Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to Find Moonkin Stat Valuations

Update: This post is out dated but the instructions at the bottom telling how to find your own stat valuations are still mostly correct. If you got here due to a link on my gear guide that is the section you want. If you got here by another method I suggest you look at my raiding guide for more accurate information.

The first draft of my ICC gear list is almost ready.With it will come the usual questions. How much do you value haste? How did you calculate the valuations? Why are your valuations different now then they were on your last list?

While some of the answers can get complicated, but most of the confusion regarding my changing valuations can be explained with two simple answers. 1. I make mistakes. 2. Things change.

In the past, when I estimated my stats for my simulator I did a real rough estimation. I wouldn't say the stats I used were wrong, but they were probably squewed in a way that changed the results some. This caused me to favor some stats a little more then I should have.

Though my mistakes do have an impact, the changing nature of WoW has a much bigger impact. At the very least stats change. As we gear up we get more Spell Power, Haste, and Crit. Each of these stats depend on the others and changing one will change the marginal value of the others. While all of the rating stats will genererally increase in Marginal Value as you gear up, they will not increase in value at the same rate. So, how we valued a stat during T7 content is very different then how we value the same stat in T10 content.

Over the last six months, we have had several things change. For obvious reasons this will change the way our stats interact. Therefore, I feel the need to restate the stat equation. I've looked at this using several tools, and for the most part they all agree.

Below Haste Soft Cap (400 haste rating):

Hit Rating > Spell Power > Haste Rating > Crit Rating
In unusual situations Haste may be greater then Spell Power, but that is probably due to irregular gearing choices.

Over Haste Soft Cap, but below Lunar Crit Cap:
Hit Rating > Spell Power > Crit Rating > Haste Rating
This is a change from what I've said before, but there is enough space between Crit and Haste that I'm confident Crit is better point for point.

Over Lunar Crit Cap:
Hit Rating > Spell Power > Crit Rating = Haste Rating
According to the simulators and spreadsheets Crit is still slightly better, but they are two close to really matter.

These general rules don't mean that Haste is worthless after the soft cap, or that Crit is worthless after the Lunar Crit cap. They are still very good stats, and better then both Int and Spirit. This is really a guide as to how you should gem and enchant your gear. It may also help when choosing between two very similar items.

Finding Stat values using WrathCalcs.

Some of you may be thinking why should I believe you now. Every time you say something you end up changing it a couple of months later.

To be completely honest I agree, but for slightly different reasons. Stat valuations are highly variable based upon the assumptions used to create them. I can't possible make the valuations for everyone so I use myself as an example. Luckily it is fairly easy for all of us to find out our own valuations.

The first place you can find it is using WrathCalcs. You can find the spread sheet here at the bottom of the Moonkin Think tank thread.

It is very easy to use. After you down load the spreadsheet, look up your toon on the armory. Then plug your armory stats into Column C of the spread sheet. After that make sure you have all of the appropriate talents, buffs, and debuffs selected in columns C, G, and K.

After the sheet is fully filled out the marginal values of your stats will be available in DPS for in column D. To convert them to my format you just have to divide each of the values by the Spell Power valuation.

Finding Stat values using SimulationCraft.

You can download SimulationCraft from here.

Click the Options tab at the top, and then click the Scaling tab below that. Then select the stats you would like SimulationCraft to evaluate. Just select the standard DPS stats with the addition of Int and Spirit. Selecting the other stats will just make the analysis take longer. You may also want to make sure all of the buffs and debuffs are selected in there respective tabs but they should already be selected by default.

To import your toon click the import tab. You can import from several websites but I suggest using the armory. The import tab works just like a Web Browser. Find your toon and then hit the import button in the bottom right hand corner.

Clicking the import button should automatically move you to the Simulate Tab. At this point just hit the Simulate button in the bottom right hand corner unless you want to make some changes to the toon you imported. The results of your analysis should pop out in about a minute and will be available about halfway down the page.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Drama Mamas and a Second Look at LFG

I'm a big fan of I particularly like the various advice columns, and today I would like to comment on this post from the Drama Mamas. The reader discribed himself as a power player, who tried to get the most out of his toons by using the best specs, rotations, and gear possible, and wanted to ask if he behaved inappropriately in a recent pug experianced he had using the new LFG tool.

The reader and two like minded friends queued up using the LFG too and were grouped with two random players for one of the new ICC 5man. One of the randoms was a DK who joined the group as DPS. The DK wore a mixture of tank and DPS gear and had an irregular spec. On the first boss the DK did about 1100 DPS and did worse on the second boss even though he got an upgrade from the first boss. The group wasn't having trouble clearing the content, the reader suggest to the DK that he may want to check with Elitist Jerks and other sources to look for ways to improve his DPS. After the last boss was killed, the DK cussed out the group and dropped group. The reader was asking the Drama Mamas if he was wrong to offer suggestions to improve the DK's DPS.

In responce to this, Drama Mama Robin, decided to rip the reader a new one. Basically her point was that different people value different things in this game, and it doesn't matter how much DPS each of are doing individually as long as you are clearing the content. Therefore the reader was being unreasonable and elitest by making his suggestions. Drama Mama Lisa was more tactful in her responce and offered some good suggestions, but had a similar opinion in the end.

If you can't tell from my summary, this post struck me a little wrong. I understand the readers frustrations to some extent, and was a little shocked by the response he got. In the end it forced me to really evaluate what I thought about the situation and some of my own experiences using the LFG tool.

Yes, He was unreasonable:

I think it is safe to say that I fall into the "power player" category that the reader describes. Due to my gear and my experience I regularly do double the DPS of anyone else in the party when I use the LFG tool. Oddly enough I've had the same experience on my warlock. In my most extreme experience I did almost 75% of all the damage for the entire instance on Graylo. For lack of a better term, I think it is safe to say that I've "carried" a couple of groups, and to be completely honest that doesn't bother me in the slightest.

I agree with a lot of what Robin and Lisa said in their responses. First and foremost, if you're clearing the instance it doesn't really matter that someone is not pulling their weight compared to the others. Second, it is not up to me to dictate how someone else plays the game. I've played as a Moonkin for several years, and I had plenty of people tell me that Balance was not a viable spec. I didn't like being told how to spec, and doubt anyone else does either. Third, I learned a long time ago that a quick way to get cussed out was to offer unsolicited advice. When you do, you are basically telling the other player they suck, and few people will accept that with a smile. So, to some extent I do think the reader was being unreasonable.

While I have used the LFG tool as Graylo and with my warlock, a majority of my LFG experience comes from using the tool with my priest. He was poorly geared before the patch, and I wanted to gear him up as well as work on a couple of reputations. I think it is safe to say that my priest was "carried" a couple of times while I geared him up, but that doesn't mean I was useless or that the other players could act like jerks. There is one particular situation that sticks out in my mind.

The LFG tool put me in a random group for Heroic Nexus. I still had a couple of holes in my gear at this point, but I was able to do what I thought was decent DPS for a 5 man. The tank on the other hand was raid geared. He had clear ToGC10 and had experience with 25man raids. After the first boss he starts talking trash, and complains that he is second on the DPS list for trash and a couple of bosses. If this was a raid, I could understand his frustration, but we were in a 5man, and he over geared the instance by a mile. On top of that he doesn't have to worry about aggro so he can use his AoE abilities from the start. Of course he is beating me on DPS for some pulls. Shadow Priests are not built well for really short fights, and their AoE isn't the best.

In short, I don't think anyone should be belittled or criticized for having low DPS when compared to people who are over geared for the content. I would never step in to a 5man on Graylo, and tell the other players they are slackers because they can't keep up with me. If I pull aggro, that is my fault. As long as they are not doing anything incredibly stupid I would be a dick to make any comments that were not asked for.

No, He was not Unreasonable:

That said, I do think some lower geared players to need to have some level of courtesy. If you read the post I'm referencing you will notice that the reader says the DK was geared with a mixture of Tank and DPS gear. I'm not a hundred percent sure how the LFG tool identifies if you are ready to run a particular instance, but since he did not have a full set of DPS gear, I think it is safe to say his DPS gear was not good enough to be able to run the new instances. By entering the queue as DPS without a proper DPS set he is making it tougher on the rest of us. What if he wasn't grouped with people that could carry him. What if he was grouped with people appropriately geared for the instance. Because of his lack of quality they may not have been able to complete it.

By that same token, I think every player should make some effort to learn how to play their class, before they take on the tougher challenges in the game. I will use my priest an example again. His gear may have been bad, but I had a pretty good idea of what I was doing. That doesn't mean I know what the absolute best rotations and such, or that I am now an expert on Shadow Priest. I complete understand that reading a guide isn't enough. You have to practice some where, but if you don't know what to practice your just wasting time. Though I don't think the reader should have offered his advice, I do think the DK should take a little more effort to learn what he is doing. His next group might not be quite as capable as his last one.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frost Emblems: Idol vs Tier Set

As I look around the internet lately I've seen the same question asked multiple times. What should I buy first with my Emblems of Frost? It's not a surprising question, but I have been surprised by consistency of the answer and by the confidence with which it is given. Almost every time I've seen this question answered, the poster says to not buy anything else until you've completed your tier set.

