Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Moonkin Rotation

I've been recieveing a lot of questions lately about the proper Moonkin spell rotation. Well I've got bad news for you, Moonkin don't have formal rotation. Really what we have is spell priority. In this post I hope to give you a detailed understanding of the four main moonkin spells and when to cast them.

This post is very mathy. Please feel free to skip to the bottem to get the TL:DR version.

My Hypothetical Moonkin:
These are the talents and stats I used to calculate the numbers. I have modeled him after how I expect to look in the beginning of Ulduar. He has 2900 Spell Power, 40% Crit Chance, 16.5% haste from gear (29.77% total), and a mana pool with 21000 mana.

This is the spec I expect to use when 3.1 comes out. It's very close to my current spec but has a little extra mana regen. I'm sure some of you may argue with some of my choices, but overall I don't think there are any reasonable arguements that would affect the calculations significantly.

Spell Queuing:
I've talked about this a little before, but it is important for me to explain it again so that you understand some of the comments I will make later in the post. The spell queuing system helps you to minimize down time by allowing you to queue your next spell cast before your current spell cast is done. Erdluf did some nice research on the subject and posted his results on the EJ forums here.

Basically the spell queuing system allows you to queue your next spell if you cast it within 0.3 seconds of your current casts end. However, this process starts to break down as your global cooldown (GCD) gets closer to GCD floor of one second, because you can't queue your next cast within the first second of your current cast. So, the game has to wait for you to physically push a button to start casting the next spell.

Since it is practically impossible cast a spell exactly when the prior spell completed, there will always be a little extra lag in the cast time due to human error.

The spell queuing system works great for longer cast spells like Starfire, but it causes big issues for spells like Wrath that can get really close to the one second GCD. Therefore this makes Wrath a little worse in actuallity then it is on paper.

The DoTs:
We don't look at DoTs form the traditional DPS point of view. Due to the long duration DoTs are obviously going to have a relatively low DPS when compared to Nukes. Therefore the best way to evaluate DoTs is with Damage per Cast Time (DPCT).

Both of our DoTs are instant casts therefore they technically don't have a cast time. However the GCD does prevent us from casting another spell for 1 to 1.5 seconds. In a PvE environment this is pretty much the same thing as having a cast time. Close enough for me anyway.

So, what is the GCD for my Hypothetical Moonkin? For this section I'm going to assume that Nature's Grace has a minimum uptime of about 67.51%. This is the uptime that NG would have with a SF spam rotation. In actual play it will probably be a little higher, but I'm trying to be a little conservative.

Therefore the GCD can be calculated like this:

GCD w/o NG = (1.5/1.2977) = 1.1559
GCD w NG = (1.5/(1.2977*1.2) = 0.9632, Therefore 1 since 0.9632 less than 1
Avg GCD = 1.1559*(1-0.6751) + (1* 0.6751) = 1.0507 Seconds

Insect Swarm:
I'm looking at it from the perspective of 3.1 assuming that the changes to it go live. I also assume that the [Glyph of Insect Swarm] is equipped. I am not using the new Ulduar Idol that affects IS because it sucks (more on that in a future post). I am also not using the 2T7 set bonus. Here is the math:

IS Damage = ((1290 + (2900 * 1.2)) *(1.3*1.04*1.03))*(7/6)
IS Damage = ((4770) *(1.39256))*(1.1667) = 7750 Damage
IS DPCT = 7750 / 1.0507 = 7376 DPCT

Now assuming that the Spell Queuing issue causes a 0.1 second delay in casting the Insect Swarm DPCT would be:

IS DPCT w/SQ = 7750 / 1.1507 = 6735 DPCT
Moonfire is a little more complicated because it has both a Direct Damage portion and a DoT portion. I will assume that the [Glyph of Moonfire] is equipped but I will ignore the [Glyph of Starfire] since it is had to tell which spell that damage belongs to. Ultimately its not going to change my conclusions.

MF DD Non-Crit = (441 + (2900 * 0.1495))*((1.1-0.9)*1.04*1.03) = 187
MF DD Crit = (441 + (2900 * 0.1495))*((1.1-0.9)*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 392
MF DD Avg = (187 * (1-.4)) + (392 * 0.4) = 269 Damage

MF DoT = ((800 + (2900 * 0.5209)) *((1.1+0.75)*1.04*1.03))*(5/4)
MF DoT = (2311) *(1.98172)*(1.25) = 5725 Damage

MF DPCT = (269 + 5725) / 1.0507 = 5705 DPCT

MF DPCT w/SQ = (269 + 5725) / 1.1507 = 5209 DPCT
The Nukes:
Obviously Nukes are the bread and butter of our rotation. For a Nuke, DPS and DPCT are the same thing so I wills stick with DPCT in this section for consistancy.

I've detailed how to calculate these numbers several times in the past. I assume that if you care about the math you probably have looked at those prior posts. Therefore, I am going to condense the math a little more then usual this time.

I'm assuming that the [Idol of the Shooting Star] is equipped. Once again I will ignore the [Glyph of Starfire] since it is had to tell which spell that damage belongs to.

NG Uptime with SF = 1-(1-0.43)2 = 67.51%
SF Avg Cast Time = (3/(1+0.2977))*(1-0.6751)+(3/((1+0.2977)*1.2))*0.6751 = 2.0516 Seconds
SF Non-Crit = (1285 + (2900 * 1.2))*(1.1*1.04*1.03) = 5615
SF Crit = (1285 + (2900 * 1.2))*(1.1*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 11735

SF DPCT = ((5615*(1-0.43))+(11735*0.43))/2.0516 = 4020 DPCT
I'm assuming that the [Idol of Steadfast Renewal] is equipped.

NG Uptime with SF = 1-(1-0.4)3 = 78.40%
W w/o NG Cast Time = (1.5/(1+0.2977)) = 1.1559 Seconds
W w NG Cast Time = (1.5/((1+0.2977)*1.2)) = 0.9632, Therefore 1 second since 0.9632 less than 1.
W Avg Cast Time = (1.1559*(1-0.7840)) + 0.7840 = 1.0337 seconds

W Non-Crit = (658 + (2900 * 0.6714))*(1.13*1.04*1.03) = 3153
W Crit = (658 + (2900 * 0.6714))*(1.13*1.04*1.03)*2.09 = 6590

W DPCT = ((3153*(1-0.40))+(6590*0.40))/1.0337 =
4380 DPCT

W w/ SQ DPCT = ((3153*(1-0.40))+(6590*0.40))/1.1337 = 3994 DPCT
The math for this is to complicated to detail it again, so I'm going to take the easy route and just give you the results.

With perfect Spell Queuing a Lunar Eclipse rotation would do about 5030 DPS on average, while a Solar Eclipse rotation would do 5302 DPS on average. As you can see, in perfect environment Solar eclipse does about 5% more damage, but we do not play in a perfect environment.

If we assume that the Spell Queuing issue adds an extra 0.1 second to the Wrath Cast time the numbers change a little bit. In this situation an average Lunar Eclipse rotation has 4887 DPS, and the average Solar Eclipse rotation has 4962 DPS. Wrath still has a 1.5% advangate in DPS, but the difference is minimal. Therefore, from a DPS perspective which Eclipse you use doesn't really matter.

Hey, What about DPM:
Mana hasn't really been a concern in WotLK so far, and that isn't really surprising given the nature of Tier 7 content. However, that doesn't mean man isn't going to be an issue in Tier 8 or beyond. In Ulduar the fights will be longer. We are lossing some of our Crit Chance with the losses of Set bonuses and the nerf to Improved Scorch. Healers are going to have less mana so we won't be getting Replenishment as often.

If you combine all of this, its easy to see how mana could be a bigger issue for Moonkin in 3.1. Therefore, it is important to consider the mana efficency of each of the spells when we choose which spells to cast.

This section is also important because the way we should think about mana in WotLK is a little different then the way we thought about it in TBC. This is due to the new Mana on Crit mechanic. Lets look at the average mana costs for the Hypothetical Moonkin.

