Thursday, September 18, 2008

WotLK Beta Update - Build 8962

Blizzard pushed through another beta build last night and it includes several changes to the Balance tree that I think you will be interested in.
* Earth and Moon (Tier 10) changed so your Wrath and Starfire spells have a 100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon effect. It now also increases your spell damage by 1/2/3/4/5%. (Previously had a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon Effect) Buff Duration also decreased to 15 seconds.
* Eclipse (Tier 9) changed so when you critically hit with Starfire, you have a 33/66/100% chance of increasing damage done by Wrath by 10%. (Previously 20/40/60% chance)
* Improved Moonkin Aura (Tier 7) gives 3% spell haste for all ranks and now you gain 5/10/15% of your spirit as additional spell damage.
* Improved Faerie Fire (Tier 7) increases your critical strike chance against targets afflicted with Faerie Fire by 1/2/3%.
* Nature's Splendor (Tier 3) changed to - When you cast Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Rejuvenation, Regrowth or Lifebloom you have a 33/66/100% chance to increase it's duration by 3 sec.
The Good:
This is definitely an improvement over the old build. Earth and Moon and Imp Moonkin Aura gained buffs that will increase Moonkin DPS.

The best change is to Imp Moonkin Aura for a couple of reason. This is a talent we were going to pick up in the old build, so this is a free buff. Also, anything that boosts our damage in relation to spirit is great because we are going to be seeing a lot of spirit on our gear. This makes up for the nerf to Lunar Guidance a little bit. A lot of people on the forums had been asking to get Crit rating, but I think most will be happy with this also.


Beyond that we have a definite reason to not only pick up Earth and Moon but put 5 points in it for a little additional scaling.

The Bad:
The biggest issue is still bloat. I have seen no indication that any talent costs have been reduced and these talent changes make just increase the number of desirable talents. In the last build I wouldn't have put only 3 points in E&M, and none in Eclipse or Imp Faerie Fire. So, Moonkin now have 8 more places to put talent points we don't have.

This is an issue Moonkin have been stressing since the first alpha build, and with each build it seems to just get worse. I know Blizzard has said they are going to take a look at it and probably shave off a couple of points here or there, but that was several weeks and several builds ago. Its time for them to do something about it. In my current mock raid build, I have 3 points left with 5 viable talents that have 12 possible talent points, And that excludes Imp FF. I'm not saying I should get all 5 talents, but forcing me to drop 3 or 4 of them isn't reasonable either.

Improved Faerie Fire was the least improved in this build. The increased crit is nice, but it does not address the core issue of the talent. The duration of the talent is to short and and it is much easier for another class to apply. Even with the additional crit, Imp Faerie Fire will still be a DPS loss for Moonkin. According to my quick math a rotation SF rotation that included Imp FF would have 1.1% less DPS then an SF rotation that did not include Imp FF. (This assumes the 3% hit is provided by Misery.)

The problem is the duration. Since it is only 40 seconds we cant get enough SF or Wrath casts off to let the Crit compensate for GCD loss let alone improve our DPS. Blizzard needs to increase Faerie Fires Duration or give us some way to refresh it without switching from our damage rotation. As is, no should moonkin will pick up this talent as long as there is an Shadow Priest in raid.

The Unknown:
I think the Jury is still out on Eclipse. The reduction in cooldown and reduced randomness are definite improvements. However, the buff's duration was cut in half to 15 seconds. Also, the question of how Wrath and Starfire relate is still unanswered. Is there enough of a contrast to warrant switching spells?

My Mock Raid Build:
As I mentioned before I have created a new Mock level 80 raid build. Here is the link.

As you can see I still have 3 points that I am unsure how to spend. Here are the choices:

Dreamstate (3 pts) - A lot has been done to improve our mana situation, but with potion sickness I am unsure if this is an expendable talent. If I have mana issues I may be forced to put the points here.

Owlkin Frenzy (3 pts) - This is obviously a great PvP talent, but has some potential in PvE as well. If WotLK raids are designed like BT and SWP with a lot of raid wide damage, the the push back resistance and extra damage will be very helpful.

Eclipse (3 pts) - As I said before, I am very up in the air on this talent. I don't know if it has been improved or not. I need to sit down and do some math to figure it out.

Force of Nature (1 pts) - I love the trees, but the are hardly an ideal raid talent. In WotLK they will be a little more controllable, but they will still be weak and situationally useful. On top of that I have never gotten really proficient at casting the spell. I always seem to get a little out of range. The plus side is they can do significant damage that is both threat free and mana efficient if used correctly.

