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The rune system is the resource system used by death knights, much as mana, energy, or rage are used by other classes or focus used by a hunter and their pets. The death knight's rune system consists of two very distinct but complementary resources: Runes and Runic Power.
Some of the death knight's spells and abilities require spending runes; others require his or her having generated through battle a certain level of runic power. Every death knight who has not recently been in combat enters a fresh combat situation possessing six expendable runes but no runic power. Only by spending some of these runes (each of which regenerates after ten seconds) on battle spells may the death knight thereby acquire and incrementally build up for a short time runic power, which in turn he or she may draw on for other spells. The death knight's rune system thus combines characteristics of those classes relying for combat powers on depleting-but-renewable resources — such as mana (mages, warlocks) and energy (rogues) — with those classes relying for combat powers on resources generated solely through battle itself, such as rage (warriors).
Rune regeneration time
- Ten seconds may sound like a lot, but it actually isn't. If you only use abilities that require only 1 rune, you will have approx. 2 seconds left when using up all runes, sometimes even less if you've acquired death runes, and after that you also have a good amount of runic power accumulated.
Rune abilities by cost
Single rune abilities
|Cost||Frost + Unholy||Blood + Frost + Unholy||Blood + Frost|
Runic power is an extra resource that builds up as the death knight uses his or her abilities, displayed as an empty bar that fills up with a light sky blue color similar to rage under the death knight's health bar. Generally, offensive single rune abilities generate 10 runic power and offensive multi-rune abilities generate 15 runic power. As with rage, runic power gradually diminishes when not in combat.
- Core abilities
Runic power abilities
Origin and idea
Developers said at BlizzCon 2007 that they didn't want the new class to use the traditional resource systems because they wanted the death knight to have a different style of play. They stated their intention was for the death knight to use a mixture of spells and melee in close combat. Because of this, a system that didn't specifically rely on either mana or rage was more appropriate.
During the 2008 WWI, it was noted that the original runes were replaced because they were too complex to show them refreshing inside the character's portrait bar.
- Patch 7.0.3 (19-Jul-2016): Runes are more straightforward by removing their division into separate Blood, Frost, and Unholy types. Death Knights now have six unified Runes to spend, with a maximum of three recharging at any one time.
- Hotfix (2009-06-02): "Runic Power costs will no longer be lowered by abilities intended to lower mana costs."