IS Mana Cost = 3496 * 0.08 = 280
IS DPM = 7750 / 280 = 27.6786 DPM

SF Mana Cost = (3496*0.16)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.43) = 328
SF DPM = 8246 / 328 = 25.1402 DPM

W Mana Cost = (3496*0.11)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.40) = 182
W DPM = 4528 / 182 = 24.8791 DPM

MF Mana Cost = (3496*0.21)*0.91-((21000*0.02)*0.40) = 500
MF DPM = 5725 / 500 = 11.4500 DPM
As you can see the traditional mana relationships from TBC are still holding true at this point, but they are a lot closer togeather then I think most of us would have guessed. I ran some numbers as if the Hypothetical Moonkin's stats increased by 10% and the traditional way of thinking is completely blown out of the water. Wrath becomes the most mana efficent spell with 34.1881 DPM, Starfire comes in second with 31.2159 DPM, and Insect Swarm drops to third with 29.7303 DPM because it can't Crit. Moonfire is still far behind the others with 13.7453 DPM.

How we use Eclipse also has a big impact on our mana effecency. As you can probably guess Lunar Eclipse is much more mana efficent then Solar Eclipse since it adds Crit chance instead of a straight damage increase. Without the 2T8 set bonus a Lunar Eclipse rotation had an average DPM of 45.0072, while Solar had just 23.9727 DPM. That means that Lunar Eclipse has a 88% advantage over Solar Eclipse. If you add the 2T8 set bonus into the equation Lunar's advantage jumps 132%.

TL:DR - Tell me what spells to cast already:
  • The DoTs are clearly solid additions to the Moonkin Rotation. They have significantly higher DPCT results then the Nukes. Therefore, if anyone suggests to you that you can get higher DPS by spamming a nuke, they are wrong. I'm seeing that DoTs are even good on Lotheb.

  • From a damage perspective, Wrath and Starfire are fairly even. Wrath is a little better on paper, but is troubled by the Spell Queuing issue at higher levels of gear. This brings Wrath closer to Starfire if not below it.

  • This also holds true when comparing the damage of Solar Eclipse to Lunar Eclipse. Again, Solar is a little better on paper but loses most of it's advantage when the Spell Queuing issue is taken into account.

  • From a mana perspective the clear winner is Starfire and the Lunar Eclipse rotation. Therefore, for most fights I recommend the IS, MF, W til Eclipse, SF rotation.

  • However, a MF, IS, SF til Eclipse, W rotation may be better for high movement fights where your spells are more likely to get cancelled or interuptted if your mana can handle it.
  • Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    /Wrists: We missed Immortal for another week.

    I'm not going to do another long drawn out post but we missed Immortal again. Things were going very well. We cleared the first 12 bosses without issue. We then head to Sapphiron. Everything is going fine and then someone dies to a frost breath.

    I was not on that side so I didn't see it happen, but several people said that he was behind the ice block. Some people are suggesting that it is a bug because of where the ice block was standing. When Sapp goes up in the air we collapse towards the head so that if bad luck strike and Sapp only does Ice blocks on one side that we can run and to the other side and get behind a block.

    Well this block was on the stairs going towards KT, and apparently the person that got killed was a little higher then the block and got hit.

    To make matters worse KT went perfectly.

    This is so freaken nerve racking it sucks. Hopefully we have another week to get it. I would hate to get so close so many times to miss it.

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Congratz to Phaelia

    Huge Congrats to Phaelia. We all know how influential she has been in the druid community and the Blogging community, and miss her already. It is awesome to see Blizzard reward her for her efforts.

    Friday, March 20, 2009

    Mana Regen: Spirit vs Crit

    Update: Since my last post on the Damage Dealing Forums seems to have had some affect. I've posted another thread there to highlight this issue. You can find it here. If you have something to contribute please post it there as well.


    You probably know by know that Blizzard has made some strange choices when itemizing our T8 gear sets. Namely, they more than doubled the amount of spirit on gear from T7 to T8. I bet many of you had the same reaction that I did after seeing this. My first thought was: "What the heck is Blizzard thinking?"

    After thinking about it for a little while I can come to only one conclusion. In 3.1. Blizzard is making a lot of changes to the Mana regen system. On top of that all caster DPS are losing 5% crit chance with the Nerf to Improved Scorch and Winter's Chill, and blizzard probably assumes that we will be dropping our 4T7 set bonus and losing another5% crit chance. All in all that is a lot of mana regen going out the door. Therefore, Blizzard must be thinking that we need more Mana Regen, and Spirit = Mana Regen.

    Some of you may scoff at this idea since Mana is clearly not an issue right now but that doesn't mean it won't be an issue in 3.1. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we do need more regen with the arrival of the next patch, but that doesn't mean it should come from Spirit. In this post I hope to demonstrate why most of that new Spirit should be changed to Crit Rating.

    The Spirit Math:

    First lets look at how Spirit base mana regen is going to be calculated in 3.1. For this exercise I'm going to assume we all have 3 points in Intensity.

    The base formula for In Combat Spirit Based mana regen for moonkin is:

    MP5 = (3 * (0.001 + sqrt(Int) * Spirit * Base_Regen)) * 0.5
    The Base_Regen coefficient for a level 80 toon is 0.005575, and I'm going to use my stats to calculate the values for Int and Spirit. For Int, I have 925 Int unbuffed and in caster form. With full raid buffs that increases to 1243 ((925 + 60 + 51) * 1.2 = 1243.2). For Spirit I have 411 unbuffed in caster form. With raid buffs that increases to 596 ((411 + 80 + 51) * 1.1 = 596.2).

    So my In Combat Spirit Based mana regen can be calculated this way:

    IC SB MP5 = (3 * (0.001 + sqrt(1243) * 596 * 0.005575)) * 0.5
    IC SB MP5 = (3 * (117.1468)) * 0.5 = 175.7202 Mp5
    So, What happens if I increase my spirit by 1.

    IC SB MP5 = (3 * (0.001 + sqrt(1243) * 597 * 0.005575)) * 0.5
    IC SB MP5 = (3 * (117.3433)) * 0.5 = 176.0150 Mp5
    So, by increasing my Spirit by 1, I increase my In Combat Mp5 by 0.2948 (176.0150 - 175.7202 = 0.2943).

    The Crit Rating Math:

    Now that we know what we are getting from Spirit, how much mana is generated by each point of Crit Rating?

    Again, I'm going to use myself as an example. On my armory you can see that I have 17091 mana completely unbuffed. When I add Arcane Brilliance, Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings and Furor, my Intellect increases by 318 which translates to 4770 mana. Therefore, fully raid buffed my mana pool is 21861.

    As you know every time one of our spells critically hits we regenerate 2% of our total mana. So, every time one of my spells crits I regenerate 437 mana ( 21861 * 0.02 = 437.22).

    Now, each additional point of Crit rating gives you an additional 0.02179% chance to crit ( 1 / 4590 = 0.0002179).

    Therefore, on average an additional point of Crit Rating will regenerate 0.09522 mana per crit-able spell cast (437 * 0.0002179 = 0.09522).

    Now we need to translate this into Mp5 and to do that we need to calculate the average cast time of Starfire and Wrath.

    A couple of Assumptions:
    1. In raid, I have about 46% chance to crit. In 3.1 one that will shrink by 5% due to the Imp Scorch Nerf, and I will lose another 5% by dropping the 4T7 set bonus. So, I will assume that my crit chance is 36% for Wrath and 39% for starfire in this calculation.

    2. I have 16.19% haste from gear. I assume that I will also have 3% from Celestial Focus, 3% from Imp Moonkin Form, and 5% from Wrath of Air. This a total haste value of 29.43% before Nature's Grace.

