Present Reality – Rotations

As requested in the very first comment of yesterday’s entry, I figured I would do a writeup on the rotations of both Unholy and Frost as they currently stand in the latest beta build. Although I’ve done this in the past, for both specs, those theoretical timelines no longer hold up due to a variety of changes which have occurred since then:

  • All single rune abilities, except Ghoul Frenzy, now generate 15 runic power pre-talents and modifiers.
    • Amusingly, if irrelevantly, even Path of Frost generates 15 RP!
  • All double rune abilities now generate 25 runic power pre-talents and modifiers.
  • Dirge and Chill of the Grave now generate 10 runic power.
  • Ghoul Frenzy was doubled in effect (as well as duration), and is thus worth using.
  • Outbreak does not apply Ebon Plague, and is thereby ignored for Unholy.
    • Almost certainly a bug, but working without such an assumption in the included charts.
  • Death runes from Blood of the North and Reaping do not function as intended.
    • Almost certainly a bug, but working without such an assumption in the included charts.
    • Death runs from Blood Tap work perfectly fine.
  • Butchery is now taken by Unholy, whereas it wasn’t previously.
  • Festering Strike was introduced for Unholy.

With all of that said and out of the way, the rotations for…

2H Unholy:

DW Frost:

What to make of these, what to make of these…

First, to be clear, I tried to be as accurate as possible for this “screenshot” type format. I included Sudden Doom (at 1 proc per 15 seconds, which is actually an underestimation) and Rime (at 1 proc per 2 Obliterates, which is a slight overestimation). I included Blood Tap as you would properly use it. I included Ghoul Frenzy. I included Outbreak for Frost (although intentionally not for Unholy). I included Frost Presence’s runic modifier and Unholy Presence’s rune regen modifier (which makes runes regen in 8.7 seconds, not 8.5 for the less-math-adept) for their respective specs. I acted as if Reaping and Blood of the North didn’t exist, due to their current state. So on.

That said, there is one* key thing I did leave out intentionally (and if there’s anything else you notice wrong, by all means, point it out), and that’s Runic Empowerment. The fact is, due to its RNG-upon-RNG nature, although it’s not terribly difficult to model in an actual simulator or spreadsheet, it’s pretty much impossible to show in a simple glimpse of the rotation such as these.

So, how are the specs standing in terms of empty globals?

As bad as ever!

You’ll notice I highlighted the empty globals in each rotation – a total of 5 for Unholy and 4 for Frost. Over the course of a minute, that’s not bad, and in all actuality, probably the perfect number of blank GCDs to have without feeling like we’re sitting on our hands half the fight.

But, as I said, I left out Runic Empowerment, and when you try to factor that in – even if you give it the benefit of the doubt as much as possible – both specs easily become capped. Unholy did a total of 14 Death Coils and Frost did a total of 14 Frost Strikes (unrelated, but I found it amusing for various reasons that those two numbers are equal, as I’ll cover another day). 14 * 0.45 = 6.3 procs over the shown time intervals. Capped! If you factored in the additional runic power (and thus DC/FS) those procs then gave, and then tossed in the bonus procs from those dumps, you’re looking at both specs using about 10% more globals than is even possible, and at that point you would be dropping stuff out.

GCD capped. I am quickly growing to hate that term! Why is it an issue, aside from the simple argument “Blizzard doesn’t want it”?

