Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moonkin T8 Set Bonuses

The concept of Set Bonuses is awesome. It's nice to have something that is a little different than the normal six or seven stats we normally see on gear. It gives us something different to think about and can even change the way we play our class.

That said, not all set bonuses are created equal. In some cases classes decide to skip a set bonus because it is either weak or useless. Others hold onto a set bonus for a very long time because it is so awesome. Since moonkin have been fairly lucky with set bonuses in the past I've been receiving a lot of questions asking me about the T8 set bonuses and should they drop the T7 bonus. In this post I hope to give you a good idea of what they are worth.

The Model:
I came up with these values using my model and my standard starting stats of a T7 BiS moonkin. Both the Solar and the Lunar model were updated and are being uploaded to File Front (in process). Please review my warnings on using my model found here.

4T7 - Wrath/Starfire Crit:
Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance.

Before week look at the tier 8 set bonuses I think it is important that we understand the value of the 4T7 set bonus. It is an awesome set bonus, but I get the impression that some players believe it to be untouchable.

In Theory: I subtracted 5% crit from both of my models and ran them a thousand times each. My results agree with my valuations of Crit Rating as a stat. For a Lunar rotation the 4T7 set bonus increased my Moonkins DPS by 176.54 DPS or 3.72%. For a Solar rotation the 4T7 set bonus increased my Moonkin's DPS by 213.73 DPS or 4.42%.

In Reality: In terms of DPS I don't know of anything that would alter the theoretical results. If you look at it from a mana perspective though it obviously has additional value due to Mana on Crit.

The Verdict: Anything that increases your DPS by about 4% is good thing so it is no wonder why this set bonus is so well liked. However, as good as a 4% increase is its not so huge that it couldn't be passed by another set bonus.

On a side note, this set bonus is more significant for a Solar rotation because crit is more valuable in a Solar rotation, but it is very good for a Lunar rotation.

2T8 - Eclipse increased by 15%:
Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 15%.

A lot of players are unhappy about this set bonus because it ties even more of Moonkin DPS to Eclipse. I can see their point but on the other hand its not like Eclipse is optional at the moment anyway. This set bonus should just be a supplement to how we are already playing.

In Theory: For a Lunar rotation the 2T8 set bonus increased my Moonkins DPS by 187.98 DPS or 3.96%. For a Solar rotation the 2T8 set bonus increased my Moonkin's DPS by 193.9 DPS or 4.01%.

In Reality: My theoretical numbers are probably a little high for this set bonus. My model assumes a stand still fight with a perfect rotation. In reality part of our Eclipse procs are going to be wasted due to movement or other game mechanics. So, lets assume a 70% usage of the Eclipse procs. For Lunar this would drop the numbers to 131.57 DPS or 2.77%. For Solar the numbers would go down to 135.73 DPS or 2.81 %.

The Verdict: Theoretically the 4T7 and 2T8 set bonuses are about equal in terms of DPS. In reality the 2T8 set bonus is a little bit behind, but some the difference is made up by tier 8's superior stats (yes, T8 does have superior stats). While it might be slightly worth it to stick with 4T7 instead of pickup up 2T8, the difference is very small. It is my opinion that you should break your 4T7 set bonus for the 2T8.

4T8 - Instant Starfire with IS:
Each time your Insect Swarm deals damage, it has a chance to make your next Starfire cast within 10 sec instant.

As you know there was a lot of drama surrounding this set bonus on the forums last week. The good news is that Blizzard will fix the bug and decrease the proc rate to 8% in the next minor patch. It should happen soon since blizzard has already released the patch notes.

In Theory: For a Lunar rotation the 4T8 set bonus increased my Moonkins DPS by 163.38 DPS or 3.31%. For a Solar rotation the 4T8 set bonus increased my Moonkin's DPS by 121.72 DPS or 2.42%.

Some of you may be surprised by this. I've seen many posters and bloggers assume that 4T8 would be better for a Solar rotation. However, the opposite seems true. After I did a little checking it looks like an instant SF is a bigger DPS increase over a normal SF then it is over a normal Wrath. This may even out a little bit when lag is added into the equation.

In Reality: For this set bonus I think my numbers are probably a little low. There are two primary reasons I think this. First, since it gives you an instant SF you can cast it while moving. This a significant bonus. Second, there will be times when you can DoT up multiple targets while moving. If you have IS's ticking on multiple targets then then you will get more procs. More procs means more DPS

The Verdict: I think it is a great set bonus and I will be equipping it once the fix is live. A couple of people have asked me if it is really worth it to equip it instead of hard mode gear. In my opinion, it makes the Tier(25) pieces better then hard mode gear. For hard mode gear to be better you would have to be getting at least 95 additional spell power or its equivalent. While a lot of the hard mode gear is great, its not earth shattering.

In short, I like the T8 set bonus once the 4T8 set bonus is fixed. The old 4T7 set bonus is awesome for its level, but its not so good that you should continue to use it in Ulduar at the expense of Tier 8 set bonuses.


On a Side Note: This will sound like a strange request to some of you, but I'm looking for some help with statistics. I did very well in my stats classes in college but that was over 12 years ago and I don't really remember it. So, I'm looking for some one with a good back ground in statistics to answer a couple of questions for me regarding my model.

1. To come up with relevant results I am running my model a thousands of times and taking the average DPS for each test. Is a simple average a relevant measure or am I missing something obvious that would make my results less accurate?

