Many people have read around the web and even my own guides that Blood Tap is currently the best thing in the world for blood dk. They’ve also heard for years about how Runic Empowerment is the bane of your existence and shouldn’t be touched with a 10 foot pole. In this post we’ll be looking at if those commonly conceptions are founded in fact (spoiler alert: they are).
Before we start, I’m going to introduce a common way of describing runes. It’s simply: BBFFUU. In this format, Xs are recharging runes. So if you used a Blood Boil and a Death Strike after having all your runes up, you would have BxFxUx, since you’d have 1 of each rune recharging. If you then used another Blood Boil followed by a Defile, you would have used another B and U runes, creating the rune state: xxFxxx. ezpz.
So why is Runic Empowerment (RE) so terribad? It simply comes down to consistency being more valuable than overall throughput. For those of you who don’t hang around math nerds or engineers, throughput just means how much you are accomplishing over a given time. In this case, Runes. It’s a classic case of more is not always better.
The very brief version for why RE is bad, is that it requires us to put all our runes down to get any benefit back. Runic Corruption and Blood Tap both let us hang on to our current runes while we work towards the benefit of new runes. This is because RE only works on fully depleted runes. Using the rune display format I showed in the intro, a fully depleted rune is a rune with both x’s, in other words both are recharging. In the state: BxFxUx, no runes are fully depleted, even though there is a rune recharging of each kind. However the state xxFxUx has its blood runes fully depleted, since both are recharging (thy are both x).
RE requiring fully depleted runes back means that if you want to spend RP (which we do very very often) and want that RP to go to something like Death Strike (which we do very very often), you need to make your F and U runes fully depleted while leaving your B runes not fully depleted so that it’s guaranteed to hit an F or U rune, whichever you happen to need. That means getting into a rune state of xBxxxx. That way your first proc of RE will get you either xBxFxx or xBxxxU, and the following proc guaranteed to get xBxFxU. So what’s wrong with that? Notice how the first 2 states are completely useless in respect to Death Strike, which needs an F and a U rune to be used. Also keep in mind that RE is a % to proc, meaning you have a chance to be left with either of those first 2 useless states where you can’t Death Strike if you need to, which is a dangerous position to be in. Let’s take a look at the chances of being left in these positions after fully depleting your runes.
The RNG behind RE
So lets look at the chances of getting a DS back after putting all your FU runes down to make them fully depleted. Remember this has to happen every time you want to dump RP.
At 0 seconds you put your runes down and are now in a xBxxxx state.
1 second later you will have done 1 Death Coil, meaning a 45% at a depleted rune coming back. This means that since second 0 you have a 0% chance of having a DS and a 100% chance of not having a DS at this moment (1 second).
At 2 seconds you will have done 2 Death Coils. You will only have Death Strike available if you land both procs, so you have a chance of having a Death Strike available 2 seconds and 60 RP since you depleted your runes.
At 3 seconds (I promise this is the last one I’ll do) you will have done 3 Death Coils. You only need 2 of the total 3 procs to get your DS back. This means the chance of us having a DS is the same as the (chance to get exactly 2 out of 3 procs) + (the chance to get exactly 3 procs), which is =42.525%
After 3 seconds, you are still more likely to be left without a Death Strike. This is not good for Death Strike timing.
“But Reniat, you stopped at 3. At 4 seconds you have an almost 61% chance to have a Death Strike back!” – you
After 3 seconds you will very likely need to use your blood rune to have enough RP for a 4th Death Coil, which means the 4th Death Coil will likely happen at 5 seconds. This is simply way to long to be potentially left without a FU pair.
Conclusion for Runic Empowerment
So we’ve determined that you will spend around 3-5+ seconds after you put your runes down to get your Death Strike back, which is 3-5+ seconds where you simply cannot react to damage with a Death Strike. That’s not good, regardless of how much more rune throughput you have compared to the other two talent options. remember you have to take this gamble every single time you want to dump runic power, which happens a LOT. Keep in mind the other 2 options have no such mandatory downtime. This alone completely nullifies Runic Empowerment as a good option for Blood tanking whenever Death Strike timing is an an important factor.
