Death Knight Power System

The first thing, I wanted to develop a language for discussing our class power system that would both allow for easy and shared shorthand, and possibly help structure the ways in which people see runes and RP for structuring their priorities and sequences.

The system is fairly simple and most people grasp it fairly quickly:
  • DK's have 6 runes, two of each, Blood, Frost, and Unholy. Runes have a 10 second recharge, or 1 second if your attack misses, is dodged, or is parried.
  • DK's have a Runic Power (RP) gauge. The gauge defaults to a 0-100 scale (cap can be raised with talents), and RP is generated primarily through using moves that cost runes. By default, moves that cost one rune generate 10 RP, and moves that cost 2 or 3 runes generate 15 RP. Select moves can improve the amount of RP generated.
For the sake of easy discussion, we already have an extensive list of acronyms and abbreviations for our moves that can be found stickied in this sub-forum. For the sake of distinguishing power system discussions, I'm proposing the following standard:

Runes can be referred to by their letter.
Blood = B
Frost = F
Unholy = U

With the rune representations we can refer to them in one of 3 conditions: single runes, rune pairs (2 runes spent simulataneously or in close sequence), and rune sets (BFU groups). And for the sake of simplicity, let's call a full set of runes (BFU BFU) a Rune Bar.

This way we can keep discussions of runes and rune sets distinct from spell abbreviations (BB = Blood Boil, BB set = Blood, Blood runes). I am particularly interested in this because I want to elevate the discussion on rune use and managing sets. Though it may not seem that way, the DK power system is the most complex in the game. Mana, Rage, and Energy are very simple systems. Mana is a large pool with large costs, and generally regen is much slower than burn making it a matter of efficiency of spending. Rage uses a 0-100, default to 0, scale and is generated through dealing and taking damage, as well as through talent-set conditions. Energy is a 0-100, default to full, scale and is only spent, while it regenerates very rapidly. All these systems are extremely consistant though, in that they are a single linear gauge with a balance of spending versus generation. For DK's, the balance is different. We use 6 independent cooldowns, and a secondary gauge like rage. Let's take a closer look.

All DK spells/abilities use one of 4 possible costs:
  • B, F, U
  • FU
  • BFU
  • RP cost (usually, 40 or all available for scaling, or 20 for RS)
From this there are two ways to consider spending patterns on the rune system, one I consider advanced, and one that is very straight forward and should be an easy method for newer players to keep it organized.

The basic method is simply to handle pairs. BB pairs, FU pairs, and BFU sets for DnD/AotD and IT/PS/Pest. The specific spending of each will depend on the spec and talents, but as an example, for a Blood DK on a single target you can see your sets as follows:
FU pair = IT > PS
BB pair = HS > HS
FU pair = OB
Assuming no misses, this is 5 moves, or 7.5 sec (without latency) giving you one CD to Deathcoil to use extra RP before your first Frost rune comes back up.

Most builds will lend themselves to bi-phasic spending. That means you'll go through 4 BFU sets, or 2 full bars of runes, before you repeat your patterns. For DPS and for beginners it may be easier to try and execute a consistant pattern.

For advanced users, adaptation is key. You need to recognize your options for each rune or rune pair, and pick the best option for the situation. Rigid rotations are limiting and robotic, and you can improve on your performance with the ability to improvise. In order to establish your priorities and set the base for an adaptive system, you need to identify your moves and their relative value. For example, I'll use my build:
= B
==> BS = 950 (3 diseases), physical, melee, single target
==> BB = 700 (3 diseases), shadow, spell, unlimited targets 30 yrds of target
==> Pest = 400, shadow, spell, unlimited targets 15 yrds of caster, spreads diseases
==> Rune Tap = 4k *heal on caster, 10% heal on other 4 in party.
**Pest is not worth the damage on its own, only the utility. Rune Tap is obviously only needed for healing, but group healing is a consideration. BS outperforms BB on a single target, but BB is better with 2+ mobs provided diseases are well spread.

= FU
==> IT/PS = 1400/700, frost/physical, single target, spell/melee, apply diseases, PS generates 5 extra RP and sets Desecration
==> ScS = 2200, shadow, single target, melee, 25% chance to apply both diseases, generates 5 extra RP
==> DS = 900, 2.2k *heal, physical, melee
==> OB = physical, melee, consumes diseases
**Obviously, for this build, OB is a waste, it consumes diseases and even if it matched ScS for damage it would be more hurt than help. DS is decent value for threat (see next discussion) and survival through heals, but ScS with Dirge and the eponymous glyph is a better overall value and doesn't have to heal to get full value.

==> DnD = 400 dmg every sec for 10 sec, shadow, spell, unlimited targets in standard 20 yrd footprint. Bonus threat factor.
==> AotD = in total, ghouls do about 800 dps for about 20-30 sec, generate own threat, and taunt. Can cause eradic mob behavior as they pull of the tank.
** DnD is good value all around, albeit expensive. Excellent pickup value and foundation threat, but not sufficient alone against heavy aoe. AotD is nice for raid damage, but it is not threat for the tank and it can make for a bit of chaos. For raid purposes AotD is saved for multi-mob pulls that are out of control, boss enrages, or tank deaths. While it is competitve for damage with a PS/IT/BS set, DnD will only generate 15 RP while the single moves generate 35 total. For this reason the single moves are often favored on single targets.

= RP
==> DC = 1800, shadow, spell, 30 yrd range. single target, 40 RP cost.
==> CE = 1400, shadow, spell, 20 yrd splash from corpse, unlimited targets, 40 RP cost, requires undetonated corpse.
==> UB = 200 dmg per sec for 20 sec, 10 yrd range unlimited targets, shadow, spell, 40 RP cost.
==> RS = 2500, physical, melee (no dodge/parry), triggers off tank dodge/parry, 20 RP cost, bonus threat factor.
** RS is macro'd to all the standard moves, when it procs it will be used, and it is the best threat per RP spell, so RP should always be allowed available for it. UB is worth the next most threat per RP, even on single target. It is major value the more targets available, but its value drops off quickly the shorter the exposure is. Generally, provided the fight will last 15 sec or more, UB should be up first, and maintained for longer fights. DC is worth more single target damage than CE, but CE will pass it for any pull 2 or more, provided there is a corpse.

Based on these numbers and priorities, the player can know in a given situation what the best choice is in the moment. Hopefully this can work as a template for those who want to develop their own priorities beyond a static rotation.

More will evolve on this with time, and spec specific concepts.