The logic seems to be that, because our Tier set is so well itemized and the idol is a smaller upgrade that we can make due with the Idol of Lunar Fury for a few weeks while we pick up the emblems for our Tier set. This isn't bad logic, but I do disagree with it. In this post I hope to show you why you should considering picking up the idol as your first Frost Emblem purchase.

Time Value of Gear:

Most of my education has focused on Economics and Finance, and this situation seems to be similar to a financial concept called the time value of money. In short, the Time Value of Money shows that the present value of a future payment is relative to when will receive that payment (in financial terms it also depends on other things like interest rates). Assuming that the interest rates are the same and the payments are the same, the payment you receive first has a higher value then the payments you receive after that.

Granted in the real world the payments and interest rate will not be constant. It is quite possible for a future payment to be worth more in terms of present value then a payment made today, but hopefully you see my point. A smaller payment received now may be worth more then a future payment given the right terms and interest rate. I know this doesn't necessarily translate smoothly to gear in a video game, but I think you can see how gear received today can be worth more then gear received at a future date.

So the question is which will help our DPS more? Do we take the idol now and delay when we pick up a few of the tier pieces or do we pick up the tier pieces as soon as we can and wait on the Idol?

A Question of Timing:

I'm going to hold off on looking at it from a DPS point. The numbers will vary depending on the stats you star with, but I will stipulate that a single piece of Tier gear is probably a larger DPS increase then upgrading the idol. However, I do want to look at it from a perspective of timing.

I want to make a few of assumptions. First, lets assume we pick up the maximum number of Frost Emblems each week. Second I will assume that we pick up the two cheapest pieces first and then the 3 more expensive pieces. Third, I assume that you are picking up pieces as soon as you can even if it doesn't provide a set bonus. Fourth, we know that the first gate won't open for 4 weeks, but I will assume that the other gates will open after just 2 weeks.

The shoulder and glove pieces each cost 60 emblems. The head, chest, and legs each cost 95 emblems. The idol costs 30 emblems. To pick up 4 tier items and an idol, you need a total of 340 emblems of frost. To pick up just the Tier set you will need 310 emblems. So, how quickly can you get to 310 and 340 emblems.

You can pick up 6 emblems the first time you run the new ICC five man instances. If you run the random every day you can pick up another 14, and there are 5 emblems available from the weekly quest. From ICC you can pick up 2 emblems per boss on both 10 man and 25 man. During these first 4 weeks that means you can pick up 16 emblems from ICC per week. If you add all that up you see that you can get a total of 35 emblems per week for the first four weeks plus 6 additional one time only emblems. That is a total of emblems 146. When the first gate opens 3 new bosses will be released. With 7 bosses available you can get a total of 47 emblems per week. After 6 weeks it is possible to have a total of 240 emblems. when the second gate opens 2 additional bosses will be available. With this, the weekly max will increase 55 emblems per week. After 7 weeks you would have a total of 295 emblems. Not enough to complete the set. After the eight week a maximum of 350 would be available. With this you could complete the set and pick up the idol.

In short, it doesn't matter if you wait to pick up the idol or if you pick it up first. It will take you a minimum of 8 weeks to pick up four pieces of T10 gear. That is 8 weeks of missing a clear and irreplaceable DPS increase. I'm not saying picking up the idol first is a clear winner. Taking the idol first will delay the first for pieces by a week if you pick them ups ass soon as you have the badges available, but is that a huge DPS loss? I don't know. It's hard to argue if missing a smaller upgrade for 8+ weeks is a bigger deal then missing a 3 larger upgrades for one week each. However, the answer is not as clear cut to me as some people are suggesting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Lunar Crit Cap

We all know about the Hit Cap. Most of us are familiar with the the soft Haste Cap, though some people don't really understand it. Now we need to talk about a third cap, because you will be hearing more and more about it. It is the Lunar Crit Cap.

What is the Lunar Crit Cap?

In short, the Lunar Crit Cap is the level at which a combination of Crit Rating and Intelligence will make your Starfire Crit chance go above 100% with full raid buffs.

It has actually been around for a while. Several moonkin were able to reach it with a combination of 2T8 and high level gear our of ToGC. I've just chosen not to comment on it in the past because I thought it would be a temporary issue that very few people would have. However, with the changes to Eclipse in patch 3.3, the Lunar Crit Cap is alive and kicking. Lets take a quick look at some numbers.

We each have a base crit chance of 1.85%. On top of that we have a ton of bonuses we get from both self buffs and raid buffs.

BuffCrit Chance
Base Crit Chance1.85
Moonkin Aura5
Nature's Majesty4
Imp Insect Swarm3
Imp Faerie Fire3
Lunar Eclipse40
Imp Scorch5
Totem of Wrath3
Total from buffs64.85

As you can see, If you have full raid buffs you have a 64.85& chance to crit during Lunar Eclipse without including any Intelligence or Crit Rating into the equation. Some of you may be thinking that 35.15% crit chance from Crit Rating and Int is a lot, and it is, but it is probably closer then you think.

Looking at my own gear, I have close to 1200 Int unbuffed. I know that I am better geared then a lot of people, but I have only one piece of ICC gear. Everyone's gear is going to improve a lot over the next few weeks. With full raid buffs my base 1200 int will turn into 1620 Int ((1200+52+60)*1.1*1.1*1.02). If you divide that number by 166.66 you can see that I will get 9.72% crit chance from Int alone. Combine that with what I get from buffs and all of a sudden I have a 74.57 crit chance.

To pick up the last 25.43% from crit rating I would need 1167 points of crit rating. Once you take the 220 Crit rating I will get from [Idol of Lunar Eclipse] then you can see my Lunar Crit cap drops down to 947 crit rating.

Again, It may seem like I am a long way away from the cap since I only have 699 crit rating currently, but it's important to remember 2 things. First, we are only at the beginning of ICC. Being only 248 below the cap with very little gear from the highest level of content is very close. Second, as your gear improves the Crit rating cap will come down as you pick up more Int. If I pick up just 100 more Int then my Crit Cap comes down to 913 Crit Rating. With 200 more Int the cap is down to 880. If you get Focus Magic from a Mage the Cap is even lower.

How do I calculate my Crit Cap?

Since the Crit Cap depends on a combination of Int and Crit Rating, our individual caps will be different. Therefore you may be wondering how to calculate your own. Well, I know of two quick ways and both of them come from Hamlet on the Moonkin Think Tank post.

  • The Rough Estimate: This equation will give you a rough estimate 1575.5 - Int/3. Lets see how this equation apples to me. My armory has me at 1227 Int. Plugging that into the equation says my Lunar Crit Cap is 946.5 (1575.5-(1227/3)). As you can see that is really close to the number I calculated above.

  • WrathCalcs: If you plug your stats, talent build, and raid buffs into WrathCalcs it will calculate the cap for you at the bottom. You can find WrathCalcs at the Think tank linked above.

Why this Matters?

Both WrathCalcs and SimulationCraft are valuing Crit Rating more then Haste Rating if you have more then 400 Haste Rating. That doesn't mean Haste is useless, but it does mean that you will probably favor Crit a little more then you will favor haste while you gear up. Knowing your Lunar Crit Cap is important because it operates like the Haste Soft Cap. Crit rating won't be worthless after the cap, but it will drop in value. At that point, you will likely want to favor Haste a little more then Crit Rating.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Patch 3.3: First Impressions

Since Patch 3.3 has been out for only a couple of days, I know most of us are still taking it all in and digesting the information, but I wanted to take a minute and give my first impressions.

Icecrown Citadel (raid):

Last night I cleared the first 4 bosses in both the 10man and 25man version. In fact, my guild was one of only two guilds on my server to kill all 4 bosses on their first night of attempts. I know that doesn't mean much, but it's a small victory that makes us happy, and we can spend the rest of the week trying to finish up ToGC. Any, here are my impressions.

Lord Marrowgar: If Leotheras, Supremus, and Naj'entus had a baby, its name would be Lord Marrowgar. I think how you view this fight really depends on how long you've raided. Since I raided quite a bit in TBC I've seen something similar to all of his major mechanics before.

With that in mind, the fight was pretty boring to me. There was no sense of danger or challenge to the fight. The Whirlwind hit like bean back and would only do serious damage if you stood in it. Same for the fires. As for the bone spikes, I spent so much time on one I thought I was going to be rotisserie chicken, but again How many times have we seen this mechanic? All you have to do is create a simple targeting macro and the bone spikes are simple.

All that said, I can see this being a real pain on heroic mode. As a general rule I had hard time avoiding the Whirlwind and fires completely. The room is very small and there just isn't that much room to spread out in and still have range. His abilities may become much more troublesome when they hit harder.

Lady Deathwhisper: I found this fight more satisfying . Maybe it's because we wiped a couple of times, but it didn't feel like as big of a push over as Lord Marrowgar. As I said, we wiped a couple of times. That was mostly due to trying to find the right balance of boss DPS and Add DPS. I don't think it is a hugely difficult fight, I felt like the bosses mechanics were more dangerous. Playing poorly could kill you and cause your raid not to succeed.

