I like the streamlining of Pestilence and Blood Boil (Pestilence no longer does damage, but Blood Boil now does more and does some when no diseases are present). The new Glyph of Pestilence makes Pestilence refresh your disease duration on your primary target as well, which is really convenient (no more tab-Pest necessary). I will miss the increased range, though.
I'm not really sure what to make of the changes to the damage from Blood Strike and Heart Strike. They both scale less from weapon damage, but get more of a flat boost, and the amount they gain from diseases is a percentage instead of a flat amount. I'll need to play with it on the PTR to see how it actually works out, unless some math wizards have done this already. (Commenters? Anyone?) At a guess, I'd say it makes diseaseless rotations less attractive.
As far as Blood Gorged now giving armor penetration instead of expertise, if it was any other DK spec, I'd cry foul, but Blood is the one spec for which ArPen isn't entirely wasted (since Blood does relatively more physical damage). I'm guessing this change is to make us hit the expertise soft cap less quickly, which is a good thing (since they keep throwing expertise gear at us).
Might of Mograine now ups the crit bonus of your various abilities by 10/20/30%, down from 15/30/45%. A straight nerf to an incredible talent.
Sudden Doom is the change that caught my eye when the devs pre-announced it a little while ago. Instead of making your next Death Coil free and auto-crit, it now simply fires off a free DC. It is now also three ranks for 5/10/15% chance, instead of five for 4/8/12/16/20%.
This is a mixed bag, but it's mostly good. Blood has big GCD problems, with our main strike being only one rune; not having to use a GCD on SD procs is great. We lose out on the gauranteed critness, and we lose 5% proc chance, but we gain two talent points. Overall I'd say it may be a slight DPS nerf, but a playability buff.
The Aura nerf angers me vastly, but that's not important. What is important is we now know exactly the effect of the new Blood Aura (renamed Improved Blood Presence): you keep the 4% healing from Blood Presence in all presences, and all healing done to you while in Blood Presence is increased by 10%.
The first part will be kind of nice for tanks, I guess, but really marginal overall. The second part has me scratching my head. It would be great for tanking if it worked in Frost Presence, and great for PvP if it worked in Unholy Presence. As is, I guess it helps the healers patch up the DPS a little, but Blood is already quite good at self-healing. A big thumbs down to Improved Blood Presence from me.
Bloody Strikes has been reworked; it now increases the damage of BS and HS by 15/30/45% and increases the damage of BB by 20/40/60%. I guess they've swapped out the increased damage from diseases to the spells themselves, and the switch from Pestilence to BB is of course a natural consequence of Pestilence no longer doing damage.
Finally, there's a new talent: Improved Death Strike, which increases the damage of your DS by 15/30%. I have no idea what this is for.
Howling Blast (which is trading places with Hungering Cold to move to the bottom of the tree) is getting its damage bonus for Frost-Fevered targets cut from double damage to 50% additional damage (although the official patch notes say 20%). It's still a great spell, but this nerf will hurt a lot of Frost specs.
Unbreakable Armor is getting changed to reduce physical damage from all attacks by an amount depending on your armor, and increase your strength by 25% for 20 seconds. Whether this is a buff or a nerf will depend on the scaling factor from armor, which I don't know.
Blood of the North (which was reduced to three ranks) will now affect Frost Strike as well as Blood Strike. This should help offset the decreased damage from HB.
Runic Power Mastery has moved up to tier 1 and is two points for the same benefit. This may make it attractive for Blood specs to pick up. Unholy specs should still skip it; we need the points for Blood and Unholy talents, and honestly, if you're Unholy and you can't manage to spend your RP, you need some more practice.
My own DK is Unholy DPS specced, and I love it. So I'm glad to see they aren't completely eviscerating us in this patch.
Plague Strike is getting a big buff in damage, although the HoT removal is getting stripped. Still, it may no longer be a button we are quite so unhappy to push (although Glyph of Scourge Strike will still keep it relatively rare in Unholy rotations).
