Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gray Matter is Branching Out

I didn't mention it when it happened but a third thing happened during my awesome week. Phae over at Resto4Life asked me to write a post for her amazing blog. Since her readership is much bigger then mine I jumped at the chance. (Branching Out .... Get it?)

In an effort to provide something that is relevant to both Moonkin and Resto's I took a look at the gear changes in WotLK. In the past, Moonkin have had to fight tooth and nail with clothies to get decent gear. All of that is about to change. With the abundance of Leather Caster gear in WotLK expect that debate to change. Not only will clothies resist us rolling on cloth even more, but know we will be competing for the good leather items with all the tree's running around.

However, it doesn't have to be a big fight. It is my belief that each caster item leans more towards a DPS role or a Healing role. In my article I look at each of the stats and show how both Moonkin and Trees value them. Hopefully, this will prompt some good conversations with in our guilds so that we can plan our upgrades,have fewer arguments, and spend less DKP.

You can find the article here.

Thanks again to Phae for allowing me to spend some time on her blog. Hopefully I didn't leave to many feathers in the couch.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lag boss is hard

You may remember that my final goal before November 13th was to kill something in SWP. Well, that has been achieved. Last week LoE downed Kalecgos in one attempt and Brutallus in two attempts. This week we went on to down Felmyst after 8 or 9 attempts after downing Kalecgos and Brutallus again.

Of course this was all after the patch. The bosses were nerfed and we were buffed. I'm sure the sense of accomplishment would be greater pre-patch but I'm ok with killing them post patch. This is mainly due to the fact that I just want to see the content, but it is also due to a new feature that guilds didn't have to deal with pre patch. I like to call this new feature Lag Boss.

I hate Lag Boss. After killing Kalecgos and Brutallus so quickly I started to have hope that we could clear Sunwell before the expansion. I knew that none of the bosses would be push overs. All of the fights except Brutallus require a significant amount of coordination, but it was obvious that if you could learn the fight, you could kill the boss. Unfortunately Lag is holding us back.

After downing Kal and Brut on Thursday we tried Felmyst a couple of times, but our main effort was on Monday. Unfortunately, after several hours of trying we couldn't down him and it was all due to lag in my opinion. Sure, we do have to learn the fight. We have to kite the beam. Get away from encapsulate. Dodge the dust. None of it is extremely hard but you do have to see it a time or two to know what to expect. The lag makes getting a good attempt in nearly impossible, in 10 attempts you may have 1 or 2 good ones, and those few good ones are going to expose your weaknesses if your still learning the fight.

On Wednesday, we one shot Kalecgos, four shot Brutallus after several lag related whips, then downed Felmyst after several attempts. So, Thursday was entirely dedicated to the Eredar Twins. I had high hopes that we would down them and be able to focus on Muru on Monday. Unfortunately Lag Boss prevented it. At least half of our wipes were due to lag. Many of the times it due to the Conflagged person not being able to move out of the raid. Another time was due to the misdirect not going off in time causing the Shadow twin to run up and kill the warlock tank. When we did have a decent attempt human error caused a wipe. The errors we had here was the 2nd tank pulling aggro of the first, Conflagged melee not running out and catching the tanks, and just having range problems with healing. All of this is to be expected and can be worked out, but when you have 3 or 4 lag wipes between each good attempt it takes for ever to work those issues out.

I'm still hopeful that we can clear Sunwell before the expansion is released. I think we have most of the kinks worked out of the Eredar Twins and can down them on Monday. After that we have two resets to clear the instance. I think it is possible, but it will be a whole lot easier if blizzard can fix this lag.

Toon Update:
Graylo - Just raiding to get some gear upgrades and try and see new content. I was able to pick up [Thunderheart Bands] on Wednesday, which is an upgrade in two ways. First they are better then my old [Cuffs of Devastation]. Second, it gives me 5 pieces of T6 meaning I can pick up a non-tier set piece and not break my set bonus. On the other side of the loot coin I've been a little unlucky. The good caster gear in BT just hasn't been dropping. I wouldn't have a shot at some of it due to DKP, but there are improvements that no one else wants and they won't drop. Oh well.

Some of you may wonder why I care since the expansion is only 2 weeks away. I know I will replace a lot of this gear in early raiding, but after looking at some of the instance gear, I realize that most of my gear will last me to 80. So what ever improvements I make now will make my leveling easier.

Graypal - Nothing really. I've tried to get him into ZA a couple of times, but nothing has worked out. On an odd note, I have thought about trying to play him holy in the expansion.

Grayfel - My main goal for him right now is gear and badges. Again, I've been trying to upgrade his gear to make leveling easier. I have run kara with him a couple of times. Hopefully I can get another couple in before the expansion.

Grayvik - I leveled him up to 20 over the weekend. Things are going well for the most part but I am definitely having problems with survivability. First, first this is the first toon I've level this far that doesn't have any way to heal itself. Second, I think this is kind of an awkward time in all classes. The content is getting tougher but you still have relatively few abilities to save yourself. Third, I'm over confident. My Druid blows stuff up quickly, and when I level I tend to get ahead of the guide. Therefore I usually over power the mobs fairly easily. Finally, I've just got to learn the class. I forget to polymorph a lot. I also for get that I can root the mobs at times. I just need more experience.

Anyway, his days of attention are numbered. I would like to get him to 30 by the expansion but I doubt it will happen. When the expansion hits I doubt he will see the light of day for months.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

FSU: The PvPkin

I have said it before many times. I am a PvP noob. I have a hard time running in circles and can’t fake cast to save my life. So, I thought it was time to talk to someone who clearly knows more about Moonkin PvP then me and probably everyone else.

Who would be better to talk to then FSU. He will list some of his accomplishments below, but there are two I would like to highlight. According to the SK-Gaming Arena ranking his 5v5 team Hopesfally We Win is ranked 13th in the US. Before the patch I looked at the arena ranking for just moonkin. At the time he was ranked 24th in the world without an active 2v2 team. If he had had a 2v2 team with an average rating he would easily have been in the top 10. I don’t think anyone would disagree that FSU knows how to PvP.

Gray Matter: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Please tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been playing WoW? Why PvP? Why Moonkin?

FSU: Hey, my name is Jason, but you probably know me better as Fsu, Balancedruid, or Influenza. I've been playing WoW since release, where myself and quite a few others came over from WC3: The Frozen Throne. I enjoy PvP just because I feel it is the most challenging aspect of the game where individual skill can stand out but you only are at your best when you and your teammate(s) have good coordination. I play Moonkin because I think it's one of the most fun specs in the game and although it has many problems it has enough to work with that I can continue to make it work, especially in 5v5 where it is probably at its best.

