Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cata Build 12857: The Ninja Build

MMO Champion is providing details for a new Beta build that isn't even on the beta servers yet. Don't ask me how that is possible, but it provides me with some interesting goodies to talk about.

The Details:

  • Starsurge now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Entangling Roots now has a 2 sec cast time, up from 1.5 sec.
  • Starfall now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Force of Nature now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Solar Beam now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
This is really just a continuation of the last beta build. More range for spells. More cast time for CC spells. Nothing to be surprised about here.
  • Hurricane base damage increased by 33%.
  • Starfall base damage increased by 33%.
A lot of the reports coming out of beta indicate that our AoE feels very weak. Therefore this is probably a very welcome change. Though in the end these are going to be hard to gauge until we can see them in an actual fight.
  • Innervate now regenerate mana equal to 20% of the casting Druid's maximum mana pool, down from 33%.
Another one that is hard to gauge. Obviously this is a straight up nerf, but it is hard to tell how big the impact is. A couple of things could be happening here. First, since there isn't a much passive mana regen in the game, mana pools have grown to be very large. As a result a 33% mana return could have become over powered, and Blizzard is just bringing it down to a more reasonable level.

The other possibility is that Blizzard is trying to avoid the "heroism effect." Blizzard insisted that Heroism was not a mandatory raid buff for a very long time despite the insistence from players that it was. Heroism is such a strong buff that it was hard to agree with Blizzard. In the end, Blizzard came around to the players point of view and gave heroism to Mages as well.

It's possible that Blizzard is worried that Innervate might become the next heroism. They've said many times that they want mana to be more significant in Cataclysm, and only one class provides such a specific mana return tool. Blizzard could be nerfing it in hopes that it won't be seen as mandatory by much of the player base.
  • Lunar Shower now increases damage done by your Moonfire by 15/30/45% (Up from 2/4/8%)
Beta testers have been saying that this needed to happen for a while. If Blizzard really wants Moonfire to be a movement friendly spell, then it needs to have some power. In the end, a (2%/4%/8%) buff was pretty weak even if it could stack 3 times. It will be interesting to see if this is enough.
  • Lunar Guidance no longer increases the radius of your Solar Beam.
If I had to guess, this change is to protect Rated Battlegrounds. I am by no means a PvP expert, but on some of the BGs with confined spaces like Warsong Gulch it was probably possible for 1 or 2 moonkin to silence and entire room with the expanded Solar Beam.

No matter why it was nerfed it isn't a big deal for me. At this point I have no plans to pick up the spell in my spec.
  • Moonglow now reduces the mana cost of all your damage and healing spells.
  • Nature's Majesty now increases the critical strike chance with all spells.
These makes sense to me. There really wasn't a point to limiting them to specific spells any more now that everything can crit. It's also a much needed buff for Nature's Majesty which was headed towards being one of the worst talents in the Balance Tree.
  • Furor now increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15% instead of increasing your intellect by 2/4/6%.
  • Heart of the Wild no longer increases maximum mana by 5/10/15%, now increases Intellect by 2/4/6%.
I love this change. Dumping 3 points into the feral tree felt like a waste. They didn't build to anything, and there are additional talents I wanted in the Resto Tree. I predict that most Moonkin will skip Furor unless mana is a huge issue, and Heart of the Wild has become a mandatory talent.

My Cataclysm Build:

I hate to say it but it has become obvious that we are fully in the "tweaking" phase of development for Cataclysm. I had hopes that me might see some new talents and some choice in the balance tree, but we have gone 3 or 4 builds without any big changes. Therefore, it's clear that Blizzard is happy with what we have.

If Cataclysm when live today this is the build I would use. It's easier to go over what I'm skipping then picking up because you have to pick up almost everything.

  • I'm skipping Owlkin Frenzy because it has traditionally been such a bad talent for PvE, and I don't see any indication of that changing.

  • Solar beam also seems to be pretty bad for PvE. I realize it has some situational uses, but there should be enough silences in a raid that it isn't needed from us. Plus, in my opinion it is either Solar Beam or Typhoon, and Typhoon seems more useful.