2. When I am running my model a thousand times I notice that the average results change very little after about 300 or 400 trials. How many trials do you think I need to run to get relevant results with a relatively low margin for error?

If you have a good knowledge of Stats and would like to help, please use my email to respond.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blue Post: GC's 4T8 Follow Up

If you remember, last Thursday, Ghostcrawler sparked a firestorm of QQ by saying the increased proc rate for 4T8 was to compensate for the "bug". You can find my original comments here.

Well, GC took a little bit of time out of his holiday weekend to respond to a few more of our comments and give us a little more detail. If you want to see all of the comments I suggest you use a Blue Tracker like MMO-Champion. Here are the highlights.

The Technical Issue:
I know exactly how Nightfall works and how the new set bonus works. They work differently. The reason they work differently is that Nightfall is a talent so it is okay, in our minds, to muck up the spell with a lot of special cases since those cases will largely exist forever. Messing with Starfire to make the tier set work better is unattractive because then the spell is laden with this special-case stuff that will only be relevant for a few months in 2009. Yet we will have to live with the risk of that code breaking or falling out of date forever (or at least as long as WoW endures, which I suspect will be longer than 2009). :).

I make mistakes sometimes, and WoW is a very complex game, but assertions that the players understand the mechanics better than the developers are almost always going to be incorrect. (source)
There are a couple of things I take from this quote. First is GC's explanation of the technical issue. It is easy for us as players to think: "You can do it for Nightfall. Why not 4T8." It seems like such a simple fix, but I think their reasoning for not doing it that way makes sense. There is no reason to make the code more complicated for a set bonus that is only going to be used for a couple of months. We also have to remember that even though most people will only be using 4T8 for a couple of months, the code has to stay there forever, because the item will be in game forever.

Secondly, I completely agree that it is dumb for players to assert that they know more about the game technically then GC or any other Blizzard employee. If coding WoW was so easy then there would be dozens of MMO's just like it and just as successful.

That doesn't invalidate our opinions or mean we should shut up. While Blizzard has a lot of very smart people on staff, it is impossible for them to see everything from all angles, but +11 million players are very good at finding the loop holes. We just have to remember to express our opinions appropriately, with numbers and examples. If we habitually fly off the handle they will eventually ignore us.

GC's Take Away:
Ghostcrawler made two comments about the lessons of this thread. Here is the first.
My take home from this thread is not to respond next time. My trying to share some information did nothing to improve the conversation. We could have fixed the bonus and players would have eventually noticed. When we spend time to moderate a thread, that is less time we have to work on the game. (source)

I hope this is just the frustration talking. I think his second comment is the true lesson of the thread.
I constantly learn on these forums that quick answers are seldom sufficient.
Here is the true wisdom. As Murmur's pointed out in his apology, much of the emotional response would have been prevented if a few more details were given up front. It sucks for GC, because we players hang on his every word. Having to worry about every little comment you make is probably very stressful. However, I think I speak for most players when I say that the increased interaction with the developers since TBC is one of the best developments in WotLK.

The Status of 4T8:
We have a fix for the current set bonus to make it work the way you imagine it should at a 7 or 8% proc chance. It's our policy not to announce patch dates ahead of time, but it will be long before 3.2. (source)

This is good to hear. I wouldn't expect this to be fixed really soon, but I think it is possible that it could be fixed in the next couple of weeks. My guess is that it will be at least two weeks.

I'll also be running some numbers on what the reduced proc rate would mean. I have some numbers for it at 15%, but obviously those aren't valid any more. However, at 15% the 4T8 was about a 6% increase to DPS, so my guess is that at 7% it will be about a 3% DPS increase. That isn't bad.

The Name Drop:
Blogs like Graylo's had a lot more influence than this thead (even if I did piss him off). :)

/Happy /Dance

Is it sad that I can be won over by a simple name drop? Just kidding. Once again it makes me feel good to know what I am being read by influential people and that they listen to well reasoned arguments.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guild Exclusions are a Sign of Poor Leadership

(Blog Azeroth has weekly shared topics. I generally don't participate but this one interested me. You can find other posts here.)

If you look at recruitment posts often enough it is not uncommon to come across a post that says something to the affect of "No Women" or "18+ Only." Some people look at these type of rules with disdain, because they show prejudice. However, when I was looking for a new guild nine months ago, I loved them. They gave me great insight into the competence of the guild leadership, and told me I probably wanted to avoid the guild.

Now this is not, going to be a long post about how these policies are Sexist or Ageist. They are, but like it or not there is some practical reasoning behind the rules. Kids to tend to be more immature then adults. That doesn't mean that kids can't be mature or that adults can't be immature, but in general I think its true.

From a sex perspective, I do think the presence of women in guild opens the doors additional risks that would be less common in an all male guild. For one, some men insist on acting like idiots around women. It's not the woman's fault but something that has to be dealt with. Second, It seems to me like women are more likely to have an RL relationship with a guild member. Which can lead to uncomfortable situations like this one found on Worse still, I've seen situations where real life Husband/Wife drama spills over into the guild.

Like it or not, these are real issues that have to be dealt with by guild leadership. However, instituting a straight ban on women or kids is just lazy way to deal with the issue. What it said to me as an applicant is that when a problem presents itself to the guild, the leadership took the easy way out. They would rather cover up the problem then fix it, and why would I want to be a part of a guild like that?

