Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Odds and Ends

Patch 4.0.1 is a week old, and there seem to be lot of little things to talk about. The game is always a little frustrating after a big patch, but 4.0.1 was especially big and was particularly frustrating for me. I'll get more into that later, but lets take a look at the big topics of the week.

My Gear list:

I've said this a couple of places before, but I keep getting questions so I will say it again. No, I am not updating my gear list for patch 4.0.1.

I realize that the patch changed the way we gear quite a bit. However, I don't think it's worth the effort for several reasons. First, Cataclysm is going to be released in less then two months, and very little progression raiding will be done during that time. Second, it's not a simple matter of changing the weights and getting rid of the cloth gear. The stats on all of it changed to some extent, and would require a lot of data entry. Third, if you made the right choices before the patch most of your choices after the patch will be the same.

I realize that some of you like a clear and decisive list to go by, but I can't provide that to you at this time. Though here are a few simple rules you can follow that should help you make your choices along with the suggestions I made in my 4.0.1 guide.
  • No Cloth: Think of it this way. One piece of cloth is likely to cost you 75 to 100 Int if you have ICC level gear. Also, our gear was redesigned assuming we would have the Leather Specialization buff. Not having means we are weaker in some respects then we were before the patch. Using Cloth gear would only make sense if you were making big jumps in ilevel.

  • The Hit Cap: The new hit cap is 446 hit rating. It doesn't matter if you're Horde or Alliance. It doesn't matter what your raid comp is. The hit cap is 446 for every moonkin and I think every caster period.

    The hit cap is a lot higher then we are used to, but there is good news. We have a lot more tools now to try and get to the hit cap. First, Balance of Power converts Spirit to Hit Rating. Most of the leather gear we avoided now has a benefit to us. Also, Reforging is also a god send for hit capping. Our Blue Gem sockets are now more valuable and there are several enchants with Spirit that are helpful.

  • The Equation: When in doubt remember the stat equation:

    Int > Hit > Haste > SP > Crit > Mastery.

    If you are having a hard time choosing between two items, compare the stats in relation to the stat equation. If you do that you can't go too horribly wrong.
Moonkin Nerfs and Hamlet's post:

As most of you know, moonkin came out of 4.0.1 hugely overpowered. If you looked at the WoL rankings you saw several moonkin competing with fire mages and other specs for the top spot. While I'm sure this was fun for a lot of people, I don't think anyone expected it to last and blizzard soon responded with:

Balance Druids – we lowered the base points and coefficients of several Balance spells, especially Insect Swarm.
Hamlet then spent a good amount of time to test the changes and posted his analysis on his EJ blog.

As many people have noticed by now, a number of hotfixes went in after the first night or two of 4.0 raiding, to adjust the wildly disparate DPS values of some classes. I spent a long time last night retesting essentially all of the Balance spells to see how they'd been affected. Here are the results:

--Insect Swarm base damage and coefficient reduced by 50% (122 base damage per tick, 0.13 coefficient). This one many people noticed right away.
--The other big one: Moonfury is now giving only a 15% bonus to most spells. To every spell in fact, except for IS and the MF DoT.
--Also Moonfury is stacking additively with all other additive buffs (Glyph of IS, Glyph of MF, Gale Winds, Blessing of the Grove, probably Glyph of Wrath and Glyph of Focus as well). Not sure if this is new, I may have just missed it before.
--I heard reports of a Thorns nerf, but I'm not seeing any evidence of that. 0.421 coefficient seems fine. I think people were confusing this with the reported changes on the beta.
--Typhoon coefficient seems to be up to 0.126.
--Sunfire is now affected by haste, but is still on a 3 second base tick period.
--Sunfire does identical damage to Moonfire and is affected by the same buffs. I've a seen a lot of comments on this so I want to clarify.

You should be able to verify all these if you want, but they predict my damage on live perfectly. A new spreadsheet will be shortly attached to the guide which includes all of these changes.

I think if we can be honest with each other we would all admit that the Balance tree was overpowered right after 4.0.1 came out. Moonkin were all over the WoL rankings for almost every boss. I'm not saying Moonkin should be weak, but we shouldn't shoot to the top like that either. The question then becomes how should Blizzard ton Moonkin DPS down.

