Saturday, January 23, 2010

Moonkin Basics: Spells and Rotations

The notion of a spell rotation is a bit out dated. Back in TBC a lot of classes had very standard rotations where you cast this spell then that spell, followed by another spell, then you start over. Moonkins had the tried and true MF, SF*4 or MF, IS, SF*4.

Those days are long gone. Now spell rotations are better described as spell priority lists where you have to make quick choices based upon the buffs and cooldowns currently available. Therefore, it is very important to understand how each of your spells work so that you can make the correct choices.

ABC: Always Be Casting

This is a modification from a phrase in the Glenn Gary Glenross, but I think it applies very well to caster DPS. There is one simple rule that every caster should know. Casting the wrong spell is better then not casting a spell at all. If you’re casting Wrath and Lunar Eclipse procs, do not cancel your current spell to cast Starfire. If your not sure what to cast next, cast a nuke. Which one you choose doesn’t really matter.

The main point here is that down time is a real DPS killer. Therefore, Always Be Casting.

Core Spells:

Starfire: This is one of the two main moonkin nukes, and is critical for the Glyph of Starfire. It scales very well with all the DPS stats but scales bets with Haste Rating and other Haste effects.

Wrath: The second of the two main moonkin nukes. Wrath scales very well with Spell Power and Crit Rating, but does not scale well with Haste Rating after the soft cap has been reached. Wrath is a good default spell because of it's shorter cast time

Moonfire: Since you should always be using the Glyph of Moonfire, this spell really behaves like a typical DoT. It does have a small direct damage portion, but it is insignificant when compared to the DoT. It scales mostly with Spell Power, but Crit Rating will have some impact if you have the 2T9 set bonus. It does scale with Haste a tiny amount but not enough to worry about.

Most raiding Moonkin will want to try and have 100% uptime with their Moonfire. However, there is some discussion that it does not scale well at the very top levels of gear. In the Simulations, I've run lately Moonfire still increases my DPS, but that may change as I gear up. his may alter how we apply our DoTs, but I am waiting on more information before I say anything conclusive. To be clear, this only matters to you if you are raiding ICC hard mode content.

Insect Swarm: This is our other DoT, and is very typical of that type of spell when glyphed. It scales very little with Haste, and doesn't scale with Crit at all. Unglyphed the spell does not perform as well in terms of DPS but debuffs the mob by giving him a 3% chance to miss. This is obviously not necessary for all fights, but may become necessary in hard modes with hard hitting bosses.

Other Spells:

Faerie Fire: This spell debuffs the boss in multiple ways. It reduces the targets armor value, increased the targets chance to be hit by spells, and increases you personal chance to crit with spells.

Starfall: This is a fire and forget spell. Oddly enough that is it's best and worst quality. What the spell targets is out of your control. This is nice because you just have to hit the button ever 90 seconds, but that also makes it a liability in some fights. For example, I never use this spell on Algalon or the Blood Princes. Both fights have targets that you don't want incidental damage on. Since I can't control who Starfall targets, I just don't cast it during those bosses. In general, you will want to use this spell as often as possible, but it may be a DPS increase to wait if multiple mobs are not currently available. However, do not wait more then 15 or 20 seconds.

Force of Nature (trents): Another good fire and forget spell. The trents do quite a bit of damage, and benefit from standard raid buffs. If possible try to cast Force of Nature right before Bloodlust or Heroism is used. That will significantly increase their DPS. Other then that, use them as often as possible.

Hurricane: This is a very basic AoE spell. It does quite a bit of DPS with two points in Gale Winds and can crit. However, it does not benefit from Vengeance so it Scales with Haste best.

Typhoon: This is primarily a PvP spell but does have some situational uses in PvE. The only good times to use typhoon in a raid is if you need the knockback affect, or if you need to buff Hurricane. Other then that, do not use it in PvE. Typhoon is fairly expensive mana wise, hard to target, and does not have the damage output that our other spells have.

Entangling Roots: A very situational spell. It's not a good spell for CCing DPS targets, but it is good for slowing targets down. What I mean by that is that Roots doesn't prevent the target from DPSing. It just prevents the target from moving. If the target has any kind of ranged ability then roots will do little to it. The main times I've used it in raid are when we need to prevent something from getting to the raid like the bomb bots in the Mimiron fight.

