Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Thoughts on Multi-DoTing

Maybe I just hadn't noticed it prior to Cataclysm, but one of the hot topics for this expansion has been Multi-DoTing. A lot of people are looking at the WoL rankings and wondering how player X did so much DPS, and I am no different. In fact, I've paid more attention to the rankings then I ever have before, and I've wondered why in some cases the ranked players are doing so much more DPS then I am. As I filter through the logs I'm finding several reasons for the differences, but one of the more consistent reasons is Player X is Multi-DoTing or Multi-DoTing more successfully then I am.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of experience Multi-DoTing. I could make a lot of excuses about how it wasn't really necessary in TBC or WotLK, and could give you a lot of reasons why that is true. However, they are just excuses. There were times when Multi-DoTing would have helped but, I didn't recognize the possibility and didn't take the opportunity to learn the skill. As a result I'm a bit behind the 8-ball and trying to catch up.

In this post I want to talk about some of my strategies for Multi-DoTing. I am by no means an expert on this topic and I can't point to any parses to prove my Multi-DoTing leetness. I am still learning, and if you have any suggestions or thoughts please post them in the comments.

Multi-DoT vs DoT-AoE: What the hell am I talking about?

I saw a post on the internet some where, that I agreed with completely. I don't remember where it was, or who wrote it, and I unfortunately can't find it now. However, it talked a little bit about the difference between Multi-DoTing and DoT-AoE.

When Multi-DoTing, you are still using the standard Moonkin rotation, just with more DoT casts. You are still casting Starfire, Wrath, and Starsurge while trying to transition from one Eclipse to the other. The only difference is that you are casting twice as many DoTs because you are refreshing them on two targets (or possibly 3). You probably only have 2 or 3 targets, and they may be positioned in different parts of the room. This means that traditional multi-target DPS doesn't make sense. A good example of this is Valiona and Therlion or Heroic Magmaw.

With DoT-AoE, you are not using the standard Moonkin Rotation. You probably have 5 or more targets that have relatively low health. Your DoTs are really used as filler while you are waiting for your Wild Mushroom cooldown to come back up. If at all possible you are also probably tying to hold Solar Eclipse to maximize DPS since all Moonkin AoE and DoTs are buffed by Solar Eclipse. A good example of this Vile Swill in Heroic Maloriak or the Poison Bombs in Omnitron.

I wanted to make this distinction, because in this post I'm primarily focusing on Multi DoTing, rather then DoT-AoE. Multi-DoTing is where I am struggling, and if done well I think has a much greater impact on a fight then DoT-AoE does.

My Multi-DoTing Issues: I've noticed two main problems in my recent attempts to Multi-DoT.

  • Tracking DoTs on Multiple Targets: I have Power Auras set up to track my DoTs on my current target and have used several different DoT Timers in the past, but I've never used anything that would track DoTs on multiple targets. I was having a hard time knowing when to refresh the DoTs on my second target.

  • Switching Targets: Being able to change targets quickly is a key to solid DPS in any fight, but changing targets to Multi-DoT is a lot different then changing targets to DPS an Add or to focus on a different boss. When Multi-DoTing you are changing targets frequently with out the content of the fight changing to signal that change. I've found this to be a lot more difficult then just changing when a new add appears.

My Multi DoTing Solutions:

  • Addons: My first thought is that there is probably an addon that can help me, but I have yet to find one I like. I've tried two addons to help me track DoTs on multiple targets. The first I used was Fortexorcist. It's an addon made for Warlocks, and I had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, it was not for me. I was overwhelmed by the amount of Set Up that was required and I didn't find it to be intuitive at all. The second addon I tried was Ellipsis, and it had the opposite problem. It works fairly well out of the box, but I found it to have limited set up options, and it tracked some silly things like Mark of the Wild if I was the one to cast it. In general, I thought the addons were a waste of time. They just gave me another thing look at on an already busy screen. As a result the went mostly unused. Plus they didn't provide any help targeting the multiple targets I wanted to target.

  • Single Refresh Timer: Some of you may know RandomSmo from the WoW forums and the Moonkin Repository. He is now with Juggernaut on Mal'ganis and seemed to be doing very well Multi-DoTing. So I sent him an email and asked if he had any suggestions. He said that he used a single timer on one target and refreshed the DoTs on all targets based on that one timer. For fights like V&T this is great since the targets exist for the entire fight and are less likely to get out of sync, but would be less effective if the timing is less consistent.

