Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More thoughts on the new Balance Tree

I wrote my first post regarding the new tree very late at night on Friday. Looking back over it I see that there are a couple of things I ment to include that I didn't. Plus there is some info I haven't been able to work into a post yet. So here is a little bit of a catch all.

Potion Sickness
I posted a while ago that they got grid of it. Apparently I was wrong. They have gotten rid of the icon to tell you that you have it but the affect is still very active in game. I haven't seen any offical reporting of this but I have seen several beta testers say that it is still there.

Starfire vs Wrath
The great debate of moonkin Casting rotations. If WotLK went live today this debate would depend on one thing and one thing only: Mana. Almost everything that once favored Starfire now benifits both spells or was removed from the game. With this in mind Wrath is clearly the better choice in terms of DPS.

So the $64,000 question is, can our mana pool support a Wrath based casting rotation?

This problem sounds very complicated to begin with. Unfortunately it is relatively simple. We can ignore, most of our talents, potion sickness, and mana batteries. It really comes down to just one thing. Mana on Crit.

The Mana on Crit mechanic clearly favors Wrath since it will crit more than twice as often but return the same amount of mana for each crit. Therefore, t some level of crit Wrath is going to be more mana efficent then Starfire. Using BC spells and standard BC mana pools, I estimate that level to be a little over 30% crit.

This value may sound high to most people but lets remember a couple of things. First, many high end moonkin raiders are well over this level already. I have seen several over 40%. Second, Mages are going to be buffing our crit percentage by up to 10% with winter's chill and imp scorch.

One last thing to remember, Wrath doesn't have to be more mana efficent for it to be our spell of choice. Our mana regen just has to support the difference between Starfire and Wrath for Wrath to be the prefered spell.

Without significant changes Wrath will be the primary raid spell in WotLK. This is the beta of course, and I expect this to change. The way blizzard has set up the Glyphs it is clear they intend Starfire to be the main raid nuke and Wrath to be the main PvP nuke. Yes, they do want a little more variety in our casting rotations but I don't think they want to rock the boat to much. So, don't get to committed to this change just yet.

My Current WotLK Raid Build
I have come up with a build that I would use right now if I was raiding in WotLK. (

PLEASE NOTE: All of the following talent analysis is from a 25 man raid perspective. I have said multiple times that 10 mans are a different animal and that some of the buffs won't be as readily available in the smaller format. So, if you would like to dispute some of my opinions please do it from a 25 man stand point.

I have left 5 points open, because I don't know where I would use them as of yet. It is not for a lack of quality options. The indesistion is primarily due to not knowing what utility I need to bring to a raid and not knowing what the encounters are like and how some talents will react in those encounters.

Anyway, here are some highlights of the spec.

Genisis - I have skipped it for now. Periodic damage is 25% at most of my normal raid damage and increasing taht by 5% isn't much. I would love to pick this talent up if I could but it just seems that there are better options on the table.

Improved Moonfire - I have picked this talent up for now but I could really go either way. The new Glyphs take a lot of bite out of this talent. If you don't remember the Moonfire Glyph reduces the initial damage by 90% but increase the dot damage by 75%. The Starfire Glyph will extend Moonfire's duration by 3 seconds. So, the 10% Crit is fairly useless now. I have picked it up because of the 10% increase in damage to Moonfire. However, if Wrath becomes the primary nuke, this talent will be dropped.

Brambles - I have skipped this talent for now because of the unknowns. Thorns is the primary reason to pick up this talent. Roots and Trents do benifit, but its not huge and won't impact raids much. Thorns on the other hand have the possibility of doing decent damage to a boss if it now scales with Spell Power as has been reported. However, I wouldn't be suprised if this ended up not stacking with Retribution Aura. Plus, Its not so far in the tree that a resto might not pick it up for their own utility.

Nature's Splendor - This talent just isn't all that useful for a moonkin. It is a lot of talent points for a fairly limited gain in damage. The best part about it would be how it worked with Improved IS. It would allow you to get more Wraths off before refressing IS. With a SF rotation it doesn't matter since the Glyph of Starfire will keep Moonfire ticking indefinately. Overall, I think the only people picking this one up will be restos.

Vengence - This is a core talent that hasn't changed at all. Every moonkin will pick it up if they have any sense. However, I would like to see a change here. Destro Locks and Ele Shaman DPS have a similar talent but just one point is needed to get the same bonus. I'm not saying it has to be reduced to 1 point but something less then 5 would be nice.

Celestial Focus - I picked this talent up for now for the 3% haste buff, but I may drop it from an early raid build. I've said it many times before. If mana is an issue, haste is a worthless stat. So if mana does prove to be an issue, these points can be better spent else where.

