Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Warglaive Drama a Hoax

I posted earlier today about some "epic" loot drama over on Hyjal. Turns how it was all a hoax. The come clean post is here.

I don't feel stupid for buying it because it seems pretty plausable, and so may people seem to have bought into it as well.

Congratulations to Aquasheepa and Casual for pulling of a great prank.

Loot Council Gone Bad

I was checking out the WoW forums for some of my old servers and found this Post.

Please Note: In my brief time on Hyjal I had no contact with anyone in Casual or involved in this drama as far as I know. My comments are purely based on posts on the forums. Please to not take anything said here as an attack on the guild or its members both past and present.

Summary: The posted thread is already closed due to length and a vast majority of the posts are useless. So here is a quick summary.

Casual is the #1 ranked guild on Hyjal and has been clearing SWP for a couple of months. Dispite this expertise they have had bad luck when it comes to Epic drops. The Warglaive Off-Hand finally drops. The loot counsil has a decision to make. Give the Epic sword to a long time member Aquasheeps (who claims to be an original member), or to a new recruit who already has the Warglaive Main-Hand so that he can complete his set. They did the later. As a result Aquasheeps then took at least 200,000 gold from he guild bank and /gquit.

My Observations:
As an outsider with little information this is almost impossible to determine right and wrong, but I do find a couple of interesting points here.

1. Aquasheeps is being treated like a hero on the forums. Who new that someone could take 200,000 from a guild bank and a large chunk of the wow community would support him? I don't think this isreally support for Aquasheeps but is more of an anti-hardcore backlash. You don't be come the top guild on a server and one of the top guilds in the world without making some enemies. There are a lot of "Casual got what it deserves" posts which I think are mostly sour grapes.

2. There seems to be some in Casual who thinkAquasheeps was wronged even after he took the gold. One member did post on the forums saying that the counsils decision as cause some people to question if Casual is the best place for them and that he has been approched to quit with them.

3. I am a long time supporter Loot Counsil systems, but this level of drama would never occur with DKP as long as loot was distributed with in the rules. This level of drama is only possible with human interaction.

My Commentary:
Using the limited info available, it seems to me that both sides are wrong. The loot counsel bricked the choice in my opinion. Yes, having a set of warglaives on one person will improve raid DPS especially in SWP, but does that matter anymore. Casual has been clearing SWP for weeks, the little bit of extra DPS isn't going to change the guild ranking or make the fights all that much easier. Assuming that Aquasheeps was a long time valued member as he says, then he should have been rewarded for his dedication with the epic.

That said, Aquasheep way overreacted. If he really did help found the guild then, he was probably part of the discussion to use loot council. Some times people make mistakes. It sucks. I was in ZA the other day and the Hood of Hexing dropped. A mage rolled need on it even though she had T5 and won. I haven't even seen her wear it since then. Yes it does piss me off, but mistakes happen.

Ultimately the game should be played for the fun of it. So that we can see new fights that test our abilities. So that we can hang out with friends. Getting shiny purples and oranges are great, but nobody uses the level 60 legendaries anymore, other than to pull them out and say "hey, look what I got."

If a loot distribution issue causes you to go raid the Gbank and quit then there were probably other issues also. If the people you play with are friends then your not going to do it.

Anyway, good luck to everyone involved. This just proves one thing I had kind of suspected anyway, Hyjal Drama > Eitrigg and Garona Drama combined.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Toon Update: 9/29/2008

I am not getting to these types of post nearly as much as I would like. So, much stuff is happening with the expansion and the math around moonkin that I have had little time to write one of my more lighter blog topics. To those of you that like this type of post I apologize and promise that they will be more frequent when things calm down.

Burning Crusade Goals:
On 9/15/08 I posted 4 goals that I wanted to complete before the patch/expansion. Lets take a look at my progress.

1. Kill Kael - Status: Completed - WOOT!!!! I actually had a few things going in my favor that I didn't realize. LoE had downed Kael before patch 2.4 but only once, and the patched dropped less then a week later. So they didn't need to go back and get more people attuned. As a result there were several long time members that hadn't killed him or gotten their titles either. On top of that the guild has been having a little bit of drama that I was unaware of. Apparently the guild has been taking a little more hardcore view of raiding then some longtime raiders liked. As a result a line was drawn in the sand by the GM basically saying, "this is going to be our focus going forward. If you don't like it, we are sorry to loose you, but we will move on." As a result our raiding was a little up in the air for a day or two and the leadership decided to hit Kael and Vashj.

So, I've got the title and I can now put T5 instance completely behind me unless I want to go back for some fun. There is no longer a need to sign up for weekend pugs. The only bad news is that nether Kael or Vashj dropped a Druid token.

2. Clear BT and Hyjal - Status: Need Archie - Chance of Success: 50% - Clearing BT was no problem. I have actually done it a couple of times now. The question is will I get Archie. LoE has affectively dropped Hyjal from the regular raiding schedule. There just is not enough time to Clear Hyjal, BT, and get some decent attempts in on Sunwell. There is some talk of purchasing raid id's from guild who only get the first 3 or four bosses down, but who knows if that will happen. The good news is that I still have more then a month to get him down.

3. Get Bear Mount - Status: Completed - This was actually easier then I expected. I became a part of a regular bear run and many of the people on the run already had bears. Plus, the patch hasn't dropped yet so I've had a little more time.

4. Kill Something in SWP - Status: Open - Chance of Success: 50% - I haven't stepped foot into SWP yet, but we are headed there tonight and it looks like it will be come a part of our regular raiding schedule. Will we kill some bosses though?
There are a lot of vary good players in LoE so I am confident that the players are good enough. My only question is the encounter. I've read strats and stuff, but it's hard to know what a fight is like until you do it. I just don't know if we are geared enough to get him down. I think the chances are good, because most of our long time members now have 4/5 T6 or 5/5 T6, but there are several people like me who have a lot of T5 gear. I just know know, but I'm more confident then I was before.

Guild Update:
As you can see from my goals above I have cleared BT and such. The guild hasn't done anything new, but we are preping for taking on new content and such. From a personal level, it sounds like I am going to be promoted to an R1 (core raider). From what I've been told this means I am pretty much guaranteed a raid spot assuming that I show up on time and consistently and my performance doesn't drop significantly. So, yay for me.

Toon Update:
Graylo - With all of the BT and ZA runs I have gotten a couple of decent upgrades. I finally got [Hex Shrunken Head] out of ZA and I also picked up [Ring of Ancient Knowledge]. I haven't gotten any additional Tier pieces yet, but I should get some soon. Most of the regular raiders have everything they need, and I will finally have some DKP that I can spend.

Graypal - I finally bit the bullet and got his enchanting to 375. I ended up purchasing most of the mats to get the last couple of points, but I want to have him at max skill before the expansion drops. Other then that, he hasn't done much.

Grayfel - The big news here is that Grayfel got his epic flying mount. Some may question me spending so much gold on an alt, but I can't stand flying slow.
Other then that, he hasn't done much either. I've been trying to do the BRD Brewfest boss as much as I can so that I can get the trinkets, but the RNG has it in for me. I've seen the Tanking trinket and the Melee trinket drop 95% of the time. I've seen the Healing trinket drop 3 times, but the DPS trinket hasn't dropped a single time. At least I did get the healing trinket on both Grayfel and Graypal, so one the patch drops they will both be able to use it for DPS.