  • Boss Frames: The boss unit frames can be very helpful, but I found it very hard to pay attention to them when they are on the right edge of my screen. The good news is you can move them with an addon like Shadowed Unit Frames. I've moved them closer to the center of my screen and they are help fuil in a couple of ways. First, they can display your debuffs that are on the boss. This allows them to act as a bit of a DoT Timer if you need to see who had DoTs and who doesn't. Second, it also makes targeting the boss easy since you can click on the frame. Effective use of boss frames can solve both of my problems, but there is an issue. The boss frames only appear for bosses. Of course I don't want a frame for every add that my appear in a fight, but on a fight like Magmaw the target I'm Multi DoTing is not a boss so boss frames don't work in all Multi-DoTing situations.

  • Macros: Traditionally I like to use macros when I need to change targets quickly, but I've found them to not be all that effective when Multi-DoTing. Usually when an add would spawn I would use the macro to target it, add use the same macro to switch back when the add died. For a macro to work with Multi-DoT you would need multiple macros since the extra targets don't die before you switch. I also thought about using mouseover macros or cast sequence macros, but those won't work due to the Moonfire/Sunfire macro issue. In short, I haven't found a good way to use macros in Multi-DoTing.

  • Name Plates: With click targeting I have found Name Plates to be very helpful. They make clicking the right target much more helpful and with the default UI you can set them up to only show for hostile targets. They do have a couple of issues though. First, they move around to much when mobs are grouped close together, but that's really only a problem on trash I've found. Second, on fights with a lot of adds they can dominate your screen. Take Magmaw for example, The Parasite nameplates are all over my screen, I would like a way to filter them off for specific names if possible.

TL-DR: My Current Strategy

Learning how to Multi-DoT is clearly important if you are looking to maximize your DPS on a lot of encounters. I can't claim to have mastered the ability yet, but here is my current strategy. I've found the Boss Frames to be the biggest heal. They can give you an idea of the timing of your DoTs, and they make changing targets fairly easy. If I'm trying to Multi-DoT adds that don't have a boss frame, I am using Smo's single timer idea, and refreshing my DoTs on all targets at one time.

I've tried several addons to track DoTs on multiple targets but I didn't find any of them very helpful and they just cluttered my screen more. I found macros to be fairly unhelpful as well, since we can't macro due to the Moonfire/Sunfire macro issue, and needing multiple macros to switch targets back and forth.

If you have any suggestions or have a different system for Multi-DoTing, please post them in the comments. I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Off-Set Choice

Last week my guild killed Heroic Magmaw for the first time and one of the items that dropped was the [Scorched Wormling Vest]. It's a nice chest and I'm trying to build a healing set, but I didn't have an immediate plan to use it for my moonkin set. Taking all that into consideration I indicated that I was interested in it for my off spec set.

After I indicated I was interested in it for my off spec, the other moonkin in my guild whispered me and asked "Isn't that chest Best-in-Slot for moonkin?" I replied that it depended on how you had chosen to gear yourself and that I had already gone offspec in my helm slot. While I was comfortable with that answer, it had been a while since I had seriously looked at the Off-Set options. I wondered if I had made the right choice to go off set in my head slot.

In this post I want to take a look at the logic behind going Off-Set and what Off-Set options moonkin have.

iLevel is King:

The ilevel of the gear available has always been the primary driver of the Off-Set choices that need to be made. In the past the main boss in an instance would drop loot that is superior to tier sets, and to the loot dropped by other bosses in the instance. Plus, the early hard mode rewards were unique instead of improved versions of normal mode gear like they are now. So, making Off-Set choices were fairly easy to make prior to Ulduar and Tier 8 raiding. You just had to look to see what dropped from those final bosses, pick the best item, and uses the other slots to meet your set requirements.

iLevel is still king when it comes to making Off-Set choices, but the thought process is a lot different now. All bosses in an instance drop the same level of gear with the exception of some heroic-only level bosses. Also, the heroic gear is the same as the normal gear, but with better stats. As a result hard modes don't provide any additional gearing options.

With this in mind the question then becomes which bosses are easier to kill. There is no point in waiting for an item from the hardest boss in a tier when you are likely to wait at least a couple months just getting getting to that boss.

Slot Budget: This is related to ilevel, but but I would like to make a special mention of it. It's important to remember that the item slots were not all created equal. Some slots have a much higher budget then others. That's why Chest, Head, and Leg slots have a lot more stats then Hand and Shoulder slots, which are better then Wrist, Waist, and Feet slots. So, you may get more bang for your buck by going off set in a Chest, Leg or head slot then you do in the Hand or Shoulder slot.

The Options:

Where you go off set really depends on what gear you have access to. I'm sure someone out there is the exception to the rule and is in a strange situation that makes going off set at a strange spot the right choice. However, I think this section will outline the situation for most players.

I want to make a couple more comments before I get into the detail. First, I'm not recreating the gear list here. These are just a couple of options to illustrate a point. I am just trying to show the differences between most of the options people will be considering. Second, I'm only looking at the 372 ilevel versions of the items. I realize that many of you don't have great access to all of these items, but I think it allows me to present my arguments in the best way.