The first way is obvious. Insect Swarm needed a nerf, and I expect that it will never get as powerful as it was right after the patch. I realize that DoTs are supposed to be powerful, but Insect Swarm was easily 5 times as powerful as our nukes and that just seems out of wack to me.
The other nerfs seem fair. By just changing how Moonfury impacts our DPS they aren't changing the rotation at all. They are just toning down our DPS. What's nice about this is that it shows how easy it is to to adjust DPS now. If you assume that Blizzard has found a set of mechanics that they like then they can leave them untouched and adjust Moonfury to get our DPS where they want it to be. This is good news for the future because they can change it back if they find we are underpowered at level 85.

First impressions

I haven't raided since the patch, but I have tried to test/practice the new rotation on target dummies. Overall, I'm not real happy about having a 5th button in my rotation, and it's going to take some getting used to.

At the moment if feels awkward. Managing Eclipse and two DoTs requires a lot of attention. Adding a random proc on a cooldown spell like Starsurge just adds another thing to look at. I think I'm getting over it with the use of Power Auras, but I need to get into a raid to really test it out.

The other issue I'm having is DoTs. I've gotten used to not making them a priority. Getting back into the habit of watching timers is a little more difficult then I expected. I think this is really a function of not having my UI set up right yet. With Squawk and Awe, I had my DoT timer and my Eclipse bar all in one convenient spot. Which made it easy to watch all three. Right now they are a little spread out, I'll have to make some adjustments to see if that helps.

Changed Guilds

The other big news of the week for me is that I changed Guilds. I love my old guild Lords of Eternity, but I felt a need for a change and joined the guild Skunkworks on Balnazzar.

First and foremost, I recommend that you don't try and transfer any toons the day of a major patch like 4.0.1. I started the transfer Tuesday afternoon, but didn't get access to Graylo until Saturday afternoon due to a variety of issues. It was frustrating because I didn't get to experience the OPness of Moonkin while it lasted. I also couldn't get in and test.

The other big part of the change is that I am now a Horde toon on a PvP server. Having always played Alliance toons on a PvE server this is a pretty big change in my mind. In reality, it's probably not that big of a deal since Balnazzar is a low pop server that is Horde dominated. However, figuring out where things are is strange. I haven't walked into the wrong inn in Dalaran yet, but finding Auction Houses and target dummies took a little bit.

Anyway, I am excited by the change. Hopefully it will work out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cata Build 13183: A Mana Fix?

It looks like Blizzard is releasing a new beta build soon and MMO Champion has the details. It looks to be a balancing build and does show the Balance tree a little love.

Mana Changes:
  • Starfire now costs 11% of base mana, down from 16%.
  • Wrath now costs 9% of base mana, down from 14%.
  • Euphoria now restores 8/16% (up from 6/12%) mana when you reach a Solar or Lunar eclipse.
The big moonkin concern coming out of the beta recently has been mana, and apparently Blizzard has been listening. These changes will definitely help but it's a little early to say how much without testing the rotation.

I do want to point one thing out about the current mana situation. When we talk about mana issues we are primarily talking about two subjects: Mana Consumption, and Mana Pool/Regen.

    Mana Consumption: As a caster DPS spec we cast as much as possible. So, how much mana we use is dependant on the length of the fight and the number of breaks in a fight. If you look at the Instances in WotLK you will notices that fight length does change from fight to fight, but doesn't really change from instance to instance. Therefore our mana consumption should be fairly constant through out the Cataclysm.

    Mana Pool/Regen: Our mana pool is determined by our Intellect, and most of our mana regen is based off of our mana pool. Therefore our mana pool/regen will be highly variable over the course of Cataclysm.
These two things are important to remember because they explain a lot of our mana issues in the beta. As we test our rotations our Mana Consumption is near the maximum that it will be since it is relatively constant. On the other hand our Mana Pool/Regen are at their lowest point because we are using gear from quests and a few instances. Our mana issues are going to be at their worst in the very beginning of the expansion for this reason. The changes above are very helpful, but if they don't seem like enough, don't worry. Thinks will get better.