Grayvik - Is a new mage I started when I first transferred to Garona. I create him before Graypal and Grayfel transferred over, and I couldn't bring myself to start another Shaman when I have one at level 14 over on Eitrigg. Anyway, I've gotten him up to level 13. He will probably go a little higher before the expansion drops, but my guess is that he is going to be stuck at 20 something fairly soon. Once the expansion drops Graylo is going to get almost 100% of my time, and the rest is probably going to be spent on the priest and the warlock.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bloated Rant

First off, I've scrapped the part three of my WotLK Spell series that was supposed to look at the talent Eclipse. I did it for a couple of reasons.

1. Murmurs has already done a lot of math on the WoW forums and specifically looked at Eclipse. You can find it here. The short version her analysis is that Eclipse is bad.

2. I saw this quote:
While I'm sure every class would say this, it's probably no surprise to you that Balance damage was low.

Way too low.We are addressing most of it through base spell damage changes to Wrath, Insect Swarm and especially Starfire. Hopefully that will give you some more talent choices because some of the damage talents will feel more optional (or as optional as more damage ever feels), instead of the bare minimum you need to be close to other casters. (src)

This quote seems to suggest that the bloat is here to stay. If they don't trim the balance tree then it will be impossible to pickup Eclipse, all of the damage increasing talents, and all of the mana regen talents. Something has go give, and we all know how important our mana and damage talent are. A gimmicky talent like eclipse just cant survive.

Blizzard's Faulty Bloat Logic:
It never ceases to amaze me how little blizzard understands it's players and how they play the game. Here is a basic truth about DPS players, DAMAGE TALENTS ARE NOT OPTIONAL. They never have been and never will be.

Increasing the base damage on our spells is great, but does anyone really think that is going to change how players spec?

Players that are serious about raiding are going to min/max there talent build. If a talent increases my DPS then I'm going to pick it up if at all possible. It's not an option because my primary roll is to DPS. If I'm not pushing out as much DPS as I possibly can the I shouldn't be in the raid, even if I'm first on the damage meter.

Optional talents should be situational in nature. Gale Winds is a perfect example of an optional talent. It provides a real benefit that isn't needed all the time. If my raids are short on AoE then it is a great pick up, but I'm not not going to take 2 points out of a talent that boosts my DPS 100% of the time to put them in a talent that I will use infrequently. A real option is do I want more AoE, more survivability, or pushback resistance.

The real kicker to this quote is how it shapes the comparison between Resto Druids and Moonkin. Now that Spell Damage and Healing have been combined into one stat (Spell Power), the differences between the two roll's is almost entirely Talent build.

As it is, a resto druid will be able to pick up many of a moonkin's key DPS talents by putting 31 points in the balance tree. They would still have 40 points to spend in the resto tree. This would result in a toon who's DPS isn't much below a "deep" moonkin's and can significantly out heal said moonkin. The only thing it costs is most of the raid utility, that now can be easily provided by other classes.

/end rant.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WotLK: What Spell Do I Use? - Spell Rotations

This is the second part in a three part series looking at what spells moonkin should use for WotLK Raiding. Part one looked at the basic math of our four main DPS spells. Part two looks at what spell rotations moonkin should use and wen. Part three on Eclipse is cancelled for now.

UPDATE: The numbers have been updated to include the new base spell values. The TL;DR version did change a little bit as the Starfire Rotation improved significantly.

Knowing the basic math behind each spell is nice and all but it doesn't give the whole picture. These spells are interrelated and preform best when used in conjunction with each other.

In this post I will look at four different spell rotations. I will review which are best in some situations, and which should be completely ignored.

If you don't care about all of the math or assumptions please feel free to skip to the bottom for the TL;DR version.

1. All of my math is based upon the calculations I did in my DPS Basics post. Therefore, the same assumptions hold true.

2. Just to reiterate, I am excluding the Glyph of Wrath, because spell push back is hard to quantify. This is biased against Wrath, but I will try and acknowledge the issue in my conclusions.

3. I won't be using Starfire and Wrath in the same rotation. In the past some oave argued that Wrath you be the last spell in your rotation if you have less then 1.5 seconds left on your DoT. While this is technically true, I believe it complicates the rotation to an unreasonable level. Overly complicated rotations can lead to decreased DPS because of mistakes made in trying to execute them. Therefore, I will not be using this practice in my rotations listed below.

4. Moonfire and Starfire are assumed to be glyphed, but Insect Swarm is assumed not to be. There is no downside to the Moonfire glyph, and the Insect Swarm glyph only improves my conclusions and a rotations DPS if included.

5. The additional Moonfire damage from the Starfire Glyph will be attributed to the Starfire cast and not Moonfire.

6. All rotations are created using average cast times. These numbers can very significantly depending on the number of crits that occur and proc Nature's Grace.

Talent Build / Buffs:

I am using the same build to calculate these rotations as I used in the DPS Basics post. Please refer to it for specifics. However, I would like to highlight one additional talent.

Improved Insect Swarm - Increases the damage of your nuke spells based upon the DoTs on the target.
Nature's Splendor - Increases the duration of your Moonfire and Insect Swarm spells by 3 sec.

Creating a Spell Rotation:
Spell Rotations are defined by two charicteristics: DoTs and Cooldowns. Without DoTs or Cooldowns, we would just pick our best spell and spam it.

Moonkin don't have a "standard" long cooldown spells. Yes, you could include Starfall or Force of Nature, but realisticly they are not going to be included in any standard rotation. So, Moonkin rotations are going to be centered around our two DoTs: Moonfire and Insect Swarm.

With Nature's Splendor Moonfire and Insect Swarm have a duration of 15 seconds. Therefore all but one of the rotations will be centered around this 15 second DoT timer.

The rotation depend on how many "nukes" you can fit in the duration of the DoT(s). To do this we need to determine the average cast time of Starfire and Wrath and the average global cooldown for Insect Swarm and Moonfire.

Cast Times / Global Cooldowns:

As I said we in the assumpions, I am using the same stats as the Basic's post. That means my hypothetical moonkin has 11.31% haste, Starfire and Wrath have 30% crit, and Moonfire has 36% crit. Here is how you calculate each spell's cast time or global cooldown.

Starfire w/ Imp IS: (3 - (0.5 * (Crit + 0.03)))/ (1 + haste) = (3 - (0.5 * 0.33)) / (1 + 0.1131) = 2.5469 seconds

Wrath: (1.5 / (1 + haste))*(1 - Crit) + Crit = (1.5 / (1 + 0.1131))*(1 - 0.3) + 0.3 = 1.2433 seconds

Moonfire: (1.5 / (1 + haste))*(1 - Crit) + Crit = (1.5 / (1 + 0.1131))*(1 - 0.36) + 0.36 = 1.2225 seconds

Insect Swarm: (1.5 / 1 + haste) = 1.3476 Seconds
Improved Insect Swarm:
I didn't include this talent in my basics analysis because it is a very rotation dependent talent. However, it does have a significant impact on spell DPS. Here is how the equations are modified for this talent.


