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.

Raid Stacking in WotLK

Last week Ghostcrawler put a post on the WotLK beta forums regarding raid stack and how they plan to change raid buffs in Wrath of the Lich King. The post is here.

It was a fairly vague, but basically stated that blizzard didn't want guild to build raids based upon one player having a specific buff for maximum damage. For instance, a guild shouldn't hold up a raid because they are looking for a Shadow Priest to provide Misery. Players should be chosen based upon ability and personal preference, not on a buff they provide.

In theory I agreed, but the post is big on generalities and light on specifics. So it was very hard to evaluate the post without really knowing what would change.

Last night Zarhym posted the specifics and the changes are HUGE!!!!! Find the post here.

This will have a big impact on all classes but I will of course focus on moonkin. They have made big changes to many of the proposed WotLK abilities and significantly changed many of the current live buffs and debuffs.

What's Changed?

Improved Scorch (Fire Mage):
New - Increases spell critical strike chance against the target.

Old - Increases Fire, Frost and Arcane damage, against the target.

Improved Moonkin Aura:
New - Grants 3% haste of all types.
Old - Grants 20% spell haste when they critically hit with spells for 8 sec. This effect has a 30 second cooldown.

Earth and Moon:
New - Increases spell damage taken from all schools by 13% on the target.
Old - Increases Nature and Arcane damage done to the target by 6%.

Misery (Shadow Priest):
New - Causes spells cast at the target to have +3% spell hit.
Old - Cause the target to take an additional 5% spell damage.

Improved Faerie Fire:
New - No longer benefits melee and ranged hit chance, only spell hit (3%).

Old - Increases Melee, Ranged, and Spell Hit chance by 3%.

What Doesn't Stack?

Spell Critical Strike Chance Buff: Moonkin Aura, Elemental Oath(Ele Shaman)

Spell Critical Strike Chance Debuff: Improved Scorch(Fire Mage), Winter's Chill (Frost Mage)

Increased Spell Damage Taken Debuff: Ebon Plaguebringer (Unholy DK), Earth and Moon, Curse of the Elements (Affliction Warlock)

Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff: Improved Faerie Fire, Misery (Shadow Priest)

Percentage Haste Increase (All Types): Improved Moonkin Aura, Swift Retribution (Ret Pally)

Melee Hit Chance Reduction Debuff: Insect Swarm, Scorpid Sting (Hunter)

Stat Add Buff: Mark of the Wild

What Does This Mean?

To be completely honest I don't really know. This is such a massive change that it is impossible to quantify how it will all play out, but I can already see some of the possibilities. This means very different things for 10-mans and 25-mans. Class balancing in terms of DPS is going to have to change dramatically.

Ten man raids:
I think this is a great change for 10-man raids. I will allow them to have most if not all of the same buffs that a 25 man raid will have. It should allow Blizzard to build tougher content for the 10-mans to make them real challenges instead of overly dumbed down versions of the 25-mans.

In fact it may bring the 10-mans up to the same level of toughness as the 25-mans. Blizzard is going to have to tune the 10-man fights for all of the buffs or the boss encounters are going to be a joke. This means that the 10-mans could be very unforgiving. If your Shadow Priest dies your casters are out 3% chance to hit if you don't have an Imp FF Moonkin. That would a significant drop in DPS, and spell a wipe if you could only barely kill the boss if things went perfectly.

Twenty Five Man Raids:
I am very unsure how this will affect 25-mans.

  • It should make some of the fights a little more forgiving. If your moonkin dies then a Warlock can put of CoE, or you may have an Unholy DK to put up Ebon Plague.
  • I bet we will see a lot more respecs before raid. People will build their specs around a normal raid set up. For instance, right now I don't see a reason to spec into Imp FF. An Spriest can put it up without losing a DPS Global Cooldown. However, if the Spriest doesn't show up one night, I will have to make a quick trip to Darn before a raid.
  • If classes are balanced near perfectly, it will make life easier for the Raid Leader. The raid won't have to sit there and wait for another pally healer to long on to get a third buff. However, if there are issues with class balance it could make the life a lot harder on the guild's leadership. If one class can do more damage then most other classes, then guilds will be tempted to stack that one class more then others. The probably won't lose any buffs because some many class can provide the same buffs now.
Class Balancing:
It is clear that Blizzard realizes this is going to be an issue. In his post Zarhym said:

Before we are done, we will thoroughly test the
performance of every class. It should not be assumed that one class' current
performance relative to others in beta is final. Some classes (and
specializations) will need to be reduced in power and some increased. Many may
feel the change has more impact on class X than class Y. We will address all of
those concerns via our internal testing and community feedback.

In terms of DPS, if one class or spec lags behind others in the same role, that spec will be excluded from most serious raid guilds. All of the work that Blizzard has done to improve Shadow Priest, Ret Pallys, Moonkin, and all of the other "off specs" will be for not if those specs cannot keep up with the more traditional specs in terms of DPS. Healers and tanks will have less of an issue because their services are in greater demand, don't be surprised if the same thing happens here.

My Concluding Thoughts.
Blizzard is really making a bold move here. There are definitely positives in this change, but I see a whole lot of negatives. While I realize they are trying to make the game and raiding more accessible to all people, I worry that they are taking the uniqueness out of the classes. That uniqueness and customization is one of the main things that make this game fun. However, this is not my biggest worry.

I started playing Blizzard games with Warcraft 2, and since have played almost every game they put out since then. So, I have a lot of respect for Blizzards ability at game design, but they have proven overtime that they are not perfect (nobody is). I worry that those imperfections will break moonkin again just as I thought we were getting some respectability. Since it has taken Blizzard 4 years to fix moonkin the first time, I don't think I could wait another 4 for them to fix us again.

I don't know what is going to happen. I only see possibilities, but I will I will guarantee you one thing. Blizzard doesn't know how this is going to work out either. History has proved that the collective mind of 10 million players is smarter then the collective mind of several hundred Blizzard employees. Blizzard will build what they think is a well balanced game and the players will find the loopholes and exploit it to its fullest potential. If it wasn't true then we wouldn't have Powershifting by Feral Druids, Totem Twisting by Enhancement Shaman, and stacking 5 Warlocks for Imp Shadowbolt. Sure, they will fix these problems eventually, but if these examples are any indication it will take years and I don't know how many people will wait that long.

Follow ups:
1. There were quite a few changes to moonkin abilities that I didn't really analyze here. This post is getting to long. I will post something soon about what this info means for speccing moonkin and how this could change the value of some of our talents. Hopefully the polish pass will be released soon so I can do them together.

2. Several other bloggers are reacting to this same information. I will try and list them here.
Blue: Changes to Buffs and Debuffs
Yet Another Warlock Nerf: Nobody Panic (Not yet, at least)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

General Update - Aug 08

I realize over the past two weeks I have written 5 posts without a toon or guild update. And a couple of you may be wondering what is going on with me.

Graylo/Lastt Standd Update:
Graylo has been in Lastt Standd for 3 weeks now, and I feel like I am at a place where I can reasonably evaluate the guild. I think the transfer has been mostly positive, but there are a few things I don't like. I'll try and break my analysis down into sections.

Raiding: The raiding has been fairly good. I've killed two bosses (Gorefiend & Bloodboil) that I had not killed before. We have the first for in Hyjal on farm and the first 4 in BT on farm. The down side is that after killing bloodboil that once we haven't done it again. That is very frustrating. We also walked into SSC and tried to down Vashj over last weekend. Granted we had quite a few pugs in the group but I expected better from the guild. I'm sure we can get her if we put some real time into it, but I'm not sure we will put that time into it. Finally, attendance has been a little low lately. That is to be expected a little bit right now due to people going back to school and the holiday, so hopefully we will be back to normal soon.