A good guild leader would deal with the issue/person instead of making a preemptive ban. If a male member is acting like an idiot, deal with him and not the girl even if he is the main tank. If the female player isn't good enough for your content, then be honest and work with her. If it blows up, at least you tried. Plus I have to believe that there are ways to identify problem players from the application process. So, when I see a ban on a recruitment post I know the guild has management issues and would probably end up disappointed if I joined the guild.

On side note, a vast majority of the women I've played with have been great. I think they are the norm rather than the exception. By the same token it was months before I learned that a member of my guild is still in high school. He is great to play with and I would have believed him if he had told me he was 30 years old. The guild that uses bans would be missing out on great players, and are diminished because of it.

Edit: People seem to be not reading my post or missunderstanding it in mass. I want to make a couple of things clear. While I think the presense of women in raiding guilds can potential bring addtional issues to the surface, I in no way think those women are the cause of those issues or at least in a higher degree then the men. I have played with just as many if not more whiny, loot whoring, men as women. I in no way advocate a preemptive ban. In my opinion, guilds that do have leadership issues, because they deal with the stereotype instead of the problem.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blue Post: Ok, GC Has Pissed Me Off

Liessmoor on the WoW forums asked a very simple question.

GC is there any new on the fix to moonkin 4pt8 that you may be able to share, or at least let us know if it being looked into since we have had no discussion on the bug?
Oddly enough GC commented back fairly quickly with this gem:
The reason we increased the proc chance from 5% to 15% is because of the issue where you can lose the proc on an existing Starfire. For a number of technical reasons, we can't apply the proc to a spell already being cast. (source)

My first reaction:


To say the least his comments have really pissed me off.

First off, its a little hard to believe that they are having technical issues that prevent them from making the 4T8 set bonus to work. Nightfall works this way, and the Glyph of Corruption work this way. However, I am not a programmer. I do not work for blizzard. I don't have a clue as to what the technical issues are. If GC says there are technical issues, I will trust that there are technical issues. However, that leads me to my second point.

What is the point of implementing a broken mechanic? If they can't get it to work, they should change it. I'm sure they can come up with other creative ideas for a set bonus. Heck, worst comes to worse they could rehash some old ones. Everyone loved the 4T5 set bonus. Just make it work with the IS and Wrath also. Fixed.

Finally, what has me the most pissed is that when he announced the buff a month back he made it sound like a buff. Instead it was a bandade fix. I feel like I've been mislead.

Thankfully, GC came back and said this:

The problem is that you can't modify a spell's cast time while the spell is already being cast. The tooltip is accurate... if frustrating.

We just talked about it and we might have a solution. It might not be hotfixable, but it shouldn't take until 3.2. We might lower the proc rate if we got it to work however. I'll try and update when we work it out.

I still don't understand the difference between 4T8 and the Warlock abilities, but it is good that they might have found a solution. Hopefully, it will be something worth while.

Regen Stats and Moonkin T8 Itemization

I won't make this a long post, but Ghostcrawler said something yesterday that got my blood pressure up a little bit.

"I don't like regen stats."
The solution here, from our POV, is not to take the regen stats off of gear, but to get you to care
about them. To us, that's the same argument as saying "I can get all of the hit I need through talents, so hit on gear is a waste for me. Please remove it." (source)

I understand the place that Regen/Base stats have in the game, and I think most players also understand their purpose and aren't asking for their elimination. However, I think it is reasonable to expect that Blizzard will itemize gear fairly across classes so that one class doesn't have an advantage over another simply because they have a better tier set.

Once again, I have asked blizzard for an explanation for the inequity in Tier set itemization. You can find the post here. Please contribute if you feel you have something to add. I don't really expect anything to happen, but it never hurts to ask.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stat Weights and Gear for Solar Moonkin

As most of you know I am not a big proponent of the Solar rotation. I think it probably has it advantages at some times but my guess is that they are over stated and I think most people ignore its flaws.

That said, I've gotten a lot of requests for Solar stat weights and a solar gear list. So I've built another model to look at the Solar rotation, and I have applied those weights to my gear list to see how things shift around.

The Stats:
These weights are based upon a pre-3.1 moonkin with near BiS gear. The stats I used for my hypothetical moonkin are a little different then the stats I used for the Lunar Model. In my solar model I increase Crit chance by 2% and decreased Haste by 2%. So, he had 2900 SP, 40% chance to crit, 14.5% haste from gear, and 100% chance to hit. I think the stats fell into fairly predictable weights.

This post will be fairly short and sweet. If you would like a brief explanation of the stats you can check my Lunar Stat weights here.

Hit Rating: Relative Value = 1.62 - I'm not sure why this is but Hit is worth a little more for a Solar Rotation then it does for a Lunar Rotation. It doesn't really matter though, because it is important to be hit capped for both rotations..

Spell Power: Relative Value = 1.00 - Spell Power is even more important for a Solar rotation then for a Lunar rotation. Unfortunately you have very little control over how much SP you have since it is fairly standard across items of the same I level.

Haste Rating: Relative Value = 0.49 - This is obviously for a moonkin that has over 400 Haste Rating and is above the Haste Cap. If you have under 400 haste rating then it would be worth a lot more. You can find my post on the Haste Cap here.

Crit Rating: Relative Value = 0.72 - Crit Rating is a much better stat for Solar then it is for Lunar. This is primarily due to Eclipse.

