Monday, January 30, 2012

My MoP Wish List - Part 2: Release and Moonkin Issues

Last week I posted part 1 of my MoP wish list focusing on a Gem Overhaul.

Here is part 2 of my MoP wish list, and most of it will focus on the things I would like to see for the Moonkin play style, but the first item is an exception.

So, lets get started.

A 2012 2Q or 3Q Release:

Oh god do I hope for a late 2Q or early Q3 release of Mists of Pandaria. I am really not sure I can keep playing Dragon Soul for 10 more months. I don't think anyone would oppose an earlier quicker release of the new expansion, but from what I've seen a lot of players are clearly skeptical of Blizzards ability to do so.

Yes, according to the spreadsheet that was leaked a couple of years ago, the planned release time frame for MoP was 2Q 2012, but lets be honest. Blizzard has been saying for years that they would like to release patches and new expansions more quickly, yet it still took them 2 years to release WotLK after TBC, and it took them 2 years to release Cata after WotLK. We also have yet to hear about Mop Alpha and Diablo 3 is way behind schedule.

That said, I'm optimistic. MoP shouldn't have some of the challenges that previous expansions had like completely reworking the old world and judging from the amount of information that has already been released, it seems like Mop is already farther along then most would expect before Alpha testing. That said, if we don't hear about alpha testing soon, I think we are looking at another holiday release.

A Simpler Moonkin:

During the WotLK expansion, we Moonkin complained and complained about Eclipse and the general state of Moonkin DPS, and the funny thing is part of me looks back on that time with envy. To be fair, I'm sure my some of my hindsight is tinted with rose colored glasses. The old model had very real and very big problems, but it wasn't the complicated mess that we have to day where players have to make choices on the fly with limited information.

The current moonkin DPS model is way to complicated in my opinion and I don't find it to be that fun. As far as I know, no other spec is expected to make the number of judgement calls we have to make just to do average DPS. What other class has to clip their DoTs frequently to make sure they are fully buffed? Which other spec, has to decided if it's better to cast a cooldown based Nuke now or later?

The good news is that according to the information already released about MoP, things should be improving. From what I can tell the changes that have been proposed so far, hit the mark of what we need. The changes to out DoTs will simplify them, but won't make them mindless and the change to Starfall ends the debate of when to cast it.

There are still things that need to be addressed but I like the way Blizzard is headed.

A Real Movement DPS Solution:

I have to give Blizzard credit for trying, but I think everyone would agree that the first attempt was a failure. At it's peak, Lunar Shower was used more as a Nuke then a movement DPS solution, and now at the end of Cataclysm it is almost universally ignored. Blizzard has said they want to revamp Lunar Shower for MoP, but the question I have is into what?

Here's the problem as I see it. All movement is very disruptive to casting and has a significant impact on DPS, because all movement will interrupt your cast. This is particularly bad for Moonkin since Starfire has the longest cast time of all the core nukes from all five caster DPS classes (yes, I know pyroblast is longer, but it's not really a spammed nuke from what I understand). This means that on average Moonkins will lose more casting time due to movement then other caster classes because our Nukes more time to cast on average. On top of that, our core DPS mechanic Eclipse is based upon us completing our casts. Therefore movement also means that we will transition between Eclipses more slowly again reducing out DPS in multiple ways. To be clear, having to move is bad for all DPS specs, but from what I can tell, Moonkins are one of the hardest hit when movement occurs.

The other half of the problem is that most movement isn't persistent and only lasts a few seconds at most. As a result, the solutions I've seen Blizzard implement so far have been a bit underwhelming. Take Lunar Shower for example, for it to have it's full impact it needs to be fully stacked which would take 3 seconds at the absolute minimum, and most movement would be over before it's fully stacked. The other example is the Shaman spell Spiritwalker's Grace that allows Ele's to cast while moving for 15 seconds. It's definitely, a nice thing to have for those long preplanned repositioning movements, but with a 2 minute cooldown, it has less of an impact on the short and spontaneous movements, that tend to be more of the norm in my experience.

As I'm sure you can tell, I'm not happy with either of the solutions above, but to be honest I don't have a great suggestion either. One idea I have liked, (but can't remember where I heard it) was what if they allowed casters to cast while moving but at a slower rate. For example if you start casting a 3 second spell but move for one second during the middle it would take 4 seconds in stead of 3, because that middle second took twice as long. It sounds like a very interesting idea, but I'm sure the technology needed to do something like that would be very complicated, and possibly prohibitive.

