Monday, June 13, 2011

Patch Notes: Starfire & Wrath Buffed - 4T11 Nerfed

This change was announced late Friday, so I'm sure most of you have already seen it. Just in case you have not, this is what you missed.
  • Starfire damage has been increased by approximately 23%.
  • Wrath damage has been increased by approximately 23%.
  • The 4-piece Balance druid tier 11 PvE set bonus, Astral Alignment, now provides a total of 15% critical strike chance with 3 charges, decreasing by 5% per charge, instead of 99% decreasing by 33% per charge. This change was made because the set bonus proved so valuable it was not possible to upgrade out of the set into tier 12. To compensate, changes have been made to Starfire and Wrath (listed at the top of the druid class section). (src)
The current live version of 4T11 is very strong. So much so that there was some talk that it might be best to ignore the T12 set and stick with T11. I don't think that would have been worth while in the long run, but clearly it's a situation Blizzard wants to avoid after the 2T8 issues we had in WotLK. The question is how effective is this change?

I've tried to look at this change from a couple of different angles and it looks like the results are favorable. First, I looked at the WoL parses of five different moonkin over a series of fights to see what a 23% damage increase would do to the parse results. When I applied a straight 23% buff to Starfire and Wrath it increased the total damage of the parses between 5.16% and 7.77%. That is a pretty wide margin and a significant portion of the variation seems to be due to the presence of Dark Intent, which fights are included, and player skill. This of course doesn't account for the nerf to 4T11, but I think it's obvious that 23% buff is a significant increase.

I also tried to compare the change using WrathCalcs. Hamlet has created a version that takes these new changes into account and I compared the results I got from the PTR version to the current live version using the same set of gear, glyphs, and rotation. When I compared the two versions of WrathCalcs I saw a 3.01% buff to overall DPS from these changes. EJ poster Berthold also ran the changes through SimulationCraft and had favorable results. Using standard glyphs and rotations, SimulationCraft showed the change to be worth a 2.13% buff. If you changed a few changes he showed a 4.87% buff.

All and all it's clear that this is a positive change from a purely mathematical point of view. However, it's also a great change from a quality of life point of view. This will simplify a few things while we wait to pick up our T12 set pieces. For example, using Starfall around the start of Eclipse will no longer be a DPS loss due to losing Astral Alignment charges to Starfall hits. In short, this change not only buffs the overall damage of a moonkin but it also simplifies the moonkin rotation a little bit which I think is a good thing. However, there are a few ripple effects from this change that we should consider.

The Glyph Impact:

Of the Prime Glyphs, Glyph of Insect Swarm and Glyph of Moonfire will still be the two dominate glyphs, but these buffs will change the debate about the third glyph a little. Glyph of Starsurge will still be the best Glyph when you have multiple targets and can cast Starfall on cooldown. In fact, Glyph of Starsurge is probably buffed a small amount because we no longer have to worry about using it during Astral Alignment, and it can get more of a buff from Lunar Eclipse.

The changes occur in Single target fights and in fights where Starfall is unlikely to be cast on cooldown. In 4.1, many of the top moonkin preferred Glyph of Starfire in these situations because it allowed us to cast Moonfire just once per Eclipse transition and most if not all of our MF/SF dots would be buffed by Eclipse. However, a buff to Wrath is also a buff to the Glyph of Wrath, and according to the calculations I did with WrathCalcs, in T12 level gear the Glyph of Wrath moved ahead of Glyph of Starsurge in these single target situations.

In my opinion this is a happy side effect, because it's another simplification of the Moonkin rotation which I think is a little overly complicated at the moment. Not using Glyph of Starsurge should make it a little easier to track and reapply DoTs, because the dot durations should stay aligned.

Is Starsurge Worth it?

I hadn't considered this possibility when I first read the change, but some observant people wondered how this change would Starsurge and our over all cast priority. In patch 4.1 we saw a significant nerf to Starsurge. In patch, 4.2 it looks like we are going to see a significant buff to our other nukes. On top of that, the 4T12 set bonus, diminishes Starsurge in terms of Damage per Energy. Considering all of this together you have to wonder if Starsurge is worth it in 4.2 raiding.
Hamlet has already made a great post on Elitist Jerks considering this question. What Hamlet says is that from a damage perspective Starsurge is still a strong spell. Starsurge has "the damage of a Starfire in the cast time of a Wrath," Therefore it's still stronger then both of the other spells from a damage perspective. When you consider Energy production and usage Starsurge is still favorable in all situations up until you have the 4T12 set bonus.

