This means now is a good time to stop and take stock of the situation. We have a little time left to make suggestions to fix the few issues that remain and to praise the changes we like to hopefully cement them into the build that is released. Hamlet made a great post regarding the current state of moonkin on the EJ forums after the 12984 beta build, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my own thoughts about the current state of moonkin.
Rotation / Complexity:
I'm having a hard time placing the Moonkin rotation on the difficulty scale. At this point I think the moonkin rotation is going to fall into one of two buckets.
- The Simple Rotation: Try for 100% DoT uptime, use Starsurge on cooldown, and cast Starfire or Wrath as filler depending on the current position of the Eclipse bar. - I'm not saying this rotation is simple. In fact, using the standard blizzard UI in the beta, I'm having a difficult time managing it without my normal addons. However, the choices you make using this strategy are simple. Is a DoT down? No, refresh it. Is Starsurge off Cooldown? Yes, cast a nuke.
- The Clipping/Delaying Rotation: Same as above, except clip and delay casting DoTs to maximize their usage of Eclipse. - Currently, the total damage a DoT will do is determined when it is cast. If you cast a DoT, the tick damage won't change when you gain or lose a buff. So the player is incented to cast DoTs during Eclipse to have as many of them buffed by Eclipse as possible. Unfortunately, the duration of the DoTs and the duration of the Eclipse buff are unlikely to conveniently match up most of the time.
This raises some interesting questions. Do you delay refreshing a DoT so that it can be cast during Eclipse? If so, what is the maximum beneficial delay? Is it a good idea to refresh a DoT at the end of Eclipse even if it has more then one tick left? If so, what is the maximum number of ticks should you over write? I would need the help of SimulationCraft to determine how helpful the clipping and delaying strategies are, but my worry is there might be significant benefits to clipping and delaying DoTs at the right time. If that is the case then the moonkin rotation will be very complicated.
The real bane of moonkin DPS in WotLK was movement. You could get mad at the RNG or the over poweredness of Eclipse all you want but the real problem was that it was to easy to lose due to movement and other fight mechanics.
It's obvious that one of the design goals of Cataclysm is to reduce the moonkin's vulnerability to movement, and I think moonkin have improved significantly in this area. First, Eclipse is no longer a timed buff, so we will never miss out on a proc due movement, a stun, or just bad timing. Second, Lunar Shower makes Moonfire spam powerful and mana efficient in the right situation. Third, Shooting Stars takes our highest DPET nuke off of cooldown and makes it instant cast so that it can be used on the move. These are all major improvements for a spec that could do very little during movement in WotLK.
That isn't to say everything is all rainbows and roses. Movement still has a few teeth to take a bite out of Moonkin DPS. The first issue is the Moonfire spell itself. Moonfire is still a directional spell that requires you to be facing the boss to some degree. If you're running away from the boss to get out of Bone Storm or not get hit by Blistering Cold, Moonfire and Lunar Shower are useless. I'm also a little worried that overwriting an Eclipsed Moonfire DoT with an uneclipsed Moonfire would not improve our DPS. However, according my quick napkin math that doesn't seem to be a huge concern.
The second issue is that Nature's Torment is a timed buff procced by DoT casts. Since it is a timed buff it is very vulnerable to movement. Plus, during movement Lunar Shower encourages us to cast Moonfire and potentially proc Nature's Torment at a time when it is guaranteed to be partially lost. That said Nature's Torment is only a 4% DPS increase in a Patchwerk style fight. Losing some of it's effectiveness due to movement isn't going to kill moonkin DPS.
Overall, Moonkin are much less vulnerable to movement then they currently are on Live. I would like to see Moonfire changed into a non directional spell like Insect Swarm, but if the current beta set up goes live I would be happy with it.
The DoTs - Based upon the current Beta build Moonkin DoTs have never been stronger in my nearly 4 years playing WoW. If I remember correctly they were about 20% - 25% of moonkin DPS in the beginning of WotLK. According to my simulator they would be about 35% of moonkin DPS if the current beta build was released and please note that moonkin DoTs currently do not scale with Haste.
Insect Swarm is a very strong spell that gets a big boost from the Glyph of Insect Swarm which is unchanged from the current live version.
Moonfire's ticks were converted from a 3 second tick to a 2 second tick in the latest beta build without changing the base damage or spell power coefficients. I hope this is an intended change as Moonfire could use the boost.
My open questions regarding Moonkin DoTs are:
- Are moonkin DoTs still intended to scale with Haste?
- Is Insect Swarm too powerful and be nerfed?
- Are Moonfire's 2 second ticks and intended change or a bug?
