Everybody’s Changing – Including us w/ Runes

Aside from being the name of an amazing song by Keane, it’s also an excellent way of prefacing any discussion regarding the new rune system. The fact of the matter is, yes, it’s a rather large change, and yes, it will have some wide-reaching consequences, but that’s the nature of the game – things change over time – and we’re hardly singled out; the new Eclipse system is a much more radical shift for Balance Druids, for instance, as is focus for Hunters, soul shards for Warlocks, and so on. Best to learn to live with it, and in order to do that, one must first come to understand it.

Before I begin on the future, let me first make sure everyone correctly knows the present. Feel free to skip down to the jump if you’re already familiar with the current mechanics (such as the grace period) to read about the upcoming changes.

Currently when a rune is used, it goes on cooldown for up to ten seconds, and then becomes available for use once more. The “up to” phrase is often forgotten, but must be included due to what is commonly referred to as the “grace period” of runes – if you use a rune within two seconds of it coming off cooldown, it will refresh in [10 – time after becoming available] seconds, as opposed to a flat 10 seconds. If a rune is used after two seconds of availability, then it refreshes in 10 seconds no matter what.

The reason the grace period exists is to counteract latency, inherent human response time, and minor mistakes. What this means is that unless your ping is above 2000ms, you aren’t being unfairly hurt by the rune system (relative to any other resource system, that is). What this means is that unless you take more than 2 seconds to notice a rune has come off cooldown to use it, you aren’t being unfairly hurt by the rune system. What this means is that unless you hit two unintended/unexpected/incorrect abilities in a row when you should be using a newly refreshed rune, you aren’t being unfairly hurt by the rune system.

So, in short, the current mechanics are actually incredibly forgiving in regards to poor internet/play – personal factors.

Where the current mechanics are not forgiving is in regards to new abilities/talents – expansion factors – and that’s the primary reason it’s presumably being changed. The fact is, the current system works just fine… but you can’t add any new abilities or new talents – let alone tweak preexisting ones – without essentially breaking it, and that’s why Blizzard has to change it in order to make room for, well, change. Otherwise we would have to be stuck doing the same things in Cataclysm as we have been doing the past year and a half in Wrath, aside from perhaps a different order (SS – BS – BS instead of BS – BS – SS, oh my!) or for different numbers (20k hits instead of 10k hits, oh joy!).

How exactly does the new system work, and what does it mean for us?

All of Blizzard’s eloquent jargon and wordy explanations can be condensed into a single sentence to explain the change: Runes of the same pair will not refresh concurrently.

That’s all there is to it. For example; If you already have a Blood rune on cooldown, and go to use your second one which is off cooldown, the second one won’t begin its ten second refresh cycle until that first rune has completed its own one.

What are the implications of this change?

  • The grace period will be eliminated (or somehow tweaked) as it can’t coexist with the change otherwise.
    • Even though the grace period may be gone, the new system will be just as forgiving (more so, actually) on bad latency and poor play. You’ll need to have near 10000ms or an otherwise delayed reaction time of 10 seconds for you to lose dps from runes being held, and if you actually meet either of those conditions, I have no clue how you can possibly be playing this game (or any other).
  • After the first cycle of runes are used, we’ll be using half as many abilities (rune and runic) until we stop attacking for at least ten seconds.
    • Rune (and runic) abilities will have to hit much harder than they currently do, and this is already the case of the alpha client.
      • Empowered Rune Weapon and Blood Tap will jump in worth, as each rune becomes more valuable due to both increased scarcity of runes and increased damage from the generated runes.
        • Our burst will receive a tremendous boost. Imagine the present, but double the damage of all your abilities. Now picture using Outbreak, a resourceless way to apply runes, then being able to chain SS – SS – BS – BS (ERW, off GCD) – SS – SS – SS – DC – DC – DC (or the Blood/Frost equivalents) without pause in between any ability. Suffice is to say: ouch. Our currently anemic burst will be a thing of the past.
    • We’ll have twice as many free GCDs as we do now.
      • Movement will be less punishing. We’ll lose the same amount of white damage to it, but less yellow.
      • We’ll be better able to make use of the burst of runic power AMS provides.
      • Blizzard will be able to provide more talents similar to Rime.
      • Blizzard will be able to provide new abilities, like the announced Dark Simulacrum.
        • Under the current system, it would be near impossible to use DSim (DS is taken by Death Strike, so who knows what Dark Simulacrum will come to be referred to as), especially since Dsim costs two GCDs (one to apply the debuff on the target, and then one to unleash the spell that said debuff redirected).
      • With haste now decreasing rune cooldowns, we’ll actually be able to make use of it, where currently we wouldn’t.

All in all, even though I was initially dismayed by the change, it’s actually quite good… for Cataclysm. It would never be able to work in Wrath, but considering they’re apparently willing to vastly increase the damage of our abilities (thus rocketing up our burst), completely redo our talent trees, and tailor our new skills (such as Dark Simulacrum) around the change, it will work for Cataclysm, and work well at that.

Currently there’s nothing but upside to the change, even if it doesn’t seem so at first glance, and it’s important that people understand that in order to properly evaluate any other DK-relevant Cataclysm change.

Until next time.

9 Responses to Everybody’s Changing – Including us w/ Runes

  1. Baadshah of Dawnbringer says:

    I have to wonder if the new system + Outbreak will still fix the problems we have with rapid target switching. Outbreak is very welcome of course, but I have to wonder how useful it’ll be in PvE if it’s on a one minute cooldown.

    Diseases aren’t just excellent DoTs; they’re also combo points relevant to more powerful strikes. Shifting those points or even using FU runes to reapply them has always been a sore point with me- it’s one of the reasons I’m such a huge fan of Glyph of Disease.