Once you get 4T12 the situation gets a little more complicated. With the 4T12 set bonus Starsurge will generate slightly less Energy per Second then Wrath or Starfire outside of Eclipse. As a result there are some situation where casting a Starsurge could extend the down time of Eclipse longer then necessary. However, as Hamlet indicates, this shouldn't be a big concern. The chance that Starsurge will extend your Eclipse down time is fairly small, and the mental math you would have to do to determine when Starsurge isn't advantageous is pretty complicated. Therefore, it's probably best to simplify your rotation and just cast Starsurge on cooldown as we do currently.

Other Concerns: Lunar Shower

The new changes do not impact the debate over skipping Lunar Shower in patch 4.2 at all but I want to take another look at it since we are getting pretty close to the patch being released.

In case you've forgotten when 4.2 is released "while under the effects of Lunar Shower, Moonfire generates 8 Solar Energy, and Sunfire generates 8 Lunar Energy." This change has lead to many people questioning if we should spec into Lunar Shower at all. I honestly thought we would see another change to Lunar Shower before 4.2 is released, because I don't think this is a question Blizzard wants to leave up to the player. However, since we've seen no change in the month since this patch note was announced and all indications are pointing to 4.2 being ready for release, it's a question that we players are going to half to answer.

From my point of view, there aren't a whole lot of positives for specing into Lunar Shower when 4.2 goes live. On a movement heavy fight it can still be a significant source of DPS. Yes, it will cause you to use up your Eclipse power and move out of Eclipse more quickly, but that is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it will also allow you to move into Solar Eclipse. Unfortunately that highlights the problem that Moonfire's energy generation is asymetric. Moonfire will generate Solar energy when your out of Eclipse and moving towards Solar, but generates no energy when out of Eclipse and moving towards Lunar.

However, the problem with skipping Lunar Shower is that there aren't any good alternative talents. Even when we do spec into Lunar Shower we still have 6 points to spend on optional talents that provide minor DPS gains, mana or utility. From my perspective, I don't have a big need for additional talent points to pick up utility.

In the end I think speccing into Lunar Shower is going to depend heavily on what fight is being worked on currently. If there is a fight that encourages a significant amount of multi-dotting with low movement, then you will see a lot of people getting out of Lunar Shower so they don't consume Eclipse with their Moonfire casts. However, outside of a big multi-dot fight, I don't see a reason to spec out of it. On single target fights without much movement Lunar Shower shouldn't have any significant impact, but none of the other available talents would either. On a fight with heavy movement Moonfire spam may be very beneficial.


Volunsteer - Shadowmoon said...

I am happy about this change. I hated having my 4piece proq and watch it tick away while I am moving to where I need to be or getting MC'd by heroic nef and having to stack the buff instead of nuke. Being able to smash faces with our nukes for 23% more dmg is nice. I HATE the nerf to starsurge and think that pvp related nerfs are silly but I understand them. How these changes will TRULY affect our dps in the upcoming tier has yet to be determined and we will see how we measure up to our fellow casters on the meter through the new tier.

All in all, thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to making this a great place to come for lazer chicken advice / info. Even with your busy home life, raid schedule, and working you provide an excellent source of dataz...

Anonymous said...

I have yet to get my 4PC set, have the two piece and the points saved,just need the token. Am I pretty much SoL or if I don't get it before 4.2 (guild will prob move to new content) and/or will the new tier will just be better overall...

Unheilvoll said...

So speccing into lunar shower makes you needing to go lunar eclipse before the movement starts? Because if you have to move a lot and you are in solar eclipse, you would need a lot of more time to get to lunar than in the other option, isn't it?

Teranin said...

Any thoughts on the idea of replacing poorly itemized tier bits (thus forfeiting the 4T11 entirely) with decently itemized offset stuff?

Has the relative weight of the 4T11 become so low that this is now an option depending what the trade off is?

/ponders :s

Tilgare said...