A Moonkin Execute:

How many of you have been in this situation? You're fighting a boss, and doing a respectable DPS. You take a quick look at the DPS meters and lets say for arguments sake you are number 5 in a 25man raid. Then, we get to the end of the encounter with just 25% health left on the boss and by the end of the encounter you're 10th instead of 5th. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

DPS can be very hard to judge mid-fight especially when you have a mechanic like eclipse that by definition makes your DPS streaky, but I'm tired of getting trashed in the "execute phase" of a fight. Moonkin need some sort of ability or buff that allows us to do ramped up DPS at the end of a fight just like most of the other DPS specs in the game. That said, it needs to be done with care, so that we aren't once again crippled by complexity.


Xaktsaroth said...

I´m tired of being so locked by eclipse.
Never liked the mechanic since it was made.
We are crippled compared to every single dps, until we hit eclipse. That is easier said then done especially in small scale pvp.
In boss fights where you burn all you have at the start to maximize the raid dps it really sucks I have to wait on eclipse before I can start consider doing damage.
What we really lack is a good on demand burst ability and as you said a finisher.
The burst we seem to be getting something tough now if current calculator goes somewhat live.

But aside from the damage perspective we also really lack something to increase our survival. All speccs has something to push in an "oh shit" momemt except for maybe shamans.
Heart of the wild could arguably be said to be such button for us but I would not really want to label it as that since it will be against melee damage only.

odem said...

SC2: Heart of the Swarm after D3 too I imagine.

Certain in fact.

Perhaps HotS and MoP won't be too far apart. I'd say both are far more along than we may expect purely because blizz prolly always wanted to have d3 released by now. So they are all having a bit of bonus time.

Fragglerok said...

I realise you don't PvP, but this is an aspect of balance druid that is most in need of repair and that should fairly be on the wish list for MoP.

Even the previous bastion of druid PvP (resto) is badly in need of help, but boomers, the perennial PvP joke, are still even worse than resto.

In short:

- boomkin lack an immunity equivalent (dispersion, ice block, bubble);
- they rely on DoTs but have no dispel protection;
- they are denied survivability buffs on the grounds of their (ineffective) healing capacity despite that healing being worse in many cases than pure DPS classes (DKs, warriors, rogues, warlock drains, mage evocation) who in addition to self heals have other avoidance mechanics (vanish, blink, teleport, plate armour and AMS);
- they have a 1 minute cooldown on interrupt (solar beam) compared with 8-22s for other classes.

It is fair to say that granting a Balance druid all of these changes would massively overpower it, and so it needs to be done sensibly.

However the bottom line is that Blizzard's "cautious" approach to granting Boomkins PvP power has left them a standing joke of a PvP spec for many seasons (arguably the entire game, except for a 3 day window when Starfall was massively OP - quickly hotfixed though).

Surely you must eventually get to the point where Blizzard should be prepared to risk erring on the upside, and making the spec viable.

Tarian said...

Warlocks are getting a talent in MoP called Kil'Jaden's Guile (I believe is the name) that does the cast while moving thing. Honestly I don't see why this isn't more widely implemented. A lot of other rpg's and mmo's have shown the benefits of moving while casting. It has even been done on a few fights with no serious repercussions.

Caeli said...

For the movement problem, maybe they could do something like "When the caster is moving before finishing a cast, a counter tracks seconds that passes (up to x) and allow the caster to reduce the cast time of their next casts by 50% of the counter ( or y %, kind of numbers that they can adjust to balance it), with a minimum of z secs of cast time." ?
It will be interesting to check how things will turn out in the release of Mop.

Anonymous said...

"The changes to out DoTs will simplify them, but won't make them mindless and the change to Starfire, ends the debate of when to cast it."

I assume you meant to say Starfall? Doesn't really make much sense otherwise.

Graylo said...

I'm not sure how much the other titles would delay MoP from being released. Obviously they wouldn't want to release them right on top of each other since they would fight for attention and DL bandwith, but I bet the development teams are mostly separate. With that in mind I think the biggest delay will always come from them not being able to get done what they want to get done in the amount of time they want to get it done in. If you had asked me two months ago, if we would hear out the MoP alpha by now I would have said yes, which makes me think we will be seeing MoP later then expected. If that is the case it will be really interesting to see what happens to WoW subcription numbers over the next year. There are already a lot of guilds that have finished DS and many that are really close as well.

I really think blizzard can't go a year without new content this time, or they will pay a big price for it.

Good points.