Spirit: Relative Value = 0.34 - Spirit is basically Spell Power with some Mana regen thrown on top. It has the same weight for both rotations.

Intellect: Relative Value = 0.39 - Since Crit is better for Solar then Int is better also. However, it is still not a good DPS stat and shouldn't be stacked.

The Solar Gear List:
I didn't analyze it, but at a quick glance it doesn't appear to be that different then my Lunar Gear list. This is my raw file with all the stats plugged into it. I recommend that you try not to play around with it to much, so that the values don't get thrown off. Anyway, column M is the stat ranking, N is the stat ranking minus hit, O is the stat ranking plus set bonus, and P is the stat ranking plus Set bonus minus hit.

The file.

The Solar Model: (link)
All the comments I made about my Lunar Model hold true here. 1. It is a very large file. Download at your own risk. 2. It does have a couple of macros on it but you don't have to enable them for the spreadsheet to work. 3. This is NOT a tool to help you model your DPS. If you want something like that go check out WrathCalcs. 4. In conjunction with #3, it is not user friendly. It even confuses me and I built the damn thing.

This is not a Lunar vs Solar comparison. I don't want to hear any comments like "your own math shows that Solar is better then Lunar." To do a fair Lunar vs Solar comparison you would have to use the same stats and you would have to include lag in the model. I plan to do that at some point, but this is not that point.

How it Works: The Solar Model worlds very similarly to my Lunar model. The only real difference is the cast priority. Here is the new cast priority:

1. If FF is not up, cast FF.
2. If MF is not up, cast MF.
3. If IS is not up, cast IS.
4. If Eclipse is not on cooldown, cast SF.
5. If 4T8 is up, cast SF.
6. If Eclipse buff is up, cast Wrath.
7. If Eclipse buff is down, but the Glyph of SF is not used up, cast SF.
8. Else cast Wrath.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gear List has been Updated Again.

I have updated the Raiding Gear lists again to take into account my new stat weights and the fact that 4T8 looks to be a good set bonus if they fix the bug.

As you can imagine this is a big data entry project and it is quite possible that I have made some errors along the way. If you see an incorrect link or ar ranking doesn't make sense, please let me know and I will look into it.

You can find the list here: part 1 & part 2.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Moonkin Stats and My New Model

Update: Found an error in my model. Crit is worth a little more then I previously stated. It has been updated.

Ahhhh. Remember the good old days in BC when the moonkin Rotation consisted of Moonfire and casting Starfire 4 or 5 times. That was when theorycrafting was easy. If you figure out how each stat affects each spell you can come up with a good estimate of how much each stat is worth realtively quickly.

That is all ancient history with the introduction of Eclipse, new set bonuses and Glyphs. If you look around the various forums you will see a lot of people saying how much each stat is worth and all the different versions are not as close as they used to be. As a result, I have built a new model to try and determine the value of each of DPS stats for a Lunar Rotation. Well, the results are in.

I'm going to do this post a little bit backwards then I normally do. I'm going to talk about each of the stats and give my results first. Then I'm going to talk about how I got the results in the end.

The Stats:
First off all, these results are for a perfect Lunar rotation with no lag, and no movement on a single target. I have also excluded both Force of Nature and Starfall from the analysis, and the results are based purely on DPS. Also, these stats are based upon a pre-3.1 BiS gear set with 4T7 set bonuses. I expect these numbers to change as our gear improves since our SP will go way up and our Crit and Haste will stay realtively the same. I will redo this analysis after we know more about what a BIS 3.1 Moonkin looks like.

The results aren't all that shocking. The values I came up with still fall into the standard Hit > Spell Power > Haste > Crit explanation.

Hit Rating: Relative Value = 1.54 - Hit Rating has the highest per point value of all the DPS stats assuming you are below the hit cap. This valuation just shows you how important it is to be hit capped. In my opinion, all raiding Moonkin should have the talents of Balance of Power and Improved Faerie Fire. This means we need to pickup an additional 10% hit chance from gear and other buffs to be hit capped.

So, what is the hit cap? 263 for Tauren and Night Elves with out a Draenei in their party. 236 for Night Elves with a Draenei in their party.

Spell Power: Relative Value = 1.00 - Spell Power is the standard by which all other stats are measured. After you are hit capped, Spell Power is the best DPS Stat on a point for point basis. This is why, it is always recommended to use Spell Power gems and food when possible.

Haste Rating: Relative Value = 0.80 - This is where the debate usually begins. Haste Rating is a great DPS stat the makes your spells cast faster and lowers the global cooldown. The down side to Haste Rating is that it also makes you consume mana faster and if you have mana issues the Haste will make them worse. Also, spells with short cast times like Wrath and the DoTs can reach the minimum global cooldown fairly easily with reasonable amounts of Haste Rating. You can find my post on the Haste Cap here.

Crit Rating: Relative Value = 0.62 - Crit Rating is the least valuable of the "pure" DPS stats, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good stat. Crit Rating also has the side benefit of helping you to generate mana using the Mana on Crit mechanic.

There are two important things to remember about crit. The first is that even though you don't want to necessarily stack Crit Rating, you don't want to completely avoid it either. The second is that you get a lot of Crit Chance from other Sources like talents and raid buffs. This is the main reason why Crit Rating is ranked so low.

Spirit: Relative Value = 0.34 - In patch 3.1.2, Improved Moonkin Form is being buffed so that your Spell Power will be increased by 30% (up from 15%) of your Spirit. Also, Spirit will help you regen mana if you have the talent Intensity.