Raise Dead's cooldown was lowered from 5 to 3 minutes, but the little guy only lasts one minute. This doesn't affect Unholy players, of course, since we've got Master of Ghouls; it just serves to make it even less worthwhile to summon a ghoul when you're not Unholy. I don't understand why they would do that.
Scourge Strike was buffed; it now does 55% of weapon damage + 158.63, plus 9% per disease. Like Daniel, I have no idea why they buffed a strike that already hits like a truck, but I'm not complaining.
The new Unholy Aura (now Improved Unholy Presence) is completely worthless outside of PvP, where you will benefit from the 5/10% faster rune cooldown, and leveling, where you will enjoy the the 8/15% increased movement speed in Blood Presence. Like Improved Blood Presence, a big thumbs-down from me.
Anti-Magic Zone no longer costs a rune, which will make it even handier in a pinch for tanks. Not much to say about that; DK tanks live and die (well, hopefully live) by our defensive cooldowns, and making them more accessible is nice.
Daniel already covered Ghoul Frenzy (replaces Shadow of Death, Tier 6, 1 point talent - Grants your pet 25% haste for 15 sec and heals it for 30% of its health over the duration. 1 Unholy Rune. 45 Yard range. Channeled. 30 sec cooldown), but I just need to say that I will never use it as it currently is. No way am I taking 15 seconds channeling time to up my ghoul's DPS a tiny bit and heal it; I'll just use an instant cast to summon a new ghoul and go back to slamming the boss. Then again, I don't really use Shadow of Death as it is, so it's no great loss.
I covered some glyphs already, but I'll run through them here quickly.
- Glyph of Strangulate - Reduces the cooldown of your Strangulate by 60 sec. (Old: Inceases the range of your Strangulate by 20 yards.) The old glyph was overpowered in PvP. The new glyph is overpowered in PvP.
- Glyph of Icebound Fortitude - Your Icebound Fortitude now always grants at least 30% damage reduction, regardless of your defense skill. (Old: Your Icebound Fortitude costs no runic power) Another PvP-related glyph; tanks don't care.
- Glyph of Unbreakable Armor - Increases the amount of damage absorbed by Unbreakable Armor by 1%. (Old: Unbreakable Armor grants an additional 15% armor) 1%? One freaking percent? PASS.
- Glyph of Plague Strike - Your Plague Strike does 60% additional damage. (Old: 20% additional damage if a disease was on the target) This one, on the other hand...60% on top of PS's already buffed damage will be pretty strong. I may try to make room for this one.
- Glyph of Death Strike - Increases your Death Strike's damage by 2% for every 5 runic power you currently have. The runic power is not consumed by this effect. (Old: 2% regardless of runic power) I still don't understand the place of DS, really.
- Glyph of Hungering Cold (new) - Reduces the cost of Hungering Cold by 10 runic power. Eh. RP is cheap. This doesn't hurt; I jut hope it's a minor and not a major glyph.
- Glyph of Unholy Blight (new) - Increases the duration of Unholy Blight by 10 sec. This one, on the other hand, is delicious. Anything that makes me have to press buttons less often is aces to me.
- Glyph of Death Coil (new) - Reduces the cost of Death Coil by 8 runic power. 8? That's a weird number. Why not 10, like the Hungering Cold glyph? Blood is the class that uses DC the most, but this may not help them that much, because they have so much GCD trouble
- Glyph of Pestilence (new) - Your Pestilence ability now refreshes disease durations on your primary target back to their maximum duration. Yes! Yes yes yes. This is amazing. Of course, it means I will now find myself using Pestilence even on one target, if the Glyph of Scourge Strike fails to refresh diseases, which feels a bit weird. But I still love it.
- Glyph of Howling Blast (new) - Your Howling Blast ability now infects your targets with Frost Fever. Nice to see Frost get some auto-disease-refreshing ability.
And there you have it! My thoughts on what we know about the DK changes so far. Hold on to your blunt implements, folks; 3.1 is going to be a roller coaster of a development process. I just have that feeling.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.