Cyclone: Primarily a PvP, spell but may be useful as a temporary CC on fights like Faction Champions.

The Spell Rotation:

As I said before, Moonkin spell choice is more of a priority list then a Rotation. Here are the general rules you want to follow when in a raid situation.

  1. Debuff the boss first. This means casting Faerie Fire and possibly throwing a Wrath at the boss as your first two spells. The reason is you want to get the armor debuff, hit buff, and Earth and Moon up on the target as soon as possible.

  2. Use Long Cooldowns as often as possible. In some situations you will want to wait to use your long cooldowns, but generally the loss of DPS from not using them on cooldown is greater then the buff they get from being used at a specific time.

  3. Try Maximize DoT uptime, but don't clip the last tick. Always refresh your DoTs on the boss, but do not refresh them early.

  4. Always Be Casting. As I said above, if you don't know what to cast next cast a nuke. Casting the wrong thing is better then not casting anything at all.

Here is how I start most fights. First I put up Faerie Fire and throw a Wrath at the target if we don't have an Unholy DK. Then I DoT the boss up and use my long cooldowns if the situation calls for it. Then I cast Wrath until Eclipse procs and switch to Starfire. Cast Starfire until you get a Solar Eclipse or until the Lunar Eclipse cooldown has worn off. Finally I refresh DoTs and debuffs when the fall off, and use my long cooldowns when are available.


Xaktsaroth said...

I have a sligh different approach.
Since RNG really can be against you at times it happens you will have to spam wrath until youre dots run out before eclipse happens.
The priorites is the same but the start cycle is different.

With this for me at least I often manage to get someone of the eclipse proccs up faster then by just spamming wrath. Also if RNG is really spitting you in the face you prolong the moonfire dot instead of letting it tick out if youre unlucky with wrath critts.

Nilufar said...

Hi, I'm Nilufar from Crushridge (EU)

I keep reading on forums/Blog/et cetera that every rotation should start spamming Wrath to make Lunar Eclispe procs, because they say Lunar>Solar. Well I have an issue: my Starfire crits max 15k, my Wrath crits 10-11k, but the cast time of Starfire it's double of the Wrath's one, while max crit of Starfire isn't double of the Wrath's one

Result: why should I start spamming Wrath? Isn't better starting with SF, Solar procs faster than Wrath... I know the number of SF crits it's higher than W, but I just wonder what is better.


Maestro said...

@ Nilufar

Starting with Wrath allows you to pre-emptively switch to Starfire, maximizing your number of Eclipsed Starfires. See, Nature's Grace (the indicator of a crit) happens upon spell completion. Eclipse, on the other hand, doesn't happen till spell impact. For Starfire, the two incidents are at almost identical timestamps. For Wrath, there is travel time, allowing you some clairvoyance about your Eclipse proc. If it doesn't happen, don't worry, just switch back to Wrath. Chances are good that you got one, maybe two Starfires off, extending your Moonfire DoT, and not really suffering any damage loss. If one of your Starfires procs a Solar Eclipse, you were already switching back anyway, so again, you are maximizing Eclipse casts.

Also, keep in mind that your Starfire crit rate is significantly higher than your Wrath crit rate when a Lunar Eclipse is active. Consequently, its not about how hard each crit hits, it's about how often each spell crits. Sure, great RNG on a Solar Eclipse can spank the pants off of a Lunar Eclipse, but that's not really a good sample set.

Jay said...

You don't mention the 3% hit debuff from IS. I've recently been emphasizing that more. See here:

Yeah, like you mention, Moonfire refreshing is very weak once 2T9 is gone. I'll try to model it more soon, but it may well only be valuable on the Starfire side of the rotation.

@above posters: I don't think there's a huge difference between starting with Lunar and starting with Solar, now that WiseEclipse is gone.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be more beneficial at the beginning of a fight to keep switching from Wrath to Starfire and back and forth until an eclipse? That way for example if Lunar procs you are already casting Starfire and vice versa?

Anonymous said...

As for starfall and the blood princes, it is a viable spell. I’m assuming the things you didn’t want to hit with starfall is the dark nuclei. The thing is they function just like the orbs on anub. If you don’t target them then you will not do damage to them and thus not pull them off your range tank

Anonymous said...