  • Gale Winds is a little tough to lose, but there aren't a whole lot of fights where it is really useful. If I do really need it I can probably pick it up by taking points out of Perseverance or possibly Lunar Shower.

  • Furor is now useless in my opinion. The only way I will pick it up now is if moonkin have huge mana issues.

  • Some of you may disagree with me putting only one point in Blessing of the Grove. I can understand that since some of you hate to give up any DPS increase, but a 3% increase to the direct damage portion of Moonfire is likely to be very minor. In the end I think something like Perseverance is much more useful.
Overall impression: To be honest, I am a bit bored/disappointed by this build. There isn't really anything wrong with it, but given all of Blizzard's talk about choice I expected more.

I guess we do have a little choice because I do end up taking Perseverance over Blessing of the Grove or Gale winds, but it doesn't feel all that significant or meaningful. We also have quite a few passive buffs like Master Shapeshifter, Earth and Moon, and Nature's Majesty.

To use an analogy I feel like Blizzard was a car salesman telling us how fun and exciting it will be to drive the new car compared to our old one. In the end, we are just getting an updated version of the same old car. It has a couple of new features, it looks a little different, but it still only really gets us from point A to point B.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The True Sources of "Fun"

Ok, I've delayed this post long enough. Two weeks ago I took a look at synergy as a concept, and tried to show why synergy is not a good thing to ask for in a rotation. This isn't to say synergy is bad, but it's not really good either. If you look closely you will realize that synergy is neutral, because synergy is a tool that can be used to achieve other goals.

Some, like Relevart, have said they enjoy synergy by itself even if it doesn't materially impact the mechanics of their rotation, but I don't think that is the case for most of the champions of synergy. I think that most of the Champions of synergy are confusing the tool with the goal, and what they are really looking for is some combination of Complexity and Unpredictability. In this post I would like to take a look at those concepts and give my impression on where moonkin are in live and in beta.


In my experience, the complexity in WoW falls into one of two categories: pattern complexity or management complexity:

Pattern Complexity: If you're DPSing a single target without having to move, then your key presses will be determined by DPET and will fall into a pattern. Eventually everything will line up and the pattern will start over. When I talk about pattern complexity I am really talking about the length of that pattern.

Pattern complexity is achieved my having multiple buttons to press with varying durations and cooldowns. The best example I know for Pattern Complexity is the Shadow Priest rotation from TBC. In that rotation the player had two DoTs with different durations, two nukes with different cooldowns, and a channelled spell for filler. There were no hard and fast rules like "you should always cast Shadow Word: Death after Mind Blast." You just had to know what spells were available and which of them had the highest DPET.

Management Complexity: Where Pattern Complexity is about pushing the best button for that particular moment, Management Complexity is all about managing an outside resource, like mana, to maximize DPS. Management Complexity is more about planning then it is about reaction.

A very good example of Management Complexity is the Arcane Mage rotation. They only have three buttons to push regularly, but how they push those buttons determines how much DPS they do and how mana efficient that DPS is. If they use their highest DPS rotation they are likely to blow through their mana very quickly and lower their DPS over the entire fight. If they play it too safe then they could end the fight with mana that could have been used to increase their DPS.

The complexity of the Arcane Mage rotation doesn't come from having a lot of buttons to push and picking the one with the best DPET, but it comes from the choices they have to make. When is the best time to have a high DPS rotation? When is the best time to save some mana? How can I end the fight with little or no mana left?

Moonkin and Complexity:

On live, Moonkin have very little Pattern Complexity. We cast only four spells regularly, but we really only cycle through 2 of them at any given time due to how Eclipse works. The DoTs have different durations, but they are not so different that they are hard to keep up if you want to. Moonkin do have a little Management Complexity in that they need to think about when is the best time to cast our DoTs relative to Eclipse, but I don't think this is hugely complex by any means.

On Beta, Moonkin still don't have a lot of Pattern Complexity currently. We do have an additional spell to manage in Starsurge, but our DoT durations match up exact with out the glyphs. If the current beta when live we would still be cycling through just 3 or 4 spells.