In terms of arena accomplishments I didn't play until late s1 but still managed gladiator in a double healer warrior comp. S2 I was very active, holding #1 in 5s on bg3 and then bg9 when we transferred. I also finished top 5 in 5s as moonkin, top 5 in 3s as resto, and top 20 in 2s as resto. In s3 my 5s was #1 at one point on bg9 running shaman / priest / moonkin / rogue / mage. I then transferred to Boulderfist (bg cyclone, dunno the number) and played on a top 5 5s team. S4 my 5s is currently #1, my 3s was top 20 when we were playing, and I hit 2200 as full balance / rogue in 2s early in the season.

GM: Are you or have you been active with a PvE Progression Raiding guild? If so, what is/was your progress?

FSU: I was in Predestined of Mannoroth at level 60 and saw and killed up to 4H. They continued on to kill Saph and Kel'thuzad but I was inactive at the time due to playing lacrosse for my school. In BC I joined Bloody Knuckles for a few months and we made it to Kael before the guild died out due to leadership issues. It was at this point that the team I played on, Spray n Pray, decided to transfer to Tichondrius. After we did quite well there my friend Realz went casual and transferred to Boulderfist to play with RL friends, and after being inactive for quite a few months he got me back into the game by begging and pleading (slight exaggeration) and eventually paying for me to come to Boulderfist.

GM: What do you think is the moonkin's roll on an arena team? What are a moonkin's core strengths and biggest weaknesses?

FSU: The Moonkin's role on an arena team can vary depending on what sort of make up you play on. One thing (and for those that read my guide on the druid forums I mentioned this) that is important in playing arena as Moonkin is playing to your strengths and weaknesses. I think the main role for a Moonkin is to DPS and CC (order changes depending on what you're playing) as well as offheal when needed. For example, on my 4 dps team, I often times will pop tranquility as soon as we land a kill on someone so that our team can stabilize. A strength of Moonkin is our extremely high damage as well as great cc, especially against melee classes. If you use those tools correctly you can put yourself into great situations to win matches. The main weakness of Moonkin is our complete and utter lack of true outs. If a rogue is on you and you can't fake their kick you get into trouble very fast, as despite our large amount of armor we still take damage very fast from rogues, and warlocks can shut us down too easily often times.

GM: Your current build on the armory is 44/0/17 and seems to focus entirely on Moonkin DPS. In the past I have seen people advocate a build that includes 11 points in feral to get Feral Charge and Brutal Impact for the interrupts. Are their any merits to this type of build, and why have you chosen against it?

FSU: My 44/0/17 build is made for having dispel resistance on my DoTs for 2s and 3s while still maintaining all the DPS I need for my 5s comp which as I said earlier is for dps. I think people that advocate 11 points in feral are BG enthusiasts, because a build such as that used in arena is just a waste of mana. The amount of mana you have to use to feral charge then go back to Moonkin form is too much, and I prefer just using cyclone offensively to help interrupt heals instead of wasting mana and losing out on valuable talents such as subtlety and intensity. It can be helpful for a Moonkin to get furor sometimes for 2s to get that instant bash off, but my 3s and 5s teams (I only play 5s right now but I was serious about 3s earlier) I don't have time to be bashing and the like because I'm busy cycloning and pewpewing.

GM: Spell Power, Stamina and Resiliance are obviously key stats for a PvP moonkin. How would your rank Haste and Crit for PvP?

FSU: Crit is now arguably the most important stat, especially once you reach at least 1050 spell power. The toss up is between crit and intellect, and it will be interesting to see how the math works out as to whether gemming for intellect or crit is better (more crit from gemming just crit obviously, but intellect gives you more mana, spell power, and crit; this means that when you do crit you get even more mana back from the new mana mechanic). I've been lazy and haven't done any math yet, and probably won't until wrath is actually out and I have the gear available to me. But for now, I think the gemming ideals will be either crit or intellect. Haste is a good stat, but I prefer less haste because the more you get the harder it is to time your starfires out of cyclones.

GM: What are the most common mistakes you see/hear moonkin make when the start PvPing? What advice would you give to some one looking to get more involved with PvP?

FSU: Something I've noticed is a lot of Moonkin seem to be against starfire usage in arenas. This couldn't be further from correct, and if you're not using starfire you're missing out on a lot of potential DPS and burst DPS from starfire crits. Also, you should be prepared to heal, especially in 2v2, because many times you will have to play like a healer if you expect to win. I think some druids get into the mindset of being a fully offensive caster sometimes, but you have to remember our heals are decent as well as our mana regen, and you should always use them to your full advantage when playing arenas or even bgs or world pvp.

GM: What Addon's do you think help you most when you PvP?

FSU: Proximo is invaluable to pvping in arenas. It makes targetting people extremely easy and should definitely be used by all people that want to be serious in arenas.

GM: Do you have any macros that you find are particularly useful that you can share? If so, why are they so valuable?

FSU: The only real macros that I use involve shape shifting, and are something I think all druids and moonkin should have. The first one is a travel form to travel form macro, allowing you to break snares instantly and continue running without having to hit travel form more than once. The other one is moonkin to moonkin form for the same purpose, breaking snares insantly in one button while staying in moonkin. This macro is used often vs rogue / mage teams where they try to get shatter combos off.

GM: You play Horde. I play Alliance. The few times I have PvPed in BGs and Arena it seems to me Horde always win even when I'm in a premade. This is probably because I suck, but a lot of people seem to have had the same observation. Do you think there is/was a faction imbalance in PvP? If so, what do you think caused it? Does horde attract better players or was it the racials?

FSU: Each faction thinks they suck. I'm pretty sure that horde wins wsg / ab more, but alliance win av (a lot more) and eots slightly more. This is from playing on 3 different bgs, this is normally what it feels like. I think it switches from time to time (before the av changes horde were winning a lot more (right after afk was made a punishable offence)). Really though, until perception was changed I think alliance had the best racials between that and escape artist, for pvp anyways. Those 2 racials are so strong, and as Blizz even stated no other racial increased one's ratings like having perception did for alliance players. I think Horde is probably stronger now, but with human's getting a free pvp trinket it's pretty close. Will of the Forsaken and War Stomp will always be great though. Also, I think, avoiding the stereotypes, that horde might have attracted more PvPers. I know at least from my experience that many RTS guilds from wc3 rolled horde, mostly because it was expected to be the underdog in terms of population. Don't know if RTS experience helped make better PvPers (I was ranked 4th on the US ladder on The Frozen Throne at one point :P) but then again there's some good RTSers who suck at WoW.