Leadership: When I joined the guild I worried that they would be a bunch of jerks. I got that impression a little bit from the recruitment post. Luckily they are a little bit more mellow then I expected, which is good. However, the GM can be a bit of a hot head, and I think he lets his emotions get the better of him a little more then I would like. Over all they aren't bad, but I don't get the impression that they are a group of guys that are going to hold the guild together for years.

Personality: This is the one area that I may not have enough experience yet to really evaluate fairly. It takes a while to get used to a new guild especially when you don't know anyone in it. The overall personality isn't bad. It reminds me of FoC quite a bit, young, goofy, and male dominated. While I liked FoC and like Lastt Standd for the most part, I prefer old WA more. I am probably confusing my friendships with the guild personality a little bit but they are hard to separate. Some of the things I loved about WA was that its mentality was a little older. We had quite a few girls and quite a few families. While we were serious about raiding, the general atmosphere was a little more laid back and comfortable.

Overall I am content with my choice to leave. Things are not perfect, but they would not have been perfect at WA either. At the very least I am raiding, and that is all I can really ask for right now. I have gotten into every raid I was available for. To make a long story short, I am content. I won't guarantee that I will be in Lastt Standd for a really long time. A lot is going to change when the expansion hits, but I don't have any plans to move right now and I am not looking for a new guild.

Wandering Alliance Update:
I am not involved in WA much any more but I do still have a couple of alts there to keep in touch with friends and such. I logged into one of my alts last night and was surprised to see that WA is planning on transferring servers. Apparently the remaining leaders of WA are tired of the bad server and of constantly trying to rebuild the guild. Raiding hasn't gotten any better since I left and they they are having problems with new members getting gear and leaving. It doesn't sound like they are trying to rebuild or merge with another guild. It looks like they are just trying to find a better place to play until the expansion hits.

I have no clue as to what this means for me. It sounds like all of my friends plan on transferring. I also don't know if they plan on disbanding the guild. I could long in one day without a guild. Ultimately it doesn't really matter. Chances are once I am sure of where Graylo is going to land I will transfer my serious alts there.

The biggest impact to me is probably just the opportunity it provides in the future. If I do decide to transfer some time in the future their new server would obviously be a potential target because of the friends I will have there. It sounds like they are headed for the Garona server. It is a Central time-zone PvE server that is very alliance dominated. It doesn't sound like a bad place to land.

Graypal Update:
Dead in the water. Nothing is going on with him. I'm not really interested in him right now because I can't raid him, I don't PvP, and I would rather level my alts then do random quests with him. I really don't see much happening with him until the expansion. I haven't paid much attention the Spriest changes in WotLK, but my quick looks have me interested and worried a little bit. I may have to do a post on Spriest changes coming up.

Grayfel Update:
Grayfel is now about 8 bars into level 67 and things are going fairly well. He won't be 70 before the end of August, but hopefully it won't be to long. A while ago I talked about my spec. At the time I was 41 Affliction with 10 or so in Destruction. I wasn't happy with it because I was ripping aggro of my pet quite a bit and fears can be dangerous. After talking to some people in game and looking at some of the comments I got here I decided to give Demonology a try. I am currently 15/43/0. At first I liked it. I was killing things at about the same rate and I wasn't ripping aggro off the Felguard. However, I have started to go sour on Demonology. I may not be ripping aggro off of him but I spend a lot of time healing the pet. I guess I expected him to be tougher.

Anyway, I'm thinking of respecing again. The question is should I try Destro or go back to Affliction. Right now I think I'm leaning towards trying Destro. I'm obviously used to playing a nuker with Graylo. The really question is what pet I should use. Do I go for a Voidwalker tank, or more DPS from an imp or Succubus. If any one has a spec that I should try please let me know, also let me know which pet I should use.

Graysin Update:
You may be asking "Who's Graysin?" He is a Blood Elf Paladin that I started a couple of months ago on the Cho'gall server. If you don't know Cho'gall is a central time-zone PvP server with a very strong raiding community. It has three guilds that have cleared Sunwell. An Alliance guild is ranked number 10 in the world and the top Horde guild Death Wish is ranked 16th in the world according to WowJutsu. He is currently level 21 and spec as Retribution.

I created him for a couple of reasons. First, I created him when I was still in WA with Graylo and was having issues. Its nice sometimes to do something when no one can see you. I also had a desire to try out a PvP server and see some of the horde areas. I chose paladin because I have recently be come interested in tanking as a pally, and I figured that if I ever decided to raid with him horde guilds would need paladins much like alliance guilds need shaman. I never really expected to get him this high of a level, but I keep coming back to him every so often. I think it is because it is so easy to accomplish something when your toon is so low of a level. You put in a couple of hours and hour toon jumps a level or two. When compared to Grayfel that is lightning fast. I put 3 or 4 hours into Grayfel last night and only got him a third of the way through a level.

Anyway, I don't really expect him to be a serious effort but who knows.

One last thing. I have praised before for its excellent and free leveling guides. I used Jamie's Alliance guide to take Graylo from 30 - 60. For Graysin I have used Snowflake's two blood elf guides 1-12 and 12-21. I highly recommend both. They are very well written with great maps and pictures. If your looking to level a bloodelf or just want to check out Ghostlands on your new little horde toon, check these guides out.

Graytom Update:
I had expected him to be my 4th 70 after Grayfel, but I now expect he will go permanently inactive like my warrior and hunter. I am still very interested in playing a shaman in general but I think he got started at the wrong time. I'm not going to pay 25 dollars to transfer a level 14 toon to a new server. Plus with most of my friends leaving Eitrigg there won't be much point in me hang around there. If I do deside to play a shaman again I will probably just start a new one on whatever server I have Graylo on.

Anyway, that is my wow life in a nutshell right now. To all of my friends that read this blog please keep in touch. It would be good to hear what is going on with you guys in the comments or in the email.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is Spell Hit being Devalued?

EDIT #2: Goes to show how much I have been looking at Elitest Jerks lately. Apparently there is a thread there that details all of the Combat Ratings. You can find it here. Special Thanks to Phae and Erdluf for pointing it out.

EDIT: It appears that the picture I saw is wrong. Here is a link to the picture I was using (link). I posted a question on the WoW forums asking is someone could check it out and I got this response from Wisprunner. Apparently the ratings buster addon had it at 26.231. Of course I don't have any idea if this correct but it does bring it in line with the increases to crit and haste. Wisprunner also said that the ratings buster addon had melee hit at 32.7, so it is likely that addons are having trouble distinguishing between Melee items and Caster Items. Its not all that surprising given that that they have collapsed the melee and caster versions of each stat into one stat. Anyway, crisis averted.

P.S. Wisprunner is a very knowledgeable moonkin if your looking for answers on the WoW forums or Moonkin Repository. However, make sure you read the stickies be for you ask your question.

Disclaimer: I want to say that I have no concrete evidence that Hit is being devalued for casters. I don't have access to the beta and I haven't talked to anyone who does about this. This post is being created using second hand information and addons that may or may not be correct. So, don't get to worked up about this if it disturbs you. I could be completely wrong.

Is Hit Rating being devalued for spell casters?

I was reviewing the new dungeon drops on MMO-Champion when I noticed that one of the items had a crit rating and then a percent chance to crit next to the crit rating.

My first reaction was "cool, I can calculate the new stat values."

If you didn't know the ratings stats decrease in value as you increase in level. This gives blizzard a way to improve gear without increasing crit, hit and haste to unreasonable levels. At level 70, 22.06 Crit rating will give a caster a 1% chance to crit. However at level 80 the same amount of crit rating will give you a far less chance to crit.

So, I looked at all of the items that appeared to be caster items and tried to calculate how much of each stat you would need to give you 1% of that stat.

Currently you need 22.06 Crit rating, 12.6 Hit rating, and 15.7 Haste rating to get 1% of each stat.