  • It prevents 2H Frost from ever becoming a possibility. I’ve said in the past that I thought Might of the Frozen Wastes was the perfect means to balance 2H and DW in the same tree… and it is, but only if Frost can actually take advantage of that extra runic power. As stands, it simply won’t be able to. Period. DW Frost will still be the only option for the tree.
    • DW Unholy, on the other hand, is still a very (very) real possibility, but that’s due to the fact that DC is currently hitting harder than SS. I doubt it will be that way at 85, and thus it’s hard to judge at this point, but still. Troublesome, potentially.
  • It makes Frost’s mastery worthless. Increased runic power generation is great and all, but not when you have no use for it. Same as the above, really.
  • Haste rating becomes no better than it is today (which is actually pretty decent, but beside the point; the new functionality being pointless is the issue). We’ll have to intentionally avoid gear with haste, and due to how itemization works, that means after we hit the hit/exp caps all of our gear will be str/stam/crit/mastery. There’s just nothing else possible if you take haste out of the equation. Zerack will be out of a job, I suppose!
  • Unholy Presence loses out to Frost Presence for Unholy specs, even with the talent improving the first. I can model this sometime, if desired, but suffice is to say this will occur at a very, very low gear point.
  • We ignore our new procs – specifically Runic Empowerment. As I discussed in my post yesterday, on beta, I’m already treating RE procs not as actual procs, but simply as a passive means of increased rune regeneration. That is to say, I don’t actually alter my rotation to take advantage of it; I just let it speed up my next FeS or SS (or Obliterate or BS) as appropriate. Nothing more. In a GCD capped environment, that’s actually the most optimal manner in which to use it… and the most boring and unintended, to be sure.

The means by which to fix this problem are fairly obvious. Change Frost’s mastery. Change Unholy Presence (or just accept Frost as the PvE dps presence, regardless of spec). Nerf runic power generation – either remove CotG/Dirge or nerf base runic gen back to normal. Rework RE. None of these are very difficult things to do, and they wouldn’t mess with the otherwise fun and engaging rotations which both trees are shaping up to have. But these (or other things similar to them) are things which need to be done, otherwise half the point in changing the rune system (and a heavy amount of the work that entailed) will have gone to waste.

Anyways, I’m exhausted, as Mondays are absolute fail, but hopefully this answers some questions and/or opens some new ones!

*I also ignored Gargoyle, but that wouldn’t actually change anything except to replace a DC.


42 Responses to Present Reality – Rotations

  1. gravity says:

    Eventually, everyone will have to adjust to a priority system because of runic empowerment, rather than a rotation. Your screenshots looks like a set of prioritised choices rather than rotation, too, even though you disregarded RE’s randomness.

    • Consider says:

      All rotations are priority systems, in all actually. What people generally consider rotations simply repeat over a small time period and tend to have less randomness to them. At the heart though, they’re really one in the same. Mainly a difference of semantics!

      But, yeah, when I used the word rotation, I didn’t mean to imply that either spec has the whole “1, 2, 3, 3, 4 , 2, repeat” type thing going on, or what have you. It was simply ease of wording.

  2. gravity says:

    Yeah, I still use term ‘rotation’ for common vernacular, even though it’s technically incorrect. The catch is that in Cataclysm, the pattern for a rotation is soooo long it’s only visible in the same way there are patterns in pictures of chaos theory. 🙂
    In a 20-second window, there will be an opener, but once you get going I think it’ll fall back to priority to a greater extent than on Live.

  3. Jonneh says:

    Isn’t it worth prosuming you’d pre-cast GF before pull?

    Little picky thing I know, but it saves a global and gets another SS!

    • Consider says:

      True, but you wouldn’t actually save a global – you would just replace the GF with an SS.

      Besides, if you want to be real technical, you would also start the fight with 100 RP (easy to build now with PoF giving 15 + GF giving 10 + DnD giving 15 + HoW giving 10). But then you would probably cast AotD as well. And haste pot, which would increase the rune regen time for the first little bit. So on.

      All of that just gets annoyingly complex, and it’s relatively unnecessary for the purpose of this post. Obviously it’s stuff you would factor in when actually calculating specific dps numbers and the like, but we’re far from the point.

  4. Jonneh says:

    The problem I see here is a pvp constraint. We’re worse than rogues in a world where you can burst.

    We have 2 resources we can save up and virtually dump pure and spikey dps out over what, 15 seconds?

    Whats more, we can do that once every what… 20 seconds? Half of it at range no less!

    My point is, if DC hits harder (IE Less RP generated, so DC has to hit harder to be useful) it leaves us in that place again where we’ll be seen as dumping powerful ranged attacks.

  5. Jonneh says:

    With regards to haste, I agree. I said something similar in a previous post, though I had no idea about the numbers.

