The changes to a couple of legendaries highlight some effort to buff underperformers and provide players with another option than to just sit on their Soul Ash or waste it on offspec legendaries. In the case of most specs, these were largely unnoticeable. In our case, however, as Blood Death Knights, we suddenly have a bunch of very interesting choices to make for 9.0.5.Reanimated Shambler
No real change of value to note here: Shambler still looks massively better on sims than it does in real gameplay, and it's a purely offensive legendary with no additional benefit than the raw damage. When your zombies don't get stuck in places they shouldn't, despawn when they can't find their targets, get stuck up stairs, down stairs, that is. You get the idea.
In a similar vein, the change to Phearomones
is welcome (for those unfortunate enough to have to deal with the lack of soul ash catch-up and craft a legendary that sort of works on multiple specs), but too little to change anything, particularly in light of the competition. The DPS-spec value of 15% would be closer to what is needed to compete with the rest, and whilst it looks great
on paper, the random fear has harsh limitations in terms of when and how it will proc, along with potentially causing your group to whiff interrupts.
So, overall, these two changes amount to no real change.Vampiric Aura
Let's cover the simple one first: Vampiric Aura
is still largely underwhelming and is unlikely to see any play. Deep down, it still feels like there is a disconnect between how good Vampiric Blood
was back when this tier bonus was in, or even in Legion, and now. You can see this in the variety of effects brought in to "buff" it, almost as if the expectation was a Vampiric Blood
that provided 50-65% max HP and healing like in Legion thanks to Vampiric Fangs
, or one with half the cooldown like in Cataclysm.
Don't get me wrong, Vampiric Blood
as it is today is a decent cooldown, but it's not impactful enough that 3 extra seconds will make a difference; it is also not impactful enough that giving 50% of the effect to your party at your own expense
(since mechanics targeting your group rarely line up with periods of danger for you as a tank) would matter, and even in Mythic+, there are very few situations where you would need this and where you wouldn't be able to just use healer cooldowns, Anti-Magic Zone
and still run dry enough to feel a need to blanket VB the group
(because, yes, it's only your group, not your entire raid like it was in Cataclysm).
Let's not even go into the 5% leech - as one of the lowest DPS tanks in Shadowlands and the one with the least amount of burst, 5% leech during a cooldown designed to provide zero offensive throughput
is laughably weak.
As a result, this legendary badly needs a shake-up still. It is not the only one: Death's Embrace
will likely never see play as it is, or be constrained to an ultra niche once-a-tier/PvP legendary choice you craft because you're at your 8k ash cap. Gorefiend's Domination
Now we're starting to get into interesting territory. 9.0.5 added an additional effect to this legendary, in the form of 45 RP whenever you hit Vampiric Blood
. It also, evidently, reduces Vampiric Blood
's cooldown whenever you hit Heart Strike
, which, unfortunately, does not scale off target count. As a result, even with Red Thirst
, the combined effect of this legendary brings Vampiric Blood
's cooldown down to the following (assuming Heartbreaker
throughout, and using the T26 raid profile - as venthyr, with Nadjia - on simc as a baseline):
The RP comes in at a time where you are likely to benefit from it the most, however, and that is the only saving grace of this: it isn't like some of our other legendaries where the RP gain is spread out over a lengthy duration - it comes in a burst, when you use a cooldown you will use to heal. Compared to the throughput loss from this choice, and considering that our next contender (Crimson Rune Weapon
) manages to get virtually the same RP economy and virtually the same Vampiric Blood
uptime (34s vs 30s on 5T) while having no real throughput loss, it's very unlikely that this legendary will see play. After all, why would you buff one cooldown when you can buff two?Crimson Rune Weapon
We finally get to the good bit. This legendary had a near-complete overhaul in a number of ways:
Those changes sound small, but they have a reverberating impact on a number of factors in our spec. Let's break them down:
- The cooldown reduction change translates to a smaller effective cooldown on Dancing Rune Weapon than on live. This legendary already provided you with a 60s to 75s effective CD on Dancing Rune Weapon; this change brings it to sub-minute (50 to 65s depending on target count, since your Bone Shield depletion loss is capped at 2.5s per bone, and you need to take melees for this. Evidently, the more Dancing Rune Weapon uptime you have, the slower this is, since it does give you parry ;-) )
- The 5 bones on use is huge, but poses a few headaches, particularly for Necrolord players. I will go into more detail on the respective covenant pages when this goes live, but as a quick TL;DR of changes:
The non-necrolord opener does not change
- The necrolord opener drops the initial Marrowrend
Every two minutes, Necrolord
players will need to be aware that they may need to delay Abomination Limb
in order to prioritize the 5 bones from Dancing Rune Weapon
(and prioritize the CDR on it), and plan to deliberately drop themselves below 5 bones for this
Every time Dancing Rune Weapon
is about to come off cooldown, all
players will need to make sure they are at 5 bones or lower when casting Dancing Rune Weapon
These changes lead to:
The best part of this? A lot of the complaints we get on Acherus are due to the inherent downtime in the rotation. And, well...