According to these pictures from MMO Champion you will need 46 Crit rating, 32.7 Hit rating, and 32.7 Haste rating. If you compare these numbers to the stats at level 70, then there is a 103% increase in Crit rating, 108% increase in Haste rating, and a 160% increase in Hit rating.

160% That's HUGE.

Granted the stat numbers for Haste and Hit are the same, so this could very well be an error.

I'm not spouting any doom and gloom if it is correct. Obviously Blizzard is going to have to itemize for it and it will make Improved FF much more valuable. However, It will change my stat valuations quite a bit. Spell Hit might not be the king of all stats any longer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Moonkin Blue Posts

Ghostcrawler graced the WotLK Beta forums over the weekend and had this to say regarding Improved Moonkin Form: (link)

"The plan is for it to go raid wide.

Given the talents avaiable to deep Balance, I hope it's obvious that we are trying to make the Moonkin a very competitive spellcaster. Some of the concerns from BC (e.g. running out of mana, lack of AE or CC, not enough group synergy) should be aleviated by now."

This is pretty big news for moonkin. I have been wondering if Moonkin Aura would go raid wide. Since most other buffs are now raid wide it only makes sense. Why would you bring a moonkin who can buff one party when you can bringa shaman who will buff the entire raid.

I have to agree with Ghostcrawler, in that Blizzard has addressed a lot of our traditional issues. Our mana regen is good, we have a repeatable (but somewhat underpowered) AoE, indoor CC, and improved raid viability. I think most long time moonkin will agree that these are good changed that address our main Pre-WotLK issues.

However, I am still nervously awaiting the Balance Revision that sounds to be almost complete. What are they going to do with Earth and Moon? Are they going to do anything to improve Eclipse? Are they going to do something to reduce the bloat in the balance tree? Stay tuned. As soon as I know something, you will see it here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

WotLK Update: Beta Build 8820

Wow. Two posts in one day.

Anyway, I checked the build updates on MMO-Champion and looked at the beta forums hand found a couple of Moonkin things to comment on.

Talent Changes:

* Celestial Focus (Tier 4) reduces the casting time lost when damaged by 25/50/70% when casting wrath. (Previously reduced interrupt chance)
* Control of Nature (Tier 2) reduces casting time lost when damaged by 40/70/100% while casting Entangling Roots and Cyclone. (Previously reduced interrupt chance)

Nothing really earth shattering. The developers hinted at changes to these types of talents when they made the change to spell-push back.

From my PvE standpoint it probably won't have a huge impact. It is probably a bigger change for PvP, with the old talent push back would have been a lot more random and spikey. This change it will smooth it out and all wraths will cast in 1.8 seconds if your getting beat on. In my opinion consistancy is good, so I like this change.

PvP Gear Released:

They've released a lot of the PvP gear available from Arena and BGs. Here are some links: Honor and Arena.

As you probably know, I'm not a big PvPer, but the PvP moonkin I have seen on the forums seem fairly pleased with all of the crit on the gear. Oddly enough, the set bonuses are exactly the same as the current PvP sets. However, this isn't the reason I'm posting this info.

Check out the names on the items. I have heard moonkin called a lot of things, but I think it's funny that Blizzard is calling us "Nuker's." I don't know why it amuses me but it does. Of course, these names aren't the final names, and it is a good description of our role. It just struck me a little funny.

Blue Post:

There is a new moonkin related Blue post on the Beta Forums. Don't get excited. You can find the thread here.

Ashthra posted a fairly good summary of some of the talents causing our bloat issue. She primarily talks about the redundancy in our push-back talents, mana regen talents, and damage talents.

Koraa, a class designer, decided to grace the thread with his blue letters. While I like the attention from a Blizzard employee I find his response worrisome. He said:

"Currently working on a polish pass of the Balance tree. Get ready for more bloat! "

I may be reading into the statement to much, but it has me worried for a couple of reasons.

1) "Polish Pass" - While moonkin have had some very nice changes in some of the lower tiers of the tree, the top three tiers leave a lot to be desired. Eclipse, is almost useless. PvPers say that Typhoon doesn't work, Gail Winds will be ignored due to bloat, and Starfall seems very situational at best. Earth and Moon needs work also but Koraa already said they were going to relook at it.

I guess my question is, what does he mean by "polish pass?" Is it that they have done a lot of work on the tree and need to "polish" it before they release it to a beta build? The other possibility is, are they happy where the current tree beta build and are just want to make some small changes to "polish" it? The former would be great, but for some reason I suspect it is the later.

2) "Get ready for more bloat! " - This has to be a joke, but I'm not sure that it is. Koraa's prior comments on bloat made it seem that they wanted players to make choices and were not really interested in reducing the bloat. My worry is that he is hinting that the changes to Earth and Moon are going to make the Bloat worse. Most moonkin currently plan on putting only 3 points into E&M. If they improve the talent to where 5 points is desirable, I don't know where I will take the points from.

I keep telling myself this has to be a joke. Otherwise its just mean.

Muckbeast: The Anti-Raider

All long time wow players have heard the arguments playing WoW from the Anti-MMO community. We have all heard about the jobs lost, the relationships ruined, and all sorts of problems caused by playing MMO's.

Over the past week or so there is a new player in this debate. Enter Muckbeast. His blog is here if you want to take a look at it. His primary focus seems to be the gaming industry as a whole but he has written a couple of anti-mmo articles with titles like "Raiding Provides a False, Deceptive Sense of Real Accomplishment" and "Fed up! Raiding sucks as a sole form of end game content." He has tried to promote these articles by posting comments on quite a few blogs and edited the WoWwiki page on Raids (It has since been removed by the WoWWiki folks). Also, he has not posted a comment on my blog as far as I know.

Normally I don't pay a lot of attention to this sort of stuff but after seeing this guy pop up in several places on the internet I wanted to comment on it. My opinion on this topic is fairly simple. Is it the game's/activities fault or is it the participants fault?

First off, why are video games worse then other activities? What about the guy that goes out and plays rec football 4 or 5 nights a week and watches games on TV all weekend? Is he not ignoring his family also? What about the parent that dedicates all of their time to their professional lives ignoring their spouse and kids? Why is that more acceptable in society?

The fact of the matter is that they all share the same problem. Life is about balance, and if you push it off balance it's going to cause problems no matter what pushed it off balance. I am not an expert but it is likely that these people with obsessive behavior would focus their attention on another subject if their current interest wasn't available. So why is it raiding's fault?

On the flip side, Muckbeast ignores all of the positive things that can and have happened because of MMO's. I have heard multiple stories, both online and from people in game, about how WoW has brought their family closer together. I know parents that have gotten to spend more time with their kids because they are able to play the game together. I know of one girl who uses her WoW time spend some time with her brother who is serving in the military in Iraq right now. I know of many married couples that play the game together. Sure, all of these people could have found another way to attain all of these goals, but if they like WoW, why do they have to?

My basic point is you shouldn't blame the MMO or an activity for a person's problems. The MMO may highlight or exagerate a person's problem, but it doesn't create the problem. So if you want to fix the problem, go to the person, not the game.

Reactions from other Bloggers:
Lume the Madd - A public response: Stop telling people how to game.
World of Matticus - One Way to Piss Off a Blogger (Don’t Do It).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Forum Signatures

If your a Moonkin and haven't checked out The Moonkin Repository yet you are missing out. It is frequented by many of the exceptional moonkins that post on the WoW forums and all are willing to help answer Moonkin related questions.

However, that's not why I'm posting today.

Last week while looking over the forums there I noticed that quite a few of the regular posters had awesome new signatures. Turns out they were all being made by DragoNasty, and he was willing to make them for regular posters on the forums.

I asked him to make one for me and here is the result:

I think it looks awesome. Many thanks to DragoNasty. I think you have done an awesome job with all of the Sigs, and I think they have helped to pull the Moonkin Community togeather a little bit.

