Since the release of patch 4.3 I've received several questions about the Moonkin 4 piece set bonus, and had been working on this post for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, it is now a little late given new information from the recent PTR build, but I would like to go ahead and get it out there to answer any questions that might be lingering.
Fun With SimulationCraft: The Moonkin 4T13 Set Bonus
When the set bonuses were reveled on the PTR months ago, the criticism of the 4T13 set bonus was pretty quick and pretty loud. I don't remember seeing a single theorycrafter or analysis that suggested it was a strong set bonus, and I like a lot of people thought it should and would be buffed. However, it quickly became clear that Blizzard wasn't going to buff it (at least before the patch), and the question became: should we use it?
Since the 4T13 set bonus is being change on the PTR to also buff Starsurge's damage by 10%, the answer to that question is a bit obvious now. Of course we will want the set bonus when the 4.3.2 patch is released. But lets take a look at the numbers anyway. Who knows when the new patch is going to be released some of you might find this info helpful in the mean time.
- All of the results generated below were generated out of SimulationCraft using the simc-430-4 build.
- Most of the results were created using the Moonkin Heroic T13 build that comes with the program, but a few of the results were created using a Normal mode Moonkin T13 build that I created. I did this to answer a specific question that will be come obvious later.
- SimulationCraft obviously isn't updated yet for changes that occurred last night. So, I estimated the benefit of the new 4T13 set bonus by increasing Starsurge's DPS on the old 4T13 results by 10%. I think this is a reasonable estimate, but it may be a little generous since that assumes the buff is multiplicative and it may not be. Either way, I don't think it changes my conclusions and I don't have a way of getting more accurate results at the moment.
- Rotation Change 1: The default SC Moonkin Rotation has you detonate Wild Mushrooms at the start of the fight when not in Solar Eclipse. I added a condition to only detonate it when Solar Eclipse is up. It was a tiny improvement.
- Rotation Change 2: The default SC Moonkin Rotation has you only cast Starsurge while you are in Eclipse. I changed it to cast Starsurge on Cooldown. I can see delaying a Starsurge cast a little right before Lunar Eclipse, but it doesn't make sense to me at other times and my results agree with my logic. Let me know if I'm missing something.
- All results are from a Patchwerk style simulation. I did run the simulations on helter skelter, but it didn't change the results significantly.
The Set Bonus Valuations:
From what I can tell most moonkin are using Glyph of Wrath for most fights in Dragon Soul because Glyph of Starsurge doesn't make sense with a few exceptions. That said, I ran the results using both glyphs for a comparison.
Glyph of Wrath:
|No Set Bonus||Only 2T13||Live 4T13||PTR 4T13|
As you can see from these results the Live version of 4T13 buffs Moonkin DPS by about 0.8344%. This is easily one of the weakest Moonkin set bonuses in the history of the game. However, that doesn't mean it's useless either. While a 0.8344% buff isn't particularly strong, it's not something to be ignored either. I've seen plenty of players expend a lot of effort for a smaller bonus.
Glyph of Starsurge:
|No Set Bonus||Only 2T13||Old 4T13||New 4T13|
These results might give us a little clue as to why Blizzard was hesitant to buff the 4T13 set bonus before the patch went live. I wouldn't be surprised if Blizzard was expecting some level of Synergy between the 4T13 set bonus, Glyph of Starsurge, and Lunar Eclipse. These results show us that that expectation isn't completely baseless since the 4T13 set bonus is significantly more valuable when using Glyph of Starsurge instead of Glyph of Wrath.
That said, the results also show that Glyph of Starsurge isn't always the best choice even if it does synergize well with the 4T13 set bonus. These results are from a single target patchwerk simulation and Glyph of Wrath out performed Glyph of Starsurge in every simulation. Glyph of Starsurge would be better in multi target situations, but only two of the Dragon Soul raids fit that description in my opinion. In three of the fights it may be useful, but somewhat iffy, and in the other three fights Glyph of Starsurge would clearly be bad.
Before coming to any conclusion on the usefulness of the 4T13 set bonus we have to look at the alternatives. It's not enough for the set bonus to be bad or sub par. We have to have a better alternative to replace to declare the 4T13 useless. Luckily answering this question proved to be easier then I expected it to be.
Heroic Gear Level:
At the T13 heroic gear level the answer is easy. There literally are not any ilevel equivalent alternatives. The only head, shoulder, chest, hands, and leg option we have at the 410 ilevel are the tier pieces. To be fair, you could use the resto tier instead of the moonkin tier but that only seems to make sense in the chest slot. The other option is to use lower ilevel items, but doesn't make sense either when you look at Normal Mode gear.
Normal Gear Level:
At the normal gear level there are some non-tier options for four out of the five slots, but none of them are a clearly better choice. In most cases you would be trading one secondary stat for a lesser secondary stat like trading Haste for Mastery. The other issue is that the non-tier items have a lot spirit on them that could be difficult to get rid of and balance around. In short, if you ignored the set bonus in this way, you would be losing the set bonus without any significant stat gain. Obviously this is a DPS loss.
The final option would be to use two items from T12 so in hopes that the 2T12 set bonus is better for your DPS then the 4T13 and better stats from a higher ilevel. Anyone who has played this game for a while knows this isn't unheard of. In ToC during WotLK all moonkin continued to use the T8 items because the 4T8 set bonus was extremely over powered. A more recent example is that before patch 4.2 was released may moonkin were going to continue to use their T11 gear to keep the 4T11 set bonus, until Blizzard announced a nerf to the set bonus.
The question though, is 2T12 that good? The answer is, that it's not.
Using a 397 ilevel gear set I ran two simulations, swapping out the chest and legs of the Normal level Deep Earth moonkin gear for the chest and legs of the heroic level Obsidian Arborweave. The simulation with a full 4T13 set bonus had an average DPS of 37,697. The simulation with 2T12/2T13 set bonuses had an average DPS of 37,661.
While it is clear that the 2T12 set bonus is better then the 4T13 set bonus, it is not so much better that we can ignore the ilevel difference and continue to use the 2T12 set bonus without a DPS loss. Since the two numbers are so close it's not a big loss, but given that there is a clear advantage to upgrading to the heroic level tier gear it doesn't make sense to stick with the T12 level items.
The live version of the 4T13 set bonus is one of the weakest I've seen in my years of playing a moonkin. However, due to a lack of alternatives, there is no reason we should ignore it, especially considering the buff it has received on the latest PTR build.