Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A View From Beta: The Little Things

The beta has been open for about two weeks now and I have been in since last Thursday. If you've been following the various forums around the internet, I doubt anything I post today will be new to you. However, I want to give a summary of some of the little things (and some not so little things), that I and others have seen in the beta.

Is Insect Swarm Gone?

One of the curious happenings of the early beta is that Insect Swarm isn't in the moonkin spell books at the moment. There is a history of Insect Swarm being bugged and not showing up in early beta, but given the overall reaction to the IS changes made and other changes seen in beta, some are speculating that Insect Swarm may be gone for good.

In case you've forgotten, the early MoP talent calculators indicated that Insect Swarm was being converted into a debuff that would increase moonkin nuke damage on a single target. Later it was modified slightly to include all damage, but at a lower rate. While I approved of the change, there are a lot of players that didn't like it for a number of reasons. Some just didn't like the idea of loosing a DoT, but others saw the new spell as pointless and uninteresting.

There has been no official word, but it now seems that Blizzard is agreeing with the second view point and is scrapping the spell entirely. Not only that, but the spell co-efficient for the three nuke spells has increased by 26% which is surprisingly close to the bonus that Insect Swarm would have provided.

Personally, I am not sad to see it go. Insect Swarm has had a long and mediocre history in the game and never really found its place. In TBC it was ok at low levels of gear, but couldn't keep up after the first tier of raiding was dropped from the rotation. In WotLK it survived a little longer, but by the time ICC rolled around it fell out of favor unless you are moving and couldn't do anything else. In Cataclysm, IS has remained a strong spell for the entire expansion, but it is so similar to Moonfire that it doesn't really add anything to the rotation other then another button to push.

Small Spell Changes:

Over the past couple of months a lot of attention has been focused larger changes to the spell like how Insect Swarm, but not as much has been focused on the smaller changes that also have a significant impact on Moonkin performance.

First, the amount of energy generated by Wrath and Starsurge has increased. Wrath now generates 15 energy (up from 13.33 in live), and Starsurge generates 20 energy (up from 15 in live). Energy generated by Starsurge is also affected by Euphoria.

Second, Starfire's cast time has been reduced to 2.7 seconds (down from 3.0 after talents on live). I did question if this was a bug when I saw it on the early versions of the talent calculator, but it is 2.7 seconds in the beta and it makes sense when you consider the energy generation changes above.

These changes primarily serve to standardize the nukes and the amount of energy per second they generate. It also causes energy to be generated round numbers and is hopefully less confusing. It's not really a big change but the overall impact is that it will shorten the Eclipse transition so that we have larger uptimes on DoTs and Nature's Grace.

Instant Eclipse Energy:

In beta, Eclipse energy is generated when the spell cast is completed rather then when it hits the target like it does on the live servers. This is a subtle change, and the reactions I've seen are a bit mixed. The detractors have sited that the travel time of Wrath and Starsurge has served as a way for moonkin to extend the Eclipse's effective uptime by casting instants like Moonfire in the small window of time when the nukes are traveling. However, that argument loses its merit when you consider some of the other changes made in beta. Namely, we are no longer going to be manually refreshing DoTs at the end of Eclipse since our nukes well be doing it for us.

I'm in favor of this change since it takes a little of the awkwardness of the rotation. It wasn't that big of a problem at lower gear levels because it was difficult to cast Starfall that was shorter then Wrath's travel time, but as the expansion progressed it became a frequent occurrence especially with temporary haste buffs from weapons, trinkets, and cooldowns. All in all there may be a couple of downsides to energy generation being instant, but I think the positives out weigh the negatives.

The Lack of Glyphs:

This has been commented on by a lot of people but it's worth saying again. There are very few good major glyph options for PvE moonkin at the moment. Glyph of Rebirth is so good that it is a required glyph for every raiding Druid, but after that the options are fairly weak. Glyph of the Moonbeast and Glyph of Stampede are the most frequent choices for the other two slots, but they are really more of a convenience and provides no real utility since I can already switch into the necessary form and use them anyway.

After those three the choices are pretty bleak. Glyph of Hurricane is nice in the right situation, but if you really need something slowed its likely that you will have something with a 70% slow being applied as well. Glyph of Innervate may be helpful, but most of the time if I need the mana I am unlikely to give the innervate away. I an also see a use for Glyph of Stampeding Roar, but probably not frequently. Other then that, the other options either have no use for moonkin or are only useful in PvP.

Creating glyphs for Balance or any DPS spec is going to be some what difficult now that they are trying to get away from the DPS boosting glyphs. However, I do think there are options that have been unexplored. For example, they could add a healing component to one of our existing spell much like they have for Glyph of Ferocious Bite. In my opinion the obvious example would be to have Starsurge heal the moonkin for 5% every time it hits.