Thorns Nerfed:
  • Thorns damage reduced by 66%
This change doesn't surprise me one bit. I know a lot of people will be disappointed by this nerf but I think it is hard to argue that Thorns wasn't overpowered. In my opinion a buff shouldn't do more damage the then any of our DPS spells and that was the nature of Thorns.

Hopefully this will turn Thorns into a situational spell for PvE. Best use at the beginning of a fight or when adds are about to spawn. When it comes to PvP I don't know what I'm talking about, but I do know this is a pretty big loss. That said I think it still has some teeth.

Moonfire Buffed:
  • Moonfire base additional damage increased by 50%.
I'm not sure if this is a significant buff or not. If it just boosts the base damage without changing the spell coefficient then it will have little impact. If the spell coefficient was changed as well then this is a pretty huge buff and puts Moonfire on par with Insect Swarm. We will have to test this when it hits the beta.

New Tree of Life:

As a general rule I don't care that much about what things look like in game. I am much more concerned about how things play. That said, we know that Blizzard has an art department, and if they are going to have an art department I want them to produces some things I think are cool to look at.

That said, I like the new tree of life form, and I'm glad it's not just a reskin of an Ancient. Hopefully this means they will get around to redoing the moonkin forms some time soon much like they did the feral forms.

Other Changes:

  • Starfire cast time changed to 3.2 sec, down from 3.5 sec.
  • Entangling Roots now has a 1.7 sec cast time, down from 2 sec.
  • Cyclone now has a 1.7 sec cast time, down from 2 sec.
  • Moonfury now also affects Starsurge.
The Starfire cast time change seems strange and I'll believe it when I see it. My guess is that it is some sort of data mining error or bug within WoW. The changes to CC cast time seem strange as well but I am seeing it on the CC spells of other classes as well.

Raid Warning Podcast: The Druid Roundtable

The Druid Roundtable from the Raid Warning Podcast is now available for you listening pleasure. I had a lot of fun being apart of it and I don't think I sounded to bad.

What I found really interesting was how many moonkin were involved. When I started blogging 3 years ago there were a ton of resto and feral experts, but moonkin experts were few and far between. Of the 13 druids involved in the podcast 9 were noted moonkin and only Lissanna and Hamlet realy did double duty as Resto. We have come a long way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Moonkin Guide to Patch 4.0.1

I've gotten a lot of e-mails asking a lot of questions about glyph, gear, and other choices that will need to be made when 4.0.1 is released. I still dont think it will come out for a few more weeks but I thought I would go ahead and publish this guide so that you guys can get a head start if you want.

I do want to make one thing very clear though. This is not a level 85 Cata guide. While a lot of these points will apply to Cataclysm raiding, there are some differences. When we get to Cataclysm I will make the necessary changes.

Talent spec:

At level 80 we will have only 36 points, and 31 of those have to be spent in the Balance tree before we can put any points in the Feral or Restoration trees. This makes the Tier 2 talents in those trees unreachable until Cataclysm is released. It doesn't have a huge impact on my choices, but I do a few things a little different at level 80 then I would at level 85.

Level 80 Raid Spec: Link

Edit: Ok, I'm a wimp and I caved. I'm dropping Dreamstate and Moonglow from my level 80 raiding build. In their place I picked up Owlkin Frenzy and Gale Winds.

In my opinion there are three debateable choices in this build. They are the two points in Blessing of the Grove, the three points in Owlkin Frenzy, and the two points in Gale Winds.

In the first tier of the Resto tree I would normally put two points in Natural Shapeshifter instead of Blessing of the Grove to get access to Master Shapeshifter. However, that is pointless since Master Shapeshifter is unreachable until we gain another talent point.

Mana will be a big concern at level 85 unless something changes, but as a couple of commentors pointed out Mana probably won't be a big concern at level 80. Owlkin Frenzy is a weak talent and Gale Winds is very situational when it comes to actual boss fights. However, they are probably the best DPS options available.

However, the other possibilities don't offer a lot of utility to a PvE enviornment.

