Empty GCDs – Yeah… Not!

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.

Interesting, no?

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.

14 Responses to Empty GCDs – Yeah… Not!

  1. Anaroth says:

    I’m pretty sure that in the final implentation of the DKs, that it’s unlikely that any of the specs will be GCD constrained for large periods.

    As for your analysis, is pretty good.

    Just one quick question, if we are in unholy presence, then do we have 1 second gcds like the currently implemented presence does?

    • Consider says:

      Nah, the new Unholy presence no longer reduces GCD.

      And, yeah, I’m sure much will change between now and live, most likely including a nerf to Runic Empowerment, but it’s still fun to speculate all the same. For me, anyways!

      • Anaroth says:

        Well that’s interesting.

        If we are gcd constrained then it will erode the value of unholy presence somewhat. I’m pretty sure they’re going to modify the icy talons line of talents.

        The other thing that we will lose out on a bit, is the double dipping of blood presence into scourge strike.

  2. Rhaevos says:

    I’m more suprised that they are changing Sudden Doom again. It would be a bonus to the rotaton to either leave it as is with an automatic death coil or even the old mechanic of the next death coil crit.

    While an automatic DC would free up some GCD’s, I would love the old automatic next DC crit instead. An auto DC is boring, like attaching Rune Strike to your macros. Watching for a DC crit proc is interesting.

    • Kraav says:

      Seriously what is up with the massive nerf to Unholy Pressence? I really enjoy the 0.5 seconds off our GCD, and if going by what you have posted Consider then 1.5 sec GCD is going to suck.

      I really liked the fact that I can choose to do more damage and have a 1.5 GCD or I can run with a 1sec GCD should I need/want to.

      As far as Sudden Doom what are they thinking. Just leave it as auto shoot, or change it to something like Killing Machine where we get an auto crit the next time we DCoil.

      • Sag says:

        They probably want to leave room for haste stacking. Haste will be valuable to DW frost, and all DKs for rune regeneration, but with haste not doing anything for UH Dks GCD and UH presence already providing a passive 10% haste and 6% haste built into the tree haste could easily be an unattractive stat for UH Dks. They want to avoid the armor pen issue unholy had when wrath came out. With SS being completely shadow ArPen was damned near completely useless for UH, as after hit you only needed str, str and more str, then maybe some crit. Haste and armor pen were worthless.

  3. Nyth says:

    I’m pretty sure they will change a certain number of things.

    It at least looks like all rotations will be more dynamic and priority based though (frost’s too) so that’s a good change.

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks for the memorial day shout out, as a armed services member stationed overseas, and a fan !
    Im curious to see how blizz ” works ” on this current gcd situation. their goal was to un cap us, yet it seems that not much has changed at all

  5. Nahela says:

    Just a thought on Runic Empowerment in relation to rotation/priority: I wonder if Runic Empowerment might evolve into something that’s less random. In essence: Death Coil activates Unholy Rune, Rune Strike activates Blood Rune, Frost Strike activates Frost Rune. This gives Unholy their primary, Frost their primary, and Blood either a primary rune or an Unholy to put into proccing Blood Swarm.

    Seems to me that would be a heck of a lot easier to tweak and balance than the streaky random mess that might come of the current implementation.

  6. Sag says:

    The way sudden doom is worded I am not sure it will cause a gcd or not. I didn’t think that the auto SD procs caused a GCD. As I said in another entry I thought SD was just a free DC on attack, so the player had no interaction at all, also it didn’t cause a gcd. It’s been a long time since I have played blood.

    • Vulgor says:

      Cata Sudden Doom has been moved to the unholy tree and turned into a free dc that you have to use instead of auto shooting.

    • Kraav says:

      The auto proc does not envoke the GCD. I do see the value of having a free DC, but again you will be required to use it which will cost you a GCD in cata. That said if you are already hurting for GCDs, I fail to see how this mechanic is better.

      Control is nice, but with enough haste you will be auto attacking often and procing Sudden Doom, which will then fuck up any rotation as you need to use that proc or “waste” additional procs until you dump it. Think of Killing Machine now as an example, the buff is tight but if you fail to use it fast enough any additional procs merely refresh the Killing Machine buff.

      I myself would like an auto cast feature due to the RNG potentially messing up any type of rotation should we get a semi solid one worked out.

      • Sag says:

        I always hated it when KM procced with HB on CD, and not enough runic power to FS. Wasting KM to reapply FF sucks 😦

  7. Foibles says:

    Maybe we will be so constrained SD will revert back into being auto cast. I imagine this will be useful, but I do like procs…

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