Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Balanced Update

It has been almost two months since the expansion was released. In that time a lot has happened. All of that theoretical stuff we talked about before 3.0.2 is now in game and available to be tested. We also have a better idea of what the gear is like, how buffs work, and what our over all stat totals will are. So, some of the stuff I posted in the past isn't all that correct anymore, and I dread the day I get an e-mail saying:

"Graylo, Back in October you said that we should only put one point in Eclipse. Why do you have 3 in it you hypocrite"

I had high hopes before the expansion that I would be able to update all of my old versus posts quickly and be on the cutting edge of Moonkin Theorycrafting. Sadly I realized fairly quickly that was not my spot in the WoW community. I just don't have the time necessary to be on that cutting edge. Instead I will continue to tray and make new information available relatively quickly in a way that is easy to find and understand by the average raider.

For that reason, in this post I would like to go over some of the new conventional wisdom regarding how to raid a moonkin. I do plan on doing more detailed posts on some of this information, but I want to give you the general idea first. Most of this information is based upon information I have read at the Elitist Jerk's Druid forum. If your looking for cutting edge information or just really like math I highly recommend checking these forums out.

Back in October I did two posts on Eclipse. In those posts I said that that you would want to put at most 1 point into it. However, if you've looked at my armory anytime recently you would have seen that I have 3 points in Eclipse, and some of you may have been thinking: What gives?

Well the truth is that Blizzard buffed the talent into usefullness. When I wrote those posts Eclipse had a 10 second duration and a 40 second cooldown. In the current version of the game Eclipse has 15 second duration and a 30 second cooldown. That is a huge change. Most if not all high end raiding moonkin now use this talent, and put 3 points into it.

So how should you use it? First, get the addon Squawk and Awe. It does a couple of things but he most important feature is that it displays a bar that shows you the duration of your Eclipse buff and the cooldown.

Second, I recommend using the Precasting method. What I mean is that you want precast Wrath to buff Starfire. The Starfire buff is larger and is less mana intensive on average. With this in mind I have three rotations that I use.

1. Eclipse not up and not on cooldown: (MF, IS, W ) In this situation I try and keep my dots up and cast Wrath to proc Eclipse.

2. Eclipse is up: (SF spam, maybe MF) With the buff up you want to get as many SFs in as you can, but if your MF falls off early in the first couple seconds it is worth it to reapply.

3. Eclipse not up but is on cooldown: (MF, IS, SF) In this stage I stick with Starfire, but I go back to keeping my dots up.

Finally I want explain why I use Starfire over Wrath. As I have said before Wrath is a much improved spell in WotLK, but must raiding moonkin still favor Starfire to be their go to spell. The reason is that Starfire scales much better with haste then Wrath does, and it is much more mana efficent. On paper Wrath does have a DPS advantage, but in real life it shrinks quite a bit.

Nature's Grace:
This is a great talent and no one debates that. The question is does Nature's Grace affect the global cooldown?

If you remember back to the beta this was big news but then dropped off the face of the earth. Beta testers were saying that they saw no eveidence that NG was reducing the global cooldown, and it was widely assumed that it had been stealth removed from the game. Then the 3.0.2 patch notes said "Nature's Grace (Balance): Now also reduces the global cooldown of your Wrath spell by 50% while in effect."

This obviously brought the debate back to life, and after some testing and looking at WWS reports it appears that Nature's Grace does in fact reduce the global cooldown for Wrath. Their does appear to be a 1 second floor, so the GCD isn't reduced by 50% as indicated in the patch notes.

This does make Wrath a more attractive spell but it's impact will be felt more by casual players with a relatively low level of gear more then hardcore raiders. Since the GCD has a 1 second floor the affect will be reduces as your haste increases.

(Thanks to Erdluf for pointing out some of this information for me.)

Improved Faerie Fire:
I don't think there was a talent critized more in the beta then Improved Faerie Fire. It is much easier for a shadow priest to apply the 3% chance to hit with spells. Ferals, can easily apply the armor reduction without issue, and the personal 3% chance to crit didn't make up for the DPS lost by using a global cooldown on Faerie Fire. However, there was one question that no one could seem to answer.

If you look at the tooltip you will see that it says "increases the critical strike chance of your damage spells by 3% on targets afflicted by Faerie Fire." It does not say that you have to apply the Faerie Fire or that it even has to be applied by a moonkin. The theory was that you could get the 3% crit if a feral in your raid applied the buff, but none seemed to be able to prove it.

