Friday, August 29, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Balance Tree Edition

I never would have guessed that I would be at home at 10:39 pm on a friday night and start to write a blog entry. Being at home on a Friday night isn't that big of a deal. I have a 14 month old child which means I have no social life, but writing a blog entry? I should at least be playing WoW. Well there have been some more massive changes to the balance tree and I just can't wait for a better time to write this post. I have to do it now.

This post is entirely based off of Blue posts on the forums and off of the WotLK Beta talent calculator. None of these changes have been seen in an actual Beta build yet. Also, there are like to be more changes to come. Most of the raid viability changes released yesterday are not in the talent calculator yet.

Note: 1. I am only going to review talents that have changed in relation to the last beta build. Talents like Natures Reach are still different then the current live build, but have not changed in the beta at all. 2. I obviously haven't had time to run a lot of numbers for all of the changes. In most cases this is my first impression of the situation.

Calculator Changes:

Tier 1
Natures Grasp - This is no longer a talented ability. It is being converted to a trainable spell with a 100% proc rate (
src). I suppose this change is good, but it doesn't have much of an impact on me. I have never been a big fan of it so making it trainable does nothing to reduce the tree's bloat in my opinion. I would never have picked it up anyway.

Genesis (New Talent) - Increases the damage and healing done by our periodic spells by 5%. Currently DoTs make up at most 25% of my DPS. So a 5 % increase in DoT damage would only increase my DPS by 1% - 1.25%. This is definately a bonus, but it isn't huge.

Furor (resto tree) - Increases your total Intellect while in Moonkin Form by 10%. Funny, this talent has no use for resto druids but it is in the resto tree. Anyway, this is a great change. It won't have a huge impact, but all of my points in the resto tree will now benifit my dps role. This means Moonkin are no longer forced to pick up useless talents anywhere.

Tier 2
Moonglow - Moved from tier 5 to tier 2. No real impact for balance, but it is great for restos.

Natures Mastery (Semi New Talent) - Was formally Focused Starlight and now includes a 4% crit bonus for Nourish and Healing Touch. Again, it has no real impact on balance but it is great for restos.

Control of Nature - Being combined with Natures Focus in the Resto tree. (src) It is primarily a PvP talent so it will have little impact on most raiding moonkin.

Tier 3
Nature's Splendor (New Talent) - Increases the duration of your Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom and Flourish spells by 30%. First of all, this is great for restos. More duration = more healing. I am unsure how this will play out for Moonkin. This may be an expendable talent. In case you don't remember the Starfire glyph increases your Moonfire DoT by 3 seconds. Since Starfire will be cast in lest then 3seconds on average, it is techically possible to keep Moonfire up for quite a while without refreshing it. Therefore increase duration will have little impact. It will mean a lot more for IS. One other thing. How are they going to calculate the damage? Moonfire currently ticks ever 3 seconds. This talent increases moonfire's duration by 4 seconds. When is that lst second going to do its damage?

Natures Grace - Moved from Tier 5 to Tier 3. Again, no impact on moonkin but Phae over at Resto4Life likes it for restos.

Tier 4
Celestial Focus - The Push-back resistance is removed, but "increases your total spell haste by 3% For some reason I think there are a couple of ways to interpert this tool tip. Do I have a 15% chance at the haste buff or is it static? My guess is it is a static 3% spell haste buff, In which case this becomes a mush have talent. Since this is one of the talents that we currently don't spec into for raiding, this change increases our talent bloat.

Tier 5
Improved Insect Swarm (New Talent) - Increases damage done by your Wrath spell by 3% when the target is afflicted by your Insect Swarm, and Increases the Crit chance of your Starfire spell when the target is afflicted by your Moonfire. AWESOME NEW TALENT. I nice basic buff that synergizes with other moonkin glyphs and abilities.. It I think it favors Starfire due to the glyphs that extend MF's duration and it will make SF more mana efficent due to Mana on Crit. The great part is that it is decent for wrath also.
Edit: I have read some comments out on various forums that say this change isn't that great for Starfire and better for Wrath. Their reasoning is that a straight increase in damage will produce more damage then an percentage increase to crit. This is true. In fact the 3% increase to wrath damage will increase single spell damage by 3%. The 3% increase to crit will increase single spell damage by only 2.4%. However there is Natures Grace and Mana Efficency to consider. If you include Natures Grace and lookat it form a DPS stand point. The Wrath buff increases DPS by 3% and the SF buff increases DPS by 2.94%. If you look at mana efficency the mana efficency of SF goes up by 4.59% but only 3% for Wrath. All in all I think it is fairly well balanced, assuming that our mana pool can handle the additional casting due to Nature's Grace.