    3. I'm going to ignore the increase crit chance from Eclipse for now.

    4. I'm assuming that Starfire will represent 75% of our Damage and Wrath the other 25%.

    Now, lets look at the uptime of Natures Grace:

    SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.39)2 = 62.79%
    Wrath NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.36)3 = 73.79%
    Therefore the average Starfire cast time can be calculated as:

    Avg SF Cast Time = (3/(1+0.2943)) * (1-0.6279) + (3/((1+0.2943)*1.2)) * (0.6279)
    Avg SF Cast Time = (2.3179) * (0.3721) + (1.9315) * (0.6279) = 2.0753 seconds
    The average Wrath Cast time looks like this, but remember that it can't go below 1 second due to the global cooldown:

    Avg W Cast Time = (1.5/(1+0.2943)) * (1-0.7379) + (1.5/((1+0.2943)*1.2)) * (0.7379)
    Avg W Cast Time = (1.1589) * 1-0.7379) + (1#) * (0.7379) = 1.0416 seconds
    # - Actual value is less then 1, but the GCD sets a floor of a 1 second cast.
    So, how much Mp5 is regenerated by each of these spells:

    Mp5 from SF = (5 / 2.0753) * 0.09522 = 0.2294 Mp5
    Mp5 from W = (5 / 1.0416) * 0.09522 = 0.4571 Mp5

    So, by these calculations each point of Crit Rating is worth:

    Mp5 per Crit Rating = (0.2294 * 0.75) + (0.4571 * 0.25) = 0.2863 Mp5
    Please Note: I do not claim that this number is perfect. In actuality this number should be a little lower. Obviously not every spell we cast has a chance to crit and we are not casting 100% of the time, but I do believe that it is in the right ball park. Please remember that I have also excluded Eclipse from the analysis would would greatly increase the amount of Mp5 generated by Mana on Crit.


    Lets compare the two numbers I calculated. One point of Spirit will increase my In Combat mana regen by 0.2948 Mp5. One point of Crit Rating will increase my In Combat mana regen by 0.2863 Mp5. So, Spirit returns only 2.97% more mana then Crit Rating does by these calculations. Granted the Crit Rating number might be over estimated by a little bit, but the Spirit number may also be over estimated if you ever drop out of the 5 second rule.

    If we look at it from a DPS stand point we know that Crit Rating is vastly superior. For my gear level, I've calculated Crit Rating to be worth 0.80 Spell power per point. Each point of Spirit is worth 0.15 Spell power. So, Crit Rating is 433% more powerful in terms of DPS then Spirit.

    In short, by itemizing for Spirit instead of Crit Rating, Blizzard is making us give up quite a bit of DPS for a relatively minor amount of mana regen.

    I am under no illusion that Blizzard will convert all of the Spirit on the T8 gear to Crit Rating, but I think it would be reasonable to take the spirit off of one of the items and convert it to Crit Rating instead. In my opinion this would improve the set significantly.

    Blue Posts: 03/20/2009

    While it is well publicized that Eyonix likes my blog, it is clear that Ghostcrawler like Foofy since he has answered two of here forum posts.

    Just kidding, but Ghostcrawler did stop by the forums today and drop a little moonkin news. Lets take a look.

    Typhoon -- what we are most likely to do is add a daze effect of some kind. This is what the mage spell Blast Wave does. The daze (it's like a 50% snare) can add a little bit more time to do something before the targets get back on you, such as cast a Cyclone. We might mess with the
    knockback distance a little, but Typhoon is built differently from many spells, so there may be a limit in what we can do here.

    I can't give you much analysis here because this is clearly a PvP change. It sounds like a buff to me but you will have to go to the forums to find a more reasoned analysis.

    2P Ulduar set bonus -- we increased the Eclipse boost to 15%, which should actually grant a dps increase.

    We know many druids still don't like the inherent RNG that Eclipse offers. However, we like
    mechanics that encourage players to dynamically (meaning if they pay attention) swap which spell they are using. Balance has often had a real tunnel-vision problem of just using the same spell over and over. Even mages do that less these days with all the other procs and cooldowns they can blow at certain times. Eclipse did have some problems, particularly with the Wrath part of the talent not actually doing enough, but we believe those are in a better shape now.
    You know this sounds oddly familiar. Oh yea, I suggested it here. I can't take a lot of credit for it because several people including Murmurs did the math for it. What really makes me happy about this is that it shows Blizzard listens to reason. They may not always agree with us or make the changes we want but If you present a good argument there is a chance.

    Obviously I like this change since it is exactly what I suggested. This almost guarantees that the T8.25 Hands and Legs will be Best in Slot and moonkin won't completely ignore the T8 gear.

    I still don't like the randomness of Eclipse but it is what it is. Blizzard obviously feels that the volatility in our DPS isn't a huge issue. As long as my guild leaders and blizzard understand this, then I can't get to up set. My main worries about the volatility are two fold.

    1. I don't one my raid leader to come up to me and ask why I was slacking on Patchwerk when my DPS is lower then it was last week. Raid leaders like consistence especially when your working on new content.

    2. I fear the day when a moonkin will get a really lucky parse and absolutely kill all the other DPSers because everything went his way. Think of the QQ that will be started because a Moonkin beats several good "pure" DPS players by 20%. This won't be a huge problem as long as Blizzard understand that it is due to volatility.

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Patch 3.1 - T8 Sets Revealed (or Reviled)

    While I was wallowing in my Immortal Pity Party I missed that the new T8 Gear Sets were revealed. My first impression of the new Tier 8 Set was easy.

    It Sucked!!!!

    I will admit that my first impression wasn't completely correct. After I did some math I realize that the set is a little better then I originally thought but it still has some serious Itemization problems.

    My Analysis:

    I won't go into all of the math but I have a model that estimates the relative value of each of the stats. I also have also entered all of the raid gear available into a spread sheet to and and then calculate a value for each piece using the relative stat values. I then use this value to rank each of the gear items to come up with a Best in Slot list for each gear slot so that I can make the best gear choices possible.

    Anyway, I've inserted the new T8 items into the model to see how they rank in relation to the T7 set and other gear currently available in game. The results were not good.

    Let me give you a little back ground before I go into the results.

    1. My ranking is purely a DPS ranking. Stam and MP5 have no value in my ranking, and Spirit is only measured in how it converts to Spell Power. I'm not saying those stats don't have value, but they are very hard to quantify.

    2. The relative value of stats will change depending on your gear level. The hypothetical moonkin I used had 2900 spell power, 41% crit chance, 29.4% haste before NG, and 99.9% chance to hit. All of these numbers include raid buffs. The hit chance is so high to minimize the marginal value of Hit rating. I also assume that SF is used 75% of the time while Wrath is used 25% of the time.

    3. Using the stats above the relative value of stats comes out to Hit Rating = 1.48, Spell Power = 1, Haste Rating = 0.84, Crit Rating = 0.80, Int = 0.35, and Spirit = 0.15. As I said before Stam and Mp5 have no value because they cannot be directly converted into DPS.

    The Results:

    In short, Three of the five T7.25 items are better then their equivalent item in T8.25. This is in terms of pure stats. I have excluded the set bonuses from this comparison. The other two items are huge improvements over the T7.25 item and make the entire T8.25 set a little better then the entire T7.25 set.

    Here are the Rankings:

    T8.25 Conqueror's Nightsong Trousers - 325.7606
    T8.10 Valorous Nightsong Trousers - 302.6301
    T7.25 Valorous Dreamwalker Trousers - 218.9037
    T7.10 Heroes' Dreamwalker Trousers - 194.9011

    T7.25 Valorous Dreamwalker Cover - 402.1844
    T8.25 Conqueror's Nightsong Cover - 393.3498
    T8.10 Valorous Nightsong Cover - 373.4473
    T7.10 Heroes' Dreamwalker Cover - 353.7805

    T7.25 Valorous Dreamwalker Mantle - 216.1341
    T7.10 Heroes Dreamwalker Mantle - 188.4584
    T8.25 Conqueror's Nightsong Mantle - 179.3919
    T8.10 Valorous Nightsong Mantle - 167.2165

    T7.25 Valorous Dreamwalkers Vestments - 257.1615
    T8.25 Conqueror's Nightsong Vestments - 256.4061
    T8.10 Valorous Nightsong Vestments - 239.0354
    T7.10 Heroes' Dreamwalker Vestments - 227.6252

    T8.25 Conqueror's Nightsong Gloves - 219.1752
    T8.10 Valorous Nightsong Gloves - 202.2246
    T7.25 Valorous Dreamwalker Gloves - 164.2674
    T7.10 Heroes' Dreamwalker Gloves - 147.4499

    T8.25 - 1374.084
    T8.10 - 1284.554
    T7.25 - 1258.651
    T7.10 - 1112.215

    Using this quantitative approach to evaluating the gear I come up with mixed conclusions. In total, T8 is better then T7 if you ignore the set bonuses, but how we get there is strange. Here are the stat differences when comparing the Heroic versions of the two tiers:

    Int: 394 - 345 = 49 Gain
    Stam: 381 - 345 = 36 Gain
    Spirit: 216 - 94 = 122 Gain
    Crit: 132 - 254 = -122 Loss
    Haste: 81 - 122 = -41 Loss
    Hit : 176 - 83 = 93 Gain
    SP: 542 - 453 = 89 Gain

    * T8 is the first number.

