Thursday, March 3, 2011

Patch Notes: Starsurge Nerf?

I assume most of you have seen the 4.1 PTR patch notes that came out on Tuesday and saw this little gem.

Starsurge damage has been reduced by 20%.
I was pretty surprised by this note, and judging from the email I've gotten it seems like many of you were also. I've done some rough calculations using SimulationCraft, WrathCalcs and World of Logs Data, and I estimate this change to be about a 3% decrease to Moonkin DPS. To say the least this sucks, but all nerfs suck. The question that I would like answered now is: Why?

Overpowered DPS:

When questioning a nerf the first consideration should always be if the class or spec is over powered. Personally, I haven't felt overpowered, but I have had a bit of a rough time raiding since the release of Cataclysm. Therefore, I might not have the best perspective. However, I also haven't heard any QQ about Moonkin DPS from other classes. So, my gut reaction is that Moonkin are not overpowered, but lets look at some numbers to see if we can see a different story.

SimulationCraft: The first place I wanted to look was SimulationCraft. I wanted to see how Moonkin ranked against the other caster specs. I ran simulations for each of the main caster specs using the BiS profiles at a 372 gear level provided by SimulationCraft.

    Gear 372 ilvl26,58026,18727,95127,27628,307
I realize that the profiles I used are not necessarily like comparing apples to apples, but I assume that the SimulationCraft coders know what they are doing and that these are reasonable. With that in mind I don't see a case Moonkin being overpowered in these numbers. All 5 specs are relatively close together and the Balance spec is towards the bottom of the pack.

World of Logs: SimulationCraft is great in theory, but doesn't really represent what happens when a human is pushing the buttons. So lets take a look at some WoL info.

At the bottom of this post, I've listed some ranking info from World of Logs. I've included the #1 and #200 ranked parse of each spec for every 25man Normal mode fight available in T11 raiding. I pulled the data on 03/03/11.

For the record, I fully understand that this data does not accurately represent the WoW playing population as a whole. This data is skewed by favorable RNG, and represents a tiny portion of the population. My guess is that Blizzard has much better data and sees a more complete picture, but this is the only thing that is available to me.

The results varied significantly depending on the fight. Moonkin DPS was close to the top on several fights, but was towards the bottom on others. Valiona & Theralion was the only fight I saw where significantly ahead of other classes on a consistent basis and Shadow Priests are right there with us.

DPS Conclusions: Looking at this data it's obvious Moonkin aren't weak, but I think it would be hard to argue that we are systematically better then the other classes. At the very least I don't think it warns a 3% nerf.

While Moonkin come out a head on some fights, we fall behind on others. It was my understanding Blizzard expected that some fights would be better for some classes, and that is ok. Therefore, I don't see a problem with how the DPS is currently distributed, because it's not consistent or overwhelming.

In my opinion Moonkin are not overpowered, and I would be surprised if that is the reason behind the nerf.

Why Starsurge?:

I also keep asking myself, why nerf Starsurge? If they thought Moonkin were to high, then Moonfury is a much better tool then Starsurge. They've already nerfed moonkin with it once, and have shown that they don't have a problem going below the current level of 10%. Since they focused on a single spell that makes me think there is a specific problem they are trying to solve rather then a general issue like to much DPS.

To Much Synergy: Since I only play PvE, I of course start to think of reasons why would Starsurge be a problem in PvE. The only thing I could think of is that they underestimated the amount of Synergy there would be between DoTs, Shooting Stars, and Starsurge. Some of the best WoL parses I looked at were moonkin maintaining DoTs on multiple targets and getting an large number of Shooting Stars procs.

It's possible that Blizzard might want to calm that relationship down, but I have a hard time believing that. Even if there is more synergy between those abilities then Blizzard expected, I don't think it's resulted in a DPS imbalance. Then I remembered, the main reason why we can never have nice things.

PvP Burst: To much Synergy might be the right answer, but I applied it to the wrong area of play. Blizzard has been trying to limit Burst DPS in PvP for years. They don't want players to go from full to dead in a very short period of time. With Starsurge and Shooting Stars a moonkin can put out a lot of DPS in a every short period of time with a little help from RNG.