My Rot:
Boss Fights:
IFF, Trees, ISS (+3% wrath damage), Wrath until proc, MF, SF until proc, rinse and repeat. Starfall when u can.
Seems to work well.

pathologic said...

I am well aware of most things you mentioned in your post. Where I always seem to fail is on fights like Professor Putricide where there is high movement and target swapping. I find myself having to run and cast trying to keep to the always casting rule. Short of moonfire and insect swarm I have nothing else to cast.

Is it just a case of planning my movement better? How do you handle a fight like putricide furthermore what rotation would you use for nuking the blobs, do you even cast our DoTs at all?

Anonymous said...

The Professor is tough. I seem to never get agro from the blobs, so I've been able to pick a spot and wrath like crazy. Only fought him 2 raid nights (many wipes no kill yet). Hopefully the blobs keep leaving me alone.

Draugir said...

The key thing about Professor Putricide is that all the movement (except for p3) is timed, so you can move pre-emptively. You should never be standing still while casting dots. For the adds I tend to use wrath, mf, then SF till eclipse. Make sure your dots are on the boss before each add spawns. <- that's from this week's kill, notice my dots are considerably higher % of my total dmg than normal (25% vs 20%).

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to add some information on how you dps on trash mobs in heroic dungeons and raid ?

I know that you are high-level raiders but this would be valuable information for more low-level raiders like me. On bosses, I follow your advices and I manage to be in the top 5 dpsers if the RNG is not against me (with equivalent stuff). But for trash mobs, most of the time I am farther in the dps list.

I follow the same "rotation" for trash and bosses. Is it worthwile to use IS and MF when the mobs last less than 10 seconds ?

Graylo said...


Good point, you can pick up a little DPS by switching if RNG is not with you and your Moonfire is about to drop.


As others have said, its not a really big deal which one you start with.

@Jay aka Hamlet

Good point, I new I was forgetting something. I will add it in later.


You might get a small DPS increase by twisting at the start of a fight, but I think it is more trouble then it's worth.


First, trash shouldn't be a big deal, assuming that it is going down. If someone is bragging about their Trash DPS then they don't know what this game is about.

Second, who is first on Trash DPS tends to revolve around a couple of factors.

1. Who starts to DPS first.
2. Who uses AoE.
3. Who has the fasted cast/swing time.

In my experiance Rogues and Hunters do best on trash because they can do things like Tricks of the Trade and Misdirect. Other melee do very well because of their quicker swing times.

If you want to top trash carts ignore loot and mana. Stick with the tank as much as possible and AoE as soon as possible. However, I wouldn't recommend it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Graylo, for all the work. What I am missing is some guidance if one should refresh dots that are >still on the target<, when one has to move anyhow. I am doing this whith IS currently but I am not sure if it is wise.

Talsh said...

Graylo -

I think you sell typhoon a bit short. It's an awful spell for single target, sure, but its our highest DPET spell if it will hit 4+ mobs (assuming gale winds, which you should probably have on a fight where you'll be attacking 4[?]+ mobs). I would just hate for new moonkin to think that's it a bad AoE spell, because it definitely isn't.

Graylo said...


But it is a bad AoE spell. Here are a couple of things to concider.

1. How many fights have 4+ mobs to DPS? Not many. The only fight that I can think of where it is key on is Heroic Anub.

2. The affectiveness of Typhoon is haste capped just as Wrath or any other instant spell is. Hurricane is not.

3. Typhoon is fairly narrow. In the one fight where AoE damage is key, I can't hit all 5 mobs because they are too far apart out of necessity

Anonymous said...

@ Anon5 regarding - information on how you dps on trash mobs in heroic dungeons and raid ?

The general rule I use for trash is: more than 2, hurricane. Less than 2, regular rotation. Some of the pulls in ICC have large amounts of trash mobs. If you hit Sfall then Hurricane, you'll top the raid - but it's trash so don't get too excited. I recommend hurricane for all large trash pulls because it slows down mob attacks which eases the pressure on your tanks and healers. Some of the trash in ICC is pretty nasty so this works well for all your party members.

@ Talsh

I agree. Typhoon has extremely high DPS value on very large mob fights, just make sure you have it buffed to not knock back. Otherwise your guildies will be sure to voice their displeasure.

