Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blue Post: Murmurs, Ghostcrawler, and DPS Oh My

@Murmurs: If your going to start writing great posts like these on the weekend, then someone needs to send me an email. Otherwise the fun is going to pass me by like it did this weekend.

Anyway, there has been some debate running around the moonkin community as to the current state of Moonkin DPS. Some have said we are to low, and others are saying we are just fine.

In an effort to get to the bottom of the question Murmurs sent out a Plea: "Friends, Azerothians, Moonkin, Lend me you Parses." (Ok, that wasn't an exact quote.) In a nutshell, what he wanted was information to see why some moonkins were still topping the DPS charts and why other moonkin seem to be falling behind. Is it gear, rotation, skill or some there issue that is causing the disagreement within the community.

After quite a few people decided to lend parses to the project, Ghostcrawler stepped in with some of his own thoughts on Moonkin DPS and some of the other issues we face. Here are the highlights.

The State of Moonkin DPS:
First, I should weigh in on the debate regarding Moonkin DPS. Pre-3.1 Moonkin DPS was fine in my opinion. Post-3.1 I expected Moonkin DPS to be fine also. We lost some DPS to the Improved Scorch nerf and Ulduar itemization is less then optimal. However, those nerfs affected all casters to some degree, and we also received buffs to Insect Swarm and Natures Grace. I expected it to all balance out in the end.

On top of that, it is hard to get a full view of Moonkin DPS by looking at parses or even looking at personal experience. It is hard to know why anyone is high on the charts or low on the charts. One moonkin could consistently be in the top 5 of one guild because they are a good player playing with a much of not so good players, and the same good moonkin could switch guilds and be at the bottom of the DPS charts because the people he plays with now are excellent.

All that said, since we have been raiding Ulduar for almost a month now I am seen myself drop lower on the charts. Some of that can be chalked up to inexperience with the fights and the fact that I haven't taken any gear upgrades while others have, but I am also starting to think that some of it is systematic. Fortunately Ghostcrawler agrees that Moonkin DPS is a little low on live.

GC's DPS comments and the Imp Moonkin Form buff:
Here is Ghostcrawler's first comment in the thread.

We think Balance dps is a little low on live, but changing Improved Moonkin Form to 30% Spirit to Spellpower in 3.1.2 should be something like a 5% spellpower boost to raid-buffed druids, which should be around a 5% dps increase. YMMV.

Also keep in mind that the Ulduar fights are pretty diverse. Fights like XT are a dream for melee, especially rogues and cats.

As I said before, I like the change to Imp Moonkin Form, but if GC thinks its a 5% DPS increase he is crazy. Its not even a 5% Spell Power increase.

Fully raid buffed, I currently have about 2880 Spell Power and 550 Spirit. So, the buff to imp Moonkin Form will give me an additional 82 Spell Power. That isn't bad, but it's only 2.85% of my current fully raid buffed Spell Power.

You could also argue that I've avoided Spirit like the plague in the past and that my spirit levels will be higher after I am fully geared in Ulduar gear. So lets say I am fully geared in Ulduar gear, with near BiS gear. To be conservative I'm going to estimate that I have 3200 Spell Power at this point. For GC's comment to be true I would need to have about 1016 Spirit fully raid buffed. This translate to about 790 without raid buffs and would be a 120% increase to unbuffed spirit total.

Is it possible for me to increase my unbuffed spirit by 120% in Ulduar? Probably, but I highly doubt that it would happen with BiS gear. Realistically, I would estimate this buff to be worth about a 3.5% Spell Power increase in full BIS gear. (This number is just off the top of my head.)

GC's Comments on Eclipse:
Ghostcrawler then goes on to talk a little more about our love/hate relationship with Eclipse.