GM: Wrath of the Lich King is just around the corner and you have been one of the lucky one's to get a Beta Key. Is the Arena system at all active in Beta? Have you gotten a chance to test moonkin out in an arena environment?

FSU: I haven't really participated too much in beta arenas. I find beta somewhat depressing at the moment mostly because deathknights, ret pallies, and mages are all so strong that it is hard to have fun getting so utterly destroyed by players you can tell aren't very good. I did get to play moonkin on ptr with my rogue partner, we still seem to do very well but arcane mages have 4 shot me and ret pallies are obviously just as insane on ptr as they are on beta. Blizzard has acknowledged 2 of these 3 classes, and I can only hope that at level 80 arcane mages aren't as crazy, but playing against some they are still quite strong, especially with their ability to spam spell steal now, basically killing my HoT production.

GM: In general how are Moonkin shaping up from a PvP perspective? What are the positives? What would you like to see changed?

FSU: The positives are that we finally got some bloat reduction in our talent tree. I still think we need more, but I doubt Blizzard will give any. We also gained 2 new spells, both of which we can use while being attacked. This is very helpful to PvP where before when you're focused if you don't fake an interrupt you end up only being able to spam DoTs. I like starfall as a gimmicky sort of out, where I can use it to stun melee chasing me as well as doing damage. Typhoon is pretty bad overall, I only like it for it's damage; the mana cost and knockback are laughable at best. I also like the new eclipse for PvP. Ironically Blizzard made it for PvE but 30% crit to starfire after a wrath crit is no laughing matter; my plan currently is to spam wrath until I have wrath of elune and eclipse up, then throw out a 1-1.5 second starfire that crits for a ton.

I'd love to see us given a 4-5 second silence instead of typhoon. This would be infinitely more helpful and allow us to finally be able to interrupt casters more consistently. I also still must advocate for a PvP survivability talent. The amount of damage classes can do is very strong, and our inability to do anything while stunned or feared after our first trinket and barkskin is very disheartening. A simple 2 point talent that gives us 30% reduction on fear duration and 30% damage reduction while stunned (primal tenacity for Moonkin basically) would help so much. It boggles my mind that we haven't been given any survivability talent yet.

GM: From my perspective Lake Wintergrasp seems to be the most exciting PvP related change in WotLK. What do you think of it? Have you had any problems with faction imbalance?

FSU: I've only participated in Wintergrasp once when it was first released and it was pretty buggy. It seems like it could be fun though. To be honest I only like to arena or duel on beta / ptr because I don't want to spoil the game for myself. I'll have plenty of time to test wintergrasp and the new bg when I hit level 80 and I don't want to take away any fun I might have with my own character.

GM: Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you would like to say or anyone you would like to recognize?

FSU: Shout outs to my partners in crime Realz and Girlz, my 5s team Hopesfally We Win (and get Brutal Glad!), Hafu, my druid Queen, and ym.

If you have any questions for FSU please feel free to post them here in the comments and I will pass them on. You can also ask them in the guide thread he wrote that I linked above.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Moonkin Nerfed

Edit: Sorry didn't realize the tooltip I copied was wrong. Max rank EnM still gives a 13% raid wide damage buff. The nerf is purely to the personal damage reduction.

Apparently there are two changes on the Beta realm that you all should know about.

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 3%. (Max rank EnM used to increase personal spell damage by 5%)

Glyph of Starfire: Your Starfire ability increases the duration of your Moonfire effect on the target by 3 sec, up to a maximum of 9 additional seconds. (Was unlimited)
My first reaction to this is obviously disappointment and anger. No one likes to be nerfed, but I'm going to hold my judgement for now.

Ghostcrawler said that the change was made because "balance dps is really high both at level 70 and 80. We're concerned that we made too many big changes and made their dps too high." (src)

I don't know if Balance DPS is two high or not. It's pretty hard to evaluate right now due to all of the server issues and the fact that almost all bosses are now loot piniatas. However, I can say one thing with complete confidence. Moonkin are not the highest DPSers in raid. In the last two raids we have run with 2 or 3 hunters. They are by far the best DPSers in raid, because the basically have unlimited mana now, an aggro dump, and at least a quarter of there damage comes from a pet with a separate aggro table. I'm not talking about a small advantage. In some cases they are doubling the DPS of the casters and such.

Murmurs has made a great post on the WoW forums regarding the state of Moonkin DPS and how Blizzard is trying to rely on Eclipse to heavily to make our spec more interesting. It's really long but she has some great points that I urge you to check out. (link)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gray Matter Linked on WoW Insider

This has been a great week for the blog. My blog has steadily grown over the past year despite my lick of editing and I've been pretty happy with it's size. I was getting on average 300 or 400 hits a day. Getting some nice comments after my posts, with people asking questions and disputing my articles. I even have had some one ask to advertise on my site. All good stuff.

Now I've had two events happen in one week that I consider major mile stones for the blog. First on Tuesday I had over 1000 hits in a single day. That isn't much compared to some of the big blogs like Resto4Life or World of Matticus, but it doubled my previous record. It basically told me that when people had questions about this patch, that they wanted to hear my opinion. I was shocked and humbled by it.

The second mile stone happened today. I was linked on WoWInsider (link). I have followed this site for WoW news for quite a while and hoped that one day they might notice me. I have privately been critical of WoWInsider's coverage of Moonkin in the past because I thought most of it was a list of changes with little or no analysis. This article defies all of my previous concerns. I don't necessarily agree with all of comments made but it was obvious that Allison Robert did her research and knew the issues.

I just want to say thank you to WoW Insider for the links and taking a serious look at moonkin. If my blog helped in any way then I am pleased.

To any new readers that may have just found there way here I say welcome. I hope you find my site useful and please feel free to ask me questions or comment on my posts.

Raiding after Patch 3.0.2

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that BC raid mobs (trash and bosses) were going to have their Health reduced by 30%, possibly loose some abilities, and have there melee damage reduced (src). Most assumed that it was a nerf but there was a little debate since the way raid buffs work has been completely reworked. I'll say this right now, for BT it was a nerf.

Prepatch, my guild normally cleared BT over two nights and it took around 4 to 5 hours total. Last night we cleared BT in 2 and a half hours. That includes a +20 minute break in the middle after the realm server crashed. This is how ridiculous it was.