As any many of you know I don't PvP, so I don't know if this is really happening in game, but it sounds possible. If I had to guess, I would say Starsurge is getting nerfed because Blizzard believes it's too powerful in PvP.


Getting nerfed sucks, and I think most of us were surprised by the Starsurge nerf when we saw it. After looking at the DPS data that is available to players I highly doubt that Moonkin are over powered and need to be brought down for pure DPS reasons. Even if that was the case I doubt Blizzard would do so by nerfing Starsurge. Moonfury is a much better tool to raise or lower DPS if that type of action is needed.

The reason, Starsurge is getting nerfed probably has more to do with the spell itself rather then the overall DPS output of Moonkin. The fact of the matter is, Starsurge can unload a lot of DPS in a very short period of time with a little good luck from Shooting Stars. Chances are Starsurge is being nerfed for PvP reasons rather then PvE reasons. With that, there is a little hope. The patch is still in the early stages, and there is plenty of time for Blizzard to buff us in other areas to make up for the nerf.

World of Logs Data:









    Twilight CouncilBalanceFireShadowElementalDestruction





Rohan said...

These days, I think that if a specific spell is nerfed, it's either due to PvP, or to fix a "rotational imbalance" where the normal PvE rotation of the class isn't what Blizzard wants it to be.

If it's an actual PvE issue (the class dps is too low or too high) it seems that Blizzard is more likely to fix that by changing the overall spec bonus or changing the mastery bonus/scaling, rather than individual spells.

Xaktsaroth said...

I find it rather hard to belive it´s caused by PvP since with some resil starsurge hits are more of a tickle on anyone.

Andreas said...

Patchnotes was later changed to say reduced BASE damage by 20%, with number to go along.
IF that is teh case it's a vastly smaller nerf then we initiallly thoguht.

Alan F said...

Nerfing Balanced for PvP as of 4.06 is sheer idiocy. I can't speak for Boomkins wearing the best gear in the game and know the game like the back of their hand but for those of us average players, we're dead meat in PvP. Looong cast times on everything save dots that get dispelled. Core spells getting timed and locked out after seeing us dot. Cast times on heals you could measure in "Oh crap, it looks as if I'm going to die one more time this evening! 1-1000 Oh crap, it looks as if I'm going to die one more time this evening! 2-1000..."

Graylo said...


Remember there's a difference between Patch Notes and MMO Data Mining.

Epidemais said...

Blizzard have already changed spell to behave differently in PVE and PVP.

Why not apply the same mechanic to all spells, leaving PVP nerfs strictly for PVP and vice versa?

Misguided said...

The PVP nerf is BS. If you're able to live you're not going around two shotting things with starsurge. With the level of resil you'd be lucky to get it to crit for 50k. Right now we have no defensive CDs, horrible CC( which is also getting nerfed), and heals that are laughable compared to rogues, DKs, and warriors. So what's wrong with us having a little burst dmg, if that's what u want to call it

Anonymous said...

What stands out more than anything in the world of logs chart is just how much worse Ele shaman are compared to other caster dps. Quite staggering.

Ambermist said...

Let me preface this by saying I don't like this nerf and I don't really agree with it.

That said, I think I know what they're seeing in PvP. I don't think a flat nerf to Starsurge is the solution, but I'm going to loosely assume that they see things I don't.

In PvP right now (in battlegrounds, since that's where I spend the most time in PvP as a moonkin), I can generally just hop around spamming Moonfire and hitting Shooting Stars-procced Starsurge. I've seen it crit against players for 76k+, and if I happen to have a healer in my back pocket (which I often do), I can survive for quite a while against multiple enemies. I generally come out at the top for damage done (like it actually matters) and in the top 5 for HK's and KB's. I casually do arenas, and I found moonkin to still be too squishy for my team's composition.

If anything, I'd think that changing the way Moonfire and Shooting Stars works would be a better solution for fixing the battleground "problem" without screwing us out of our PvE performance.

Sarge said...

From my perspective as casual moonkin (350 item level, 10man normal raiding) these nerfs suck big time.

My DPS is ok on multiple target fights. But on single target fights I have no chance keeping up with Warlocks or Hunters since the patch.

Paul said...

This is definitely stemmed from PvP since this ability can produce some pretty over the top crits and RNG completely swaying matches is not something that can really be considered "competitive", particularly in arena.