I knew I heard that idea somewhere. Thanks for pointing it out.

I still have some doubts about how possible it is tech wise since this is a MoP idea, and won't necessarily go live, but it's good to know that the people at blizzard at least think it's possible.

You are correct, and I have corrected the post. Thanks for the help.

Lespaul said...

The fact that Boomkin have been so bad at PvP since more or less forever, is a big kick in the rear for pve Boomkins since PvP was the chief reason that Lunar Shower was changed to increase eclipse power which was a significant loss.

To 'fix' the eclipse problem, I see no reason why the transition phases between eclipses couldn't just be removed. So effectively, you would just move straight into lunar from solar and vice versa. Ofcourse, this would effectively mean the end of eclipse as a buff as you would just have it permanently. Mastery would then become eclipse to some extent. It would also increase the weight of mastery as it would be effective at any point during the rotation so a reduction to bring it in line would be required. Eclipse could then be replaced with a propper dps cooldown - maybe something like Owlkin Frenzy that provides a flat 10% damage increase for say 20 sec on a 3 minute cooldown.

Anonymous said...

The simplest way would be if moving would not interrupt the spell at all, but freezes it, continuing when you stop moving.
For the small spontanous moves you mentioned it would mean only loosing the second you run 3 paces, for the long movement phases every caster should probably have a spiritwalk equivalent.

Evoshroom said...

Why not just let us cast Wrath and Starfire while moving? Both fire mages and ele shaman have this ability for some of their attacks. I like the idea of a moving version of the spell taking longer or even better hitting slightly less hard.

Also, to the person who said Boomkins suck in PvP, they only suck in 2v2 and 3v3. In 5s and RBGs they are very good. That being said, they definitely need some PvP-oriented buffs and fixes. Honestly, being able to cast while moving would be a great fix for PvP viability.

Graylo said...


Lunar Shower wasn't primarily changed for PvP. PvP might have had something to do with it, but LS was changed because blizzard didn't want people hanging out in Solar spamming sunfire and shuffling from left to right to keep LS's stack up. I don't know if that was done in PvP as well but it was extremely common in PvE.

As far as your Eclipse idea goes, I think it's interesting, but not sure if I like it. It would maintain the goal of using both Wrath and Starfire, but it guts how eclipse interacts with the rest of our abilities.

Anonymous said...

With regards to Spiritwalker's Grace, we (elementals) don't use it unless we have a prolonged movement period where we would have to cast Lava Burst (Eg: Morchok) or have to maintain heavy aoe on adds while moving (Eg: Yorsahj).

Take a look at Unleashed Lightning. It allows us to cast Lighting Bolt (our primary nuke) on the move. Due to how our glyhs work out in the dps contribution, we forfeit the 4% damage glyph to LB.

Someone suggested Owlkin Frenzy becoming a dps cooldown. Their suggestion is very much in line with Elemental Mastery. (15% damage plus 20% haste for 15s) It's a 3 minute CD, but talents and gear bring it down to 75-90s.


Jabari said...

Disclaimer: I'm a newbie-moonkin (and just returning to the game, not played since BC)...

First off, remember the tools that you DO have: A pair of ranged AoE interrupts, two different AoE snares, a great AoE emergency heal, and Cyclone (which can be an interrupt of sorts, escape mechanism, or temporary emergency CC).

My suggestions:
- First off, the Balance tree is a mess. Is there any other tree in the game where the 26-30 point talents are simply either not wanted or a small piece of utility? Maybe roll Sunfire into the Base Balance stuff, and replace Lunar Shower with some kind of straight-up DPS increase?

- Substantially buff Force of Nature. It's ridiculous how good my Enhancement Shaman's Feral Spirits are compared to these guys - the dogs stun things, heal me a ton, do a crapload of damage, and make cool growling and barking noises. They can actually Growl (for threat). They have a shorter cooldown (with the same duration). Shall I go on?

I'd personally recommend giving the Treants some kind of "heal when they hit", either a "smart heal" (lowest % friendly within X yards) or just a small AoE heal (like a temporary Healing Stream Totem). Reduce the cooldown to two minutes as well, of course.

- Buff Barkskin. Again comparing to my Shaman - Shamanistic Rage is 30% (i.e. > 25%), plus the Shaman clears off bad magic when you hit it (glyphed).

- One other small tweak might be to allow casting Rejuv without breaking Owl. This gives you something useful to do while in motion (more useful than MF spam, at least). Letting Rejuv trigger NG might be kind of nice at times too.

