Friday, July 30, 2010

Tuning Begins: Cata Build 12644

Blizzard pushed out a new beta build last night with several Balance changes in it. There haven't been any blue posts that I've seen, but MMO-Champion has detailed the changes in the game files. Judging from the changes and the few reactions I've already read, you are probably not going to be all that happy.Here are the changes.

  • Starsurge now also generates 10 Lunar or Solar energy.
  • Wrath of Cenarius is now named Lunar Shower.
  • Lunar Guidance now generates an additional 2/4/6 Lunar or Solar Energy. (Down from 5/10/15)
  • Moonkin Form now increases spell haste by 5%. (Old - Spell crit)
  • Genesis now increases the damage and healing done by your periodic spell damage and healing effects and by Swiftmend by 2/4/6%. (Up from 1/2/3%)
  • Nature's Grace now has a 100% proc rate for all ranks. increasing your spell casting speed by 5/10/15% for 3 sec.
  • Heart of the Wild now Increases your Intellect by 2/4/6%. (Down from 4/8/12%) In addition, while in Bear Form your Stamina is increased by 3/7/10% (Up from 2/4/6%) and while in Cat Form your attack power is increased by 3/7/10%. (Down from 2/4/6%)

  • Not Listed: Earth and Moon is now Costs only 1 Talent Point.
General Thoughts:

First things first. DON'T PANIC.

I'm sure that some people will look at these changes and get upset. There are a couple of big nerfs, that are unlikely to be balanced by the seemingly minor buffs. No one likes nerfs but it is important to keep things in perspective. It's hard to say what all these changes will mean until we see the entire picture.

I have faith that Blizzard won't leave us out in the weeds. WotLK has been a great time for Moonkin in terms of relevance and attention from the developers. We didn't always get what we wanted, but no one can argue that we have been ignored like you could during Vanilla and TBC. We were constantly adjusted through out WotLK, and I am confident that if we have DPS issues in Cata, that Blizzard will give us a similar treatment.

The Specifics:

There isn't much we can say about these changes without doing math, but I don't think we are ready to do math yet. Here are some of my thoughts on the changes made.

Starsurge & Lunar Guidance: Together they are a slight buff by increasing the amount of energy we will receive from Starsurge from 15 to 16. This really isn't anything to get excited over. If we had options you may be able to make a case for skipping Lunar Guidance since a majority of the energy is now backed into Starsurge, but it is pretty clear to me that we won't have options and Lunar Guidance will be picked up either way.

Moonkin Form - Haste over Crit: I think some people will be upset by this, but it is a slightly positive change to me. In a raid this is a neutral change. We will still have both the Haste buff and the Crit buff. We just won't provide both. This is an improvement for levelers. Crit doesn't help as much when dealing with low health mobs because there is some amount of over kill. Haste will always make something die faster.

All that said I am fairly disappointed with Moonkin form at the moment. At the moment it only provides the 5% caster haste buff and a 20% increase in armor to the player. Most raids should have a caster shaman or shadow priest that will provide the 5% caster haste by default. A Shadow Priest will pick up Imp Shadowform and stay in it for the 15% damage increase and damage mitigation. Shaman don't really have many other totem options. Therefore the fact that as a moonkin I can provide the 5% caster haste buff will be irrelevant most of the time.

That is not say I won't pick up Moonkin form. I probably still would even if we had other options. However, why would I raid in Moonkin form. Why give up access to my heals for a 20% increase in armor? That just doesn't make sense. Probably what I would do is stay in caster for and switch to Moonkin form when necessary if this version goes live.

Genesis: It's a slight buff over the current live version, but no one should really be excited except for restos maybe. Genesis has been weak because DoTs have been a relatively minor part of our damage output. The only way to make Genesis significant would be to increase the buff significantly or increase our base DoT damage significantly. I don't see either of those things happening.

Nature's Grace: I find this a little amusing. We've heard for a long time that Nature's Grace was going to be redone. The [TBR] tag has finally been removed from the talent but very little changed. All they did was reduce the Haste buff from 20% to 15%.

Heart of the Wild: I'm not surprised the int increase was reduced from 12% to 6%. The 12% version was just a 3 point copy of the current live version. Giving a big Int boost to a feral isn't a big deal, because they have no int on their gear. Giving the same increase to a moonkin or resto would probably be a mistake.

The main question I have is how this will relate to Furor. It seems strange to have two talents that increase int by 6% even if they are in different trees. Since resto wasn't modified in this build, I wouldn't be surprised if Furor was gone in the next build.

My Expectations:

Up to this point Blizzard has been making a lot of structural changes to the Balance spec. They've been working on Eclipse and moving talents around. They were building the frame work for the spec. These type of changes tend to happen earlier in a games development.

