Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tier 4 Updates: Beta Build 15589

According to MMO Champion there is a new beta build on the way, and if MMO Champion's datamining is correct it has a lot of changes for all of the classes. Most of the druid changes were for Feral and Restoration, and there aren't many that significantly affect Balance. Who knows what this means about the status of Moonkin development, but lets take a look at the few bits of new information that we do have.

Incarnation v3:

It should come to no one's surprise that Chosen of Elune (the moonkin portion of Incarnation) has been changed once again. This is a good thing because version two turned out to be pretty bad and only became worse at higher levels of gear. Now we have to decide if this new version is an improvement. Here is what MMO Champion has on the change.

Incarnation: Chosen of Elune - No longer doubles Solar and Lunar power generation. Instead increases all Arcane and Nature damage done while in Eclipse by ?%

There is no official word about the value of "?%", but the number I've heard is 25%. My first impression of this new version is that it's boring, but it's definitely an improvement. The big advantage that it has over the previous versions is that it can work with Celestial Alignment, and it seems that they should work extremely well together.

While my first impression is good, there are still several open questions (beyond the value for "?%") that will ultimately decide the fate of this ability. Is the damage increase additive or multiplicative with the Eclipse bonus? How does it affect DoT damage? Is it dynamic or will DoTs hold the buff for their duration? How will it relate to our other tier 4 options Soul of the Forest and Force of Nature? We won't know the answer to these questions until we can test it on the servers, but I have made some assumptions and built a model to try and calculate some values.

Theoretically, Chosen of Elune should be used in Lunar Eclipse with 100 energy, and Celestial Alignment should be used as soon as you hit 0 energy. This should maximize the buff, and minimize the amount of energy wasted when CA is used. In my model I have assumed that the bonus is 25%, that the buff is multiplicative with Eclipse, and that it affects DoT damage dynamically. I've also run the model with a couple different casting patterns, but I always started at zero energy. When started my rotation going towards Lunar Eclipse, Chosen of Elune provided a 2.61% dps increase at a lower level of gear and a 2.32% increase at a higher gear level.

** Quick Disclaimer: I admit that my simulator is fairly primitive and could contain errors. I don't trust these numbers 100%, but I don't have an obvious reason to doubt them either.

I was surprised by this valuation for a couple of reasons. First, my napkin math suggested that that the DPS increase should be closer to 4% when you combine CoE and CA. This is partially due to me treating the buff as a dynamic buff with regards to the DoTs. However, it's also due to slightly reduced DoT uptime when you don't use CA right away. Second, I expected CoE to scale better with a higher level of gear, but the truth is that it scales very poorly with haste. If you use CoE with CA it is petty much impossible to get to a new eclipse after CA runs out. As a result, increased haste doesn't have much of an impact on how many spells are buffed by Chosen of Elune.

The final question is how does it compare to our other tier 4 options Soul of the Forest and Force of Nature? At this point I would say that it doesn't compare well. At lower levels of gear my simulator is estimating the value of Soul of the Forest at around a 3.3% DPS increase, and it scales well with gear increasing the gain to 4.4% at higher levels of gear. If these versions go live, SotF will be the standard talent choice from the tier 4 talents in most fights. That doesn't mean a cooldown can't be better in the right situation, but that begs the question of how do CoE and Force of Nature relate to each other? As cooldowns, are they so similar to each other that the choice between the two is more of math equation then an actual choice? That will be difficult to tell until we can see the DPS potential of FoN at level 90 and see the fights that might require a cooldown, but I think there is some reason to be concerned.

To sum this all up, this new version of Incarnation is definitely an improvement over the older versions. That said, I still expect SotF to be the primary choice, and the usefulness of the new Incarnation will ultimately be determined by how it relates to Force of Nature.

More Trees:

Speaking of Force of Nature, it was changed as well. According to MMO Champion the duration of the trents is being doubled from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. This could be a straight buff to the ability since I don't see any indication that the Trents damage has changed, but I'm guessing that there is another reason behind this change.

As I indicated above there is a real worry that Incarnation and Force of Nature are too similar to each other as talents and this change may be intended to differentiate them. With a 60 second duration, FoN would become the "sustained cooldown" that I talked about in the past. Assuming that the trents damage is solid this could differentiate the two cooldowns nicely. FoN would be good for single target, extended burn phases like phase 3 on heroic Ragnaros. Chosen of Elune would become the burstier option with just 30 second duration and would also be more useful when you need to buff AoE output. It's too early to say anything definitive, but I like the FoN change at this point.

Glyph Feedback:

This is completely unrelated to the recent beta changes, but I sent some moonkin glyph feedback to Blizzard a week ago and I thought you might be interested in what I had to say.

While writing yesterdays blog post I thought a lot about glyphs and thought you might be interested in a detailed review of the glyphs currently in Beta from a moonkin perspective. The short version is that there isn't a whole lot of choice for PvE moonkin in the terms of glyphs. The top three choices are obvious and will likely be used 99% of the time. The other options are either useless in PvE or extremely situational. There really needs to be some additional options for PvE moonkin to have a choice and I have made a few suggestions at the bottom.

Glyphs I would use 99% of the time:

Glyph of Rebirth - Awesome glyph that is mandatory in PvE. Don't change a thing other then possibly baking it into the spell.

Glyph of the Moonbeast - A nice glyph but is just a convenience and offers no real utility. Shifting to heal in PvE really isn't that big of a deal since casting a spell does it automatically. This glyph is probably a lot more significant in Arena and 5 mans.

