To some extent I can see why people would question its importance. At first glance it doesn't provide any obvious DPS benefits. I can see how someone could quickly come to the conclusion that they don't need it because they don't have threat issues and they can stand in range. However, that conclusion ignores the realities of the raiding environment and the talents available to Moonkin. In this post, I will show why Nature's Reach is part of the core Moonkin talent build and why you don't want to spec out of it.
This is probably the hardest sell. I admit that I am rarely threat capped, and I strongly believe that few of us are as long as we have good tanks. I can see how some players could come to the conclusion that they don't need the threat reduction, but I think it is the wrong conclusion.
As I said, I rarely have threat issues, but rarely is not never. If you're like me, you always try to push out the most damage possible. To do that you have to start casting as soon as possible, and threat is always most important at the beginning of a fight or right after a threat drop. Having the threat reduction, allows you to start a little earlier or push a little harder at the start.
You can also look at it as an insurance policy. I know some people will say "I would never pull agro because I watch my threat. Learn to play noob." To these people I say BS. The fact of the matter is we all make mistakes. There may also be a situation beyond our control that could cause us to pick up aggro like a tank death. I'm not saying that these are common occurrences, but they could mean the difference between you living or dying.
If every fight was like Patchwerk then, the additional range would be useless. However, we know that this is not the case. Anytime a fight includes I large amount of movement and/or a positioning limitation then range can and likely will be an issue. In a fight with a lot of movement it is quite easy for a mob to get out of range. Having an extra 6 yards may mean you don't have to move or at the very least don't have to move as much. In a fight were you have to spread out, having Nature's Reach gives your entire raid more room to spread out in, because they don't necessarily have to adjust for you.
I think these points are best illustrated when you look at some examples. Lets take a look at the bosses in ICC to see how important the additional range could be.
- Lord Marrowgar - During the whirlwind phase he moves in and out of range constantly as it is. Without nature's reach it would be even worse. Plus, if you are working on hard mode then the extra 6 yards might mean the difference between reaching a Bone Spike and not reaching one during the whirlwind.
- Lady Deathwhisper - Switching between the adds and LDW can cause range issues depending on how the adds are positioned or kited. Also, the Death and Decay and Ghosts can easily push you out of range.
- Gunship - No range issues. (and I must say this is the most disappointing fight ever.)
- Saurfang - Not a lot of movement in this fight, but the Blood Beasts make Nature's Reach a very necessary talent. Standing at max range means you are less likely to get hit by them and it also lets you DPS them if they are going after another raid member.
- Rotface - Range should rarely be an issue on this fight.
- Festergut - Some would argue that range is not important on Festergut if you stand at melee range, but I don't think most of us can. Plus, the hard mode of this fight requires a lot more movement and spreading out. Therefore, range is more important on the hard mode.
- Professor Putricide- There is so much movement in this fight that it is the poster boy of why Nature's Reach is important. It is very easy for Gas Clouds and the professor to get out of range in this fight having a few extra yards will increase your DPS, and this is without mentioning phase 3.
- Blood Princes- In the normal mode of this fight there is a lot of movement that makes the extra range helpful, for for the heroic mode it is absolutely critical.
- Blood Queen Lana'thel- Not incredibly important, but makes life a little easier on your raid leader when assigning positions and such.
- Valithria - All about the adds. When you don't know where your next target will be, having extra range is very helpful.
- Sindragosa - Could probably do without the extra range, but I'm not sure.
- Lich King - I've found the key to this fight is getting the Val'kyr down as quickly as possible. Therefore, having extra range to hit them without moving is very important. When you combine this with Defile and not knowing exactly where you will be positioned at times the extra 6 yards is very important.
So there you have it. Eight out of the twelve fights in ICC have a component that makes Nature's Reach at the very least useful. I completely agree that the benefit is hard to quantify, but if you look at he examples I provided I think it is indisputable that it does help your DPS.
Lack of Better Options:
I think the most compelling argument for Nature's Reach. Lets assume for a second that Nature's Reach isn't very useful. What are you going to put those two talent points in?
I could understand possibly dropping Nature's Reach for another strong DPS talent. In fact, I know a lot of Warlocks that don't spec into their range talents, because it requires 4 points and they have some very good DPS talents that they can spec into otherwise. This is not the case for Moonkin.
There are no strong DPS talents for Moonkin to pick up from any of the Druid trees. Moonkin already have 2 talent points that are considered to be freebies, so picking up something for fun or Utility is not difficult now. Dropping Nature's Reach to put additional points into talents like Brambles, Owlkin Frenzy or Genesis that are only minimally useful doesn't necessarily help you.
I'm going to take a quote from a comment I made on the Moonkin Repository.
Most people say "I don't need Nature's Reach because I'm not threat capped and can stand in range." This argument is a lot like saying I don't need a seat belt in my car because I'm a good driver. Nature's Reach is valuable because of the things you can't control, not the things you can. You may not need the threat reduction 95% of the time, but that last 5% can be critical. The addition range not only will help you to hit the target it allows for you and your raid to have greater flexibility in positioning for critical phases in many boss fights. Finally, there just aren't any better options. If any of the other talents available provided a significant DPS increase it might be a different story, but none of them do.
This isn't big enough for it's own post, but the live Starfall does a little less damage then the PTR version that we did all of our analysis on. Starfall felt a little weaker then I expected but i had not had a chance to test it, but Erdluf did and found the spell coefficent for the the main stars to be 0.30 rather then 0.37 as Ghostcrawler posted several months ago.
When someone suggested that Starfall had been nerfed since the patch Ghostcrawler desided to respond. He said:
At some point I posted some numbers for Starfall since there hadn't been a PTR build in some time and druids were chomping at the bit to figure out just how much damage it was going to do. The numbers we went with for 3.3.3 were slightly lower than that if I recall correctly, but we
haven't made any changes to Starfall since the patch went live. The live Starfall numbers are still much higher than they were in 3.3.
So, basically Starfall was nerfed a little between the PTR and Live version of he spell. This does alter the math I did before, but I doubt it alters any of the conclusions.