- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.