Runic Empowerment – GC’s Words

Just a head’s up, I do read blue posts as soon as I can! Although I certainly appreciate the thought, there’s really no need for me to get dozens of messages via Twitter/Email/Forum PM whenever a DK-related one is thrown up! If I haven’t yet said anything about it, that just means I’m not home yet or otherwise not yet in a position to comment. Generally the first. Like I said, thank you, but just not necessary.

Anyways, for reference, the blue post in question today:

To begin with, let’s just go ahead and ignore the first paragraph. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with it (although there kinda is; more on that later)… it’s just stuff we already know either because of official comments in the past or plain common sense. Yes, obviously Runic Empowerment is intended to mix up our rotations. Yes, obviously if Runic Empowerment didn’t exist (and nothing was there in it’s place), Rime and Sudden Doom on their own would be insufficient to keep us on our toes. Yes some people dislike random mechanics because they make things more difficult.

Yes, yes, yes. We knew all of this (and I, personally, would agree with it all).

Thus, moving onwards.

The second paragraph is where matters appear to get new and exciting.

An Unholy talent that converts Runic Empowerment to something somewhat less RNG but not entirely passive either? Excellent! I proposed doing almost exactly that, and still think it would be a wonderful idea. As long as Blizzard can ensure it’s not a dps loss to take the talent (even if it’s not a gain either), it should play out well enough.

And… well, wait, that’s really all the post says!

He doesn’t address why people dislike Runic Empowerment (and it’s not simply because of the fact that it’s a proc, as he tries to somewhat write it off as).

He doesn’t address how horribly over-GCD capped the passive makes us  (although, admittedly, you could blame any number of factors for this issue).

He doesn’t address Blood’s overreliance on the proc (and on Rune Strike availability) to be able to pick up adds in a reliable manner or what have you.

He doesn’t address the fact that certain single rune procs when each spec is designed around one double rune strike just doesn’t mix well.

He doesn’t address really anything beyond that they like the skill (ironically for no other stated reason than because it’s a proc; this is in the same statement where he writes off the dislike of it being simply because its a proc! The hypocrisy! No, people aren’t so against it purely because it’s a proc – and, yes, if that was the case, that would be a horrible argument for people to have and I would disregard them too. But no, that’s no better a sole reason to keep the skill around and unmodified!), and that they still see Frost as being a bit more random than Unholy, so they’ll let Unholy talent out of it (thank god).

That’s it.

Frost and Blood apparently just have to resign themselves to the skill.

Unholy… well, suffice is to say I knew I liked you for a reason!

34 Responses to Runic Empowerment – GC’s Words

  1. kc102 says:

    You’re good at what you do.

  2. Rythian says:

    I just keep getting more and more discouraged. It’s just not as fun playing a DK anymore with the changes. I was having such high hopes about 2H Frost too.

  3. BloodyFox says:

    Ha… Goatcaller…

  4. Rodalpho says:

    RNG isn’t the problem, the problem is that it’s annoying to effectively use those procs, requiring the user to play a little “whack a mole” minigame focusing on quickly and efficiently using the resource (runes) rather than proper abilities. I just don’t find that micromanagement much fun.

  5. Disargeria says:

    “He doesn’t address the fact that certain single rune procs when each spec is designed around one double rune strike just doesn’t mix well.”

    A lot of people are saying it doesn’t matter if the single runes are useless because you can wait for a second RE proc to get a double rune strike. You would alternate using your single strike (HS/BS/SS) and dual strike (DS/OB/FS) depending on what runes refresh. Personally, I think it’s awkward, but it works. What do you think?

    • Consider says:

      If we remain GCD capped, then yeah, that’s most optimal and it works. That’s how I use it on beta. The issue there is that all those things which he stated he likes about procs kinda go out the window if you don’t even use a proc immediately, not to mention there’s a question of how valuable RE actually is when you’re using it in such a manner.

      If we’re not GCD capped though, then it would be better to use procs immediately, even if it’s something like PS for Frost, and then that becomes a problem (debatably).

