Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ghostcrawler Speaks to Moonkin

The blue poster Ghostcrawler has been very active on the Druid Beta forums lately talking a little about moonkin issues. In general the posts have few specifics, but that is not all that unexpected given his comments. There is a lot of stuff to go over so I will try and give you a short summary and a couple of pros and cons I saw in the posts.

(link 1) - The big post. If you don't read them all, read this one for sure.
(link 2) - Naxx Balance Set
(link 3) - Small random stuff
(link 4) - Rebirth and Innervate

I would summarize Ghostcrawlers comments this way:

"We realize that the Balance Druids haven't been getting a lot of attention lately, and that is changing. We think we have fixed some of the main issues that moonkin had from BC and we like a lot of the new talents, but realize that there is still work to be done on the tree."

1. Recognition - Blizzard realizes that they have not been giving us much attention in the Beta and in BC, and they are just starting a new review of the Balance Tree.

2. Bloat - "I understand why you think there are too many mandatory talents, and I promise to get back to that soon." - This is a great sign. Given
Koraa's comments on bloat before, it is nice to see that some one recognizes that we do have bloat issues. No, we are not talking about our waist line.

3. Competitive dps - Ghostcrawler doesn't say anything directly but he does imply that moonkin should have DPS competitive with Mages and Warlock. I know this is obvious, but I am not always sure blizzard recognizes it.

4. Naxx Moonkin Gear - "Some amount of Spirit is something that all casters are going to need." ... "That said, I will bring up whether we could afford to trade a little spirit for crit on your gear." I agree that Moonkin need spirit for mana regen, but given our current talent set up our gear doesn't warrant that much spirit. Ghostcrawler's comment says that he will only bring it up, but a least they will look at it.

5. Current Status - "I don't think Balance is done yet by any stretch." - Good to hear. Now, just make sure the changes are good changes.

1. Blizzards Casual Nature - "Eclipse almost by itself 'saved' Balance for me. Several times I tried going Balance in Classic and BC and just couldn't do it." - This worries me because it shows he doesn't have a lot of practical experience playing the tree. He may understand the issues intellectually from feedback, but I don't think he understands how Moonkin are played in a raid setting. Moonkin are not the worst button smashers, and we can have a lot of variety in our rotation if we have to keep Imp FF and IS up as well as MF and SF. Mages, Destro Locks and Ele Shaman generally cast only 1 or 2 spells.

2. Eclipse - It is obvious from his posts that Ghostcrawler at the very least loves the concept of this talent. I don't necessarily disagree, but the talent in no way lives up to the concept. The goal of the talent is to bring diversity into the moonkin casting rotation. The problem is with the base spells them selves. Currently in both Beta and BC, one of the spells is a clear favorite over the other, and the current Eclipse doesn't over come that advantage. Therefore there is no reason to change your rotation. Even if the randomness of the talent is reduced, this talent will still have big issues until they take a close look at the buffs.

3. Imp Faerie Fire / Group Utility - I understand why Blizzard wants to limit raid stacking of specific classes, but I don't think they understand that they can't eliminate it completely. Ghostcrawler said "Faerie Fire (has) a better role now." The benefit is better, but there is no way moonkin are going to pick it up for 25 man raids. Misery is clearly better, and Shadow Priests can pick it up without any effort. The same is true for so much of a moonkin's utility. Elemental Oath is target based and not aura basted. Retribution aura also included a 2% dps buff on top of the 3% haste. Curse of Elements provides spell pen as well as 10/13% damage increase. Yes we can do a lot of different things, but in most cases the other classes can do it better.

My Conclusions
I take most of Ghostcrawlers comments as a positive sign. In fact, I think blizzard has a clear idea of what they want moonkin to be. They want us to be serious Caster DPS just like Mages and Warlocks.

The problem is I don't think they know how to get us there in a unique way that doesn't mimic one of the three other caster DPS classes. In this light all of these changes might make a little more sense. I think blizzard is experimenting with our tree quite a bit right now, and that is not a bad thing. However, I worry that it will take them 2 years to figure out that some of their experiments were failures. It took them 2 years to realize that Melee for Mana sucked and fix it. It took them over a year to fix moonkin mana issues.

I don't mind the fact that blizzard has made some bold changes to the tree. I just hope that they are able to make bold revisions quickly when they realize that some of them have actually harmed our class more then helped it.

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