Friday, July 2, 2010

Moonkin: Early Beta

Once again Lissanna over at got her grubby little hands on an Alpha invite, and has been working behind the scenes to give feedback on the various moonkin changes. She started an excellent thread on the Cataclysm forums detailing some of her issues with the current moonkin situation. She also posted some comments from Murmurs that I thought were excellent. Most of all, Ghostcrawler responded to here first post and gave a little more detail what their plans for moonkin are. I highly recommend that you go and read the thread on your own, but I will cover the highlights here.

I want to remind everyone of three things before we get into the meat.

  • The last post in the thread is over a month old. Things may have already changed, and with the mountains of information that have been released lately I may have missed something.
  • This is Alpha info and we have only just started the Beta. All of this is going to change, so there is no point in getting overly happy or sad about anything you see. In the WotLK testing the first set of Beta patch notes were vastly different then what went live.
  • I do not have a beta invite. Since there are 11 million players of this game and only a couple of Beta servers, I think it is unlikely that I will get one (though I do want one). Therefore most of what I comment on will be second hand info. I apologize in advance if I misinterpret a change or miss a new bit of info.
Haste Capping and Nature's Grace:

We’re addressing the haste situation in a few ways. We’re going to up the cast time of Wrath to 2.5, up from 2 sec base (so 2 sec after you get Starlight Wrath). This should help the clipping issues. In general, your haste and crit stats won’t be as inflated as they were in Wrath of the Lich King so it will be more unlikely for you to reach caps for those stats. However, we are also considering short term haste power gains to scale off of your existing haste values. What that means is that instead of just increasing your haste by 20%, it instead will increase the haste value on your paper doll (or rather, the sum of how much haste you have itemized) by a percentage. So the more haste you have, the stronger the effect of Nature’s Grace is.
Increasing cast time of Wrath from 1.5 seconds to 2.0 seconds and not changing Nature's Grace would dramatically reduce most of the problems that moonkin have with Haste today. To put a number on it we would need 1627 Haste rating to minimize the GCD. Haste would be a clear favorite over Crit Rating and would likely be superior Spell Power point for point. I like this half of the comment, though I do worry that it might make haste a little to powerful.

I am not so happy when Ghostcrawler says "However, we are also considering short term haste power gains to scale off of your existing haste values." The fact that it would likely be a nerf to Nature's Grace doesn't bother me because I've been expecting a nerf to the talent. My problem is with how it would buff haste. Haste scales very well on its own when it is not limited by the GCD. I showed that last month. This would just improve how it scales and would likely make other stats like Crit and Mastery completely unattractive in comparison. If they need to nerf NG then nerf NG, just not this way.

Murmur's Comments on Haste and Nature's Grace:

Please keep the full combination of effects in mind when doing so is all that I ask. Just balancing out Wrath so that it doesn't clip the GCD during Nature's Grace isn't enough - it would be the biggest step and is the most needed, but it isn't the end of the road. Wrath also should not be able to clip the GCD when Heroism and Nature's Grace are up at the same time. Heroism is a very important burst cooldown. Even though the DPS gain of the effect is well equalized across the length of an encounter, the equalized effect of Heroism is usually of little importance. There are very few encounters designed where the normalized effect of Heroism matter more than the DPS output specifically during Heroism. Rotface, Festergut, and Blood Queen are perhaps good examples of when equalization is alright - Suarfang, Putricide, Sindragosa, Lich King, and Death Whisper better represent when normalization do not matter. The gains of Heroism do not have to be completely equal across all specs/classes, but balance druids are currently heavily punished by the mechanic way too much - we need that fixed just as much as Nature's Grace needs to be fixed.
I think Murmur's has a good point here. Heroism and spells with fairly short cast times don't mix in general, but I'm not sure Murmur's and I agree on the significance of the issue. Lets do a little math with what we know about Cataclysm and use today's ICC numbers.

With a 2 second Wrath cast time we would likely favor Haste rating a lot more then we do currently, and I think that the average level of Haste rating for an ICC moonkin would be 1100 haste rating if not higher. This translates into 33.55% Haste. We get another 8% from mastery and another 5% from Imp Moonkin Form (I don't think it will scale with Wrath of Air). I will also assume that NG remains unchanged and that we have 100% uptime like we are close to now. In this situation Wrath's cast time will look like this.

Wrath Cata CT = 2.0/(1.3355*1.08*1.05*1.20) = 1.1005 seconds
Since Heroism is a 30% buff it would easily push Wrath under the GCD with just 1/3rd of its power under these conditions. However, this is a bit of an ideal situation and unlikely to occur in Cataclysm for a few reasons.