The basic design problem for Balance, as I know you know, comes down to Wrath and Starfire just being very similar spells. One is always going to win out by virtue of damage or cast time. Eclipse was our attempt to make which one wins more dynamic. I think it accomplishes that, but I think it's also fair to say that there aren't a ton of druids who are in love with the talent. Or maybe it's more fair to say that there are druids who just can't stand it. It's also not swell that the talent has driven many druids to mods to help manage it. (source)
I think this comment is very interesting. Yes, the fact that Wrath and Starfire are too similar is a problem, but it is made worse by the fact that we have only 4 DPS spells to use as a part of our regular rotation. Yes, Eclipse does make the Moonkin rotation more dynamic, and I can see how that is a good thing. However, when you have only 4 spells in the book, there is only so much you can do without tying virtually all of Moonkin DPS to a single mechanic.

We're not going to give you a rotation that ends up being something like SF, Wrath, SF, Wrath or even SF x4, Wrath x4. We just think that's too boring and ultimately bad for the game. You can argue that you like Balance because it's very predictable and macro-able, but it should be
clear that we view that as a problem. (source)

I also find this comment fairly interesting. I somewhat disagree that standard rotations like the old MF, SF*4 disagree are boring. I didn't have a big problem with it, but I can see how a more dynamic rotation is more interesting and leaves more room for skill to shine.

My real issue is with this comment is if rotations are supposed to be dynamic, why don't they do it for every class. As most of you know my main alt is an Affliction Warlock. Pre-3.1 that rotation was about as dynamic as rock, and then they made it simpler. If you want DPS to be dynamic then do it across the board.

I'm in total hand-waving, brainstorm mode here. This is not a design we have cooking that we're all ready to implement, but imagine Eclipse worked something like this: Every Starfire you cast has a 20% cumulative chance of making your next Wrath do 30% more damage. So after SF1, the chance is 20%, but after SF5 the chance is 100%. That encourages you to swap spells somewhat randomly, but less random than the system we have now. The goal is to have something where you sometimes switch after SF 3 and sometimes after SF 5. Good druids would always switch at the right time and those who are still trying to maximize their potential could get better about switching at the right time. You could also have a system where every SF has a chance of making Wrath slightly better, with a stack on that effect, so that at some point it's the right time to switch.
Don't feel the need to point out how you could game this system -- I spent all of 2 minutes coming up with it. If and when we decide to change it, we'd put far more work into the design. (source)
I want to reiterate GC's first sentence. Please realize that the comment above is off the top of GC's head. This is not a current plan, and don't expect to see it in the next major content patch. I am not going to model it until/unless something official is announced to say that Blizzard is working on this.

That said, it is an interesting idea. The big problem with Eclipse is that it is tied so heavily to timers and cooldowns. If it procs at the wrong time then it's wasted, or if there is a time when you need to DPS particularly hard you can't use it then.

I really like the idea of having a system where you could store the buff to use at the right time. Maybe combining the two ideas that GC presented would be a good idea. That way you get some of the randomness, but if SF is still the better spell due to Heroism then you could continue to cast SF without losing procs.

The Rest of the Thread:
From there the thread goes into a lot of discussion about how to improve Moonkin and such. I suggest that everyone at least skim through because there are a lot of interesting ideas. I however, will focus on just one post.

Murmurs made a post deeper into the thread with a lot of suggestions on how to rebalance Moonkin DPS. Once again I think he is just spitballing here, but there are some interesting suggestions. You can find the post here.

The idea I like best out of those suggestions is adding minor glyph that increases Wrath's Cast time and damage. So that Wrath as similar DPS for a single cast, but isn't as negatively affected by increased haste as the current Wrath. Of course this doesn't fix the problem that Wrath and Starfire are to similar, and probably makes it worse.

I also like the idea of a new spell. We need some sort of neutral nuke to fill the space when we don't want to proc eclipse, or just something different the then the straight DoTs and Nukes we currently have.


Tweetee said...

hey guys i not really sure if i should post this comment here but here goes.

i used the BiS gear list you had posted up here and switched shoulder and chest to get the 4T8 bonus and some more spirit. If my number are right i gained 100 spirit (give or take) and lost 100 Haste (give or take).