    As I said above, T8.25 is better the T7.25 in terms of pure stats, but that doesn't mean that T8.25 is as good as it could be. Really, T8.25 is getting its superior ranking more due to the item level of the gear then the itemization on that gear. The T8.25 does have a huge increase in Hit and Spirit, but that is worth 155.94 (93 * 1.48 + 122 * 0.15 = 155.94). On the flip side we loose a lot of Crit and Haste. It is worth 132.04 (122 * 0.80 + 41 * 0.84 = 132.04). As you can see what we gain in hit and Spirit is almost completely wiped out by what we lose in Crit and Haste. So most of improvement in T8.25 comes from in the relatively standard increases in Spell Power and Intelligence.

    Another good indication of how poorly designed T8.25 is by comparing looking at the relative difference between T7.25 and T7.10. The Heroic set has an item level 13 above the item level of the normal set. This is the same level difference as level difference between T8.25 and T7.25.

    T7.25 has a value of 1258.651, T7.10 has a value of 1112.215. So by going from the normal set to the heroic set you gain 146.436 in value. If Blizzard had just upgraded the T7.25 set with similar stats as the upgrade from the T7.10, then the new heroic set would have a value of 1405.087 instead of 1374.084 from the actual set.


    The situation isn't as bad as I originally thought. At first I thought Moonkin might completely skip T8.25 but in actuality T8.25 is an improvement over our Dreamwalker sets. However, that isn't our only option.

    The main attraction to gear sets is the set bonuses. If the set bonuses aren't useful then most classes can build a better set out of non tier pieces. The jury is till out on the moonkin T8 Set Bonuses. It looks like the 2T8 bonus is getting increased to 15% (as I suggested. :D ), but the 4T8 is a complete unknown. As it stand right now I wouldn't be surprised if most people skip 4T8 bonus and just use the Hand and the Legs from T8.25. I haven't evaluated all of the new gear in Ulduar, but I am sure that there are better itemized pieces for the other three armor slots.

    If Blizz really wants Moonkin to use the full T8 set then they need to change the itemization. The T7 sets are an excellent example of what our set should look like since they are itemized very well.

    Toon Update: 3/19/2009 - Immortal Follow Up

    This is so freak'en frustrating!

    We cleared Naxx last night on 25man, and are obviously going for Immortal. I don't know about you guys but when I think about the achievement I compartmentalize the bosses into Hard, Medium, and Relatively Easy. Some of the bosses like Anub'Rekhan I don't really worry about. I consider these bosses relatively easy. Yes, there are things that can kill you if you're careless, but it shouldn't be a problem for an experienced guild. The Medium bosses are those that have things that can kill you quickly but are manageable. They are more risky but if your focused everything will go fine. The hard bosses are the one's I worry about. I put Instructor Raz, Thaddius, Heigan, and KT in this group. These are bosses that have a lot of risk or bad luck can royally mess you up.

    So I think of our odds of completing Immortal in terms of how many of each of these types we have left. In the beginning I bearly think about the achievement. With 12 to 15 bosses to go, there is so much that can go wrong its not worth stressing over. So we started with Instructor Raz last night and it was a very smooth kill. I think we have perfected him. It was good to get him out of the way but with 14 bosses left I'm not really thinking about Immortal. After that we cleared the Military wing with no problem. Then we go to the Spider Wing and clear it with no problem. Two wings down, but still 9 bosses to go. Immortal is on my mind a little more but I am still able to ignore it for the most part.

    We then head to the Construct wing. For me, this is where things started to get a little tense. Patchwerk is easy, and the kill went smoothly. The kill of Grobbulus when fine also, but after you kill him the poison zones are still around and you are still in combat. I see someone standing close to an expanding cloud and I think. If someone dies now, do we lose Immoral? The person did move but it add a new level of worry and paranoia to my experience because there are a couple of bosses where you don't leave combat right after the boss dies. Gluth went fine also but he always worries me because Decimate takes every one so low.

    At Thaddius, my tension shifted into high gear. This is the boss were we lost Immortal last week due to a DC. A couple of people had DCed already that night and a few other people had reported lag. We had a plan to deal with DCs but there was still a ton of stress. We take out the two adds without a problem and then some one misses the Jump. I think "oh crap," but they deal with it well and get back to the group with out dying or crossing charges. At this point I'm only thinking about 1 thing: DO NOT MISS A CHARGE CHANGE. DPS is completely secondary, and if you looked at a WWS of this fight It would look like I played horribly. I procced Wrath Eclipse several times, I let my DoTs drop a couple of times, but none of it really mattered because staying alive was the primary responsibility and we ended up getting Shocking for the one person in raid that didn't already have it.

    At this point I've got a count in my head. Five bosses left: Two relatively easy, one medium, and two hard. We head to the Plague wing and kill Noth with out problems. One easy boss down, 4 to go.

    Heigan is next. We actually have a member sit out because he has a history of connection issues. Phase one of the fight goes well as usually but as we all know the true danger is the dance. We are so focused on getting this right no one is allowed to DPS during the dance. As I'm running through it looks like a couple of people get close to clipping one of them but we make it though without anyone dying. We go back to phase one and try and kill him before the dance starts again. About half way through I hear the player dying sound and panic. Fortunately it was just the Mage Mirror images, and we kill Heigan without any deaths. One hard boss down, 3 to go.

    The last boss in Plague wing Loatheb went down with out any problems. One easy boss down, 2 to go.

    On to Sapphiron. I consider Sapphiron a Medium boss. With full frost resist it's pretty easy, but you can get messed up by an unlucky DC or if all of the Ice Blocks are cast on one side of the raid. We ended up killing him with no problem. One easy boss down, 1 hard boss to go.

    There is just one boss between us and Immortality. Kel'Thuzad isn't all that tough to kill anymore, but he is tough to have everyone stay alive. There is just so much random stuff that can kill you quickly, from Ice Blocks, Mana Bombs, Void zones, Aggro drops.

    Phase one went ok, I was playing very conservatively. Normally I would DPS the Soul Weaver as soon as it spawns, but last night I was on Skeletons and I waited for the Weavers to come out a little bit before I DPS them.

    Phase two started ok. Then about 30% - 35% into the fight I hear a player call out "So and So Ice Tombed," and 3 seconds later my GM said "Oh Crap." The player had died. I'm not not looking to assign blame here. I don't know what happened. Maybe it was a fluke maybe someone messed up a little. I don't know, but Immortal was gone.

    I don't know what is worse. Having a player die early in the night or a player dying so late in the night. I've had it both ways, but I can't decide which is worse. On the nights where some one died fairly early its very demotivating and just pisses me off, but it relaxes the rest of the run and I can move on easily. The late deaths are just demoralizing. I get over it fairly quickly. In fact i would love to try again tonight if possible, but I need to log off for a little while to recharge. I had planned on leveling my priest a little bit last night, but I wasn't motivated to do it. Anyway, I'll be back to normal and ready to play soon.

    The way I see it we have another week or two to try. If we do get complete the achievement of those all time great moments in the game. If that happens it will be worth the wait. If it doesn't, then I will have Ulduar to play with. Its a Win/Win.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Toon Update: 3/18/2009 - The Quest for Immortal

    WoWInsider recently did an article on the toughest raiding achievements in the game and it is no surprise that The Immortal is number 1 on that list. According to GuildOx just 1.64% of rated guilds have that achievement so far. The next closest achievements are the two 6 minute Malygos achievements and they both have about 7% of the guilds having completed them. Couple this with the announcement that the rewards for Glory of the Raider and Heroic: Glory of the Raider are going to be removed from the game when 3.1 drops and you've got a very anxious Moonkin.