      • Rodalpho says:

        Any feedback should be written assuming we aren’t GCD capped, because the devs have been crystal clear on that design goal.

        If we’re not GCD capped, RE turns into a whack a mole minigame, because even a low damage ability like plague strike as frost is better than doing nothing.

        Ret paladins coined a term for it in live, “FCFS”. It stands for “first come first served”. Whatever button lights up, they hit it. That’s low quality gameplay.

      • PennyRush says:

        Not many people point this out but Blizzard could have designed it any way they wanted it. If they wanted us to ignore it, then they would have made it a passive rune regeneration effect.

        But they made it a proc. They want us to treat it like a proc and use it like one. That means not sitting on it.

        So once they fix the GCD lock, they want us to weave RE procs into our rotations like we do Rime or Sudden Doom.

      • Ganglati says:


        I would’ve agreed with you more until they made the changes to Frost that basically scream loud and clear “Use Obliterate! Not Howling Blast!” If there’s one good thing to come out of these changes (and really, besides Unholy dodging the RE bullet, this might be the only good thing to come out of these changes), it’s that I’m now 99% sure Blizz wants me to save solo runes for Oblit as long as I don’t need to refresh diseases.

  6. PennyRush says:

    This is the type of post that Ghost does all the time. He feels he needs to educate us on why something was added. He tries to frame the issue or ability or spell in the one way that is already accepted by the players. He skips the concerns then never says another word ever again.

    I don’t mean to attack him. I agree with him 90% of the time but this time he should address our concerns with it.

    Also he mentioned that they want to add a Rune regen talent instead of RE for Unholy. That might make the GCD issue even worse depending on what it does.

  7. Noin says:

    I didn’t think GC wrote off the concerns by calling it a proc. He just explained their general intent behind it, all of which we understood and fair.

    To be fair, a lot (maybe the majority) of complaints about RE are pretty terribly grounded. Some just don’t really understand what it does, as you addressed in a previous post a while back, or describe its triple RNG issues as “totally random.” It is designed to throw off our rotations, and people don’t like that, or basically frame their complaints in a way that basically do say that.

    Half the complaints I read about RE are more or less the following: “IT’S RANDOM! I DON’T LIKE IT! RE SUUUUUCKS!!!!!1!”
    GC responded saying: “Uh…that’s the point.”

    Some also think RE is part of the new rune system. *shakes head*


    I once again will point out that encouraging Doom and Gloom and pessimism about future prospects is extremely unbecoming of a blog of this caliber.

    • PennyRush says:

      Since what you’re quoting how I described it on the live forums, I’ll clarify.

      RNG isn’t the issue. Rime is random. Sudden Doom are random. You know why those are different? Because they are single RNG mechanics. 45% of your Obliterates will proc a Rime, or 15% of your autos will proc Sudden Doom.

      RE is a double RNG mechanic. You have a 45% chance to get a free rune, then you have a 1/3 chance of getting a favorable rune. Unlike, Rime or Sudden Doom, on average 2 out of every 3 RE procs, I going to feel screwed by bad dice rolls.

      If it was a random chance for a free Heart Strike, Frost Strike or Scourge Strike, not as many people would complain about it.

      So when you or GC frame the issues as RNG or a proc, its doing a disservice to those who have serious questions about it.

    • Consider says:

      He might not have written off the concerns, but he didn’t address them. Same end result. Of course, to be fair, he certainly has no obligation whatsoever to do so, it just renders his post a bit less informative then it could be. But, alas.

      Yes, a lot of the complaints on RE are (for lack of a more eloquent term) bad. The same can be said for most complaints on the official forums, in regards to any class or mechanic. That’s just how it is!

      At any rate, there’s really no doom and gloom in this post, although you can read into it what you will. I’m happy Unholy can spec out of it. I’m sad Frost and Blood are stuck with it. That’s it. I don’t believe there’s anything “unbecoming” about stating my opinion. That’s more or less the entire idea of this blog. If you feel I’m being overly negative, then you’re of course welcome to not read, but I don’t see anything wrong with this post or any other. Going out of my way to be optimistic would be as flawed as going out of my way to be pessimistic. I don’t do either, and I don’t really plan to start.