If your interested in getting your own sig, you can find the forum here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Moonkin Talent Suggestion

I have been fairly active on the Druid forums and Moonkin Repository lately talking about some of the changes that are currently implemented in the beta. As a result you have seen me change my opinion on Eclipse and I have also come to believe that many of the top level talents in the Balance tree are either useless or will have little impact on how I play.

That got me thinking. What kind of talent would I like to see?

Of course I would like the functioning I.W.I.N. button that they give every Warlock at level 1, but we know that's not going to happen. All joking aside, I think I have an idea that most moonkin would like.

My Suggestion:

Name: Celestial Shift or Celestial Earth (Name doesn't really matter but that is what I came up with.)

Effect: Temporarily combines the magic schools of Arcane and Nature so that Wrath is now affected by Arcane buffs. Put more simply, Wrath would receive all of the same buffs that Starfire does including Imp Scorch and Winter's Chill. This ability would have some sort of cooldown also.

Reason: Lets look at this hypothetical situation.

The boss is down to 10% health. You have a lot of mana and are well under the threat cap. All of a sudden, the raid starts to fall apart and people are dying all around you. The raid leader calls out to blow all cooldowns and put as much DPS on the boss as you can. What do you do?

Currently there is not a whole lot you can do. Obviously if you have a trinket up you can pop it, or if you have your potion cooldown up you can take a Destro pot, but there is not much you can do with your core abilities. Some people can switch to Wrath for a little extra DPS, but the amount is small and the mana cost is very high. If you have T5 or T6 set bonuses this isn't an option at all. So a majority of Moonkin just go on with their normal rotations and hope they can push out as much DPS as possible.

The reason why Wrath is so bad is because of the special buffs that Starfire gets that Wrath doesn't. In BC these buffs are Curse of Elements and Nature's Grace. Wrath will get the benefits of these talents WotLK, but new Arcane only talents like Improved Scorch and Winter's chill solidifies Starfire's status as primary raid nuke for moonkin. My proposed talent would give you the ability to increase DPS significantly but temporarily. The cost would be the lowered mana efficacy of your raid rotation.

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments. Unfortunately I can't present my idea in game or on the official beta forums because I do not have a beta key. If you have a beta key I would appreciate it if you posted my idea in-game or on the official WotLK beta forums. Thanks in advance.

Toon Update:
Graylo - He has been raiding a lot. On Monday we worked on Reliquary of Souls (RoS). I think our best attempt got him down to 2 5% in the second phase. Our trouble there was not getting interrupts up and the tank losing aggro. Its a little understandable because we only had two interrupts but I was hoping that we would down him that night. Tuesday we started in Hyjal. Things were a little sloppy and we did wipe on trash once, but the first four bosses were all downed on the first attempt. Unfortunately the [Hammer of Judgement] did not drop. I am now regretting passing on it twice, but I will get it eventually. After Hyjal on Tuesday we went and did Naj'entus in Black Temple. On Wednesday I didn't raid but the guild cleared up to Gorefiend but didn't down him. On Thursday, we went back to Gorefiend and I got my first kill on him. After that we headed to Bloodboil and had a long night of wipes. I think our best attempt got him down to 25% or so. We failed to down him for a couple of reasons. First we had quite a few people that didn't down him with us last week so there was still some learning that needed to be done. Second, last week we had 10 healers this week we only had 8 for most of the night. Third, we got a little unlucky with the fel enrage. Bloodboil dept aggroing on to clothies and killing them. I know that that is a healing problem but It would have made it a little easier if a paladin had gotten it, or if the rogues could have gotten it a little more often. Anyway, we will get him Monday.

Graypal and Grayfel: To much of my focus is on Graylo right now and nothing has really changed with these guys.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Starfire vs Wrath

Note: This article was written several months ago before WotLK was released. While some of the general information is still correct, a lot of the specifics behind it have changed and Wrath is a much improved spell. I do plan on writting a new guide eventually, but haven't had a chance yet. I will make this one brief comment though regarding SF vs W. Starfire is still better DPM and does significant damage. Wrath on the other hand does do better DPS, but will chew through your mana quickly.

Some of you may ask what is the point of writing this article. Most moonkin know that Starfire is the better raiding spell and with all of the changes coming out in WotLK this analysis may be obsolete fairly shortly. Well, I’m writing it for a couple of reasons. First, I still see a lot of people insist that Wrath is a better spell DPS wise before you get the T5 and T6 set bonuses. Second, who knows what is going to go live in WotLK. There are a lot of changes that improve Wrath’s viability in raid, but until it is finalized we don’t know how to evaluate them. Anyway, here is the reasons why Starfire is the better then Wrath in a raid situation.

1. This analysis assumes a standard moonkin spec that buffs both Wrath and Starfire to their fullest potential.

2. This analysis is most relevant for a 25 man raid with all possible buffs. This will be less relevant to 10 raids, and much less relevant to 5 man instances.

3. Stormstrike will be ignored for most of the analysis. Due to its nature it is a hard buff to quantify and assume that it will be available. However, I will try and include it at the end of the analysis.

4. I ignore the resistance debuff from CoE because there is some argument if boss resistances can be lowered.

5. The T5 and T6 4 piece set bonuses clearly favor Starfire, but I will ignore those buffs since they are not necessarily available to all moonkin.

6. Crit damage is ignored since it affects both Wrath and Starfire equally. However, Crit is used to determine average casting time for part of the analysis.

7. All equations assume 1200 Spell Damage, Zero haste, and 25% crit unless otherwise noted.

Talents and Buffs Affecting Starfire or Wrath but not both:
Nature’s Grace – Talent - All spell criticals grace you with a blessing of nature, reducing the casting time of your next spell by 0.5 sec. Note: It currently does not reduce the GCD, so Wrath receives no DPS benefit.

Curse of Elements – Debuff – Curses the target for 5 min, reducing Arcane, Fire, Frost, and Shadow resistances by 88 and increasing Arcane, Fire, Frost, and Shadow damage taken by 10%.

Malediction – Talent – Increases the damage bonus effect of your Curse of the Elements spell by an additional 3%.

Stormstrike – Debuff – The next 2 sources of Nature damage dealt to the target are increased by 20%. Cooldown 10 sec.

Evaluation Criteria:
There are really only two ways to evaluate these spells. Damage per second (DPS) and Damage per Mana (DPM). The argument as to which spell is better really comes down to the priority you attribute to these criteria. The standard argument is that Wrath is better for DPS and that Starfire is better for DPM. I will argue that Starfire is better for both criteria.

Damage per Mana:
First we need to calculate the damage of each spell.

Starfire Damage = 657.8 + (Spell Damage)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1)
Wrath Damage = 445.5 + (Spell Damage)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1)

So assuming we have 1200 Spell damage these spells will on average deal the following damage.

Starfire Damage = 657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1) = 2241.8
Wrath Damage = 445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1) = 1331.8

After talents a Starfire will cast 336.7 mana and Wrath will cost 232 mana. So the DPMs of each spell are:

Starfire DPM = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1) )/336.7= 2241.8 / 336.7 = 6.658
Wrath DPM = (445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1))/232 = 1331.8 / 232 = 5.739

This clearly shows that Starfire has a higher DPM when comparing unbuffed spells. I have run this analysis for multiple levels of Spell Damage and the disparity only gets bigger as you increase your spell damage. I have also run this analysis with full raid buffs, and the gap is even bigger. This isn’t surprising since a majority of the available buffs are SF only and they clearly out weigh the one and only Wrath buff.

So, to sum it up Starife is better then Wrath from a DPM perspective. Here is a graphical representation of the comparison.

Damage per Second:
We calculated the unbuffed damage of both spells above, and it applies here also. So a non crit cast will have the following DPS.