Gunship Battle: It may be a victim of high expectations but I was disappointed and bored. It may also be a result of my role in the fight. I was on the ship defense team and the fight consisted of three things for me. 1. Don't get hit by a rocket. 2. DPS the adds. 3. Wait for more adds.

There was no variation in the fight or me, and I didn't feel like there was any real threat. At no point did I feel like we were in danger of being over run by adds. I think this fight could use some of the original Magtheradon mechanics. I think it would be a great idea to have some sort of lock out on how often you can use the cannons or your jet pack. That would at least force a more of a role rotation in the fight.

To make matters worse we were rewarded with no loot. The chest bugged out on us and we were not able to click it. Hopefully, we will be able to recover what was inside with a GM ticket.

Deathbringer Saurfang: In my opinion this is the first truly challenging fight in the instance. I felt the threat that the Boss and the Adds represented very early on and it made the fight more fun.

I also want to talk a little bit about the Typhoon strat presented by Tankspot. I'm sure many of you have read it, but I will explain it in short. You don't want anyone to be hit by the Blood Beasts, so you have a mookin get aggro using Hurricane and force the adds to run through slowing affects like Frost traps. When the adds get close you Typhoon them to knock them back and stun them. While this is going on the ranged single targets them down.

The problem here is that they are highly resistant to AoE attacks, and the resistance seems to be closer to 90% then the 75% that Tankspot reports. As a result I had a ton of trouble getting aggro and/or pulling aggro off of the healers. I now think the best way to manage this fight is with slows, like crippling poison. The adds have fairly low health and will go down quickly as long as they have some sort of slow affect.

Icecrown Citadel (5man):

I ran all three instance on Graylo, and they seemed pretty cool. Its a little hard to judge since I out gear the instance by a mile, but the fights seemed interesting and they looked pretty cool. Ont top of that, the gear is pretty sweet and you get a ton of Frost Emblems the first time you go through it. I can't wait to get the Mage and Priest in there to get some gear.

Looking for Group:

Like everyone I was looking forward to getting a new instance, but it was expected. The new Looking for Group tools is what has me most excited. As a general rule I love running instances. As a raider, it is why I pay the subscription fee each month. My trouble has always been that I hate looking for a group. Usually it took just as long to find a group as it did to do the instance. If you lose a tank or healer midrun, your up a creek with out a paddle. For these reasons, I don't run 5mans that often, and I never run them while leveling.

I've only tried the new LFG tool on Graylo, but so far I think it's awesome. I had some trouble on Tuesday, but I'm chalking that up to patch day craziness. Every time I tried it it found a group fairly quickly, the group was fairly competent, and results were achieved.

The funny thing is I think it might make be a better player. I'm used to having very good tanks at my gear level. Pulling aggro usually isn't as big of a consideration as it should be. Now that I am playing with tanks well below my gear level I am having to learn to pay better attention to my aggro.

I still have some questions about this tool. How well will it work in a couple of months when the interest in it has died down? I also want to see how it will work for my lower level alts, but as it stands right now, I am pleased.

Squawk and Awe:

Just in case you had not seen it before, Squawk and Awe has been updated. You can find it at here. The only issue I had with the new version was that the cooldown timer didn't start until after the buff had expired.

Monday, December 7, 2009

/facepalm: Patch Issues a Day Early

Update2: Adoriele, the author of Squawk and Awe, posted a comment below that I wanted to highlight.
Just wanted to give people a heads-up, there's a quick fix in the works for SAA. It's a kinda ugly hack, and I'm not sure about the performance difference in using it, so I'm waiting until I get confirmation that a.) it works, and b.) it doesn't lock up your computer before I release it. The fix was written by another party, as well, so I'll want to get his permission before I post it places (or let him do it).

After the fix, SAA will still work exactly as it has before - no split Eclipse bars, trinket bars still somewhat borked, depending on what trinkets you're using. All the fix does is change from triggering Eclipse bars off of the Combat Log to triggering off of the UNIT_AURA event.

And there was much rejoicing.

Even if this does work, I will probably still try and look for another option. I like Squawk and Awe, but we can't really expect Adoriele to maintain it if he doesn't have an account. It would be nice to have several options so we are not running around the night before a patch trying to figure somethign out.


Lissanna over at apparently did some testing on the PTR to see if any of the addons worked. You can find her post here.

In short, she has found only 3 addons that track the Eclipse buff successfully on the PTR, and only one addon that tracks the cooldown successfully on the PTR. At the moment the our best bet seems to be working with two Addons: ClassTimer and ClassTimer Eclipse.

I'll be honest. I am a little skeptical. I have never worked with either addon. Plus, neither addon has been updated recently. I hope it works. If any of you have experiance with either of these addons, or finds another one that is confirmed to work, please post it in the comments or send me an email.

Power Auras: I wanted to make a quick note on this addon. I haven't tested it, but according to Wisprunner you can track the different buffs by using Druid_Ability_Eclipse for Lunar and Druid_Ability_EclipseOrange for Solar. He has a long post about his addons here.

I don't know if this will work after the patch. I also don't think it will manage the Eclipse Cooldowns, but it may be a temporary solution.

Original Post:

Clean words cannot express the frustration I am feeling at this moment. All the reports say that Patch 3.3 is being released tomorrow. I really wanted to kill Heroic Anub before the patch was dropped. We were very close to getting the kill. With thirty minutes left in our raid I thought we had a chance. Then it happened.

Our virtual world came crashing down before our eyes. Some of us couldn't release from our bodies. The ones that could release could not zone in to ToGC. Our last 30 minutes flashed away before our eyes. I'm so frustrated I could punch babies.

Squawk and Awe:

In other news, don't expect Squawk and Awe to work for you after the patch, and don't expect it to be updated anytime soon. Apparently the change to Eclipse that broke WiseEclipse is also breaking Squawk and Awe. Plus the developer of Squawk and Awe currently does not have an account and is not planning to do the rewrite that would be necessary to make it work. So we need to look for other options.

I don't have any good alternatives at the moment, but there are a couple of things I'm looking at. The first is Power Auras. You can configure it to show you both buffs. It's handy for me because I already use Power Auras for multiple things, I don't think it can measure the cooldowns as well. The second option is Quartz: Proc Module. Its an expansion of Quartz: Eclipse Module. I don't know if it will work after the patch, but I wasn't real pleased with it after I tested it today in-game. The big problem I had with it was that the bars were tiny and I couldn't change them in any way. Therefore they were impossible to notice.

If anyone has a good solution please post it in the comments.

Fun w/ SimulationCraft: Eclipse and DoTs

I'm starting a new series I am calling "Fun with SimulationCraft." I have two goals for this series. The first is to answer some of the more common rotation and proc questions that are difficult to answer with simple math. The second goal is to make myself and hopefully you guys more familure with SimulationCraft. The better we understand the tool the better we understand the results and our DPS.

The Question: Eclipse - Nukes vs DoTs

As we all know Eclipse is a major part of Moonkin DPS. It is also very unpredictable, and impossible to fit into a nice rotation where all the buff's, cooldowns, and dot timers line up. It is inevitable that you will face a situation where your Eclipse has just procced, but your DoTs have only 5 seconds left on them.

What do you do in this situation? Do you spend a GCD and pressious Eclipse time on a spell that is unaffected by the buff, or do you continue to nuke and let your DoTs fall off?

It's a tough question, that I have changed my mind on a couple of times.

My Theory:

I've thought about this issue many times. A while ago I decided that the best course of action was to refresh DoTs if Eclipse had more then 4 or 5 seconds left on it, but skip the DoTs otherwise. My reasoning is fairly simple. When you ask a couple of questions.

What do you lose by casting a DoT when the Eclipse buff is up? - You lose a GCD that could have been used to cast a Nuke buffed by Eclipse.

What do you gain by casting a DoT when the Eclipse buff is up? - You gain the damage that the DoT will tick for until the end of the Eclipse buff.

When I asked myself these two questions I realized something. I'm not asking if I should cast a DoT. I'm asking when I should cast a DoT. The choice is do I cast it during Eclipse or right after Eclipse expires. I can extend this logic a littler further also. If I make this choice regarding the DoT, I'm making a similar choice about the Nuke. If I cast the DoT during Eclipse, I will be casting a Nuke right after Eclipse expires. If I skip the DoT during Eclipse, then I'm losing a Nuke after Eclipse expires because I need to refresh the DoT.

What I realized was that when I cast a DoT, I am not preventing a Nuke from being cast. However, I may be preventing a Nuke from being buffed by Eclipse. So, the question is which is more valuable: damage from increased DoT uptime or the addtional damage from an Eclipsed Nuke?

I won't detail the math but i will use a quick example to show you how I made my choice. On average my Wrath casts hit for 6377 damage without Eclipse. With Eclipse they hit for 9030 damage on average. There for I lose 2653 damage if a wrath cast is pushed out of the Eclipse buff by a DoT. My Insect Swarm ticks for 1280 damage on average. It would take roughly two ticks of IS to make up for the lost Eclipse damage. Since IS ticks every 2 seconds, if I had more then 2 seconds left on Eclipse then casting the DoT made more sense.