Naj - Only bubbled once.
Supremus - Dead, at the very start of the second tank and spank phase.
Shade - Only one set of adds.
Gorefiend - Only two people died to the debuff and one of them was just barely.
RoS - Our interrupts for phase 2 were all screwed up because of addons not working right but still downd him in record time.
Bloodboil - Only two fel enrages
Mother - I don't know how many fatal attractions there were but it couldn't have been more then 3 or 4.
Council - Lets face it, council takes some time, but we were nowhere close to the engage. In fact I had to leave the fight briefly because it sounded like my son fell out of his crib (he was ok), but the loss of DPS wasn't a problem.
Illidan - Downed in 8 minutes.

My friends that formed a new guild on my server reported an equally easy time. They blazed through the first 3 bosses and got a guild first kill on Gorefiend.

This gives me hope for our efforts in Sunwell. Our best effort on Kalecgos prepatch got both forms to around 30%. It makes me think we have a shot at getting at least half the instance cleared, which would be awesome. This accomplishment won't be as sweet as if it had happened prepatch, but none of these bosses are freebies. You still die if you stand in the fire. You still have to know where to run and went. All this nerf does is make the fights a little more forgiving.

So, I think this last month is going to be fun, but then again, I was one of those people who liked to run kara with a bunch of T5/T6 geared mains just for the experience of beating up on them.

Toon Update:
This is kind of a personal post, will include a Toon update.

Graylo - Life has been pretty good for Graylo lately. A while back I listed my goals before the expansion and all of my main goals were met before the patch. With my first Archie kill last week I have now cleared ever instance below Sunwell. Unfortunately, Archie didn't drop a druid token, but I have picked up quite a few other upgrades. I finally picked up the [Hood of Hexing] off of Hex Lord. I really want something with a meta socket but Vashj and Archie have been uncooperative, and this is the best helm without a meta socket. I've also completed my T6 4 piece set bonus. I picked up the [Thunderheart Pants] last week and I picked up the [Thunderheart Shoulderpads] and [Thunderheart Vest] last night. I have been raiding for well over a year and this is my first 4piece set bonus. I'm excited.

Graypal - Things are not going so well for Graypal. He is still my least played toon, plus I found out that the change to Spell Power has nerfed him quite a bit. I had 5 pieces that buffed shadow damage specifically and all of those items were nerfed. I've been trying to get him into ZA to pick up some upgrades but who knows if I will have time.

Grayfel - I've been having a lot of fun playing him lately, and he has been getting lucky with up grades. I've run him through kara a couple of times, and had decent luck. I also ran Shadow Labs once and got 4 upgrades from drops and quest rewards. It was great. I don't really expect anything major from him but I would like gear him up a little so that his transition to northrend is easier.

Grayvik - I haven't played him much, due to all of the stuff going on with the patch and stuff. I may be on the shelf for a while because, I can't see him getting much time when the expansion is released.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Builds for Patch 3.0.2 - Mailbag

Update: I ended up going with something a little different then I listed below. I was kind of bummed when EnM and Moonfury hadn't been reduced yet because I still wanted to try out Owlkin Frenzy and some of the other talents. So I went with this build instead.

As you probably know, Patch 3.0.2 is dropping today, and with it a lot of changes to the Balance tree. These changed have prompted a lot of debate and questions like this one I received today:

Hi Gray

Tonight we'll start to play on 3.0.2 with a cleared talent tree. I've found a lot of build ready for WOTLK but with all 71 points spent.I need a build for a level 70, to start playing on the patch without headaches.

Have you any suggestions?

Thank you very much.

I think this question is on a lot of people's minds right now. It's a little hard to say right now because I don't know if the changes to Moonfury and Earth and Moon have taken affect in the patch but I will look at it both ways.

1. Raid Build with Moonfury and EnM at reduced cost. (Core Build),(My Build)

If Moonfury and Earth and Moon have there costs reduced in the patch then you can pick up all of the important talents and have a couple to play with. I have bypassed Intensity, Omen of Clarity and Master Shapeshifter because I'm told that Mana hasn't been a big issue for moonkin on the PTR and putting 16 points in that tree would force us to skip some good talents in the Balance Tree.

The Core Build Picks up all of the major talents in my opinion. In My Build I have also picked up Dreamstate, Owlkin Frenzy, and Starfall. I picked up Dreamstate, because I'm having a hard time trusting that I won't have mana issues without all the mana regen talents. I'm picking this one up to ease my mind a little. Starfall I picked up to play with. It sounds like a cool ability and I want to try it out before the expansion. I picked up Owlkin Frenzy because by guild plans on raiding up until the expansion is released. We are currently working on SWP and clearing BT weekly. Both instances have lots of raid wide damage that could make Owlkin frenzy valuable.

You might also consider Gale Winds all of the trash if your guild is still progressing through Hyjal. Force of Nature is always a fun talent for soloing and some raid bosses. You could also put a point into Eclipse if you don't have the 4T5 or 4T6 set bonuses.

2. Raid Build with Moonfury and EnM at 5 points. (Core Build),(My Build)

This is pretty much the same thing as above, but we don't have as may points to play around with. I still picked up Dreamstate because of my paranoia, and dropped Owlkin Frenzy and Starfall.

3. Solo fun build. (Build)

For those of you that don't plan on seriously raiding for the next month this is the build I would choose. I build this spec purely to play around with some of the new talents. It should allow you to do well in PvP, 5-mans, and raids that you over gear.

M.B. thanks for the question.

What builds are you guy's planning on using? What do you think of the builds I have suggested?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moonkin Stats at Level 80

With the coming expantion, how our DPS is affected by the different stats will change. The value of each stat will decrease as we level to 80 and we will need more Hit and Crit rating to increase our Hit chance and Crit change by 1%. There have also been some significant changes to talents like Lunar Guidence and Imp Moonkin Form that make some stats less important and others more attractive.

In this post I will take a look at each stat and show how they relate to each other. I will point out when to focus on each stat, and confront the common myth that Crit is better the Haste.

1. I used this talent build. Build: Link

2. Stats - Spell Power = 1800, Crit = 35%, Haste = 9.17%, Hit = 95%, and your moonkin is level 80.

3. I will be looking the stats using Starfire since this will be our primary raid spell. However, I will comment on how these stats affect the other spells in very general terms.

4. Using the stats above the average Starfire will have the following DPS:

((((1120 + (1800 * 1.2))*1.19)*1.35)*0.95) / (((3-(0.5*0.35))/1.0917) = 1,934.4746
Spell Power:
This stat, formally known as spell damage, is our bread and butter. It is the stat that all other stats are compared to because it is always good. Lets look at some math.

Starfire has a spell power coefficent of 1.2 with Wrath of Cenarius. On top of that each point is buffed at 19% due to various talents. Numerically it looks like this.

