Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Moonkin Rotation

I've been recieveing a lot of questions lately about the proper Moonkin spell rotation. Well I've got bad news for you, Moonkin don't have formal rotation. Really what we have is spell priority. In this post I hope to give you a detailed understanding of the four main moonkin spells and when to cast them.

This post is very mathy. Please feel free to skip to the bottem to get the TL:DR version.

My Hypothetical Moonkin:
These are the talents and stats I used to calculate the numbers. I have modeled him after how I expect to look in the beginning of Ulduar. He has 2900 Spell Power, 40% Crit Chance, 16.5% haste from gear (29.77% total), and a mana pool with 21000 mana.

This is the spec I expect to use when 3.1 comes out. It's very close to my current spec but has a little extra mana regen. I'm sure some of you may argue with some of my choices, but overall I don't think there are any reasonable arguements that would affect the calculations significantly.

Spell Queuing:
I've talked about this a little before, but it is important for me to explain it again so that you understand some of the comments I will make later in the post. The spell queuing system helps you to minimize down time by allowing you to queue your next spell cast before your current spell cast is done. Erdluf did some nice research on the subject and posted his results on the EJ forums here.

Basically the spell queuing system allows you to queue your next spell if you cast it within 0.3 seconds of your current casts end. However, this process starts to break down as your global cooldown (GCD) gets closer to GCD floor of one second, because you can't queue your next cast within the first second of your current cast. So, the game has to wait for you to physically push a button to start casting the next spell.

Since it is practically impossible cast a spell exactly when the prior spell completed, there will always be a little extra lag in the cast time due to human error.

The spell queuing system works great for longer cast spells like Starfire, but it causes big issues for spells like Wrath that can get really close to the one second GCD. Therefore this makes Wrath a little worse in actuallity then it is on paper.

The DoTs:
We don't look at DoTs form the traditional DPS point of view. Due to the long duration DoTs are obviously going to have a relatively low DPS when compared to Nukes. Therefore the best way to evaluate DoTs is with Damage per Cast Time (DPCT).

Both of our DoTs are instant casts therefore they technically don't have a cast time. However the GCD does prevent us from casting another spell for 1 to 1.5 seconds. In a PvE environment this is pretty much the same thing as having a cast time. Close enough for me anyway.

So, what is the GCD for my Hypothetical Moonkin? For this section I'm going to assume that Nature's Grace has a minimum uptime of about 67.51%. This is the uptime that NG would have with a SF spam rotation. In actual play it will probably be a little higher, but I'm trying to be a little conservative.

Therefore the GCD can be calculated like this:

GCD w/o NG = (1.5/1.2977) = 1.1559
GCD w NG = (1.5/(1.2977*1.2) = 0.9632, Therefore 1 since 0.9632 less than 1
Avg GCD = 1.1559*(1-0.6751) + (1* 0.6751) = 1.0507 Seconds

Insect Swarm:
I'm looking at it from the perspective of 3.1 assuming that the changes to it go live. I also assume that the [Glyph of Insect Swarm] is equipped. I am not using the new Ulduar Idol that affects IS because it sucks (more on that in a future post). I am also not using the 2T7 set bonus. Here is the math:

IS Damage = ((1290 + (2900 * 1.2)) *(1.3*1.04*1.03))*(7/6)
IS Damage = ((4770) *(1.39256))*(1.1667) = 7750 Damage
IS DPCT = 7750 / 1.0507 = 7376 DPCT

Now assuming that the Spell Queuing issue causes a 0.1 second delay in casting the Insect Swarm DPCT would be:

IS DPCT w/SQ = 7750 / 1.1507 = 6735 DPCT
Moonfire is a little more complicated because it has both a Direct Damage portion and a DoT portion. I will assume that the [Glyph of Moonfire] is equipped but I will ignore the [Glyph of Starfire] since it is had to tell which spell that damage belongs to. Ultimately its not going to change my conclusions.