    Basically, there is no easy answer. I suspect we’ll end up in a world where we have to start the expansion sitting on our hands as you say, and end the expansion pretty much capped.

    I dont like RE in its current form. I just dont see the point in proccing a random free ability, and thats what we’re basically talking about. I don’t think its a good way to get us to interact with our rotation better, and its kind of against the stated goal of “keeping Unholy to a rotation” not to mention the fact that Frost will be swampped with procs to watch for.

    I think they’re over reaching with stuff here, and making the same mistakes they’ve made before. Which have lead to, as we know, Too High SS Crits, OblitUnholy, DW Unholy, Too High SS Burst, Hotfixnerf from hell…. to name a few!

    Solutions I see, are pretty similar to yours. Nerf RP Gen, but make it so that DC can cost more for extra DPS (though this may be a better solution for Frost Strike tbh).

    What were the other solutions you alluded to with not making the garg melee btw? I really want that fixed, its so god damn cheap that they’ve not fixed it so far.

    • Jonneh says:

      Whats the problem with RE just making your next rune ability free?

      I mean, isnt that the stated goal.. To make people watch for a proc and react to it? Use your highest damage rune ability on a proc then return to rotation. I mean, its pretty similar to Rime I guess, but there isn’t much we can do at this point. I think its a better idea than the current.

  6. Jonneh says:

    Sorry for spamming the crap out of your blog btw, had to get up early to wait for my very late copy of SC2 to be delivered. 7am and very bored! =D

  7. Raenis says:

    You said it yourself that while excluding RE, both specs were in the perfect position. You also stated that Blood tanks would highly dislike RE due to it’s unreliability to be the kind of threat that one would expect / need at that very moment.

    I don’t see any reason not to just remove RE completely and tone down the buff to RP regeneration just a bit to leave room for haste but still leave undergeared DKs not “Sitting on their hands.”

    It’s a very simple solution, I think :D.

    • Raenis says:

      Also, to add to my former comment, I can’t see Blizzard hesitating to make this decision considering RE was added to use up GCDs after slowing down the rune system. If they are aware of this possible set up, I say, jump right on it.

  8. raxxnamas says:

    I may just have lost the plot, but it would appear you left Summon Gargoyle out of your UH “Rotation” with a cost of 60 RP that is going to free up a lot more GCD’s.

    *Sorry Maybe 1-2 more GCD’s xD

    • Consider says:

      I did note I left out Gargoyle! The reason being 1) It was a minute-long screen, so Gargoyle wouldn’t have been perfectly representative, 2) It wouldn’t have changed anything. A Gargoyle would have replaced a DC and you would have simply had 20 less RP at the end. That’s all. Doesn’t actually free anything up.

  9. Clevinger says:

    Wouldn’t another solution be to increase the cost of death coil and frost strike and increase the damage proportionately? Or even make them use additional available runic power to increase damage.

    • Consider says:

      It would be interesting if they gave us two different tiers of runic power dumps (instead of each spec having only one dump it can possibly use, Blood aside). I.e, one (say, Death Coil) which costs 30 RP and does 1000 damage and then another (say, Super Death Coil) which costs 60 RP and does 1500 damage. Now, if you’re not gcd capped, the first is obviously better, but if you are? The latter is ultimately going to win out, and you’re going to have to learn how to balance using the latter as much as possible while remaining gcd capped – meaning you don’t use it *too* much.

      It could be interesting.

      Just using all available runic power a la HS/Maul doesn’t work if they’re are only options. We need some control, because in a lot of situations we aren’t capped (PvP, tanking), and such a model would be detrimental.

      • Clevinger says:

        I was thinking more of Ferocious Bite. A clever cat will never use FB at more than 32 energy because there are more efficient uses of that energy. However, if the cat was GCD locked then it would be worth using FB at 60 energy. That gives less damage per energy but more damage per GCD.

        It gives a similar result to your Super and Standard except it would allow a finer level of control (and higher dps) for “good” players without penalising “bad” players who just hit death coil whenever they remember it exists.

