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Play Styles: Death Knights for Healers

[Update: For the sake of clarification and maintaining my reputation as both being sane and having some common sense, I want to point out that this post was my on-the-fly shot at an April Fools post. There are some elements of truth in it, at least as far as being able to DPS via TargetOfTarget Macros in conjunction with Grid/Clique, but I made no honest effort in really trying to tell you how to do it. I'm hoping that was all pretty obvious, but just in case this is looked at in the future and its date isn't noticed, there you have it.]

Last week we covered Play Styles: Death Knights for Spellcasters, so this week we’re going to cover DK’s for Healers. Granted, a healer is a spellcaster too, but they don’t cast spells the way the rest of us do, instead they use fancy little addons. We’re going to talk about two of those fancy little addons today: Grid and Clique.

Necessary Disclaimer
If you’re playing the class to maximize your DPS then you have to embrace the melee aspect of the class, that’s all there is to it. But if you’re not comfortable with melee and need to stay more caster-like in the method of playing the class, then this is the setup you want to go with. It’s not about maximizing your DPS potential, it’s about maximizing your own potential with your given skill set (and addon familiarity, of course).

Outlining Your Spec
Similar to the Spellcaster Playstyle, we need to rely heavily on spells. We’re also going to try to keep you at range so that you can remain safely tucked away in your comfort zone rather that up in the thick of melee combat. Now, I know you’re all wondering why in the world I’m throwing you into a Frost spec, right? I mean, come on now, we all know that Blood is meant to be the real healer, right? You’re just going to have to trust me when I tell you that playing the DK with any play style other than melee you’re going to want to be Frost. Used to caster dps? Screw Unholy’s magical damage, Frost has the playstyle. Used to being a healer? Screw Blood’s healing potention, Frost has the playstyle. Got it? Good.

HEALER-LIKE FROST KNIGHTS




We’re going to skip the detailed talent descriptions again this time because what I’m about to show you will save you the trouble of having to remember what all of this stuff does, because we’re going to tie it all into those addons so that you’ll just have to remember what happens when you use the various mouse click combinations.

Last time I broke the spec down into level 60, 70, and 80. But everyone knows a you don’t level as heals, you just respec at 80. So that’s what we’re doing here too. Just level as Unholy DPS, faceroll everything you see, and then jump to this spec at 80. Now, you may be asking yourself how in the world that’s supposed to work since the whole purpose of this article is to teach you how to level as a DK when you’re used to playing a healer. The answer to that question is simple. Step 1: Roll a DK. Step 2: Get out of the starting zone. Step 4: Respec at level 80. It seems like I might be forgetting something in there, but I can’t think of what it is. If I remember it I’ll let you know.

Moving right along then.

Level 80 Spec
We’re actually going to be emulating a Frost DPS spec this time more so than a Frost tank, because we need some of those other abilities to keep up with the style we’re used to. We don’t bother with any of the survivability crap because we know the tank always has our back when it comes to threat, right? Some of our spec will be the same as the Spellcaster Style with things such as Runic Power Mastery to increase our maximum Runic Power supply, and Merciless Combat which increases our damage to targets with low health. As a healer you’re used to focusing your heals on the people with low health, so to apply that to being DPS we’re going to help you focus on the ones that are close to dying so that you can kill them faster. See the similarities there? You’ll have this down in no time.

Every good healer has some means of raid healing, and we’re bringing that concept into our DPS spec by using “raid killing” instead via Howling Blast which is our big AoE spell, Deathchill which makes our hardest hitting spells instant-crits, and Killing Machine which can proc for the same effect as Deathchill. So we’ve got some serious heal kill power ready to be unleashed at a moment’s notice.

Every healer needs a nice little agro dump too, so we’re picking up Hungering Cold which will freeze everything in place and give you time to either bandage yourself if needed, allow your Runes to cool down in case you were otherwise defenseless, or to just go hide behind the tank and his AoE threat so that he can pull those mean little mobs off of you. It won’t dump our agro, but it’s the best we’ve got so deal with it. If you’re really used to using agro dumps though, you probably want to roll a Night Elf so that you can Shadowmeld whenever things get hairy.