Blood Tap is listed in nearly every guide on the internet for blood as being the best talent. Why is that? While the ability to control exactly when you get your runes back is very good, the real reason behind blood tap’s strength is the fact that it always returns Death runes. Being able to turn Blood runes into Death Strikes is very powerful in regards to mitigation, and being able to turn F and U runes into D runes when they would otherwise come back as F or U is a huge dps benefit in AoE situations due to Blood Boil. Essentially Blood Tap makes all your runes into very flexible resources, as opposed to the normal segregation of B runes for Blood Boil/Soul Reaper and F and U runes for Death Strike.
One of the benefits of this Death rune flexibility is when we use a U rune on Defile, potentially leaving us with something like a xBxFxx rune state, where we have an unusable F rune. Being able to use 5 charges to get a guaranteed D rune means that the orphaned F rune is easily turned into an F D pair for use as Death Strike. Another benefit to this flexibility is being able to always get a D rune for Rune Tap or Soul Reaper as long you have at least 5 charges of BT.
On top of the flexibility is the ability to conserve charges for large hit mechanics. You can save 10 charges and both FU pairs, use both FU pairs then use 10 charges for a third to get 3 Death Strikes in 3 seconds to put in front of a huge hit. No other talent option can do this.
“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life.
The only completely consistent people are dead.”
Well since I’ve yet to see a Death Knight that didn’t start out by being raised from the dead in Acherus by the Lich King at lvl 55, I can safely assume none of us are living. That means according to our friend Huxley, consistency is good for us! Consistency is one Runic Corruptions greatest assets. It doesn’t have the aoe damage potential of Blood Tap, nor the Death Strike flexibility of Blood Tap, but it has beautifully consistent and fluid rune return.
Consistency is one of the most important aspects of tanking in general. For example, it’s better to take slightly more damage overall if you always take it a little bit at a time instead of taking very little normally but occasionally taking huge amounts of damage. This is one reason why Blood DK has always been concerned with removing burst damage and mitigating spikes, because those are our biggest threats. It’s the basis behind a LOT of our playstyle, like the idea of spreading out cooldowns as opposed to stacking them. Or holding on to Death Strikes to make sure we can recover from bursts immediately. Long story short: Consistency = very good.
“So if consistency is so great, why is Runic Corruption not the go to talent?” -you
Because fluid rune return doesn’t always translate to consistent damage intake. Due to the nature of it being optimal to sit on FU pairs for recovery Death Strikes, rune return isn’t always an immediate benefit to our damage intake pattern. More runes is never a bad thing, and if you are able to get FU pairs back faster consistently, you are able to lower your standard for “burst” and make yourself even smoother, however Blood Tap does this even better due to the RNG-less return as well as the increased DS/min (which is rarely a good metric for measuring effectiveness btw. please don’t take this out of context.) in comparison to Runic Corruption. That’s before you even take into account the complete superiority of Blood Tap in regards to damage output in AoE situations thanks to more Blood Boil spam potential, and even the quality of life benefits of being able to free orphaned runes and always have a rune for Soul Reaper/Rune Tap.
There are some situations where RC is better, however only one is common. That situation being when you are not able to use your Blood Tap charges effectively due to not being comfortable with the mechanics. Blood Tap is only better if you can actually use the charges. If you are wasting charges by using Death Coil at 12 charges, or using your charges but having rune recharge being wasted by having both of one kind of rune up a lot, then you are going to get more value out of the much smoother and easier to use Runic Corruption.
“So you’re saying I should use RC if I suck” -you
Not exactly. I’m saying you should use RC if you are still familiarizing yourself to the basics of Blood DK gameplay. It’s better to use RC until you are comfortable enough with everything else that you can learn to use Blood Tap well. There is a lot to learn for incoming Blood DK. It’s probably the tank that requires the most flight hours to play well, since so much of good Death Strike timing is simply practice and experience. There is 0 shame in spreading out the things you have to learn. If you feel you that using RC makes it easier for you to work on the other more important factors of DK tanking (aggro, cooldowns, boss movement, fight mechanics) then I would highly encourage you to do so.
Blood Tap is the best, Runic Empowerment needs to be taken out back and put down, and Runic Corruption is good for learning purposes.