  1. Wrath will likely represent less then half of our DPS. Starfire and possibly the DoTs will still get the full benefit of Heroism.
  2. Our current levels of Haste rating are inflated due to the extra levels of itemization Blizzard had to add to reward the addition of hard modes. While 1100 Haste rating may seem reasonable now, if WotLK had gone according to plan like Cataclysm likely will, then we would have 200-300 less haste rating right now
  3. Nature's Grace's up time will not be 100% and will likely be less then it is now. Crit rating is inflated as well as Haste rating, and a longer Wrath Cast time means that Wrath will have fewer opportunities to proc Nature's Grace
While I agree that we need all the DPS we can get during those critical DPS phases, I'm not sure Heroism is being majorly clipped for moonkin. I would rather get and execute ability then have NG nerfed in some way.


Currently Eclipse has a 30 sec cooldown on its proc, so it may be beneficial sometimes to say proc Lunar, go almost halfway to Solar but then just go back and proc Lunar again depending on the situation. In an upcoming build you cannot proc Lunar unless you proc Solar, and visa versa.

Eclipse’s “predictability” -- A new talent is being added that if taken will make lunar/solar energy gain a little more random, so as to make Eclipse less predictable. (Graylo's Note: Remember this was posted over a month ago.)
Murmur's comments on Eclipse (posted by Lissanna) in post 24 of this thread are excellent. I suggest you read them.

Basically the sliding scale method for procing Eclipse proposed by Blizzard isn't all that different then the current system. All it does is make the process more predictable. To some of you this may sound perfect, but as I argued in my guest post on, randomness is not the big problem of Eclipse. The biggest problem for with Eclipse is the timed buffs and how they interact with movement.

Predictable Eclipse: Yes, a more predictable Eclipse can help you to avoid big interruptions caused by phase changes, but even then it is not a 100%. In order to avoid a SF*4, Wrath*8 rotation Blizzard has added the talent Euphoria to make the rotation more random.

I think Murmurs said it best when he said "I find it to be a bit discomforting when the herald of the Eclipse change is that players will now be able to control the proc, yet at the same time there is talk of making it more randomized so that the mechanic doesn't feel flat and the rotation isn't as simple." Basically, the only real change in Eclipse so far was undermined before the Beta was even released.

The Real Issue: The real issue is that Eclipse is still a timed buff. As Murmurs points out in his comments, most of our interruptions are unpredictable or not long enough to dictate a change in our behavior. Running out of a fire can easily cause us to lose a 4 or 5 seconds of a 15 second buff. Even if the interruption is predictable it would probably do more harm then good if you delayed an Eclipse proc for an interruption that is only a couple of seconds long. Therefore, movement and some other RNG interruptions will still have a much greater impact on Moonkin then they do on other classes.

Murmurs's Solution: At the bottom of post 24 Murmurs's made an interesting proposal.

To explain; after pushing the bar fully towards the Moon, you can only shift the bar towards the Sun until you have reached the neutral position - at which point the buff is dropped.
He also suggested that DoTs be affected by the buffs and possibly have an impact on which buff is procced when.

I do think this is an interesting idea, and a good starting place for creating an Eclipse that works. However, I think a couple of changes are needed before this would be workable.

First, I don't think the length of the buff should be determined by your position on the bar. Since Crits and melee attacks against you generate extra "energy" we would lose some of the benefit of the buff if it was purely determined by our position on the bar. There also might be a place where Improved Eclipse would be dropped from a standard build, because the extra damage you get from getting more buffed casts would be greater then the time reduction on proccing a new Eclipse. It may not be sexy, but a standard "charge" system would probably be best.

Second, I like the idea of allowing the bar to shift in only one direction after procing Eclipse, but I wouldn't have that stop at neutral. I would extend it until you procced a new Eclipse. Currently if you wanted to delay an Eclipse proc you would have to alternate the spells you cast keep the bar in relatively the same position. In my suggestion if you didn't want to proc Solar Eclipse just yet, you would just have to spam Wrath. The bar would maintain its position and you wouldn't have to worry about crits or something else pushing you into Eclipse on accident.


DPS issues with movement are addressed in Wrath of Cenarius. The gameplay is you spam Moonfire while moving, similar to how a Frost Mage may spam Ice Lance or a new Warlock may spam Fel Flame. If you proc Lunar eclipse while moving, this does amplify your damage done by WoC/Moonfire but of course isn’t easy or practical. Moonkins can also maintain their DoTs while moving.
I'm still fairly neutral on the new Wrath of Cenarius, and don't think I will be able to really come to a conclusion until someone gets to try it in an actual raid situation. What I'm more interested in is what this means for Moonkin Glyphs. As you guys know two of our core glyphs are centered around the DoT portion of Moonfire and one actually nerfs the direct damage portion of the spell. I think there is a very good chance that Wrath of Cenarius will make these Glyphs undesirable, and I am very interested to see what (if any) other options Blizzard is going to provide us.

