Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Post: "Our intent was not to nerf Balance druid dps."

As usual I was late to the party. Randomsmo made a great post on the official forums while I was composing one of my own. Ghostcrawler decided to stop buy and comment on the changes. In addition to that he decided to comment on some of the more persistent criticisms that Moonkin have about the class. None of it is earth shattering, but here are the juicy bits.
Our intent was not to nerf Balance druid dps with this change. Our intent was to make a macro or addon that was quickly becoming mandatory at competitive levels not mandatory. It would be one thing if cancelling Eclipse auras was a fun or interesting choice, but since everything was so automated, the only thing I can really imagine anyone getting upset about was the dps loss, which we plan on offsetting. (emphasis mine)

Ghostcrawler is basically confirming the reasoning behind the change. WiseEclipse was to automated and was becoming a mandatory addon if a moonkin wanted to have competitive DPS. Blizzard has repeatedly said that this is something they don't like.

The good news here is that Blizzard realizes it is a DPS loss and plans to offset that loss. The question now is just how much are they going to buff us and how are they going to do it.

I ran a couple of analysis's using WrathCalcs and my own simulator. I used myself as the example. For me, if 3.3 dropped tomorrow, it would be a 4.1% - 4.6% nerf, because I use both 2T8 and WiseEclipse currently. However, most of us should be able to upgrade to 4T9 fairly easily if your in a guild farming ToC. When I considered 4T9 and the increased stats instead of 2T8, the nerf was smaller. Assuming you can upgrade to 4T9 (245 ilvl) as soon as 3.3 is released I calculate these changes to be about a 2.6% - 3.1% nerf. Hopefully the buff will be somewhere in this range.

The next big question is how Blizzard will buff us. As soon as GC said they plan on offsetting the nerf the forums came alive with creative new ways to buff our DPS. Some offering new spells or completely changing Eclipse, Nature's Grace or some other mechanic.

I highly doubt it will be anything fun or exciting. Remember this is the last content patch before an expansion and it is unlikely that blizzard wants to do anything major. With this in mind the simplest solution will be to change one of our static buffs. My best guess is that they will increase the personal buff on Earth and Moon to 6% instead of 3%, but they also may change Master Shapeshifter to increase Moonkin DPS by 6% or 8% instead of 4%. Another suggestion I heard was to change Improved Insect Swarm. That is definitely possible, but I hope they don't go that route. It could work, but I would like the clearer and simpler buff that would come form Earth and Moon.

Eclipse:
On the topic of Eclipse, we still consider it to be a major linchpin of the Balance talent tree and we have no intention of getting rid of it. Swapping from Wrath to Starfire is something we want to encourage and in a greater sense, fits the theme of the spec (finding a balance) really well. We're more sympathetic to the argument that it might provide too much of a dps increase relative to other talents, but at the same time given what I said above, we aren't really trying to promote an Eclipse-less Balance spec.

I think this is a fair assessment of where Eclipse is today. Murmurs also made some great comments on Eclipse that you can find here.

The fact of the matter is Eclipse isn't going anywhere. Like many of you and really anyone that plays a moonkin, I have been very frustrated with Eclipse at times. Plus, I had no problem with the SF/MF rotation we used in TBC, but those days are gone for good. Wishing that we could go back to those days is like wishing you could go back to the 1940s and live like Leave it to Beaver with no crime or any major issues.

People who want to get rid of Eclipse completely, tend to be idealizing their rotation. They always want to have Eclipse when they need it most. If they get it, then that is the way it should work. If they don't get it, then it's a failure. No one will ever be happy with this point of view.

I agree with Murmurs. The problem with Eclipse is that it is to strong. Eclipse is the victim of trial and error. It is clear that WotLK has been a bit of an experimentation period for Moonkin DPS. From the start of the beta, Blizzard has seemed to struggle with how to make the Moonkin rotation more dynamic and how to make Moonkin DPS competitive. In the end, Blizzard has continually tried to kill two birds with one stone, and an overpowered Eclipse is the result. Since, Ghostcrawler seems receptive to this issue, don't be surprised to see a big Eclipse nerf in the new expansion.

RNG:

Back when I started playing WoW, there was a lot of theorycrafting for how players could overcome or even minimize the impact of random numbers on their gameplay, which totally makes sense. Over the years though that has sort of morphed into: all RNG is bad, and any mechanic that has an RNG element is also bad. We don't think Balance is saddled with an over dependence on RNG more so than other specs, and if you feel that way, you might want to talk to some Fire mage friends. :) Adapting to changing environments is one of the major ways players have to demonstrate mastery of the game.