DPS = (((Base + (Spell Power * 0.67))*(1 + (0.32 + Imp IS)))*(1 + Crit)) / ((1.5/(1+Haste))*(1 - Crit) + Crit)
DPS = (((588 + (1800 * 0.67))*(1 + 0.32 + 0.03)))*(1 + 0.3)) / ((1.5/(1+0.1131))*(1 - 0.30) + 0.30)
DPS = (1,794* 1.35)*1.3 / (1.3476*0.7) + 0.3
DPS = 3,148 / 1.2433 = 2,532.25

DPS = (((Base + (Spell Power * 1.2))*(1 + 0.32))*(1 + (Crit + 0.03)) / ((3-(0.5 * (Crit + 0.03)))/(1+Haste))
DPS = (((1120 + (1800 * 1.2))*(1 + 0.32)))*(1 + 0.33)) / ((3 - (0.5 * 0.33))/ (1 + 0.1131))
DPS = (4330*1.33) / 2.5469 = 2,260.93

Glyphed DPS = Starfire DPS + (Moonfire Tick / 3)
Glyphed DPS = 2,260.93 + (1,119/ 3) = 2,633.93
Spell Rotations:
The different rotations fall into two catagories: Starfire rotations and Wrath rotations. First, I'm going to compare the Starfire rotations and the Wrath rotations to find out which is the best Starfire rotation and which is the best Wrath rotation. Then, I am going to compare the Starfire and Wrath rotation to each other to find out which is best.

Starfire Rotations:
For these rotations I am assuming that Moonfire is already on the target. Therefore, I am ignoring the direct damage portion of the spell and the mana costs of the spell. This of course won't be true for all fights, but it should impact both rotations equally. Therefore, it should impact the analysis for now.

Moonfire, Starfire * X:
If Moonfire is already on the boss this is basically Starfire spam and therefore has the same DPS as shown above. So for my hypothetical moonkin this rotation has an average DPS of 2,633.98, and and averate DPM of 15.80.

Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Starfire * X:
The main question here is how many Starfire's can we cast while Insect Swarm ticks on the boss. Insect Swarm has a duration of 15 seconds talented and a GCD of 1.3476.

SF casts per IS: (15 - 1.3476) / 2.5469 = 5.36; rounded up to 6
So this means that on average our rotation will consist of 1 Insect Swarm cast and 6 Starfire casts. This results in a rotation DPS of :

Rotation DPS = (IS Dam + (SF Dam * 6)) / (IS GCD + (SF Cast Time * 6))
Rotation DPS = (4,220+ (6878 * 6)) / ( 1.3476 + (2.5469* 6))
Rotation DPS = 45,485 / 16.629 = 2,735.28

Rotation DPM = 45,485 / (304 + (435 * 6)) = 15.61
At a 30% crit rate the IS, MF, SF rotation does about 3.85% more DPS but is only 1.28% less mana efficent then the MF, SF rotation. Therefore, it is my suggestion that an IS, MF, SF*x rotation be your primary Starfire rotation in early raiding.

Wrath Rotations:

Insect Swarm, Wrath * X:
How many Wraths can we cast while Insect Swarm ticks on the boss. Insect Swarm has a duration of 15 seconds talented and a GCD of 1.3476.

Wrath casts per IS: (15 - 1.3476) / 1.2433 = 10.98; rounded up to 11
So this means that on average our rotation will consist of 1 Insect Swarm cast, 10 Wrath casts with Imp IS, and 1 Wrath cast without Imp IS. This results in a rotation DPS of :

Rotation DPS = (IS Dam + W Dam + (W IS Dam * 10)) / (IS GCD + (W Cast Time * 11))
Rotation DPS = (4,220 + 3,083 + (3,153 * 10)) / ( 1.3476 + (1.2433* 11))
Rotation DPS = 38,833/ 15.0239 = 2,584.74

Rotation DPM = 38,833/ (304 + (273 * 11)) = 11.74
Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Wrath * X:
How many Wraths can we cast while Insect Swarm and Moonfire ticks on the boss. Both DoTs hav a duration of 15 seconds talented. Insect Swarm's GCD is 1.3476, while Moonfire has an average GCD of 1.2225.
Wrath casts per Rotation: (15 - 1.3476 - 1.2225) / 1.2433 = 9.99; rounded up to 10

So this means that on average our rotation will consist of 1 Insect Swarm cast, 1 Moonfire cast, 9 Wrath casts with Imp IS, and 1 Wrath cast without Imp IS. This results in a rotation DPS of :

Rotation DPS = (MF Dam + IS Dam + W Dam + (W IS Dam * 9)) / (MF GCD + IS GCD + (W Cast Time * 10))
Rotation DPS = (5,733 + 4,220 + 3,083 + (3,153 * 9)) / ( 1.2225 + 1.3476 + (1.2433* 10))
Rotation DPS = 41,413 / 15.0031 = 2,760.30

Rotation DPM = 41,413 / (304 + 597 + (273 * 10)) = 11.41
The Wrath rotations are fairly even. The the IS, MF, W rotation has a 3.73% DPS advantage, but the IS, W rotation has a 5.96% DPM advantage. Which you choose will depend on your current needs, but if you need more mana efficiency then your probably not going to use a Wrath rotation. Therefore, it is my suggestion that an IS, MF, W*x rotation be your primary Wrath rotation in early raiding.

Starfire Rotation vs Wrath Rotation:
Which rotation is better really depends on the fight. The Starfire rotation is clearly better in terms of both DPS and DPM. However, this only holds true if you can keep appling Moonfire ticks with each Starfire cast and there is limited spell pushback.

The Starfire Rotation is best for long "tank and spank" type fights that have limited aggro dumps and limited movement. This rotation shine's when you can sustain consistant and focused DPS. The perfect fight for this rotation is one like Tidewalker, where you can sit there and build up as many ticks as possible with out worring about pulling aggro after a threat wipe.

A Wrath Rotation is best for the more highly variable fights like Leo. The Wrath rotation shines when you have to start and stop DPS frequently because it doesn't require the synergy between glyphs to provide good DPS. Also, a Wrath rotation is more predictable because you manage when your DoTs end to help you avoid pulling aggro. If you used a Starfire rotation in this situation you would lose a good chunk of the mana efficency because you have to reapply Moonfire frequently.

Ultimately you want to maximize your use of the Starfire rotation without pulling aggro or endangering the raid. There are plenty of situations where one rotation might be good for one phase but bad for the second.

Take Supremus for example. Phase one is great for Starfire, because you can build up Moonfire ticks to DPS during the Kite phase. Wrath is better for phase two because of the shorter cast time and you don't want to extend the Moonfire DoT into the aggro dump.

You can also use more then one rotation in a single phase. Take phase two of the Leo fight in SSC. You have a minute while he is in demon form. You could build up your Moonfire duration using your Starfire rotation until the duration of Moonfire is a little less then the time left in the phase. Then you switch over to your Wrath rotation to let the moonfire tick off.

