Welcome to Lichborne, your look into the issues of the moment for the death knight class.
Ah, Emblems of Triumph, the new hotness. Even if you're not running the coliseum, you still have chance to grab them in the heroic daily, and by now, surely most of us have at least had the opportunity to save up enough to buy something. Deciding what to buy, however, is a whole different question. Let's take a look at the badge loot and see what's in it for a death knight.
Hitting 8% hit (to remove melee special attack misses) is still one of the most important goals for almost any death knight DPS spec. With that in mind, if you've been having trouble keeping up to that level, Emblems of Triumph may have your answer. Shard of the Crystal Heart and Mark of Supremacy both grant a whopping 128 hit rating, almost half of your recommended daily allowance. Mark of Supremacy will be the choice for most death knights, but unholy may actually want to grab the Shard of the Crystal Heart. Haste is surprisingly good for unholy, especially since the lower global cool downs it grants can make the new 10-second non-Epidemic unholy damage rotation a lot more forgiving.
Now this said, once you have 8% hit (Or, in the case of some specs, most notably frost dual wield, 17% hit for the spell hit cap), there's much better trinkets you could fit here, such as Death's Choice or a Greatness Card. Hell, arguably even a basic trinket like the Mirror of Truth will be better. But if you have the badges to spare and can't seem to hit that hit cap, these are great stopgaps.
For tanks, the Glyph of Indomitability is very much worth it for a tank. Most solid Death Knight tank build include Bladed Armor, which means the armor on this glyph will also translate into a nice chunk of extra threat. Dodge on use is also nothing to sneeze at. Basically, this trinket will let you laugh at physical damage, and is a very smart purchase for a tank.
If you're down a good DPS ring, consider the Bloodshed Band. It has plenty of strength, which is the most important DPS stat for most death knight DPS specs, as well as a good chunk of hit rating if you've yet to hit the 8% cap. That said, if you have hit the 8% soft cap, you may actually find, at least as blood or unholy, that the armor penetration or haste, respectively, will actually make the Dextrous Brightstone Ring a better choice overall despite the presence of plain old vanilla attack power.
Tanks can rest assured that Clutch of Fortification is a very solid ring. Again, that extra armor means extra threat for most specs, and dodge continues to be perhaps the strongest of the avoidance stats. If you're needing a good tank ring still, this is a good use of badges.
The Sigil of Virulence is a very solid choice for DPS, easily outpacing Sigil of the Vengeful Heart and Sigil of Awareness for most specs due to massive up time. Indications are that Sigil of Awareness may still be slightly better for dual wield frost DPS, but otherwise, this is a wise upgrade to purchase and probably the one thing (other than tier gear if you don't plan to run heroic 25-man) that you won't be replacing with a drop in the Coliseum.
The Sigil of Insolence, by all accounts, has close to 100% Up time, so as long as you're remembering to use your Rune Strikes, this is probably going to be your best bet for tanking as well. Really, you should consider both of these sigils "skill checks" of a sort. As long as you have a solid rotation going, they should offer their benefits nearly full time.
On Tier Gear and Armor
Okay, here's the basics on buying Tier Gear: First, there's two sets (or rather, four, since there's both tank and DPS varieties) that are buyable with Emblems of Triumph. The Horde set is named after Koltira, and the Alliance set, after Thassarian. The first, Conqueror's, is ilevel 232, and requires only 30 or 50 emblems for each piece - quite a steal! The second, Triumphant, is ilevel 245, and those cost either 45 or 75 emblems and a Trophy of the Crusade. The trophies only drop from the bosses on 25-man normal mode or the tribute chest at the end of a 10-man heroic run.
If you'll be able to run 25 man Trial of the Crusader (or if you can't wait to win 5 trophies), you may want to save up your badges for the higher level gear. If not, you can still grab the basic set, though it'll take you at least a couple of weeks per a piece, especially if all you're doing is the heroic daily.
Now, even if you can't get into 25 man, there's still a few ilevel 245 pieces of gear you can get, specifically helms and shoulders. Essentially, they're more or less clones of the ilevel 245 tier gear, with some slight differences, such as hit rating swapped for expertise. If you don't expect to have access to Trophies of the Crusade any time soon, they may well be tempting to purchase.
Of course, if you do choose to swap out some of the lower level tier 9 gear for the 245 pieces, be aware of any set bonuses you may break.
On Set Bonuses
First, let's jog your memory on the set bonuses:
So the two piece bonus is essentially a slightly modified version of the Sigil of Virulence, with the strike in question being Blood or Heart. It has a 50% proc rate and a 45 second internal cool down. Considering that strength is the most important DPS stat for most death knight DPS builds, and considering that most builds will be using a couple blood strikes at least every 20 seconds, you should have a decent amount of up time. If you can grab two pieces of the tier gear quickly, this is going to be a nice DPS buff for just about anyone.
The four piece bonus is a probably a bit more nebulous for some specs, so we'll try to break it down a bit more. For unholy, getting the 4 piece is a no brainer. With the Patch 3.2.2 Subversion buff, critical strike rating is a lot more valuable for an Unholy Death Knight, and since Wandering Plague stacks with this bonus, it's difficult to say no. Overall, there's a dearth of testing and some debate still on whether it's properly powerful for other specs, especially since the proc was only just fixed with Patch 3.2.2. Still, if you're rocking a lot of critical strike rating in your build, you probably shouldn't underestimate double damage tics. This set bonus is worth it.
Here are the tier 9 tank set bonuses:
The first tank set bonus, if nothing else, does give you a bit more threat via the higher damage on a basic strike, and having a lower cool down taunt at least gives you leeway against overenthusiastic DPS. But where this set really shines is that second cool down decreaser. Patch 3.2.2 has been pushing up further toward being cooldown rotation tanks again, and having an extra 10 seconds to work with can be helpful when facing a particularly punishing boss. The extra damage absorption these cool downs give you is probably worth passing on the ilevel 245 non-set stuff if you're just getting the basic set.
Too Long; Didn't Read?
To put it frankly, here's the deal. If you're really hurting for hit rating or armor, the trinkets make a good stopgap measure. Same for the rings if you're still trying to get some good rings. For the most part though, we've gotten some pretty awesome set bonuses this time around, so most DPSers, if they can, should head straight for that four piece bonus.
Of course, one of the joys of playing and writing about death knight is that we're still very much a class in flux, and with 3 unique trees with unique gear needs and wants that change nearly every patch, it's sometimes hard to pin down the exact ideals of "Best in Slot" with any real sense of permanency. That said, it's hard to go wrong with Tier gear, and honestly, even the look is sort of growing on me, even if I still would have preferred the old level 60 Alliance PvP plate look.
Still, whether you're downing Anub'arak every week or just plugging away at a couple heroic dailies a week, it's going to take you a while to save up those badges, so get to it, and we'll see you at the tournament.
Welcome to Lichborne, the new class column on the new WoW class, the Death Knight, where we discuss Patch 3.1 cookie cutter builds, basic defense gear and Heroic defense gear for the Death Knight tank, 5-man Crusader's Coliseum gear previews for tanks and DPS, and basic Death Knight statistics and mechanics. You might also want to check all the other articles in our Death Knight category.