As a general rule Spirit is a stat to be avoided, because Haste Rating and Crit Rating are so much better in terms of DPS. However, Spirit is becoming more and more unavoidable. Most caster items now have Spirit, and majority of the ones that don't have Hit Rating. It is fine to have spirit on your gear, but never intentionally stack it.

Intellect: Relative Value = 0.35 - Intellect is not a good stat in terms of DPS but it is almost completely unavoidable. Virtually all caster items have some amount of Intellect on them. Intellect has a lot of side benefits though in Mana Regen since it impacts all of our major mana regen talents. You will pick up enough Intellect just by making commonsense gear choices, therefore you should never intentionally stack Int.

(Edit: I updated the Spirit and Int numbers to take into account Stat Multipliers like Blessing of Kings. Thanks to Antonetz for pointing this out.)

Other Stats: Relative Value = 0.00 - All other stats have very little direct impact on your DPS. Stamina is the only other stat that you need in any significant quantity, but you should pick up plenty making normal gearing choices. Mp5 can also be helpful if you have mana issues. However, most moonkin don't have big mana issues that can't be solved with talents. Avoid Mp5 if possible. Spell Penetration and Resilience are useless in a PvE environment and should be avoided.

Hit = 1.54, SP = 1.00, Haste = 0.80, Crit = 0.62, Spirit = 0.34, Int = 0.35

The Model:
If you want to look at the model and check my work you can find it here. However, I want you to keep a few things in mind. 1. It is a very large file. Download at your own risk. 2. It does have a couple of macros on it but you don't have to enable them for the spreadsheet to work. 3. This is NOT a tool to help you model your DPS. If you want something like that go check out WrathCalcs. 4. In conjunction with #3, it is not userfriendly. It even confuses me and I built the damn thing.

How it Works: I built the model to choose which spell to cast based on the current situation. It uses the random number generator to determine crits, misses, and procs. The model assumes the linked Talent/Glyph build. The model assumes the following Cast priority:

1. If FF is not up, cast FF.
2. If IS is not up, cast IS.
3. If MF is not up, cast MF.
4. If Eclipse is not on cooldown, cast Wrath.
5. If Eclipse is on cooldown, cast SF.

This means that FF and the DoTs will be refreshed during Eclipse. I won't go into detail about it now, but I now think this will give you better DPS then weighting for Eclipse to run out.

The model uses a 60,000 cast sequence. This is equivalent to about 26 hours of continuous casting. This may seem like overkill but I wanted to smooth out as much of the randomness as I could.

Using base stats of 2900 spell power, 41% crit chance, 16.5% haste from gear, and 100% hit chance, I ran the model 1,000 times to find the average total damage, average total cast time, and average DPS for a control group. I then adjusted each of the stats by significant amounts and reran the model another 1,000 times for each adjustment to see how the DPS changed.

The adjustments were made in significant amounts and then averaged to a per point value. For example, to find the value of Spell Power, I increased the spell power used by 50 to 2950. This resulted in an average increase of 61.81 DPS or 1.24 DPS per point average. To evaluate Crit and Haste I increased both by 1%. To evaluate Hit Rating I decreased hit chance by 1%.

The stats where then weighted relative to each other, with Spell Power being the standard. These new values will be applied to my gear ranking and I hope to have it updated soon.

Whats Next: I am kind of excited about what I can do with this model. I plan to create additional models to evaluate a solar rotation. I would also like to add lag into the model to see the impact. I would also like to build a model that takes movement into account if possible. Finally I will be using the model to evaluate new set bonuses, glyphs and talents.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blue Post: Murmurs, Ghostcrawler, and DPS Oh My

@Murmurs: If your going to start writing great posts like these on the weekend, then someone needs to send me an email. Otherwise the fun is going to pass me by like it did this weekend.

Anyway, there has been some debate running around the moonkin community as to the current state of Moonkin DPS. Some have said we are to low, and others are saying we are just fine.

In an effort to get to the bottom of the question Murmurs sent out a Plea: "Friends, Azerothians, Moonkin, Lend me you Parses." (Ok, that wasn't an exact quote.) In a nutshell, what he wanted was information to see why some moonkins were still topping the DPS charts and why other moonkin seem to be falling behind. Is it gear, rotation, skill or some there issue that is causing the disagreement within the community.

After quite a few people decided to lend parses to the project, Ghostcrawler stepped in with some of his own thoughts on Moonkin DPS and some of the other issues we face. Here are the highlights.

The State of Moonkin DPS:
First, I should weigh in on the debate regarding Moonkin DPS. Pre-3.1 Moonkin DPS was fine in my opinion. Post-3.1 I expected Moonkin DPS to be fine also. We lost some DPS to the Improved Scorch nerf and Ulduar itemization is less then optimal. However, those nerfs affected all casters to some degree, and we also received buffs to Insect Swarm and Natures Grace. I expected it to all balance out in the end.

On top of that, it is hard to get a full view of Moonkin DPS by looking at parses or even looking at personal experience. It is hard to know why anyone is high on the charts or low on the charts. One moonkin could consistently be in the top 5 of one guild because they are a good player playing with a much of not so good players, and the same good moonkin could switch guilds and be at the bottom of the DPS charts because the people he plays with now are excellent.