    In general, I am not an avid seeker of achievements, (One of my in game friends calls them Nerd Points. I loled.) but I desperately want the raiding achievements. For the first 2 years or so of my WoW experience I raided as an "also ran." My guilds were working on SSC while other guilds were clearing BT. I never worked on content when it was cutting edge. That has changed now that I'm in Lords of Eternity.

    I am now in a guild that is on the edge of content and we are competing to be one of the first guilds on the server to down bosses. While it is unlikely that we will get many if any server firsts due to our raiding schedule, its awesome to know that we did things almost as quickly, but raid only 9 hours per week. Other guild jumped out ahead of us by clearing Naxx and Sarth very quickly but we caught up by completing the harder achievements. Now the only thing standing in our way of clearing content before patch 3.1 drops is The Immortal, and we have been agonizingly close.

    At first, it was odd to start looking at Naxx from the point of view of the Immortal. I had always looked at raid content from the point of view that the kill was most important. Losing one or two people along the way is no big deal as long as the boss dies. Now we have to pay close attention to things we have never really focused on before. We had to hone our skill on the Instructor Raz pull to minimize the risk of losing some one on the pull. We had to pay more attention to Holy Wrath on Four Horsemen so that we didn't chain it. We've also had our share of boneheaded moments, where someone pulls aggro or stands in the wrong spot, but if the Immortal was purely a demonstration of skill then we would have had it a long time ago.

    I hate to blame luck for our failure because it sounds like an excuse, but it is impossible to deny that luck plays a huge roll in the achievement. When we first started working on the Immortal it was during the huge server lag from blizzard. It is impossible not to lose someone when a majority of the raid has 2000 latency. After that was cleared up we've started to get a lot closer but have had issues with small mistakes and unlucky DCs. A few weeks a go we were just 40% of KT's health away from getting the Immortal. What is so amazing about it is that we only had 20 people and a quarter of them alts because we were going for the Dedicated Few. Things were going great everything was going smoothly and then bad luck came and bit us. After the adds spawned the two add tanks picked them up and everything went to hell. Almost right off the bat one of the two add tanks got hit with Frost Blast. The other tank picked up his adds quickly but was then hit with Chains of Kel'Thuzad and mind controlled while the other tank was still in an ice block. The adds then proceeded to go munch on a Healer and blew our Immortal run.

    We have run naxx a couple of times since then with frustrating results, but there are a couple of things that are hard to deny about the Immortal. On the negative side, it has a huge luck component. Even if no one DCs, the RNG can cause a boss to use multiple abilities in quick succession and kill some one. I've read some accounts of successful Immortal runs and some of them get lucky hand no one gets mind controlled during KT. On the positive side, I think the achievement has helped to make me a better player. I am much more aware of my surroundings now and I'm no longer hyperfocused on DPS.

    Ultimately, I don't really care about the Black Proto-Drake itself. I have the Plagued Proto-Drake from the 10man version. It's nice to have a 310% mount but I'm a druid. Epic flight form is going to be more convenient 90% of the time. The reason I want the Immortal and Heroic: Glory of the Raider is the prestige. The last time I checked there was only one other guild on my server that had them, and it would be awesome to get there before 3.1. One last thing, I am happy that there are Immortal style achievements in Uluar, but I am also very happy that they are not a part of the meta achievements.

    Anyway, probably have at least a couple of weeks before the patch comes out, so we have a few more chances. Hopefully we will pick it up tonight. Wish us luck.

    Things are going well for my lock. I've gotten him into a couple of Naxx25 runs that have been organized for our alts and to get the 20man achievements. Gear wise he is doing very well. I haven't gotten any tier items yet, but I have a respectable amount of Spell Power, and I am doing well on the DPS charts.

    I am kind of anxious to see how all of the PTR changes are going to affect him. I realize Blizz is trying to make Affliction easier you removing Siphon Life and Immolate from our rotation but I don't think Affliction is that hard as it is. My GM posted some macros and things that make the rotation much simpler. By removing the two spells from my rotation blizzard hasn't reduced the number of buttons I will push. My big questions revolve around gear though. In affliction's current form Crit and Haste are very low in value relative to Spell Power. Now that Shadow Bolt is going to become much more important to the Affliction rotation those values should increase. I've been looking for some new math but haven't seen any. If you know of some please point it out.

    I finally started to level my priest again and got him to just over 74 over the weekend. I'm really looking forward to having Dual specs with him. For some reason I want to try healing as a priest, and the dual specs will allow me to do that without abandoning Shadow. I still hope to get him to 80 by the end of March but that doesn't look likely. It might be possible if I can get him 3 levels this coming weekend. Then I will have my epic flyer again and leveling will go much quicker.

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Patch 3.1 - Build 9684: Set Bonuses

    Update: I put a post on the Damage Dealing forums to try and talk to Blizzard about this issue. If you have a comment (positive or negative) regarding this set bonus please post it there also.


    The PTR was updated with build 9684 last night and it included a couple of the T8 set bonuses. Luckily for us the Druid Balance Set is one of them.

    Item - Druid T8 Balance 2P Bonus -- Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 6%.

    Item - Druid T8 Balance 4P Bonus -- Each time your Insect Swarm deals damage, you have a chance to make your next Starfire cast within until cancelled instant.
    My first impression is that they are underwhelming.

    Obviously we can't really evaluate the 4 piece set bonus until we know the proc rate and if it has any type of internal cooldown. Though I will say that it needs to proc quite often to be valuable.

    The 2 piece set bonus can be theorycrafted and now that I have done a little math I find it very underwhelming.

    1. First I am applying the bonus in an additive fashion (0.30 + 0.06 = 0.36) to give it the most potential.

    2. I'm assuming a well geared, fully buffed moonkin with 2900 spell power, 100% hit chance, 45% crit chance in T7, and 16.5% haste from gear (29.8% total with full buffs).

    3. I am also assuming the changes to Natures Grace and Eclipse go live.

    4. I'm only going to detail Starfire, but I will give you the results for my Wrath analysis also.

    The Math:
    I talked a little in my last post about how to calculate the up time of Natures Grace. Since this is so important to calculating average cast times I will say it again. Since you can start 2 Starfire casts in the 3 second buff we want to see what the probability is that we will reapply the Natures Grace buff in those two casts. The formula for that is:

    SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - Crit Chance)2
    SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.45-0.03)2 = 72.96%
    - the extra 0.03 is from Imp IS
    So to calculate Starfire's average cast time we can say:

    Avg SF Cast Time = (3/(1+Haste)) * (1-Up Time) + (3/((1+Haste)*1.2)) * (Up Time)
    Avg SF Cast Time = (3/(1+0.298)) * (1-0.7296) + (3/((1+0.298)*1.2)) * (0.7296)
    Avg SF Cast Time = (2.3117) * (0.2704) + (1.9264) * (0.7296) = 2.0306 seconds

    So to calculate Starfire's average damage we go back to the formula:

    Avg Non-Crit SF = (((1285 + (2900 * 1.20))) * 1.1) * 1.0712 = 5614.69
    Avg SF Crit = ((((1285 + (2900 * 1.20))) * 1.1) * 1.0712 ) * 2.09) = 11734.71


    Avg SF DPS = ((5614.69* (1 - 0.45-0.03)) + (11734.71* (0.45 + 0.03)) / 2.0306 = 4211.71 DPS
    With Eclipse the Starfire looks like this:

    Eclipse SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.75-0.03)2 = 95.16%
    Avg Eclipse SF Cast Time = (2.3117) * (0.0484) + (1.9264) * (0.9516) = 1.9450 seconds
    Avg Eclipse SF DPS = ((5614.69* (1 - 0.75-0.03)) + (11734.71* (0.75 + 0.03)) / 1.9450 = 5341.03 DPS
    Now that we have set the base lets look to see what happens if we flip the 4T7 and 2T8 set bonuses, by reducing the crit chance by 5% but increasing the Eclipse bonus by 6%.

