps weapons for decent threat, but otherwise you'll lose a lot of survivability.


    Also, I'm going to start updating the guide for 3.3.3. I'll probably also make a lot of other little changes that have accumulated over the last couple mini patches.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  16. #296
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    I'm an old warrior tank. So, naturally, I opted to tank with Frost on my knight. Its concept just sat better with my warrior-mind. Besides that, I was getting suboptimal performance in large pulls in heroics with Blood in terms of managing PUG dps that know nothing but AOE buttons. Enter, Howling Blast and intermittent Blood Boils.

    When I finally got geared, and read this thread, I took Threat of Thassarian and Nerves of Cold Steel with slow/slow, aiming for high threat. It wasn't until I hit HHoR that I started getting A LOT of complaints from the backseat-tankers about my survivability. Endless scores of people saying "get a 2h" etc etc. I bit the bullet and went for it, just to see if maybe the info was outdated or if maybe I was going overboard on threat. I respecced out of ToT and NoCS.

    So far, I've been okay with threat. I think my cumulative threat on opening a pull may be lower than preferred, and there are risky periods between swings if I'm blacked out, but usually a quick reaction DG and DC can handle the 1 or 2 mobs that still peel.

    But my question is more about survivability. Growing up warrior, I'm used to huge avoidance levels, big health pools, and a lot of emergency button options. With my Frost Knight I'm finding that even without block, I seem to be surviving just about as much as my warrior. So far, I've tanked trash pulls in ICC10 on rep-runs and haven't attempted Marrowgar yet. However, I've successfully tanked and survived Toravon the Ice Watcher in VoA10 a few times. I actually haven't tanked any ToC bosses yet in this build.

    So here's the kicker: I didn't spec to take the [Un]Holy Trinity of Tanking. In the Unholy tree, i opted out of the 5% to dodge, taking, instead, improved Rune Tap from the Blood Tree as well as Scent of Blood (RP for my Frost Strikes). So, insofar as survivability goes, in my warrior's mentality, the Improved Rune Tap comes across as a 30s cooldown emergency heal for 20% of my HP, maybe allowing healers a margin of error if I can help their HoTs catch up with the boss's damage.

    And here's where I have some doubts. With the ICC debuff pretty much negating any of my dodge anyway, will the extra 5% make a difference in my durability? Is the interval change from 25% dodge to 30% dodge worth it? is the interval change between 5% after the debuff to 10% after the debuff make a huge difference in my survivability? It seems to me that with all percents/chances, it matters in the long run, but healers will rarely be concerned with long run when they're managing group heals and following fight mechanics. I guess, what I mean to ask is: would it be better to use Rune Tap once a minute and only for 10% of my HP and have a consistent baseline 5% more dodge, or better to use Rune Tap every 30s cooldown for 20% of my HP and have a baseline of dodge 5% less than knights taking Anticipation?

    Also, on a side note, I'm going to play around with a 6-death-rune spec in the future, just to see if flexibility in tanking will allow me to get away with not taking threat-amplifying talents and compensating with more frequent, harder-hitting abilities like Obliterate.

    Thanks to those who have made this thread what it is, and thanks for reading my post, if you did. I'd appreciate any and all constructive feedback and/or well-intentioned criticism. Still deciding between who I want to focus primarily on- my Warrior or my Frost Knight

  17. #297
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilithium View Post
    My armory as per your request.
    Level up your professions lazy!

  18. #298
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    My short answer, Jaykannon, is simply this:

    5% less dodge is 5% more damage you take, and more accurately 5% less chance to not take damage. You will take more damage and even the most skillful use of Imp Rune Tap won't make up for that, not quite (believe me, I've spent over a year figuring out how to use Rune Tap the best I can).

    That said, if used well you might find Imp Rune Tap will offer something more meaningful than general damage reduction: a health patch when you need it most, when your health dips low.

    I would never recommend getting Imp Rune Tap over Anticipation for the sake of survival. I would try to keep it if at all possible. It may be a hard difference to read in real play, but it is a talent worth having if you are a tank and it is a quality survival value. I also would not answer the need/desire for more survival with shifting from dual wield frost to 2-hand frost. Rather, I would keep a set of tanking weapons that you can swap in. You'll lose a little threat there but bump your survival up a bit as well. 2-handers don't really offer more survival, unless you have a very good 2-hander to trump your other weapons (which is not uncommon, hello Citadel Enforcer).

    That said, I think today's patch might help 2-handed Frost regain some threat ground with dual wielding as it is much easier to get Imp Icy Talons with a 2-hand spec, and 45% bonus haste on a 2-hander is nothing to shake a stick at.
    The (Old) Book on Death Knight Tanking
    The New Testament on Death Knight Tanking
    -----------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
    Who f-ing divided by zero?!?

  19. #299
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    I know, Edgewalker. I know.

  20. #300
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilithium View Post
    I know, Edgewalker. I know.
    Levelling up mining is my least favorite thing to do in WoW, but they made Thoriums spawn like whoa all over Un'Goro, so it's not quite as bad now.

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