Hit Capped DPS per Point = (((1.2 * 1.19) * 1.35)*0.95) / ((3 - (0.5 * 0.35)) / (1.0917)) = 0.7077 DPS
Hit Rating:
If you raided in the Burning Cruisade then you know the importance of Hit rating, in WotLK Hit is still very important. However, there are a couple of changes you should know. First, you will now need 26.23 Hit Rating to improve your chance to hit by 1%. More importantly we will now be able to increase our hit chance to 100%. So we will now need to increase our hit chance by 17%. Balance of Power and Misery (shadow priest talent) will increase our hit chance by 7%. The other 10% will need to be made up by hit rating. Therefore, the soft hit cap in WotLK is 263.

Lets look at the value of hit for the standard stats I listed in the assumptions. One point of Hit will increase your chance to hit by 1/2623 = 0.03812%.

DPS +1 Hit = ((((1120 + (1800 * 1.2))*1.19)*1.35)*0.9503812) / (((3-(0.5*0.35))/1.0917) = 1,935.2509
As you can see from this information, an additional point of Hit rating will increase the hypothetical Moonkin's DPS by 0.7763. If you compare this to the DPS change from an additional point of Spell Power, you can see that 1 point of Hit rating is worth 1.09687 Spell Power.

The value of Hit rating does change depending on what your starting level of hit rating, but this isn't something that should be a big concern. Hit rating starts to equal Spell Power in value at just 1,428 Spell Power, and Hit rating will always be more valuable then Spell Power when you reach 1,689 Spell Power. Both levels should be fairly easy to reach in early raiding, so reaching the hit cap should be your first priority as long as your not giving up large amounts of Spell Power to do so.

Crit Rating:
The amount of Crit rating needed increase your Crit chance by 1% is 45.90 at level 80. Another important thing to remember is that our Crit chance in WotLK will be much greater in general. From talents and raid buffs alone we will be able to reach 22% crit chance, and it is not unreasonable to assume that our crit chance will be as high as 35% in early raiding. This is why my example assumes such a high level of Crit.

In WotLK an additional point of Crit rating will increase your crit chance by 1 / 4590 = 0.02179%. So an addtional point of Crit will increase your DPS as follows.

DPS + 1 Crit = ((((1120 + (1800 * 1.2))*1.19)*1.3502179)*0.95) /
(((3-(0.5*0.3502179))/1.0917) = 1,934.8615

This is a DPS increase of 0.3869. When compared to the DPS value of one point of Spell Power you can see that for the hypothetical Moonkin 1 point of Crit rating is worth about 0.5466 Spell Power.

Haste Rating:
The amount of Haste rating needed increase your Haste chance by 1% is 32.79 at level 80. The other change you will find in WotLK is that Moonkin will start with 6% crit due to talents, and can go even higher due to raid buffs.

In WotLK an additional point of haste rating will increase your haste by 1 / 3,279 = 0.03050%. So an addtional point of Haste will increase your DPS as follows.

((((1120 + (1800 * 1.2))*1.19)*1.35)*0.95) / (((3-(0.5*0.35))/1.092005) = 1,935.0151
This is a DPS increase of 0.5405. When compared to the DPS value of one point of Spell Power you can see that for the hypothetical Moonkin 1 point of Haste rating is worth about 0.7636 Spell Power.

When looking at Haste in the BC I talked a lot about the break-even point where 1 point of Haste increase DPS just as much as one point of Spell Power. The break-even point in WotLK is very high even in relative terms. In BC the break-even point could easily been reached Kara gear, and a couple of peices from ZA and othe T4 instances. In WotLK the break-even point is 2,543 Spell Power.

Crit vs Haste:
I want to highlight the relationship between Crit rating and Haste rating. After looking at some of the gear that will be available in WotLK, it is clear that moonkin will have to choose between Crit haste quite a bit. My analysis above shows that Haste is better in terms of DPS. I have run the numbers for several levels of crit and haste and feel very confident in saying that Haste will always be more valueable in terms of DPS than Crit for all reasonable levels of Haste and Crit. However, this does not mean that Haste rating is better then Crit rating 100% of the time.

The real question you need to ask when choosing between Haste or Crit is regarding your Mana. Haste has no affect on a spell's DPM. Your DPS will be higher if you increase your haste, but if you have mana issues then Haste is only going to cause you to run out of mana faster. Crit on the other had has a significant impact on your DPM. Not only does it increase your damage, but mana will also be returned you crit.

So, the basic rule of thumb is If you have mana issues you should focus more on Crit. If mana is not a problem then Haste will give you a larger increase to DPS.

1. The basic DPS stat equation has changed slightly. There was some ambiguity as to where Haste fell, but I think that answer is now clear for early raiding. The new stat equation is Hit > Power > Haste > Crit.

2. Crit rating and Haste rating appear to be significantly less valuable in Wrath of the Lich King. Some on the forums have argued that this isn't true and that Crit and haste were not worth very much in early BC raiding either. I don't agree.

I think Crit rating and Haste rating appear significantly less valuable due to the higher starting values of Crit chance and Haste in WotLK.

However, this does not mean that we should avoid Crit Rating or Haste Rating. Both stats are very nice and can significantly increase DPS, but when picking up these stats you should try and maintain your current level of spell power since it has a greater impact on DPS,

3. There are other stats you will need when raiding like Stamina, Intelligence, Spirit, and Mp5. All of these stats are important to performance but none of them have a significant impact on DPS. For the most part you will get as much of these stats as you need, just by stacking the normal DPS stats, and no extra effort is needed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Use for Eclipse

Yesterday, I made a big post about how Eclipse was still a bad talent despite how Blizzard was buffing it. For the most part I still stand by that post. The Precasting method is still a horrible way to use the talent, and I don't see any reason to put a full three points into the talent.

However, Erdluf (a reader of Gray Matter) brought up a really good point over on the Moonkin Repository. Find his post here.

His idea center's around using the Opportunistic method and ignoring the extra DPS provide by the Glyph of Starfire. Erdluf presents a very compelling argument that investing a single point into Eclipse can significantly increase Moonkin DPS.

Stat Assumptions:
Spell Power: 1800
Haste: 9.17% including Celestial focus and Imp MA
Hit: Capped
Crit SF: 37% - Includes Imp Scorch, MA, Nature's Majesty, and Imp IS (not unreasonable assuming a 15% base from stats)
Talent Build: Link

Can we ignore the Glyph of Starfire?
This is the first question we need to answer, and I think the answer is yes.

