Dual-wield, weapon speed and expertise

Frost dual-wield tanking is very popular now. Six months ago, many people were violently against the idea. A year ago, it was so bad I put up a sticky on deathknight.info and policed all discussion into it, because it came up all the time.

Now, it seems to be a debate of the past. I barely ever see questions about parrygib or complaints that DW Frost tanks are dying because they’re pretending to be rogues, or whatever. A few things changed, notably the Nerubian runeforge and the Thassarian talent, but I also think people just realised parrygib risk is negligible now because they didn’t see DW tanks dying like the naysayers had suggested. Some of the bosses also have parry-hasted turned off by Blizzard.

Here, I’m going to revisit the relationship between expertise and weapon speed for tanks, and weapon speed and threat. I’m not going to cover the basics here, that’s in my main dual-wield tank post. I’ll compare DKs with Warriors for baseline purposes.

Warrior parry-haste risk

I need to the number of parryable attacks per minute.

Special attacks

All of a warrior’s tanking attacks can be parried except for shockwave, thunderclap, demo shout and conc blow. Even revenge and heroic strike can be parried. Those unparryable attacks are lower in the priority system used by tanks in a typical fight.

A warrior’s threat priority has two parallel streams: (1) shield slam > revenge > devastate > shockwave | concussion blow; and (2) heroic strike, when it doesn’t conflict with the first stream. See readers’ comments below for elaboration.

Let’s assume in every minute a warrior uses: thunderclap once, demo shout twice and conc blow once. Those five attacks can’t be parried. Let’s also assume a fight where the warrior is not rage starved, and can just keep going at it.

There are 40 GCDs in a minute. Five are used on non-parryable specials, leaving 35.

Auto-attack

There’s also auto-attack, at weapon speed, the whole time. Many of them should be replaced by heroic strike, but since that can be parried too, for this analysis it nets neutral. Let’s use Rimefang, 1.6 speed. Lovely tanking weapon and readily accessible.

Auto-attack at 1.6 speed is another 37.5 attacks per minute.

Total

Grand total of 72.5 parryable attacks per minute, based on specials + auto attack.

Side note: When first writing this analysis, had thought the best way to work it out was to look at a log parse, and take the proportions of attacks used. After feedback from readers, it appears that was unnecessary since the proportions of attacks would only matter if a good number of them cannot be parried. I have included the logs I did look at in ‘further reading’ below, in case you’d like some verification of what happens in Saurfang.

Death Knight

It’s more difficult to model the interaction of a DKs abilities such as Rime, so I’ve used the simulator to get an ideal case.

Special attacks

A two-disease DK priority will be: icy touch > plague strike > rime howling blast> obliterate > blood strike > frost strike. A Frost DK played appropriately will use Howling Blast on every Rime proc, which is not parryable.

A single-disease DK will not use plague strike, but for modelling I’ll base it on two diseases since it’s a worst-case for the boss gaining parry-haste.

Read more…

[slider title="Here's the detailed Kahorie sim output showing the breakdown."]

It used an i245 setup with a 2.6 and a 2.0 speed weapon, ICC aura 30% avoidance (for rune strike, excludes to-miss) and 6.5% expertise. I have greyed out the lines which are irrelevant for our purposes.