Wow, that turned into a TL;DR, but hopefully there are a couple decent ideas in that mess someplace :)

Sabnock said...

My main concern is about the design of the Pandaria's druid in which we are forced to play hybrid and when they do a choose like this, it's very hard to them to change their minds.
Hybridization, for them, is the solution of the main problem "my spec is not viable in this context", so in order to fix pve/pvp issue for all 4 combination, they simply give us an useless tool. It's "useless" not because the entire concept of playing hybrid is garbage, but for the simple reason that if I want to play a caster dps as moonkin, I don't want are forced to heal, for example. A second deepler reason is that they don't want mandatory class, so I assume that they will not design all fights to have a druid, or more, that will switching into a crippled healer in order to pass a difficult phase.
I don't ever hope that all specs will be viable in all context (when I complaying some lacks usually some guildmate says that it's normal that you can't do a great dps with balance in pvp, for example, cause if you want to do pvp you have to play feral, as if every spec have only one purpose and I have to use my selfcontrol to avoid to chocke to death him), but even if they can make every spec viable in only one context each I would be happy.

Sorry for the wall of text and a probably very bad english.

Azrael said...

You might want to check the talent changes in MoP... most of what you said becomes moot one way or another.

Also, regarding Barkskin, remember that Moonkin have innate damage reduction, unlike Shamans.

Heezashee said...

One of my biggest pet peaves is that Natures Grasp with the 3 charges is literally useless in pvp. I remember the day when this was implemented and thought it would be so great, but when every class can slow you, stun you, pull you back etc, the root gets your enemy and your enemy gets a stuck in place chicken to skewer till death. We simply cant get away and I thought that was the point of it, but it doesn't work like that. The root from Natures Grasp needs to be a different color than normal roots and it needs to completely make us chickens immune to being stopped for 5 seconds so we can have a chance to get away. Just make it useful and I'd be happy.

Anonymous said...

I usually play feral, but in the previous couple of tiers I enjoyed going Moonkin on a few fights.

However I believe DS has really illustrated the fact that the enjoyment factor of Moonkin in those early tiers was more a result of fight mechanics that anything great about the spec.

Whereas previously I had fun playing moonkin, now I just find it a bit soul destroying.

Single target boss fights as a moonkin has to be one of the most boring things in WoW. Not to mention the fact you can go through a perfect rotation and still have awful dps.

In previous tiers multi-dotting and shrooms made moonkins dps godly, but now not even that can't save us.

If you want to get a real feel of how much moonkins are getting screwed, play a fire mage. Fire mages have good dps on single target bosses with a very interesting and exciting rotation. On fights with adds they really come alive and its very exciting to play. The satisfaction of spreading ignites and combustion is something that makes the spec so great to play.

I feel moonkins will never know this level of satisfaction. Your more likely to get that sinking feeling when you realise you are going to be out of solar eclipse when all the adds spawn. Or those frustrating 3 GCD you spend on mushrooms only to realise the adds have moved.

And how about that part of the fight when you really need to burn the boss.... every other class pots, hits a CD and goes to town. Moonkins pot exactly the same thing they did before.

Anyway, I won't be touching my Moonkin again until MoP.

Heezashee said...

i agree, mushrooms have been the joke spell of cataclysm and could have been really cool but just weren't implemented properly. they're too slow to cast in battle and place properly when things move alot and the casters have to move alot as well, they end up being better in a situation where you cast them before battle and then trigger them later, but the whole placement issue during battle makes them useless and clumsy in my opinion.

i know this has been mentioned on many moonkin forums in the past, but i'd have liked to see mushrooms used differently, like maybe be able to cast them on players/mobs and have different triggers, for instance, cast a mushroom on someone in pvp and instead of having just one trigger, you could have different triggers, one trigger that explodes them to do direct damage, another trigger that would spread the slowdown on the ground, and another trigger that would cause a DoT poison, and another trigger that would be a HoT to heal us as long as we were within 20 yards of the enemey target...

i also like the idea of making Owlkin Frenzy a castable cooldown instead of a random proc like it is now, would be so much better...

and natures grasp should not have 3 stacks of roots, it should be called natures storm and have 3 charges of cyclone instead...

also, would be nice to reduce the cooldown on solar beam by 10 to 15 seconds so we can use it just a tad more often...

could be cool to have barkskin disarm any melee attackers for 20 seconds in addition to the damage reduction, that could help in pvp for those "locked in place next to a rooted enemy" situations we always find ourselves in...