Starfire Damage = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1)) / 3 = 2241.8 / 3 = 747.27

Wrath Damage = (445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1)) / 1.5 = 1331.8 / 1.5 = 887.88

So, at a base level it is clear that Wrath has more DPS then Starfire. The question then is how much can Starfire reduce that gap with the Starfire only buffs that are available?

Including Crit Rate

When a spell crits gets a Nature’s Grace buff that reduces the casting time of your next spell by 0.5 seconds. This buff does not affect Wrath’s DPS at all since it reduces the casting time below the global cooldown. Starfire receives the full benefit since its casting time is well above the global cooldown.
When you factor this in, Starfire’s casting time is now:

Starfire Average Cast Time = (3 – (0.5*Crit rate))
Starfire Average Cast Time = (3 – (0.5*.25)) = 2.875 Seconds with a 25% crit rate.

If we plug this into the equation above it changes the numbers like this:

Starfire Damage = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1)) / 2.875 = 2241.8 / 3 = 779.76

Wrath Damage = (445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1)) / 1.5 = 1331.8 / 1.5 = 887.88

It is clear that the numbers still favor Wrath even when you include Crit into the equation.

Including Curse of Elements

First of all, CoE should always be up during a boss fight. If its not your Warlocks and Raid Leaders are epic failures. It may lower personal DPS for the lock but it is a huge bonus for the raid. CoE increases your Starfire’s damage by a minimum of 10%. If the warlock has Malediction then it increases your Starfire by 13%. I will look at it both ways in the next set of equations.

Starfire Damage (w/o Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.1) / 2.875 = 857.73
Starfire Damage (w/ Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.13) / 2.875 = 881.12

Wrath Damage = (445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1)) / 1.5 = 887.88

So, at this point Wrath and Starfire are becoming very similar in terms of DPS when you include all of the Starfire buffs. This is where most of the debate comes in. Some people will argue that Wrath is the better spell because of this 6.76 DPS despite the benefits of Starfires DPM. They are correct from a pure theoretical view. However, real life doesn’t always perform like the theory says it should, and this brings us to the next adjustment.

Including Spell Lag

This is what most people forget when they evaluate the two spells, and most people don’t know what it is. Spell Lag is the unavoidable time between spell casts. Melee has it easy. They tell blizzard to wack the boss with a sword and blizzard does all the work for them with the auto-swing. Casters don’t have the same ability with their spells. We have to cast each individual one. Since we are human, the time between casts will be longer then the actual cast time even with addons like quartz. We can minimize it but we can’t eliminate it.

So how does this affect the analysis? Lets assume you have an average spell lag of 0.05 seconds. This is a fairly low number. Your Wrath’s cast time is now increased by 0.05 seconds when calculating DPS for a time between casts of 1.55 seconds. Your Starfires cast time would be affected by the same amount of Spell Lag, so there would be 3.05 seconds between each Starfire cast. As you can see Spell Lag affects the faster cast spells much more then the slower spells. In this example Spell lag makes up 3.23% of the time between casts for Wrath but only 1.64% of the time between casts for Starfire. As you can see Spell Lag affects Wrath almost twice as much as Starfire. Lets put into the equation.

Starfire Damage (w/o Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.1) / 2.925 = 843.07
Starfire Damage (w/ Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.13) / 2.925 = 866.06

Wrath Damage = (445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1)) / 1.55 = 859.24

As you can see Starfire passes Wrath in DPS if you have full raid buffs (excluding Stormstrike) after you include Spell Lag. Even if you don’t have a lock with Malediction in your raid, Starfire is very similar to Wrath in DPS.

Looking at Stormstrike

In this section I will take a look at Stormstrike, listing its problems and showing how it affects the analysis under the best of circumstances.

I really don’t want to include Stormstrike in this analysis at all because it is such a limited buff. However, I’m sure that some readers would discount my analysis if I don’t look at it from all angles.

What is Stormstrike?
It is a debuff placed on the boss by an enhancement shaman where the next 2 sources of Nature damage dealt to the target are increased by 20%. It has a 10 second cooldown before it can be reapplied. Since Wrath is a nature spell it is affected by this Debuff.

Problems with Stormstrike
1. It only affects a finite number of spells. It doesn’t matter how many nature abilities hit the boss in those ten seconds, only the first 2 spells will be buffed. Under the very best of circumstances, only two of your wraths would be affected every 10 seconds.

2. The benefits are not exclusive to Wrath and can be consumed by other players in raid. You will be competing with all Nature Damage dealers for these two procs every ten seconds. However, I do not know if Rogue Poison or Insect Swarm periodic damage ticks consume one of the 2 buffs.

3. When you consume one of the buffs you are preventing another raider from receiving the buff. So, it may increase your DPS but it lowers the DPS of another raid member.

To sum this up, since you can only get 2 buffs every two minutes the average buff will be a maximum of 6.4% since you can cast 6.25 spells per 10 seconds with 0.05 Spell Lag. On top of that, the chances you will get both procs is minimal because the shaman who cast it will take at least one of the procs. If you have an Elemental Shaman in raid you will benefit even less. Finally, to increase your DPS you are lowering the DPS of the shaman who cast it.

So lets say you get one of the two Stormstrike procs. How does it change the numbers? Well you can cast 6.25 spells per 10 seconds with spell lag and no haste. That means you Wrath will get an average increase of 3.2%.

Starfire Damage (w/o Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.1) / 2.925 = 843.07
Starfire Damage (w/ Mal) = (657.8 + (1200)*(1 + 0.2)*(1.1))*(1.13) / 2.925 = 866.06

Wrath Damage = ((445.5 + (1200)*(0.5714 + 0.1)*(1.1))*1.032) / 1.55 = 886.73

As you can see Starfire is still very competitive with Wrath in terms of DPS even when Stormstrike is included in the analysis.

I think this analysis clearly shows that Starfire is clearly the better spell in almost all raid situations. From a DPM stand point Starfire is far superior to Wrath. The DPS view point is a little more complicated. However, with normal raid buffs Starfire is very competitive with Wrath in terms of DPS and even passes it in some cases. When you couple this with the mana efficacy, Starfire is clearly the superior spell of the two.

How this will change in WotLK:

I have run some of the numbers comparing Wrath to Starfire in WotLK. I have often wondered if Starfire would still be the spell of choice in WotLK after Wrath receives buffs from Curse of Elements, Natures Grace, and gets more mana from Moonkin Form. However, with the recent additions of Improved Scorch and Winter’s Chill, the relationship between Wrath and Starfire seems to maintain the status quo.

Monday, August 11, 2008

WotLK Beta Update

There are a couple if interesting changes with the new Beta build over the weekend. There are also some things I missed in prior builds that I wouldn't mind talking about.

- Winter's Chill (Frost Mage Talent) is now a 3 point talent and gives your frost spells a 33/66/100% chance to apply the winter's chill effect. increases the chance Arcane, Fire and Frost spells will critically hit the target by 2% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times. - This talent has been hinted at in the offical talent calculator for the beta but hadn't been included in the beta until the last build and Lissanna has confirmed that this included in the latest build. From a moonkin perspective this is an awesome change, but it maintains the status quo. After the changes to Natures Grace, Curse of Elements and the Mana on Crit mechanic, I have openly wondered if Starfire would still be our primary nuke. This talent combined with Imp Scorch ensure Starfires future as our main raid spell. These buffs are highly dependent on your raid make up and the encounter, but they are also very powerful since the provide 10% buff to damage, 10% buff to Crit, and therefore more mana regen.

The down sided to this is that it reenforces the status quo. Currently Wrath has no real use in a raid. It uses more mana, and with raid buffs does only a little more damage then Starfire does. If you of Tier bonuses Wrath actually does less damage. Murmurs on the Druid forums was saying that the changes in CoE and Natures Grace was an effort to make Wrath a High DPS, High Mana Cost spell that we could use at the end of a fight for alittle extra DPS to empty our mana bar. Imp Scorch and Winter's Chill appear to contradict his. Anyway, it is still early. This chould change.

