Friday, October 1, 2010

Smart Eclipse: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

If you've been paying attention to the Moonkin Beta information you are probably familiar with the concept of "Smart Eclipse" or "Smart Power." It is one of the most discussed topics we have had in beta, and has in general been very well received by the moonkin community.

That said it is important to remember that "Smart Eclipse" is not a named mechanic created by Blizzard. It is the name given to a mechanic by players, but we don't know for sure if the mechanic was intended or a bug. To raise the stakes a little more "Smart Eclipse" has not functioned in game the way players define it for the last few beta builds, and the volume has been raised on the bug vs intended change question?

In this post I want to take a look at this concept of "Smart Eclipse". How important is it to Moonkin DPS and should we be worried that it is not currently in Beta?

What is Smart Eclipse?

Up until this point, I've assumed you knew what I mean when I say "Smart Eclipse," but in case you don't let me explain it.

I don't remember the exact wording, but an early tooltip for Starsurge said that it moved your Eclipse Power away from the center of the Eclipse bar. For example, if you had 50 Solar Power, casting Starsurge would generate an additional 15 Solar Power for a total of 65 Solar Power. Players called this "Smart Eclipse" because it provided them with the type of Eclipse Power that helped them most. If you were trying to proc Solar Eclipse it helped you because it moved you closer to power amount needed to proc it. If you had Solar Eclipse, it extend the buff by allowing you to cast more Eclipse buffed Wraths before hitting zero Solar Power and losing Eclipse.

It sounds like a win/win, and as I said before it is a very popular concept with the moonkin community. In fact, some are advocating that Euphoria should generate "Smart Power" while in Eclipse instead of not generating any power at all as it currently does. As a result it seems several community members are getting frustrated that it no longer exists in most recent Beta builds.

I can understand this frustration. When something we like gets excluded from the game it is very frustrating. However, before we gather the pitchforks and torches we should understand the actual impact of "Smart Eclipse."

The Impact Smart Eclipse:

From a DPS perspective the impact of Smart Eclipse seems like a no brainer. It shortens Eclipse down time by increasing the type of power we need to proc the next Eclipse. It also lengthens the Eclipse buff because it provides the opposite type of power of your currently Eclipsed nuke. On the surface it seems like "Smart Eclipse" should be a clear DPS increase, but according to my results it is not.

Once a gain I plugged "Smart Eclipse" and the current beta functionality into my simulator. I ran both through with 10,000 iterations, and found that losing "Smart Eclipse" resulted in just a 0.068% DPS decrease. If this is correct it is a tiny difference and not worth losing any sleep over in my opinion.

When I saw these results I was quite surprised and a bit skeptical, as I am sure many of you are as well. As a result I contacted Hamlet to see what he thought. After he tested the impact of "Smart Eclipse" he responded with "I got a similar result......overall, surprisingly little effect on DPS."

To be fair, my simulator is a straight Patchwerk style simulator. These results may be different in a more realistic encounter type that includes movement and such. However, I am confident in saying that "Smart Eclipse" doesn't have the big DPS impact that may players expected it to.

The Reasons Why:

It's hard to say definitively why "Smart Eclipse" would have such a small impact but I have a couple of educated guesses.

  • The first reason is Nature's Grace. The impact of Nature's Grace depends on how quickly you transition from one Eclipse proc to the other. By increasing the up time of Eclipse you are diminishing the impact of Nature's Grace, thus cancelling out some of the gains from "Smart Eclipse." The value of the 4T11 set bonus would diminished in a similar way as well.

  • The second reason is our powerful DoTs. Moonfire and Insect Swarm make up a large portion of our DPS, but are not significantly impacted by increased Eclipse up time, since they hold the DPS of when they were cast. If a majority of our DoT casts happen during Eclipse, then higher DoT uptime shouldn't change our over all DoT damage all that much because a majority of the ticks are already buffed by Eclipse.
My Thoughts:

I've come to the conclusion that "Smart Eclipse" was not an intended mechanic, and that the way Starsurge generates power on beta is what will go live. Based upon my DPS findings above I don't have a problem with that. As long as my DPS output is similar to that of other ranged casters, I don't care how I get there assuming the rotation isn't completely boring.

That said, I know many found the concept of "Smart Eclipse" to be fun and would like to see it stay in the game. That's a matter of opinion that I can't really argue against, but I don't think losing "Smart Eclipse" makes the Moonkin less complex or less interesting.

As it stands right now moonkin DoTs have very high DPETs and we will try to maintain an uptime of close to 100%. Starsurge is also very powerful, and will be cast on cooldown regardless of the status of Eclipse. Therefore "Smart Eclipse" didn't really change the structure of the moonkin rotation. It added a couple of Nukes when Eclipse was up, but the real challenge was still to manage the duration of the DoTs and our cooldowns.


chrispy said...

I admit I haven't been paying that much attention to eclipse during the beta, but I have tried it out in the last couple of PTR builds. There was one iteration where it seemed at least mildly interesting. You could trigger eclipse, then move the bar back and forth depending on whether you cast wrath or starfire. I liked this because you got to decide whether to try to keep eclipse going as long as possible or try to hit the opposite eclipse as soon as possible. There was probably a higher dps choice you'd use all the time, but at least it felt like a choice.

The current version seems very boring to me. Since you can't move the bar back the other way once you've triggered eclipse, the rotation seems completely static: keep your dots up, then cast wrath until eclipse, then starfire until eclipse, repeat. I'm not too concerned about whether "smart eclipse" is a dps gain, but it does seem really boring to me. Or am I missing something here?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with losing the "smart eclipse" because now we use both sides of eclipse where a few builds ago we could do great dps with just staying in solar eclipse using shrooms, insect swarm, sunfire, and starsurge......but what i'd like to see is something added on the lunar side, like a lunar insect swarm, maybe fireflies, glow green and look like real fireflies, would make it so we don't have what feels like a low point in dps in the lunar side of eclipse.....right now it just doesn't feel like lunar has enough going for it to make it desirable

Rohl said...

I think this brings up an interesting point between maintaining eclipse vs. trying to proc as many eclipses as possible (Nature's Grace, T11 4 set, and even mana from Euphoria). I would be very surprised if either came out above just using Starsurge on cooldown; but have you ever ran anything comparing casting Starsurge purely during eclipse (to stay in) vs. purely out of eclipse (to proc the next one)?

Azimyth said...

I thought it was a fun mechanic while it lasted on beta, but with the new Nature's Grace I can see why it might be better not to extend eclipse states too much.

My major concern in the limited testing I've done so far continues to be mana. While questing its not a huge problem since you aren't constantly casting. I've only run 1 5 man as a boomer so far, and I had horrific mana issues the whole way through. 32k mana sounds like a lot, but I was having to drink throughout the instance every 3 or 4 pulls and after every boss. After the first few bosses I just dropped IS and MF/SF from my rotation except for bosses which helped, but knocked a big chunk out of my dps.

I suspect that one major problem is that my spirit is really low in my 3.3 gearset (around 341).

Anonymous said...

You forgot reason 3: Euphoria. The faster we cycle through eclipses the more mana we regen.

Dreslav said...

I wonder if this analysis will hold true at later gear levels, specifically with high mastery rating since that directly benefits eclipse. Have you tried testing your sim assuming a very high mastery rating? It might be inconsequential at low gear levels but come into play more as cataclysm develops.