… or at least be-lessened. (Why isn’t that a word?)
One of the biggest complaints about death knights as tanks (especially in 5-mans, though I hear the complaint at times from those healing uncrittable death knight tanks as well) is how “spiky” their health loss is - that is, they lose an even amount of health, followed by a lot of health, followed by a little, followed by a lot… like a row of spikes. This causes undue stress on healers, especially healers who’re used to healing the even keel of druid, paladin, and warrior tanks.
Well, good news, healers: some of this will be evening up in 3.0.8, whenever it finally chooses to arrive. Let’s take a look at three of the important changes (and a couple bonus ones) in the official PTR notes as of today, and see if I can point out why.
Frost Presence: The bonus armor has been increased from 60 to 80% and magic damage reduction increased from 5 to 15%.
Icebound Fortitude now reduces damage by 20% instead of 50%. The amount of damage reduced increases with bonus Defense (to about 35% for 540 Defense, but can go higher).
Will of the Necropolis will now reduce the damage of any attack that takes the DK below 35% health by 5 /10/15% instead of boosting armor when wounded. It no longer affects the cooldown of Anti-Magic Shell and retains the current damage reduction bonus.
Vampiric Blood changed from 20% health / 50% healing to 15% health / 35% healing. (This spell’s actually changed significantly - on the PTR, it now generates 15% of your max health as temporary health, like Last Stand, and grants a 35% boost to healing received.)
(Okay, okay, I know, almost no DK tanks are (lol)blood. Will of the Necropolis is laughable in its changed state and even worse right now, and a tank built around self-heals just doesn’t seem plausible, especially when you hold it up next to the talents in the other two trees. But I’m sure someone out there is doing it, so I mention it.)
At first glance, almost all of these look like nerfs. Less mitigation from the admittedly OP Bone Shield? Less reduction on IBF? What the heck? But in the end, while this might make the DK work a little harder, this is going to be a boon for healers. IBF now becomes kind of a “shield wall” type effect, while Bone Shield becomes less essential to keep up and running at all times. Will of the Necropolis adds a more predictable effect to wounded DKs. But in return, Frost Presence - a good DK tank’s “always up” presence - will be granting 20% more armor and 10% more magic damage reduction (lessening the need to constantly pop Anti-Magic Shell/Zone, too).
That’s huge! And more importantly, that’s steady. That’s damage reduction that the DK doesn’t have to work to keep up, that no one has to time, that the priest doesn’t have to assume will wear off - that’s damage reduction that’s always there. That’s some important stuff. So yes, in the end, there might be a slight hit to overall mitigation in bursts, but overall steady damage-soaking will be gaining a boost, in my opinion. We’ll have to wait and see, I suppose.
So healers, you can prepare to breathe a little easier behind the auspices of a DK tank (who will probably be sporting Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle as well - 25 Defense skill is pretty huge, too), and not have to worry about when that last bone charge is going to go away and you’re going to have to worry about popping the big buttons out.
And death knights, yes, we’ll be taking a bit more damage at our most defended - this is unavoidable, because at the heart of it, these are nerfs to our defensive abilities. But we’ll be taking less spiky damage, and more even damage, which means healers will be better able to heal us. Really, it’s a buff to healing classes, disguised as a nerf to death knights. ;)