      If it seems I tend to lean towards the negative more, that’s simply because there’s more to talk about when something’s flawed. What do you say when something is well-done or perfect? There’s just nothing to discuss in those cases!

      • Noin says:

        I think it’s rather impractical to expect GC to address even the majority of concerns in a topic. I wish he would stop being so general and address more points, but his job is akin to political discourse. Anything even potentially untoward he says will immediately get copied and pasted around various sites and encourage more silly behavior.

        We also have to consider how the Blues get information from the forums. Others may read things for them and probably compile general lists of complaints back to them. So the better complaints get mixed in with the bad complaints, and if the noise overcomes the music… *sigh*

        If only the Internet was a better medium of communication.


        @PennyRush: Yes, I am aware of how RE works and how it interacts with itself. I addressed your description of it on the forums, if you may notice. 😉

        The only time (as a DPS) you’re going to be getting an RE proc is if you use Frost Strike or Death Coil. You have absolutely no reason to expect it to happen otherwise. Furthermore, the proc happens just as often as Rime. The difference is Rime’s proc doesn’t vary: it’s the same every time. With RE, you just don’t know what’s going to come up and how you’re going to use it. That’s more unpredictability than randomness.

        One of the most glaring mistakes Blizzard has made with RE is keeping it largely untrackable by players for such a long period of time. Had we at least a combat entry that mods could potentially take advantage of, many of the complaints about it would be greatly lessened, although such wouldn’t address the meat of its issues. I don’t know what priorities Blizzard’s coders work under, but they’ve dropped the ball when it comes to us. The default rune UI is atrocious at best.


        Back to Consider:

        A blog like this an effect on other players. Saying stuff like “Frost and Blood apparently just have to resign themselves to the skill!” is inevitably going to encourage such resignation, regardless of your intent, tinting their later feedback, which turns into a potentially vicious cycle.

        Much of that is not your fault or something anyone can be blamed for, as its caused by shallow thinking. I did not want to come across as accusatory; I simply wished to point out that one leads by example and that, in my opinion, you could have phrased things better. It is your blog, so there’s little else I can say.


        I frankly don’t see RE as bad an issue as people make it out to be, but it’s still weird, confusing, and the Double/Triple RNG factor is most annoying. It certainly accomplishes what it set out to do…just not in the best way. By far.

      • PennyRush says:

        With RE, you just don’t know what’s going to come up

        And this is why even more people will go Unholy to get out of it (Unless they like tanking or are in love with Frost).

        Also doesn’t it seem strange that they have to spend time designing one mechanic so we can avoid using another mechanic. It would be easier to start over on the first mechanic!

        Also the UI complaints have been around since release. It is unrealistic to play this game with the stock UI and expect to perform well.

  8. Roth says:

    Please welcome our new Unholy overlords!

  9. frostfright says:

    The really sad thing about this is it means that if I want a rotation that’s stable and fun to play, then I’ll have to be Unholy. I cant really communicate just how much I was looking forward to going back to 2H Frost. But if I can take a talent that turns Runic Empowerment in it’s current form into a simple seconds of quicker rune regeneration, then I won’t even bother with Frost.

    Why bother with a spec that forces you to keep an eye on your rune UI when you can have something that allows you to pay more attention to the fight? Hint: You don’t.

    It feels strange that they’ve acknowledged that they want Frost to have a priority system but Unholy to be more of a set rotation. Why? Because at the end of the day, they’re balanced to be the same DPS. It’s funny, because Frost has more things to watch for than Unholy even before factoring in Runic Empowerment. Once you add that extra RNG to Frost, and give Unholy something predictable, the skill ceiling for Frost rises, but the skill ceiling for Unholy remains the same.

    I get the feeling that Frost will be a more difficult spec to play than Unholy, with no additional benefit. I haven’t even considered Blood yet.

  10. Korell says:

    Having finally got on to the PTR and played arround with RE myself now, the main issue i see with it is. it makes our rune system a system of feast and famine.