Lets remember what Glyph of Starfire does. It increases the duration of your Moonfire by 3 seconds thus adding another tick of damage. This is great in that it prevents you from having to recast Moonfire. In fact, if there are few or no interruptions in your casting cycle your Moonfire's duration will grow over time. Take this example.

Lets say you start a fight by casting Moonfire and then you spam Starfire. The global cooldown is 1.374 seconds long and Starfire will take 2.579 seconds to cast on average. In one minute you will be able to cast Starfire 22 times after the first Moonfire ((60 - 1.374))/2.579 = 22.73). Those 22 casts of Starfire will add 22 ticks of Moonfire to the original 5. So, over 60 seconds with a Starfire spam rotation you will build up 27 ticks of Moonfire, but only use 20 ticks. Therefore, over 60 seconds of Starfire spam we will gain 2 Moonfire ticks after you subtract out the original 5.

Since we will be building up the Moonfire ticks over time, it is reasonable assume that we can take brief brakes and let some of these ticks get spent without refreshing new ones. Otherwise some ticks would be wasted since Moonfire is likely to still be ticking after the Boss is dead.

Therefore, I agree with Erdluf, in that it is reasonable to ignore the Glyph of Starfire when evaluating the value of Eclipse. As long as the brakes are short and don't happen to often, having to recast Moonfire should still be fairly infrequent in long fights.

Unglyphed Starfire vs Eclipse Buffed Wrath:
An unglyphed Starfire will have the following DPS.
Avg DPS = (((1120 + (1800 * 1.2)) * 1.19) * 1.37) / ((3 - (0.5 * 0.37)) /1.0917) = 2074 DPS
An Eclipse buffed Wrath will look like this on average.

Avg DPS = (((588 + (1800 * 0.67)) * 1.42) * 1.34) / (1.5 / 1.0917) = 2484 DPS
This indicates that a buffed Wrath does 19.79% more DPS then an unglyphed Starfire. Therefore, given these assumptions, switching to Wrath from Starfire, can provide a significant boost to DPS temporarily.

Is the buff worth the talent points?
Now the question is can we get that buff often enough to make it worth the investment of talent points.

With only one point invested Eclipse each of our Starfire crits have a 33% chance to proc Eclipse. With a crit rate of 37% that means each Starfire cast has a 12.21% chance to proc the buff. Meaning, that on average it will take 8.19 starfire casts over 21.12 seconds to get the buff. Add this to the 40 second cooldown, and we see that the average buff cycle will last 61.12 seconds.

As we all know the buff's duration lasts 10 seconds, but it will probably take another Starfire cast to recognize and use the buff. So, the usable buff duration is only 7.421 seconds long.

In that time, you should be able to complete 5 wrath casts (7.421 / 1.374 = 5.401). These 5 casts will take 6.87 seconds to cast, and the buff will be up 11.24% of the time (6.87 / 61.12 = 11.24%).

Therefore, a single point investment in Eclipse is theoretically worth 2.22% increase in total DPS. Even if you miss the buff 50% of the time it will still increase your DPS by over a percent. In my opinion this is big enough to invest a single talent point in.

If one point is so good, why shouldn't I invest more?
The reason is the cooldown. It is the biggest factor in determining what the buff's uptime and it cannot be changed. Adding a second point will increase the the buff's up time to only 13.59%. This means that the marginal increase to total DPS for the second point is only0.469%. The third point is even worse.

On top of that, each point you invest you will cause you to cast Wrath more often and increase the likely hood that Moonfire will fall off the target..

1. Investing one point in Eclipse can provide a significant increase to total DPS assuming that it doesn't cause Moonfire to slip off the target.

2. Investing more then one point in Eclipse is a waste, because the marginal gains for the second and third point are very small.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Eclipse is Still Bad (for PvE)

For those of you that missed it Ghostcrawler graced us with her presence on the WoW Beta forums to update us on how they planned to buffing Eclipse to make it more attractive. Here is what she had to say.

It now has a longer cooldown (40 sec) and a shorter duration (10 sec) but the effects on Wrath and Starfire are doubled. It is overall a buff to the damage to justify the proc-watching aspect. We also hope the longer cooldown and shorter duration will mean it takes less of your bandwidth to do so.
This comment is a little confusing. Several people have asked if this is actually a buff or really a nerf. The math gets a little complicated, but it is indeed a buff over the old version. However, that does not mean it is a good talent or that PvE moonkin should pick it up.

Please let me show you why Eclipse is still a bad talent.

Possible uses for Eclipse:
There are two possible ways to use Eclipse. I call them the Opportunistic method and the Precast method.

With the Opportunistic method you use your normal casting rotation until you get an Eclipse buff, and then you switch to the buffed spell while you still have the buff.

With the Precast method you start casting your secondary spell with the intent to buff your primary spell.

Stat Assumptions:
Spell Power: 1800
Haste: 9.17% including Celestial focus and Imp MA
Hit: Capped
Crit SF: 37% - Includes Imp Scorch, MA, Nature's Majesty, and Imp IS (not unreasonable assuming a 15% base from stats)
Crit Wrath: 34% - Includes Imp Scorch, MA, Nature's Majesty
Talent build: Link

Standard Starfire DPS:
First off lets look to see what the DPS is for the standard IS, MF, SF*x rotation using these stats and assuming all three spells are glyphed.

IS Damage = (((1290 + (1800 * 0.76)) * 1.09) * 1.3) * (14/12) = 4,394
MF Damage Tick = ((800 + (1800 * 0.52)) * 1.29) / 4 = 982
SF Damage = (((1120 + (1800 * 1.2)) * 1.19) * 1.37) + 982 = 6,329

Starfire has an average cast time of 2.579 seconds, therefore you will cast Starfire 5 times before you refresh Insect Swarm. Therefore, Starfire and the IS, MF, SF*x rotation will have the following DPS.
Avg Starfire DPS = 6,329 / 2.579 = 2,454
Avg Rotation DPS = (4,394 + (5 * 6,329)) / (1.374 + (5 * 2.579)) = 2,526
The Opportunistic Method:
Update: A new possibility has been brought to my attention on how to make this method work, and it looks pretty good. I have posted a new analysis here.

In previous posts I've established that Starfire is the primary Raid DPS spell in WotLK. So, to use the Opportunistic Method we would start casting our normal Starfire rotation, then switch to wrath if and when we got an Eclipse buff.

It is fairly simple to understand, but lets see why it doesn't make sense mathematically.