MF DD Non-Crit = (441 + (2900 * 0.1495))*((1.1-0.9)*1.04*1.03) = 187
MF DD Crit = (441 + (2900 * 0.1495))*((1.1-0.9)*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 392
MF DD Avg = (187 * (1-.4)) + (392 * 0.4) = 269 Damage

MF DoT = ((800 + (2900 * 0.5209)) *((1.1+0.75)*1.04*1.03))*(5/4)
MF DoT = (2311) *(1.98172)*(1.25) = 5725 Damage

MF DPCT = (269 + 5725) / 1.0507 = 5705 DPCT

MF DPCT w/SQ = (269 + 5725) / 1.1507 = 5209 DPCT
The Nukes:
Obviously Nukes are the bread and butter of our rotation. For a Nuke, DPS and DPCT are the same thing so I wills stick with DPCT in this section for consistancy.

I've detailed how to calculate these numbers several times in the past. I assume that if you care about the math you probably have looked at those prior posts. Therefore, I am going to condense the math a little more then usual this time.

I'm assuming that the [Idol of the Shooting Star] is equipped. Once again I will ignore the [Glyph of Starfire] since it is had to tell which spell that damage belongs to.

NG Uptime with SF = 1-(1-0.43)2 = 67.51%
SF Avg Cast Time = (3/(1+0.2977))*(1-0.6751)+(3/((1+0.2977)*1.2))*0.6751 = 2.0516 Seconds
SF Non-Crit = (1285 + (2900 * 1.2))*(1.1*1.04*1.03) = 5615
SF Crit = (1285 + (2900 * 1.2))*(1.1*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 11735

SF DPCT = ((5615*(1-0.43))+(11735*0.43))/2.0516 = 4020 DPCT
I'm assuming that the [Idol of Steadfast Renewal] is equipped.

NG Uptime with SF = 1-(1-0.4)3 = 78.40%
W w/o NG Cast Time = (1.5/(1+0.2977)) = 1.1559 Seconds
W w NG Cast Time = (1.5/((1+0.2977)*1.2)) = 0.9632, Therefore 1 second since 0.9632 less than 1.
W Avg Cast Time = (1.1559*(1-0.7840)) + 0.7840 = 1.0337 seconds

W Non-Crit = (658 + (2900 * 0.6714))*(1.13*1.04*1.03) = 3153
W Crit = (658 + (2900 * 0.6714))*(1.13*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 6590

W DPCT = ((3153*(1-0.40))+(6590*0.40))/1.0337 =
4380 DPCT

W w/ SQ DPCT = ((3153*(1-0.40))+(6590*0.40))/1.1337 = 3994 DPCT
The math for this is to complicated to detail it again, so I'm going to take the easy route and just give you the results.

With perfect Spell Queuing a Lunar Eclipse rotation would do about 5030 DPS on average, while a Solar Eclipse rotation would do 5302 DPS on average. As you can see, in perfect environment Solar eclipse does about 5% more damage, but we do not play in a perfect environment.

If we assume that the Spell Queuing issue adds an extra 0.1 second to the Wrath Cast time the numbers change a little bit. In this situation an average Lunar Eclipse rotation has 4887 DPS, and the average Solar Eclipse rotation has 4962 DPS. Wrath still has a 1.5% advangate in DPS, but the difference is minimal. Therefore, from a DPS perspective which Eclipse you use doesn't really matter.

Hey, What about DPM:
Mana hasn't really been a concern in WotLK so far, and that isn't really surprising given the nature of Tier 7 content. However, that doesn't mean man isn't going to be an issue in Tier 8 or beyond. In Ulduar the fights will be longer. We are lossing some of our Crit Chance with the losses of Set bonuses and the nerf to Improved Scorch. Healers are going to have less mana so we won't be getting Replenishment as often.

If you combine all of this, its easy to see how mana could be a bigger issue for Moonkin in 3.1. Therefore, it is important to consider the mana efficency of each of the spells when we choose which spells to cast.

This section is also important because the way we should think about mana in WotLK is a little different then the way we thought about it in TBC. This is due to the new Mana on Crit mechanic. Lets look at the average mana costs for the Hypothetical Moonkin.