RNG is a part of the game that won't go away. I know, accept, and argee with that. Many of the people that complain about Eclipse RNG don't really understand. I see a lot of comments where people question why Wrath only has a 60% chance to proc Eclipse off of a crit when Starfire has 100%. They seem to forget that Wrath has half the cast time and that five Starfires in a row that don't crit are the same as 10 Wraths in a row that don't proc Eclipse. The two buffs actually have a very similar proc rate. The only differences that Wrath can be more frustrating because some of those 10 casts can crit without a proc.

While I don't think Moonkin are overly burdened by RNG, I think the nature of our RNG makes us a little more sensitive to fight mechanics then other classes. Let me use a Destro Lock for example. Almost all of their RNG has a very short duration, and is primarily limited to critical strikes. Even fire mages have a relatively short RNG duration. It may take a while for Hot Streak to proc but as long as you can hit the mob once in 10s you benefit from it, and it's not limited by movement.

The problem with Eclipse is that most fights are heavily phased and it takes a full15 seconds of motionless DPS to fully benefit from good RNG. I'm sure Eclipse could be balanced around this, but it makes our DPS more swingy. Oddly enough the way to fix this issue may be to weaken Eclipse, while buffing us in other areas. Once again, this wouldn't be such a big issue if Eclipse wasn't such a huge part of Moonkin DPS. Therefore, these RNG swings might be a little easier to swallow if Eclipse is nerfed in 4.0.

30 comments:

Daedalus said...

I really don't understand why so many moonkin, particularly knowledgeable ones like you and Lissanna, are content to write off the possibility of fixing the spec's core issues until Cataclysm. This is precisely the time that we need these things to be done, not another six months from now when all sorts of other issues will crop up that take priority over fixing "one spec of one class". There are many ways to tweak both Eclipse and Nature's Grace to address these, even if they're just band-aids. Many have already proposed, and I'm sure that the designers can think of others. But now is not the time to just give up.

Graylo said...

@Daedalus

You're greatly underestimating the complexity of what you are suggesting.

Eclipse and Nature's Grace are very overpowered at the moment. Any "tweaks" made to our core issues would surely result in Nerfs to both talents. The question is how you offset those nerfs. What changes do you make? Would those changes make another talent overpowered? Would they result in a net nerf to Moonkin?

A lot of people like to stand back from a distance and say "all you have to do is this, this and this", but it is rearly as simple as that. Changes made in haste are likely just to cause more issues and won't necessarily fix the original problem.

Second, an expansion is precisely the time that this sort thing should be addressed. Expansions are resets. The old game is pretty much gone after an expansion. Sure, you can go back and do old content, but there is no reason to worry about breaking the old content due to changing class mechanics. It's also a time when they are already making a lot of changes. In Cataclysm they are going to have to completely rebuild every tree. The work they do know will be made irrelevent when the expansion comes out. They might as well wait and include it in the revisions they will have to make then.

lissanna said...

New spells & changes to Eclipse can't happen until Cataclysm. However, they have to already be planning and thinking about class changes for Cataclysm already, so I like dropping hints as often as possible before it becomes too late to fix.

We won't see any major balance changes before the expansion.

Rhi said...

FYI, my coalition is farming ToC25 N, and I only have one piece of 245 tier. Don't automatically assume that we'll all get 4T9 before Icecrown.

I loathe the nature of Eclipse and its RNG dependency. You said it yourself - other classes' RNG factors are on shorter cooldowns, and don't affect their DPS nearly as fundamentally as Eclipse does ours. GC going "talk to fire mages" doesn't mean we're okay. It means fire mages have the same problems we do. The sooner Eclipse is made less integral to our DPS, the sodding better.

Tsuki said...

I was one of those "asking" for a complete Eclipse removal.

The actual mechanic isn't so terrible; I actually appreciate their effort on making our rotation so much different than it was on BC - and btw, how can you possibly like a one-button rotation? :P

The issue is, they can't solve its two major downsides (being too strong and being horrible on highly phased fights) without just causing different problems, so I believe a major revamp is necessary. And from what they say, they're happ with it as is - which, in my vision, is just and plain silly.

Graylo said...

@Tsuki

I think you need to go back and read what you wrote and what GC has said.

After you say the talent needs to be completely removed, you say you don't think the actual mechanic is so terrible and appreciate the effort into making our rotation more dynamic.

You then say one of its core issues is that it's two strong and fixing that would cause different problems.

Take a look at GC said. "Swapping from Wrath to Starfire is something we want to encourage." So, you actually agree with GC here. It seems to me that you agree with the goal of the talent.