"While under the effects of Lunar Shower, Moonfire generates 8 Solar Energy, and Sunfire generates 8 Lunar Energy."

I really do hope that they change the mechanics of Lunar Shower to allow for positive energy generation exactly how Starsurge does. That way, you're moving forward all the time instead of it being asymmetric. It seems rather silly for *fire to stop generating Lunar Energy as soon as Solar Eclipse drops off.

Graylo said...


I haven't done the math, but choosing not to have a set bonus is almost never a good idea. Set bonuses, even bad ones, are like free DPS.

If your thinking of replacing your T11 set pieces with other T11 items is definately a mistake. There's no way your going to make up the set bonus DPS stats with better itemization.

It might be possibleto get better DPS using non-set T12 items over T11 set items, but again I doubt it. If anything they are likely to be relatively equal. Plus it shoudln't take to long to pick up your first couple of Tier 12 set pieces.


That is the hope, but in my opinion the chances of that happening before the patch are slim to none. Blizzard is well aware of the players concern in this regard, and have choosen to not make a change for what ever reason.

mushu said...


You say that Blizz is fully aware of our concerns but have chosen to not make any changes, but I think they aren't fully aware. Because they have said previously (GC I believe) that a patch won't get released until it's "ready".

So we have to assume that on the 21st the patch is "ready" and is exactly the way they wanted it to be for the next tier of raiding.

The big issue they need to address for boomkins is the asymmetric energy consumption of our spells, since more spells generate one type of energy than the other way. This means we will move out of our best dps window much faster than we should, even though it will take the same amount of time to get there.

C'mon Blizz, that just simply sucks. You can do better than this..

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that Glyph of Starsurge will still be the best Glyph when you have multiple targets and can cast Starfall on cooldown.

I was under the impression that no matter how many targets you have 20 stars are going to fall during that 10 seconds.

My question I suppose is.. If they do not all fall in 10 seconds, How many targets do you need to have all 20 fall ?

Graylo said...


As I said Blizzard is fully aware of our concern regarding the asymmetry of MF power generation. I know this because there have been tons of posts on the forums, and I and at least one other person that I know of has emailed the concern directly to a developer. They are aware of the concern, but that doesn't mean they are going to do anything about it.

Many players forget that Blizzard has it's own issues, concerns, and timelines. As much as we like to think we understand the system, Blizzard understands it better because they know all of the technical aspects, they know how the knew fights are likely to work, they likely have a much better database showing how players actually play.

So, just because they are aware of the concern doesn't mean they feel the need to do something about it. They may think it's not that significant for whatever reason, and don't believe a change is needed. Maybe, they think it is a significant issue, but maybe there are bigger fish to fry and it's not so significant to postpone the tier. Another possibility is that they don't know how significant it is and want to look at some ingame data before they make a change.

In no way am I suggesting that Blizzard shouldn't have made a change to fix this asymmitry before patch 4.2. I agree with the concern and think it should be fixed, and blizzard has been wrong about the significance of some of these types of concerns in the past. However, Players have been wrong about these types of concerns probably 10 times more often.

Lets not assume that they don't know what they are doing or that they don't know about the concern just because they aren't doing what we want them to. There are several other things it could be.


You only need two targets to get all 20 stars out.

mushu said...

An even bigger concern of mine has been for years, that Blizz still considers hybrids a "utility" class, and that idea taints their thoughts on class design.

Back in the old days of WoW we were told that druids would never do as much dps as "pures" because we had more utility and they didn't want everyone to just play a druid. True story bro!

Fast-forward to Blizz giving other classes every type of utility that druids had also, and some type of failed comment about "bring the player not the class" and now we have the current situation: other classes can battle-res, innervate, heal, haste aura...yet we are *still* not able to match the dps output of the "pures".

That, in a nutshell, is the problem. In order for me to be right below the pures on the dps meter I have to play virtually perfectly and hope that RNG smiles upon me. That includes mastering one of the most complex spell rotations of any class, and having a lot of macros and add-ons running for proper timing. The pures can mostly just faceroll and top the meters (coughhunterscough)...

The unbalanced "Balance" spell power generation is just a symptom of that flawed thought process by Blizz developers imo.