        I agree that using all runic power would be detrimental for tanking but tanks could be left with a fixed cost rune strike. I would have thought it would be advantageous for pvp – a full runic power dump would help with burst.

      • Kahorie says:

        It’s not a bad idea. I would include it in a glyph of the kind Glyph of Impowered Death Coil : Increase damage of your Death Coil depending of how much RP you have left. The RP is consumed in the process up to 20 RP.

  10. raxxnamas says:

    Or they could return to making Gargoyle last longer based on runic power?

  11. Rebellion says:

    I still wonder what the intent is for death runes. Considering unholy would generate death runes like blood does today and were to use 4 SS instead of 2 FeS, it makes me wonder how much actual though blizzard gave to this. At least for frost you could still use a single death rune in combination with a RE proc to squeeze out another Obliterate, therefore not much of a problem here. The use of death runes for blood tanks though, is still questionable at best. With DS beeing the key ability of the tree and HS beeing situational at best, I just don’t feel the need for death runes at all.

    I wish blizzard would give more response to death knights with where they wish to go with the class, instead of only responding to warrior-QQ..

  12. woohaa says:

    i’m not opposed to RE infact i like the idea of having to pay attention to it instead of mindlessly spamming a rotation. but deathrunes seem to be in a bad place right now. for blood it seems like they want you to make a choice…more HS’s or self heals? i think for unholy they need to include FeS in the reaping talent. if your just spamming SS/FeS/DC when will you ever get a deathrune?

  13. Vargr says:

    Maybe it’s a silly question, but have you publish your minds on the official beta forum ?

    • Consider says:

      Of course, although not terribly many as of late, I admit. I need to get better about it. Just takes much more time – I can’t simply copy and paste posts from here to there, and I’m not quite egocentric enough to simply post a link with a summary of the issues (although, honestly, that’s probably what I should do. I just wouldn’t feel right though posting links to my own stuff. I’m shy like that?).

      Plus, I’m not a fan of how the DK thread is a million pages long. It would be much easier to follow discussion and contribute if new threads were made periodically – by patch, for instance.

      But, yeah, I need to get on it. Just hectic schedule, as of late!

  14. Zombona says:

    It would be easy to control what rune proced from runic empowerment.
    for Unholy just keep that last festering strike on the bench when you start your RP dump, that way the only fully depleted rune you have is one of the unholy runes. then just watch for your blood and frost runes and use festering strike right before the next set or runes are off CD. Then when you start your RP dump again, your blood and frost runes will be off CD or charging and won’t be affected by Runic Empowerment.

    It makes sence in my head, I hope I spit it out in a way you can understand.

  15. Olanai says:

    Maybe I don’t understand the finer points of some of the mechanics, but the Haste comment struck me as odd in your post.

    You said Haste would be “no better than it is now”. From what I understand Haste works quite differently (for death knights) in Cataclysm, it’s more like a straight damage buff in that it affects pretty much everything we do – runic power generation over time (e.g. Butchery), rune regeneration, attack speed, GCD for melee abilities, DoT tick speed, and so on. In particular, it actually has no impact on how many GCDs you fill within a rotation. With that understanding, I can’t figure out why you would think Haste wouldn’t be better than today. Am I misunderstanding Haste in cataclysm, or am I just missing some key point that you didn’t spell out?

    • Vegah says:

      That’s the first time I hear that the GCD of melee abilities is to be reduced by haste. I don’t think it is which is exactly why the new functionality of haste – reduced rune cooldown – has no use and therefore haste is not better in cataclysm than now.

      • Olanai says:

        Ah that could be, I’m not sure where exactly I got that idea. Maybe because Haste was supposed to become more useful 😉 Just wishful thinking I guess.

    • Consider says:

      It does not affect runic power generation over time (except in the sense that it increases rune regen, which leads to more rune abilities, meaning more RP), nor does it increase GCD for melee abilities or disease ticks (although I assume the latter is just a bug with the current build).