Obviously this is an over simplification of the issue. This is why I haven't published anything in the past regarding this question. Now SimulationCraft hs here to make me look like a genius or an idiot.

What SimulationCraft Says:

Once again I used my self as an example and I asked multiple questions. Here is the results from the first set.

Never Skip8267
Skip on Opposite8175
Skip Always8061

Never Skip means that I refresh the DoT when ever it is down. Even if Eclipse is up with only a few seconds left.
Skip on Opposite means you refresh the DoT only to take advantage of Improved Insect Swarm. Therefore, if Lunar Eclipse is up you would refresh Moonfire but not Insect Swarm.
Skip Always means you skip both DoTs if either Eclipse buff is up.

As you can see from the table above, the results are leaning towards refreshing your DoTs instead of skipping them, but we have another question to ask. As I said before I will skip the refresh if I have only a few seconds left on Eclipse. Is that the right choice?

Seconds RemainingDPS
1 sec8278
2 sec8277
3 sec8277
4 sec8279
5 sec8273
6 sec8264
7 sec8273
8 sec8252
9 sec8255
10 sec8236
11 sec8219
12 sec8186
13 sec8180
14 sec8142
15 sec8058

These results show that I can do slighly better DPS by skipping the DoTs whe I have 5 or few seconds left on Eclipse, but the DPS increase is very minor. Even if you start skipping your DoTs with 9 seconds left on Eclipse your only losing a tiny amount of DPS.


Well, the good news is I don't look like an idiot, but my method wasn't a huge success either. Skipping my DoTs with just a few seconds left on Eclipse did result in a slight DPS increase, but its not anything that will make or break our rotation.

The main conclusion I will draw from my tests is that the loss of DoT uptime is a bigger DPS loss then not having a nuke affected by Eclipse. If you skip your DoTs entirely while Eclipse is up it is roughly a 2.49% DPS loss.

Do It Yourself: If you would like to run this analysis for yourself. Here is how you do it.

Go download SimulationCraft from here.

SimulationCrafts GUI interface has gotten a lot better since I last posted on the tool. On the Import tab you can down load your toon from the Armory or WoWhead. Importing your profile will populate the Simulate tab with your script. The default setting is to always refresh DoTs.

To always skip DoTs replace the Moonfire and Insect Swarm lines with:

To skip DoTs when the Opposite buff is up change the lines to:

To skip DoTs when when there is only 4 seconds left on either Eclipse change the lines to:


Finally, I would like to say thanks to Dedmonwakeen and Starfox the Creater and Druid developer of SimulationCraft for walking me though some of the changes that needed to be made.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Patch Notes: Eclipse Buffed

Eclipse now increases damage done by Wrath by 40% (up from 30%) and the critical chance of Starfire by 40% (up from 30%)

First Impression:

When I first saw this change I was disappointed. Like many moonkin I don't want to see so much of our DPS to Eclipse. Given the excellent comments made by Murmurs on the forums, and the appearance that Ghostcrawler was receptive to those arguments, I thought they would go another route.

That said, I though the buff was adequate. Given the analysis I had done on 2T8 in the past I knew it was a significant buff right a way, but probably not over powered. I figured this would help us maintain the status quo.

Second Impression:

After I thought about it, I decided this change made a lot of sense from Blizzards point of view. First and foremost, it requires very little testing. All they are really doing is making the piece of 2T8 we lost permanent. We've basically been testing this change for the last 5 months since 3.2 came out. Since, this is supposed to be the last content patch before the expansion, you know Blizzard doesn't want to make any big or risky changes. This is probably the safest choice they could have made.

From my perspective, I still don't like that so much of our DPS is tied to Eclipse. However, it is comforting to have a fairly good idea of how this will impact Moonkin DPS.

My Analysis:

In my last post I said that the nerf to 2T8 and WiseEclipse would result in a 4.1% - 4.6% DPS loss if nothing else changed. I also said that if you could immediately upgrade to 4T9 the DPS loss would be in the 2.6% - 3.1% range.

I updated my simulator for the updated Eclipse and ran it with both 2T8 and 4T9. Once again I used my own stats as a starting point. If you are unable to upgrade to 4T9 right away then these three changes are still a net nerf of about 1.0%. I'm not really surprised by that. WiseEclipse was a pretty big DPS boost, and having just 2% additional crit chance is not going to make up for that.

However, if you're a progression raider that has been farming ToC and working on ToGC Trophies are probably widely available right now. If you are able to upgrade to 4T9 the day the patch drops then the combined changes will result in a net buff of about 1.24% according to my simulator.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Post: "Our intent was not to nerf Balance druid dps."

As usual I was late to the party. Randomsmo made a great post on the official forums while I was composing one of my own. Ghostcrawler decided to stop buy and comment on the changes. In addition to that he decided to comment on some of the more persistent criticisms that Moonkin have about the class. None of it is earth shattering, but here are the juicy bits.
Our intent was not to nerf Balance druid dps with this change. Our intent was to make a macro or addon that was quickly becoming mandatory at competitive levels not mandatory. It would be one thing if cancelling Eclipse auras was a fun or interesting choice, but since everything was so automated, the only thing I can really imagine anyone getting upset about was the dps loss, which we plan on offsetting. (emphasis mine)

Ghostcrawler is basically confirming the reasoning behind the change. WiseEclipse was to automated and was becoming a mandatory addon if a moonkin wanted to have competitive DPS. Blizzard has repeatedly said that this is something they don't like.

The good news here is that Blizzard realizes it is a DPS loss and plans to offset that loss. The question now is just how much are they going to buff us and how are they going to do it.

I ran a couple of analysis's using WrathCalcs and my own simulator. I used myself as the example. For me, if 3.3 dropped tomorrow, it would be a 4.1% - 4.6% nerf, because I use both 2T8 and WiseEclipse currently. However, most of us should be able to upgrade to 4T9 fairly easily if your in a guild farming ToC. When I considered 4T9 and the increased stats instead of 2T8, the nerf was smaller. Assuming you can upgrade to 4T9 (245 ilvl) as soon as 3.3 is released I calculate these changes to be about a 2.6% - 3.1% nerf. Hopefully the buff will be somewhere in this range.

The next big question is how Blizzard will buff us. As soon as GC said they plan on offsetting the nerf the forums came alive with creative new ways to buff our DPS. Some offering new spells or completely changing Eclipse, Nature's Grace or some other mechanic.

I highly doubt it will be anything fun or exciting. Remember this is the last content patch before an expansion and it is unlikely that blizzard wants to do anything major. With this in mind the simplest solution will be to change one of our static buffs. My best guess is that they will increase the personal buff on Earth and Moon to 6% instead of 3%, but they also may change Master Shapeshifter to increase Moonkin DPS by 6% or 8% instead of 4%. Another suggestion I heard was to change Improved Insect Swarm. That is definitely possible, but I hope they don't go that route. It could work, but I would like the clearer and simpler buff that would come form Earth and Moon.

On the topic of Eclipse, we still consider it to be a major linchpin of the Balance talent tree and we have no intention of getting rid of it. Swapping from Wrath to Starfire is something we want to encourage and in a greater sense, fits the theme of the spec (finding a balance) really well. We're more sympathetic to the argument that it might provide too much of a dps increase relative to other talents, but at the same time given what I said above, we aren't really trying to promote an Eclipse-less Balance spec.

I think this is a fair assessment of where Eclipse is today. Murmurs also made some great comments on Eclipse that you can find here.

The fact of the matter is Eclipse isn't going anywhere. Like many of you and really anyone that plays a moonkin, I have been very frustrated with Eclipse at times. Plus, I had no problem with the SF/MF rotation we used in TBC, but those days are gone for good. Wishing that we could go back to those days is like wishing you could go back to the 1940s and live like Leave it to Beaver with no crime or any major issues.

People who want to get rid of Eclipse completely, tend to be idealizing their rotation. They always want to have Eclipse when they need it most. If they get it, then that is the way it should work. If they don't get it, then it's a failure. No one will ever be happy with this point of view.

I agree with Murmurs. The problem with Eclipse is that it is to strong. Eclipse is the victim of trial and error. It is clear that WotLK has been a bit of an experimentation period for Moonkin DPS. From the start of the beta, Blizzard has seemed to struggle with how to make the Moonkin rotation more dynamic and how to make Moonkin DPS competitive. In the end, Blizzard has continually tried to kill two birds with one stone, and an overpowered Eclipse is the result. Since, Ghostcrawler seems receptive to this issue, don't be surprised to see a big Eclipse nerf in the new expansion.


Back when I started playing WoW, there was a lot of theorycrafting for how players could overcome or even minimize the impact of random numbers on their gameplay, which totally makes sense. Over the years though that has sort of morphed into: all RNG is bad, and any mechanic that has an RNG element is also bad. We don't think Balance is saddled with an over dependence on RNG more so than other specs, and if you feel that way, you might want to talk to some Fire mage friends. :) Adapting to changing environments is one of the major ways players have to demonstrate mastery of the game.