- Potion Sickness is not included in the latest Beta build. - This is according to WoWInsider. There were a lot of different opinions on Potion Sickness. Some felt that it was awesome in that it reduces the amount of cosumables that would be needed for Wrath raiding. Moonkin and some other classes were worried what this would mean for their mana regen. Many Alchemists were mad because this would significantly reduce the profit ability of thier profession. Well it appears that the anti potion sickness people have won. I as never a fan or a hater of Potion Sickness, but it is good to know that my mana regen isn't changing significantly in a negative direction.

- Wild Growth - Embrace the natural energies surrounding you, healing you for 2000 over 15 sec. Instant, 5 min cooldown. - A while it was released that gatheing professions were getting passive buffs that were trainable. Miners got extra stamina and skinners got extra crit, but the herbalist buff was not released. Well, now it has and its name is Wild Growth. To say the very least I am NOT happy. It is an underpowered heal that isn't affected by any of the usual modifiers. I currently have close to 10k raid buffed, by the time I hit 80 I am sure that I will have close to 16k at least. This ability will heal me for only 1/8th of my health and will only get worse as my gear improves. On top of that it is a 15 second HoT that takes a global cooldown, so it reduces my DPS and by the time it is done I will have most likely been healed to full or killed. The only good part I can see about this is that it is usable in forms. This one needs to go back to the drawing board.

-Totem of Wrath (Elemental Shaman) increases the damage done by spells and effects by 6% and increases the chance strike chance of spells and effects by by 3%. (Previously increased hit chance by 3%) - This is an interesting change. It's hard to say if it's good or bad until we see how easy it is to hit cap. From my perspective I currently don't need the extra spell hit. So an extra 6% damage to my spells is a great trade.

- Ritual of Souls now lasts 3 minutes or 25 charges (instead of 10). - WOOT!! I'm not a warlock but any raider should love this. Many times I have seen a cookie basket drop and be gone in seconds because all 10 stones were taken. This just makes sense.

- Starfire Rank 9 and 10 had their damage increased a little. (661-779 to 670-790 for Rank 10) - Not huge but better then nothing.

Glyphs: Blizzard added a bunch of Glyphs to the beta for Pallys, Priests, and Shaman. There wasn't anything too exciting there from my perspective, but I would like to go back and look at the Druid Glyphs released a few weeks ago.

Glyph of Starfire - Your Starfall ability increases the duration of your Moonfire effect on the target by 3 sec.

Glyph of Moonfire - Increases the periodic damage of your Moonfire ability by 75% but initial damage is decreased by -90%.

Glyph of Insect Swarm - Increases the damage of your Insect Swarm ability by 30% but it no longer affects your victim's chance to hit.

Glyph of Hurricane - Your Hurricane ability now also slows the movement speed of its victims by -20%.

Glyph of Starfall- Increases the duration of Starfall by 2 sec.

Glyph of Wrath - Increases the chance you'll resist spell interruption when casting your Wrath spell by 50%.

Glyph of Entangling Roots - Increases the damage your Entangling Roots victims can take before the Entangling Roots automatically breaks by 20%.

Glyph of Thorns - Empowers a Minor Glyph to reduce the mana cost of your Thorns spells by %s1%.

These are all the Balance related Druid Glyphs. We don't know what level of Glyph most of them are but It does provides some interesting possiblities. My first question is, does the Glyph of Starfire increase the MF duration every time you hit the mob with the Moonfire. Basically, could you keep one MF rolling the whole time by just casting SF over and over? This is a mechanic that blizzard has implented for Priest and Warlock DoTs. If that is the case then this glyph should be used in conjunction with the Glyph of the Moonfire and the damage would be awesome. Moonfire would probably tick off eventually but having to refresh it only once every 30 seconds instead of once every 12 would be awesome.

The other Glyphs aren't that big of a deal to me right now. Glyph of Insect Swarm will make it into a decent DoT damage wise, but it looses its avoidence. This could be good or bad depending on who you talk to. The Roots and Thorns Glyphs are ok to if they both are Minor Glyphs. Over all I'm not that inpressed with Incriptions yet as a non professional. People who take up the profession have some nice abilities like the hearth scrolls but they aren't good enough to make me think I should switch.

Edit: Eclipse: I wanted to let all of you know that I am offically off the Eclipse train. In a couple of posts ago I linked a thread on the WoW forums talking about Koraa's comments. In that thread I started debating the value of Eclipse with them. This thread is what clue'd me into Winter's Chill, and showed me how Eclipse compared to other talents available. I also did some more math.

My new thinking comes down to three things. 1) Preemptive casting to get a buff is a bad idea. You will spend extra mana to get extra damage, but by my math that extra damage is very mana inefficent. 2) Winter's Chill combined with Improved Scorch make SF a superior spell. With the Wrath buff you will be doing more DPS but it is a huge mana efficency lose. 3) The extra damage you get for a Tier 9 talent is small compared to Improved Shapeshifter and other talents.

So If WotLK dropped right now I see no need to pick up this talent by anyone.

Toon Update:
Graylo - He had a very busy weekend. I transfered Graylo with only 400 gold. I did it because I wanted Grayfel to get his flying mount as quick as possible when he hit 70. I figured 400g was enough to deal with repairs and reagents and such and that I could farm gold fairly easily when I needed it. Well, there was one thing I had not considered. Shadow Resist Gear. My new guild is fast approching Mother Shahraz. Luckly I have been selected as part of the group that will get SR gear for the progression kill, but that has sent me scrambling.

To build the full SR gear sets provided by the BT rep you need 9 Heart of Darkness, 5 Void Crystal, 13 Primal Life, and 18 Primal Shadow. An entire raid will need that times 25. Even more if you don't have the same 25 each week. As you can imagine that is lot to provide for a guild that has only been around for two months. So what they desided to do was make us get the Cloak on our own and they would provide the Heart of Darkness for the Wrists, Belt, and Boots. We are ignoring the Legs for now until we get more HoDs.

Well, Hearts of Darkness currently cost about 500g. Along with that I needed 12 Primal Shadows. Luckly I transfered over most of my Primal Lifes and was able to trade some of them for Primal Shadow. All I had to do was come up with the HoD. I did all of the SSO dailies on Saturday and got the money for one Heart, but it left me fairly broke. Plus, If I wanted to get SR cloak enchant I would need another 8 primal shadow. So, on sunday I did another 24 dailies and I am up to a decent amount of gold.

I do have a lot of Shadow Resist now. The 4 peices of crafted gear and the BT attunment neck give me 228 Shadow resist. On top of that I have a pair of green SR gloves and a green SR ring that I just happened to get from my SSO dailies. I also have my old T4 helm in the bank (being a pack rat paid off) which I as able to put a SR enchant on for another 20 shadow resist. These three items bring my SR up to 292. With the buffs I will be up to 362, only 3 below the cap. This should be enough. The problem with all this is I am dropping a lot of DPS gear to get there. Hopefully we will get enough hearts to make the pants soon.

On top of all this I need to get the [Medallion of the Alliance]. Apparently it is needed to down Archimond. So I had about 7000 Honor to farm on a WSG weekend. I was not looking forward to it. Luckily I had a lot of honor marks in the bank from the various BGs, and as able to turn them in for honor.

Graypal and Grayfel didn't see much action, due to my focus on Graylo. I originally had a goal of getting Grayfel to 70 by the end of August, but that doesn't look likely anymore. There are just to manythings I need to do with Graylo right now to push him forward.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Guild Matters

This post will be about why I left WA and how my first night was with Lastt Standd. I am hesitant to write about WA because I still have friends there and a couple of alts. However, I feel the need to get some of my thoughts off my chest. I don't think any of it will be two emflamitory, but if anyone from WA would like to post a responce I will be happy to include it in an edit.

