And now for something completely different!

This page reeks of healer. It’s time to mix things up. While the raid environment, officer responsibilities, and the like are all interesting and well and good, let’s take some time to talk about what we all really care about.

Death knights.

We all have our opinions of the class, positive or negative. Some just consider them another warrior-esque melee DPS/tank hybrid and leave it at that. Some endlessly whine about the class’s performance in PvP. But underneath the somewhat over-hyped image and the veil of being overpowered, there is a complex class that, within itself, has far more variety than any other I’ve played.

Let’s set the record straight. I raid as Blood. Primarily DPS, though my tank off-spec is Blood as well. I was Frost from level 70 all through Naxxramas up until patch 3.1, where I switched over for a change of pace. Ulduar gear accommodates the spec quite well; it practically rains armor penetration plate throughout the entire instance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a DPS plate upgrade without the stat on it.

With each patch comes new changes and, with the major content patches, a new raid instance. With that comes a slew of new gear and item options to choose from. Like I said, I was Frost through the entirety of the tier 7 content, sporting my 4-piece bonus, the Sigil of Awarness, and a Betrayer of Humanity. At the time, that was required for Frost to be any good, but boy did it shine once you put all the pieces together. When Ulduar hit I took it as a challenge to see what I could do to adapt to the gear provided in the instance. While by no means is armor penetration bad for Frost; it simply isn’t as optimal as it is for Blood. By then it had been quite some time since the expansion had come out and I needed a change.

I went Blood shortly after the guild entered Ulduar. I found it very easy to upgrade old pieces with new and improved armor penetration items, and my efforts paid off. Blood is a superb spec for Ulduar, being able to pull off significant single-target numbers as well as being adaptable to on-the-fly add cleanup because of the lack of reliance on diseases for the majority of its damage. A dry Heart Strike will still do enough damage in the short amount of time needed to run over and take care of, say, scrap bots on XT, Freya’s guardians of nature (minus the big ancient) and Mimiron’s army of robots during phase 3. Unholy and Frost both require blood plague and frost fever to be on the target respectively to gain their talented +10% damage bonus, while Blood has to remain above 75% health.

Blood Gorged, as it were, may be the only major drawback I see in the talent tree. The armor penetration bonus is great but with all the raid damage taken during boss fights in Ulduar, I often find myself below the threshold for the damage bonus to take effect. This is clearly evident on fights like Ignis and Mimiron where there is near-constant damage to everyone around the boss.

On the plus side, Blood’s two major cooldowns, Hysteria and Dancing Rune Weapon, are great for periods where you need burst damage (I’m looking at you, Heart of the Deconstructor). The healing proc from Rune of the Fallen Crusader and Blood Presence’s natural healing make up for the damage caused by Hysteria and, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t optimally put it to use, you can cast it on a rogue and tell them to go to town (or kill them if they’re far away from a healer. This is fun too).

Blood is, however, highly gear dependent; you need a minimum amount of armor penetration to make it worth switching to, and at least at Ulduar-level weapon to make it work well enough where it would warrant coming over from 2H Unholy. If you can, try to snag an Aesir’s Edge from 10-man hard mode Deconstructor. Optimally you’d want that before your guild is capable of doing 25-man hard mode Vezax for Voldrethar. If that’s not an option, go for Lotrafen. Just don’t tell the hunters and feral druids.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for 3.2 views and dual-wielding!