It's hard not to think that we are getting close to the end of the beta and to the release of the next World of Warcraft Expansion: Cataclysm. The signs are all there. A hint from a high level Blizzard employee. Fewer and fewer structural changes to the classes and talent trees. Most of the Cataclysm content seems to have been released. Granted there is still a lot of work to be done, but it is hard not to get the feeling that we are closer to the end then we are to the beginning.
With that the questions we ask start to change. No longer are we ask what new spells/talents/buffs am I getting? Now we have to ask ourselves how do I use this stuff that Blizzard gave me?
There are a lot of unanswered questions out there. We have no way of answering most of them at the moment, but a few things are becoming clear. To me it is very clear that Eclipse will remain the primary driver of moonkin DPS, and one of the best ways to maximize moonkin DPS is to maximize the uptime of Eclipse. This brings me to a very common question I see asked about moonkin in Cataclysm. What is the impact of Euphoria?
A Quick Note on Damage Theorycrafting:
I don't know how other theorycrafters feel, but I feel like I'm learning a new language when I try and crunch the numbers from Cataclysm. Not only are we dealing with new mechanics like the new Eclipse, but all the inputs are changing as well. Spell Power is gone. Crit and haste are likely to be dramatically reduced from what we see today. Plus, we have to figure out how to include mastery into the equation.
Since I am not in the Beta I have found it very difficult to find any hard data on how these things will work, the starting values of spells, or what I think we can expect when it all goes live. So it's very hard to answer a question like "what is the highest DPS rotation?"
In this analysis I try not to get to heavy into the damage calculations, because they are definitely incorrect. Instead I try to use something reasonable based upon the data available from the beta, and what we have historically seen from Blizzard.
The Impact of Euphoria:
This is probably the most common question I see. If you don't remember, when you have Euphoria your Wrath and Starfire critical strikes will generate a little extra Solar or Lunar power. At first this sounded great. It added a little randomness to the rotation, and it always helped you by reducing the time it took to proc Eclipse without reducing the uptime of Eclipse.
That changed when Eclipse was changed to a 45 second buff that was lost as soon as you reduced your Solar or Lunar power to zero. Now, Euphoria not only reduces the down time of Eclipse but it also reduces Eclipse's uptime. As you can imagine this raises a lot of questions, and it is hard to tell of Euphoria is good, bad or neutral just by looking at it.
To try answer this question I created a new rotation simulator using excel. As I said above the damage calculations used are not very good, but I was trying to get a good handle on how Euphoria affected the uptime of Eclipse. The model simulates a 500 cast rotation and I ran a thousand trials of the simulation.
When I ran the simulation with Euphoria, Eclipse had an average uptime of 55.38% with a standard deviation of 1.18% in a thousand trials. When I ran the simulation without Euphoria, Eclipse had an average up time of just 54.68%with a standard deviation of 0.93% over another thousand trials. I'm not sure what the statistical significance of these results are, but I ran the simulations several times and got similar results each time.
I am confident in saying that Euphoria is neither a good thing or a bad thing. It is completely neutral. Truthfully this doesn't surprise me much. The theory is that the negative impact of a crit during Eclipse is balanced out by the positive impact of crits while Eclipse is down.
The Impact of Wasted Power:
What did surprise me about the Euphoria analysis was that Eclipse's uptime was lower then I expected. I thought it would be higher because of what is being called "Smart" Eclipse.
When someone talks about "Smart" Eclipse they are talking about the way that Starsurge generates Solar or Lunar Power but always in a positive way. When you cast Starsurge your Lunar or Solar power always increases whether the Eclipse buff is up or not. Therefore, the power generated by Starsurge is always positive, because it either extends your Eclipse uptime or reduces your Eclipse down time. This should result in an Eclipse uptime greater the 50%.
The question then becomes, what is pulling the uptime of Eclipse down? I think the answer is Wasted Power.
Lets say you want to proc Solar Eclipse, and after a few casts you end up with 94 Solar Power. Obviously your next Starsurge or Starfire cast will put you over the edge and you will proc Solar Eclipse. However, when you proc an Eclipse, your power level is capped at 100. So by casting Starfire when you already have 94 Solar Power, you are losing 14 or 22 due to the power cap. This effectively lengthens you downtime when you are trying to proc Eclipse.
I tested my theory using the model I created. I modified it so that the Powers were not capped at 100, but would Eclipse would proc at 100. I did a thousand trials of a 500 cast rotation. The average Eclipse uptime when the Powers are not capped was 58.48% and had a standard deviation of 1.12%. This seems to confirm my theory given that it is a sizable increase in Eclipse uptime over the 55.38% I got with the caps.
To be clear, I'm not saying this is good or bad. I just didn't expect it. So, don't go grab your pitch forks and torches just yet if this angers you. As moonkin we do and should try to maximize Eclipse uptime to maximize DPS. However, as long as Blizzard recognizes the impact of Wasted Power and balances us around the lower level of Eclipse uptime, then we should still be competitive when compared to other DPS classes.
Euphoria is in a weird position in that it both reduces the time to proc Eclipse and reduces the time that Eclipse is available. The question was if the impact was positive, negative, or neutral. After creating a model to test it, I think the impact is neutral. So, in the end Euphoria only serves to randomize the moonkin rotation a little and to provide mana.
However, during the analysis I noticed another interesting occurrence. When you proc Eclipse you lose some amount of Solar or Lunar power unless you hit 100 power exactly. As a result this reduces Eclipse uptime, and could reduce moonkin DPS if Blizzard doesn't compensate for the us for the loss somewhere else.