Ability|

Damage done||||

hits|||

Crits|||

Misses||

|Total|

%|

#|

Avg|

#|

%|

Avg|

#|

%|

Avg|

#|

%|

Obliterate|

208540478|

28.4|

52718|

3955.8|

38602|

68.7|

2848.9|

14116|

25.1|

6982.8|

3484|

6.2|

RuneStrike|

117352989|

16|

39065|

3004|

31692|

81.1|

2530.2|

7373|

18.9|

5040.7|

|

|

MainHand|

114627394|

15.6|

90174|

1271.2|

78628|

65|

1077.4|

11546|

9.5|

2590.8|

30819|

25.5|

FrostStrike|

69959988|

9.5|

19554|

3577.8|

14090|

67.5|

2545.1|

5464|

26.2|

6240.8|

1324|

6.3|

HowlingBlast|

48977440|

6.7|

11884|

4121.3|

6023|

46.6|

2569|

5861|

45.3|

5716.5|

1042|

8.1|

BloodStrike|

44841825|

6.1|

25780|

1739.4|

22746|

82.7|

1484.5|

3034|

11|

3650.4|

1729|

6.3|

BloodPlague|

43294509|

5.9|

88907|

487|

88907|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|


FrostFever|

42018824|

5.7|

89080|

471.7|

89080|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|

IcyTouch|

27820598|

3.8|

14622|

1902.7|

8442|

53.1|

1327.1|

6180|

38.9|

2688.8|

1282|

8.1|

PlagueStrike|

16403450|

2.2|

13787|

1189.8|

12203|

83|

1069|

1584|

10.8|

2120.2|

913|

6.2|

Horn|

|

|

12053|

|

12053|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|

KillingMachine|

|

|

19532|

|

19532|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|


Rime|

|

|

15839|

|

15839|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|

ScentOfBlood|

|

|

21473|

|

21473|

100|

|

|

|

|

|

|

I also checked with two 1.5 speed weapons, to see what changes in the proportion of GCDs used on HB and RS. It was different but marginally: RS was within 1.3% and HB within 0.5%. Therefore the proportions shown above can be applied to fast/fast too.

[/slider]

I’ve added the GCDs used for each attack and tabulated:

GCD Of total
Attack # %
Obliterate 56202 35.1
Howling blast 12926 8.1
Blood strike 27509 17.2
Frost strike 20878 13.0
Icy touch 15904 9.9
Plague strike 14700 9.2
Rune strike 39065
Horn of winter 12053 7.5
Total used 160172

From this we can calculate the number of parryable attacks. Note rune strike isn’t counted in the total number of GCDs used, since it does not use one. HB, IT, HoW and RS cannot be parried. This means 74.5% of the attacks can be parried, with 40 GCDs per minute that’s 30/ min. (In earlier analysis, we’d used 24 / min for this figure)

A key factor here that helps dual-wielding is the higher proc rate on Rime for Howling Blast, because both weapons can proc it, and HB cannot be parried. Earlier analysis did not anticipate this.

Auto-attack

Plus auto-attack:

  • 2.6 and 2.0 (slow/medium), that’s 23 + 30 attacks/min = 53/ min  (in earlier analysis, we used 48).
  • or, 2.6 and 1.5 speed (slow/fast), 23 + 40 = 63/ min
  • or, two fast weapons of 1.5 each (fast/fast): 80/ min
  • or, two slow weapons of 2.6 each (slow/slow): 46 / min.

We need to reduce those figures by rune strikes. Let’s use 30% (for dodge + parry in an Icecrown raid) and 2.5s boss attack (to model worst-case we won’t use a fast boss). We’ll dodge 30% of his 24 attacks/min, which is 7.2 and assume we convert all those opportunities into RS because we have enough runic power and our weapon speed is fast enough that we can’t get two opportunities between our own melee attacks.

To compare, if we had a two-handed tank with a slightly fast 3.5 speed weapon, they’d auto attack 17.1/ min.

Total

This results in a range of 69 to 103 attacks per minute that can be parried when dual-wielding, from: specials plus auto attack minus rune strike.

A two-handed tank has 47.1.

The expertise table

Now to model how many parry chances the boss gets, using 14.25% parry chance.

per min Parries
Tank Attacks zero exp 26 exp 30 exp
Warrior 72.5 10.33 5.61
DK slow/slow 68.8 9.8 5.33
DK slow/medium 76.0 10.83 5.89
DK slow/fast 85.8 12.22 6.64 5.79
DK fast/fast 103.0 14.67 7.77 6.95
DK two-handed 47.1 6.71 3.65

In my earlier analysis, I said 30 expertise is enough to make a fast/fast tank take as many parrry-hastes as a tank with 26. In icecrown, with lower RS opportunities to remove auto-attacks, and a more accurate modelling, it now shows that a fast/fast tank would create 1.4 more parry-hastes per minute at 30 expertise.