RNG is a part of the game that won't go away. I know, accept, and argee with that. Many of the people that complain about Eclipse RNG don't really understand. I see a lot of comments where people question why Wrath only has a 60% chance to proc Eclipse off of a crit when Starfire has 100%. They seem to forget that Wrath has half the cast time and that five Starfires in a row that don't crit are the same as 10 Wraths in a row that don't proc Eclipse. The two buffs actually have a very similar proc rate. The only differences that Wrath can be more frustrating because some of those 10 casts can crit without a proc.

While I don't think Moonkin are overly burdened by RNG, I think the nature of our RNG makes us a little more sensitive to fight mechanics then other classes. Let me use a Destro Lock for example. Almost all of their RNG has a very short duration, and is primarily limited to critical strikes. Even fire mages have a relatively short RNG duration. It may take a while for Hot Streak to proc but as long as you can hit the mob once in 10s you benefit from it, and it's not limited by movement.

The problem with Eclipse is that most fights are heavily phased and it takes a full15 seconds of motionless DPS to fully benefit from good RNG. I'm sure Eclipse could be balanced around this, but it makes our DPS more swingy. Oddly enough the way to fix this issue may be to weaken Eclipse, while buffing us in other areas. Once again, this wouldn't be such a big issue if Eclipse wasn't such a huge part of Moonkin DPS. Therefore, these RNG swings might be a little easier to swallow if Eclipse is nerfed in 4.0.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Patch Notes: Nerf, Nerf, Buff

Blizzard released a minor update to patch 3.3 to the PTR and it has three changes that will impact Moonkin. None of them are really huge, but I'm sure there will be some inflated opinions about them floating around the forums. Lets take a look.


Item - Druid T8 Balance 2P Bonus - Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 7%. (Down from 15%)
We knew 2T8 was over powered when they changed the way Eclipse worked in Patch 3.2. Many of us expected a nerf then, but it has persisted and dominated a lot of the recent Moonkin discussions. As much as I hate to see moonkin nerfed in anyway this one was needed. Every day there are several posts asking if 2T8 or 4T9 is better on the official forums and some of the theorycrafters on EJ are speculating that it might be best to use 2T8 well into ICC. Well that discussion is effectively ended.

I've valued 2T8 as a 6% DPS increase in the past. Others have valued it a little bit higher. Either way, this nerf will cut it more then in half and bring it in line with most of our set bonuses. The stat upgrades from T9 and T10 will guarantee that the higher tiers of gear will be upgrades.

Ultimately this nerf doesn't really worry me much. If your going to be raiding ICC this will have very little impact on you since you will have better gear available. This just makes sure you want to make the shift.

Eclipse: This effect will not activate again within 15 seconds of either type of Eclipse effect firing, in addition to the existing 30-second cooldown for each type of Eclipse.

Good bye WiseEclipse. You served us well and we will miss you.

For those of you that may be confused, this changes is aimed directly at the addon WiseEclipse that allows us to change proc Eclipse. With this change it is basically useless. Once again this change is expected by a lot of people. Even when I first posted on WiseEclipse I said it felt a little dirty and exploitish.

Unfortunately it was a real DPS increase. Therefore this nerf is a litter more tangible then the one above.

Item - Druid T10 Balance 4P Bonus - Your critical strikes from Starfire and Wrath cause the target languish for an additional 7% of your spell's damage over 4 sec. (Up from 5%)

This may not sound like much but it is actually a pretty significant buff. I did some quick napkin math using a 50% crit chance. If the set bonus increased your crit damage by 5% the total DPS increase would have been around 3.38%. At a 7% crit damage increase this set bonus will increase DPS by about 4.73%. This combined with the nerf to 2T8 will probably mean that 4T10 is the best available set bonus for Moonkin in WotLK.


All in all, I'm sure there will be some people that are very upset by these changes. I disagree.

The Eclipse change sucks a little because it was a straight DPS increase, but it was kind of shady in the way it did it. No one should be surprised that it was changed.

The 2T8 change is long overdue, and it isn't really a nerf if you're raiding ICC. The T10 set bonuses may not be as good as the old 2T8 but the additional stats would have closed the gap. This nerf just insures that we will upgrade our gear.

The 4T10 change is nice, and more significant then it appears. I would also like to see them change the 2T10 set bonus to something a little more significant, but I doubt that will happen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blue Post: ICC Raid Access and Progression

Blizzard dropped a bit of a bomb shell today when they detailed some of their plans for ICC. You can find the post here. In this post, I will comment on what I think are the highlights.

Icecrown Citadel is going to be broken up into four distinct sections: The Lower Spire, Plagueworks, Crimson Hall, and Frostwing Halls. We plan on releasing these four sections of Icecrown Citadel over time and not all immediately when patch 3.3.0 goes live.

The first section that opens will include the Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Deathbringer Saurfang encounters. Progress beyond that point will be prevented for several weeks. Then the Plagueworks will open with Rotface, Festergut, and Professor Putricide becoming available. After another period of time, the Crimson Hall will open and you can then fight the Blood Princes and Blood-Queen Lana'thel. The final Frostwing Halls unlock then occurs after that, making Valithria Dreamwalker, Sindragosa, and the Lich King available. We believe a staggered release of the content will allow players to experience Icecrown Citadel at a sustainable, measured, and ultimately more enjoyable pace.

I agree, I think staggering the release will make the content more enjoy able. Hopefully by the time ICC is released we will have killed Anub, and it will only take us an hour to clear ToGC. This way we can work on achievements like Mad Skill and Insanity while still getting to work on some new bosses.

I know the hardcore racers won't like it, but that is not me. It suits my playstyle and my guilds playstyle perfectly.

Limited Attempts
The Ashen Verdict provides reinforcements and material for players to assault Icecrown Citadel, but this support is not endless. Raids will have a limited number of attempts total each week to defeat the four most difficult encounters in Icecrown Citadel: Professor Putricide, Blood-Queen Lana'thel, Sindragosa, and the Lich King. As these boss encounters are unlocked, the number of attempts available per week will increase. The initial number of attempts provided for defeating Professor Putricide is only five. When Blood-Queen Lana'thel unlocks, the amount of total attempts remaining will increase to 10. Then when Sindragosa and the Lich King unlock, 15 total attempts will be available to defeat all four bosses. After a raid has exhausted their attempts for the week, the Ashen Verdict must withdraw their support and the four most difficult bosses all
despawn and become unavailable for the week. The limited attempt system is a feature of both Normal and Heroic difficulty.

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel.

As a general concept I don't have a problem with Blizzard limiting the number of attempts a guild can make on a boss each week. I do think it makes it easier to compare guilds who spend 30 hours a week raiding with guild that spend 10-15 hours a week. However, I don't think the ToGC model of limited attempts had any real impact on most guilds. Fifty attempts was to much, and it ended up giving most guilds 45-50 attempts on Anub when they first started working on him. I think the new model is trying to fix that issue, but I think it fails miserably for a couple of reasons.

  1. First, 5 attempts is just to low unless the boss is relatively easy. It also doesn't fix the problem that by the time we get to Arthas we will have a lot more attempts because we should be killing the earlier bosses with ease at this point. In my opinion they should increase the number of attempts you start with, and decrease the rate at which you gain more. For example, the first week you should have 10 attempts on the first boss. When the second boss is released you gain an additional 3 attempts. When Arthas is released you gain another 3. This way you don't walk up to Arthas with a thousand attempts, but you also have enough attempts for the first boss to put some real work into him.

  2. Second, this system favors PTR guilds. Some guilds already have dozens of attempts on these bosses. I know we benefit from the guides they write but that is not the same as doing the actual encounter. It just seems unfair to me that they can start these encounters with unlimited attempts and we only start with 5 because we didn't have the time to help test.

  3. Third this system discourages us from doing some of the bosses on hard mode. Unless I'm reading it wrong the limited attempts are tied to the normal and Heroic versions of the bosses. If I was a raid leader and wanted to work on Arthas, why would I risk wasting an attempt on Hard Mode Blood-Queen when I can do it on normal with less risk. Therefore, a lot of guild are going to get their first kills and not do it again for several weeks because they want to work on something else. I misread the post.
As I said before, I don't have a problem with limited attempts, but I think the way Blizzard is trying to implement it for ICC creates more problems then it fixes.

The Spell
To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide
assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell's effect if they so wish.

Obviously, little is know about this spell, but my first reaction is that I hate it. I realize you can click it off, but a gradual built in nerf is not the way Blizzard should be tuning encounters. It just feels cheap to me. This way you never know if you just downed that boss because you improved or if the the fight was finally nerfed enough.

Picking up additional gear from one week to the next is already an indirect nerf to the content, why do then need to provide this charity. Blizzard should design the encounters to be as though as they think they should be. If it's decided that the encounter is to hard then nerf it, but I want to kill the boss on the intended difficulty. This just feels like the MMO equivalent of having your mommy stand over you and give you a participation ribbon at a swim meet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Disclaimer: The Ad.