IS Mana Cost = 3496 * 0.08 = 280
IS DPM = 7750 / 280 = 27.6786 DPM

SF Mana Cost = (3496*0.16)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.43) = 328
SF DPM = 8246 / 328 = 25.1402 DPM

W Mana Cost = (3496*0.11)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.40) = 182
W DPM = 4528 / 182 = 24.8791 DPM

MF Mana Cost = (3496*0.21)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.40) = 500
MF DPM = 5725 / 500 = 11.4500 DPM
As you can see the traditional mana relationships from TBC are still holding true at this point, but they are a lot closer togeather then I think most of us would have guessed. I ran some numbers as if the Hypothetical Moonkin's stats increased by 10% and the traditional way of thinking is completely blown out of the water. Wrath becomes the most mana efficent spell with 34.1881 DPM, Starfire comes in second with 31.2159 DPM, and Insect Swarm drops to third with 29.7303 DPM because it can't Crit. Moonfire is still far behind the others with 13.7453 DPM.

How we use Eclipse also has a big impact on our mana effecency. As you can probably guess Lunar Eclipse is much more mana efficent then Solar Eclipse since it adds Crit chance instead of a straight damage increase. Without the 2T8 set bonus a Lunar Eclipse rotation had an average DPM of 45.0072, while Solar had just 23.9727 DPM. That means that Lunar Eclipse has a 88% advantage over Solar Eclipse. If you add the 2T8 set bonus into the equation Lunar's advantage jumps 132%.

TL:DR - Tell me what spells to cast already:
  • The DoTs are clearly solid additions to the Moonkin Rotation. They have significantly higher DPCT results then the Nukes. Therefore, if anyone suggests to you that you can get higher DPS by spamming a nuke, they are wrong. I'm seeing that DoTs are even good on Lotheb.

  • From a damage perspective, Wrath and Starfire are fairly even. Wrath is a little better on paper, but is troubled by the Spell Queuing issue at higher levels of gear. This brings Wrath closer to Starfire if not below it.

  • This also holds true when comparing the damage of Solar Eclipse to Lunar Eclipse. Again, Solar is a little better on paper but loses most of it's advantage when the Spell Queuing issue is taken into account.

  • From a mana perspective the clear winner is Starfire and the Lunar Eclipse rotation. Therefore, for most fights I recommend the IS, MF, W til Eclipse, SF rotation.

  • However, a MF, IS, SF til Eclipse, W rotation may be better for high movement fights where your spells are more likely to get cancelled or interuptted if your mana can handle it.

    Felkan said...

    Moonkin is going to be my second spec in 3.1 along with Feral (heavy cat with a touch of bear). I've been Feral for years and never even looked at moonkin stuff until the past couple of months.

    For PvE (primarily 10-man), I've leaning toward a similar spec. However, if mana were to become an issue on longer fights, would you give up FoN or Starfall for the 3rd point in Intensity?

    Keep up the good work and the great maths, I love it.

    Robert said...

    Great content in the article - just a weird formatting issue: the end of the post is all blue! Probably a missing close tag from some of the math breakouts.

    Cdin said...


    I don't know which I would give up. In the perfect situation I think FoN does more damage, but they are harder to apply and easily killed.

    I think I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it. I need to get a better idea of what the Ulduar fights are like before I can make a choice.


    I hate blogger. I doubt doubt what your seeing but I've looked at it from two different computers and I don't see an issue. I will try and look at it again tonight.

    Felkan said...

    FWIW, I, too, see the same issue. Blue text starts with "IS Mana Cost...." and continues to be blue thru the rest of the post.

    Macbook said...

    Another great post. Most say I love the TL:DR format you offer.

    I suffer a lot of lag, so the Lunar Eclipse rotation is what I'm sticking by.

    What I probably should look into, however, is actually getting the Wrath idol for fights like Loatheb (or maybe only Loatheb).

    Take care,


    Beefiest said...

    Im getting that same Blue problem

    I think you forgot to end the blue text after the DoT math portion.

    anyway, very nice refresher and proof that they are very similar. Gotta go tell those know it alls back in the guild!!

    Artheon said...