The changes made in build 12644 are a bit different. They are mostly tuning changes to the existing talents in the Balance the Tree. This type of changes usually occur closer to the end of development.

In my opinion, this indicates a shift in Blizzard's focus regarding the Balance tree. I would bet that the balance tree that goes live will be very similar the current beta tree at least in structure. I wouldn't expect any big revamps from here on out.

That doesn't mean there won't be structure changes. The Balance tree is a little light when you compare it to the talent trees of other classes and specs. The maximum number of points you can currently spend in the beta Balance tree is 37. Two warlock trees have the same number, but there are no trees with fewer options. Tier 3 of the Balance tree has only 5 slots for talent points. Most of the talent trees have 7-8 slots. Tier 5 of the Balance tree has only 4 slots for talent points.

This indicates to me that there is room within the tree to add a talent or two, and I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard does. Otherwise there is very little choice in the tree. Without new or expanded talents, we would be able to skip 6 talents at most in the Balance tree.

TL-DR:

It seems to me that Blizzard has completed most of its structural design for Moonkin and is now shifting it's focus to tuning the spec. The fact that several of the changes made in this talent build are fairly significant nerfs will upset some people. However I urge everyone to keep this in perspective. We are still in the early stages of tuning and as long as our DPS is competitive we shouldn't be to critical about how we get there.

From this point on I am not expecting any big structural changes to the Moonkin Spec. I think there is a possibility of one or two talents being added, but I doubt there will be a big overhaul as some people want. Most of the changes from this point on are likely to be small changes to the numbers of in existing talents.

17 comments:

Maestro said...

I think Genesis will be a talent every Boomkin will be picking up. DoTs are currently relatively strong now. Granted, part of that is due to the fact that there is no working Eclipse. DoTs that scale with haste and crit has been a pretty nice buff and a reduction in damage from our main nukes from live has made the relative damage DoTs contribute rise.

Mccullough said...

I have to just be patient for now, but i really dont like this current tree. Obviously owlkin frenzy is prob going to stay useless in pve, i feel like fungal growth could be a liability in some fights and i just dont much care about typhoon or aoe damage. But i have to take some combo of that, ill prob go with something like 31/3/7 but im not looking forward to it.

Also it really would be nice if they gave us a real reason to take moonkin form other then the fact that i love the looking like that(puff tail rocks)....but i suppose, beta is beta..

Xaktsaroth said...

Well blizzard said they wanted "fun" talents. Maybe they are now seeing Moonkin form as a "fun" talent so you can get youre character to look different with a minor switch in performance :)

Anonymous said...

It also appears that Master Shapeshifter will be a talent no longer picked up by boomkins, as natural shapeshifter now requires a full 3 points in it again. this is now going to be my current build, minus 2 points to be put wherever

http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#0IfMuoddRucZbh

Anonymous said...

My main complaint with the talent tree as it stands in beta is there's not really a whole lot of 'choice' involved. Around tiers 4 and 5 of Balance you run into a problem where none of the talents you have to fill in to move on really do anything for you in PvE. Genesis has historically been lackluster, Owlkin Frenzy is a PvP talent (judging by how many things it does NOT proc from in ICC and keeps getting fixed not to proc from), leaving... Moonglow, which doesn't do anything for dps. Master Shapeshifter being nerfed to a 4-point 2% increase in damage makes it unattractive since there's no clearcasting talent we have to reach in Restoration anymore. Where's the fun choice in talents we were promised?

Of course, given how broken all the mechanics are in Beta right now, I wouldn't be surprised to see another few passes taken at druid talents before it goes live... not just polish, but talent additions/substitutions on a basic level.

-- Erthshade

Duskstorm said...

@Erthshade

Why are you complaining that we don't have choice because you don't see any talents that buff our raid damage? If they provided more talents that improved our raid damage, then there would be *less* choice, since we'd *have* to pick them. As it stands, you can choose between Owlkin Frenzy and Gale Winds, for example. Both will have situational uses.

Mccullough said...

@Dusk

I dont think owlkin frenzy really will have a situational use. Gale winds obviously has a purpose even if it isnt fun, but like that comment already in here, it procs on so few things it really isnt worth it. If it was the original naxx version of the talent everyone would have it, but the current iteration is so lackluster. Im not saying they need to make it the naxx version(it really was very silly considering polarity shift could proc it on thaddius) but somewhere in between would be pretty awesome.

As it stands moonglow, typhoon gale winds owlkin and fungal growth are our optional talents. Moonglow will prob end up not being to optional at least in early tiers since supposedly mana matters. That leaves a snare, a knockback/10% aoe damage(in my current build i only have 1 point in gale winds) or a crappy damage buff. The only real option unless they buff owlkin then is the aoe/knockback. Not actual choices imo.

http://www.wowtal.com/#k=vfgLFkQP.9r8.druid
my current build of choice

Villainus said...