    A normal Starfire cast with 2T8 set bonus will look like this:

    2T8 SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.40-0.03)2 = 67.51%
    Avg 2T8 SF Cast Time = (2.3117) * (0.3246) + (1.9264) * (0.6751) = 2.0509 seconds

    Avg 2T8 SF DPS = ((5614.69* (1 - 0.40-0.03)) + (11734.71* (0.40 + 0.03)) / 2.0509 = 4020.84 DPS
    An Eclipsed Starfire cast will look like:

    2T8 Eclipse SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.76-0.03)2 = 95.59%
    Avg 2T8 Eclipse SF Cast Time = (2.3117) * (0.0441) + (1.9264) * (0.9559) = 1.9434 seconds
    Avg 2T8 Eclipse SF DPS = ((5614.69* (1 - 0.76-0.03)) + (11734.71* (0.76 + 0.03)) / 1.9434 = 5376.92 DPS
    Wow, that is a lot of math

    What this boils down to is that dropping the 4T7 set bonus of 5% crit results in a 4.5319% DPS nerf to our normal Starfire casts ((4020.84 - 4211.71)/4211.71 = -4.5319%) .

    Picking up the 2T8 set bonus of an additional 6% to Eclipse results in a 0.6720% buff on are Eclipse Starfire casts ((5376.92 - 5341.03 )/5341.03 = 0.6720%).

    I've run these numbers for Wrath as well and they are comparable if not a little worse. Basically, since Eclipse lasts 15 seconds and there is about 35 seconds between Eclipse procs, we are getting a 0.672% buff to about 40% of our casts but a 4.5319% nerf to the other 60%. This is a net loss.

    If this set bonus goes forward as is then we will see a repeat of the transition from T5 to T6 where most moonkin stuck with the T5 set bonus until they had 4 pieces of T6. In fact, depending on how good the the 4T8 bonus is you may see moonkin skip T8 all together.

    I've tried several different values to see what what value is needed to make this set bonus at least comparable to the T7 bonuses. In my opinion, the set bonus would need to be increased to at least 15%, meaning Eclipse increases your Starfire crit chance by 45% instead of 30%. A this level the Starfire Eclipses would do about 6.6% more dps then they would do with the 4T7 bonus. For Wrath the buff would be about 5.7%. In the meantime, our non-eclipse casts would still be receiving the 4.5319% nerf. So, 15% is where I think it starts to balance out.

    Other Changes New and Old:

    Celestial Focus now reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Starfire, Hibernate and Hurricane by 23/46/70% and increases your total spell haste by 1/2/3%. - (Switches Hurricane for Cyclone)

    This makes sense since Cyclone is already affected by Natures Focus in the restoration tree, and Hurricane could use some pushback resistance.

    [Idol of the Shooting Star] Will be purchase about with 25 Emblems of Valor.
    I missed this, but a reader Epidemais sent me an email saying it is true. I haven't verified it on the PTR but I expect that it is true. Ghostcrawler has said many times that they don't like having Idols drop from bosses because there are generally few people in the raid that can use them. It doesn't have an impact on me personally since I was fairly lucky and one dropped in the first few weeks of raiding Naxx. However, I know there are other moonkin out there that have had extremely bad luck and they must be doing a /dance right now.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Patch Notes 3.1: Ok, We've had some time to think.

    Update: Erdluf did some testing on the Spell Queuing system. You can find his results here. The short version of his results is that you can cast a spell upto 0.3 seconds before your prior spell is finished casting and have the next spell be queued. This gets a little more complicated when the Global Cooldown becomes involved. Apparently you can queue a spell during the global cooldown but the GCD, but you can't queue a spell during the first second of the GCD.

    So, this means that spell queuing works well with Starfire and Wrath casts with little haste. However, once you start getting close to the 1 second GCD, haste starts to have real issues with the spell queuing system.


    Like a lot of you I was excited by the possibilities of all the changes changes introduced to the PTR last Friday. Its the first time I've every seen a significant number of buffs introduced outside of an expansion and I liked the changes, but it also made me nervous. Moonkins have stuck by the Starfire for Raiding/Wrath for PvP mantra for years, and all of a sudden this core principle of our spec seemed to be threatened. However, the more reading and math I do the more I realize things are going to stay the same. That is not to say that these changes are insignificant, I just don't think they are going to change our core play style as much as it seemed at first.

    Before I get into specifics lets get one thing clear. These changes are only on the PTR. It is very possible and somewhat likely that changes will occur. Don't get your heart set on anything until it goes live. Now, lets look at some specifics.

    Insect Swarm:
    In my last post I speculated that the Coefficent would be brought up to 0.8 from 0.76. Well, Dukes on the EJ forums did the testing (link), and saw the coefficent has been increased to 1.2. Obviously this is much more then I expected and it is now obvious that IS will be staying as a part of the Moonkin Rotation. Realistically this was probably necessary to keep the spell relevant. IS dropped out of our rotation in T5 content because it didn't scale as well with Spell Power, and it was in danger of having it happen again in T8 or T9 content.

    Natures Grace:
    I think Randomsmo said it best on the WoW forums:

    NG is exactly the same for Starfire in 3.1, except it will effect multiple spells.
    NG is exactly the same for Wrath in 3.1 (unless you had really horrible haste), except it will effect multiple spells and it *might* (this is unconfirmed, so don't get too excited) lower the GCD to prevent clipping.

    There are two angles from which you need to look at this change. The first is a cast time perspective, the second is an uptime perspective.

    CT Perspective:
    From the cast time perspective this does almost nothing for Moonkin raiders. For Starfire, 20% haste brings an unbuffed starfire down to 2.5 seconds just like the live NG currently does. For Wrath, it brings the cast time down to 1.25 which is a nerf when compared to the live version of NG. However, the impact is minor once you start considering raid buffs and haste from gear. Assuming your specced correctly a moonkin is going to have an additional 11.41% haste from talents and Wrath of Air, and that brings our haste total to 33.67%. Now you need just12.21% haste from gear to reach a 1 second Wrath. That is just 400.45 Haste Rating. If your raiding 25mans consistently then your most likely already past this point. If your not I'm sure that raiding Ulduar will push you past it quickly.

    Sure, you could gear differently so that you take more Crit and minimize your Haste rating, but I don't think that is very likely. I have a spreadsheet that I use to value gear items. I built it to eventually provide a comprehensive list of gear choices with a relative value attached to each. When I updated the model for these changes I was surprised at how little changed. The values changed but the ranks didn't for the most part. The fact of the matter is that haste is unavoidable, and anyone who gets to the higher levels of raiding will blow past 400 haste whether they like it or not.

    UT Perspective:
    From an Uptime Perspective this is huge. Lets remember one important thing. Cast time is determined at the beginning of the spell cast. So a 3 second buff will affect multiple spells even if it takes more than 3 seconds to cast those spells.

    Without haste from gear, your Starfire will have a cast time of 2.24 seconds (3/(1.03*1.03*1.05*1.2) = 2.24). Therefore I think it is safe to assume that you will usually be able to start two Starfires in 3 seconds.

    Wrath will be down to 1.12 seconds without any haste from gear (1.5/(1.03*1.03*1.05*1.2) = 1.12). Therefore I think it is safe to assume that you will usually be able to start three Wraths in 3 seconds.

    So, we can calculate the theoretical Natures Grace uptime like this assuming a 40% crit rate for both spells:

    SF NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.40)2 = 64.0%
    Wrath NG Up Time = 1 - (1 - 0.40)3 = 78.4%
    Actual uptimes will be lower then this because of movement and casting spells that don't crit, but this is a significant increase over the live version of Natures Grace which would be a little less then 40% for both spells.

    So to sum up the section, from a cast time perspective this change change has little impact, but it will affect a lot more spells because Natures Grace will have significantly more Uptime then the live version of the spell. This is a buff for PvE moonkin.

    Spell Queuing:
    I hesitate to talk about this because I don't have any formal understanding of the mechanic. I only know what I know from personal experience and random comments on various forums. So, this is a warning, I believe that what I'm about to say is correct, but I don't have a solid foundation to base it off of.