GC then says: "We're more sympathetic to the argument that it might provide too much of a dps increase relative to other talents." This shows that GC recognizes that Eclipse is much stronger then other talents and it may be a problem.

GC didn't say that they are happy with the talent exactly as it is. He said it was a linch pin of the balance tree and they don't want to change that.

It sounds to me like you agree with him more then you think you do.

Talsh said...

Graylo -

Unfortunately, I don't see our upcoming buff presenting itself in an improved Earth & Moon, since it would be a HUGE buff to raid DPS. Not to mention two other classes (DKs and locks) have spells with identical effects, and buffing ours would be (rightfully) seen as unfair. I think something in master shapeshifter is plausible.

Graylo said...

@Talsh

I wrote:
"My best guess is that they will increase the personal buff on Earth and Moon to 6% instead of 3%."

Remember EnM has two parts. The 13% that goes to the raid, and the 3% that is Moonkin only. I'm talking about the 3%, not the 13%.

Talaisian said...

I think you've pretty well covered the short-term fixes Blizzard would likely make to Eclipse.

As for the long-term (Cataclysm), I think it would be interesting to have Eclipse affect all spells of a particular school instead of just the nukes. It would still be procced by the nukes, but would affect things like IS, Starfall, MF, Treants, etc. It would make our rotation more interesting and have us pushing more buttons, plus helping boost our DPS while moving.

Naturally, we'd nerf the damage bonus to the nukes to compensate for the bonus to all spells of the nature/arcane schools. But we'd also be less reliant on the Eclipse buff in general, freeing us to shift out of moonkin form more to perhaps heal or something, which I think GC would like. We also don't lose as much DPS from school lockouts in PVP. We could even see larger differences between nature school spells and our arcane ones, where now they are largely similar for our main spells.

Just dreams and sketches here, and Blizz might already have their fix. But if I haven't overlooked any glaring issues, I think it would be a fun resolution that helps the spec overall.

Lilija said...

I gues the big question now really is "how exactly Blizzard is going ot offset our dps loss in 3.3". I am not a type of whiner really - rather try to overcome my spec's issues in my gameplay. Yet even I notice that while many dpsers in my guild cought up on me with gear and people really take seriously the hardest achievements, I have really hard time keeping up in dps. And my dps didn't get worse since the begining of TotC when I used to top meters ... it got better but theirs got better by more.

So well, if things stay as they are, this will hurt owls in progressing guilds where the dps might be case of a kill or no kill. I just really hope that when speaking about offsetting the dps loss they don' thave the T10 buff in mind since that might be a bit late buff...

Daedalus said...

@Graylo

While I do have some ideas as to possible changes, just like everyone else, I don't presume to have a better sense than the devs of how small changes will affect the big picture. That said, I don't believe that we can't be fixed before 4.0; we've seen many cases where all it takes is just a small tweak here or there to make the pieces slip into place. I also don't believe that we had to be in this state as long as we have. And it absolutely kills me that so many are content to wait another 6+ months for the spec to stop being dead weight just because the last twelve have been single-mindedly focused on making Eclipse "work". This shouldn't have happened, and we shouldn't be this okay with it.

Superku said...

I think the people being content, which happens to include me, isn't considering the spec to be dead weight. Mostly because it isn't.

Quick fixes can work in some cases if there are just small tweaks needed. But our main problems are with core functionality of spells and talents. Let me assure you there is absolutely no quick fix for that. Which is why most people don't think anything will happen until Cataclysm.

Hopefully they will listen to murmurs and nerf eclipse a bit. That would be very good for us.

Anonymous said...

Please Blizz, whatever you do to offset the dps loss in 3.3, don't base it on crit. Things like the T10(4) bonus just compound the problem.

Cowtarus said...

Given the issues that surround our scaling with haste, especially with Nature's Grace and Wrath, i doubt anything will happen before cataclysm. It's going to take too much of a fix to manage it for 3.3 or 4.0 in my opinion.

I just hope they come up with a way to make the issue more manageable, though given the time they have to fix it, im sure they will.

Anonymous said...

Quick thought. Would allowing boomkins to have the DOT haste as well as spriests and aff locks? compensate for the dps loss due to not using an add on to track our lunar to solar cycle (wise eclipse)? THis sounds like a nice quick fix that could potentially help us in the long run, although I would be interested to see how our rotation would be affected.

Aabrahm said...

the previous post about the haste on dots as a solution was me. Just read your request to identify myself lol.

Gill said...

