Monday, September 14, 2009

Moonkin's Weakest Link

Lissanna over at Restokin posted an interesting post today. With the changes to the talent system coming up, it is clear that our talent trees will be changing dramatically. Obviously, there we have no clue as to what is in store for any of the trees, but this is an opportunity to review each of the trees and see what is wrong and possibly how it could be fixed.

So, Lissanna asks us a question. “If you could change one talent in any of the druid talent trees, what would it be?" Here is my response.

My Perspective:

Before I look at the talents I want to give you a little perspective on how I view this question. First off, I am only looking at the talents and only considering their quality as talents. I am not considering Moonkin performance as a whole. For example, I would say something like "Moonfury is a bad talent because it doesn't buff our DPS enough." I will not say "Moonkin DPS needs to be buffed therefore Moonfury should give 20%." I hope you see the difference. The first quote is a comment on the individual talent. The second is a comment on the build as a whole. (For the record Moonfury is a great talent.)

Second, when Blizzard builds the talent trees, I think their design should agree with three rules:

  1. Every talent should be useful to someone, but all the talents don't have to be useful to everyone. I am completely fine with some talents being only useful for PvP or to resto druids. As long as informed players see it has some type of value then I am OK with the talent being on my tree.

  2. Tier advancement should be easy in everyone's main talent tree. Meaning, a balance druid should be able to advance to the top of the balance tree without using talent point on talents seen as useless for their chosen play style. The old TBC Balance tree is the best example of this rule being violated. In the first three tiers you could only spend 13 points in a useful manner for a raiding moonkin. Therefore you had to waste two points on Nature's Grasp, Control of Nature, or Brambles.

  3. If you’re going to put key talents outside of the main talent tree then there should be a clear path for picking them up. Once again, TBC is a good example of this issue. Tier 3 of the Resto tree had Subtlety and Intensity. These were two key talents for a raiding moonkin. Yet, tier 2 of the Resto tree had no valuable talents for a balance druid.

My Thoughts:

If you understand my perspective, you understand why I won't be including some very unpopular talents in my comments. Genesis, for example, is a horrible talent for moonkin, but it is a great talent for resto. Since there is a good alternative to advance up the balance tree I have no problem with Genesis, but there are some situations in the talent trees that violate my rules.

Improved Moonfire: This is my biggest issue with the Druid talent trees. Imp Moonfire was once a good talent but was completely destroyed by the introduction of Glyph of Moonfire. The glyph is a solid one two punch. Since the direct damage portion of the talent reduced by 90% the bonus crit chance has very little impact. On the other side, the 10% increase in damage gets lost in the 75% increase to periodic damage provided by the glyph. The result is a talent that only increases damage by 0.25-0.5% per talent point.

Improved Moonfire has seen a bit of a revival lately with the introduction of Criting DoTs with the 2T9 set bonus, but that will last only for the current gear tier. However, it does give a good indication of how the talent could be fixed. If it allowed your moonfire DoT to crit it would become a viable talent again.

Resto Tier 2: The early resto talents are much better for moonkin then they used to be, but I still don't like the second tier. Tier 3 of the of the Resto tree has Intensity, Omen of Clarity, and Master Shapeshifter. All of them are very good talents for moonkin. Tier 2 of the Resto tree has Naturalist, Subtlety, and Natural Shapeshifter. Naturalist is only good for feral druids. Subtlety has some use for PvP moonkin, but I don't know if it is important. Natural Shapeshifter saves you some mana, but ideally you shouldn't be shifting. On top of that Natual Shapeshifter is a prereq for putting points in Master Shapeshifter.

Blizzard has talked about making shifting a bigger part of how you play a druid, which could make Natural Shapeshifter more important. However, I would correct the problem by removing Natural Shapeshifter as a prereq for Master Shapeshifter. Tier 1 of the Resto Tree is surprisingly good for moonkin. The extra 10% Int from Furor is very nice. Imp MotW is nice both in terms of the better buff and the 2% additional stats. On top of that Nature's Focus is now a really good talent to avoid pushback on Wrath. I would happily take the three points I have invested in Tier 2 of the Resto tree and put them in Tier 1, but I can’t due to the prereq on Master Shapeshifter.