    It is my understanding that WoW has a Spell Queuing system to help minimize the impact of latency and human error. The way I think it works is if you try and cast a spell a little bit before your current cast is completed, then the game will Queue the spell to start casting when your current cast is completed. It's kind of like a caster version of auto-attack, and it works great for longer cast time spells like Starfire.

    However, for shorter cast time spells like Wrath the system starts to breakdown because the global cooldown get is the way. If your Wrath cast time goes below 1 second the queued spell will be unable to cast because the global cooldown blocks it. So the timing of your next spell cast is determined by when you press the button reintroducing the impact of human error and increasing the average time between Wrath casts. Even a small increase in cast time like a tenth of a second will increase Wrath's average cast time by 10% and have a significant impact.

    I'll say it again that I don't completely understand the process, but this is one of the main reasons Starfire is currently considered to be a superior dps spell then Wrath.

    There have been some interesting posts on the EJ forums discussing this subject. It is a little spread out over the thread but it starts here with post 485. Update: Erdluf did some testing on Spell Queuing. You can find his results here.

    I don't want to rehash everything I did in my four part Eclipse series, but obviously with the changes to Natures Grace and Eclipse there is an impact. If these changes go live I will update the analysis, but I want to just give you a summery now. Murmurs also did some nice math regarding this change on the WoW forums. you can find it here.

    Spell vs Spell:

    I've run the numbers for the hypothetical moonkin I used in my Eclipse post who had 2000 Spell Power, 35% crit, and 6% haste from gear. Under these conditions the average Starfire with Eclipse will do 3,499 DPS. A Wrath cast using the same stats will do 3,791 DPS on average. Spell vs Spell a Wrath cast with eclipse will do 8.3% more damage on average than a Starfire cast with Eclipse.

    Rotation vs Rotation:
    While the Spell vs Spell view is all fine and dandy we don't cast spells by themselves. We cast them as a part of a rotation, and the rotation view of Eclipse is not kind to Wrath. Using the hypothetical moonkin, an Eclipse rotation that favored Starfire did on average 3297 DPS. An Eclipse rotation that favored Wrath did only 3301 DPS. I ran the numbers at higher levels of gear and Wrath did improve relative to Starfire, but at most Wrath's advantage was at most 2.5% to 3% and this is ignoring the impact of Spell Queuing. If you add a tenth of a second lag to Wrath its advantage is completely erased and then some.

    I can't help but concluding that the Starfire rotation is still the superior rotation if these changes go into affect, but that does not mean that this change is meaningless.

    This change helps us in three ways.
    1. First, if your looking for a more stable DPS rotation then the Wrath rotation is for you. It has a 100% chance on a SF crit and the buff is a straight damage buff. Therefore it is not affected by RNG nearly as much as a Starfire rotation is.

    2. Second, this change limits the impact of mistakes. We've all been in situations where we get to focused and accidentally proc the wrong Eclipse. Now that the Wrath buff is 30% this mistake isn't as costly as it is on Live.

    3. Each boss has its own issues and the all favor one style of casting over another. Stand and Nuke bosses are great for long cast spells like Starfire, but in high movement fights like Thaddius, Starfire can be an issue because you have to move before you can complete the cast. Therefore Wrath may be better for high movement fights because you will be able to get more casts off.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Patch 3.1 - Build 9658: Huge News

    Update: Saw this on MMO Champion. Obviously it is a placeholder since the tool tip is the excact same as [Idol of the Shooting Star]. It will be interesting to see if they recycle an old Idol or come up with something new. I personally would like to see something that affects our aura like the pre-nerf [Idol of the Raven Goddess], but I wouldn't be surprised if it was something completely new. Something like an Idol that would bring the SF Eclipse proc chance up to 100%. Then again it could be something lame that primarily affects MF or IS.

    It figures that this would drop on day that I'm on vacation and don't have regular access to a computer. Idol of the Shooting Star

    Needless to say there are some huge changes for Moonkin in the most recent build of the PTR. Lets take a look at them.

    Starfall cooldown has been lowered from 3 min to 1.5 min.

    This is a definate improvement to the spell. It doubles the spells affectiveness but I'm not sure this will statisfy its critics.

    Insect Swarm: The spell coefficent for this spell has been significantly increased to bring it in line with similar spells.
    Nice. The current Coefficent is 0.76, and I expect them to bring it up to 0.80. If this is the case then it's about a 3% - 4% increase in damage. Not huge but not horrible either. I'll have to check it our on the PTR.

    Eclipse now gives you a 33% chance of increasing damage done by Wrath by 30% (up from 20%) when you critically hit with Starfire.

    This isn't a huge surprise. Ghostcrawler said a couple of weeks ago that they were going to take a look at the Wrath portion of Eclipse and this is what I expected them to do. I think this kind of shows that they have unrealistic expectations on how Moonkin will be played but I will talk about that a little later.

    Owlkin Frenzy now affects all attacks. (Old - Physical melee and ranged attacks only)

    Again, not a huge surprise since Ghostcrawler said that they would probalby leave OF the way it was.

    Celestial Focus now reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Starfire, Hibernate and Cyclone by 23/46/70% and increases your total spell haste by 1/2/3%.
    WOOT!!!!!!! The stun has been removed but I can live with that.

    To some of you this may not seem like a big deal but its impact is pretty significant. Naxx doesn't have a huge amount of spell pushback but on the fights that do have a lot of damage like Sapp it really hurts our DPS. Plus, if the Burning Crusaide is any indication we will be seeing more raid damage in T8 and T9. On the flip side this makes Owlkin Frenzy less valueable in PvE.

    Nature's Grace now increasing your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 sec. (Old - Reduced the casting time of your next spell by 0.5 sec.)
    An excellent change. For Starfire, you will get the same cast time reduction as the old version but the buff will now last 3 seconds. That means you can probably get it for the next two Starfires you cast. For Wrath, the cast time reduction is cut in half, but you can probably get off 3 buffed wraths in the 3 seconds. This does increase the value of Haste Rating since it will be harder to reach 1 second global cooldown for haste, but Haste will still be haste capped at the higher levels of gear.

    Faerie Fire and Faerie Fire (Feral) now reduces the armor of the target for 5 min. (Up from 40 sec)

    Awesome. There is no reason now not to pick up Improved Faerie Fire. It's basically a static 3% increase to crit. In fact, I think Faerie Fire is now a superior buff to all it's competitors. At virtually no cost you give the raid a 5% armor reduction, 3% chance to hit, and you get the 3% personal chance to crit.

    My Reaction Overall:

    Overall this is a buff if it makes it to live. Most of it's not huge but there is a lot to be happy about here.

    My biggest curiosity here is how is this going to affect our spell rotation. Blizzard seems to think that they can balance Starfire and Wrath to be of equal importance but they can't. One of them is always going to be the primary spell, and the changes to Eclipse and Natures Grace could push the advantage to Wrath.

    The fact of the matter is that players are going to try and maximize there damage any way they can. Starfire's primary advantages are that it is more mana efficent, can't realistically be haste capped, and has less exposure to latency. Well, as we all know Mana hasn't been much of an issue in WotLK. The change to Natures Grace makes Wrath less affected by the Haste Cap, and Wrath has about a 10% advantage in Damage. This should be intersting.

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    Mailbag: Should Moonkin Loot Cloth?

    I am writing as a raid leader in a fairly casual guild. In the days of Karazhan, we limited most loot to armor class - but given the lack of leather that was appropriate for moonkin, I opened up moonkin to roll on other loot. (I was considering doing this for plate DPS too, since there was very little gear out there, but we didn't really have any plate DPS and it didn't come up.)

    In Wrath, I'm noticing a lot more leather gear that seems appropriately budgeted for Balance. I am also feeling bad that our cloth DPS have so much contention for gear, and there have been loot issues from time to time that weren't prominent in WotLK. Would I be asking our Balance druids to sacrifice a lot of best in slot gear if I were to restrict them to Leather again (where they could get cloth if no clothies needed it, but otherwise priority would go to cloth)?