TL;DR Version:
This is a lot of math and words so I want to summarize it into a more digestable format.

MF, IS, SF*x Rotation
Good: The Best rotation when managable. Great for long "tank and spank" fights that allow for continous and focused DPS.
Bad: For choppy fights with frequent aggro dumps that require you to frequently reapply Moonfire.

MF, IS, W*x Rotation
Good: For choppy fights that require greater control over your personal DPS.
Bad: For long consistent fights that require a greater level of mana efficnecy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

WotLK: What Spell Do I Use? - The Basics

This is the first part in a three part series looking at what spells moonkin should use for WotLK Raiding. Part one looks at the basic math of our four main DPS spells. Part two will look at what spell rotations we should use and when. Part three on Eclipse is cancelled for now.

UPDATE: The numbers have been updated to include the new base values.

With the expansion coming a lot of the conventional wisdom regarding moonkin is up in the air. If you have read my blog or the moonkin forums you know that several people are questioning if Starfire will still be our primary raid spell. In this post I hope to look at our 4 primary DPS spells and how they are changing. In a second post I will also look at what sort of rotations we are going to use in the expantion.

Quick Note: A couple of people have done math similar to this. I haven't reviewed it all but it is something you might one to look at it. Murmur's compares Moonkin DPS to Mage DPS here on the WoW forums. And Gray Matter reader Erdluf, looks at the DPS of individual talents here on the Moonkin Respository. These were posted a little while ago so some of the values may have changed, but it is good work by both of them that should be recognized.

Talent Build / Buffs:
I have used this Talent Build to calculate the numbers. I am not suggesting that we raid with this build. I have chosen it because it maximizes DPS buffs and I expect blizzard to do something about our bloat.

Note: This may be a mistake but I'm going to assume that you've read my other Verses posts or know a decent amount about moonkin builds. Therefore, I am not going to list every talent that will impact the math. I am just highlighting the newer ones and the ones that have a greater impact.

Spell Damage Buffs:

Genesis - Increases the damage and healing done by your periodic damage and healing effects by 5%.
Improved Moonfire - Increases the damage and critical strike chance of your Moonfire spell by 10%.
Moonfury - Increases the damage done by your Starfire, Moonfire and Wrath spells by 10%.
Wrath of Cenarius - Your Starfire spell gains an additional 20% and your Wrath gains an additional 10% of your bonus damage effects.

Earth and Moon - Your Wrath and Starfire spells have a 100% chance to apply the Earth and Moon effect, which increases Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow damage taken by 13% for 12 sec. Also increases your spell damage by 5%.
Master Shapeshifter - Moonkin Form - Increases spell damage by 4%.


Glyph of Moonfire - Increases the periodic damage of your Moonfire ability by 75%, but initial damage is decreased by 90%.
Glyph of Starfire - Your Starfire ability increases the duration of your Moonfire effect on the target by 3 sec.
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 Wrath - Increases the chance you'll resist spell interruption when casting your Wrath spell by 50%.

1. Base Mana for a level 80 Druid is 3796 as found on

2. I have build a hipothetical druid entirely geared out of Naxx 10. I used both Cloth and Leather items. The math is build around this charicter. Fully buffed he has 17,776 mana, 30% Crit w/ talents, 11.31% haste, 1800 Spell Power, and is Hit capped.

3. I assume there is no spell push back. This is biased agains Wrath, but I don't think I have a good way to estimate it at the moment.

Mana Costs:
In WotLK mana costs for spells are a percentage of a toons Base Mana pool. So, at level 80 a moonkins mana costs start at: Starfire = 607, Wrath = 417, Moonfire =797, Insect Swarm = 303.

With thenew Mana on crit mechanic we can assume some mana saving based upon crit rate. Given my hipothetical moonkin each crit will return 355 mana. Therefore each Wrath and Starfire cast will return 107 mana on average and each Moonfire cast will return 128 mana on average.

Moonglow will also reduce the mana costs by 9% for Starfire, Wrath and Moonfire.

With these modifications in mind we can assume the mana cost of each spell is: Starfire = 446, Wrath = 273, Moonfire = 597, Insect Swarm = 303.

Here is the basic math for Moonfire's DPS.

DD Damage = (((DD Base + (Spell Power * 0.1487)) * (1 + Crit1)) * (1 + (Imp MF + MF + EnM(group) + MSS + EnM(self))))

DoT Damage = ((DoT Base + (Spell Power * 0.5224)) * 1.25) * (1 + (Imp MF + MF + EnM(group) + MSS + EnM(self) + Genesis))

DPS = (DD Damage + DoT Damage) / 15
For the hypothetical moonkin this equiates to:

DD Damage = ((441+ (1800* 0.1487)) * (1 + 0.36)) * (1 + 0.1+ 0.1 + 0.13 + 0.04 + 0.05)
DD Damage = (709 * 1.36) * 1.42 = 1,369

DoT Damage = ((800+ (1800 * 0.5224)) * 1.25) * (1 + 0.1+ 0.1 + 0.13 + 0.04 + 0.05 + 0.05)
DoT Damage = (1740 * 1.25) * 1.47 = 3,198

DPS = (1,369+ 3,198) / 15 = 304.67

Now lets look to see what happens if we use the Glyph of Moonfire. As state above it reduces the Direct Damage potion of the spell by 90% but increases the DoT by 75%.

DPS = ((DD Damage * 0.1) + (DoT Damage * 1.75)) / 15
DPS = ((1,369* 0.1) + (3,198 * 1.75)) / 15
DPS = (137 + 5596) / 15 = 382.23

The DPM for a Glyphed Moonfire is:

DPM = (137 + 5596) / 597 = 9.60

Due to the Glyph of Starfire we need to figure out what Moonfire's DoT damage is per tick. I will assume that the Moonfire Glyph is active since it is clearly a DPS increase.

Damage per Tick = 5596 / 5 = 1,119

1: This crit rate is 0.06 higher then the crit rate listed in the assumptions. This is due to Moonfire getting 10% crit from talents instead of 4% like Starfire and Wrath.

Here is the basic math for Starfire's DPS.

DPS = (((Base + (Spell Power * 1.2))*(1 + (MF + EnM(group) + MSS + EnM(self))))*(1 + Crit)) / ((3-(0.5*Crit))/(1+Haste))>
For my hypothetical moonkin this equates to:

DPS = (((1,120 + (1,800 * 1.2))*(1 + 0.1 + 0.13 + 0.04 + 0.05)))*(1 + 0.3)) / ((3 - (0.5 * 0.3))/ (1 + 0.1131))
DPS = (3,280* 1.32)*1.3 / (2.85 / 1.1131)
DPS = 5,628 / 2.5604 = 2,198.28
This results in a Damage per Mana of:

DPM = (5,628 / 446) = 12.62
As stated above the Glyph of Starfire increases the duration of a ticking Moonfire by 3 seconds. It basically adds one more tick. Here is how that affects Starfire's DPS and DPM. I will assume that the Moonfire Glyphed also.

Glyphed DPS = Starfire DPS + (Moonfire Tick / 3)
Glyphed DPS = 2,198.28 + (1,119/ 3) = 2,571.28
Here is the basic math for Wrath's DPS.