Since you’re here from the healer’s perspective instead of the DPS caster, I’m going to keep you in your comfort zone and instead of dipping into Unholy for extra magic business, we’re going into Blood for extra healing tools. Most notably we’re taking Rune Tap so that we can heal ourselves for 10% of our max health instantly and Improved Rune Tap which not only doubles the heal from Rune Tap to 20% of our max health, but also cuts its cooldown in half so that we can pop that baby every 30 seconds. If that’s not juicy heals, I don’t know what is.

But that’s not all! We’re also going to pick up Vendetta so that we also heal 2% of our max HP anytime we kill something worth killing. We’re going to be slaying so many things that even with only 2% of our health getting healed it will be like we have three Resto Druids hanging out in our bag space throwing HoTs on us all day long. I mean, the amount of healing we’re packing here is just plain sick, I tell you.

Caster Knight Glyphs

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Rune Tap: Your Rune Tap heals yourself for an additional 10% of the effect, and also heals your party for 10% of their maximum health.
Glyph of Disease: Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration.
Glyph of Howling Blast: Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever.

First thing’s first, we have to stick to our roots and be able to throw at least some amount of healing around on the raid instead of just ourselves. For that you want to grab the Rune Tap glyph first so that you’re able to throw out 10% health to the whole party with a single click of a button. It also gives us another 10%, but that’s 10% of our current 20%, giving us a total of 22% of our max health, not 30%.

Glyph of Disease refreshes all of our disease DoTs on all targets, which is sort of like refreshing all of our HoTs. DPS isn’t all that different from healing when you look at it that way. You’re used to refreshing HoTs, so now you just have to practice refreshing your DoTs. And this glyph even allows you refresh them on all of your targets at the same time. Don’t you wish your Resto Druid could do that?

And Howling Blast applies our main DoT to all the enemies it hits, so it’s sort of the equivalent of Tranquility, but without having to channel it.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Pestilence: Increases the radius of your Pestilence effect by 5 yards.
Glyph of Raise Dead: Your Raise Dead spell no longer requires a reagent.
Glyph of Blood Tap: Your Blood Tap no longer causes damage to you.

The Glyph of Pestilence is going to give you the most initial benefit by allowing you to spread your diseases around in a larger area. Next up is the Glyph of Raise Dead which allows us to summon our Ghoul without a reagent and without the required type of corpse lying around. You can use your Ghoul to increase your DPS, draw some aggro off of you, or to sacrifice to your Death Pact ability you get at level 66 to instantly heal 40% of your maximum health. That’s almost like having a Lay On Hands for yourself (beautiful). Last on the list is the Glyph of Blood Tap to remove the damage that the spell does to us. Ever had to heal a Warlock that was click-happy with his Life Tap? If so then you know how much you’re going to piss off your healer if you keep damaging yourself. We’re just taking this glyph as a matter of principle so that we can keep our healers happy.

How To: Healer-Style Death Knight

So in case you haven’t caught on yet, your role model is the Resto Druid. Druids roll the HoTs, and we roll the DoTs.

Healer-like Damaging Spells
Here we’ll talk about all of the DPS spells you’re going to cast, and we’ll explain it in terms that a good tree will understand.

Single Target Tree Nukes

Icy Touch always gets the first slot for us because that’s what you’ll start most of your fights off with. Icy Touch is a ranged Frost attack, and to relate that to being a tree we’re going to pretend that it’s the dead of winter up in Ice Crown (when is it not winter, right?), and your limbs are all frosted over. When the weight gets to be too much one of your limbs snaps off and falls to the ground with a big crash. That’s what we’re doing here, we’re going to freeze one of our own limbs, and fling at a mob’s face. The resounding crash is what it’s all about here.



Death Coil is our next single target nuke. It doesn’t provide us with a disease on the target, but it stings real good. And speaking of stinging, that’s how we’ll describe it. When you cast this you’re going to shake that little bee hive that’s hanging on your lower branches to stir up your little friends and then send them after the mobs with stingers exposed.