Gale Winds (2 pts) - I would love to pick up this talent. I hate getting killed by locks and mages on the damage meters during AoE pulls. In Hyjal, Holly Paladins can do similar damage to what I can do because the run in and Consecrate. The problem is we don't know how important AoE is going to be in WotLK. Right now I file this talent under nice but situational.

Conclusion:
This is a nice start, because there are some very nice changes here. I think most moonkin though would agree with me and say that a few more changes are needed. Something needs to be done about bloat, and Imp Faerie Fire needs to be tweaked. Eclipse may need to be tweaked also, but I will wait until I have done the math to say for sure one way or the other.

Let me know what you think. How would you design a raid build with these changes? How does this change your outlook on the tree if at all?

Edit: I saw the change in Eclipse's duration and edited some of my comments.

11 comments:

Grimjaw said...

So close until Imp. FF starts being worth it! We're 0.5% to 0.74% DPS off in this build. Maybe in the next, it'll be 3% damage and 3% crit?

Or maybe a less boring effect, like "Your spell critical deal an additional 5/10/15% additional damage over 3 seconds." like Ignite/Deep Wounds.

Phaelia said...

Maybe I misunderstood ... isn't Improved Faerie Fire a self-only buff? That would mean that it stacks with Misery, right?

Cdin said...

@grimjaw

Having an additional affect like ignite or adding 3% would be cool. However, what kills me about this is that the fix could be so much simpler, but blizzard just wont do it yet.

All they have to do is increase the duration of FF or give us some way to extend the duration without stopping our DPS rotation.

@Phaelia

The Spell Hit portion of Imp FF is raid wide and does not stack with Misery.

The added crit is self-only, but the added damage from crits doesn't make up for the DPS lost by using a GCD for a non-damaging spell.

As it is Imp FF is an improved but still useless talent if you run with a Shadow Priest regularly.

Jerome said...

With the extra 5% damage added to E&M we now have THREE 5 point talents which do nothing but give percent increases to damage. Moonfurry (10%), WoC (20/10 split), E&M (5%) -- not including Vengence, which only applies to crit damage.

Percent increases are great, they scale, but the upshot is that these 5 point sinks are mandatory. Anyone who doesn't sink those 15 points gets left in the dust damage-wise (20 with Vengence).

Is this ever going to end?


Compare to Frost Mages:

Balance---TP----Frost----TP

WoC -----5------E.F.-----2

M.Fury----5-----P.Ice-----3

E&M------5----W.Chill----3

Veng.-----5----I.Shards---5



Frost has other talents which are sinks, but they are *additional talents*, sort of like the ones we can't get right now to round out the internal logic of our playstyle.

(For instance, the Genesis, Nature's Splendor, Improved Insect Swarm affinity; or the Brambles & Force of Nature; or Typhoon & Gale Winds; or Improved Faerie Fire & all our crit procs. These are talents which must be picked up in groups to unlock one another..

Bah.)

Guus said...

I will have to test this, and it is probably something left out by mistake, but the tooltip description on the new FF states: "Your Faerie Fire spell also increases the chance the target will be hit by spell attacks by 3%, and increases your critical strike chance by 3% on targets afflicted with Faerie Fire."
Notice that it does not say YOUR Faerie Fire for the crit part. Again this is probably wishful thinking, but if it works that way it would be great.
You could provide the hit bonus + the crit for yourself in 10mans (without a shadow priest or other druid) by doing the FF yourself, and you wouldnt have to buff the FF but still get the crit increase in 25mans (with a SP and bear).

Anonymous said...

I've been wondering over the last few days if the mainstay of balance DPS will change to IS/Wrath over MF/SF. Considering with the glyphs IS scales better, and imp IS improves Wrath damage. The reason Wrath was not favored was due to the mana drain it caused, but with mana regen from other classes going Raid wide perhaps this will not be as big an issue. Not to mention that if you pick up 2 points in natures focus and use the 50% pushback protection Wrath glyph, you also have 96% pushback protection -- also handy as it seems raid wide damage is going to become the norm.

Alex said...

Is Improved Moonfire worth it now, since we can keep Moonfire up for ever now, with the glyph and Moonfire can only crit of when we first cast it?

Grimjaw said...