  • Overgrowth - It's still in the beta but there are reports that it is gone from the PTR. I'm not exactly sure what it's status is. Either way it is not a very good PvE talent.
  • Owlkin Frenzy - Still a bad PvE talent since it rarely procs in a raid environment.
  • Gale Winds - It's lots of fun for big numbers during trash, but there isn't a fight at the moment that really needs this kind of AoE.
  • Solar Beam - Primarily a PvP talent. May be situationally useful, but other classes provide better interupts.
  • Fungal Growth - Nearly useless at level 80, since we won't have Wild Mushroom, and we can't control where the trents die.
  • Dreamstate & Moonglow - Will be manditory at level 85, but mana is not an issue at level 80.
Level 80 Leveling Spec: Link

In this build I dropped Blessing of the Grove, because it doesn't have much of a DPS impact unless you game the system. Dreamstate is also less important because you can drink for mana.

I picked up Owlkin Frenzy because it procs quite often while leveling, and the added damage is helpful. I picked up Solar Beam because interupt can be very helpful for leveling. It allows you to pull casters away from other mobs and can save you from taking some damage. You culd also take two of these points and put them in Natural Shapeshifter so that you have Master Shapeshifter available as soon as you ding 81.

Key Talent and Spell Changes:

Eclipse: You should know this already but Eclipse has gotten a complete overhaul. It is no longer a random proc or a timed buff. Now, Eclipse is procced when you generate 100 Lunar or Solar Power and lasts until use the 100 Lunar or Solar Power you had generated. In short, Eclipse now comes with charges, which solves many of the Eclipse problems we had in WotLK. Starfire generates Solar power, Wrath generates Lunar Power, and Starsurge generates both.

Also, the Eclipse buff is now a percentage damage increase for both Lunar and Solar Eclilpse. It no longer increases the crit chance of Starfire during Lunar Eclipse.

Starsurge: Our new Nuke. There is nothing really special about this spell other then being much stronger then either Wrath or Starfire. It also has a 15 sec cooldown and can become instant cast with Shooting Stars.

Scaling DoTs: Both Moonfire and Insect Swarm will scale with Crit, Haste, and Eclipse. There are still some bugs with Sunfire not scaling properly, but I expect these to be fixed soon.

Rebirth: Now has a 30 min cooldown. This means it will no longer be available every attempt, therefore you want to be careful how you use it.

Thorns: Now lasts only 20 seconds, but is much stronger then it was before. Some are advocating putting it on the tank on cooldown, but I'm not sure this is viable since it is a mana hog. That said, it is a good idea to throw it on a tank at the start of fight or when they are picking up adds.

Other thoughts:

  • Omen of Clarity and Insect Swarm are now trained abilities
  • No more Mana on Crit
  • Mark of the Wild is now raid wide and has no reagent.
  • Wild Mushroom is a level 85 abilty and not available when 4.0.1 is released.

Key Gearing Issues:

No More Cloth: Leather Specialization now increases our total Intellect by 5%, but only works if you are not wearing any cloth. Since Int is now converted to Spell Power this is a required buff. You probably already have at least 4 leather items with your tier set if you are an active raider. If you haven't already I suggest you start looking for leather replacements for your cloth pieces.

I'm a big fan of the tier pieces for the Head, Shoulders, Chest, Hands, and Leg slots. For the Waist slot, the [Belt of Petrified Ivy] is good and easy to get. The [Cord of Dark Suffering] and [Professor's Bloody Smock] are good if you need the hit. For the Wrist slot you should look at the [Phaseshifter's Bracers] or [Bracers of Eternal Dreaming]. For the Boot slot I would go with the [Boots of the Frozen Seed] or [Boots of Unnatural Growth]. Of course there are other options from other instances and crafted items, but these are the best options from ICC.

Hit Capping: The static hit chance buffs we currently receive from Imp Faerie Fire, Balance of Power, and Heroic Presence if you're Alliance have been removed from the game. This increases the Moonkin Hit Cap to 446 Hit Rating. The good news is that the new Balance of Power converts Spirit to Hit Rating for Moonkin. Please know that this does not include the base Spirit you get from leveling up.

It's likely that most of you will have to make some adjustments to reach the 446 hit cap. If you are under the hit cap it might be a good idea to pick up of the leather pieces I mentioned above that have Spirit. I will go in greater detail below, but there are several good changes you can make to your Gem and Enchant choices. You can also adjust your Hit Rating by Reforging your gear which I think will be available in 4.0.1 but I'm not 100% positive on that.