However, what beta moonkin lack in Pattern Complexity they make up for in Management complexity. There are already a bunch of theories out there about how to maximize Moonkin DPS in Cataclysm. Is it best to cast Starsurge on cooldown to maximize up time or do you want to only cast it in Eclipse to maximize Eclipse for the nukes? Is it a good idea to extend Eclipse as long as possible so that the DoTs get the maximum benefit? So far these choices don't seem to have a huge impact on potential DPS, but they are choices we need to make to squeeze out as much DPS as we can, and that is a lot more choice then we have currently on live.

Final Thoughts on Complexity:

How much complexity is enough and how much is to much? That is really a matter of opinion depending on the individual giving the answer. However, I do think it is a little premature for some of the Beta players to say that the Moonkin rotation is boring or not complex enough.

Erdluf made a great comment on the Moonkin Repository that I agree with 100%. He said, "I'd like to see more of the PvE complexity come from the encounter, rather than from the rotation."

It's important to remember that our rotation doesn't operate in a vacuum. Most of the comments saying that the Moonkin rotation is boring are coming from people who have tested it against a target dummy. The moonkin rotation my very well be boring in that situation, but any experienced raider will tell you that DPSing a target dummy is nothing like DPSing an actual boss. In my opinion, I think we should wait until we see how it plays in an actual fight before we make any definite conclusions about the quality of the moonkin rotation.

Unpredictability and Randomness:

I know that unpredictability and randomness are bad words to some of you, but in my opinion they are really not all that bad in and of themselves. A little bit of randomness can break up the monotony of doing the same thing over and over again, and I think the current moonkin rotation would be quite boring with out the randomness of Eclipse. However, that doesn't mean that I think all randomness is good.

In my opinion good randomness break ups the pattern of your rotation but doesn't overly dominate you total DPS. I think an example of good randomness is the Fire Mage talent Hot Streak. It breaks up the pattern of casting Living Bomb and Fireball, but it doesn't dominate their DPS. It's value isn't dramatically reduced by poor reaction times or delays forced by the fight mechanics. A good example of bad randomness is what we see in the live moonkin build.

Moonkin and Unpredictability:

On live, the moonkin rotation is very unpredictable, but not necessarily in a good way. I have gone over the problems of Eclipse before, but I think it has to main issues. First, Eclipse is way to significant to moonkin DPS. A little bit of bad RNG and our DPS goes from being competitive to being sub par. Second, it isn't resistant to interruption or poor reaction time at all. Since it is a timed buff rather then a charged buff, every second you are not using it is DPS lost. Combine this with the significance issue and you've got a recipe for how to incorporate randomness poorly.

On Beta, the moonkin rotation is almost completely void of randomness or unpredictability. The Euphoria talent does make the number of casts to proc and use Eclipse a little unpredictable but it will stall always fall into a two or the cast range.

A lot of the players on beta are upset about this, but I find it a little amusing. In the end it feels like Blizzard is damned if they do and damned if they don't. For months some players have said "eclipse is to random," and once they take the randomness out another group of players come out of the woodwork and say "eclipse is to predictable." For me personally I would like to see a little more randomness in the rotation, but I could be happy without it as long as the moonkin rotation is interesting enough with good fight mechanics and complexity.


In my opinion, synergy is unimportant as long as the moonkin playstyle is interesting given the complexity and unpredictability of the rotation in relation to the complexity of the fight. In WotLK, moonkin have had relatively little complexity, but high degree's of randomness. In the Beta, moonkin have done a complete one eighty, and have higher amounts of complexity but almost no unpredictability.

The fact that this is such a significant change, can be worrisome given the potential for error. However, I worry that some players are over reacting and making conclusions based upon limited information and trials. I would like to see how the moonkin rotation plays in an actual fight before making a conclusion on the quality of the moonkin playstyle.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cata Build 12803: More Small Changes

Blizzard released another patch and MMO Champion was kind enough to provide some of the details. Here is a list of the changes according to MMO Champion.