  16. yeknom366 says:

    I hadn’t found a question regarding this, but I noticed that in your DW frost rotation, you start with Outbreak. Does that indeed trigger icy talons or do you still have to use IT for it? Also, are there any plans to extend the duration of icy talons to match disease length?

  17. QXQ says:

    I notice Frost’s RP goes above 100, but I thought Runic Power Mastery was removed. Clarification? Is this a Frost level 10 passive now and I just don’t know about it? Or is it in the tree now and I’m just blind?

  18. kc102 says:

    Solution: Frost Strike and Death Coil now function akin to heroic strike, using a minimum of 40(32) RP, scaling up to 60.

    • Jesabelle says:

      I like the solution of making it like Heroic Strike much more than having to find another spot on my bar for an ability. Plus, choosing between Death Coil and Super Death Coil isn’t really going to be a tough choice, it’s going to be “do I have more than X RP?” and then hitting the right button. Sure that’s a bit more of a choice than now, but not really what I consider an exciting improvement to the class.

      All that being said, I think it’s far more likely they’ll nerf RP generation by either removing the talents or nerfing the base increase. Something tells me we’re just seeing a bug on beta (regardless of how much Primiez loves it… which btw, is usually a sign it’s overpowered =P)

  19. Anaroth says:

    The problem isn’t really unholy presence per se, it’s melee haste. You could solve most of the standard rotational gcd issues by also having unholy presence change GCDs in some way. The issue is then what do you do about unholy frenzy and bloodlust which would then make us GCD locked during those periods of time.

    You can use the same solution on those buffs though, and (as mentioned above) allow melee haste to reduce the melee GCD, spell haste already does that with spells. Doing so wouldn’t affect feral cats or rogues as they already have a 1 second GCD. Enhance shaman and paladins would get a small boost, which is good as they don’t get much of a resource boost during bloodlust as they’re cooldown based classes anyway. Warriors are both cooldown and resource based, so it wouldn’t make too much difference to them either. It would allow DKs to more or less carry on as normal, and not get resource flooded.

    That said I support scaling DC damage (although not sure about the SD interaction), possibly through an early talent in unholy or a glyph. I don’t really see the point in having scaling FS damage, because if you’ve seriously got too much RP you can always use DC (or in an ae situation HC)

    As a quick question, can anyone actually answer whether frost presence boosts pet damage (unlikely), and whether unholy presence reduces spell GCDs or the time between disease ticks?

  20. raxxnamas says:

    You have oretty much hit the big nail on the head with UH presence, unless it improves all haste by 15% it is pretty worthless, as the extra damage of Frost Presence seems to outscale it (no it does not increase pet damage).

    UH presence seems to increase attack speed and rune regeneration only, which in a GCD locked playstyle is not good, clearly we are better off with Frost presences extra RP generation.

  21. Anaroth says:

    While everyone is pretty aware that being GCD constrained is a bad thing, and with our current design quite likely to occur for unholy dpsing in unholy presence, the old reason of it not increasing a large chunk of our damage is also a potential issue. If unholy presence doesn’t hasten our disease ticks then that would be a reason to dps frost, this is especially likely to be an issue in ae situations, where one also has to consider DnD ticks.

    A rough count of GCDs for both unholy and frost gives about 12-13 GCDs used in a double refresh cycle, although this potentially could be higher if you blow ERW, or spec for AMS RP etc. With no additional haste, and in blood presence, you’ve got just over 5 gcds per rune refresh while under the effect of bloodlust, and about 5.5 while under unholy frenzy, so for significant and important periods of time we will be majorly GCD constrained, even if we aren’t usually [assuming lust actually increases melee haste, which the mmo-champion db suggests]). Thus we need a change up in rotation (difficult to balance) or some sort of large resource dump, or gcd reduction.

    • kc102 says:

      Take another idea from warriors, when you hit 100 RP, all your RP-based attacks cost double RP and do double damage for XX seconds.

      • Anaroth says:

        Actually I was thinking of something a bit different, a new cooldown, that increases your damage and healing by say 20% for up to 20 secs but consumes say 20 RP per second.

      • kc102 says:

        20RP/s is a lot over 20 seconds. 400 RP!

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