Improved Insect Swarm - This is a fairly obviouls pick up, but I would like it to be bigger and possibly restructured a little bit. It is one of the few places we get any scaling. Which spell it favors depends on your perspective. The from a Damage and DPS stand point if favors Wrath since the flat damage increase can crit. From a Mana Efficnecy and ease of use standpoint Starfire is the clear winner.

Mana Regen Talents - The all serve the same purpose so I am including them all togeather. I'm looking at Dreamstate, Intensity, and Omen of Clarity. I have picked up all three of the talents for now, because I don't know what our mana situation is going to be. It is quite possible that one or two of these talents will be dropped if our mana pool is sufficiant without them. In which case Dreamstate would probably go first.

Improved Moonkin Form - I have picked this talent up but I am disappointed with it. The new version is a clear nerf over the old version. However, it is a good pick of for moonkin. It is slightly better for a moonkin to provide this utility then a Retribution Pally, but the difference is minor.

Improved Faerie Fire - If you don't have a shadow priest or two that raids regularly then you may want to pick it up. However, most guild have a couple Shadow Priests so any moonkin in this situation would be dump for picking it up. Shadow Priest are all mad because they see it as a nerf to Misery, but its not that big of a nerf. Plus, Spriests have more then enough talents points to pick it up without sacrificing damage, and they can apply it without sacrificing damage. Moonkin on the othe had, don't have any extra points to spec into it, and we lose DPS just to apply it. I am not saying that Spriests don't have their issues, but they clearly win this battle.

Owlkin Frenzy - I pass this talent up for now, because it is primarily a PvP talent. However, if WotLK raids are designed anything like BT and SWP, then raid wide damage will make this a valuable talent.

Eclipse - The problem with this talent is that it is too random and there has never been a clear distinction between Wrath and Starfire. The randomness can be fixed by making it an activated ability or removing the cooldown. The other problem is not so easy. There has always been a inherent design flaw in Wrath and Starfire when it comes to raiding. Currently Starfire is more mana efficent and does compariable DPS due to buffs. If WotLK goes live as currently built, Wrath will do much more DPS but be comparible in mana efficency. So, one spell is clearly better then the other, and the buffs Eclipse provides aren't significant enough to force us to switch.

Typhoon - Clearly a PvP ability. The knockback won't be welcome in PvE because it could knock mobs our of range of the rest of the AoE. Since I don't PvP, I won't pick this up.

Gale Winds - A very nice but situational talent. Hurricane is the last bit of unique utility we still have. So something that increases hits damage is great. The question is, how important is AoE damage going to be in WotLK. I would love to put some points here if I can spare them.

Earth and Moon - Chances are I would not pick up this talent. Yes, a 13% increase in all spell damage is nice, but Curse of Elements is better. Why invest 3 - 5 points in a talent that will for the most part be over written by a better debuff. Unless it gains some more functionality or Curse of Elements loses its spell pen, Earth and Moon is useless in 25 man raids.

Starfall - Theoretically, as a max level talent I think it should be a core of a moonkin build. Unfortunately, it appears to be very situational. The fact that it is primarily an AoE spell and has a 5 minute cooldown greatly limits its utility. If I have extra points to pick it up I may, but I won't worry if I can't work it in. There are a couple of ways to improve it. If they make it viable against a single target it could be very nice, or if they reduced the cooldown to something more managable would make it more useful.

Moonkin DPS
Most of the recent changes where made to limit Min/Maxing by raid leaders. I understand the goal. What Blizzard needs to know is that they cannot eliminate Min/Maxing. How it is done may change, but raid leaders will always Min/Max. Now that buffs don't stack and can be provided by several specs Min/Maxing will now focus on Maximizing DPS. This is the heart of the moonkin problem.

Traditionally, Moonkin have lagged behind pure DPS classes significantly in terms of DPS. Now, some of those DPS classes can provide the same level of Utility we can but a still have far superior DPS. Like most hybrid classes, your DPS needs to be increases significantly so that we can catch up to the Mages, Warlocks, and rogues of the world. Otherwise we will not see the inside of a 25 man raid.

Concluding Thoughts
Some of my comments may sound like I am predicting the end of Moonkin Raiding. I understand why you may think that but that is not my intent. I understand that this is just a beta and that things are going to change.

I write these things because we as a community can't assume that blizzard will find out the right way to do things on their own. In fact, blizzard has asked for feedback from players. I write these things to show the holes in Blizzard's logic. If no one says what the problem is how can it be fixed.

That is my goal. I am trying to shed some light on the problems as I see them. I fully understand that I will get somethings wrong. If you see an example of that please point it out.


Jay said...