Lothildin said...

so....GC wrote this:

We changed several Balance druid mechanics to cut down on the damage they could do while moving in both PvP and PvE and to cut back on some of their strength in multi-dot fights in PvE. Furthermore, we felt like druids were spending too much time at one end or the other of the Eclipse bar by using dots rather than moving the bar back and forth as intended.

Let me ask he fucking drunk? Only thing he will achieve is the exact opposite of it. We will still spend time in Solar, but we either dont pick the talent or cast SF or whatever.
Why the hell cant they do it the easy way? Buff Hurricane, make it so it's buffed by Lunar Eclipse, nerf Eclipse, buff un-eclipsed damage. Tada, problem solved.
Urgh, obvious troll developer is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Cos a nature spell buffed under an arcane buff makes so much sense...

Az said...

You mean similar to how Moonfire getting buffed by Eclipse would be stupid?

Oh, wait...

Graylo said...


I think you just have a chip on your shoulder and aren't looking at he situation realistically.

What indication to you have to indicate that blizzard thinks hybrids are "utility" classes. Moonkin DPS has never been better then it has been in Cataclysm. That isn't to say everything is perfectly balanced, but you make it sound like Balance is the forgotten spec.

As someone who played Balance since TBC, Moonkins are not a Utility spec, and we are not significantly behind in DPS. If you really want to complain about his sort of thing, go play an elemental shaman.


Lets not be stupid. What on earth makes you think we want to stay in solar after this change? The current live Lunar Shower encourages us to stay in Solar because we can sit there and spam Sunfire when we don't have a DoT to cast, or when WM is on cooldown. Once the new Lunar Shower is active that will be impossible. The point is if you deside to stay in Solar in 4.2 you will be sub par DPS because you are either not casting anything ore casting an extreme mana expensive nuke that does little damage because it is no longer buffed by Lunar Shower.

It's obvious who the troll is here and it's not GC or any of the other developers.

Anathor said...


I think it will depend a lot on the fights in Firelands (I have to say I haven't looked at them yet), the only reason to spec into LS right now would be if there are lots of "moderate aoe" fights, i.e. fights where the aoe part lasts 30 seconds or less. That's about the timeframe to cast the 10-12 SF to get out of Eclipse (the out of Eclipse time also being known as "no damage phase"), I say 10-12 depending on if you use the SS proc or not. Add a couple of WMs and you might reach the 30 seconds of full aoe efficiency. Anything longer than that and you have to either just spam WM and have downtime, or use Hurricane.

So unless the fights in Firelands require "burst aoe" in the 20-30 seconds range, I see little reason to spec into LS. For shorter aoe burst we don't have time to ramp up LS anyway (and it will screw us up on 2-traget rotation). For longer aoe burst since spamming SF would take us out of solar too fast, it'd be better to apply IS/SF to all mobs (w/o loss of energy), spam WM on CD, spec into Gale Windsand use Hurricane/Typhoon.

LS looks like a PvP talent to me now. I am not planning to spec into it whatsoever, as it makes our life more complicated for what seems like negligible gain.

mushu said...

Hey Graylo, not sure if you'll see this since I'm posting in an old(er) blog entry, but I wanted to add that my earlier comment about "utility spec" classes is supported by GC quotes, amazingly even some of my words, so here you go:

Graylo said...


I am well aware of the comments that have been made regarding the "hybrid tax."

There's nothing in those comments that supports your arguement. In fact, GC doesn't call hybrids utility specs at all.

If you read through it GC's arguement can be summarized down to this:

1. Hybrids provided to much utility in TBC, so some classes were excluded like ret pallys and Mages.
2. Since hybrid utility was nerfed significantly they had to buff the dps of hybrids dramatically, which they did.
3. They were worried that if Hybrids or equal to pure dps then no one would bring pures because hybrids have the possibility of respecing to heal or tank, so they gave a small benefit to pures to maintain a balance.

As far as I can tell Mages, Locks, Hunters, and Rogues can't heal or tank (with a few unusual exceptions). Also, if you look at the top guilds a vast majority of them have moonkins in their raid teams. If you remember back to TBC this is a big change since Moonkins weren't being brought at all.

If you're being exclude from raids because of your DPS compared to that of the pures then one of two things is true. 1. your raid leaders are idiots. or 2. You need to work to improve.