@ Graylo

There are many large trash fights in ICC where typhoon (glyphed) comes in handy. However, I don't glyph mine since Typhoon is extremely helpful during the surfang fight. I hit it as soon as those little bloodsuckers pop and it knocks them back nicely for the melee to rip apart. They never make it to the raid. So yeah, situational is more how to describe typhoon, but oh how I'd love to pop it on the mobs. The dps bump would be awesome - but then I'd get /gkicked....

Tyler said...


In regards to Moonfire's scaling, the issue should only present itself once we lose 2 T9. In this case, the only time Moonfire is a DPS decrease is during a Solar Eclipse if, and only if, you will not be able to extend it's duration with Starfire. Generally speaking, this should only impact the rotation in so much than you don't want to refresh Moonfire if it fell off right as Solar procced - instead you want to wait around 6 or so seconds.

The damage disparity shouldn't be significantly high either way. I think it was only a few hundred damage difference when I looked at it, not entirely sure.

As long as Moonfire can Crit, however, it should never have this issue.


Talsh said...

@Graylo, re: typhoon

Point 1 is moot, because if there aren't 4 mobs, then hurricane is just as useless as typhoon

Point 2 is valid, but the DPET of typhoon is still much higher than hurricane even at very high levels of haste

Point 3, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe typhoon is a cone, and if you stand at a decent distance away, its width is quite large - certainly much larger than the graphic (which seems buggy since 3.3 came out) makes it appear. I bet it's even as large as hurricane if you aim it correctly.

Graylo said...


1. Point one is not moot. To pick up Typhoon you have to spend a talent point. Hurricane you do not. There are exactly two fights where Typhoon is useful, and I'm not sure they are 100% needed in those situations.

2. Having a high DPET in a perfect situation does not justify a talent point.

3. That is a big if. If you are positioned correctly it is a good spell. You're not always going to position yourself correctly by default. If you have to reposition yourself you've just thrown your DPET arguement out the window. Hurricane on the other hand I can place anywhere 36 yards from where I am standing, and I can aim it while I'm casting another spell.

Face the facts. Typhoon was built as a burst AoE spell for PvP with a knockback for a little survivablility. Skilled players may be able to eek out small DPS improvements by uing it in PvE, but those gains would be tiny when you concider what you would have to give up and all the other issues with the spell.

I am not going to recommend any spell that has so many ifs, and am especially not going to recommend it in what is basically a beginners guide.

Gaelion said...

I personally hate Typhoon, and whe I see it cast in heroics or even the odd raid, I just fume; for all the reasons stated above.

The knockback alone out of the AoE zone of every other DPS is an enormous DPS loss for the raid. Granted its trash, but it should just go down all the faster. No need to gimp the raid by 90k dps just so you have a use for Typhoon.

As for tips for movement and target switching: realize that as soon as you move, you can expect your DPS to go down 80% (because your dots that are still running, are usually around 20% of your dmg), which is bad. Its a little bit of an adjustment but see if you can swivel your camera and retarget, or see where you have to move, while at the same time maintaining your casting sequence. And oh yes, stay out of fire. Its part of planning movement and targetting. Of course you can't be a keyboard turner and do this effectively.

Talsh said...

Graylo -

I suppose we're not talking about the same thing. My point was that there are fights where typhoon is useful for sheer AoE damage (like anub, XT from ulduar, Gluth from naxx, or maybe deathwhisper depending on how your guild sets it up). Any fight where it is worthwhile to cast a hurricane, it is worthwhile to cast a typhoon. And, for that matter, any point where you're going to be casting one hurricane probably means you'll be casting a bunch, in which case, typhoon is probably useful. I can't think of any fight where this isn't true.

This, of course, doesn't even factor in typhoon's utility on fights like deathbringer, XT, gluth, and putricide [slimes] (unless they nerfed the daze effect, which they might have). You already mentioned having typhoon as a utility spell, so that's not really worth discussing.

The way I interpreted your guide was a way to use spells considering you had them. I didn't realize you were advocating beginning moonkins not pick up typhoon, since you said it was useful sometimes. I think most moonkin typically have 2 spec points leftover after getting IIS, and those points either go 2/2 gale winds, 1 GW and 1 typhoon, or 2/3 owlkin frenzy, depending fights, personal preference, whatever.