    I don't want to prevent them from getting cloth all the time, but at this point there have been loot issues and it is driving me crazy - and boomkins are the only class/spec causing this, since everyone else sticks within their armor class. (I don't know what it is like for elemental shammies, but we don't have any.) It is
    definitely frustrating for our clothies because they have to compete vs all other cloth and balance druids - whereas our balance druids only have to fight with resto druids over gear (and if it has crit on it, our resto druids don't seem to care). I do realize though that there is absolutely zero +hit leather in Naxx 10 or 25, and that is one thing among others that is holding me back from making any sort of decision.

    Thanks for any insight you can
    give me :)


    Wow. Loaded question. There is some debate on this with in the moonkin community, but I will try and give my take on it.

    First, lets get one thing out of the way. There are some moonkin out there that will say that Moonkin can wear leather therefore they should never wear cloth at all. The basic premise is that Leather is always better then cloth and that is just stupid. Assuming similar stats the only difference between cloth and leather is Armor. Armor is almost useless for moonkin in a raid environment since almost all raid damage is Magical. Therefore, if a cloth item has better DPS stats then your current leather item, use the cloth.

    That said, determining whether Moonkin should be allowed to roll/bid on cloth items is an entirely different question. In the Burning Crusade it was easy. I could count the number of Leather Caster DPS items before Sunwell on one hand even if one finger was amputated. With the merger of spell damage and healing into Spell Power there are a lot more options for moonkin. However that doesn't mean that the options are good.

    In general I think that cloth is better itemized for caster DPS then the leather currently available. In my opinion a majority of the non-Tier caster leather favors resto druids over moonkin. Almost all of it has 3 base stats (Stam, Int, Spirit) and 2 DPS stats. This is a very resto friendly design, and Moonkin have different needs then Trees. On top of that about half of the pieces with just two base stats have 2 DPS stats and Mp5. Mp5 is a useless stat for moonkin currently. That doesn't even mention the complete lack of non-Tier leather pieces with Hit rating.

    In my opinion the ideal itemization for a moonkin is 2 base stats (Stam, Int) and 3 DPS stats. Spirit does help moonkin but it is far from the ideal stat. Those itemization points would be much better spent on Crit, Haste or Hit. You don't see it much in leather but you see a lot more often in cloth. If you think about it that makes sense.

    There is only one or two classes that wants caster leather. On top of that most guilds will have only one moonkin and/or one ele shaman in raid. On the flip side those same guilds are much more likely to have multiple resto druids or resto shaman. So, it is understandable that the gear favors healing more then DPS.

    From the cloth perspective, there is only one class that heals using cloth, but 3 classes that DPS using cloth. It is not unusual for guilds to run with multiple mages and warlocks and have a Shadow Priest or two, but only have two or three healing priests. Therefore the cloth has to be much more balanced and you see a lot of pieces with three DPS stats.

    Finally, there is an imbalance in item level. There are only 3 bosses that currently drop items with a 226 item level. (KT, Maly, & Sarth2D). Obviously any piece of gear with a higher ilevel will likely be better then the options at a lower level. Currently there are only three leather caster items at ilevel 226 and all of them favor resto in my opinion. For cloth there are 8 items at ilevel 226 and some of them are clearly DPS items.

    What this all boils down to is that there is more cloth out there and it is generally better then the equivalent leather.

    While I don't think Moonkin should be barred from cloth, I do think they should be responsible about their looting.

    In my opinion, all raiders should know what gear is available and what are the good upgrades for them. If you look back at my posts from December, you will see a post I called my Christmas Wish list where I listed all the piece I considered to be Best in Slot. That list has changed a little bit since then, but you cans see that I knew very early on where my key upgrades were. I new that I should fight for cloth legs, but let cloth boots pass.

    It is also important to remember that the 4T7 moonkin set bonus is awesome. Therefore, it would be irrational to put up a big fight for [Heigan's Putrid Vestments] when you're just going to replace them with [Valorous Dreamwalker Vestments] a little bit down the line. We don't know what the T8 set bonuses look like yet but they have always been pretty good since T4 and moonkin need to keep set pieces in mind before they go to the mattresses over a piece of loot.

    I am also a big proponent of doing what is best for the raid. Just because an item is an upgrade for you or even best in slot for you doesn't mean you should get it right away. Here is an example.

    Currently there is only one caster weapon usable by Druids at ilevel 226. It is the [Torch of Holy Fire]. It is the current Best in Slot weapon for a moonkin, but that is because it is really the only option at its item level. If you take a look at it you will see that it is really better itemized for a healer. Moonkin don't want Mp5 but the 520 Spell Power is a huge upgrade over the caster weapons at ilevel 213 with 461 Spell Power. So, my guild has had a few of these drop. I want it but I realize that a healer would use it better then I would. So, when bid for it I always bit one under the max bid, to allow the healers to pick it up before me if they want it.

    Ultimately moonkin need to learn to pick and choose their battles. If you go all out on every cloth piece that drops then the clothies will resent you and you will likely lose the key battles you want to win.

    Finally, responsibility is a two way street. If you look at my Armory you will see that I have the [Torch of Holy Fire], but it's not because every healer in raid already had it. The healers who I outbid for it haven't said a word to me about it, but I've had a couple of other people tell me I shouldn't have gotten the mace. I will also admit that I was very surprised that I got it, but I don't feel bad that I got it before a couple of healers. It is best in slot for me and if they wanted it then they should have bid the max amount. No one should expect such a good item to just be handed to them

    I also find that the most vocal people against Moonkin wearing cloth tend to be clothies that don't want competition for gear. It's not about whats best for the raid. Its about what is best for them. When an item is a clear upgrade for a moonkin and there isn't any equivalent leather then clothies should have a big problem competing for the item.

    A Note to Raid Leaders:
    Ayashi, you say that your the raid leader of a "fairly casual guild." That is a fairly ambiguous statement since casual seems to mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. However, I want to say that your guilds structure should also have a pretty big impact on how you award loot.

    My guild has a very stable raiding membership, and a majority of the regular raiders have an attendance over 90%. This makes loot a lot simpler because if I don't get an item this week that means there is less competition for it the next time it drops. Its hard to get to bummed about not getting an item because chances are I will get everything I want eventually.

    A guild with a less stable structure is going to have more issues. One of my former guilds raiding set up was much less stable. It wasn't unusually to have people that only made 50% of the raids and recruitment was a bit of a revolving door. I was one of the more active members and I had been with the guild for a long time. In my opinion it wouldn't have been fair for the guild to prevent me for getting an item because a new clothie with low attendance could use it more.

    You have to think about who your policies hurt and who they reward. If you reward wrong people then your just going to make the situation worse.


    In short, I think moonkin should be allowed to roll/bid on cloth since in general it is better itemized then the caster leather that is available. However, all raid members need to think critically about their choices. Is the guild better served by someone else getting this item? Is there a leather item that is equivalent or better then this item?

    Asking yourselves questions like these will help your guild to run more smoothly and with less drama. It will also cause your guildies to be more considerate of your needs when there is an item that you really want.

    The Banners

    When I made the post two weeks ago asking for a new banner, I was a little nervous. I get a decent number of hits each day but you never know how people will react. I was worried that my readership might be a little more casual then I thought and not care about my banner. Luckily for me it turned out awesome.

    The one I choose came from Tsunamee on the US-Firetree Server and you can see it above. I like the silhouette of the moonkin in the Moon and the color of the letters is great. At first I would have liked a change in the font, but when I saw the little moonkin head attached to the "G" in gray I was sold.

    The other submissions were great also, and I really wish I had something to give you guys.

    From William C. - I really liked the clean look of this one, and the brain in the moonkin is a nice play on the name.

    From Cusper - Very nice and it was the first I received. A huge weight was lifted off my ego.

    From Aphexdash - The only one to use a Horde image. Which is fine I don't discriminate.

    From Christian G. - I really like the Horns on the letters.

    Finally, Sarbakan says that he discovered my blog on a couple of days ago and didn't have time to come up with a banner but he did send me this picture that he uses as his signature.

    Thank you again to everyone that made submissions. These were better then I hoped for and the choice was tough. Since Phae is closing her doors I have to take up some of her screenshot competitions.