My question is: Is it worth it losing 100 haste to gain the T48 bonus?

I hate to use 16 haste gems when i can have 19 sp gems instead and especially hate to use 16 haste gems to get to the magic 400 haste number.

what are your thoughts about this

Kazool said...

From my personal experience I think that the (relative) loss of dps in our (moonkin case) is driven by 3 things: i) others got buffed more, ii) the Eclipse combined with Nature's Grace mechanics (even after the 3.1 change) have been influenced by simultaneous nerf to crit buff from Scorch iii) Eclipse became significantly less reliable due to increasing compexity of Ulduar encounters compared to most of Naxx.
A simple remedy would be to either change Eclipse into a stack-able buff, as mentioned by GC, or make it a castable buff with some moderate (say 1min) CD - similar to Combustion. The latter option may seem a bit dull, but it would certainly allow for more tactical planning of encounters, thus improving our dps without changing any of the stats significantly.

Stratt said...

I think you are on to something here, Gray.

I also enjoyed the rather simple MF, SFx4 rotation days. I am not very happy with this current development theme that more complex rotation somehow equates to more rewarding/interesting play.

As a druid, I find my interesting play in the different roles available via changing forms (and talents/gear.) I find this arbitrary complexity of Eclipse a hindrance and annoyance.

I'm hoping for a return of elegance in rotations. I want the difficulty in the encounter/boss fight, not in the proper use of my abilities.

foth said...

I noticed my dps had gone very low when we first hit ulduar, but as I'm raidleader I expected it to go up as I get used to new encounters and controlling the raid. Well it didnt. even in the fights where I can push perfect rotation I dont think ive ever got to top5 of dps.. more likely im there in bottom half clearly below top dps.

And then in hodir&vezax where moonkins really could push almost as good dps as mages (thanks to starfire scaling with haste) its unfortunately impossible. We cant play our best and go all out because there is no way for us to drop threat suddenly. Several of our paladins have salva macroed to me, yet I usually go way over tank in threat if I dont stop nuking.

Anonymous said...

hi all,
i asking me why they don't put eclipse like a sort with is 30s cd to use, even the GC'idea could be nice.

Lealanya said...

I like this post, it has got me thinking a lot about my moonkin dark side (I mostly raid resto) I think the inherent problem of the wrath haste cap wont go away and its factored into spell balance anyway but the suggestion of a neutral spell that doesn't proc eclipse seems like the most useful way of giving druids an option for those who have trouble living with the RNG of "wasted" procs. Of course it should balance in between the wrath/starfire lot for cast time and ot should do a little more dps than the both of them before you factor in the eclipse proc but less than either of them when you get it, This would mean 2 things moonkin get a stable non proc dependant dps spell and the choice of using it would be based on fight mechanics as well as proc timing either waiting for the right time or bridging between procs. This wouldn't devalue eclipse as having it proc on a tough fight may be a gamble in some peoples minds but if you have more control of when you look for it without losing (a lot of) dps then its acceptable this may mean for example a rotation looks a little like - wrath till eclipse -> starfire till eclipse ends -> "new spell" till cooldown wears off repeat (insert dots wherever) but its a 3 (main) spell rotation and fight mobility meaning that the third choice may be most sensible, but again another choice makes things more interesting/complicated sit on whichever side of that slash mark you like.

The core of this is that to get things to work in such a complex game many things are RNG dependant and making things more reliable by removing as much of the RNG as you can makes people happier, yeah maybe eclipse isn't perfect - its not meant to be its there to make the job of dps'ing as a moonkin more challenging if you want to drive up your dps (yeah i did just call looking at your head for a circle challenging) if you dont like the RNG ignore eclipse spam starfire with moonfire in between and have (relatively) dependable dps but you wont top the meters, and lets be fair a hybrid was never intended too, mages can't heal after all.