Some of you may have noticed that I put an ad for the Zygor Leveling guide on my blog. Given the recent posts by Gevlon and Tobold regarding gold guides and Affiliate marketing, I wanted to take a moment to comment on the ad.

In the past two years, I have been asked several times to place ads on my site for various products. I was even one of the many blogs offered a free copy of Dragon Age: Origins to review it. Most of the offers came from gold sellers, power levelers, and account sellers. I had a couple of offers from gold guide sellers, but the strangest offer I got was from a prominent poker website that wanted to advertise during the World Series of Poker. I have refused every offer I received due to a combination of not agreeing with their product and/or thinking it wouldn't fit with the blog.

In particular, I hate gold guides. Like Tobold, I think they are a waste of money. I read quite a few gold blogs and have learned only one undeniable truth. There is no surefire way to make a lot of gold in WoW. What works for one person on one server may or may not work for another person on another server. Plus, buy the time the time the idea is publish more people will be doing it and the profits will be less. Gold guides are basically a collection of ideas that may or may not work and I bet you can find most of them online somewhere else.

How are Leveling Guides Different?

Some of you may be wondering what is different about a leveling guide. All of the information in a leveling guide is available on WoWhead, and there are addons like Questhelper and Carbonite that will help you for free.

There are two key differences in my opinion. First, the information provided by a leveling guide is fairly static between expansions. Blizzard doesn't generally do whole sale changes to quests between expansions. When they do, the guides are generally updated for free. At least that was the case with the Brian Kopp guide I purchased when Mudsprocket came out.

Second, the true value of a leveling guide is the organization of information and not the information itself. A leveling guide gives you step by step instructions on where to go, what quests to pick up, what mobs to kill.

I know this isn't for everyone, but I like it. When I first started playing the game it took me for ever to get to level 30 because my questing was not organized. When I hit 80 and wanted to clear Icecrown, I hated having to continually look up coordinates to figure out where quest objectives were and what quests should be done together. I'm sure this says something negative about me, but I like being told what to do and where to go when leveling.

Why the Zygor Guide?

If you've read my blog for while then you know that I am a big fan of leveling guides. The first guide I used was Jame's excellent and free leveling guide at I used it to get Graylo from 30 - 60. At 60, I bought the Brian Kopp guide because Jame had not updated his guide for TBC yet. I used this guide to get Graylo, Graypal, and Grayfel to 70. When WotLK was released I bought the Zygor guide because I wanted an in game leveling guide and I didn't see any definite information that the Brian Kopp guide would be updated. I leveled all three of my 70s to 80 using the Zygor guide and I leveled my mage from 30 to 79 using the Zygor guide.

I'm not going to tell you that this guide is perfect or even the best on the market. There have been times when I thought it should have pointed me to a better spot or organized a little differently. However, I have been very happy with my purchase, and would make it again if given a chance.

Why have an Ad at All?

EDIT: I want to clarify one thing. In no way, shape, or form am I saying, "buy this guide or I'll quit blogging." How much I blog is determined by my ideas and my interest, and I seriously doubt I could make enough money of the blog for it to be anything other then a hobby. So, if your interested in a leveling guide and you would like to try the Zygor guide, then great. Please hit the link and buy the guide. However, no one should think "I need to buy that guide so that Graylo will keep blogging." If/When I deside to stop blogging I doubt it will have to do with financial issues.

Though I do not have any out of pocket costs directly related to the blog, there are plenty of indirect costs to maintain the blog. The fact of the matter is that it costs money to play the game and costs time to write the blog. However, I am not going to quit playing the game or quit writing the blog based on how many guides I do or do not sell.

I may be idealizing it in my head, but I look at it this way. I've put a lot of time into this blog. I've also spent a lot of money in the form of subscription fees, hardware and internet access, to play the game. Since the blog would not be possible without playing the game, the blog shares in some of the costs. (If you couldn't tell I work in cost accounting.)

I'm not looking to make a ton of money off the ad. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't make any. I'm just hoping that it can offset some of the costs of my two hobbies.

The Disclaimer: PLEASE READ!!

All links to the Zygor guide in my blog are affiliate links. If you click the link and buy the product, I will make some money. However, all comments made on this blog about the Zygor guide are my own. As far as I know, no one from the Zygor staff has contacted me for any reason. If you you are considering a purchase of the guide I want to make a couple of other points clear.

  1. Buying the guide WILL NOT give you access to their Cataclysm leveling guide when the new expansion is released. Do not purchase this guide now thinking it will be good when you want to level to 85. Only buy this guide if you have toons you are currently leveling.

  2. I think this guide has value. I also think some of the claims made by Zygor on their web site are exaggerations and in some cases down right BS. I have never leveled at the speed the site claims you can achieve. I also don't buy the argument that this guide complies with Blizzards policy that addons cannot be sold. If you buy this guide I encourage you to do so with some scepticism.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moonkin Basics: Stats

This is my second post in my Moonkin Basics series. In this series I hope to address a lot of the basic questions asked by people that are new to raiding as a balance druid. For additional reading, please refer to the Moonkin Think Tank and the Moonkin Sticky.

If you're anything like me you don't pay a whole lot of attention to stats as you level. Sure, we make some basic choices like favoring Spell Power over the other stats, but you don't really worry about the Hit cap or if Haste is better then Crit. When you're leveling getting into the details on stats doesn't really matter because your gear improves so quickly and your talent tree isn't fully developed.

Once you get to level 80 all that changes. You can no longer improve yourself by getting a new level and a new spell. The only way you can improve your toon is by improving his gear. On top of that, if you want to get into raiding, you have to pay attention to things like the Hit cap or you will have a hard time even getting into a raid. Therefore, it is very important for you to understand how each of the stats affect your toon, and generally how you should equip each stat.
In this post I will go over some of the general concepts when evaluating stats, and then I will go into more detail on each stat to hopefully answer some of the more specific questions.

Stat Interaction and Valuation

If you're a long time reader of my blog then you know that I've provided specific numerical valuations of each of the stats in the past. To be honest, I don't like providing those values because a lot of people take those values to literally and don't understand the assumptions that were made to develop them.

When I provide specific numerical valuations of stats it's like a point in time snapshot of a Moonkin. My valuations are true for that snapshot, but it doesn't take into account player variation and evolution. For example, when I built my last gear list I used myself as the basis for the stat valuation. Since then my gear has improved, and I guarantee that those valuations would be at least a different now then when the were a couple of months a go. This leads me to my first point.

The first thing that every DPSer should understand is that stats don't operate in a vacuum and there is a lot of interaction between the stats. If you get more of one stat, it will improve the marginal value of the other stats. For example, lets say you increase your spell power by 100 points. Lets look at how this will increase your DPS.
  1. The most obvious way it helps your DPS is by increasing the damage that a single spell cast is capable of doing. However, this decreases the marginal value of Spell Power.

  2. Since your normal spell hits for more, then your Critical Strikes will hit for more as well. Therefore addtional Crit rating will have more of an impact due to the addtional spell power. This increases the marginal value of Crit Rating.

  3. Cast time is also a big component of calculating DPS. If you increase the damage a spell does, decreasing the cast time will have a bigger impact. This increases the marginal value of Haste Rating.

  4. Increasing the damage of a spell per cast also increases the damage lost if a spell misses. This increases the marginal value of Hit Rating.

I could write out this example for any of the four primary DPS stats, but I think you get the basic picture. Increasing the quantity of one stat increases the Marginal value of the other 3 stats.

So, I think you can see how using specific numerical stat valueations can be problematic. Someone gearing up for Naxx will have different valuations then someone who has cleared Heroic ToGC.

The Stat Equation

That said it is important to understand how the Stats generally relate to each other. Here are two quick equations you can use to evaluate the stats on gear.

If you are below the Haste rating soft cap (400 Haste rating for most):

Hit Rating > Spell Power > Haste Rating > Crit Rating > Intellegence > Spirit
If you are above Haste rating soft cap:

Hit Rating > Spell Power > Haste Rating = Crit Rating > Intellegence > Spirit

Hit Rating:
  • Point for point, Hit rating will improve your DPS more then any other stat if you are below the hit cap.

  • In a raid situation all bosses are considered to be 3 levels above the player. This means our spells have a base 17% chance to miss the boss. We can Improve our chance to hit some with talents and raid buffs, but most of your chance to hit will come from Hit Rating.

  • You would need 26.23 points of Hit Rating to increase your chance to hit by 1%.

  • Balance of Power and Improved Faerie Fire are core talents and should not be excluded from any Moonkin Raid build. Therefore, determining your Hit Cap depends on if you have a Draenei in your Party or not. Without a Draenei the Moonkin Hit Cap is 263 Hit Rating. With a Daenei the Moonkin Hit Cap is 237 Hit Rating.

  • Being a point or two above or below the Hit cap is generally not a big deal. However, every additional point of Hit rating you have above the Hit cap has zero impact on your DPS and is wasted itemization.
Spell Power

  • Spell Power increases the damage that all of your spells do. It is the core stat of any Caster DPS build of any class.