    I was a bit shocked by the starting stats you used for calculations. I have lots of naxx25 gear but 2900 spell power is very far yet (I have 2300 raid buffed + food + flask).

    I guess you used best in slot for every piece of gear which means a lot of 25-man raiding yet (especially to get the idol).

    I think most moonkins will arrive at Ulduar with much worse stats.

    Birk said...

    You assume that Idol of the Shooting Star is equipped for the Starfire calculations and Idol of the Steadfast Renewal Wrath calculations.

    Will it be better to spend a GCD (as I recal changing weapons & idols cost 1 GCD) when changing between these spells, or is it just to make the 2 end results match up more appropriate, so assuming that when you go with the spell you want to use most you equip that idol in the beginning of the fight?

    Anonymous said...

    Nice content as usual. Hoewever I do have some questions. How did you calculate the 67.5 % uptime of Nature's Grace? It seems very high to me, even with the new change to the talent.

    I plan to use Glyph of Focus and Glyph of Starfall in 3.1, because I think it has the potential of being a great DPS boost if you can use it in the boss fights. Could you please evaluate Starfall with and without the 2 glyphs in the future?
    My planned build is:

    I might add 2 points in Intensity if I get Mana problems, but I doubt because I don't max out haste but try to keep a my crit rate at 30% in Moonkin form unbuffed.

    Cdin said...


    Yes, you would have to have BiS gear to reach these stats currently, but I wanted to take a long term approach to this analysis. After Ulduar is released these numbers will be about the middle of the pack and down right low when Icecrown comes out.

    You have a good point in the short term, but I don't think it significantly changes the out come of my analysis.


    I used both idols in the math to make a fair comparison. If I used one idol over the other the results would be bias towards that spell. So I used both.

    I DO NOT advocate Idol Swapping. You will lose DPS by doing so.

    In my play, the SF idol is wielded to my charicter screen. I never switch it. There may be a couple of times where switching would help but I never think about in time.


    1. The uptime is calculated based upon the probablility of having two non-criting SFs in a row. With a 43% chanch to crit (the extra 3% comes from Imp IS), you havea 57% chance to not crit. The the chance to have two spells in a row not crit is 57% * 57% = 32.49%. 1- 0.3279 = 67.51%.

    2. I haven't done the math yet personally, but the things I have seen around the Interwebz say that Glyph of Focus and Starfall are not a good idea. First of all you have to break up the SF/MF glyph combo which are awesome, and the IS glyph is getting even better with the buffs to IS.

    Haupt said...

    First thanks for the post Graylo, but can we do some rotations that don't assume a shadow priest, Every time I see a Moonkin rotation post it assumes you are not casting IFF (I know in 3.1 the 5 min duration will mean casting once maybe twice during fights)

    The problem is new Moonkins look at these posts for what to do, by failing to talk about IFF they are being taught wrong..Last night I was in a 25 man raid with 2 other Moonkin, they had their Eclipse rotation but I was the only one casting IFF (no shadow priest as normal for my group). I hate re-training Moonkin.

    To quote Matthew Brodrick in Glory "Train them PROPERLY major"

    again thanks for the post Graylo

    Cdin said...


    I'm a little confused. Were they not specced into Imp FF or did they just not cast FF?

    Not speccing into Imp FF is a mistake; however, if they are just nto casting it then there was no need for them to since you had it covered. I assume that there was no discussion before hand about who was going to keep it up. It sucks for you a little bit but it is a necessary evil. At least its about to get better.

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for clearign up the Nature's Grace part. It makes sense and I am curious too see how it will affect my DPS, although I have trouble benefitting fully from hast because of the laggy server I am playing on.

    SF + MF Glyphs are a good combo but Starfall during a Lunar Eclipse boosts DPS so much I think it might be better to drop the glyphs to be able to use Starfall every 60 seconds. The DPS of the dots will be lower and I have to cast them more often so the question is if the Starfall damage boost can compensate for the loss in DPS from the dots.
    If you have a link to some numbers it would be greatly appreciated.

    Haupt said...