ItemDrop LocationIntellectSpirit / HitCritHasteMasterySockets
Stormrider's Leggings - MOONKIN (H)Maloriak - Heroic36521702570RB
Gale Rouser Leggings of the Undertow (H)Al'Akir - Heroic36523802380RB
Leggings of the Consuming Flames (H)Maloriak - Heroic34526700227RB

I don't think the leg slot is a good place to go off set for a few reasons. First, the tier legs are well itemized. Spirit and Haste are the two secondary stats we need most. Second, the tier legs are the only tier price that provides any hit chance, and we desperately need it. Third, the tier legs are very easy to get. You can get the normal versions with Valor Points or in Baradin Hold. The heroic version is relatively easy to get as well. Maloriak is a much easier boss then Al'Akir. In short, going off set here would result in very small gains, and the off set items will be more difficult to gain for most people then the tier item is.


ItemDrop LocationIntellectSpirit / Hit RatingCrit RatingHaste RatingMastery RatingSockets
Scorched Wormling Vest (H)Magmaw - Heroic34521700277RB
Stormrider's Vestmants - MOONKIN (H)Halfus - Heroic36502270247YB

The moonkin tier chest leaves a lot to desired, and at first it seems like a great place to go off set. Unfortunately the other options leave a lot to be desired as well. The resto chest has virtually the same itemization as the balance chest. The Off-Set leather caster chest does have Spirit, but it's also loaded up on Mastery. It's not a horrible option since I think most of us would consider Crit for Spirit a very good trade, but there is another problem. The heroic chest tier token drops off of Heroic Halfus which is the easiest of heroic bosses but the Scorched Wormling Vest drops off of Magmaw.

From a pure stats point of view going off set in the chest slot isn't a bad idea, but it has issues when you look at it more practically.


ItemDrop LocationIntellectSpirit / Hit RatingCrit RatingHaste RatingMastery RatingSockets
Stormrider's Handwraps - RESTO (H)Atramedes - Heroic26620101710R
Stormrider's Gloves - MOONKIN (H)Atramedes - Heroic26602011710R
Hydrolance Gloves (H)TAC - Heroic26617100201Y

The positive for going off-set at the hand slot is that you can trade Crit for Spirit, but that is where the positives end. The hand slot has a smaller budget which doesn't make it an ideal choice. Plus, the tier hands are relatively easy to obtained when compared to the other options.


ItemDrop LocationIntellectSpirit / Hit RatingCrit RatingHaste RatingMastery RatingSockets
Stormrider's Helm - RESTO (H)Nefarian - Herioc35523702170MB
Stormrider's Cover - MOONKIN (H)Nefarian - Herioc35502571970MB
Helm of the Blind Seer (H)Atramedes - Heroic32528719700MR

The Head slot is where I've chosen to go Off-Set, and I like it for several reasons. First, the head slot has a fairly large itemization budget. It's a little smaller then the chest or legs but not enough to really matter. Second, if you use the Resto tier instead of the Moonkin tier your trading Crit for Spirit which is a good trade. Third, the head slot tier tokens drop from Nefarion which is one of the more difficult. This means it may be easier to upgrade this slot by going off set then it may be in other slots. It is quite possible to get the heroic version of the Helm of the Blind Seer before you get the heroic tier helm. In short, it's quite easy to trade up in this slot.


ItemDrop LocationIntellectSpirit / Hit RatingCrit RatingHaste RatingMastery RatingSockets
Passive Resistor Spaulders (H)ODS - Heroic26618101910R
Stormrider's Shoulderwraps - MOONKIN (H)Cho'gall - Heroic27600171191Y

The shoulder slot is another very good place to go off set. The tier shoulders drop off of Cho'gall which is one of the more difficult bosses. Therefore, you might be able to get some higher level non-tier shoulders before you get to him. Also, by going off-set here you are trading Mastery for Spirit and a little Int which is a good trade. Depending on how stuff drops for my guild in the future I may go off-set here in the future.


A lot of players like to debate when and were it's best to go Off-Set, but it's really not as big of a deal as it used to be. The big things that drive that choice are what gear is available to you and the ilevel of that gear. Most of the time where you go off set is determined by where you can get an item of a higher ilevel of your current item. If you have a choice, I would lean towards going Off-Set in the head or shoulder slots, because they provide the most room for improvement.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Patch Notes: Starsurge Nerf?

I assume most of you have seen the 4.1 PTR patch notes that came out on Tuesday and saw this little gem.

Starsurge damage has been reduced by 20%.
I was pretty surprised by this note, and judging from the email I've gotten it seems like many of you were also. I've done some rough calculations using SimulationCraft, WrathCalcs and World of Logs Data, and I estimate this change to be about a 3% decrease to Moonkin DPS. To say the least this sucks, but all nerfs suck. The question that I would like answered now is: Why?