  • Generally, Spell Power is the best stat to stack when choosing Gems, Enchants and Consumables. The only exceptions are if you're trying to reach the hit cap or receive a socket bonus.

Haste Rating:

  • Haste Rating reduces the cast time of your spells and reduces the Global Cooldown preventing you from casting another spell.

  • To improve your Haste by 1%, you would need 32.79 points of Haste Rating.

  • Different Haste sources stack Multiplicatively.

  • Haste CANNOT lower the Global Cooldown below 1 second.

  • Since Moonkin have quite a few available haste sources from talents and raid buffs, it is actually quite easy to reduce the Global Cooldown and Wrath's cast time to 1 second. This results in Haste having a "Soft Cap" for Moonkin.

  • A Soft Cap is a point at which a stat loses significant value, but still has some value beyond that point. For Moonkin with full raid buffs and standard talents the Haste Soft Cap is 401 Haste rating. If your raid is lacking a Wrath of Air totem, the Soft Cap increases to 585 Haste rating.

Crit Rating

  • A Critical Strike is a spell cast that does more then normal damage based upon random chance. Crit Rating increases your chance to inflict a Critical Strike.

  • To improve your Crit Chance by 1%, you would need 45.90 points of Crit Rating.

  • Moonkin have several talents and buffs that proc off of Critical Strikes. This does increase the value of Crit Rating a little, but it is important to know that it isn't really significant. The value for Crit rating is almost entirely provided by the extra damage of a Critical Strike.

  • Due to the Mana on Crit mechanic, Crit Rating is actually a key mana regen stat for Moonkin.

  • Finally, Crit rating does have a Hard Cap of 100% crit chance. While it is impossible to reach this cap with gear alone, many moonkin have been able to reach this cap temporarily using a combination of Raid buffs, Lunar Eclipse, and the 2T8 set bonus. This does impact the value of the 2T8 set bonus some, but is not something moonkin should really worry about.

Other Stats:

Stamina - It is an essential stat for raiding, but not something that should be actively stacked. The Tuskarr's Vitality enchant is the only time I would ever gem or enchant for it. There are very few items in the game without it. Therefore, you will get plenty of stam just by picking up normal upgrades.

Intellegence - It does provide some DPS in the form of extra Spell Power and Crit Chance. It also has a big impact on our Mana regen since Mana on Crit and Replenishment are based upon based upon our mana pool. However like Stamina, Int should not be stacked in any way. You will get plenty by picking up normal gear up grades.

Spirit - Improved Moonkin Form converts 30% of our spirit to Spell Power and is the best mana regen stat if you take Intensity. That is really nice given the amount of Spirit we are forced to pick up on our gear, but as a DPS stat Spirit is the weakest we have. Spirit should not be stacked on it's own, but it is common to see people Gem for it and Enchant for it because those gems and enchants are the best available for the socket or armor peice.

Mp5 - Horrible stat, and I am glad they are getting rid of it in Cataclysm. It only provides mana and Mana is currently not a concern for most moonkin. If you are having issues with mana I suggest you try picking up some more of the mana regen talents. If your still having mana issues you need to look at how you play and the group you play with. Mana should not be an issue for any raid geared player.

Spell Penetration - This is not a raid stat. Hell, I'm not sure if they even like it in PvP. Do not stack it under any circumstances. It will not help you and people will laugh at you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tier 10 Set Stats

Apparently there was a new PTR patch pushed out yesterday, and MMO-Champion had been hard at work squeezing all of the goodness out of it for us to read. The big thing that was added was quite a bit of loot from from the 5-man, the raids, and the Tier loot.

My first reaction:

Here are the links to the ilvl 251 and ilvl 264 gear.

Before you get really excited, I want to make one disclaimer. Data mined info is Data mined. It is not currently in game. It has not been confirmed by Blizzard. It is quite possible that these were released in error and will be changed in future PTR releases.

That said, I'm still giddy. I don't know how it compares to the other classes because I don't understand them well enough, but here are a few quick things you will notice.

  1. Not a single drop of Spirit anywhere on the Tier set.

  2. Gem Sockets: 5 Red, 2 Yellow, 1 Meta

  3. Socket Bonuses: All Spell Power

My Second Reaction:

After taking a step back and thinking about it, this makes sense for a couple of reasons.

  • At Blizzcon, it was announced that Spirit would become primarily a healer stat in 4.0, and would have little or no value to caster DPS. If history is any guide, the players that are able to pick up these sets will likely wear them will into Cataclysm. When I first started raiding Naxx last November, I still had most of my Tier 6 gear on, because the quest rewards were inferior, and the heroic loot were side grades for the most part. The lack of spirit here will make these items more useful in the expansion.

  • Blizzard has been saying for a long time that they are saving the best gear for last. They didn't want the earlier sets to be perfectly itemized, otherwise the final sets would just be unexciting numerical upgrades. To some extent, this shows that Blizzard knows what we like and is capable of producing it if the situation calls for it.

So, Blizzard is killing two birds with one stone here. Not only do they create some kick ass tier sets, but they are preparing the players for the next expansion.

In the midst of all this praise I do want to express one concern. Every piece of the tier sets has Crit Rating on it, two pieces have Hit Rating, and the other three have Haste Rating. Don't get me wrong, I love Crit Rating, but with the current Moonkin design I would like a better balance of Haste and Crit. This itemization will probably push us more in the direction of Haste gear for our non tier pieces.

Other Gear:

At this point it is hard to evaluate all of the other gear available. This is obviously an incomplete list. Please don't start asking when my New gear lists will be available. Cowtarus has volunteered to compile all of the information for me again, but it will take time and won't be final until the patch is released.

I do have two small observations that I don't like though. The upgradeable rep ring that a lot of people are excited about is a Hit ring. That is not necessarily bad, but I would rather it didn't have hit to allow for a little more flexibility. The other issue I have is with the quest rewards from the Quel'delar questline. Those weapons are very nice, but from a Moonkin standpoint they are lacking. The great caster DPS weapon is a sword that is un usable by druids, priests or shaman. There is a spell mace, but it has Mp5 on it. I think making the sword a dagger would have made a lot more sense.

Toon Update:

LoE killed Algalon 25 last night for a server second. Again, it's not as big of a deal as the guild that were able to kill him before ToC was released, but I'm still very happy. We have officially killed every boss in Ulduar, and Yogg+0 is the only hard mode we have not completed. I don't know if we will work on that one or not. I would like to get it down at some point, but completing ToGC is a much bigger goal at this point. Plus, If we can master Anub relatively soon, we will have time to go back and clean up some of those achievements in Ulduar.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Look at Pushback Resistance

In my recent Moonkin Basics post regarding Talents I made the following comment:

Resto Tier 1 - Currently, there isn't a lot of debate about this tier of the tree, but that may change at some point. Improved Mark of the Wild and Furor are currently favored because they provide a little extra DPS and regen. However, it is really pretty minor. In a heavy damage situation pushback resistance can be a big DPS boost. Since most guilds have Imp MotW covered by a Resto or Feral Druid, don't be surprised if you see many Moonkin taking points out of Imp MotW or Furor to put a few in Nature's Focus, if the situation calls for it.
This prompted the following comment from a reader:

Imp MotW is not what I would call a debatable talent. 2% stats wins over pushback in a PvE setting.
For the record, I want to say that I don't think Pushback Resistance issue in the current PvE content. That is the exact reason why I didn't included Nature's Focus as a part of my core build in my Moonkin Basics post. However, he was so dismissive with regards to the value of Pushback Resistance that I fell it is necessary to address the topic more formally. In the following post I hope to show you why you may want to pay attention to Pushback Resistance in the future.

How Spell Pushback Works

You will experience Spell Pushback if you take damage while you are casting a spell. However, how it affects that spell depends on the spell type. For a Channelled spell like Hurricane, tanking damage while channelling the spell reduce the spell's duration by 20%. For a spell with a cast time like Starfire, taking damage while casting will increase the cast time by 0.5 seconds. The good news is for both types of spell, only the first two hits will incur spell push back. So, spell pushback can only reduce your channelled spell duration by 40% total, or increase your cast time by a maximum of 1.0 seconds.

Unfortunately, the only way to reduce spell pushback is with the use of talents and buffs. I did some testing over the weekend and proved to myself that Haste has absolutely no impact on the cast time added by spell pushback. Fortunately, Moonkin have several tools available to them to combat spell pushback.

Celestial Focus - When fully stacked CF will reduce the Pushback on your Starfire and Hurricane by 70%.

Nature's Focus - When fully stacked NF will reduce the Pushback on your Wrath and most of your healing spells by 70%.

Barkskin - Your push back is reduced by 100% for all spells while Barkskin is active.

Owlkin Frenzy - Your push back is reduced by 100% for all spells while OF is active.

Concentration Aura - This is from a paladin. It will give you 35% resistance to pushback if you are in range of the pally.

These buffs stack additively. So, having Concentration Aura with Nature's Focus and Celestial Focus gives you 100% resistance to spell push back.