I really would like to see this ability have some kind of dot portion to it so the damage output still remains the same, similar to what they did with Conflag. Suggesting another nerf to Moonfury is more frustrating than anything really, since it affects our scaling dramatically and will just produce more problems in the future.

I would hope these nerfs would bring more attention to Moonkin PvP yet they never change much of anything in regard to our other problems (self healing in particular, compared to pure DPS classes).

- Dignam, US Crushridge

mushu said...

Damn this crap really pisses me off! As the saying goes: "PVP is why we can't have nice things in PVE."

Also, EJ regular Calculated discusses this on his blog (start reading here):

Volunsteer - Shadowmoon said...

This "nerf" is based on pvp battle grounds. If any of you have been in the arena as I have, Moonkins get embarrassed at best against most classes. We do however smash a FEW classes. That being said, a Balance druid can sit back in a BG and through around dots waiting for instant cast Starsurge and blow people up. Enough people have QQ'd about it to make Bllizz propose a change. The change to the BASE damage is something that Blizz is still working out thus it being in the patch notes and not yet live. I wouldn't freak out too much about it as I am sure it will be reversed.

We don't need another nerf (the 5% dmg from moonkin form was dumb. we never got our day in the sun for too long) and this starsurge business is tardy cocka horse bukaki.

There are other classes which need some balancing. LEAVE CHICKENS ALONE!!! Let us be for at least 2 freaking weeks.

Cryj/Farstriders said...

If the nerf is the result of SS procs leading to massive burst, why not just add an internal cooldown to it rather than decrease the damage?

Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...


You assume alot out of blizzard young jedi.

Ryuujin said...

I remember someone saying it elsewhere but it seems like the Starsurge nerf is a step in a direction towards making Moonkins more viable in PvP. With such a hard hitting spell and RNG it, as you said, can lead to ridiculous burst. In PvP, against resil stacked targets I believe a single Starsurge crit can do around 30k, coupled with Solar Beam and a good stun, that can just nuke someone down in seconds.

I'm not worried about this change at all. I'm sure sometime in the next two weeks we'll see buffs elsewhere in our spells/talents.

Anonymous said...

Just spam IS, MF/SnF on every enemie you see and imagine what happen when you are in the alterac valley.
Just boost a little bite more your dps using Starfall, and cut all casters who are pack near the flag.

Yeah, that's a pvp reason, i'm affraid :x

Nightwhisp said...

Eeeek more nerfs. . .Since cata my boomie has gone from being in the top two dps to dead last. I keep respecing and trying different rotations, but all to no avail. Blizzard has sucessfully turned my main into an alt :(
It is fursterating to run with a kitty that is less geared and have her consistantly out DPS me.
I don't need to be OP to be happy, but it sucks to be the bottom slot every time. Now they want to nerf one more spell? No wonder so many folks are moving to rift.

Udderly said...

Jesus so much QQ over one little change that ISNT LIVE!! It's not like they took away a core mechanic or cut your total dps by 20% Relax, and complain if it goes live.

As to why it happened, yes it's because of us pvpers, but the last thing pve'ers should be doing is complaining. So much of what we deal with in PVP is because of pve (warriors globaling things, frost mages having high dps with their control, ret pallies being a wrecking ball) that sometimes it swings the other way. The reason behind it is a comp called Affl/Booom/resto sham. Its season 9s cheese comp and its rolling through people like nobodies business, with the moonkin topping dps by miles, despite being trained all game. Every top boomkin is playing this comp and is getting glad for it. I found it incredibly boring, because all you do is dot EVERYTHING (including pets) get eclipse, spam sunfire, profit. It's fairly lame

Anyways, thats the reason, they want less burst in pvp, less cheese in this comp, and I know nerfs suck, but guess what, we get screwed in pvp by pvp buff/nerfs all the time, so idk what to tell ya. =D

Genaro said...

Latest PTR notes on MMO Champion have the following Balance change:

Starlight Wrath now Reduces the cast time of your Wrath and Starfire spells by 0.15/0.25 sec, up from 0.1/0.2 sec

Maybe this will make up for the Starsurge nerf?

Math wizards do your thang!

Dreslav said...


No offset, because every moonkin should already have 3/3 starlight wrath and it didn't change the 3/3 buff level.