Maybe I forget what it's like being a "beginner," because now I respec for pretty much every fight (I respeced four times last night during ICC and ToGC). I also unglyph typhoon twice per week for 10 and 25 ICC (deathbringer). I realize that's beyond the scope of your guide, but it's probably worth mentioning.

If I had to summarize everything I'm trying to say into one blurb, this would be it: there are times when typhoon is useful. That usefulness isn't limited to the knockback. If you're AoEing, it's a DPS gain to use typhoon, assuming you can position yourself properly.

I'm a big fan of what you have done for the moonkin community, so I don't want to come off as pedantic or a nuisance. I just think that my points are worth making.

Talsh said...

I guess I should add one thing, and that would be: I never use typhoon unless it's glyphed, unless the entire point of using typhoon is the knockback effect (deathbringer). Anyone who is too lazy to glyph/unglyph whenever the fight calls for it should fork out the 3g it costs to make a glyph and buy a stack, for the good of the raid.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read anything since 3.3 about how to adjust our rotation during heroism/bloodlust. I haven't been changing my rotation at all and hope that I can get at least one complete lunar eclipse within the heroism duration, although more often than not, I am spamming solar-eclpse-wrath for much of heroism. What is everyone else doing?


Am said...

Graylo, stupid question time. I'm 3/3 on E&M, and I've noticed that E&M isn't always up on the boss--presumably something with another buff overwriting. Since the patch, are we still getting the personal bonus, even if it's not up on the boss? Have I just not been paying attention and it's been this way for a while?

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong on this, but i believe the personal effect granted by the Earth and Moon talent (6% increased spell damage) is granted by pointing the talent itself, not by the application of the E&M debuff. So if our E&M debuff is overwritten by DKs, we still get our increased damage.

Anonymous said...

Hello i got problem, I got pretty good gear around 5,8 gs but my dps is kind of bad for my gear played with balance druids that got bader gear but still do much more dmg,
Some things i need help with should be how to do under heroism? and shal i refresh my dots even under eclipse? or only moonfire etc? and one otherthing that might be the wrong is my specc, i ahve skipped all the mana saving specc that i haven seen most of the druid have becuse i never goes oom and i almost never us my innervate in a fight got around 31k mana buffed insted i ahve put my some of the poionts in genesis, that i guess improves my dps some,but i cant really se that is the problem since i have skippe only mana talents as far as i could see, I skipped monglove,nature reach. And my treath aint a problem atm and i dont think my range lowers my dps that much as enesis gives me?

Nightpyro-gorgannash said...

-When it comes to my rotation I do a couple things differently than you do. First of all I really try to make great use of all my glyphs. So my rotation looks like this. Farie Fire->treants->moonfire->insect swarm->starfall (because of how much it crits it lowers my cast time on starfire due to nature's wrath) ->starfire (I do this up to 3 times because of the gylyph where it increases the DoT time of moonfire by 3 secs up to 9 secs total, if wrath eclipse does not proc within these three I then go and spam wrath until starfire eclipse procs) ->wrath (until eclipse procs)
After that I basically rinse and repeat the DoT and wrath/starfire depending on which eclipse is up, while using CDs when they are ready.
-One other thing that I have not seen on your page graylo is a very great macro for starfall if you have dbm.
/cast starfall
/dbm timer 1:00 Starfall CD
This sets a timer so whenever I click on my starfall macro icon it casts starfall and then in one minute (glyph of starfall) the dbm timer shows me exactly when it is ready to go again. You can do this with any other CDs you have also (ex. treants).

Please comment on this if you have any suggestions on how to make this a better rotation or if you have any questions on anything I was talking about.

Anonymous said...

i didnt read all of the comments so idk if this has already been said, but your dots are almost not even worth casting accept for the idol proc. the way is should be done is when opening on a fight ff,is,mf, wrath till lunar eclipse. at this point mf should still be on your target so sf will increase its duration. sf untill a solar eclipse procs and refresh is. and rinse and repeat. keeping mf up 100% isnt worth the gcd.

Linars said...

Wouldn't it be more beneficial at the start of a fight to keep switching from Wrath to Starfire and so on until eclipse? So for example if Lunar procs you are already casting Starfire and vice versa?