After a long period of innactivity after Ulduar, I began playing again just before the patch introducing Icecrown Citadel released. I decided it was time to drop the hybrid Druid and start playing a Melee / Tank class, knowing I would never touch Balance or Resto. When I was finished leveling and gearing up my DK for DPS / tanking in TOC I joined a new guild. Stepping into ICC for the first time I realized that DK's had a lot of problems and were gimp in a lot of areas compared to the other tanking classes.
I've got a pretty good idea after much reading and a few weeks in ICC that Deathknights are squishier than the other tanks, and lack that snap pick up threat (Which blizz is buffing in the next small patch 3.3.3 so I think that will be less of an issue). Though Blizzard claims that DK's are a tri-DPS tri-tank specced class, it seems every tree is more DPS oriented than tanking. We scoot by with frost presence and a few defensive talents tossed here or there, and I am sure we are atleast viable, but to me it's difficult to dig up the benefits of chosing X spec instead of the other, and if DK's are in as critical a situation as it seems, it's got to be important which one you chose. I'm not saying preferance isn't important, but I don't know enough about it to form an opinion, and that is why I am here.
I've played both in all types of content, I've read every word on EJ and this site, the information about playstyle of each spec is definitely out there, but I'm having trouble understanding the following...
-Is 3% avoidance 2% overall mitigation that big of a deal?
-If I won't be too squishy without ^, is WotN a better contender? Especially with 3.3.3?
-UA seems more ideal than VB. Having 15% HP for a short duration and an increase in self-heals to me is almost useless, but most say otherwise (can you prove me wrong/explain? )
-^ leads to my next problem, are the self heals from Blood even worth much? Do the healers just overright it anyway whether or not it goes to overheals? If it is worth something, can it compare to 3% avoidance 2% mitigation
-How do DK's compare to other tanks in avoidance / base mitigation / armor / HP (Trust me, tried at this one for a while, all I could find is contemplation by others that always came out to a ?. Was hoping someone would know... kind of a deep one considering that the other classes can Block)
There are MANY more questions I could ask that aren't answered in a general thread about DK tanking, but I'm sure if someone filled me in on these I'd be able to figure out the rest for myself. Thankyou.
- Yes. Avoidance is nice to have, even if it's reliant on RNG it's still well worth the points. 2% damage reduction is just uber. Don't forget also, Frost gets a bit longer with IBF than Blood does.
- WotN is pretty good atm, and will be even stronger after the minipatch. Taken in conjunction with the 3% stamina and improved cooldown (see below), it's more or less equal to what Frost offers.
- VB is just incredible. It's not a "short duration", it's 15 seconds every minute (assuming you have the glyph, which you should). That means that quite often you will have 15% more health, and will be able to take 15% more damage before going squish. The increase to healing is also very nice (not just self-healing, but all healing done to you at all), helps your healers keep you up during difficult portions of the fight. I would never argue that UA is bad, extra armor and strength are both very helpful - but it's hard to find a better cooldown than VB.
- The self-healing from Death Strike is mostly overheals, but still useful (more healing never hurts, and will at some point save your butt). Rune Tap, if you're specced into it, is a powerful cooldown especially in conjunction with VB.
- There is a very small discrepancy between the tank classes. There are few occasions where the lack of a block mechanism really hurts (although it hurts if you're a fresh 80 tanking heroics, one of the reasons so many people have this notion that DK's and Bears are squishy tanks). As far as armor and HP, they're on par with other classes, and have slightly more avoidance (especially as Frost). They also have several strong cooldowns (especially as Blood).
The Blood vs. Frost question boils down to this - which playstyle do you prefer?
One thing I want to add about your current Blood tank spec - you missed Improved Icy Touch. Having the boss hit you 6% slower is fantastic, well worth the 3 points.
Thankyou for the reply, I wasn't sure of how things actually are atm for the tanking classes and DK specs... it's hard to tell how hard you are being hit when you're tanking unless it's a huge difference, any time that I am gibbed it brings me back to questioning my class just because that's "What they say".
Also, I didn't know that the healing bonus from VB also benefits the healers, that changes things quite a bit. One thing I am trying to compare atm is VB to extended IBF / UA... and if the threat bonuses to UA will make much of a difference in 3.3.3, because it is already easier to hold multi-target threat as Frost with it's loose playstyle, and single target is great too (I play 2H Frost). Also if WotN saves your butt / makes you easier to heal more than the 3% / 2% bonuses. There are a lot of other things that are a ??? for me like if the buff to IT will make a huge difference for one spec or the other in comparison, I know that using IT / PS can be a problem for those who roll with the HB glyph and just open with that, I use the glyph as Frost but the only time I ever open with HB is on 2+ targets... IT / PS works better for me on single target and even moreso in 3.3.3. Blood is currently the more popular tanking spec atleast on my server, it just makes me curious if there's something I'm missing other than 99% of the tanks prefering the Blood playstyle :P. I've seen a total of 2 other frost tanks on my server so far in the past couple of months, they were both undergeared and had never been to ICC so IDK.
For the IT spec, I didn't spec into it because most other tanks can supply this debuff without having to go out of their way to get it. I am looking into snagging it in 3.3.3 because of the buff to IT's threat though.
In terms of preference, I'm still pretty new to the class and have been experimenting with it... I hope shortly after 3.3.3 I can make a perminent decision. I used to play a Druid tank back before they nerfed their HP / armor and added Savage Defense, so I think it's kind of ironic that I am obsessing over block all of the sudden, but I guess DK's just aren't as apperant in how they compensate for it.