AoE Tree Nukes

Howling Blast is our first AoE damaging spell. HB is sort of like shaking yourself after a good rain, sort of like a dog does when it’s wet. You find a target and then shake your wet little leaves and the freezing water flies out at the target and all the enemies around them, splashing them with your water.



Blood Boil is our next largest AoE spell, costing only a single Blood Rune. When you cast BB, it’s like you’re calling on your earthy little friends, the Fire Ants. You give them a shout and they crawl out of the ground and bite the holy ever loving crap out of everything around you. If the targets are diseased then it burns even more. Fire Ants are to mobs what termites are to you. Got it? Good.



Death and Decay is the signature AoE spell of the Death Knights, but it’s getting the last slot for actually AoE nuke spells because of how it works and how much it costs. Death and Decay has to be cast on a certain area on the scree, so you can’t use our fancy Grid and Clique setup to cast it. Instead you have to actually click somewhere else on the screen, which is annoying. As such, it’s sort of like sinking your root-feet into the ground and causing them to spring up all around you as tenticly-root appendages of freaky, ouchy doom. Those roots will jump out and rub all the mobs the wrong way while they stay within the area.



Macros
Here are the macros you’re going to need to make all of this work.

#showtooltip
/s Watch out everybody, I’m a’shaking mah leaves!
/cast [target=targettarget] Howling Blast
/startattack

#showtooltip
/s Hey, my Aunt’s ants are here! I bet they’ll help us out!
/cast Blood Boil
/startattack

#showtooltip
/s Tree limb, flying past your face!
/cast [target=targettarget] Icy Touch
/startattack

#showtooltip
/s These bees! They be a’buzzing!
/cast [target=targettarget] Death Coil
/startattack

Setting Up Grid and Clique
In order to make all of this work you’re going to have to setup your addons to activate those macros. If you’re not using G&C right now, then WHAT THE CRAP KIND OF HEALER ARE YOU!?!?!

Sorry. If you don’t already use Grid and Clique then here are some links to help you learn how it’s done:
Defenders of the Crown, PDF version
The Holy Priest Blog
Comparing Raid Frame Heavyweights
One Handed Healing

Not all of your spells are going to be able to be tied into the same kind of macros, so you’ll need to either make some others or just use the spells normally. Rune Tap, for instance, needs to be easily accessed so that you can actually heal yourself and your party, so be sure to put that on your action bars or add it to the addons as well so that you can activate it by clicking in your own unit frame.

It wouldn’t hurt to include your melee attacks, such as Plague Strike and Death Strike to your bars as well, just in case you do find yourself mixed up in melee, but you can always just run away like a little girl or bet your tank to pull them off of you.

Wrap Up
Now, just take all of those macros that I gave you up there and tie them into Clique. You can then use Grid, in conjunction with Clique, to activate all of the macros and attack whoever’s target you want to attack. You don’t need to bother picking your targets or worrying about hitting the wrong one, just spam clicks on your Tank’s unit frame and you’ll always be casting on whoever his target is. If he can’t hold agro on a single target against your spells, then he’s got his own problems to worry about.

Hopefully you find these jewels of wisdom to be useful to you and with any luck you can keep your same old healer interface and still have everything run perfectly smooth for you.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2010 in Caster, Class, Death Knight, Guide, Macro, Melee, Play Styles

 

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Content Incoming

As those of you who follow me on twitter already know, I have been out of town on business for the last five days, and will continue to be possibly through Wednesday of this coming week.

During this time I do get a few hours each night for WoW when I manage to sneak onto my wife’s laptop and she moves to watching movies or reading books, I stay pretty focused on specific things that I want to get done.

Since we never know with the poor internet connection in this little town how long it will be up at any point, I have decided not to bother running any instances and instead have focused primarily on my professions, followed by questing, and then today I added the holiday events to the mix.

With limited time on the computer, I have spent most of my time there playing the game rather than blogging. I do have my work laptop, but the battery on it is broken and I have only the 4 ft. charging cable to keep it alive with, I have decided not to tempt fate on it for blogging either.

I have had plenty of time to think about topics I want to put up here, so there will be plenty of information coming as soon as I do manage to get back into the swing of things, but for now merely a place holder to let you know I haven’t given up on it.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2009 in Blog

 

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