Phil said...

I noticed that my mana is gone in moonkin now (last boos of Naxx I run out before all the adds are down?? WFT Happened?) and my dps is about the same but now when I go tree we live though everything, I got all miss matched gear though and I am still working on it... I use the standard moonkin raid talent tree... /shrug

~Gargen of Vek'nilash

Anonymous said...

I read the whole thread (I think at least all the contributing posts), and I must say that the simplest fix was suggested by Hhaazzyy (post 306, page 16):

First fix - I don't think it is necessary, casting 20 Wraths - it happens, RNG, but it is OK in my opinion to be screwed sometimes ;)

However I LOVE the below:

The second thing to do would be to have the eclipse effect not start counting down until the first spell that benefits from the eclipse is cast. This way if we get an eclipse and know we are going to need to move in 5 seconds, we can continue to spam the spell that procced eclipse until we can get the full benefit of eclipse. This would give us quite a bit of control over eclipse without adding a new button or really redesigning the way the spell works at all. A much wanted thing for moonkins.

Add to it that you have 10/15s window to decide to start and then it starts automatically and it will make I think ALL happy.

Haste is an issue with Wrath, but the Glyph to make it longer and stronger looks nice, maybe talent (single point).

Balance to the WoWEnD - Cuthorn@SporeggarEU

Raysa said...

"...and lets be fair a hybrid was never intended too, mages can't heal after all."

thats everything!

we are big supporters AND a hybrid.
we've got so many things that help us in so many situations. we can switch form to break snares. we can switch to cat and sprint if we need to be fast. we can switch into bear and taunt a mob (could be useful at yogg saron phase 1). we have so much armor though we are a caster (so its right that we can get problems with aggro).
in my opinion thats the way the moonkin gets it right to exist! otherwise its just a dumb caster like a mage or destrowarlock.

if u take all these points in consideration, how could anybody say that we should be under the top5 or anything like that?!?!?
Mages, Hunters or Warlocks, these are the classes that were designed to only deal damage. so they should be in the top ranks.

the next point is: we are able to reach those topranks. not in every fight but in most. i know this, because i do it! if u have some skill and something between ur ears u can reach the topranks.
ofcourse u need to think about every boss in detail but thats how life is.... the ones that work hard and reflect what they do will be better then the rest.

chicogrande said...

I'm seconding Raysa's comments. I've always played a druid for the versatility of the class realizing that this master-of-none slant would not have me topping DPS charts as moonkin.

Take our laggy Ulduar 25 run last night. It's handy to have that battle rez and innervate for those eaten by the lag monster. It's equally handy to have the raid crit/haste buff, FF, and Earth/Moon easily applied. Moonkin greatly enhance caster DPS, yet often fail to blow out the charts with DPS of their own.

The issue I have is explaining this to our raidleaders that pour over WWS metrics wondering why I'm not top 5 on every fight. I have great gear right? I'm a skilled player, but I'm not a premiere DPS class. That's the job of mages/warlocks/rogues/hunters. It is evident that some 'offspec' (think Enhancement shaman, ret paladins) have had great success recently with DPS numbers, but balance druids not so much. My raid leaders are looking for an explanation, I don't have one yet as to why I'm coming out lower than true DPS classes on many encounters.

Mumma Bear said...

I was used to being first on the dps meters in Naxx 10 and 25, but now struggle to maintain second or third position in Ulduar 10 or even heroics.

Personally I am finding mana a big problem, particularly on fights like XT-002 Deconstructor and have had to respec to compensate, so that could be part of the reason.

I only got my first gear upgrade tonight though, so will have to see what happens over the next few weeks.

I do love the idea of the eclipse effect not starting to count down until the first spell that benefits from the eclipse is cast!

lethal said...