There is an obvious mistake in the current build that you are all skipping over. The 8% increased spell damage raid debuff that we share with unholy DKs, Warlocks and assasination Rogues (Earth and Moon for us) is currently a mistype of 1 point for 2%. It will return to a 3-point talent giving us a 8% debuff and 6% personal spell damage.
Those of you doing builds need to take into consideration those 2 points that you can't spend elsewhere.

Mccullough said...

Yeah didnt think about that, well that just means i dont take galewinds or owlkin, meh better that way.

Anonymous said...

@Dusk:

I think you misunderstand my thrust. It's not that there's not enough talents that buff our raid damage, it's that there's not enough talents that are interesting or anything more than filler for pve. When I wince at having to spend talents somewhere, from my perspective that's a problem.

-- Erthshade

Anonymous said...

I'm very disappointed. The trees seem to be going round in circles with nothing exciting really happening. I agree that the trees have not had much choice so far. By the way they had been talking I expected choice in the sense that you could choose different talents that would affect your playstyle. I don't see that anywhere.

Moonlyt

Graylo said...

@Maestro

Genesis may be a talent everyone picks up but it is in no way strong.

A long time ago, I think it was GC that said each talent point should represent about a 1% DPS increase. With the number of talent points cut in half I think we can double that number to 2%.

If we assume that they are still trying to fit that model then DoTs would have to be 100% of moonkin DPS for Genesis to just match the budget and we know that isn't going to happen.

In my opinion the best chase scenario for Genesis is that DoTs make up 30% of our DPS. I doubt it would be more. In which case 3 points would increase DPS by 1.8% or 0.6% per point. In todays therms that is a 0.3% increase for each point. That is very weak.

@Erthshade

I agree that the tree completely lacks choice. I've starting to think of what I define as choice is different then what Blizzard defines as choice. I'm also thinking that this proved to be a lot harder goal then they anticipated, and they are putting it on the back burner to get to something more releaseable.

@Villainus

Good point, but is it a mistype that it is one point or that the buff is 2%? You're probalby right but it could be either.

Mccullough said...

According to a beta poster on the forums the debuff still shows 8% in the current beta build for earth and moon but they admittedly didnt do the math for it. I think like so many other talents for so many specs it got chopped accidently to 2%. I find it very unlikely we would suddenly have the weakest version of that debuff.

I am still not happy with our trees for pve at all, id almost prefer go back to the old TBC model, sure we would never be top dps but it was fun to surprise the hell out of pugs when id pull 1.3k no problem. Spamming starfire was fun right guys?!

Btw graylo ive been reading your blog since the end of naxx and i just wanted to say thanks for giving us antlered nightmares a place to call our blog.

Qieth said...

You don't reckon that dots scaling with haste will significantly increase the damage they do, and how much of our total damage they represent? Last i heard, IS and MF (even unglyphed) was our biggest DPET on the beta servers, so an increase to that is just dandy :)

Graylo said...

@Qieth

Yes, IS and MF have the highest DPET of all our spells in Cata currently, but that was also true for most of WotLK.

DoTs scaling with Haste and Crit may or may not improve their overall valuation depending on where the Coefficents and base values are set. So, far it looks like none of the Coefficents have gone down and a few seem to have gone up. In which case the DoTs scaling with Crit and Haste will make them a bigger portion of our damage.

Dispite both of those things being true Genesis is still weak.

Even if DoTs were a 100% of our rotation, Genesis would represent just a 6% increase in our DPS. If you accept the old Talent value target, that is just meeting the target in the most unrealistic of circumstances. In all likelyhood DoTs will make up about 30% of our rotation. It might get up to 40%. In both of those situations Genesis is way under budget.

Anonymous said...

"Nature's Grace: I find this a little amusing. We've heard for a long time that Nature's Grace was going to be redone. The [TBR] tag has finally been removed from the talent but very little changed. All they did was reduce the Haste buff from 20% to 15%."

Correct me if i'm wrong but isnt this a big change? The new talent specifically does not use the words "spell haste" implying that the 15% casting speed increase will be a percentage of your current spell haste. meaning you will gain a greater buff as your haste value increases...but iono :P

Olloth said...

I don't really understand the bit about only being in moonkin form sometimes. I assume you are picking up Natural Shapeshifter, which means you want to be in moonkin for that 2% spelldamage right? Granted it's still stupid, at this point I'd almost rather a build that didn't take natural shapeshifter so I could actually see my gear once in a while.