I also find it surprising that there is not a single glyph that affects Wild Mushroom or Fungal Growth. I can think of three possibilities around these abilities alone. The most obvious is to have a glyph that allows you to place all three mushrooms at once. Another good one would be to increase the blast radius of the WM detonation. This shouldn't be over powered since WM is getting a pretty heavy nerf and really more of a correction for placement error rather then a DPS gain. Finally, why not have a glyph that extends the radius of Fungal Growth but only allows you to place one mushroom?

Lunar Shower and Movement DPS:

Lunar Shower hasn't really changed at all other then having the energy generation removed, but that lack of change is what I find most interesting. You might remember that back in May Daxxarri said that "Lunar Shower will be working differently in the future" in a post he made on the WoW forums. The interesting thing is that here we are three months later without any significant changes. So the question is did Blizzard scrap the Lunar Shower overhaul or are they still thinking about it?

Wild Mushroom UI:

This is a really small thing but it makes me happy. Now when you place your mushrooms little icons with a timer for the mushrooms appear below the player unit frame in the standard UI. It looks a lot like how totems appear in the standard UI for shaman (if I remember correctly). Hopefully this will make it easier for addon writers to build a WM counter into a standard balance addon like Balance Power Tracker. This isn't a huge issue since there are plenty of ways to track the mushrooms, but I do like it when things are consolidated into few addons.

Edit: This is apperently nothing new, and has been this way on life for some time. I guess I just use so many addons that I never noticed it before.

Thorns is Gone:

I didn't notice this until it was mentioned on the forums, but Thorns is not in the beta or on the MoP talent calculator. I'm not sure how I feel about this. For most of its life Thorns has been a pretty lack luster spell doing so little damage that it wasn't even noticed. In Cata the spell got a new life after its damage was increased at the expense of gaining a cooldown and having a shorter duration.

All things considered, I am a bit surprised to see it gone. There are several fights in Cata where it is useful, and it seems like it would be very useful in PvP. I don't know why Blizzard would want to get rid of it after people finally started using it. That said, from my perspective as a PvE player it isn't that interesting of an ability. When ever I needed it I made a macro that automatically targeted the tank and casted the spell on cooldown, so it didn't really add anything to my rotation.


Tsuki said...

IS gone and nukes refreshing DoTs... Our rotation is getting dangerously simple.

I do agree that IS felt just like another button to push but I expected it to get a stronger "flavor" to distance it from MF.

Anonymous said...

There was always a timer for Wild Mushrooms.. :P I do like the addition to the talent tree of being able to cast a healing spell on myself for damage phases.

Anonymous said...

While I agree IS didn't make much sense as a DoT, I think the devs have taken the easy way out just removing the spell. They could've be creative and added a unique mechanic to the spec that can increases performance under specific situations.

Imagine IS like:
- Damage one while IS is active is returned to you as health. 1 minute cd 5 second duration.
- Increases damage done to the targets under you IS area. IS cloud last 10 seconds, 1 min cd.

Paul said...

Is this a general trend, to simplify dps rotations? I get the feeling they may have gone overboard in Cataclysm, especially with warlocks.

Anonymous said...

The "Wild Mushroom UI" is nothing new. It is on live, exactly as you describe.

Erdluf said...

SF is 3.2s/2.7s on live.

It is easy to forget these changes. I often find myself posting, and then realizing I'm using an WLK spell description.

Litmus_Paper said...

I don't have the beta yet. Although, one change I would really like to see is how the Wild Mushrooms are placed.
I don't like the targetting recticle, I don't like placing 3 of them individually or the GCD they incur.
Perhaps it's me, I have trouble using them in PVP, as my target always runs away from them.
I would love to see them placed at my target's feet, similar to how DOT ticks, it would be a debuff that I could detonate or if it's automatically set, it would have a timer.
How does that sound to everyone?

Berdache said...

The real power of WM in pvp is the ability to place them where you want, either a line or triangle, round a pillar to help against / with kiting. I would say in pvp the damage is less important than the slow.

Tagartou said...

I was about to make the same comment.

On live right now starfire has more energy/second than wrath, which combined with math is pretty obvious in our eclipse transition disparities. The buffed values brings wrath up to starfires energy/second and makes SS that much better.

Nijada said...

There seems to have been an update to the way WM's are placed in this beta build. Now you on press the place button once and it allows you to click 3 times without selecting place WM again. Each WM placement has a 0.5 sec GCD. Once you have laid 3 WM it takes 3 seconds for each WM to come off cd. It feels great, and an excelent quality of life change.