    Sometimes after a RP dump we’re swimming in runes can’t spend them fast enough and sometimes nothing lights up and we’re stuck waiting.

    When i was playing unholy in unholy presence with imp unholy presence (how they theoretically want us to play and talent); runes and runic power was coming in way too fast to deal with, was just spamming buttons to get rid of the resources.

    The second issue i see with RE is it can flood us with resources since more runes equals more runic power equaling more runes etc. Its the same kind of positive feedback loop they’ve been dealing with warriors since forever.

  11. Branith says:

    I dont get all the fuss over RE to be honest. I understand how you all perceive the detriment it brings, but I for one am happily testing UH on the PTR and I never have to worry about if something is up. I hit SS over and over and weave in DC’s never going above 70 rp. Its a very fun playstyle for me and I can imagine myself not even worrying about having a Rune mod any more, cause in all honesty every GCD I have something to hit, FeS or SS or DC. its blissful to my playstyle. Is it optimal? I doubt it, but its very fun not worrying about runes since there always available and if not they are within a DC or 2.

    I also dont understand the fury about Sudden Doom favoring DC. I think I was the first to admit way back when it first appeared in this blog that Strike damage will outweigh more DC’s and my testing has proven correct on the PTR. 10k sustained (in Frost presence) 2H over 7k DW (in either presence).

    I havnt tested Frost but I never did like the proc style of that spec, and always favored a Disease spreading magic based, 2H melee master with a pet, plus add in the fact UH gets to take advantage of the new FeS and the new Ghoul talents and ive got me self a winner.

    • Consider says:

      Things aren’t quite so simple on beta. You do have to actually watch procs and the like, and react; the massive amounts of haste you have on the PTR make it appear smoother then the reality is.

      Sudden Doom favoring DW isn’t bad by itself, it’s simply when you combine it with everything else which favors DW: Unholy Presence, mastery, ghoul, etcetera. Once again, PTR testing isn’t going to show DW’s strength because of all that haste – if you’re GCD capped, the additional DC procs will be meaningless, for instance.

      Personally, as I’ve probably said in the past, of all the cata specs, I still heavily favor Frost 2H (RE aside). I’m happy with how both trees are shaping up, but relegating the current form of RE to one and letting the others off the hook seems a bit off to me =/.

      • I like that he’s addressing the concern that the “randomness” does not goes well with the “rotation”-ness of Unholy. Frost was always more of a whack-a-mole and now it is more of one. If you want less randomness, go Unholy. If you want to be doing something new and exciting, not doing the same old thing over and over, go Frost.

        I don’t believe he addressed Blood at all.

        See, I think this RE is coming up because they’re redoing the Blood and Frost trees now, still polishing the UH tree. This means they’re nailing down the rotation/priority systems for each spec, I suspect, and it is leading to him knowing more about how the two trees (frost vs uh) will play. Without knowing what OTHER talents will be changed in the next beta (and the one after, etc.), it is difficult to be too critical of RE. Now that I’ve seen such extensive (and yet still early) changes in Unholy, I believe (or hope) that Frost and BLood will see changes, too, to address their issues as Unholy still has some to be addressed.

        One of our chief complaints about UH was that they had no synergy. Now they have it. We said UH’s gameplay was about rotation, not about randomness, they are addressing it. In the past, they talked about Dirge right before they deleted it completely. It may come back, but probably not. Regardless, they are apt to say something, then come back a week later and release a beta where the something they said is contradicted and the only explanation you get is that they are trying something another way.

        My point is Frost may have changes in store that make RE a randomness that becomes emblematic of the tree while reducing some of the other randomness to help compensate for it. We might even see RE boosting Frost’s randomness while doing something subtly different that makes all the diff in the world to its efficiency.

        And who knows what’ll happen to Blood? Perhaps they’ll get a talent to alter their version, too. Certainly, they have quite a few problem areas to be worked on, too, and fixing some of those areas with an altered-RE might be the solution along with some talent changes.

