If you pay attention to the Moonkin related forum threads and websites you have probably noticed quite a bit of debate going on for the past couple of weeks. As you probably remember, with the release of patch 3.3.3, Starfall is getting a very significant buff. This change not only impacts our DPS, but it has also raised a lot of questions about which Glyphs to use, and which spells to cast. In this post I hope to answer some of the questions related to moonkin DPS in a post 3.3.3 world.
Glyph of Starfall - It may sound strange to some of you, but Glyph of Starfall is the only glyph sure to be use by most Moonkin raiders after 3.3.3. The reason is fairly simple. Before the changes Starfall the Glyph of Starfall wasn't fair behind the Glyph of Insect Swarm. In fact, they were close enough that quite a few moonkin advocated using the Glyph of Starfall, so that Insect Swarm would still provide the hit debuff on the boss despite the small DPS loss.
Since Starfall is getting such a huge buff, being able to cast Starfall 50% more often is an obvious a significant bonus as well. There may be a few situations where the Starfall cooldown doesn't line up well with fight mechanics thus making another Glyph a bigger DPS increase, but those situations will be the exception.
Glyph of Focus - This glyph is actually getting a bit of a nerf in patch 3.3.3. The increased damage to Starfall is getting reduced to 10% from 20%, but given the new power of Starfall it will still be buff when compared to pre-patch moonkin DPS. The big question with the Glyph of Focus is how significant is the range nerf when it is used?
That a really hard question to answer because it is quite subjective, but the range reduction is not as big of a penalty as some of you may think. The Glyph of Focus does reduce the range of the base Starfall from 30 yards to 15 yards, but most moonkin have Nature's Reach fully talented, and this still increases the range of Starfall by 6 yards. Therefore, by using the Glyph of Focus you are reducing the range of your Starfall from 36 yards to 21 yards rather then 18 yards as I and some other people expected.
That said, losing 15 yards on your range may be a big deal, and can be seen as both a pro and a con. As ranged DPS most of us are used to trying to stay at max range to allow room for Melee and healers. Finding the new range will take some adjustment and will be difficult to determine. However, the smaller range can also help you focus your Starfall DPS on desired targets.
Glyph of Insect Swarm - Once considered a standard Raiding glyph, the Glyph of Insect Swarm had started to fall out of favor with high end raiding moonkin even before the buff to Starfall. The reason, is the 3% hit debuff Insect Swarm provides when it is not glyphed. I am not 100% confident in the math, from what I understand it actually translates to about 6% for the tanks, and that can be a big help for some of the very hard hitting heroic bosses in ICC. It is possible for Hunters to provide this debuff also, but it is at a much more significant DPS loss then it is for moonkin.
If you don't need the hit debuff that Insect Swarm provides, then Glyph of Insect Swarm is still a very solid DPS buff and compares well to the other available options.
Glyph of Starfire & Glyph of Moonfire- These two glyphs are so closely tied together that I am going to handle them in the same comment. Both are standard moonkin raiding glyph from the early days of WotLK and center around high Moonfire uptime. The problem with that is that Moonfire has not scaled well with the higher levels of gear. So some moonkin are questioning if Moonfire should even be cast when you are not moving.
The fate of these two glyphs really depends on how often you cast Moonfire. If you are only casting Moonfire while on the move then these two glyphs obviously have significantly less value. Therefore, it is possible that one or both of them could be dropped from your rotation.
I've put several different glyph combinations through SimulationCraft. The glyph combination with the highest DPS was IS/Focus/Starfall, but there are several reasons why I am hesitant to use that combination. I have been sold on the value of the hit debuff provided by Insect Swarm therefore I am reluctant to glyph IS and lose the debuff. The Glyph of Focus is still solid glyph at 10%, but the range reduction bothers me a lot. Since most fights require some sort of "spread out" mechanic, reducing my range for a 10% buff on a spell use once a minute seems to be a bigger headache then it is worth.
Therefore, I am recommending a Starfire/Moonfire/Starfall glyph combination. It may not have the highest DPS potential, but it is not fair behind the other options. It has the added benefit of being very similar to our current glyph set up which means it has less of an impact our rotation.
Along with the glyph debate, there has been a debate going on about which DoTs should be cast and when after patch 3.3.3. As I said before, the Moonkin DoTs do not scale well at the higher levels of gear since haste has very little impact on them and crit has almost none.
This has lead some moonkin to advocate a single DoT rotation when patch 3.3.3 is released. The common suggestion form this camp is that Moonfire should only be cast while moving, and that your casting time should be spent on Nukes or on IS if the hit debuff is needed.
I have tried to plugging in several different rotations into SimulationCraft where the amount you cast Moonfire is limited or dropped all together. The only time I found it was a DPS increase over the current standard was if you used a IS/Focus/Starfall glyph combination. Using the Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall glyph combination I suggested above, Moonfire was still a strong part of the rotation. Therefore, I don't recommend any big change to your rotation. However, if you do decide to drop or limit your DoT usage in the future, just remember that it is always important to cast DoTs while on the move if they are not already on the boss.
Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of speculation on what the impact of the Starfall buff will be. The fact that Glyph of Starfall becomes a standard raiding glyph is a bit of a no brainer, but there were other serious questions raised about the value of our other glyphs and about he value of your DoTs.
In the end, it is my belief that Glyph of Moonfire and Glyph of Starfire are still the best options for our other two Glyph slots. There are other options that may increase your DPS but they come at a price. Also, since Insect Swarm is valuable for the hit debuff it places on the target, and Moonfire is critical for Glyph of Moonfire and Glyph of Starfall, I do not recommend that either DoT be dropped from the standard Moonkin DPS rotation. That said, I highly recommend that you test out the various options on SimulationCraft on your own.