Reforging: I am not 100% positive that this will be available with 4.0.1, but if so it is a great tool to adjust your stats so that you can better optimize your performance. Here are the basic rules.
  • You cannot reforge to gain or lose a primary stat. (Int, Stam, Agi, or Str)
  • You can reforge any secondary stat (Spirit, Hit, Haste, Crit, Mastery), but you can only gain a stat not currently on the item. For example, if you have an item with Spirit and Haste, you can turn 40% of the Spirit into Crit or Mastery but not Haste.
Assuming Reforging is available with 4.0.1 here are a couple of strategies you might want to use.
  1. If you are over the hit cap, reforge Spirit and/or Hit Rating into Haste if possible. Crit Rating would be your secondary choice if necessary.
  2. If you are under the hit cap, reforging Crit Rating into Spirit is your best option. Don't convert it to Hit Rating since it is less versatile.
  3. If you are at the hit cap and have some items with Crit Rating but no Haste rating you may concider converting some of that Crit to Haste Rating. This isn't really necessary but will probably boost your performance a little.
Spell Power to Intellect Conversion: You probably already know that Spell Power is being removed from most of the gear in game, and that Intellect will provide Spell Power instead. As a result Blizzard has gone back and removed all the Spell Power from gear but have adjusted the Intellect levels to compensate for the loss.

However, the amount of Intellect on an item post 4.0.1 does not equal the amount of Spell Power before the patch. THIS IS NOT A NERF. There are several talents and buffs that increase Intellect by a combined percentage of 16.865%, and the Spell Power to Int conversion that Blizzard made takes these buffs into account. For example, if an item had 100 Spell Power before the patch, then the item will have 86 Intellect after the patch. This equals 100.5 Spell Power and you get the added benefit of additonal Crit Chance. This is actually a slight buff.

Stats at level 80:

The first thing to know about stats at level 80 is that there are no more soft caps. The Haste Cap no longer exists because Wrath's cast time was increased to 2 seconds and Nature's Grace was change to be less of a static buff. The Lunar Crit Cap is gone because Eclipse no longer provides a crit bonus for Starfire. However, there are plenty of changes to stats.

Spell Power: This stat does still exist in the game, but not in the same way that you find currently on live. Most of your gear will have Int instead of Spell Power, and Int is converted to Spell Power on a one to one ratio. That said caster weapons will still provide Spell Power as an individual stat. Many of the Enchants and Socket bonuses are not coverted to Int as well.

Intellect: This is the new key stat for moonkin. It is converted into Spell Power on a 1 : 1 ratio, but is better then Spell Power since it also grants Crit Chance and is increased by Leather Specialization, Mark of the Wild, and Heart of the Wild.

Hit Rating / Spirit: For the purposes of a Moonkin these are the same stat. Hit capping is still a priority after the patch but oddly Hit Rating /Spirit are not as valuable as Intellect. If you have to choose between picking up Hit Rating or Spirit, choose Spirit since it is a little more versatile if you ever have to go Restoration.

Haste Rating: As I said above the Haste cap no longer exists and Haste will be the best secondary stat after you are hit capped.

Crit Rating: Still a good stat but doesn't pack the punch that haste does.

Mastery Rating: You are unlikely to have any of this on your gear after the patch, so you shouldn't have to worry about it for patch 4.0.1. That said, it is probably our worst DPS stat. Do not make any effort to pick it up until Cataclysm is released.

The New Stat Equation:

Int > Hit > SP > Haste > Crit > Mastery

This is based upon my simulator using my stats at level 80 on the Beta.


Your Runed Cardinal Rubies will be converted into Brilliant Cardinal Rubies and provide Int instead of Spell Power. If you have Hit Rating gems equipped they will change color from yellow to blue or orange to purple. You may lose a socket bonus as a result. All of your other gems should stay the same.

As a general rule I am a fan of matching Gem color to Socket color to get the socket bonus, and assuming you are below the hit cap, going for the socket bonuses makes more sense after 4.0.1.
The blue sockets are a good way to pickup some Spirit to help you reach the Hit Cap. That said every gem you socket should have some Int on it. Do not use pure Spirit gems.

I will socket my this way for most of my gear.