DPS = (((Base + (Spell Power * 0.67))*(1 + (MF + EnM(group) + MSS + EnM(self))))*(1 + Crit)) / ((1.5/(1+Haste))*(1 - Crit) + Crit)
For my hypothetical moonkin this equates to:

DPS = (((588 + (1800 * 0.67))*(1 + 0.1 + 0.13 + 0.04 + 0.05)))*(1 + 0.3)) / ((1.5/(1+0.1131))*(1 - Crit) + Crit)
DPS = (1,794* 1.32)*1.3 / (1.3476*0.7) + 0.3
DPS = 3,079 / 1.2433 = 2,476.07
This results in a Damage per Mana of:

DPM = (3,079 / 273) = 11.28
Insect Swarm:
Here is the basic math for Insect Swarm DPS.

DPS = ((Base + (Spell Power * 0.76)) * (1 + EnM(group) + MSS + EnM(self) + Genesis) * 1.25) / 15
For my hypothetical moonkin this equates to:

DPS = ((1,290 + (1800 * 0.76)) * (1 + 0.13 + 0.04 + 0.05 + 0.05) * 1.25) / 15
DPS = (2,658 * 1.27 * 1.25) / 15 = 281.30
Using the the Insect Swarm Glyph depends on your raid. In will increase your personal DPS, but it eliminates the 5% avoidence associated with the spell. Using this glyph depends on the need for the extra avoidence and if a hunter is using Scorpid Sting.

Glyphed DPS = 281.30 * 1.30 = 365.70
This results in a Damage per Mana of:

DPM = (2,658 * 1.27 * 1.25) / 303 = 13.93

Glyphed DPM = ((2,658 * 1.27 * 1.25) * 1.3) / 303 = 18.10
1. If you ever plan on using Moonfire in a Raid you should have the Moonfire Glyph. We all know that Moonfire spam is bad 99.99% of the time, so this glyph improves your DPS 99.99% of the time.

2. Without glyphs the relationship between Starfire and Wrath has normalized, where Wrath has a 13% DPS advantage and Starfire has a 12% DPM advantage. After you add the Glyph's Starfire becomes a clear favorite for fights with low spell push back. In such a situation, Starfire has a 3.7% DPS advantage and a 34% DPM advantage

3. Insect Swarm is a much improved spell. It may not scale as well as our other spells but it scales much better then it used to.

Final Note:
I feel like I should note that the Crit rate I have used in these calculations is probably a little conservative. I came up with the number by adding the crit from Crit Rating, Int, Talents, and Imp Scorch togeather and scaled it back a little. To be specific my hypothetical moonkin got the following crit values from stats: Crit rating - 7.17%, Int - 5.62%, Talents - 9%, Imp Scorch - 10%. If you combine these you get a 31.78% crit rate.

Notice that this calculation excludes Imp FF or a Base Crit rate that may or may not exist. It is also created using the bear minimum of raid quality gear. This number should increase significantly as the quality of gear increases from T8 and T9 instances.

I haven't detailed the math here but I have plugged higher crit rates into my model to see how it would affect the results. It shows that Crit rating heavily favors Wrath in both DPS and DPM. Wrath receives more DPS from crit then Starfire because it has a higher base level of DPS. Wrath also becomes more Mana efficent due to the Mana on Crit and having a shorter cast time then Starfire.

So, don't be surprised, if we start saying don't use Starfire at higher levels of raiding.

I will revaluate these numbers after WotLK goes live and we have some real numbers to play wit.

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.

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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Offical WotLK Release Date

Release Date / Pool Results:
Well it is official. Wrath of the Lich King will be released Thursday November 13th. Some of you may remember I started a little pool, for everyone to guess when the expansion would be released. The winner is:
Gnomerggedon from Armaggedon’s coming. It sounds like his win is a little bitter sweet, because he will be going on vacation for 2 months starting on the 13th. Don't worry, though. WoW will still be here when you get back and you won't have to deal with the crowd trying to kill mobs and such. For the last expansion I got graylo to 60 in early march. Questing was easy, and I could still get lots of groups for instances. Have fun on your vacation.

Time to Panic:
A lot of people are probably rejoicing at the announcement. For high end raiders and casual players this is one of the few times they agree on something. Both are thinking: "WOOT!!! NEW CONTENT".

However, there is another group out there for whom this is a very depressing announcement. We are a group of people with unfulfilled goals. For whatever circumstances we have not been able to complete a couple of tasks for which we have been striving.

Some of you may be saying: "Hey, we still have 2 months. That is plenty of time to finish things up." Well, that's not completely true. Some time between now and Nov 13th, Patch 3.0.2 will drop. If you weren't here for the release of BC, this is the patch that gets WoW ready for the expansion. It will change everything. All of those changes to the talent trees, abilities, and other things will take affect with Patch 3.0.2. Also, some of the rewards from BC will become unavailable. That means no more Bear Mounts from ZA. No more titles from completing the Attunments for SSC, TK, Hyjal, and BT.

After the patch drops the game will change completely. If you raid, there are some bosses you've had on Farm that you won't be able to kill anymore. Blizzard has completely changed the way tanking works. and the current raid bosses are not tuned for those changes. Some of the fights require a lot of Mana, and all of those Spriests you've stocked your raid with may not be as effective. DPS has changed quite a bit for many classes, will your high DPSers still be so far up there?

I wouldn't be surprised if the game screeched to a halt, and every one just sat around waiting for the expansion.

So, When is the patch going to drop? That is a very good question without a good answer. We have a couple of things to go on, but none of them are definitive.

1. Patch 3.0.2 just hit the PTR over the weekend. Most large "content" patches like this one are on the PTR for a month or two. However, much of these changes have been tested on the beta so don't be surprised is this patch is tested for less time then normal.

2. The background downloader started downloading the patch late last week. In most cases the patch comes 2 weeks after the background downloader starts downloading the patch. However, there have been instances where the background downloader was running for more then a month before the patch was released. These things usually include the big graphics files that don't change much while a patch is being tested.

3. Lets look at past experience. The Burning Crusade was released 42 days after patch 2.0.1 dropped on Dec 5th 2006. If the same timeline is used this time then the patch will probably be released on Sept 30th just 44 days before the release.

4. This is pure speculation on my part, but I wouldn't be surprised if blizzard released this patch a little closer to the release date then last time. There is a little more at stake here, and blizzard may delay it a little to try and not upset people.

So, If I had to guess when the patch will drop, I would say Sept. 30th. It is in line with the last expansion. It gives blizzard a little over two weeks of having it on the PTR, and I think we can ignore the background downloader because it is graphics files that have already been tested in the beta. I hope the patch date is Oct 14th or even a little later, but I doubt that will happen.

My Pre-Patch Goals:
These are ranked in order of priority.

1. Kill Kael - I want the freaken Hand of Ad'al title, and I feel like I have been cheated out of it a little by guild issues and blizzard dropping the attunments. It may be misleading but this title will probably been seen as what kind of raider you were in the Burning Crusade.
Chances of Success: I'd say 50%. I was in a Kael pug over the weekend that was run by a couple of guildies. We got in to phase 4, but couldn't advance because we lost people to stupid stuff. Hopefully we can get the pug going again this weekend with the same or more experienced people.