  • Wild Mushroom changed, only 3 mushrooms can be placed at one time (Down from 5).
  • Cyclone cast time increased to 2 sec. Up from 1.5 sec.
  • Faerie Fire now has a 35 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Insect Swarm now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Starfire now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Entangling Roots now has a 35 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Thorns now lasts 20 sec, down from 10 minutes. Damage increased by 1400% (Deals 447 damage instead of 32)
  • Moonfire now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Wrath now has a 40 yards range, up from 30 yards.
  • Moonkin Form now increases Nature and Arcane spell damage by 10%.
  • Starlight Wrath now reduces cast time by 0.15/0.25/0.5 sec. (Up from 0.1/0.2/0.3 sec)
Quick Comments:

  • One of the common questions with each Beta patch is what are they going to do about the lack of Nature's Reach and now we know. Almost all spells have a baked in range of 40 yards now, which is 4 up from where on live. The only question I have is why does Faerie Fire and Entangling Roots have a 35 yard range? I wonder if it's a typo or possibly a bug.
  • The change to Cyclone is a part of a larger change to all CC spells. Ghostcrawler talks about the change here. As primarily a PvE player, I don't think this change as much of an impact on me.
  • With a 10% damage buff baked into Moonkin Form, we will definitely be staying in form. I don't have a big problem with staying shapeshifted, but I do hope that they get us some new forms.
  • I expected the change to Starlight Wrath. It didn't make sense to have base cast times of 3.2 seconds and 2.2 seconds.

There is one interesting change in the list above and that is the change to thorns.

Thorns now lasts 20 sec, down from 10 minutes. Damage increased by 1400% (Deals 447 damage instead of 32)

In addition to the text found from MMO Champion, Murmurs is reporting that Thorns also has a 45 second cooldown.

My first impression of this change is positive. Thorns has always been a fairly lack luster spell. Every little bit counts but it is so weak that no one every really cared about it in PvE or PvP from my understanding. Now, it will finally pack some punch.

I think the new thorns will primarily be a PvP tool. It could be great for making melee think twice before ganging up on a single player, or could help you take down someone that isn't paying close attention to where their damage is coming from.

From a PvE perspective the new Thorns is still a better spell but probably less useful then it is for PvP. I think this will be great for throwing on an Add tank, for an extra boost damage and threat. Ultimately it gives us something else to think about which is clearly popular with some moonkin.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cata Build 12759 and Blue Posts

I am late on my second half to my rotation post. Real life as smacked me lately and I wanted to get a comment out about the recent beta build first.

This is another small patch as far as moonkin changes go. I was a little concerned at first because we haven't had any really changes in a while. However, after a little thought my concern went away. Here are the changes as reported by MMO Champion.

Blue Post: Moonkin Form

We've had a lot of discussions about Moonkin form, as you might guess. We know opinions range among the player base from "cut it" to "make me stay in my adorable form all the time." At first we were trying to make it more of an option, so that cuddly-hating Balance druids could choose the spec without the shapeshift. After much discussion though, we're going to go back to a Balance druid = Moonkin Form design. We'll put some more damage into the Moonkin Form.
First, of all this comment is the primary reason why my concern went away. This comment makes it sound like moonkin have been at a bit of a cross roads recently and Blizzard was debating what to do. Obviously it's going to be hard to make big changes to a class if you don't know what some of those big changes are. I expect to see more action in the next build or two.

I've largely tried to stay out of the Moonkin Form debate, because I don't really have a strong opinion one way or the other. I liked Moonkin form when I first started playing in TBC. It was new to me, and there were so few moonkin around that it was distinctive. Now that we are at the end of WotLK those comments no longer hold true. I've looked at this form for over 3 years and there are moonkin everywhere now. It's safe to say that I am bored with the form, but I don't really care what I look like as long as the spec's DPS is competitive.

That said, I do hope they update the forms. Looking at the same form for 3 years is boring, but that is not my issue. Multiple moonkin in a guild seems to becoming more likely all the time, yet I am used to being the only one. Therefore, it is a little strange to see a twin. It's not a big deal, but I would like to look different then the other moonkin in a raid (if there is one).