Overpowered DPS:

When questioning a nerf the first consideration should always be if the class or spec is over powered. Personally, I haven't felt overpowered, but I have had a bit of a rough time raiding since the release of Cataclysm. Therefore, I might not have the best perspective. However, I also haven't heard any QQ about Moonkin DPS from other classes. So, my gut reaction is that Moonkin are not overpowered, but lets look at some numbers to see if we can see a different story.

SimulationCraft: The first place I wanted to look was SimulationCraft. I wanted to see how Moonkin ranked against the other caster specs. I ran simulations for each of the main caster specs using the BiS profiles at a 372 gear level provided by SimulationCraft.

    Gear 372 ilvl26,58026,18727,95127,27628,307
I realize that the profiles I used are not necessarily like comparing apples to apples, but I assume that the SimulationCraft coders know what they are doing and that these are reasonable. With that in mind I don't see a case Moonkin being overpowered in these numbers. All 5 specs are relatively close together and the Balance spec is towards the bottom of the pack.

World of Logs: SimulationCraft is great in theory, but doesn't really represent what happens when a human is pushing the buttons. So lets take a look at some WoL info.

At the bottom of this post, I've listed some ranking info from World of Logs. I've included the #1 and #200 ranked parse of each spec for every 25man Normal mode fight available in T11 raiding. I pulled the data on 03/03/11.

For the record, I fully understand that this data does not accurately represent the WoW playing population as a whole. This data is skewed by favorable RNG, and represents a tiny portion of the population. My guess is that Blizzard has much better data and sees a more complete picture, but this is the only thing that is available to me.

The results varied significantly depending on the fight. Moonkin DPS was close to the top on several fights, but was towards the bottom on others. Valiona & Theralion was the only fight I saw where significantly ahead of other classes on a consistent basis and Shadow Priests are right there with us.

DPS Conclusions: Looking at this data it's obvious Moonkin aren't weak, but I think it would be hard to argue that we are systematically better then the other classes. At the very least I don't think it warns a 3% nerf.

While Moonkin come out a head on some fights, we fall behind on others. It was my understanding Blizzard expected that some fights would be better for some classes, and that is ok. Therefore, I don't see a problem with how the DPS is currently distributed, because it's not consistent or overwhelming.

In my opinion Moonkin are not overpowered, and I would be surprised if that is the reason behind the nerf.

Why Starsurge?:

I also keep asking myself, why nerf Starsurge? If they thought Moonkin were to high, then Moonfury is a much better tool then Starsurge. They've already nerfed moonkin with it once, and have shown that they don't have a problem going below the current level of 10%. Since they focused on a single spell that makes me think there is a specific problem they are trying to solve rather then a general issue like to much DPS.

To Much Synergy: Since I only play PvE, I of course start to think of reasons why would Starsurge be a problem in PvE. The only thing I could think of is that they underestimated the amount of Synergy there would be between DoTs, Shooting Stars, and Starsurge. Some of the best WoL parses I looked at were moonkin maintaining DoTs on multiple targets and getting an large number of Shooting Stars procs.

It's possible that Blizzard might want to calm that relationship down, but I have a hard time believing that. Even if there is more synergy between those abilities then Blizzard expected, I don't think it's resulted in a DPS imbalance. Then I remembered, the main reason why we can never have nice things.

PvP Burst: To much Synergy might be the right answer, but I applied it to the wrong area of play. Blizzard has been trying to limit Burst DPS in PvP for years. They don't want players to go from full to dead in a very short period of time. With Starsurge and Shooting Stars a moonkin can put out a lot of DPS in a every short period of time with a little help from RNG.

As any many of you know I don't PvP, so I don't know if this is really happening in game, but it sounds possible. If I had to guess, I would say Starsurge is getting nerfed because Blizzard believes it's too powerful in PvP.


Getting nerfed sucks, and I think most of us were surprised by the Starsurge nerf when we saw it. After looking at the DPS data that is available to players I highly doubt that Moonkin are over powered and need to be brought down for pure DPS reasons. Even if that was the case I doubt Blizzard would do so by nerfing Starsurge. Moonfury is a much better tool to raise or lower DPS if that type of action is needed.

The reason, Starsurge is getting nerfed probably has more to do with the spell itself rather then the overall DPS output of Moonkin. The fact of the matter is, Starsurge can unload a lot of DPS in a very short period of time with a little good luck from Shooting Stars. Chances are Starsurge is being nerfed for PvP reasons rather then PvE reasons. With that, there is a little hope. The patch is still in the early stages, and there is plenty of time for Blizzard to buff us in other areas to make up for the nerf.

World of Logs Data:









    Twilight CouncilBalanceFireShadowElementalDestruction