2. Clear BT and Hyjal - I just want the experience. Again, I feel like I was cheated out of progression due to guild break ups. I just want to see everything I can before the expansion.
Chances of Success: I'd say 85 - 90%. My new guild has cleared both instances. I have been included in tonight's raid, which will start with Illidan and then end with a clearing of Hyjal. Hopefully, I do well enough to be included in more raids in the future. If I do get into raids, I should achieve this goal.

3. Get a Bear Mount - I am not one of those people that tries to collect all of the mounts, but these things are awesome by them selves. The good news is I was involved in a raid that got a bear mount with 4 minutes to spare. I was allowed to roll on the mount but I passed because the only other person who didn't have the mount was a long time guild member, and I didn't want to piss anyone off.
Chance of Success: I'd say 50%. It really depends on if the raids happen and who else in the raid doesn't have a mount. It sounds like the raids will continue to happen. There are several scheduled on the calender, but obviously my chances go down if there are other people in the raid that want the mount also. At the very least I can say I completed the timed loot, but I would still like the mount.

4. Kill some boss in SWP - I don't know how to evaluate this one and to be honest is isn't all that important to me. If we had more time then it would be pretty big but I'm resigned to the fact that it isn't likely.
Chance of Success: I'd say less then 10%. Sunwell was tuned for guilds that had been clearing BT for a while. Lords of Eternity have only been clearing it for a month. On top of that I am well behind most of the guild in terms of gear. Therefore I don't think I have much chance at getting into a progression raid at this point. I would love to experience it, but lets face it. The cards are stacked against me.

Well that's it for me. If you have any goals or comments please make a comment below.

** Image Stolen from MMO Champion

Friday, September 12, 2008

WotLK Build 8926: A Second Look

I obviously had a lot on my mind yesterday and missed some interesting changes in the last beta push. So I wanted to go back and take a look at some of those changes.

Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence. Lasts until canceled or upon moving. Any threat is restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect. (3min Cooldown)

I love this change and it is a HUGE benefit to Alliance Moonkin. The tool tip doesn't say it but it is usable while in combat. So it is basically a stationary Vanish without the aggro dump.

Yes, it is fairly limited. It will become almost useless in movement heavy fights like Bloodboil, but it is an improvement over our old racials. Moonkin don't have any kind of emergency button other then barkskin and in most cases that isn't going to save your life for pulling agro. This ability has that potential.

Heirloom/Bind-on-Account Items:

Another amazing change. These are items that you can transfer between toons on your account. They are usable by all level of characters and their stats scale based upon you level. So a single item will have 1 spell power at level 1 but 59 at level 80. For more detailed info go here. For examples go: example 1, example 2. MMO-Champion has a full list of the current BoA items.

These are mainly for alts and casual players. Blizzard has said that they are intended to be about blue quality and they are enchanted as a level 1 item. Raiders and PvPers, will obtain much better gear through other means, but for someone that has level 3 lvl 70s this is awesome. Pre-BC quest gear is pretty bad unless you run instances. I think I said it before, that on one of my toons I took level 20 something item into outlands. This way my gear improves without looking for the group.

And you know what the best part is? The shoulder items increase the experience you gain from killing mobs by 10%. Awesome.

Gear: Naxx-10 vs Naxx-25

I did a quick comparison of the two "Nuker" sets from Naxxramus, and the results were a little different then I expected. I expected the a fairly uniform upgrade. Instead the rates very some what, and I wonder if that indicates which stats blizzard things 25-man raiders will need.

The two biggest gainers were Hit and Haste which increased by 18.5% and 17.3% respectively. Spell Power and Spirit gained about 15%. Int and Stam gained a little more then 12%. The bottom feeder of the group was crit that only gained 11%

The crit rate may be limited because crit will be less important in a 25-man due to talents like Imp Scorch. One could also argue that Haste and Hit are more hardcore raid stats and there for more important to a 25-man raider. Then again, it wouldn't surprise me if these rates were pulled out of somewhere dark and personal.

Anyway, the real question in my mind is how Naxx-25 gear will relate to T8-10 gear. This will be a big part in determining if people are incented to participate in 25-man raids.

Moonkin Feedback:

Ghostcrawler has requested some feedback on the balance tree on the Beta forums. You can find the thread here.

If you have a beta key, head on out there and let your voice be heard. If you don't have a beta key, take a look through the thread. Not everything is a diamond but there are some pretty good ideas in there.

Guild Update:

I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to combine Informative and Guild/Toon related posts anymore, but this little tidbit isn't big enough for its own thread.

I was accepted to Lords of Eternity last night and I have transferred Graylo over. I will start out in a "back-up" slot. What that means is that I won't be guaranteed a raid spot, but will probably raid 1 or 2 times a week out of 3 possible nights.

So, I'm happy. Now I just need to decide how quickly I want to transfer my alts over.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is it Lastt Standd or Lastt Stoodd?

Editor's Note: I have posted a reaction to the new Beta build below. If your not interested in my toon/guild posts, please scroll down or click this link: WotLK Beta 8926 post.

We've all heard the story. WoW Player goes on vacation leaving a decent guild behind with every reason to believe that it will still be there when he gets back. WoW Player returns to learn about massive drama that occur ed while he was gone and is now guildless. I think every raider will agree that this is one of the worse things that can happen to a player.

My situation isn't this bad but it is still quite shocking. I logged of Tuesday night without concern. The guild was having some tough times but there was no reason to believe that the collapse was imminent.

Wednesday, I go to log into vent as I am bring up wow and it says I have the wrong password. I think, "No problem. They must have gotten a new vent server as they had talked about." So, I log into WoW to get the new vent info. Then I see the Guild tab grayed out and think "Oh Crap! I'm no longer in a guild."

At this point a lot of things ran through my head. Was I kicked on accident? Did they decide to reform the guild under a new name? What the heck happened?

As I said before the guild had been having some tough times. Attendance had dropped significantly due to people going back to school and trying to squeeze in end of summer vacations. That isn't all that surprising because that seems to happen every year. On top of that there was some drama between officers that resulted in unfortunate and hasty actions. Finally, a good old Gbank robbery was the straw that broke the camel's back. Apparently, one or two of the officers took a bunch of stuff out of the Gbank and gquit the guild. Given all of the issues we have had recently the GM decided to cut his loses and disbanded the guild.

I don't think this is a 10 on the guild drama meter but it is definitely an 8 or a 9.

Where do I go from here?

To be honest, I'm not all that upset. There were a lot of good people and good players in Lastt Standd, but I could tell pretty early that this guild was not going to survive for the long hall. The guild leaders tended to be a little hot headed and made rash choices at times. On top of that, the commitment to the guild just wasn't there for some of the officers. There were a couple that would stay on alts during raid time even though the raid was short and we needed their class desperately. Everyone needs a break every so often, but when this happens for several days in a row there is a problem.