Soothe Animal:

Soothe Animal is now named Soothe - Soothes the target, dispelling all enrage effects.
I won't hold it against you if you forgot this spell was in your spell book. Heck, I won't hold it against you if you never even trained it before. I'm not sure I've ever cast it in my 3+ years of WoW.

This is a good change. It takes a useless spell and gives it a use. It also gives druids a little utility that they didn't have before, but I think moonkin will feel the brunt of the added utility. I'll admit that it makes me a little nervous, since I've never had to dispel a not party target before. If you are in the same boat as I am you may want to familiarize yourself with mouse over macros.

Heart of the Wild:

Heart of the Wild now increases your maximum mana by 5/10/15% instead of increasing your Intellect by 2/4/6%.
I think Heart of the Wild just fell of a lot of Cata specs. Losing the Intellect boost and therefore damage boost is a big hit from a moonkin perspective, but you may still see it on some builds.

It's hard to say if moonkin will want it or not because we don't really know what the mana situation is yet. Also, the size of our mana pool doesn't have as big of an impact on our mana regen as it did in WotLK. Replenishment is still based on the mana pool, but moonkin got most of their mana from mana on crit which is no longer in game.

Note: There is also a blue post staying that this and Furor are switching places. I don't think this affects if the talent will be picked up though.

Master Shapeshifter:

Master Shapeshifter bonus increased from 2% to 4% for all forms.
Not a huge surprise for me. This just brings it up to the current live level, and I had always questioned if it was really 2% or if that was just old text for having just one point in the talent. My big concern here is the Natural Shapeshifter requirement that has always been a part of Master Shapeshifter. Hopefully they will get rid of the requirement or at least reduce the points needed for Natural Shapeshifter.

Relics Changed to Stat Sticks:

My feelings are a little mixed on this subject. Many of the moonkin idols like [Idol of the Shooting Star] and [Idol of the Crying Wind] have been pretty weak. Then you have some awesome idols like [Idol of the Lunar Eclipse]. This change seems to be both a buff and a nerf.

Here is a picture created by MMO Champion with all of the 264 ilevel relics converted into Cataclysm Stat sticks. The converted Idol of the Lunar Eclipse has 77 stam, 51 int, 34 crit, 34 haste, and a red socket. When I compare this to a few of the 264 ilevel wands in game this conversion seems fair if not generous.

On the positive side, we shouldn't have to deal with any more completely useless idols like the Idol of the Crying Wind, they will be easy to evaluate, and we should never have to use an idol that is a tier or two down from our current ilevel. On the negative side, we will probably never have an overly good idol like the Idol of the Lunar Eclipse. Some people will also miss the uniqueness of the idols, but I thought that their affects were pretty boring most of the time.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The "Fun" of Rotations and Synergy

In case you've missed it there has been a bit of a debate raging over the future of the Moonkin rotation among Moonkin Beta testers and other, not so lucky, moonkin like myself who are not in the beta. We've been talking about the current state of the moonkin rotation, where we think it should go and how we think it should be fixed. If you would like to read it you can find parts of it in several places (1, 2, 3), but I would like to take this opportunity and try and consolidate my thoughts. Due to the length of this post I am breaking it up into two parts. Part 1 will take a look at the real impact of synergy. Part 2 will come out Monday and take a look at Complexity and Unpredictability.


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:

  1. Conflagrate
  2. Immolate
  3. Chaos Bolt
  4. Incinerate
If you rank the destro spells by DPET without synergy then the ranking goes like this:

  1. Conflagrate
  2. Immolate
  3. Chaos Bolt
  4. Incinerate
Notice that the two rankings are exactly the same. In the actual rotation is Immolate is cast first since Conflagrate is a direct derivative of Immolate, but I think that is a minor difference. The more important thing to notice is that Immolate would be cast first even if it didn't buff Chaos Bolt and Incinerate. The only reason Incinerate is cast at all is because Conflagrate and Chaos Bolt have cooldowns.