All that said, since we have been raiding Ulduar for almost a month now I am seen myself drop lower on the charts. Some of that can be chalked up to inexperience with the fights and the fact that I haven't taken any gear upgrades while others have, but I am also starting to think that some of it is systematic. Fortunately Ghostcrawler agrees that Moonkin DPS is a little low on live.

GC's DPS comments and the Imp Moonkin Form buff:
Here is Ghostcrawler's first comment in the thread.

We think Balance dps is a little low on live, but changing Improved Moonkin Form to 30% Spirit to Spellpower in 3.1.2 should be something like a 5% spellpower boost to raid-buffed druids, which should be around a 5% dps increase. YMMV.

Also keep in mind that the Ulduar fights are pretty diverse. Fights like XT are a dream for melee, especially rogues and cats.

As I said before, I like the change to Imp Moonkin Form, but if GC thinks its a 5% DPS increase he is crazy. Its not even a 5% Spell Power increase.

Fully raid buffed, I currently have about 2880 Spell Power and 550 Spirit. So, the buff to imp Moonkin Form will give me an additional 82 Spell Power. That isn't bad, but it's only 2.85% of my current fully raid buffed Spell Power.

You could also argue that I've avoided Spirit like the plague in the past and that my spirit levels will be higher after I am fully geared in Ulduar gear. So lets say I am fully geared in Ulduar gear, with near BiS gear. To be conservative I'm going to estimate that I have 3200 Spell Power at this point. For GC's comment to be true I would need to have about 1016 Spirit fully raid buffed. This translate to about 790 without raid buffs and would be a 120% increase to unbuffed spirit total.

Is it possible for me to increase my unbuffed spirit by 120% in Ulduar? Probably, but I highly doubt that it would happen with BiS gear. Realistically, I would estimate this buff to be worth about a 3.5% Spell Power increase in full BIS gear. (This number is just off the top of my head.)

GC's Comments on Eclipse:
Ghostcrawler then goes on to talk a little more about our love/hate relationship with Eclipse.

The basic design problem for Balance, as I know you know, comes down to Wrath and Starfire just being very similar spells. One is always going to win out by virtue of damage or cast time. Eclipse was our attempt to make which one wins more dynamic. I think it accomplishes that, but I think it's also fair to say that there aren't a ton of druids who are in love with the talent. Or maybe it's more fair to say that there are druids who just can't stand it. It's also not swell that the talent has driven many druids to mods to help manage it. (source)
I think this comment is very interesting. Yes, the fact that Wrath and Starfire are too similar is a problem, but it is made worse by the fact that we have only 4 DPS spells to use as a part of our regular rotation. Yes, Eclipse does make the Moonkin rotation more dynamic, and I can see how that is a good thing. However, when you have only 4 spells in the book, there is only so much you can do without tying virtually all of Moonkin DPS to a single mechanic.

We're not going to give you a rotation that ends up being something like SF, Wrath, SF, Wrath or even SF x4, Wrath x4. We just think that's too boring and ultimately bad for the game. You can argue that you like Balance because it's very predictable and macro-able, but it should be
clear that we view that as a problem. (source)

I also find this comment fairly interesting. I somewhat disagree that standard rotations like the old MF, SF*4 disagree are boring. I didn't have a big problem with it, but I can see how a more dynamic rotation is more interesting and leaves more room for skill to shine.

My real issue is with this comment is if rotations are supposed to be dynamic, why don't they do it for every class. As most of you know my main alt is an Affliction Warlock. Pre-3.1 that rotation was about as dynamic as rock, and then they made it simpler. If you want DPS to be dynamic then do it across the board.

I'm in total hand-waving, brainstorm mode here. This is not a design we have cooking that we're all ready to implement, but imagine Eclipse worked something like this: Every Starfire you cast has a 20% cumulative chance of making your next Wrath do 30% more damage. So after SF1, the chance is 20%, but after SF5 the chance is 100%. That encourages you to swap spells somewhat randomly, but less random than the system we have now. The goal is to have something where you sometimes switch after SF 3 and sometimes after SF 5. Good druids would always switch at the right time and those who are still trying to maximize their potential could get better about switching at the right time. You could also have a system where every SF has a chance of making Wrath slightly better, with a stack on that effect, so that at some point it's the right time to switch.
Don't feel the need to point out how you could game this system -- I spent all of 2 minutes coming up with it. If and when we decide to change it, we'd put far more work into the design. (source)
I want to reiterate GC's first sentence. Please realize that the comment above is off the top of GC's head. This is not a current plan, and don't expect to see it in the next major content patch. I am not going to model it until/unless something official is announced to say that Blizzard is working on this.

That said, it is an interesting idea. The big problem with Eclipse is that it is tied so heavily to timers and cooldowns. If it procs at the wrong time then it's wasted, or if there is a time when you need to DPS particularly hard you can't use it then.

I really like the idea of having a system where you could store the buff to use at the right time. Maybe combining the two ideas that GC presented would be a good idea. That way you get some of the randomness, but if SF is still the better spell due to Heroism then you could continue to cast SF without losing procs.

The Rest of the Thread:
From there the thread goes into a lot of discussion about how to improve Moonkin and such. I suggest that everyone at least skim through because there are a lot of interesting ideas. I however, will focus on just one post.

Murmurs made a post deeper into the thread with a lot of suggestions on how to rebalance Moonkin DPS. Once again I think he is just spitballing here, but there are some interesting suggestions. You can find the post here.