So, I was already wondering if Lastt Standd was the best place for me. The positive side to this is I can look for a new guild without looking like a guild hopper. I got almost a full set of SR gear from the guild, and I picked up my Tier 6 gloves the night before LS disbanded. I may have been in the guild for a month, but I think it was time well spent. I got to raid and that is more then I can say for some of my friends from WA.

So what are my options?
1. Find a new guild on Hyjal - There are a bunch of good guilds on the server, that are at a similar or higher level of progression. Unfortunately, I don't see one that is interested in a moonkin and/or has a good raid schedule for me. Plus, I haven't been really happy with the server in general. Its better then Eitrigg, but I would have like a little more in the way of T5 pugs and such.

2. Find a new guild off server - It opens up a lot more possibilities, but will cost another 25 dollars. Plus, could fall into a situation that is similar to the one I just left.

3. Transfer to Garona to play with old WA friends - If I take this option I am pretty much giving up on raiding before the expansion comes out. I could get in some pugs but my friends aren't raiding 25 mans yet. However, if I have learned anything from my month with LS, it's that friends make this game a lot more fun.

4. Focus on Graysin or another Alt - I'll be honest. I don't like this option right of the bat. I'm not ready to give up on Graylo yet, and I still wouldn't be playing with friends. However, it could be fun and it would definitely be a new experience.

I've actually already made my choice. Its kind of a combination of options 2 and 3. I've apped to a guild on the Garona server. The guild looks just about perfect for me. The raid times are awesome. It seems to be a little more mature then average, and it is on a server where most of my friends play. On top of that, one of its members has been running successful pugs against Vashj and Kael lately.

I think this is the biggest reason why I am ok with LS disbanding. I REALLY hope I get into the new guild. I think I have a pretty good shot. They don't have a moonkin, and I talked to the GM last night and he seemed to like me. The problem is he says they have only one ranged DPS slot open and are also looking at a mage and a hunter.

Anyway, what ever happens will happen. Wish me luck.

WotLK Build 8926

Blizzard pushed through a new beta build last night, and it does include a couple of changes to the balance tree. Here they are:
* Eclipse (Tier 9) reduced to a 30 sec cooldown.
* Gale Winds (Tier 9) now increases damage done by your Hurricane and Typhoon spells by 15/30%, and increases the range of your Cyclone spell by 2/4 yards.
* Improved Insect Swarm is now implemented.
* Nature's Splendor (Tier 3) increases the duration of your Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom and Flourish spells by 2/3 sec.
* Subtlety (Tier 2 Resto) now reduces the chance any of your spells will be dispelled. (Previously only affected HoTs)

I seriously hope that there are more changes to come. As a PvE moonkin this build actually nerfs me unless there are undocumented changes.

Eclipse - The reduced cooldown is nice, but it doesn't fix the talents basic problems. Namely, Wrath is a better spell in WotLK and 10% crit to starfire doesn't over come that. It is still very random. If Starfire is the main nuke, the glyphs discourage switching spells. Its really disheartening to have some one who obviously doesn't play a spec say how great a talent is and how it has saved the spec for him. It makes me wonder if he is designing the spec for his play style or those of us who have played the spec for years.

Gale Winds - This is a straight up nerf. There is nothing else to say.

Nature's Splendor - For moonkin, this isn't really a change. Just a change in wording. It will have a greater impact on restos because all of their HoTs had different durations. Anyway, its still a subpar talent for Moonkin and I still don't have any plan to pick it up.

Subtlety - This is for all the PvPers out there. They have been clamoring for dispel protection on Starfall, and this change provides some. I don't know how acceptable this change is, but at least it is a move in the right direction for them.

Issues still not addressed:

1. Bloat
2. Earth and Moon
3. DPS Scaling
4. Imp FF being far inferior to Misery
5. Moonkin Aura being inferior to Elemental Oath
6. Imp Moonkin Aura being some what inferior to Swift Retribution Aura

I realize that more changes are possible, and some would say likely to occur. I am trying to maintain my positive out look, but I also know it is extremely important to highlight the problems with in the spec's design. If no one lets blizzard know what the problems are, then they will have a much harder time recognizing them and fixing them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ghostcrawler Speaks to Moonkin

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

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

I would summarize Ghostcrawlers comments this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 8, 2008

WotLK Update: 09/08/2008

Two posts in one day is strange for me I know, but I am trying to keep up with news as it happens. That way I hopefully don't post to many walls of text.

Anyway, here are some "quick" updates on recent WotLK beta happenings.

Official Patch Notes Updated:
There isn't any thing really special here. Most of it is just an official listing of all the changes that have been made to the original patch notes, but there is one little gem that caught my eye.

Focused Starlight (Balance): is now Nature's Majesty (Balance): Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish, and Healing Touch spells by 2/4/6%.

For those of you that don't know the current talent on the calculator has only 2 ranks and increase our crit rate by 2/4%. My guess is that it is a typo, but you never know.

Spell Hit Chance Changed:
Currently, the highest hit chance a caster can have is 99%, but that is about to change. According to Kalgan (aka Tom Chilton, Lead Game Designer at Blizzard) we will be able to over come that last percent in WotLK.

Obviously this is a good change for every caster. It will be interesting to see how spell hit will work in WotLK. I have recently gotten a lot of conflicting reports on what the hit cap is in WotLK. Some have said it has been reduced to 9%. Others are saying it is still at 17%. All the while there is nothing official coming out of blizzard. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Racial Abilities Changed:
You can find the complete list
here. Not that big of a deal but some of the changes are kind of interesting.

- Endurance (Tauren): now scales based on base health, to be tuned to approximately a 5% heath increase if the player were wearing green quality gear - This is the single reason why many Horde tanks choose to play Taurens. This is a pretty big nerf and for high end raiders.

- Gift of the Naaru (Draenei): The amount healed is increased based on the caster's Spell Power or Attack Power, whichever is higher. This ability does not lose casting time from taking damage - Excellent change. Now if they can make the new Herbalism heal act similarly.

- [Spell School] Resistance (Various Races): reduces the chance to be hit by [Spell School] spells by 1/2/3% - The school and percentage change depending on the race, but this is an interesting change. The old +10 resistances were practically useless, so this is probably for the better.

Naxx Gear - Moonkin Itemization:

MMO Champion has a great list of all the gear they have found. (link)

Obviously, I head straight to the Moonkin set to see what it is like. (link) Most moonkin seem to agree that this set leaves a lot to be desired. Here are a couple of quick points.

Socket Bonuses - What the heck is up with Int and Stam socket bonuses? Yes, the stats are useful and I like them more then your average caster, but I never want to see them as a socket bonus.

Stat Allocation - If you look at the moonkin set on its own the Stat allocation may not seem so bad, but if you compare it to the other 4 set bonuses you can see that we are way off. We have less Hit, Crit, and Haste then most of the other four classes. Only warlocks have less crit and hit then the moonkin set does, but they have 160 more haste then the moonkin set.

Obviously blizzard has an item budget so the moonkin set has to be better in some ways right? This is correct. The moonkin is far superior to the other sets when it comes to spirit. Yes, that's right. We are much better itemized then the other sets when it comes to SPIRIT!!!.