Off Topic Comments:

I wanted to make a couple of other comments that aren't related to the subject of the post.

  1. Haste Valuation: I'm starting to doubt my haste valuation. I think haste rating is better than I'm giving it credit for. The numbers produced by Simcraft rate Crit rating and Haste rating at a very similar level. I need to take a look at my model, but you may not want to avoid Haste as much as I've indicated in the past.

  2. New Blog: Randomsmo has started a new blog. If you don't know Randomsmo, he is a moonkin that has regularly posted on the official forums and Moonkin Repository. He raids at a fairly high level, and is usually a pretty good source of information. He currently only has 3 posts up but I thought they were fairly interesting. If you would like to check his blog out you can find it here.
(Edited by Flamedor)


Anonymous said...

You have many readers who also blog, including myself. I like Yggdrasil, Maestro/Relevart, Think Tank, and Non Elitist Raiding as well as your blog.


Think Tank:


Non Elitist Rading:

Hand of Gargen:

All of these guys are on Blogger and they are worth checking out. You can tell they read your posts and sometimes they even post on a post of yours. You are respected Graylo, many thanks.

Anonymous said...

What is your opinion on Owlkin Frenzy? Is it worth any points?


Anonymous said...

Just a point, but Improved Moonfire gives the bonus 10% damage to the DoT portion too. The way you wrote it seems like you meant that it didn't.

Just pointing it out.

Graylo said...


In my opinion Owlkin Frenzy is a PvP talent and shouldn't be picked up in most if not all PvE builds. Yes, you will take damage that procs the buff and mana regen during PvE fights but at a 15% proc rate its just now enough to make it a usefull expendature of points.

That is not to say that it is not a usefull talent for PvPkin. Owlkin Frenzy definately has its place in the tree.


Yes, the 10% damage increase affects the perodic portion of the spell also, but since that part of the spell is already buffed by 75% due to the glyph the extra 10% has very little impact.

Erdluf said...

Improved Moonfire might have some use for PvP, where you want some kick to the direct damage (consider chasing a flag runner in WSG).

While 10% Int is nice, I think that point for point for a raiding Moonkin (even without t9) Furor may be weaker than IMF.

The difference is Furor is one of the better choices for reaching 3rd level resto. IMF has to compete with Moonglow for reaching 3rd level balance.

Graylo said...


Good point, Furor is not as good as Imp MF. I did some quick napkin math and it showed furor was worth around 0.78% damage increase for all 5 points.

However, I give the talents in the resto tree a little slack. As you say Furor is one of the better talents for moonkin in the resto tree. Actually, Furor is the ultimate entry level talent for off specs.

Anonymous said...


One thing that I would really like to see from some simcraft theorycrafters is the standard deviation of your simulation.

Smo and others are justifying the usage of 4t9 vs. 2t8 by the higher degree of consistency of the T9 bonus. Posting a measure of that variability would really help people make good choices.

Graylo said...


I understand what your getting at, but the statistical variablity isn't what Smo is really getting at.

If you look at the fights being designed today, many of them have Burst phases where DPS needs to be amplified. In this situation, DPS cooldowns and buffs have an applified affect.

So when you combine the statistical variance with burst DPS phases your DPS variance will be even greater. Unfortunately this isn't something we can really model.

Anonymous said...

I think haste is much more valuable too. I'm at the 400 level but thinking of trying to take it higher, but don't really want to affect my bonus damage and crit.

I think the "Scales of Fates" trinket is better than "Living Flame" as long as you're at the hit cap. Popping SOF with heroism is an awesome boost for the next 20 seconds. I'm hitting 8-9k+ per second with SF (ignoring the wrath proc) until the 20 second timer is up.