10.91% : SS_Nadjia
10.95% : SS_Theotar
10.02% : GD_Nadjia
10.22% : GD_Theotar
3.80% : CRW_Nadjia
3.89% : CRW_Theotar
With Crimson Rune Weapon
, downtime is a thing of the past!
Overall, this rework is fantastic
. Crimson Rune Weapon
always was a fun legendary to play with (Dancing Rune Weapon
is an impactful cooldown rotationally, and, frankly, ask any warrior about the impact of variable CDR on a cooldown to know how fun these effects feel), and these changes just supercharge it even further.
It also covers a really weird case in the DK toolkit where Dancing Rune Weapon
when you press it baseline, while still being on the GCD, contrary to the stated goals in previous changes and patches. This legendary change now upends this and truly, at least in my opinion, justifies its GCD: the 5 bones on their own do this more than well.
When it comes to inter-legendary balancing, Crimson Rune Weapon
always had the potential to unseat Superstrain
eventually, and after these buffs, this is now a certainty, right here, right now.
This does raise questions as to the balancing goal, though, as this new-and-improved version does everything Superstrain
does better: more defense, more priority damage, almost more offense, and almost as much CDR on Vampiric Blood
as a legendary dedicated to it. This feels a bit unhealthy, effectively replacing a go-to legendary with no options, with another go-to legendary without any other real options. There could be an easy fix on this by decoupling this legendary:
- Fix the GCD issue that Dancing Rune Weapon has by making it grant the 5 bones baseline, without the need to commit a legendary
- Leave the rune regen and CDR on the legendary
You then fix many problems at once: the opener becomes less clunky for everybody, the GCD on Dancing Rune Weapon
feels impactful, the legendary isn't massively overpowered compared to the competition while still fulfilling its niche, and you even manage to solve the problem of Last Dance
Alongside the changes made in the initial build of the PTR, Vengeance has had a few changes added which overall have very little impact on our choices or gameplay.
All our covenants other than the reworked Fodder to the Flame
Necrolord ability had their damage reduced by 10%, applied by a server-side aura. This seems to be intended to maintain the balance of our covenants while slightly reducing the burst damage output of our spec overall. This change will amount to an approximately 2-3% reduction overall, and Vengeance is already one of the lower DPS tanks when played properly. While I agree with reducing the reliance on external power, our base kit could use a slight buff to counteract the effects of this nerf.
We had no other class changes outside some minor tooltip fixes, but there were a few updates to our Legendary options, none of which will bring them up enough to be worth generally considering.Fel Bombardment
had its buff increased to 40 seconds with a 5% increased proc rate. This was already an option for pure damage in AoE, but in terms of practicality, is never used due to unpredictability of the glaives and high variance in bounces.Collective Anguish
had its damage fixed to always crit, which is a minor buff in damage.Spirit of the Darkness Flame
had its damage increased by 20% instead of 15%. This makes it slightly better, but is still not enough to outpace any other Legendary for damage, especially given its strict requirements for the buff.
The most exciting change is that Darkglare Boon
had its proc chance doubled from 20% to 40%, and now refunds the fury used for Fel Devastation, allowing you to cast it again immediately, instead of having to rebuild fury. While entertaining, and in some situations potentially very powerful as it will continue to extend Metamorphosis uptime from Demonic on any proc, it's not nearly as reliable as Fiery Soul for defense, so in practice it will only ever be crafted when capped on Soul Ash for people who want to have some fun in non-progression content.
Brewmaster Monks didn’t really experience any significant changes in this week’s PTR build. The PTR build from the week of February 15 had a pair of decent buffs to the two underused Brewmaster Legendaries: Mighty Pour
and Shaohao's Might
.Mighty PourMighty Pour
’s big problem is that despite being a defensive option, it doesn’t shore up Brewmaster’s biggest shortcoming: Spell damage in the periods when Celestial Brew is on cooldown. The increase to the armor value buff when you cast Celestial Brew is not enough of a defensive gain to make this worth wearing over the more popular Legendaries. The increase to Purifying Brew refund chance will help a little bit with mitigating Staggered damage, but again, it’s just not enough. This will probably remain a largely unused piece.