The idea I like best out of those suggestions is adding minor glyph that increases Wrath's Cast time and damage. So that Wrath as similar DPS for a single cast, but isn't as negatively affected by increased haste as the current Wrath. Of course this doesn't fix the problem that Wrath and Starfire are to similar, and probably makes it worse.

I also like the idea of a new spell. We need some sort of neutral nuke to fill the space when we don't want to proc eclipse, or just something different the then the straight DoTs and Nukes we currently have.

Monday, May 11, 2009

General Update: 5/11/2009

First off, I want to apologize to my readers, commenters and people that have sent me e-mails recently. My real life has been very hectic recently with the birth of my second child a little over a week ago. As a result I haven't had as much time to blog, or respond to comments and e-mails.

My Ulduar Gear List:
Most of this post will deal with questions and comments made about the gear list. Most of the questions and comments have been insightful and helpful, but I want to remind everyone that the list is still in flux and am trying to improve it. However, that takes time and given my life lately it is taking more time than usual. That said the list will be updated with changes in my thinking, changes in the game, and with the addition of new items.

My Stat Weights: Smo (aka Randomsmo and Staticsmo) made a post on the wow forums doubting my stat weights. It turns out that Smo uses a more complete model to evaluate the stats.

I've always known that my numbers weren't 100% accurate because I didn't include IS, MF, or Eclipse. However, I assumed that the impact would be small or not that meaningful. After, seeing Smo's numbers I decided I had to bite the bullet and build a better model. Its not completely done yet, but so far the results are confirming Smo's position.

I will go into how the model is built and probably make it available on File Front as some point in the future, but here are the few results I have right now. Using a Lunar rotation, my new model still has SP as the standard with a value of 1. I estimate the value of Haste rating at 0.77, and the value of Crit rating at 0.55.

I'm not surprised that Haste went down a little bit, because haste has very little impact on instant cast dots like MF and IS. However, I didn't expect the value of Crit to go down as much as it did. There are a couple of reasons for it though. The first is the new Natures Grace. Since it affects more then one spell now it limits the impact of any single crit since it is more then likely refreshing Natures Grace. The second reason is Lunar Eclipse. Having 30% extra crit reduces the value of Crit rating dramatically.

There is a lot of work still to do on the new model, but I am excited about it. It gives me a new way to look at things like set bonuses, idols, glyphs and other things. Hopefully I will be able to publish it soon.

Amice of Inconceivable Horror: I have gotten several comments saying that this is a Priest only item. I understand where these comments are coming from because the picture I linked from MMO Champion says that it is a Priest only item. However, I seriously doubt that is the case.

First off all, where are all the other class specific items? If priests had a unique item but none of the other classes did it would be a firestorm of QQ. Blizzard knows that, and wouldn't do it.

Second, no one has actually seen this item yet in game. We only know about it because of data mining from MMO Champion, and they said that there were some errors in their modeller. My guess is that the program assumed that it was priest only because it uses the Priest tier design.

I can't confirm my position until we see it in game but it makes a lot of sense. It is highly unlikely that we wouldn't have already found the other class only items if they were included in the game. Plus, it is highly unlikely that Blizzard would create just one class specific item. Therefore I'm assuming that this item can be used by everyone.

Gear Drop Locations: Several people have asked that I include the drop locations as a part of my gear list. I would love to do that, but in reality that just isn't possible for me at this time. The list as you see it know was a huge data entry project, and adding drop locations would be an even bigger pain.

That said, if someone is willing to do the work for me then I would be very happy to provide the locations and give them credit for the work. If you are a masochist and this sounds like a job for you then I ask that you use the following format: Instance - Boss - Hard Mode (if applicable). For example the Embrace of the Spider would look like this: "Naxx10 - Maexxna". The Pennant Cloak would look like this: OS25 - Sartharion - Hard Mode.

The Set Bonuses: I am also getting a lot of questions about the T8 set bonuses. When the set bonuses were first released I made this post. The 4T8 bonus was a complete unknown and the 2T8 set bonus clearly underpowered and not worth dropping the 4T7 to get. At the time I suggested that the 2T8 bonus had to be increased from 6% to 15% to make it competitive to the 4T7 bonus in terms of DPS. Blizzard also saw the problem and increased the bonus.

So, I like the updated 2T8 bonus. It's probably not quite as good as the 4T7 set bonus in most fights due to movement and such, but it is close. In my opinion it is worth it to break the 4T7 bonus.

The 4T8 set bonus was a mystery until recently. I did some math a couple of weeks ago and posted it on the EJ forums here. Basically it looks to increase you DPS some where between 190 DPS and 270 DPS in my poor napkin math. I will have to find a better way to evaluate it further, but I feel confident in saying it is worth equipping. With a 15% proc rate and no internal cooldown this is a good set bonus. (Thanks to Ryuujin for showing that this doesn't have a cooldown. Link.)

The New Spirit: It is official Improved Moonkin Form now increases the amount of Spell Power you get from Spirit from 15% to 30%. Obviously this is a welcome change, but it doesn't really change the way I feel about Spirit. I wrote a pig post on the forums regarding our problem with Spirit. You can find it here.

It is hard to summarize my post in a couple of sentences, but my basic position is that if blizzard wants Spirit to be a more prominent stat then they need to completely commit to it in a fair way. Moonkin shouldn't have 4 tier pieces with Spirit while all other caster DPS has only 3. I also think they should eliminate the wonderful items with no spirit or hit, but both crit and haste. Those items are just to good then and every caster in the game will want them.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blue Post: Possible boost for Spirit

For those of you don't know Patch 3.1.2 is now on the PTR. It is a small patch, but it has a pretty significant change for druids.