@cdin

Very true. Increasing the duration to 1 minute, and Improved Faerie Fire increasing the duration by 100/200/300% as well would be a godsend.

Cdin said...

@jerome

I completely agree. Balance has way to many core talents that cost 5 points. Bloat is a real issue for us right now. As I said in the post I have 3 points left with 5 possible talents to put them in. If Imp FF improves the problem gets worse.

I may be crazy, but I'm optimistic that blizzard recognizes the problem and will fix it soon.

@Guus

I didn't catch that the first time I read it. If we could get the improved crit from Feral Faerie Fire then that definately improves the talent. However, I still think the duration needs to be longer. We shouldn't have to rely on a feral to make the talent useful for us.

Good catch.

@Anony1

That is the $64,000 question. I haven't done the math with level 80 spells yet. I have been trying to let things settle down before I do it in the hopes that it will stay accurate.

Wrath is clearly more DPS then Starfire, but Starfire isn't all that more mana efficent then Wrath anymore. The mana on crit mechanic has made Wrath a lot more efficent. There are a lot of moonkin saying that our standard SF rotation is dead and my simple math tends to agree.

However, I'm not sure how big of an impact the SF and MF glyphs will have. They are amazing and work really good togeather.

Ultimately I think Blizzard wants SF to be the primary raid spell, but to make Wrath useful at times. I just don't know if they can do it.

@Alex

Assuming an SF based rotation, Imp MF is definately still worth it for 2 reasons.

1. The crit damage my be reduced but it can still prock NG, and it also still adds 10% damage to the dot.

2. There aren't any better options. We need 15 points to get to tier 4, and Imp MF is better then Genisis, Natures Splendor, and Brambles.

Thanks for the Comments guys.

Jibjabb said...

A balance druid should always be doin a moonfire starfire rotation, wrath and insect swarm are never worth it. Mainly becuase the damage does not scale as much as it does for starfire but also since its cast time is only 1.5 any time you recieve a crit it will go down to 1 sec makin any other haste you may have (from gear or BL) irrelevant since GCD can nvr go below 1 sec. So if ur like me with a lot of haste (I raid with 225 unbuffed and untalented) it will not be good for ur dps. Also haste scales better for longer casts. Take it from me im one of the best dps if not THE TOP for a KJ guild. Also i do get improved faerie fire for the time being, in sunwell most fights you cannot just sit there dpsn u almost req to move around thus givin time to toss up a FF or insect swarm. Wether you wish to use it in your stand still rotation is on you i cannot say wether it is better or not. Most ppl put waaaaay to much thought and math into their rotations when really if you just use common sense and half a brain you can be topping the charts all the time as well.

Cdin said...

@Jibjabb

Thanks for reading and commenting, but I have a couple of issues with your comments.

1. I won’t get nitpicky about the word never because Wrath and Insect Swarm don’t get much use even in these late days in BC. However, I will point out one thing. Your comments are based upon BC gear and experience. My comments are focused on WotLK gear and data. As it stands now, Wrath and Insect Swarm will be much more useful in WotLK because of new talents, new glyphs, and new set bonuses.

2. Haste does not scale better with longer casts in a practical sense. It is impossible and always will be impossible to get the global cooldown to 1 second with just gear, constant buffs, and talents. Therefore 25% haste will always increase your DPS by 25% no matter how long the cast is. Sure, you can get above 50% haste temporarily with Heroism/Bloodlust or other fight mechanics but they don’t significantly change the math since the buffs are relatively short.

3. Ok, lets assume for a second that you can keep Imp FF up when you move or that you don’t need to have it up at all to get the crit buff. And lets be clear, at this point you are only picking up Imp FF for the Crit buff, because the armor reduction and +hit will be maintained by other party members.

I took a look at your armory (I assume it’s you anyway). You have skipped all mana regen/mana saving talents to pick up Imp FF and still get other good DPS talents. You can do that because of your guilds gear level. My guess is that you down the bosses quick enough so that there is very little need for mana regen and such. Second, your crit level is high enough so that you get significant returns from the mana on crit mechanic. This may work for you know but I am fairly confident that this doesn’t work for the majority of raiding moonkin and won’t work for Level 80’s just entering Naxxramus.

4. I agree that math does not present the whole story and cannot be relied on 100%. There are other factors like movement and human error in fights that cannot be easily quantified in a mathematical model. However, that doesn’t mean they are wrong or over used. They can show you the potential of your spells and to test out new specs in a controlled way.