Well the EJ poster Dirm did came up with a smart way to test it. He reduced is talented crit rate to just under 9% by taking his gear off. Then he had a guildie were resistance gear to reduce crit chance by 9%. Theoretically the guildie was now un critable by Dirm. Dirm then had a feral druid apply FFF to his guildie and he started casting rank 1 Wrath, one of them crit.

I think this is pretty conclusive evidence that Improved Faerie Fire does increase your crit chance no matter who puts up Faerie Fire.

Now what does this mean for us. Realistically there is no reason for a raiding moonkin to not have Imp FF now. If you have a feral in raid then you have an extra 3% chance to crit. If you dont' have a feral in raid, you need to have FF up for all of the melee, because it is a better option then Curse of Recklessness or Sting.

Picking it up could be a little tricky. You basically have two options. Most high end raiders drop mana regen to pick it up. Personally I am not having any mana troubles in 25mans and can easily drop some to pick up Imp FF and I suggest that you look here first. If that's not an option because your having mana issues I suggest dropping Improved Insect Swarm.

Mana Regen:
I have a post planned to cover this but I want make a quick note about it now for you. Most high end raiders are finding that they don't need a lot of mana regen. In fact some have dropped all mana regen talents from their spec. I'm not suggesting that any one go out and mimic them, but if you thing you can drop some mana regen I want to make sure you can do it smartly. As a general rule this is how the mana regen talents stack up for a well geared raiding moonkin:

Omen of Clarity > Intensity > Dreamstate > Moonglow

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please feel free to post a comment or send me an email.


Beefkin said...

Been reading your blog now since I respecced from feral to moonkin at lvl77 early in wotlk. Kudos for always making it a good read.

I see you still havent got the starfire idol yet, having problem with its droprate myself. Would you still use this rotation with wrath idol?

And why do you cast MF before IS in your rotation? Ive read from the top theorycrafters on EJ that they always do IS before MF. I havent really questioned it until now.

Lastly, do you think IFF will make a dps boost or loss if you are only looking at your own dps? (My guild hardly lack dps in raids anymore, so now its more about topping the personal dps until ulduar comes :D. Sarth with drakes beeing the exception)(We always have Spriest with Misery in our raids, so now point getting it for the hit)

Eglador said...

I think the 50% GCD reduction for Wrath on Nature's Grace procs could have something to do with the un-skilled 2 second cast time of wrath, maybe they just don't know how to write that stuff.

Leigh said...

Have been a long term reader as I slowly level my balance druid. Going to make a push on it now that my shadow priest is pretty much done with Naxx. Can I ask you what kind of DPS do you push out over an entire raid (incl Trash). And what kind of single point you are pressing? I am trying to give the balance druid in my guild some pointers to try and improve his damage output.

Cdin said...


Idols: I actually do have the Starfire Idol. I got it last monday, but I primarily use the old Idol of the Raven Goddess in 25 man raids. Its a personal loss but a gain for the raid.

Rotations: One thing to remember about the EJ forums, is that they tend to split hairs at times. It is technically better to cast IS before MF, but the difference is really minor.

In actually I didn't intend to dictate as specific order in my post, and I usually do cast IS before MF. Thanks for the question. I'll change my post to avoid confusion.

IFF: That depends. Are you casting FF or are you taking advantage of FFF. If your having to cast FF and you have a Spriest then it is a personal DPS loss. If your taking advantage of FFF then it is a personal DPS gain.

I do want to point out that maximizing personal DPS at the expense of raid DPS is not a good habit to get into. Even if the content has been on farm for months you'll develope habats that will be hard to break later. On top of that you set an expectation of where you should be on the damage meters. The next time you get to a hard encounter and you change back to a raid maximizing playstyle, your DPS will go down while your peers will go up. This will cause you to look like a noob and them look great.

My suggestion is to try and do what is best for he raid always.


To be honest I don't pay attention to my Trash DPS, so I can't really help you there.

On Patchwerk, lately I have been doing around 4000 plus or minus. That can very significantly based upon the RNG. I have seen WWS reports of moonkin putting out 5300 DPS on patchwerk. A 70% crit rate is pure win.

It's really hard to give tips just based on pure DPS numbers. So here is what I'm trying to work on in terms of my DPS.

DoT Uptime: Ideally dots would be up 100% of the time. Practically that isn't possible. I try and shoot for around 80% depending on the fight. The other important note here is to not clip your dots.

Eclipse Management: Eclipse is not an easy mechanic. It is very unpredictable and requires a lot of attention to manage perfectly. My main goal here is to have less Wrath Elipse procs and more Starfire procs.