Talents, Choices, and More Bloat:

The new talent design philosophy is to reduce a lot of passive, “no brainer” talents in the tree. Most of these are “PvE” talents which are mostly passive damage modifiers. “Gameplay” talents (aka talents that have a visceral change of how you play your class) are always dubbed “PvP talents” at first, but often have emerging gameplay once players learn to use them. We think there will be plenty of situations where a persistent AE silence or a line of mushrooms creating a 75% snare have PvE usage. In LK beta, some Moonkins were upset that Typhoon had no PvE usage. Not all of these abilities increase dps against a solo, Patchwerk-style stationary boss, but we try not to have too many of those encounters.
I think Ghostcrawler missed Lissanna's point here. I think we understand the potential uses of all the talents better then GC is giving us credit for, and to use Typhoon as an example of this is a little strange. A spell that is only semi useful on 4 our of the 48 bosses (not including hard modes) in WotLK is not an obvious case of where players got it wrong. The problem is our limited number of potentially useful talents.

Lets assume that this is the base raid spec for a Cataclysm raiding moonkin. I leaves 6 points to be spent how we would like.

Genesis, Brambles, and Owlkin Frenzy only offer DPS boosts in a PvE environment and those DPS boosts are very small. Therefore they are basically useless.

Lunar Justice is also likely useless in a raid environment given relatively few mobs there are to kill, the unlikely hood that the moonkin will actually get the killing blow, and the fact that the "ray of moonlight" will spawn on the melee giving the mana to a shaman or paladin who is less likely to need it.

That leaves only a few potentially useful talents.
  • Gale Winds is obviously beneficial in GoE situations or where Cycloning is critical.
  • Fungal Growth has some obvious uses, but the side affect is not always good. There are times when I might want to damage a mob without slowing it.
  • I've always been a big fan of push back resistance but having two talents (Celestial Focus & Nature's Focus) with 3 points each seems a bit excessive.
  • Improved Tranquility seems very promising as well, but it's position in the Restoration tree makes it potentially to expensive to pick up.
While that is 11 slots to put 6 talent points in, I think the execution is a bit sloppy. With a couple of adjustments I think the Druid trees could be petty good from a moonkin perspective. Gale Winds and Fungal Growth are fine. Improved Tranquility is also fine but I think it is to high in the tree. I would move it one tier lower to make it more accessible. I would combine the two push back talents into one talent so that Moonkin wouldn't have to spend 6 points to get full protection. Finally, I would add one or two more talents to provide a little more variety. I still like my idea of having a talent that puts a soulstone like ability on a player that recently battle rezed.


Increasing the cast time of Wrath to 2.0 seconds does a lot to reduce the issues moonkin have with Haste and the GCD. That said, there are still some potential issues during Heroism, and I am not a fan of the idea that NG could boost our haste by a percentage of our Haste rating.

With regards to Eclipse, Blizzard seems to be back sliding or not really understanding the issue. A more predictable Eclipse is nice, but it doesn't fully address the key issue with the mechanic which is it's vulnerability to interruption.

The druid talent tree as a whole needs a little more work. I still don't think it provides enough options, and some of the good talents are two expensive or to hard to reach.


lissanna said...

I also had another (more recent) post about moonfire, eclipse, and Nature's Grace where we didn't have a blue post, but we go into more of the weaknesses of the current moonkin tools.

Androk said...

On eclipse, i dont believe eclipse should accommodate every situation in a fight, or vise versa. having to move out of a fire is tuff luck. if you dont want wrath clipping during BL dont proc solar eclipse, these are decisions the player needs to make if you want a more difficult and enjoyable game, instead of getting everything you want. also are you, gray, and murmurs under the assumption that eclipse is still going to generate nearly 20% of our dps as it currently does?

Cobane said...

The change sounds nice, but it just homogenizes starfire and wrath. They are effectively the same spell but different spell schools. This is something the devs at one point said they wanted to avoid. The two spells need to have some built in mechanic that makes them interesting and different.

Duskstorm said...

In my opinion they should differentiate wrath and starfire by making one of them the mana efficient (possibly regenerating), average DPS nuke, and make the other be the mana draining, high DPS nuke.

For example, at early gear levels, we might need to save solar eclipses for heroism entirely, but as our gear gets better, we can start incorporating more solar eclipses in our rotation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Blizzard not understanding that the predictability of Eclipse isn't an issue but the fact that moving during Eclipse is. Atm Eclipse procs fairly quickily, it is just half my Eclipse time left after moving that is frustrating.

I was thinking about a Eclipse Focus ability. The idea is moot since Eclipse is changing but under the current Eclipse it would act as a pause of the timer for a few seconds.

So when having to move around unexpectly due to fire or what not, you pop Eclipse focus, refresh your dots then go back to dps with the time remaining on your Eclipse.

Liam said...

wtb [Charred Twilight Scale] dps brake down.