Raid Stacking Changes

The changes listed from here on out are not in the new talent calculater but were a part of the Raid Stacking posts made by Zarhym. None of these changes are listed on the talent calculator currently. In this section I will not only be evaluating the changes but how the Moonkin buff compares to the buffs it does not stack with. With that in mind I will speculate on which class is best at applying the buff and how this will affect Moonkin raid viability. Please remember that this analysis could be completely incorrect once we see how these changes take affect on a real beta build.

Tier 7
Moonkin Aura - There is no change in the Aura but it won't stack with Elemental Oath a new WotLK buff from Elemental Shaman. Both buffs provide a 5% increase in crit chance. The only real difference is Elemental Oath is currently target based and Moonkin Aura is an Aura. Therefore Moonkin Aura can be out ranged where as Elemental Oath cannot be.
Which is Better? - - Elemental Oath, because it is target based.
Moonkin Raid Viability: This is a reduction. The only plus is that elemental shaman are fairly rare in raid guilds.

Improved Moonkin Aura - It is now a static 3% haste buff as opposed to the 20% haste buff on crit for 8 seconds. This is actually a pretty big nerf. If we assume a standard crit rate of 25%, the old haste buff would be up 19% of the time. This would result in and average haste buff of 3.85%. As you can clearly see the old haste buff is significantly better then the new static 3%. Imp Moonkin Aura will not stack with Swift Retribution and Ret Pally buff. Both are Auras, but the Pally buff also comes with the regular Retribution Aura. It is generally considered to be a bad Idea to have Retribution Aura.
Which is Better? - - Slightly Moonkin Aura
Moonkin RaidViability: This is actually a decrease in raid viability when compared to the onld Imp Moonkin Aura, but guilds my find us desirable to provide this buff.

Improved Fairie Fire - No longer affects Melee or Ranged hit chance and competes with Misery from shadow priest for a 3% buff to spell hit.
Which is Better? - - Misery by far. Shadow priest will apply it using their normal DPS rotations. For moonkin it is an extra spell that will cost us a global cooldown and reduce our DPS.
Moonkin RaidViability: A big reduction in moonkin raid viablity. There is now no reason to spec Imp FF if you have an Spriest in raid.

Earth and Moon - Now affects all spell classes and increases spell damage by 13%. It competes with Ebon Plaguebringer from Unholy DKs and Curse of Elements from warlocks.

Which is Better? - - There is some debate over this. On one hand, CoE not only increases damage but also lowers resistances resulting in higher damage. With the resistance CoE is best. On the other hand Ebon Plaguebringer and EnM will be applied during normal spell rotations, and it allows the warlock to use a damaging curse. With out the spell pen on CoE, EnM and Ebon Plaguebringer are better.
Moonkin RaidViability: Who knows how prevelent Unholy DKs will be in raids. This could be an increase if they do something about the resistances, but right now it is a reduction

What does this mean for Moonkin Raiding?

First of all, the raid stacking changes are bad for moonkin over all. All of our best buffs can be applied by a mana battery class, a superior DPS class, or a class with other unique viability. Moonkin raiding is obviously not dead, but moonkin will have a hard time finding 25 man raids unless Moonkin DPS is improved relative to pure DPS classes.

The new talents have made the Bloat issue a whole lot worse. The number of talents usable by moonkin has increase from 76 in the current live build, to 92 in the old beta, to 95 in the new beta. To make matters worse, blizzard eliminated several of the useless talents in the Balance tree and replace them with decent talents. I could easily spec in to 86 talents, but I will have only 71 points. That means I will have to skip 15 good talents.

Blizzard has said that they are looking into the bloat and will shave some points off, but I don't think a few is quite enough. It is clear to me that there is still quite a bit of work to be done.


Higu said...

Hey just wanted to say I love your blog.

About raid stacks, Moonkins CAN provide different buffs in FF, IFF, Moonkin Aura, Imp Moonkin Aura, Insect Swarm, Earth and Moon (and Motw). This isn't a huge deal in 25 man raids because like you said Moonkins are either equal or worse than another class's buffs but keep in mind the added emphasis on 10 man raids in WOTLK, you're getting a ton of utility if you spec for it and can allow more DPS classes instead of bringing another utility class. Not sure how it'll play out but it's something to keep in mind. For instance even though Misery is better than IFF, Moonkin might be more viable for the raid because of everything else they bring while a Shadow Priest really doesn't bring anything now. Earth and Moon would free up a lock for another curse, etc.