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.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Why Genesis Still Sucks.

In my last post I said, "The only way to make Genesis significant would be to increase the buff significantly or increase our base DoT damage significantly." Some readers seem to have taken issue with at statement and posted comments in to support of Genesis. They implied that since DoTs are now impacted by Haste and Crit that DoT damage would significantly increase and thus Genesis would be come valuable.

I can't say whether or not Genesis will become a part of most Moonkin builds in Cataclysm. There are still to many moving parts to say that definitively, but I can say one thing. If the current version of Genesis is a part of most Moonkin builds in Cataclysm, it is not because it is a strong talent. Here's why.


I want to clarify what these two acronyms mean. I've seen a little confusion on the forums and such and want to make sure we are talking about the same stuff.

DPS - Damage per Second: DPS is a summary measurement. It tells you how well you did over a period of time. It's good for evaluating changes in rotation and spec, but it tells you very little about how to play your class without making those experimental changes.

DPET - Damage per Execution Time: DPET is purely a decision making tool. It tells you what spell to cast next. It's not as good at measuring overall damage because it is focused on a single spell. It can also cause you to overestimate the overall impact of a spell if you don't' understand the spells DPS value.

In this post I am going to be using DPS because I want to look at the overall impact of the Cataclysm changes. Yes, DoTs have very high DPETs. That is a good thing because we wouldn't cast them otherwise, but DPET doesn't tell us what they contribute to our overall DPS.

The Goal of the Test:

As I said above, we are still in a relatively early stage of development. It is impossible to say what will go live in a few months. However I want to gauge the impact of the Haste and Crit changes we've seen in the beta. To make things a little simpler, I am going to apply the changes to a level 80 moonkin. I will take a look at the current DPS of my DoTs. Then look to see how that will change with the Haste and Crit scaling of Cataclysm. I am not going to use all of the changes we've seen in Cataclysm because I think it would just muddy the waters. In the end I hope to show how haste and crit will in prove out DoTs. This in turn should allow us to estimate how significant DoTs will be for the Moonkin Rotation and finally show what impact Genesis will have.

  1. For these calculations I am going to base the stats off of a fully raid buffed Graylo. I will use 4650 spell power, 56.88% crit chance, and 36.40% haste without NG.
  2. I am also going to exclude Glyph of Insect Swarm, Glyph of Moonfire and Glyph of Starfire from the calculation. A big glyph revamp is coming and who knows if these glyphs will exist. Also, GoIS and GoMF would only lower the value of Genesis since it is an additive bonus. GoSF is excluded because it would have no impact on the calculation.
  3. I am going to apply NG at 15% rather then 20% since it has been specifically changed by Blizzard. I am also going to assume a 100% uptime. It's unrealistic, but it's easier and favors Genesis.
  4. I am including the damage bonus of Imp Moonfire but not the crit bonus. I do this to keep the damage consistent between WotLK and Cata, but not to over value how Moonfire will scale with Crit when the crit bonus is not available in Cata.
The Current DPS of DoTs:
IS per tick DPS = ((215+(4650*0.2))*1.2831)/2 = 734.57 DPS
MF per tick DPS = ((200+(4650*0.1302))*1.2831*1.2)/3 = 413.38 DPS
These values probably look low to you. That is because they are. First they exclude the glyphs, but it is also good to remember that this is a DPS look. Thinks that extend a DoTs duration don't increase the DoTs DPS even though they do increase the DoTs value. I also want to define the 1.2831 number I used. That is a combination of Earth and Moon (raid), Earth and Moon (self), Arcane Empowerment, and Master Shapeshifter.

DoT DPS with Haste and Crit:

IS per tick Damage = ((215+(4650*0.2))+((215+(4650*0.2))*(0.545*0.5688)))*1.2831 = 1925
IS tick Duration = 2/(1.3640*1.15) = 1.2750 seconds
IS per tick DPS = 1925 / 1.2750 = 1509.80 DPS

MF per tick Damage = ((200+(4650*0.1302))+((200+(4650*0.1302))*(1.09*0.5688)))*1.2831*1.2= 2009
MF tick Duration = 3/(1.3640*1.15) = 1.9125 seconds
MF per tick DPS = 2009 / 1.9125 = 1050.46 DPS

As you can see having our DoTs scale with Haste and Crit has a huge impact. It would cause the DPS of Insect Swarm to increase by 205%. The DPS growth of Moonfire is even bigger at 254%. Now lets add Genesis to the Equation.