For the Opportunistic Method to work, an Eclipse Buffed Wrath will have to have a rotation DPS greater then 2,454. We can calculate Wrath's DPS with eclipse as follows.
Avg Wrath Damage = (((588 + (1800 * 0.67))*1.39) * 1.34) = 3,342
Avg Wrath DPS = 3,342/ (1.5 / 1.0917) = 2,432
As you can see an Eclipse buffed Wrath still does less damage then the standard Starfire. Therefore, there is no reason to switch from the standard Starfire rotation even if Wrath has a 20% buff.

The Precast Method:
With the precast method we would start casting Wrath to receive the Starfire buff. Switch to Starfire as soon as you get the Eclipse buff and stick with Starfire until the cooldown is up.

First, we need to determine how much precasting it will take on average to get the Starfire buff. As stated in the assumptions Wrath has a crit rate of 34% in this example. On top of that each Crit has only a 60% chance to proc Eclipse. So each Wrath cast has 20.4% chance to proc Eclipse. This means that on average you will have to cast Wrath 4.90 times before you get the Wrath buff. On top of that it is reasonable to assume that we will not recognize that we have the buff right away. Therefore, lets assume that one Wrath cast occurs during the buffed period. This brings the total number of Wrath Casts up to 5.90.
Wrath's average cast time and damage output are:
Avg Wrath Damage = (((588 + (1800 * 0.67)) * 1.19) * 1.34) = 2,861
Wrath Cast time = 1.5 / 1.0917 = 1.374
Therefore, during this precast period you will on average do 17,334 Damage over 8.11 seconds, and it will cost 1,420 mana.

With the Eclipse buff Starfire's average cast time and damage output are:
Avg Starfire Damage = (((1120 + (1800 * 1.20)) * 1.19) * 1.67) = 6,518
Starfire Cast time = (3 - (0.5 * 0.67)) / 1.0917 = 2.441
The next question is how many buffed Starfire's can we get off during the buffed period. I have already indicated that we will lose 1.374 seconds of the buff due to slow reaction times and casting a Wrath during the buffed period.

Theoretically you can get 3.53 Starfire casts off during the buff period but parcial casts will not receive the buff. Therefore we should round down to 3 Starfire Casts.

So, during the buffed period with Eclipse you will on average do 22,502 damage over 7.32 seconds, and it will cost 794 mana.

If you combine this with the pre casting period you do a total of 39,836 damage over 15.43 seconds at the cost of 2,214 mana. This means that if you precast you will have an average DPS of 2,582.

If you compare this to the average DPS of the standard IS, MF, SF*x rotation of 2,526 you can see that the Eclipse can result in a 2.22% increase in DPS while Precasting. However, this does not consider the cooldown.

With the cooldown you shouldn't precast until 40 seconds after you receive the buff. Then on top of that it will take an average of 6.74 seconds to renew the buff. Meanwhile, we can only get 3 buffed starfire's off meaning that the buffed period only lasts 7.323 seconds.

So, the buff will be applied once ever 46.74 seconds and it will be useful for 7.323 seconds. This means that the Eclipse buff will only be present 15.67% of the time.

Therefore investing 3 points in Eclipse will only buff a moonkin's DPS by 0.349%.

1. Opportunistic casting Wrath casting will actually reduce your DPS on average. Therefore, there is no reason to switch Wrath with the Eclipse buff, unless there is some fight mechanic that makes Starfire less desirable.

2. Using the precasting method can result in a small increase in DPS. However, it requires quite a bit of micromanagement. It would be quite easy to mess up the rotation and lose some if not all of your gains.

3. Ultimately, Eclipse just isn't worth the points for a PvE Moonkin. It is so random that our performance could see significant changes from fight to fight even if played perfectly. On top of that there are several talents in the Balance tree that are regularly passed up but provide a similar increase to DPS with much less hassle.

Note: I don't know much about it, but apparently PvP moonkin are quite happy with this change. The talent is much more attractive with Wrath as your primary spell, and apparently using the buff in conjunction with the PvP set bonus can result in significant burst damage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ghostcrawler Addresses Moonkin Bloat

We've got some good news out of the WotLK Beta forums this morning. The core comment here is that they currently plan on addressing our bloat (though it could change), but GC goes on to talk about some other aspects of our spec that you might find interesting. You can find the post here, but I will discuss it in sections.

Moonfury and Earth and Moon down to 3 ranks from 5, but keeping the same overall benefit. That buys you 4 extra talent points to get more utility or fun talents.
This is a good change. I didn't expect them to change Earth and Moon since it is a tier 9 talent but I don't care where the points are shaved from as long as I get them.
As an epilogue, here are our feelings on bloat. The problem with the Balance tree was that druids had to spend nearly all their points just on pure damage. It's hard to justify giving up damage for utility, PvP or fun talents in a raid scenario. Ideally you should be trading those talents off against each other ,not against your damage (or healing or mitigation).

Bloat (in our dictionary) does not mean there are more talents you want than you can afford. That's a *good* thing. If there were a bunch of talents you'd never ever get, now *that* would be a problem. As a contrast, we don't think Feral is bloated -- or rather in this case we bloated it on purpose so that you couldn't be the best cat in the world and the best bear in the world with the same spec.
For the most part I agree with this comment. I fully support having different talents in a tree that support different play styles, like the Bear vs Cat example. A broader example would be having different talents that support a more PvP style, PvE raiding style, or a PvE solo style. The problem with the balance tree is that there are so many talents to that don't lend themselves to a particular style of play other then PvE raiding.

If I had to choose a new spec right now for level 80, this spec would probably be it. I'm happy that I'm able to pick up Force of Nature, Gale Winds and a point of Dreamstate, but lets look at the talents I have to give up.

For Brambles, Owlkin Frenzy, and Typhoon it is becoming clear to me that these talents are entirely meant for PvP. All three have uses in PvE, but they are situational and their PvP benefits are much more substantial then their PvE benefits. Therefore, I can handle giving up these three talents.

From a PvE perspective thise are the talents I have to give up. Genesis, Dreamstate (2pts), Imp Faerie Fire, and Eclipse.

I think I can do without Dreamstate. Many people from the PTR and Beta are saying that they are having very few problems with mana. I only put one point here because I could think of a better place for it.

It is a little hard to pass up Genesis because it is a damage increase, but unfortunately a minor one. Never the less, it is a talent that is guaranteed to increase our damage that we have to pass on.

Imp Faerie Fire is a good talent on a bad spell. What I mean by that is that it provides some nice buffs, but they are applied in a way that makes them worthless. If they ever increase the duration of Faerie Fire then this will be a must have talent, and I will be forced to drop Gale Winds and Dreamstate (1pt).

