I think the debate started with Relevart and I discussing Genesis and the purpose of DoTs on our respective blogs (1, 2). The next day Relevart made a big post on the Cata Beta forms (linked above) regarding the current state of moonkin. It covered a lot of topics, but I was noticing a common theme between his original post and many of the responses he got on the thread. Several of the posts indicated that moonkin DoTs are "boring" and are not as interesting as the DoTs of other classes. Relevart concluded that our DoTs need more synergy with our other spells. Either by having nukes extend our DoTs, having the dots provide straight buffs to the nukes, or some other set up that allowed for more spell interaction in the moonkin rotation.
The problem is I think Relevart and several other people don't really understand what they are asking for, and may be disappointed if they get it. In this post I am going to try and outline my point of view.
What is Synergy?
Synergy - n. - The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.I apologize if you think this is unnecessary but I want to make sure we are all on the same page. A really good example of synergy is the combination of Glyph of Starfire and Glyph of Moonfire, and you can easily see it using WrathCalcs. I entered my own info into the spreadsheet with only the Glyph of Starfall selected. This gave me a base DPS of 12,152 DPS with neither glyph. When I added just the Glyph of Moonfire the DPS went to 12,193 for an increase of 41 DPS. When I added just the Glyph of Starfire the DPS went to 12,250 for an increase of 98 DPS. However, when I added both glyphs the DPS went to 12,352 for an increase of 200 DPS. Individually, the DPS gain from these glyphs was a total of 139 DPS, but the synergy between the glyphs increased the DPS gain by another 61 DPS. Going just by the example above, synergy sounds pretty sweet, and I'll admit I don't have a big issue with synergy as long as it's done right. However, when I read the posts supporting synergy I get the feeling that it's supporters are expecting a lot more then synergy is likely to deliver.
Synergy from the Damage Point of View:
I think the important thing to remember here is that synergy is a path, not a destination. Synergy doesn't determine how much damage a moonkin should do. That's Blizzard's job and synergy is just one of the tools in their belt to help them us reach it.
Think of it this way. I bet Blizzard has DPS targets that they would like all the classes to meet in various styles of fight, and Blizzard has several ways in which they can meet those targets. If Blizzard chooses to hit those targets with synergy, that is fine, but it's important to remember that Blizzard's target is the reason we hit the target not the tool they used to hit it.
That's not to say that Synergy is completely neutral in terms of damage. Synergy can have a big impact on your damage relative to other moonkin and other classes. Unfortunately that impact is a negative one.
The difference between a good player and a bad player is the additional mistakes that the bad player will make and lower his DPS. This is true with or without synergy. The problem is that synergy will amplify those mistakes.
Take for example the problem of low DoT uptime. Without synergy your damage would just be lowered by the missing DoT ticks, but what if you also have Improved Insect Swarm? If you are relying on Imp IS to meet your target DPS having a low DoT uptime not only lowers your damage by the missing DoT ticks, but also costs you the 3% buffs your nukes loose when they land without a DoT their to buff them. At 3% that probably isn't a huge deal, but if Blizzard relies to heavily on synergy to buff classes then you can see how "have" and "have-not" classes quickly form.
Therefore, from a damage point of view synergy is unlikely to do anything for the best players. They will hit the target DPS numbers that Blizzard set for them. However, for the rest of us synergy can be very harmful. It will widen the gap between the good players and the best players making the good players look like bad players.
Synergy from the "Fun" Point of View:
Here is a quote from Murmurs that I think clearly states "pro-fun" point of view for synergy.
Synergy isn't about the level of damage that a particular spec nor a particular ability is capable of dealing; the concept is purely a matter of rotational complexity, one of substance, one of depth, reaction and playstyle.(src)Can synergy provide complexity, substance, and depth? Yes, it can.
Does synergy traditionally provide complexity, substance, and depth? Traditionally it has not.
I have looked at several classes and I have yet to find an example of a rotation that is heavily influenced by synergy. Take the destruction warlock rotation as an example. It primarily consists of 4 spells: Immolate, Conflagrate, Chaos Bolt, & Incinerate. There is lots of synergy between these 4 spells. Conflagrate can't be case unless Immolate is on the boss. Chaos Bolt and Incinerate receive significant buffs if Immolate on the boss. Therefore, according to Murmur's perspective, the destro lock rotation should be complex and have substance due to all this synergy right?
I'm not going to argue how fun the destro lock rotation is or is not, but what I can show you is that synergy has very little influence on what spell is going to be cast when in the destro lock rotation.
I won't go into the math, but if you rank the destro spells by their DPET (damage per execution time) with synergy then the ranking goes like this:
- Chaos Bolt
- Chaos Bolt
From a damage point of view synergy has litte impact on how much you can do, because Blizzard will ultimately balance the game in a way that prevents us from being over powered. So, synergy is just a tool they can use to get us to the desired target DPS. However, It does have a negative impact in that it amplifies mistakes. If used excessively it could even hurt "good" moonkin when they are compared to the best.
As for the"fun" point of view, I won't deny that synergy could make a rotation "fun". However, there is very little evidence in recent WoW history to show that synergy has a significant impact on spell priority. Therefore, while synergy could make a spec fun, there is little reason for players to expect it to unless Blizzard has a big change in design philosophy.