It seems like much of the problem with Eclipse is the loss we suffer if we can't stand still and cast for its full length. Personally, I like the idea of having the buff start out stronger than it currently is, but decay over time to be weaker than it currently is when it ends.

That way, if we're able to cast during the whole buff we're getting benefit the whole time, but it's front-loaded so if we can't stick with it we've still gotten most of it's benefit.

I think this would also benefit from a mechanic that doesn't start the eclipse buff until we switch to the buffed spell. While the RNG would still have an effect on when the eclipse buff is available to us, we would have some choice in its application; potentially deciding to forgo the eclipse buff for a few seconds in order to have it at a better time.

tkevkeenan said...

Love reading your blog, thanks for taking the time to write.

Commenting on this post; since we are a "hybrid" class anyway, and the assumption is that we are supposed to have lower dps than say a mage or hunter anyway, maybe an interesting way to keep our dps competitive even after 3.3 thru 4 to the nerf to our dps, is to allow boomkins to move and continue to cast our wrath, starfire, etc. Don't make them instant per say, but allow us to move and continue to cast. This would keep our dps at least consistent and maybe competitive.

Aabrahm said...

tkevkeenan:

As much as we would be the envy of all other casters, I really like it, but don't see that ever happening. Wonderful idea though.

Hedshotx said...

@Lilija

"if things stay as they are, this will hurt owls in progressing guilds where the dps might be case of a kill or no kill"

I understand you completely. I'm the only moonkin in my guild and tonight, for the first time, I was dropped so they could fill my spot with yet another mage.
I'm having the feeling this will quickly become a normal procedure and my moonkin will stay in the bench until I level a mage too...

Anonymous said...

[quote]I got onto the PTR for the last PTR build to find their change to compensate Moonkin DPS for the WE nerf.
Turns out they changed Eclipse

Damage portion for Wrath has been increased to 40% and the crit portion for Starfire has been increased to 40%

10% increase for both looks like it's just enough to make up for the loss of WE.[/quote]

Source : http://elitistjerks.com/f73/t37039-moonkin_raiding/p101/#post1476894

Maragon said...

Also, this:

http://db.mmo-champion.com/s/48525/


-Alleine

scheinheilig said...

@maragon:
pls post content due to firewall issues

Superku said...

It's just the tooltip of eclipse on ptr, showing the same change as is mentioned in the posts before.

Xaktsaroth said...

What maragon linked to is what the ano poster above wrote. The spell detail for eclipse on ptr.

My self have thought about our scaling issues and the love and hate relation we have against Eclipse.
From the brainstorm post GC made about maybe making each eclipse procc have X amount of charges on each made me think about why not make the opposite ?

What I mean is that Eclipse is a passive buff that lets youre next 10 Starfires and Wraths procc a stacking buff.
For example having each Starfire hit increase Starfires damage by X%/application and when it hits 10 stacks it resets and is put on cooldown for X amount of seconds.
Wrath I supose could get the same type of effect not really sure what it else could be. Fun factor might be a bit low tough if both has same buff.

Getting even more critt on starfire component on eclipse feels like it will not be really usefull as it is in TOTC25 now its not rare for me to sit on 70-90% critts on Starfire considering stat upgrades from T10 content it feels like this will do little to actually up our damage.

Superku said...

Remember that you are losing 15% crit on your eclipsed starfires when you are no longer using T8. You just got 10 of those back for free.

Also remember that you are getting a free 10% damage buff to your eclipsed wraths.

I think you don't completely understand the concept "damage upgrade" because this is clearly one. :p

Xaktsaroth said...

Superku im not using 2xt8 im wearing 4xt9.
But yes the wrath part will be a fix but still it is as usual a half done fix.

Aabrahm said...

After doing real quick napkin math (hoping graylo will do the real work >.>), wearing 4pc t9 and the new eclipse, we will be getting a good enough change to scale very greatly with ICC level items. While I agree the fix is cheap, I'm not at all surprised because of how soon the patch is appearing to go live. Mmo champ is speculating next week, even if it came out on new years day, that is not a good enough amount of time to create a new mechanic and test it, just to fix a macro/addon issue.

Anonymous said...

sorry for offtopic, but im just wondering , if we will be able to proc both crit rating idolsat same time? 200crit one and new 220 one.. probobly not, but if new idol will proc from each tick and work 15 seconds.. rest 14 seconds we can use Starfire idol or wrath.am i right?

Getafix said...

Doesn't work like that any more I'm afraid. If you unequip an idol, you lose any associated buff it provides.

You used to be able to do it in TBC ( I wasn't a moonkin back them) with the idols then, but it was fixed.