How about
Gives a 100% chance on Starfire crit to increase the damage of your next 8 Wrath spells by 30%, and gives a 60% chance on Wrath crit to increase the critical strike of your next 5 Starfire spells by 30%. Buff lasts 30 sec or until used up. (Numbers may vary)
Change the time period, to charges.
That way if you have to move, can hold onto the charges, can proc the ability and brez or heal or Decurse without penalty. And you can hold onto these super charged Starfire blasts until you need them.

Anonymous said...


Giving in the current implementation maximum counter of the buffed casts means that you cannot (at least there is no point) synchronize with team (heroism) or drink haste potion. This would take away skill.

Jason said...

I played my warlock in a raid a few weeks ago and I was shocked at Molten Core. I wish eclipse was as useful and happened as often.

Ulduar has so many movement fights that getting good numbers is always going to be luck of the draw.

If Eclipse procs on flash freeze you are going to loose your big dps chance moving. If Kalogram eye beems you on proc then you just lost about 1 minute worth of a proc that only puts you even with other dps.

I wish I could talk my guild into going to Lothab again just to test standing still casting in raid for a bit.

A new spell is a pretty interesting idea. Something that is between the cast time of wrath and starfire.

Anonymous said...

Message from our Raid Leaders, Boomkins need to put out more dps otherwise there is only room for one in the raid. In Naxx, we used to have 3 to 4 Boomkins topping the charts and getting ellusive raid spots. Now, it's us same 4 trying to get one spot and switching continuously after every boss. I've been lucky and have won many new items, including Rapture, but this also makes me sit more so my other boomer guildies can get gear.

For the most part, if folks start dropping in Uldular, battle rezzes aren't gonna save the fight. RL's don't have a need to keep boomkins around for this now. Now it's all about DPS and Healing and if you aren't topping out at either, you're gonna be sitting on your thumbs.

My play hasn't changed, and neither have other folks. Their dps just hits harder than ours now. WoW did not do Boomkins favors with Uldular.

Raincrow said...

The funny thing is, we don't even really stack crit, so I sometimes wonder about how Eclipse works. Remove the RNG element completely, and free up our gearing requirements a little:

Your Wrath casts cause you next Starfire cast to gain 20% haste. This stacks up to 3 times and lasts 15s.
Your Starfire casts cause your next Wrath cast to gain 20% damage. This stacks up to 5 times and lasts 15s.

The numbers could obviously be tweaked, but the goal is to remove RNG while encouraging ability swapping.

Shem said...

I was struggling a lot on meters since 3.1 hit. But tonight I did a whole lot better. I don't know if it's finally dumping my 460 SP mace+offhand and getting a 550 SP staff, or if it's the spirit->SP conversion or both. But tonight I sky-rocketed back into the top 7 DPS after being down at around 12th.

After being quite disgruntled with Moonkin since 3.1 I'm happier with where we stand now. The two points you mention are things that would make me really ecstatic:
-A change to Eclipse so it can be "saved" and is less random
-An extra spell

Personally my idea for the extra spell is Sunbeam! Some kind of spell using similar graphics to those used during the Freya fight. It fits the Eclipse/ Naturey feel of the Moonkin class. I'd like it to be similar to either Ice Lance or Lava Burst- that is I want a spell on a cooldown that is either instant or castable.

Graylo said...


The 4T8 is bugged at the moment so you may want to switch back until it is fixed. However, it will be a great bonus when it is fixed and worth the trade.

That said, I would never gem pure Hate gems. Its not worth it.

@Raysa and Chicogande

I agree, that a moonkin's versatility and utility gives us and advantage to some extent when it comes to getting a raid spot. However, that advantage is very limited in my opinion. I personally find that Brezzes, the ability to heal, and Innervates are only useful if something is going wrong. In which case it may not be possible to save the attempt.

Our other buffs like Moonkin Aura, Imp FF, Imp MA and such can all be replaced by someone else in the raid. Therefore, while our Utility is helpful, our DPS is are key ability. If that is not up to par then we have issues.