Verdict: Yawn.Shaohao's MightShaohao's Might
has arguably been the worst Legendary available to any spec in the game for the first patch of Shadowlands. It was based off the beloved Legion Artifact Trait Face Palm
, but unfortunately, between being poorly tuned, a 50% nerf to Blackout Combo
’s Tiger Palm combo, and the increase to Blackout Kick
’s cooldown, it is only about 6% as strong as it was in Legion. Yes, 94% weaker! While this buff is roughly a 480% increase to its damage value, it doesn’t fix the nerfs to talents and Blackout Strike, and it’s still
less than half as strong as the Legion version of Face Palm
It’s slightly better for single-target DPS than Stormstout's Last Keg
, but weaker in AoE, and still well behind Charred Passions
in single target, as well. Buffing the proc chance and doubling the Brew charge generation on each proc has made this much more effective defensively, but it’s still slightly behind the already-popular Legendary bonuses in every conceivable situation.
Verdict: Still not good.
On February 17th, Blizzard made a change to The Ardent Protector's Sanctum
legendary power for Proection Paladins so the cooldown of Ardent Defender
would be set to 60s if the cheat death isn’t triggered. The live version of the power doesn’t see much use in M+ or raiding so it definitely has room for improvement.
In that build, the cooldown reduction provided could range from a negative value all the way up to 52 seconds. The impact could be awful or it could be great. For example in one test, I had Unbreakable Spirit, Holy Avenger, and Resolute Defender which put my AD CD to ~20s. Then AD expired and was set to 60s CD. In that case, the legendary gave me negative cooldown reduction.
In the February 24th build, they made another change where the cooldown will be reduced by a % instead of being changed to a fixed 60s. This is a good change as the legendary will always give some cooldown reduction when the cheat isn’t triggered. However, after testing it and examining the benefits of how much CDR is gained in practice, it will be very difficult to recommend this legendary power over others outside of niche scenarios.
In standard builds, the Ardent Defender
cooldown is close to one minute already and you get another legendary on top of it. This legendary when slotted into the standard build would only give ~15s of CDR. Using a legendary that gives 15s of CDR does not logically make sense when you also lose much larger benefits of another legendary.
There is space for a PvE legendary that supports the Protection Paladin cooldown economy similar to other tanks. Most what is used now are for damage, Holy Power efficiency, or utility. I also think there is space for legendary options that might pair well with Blessing of Spellwarding
, future conduits or a two legendary future. We’ll have to see what Blizzard does here.
Protection Warriors didn’t experience any significant changes in this week’s PTR build (technically they got a nerf to the great Torghast power Smoldering Inertia
, but that’s it). The PTR build from the week of February 15 had a trio of buffs -- two minor and one QUITE SUBSTANTIAL -- to three underused Legendaries: Unbreakable Will
, Seismic Reverberation
.Unbreakable WillUnbreakable Will
now also provides a second charge of Shield Wall
. It’s not bad, but it’s not good, either. The Legendary itself is still not typically worth using, but an extra charge of a major defensive cooldown can occasionally be useful for difficult content. The issue is that this is still a Legendary intended to turn a personal power boost into a buff you give other people, and adding an extra Shield Wall charge on top of that doesn’t really give this any kind of personal benefit.
Verdict: Not great.Seismic ReverberationSeismic Reverberation
has had its extra damage component buffed quite a bit. While this may be enough to make it a competent DPS option in some niche cleave situations, it’s still defensively worthless. Protection Warriors aren’t good at dealing damage when tanking difficult content and they aren’t in a position to sacrifice defenses for more damage. This may help with cleaving down trivial content more quickly, but that’s about it.
Verdict: Kind of misses the point. Who cares?ReprisalReprisal
has received one of the biggest buffs ever recorded in WoW’s history. I hate to blow this up and get it nerfed, but also, I would be negligent to not point out how unbelievably good this bonus is. This bonus increases Shield Block uptime from its current sub-50% levels into the 99% range with absolute ease. It could realistically transform Warriors from the last-place, least-popular Mythic+ tank into the #1 most popular tank on its own. It’s so, so, so good.
Yes, Protection Warriors will still get lit up by magic damage and bleeds, but with Shield Block active at virtually all times, damage intake from autoattacks will be smooth, controlled, and eeeeeeeasy. Ignore Pain and Spell Reflection are there for all the rest. The extra 20 Rage is also very nice. If -- and it’s a big “if” -- this Legendary redesign goes through as it’s currently built, Protection Warriors are the tank of the future.
Verdict: BUY! BUY! BUY!