Warning: the info in this post was posted prior to patch 3.1, and as such, while there may be some relevant information in it, large parts of it may be outdated or irrelevant. You have been warned.
Been doing a little thinking about Blood-spec in 3.1. I’ve done some testing on the PTR, and outside testing’s confirmed it, but Blood (with diseases, as opposed to without, which is what I’m rolling with now) is a real contender for DPS again. And, on top of that, bonuses to Obliterate in the Blood tree have more or less vanished, replaced with Death Strike bonuses (including Improved Death Strike, which is sexy), meaning Blizzard is trying to encourage Blood DKs to use Death Strike at least alongside, if not in place of, Obliterate.
In fact, my testing on the PTR has shown them to be just about equal, with Death Strike coming out moderately ahead. Which is fine with me - that’s 13 fewer points I have to take in Frost - but now I have the pesky job of trying to figure out a spec, so I don’t spend tons of gold respeccing even in the face of dual specs (my other spec will be for my tank spec, thankyouverymuch - have to hammer that one out, too). Here’s some contenders.
Skeleton Jack’s blood build. The post in which he explains it is here. I tend to take SJ at his word, and this was the build I tried first, I’ll admit. I have a few reservations about it, mostly centered around the ghoul (I really hate pet control with the damn thing, and it’ll have to be even more micro-managed due to not getting Night of the Dead for avoidance), and Blood-Caked Blade (which Jack’s build is 3/3 in, but which - a mere two posts later - he says isn’t all that hot anymore). Also, with Death Strike getting such a buff, I really feel like I should have Glyph of Death Strike in there somewhere, but I can’t decide which one would have to go to make it worth it with this build - maybe Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon, since DRW already has an extended duration in 3.1.
Daniel Whitcomb’s blood build. Daniel’s piece on the rise of Blood from WI also brings up the Ghoul-babysitting, as well as the tightness of the rotation. With 2/2 Epidemic, though, you already get 21 seconds of disease - I could see them falling off in movement-heavy fights, but they do that now, and against less movement heavy fights, I wasn’t experiencing a problem at all. Daniel’s build grabs Corpse Explosion, something I hadn’t considered, but forgoes the extra runic power cap of SJ’s build.
My ghoul-included blood build. As you can see, this is basically Skeleton Jack’s blood build, but with Ravenous Dead instead of BCB. Our biggest hits are all physical in Blood spec (namely Heart Strike and Obliterate/Death Strike), and my gut feeling is that the 3% Strength, plus further Strength and Stamina to the ghoul, is a boost if the ghoul is to be included. (That said - Glyph of Dark Death? Really? Is Richard Knaak writing glyph names now?) The problem with this is that I’ve managed to create a more ghoul-dependent build, because if the ghoul has such large increases to Strength and Stamina, he’s going to be doing an even larger portion of my DPS, and I’d be even more crippled if he died. Would probably need to replace Glyph of Blood Tap with Glyph of Raise Dead, â€˜cause I’d be going through a lot of ghouls.
A sans-ghoul blood build. Here’s my thinking. Right now, on live, on a boss fight, the Dancing Rune Weapon will actually do more damage than a normal summoned ghoul, even with Glyph of the Ghoul and 3/3 Ravenous Dead. In 3.1, the Dancing Rune Weapon has an extended duration, but does 50% less damage. So my thinking is, leave in Glyph of Dancing Rune Weapon, take out Glyph of the Ghoul, put in Glyph of Death Strike. This also builds up the new-and-improved Plague Strike a bit. I am pleased with the performance of the new Plague Strike, to say the least - it does enough damage that I no longer cringe when I press it to apply diseases.
Obviously I can’t do any math on this at the moment (mostly because, due to Blizzard’s “wonderful” (/airquotes) copy process, my DK on the test realm has 6 gold), but my gut feeling is that the last one listed there will end up being roughly equal to any of the above builds, but without the hassle of pet management. However, if anyone else out there is trying out blood specs in the brave new world that is 3.1, I’m interested to hear your take on things.