Empty GCDs – Yeah… Not!
May 31, 2010 14 Comments
Before I begin, a sincere “Happy Memorial Day,” specifically to those who have served or are currently serving. Utmost respect and appreciation for you all.
It’s been a couple weeks since I originally broached the subject, but with all of the recent Alpha leaks, we know a lot more, and thus it’s worth taking a second look at the new rune system and how it affects our rotation. For purposes of this post, I’m going to limit myself to Unholy, as it’s the easiest to discuss, but the conclusions which I draw at the end of the post hold just as well (if not better, in fact) for Frost and Blood.
To begin with, to make sure there are no misunderstandings, our current priority is: Diseases > DC if capped > Desolation > SS > BS > DC > HoW. Due to the static nature of our runes and the lack of procs, we end up with a rotation which goes PS – IT – BS – SS – BS – DC – HoW // SS – BS – SS- BS – DC – DC, repeat forever.
Visually speaking, it looks as follows:
With that shown, how many empty GCDs do we have currently?
One every 40 seconds, essentially, and that’s almost always consumed with a Death Coil, runic power courtesy of AMS or Revitalize. That’s it. We are completely GCD locked, which is part of the reason why haste is of such high important to us at the moment (although that’s partially due to the fact that everyone’s using Bryntroll or Shadowmourne), and part of the reason why the rune system is being changed – even if Blizzard wanted to add a talent along the lines of Runic Empowerment with how things currently stand, we would almost never be able to make use of its proc.
Thus, enter the new system.
From what we currently know of Alpha talents, abilities, and numbers, our Cataclysm priority will be: Diseases > DC if capped or SD procs > Desolation > SS > BS > IT > DC > HoW. Runic Empowerment procs don’t need to be listed separately, as you just use the rune brought up as appropriate under that priority.
At first glance, aside from the inclusion of Sudden Doom and the introduction of using IT outside of applying diseases, which is a byproduct of SS costing one rune, nothing appears different. Except for when you try to write it as a rotation (hint: you can’t) and when you visualize it:
*The exclusion of Outbreak is intentional; more on that later.
Please do ignore my horrific Paint-arrow skills. Basically, after that 43.5 second mark, if you were to continue and if you ignore procs (as I did), it’s going to look almost identical to the 9 second mark onward, the slight differences in runic power aside.
In other words; after you burn through your initial six runes, you essentially do 3 runic abilities (PS or SS, IT, and BS or SS), one runic power abilities (DC), and then have two empty GCDs, and this cycle repeats every ~9 seconds.
That means we’re going from 1 empty GCD every 40 seconds to 2 every 9. Wow! That’s a huge leap, right?
No, not so quick. We actually lose empty GCDs, not gain them.
First off, there’s Sudden Doom. With a 15% chance to proc off auto-attacks, you’ll almost certainly have one proc every 18 seconds. So from 4 empty GCDs in 18 seconds, we’re down to 3.
Secondly, there’s Runic Empowerment. With a 40% chance to proc off DC, and approximately three DCs every 18 seconds after the first set of runes (two shown in the above chart, the third coming from the aforementioned Sudden Doom proc), you’ll almost certainly have one proc every 18 seconds. From the above 3 empty GCDs in 18 seconds, we’re then down to 2.
On top of that, the additional rune ability caused by Runic Empowerment generates 10-15 RP, which means you get another DC every 3 RE procs. That’s one more GCD every 54 seconds. From the above 6 empty GCDs every 54 seconds, we’re down to 5.
And, of course, there’s haste. Although we don’t know exactly how much haste from gear we’ll be running with, we do know we’ll be running in Unholy Presence, which provides 10% haste, plus an additional 6% talented. 16% more rune abilities, runic power abilities, SD procs, RE procs, and DCs from RE procs. If you’ve been following the numbers, we’re down to 5 empty GCDs every 54 seconds, which means we’re performing 31 actual abilities during that same time period. 31 x 1.16 = 36 abilities used, post-haste. In 54 seconds.
That means no empty GCDs.
And this isn’t even beginning to factor in Dark Simulacrum, HoW, AMS gains, Unholy Frenzy usage nor, as stated, haste from gear.
Thus, if anything, we’ll be even more GCD locked then we are now, and this already assumes that Reaping will be a must (which, considering the single cost of Scourge Strike, it will be with the current numbers). It wouldn’t surprise me if we were all but forced to drop Dirge (which is weaker than Sudden Doom and Magic Suppression), not because it’s a bad talent, but because we just don’t have the GCDs for it.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the rune system change and everything else Blizzard is putting the class through is pointless. It most certainly has it’s upsides:
- Our rotation goes from a static, repetitive, 20 seconds of boredom to a priority based bundle of joy. It’s nice that our playstyle won’t be able to be reduced to a twitter message, and that there will be more thought into how we play.
- It opens up the way for more interesting set bonuses (I will bet $100, right here and right now, that one of our tier bonuses sometime during Cataclysm will be +X% chance to Runic Empowerment, assuming it stays as is, guaranteed), instead of the rather mundane ones we’ve received this expansion (+X% damage, +X% RP gains, +X% crit).
- It’s less punishing on those with high latency, although the current system isn’t that harsh.
- It’s more punishing on those who don’t watch their screens (which you hardly even have to do with the way things currently stand) or otherwise don’t pay attention. Although it’s terrible to do for any number of reasons, if every fight were Patchwerk, you could probably reduce our current rotation into a cast sequence macro. That’s just wrong.
Just some food for thought!
A reminder – I’ll be moving over the next day or two, and thus may be slow to answer any comments/emails/etcetera. I’ll probably get working on Note pages for the other classes after that time, as well, outside of my normal posting, as the poll response did seem relatively positive on the subject.
Also, since I’m writing all of this other miscellaneous stuff, I do apologize for the overwhelming Cataclysm focus this blog has had since its introduction. It wasn’t really intended that way, but then again, who could have foreseen all the leaks, and who doesn’t find all of this stuff just absolutely fascinating? I’m sure I’ll have more “generic” posts as we reach a lull in the information, for those who aren’t all that expansion interested, but there’s simply not a whole lot to talk about of the current game which hasn’t been discussed to death already, and besides, being able to see the page view/visit/comment/etc statistics, it’s overwhelmingly clear that people enjoy reading/responding to the Cataclysm posts more than any others.
* If SS remains at one rune, and we remain GCD capped, we actually won’t want to use Outbreak in PvE, aside from when we’re at range from a mob and Blood Plague isn’t up. Since we’ll be GCD capped, it’s not worth spending an additional GCD simply to exchange one PS for one SS every 90 seconds. The damage difference between the two isn’t worth that cost.