Why I left Wandering Alliance:
I left for several reasons, but they are all kind of jumbled together in my head. Ultimately the WA I left isn't the WA I joined, and I just wasn't happy anymore, but let me elaborate.

First of all I think the guild has fallen apart and wont be back to a high level of raiding anytime soon. Guilds and other organizations never fall apart quickly but you don't always see the signs until long after it started. From my perspective, WA's more recent troubles started in mid April. Our GM's computer got fried, and he didn't have the cash at the time to get a new one or fix the old. This created a little bit of a vacuum at the top of the guild. For a while we waited for Fero (the GM) to come back, but it quickly be came clear that Fero would be out indefinitely.

Unfortunately, the guild didn't have a good replacement in my opinion. I've said it a hundred times already, but I think being GM is a hard and thank less job, that every few people can do. I know I am not capable of doing it. It requires the right combination of hard work, desire, vision, charisma, and decisiveness that few people have. Some of the guild leaders had a lot of these qualities (including Aradane who eventually took the job), but no one had all of them. As a result the guild lost some of its sharpness. Decisions took longer to make, raiders got a little more sloppy, things just didn't go as smoothly as the once did.

On top of this, the general tone of the guild started to change. It became a lot more adversarial. I don't know what caused the change. I'm sure some would partially blame me. I did get in to several big arguments with people in the Guild forums regarding guild issues. I have heard others blame some of the new members we brought into the guild. I think the lack of definitive leadership also had a big deal to do with it. Anyway, the guild be came very snippy. The raid members felt it and started leaving slowly.

Another problem we had was a bloated leadership. I remember one raid where 14 of the 25 people in raid were officers. It is impossible make any decisions quickly when you have 14 people voicing opinions. Since we didn't have a clear leader it became even harder.

These problems were recognized and under the right circumstances they could have been fixed. However due to a combination of timing, bad luck, and poor choices the guild wasn't able to turn it self around. First of all, raiding sucks on Eitrigg right now. The top two alliance guilds folded with most of their core members transferring servers. Many small raiding guilds have folded also and the ones that are still around are having serious problems with recruitment. Having all of this happen during summer when raiding generally slows didn't help either. However, the biggest issue I had was how the top leadership tried to correct our problems.

What they did was completely restructure our officer rankings, without even telling all of the officers before it happened. They didn't even attempt to get input from me or a couple of other officers. Before the change we basically had three officer ranks, Officer, Class Lead, and Class Assistant. What they did was get rid of Class Assistant, Change the name of Class Lead to Class Support, and insert a new rank between Officer and Class Support called Raid support. The way they described the change was that Officers would run the raids and the guild. Raid Support would be the back up in case officers were not available. Class support would be consulted on Class specific issues if needed.

Ultimately it was a deceptive way to try and exclude some people (Class Support) from guild management and the decision making process. A new section was created on the Guild Forums only Officers and Raid Support could see. A chat channel was created that informally acted as an Officer chat for most of the Officers and Raid Support. Its a really funny feeling to hear a raid related question asnwered over vent when you can't see the question in Gchat, Raid Chat, or Ochat and it wasn't asked in vent.

As you probably guessed I was a part of the Class Support. When the changes were made, I felt unappreciated and disrespected. I felt like I had done a lot for the guild and was cast aside without any consideration for my feelings. The promotions and demotions seemed to have more to do with who your friends were then actual abilities. Several officers were promoted to Raid Support or Officer when they didn't do any more for the guild then I did and in some cases they did less. Since Eitrigg was such a bad server to recruit raiders from, I tried to maintain a thread on the Guild Recruitment forums on the WoW website. Even after I asked several times, not a single person could help me bump the thread to keep it near the top of the forums. My morale fell very low at this point and I couldn't find a reason to keep promoting the guild or working for its survival anymore. They had successfully pushed me out.

I wasn't the only one having problems with the new system. We started losing more members and some of the Officers and Raid Support people were also having trouble with the new system and the new leadership. Criticisms from some officers stopped being constructive and was purely belittling. Eventually a good friend of mine who was also an officer of the highest level was pushed out and she transferred servers. Another friend of mine from my FoC days decided that to transfer to another server also. It was clear that this was the end of the guild as I knew it. Many of our core raiders left for one reason or another and we couldn't recruit enough quality people to replace them. Eventually almost all raiding stopped, and the guild just wasn't fun anymore.

As I said in my last post, I found leaving really hard. I was surprised at just how hard it was for me to prepare for the transfer. Mailing all of the mats and consumables between my different alts and graylo so that he would have every thing he needed was very sad. When it came time for me to announce my choice I almost couldn't do it. It felt a lot like breaking up with a girlfriend. There are a lot of things I really like about WA that I will miss, but ultimately WA wasn't able to provide me with the things I need to make the game fun. If the game isn't fun, why play?

I wish them the best of luck with what ever direction they take the guild in.

First Day with Lastt Standd:
I freely admit that I was very nervous about transfering servers. I worried about it for a lot of different reasons. What would the people be like? How strong is the guild? Is it going to progress or is it another failing guild trying to survive? And probably the most nerve wracking for me, how will I perform relative to their current members?

I raided with them for the first time Thursday night. It's a little early to make a final judgement on the quilds quality but I think last night went very well. Most of my concerns have deminished. The people were nice. I found them a little cocky at times but nothing bad. In fact they reminded me of FoC quite a bit. The guild appears to be strong. We had 30+ people on before raid time and there seemed to be quite a few people on well before raid time also. Relative to the rest of the guild my performance was very good in my opinion. I was in the top 5 on damage most of the night.

We started the night in Hyjal. They had downed the first 3 earlier in the week and wanted to down Azgalor before we headed to BT. We ended up one shotting Azgalor which was nice since it is only the 3rd kill on him for the guild. We then headed to BT. Earlier in the week they downed the first 4 bosses including a guild first kill of Gorefiend. Last night was the first time Lastt Standd was attempting Bloodboil. I was a little nervous going into this fight. I had heard that it was very tough, and I expected a long night of wipes. It turned out to be not nearly as bad as I expected.

The fight requires a lot of coordination. First you need three tanks to coordinate their threat. They have to be the top three on the threat list and can't get to far from each other. Otherwise they will be unable to take aggro from each other because he is untauntable. The second trick to the fight is the bloodboil rotation. Bloodboil is a dot that targets the 5 raid members farthest from the boss. Since it stacks you have to rotate people in and out of range so nobody takes to much damage. The third trick is Fel Rage. The boss will target one person and he will have aggro for 30 seconds. This person will be taking a ton of damage and the healers have to react quickly so that he doesn't die.

The tanks did a good job of managing their threat. Some of the DPS (including my self at times) didn't but it wasn't to much a of a problem. The Bloodboil rotation went very well. We only had problems there when someone died. The only real problem we had was with the fel enrage healing. It took the healers a few trys to pick it up. Overall, with a good raid this isn't a hard fight at all. I don't know why I was nervious.

Monday we will be trying Requim of Souls (RoS). I have read up on it a little and it sounds like another fun fight. Next week we will be attempting Archimonde. Unfortunately the PvP trinket I have is the cheap one with a 5 minute cooldown. I need to BG some this weekend to get the 2 minute cooldown trinket.

Anyway, that is it for now.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

WotLK Moonkin News (Now With Blue Post)

Lisana is apparently a long time Blizzard Alpha and Beta tester going back to the early WoW days and plays a Moonkin. She posted a thread on the offical Beta forums to let European WoW players know that she was paying attention to their concerns, addressing some of them, and forwarding them on to Blizzard using the ingame feedback.

Well here post prompted Koraa, a blizzard class designer, to respond with some of his thoughts on the current moonkin design. While none of the following is all that shocking, I must say that it is very intersting to hear blizzard's perspective on our spec. Here is a Link.

