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Death Knight > WoWMay 9, 2015 6:00 pm CT

Plaguebearer: A first look at the Reaper’s Harvest trinket

Reaper's Harvest

With the Patch 6.2 PTR in full swing and new class changes coming to light with each new build, it’s time to begin coverage of what Tier 18 has in store for us. Today’s article will cover the highly anticipated class-specific trinkets that should become available for testing soon. The base concept here is simple: there are 11 trinkets, one for each class. Each trinket lacks any passive stat or active proc, but instead confers a powerful bonus to each specialization for that class.

In the case of Death Knights, our trinket is known as Reaper’s Harvest. Like other class-specific trinkets, it drops off Archimonde — the purported final boss of the raid — with higher item level trinkets increasing the power of the bonus it confers. Keeping in mind that all PTR numbers are probably placeholders (and that the final result could swing either way), let’s examine what these trinkets mean for Death Knights.


Death Coil deals increased damage, and heals you for a percentage of damage dealt.

To understand the true value of this bonus, we must understand the mechanics behind it. Thus far, I’ve been able to confirm that the healing done by Death Coil does scale with Resolve. Furthermore, critical hits and multistrikes (i.e. effects that amplify Death Coil’s total damage) will also affect the final portion of the heal. It’s also worth noting that one popular complaint about Blood DKs in Warlords has been the relatively weak damaging value of Death Coil, considering that our Multistrike attunement grants us additional Runic Power for more Death Coils. Proportionally, Death Coil deals a far lower percentage of Blood’s total single-target damage than Rune Strike ever did in previous expansions.

Indeed, part of the reason that Breath of Sindragosa has maintained its status as such a popular talent amongst Blood DKs is due to how much more damage it deals per point of Runic Power. For the sake of comparison, one Death Coil costs 30 Runic Power and deals 80% of our Attack Power in damage. For the same cost, two ticks of Breath of Sindragosa deal 200% of AP in damage and the ability even acts as a pseudo-cleave. Blizzard seems poised to kill off the Chains of Sindragosa playstyle that many high-end Blood DKs have become accustomed to in Patch 6.2, but that’s a separate topic of discussion altogether — the point here is to illustrate that a damage buff to Death Coil is welcome, although it comes at the cost of an entire trinket’s budget.

So why don’t I think that this is a particularly strong effect? Simply put, even with the Mythic version of the trinket currently slated to increase Death Coil’s damage by a whopping 58.08% (and healing us for the same amount of total damage dealt), it’s still a fairly weak heal that will usually contribute more to over-healing than effective healing. Given that the majority of our Active Mitigation toolkit revolves around healing for large amounts, I’d personally be much happier if the potency of the effect were reduced, but it granted an absorb shield (separate from Blood Shield) instead. In its current state, it risks not being potent enough when burst healing is required while simultaneously contributing very little to effective power.

It’s also worth noting that the currently planned nerf to Breath of Sindragosa will almost certainly affect relative stat values for the class. Presently, Multistrike is propped up as being our highest damaging stat thanks to the talent (and contributes very little in the way of meaningful mitigation). In 6.2, it’s likely that Critical Strike will eclipse Multistrike’s value due to the former also granting a small amount of Parry, thus lowering the overall amount of Runic Power we generate as we switch to the former in gearing. This further diminishes the potential effectiveness of the trinket.


Obliterate deals additional damage as Frost damage.

I’m of two minds about this and not just because Frost has two sub-specs! On the one hand, this functionality is something the community has been demanding for a long time. It means that Obliterate now scales a decent chunk of its damage with our Mastery. Furthermore, this bonus also affects Obliterate crits and multistrikes, so it’s not solely based on base damage. Why do I say that the community has demanded this sort of functionality for Obliterate? Quite simply, because it’s the primary reason behind Mastery’s poor valuation by Two Handed Frost. Even worse, Dual Wield Frost has actually dropped Obliterate from its rotation entirely (it did so for all of Patch 5.4), due to the ability not scaling with its highest valued stat. This buff essentially boosts the value of the Mastery stat for Two Handed Frost, and also ensures that Dual Wield will never be in danger of dropping Obliterate from its rotation — if anything, it could potentially cause Dual Wield to adopt the Two Handed play style!