        Who knows? I’m not often an optimist, but the UH changes encourage me to give them a couple of patches to get some more changes in and let us see their overall plan for RE and the Frost vs UH, Blood, and 2h Frost vs DW Frost differences before I’ll declare martial law and begin executing people as enemies of the state of me. 😀

      • Noin says:


        We do not know what Blizzard has in store for us. As much as it would be nice to think they’re “revamping” our trees, it is unwise to try to draw anything out of Blizzard’s statements beyond face value. You may be right, but you may be wrong just as easily. They have been paying more attention to us as of late, but that’s all we can say. Hope is a good thing; presumption is not.

        If Blizzard speaks in generalities, we should also speak in generalities. Beyond what they address, we should not extrapolate or try to guess what’s going on behind the scenes. They may think we’re finer than we believe, and, for better or for worse, that’s not for us to decide. Our role will and, for the most part, must always be feedback.

        We should always remember that even if we went live tomorrow with all our warts, our development would not end there. Some of the most crucial development happens after live release. Now is the best time for widespread, fundamental changes, but luckily we do not have many seriously fundamental problems in PVE or PVP.

  12. Talandra says:

    To be quite honest, I think that Runic Empowerment would work MUCH better if, instead of a rune, it made one of the primary rune abilities of the spec (So DS/HS for blood, HB/OB for frost and SS/FeS for Unholy) free for the next use (put say a 3-5 second duration on it). This would stop the shittyness of getting say a single frost rune as Unholy, making it practically useless as you just don’t really have a use for it.

    Making it proc for example a free Obliterate would be much better than a single Unholy rune for Frost, and would actually make you WANT to get these procs. You will WANT to get that free obliterate or free HB as frost. And the same way with Unholy as a free Festering Strike means you can wait that much longer to refresh your diseases next time, in one fight you might not have to do it at all due to getting enough procs.

    • Branith says:

      I agree to a point but I like my proposal much more, instead of proccing a specific strike I much rather would see it proc a: Festering Strike, or a Death Strike, or a Necrotic Strike. Any tree any spec will get to pick one of those three to use. Fest for PvE DPS, NS for PvP, or DS for when you need to heal your self. All 3 trees would benefit from picking which strike they need when RE procs. Of course the proc chance would have to be lowered, say to 15% or 30%, and they would really have to revamp Rune Strike to allow Blood DK’s to use it on demand instead of on a dodge or parry, but thats womething that should be done anyway.

  13. Leviatharan says:

    I’m curious as to how Blizz expects to balance an ability that will benefit Unholy without necessarily being a direct DPS increase… that removes a “proc” for a more consistent (or at least predictable) ability that still shakes up the rotation without making us any more GCD capped… and still making it fun/interesting/useful to the spec in a way that people would take it, while still being “optional”. Oh, and fitting it into the already bottom-heavy talent trees as an individual talent so it can remain “optional”.
    Current plan: Increase rune regeneration speed. Congratulations Blizz, you’ve just taken the instantaneous rune-generating proc and drawn it out over time, telling everyone it’s brand-friggin’-new. Essentially the exact same thing, except now you can have terrible RNG and STILL be worse off.
    Removing it to give Scourge Strike the power to generate disease ticks has always been a good idea, but that can be seen as “free DPS” without really “shaking up the rotation” so it’ll be frowned upon heavily by the devs.
    We’ve already got the ghoul synergy we’ve been pleading for, and any more between us and the ghoul now would just be redundant (unless it were to, say, create synergy between the ghoul and diseases, but that would require no interaction from the DK at all making the entire point moot).
    We could get an ability that increases 2H viability somehow, but then Blizz would probably design it as a core aspect of the spec. Why? Because they’ve already stated that 2H shouldn’t be viable. This wouldn’t be necessarily bad, but considering Blizz’s mission statement about it being OPTIONAL… you get the idea.

  14. Insolence says:

    Seriously, if the Talent ends up reducing Rune Cooldown time, it shouldn’t go to Unholy. It should go to Blood, because Mister Sitting-In-Denial-About-GCD-Cap-Issues should hurry up and realize that Blood will almost never (apart from occasional Weapons) get Haste, and we have the slowest Rune Regeneration Rate of any Spec, and ffs – Unholy is GCD Capped, what sort of a moron is going to just make it worse? Worse example he could have ever used…….