Macbook said...

Well, I was very against Imp-FF. My two raid leaders are both shadow priests, so I've never specced in or had to keep it up. One of our guild MT's is a feral druid, so FF is always up on a target.

To clarify, your saying (and judging from your spec/rotation), that as long as you spec in Imp FF and have a feral druid in the raid, you get the crit benefit without having to keep it up.

That's awesome.


Hotball said...

Does the crit benefit from IIS stack with IFF? I've tested it with more than 1000 starfires, which took me near an hour of time, that with both FF and MF up, my crit rate for starfire is only about 8% over my base crit rate. With 4% crit rate in talent, it's only 4% rather than 6% if they stack. Of course, it's still higher than the supposed 3% if they don't stack., but at least it's not high, so I guess they just don't stack.

Does anyone have conclusive information on this issue? If they don't stack, I'm considering moving IIS to other talents like improved moonfire.

Creative Control said...

As far as Mana Regen goes, the problem with dropping the lowest beneficial talent (Moonglow) is that you can't put those points anywhere but Imp. Moonfire because you can't advance to the third tier without enough points in the first two tiers.

ddm said...

Someone made the point on EJ that if there's a problem with Omen of Clarity, it's that it does not scale. I get that a free spell is a free spell and that over the course of a boss fight, you'll get a good number of free spells. Still, I find it too random to really enjoy -- while you might get lucky and proc OoC right before, say, Hurricane or Starfall, you're just as likely to proc it before casting Insect Swarm.

I know that everyone's mileage will vary, but I'd rather put that point towards Gale Winds -- I find myself AoE'ing enough mobs that a +30% damage modifier is really nice.

Anonymous said...

@ Beef

I tend to cast MF before IS just out of force of habit from using the old badge Idol for so long. I found it more beneficial to cast MF first incase the MF procced the +spellpower buff, in turn making IS do more damage. I still haven't gotten out of the swing of things >.>

Ebonhorn said...

Hello Graylo. I'm a long time reader but this is actually the first time I comment. Thanks for all the work you share with us, it's always useful to read other people's opinions :)

Concering IFF, I would like to point you to a recent post by Ghostcrawler: "I am almost positive the talent is looking at your spells. So if you cast Wrath, it does a check to see if you also have FF up on the target.
The intent of the talent is to encourage you to cast Faerie Fire, compensating you a little for the fact that you are debuffing the target. It isn't intended to just be "here have some crit." The intent is that if you cast FF, even if the debuff is already on the mob, you are rewarded for it.
I suspect it isn't smart enough to detect Feral Faerie Fire now that it's a base spell, so we should probably fix the case of a Balance druid who casts FFF and then goes back to Wrath or whatever.
I am just guessing based on the way spells usually work. I did not try this myself so I could be wrong.
I will also admit that there are some inconsistencies currently in the game between whether you are supposed to apply a debuff again on a mob that already has it (because sometimes you get a "More Powerful Spell" error). This is something we're trying to clean up though." from

Now what I read in that comment is: "it shouldn't really work with anyone else's FF than yours, and if it does we'll fix it". What do you think?

Ebonhorn of Argent Dawn EU

Cdin said...


IIS and IFF stack, they are completely different debuffs and there is no indication that they don't stack. My guess is you might have had an RNG issue.


OOC is the best mana regen/saving talent we currently have point for point. The EJ's poster's comment is a little miss leading, because OOC does improve relative to DS and Intensity as your haste increases. On top of that OOC only costs one point.

Since it is a single point this is the mana talent point for point. This may not be true at higher levels of gear but in the current version of the game it is true.


To me it sounds like GC is talking off the cuff. Which could mean a whole lot of things. First off, Testing points to that it does work, and now that GC has made his comments there is a new effort to test the affect. I still think it works with FFF right now.

Second, assuming that it works with FFF, GC currently considers it to be a bug. This means that it may be changed in the future. I say "may be changed" because moonkin aren't clearly over powered right now in the DPS department and I think blizz will treat it as a happy accident.

We will have to wait and see what happens.

Rankol said...

I know the guys over at EJ really have their nose in the math. One thing I would like to point out is that I always cast moonfire before IS. The reason is this, I push starfire to get wrath procs. I also have the glyph that extends the moonfire time. By doing moonfire first then IS, then doing starfire, my IS benefits from Earth and Moon debuff longer, and I don't worry about it falling off so quickly. And with my starfire refreshing my moonfire, the moonfire can have some time to tick while i'm casting IS and then starfire.