Red - Brilliant Cardinal Ruby
Yellow - Reckless Ametrine
Blue - Purified Dreadstone
Meta - Chaotic Skyflare Diamond

The only time I found that it didn't make sense to go for the socket bonus was if you have a double yellow or triple yellow item, or if the socket bonus was not Spell Power or Int.


For most of your gear, you will want the same enchants after 4.0.1 as you wanted before 4.0.1. There are a couple of exceptions though.

Head - Arcanum of Blissful Mending
Shoulders - Greater Inscription of the Crag

In both of these cases you are trading Spell Power for Int and Crit Rating for Spirit. Even if you are over the hit cap that is probably a good trade since you can convert some of the excess Spirit into Haste Rating.

Back - Greater Speed but maybe Wisdom

You'll probably want to stick with the Greater Speed enchant in the back slot, but I have heard a lot of tanks complain about threat. There is a possibility that Wisdom might be better because of the threat reduction and it gives you some Spirit.

Did Not Change:
Chest - Powerful Stats
Wrists - Superior Spellpower
Gloves - Exceptional Spellpower
Belt - Brilliant Cardinal Ruby in Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs - Brilliant Spellthread
Boots -Tuskarr's Vitality
Weapon - Greater Spellpower or Mighty Spellpower
Rings - Greater Spellpower - Enchanters Only



There is quite a bit of debate on which are the best Prime Glyphs. I suggest getting all five just in case, but I would use Glyph of Insect Swarm, Glyph of Wrath, and Glyph of Moonfire. I wouldn't use Glyph of Starfire at this time because it doesn't help much on movement fights were you will be over writing your DoT. A think Glyph of Starsurge is situationally useful if it helps you line Starfall up with add phases or other important DPS periods, but probably not good as a standard Glyph.


The Starfall and Rebirth Glyphs are manditory in my opinion and I would choose Thorns as my third. However, you could make a good arguement for the Glyph of Focus.

Minor: Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth is the only required minor glyph in my opinion. Pick what every you want for the other two.

Add-ons and UI info:

Squawk and Awe: Since Eclipse has been completely redone Squawk and Awe we currently use will be broken and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The good news is that Adoriele is planning a new version that will support the new Eclipse. The bad news is he doesn't expect it to be complete by the time 4.0.1 comes out, especially if it comes out soon. There is a possibility that a stripped down version will be available at 4.0.1 so keep your eyes open, and will link it if I see it.

Balance Power Tracker: This is a new addon that addresses most of my issues with the standard Blizzard Eclipse UI. It allows you to move and enlarge the Eclipse bar to make it more notice able. It also tells you if your current cast will proc Eclipse and has several other features that should help you manage your rotation. (link)

DPS and Rotation Strategies:

There are a lot of strategies floating around but most of them are based upon bad information or just don't make sense. Here are a few basic rules that you can play with until we get a better handle on the more complicated ideas.

DoTs: Insect Swarm and Moonfire are our to highest DPET spells. Therefore their up time should be as close to 100% uptime as possible. Generally you should refresh your DoTs if they have about a second of time left, how ever, if you are about to proc the appropriate Eclipse it may make sense to wait 2 or 3 second to refresh the DoT.

Also, if you need to refresh them both about the same time, cast Moonfire first, so that Insect Swarm gets buffed by Nature's Grace. There also looks to be a little benefit to double casting Moonfire, so it's DoT is buffed by Nature's Grace. According to my rough calculations the second Moonfire has a slightly higher DPET then the nukes. Definately do it on the move if you can.

Starsurge: Should be cast on Cooldown. Starsurge has a much higher DPET then our other Nukes and I have found no rotation were it makes sense to delay its cast.

Nukes: If your DoTs are up and your cooldowns are down, your nuke strategy is as simple as "Cast the right one." Just remember that Wrath will not generate Lunar power after Lunar Eclipse has been procced until Solar Eclipse is procced. This is also true for Starfire in reverse.

Cooldowns: Force of Nature should be cast on cooldown or when you need particularly high DPS. Starfall should be cast with Lunar Eclipse if possible or when extra DPS is needed.

Thorns: Some are advocating casting Thorns on the tank on cooldown. This may be viable, but because it is mana hog I am not recommending it at this time.