Eclipse is obviously intended to be a PvE talent, but currently doesn't provide and significant buffs to the way Moonkin will be played in a PvE situation. However, GC has mentioned more buffs, but more on this later.

To sum all this up, I am very pleased that they are planning to drop 4 talent points out of the tree, but I think it should be a little more. As it is we are still forced to exclude several decent talents that provide little or no benefit to a play style other then PvE raiding.

We are also going to buff Eclipse's damage a little so that you feel you're paid back for the extra proc-watching (and so I won't feel so lonely when I tell you I think it's fun).
I recently did some math on Eclipse, and my findings agreed with everyone else's. Eclipse is currently useless. There was no benefit to switching to Wrath from Starfire if you get the proc, and there is no benefit to precasting Wrath for the Starfire buff.

That being said it will be interesting to see what changes they make. They would have to buff it a lot to make us switch to Wrath from Starfire, but they don't have to do a whole lot to make a case for precasting Wrath for the Starfire buff. However, I feel that no change they could reasonably make would be enough. There just isn't enough points to go around as it is, and I don't think anyone wants to worry about a marginal talent, which Eclipse most likely will be.

Starfire Glyph:
We're going to leave the Starfire glyph as is for now, since one of the reasons we added it was to buy you back some brain time if you were watching Eclipse too much.
This is good to hear, but to be honest, I'm a little worried that it was even mentioned. The Starfire and Moonfire Glyphes are probably the best part about a moonkin build at the moment. If blizzard changes how these glyphs work and interact, don't be surprised to see an angry mob of feathers and horns show up on your doorstep. DO NOT TOUCH THIS GLYPH!!!!

Force of Nature:
The treant health is still something on the list to look at too. I suspect it just hasn't scaled well.

I am a little confused by this, because I don't have any experience with the beta. Are the trents relatively weaker at 80 then they currently are at 70, or are they considering making them stronger across the board to make them more useful? Either way the change is welcome.

Well that's it for now. Let me know what your reaction is to these changes.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Moonkin Updates: 10/3/2008

Nothing major has happened lately, but I have found some small updates that my readers may be interested in.

Nature's Grace:
If you may remember back in build that dropped on July 17 2008, we got this little change:
Nature's Grace: Now also reduces the global cooldown of your Wrath spell by 50% while in effect.
Apparently this change was ninja removed at some point. If you look at the talent trees provided by both Blizzard and WoWhead, it is no longer there, and I'm hearing reports from people in Beta and on the PTR that NG no longer affects the global cooldown.

This shifts the Starfire vs Wrath debate a little bit. I haven't changed my posts from a couple of weeks ago yet, but this shifts the debate in Starfire's vavor once again. It reduces Wrath's DPS advantage down to just 4% without the SF glyph. With the glyph Wrath is at a 11.7% disadvantage.

Nature's Splendor:
I didn't see any official word on this either but according to the talent trees Nature's Splendor extends Insect Swarm's duration by only 2 seconds now (down from 3). This makes a lot of sense, and it was probably a typo that NS extended IS by 3 seconds in the first place. IS currently ticks every 2 seconds, so that extra second was hard to estimate.

Ultimately this changes little. It does reduce my IS DP calculations a little, and it will make Wrath rotations a little more complicated since MF and IS will have different durations, but nether of these issues will cause significant changes in the way moonkin are played.

This spell will be non dispellable in an upcoming build. This should make a lot of the PvP moonkin happy but it may still be spell stealable. I don't know.

FSU Posted a long post on the Beta forums regarding Moonkin Bloat. He focuses primarily on PvP, but PvPers are feeling the same thing that PvE moonkin are. There are just to many necessary talents for the number of talent points we are given. Luckily he got a response.
For now, all I've got is that Starfall can't be dispelled does not equal GC basically said they're done with balance.
I know we have heard this before, and its starting to sound like a standard trade marked response like "soontm," but for some reason I'm optimistic. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but the need is so obviously clear to me that I don't see how they can miss it.

I compared the Balance tree to the other 8 caster DPS trees. The balance tree has 79 talent point options. The only tree that has more is the Arcane Mage tree with 81. The average of all 9 caster DPS trees is 74.56, which shows we have significantly more talents then the other caster specs. On top of that many of the other specs have clear distinction in choices. Several talents in there tree clearly provide little or no value in PvE.

Lets take Shadow Priests for example because I know them best. They have 4 talents that are clearly have little or no value in PvE situations.

Blackout - Only be useful on trash.
Imp Psychic Scream - Useless in raids because the need for fears is minimal.
Silence - Probably doesn't work on most bosses, and it requires two points in Imp PS to pick up.
Psychic Horror - A pure PvP ability that would have absolutely no use in Raids.

These four talents add up to 12 points that can be easily skipped from a shadow build. On top of that shadow priests start with only 70 talent options to begin with. This leaves them 13 points to spend how they want in other trees or to pick up some more situational talents.

Compare this to the Balance talents that are generally excluded by druids.

Genesis - Increases DPS but not by much compared to other talents.
Brambles - Increase the Damage of our Trents, Thorns, and Roots.
Imp Faerie Fire - Designed to be a PvE raid talent. It just sucks, unless you don't have an Spriest in raid.
Dreamstate - Provides mana regen.
Owlkin Frenzey - Probably the most Pure PvP talent we have, but could be useful in raids if WotLK raids have as much raid wide damage as SWP and BT do.
Eclipse - Another talent designed for PvE, that most people agree is useless since it doesn't provide a significant DPS increase.
Typhoon - An AoE spell that is primarily for PvP.
Force of Nature - An excellent source of mana efficient, treat free damage if used correctly. A standard part of most current moonkin builds.
Gale Winds - Increases AoE damage.

Of these 10 talents we are excluding, are there any you clearly don't want or need in a PvE build?

I can easily drop Typhoon because Hurricane should be enough AoE and the knock back on Typhoon could be bad in a raid. Other then that I can see a clear PvE reason to pick up all 9 other talents. The reasons aren't good enough drop some other talent, but there are significant uses for all 9 of the other talents in raids.

If I was a blizzard developer here are the changes I would love to see made. It's probably a little to much to ask for, but I can dream. (These are listed in the order of my priority.)

1. Reduce Vengeance to 2 or 3 points (currently 5 points) and move Nature's Reach to tier 4 of the tree.

2. Reduce Moonfury to 2 or 3 points (currently 5 points).

3. Reduce Lunar Guidance to 2 points (currently 3 points).

4. Reduce Dreamstate to 2 points (currently 3 points).

What do you think? What changes would you like to see to improve Moonkin in WotLK?