The Nukes - If DoTs are relatively strong then moonkin Nukes must be relatively weak. The weakness of our nukes is primarily due to the strenght of our DoTs. In WotLK, our nukes got exclusive use of Eclipse and talents like Nature's Majesty and Wrath of Cenarious. My simulator shows that Wrath, Starfire and Starsurge combined do about 60% of our damage, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Nukes are easy, but they are vulnerable to movement. This should help our DPS in the more dynamic fights.
The Others -
- Starfall is a little less powerful, but still a very strong spell. The big question I have is when is the best time to use it? Obviously it gets a big boost if you can use it during Lunar Eclipse, and the cooldown actually matches up with Eclipse fairly well. However, it obviously does better when there are multiple targets. The exact Strategy we use casting Starfall will probably heavily depend on the encounter.
- Force of Nature feels the same as it always has. A solid DPS boost, but some times a pain in the ass.
- Thorns is very strong currently and I have a feeling it will be nerfed. At the moment it is so strong you could make an argument on the main tank full time but I have a hard time believing that is the intended use of the spell. I see it more as a PvP cooldown or a way to help an Add tank build aggro quickly.
- Wild Mushrooms are starting to get me excited. I would love to have them as I work on Heroic Lich King. I agree with Hamlet that they might be a bit to strong, but then again they are also a bit situational and take a bit of time to manage. They also got a range nerf in the most recent beta build.
I've built my simulator to stat evaluations as well. My default settings are 7000 total Spell Power (3500 SP + 3000 Int), 1742 Hit, 1000 Crit rating, 1000 Haste rating, 1000 Mastery rating, and full raid buffs. Unfortunately I don't have a good idea of what the stats levels will be for a level 85 raiding moonkin. I choose these values because they seemed reasonable and equitable. This is the stat valuation it produced.
Honestly, I was surprised by these results, but I am getting similar (but slightly different) results from WrathCalcs. Hit Rating has always been the undisputed #1 DPS stat for moonkin. If you believe these results (and I don't have any reason not to) it is a distant third behind Intellect and Spell Power. That doesn't necessarily mean we will change the way we gear. Hit Rating is still the best of the rating stats and I assume that Int and Spell Power will be received in default amounts determined by ilevel. However, it is a bit of a shock that took me a little bit to get my mind around.
Intelligence and Spell Power are the clear favorites and yes Spell Power does still exist on the beta. You primarily get it your weapon, but my old enchants and socket bonuses have it as well. They are followed by Hit Rating at a distant third which makes Hit capping still a priority. Then you have Haste Rating, Crit Rating, and Mastery Rating all clumped up in a little group.
My Haste Rating valuation assumes that the DoTs will not scale with haste. If that does change on the Beta it will be a clear favorite over Crit Rating or Mastery Rating.
Mastery Rating is the clear black sheep of the family. It's not that far behind crit in my valuation, but in ever valuation I've seen it is last. I think there are a few of reasons for this.
- First, Mastery increases our Eclipse damage. According to my simulator that means it will only impact 55% - 60% of our spells pre-Eclipse damage.
- Second, Mastery Rating has a relatively small impact on the combined Eclipse buff. Eclipse comes with a base buff of 25% and each Mastery Point increases the buff by 1.5%. When you train Mastery at level 80 you automatically pick up 8 Mastery Points for an additional 12% buff for a total base buff of 37%. So, if you increase the eclipse buff by "1%" with Mastery Rating, you're really only increasing your damage by 0.73%.
- Third, Mastery Rating has the lowest ratio. It takes 179.28 Mastery Rating to gain one Mastery Point. That is 179.28 Mastery Rating to increase your Eclipse buff by 1.5%.
Overall, I think Moonkin are in a pretty good spot. I don't know where we stand in terms of DPS when compared to other classes and specs, but if the current build went live, I would be happy with it (assuming the bugs were fixed). That said here are a few of my open questions / suggestions.
- Keep an eye on rotational complexity. I think it's in a good spot if the Simple rotation I described above is the dominate rotation, but it could get overly complex really quickly clipping and delaying DoTs shows significant DPS gains.
- A moonkin's Movement DPS should be much better in Cataclysm, but it's based on Moonfire which is a directional spell. I would love for Moonfire to be cast on any target in 40 yards if you’re facing them or not.
- Moonkin Nukes are a little weaker then we are used to. The DoTs are a little stronger. As long as our overall DPS is competitive none of that really matters. The main question I have is will Moonkin DoTs scale with Haste. Blizzard said they will, and they haven't said anything otherwise, but we've been in the beta for a while with out this being included.