Hurricane: Hurricane is buffed by Solar Eclipse but does not consume it. If you have an AoE phase coming up it is a good idea hold Solar Eclipse so that your AoE damage is buffed by Eclipse.

Other 4.0.1 Guides:

Moonkin Guides:
Qieth's Quips - Moonkin Guide 4.0
Arawethion/Hamlet on EJ - Balance in 4.0

Resto Guides:
Restokin - Resto healing in 4.0.1
Tree Bark Jacket - Patch 4.0.1 Guide

Feral Guides:
Think Tank - The 4.0.1 spec/gear/glyph post

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Raid Warning Podcast: Shift Happens

Once again someone has asked me to plague the internet with my voice and random musings about druids and WoW. This time it is the Raid Warning Podcast who will be conducting Druid Round Table with many of the big names in the Druid community. From the Moonkin community you will recognize Tyler Caraway aka "Murmurs" from WoW Insider, Hamlet from Elitest Jerks, Lissanna from Restokin.com, and several others. There will also be several experts on resto and feral like Kalon from ThinkTank, BBB from Big Bear Butt, and Keeva from Tree Bark Jacket.

It's a pretty exciting line up that I am honored to be a part of. If you would like a full list of participants you can find it on the Raid Warning web site.

If you would like to get involved you can submit your questions for the round table via email (raidwarningpodcast@gmail.com), a comment below, or call The Raid Warning Rant Line at 707-602-RANT (7268).

The show is being recorded over the weekend, and should be available next Tuesday Oct 12th.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cataclysm Release Date: December 7th

As every WoW news site and many mainstream news sites are reporting Blizzard has officially announced that the release date of Cataclysm will be December 7th 2010. If you would like to read the official press release you can find it here.

Now the big question is when will 4.01 be released. Many people are guessing this Oct 5th or Oct 12th based upon this post from MMO champion. I don't have any inside info on the patches release date, but I would be very surprised if it is released in the next two weeks and I don't expect it until November. Here's why.

  1. I don't trust the Oct 5th and 12th dates. You may remember that MMO champion announced that the target release date for Cataclysm was Nov 2nd. In my opinion, Oct 5th and 12th are likely legacy dates tied to the original targeted release date of Nov 2nd. Since release was bumped a month the patch dates are likely bumped as well, if my guess is correct. Not only that the October dates have been removed from the web site. If they were correct, why remove them? The cat is already out of the bag.

  2. They released a new PTR build of patch 4.0.1 over the weekend. This pretty much guarantees that it won't be on the 5th and in my opinion makes it unlikely that it will be on the 12th. I haven't been on the PTR but the Beta still feels a bit imbalanced. I think there is still quite a bit of work to do before they want the player base as a whole messing around with it.

  3. Prerelease patches put the game into a state of purgatory where nothing really matters. Therefore, Blizzard is unlikely to want that to extend to long. Patch 2.0 was released just over a month before TBCs release. Patch 3.0 was released just under a month before WotLK release. If Patch 4.0 came out in the next two weeks it would be almost 2 months before Cataclysm's release. I think that is highly unlikely to happen.

  4. The WotLK release date was announced on September 15th. At the time everyone thought patch 3.0 would come out before Sept or possibly early October. However, Patch 3.0 came out on Oct 14th almost a month after the release date announcement.
My Conclusion:

I could be wrong, and Blizzard has done unpredictable things in the past. However, at this point I don't see anything really credible that points to an early October patch date for 4.0.1. If I had to guess we will see patch 4.0.1 on Nov 2nd and patch 4.0.3 on Nov 9th or 16th.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Smart Eclipse: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

If you've been paying attention to the Moonkin Beta information you are probably familiar with the concept of "Smart Eclipse" or "Smart Power." It is one of the most discussed topics we have had in beta, and has in general been very well received by the moonkin community.

That said it is important to remember that "Smart Eclipse" is not a named mechanic created by Blizzard. It is the name given to a mechanic by players, but we don't know for sure if the mechanic was intended or a bug. To raise the stakes a little more "Smart Eclipse" has not functioned in game the way players define it for the last few beta builds, and the volume has been raised on the bug vs intended change question?