This is obviously because we have a talent that converts 30% of our spirit to Spell Power. No wait. That's Shadow Priest who's set has 61 points of spirit less then the moonkin set.

Well, it must be because we have a self buff that converts 30% of our spirit to Spell Power. No wait. That's Warlocks who's set has 120 points of spirit less then the moonkin set.

All moonkin get from spirit currently is mana regen. While this is important it shouldn't dominate our gear. Mana regen is also important for Mages but I don't see them with 236 spirit for there evocate. They have a much more reasonable 120. Its like they took the resto set, and just added a little sell hit here and there and called it a day.

Obviously these sets are not final, but it scares me a little that this is the first draft.

Toon Update: 09/08/08

Graylo / Lastt Standd:
Things have been a little frustrating at Lastt Standd recently. Attendance has been bad. This has resulted in raids starting late and not clearing as many bosses as we would have liked.

Last Tuesday we cleared the first four bosses in Hyjal, but didn't have time to get into BT.

On Wednesday I wasn't able to raid, and the attendance issues continued. They got down both Naj and Supremus, but they did it short handed. I heard that on the Supremus fight they had alts log into the instance so that when people died they could log into the alt and continue to DPS.

Thursday, we didn't have enough to go and clear up BT so we went to Archimonde short handed. I am told that it is easy to do short handed as long as you have the fight mechanics down. I think our best attempt got him down to 70% or so and that was without flasks and such. I have to agree that it isn't that hard of a fight. It just has no margin for error, and unfortunately for us a couple of people kept dying.

Anyway, the plan is to try and get Akama and Gorefiend down tonight and then head over to Hyjal to work on Archie some more.

In other positive news, Lastt Standd got its first Bear mount out of ZA this weekend. I wasn't in the raid but it is nice to know that we can do it. They got the first one on Thursday, and then tried it again last night. Unfortunately, they did not repeat. I wasn't in this raid either but I was on the vent to here it. They had some bad luck. A near wipe going to Lynx, and a couple of DCs caused them to cut it really close. They ended up wiping at 1% with 1 second left on the clock and missed out on the bear. While they where disappointed at missing out on the mount, its good to know that they can get so close. All they have to do is clean up a few of the errors and the mount becomes easy.

As you can imagine he has been getting a majority of my non raid time lately, and I am happy to say that he dinged 70 last night.

The question is what do I do now. My original plan was to do daily quests to grind SSO rep and get enough money for my Epic flying mount. However, there are a couple of things happening that I didn't expect.

First, almost as soon as he dinged 70 I became a little bored with him. My primary goal has been reached and there is little left that I can do with him until the expansion comes out. I would love to run a little Kara with him but who am I going to run it with? WA is no longer on the server and I will have a hard time getting in to pugs with such horrible gear.

Second, the SSO dailies were harder then I expected. I got out there and did a couple and couldn't force myself to continue. The respawn rates are so fast for some of the mobs that died a couple of times from having something spawn on top of me. I still want to get him is Epic flier for faster farming. I am just wondering what is the best way to do it. I am about 1.5 K away from the gold I would need and I'm starting to thing that regular questing would get me there just as quickly and help me to improve my gear some more.

As an aside to all of this my spec issues continued. Not long after my last update post I went Destro. I decided to give it a try because I thought it would be a lot like moonkin and with all of the burst damage I could kill things really quickly.

Things didn't go according to plan. First of all, it was much harder to get soul shards. Crits would cause me to kill things early. Some times the mobs would have silences or knockbacks that would cut it off at the end. I could also never settle in on a pet to use. The Voidwalker couldn't hold aggro. The Succubus and Imp didn't do enough damage. I might as well have not had a pet out. I also was drinking and eating so much that it didn't matter that I killed things quickly.

Anyway, I'm not saying destro sucks. I think I would love it for a raid build, but I don't think it is right for me as a questing build. So I have gon back to Affliction. I may rip aggro of the voidwalker, I can keep my self alive with siphon life and life drain.

As I said above most of my time has been going to my lock but I did play my pally a little over the weekend. Nothing really exciting happened, but it was very strange stepping into a contested zone for the first time on a PvP server. It was only Stonetalon Mountains, and that has to be the most deserted zone in all of WoW. Plus Alliance have almost no reason to go there anymore. So, I didn't get ganked. In fact, I didn't even see an alliance toon the entire time I was out there. However, seeing the little horde icon next to my picture was a little nerve racking for some one that has always played on a PvE server before this. I'm sure I will get used to it over time, but the first time I get ganked will be interesting.

The real question is, to gank or not to gank? I'm sure it would go badly if I do try and gank someone, but it could be fun. Anyway, I will let you know how things go.

Wandering Alliance:
Well, it is official. Almost everyone in Wandering alliance transferred off the server. The only thing that is left are the alts and extreme casuals. Oddly enough someone /gkicked all of my toons out of the guild, but I got Grayfel back in. I don't know why I care, but I do. I would like to get control of the guild if possible. I don't care about the Gbank or anything but there are a lot of people that had a lot of good times in WA. I think it would be great to turn it into a casual meeting place for our alts and such. However, I doubt that will happen.

One last thing. The guys formed a new guild over on Garona called Trifecta. For anyone that has read my guild drama posts you know that I am not a fan of some of the people leading the guild, but there is a limit to things I will say or do. Last week, a couple of old members decided to troll their recruitment post under an unguilded alt. I will grant them that a lot of what they said is true, but why go to such lengths to try and drag some one's name through the mud? Don't people deserve second chances? So, in the off chance that the troll reads my blog, please realize your not really doing anything by trying to hurt their reputations. Whats done is done, and every one should move on.

Graypal and the others:
As you can guess, nothing really has happened with these guys. I have started to think about Graypal more recently. Shadow Priests have been getting a little love in the Beta, and with the current state of Moonkin I may have to play another class to raid. So, don't be surprised if you see a shadow priest analysis come up in the future.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to Gray Matter

Well its official. I have been blogging for a year now.

When I started this blog I had no idea of what to expect. I started out with few goals and not much planning. All I wanted was a place to talk about a game I really enjoy. I never expected that my blog would evolve the way it has. I didn't set out to be a Moonkin Expert. In fact most of the things I have posted I did as a part of my own learning process. It makes me very happy to know that I have been of some help to my readers.

Many thanks are owed to Phae and the other bloggers that have given me a lot of encouragement and advice.

My final thanks goes out to my readers. I would still blog even if no one read it, but having readers makes it so much more satisfying.

I don't know where things are going to go from here. Content wise it will be much the same, but hopefully it will be formatted better. Believe it or not I do spell check. Damn thing doesn't always work though. I also hope to shorten my posts but make them more frequent. I also hope to separate topics more. I hope to separate the personal content from the News and Analysis. Technically, I am thinking about going self hosted. I really like the way the Wordpress blogs look, and would like to have more control over my blog. However, I am not at all good with HTML and I am not sure I can manage a site on my own. Obviously you will know if I make a change.

If you ever have questions, comments or criticisms please send them my way. I am always happy to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More thoughts on the new Balance Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here are some highlights of the spec.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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