I feel as if I have to disagree with your assessment of Earth and Moon, for the exact same reasons i agree with your assessment of Improved Fairie Fire. Simply put, Moonkins will be able to apply this buff (or is it a debuff) without sacrificing dps, as we apply it through the course of normal damage dealing, while a Lock would A) have to spec into affliction, and B) sacrifice a damage dealing curse to apply the debuff. Of course, you wouldn't want to put five points into the talent as it stands now, 3 is probably sufficient, and 4 definitely would be. Now, if Unholy becomes a popular raiding spec or death knights, then they would probably benefit the most by applying this debuff.

Cdin said...

If Curse of Elements was just the the 10%/13% then I would agree with you completely. The thing is though Curse of Elements also has quite a bit of spell pen. That spell pen has been shown to increase DPS quite a bit on Raid bosses quite a bit, even if a destro lock puts it up.

Erdluf said...

Very nice analysis.

Mana efficiency favors SF if you look at the known glyphs. SF glyph lets you refresh MF dot for free. MF glyph means MF dots do 75% more damage. However, even with both these glyphs, a Wrath rotation is higher DPS, it just uses much more mana.

Nature's Splendor means each cast of IS does 30% more damage. You'll either cast IS for the debuf (now 5% miss) or for DPS (IS glyph is another 30% damage). Either way, IS is likely to be a mana-efficient boost to either nuke's DPS.

If/when you do go with a wrath rotation, Nature's Focus will start to be a worthwhile talent even at low pushback rates. When using a wrath rotation, with about 4 pushbacks per minute, I'd rate a point in NF as about the same as a point in CF or IIS.

Merlot said...

Jay beat me to the punch with the question about earth and moon. If you don't have a malediction CoE though, does the spell penetration of CoE still add more than 3% damage?

I can't flaw your logic over imp ff v misery. You're absolutely right and I would be a bad shadow priest if I didn't spend those three points. At least until we are all spell capped, then it's a bum talent.

Anonymous said...

Refering to the slightly newer Beta build 8885, I think some more tweaks should be considered.

Genisis and Nature's Splendor as you say are evil lures and more focused to resto people. They are nice; but there simply arn't enough talent points to merit them. Moonfire is pretty much self-refreshing with gylphs and 3 talent points to gives IS 1 extra tick is hardly worth it.

Moonkin's improved aura seems to have been smacked quite hard with the nerf-machine. 3% flat haste is quite mean, especially as you can get that from celestial focus along with the star-stun. Combined though the 6% haste could prove very delicious, especially in improving starfire's competitiveness with wrath for primary raid spell. Again it comes down to having the mana to sustain it.

Earth and Moon is now a whopping 13% increased damage and I don't see any indication as to why this effect would not stack with Curse of Elements anyway. Even 2-3 points will be enough to keep the debuff going on a boss giving the raid a HUGE dmg boost.

The final point is starfall. Nobody seems to be picking up on the fact that it will have a nice crit chance and with EVERY crit having that 2% mana regen chance; starfall in the right situation may end up being the moonkin's Shadowfiend.

Cdin said...


Your right an SF rotation will probably be more efficent then a Wrath rotation, but I wouldn't be suprised if the difference is so small that a our mana pool can support the Wrath rotation even very early in raiding.


I don't have any numbers to show how CoE will play in a raid. I am just going off of comments made by a Moonkin on the Druid forums named Murmur. He is a very good druid and I am willing to give him the benifit of the doubt.

He says that old WWS show that having CoE or the old CoS up, increased caster damage by 5% due to having fewer parcial resists. He has said that an untalented CoE is still better then earth and moon and Ebon Plaguebringer.

Apparently this arguement came to the forefront from beta deathkights saying that EP wasn't as good as CoE.

I wouldn't blame you for discounting my source, but he at the least shows that EnM might be a useless talent for us.

@Anonymous 1

I agree that it would be awesome if Earth and Moon Stacked, but blizzard has specifically said that it won't. It just needs some extra utility to make it worthwile to a raid or to the individual moonkin.

You bring up a very interesting point about Starfall. I hadn't thought of the possibility of it regenning mana. Given that it costs 39% of our base mana I don't think we will gain much if any from it, but it could be very close to a free spell.

I think I will have to pose this question to the beta testers.

Good catch.

Cdin said...

I possed the Starfall Mana Regen question to Lissanna on the WoW Druid forums and here was her responce:

"I'm pretty sure the AOE crits (from starfall & hurricane) specifically don't return mana because (with high enough crit), they would function like inntervate... "

While I would love for Hurricane and Starfall to return mana, it would be a bit of an exploit and not what Blizzard has intended. Oh Well. Would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Pity. I can understand hurricane and typhoon but starfall would be a hugely more acceptable spell for it's tiering if its crits could regen mana; esp. with a 3min CD.

Remember too it's not quite 39% as it gains from moonglows reduction ;)

Alex said...

I do belive you should post this up on the fourms, at least the last comment, cuase with all the stuff blizz has put out I do stay they have foggent that moonkins want to raid, they need to be told that what they are doing is going to be then end of us.