* Innervate now Causes the target to regenerate mana equal to 450% of the casting Druid's base mana pool over 20 sec sec.

* Glyph of Innervate - Innervate now grants the caster 90% of base mana pool over 20 sec sec in addition to the normal effects of Innervate. (Old - Innervate now grants the caster full mana regeneration while casting for 20 sec, in addition to the effect on the target. If the caster targets self, the mana regeneration effect of your Innervate is increased by 20%.)
This change to Innervate isn't all that unexpected given some of the things Ghostcrawler has been saying on the forums recently. From a PvE perspective it is about neutral for moonkin, and makes innervate better for Pallys and Shaman. For PvP, it is a good change given the complete lack of Spirit on PvP gear.

As a side effect, this change has prompted a quite a bit of discussion on the value of spirit for druids, and Ghostcrawler has decided to chime in with a couple of comments.First he said this:

Spirit isn't an attractive enough stat for Balance druids. That's a problem, but Innervate is not a great solution to that problem. As I said in a previous post, it's more like int and crit become great regen stats for Balance, which then leaves spirit to become a damage stat... which you have to admit is a little weird. (That said, we may still boost it for Balance in the near term.) (source)

Then he followed it up with this.

We aren't taking Spirit off of gear. It's a stat in the game and we need to use it. "Sub-optimal" is not the same as "worthless." Spirit on plate is worthless.

We did improve the set bonus by quite a bit, and we are considering increasing the amount of spellpower provided by Improved Moonkin Form.

Long term we would still like to evaluate whether we're happy with there being so much crossover of Int becoming a mana regen stat and Spirit becoming a dps stat.

Finally he said this:

Making Improved Moonkin Form grant 30% Spirit to spellpower instead of 15% is the kind of thing that would make Spirit a more attractive stat.

First off, I assume that when he says "We did improve the set bonus by quite a bit" he is referring to the increase in the 4T8 proc rate to 15% instead of 5%. This is being reported in the EJ forums. Hopefully we will be able to provide a value for it soon.

The more significant part about the comment is that how he talks about buffing Spirit. I do agree that something needs to be done to buff Spirit for Moonkin. Its ridiculous that Warlocks benefit from it more then we do. That just doesn't make sense from a game design stand point or a lore stand point in my opinion.

However, I think it is a bit like putting a band aid on a stab wound. The problem isn't that Spirit is a "Sub-optimal" stat. The problem is how blizzard is choosing to design gear.

I think the old method worked fairly well. If you look at the cloth and leather caster raid gear before 3.1 a majority of it followed a pretty standard path. The stats could be divided into two groups: Fixed stats and Variable stats.

The Fixed stats were Stam, Int, and Spell Power, and they were on 99% of the cloth and leather gearing options. The Variable stats were Hit, Haste, Crit, and Spirit, and most gear choice had two of thes four stats. Items with spirit obviously lent themselves to healers more then DPS, and the items without spirit were considered to be DPS items.

With the release of patch 3.1 Blizzard seems to have changed its philosophy. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but they've done it in the worst way possible.

A vast majority of the cloth and leather caster gear in Ulduar has spirit, and Blizzard seems to be interested in making it a Fixed stat. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing but they haven't committed to the switch and it has reeked havoc on gearing/looting decisions for caster DPS.

Of the choices without Spirit, most of them have Hit rating. This is fine to me because hit rating is awesome but very limited because of the cap. The problem is with the 2 or 3 awesome items that have Stam, Int, Spell Power, Crit and Haste. Every Moonkin, Warlock, Mage, and Shadow Priest in the game will want these options, and an item designed like this is clearly better then items of a higher item level not designed this way.

If you want Spirit to be a Fixed stat for caster DPS then you can't create items like [Robes of the Umbral Brute], because it is so clearly superior to anything with Spirit.

Secondly, there is always going to be a problem with secondary item slots like Necks, Rings, Backs, and Weapons, since Spirit is a horrible stat for Paladins and Shaman. Unfortunately Blizzard doesn't have a good way to say that a neck is meant for a Holy Pally instead of a Moonkin, but an item that is designed perfectly for the Holy Pally will also be very good for a moonkin, and likely better then an option with Spirit on it.

Finally, Blizzard has to itemize the tier sets more fairly. If you look at the T8 Moonkin sets, 4 out of 5 slots have Spirit. It sucks, but I could understand it if other casters were designed similarly. However, if you look at the Mage set, Warlock set, and Shadow Priest set, you will see that all of them have only 3 out of 5 pieces with Spirit. What sense does that make?

Mages and Shadow Priests have their own issues with Spirit, but it is arguable that Warlocks benefit more form Spirit then Moonkin do. So why are Moonkin being singled out and forced to have more of a "sub-optimal" stat then other caster DPS are not? It isn't fair.

So in conclusion, while I would love to see spirit made more valuable for moonkin given the current state of Ulduar gear, but Spirit is not the problem. The haphazard way in which Blizzard itemizes the gear is the problem.

Personally, I think Blizzard should go back to the old method and allow Spirit to be "sub-optimal" but optional stat. However, if you choose to continue putting Spirit on almost all cloth and leather caster gear then commit to it completely.