    My current experience on fights like Valithria Dreamwalker or Phase 1 of Lady Deathwhisper has left me very frustrated with how clunky the system really is. It’s come to the point where I’ve found that, even with Unholy diseases doing more damage, I can rely on slightly less stronger versions with DW Frost, and instead gain a huge chunk of damage by aligning KM + Cinderglacier procs on Howling Blast
    I can’t even say I’m a big fan of having to constantly reapply diseases in single target fights either.

    The new runic system is indeed an awesome change (I speak as a raider who usually has to deal with 500+ latency if I’m *lucky*, leave alone bad days!), but what happens when there’s lots of movement and multi-targetting? Pestilence now halves disease damage, so unless they let GoD spread the diseases without the penalty (on the first target at least), this is pretty much administering the kiss of death to it for single target DPS.

    As far as Dsim goes… I haven’t made up my mind about what I think. This is probably because I’m so used to the current fast paced system where we have little if no breathing room and because I can’t imagine doing something like turning one of Lady Deathwhisper’s icebolts on her. Then again- I’m thinking in Wrath terms. Maybe this would be one case where I wouldn’t mind hearing: “Cataclysm will fix it!”

    • Consider says:

      Simply make a talent, major/minor glyph, or perhaps include in the spell baseline something along the lines of “Whenever you kill a target yielding experience or honor, the cooldown of Outbreak is reset”. Would be quite excellent for leveling, have little effect on PvP (and what little it did would hardly be overpowered), and would assist in PvE target switching for stuff like tentacles, Valkyrs, or iceblocks.

      Would be quite nifty, and make the otherwise decent-but-unexciting-and-rather-limited new ability a bit more useful.

      • Zumal says:

        It would have to be when the target is killed in general, not when you get the killing blow. Otherwise that talent would be pretty useless outside of leveling.

  2. Angvard says:

    I actually like the current very fast paced play style.
    I think the fact that you have manage your GCDs like a resource on fights where you gain extra RP or are in some way disturbed adds an interesting element, and separates those who use a fixed rotation from those who actually play.

    Ghostcrawler recently posted about what they are trying to fix with the change:

    “Being GCD locked isn’t a fun place to be, for any class. You can’t vary your actions at all — in fact you are often such a slave to those actions that you have tunnel vision for your UI (even if modded) and can’t react to the dynamic nature of most encounters these days. If anything messes up your rotation, say you have to move or are temporarily CC’d, then everything just falls apart.”

    This is something I partly disagree with. In my opinion it is part of the fun to somehow manage to make the best of it if you can’t keep your normal rotation because of “the dynamic nature of most encounters”. I think of it as a challenge, something you can’t always predict and calculate in advance, something you actually have to make the best decision you can within a GCD. I really enjoy this with my DK.

    However, this sort of play style leaves little to no space for interesting and fun abilities that can’t be put off GCD. If the change ends up leaving us with the same amount or even more possibilities and decisions to change the default rotation in order to gain DPS that would be great, and I hope it will, but that would need a lot of work to actually make old abilities useful or introduce new ones.

    Right now there is no way to tell whether this change is going to simplify DKs or is going to make DKs use a wider variety of abilities while keeping the high pace. I’d like the second.

  3. I have to agree with Angvard; a fast-paced rotation, dynamic rotation is what I love about being a DK. Down-time in DPSing is something I equate with boring, not fun.

    • Consider says:

      Dynamicity, if such is a word, is especially paramount. The static nature of the present is just horrible. I would rather do one ability every five seconds, but actually have to think about which ability to use – be it by reacting to a proc, or what have you – than use an ability every second, but be able to do it with my eyes close.

      A fast-paced playstyle can add to a dynamic nature, yes, but it doesn’t do so by default. Example A: The current Unholy rotation!

      • Sag says:

        I agree with both Andrew and Angvard about the current system; however, there are also plenty of times where I am pressing (read: mashing) the button just waiting on the GCD to finish because I know what damaging ability needs to happen next. That being said I sometimes miss a mindfreeze or a strangulate for thos reasons in pvp. I think that this is a overall good move for DKs so abilities like DSim can be used and require 2 GCDs.

        One thing I do wonder about (and I am sure will be tweaked frequently) is haste scaling on rune CDs. At some point I would think stacking the hell out of haste (even over str) could be very powerful due to being able to use the big hit abilities more frequently. Currently Unholy presence reduces rune CDs, which if left in would lead to a lower haste cap in unholy, possibly even making the cap reachable at early times in end game. I know there is very little chance of anyone having any numbers, but has anyone even seen anything?

      • Angvard says:

        We can only guess numbers at the time.
        However, since Blizzard seems to be going with a linear haste-scaling for all classes it is plausible to assume that 1% haste shortens rune-cooldowns by 1%. If you take into consideration that Blizzard told us that current ICC combatrating dimensions went too far, we can assume between 20 and 30% haste to be reasonable in the later tiers, leaving us with 7 second rune cooldowns.
        To state it again, I have no facts to support this, just a few general statements by Blizzard regarding their design-intent for cataclysm.

  4. Augustin Chavez says:

    Angvard, I’m very optimistic about these changes. Remember, we are only looking at the 10 second cooldown as it will be in the beginning. I imagine once we get to higher tier raiding gear, DK’s will be stacking large amounts of haste. While it’s unknown how runes will scale with haste, having runes refresh 15% to 20% faster does not seem too unrealistic later in Cataclysm.

    We also can’t forget how much stronger magic shell will become as dps filler and blood tap as well.

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