DoT DPS with Haste, Crit, and Genesis:

IS per tick Damage = ((215+(4650*0.2))+((215+(4650*0.2))*(0.545*0.5688)))*1.2831*1.06 = 2040
IS tick Duration = 2/(1.3640*1.15) = 1.2750 seconds
IS per tick DPS = 2040 / 1.2750 = 1600.00 DPS

MF per tick Damage = ((200+(4650*0.1302))+((200+(4650*0.1302))*(1.09*0.5688)))*1.2831*1.26= 2109
MF tick Duration = 3/(1.3640*1.15) = 1.9125 seconds
MF per tick DPS = 2109 / 1.9125 = 1102.75 DPS

So, Genesis increases the DPS of IS by 6.00% as expected in this model. Moonfire is increased by only 5.00% when you factor in the additive bonuses of Moonfury and Imp MF.

Why Genesis Still Sucks:

So far so good right? Our DoTs have improved by more then 200%. Genesis now improves them by 6% instead of 5%. Genesis has got to be good now right?


DoTs are only a portion of our DPS. One of the key reasons Genesis sucks is that our DoTs make up a relatively small portion of our DPS. In ICC WotLK, DoTs are about 13% of a moonkins DPS. If the improvements go exactly as I've outlined above DoTs would increase to about 29% of our DPS.

So, the 6% from Genesis would only impact 29% of our rotation. Not only that, Genesis has a bigger impact on IS then it does on MF. In the end, a 6% increase to our DoTs ends up being about a 1.64% increase to our over all DPS. Given that this is an idealized situation that is a pretty small increase. It is a less then 1% per talent point and is even worse considering that the number of Talent points have been cut in half.

Adding glyphs would limit the significance of Genesis. Remember that glyphs and Genesis are additive bonuses. This means that if the Glyph of Insect Swarm becomes favored again, the 6% increase from Genesis gets eclipsed by the 30% increase from the glyph. For Moonfire, I already showed above how just Imp Moonfire and Moonfury reduces the buff from 6% to 5%. Now think about how another 75% from Glyph of Moonfire would limit the value of Genesis.

The Glyph of Insect Swarm is not typically used current, but adding the Glyph of bonuses reduces the overall DPS increase of Genesis from 1.64% to 1.40%.

If the traditional glyphs are excluded then the DPS of our DoTs is greatly reduced. Excluding the Glyph of Moonfire would result in a 16% decrease in the overall DPS from Moonkin DoTs and thus reducing the impact of Genesis. If you exclude the impact of Glyphs the over all impact DPS impact of Genesis shrinks from 1.64% to 1.40% as well.

So, glyphs or no glyphs Genesis is looking more like a 1.4% DPS increase instead of a 1.64% increase.


There is no doubt that having our DoTs scale with Haste and Crit will dramatically change how we value those spells. However, that does not mean every talent associated with a DoT is a good talent.

Some people are speculating that the increased value of our DoTs will breath new life into the much ignored talent Genesis. Unfortunately, the Math does not back that speculation up. In a very optimistic scenario I estimated the overall DPS bonus to be 1.64%. That is just 0.55% per talent point which is very low when compared to most of our other talents.

The most telling figure is that even if DoTs made up 100% of our DPS and Genesis would still only represent a 6% increase to our DPS or 2% per talent point. The average value of talent points is about 1% currently. Since Cata has half the number of talent points the average in Cata is probably 2%. Therefore, in the most unrealistic of circumstances the best that Genesis can be come is average.

It is very possible that the current version of Genesis could become a standard part of most raiding moonkin builds. If it is, its because we lack any better options, not because it is a strong talent.