    • Insolence says:

      Well anyway guys, let’s see how far down Unholy this Talent really is, if its on Tiers 1-2 (Unholy Command axed? Virulence axed? 😀 😀 :D) then we can all reach it. Well, at a cost for Frost unfortunately.

    • Leviatharan says:

      Or even if they aren’t going to reduce rune CD time for Blood, at least add some sort of proc that makes Rune Strike come up more often for them (maybe something as simple as “RS is always active but has a cooldown of X sec, which resets if you dodge/parry”). Considering that it costs the least amount of RP of all three and Blood generates as much RP as Unholy does (if you don’t spec Magic Suppression).

  15. Skaarrj says:

    Am i the only one that LIKES runic empowerment?

    When your blood runes are turning into death runes, i frost strike a hell of a lot because at that point, the only bad procs are double frost procs or double unholy procs. And if you want to fix runic empowerment for good, make it so that it procs death runes. Get rid of the current death-rune mechanic and make runic empowerment the death rune mechanic.

  16. Wingwraith says:

    The ironic part is that Unholy is already the spec most able to fit RE procs into its rotation cleanly due to its single rune main strike and abundance of death runes.

  17. Alrenous says:

    This can be looked at as an issue with Outbreak.
    Assume RE gets a UI element so that you don’t have to stare at your runes while you’re dumping RP.

    If Outbreak is supposed to replace ITPS, then Icy Touch and Plague Strike can be tuned into RE dumps, with the assumption they’ll rarely be used to apply diseases once Outbreak is trained.

    If Outbreak is just supposed to be handy, then frankly the most elegant solution is to actually give each spec options for the three runes, rather than have them all root for their main rune.

    Single target vs. multi target is (if balanced) a no brainer, not a choice. Need I really mention strangulate?

    There’s at least a little choice here, Sometimes, you may actually have to decide between slow and damage.

    See blood.

    When a rune comes up, and you can’t use a double strike, it may as well be used automatically. Maybe just have a toggle called (ST/AOE). If, on the other hand, there was a long term vs. short term choice, or damage vs.mobility or something, RE wouldn’t seem nearly as terrible.
    As it is, it’s not really like having three resources. It’s just three strikes with a convoluted cooldown system.
    On the other hand, strangulate is going in the right direction. It’s just too situational and the cooldown is too long.

  18. Futhark says:

    I keep rereading your post to see where you came up with “almost” the same solution for RE and can’t. The Gargoyle thing?

  19. Ganglati says:

    Putting the RE conversion talent in Unholy makes no sense to me. GC states they want stuff be random, and that Frost has and will continue to be random thanks to Rime and Killing Machine. It’s Unholy that needs some random. And yet it’s Unholy that can talent out of it.

    It makes even less sense when you consider that half the time Unholy will have 2 Unholy and 4 Death Runes on cooldown to use on a Scourge Strike. Getting an RE proc in that situation isn’t all that bad, and that’s the situation HALF THE TIME.

    Meanwhile, Frost needs two runes for its signature strike, already has 2 procs to worry about, and the new build just had a bunch of huge buffs for Oblit to push us towards using it over burning lone runes on HB, IT, or PS. Frost already had the hardest time using RE procs since it only gets 2 Death runes at a time, and only one of them can proc from RE, and now it’s stuck using it in its current form.

    Exasperated as hell is all I can say. And not training RE when Cata releases.

  20. Wake says:

    Unholy gets faster rune regeneration might seem accurate for the Unholy theme, but corrently doesn’t fit in its playstyle much compared to frost/blood. I’m quite jealous of this talent as Blood, to say the least.

    Random elements work more fine for DPS but is something you want to avoid as a tank.
    Tanking needs to be more predictable and controllable. You need to know you can use x ability within the next y seconds.

    By the way, I like the idea of Rune Strike having its avoidance dependency removed with a short CD added, in addition to an avoidance “proc” that resets the CD.

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