What are the downsides to this bonus? The most obvious is that it only affects single-target damage. Considering that the majority of trinkets have something (passive or active) that is beneficial towards multiple aspects of a spec’s ability to deal damage, the presence of one that does nothing for AoE or cleave is worrying. It’s certainly arguable that single-target damage is more valuable than most AoE and cleave, but I’d also argue that Howling Blast is in need of further buffs before it can even begin to compete with the enviable amount of power that Unholy DKs bring to the table — and this is without considering the effects of this trinket.

The second major downside is the disparity between the gains received by Two Handed and Dual Wield Frost. Several weeks ago, I simmed the trinket’s effect at 25% potency (meaning a 25% buff to Obliterate’s damage). The result was a huge 8k DPS gain for Two Handed, and barely a 1.5k DPS gain for Dual Wield — though admittedly the latter was still utilizing the Howling Blast-centric priority that it adopted in Mists of Pandaria. Even if it adopted the Obliterate-centric priority though, it’s doubtful that the gain experienced would equate to more than half of what Two Handed does. Because of this, I have to wonder if Blizzard minds the idea that Dual Wield as a sub-spec could very well be considered an invalid choice to play with this trinket.


Your diseases have a chance to trigger Wandering Plague, dealing the same damage again to the target and all other enemies within 8 yards, split evenly.

The best effect for the best spec, right? Jokes aside, I let out a yell of joy when I saw this effect. Veterans of Wrath of the Lich King will remember Wandering Plague, it was an Unholy DK talent that was stripped from the tree in Cataclysm. For as long as I can remember, I’ve mourned its loss and advocated for its return in one form or another, and now here it is! It’s worth noting, of course, that this effect has one key difference from its original incarnation — the damage it deals is split evenly (meteor style), but the Wrath version didn’t split. It was entirely uncapped, and the number one reason behind why Unholy AoE was by far the strongest in the game at the time.

Of course, the Wrath incarnation of Wandering Plague didn’t exist at a time when diseases could critically strike (outside of the Tier 9 four piece, ahem). It was there before Multistrike and Mastery existed, and before Necrotic Plague. Factor all of this in, and I can assure you that we’ll feel the power of the effect quite keenly. Here’s one example: A standard 5-target simulation for Necrotic blight AoE showed a whopping 8k DPS gain assuming “just” a 33% chance to proc the effect! Considering that the current Mythic version has an 87% chance to proc, it’s obvious that this thing packs quite a punch.

The fact that it also deals single-target damage means that it also carries some versatility (no pun intended), unlike its Frost counterpart. A few notes on exact mechanics, if you were curious: No, the effect can’t critically hit on its own, but its damage is based off the corresponding disease tick’s damage — which can crit. The effect can proc off disease multistrikes, and each individual disease tick has a chance to proc it.

So what’s the catch? Wandering Plague’s potency increases exponentially with Necrotic Plague. The relative gain experienced by Unholy DKs without the talent doesn’t come close to ones that do. Based on this, it’s quite likely that Blizzard has balanced the trinket around the DK taking Necrotic Plague, and that we’ll want to switch it out for something stronger on single-target when talented into Breath of Sindragosa.

Concluding Thoughts

While there’s obviously a bunch of PTR iteration to be done, it’s probably safe to assume that the core concepts I’ve outlined here will make it to live. Despite a number of flaws that I’ve covered in this article, these trinket bonuses make me very hopeful, as it’s often the case that special effects or procs are added as a means of testing the viability of them becoming fully integrated into base systems. In other words: It’s very possible that we may see some, if not all of these effects added to the Death Knight toolkit in 7.0. Here’s hoping Wandering Plague tops that list!

Until next time, suffer well brethren! 

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