In this post I want to take a look at this concept of "Smart Eclipse". How important is it to Moonkin DPS and should we be worried that it is not currently in Beta?

What is Smart Eclipse?

Up until this point, I've assumed you knew what I mean when I say "Smart Eclipse," but in case you don't let me explain it.

I don't remember the exact wording, but an early tooltip for Starsurge said that it moved your Eclipse Power away from the center of the Eclipse bar. For example, if you had 50 Solar Power, casting Starsurge would generate an additional 15 Solar Power for a total of 65 Solar Power. Players called this "Smart Eclipse" because it provided them with the type of Eclipse Power that helped them most. If you were trying to proc Solar Eclipse it helped you because it moved you closer to power amount needed to proc it. If you had Solar Eclipse, it extend the buff by allowing you to cast more Eclipse buffed Wraths before hitting zero Solar Power and losing Eclipse.

It sounds like a win/win, and as I said before it is a very popular concept with the moonkin community. In fact, some are advocating that Euphoria should generate "Smart Power" while in Eclipse instead of not generating any power at all as it currently does. As a result it seems several community members are getting frustrated that it no longer exists in most recent Beta builds.

I can understand this frustration. When something we like gets excluded from the game it is very frustrating. However, before we gather the pitchforks and torches we should understand the actual impact of "Smart Eclipse."

The Impact Smart Eclipse:

From a DPS perspective the impact of Smart Eclipse seems like a no brainer. It shortens Eclipse down time by increasing the type of power we need to proc the next Eclipse. It also lengthens the Eclipse buff because it provides the opposite type of power of your currently Eclipsed nuke. On the surface it seems like "Smart Eclipse" should be a clear DPS increase, but according to my results it is not.

Once a gain I plugged "Smart Eclipse" and the current beta functionality into my simulator. I ran both through with 10,000 iterations, and found that losing "Smart Eclipse" resulted in just a 0.068% DPS decrease. If this is correct it is a tiny difference and not worth losing any sleep over in my opinion.

When I saw these results I was quite surprised and a bit skeptical, as I am sure many of you are as well. As a result I contacted Hamlet to see what he thought. After he tested the impact of "Smart Eclipse" he responded with "I got a similar result......overall, surprisingly little effect on DPS."

To be fair, my simulator is a straight Patchwerk style simulator. These results may be different in a more realistic encounter type that includes movement and such. However, I am confident in saying that "Smart Eclipse" doesn't have the big DPS impact that may players expected it to.

The Reasons Why:

It's hard to say definitively why "Smart Eclipse" would have such a small impact but I have a couple of educated guesses.

  • The first reason is Nature's Grace. The impact of Nature's Grace depends on how quickly you transition from one Eclipse proc to the other. By increasing the up time of Eclipse you are diminishing the impact of Nature's Grace, thus cancelling out some of the gains from "Smart Eclipse." The value of the 4T11 set bonus would diminished in a similar way as well.

  • The second reason is our powerful DoTs. Moonfire and Insect Swarm make up a large portion of our DPS, but are not significantly impacted by increased Eclipse up time, since they hold the DPS of when they were cast. If a majority of our DoT casts happen during Eclipse, then higher DoT uptime shouldn't change our over all DoT damage all that much because a majority of the ticks are already buffed by Eclipse.
My Thoughts:

I've come to the conclusion that "Smart Eclipse" was not an intended mechanic, and that the way Starsurge generates power on beta is what will go live. Based upon my DPS findings above I don't have a problem with that. As long as my DPS output is similar to that of other ranged casters, I don't care how I get there assuming the rotation isn't completely boring.

That said, I know many found the concept of "Smart Eclipse" to be fun and would like to see it stay in the game. That's a matter of opinion that I can't really argue against, but I don't think losing "Smart Eclipse" makes the Moonkin less complex or less interesting.

As it stands right now moonkin DoTs have very high DPETs and we will try to maintain an uptime of close to 100%. Starsurge is also very powerful, and will be cast on cooldown regardless of the status of Eclipse. Therefore "Smart Eclipse" didn't really change the structure of the moonkin rotation. It added a couple of Nukes when Eclipse was up, but the real challenge was still to manage the duration of the DoTs and our cooldowns.