Edit: There is a good discussion about these topics on the WoW forums with lot of good moonkin that I respect. You can find it here.


"Bloat: Bloat is another word for "I can't have everything I want!". We want every class to feel their tree is "bloated" to a degree. We want classes to have to make choices and sacrifices over good talents, because that is ultimately what makes talents interesting. If it weren't that way, we would just make it a linear progression without any choices. That said, if you feel the flow of the talents makes you spend points in something that doesn't necessarily benefit you what that build is for (i.e. spending too many "PvE" talents for a PvP build), then that can be addressed. "

My thoughts: First off Moonkin are forced to invest points in several talents that I believe are not that useful for a PvE Raiding Moonkin. Personally I would rather not put 6 points in Nature's Focus, Naturalist, Natures Grasp, or Control of Nature. Unfortunately there aren't any better talents in the first two tiers of the Balance and Resto Trees.

Now looking at Bloat. You know, in some ways I agree with him. Players should have some choices in their spec on how to play them. I think the resto tree is an example of where "bloat" isn't a bad thing. I have seen Trees spec several different ways. Some go a full 0/0/61 and pick up all of the AoE and Healing Touch talents. Others deside to ignore the Healing Touch talents and deside to pick up some talents in the Balance tree. Both specs make very affective healers. Its just that one spec provides more DPS and the other provides more healing options.

Where Bloat goes bad is when you have so many talents that are fundamental to your primary job that you can't take any of the more situational talents. For example, I have created a sample Moonkin build using the WotLK talents. Here is the Link.

A moonkin's primary job is currently single target DPS. So, I think most of us would agree that our first priority when choosing a spec would be to maximize our single target DPS. With that in mind I created my sample build. You will notice that I skip 4 of the 6 talents in the top 3 Balance tiers, and one of those talents I did pick isn't maxed out.

Now, I know many raiding Moonkin out there will disagree with some of my "Core" choices. Many players consider Eclipse to be a useless talent. They may be right, but I think they will change their mind once they realize how much the Starfire vs Wrath competition has been shifted in Wrath's favor. If things stay as they are Moonkin will be casting a lot more Wrath in WotLK even without Eclipse. The other main disagreement will be around Mana regen talents. Some will say will say that we can sacrifice Dreamstate, Intensity or Omen of Clarity. In my opinion our mana regen is still way up in the air and we may need all we can get, but I will talk more on that later.

However, even if we ignore Eclipse and reduce our mana regen, that still leaves us with only 5 or 6 extra points, and look at all the talents we've passed up:

Force of Nature - A good source of threat free DPS, but not useful in all fights and requites some finess to use them correctly.

Starfall - A nice AoE spell but it has a very long cooldown and requites the caster to stand among those he is DPS. AoE is a fairly situational need in Raides and is more than adiquately covered by Locks and Mages with out using a ton of talent points.

Earth and Moon - More on this later but Koraa says that this talent is going to be buffed. Depending on what it is we may want to put a full 5 points in it.

Typhoon - I consider this more of a PvP talent but it is an AoE and I'm sure it will have its uses in raids.

Gale Winds - Buffs the damage of Hurricane and Typhoon. PvPers may pick it up for the extra range on Cyclone but from a raid perspective it is very situational

Brambles - I have said a lot of bad things about this talent in the past, but they may have finally buffed it enough in the WotLK to make it a requited 3 point investment. Lisana says in the forum post I linked above that Thorns will now scale with our spell power. If true then the added damage of another point may noticably increase a tanks threat.

To sum it up, Bloat is ok when your choosing between talents that are outside of your "Core" roll. However, as it is now, it seems like all of our talents are taken up by our core role of single target DPS, and we don't have much opportunity to take some of those cool but situational talents like Starfall and Force of Nature.

Put another way, Bloat is ok when choosing between vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Its not ok, when choosing between medication or food. I don't mean to over dramatize it but I think the balance tree currently leans towards the later.

"Dreamstate: If we deem Moonkins to have mana issues we can change this talent to work with Spirit/improve it, but from what I've seen it's the total opposite right now. If anything we might of gone too far in Moonkin efficiency . "

My thoughts: I agree that Moonkin Mana Efficency has improved quite a bit. The past two patches have done wonders and the Mana on Crit is a dream come true, not to mention Omen of Clarity now including Spells. However I am very worried that they might think they have gone to far. My worry stems from the new Potion Sickness.

Currently, Moonkin get a lot of their mana regen from Mana Pots if they don't have a Shadow Priest. Now that a player can ue only one potion per encounter where is our mana regen going to come from? I can't get to worried, because there are still alot of questions to be answered. For instance we don't know how raid encounters are going to be changed for the lack of potions. However I am concerned that blizzard my take a couple of our new goodies away.

"Earth and Moon: I realize that the talent doesn't really justify more than a few points of investment. We'll do some changes here."

My Thoughts: I think Koraa's comment is dead on. As of right now I would put only 3 points in this talent. It may take a little while to build a stack, but it would be fairly easy to maintain. I am interested to see how they will improve it, but don't really know how I would put two more points in this talent. This could increase the Bloat problem mentioned above.

"Eclipse: Eclipse is intended to be a good DPS upgrade when you utilize it, if it isn't resulting in that then we will change the damage bonus effects it gives you. Your specific results with Eclipse testing would help. It is intended to be a long cooldown, though. Otherwise you'd get fatigue from swapping between Wrath and Starfire too much. "

My Thoughts: Their are problems with this talent, but I think most people dismiss it to quickly. I agree that it is useless in leveling. By the time you get the buff the mob will be dead. Its use in 5 mans and pvp will be limited also since those fights are very quick. The Mobs will probably die before the buff expires most of teh time.

The other big problem with Eclipse right now is that it is so unreliable. If the Random Number Generator (RNG) desides to screw you one night your going to have issues. Right now there are 3 things left up to the RNG. You have to crit to get the buff. Then only 60% of yoru crits will activate the buff if it isn't on cooldown. Finally if you're using the Starfire buff then your not quarenteed any extra damage because it boosts your crit by 10%.

However, I still maintain that from a raid perspective this talent has a lot of potential. I think most moonkin are still caught up in the Wrath is for PvP and Starfire is for PvE mindset. I don't think they have done the math yet and don't realize how much Wrath has improved in WotLK. If things stay as they currently are, I predecit that Wrath will be a prominant spell in the moonkin raiding rotation.

There are two changes I might make in the talent. First, I would definately increase the proc chance from 60% to 100%. It wouldn't increase the damage to much, but would decrease a lot of the luck involved in the talent. The second thing I may change is the Starfire buff. Ten percent doesn't sound like much, and again you can get really unlucky with this buff. It would be interesting if they chould make it like the Darkmoon Wrath card that increased your chance to crit after each spell cast.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Toon/Guild Update:
I have left Wandering Alliance sort of. I have transfered Graylo to the Hyjal server to raid with the guild Lastt Standd (extra t and d are intended). It has been a really hard decision, but one that I felt like I had to make. I won't go into detail now, but Wandering Alliance just didn't feel like the right place for me anymore.

I don't know anyone at the new guild. I choose this guild because their progression is very similar to mine, they wanted a moonkin to be a regular raider, the server has very good progression with a US top 50 guild, and their raid times fit my schdule very well. I'll be honest, I am very worried about the move. I have no idea what to expect.The good news is that the Guild Leader is an Elemental Shaman, and he has got to want my aura, but that is of small comfort right now. I guess the worst that could happen is that I don't like it or get kicked and get stuck on the server with no friends for a month.

Anyway, whats done is done. I have left Graypal and Grayfel on Eitrigg and have asked to keep them in Wandering Alliance. I may transfer them over if everything goes well, but I think that is at least a month or two in the future. For right now they are a way for me to continue playing with my friends.

Wish me luck.