Glyph of Stampede - A nice glyph. Again it s a little more of a convenience then a utility, but Stampeding Roar is probably more regularly useful in a raid then self healing.

Very low use Glyphs:

Glyph of Hurricane - An ok glyph, but it is usually pointless even when a slow is useful. The biggest thing hurting Glyph of Hurricane is that it is just a 50% slow. If a group of mobs really needs to be slowed some one will be using the 70% slow which makes GoH irrelevant.

Glyph of Innervate - It's a little hard to judge this one until we know the mana situation at level 90, but I doubt this one will be all that useful. As a moonkin, if I need mana I'm going to save my innervate for myself 99% of the time. If I don't need to save innervate for myself then the 10% mana I would get from casting it on someone else is likely inconsequential.

Glyph of Stampeding Roar - I can see how this glyph would be very useful in the right situation. My only issue with it is that as for moonkin it pretty much requires that Glyph of Stampede be used as well. If used on its own then use of Stampeding Roar would have to be a planned, and even then it would take the moonkin out of DPS for several seconds while shifting, waiting for energy/rage, using the ability, and shifting back.

Glyph of Master Shapeshifter - Why is this a major glyph? It doesn't do anything interesting and conceptually it is much closer to Glyph of the Wild then any other glyph. It should be a minor glyph; also it should be titled Glyph of the Master Shapeshifter. It sounds a little strange with the current title.

Glyph of Entangling Roots - From my PvE perspective reducing the cast time of Entangling Roots by 0.2 seconds is insignificant. I liked this glyph when it made roots instant cast, but I'm assuming that caused issues else where and won't be changed back.

PvP Glyphs:

Glyph of Barkskin - A 25% reduction in the chance to be critically hit is almost entirely useless in PvE. The only possibility I can see is a moonkin might need it if he pops Heart of the Wild to emergency tank and be crit immune, but I view that situation so unlikely that it’s not really worth considering.

Glyph of Cyclone - I've used Cyclone in only one fight in three expansions of raiding and even in that one situation having an extra 4 yards wasn't that helpful.

Glyph of Nature's Grasp - Like Cyclone I've used Nature's Grasp in only one boss fight in 3 expansions. It's not a realistic choice for PvE

Glyph of Solar Beam - In most situations where I've had to use Solar Beam in raid, the silence aspect of the spell doesn't work. If that changes, this glyph could be useful, but I don't expect it to change.

Minor Glyphs:

Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth - This is a mandatory glyph because who wants to take up a bag slot with a reagent or have to remember to repurchase them? The main question I have is, why does Rebirth still have a reagent cost? Why not get rid of it and this glyph as well? (note: this was written before the most recent beta build and this glyph is obviously no longer useful)

Glyph suggestions:

For the record, I want to say that I don't take "armchair developing" all that seriously. I realize there are things that I am not aware of that could make some of these suggestions problematic.

Starsurge Healing - Much like Glyph of Ferocious Bite, why not have a glyph that gives a moonkin ability a small self healing component? My suggestion would be to heal the caster for ~5% when ever Starsurge hits the target. It could be helpful in raids, PvP, and casual play but given how infrequently Starsurge is cast I don't think it would be overpowering in anyway.

One Mushroom - Having to place three mushrooms and detonating them is a clunky mechanic that players have been complaining about since Cata Beta. An obvious glyph would be to place three mushrooms at once. This would also benefit a moonkin's movement DPS.

Larger WM Detonation Area - Increasing WM detonation area would be very helpful in some situations. I realize that WM had a larger detonation in Cata beta and was nerfed, but considering the nerfs to WM damage output I don't think it's likely that WM will remain a primary AoE utility in MoP. Therefore, increasing the detonation area would account more for placement error then be a DPS increase.

Larger Fungal Growth Area - You would likely need to limit Wild Mushroom to just one mushroom, but I see this as a nice option especially when a hunter is not available for the group.


Akthalion said...

I really don't like the uninspired direction they're taking Incarnation, I just read it as a mastery trinket. Talents should be more fun than that, and we already have Celestial Alignment for burst.

They should take Incarnation the path of ToL. Keep the burst idea, but implement it in a more dynamic way.

What if Incarnation did something like the following:
1. Your Wrath/Starfire splashes to 1 Moonfired target.
2. Hurricane had no channel but cd.
3. Starsurge increased your critical strike for 50% for 5 seconds.

This would still be a burst cd, but more interesting and fun.

Azrael said...

It would also be much harder to balance.

As for Treants, their damage was halved(so they're about the same as live, but still wrathing about), but from what little i could see before Mekkatorque bit it(again), they seem to be affected by (the casters) haste now.

I'd have looked for crit scaling, but as long as the EU server keeps going up and down like a yoyo there's no real way i can get some proper logs.

Akthalion said...

It's not that hard to balance, that's essentially how ToL works for Resto.

Wrath/Starfire splash and Starsurge's increased critical strike can be added to the simulator easily.

Jabari said...

New Incarnation = bad.

(You're modelling it starting at 100 energy - absolute best case, where in the "real world" you could be anywhere on the Balance Bar when you need the burst...)

What's the range on Mighty Bash? If it has something reasonable (i.e., 30 yards) that doesn't seem too bad - we get 3 usable interrupts for heroics at least (Bash, Typhoon, and Solar).