    They were speced into it, just not casting it. Cause whenever they read about Moonkin "rotations" poster always forget to talk about IFF. So new Moonkins don't get it in their heads that they need to cast it.

    And yes I covered for them and was the best geared Moonkin there so the loss to my DPS was minimal (relatively speaking). I have been a Moonkin from jump street. But if you are posting rotaations to help the newbies there will not always be another Moonkin or Shadow priest there to cover their butts. *grin*

    IFF needs to be talked about as part of rotations. Gods I can't wait for 3.1 and 5 min duration!!

    Anonymous said...

    @ Haupt - This sure seems like a post more directed at moonkin rotations for after 3.1. With the patch being maybe 2-4 weeks away I think it's fair to just talk about the rotation for the upcoming patch. Honestly, if they are bad moonkins now and don't realize what they are doing then do you really expect them to change before the next patch?

    Anonymous said...

    What about priority of IS / MF as versus W/SF (1) during an Eclipse (whether beginning, middle or end), and (2) during Heroism?

    Philipp said...

    What about solar rotation with idol against lunar without? I just rerolled to druid and will be 80 at 3.1 launch. Idol of wrath is much easier to obtain.

    Shem said...

    I agree with most of the build you mention, Gray. But surely 2/2 Gale Winds is going to be worth it for most boss-fights in Ulduar?

    A lot of theorycrafting on talents, etc seems to assume a pre-BC tank and spank boss. But single target bosses seem to be becoming less and less vogue.

    The only fight that matters in the game at the moment, Sarth3D (from a hardcore raider perspective) has substantial amounts of AoE and I'm struggling to see my build NOT including Gale Winds in 3.1- the question is, though, given mana will probably be more of a concern in 3.1 I don't know that I can afford to not have intensity. So what do I drop points from? Improved Insect Swarm? Improved Faerie Fire (assuming I'm only getting it for the personal buff)?

    Phil said...

    ur rotations are exactly mine... ty sooo much, i read ur last post on this when i didnt even know what a rotation was i aprecate ur emailed resopnce, i am one of the top DPS in my guild

    Agni the Boombear said...

    Gale winds imo is a TP-killer if you think about Boss fights. Sure there are a few Ulduar boss fights where you have to clear adds at first (like Thorim phase 2), but I come to think that Hurricane is both mana-inefficient and doesn't do enough damage.

    Considering that a boss fight is mostly a single-target fight, then spending points to increase your AoE is from my PoV useless.

    Also - most Ulduar trash have a decent amount of HP to be just AoEd down (especially if you don't have so many AoE classes in the raid).

    Assume I've made my point.

    @ IFF. If you cast in on the target, then there is no need for other moonkins to do that. ^^

    Agni the Boombear, Dragonblight-EU

    Anonymous said...

    Love the article...been a moonkin since day one and have always tried to research to improve my damage.

    One point I'd like to make, the stats you used seemed really high..most of my gear is best in slot to include all t7.5 plus 226 pieces. I have about 2400 spell buffed w/food and flasks.

    IFF is a must, but only needs to be applied by one moonkin in group. I've experimented with both rotations, solar and lunar and find they are really close, just depends on how much moving around you have to do. Since we're all really working on Ulduar content now, aoe is minimal with the exception of a couple bosses. Most trash now has to be downed by single target, which makes typhoon, hurricane, and starfall not to usefull. I've tweaked my talent tree to reflect that, no more gale winds or typhoon. I've increased my damage to about 4700-5k, and thats with switching between lunar and solar and also popping my treants after the first cooldown, this does not reflect BR which in Ulduar is pretty much a gimmie right now. That can be a major dps drop and mana drain. Hope any of this is helpful..and thanks again for having this site available for all our feathery friends

    Be-f said...

    I love all the great information. One thing I was wondering about is it appropriate to use treants and starfall and if so where do you recommend throwing them into the rotation (when their cd is up of course)?

    douchechyll said...

    this might not make much of a difference but i prefer to cast mf before is because mf stays up longer. this way i can recast all my dots at roughly the same time and still get the most out of that last tick of mf.

    Phil said...


    ~Gargen of US-Vek'nilash