Fortunately, we now have Nerubian runeforge, so:

  • with a slow/medium combination you’re basically on-par with our warrior brethren
  • with slow/fast you’d want to get +4 more expertise than an equivalent warrior
  • or go for slow/slow with Nerubians and enjoy great threat and less risk than a warrior.

I have put his new table into my dual-wield post.

[slider title="Further reading"]

Data I had used in this article originally when trying to construct total parryable attacks per minute from logs. Retained for convenience to verify that it’s true in a real fight; the bulk of attacks are parryable.

Here’s a log from a warrior in guild ranked top 132 in the world, against Saurfang. Warrior named Tatsi. For future readers, in case that expires, here’s a snippet of the data we want. Fight was 10-man, lasted 3:01 minutes. Weapon is Silverwing Defender, 1.6s.

top 132

Here’s the same fight, with Spinks. 25-man, lasted 6:03. Her weapon is Titanguard at 1.6s.

spinks

Thanks to Spinks and Kadomi for helping with this section, via twitter. Thanks to the wonderful tank readers’ comments below too.

See readers’ comments below for a compilation of hit/miss/ etc to determine GCD.

My earlier analysis had this table, below. I’ve now removed it from the original post and replaced with the new updated one in this post so have kept it here for reference.

         #attacks  #parries(no Exp) #parries(26 Exp)   (30 exp)
Warrior =     72       10.1             5.4
DK-2S =       58        8.1             4.4
DK-2F =       80       11.2             6.0               5.2
DK-2H =       31        4.3             2.3

“S” slow, “F” fast, “2H” two-handed.

[/slider]

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23 comments to Dual-wield, weapon speed and expertise

  • Maleficarüm

    I’m Worried about the loss of Avoidance Vs Slow/Slow. I’m Tanking ICC 25 with my guild Higth End, and i only see weapons like The last Word that have 1.7 speed. So mi Question is… Is really better get slow/slow weapon with less avoidance and less stamina, than weapon tank with more stamina and dodge/parry?

    Thx

  • noob

    Hi Maleficarum,

    Slow 1H DPS weapon have decent avoidance stats, stamina is blood dk core.

    Runeforging: Rune of the Nerubian Carapace is added in 3.3 to allow DK tank to fully utilized 1H Slow DPS weapon.

    There is no need to worry about having less avoidance vs slow/slow since DK also uses 2H DPS weapon. The single tanking weapon does not have significant effect on your survivability as compared to your armor gear.

    But if you worry about the loss, there is nothing wrong to use tank weapon, use the chart to choose weapon combination. I do suggest to make several combo macro to swap various weapon fast.

    Regarding ICC 25s. Most ICC 25 encounter has important enrage timer to beat (imagine heroic ICC25) so it is better to get slow/slow weapon.

    The ability to to have snap aggro, all round tanking abilities, hight tps, mitigation and avoidance is what make DW Frost DK unique.

    have fun :)

  • Maleficarüm

    A lot of Thanks ^^ I will try 2 Slow/Slow this nigth with the Nerubian

  • mistyken

    I am wondering, is taking with pvp weapon a viable choice? i notice there’s a 2.60 speed slow 1 hand pvp weapon. we just need 1800 rating to get it and it’s on the same as i245 sword.

    the upside of pvp weapon is that it provides more stamina than its conventional counterpart and it’s probably easier to come by (just need to hit 1800 for it, don’t need to pray to the loot god). the downside is we will lose some avoidance and mitigation stats.

  • [...] the buff from the Q, and the expertise requirement is rather low. In fact, according to the math in this post at pwnwear.com a DW DK with a slow MH & 2.0 OH (Q speed) only needs 26 expertise. They [...]

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