The Math of Spell Pushback:

For simplicity's sake lets make a couple of stipulations. Lets say that the average Starfire hits for 10,000 damage and takes 2.0 seconds to cast. Lets also say that the average Wrath hits for 5,000 damage and takes 1.0 seconds to cast. I know that these are not percice numbers but more accurate numbers are not needed to show the impact of spell push back.

So, using these numbers, both spells have 5,000 DPS if they do not suffer any spell pushback. With the first hit, Starfire's DPS will drop to 4,000 DPS (10,000/(2+0.5)), and Wrath's DPS will drop to 3,333 DPS (5,000/(1+0.5)).

As you can see, taking a hit will have a significant impact on your DPS. On top of that, a spell like Wrath that has a shorter cast time has an even larger drop in DPS due to spell pushback, because the amount added is not relative to the cast time. Of course, Wrath is more likely to avoid spell pushback due to it's shorter cast time. That will reduce the impact of spell pushback some, but it will still have a greater impact then Starfire.

So, what happens if we put a point in Celestial Focus or Nature's Focus? The DPS of Starfire will rise to 4,193 (10,000/(2+(0.5*(1-0.23)))), and the DPS of Wrath will rise to 3,610 (5,000/(1+(0.5*(1-0.23)))). For Starfire this is a 4.83% DPS increase and a 8.30% DPS increase for Wrath. The second and third point have even larger marginal impacts on your DPS. However, this benefit is only realized if you take damage.

Why Spell Pushback is Important

Some of you may be thinking: "I realize that pushback has an impact, but I don't get hit enough in raid for it to have a big impact."

As I said before, I agree that Pushback Resistance isn't hugely necessary in the current raid content. Naxx and Ulduar don't have a lot of unavoidable raid wide damage. ToC has a little bit more but it really isn't enough for it to be a big issue yet. On top of that Celestial Focus is a core talent of any moonkin due to the Haste it provides. Therefore, we are currently pretty well covered as it is. The question is, what type of damage will we see in ICC?

If you take a look back at Black temple and Sunwell, you will see that frequent damage was more of the norm then infrequent damage. In some of the fights like Bloodboil we were getting hit with damage every 2 seconds. If Wrath is 40% of your damage, and 50% of your wraths are getting delayed due to push back, each of those points in Nature's focus will now increase your DPS by 1.66% to 2.09%.

We are only just now getting our first looks at the bosses of ICC, and we don't know what they will look like in hard mode. As such, I can't make any definite statements about Pushback resistance being necessary in ICC or not. However, don't be surprised if you start to see a lot of high level moonkin starting to make the switch. The reason is because Pushback can have a huge negative impact on your DPS if there is enough damage being thrown around.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blizzard Hates Moonkin

Clearly, Blizzard hates Moonkin.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ulduar Meta: Complete

I know that it's not quite as significant as if we had done it before ToC was released. I know that the gear we've obtained from ToC has made the achievements easier to some extend. However, I am still very proud and happy that it is now complete.

The fact of the matter is that Yogg +1 is not an easy fight. Neither is Firefighter, Freya +3 and several other Ulduar hard modes. For most guilds these are not fights that you can walk in and watch them fall down. Completing this acheivement was the result of a lot of hard work and trying to squeeze Ulduar time into our ToC schedule.

Grats to everyone that got drakes, and thank you to everyone that helped me get mine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moonkin Basics: Talents

I'm starting a new series called Moonkin Basics. The purposes of these posts will be to answer the basic questions a new raider or offspec raider would ask. My intention is to keep them up to date as things change in the game and have links to them on the right side of my blog. Obviously, most of what I say in these posts will be common knowledge to experienced Moonkin raiders. Please feel free to comment if you have a difference of opinion.

To some extent these posts are inspired by or stolen from Hamlet's Moonkin guide in the Elitist Jerk's Think Tank (link). It is the best "How-to-Moonkin" guide I have ever read. I think that anyone raiding a mookin should read it. You may also want to check out the Moonkin Sticky on the official forums that has been compiled by Wisprunner.

Some of you may be asking: "If Hamlet wrote such a good guide, and you could get similar information from the Moonkin Sticky, why do you need to post anything?"

Very good question. I'm doing for several reasons.

  • This will be something I control. In the history of WoW, many guides have come and gone, and many are dead before people realize it. I won't maintain it forever, but as long as I'm blogging and playing WoW I will try and keep it up to date. I can't make the same commitment for the other guides if I point people to them.

  • I regularly get asked basic questions about Moonkin DPS. I love it when people ask me questions, but to be honest, I am pretty bad about answering my mail. These posts should give the answers more exposure so that people can find them on their own. It will also give me a quick place to point to if I have already answered the question.

  • Finally, I don't always agree with the answers provided by other guides. The differences aren't huge generally, but they are common enough that I think it is helpful to the readers.

Now, on with the guide.

The Core Talent Build: (Link)

This is what I consider to be the core talent build of almost every raiding moonkin for a majority of encounters. I did leave two points unspent, because how you use those points really depends on your raiding situation. If you have mana issues you'll probably put them in Intensity. If you focus more on single target DPS Brambles is probably the better choice. Gale Winds is a good choice if you have to do significant amounts of AoE.

In addition, to the two points I left unspent, you may want to consider a couple of variations to the core spec I've provided.

  1. Moonglow vs Imp MF - Tier 2 of the balance tree doesn't have a lot of good options. Moonglow is the worst mana "regen" talent we have. Improved Moonfire has very little impact if you also use the Glyph of Moonfire. Unfortunately you have to spend three talent points in these two talents to move on to the 3rd tier of the tree.

    I chose Moonglow in the Core build because it is a simple way to get some Mana regen without really hurting your DPS. The one exception I would make to policy is if you have the 2T9 set bonus. If your Moonfire ticks can Crit then the talent improves significantly.

  2. Imp IS for Mana - The core build ignores almost all of the Mana Regen talents. Most Moonkin I've talked to don't have any problems with mana regen as long as they have replenishment. If they do have issues then Innervate fixes them easily. Therefore, I expect that most moonkin don't have mana issues.

    However, I'm sure this isn't true for everyone. If your looking to pick up more regen from your talent build, I suggest you skip Improved Insect Swarm. It is a decent DPS boost, but probably the smallest one we can reasonably get rid of.

  3. Resto Tier 1 - Currently, there isn't a lot of debate about this tier of the tree, but that may change at some point. Improved Mark of the Wild and Furor are currently favored because they provide a little extra DPS and regen. However, it is really pretty minor. In a heavy damage situation pushback resistance can be a big DPS boost. Since most guilds have Imp MotW covered by a Resto or Feral Druid, don't be surprised if you see many Moonkin taking points out of Imp MotW or Furor to put a few in Nature's Focus, if the situation calls for it.

Talents: A Quick Look

Starlight Wrath - A straight DPS boost. A must have talent.
Genesis - A horrible Moonkin talent. It is really a way for restos to start the balance tree.
Moonglow - Our worst "regen" talent, but relatively cheap. Many moonkin have 1 or 3 points here.
Nature's Majesty - Straight DPS boost for our two main spells. Also plays well with Eclipse.
Improved Moonfire - Very poor talent when combined with Glyph of Moonfire, but is revived with the 2T9 set bonus.
Brambles - Minor talent. Small single target DPS boost, but primarily for PVP.
Nature's Grace - Must have talent. One of the keys to moonkin DPS.
Nature's Splendor - Straight DPS boost.
Nature's Reach - Extra range and threat reduction are to very nice things to have as a raider.
Vengence - Boosts critical strike damage. It works very well with the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond.
Celestial Focus - Pushback resistance is an often overlooked asset. Combine that with haste and this a great talent.
Lunar Guidance - Spell Power for Int. It buffs an unavoidable stat.
Insect Swarm - A high DPET spell when glyphed.
Improved Insect Swarm - Buffs our two nukes but relies on high DoT uptime.
Dreamstate - Good regen stat for leveling, but last one picked for raiding.
Moonfury - Straight DPS Boost
Balance of Power - The extra Hit chance is critical, but don't over look the damage reduction.
Moonkin Form - The key to the whole tree.
Improved Moonkin Form - Raid wide haste + spell power from spirit = great talent
Improved Fairie Fire - Provides a static 3% crit chance to the moonkin and hit for the raid.
Owlkin Frenzy - A PvP talent, but may find a place in very high level raiding.

Wrath of Cenarius - Straight DPS Boost
Eclipse - Love it or hate it, it is the final key to moonkin DPS.
Typhoon - Primarily a PvP spell, but has limited uses in PvE
Force of Nature - Better known as trents. A great single target DPS Spell.
Gale Winds - Only useful for a AoE heavy fight or if you have no need for regen.
Earth and Moon - Straight DPS boost, and provides an essential raid buff.
Starfall - Provides a solid DPS boost in both AoE and single target situations.

Improved MotW - A minor boost to DPS and survivability
Nature's Focus - Provides push back resistance for Wrath and heals.
Furor - Minor DPS and regen boost.
Natural Shapeshifter - Needed for Master Shapeshifter, but would pass if possible.
Master Shapeshifter - Straight DPS boost
Omen of Clarity - Best Moonkin "regen" talent.
Intensity - Great regen talent when fully raid buffed.