Cdin said...

I completely agree that these changes are good for 10-man raids and moonkins who want to raid 10-mans. What are the chances that a 10-man raid is going to have a Unholy DK, Elemental Shaman, Ret Pally, Warlock, Shadow Priest, and Resto/Feral Druid? I think the answer is slim to none when you consider you will also have to have 1-2 tanks, and 2-3 healers. Moonkin will definately have a spot in 10-mans.

Plus, 10-mans aren't going to be the more serious raiders. Real serious raiders are going to stick with the 25-mans for the superior loot and greater prestege. So if 10-mans are more casual, there will be less min/maxing and people will be chosen more on friendship then on utility.

From a 25-man stand point this could be disastrous for moonkins. Phea made a good point on her blog about how raids are going to be built in WotLK. Raid Leaders are going to come up with a templete of how to acheave all of the needed utility. They are going to go down the list and find the best way to get all of the buffs. Then they are going to pick the tanks and healers they need. This will provide them with their core raid group. The rest of the raid will be filled based upon one stat alone, because all of the other bases are covered. That stat is DPS. Currently Moonkin do not stack up well in terms of DPS against the more pure DPS classes. That could definately change, but right now we are behind the pack.

So that sums up the moonkins situation with 25-man raids. Our utility can and in most cases probably will be applied by another class. Our DPS lags behind other pure classes if played and geared equally well. Put these things togeather and you get few options for 25-man raiding by moonkin.

Merlot said...

Interesting to read your take on the raid buff changes. As a shadow priest, I look at the changes and wish I were a druid! I think we've both got the shaft with the spell hit buff, but I would kill for earth and moon. Thirteen percent? Misery used to be 5%... Overall, I think we're in the same boat. Both classes are in need of serious dps love if we are to compete for raid spots in Northrend.

Cdin said...


The recent changes to raid stacking have a lot of people up in arms. It all really comes down to the fact that we each had our own turf, and now other classes are stealing some of that turf.

Shadow Priest have quite a bit to worry about in my opinion, but I think they are a little bit better off then Moonkin. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. Misery - Some are saying going from 5% damage to 3% hit is a nerf. In my opinion, if it is a nerf it isn't a big one. For most Caster DPS Hit is better then Damage. So it is quite possible that 3% hit is fairly equivalent to 5% damage.

2. Raid Specs - Shadow priest have a fairly clear raid spec. They can pick up all of the core raid talents easily. Moonkin on the other hand have to make several hard choices, skipping several talents that buff our basic raid viablity.

3. Applying Misery - Misery will be applied by your normal DPS Casting rotation. You don't have to do anything different. Faerie Fire reduces our DPS because it uses a global cooldown. Plus it takes points away from other talents that would increase our DPS.

4. Earth and Moon is increadably bad for 25man raids. It is not equal to Curse of Elements. The spell pen alone on CoE is a significant chunk of raid wide DPS. CoE will still be the buff of choice, so there is little reason to spec into EnM.

5. On top of all that Spriests are still mana batteries. The michanic may have changed but it will still be highly valued in raids. Given the changes to Potions, this may be the most important roll in a raid.

The only real problem shadow priest have is their damage out put. They have lost utility, but they have a very clear spec. Once blizzard tweaks your DPS (as the recently said they are going to do) you should be fine.

Moonkin on the other hand have significant issues with there spec, with DPS output, and we don't have a core utility like a mana battery.

Brusana said...

I think we'll be fine because the only other class that provides the passive 3% haste on the moonkin aura is the paladin but that's deep in ret so we still have some utility =O

Cdin said...


Improved Moonkin Form is the one bit of utility were we might have an advantage, but don't count on it. Ret Pallys have been Buffed majorly in WotLK. It is likely that their DPS will be scaled back a little bit, but they could easily be DPS leaders in the expantion. It is quite possible that every raid will seek a ret pally because of awesome DPS, plus there utility. Don't for get they are also mana batteries now.

The advanteges of Imp Moonkin Aura is the lack of reflective damage. Most raid leaders won't want that to go raid wide. Plus both buffs are Auras. In movement fights it will be quite possible to out range the buff, so having two in a raid might not be a bad thing.