Friday, May 9, 2014

My Take on WoD Alpha Patch Notes

As I said in my last post, I am back to playing WoW to some extent, and I've been trying to catch up with what is going on with Moonkin, WoD, and WoW in general. As a result, I have a lot of things I want to talk about.

Here is your Fair Warning: I'm going to ignore the fact that I haven't paid much attention to WoW over the past 18 months and I'm going to act like I know what I'm talking about. I've read some guides, patch notes, and listened to a few podcasts, but I haven't looked at any Logs, Simulators, or Spreadsheets and any assumptions I make will largely be based off of my experiences from before I stopped playing. So, feel free to call me an idiot in the comments. I only ask that you tell me why what I said was dumb. On to the post.

The Alpha patch notes is some of the juiciest information, filled with changes that I can't resist commenting on.. The latest update of the patch notes was 2 weeks old when I saw them. So, I know this is old news for everyone. Therefore, I'm going to assume you've looked them over as well.

Periodic Effects and Snapshotting

Overall, I think these are positive changes. You may remember that I'm not a big fan complex rotations, and this should simplify the rotation to some extent. I never liked the fact that there are times when it is good to overwrite an existing DoT on a target based upon the Buffs you gain or are about to drop. In my opinion, DoTs should mostly be "Fire and Forget" types of spells where you don't have to track 5 different buffs to get the most out of them.

It's also important to note that this doesn't take all of the strategy out of how you cast DoTs. With dynamic damage calculation, precasting DoTs before a buff like Chosen of Elune, basically saves you a GCD of buff time that you can use for the harder hitting nukes. You also have to think about when you refresh an Eclipsed DoT. If you're still in Eclipse in the last 30% of the DoT it doesn't really matter, but if the DoT is eclipsed and you don't have the buff, you want to wait as long as possible to refresh the DoT.

Despite all of that, I do have two questions.
  • How will this impact the overall value of Haste as a stat and a buff? It obviously devalues Haste as a buff since snapshotting increased the effective uptime of all Haste buffs. However, having DoTs adjust to Haste buffs dynamically may actually increase the value of Haste as a stat. This is due to how the stats interact with each other and that this change incents the player to cast DoTs outside of big haste buffs meaning there is less interference from the Haste Cap. It's also a bonus that it eliminates the Haste Breakpoints.
  • Should this change apply to Eclipse? In the patch notes it indicates that Moonkin DoTs will still snapshot in terms of Eclipse, but I don't know if this is a good idea or not.

    From the perspective of consistency and simplicity, Moonkin DoTs should adjust dynamically to Eclipse as well as all of the other buffs. It's not intuitive that DoTs will function with all Damage buffs but one. Having Eclipse still snapshot would also continue to encourage some DoT clipping because you're not always going to be in the last 30% of a DoT while entering and leaving Eclipse and it's too big of a buff to ignore.

    On the other hand, some will argue that this would dumb down Eclipse and and make it a less interesting mechanic. It would turn Eclipse into something that just happened and wouldn't have a big impact on how A moonkin is played. It would also significantly weaken Mastery as a stat.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm leaning towards making Eclipse consistent with other DPS buffs or increasing the period in which you can refresh the DoT above 30%.
Talent Changes:

There were several talent changes while I was gone that I haven't completely gotten my head around yet, but it looks like Blizzard is pretty satisfied with what we currently have. With the exception of level 90 tier, most of the talents don't appear to change, and I have to say one of the real successes of MoP has been the new talent system.
  • Hybrid Tier Gutted: I know some people are upset that the level 90 talents are loosing their DPS component but I don't have a problem with it. The Hybrid tier was intended to encourage Druids to perform other rolls temporarily, but it turned into a DPS tier because we complained about it so much. At the time it seemed strange to me that the top tier of talents would only be situationally useful. Now that it won't be the top talent tier, it can go back to encouraging hybrid play as it was originally designed. I know some people will worry about the DPS loss, but that's what Beta and Balancing is for. In the end I'm sure Moonkin will be fine.
  • Sunfall: My first impression is that it's boring and weak. Obviously, Blizzard can easily make a spell stronger, but I don't see how they make this more interesting. All this does is make the solar portion of the rotation conform to the lunar portion of the rotation. I also wonder how Sunfall would interact with Celestial Alignment. Would you get both Sunfall and Starfall like with Moonfire and Sunfire?
  • Insect Swarm: My first impression of this talent was very negative due to button bloat. For most classes, Blizzard is trying to remove abilities, but for moonkin they just keep adding them. There are already six buttons in a Moonkin rotation and a seventh is completely unnecessary. Not to mention the fact that Insect Swarm wouldn't speed up the rotation all that much, and could be weak without the Eclipse buff. Also, what happens with the remaining IS ticks when you enter a new Eclipse? Do they still generate energy and if so what kind? Either way good be bad.

    After I thought about it a little more, I do see some advantages for Insect Swarm. The main one being is that it gives you something to do on multidot fights when you leave eclipse. Depending on how Insect Swarms Energy would work you could throw it up on a couple of targets and get to the next Eclipse on Insect Swarm and Shooting Star procs alone.

    I'm still not a big fan of this because I think 7 buttons is to many. However, it will be interesting to see how they make the energy work. I would be ok if it turned out to be situationally useful, but I would rather it not become a regular part of the rotation.
  • Equinox: My first impression was that this will never make it to Release. Even though it is somewhat diminished because it would delay Nature's Grace procs, it still sounds overpowered to me. If I remember correctly, Eclipse buffed about 60%-65% of Moonkin damage back in T14 with a 40% buff. If that 40% buff lasted the entire rotation, then that is 10% or 11% buff. Now, my math is overly simplified, and as I said before delaying the Nature's Grace Procs would diminish its value some, but I have a hard time believing that this won't be overpowered.

    On a different note, I do like how it would impact the Moonkin play style. Always being in Eclipse makes it easier to understand what spell you should cast, and you would never be trapped out of Eclipse in a high DPS phase.
90 to 100 Leveling Perks:

As a whole I'm not all that impressed with the Perks. Most of them are standard fair and boring. Also, a couple of them don't really sound like Perks. Take Enhanced Starsurge for example. It isn't an enhancement at all. It's just a design change that Blizzard stuck in the perks for some reason. The perks feel like they were thrown in last minute, and I'm not sure what purpose they serve. Why not just bake them into the abilities instead of making people get them randomly as they level. That said, there are two that I find a little interesting.

  • Empowered Mushrooms: This perk has some potential, because I can see a couple of different ways to use them. The more obvious option is that you could use them as a part of an AoE rotation, by putting down the mushrooms, empowering them and detonating them on the AoE's targets. The other option is to put the mushrooms down on the boss, AoE the adds, and then get some quick burst with the mushrooms when you switch back to the boss.

    Despite the potential I see a couple of problems. As an AoE rotation it feels backwards to me. To make it work you place the mushrooms, channel Hurricane, and then pop the mushrooms. Packs with lots of targets charge the mushrooms more quickly, but they tend to have less health and my not be around for the burst at the end. Fewer adds that last longer won't charge the mushrooms that quickly. If Blizzard is trying to create an AoE rotation, this mechanic should be reversed. Mushrooms should buff Hurricane and Astral Storm rather than the other way around. That way you pop the mushrooms and all targets hit are then vulnerable to storm damage.

    Also, I'm just not a big fan of this spell. I don't like having to place three mushrooms. I don't like the small damage radius. It's just another button on an already crowded action bar.
  • Empowered Storms: This sounds more like a punishment than a perk to me. It depends on how "Storm" damage is calculated. If it snapshots with Eclipse like the DoTs then players are incented to clip AoE just before they leave Eclipse. If it doesn't snapshot then, casting your AoE will push you out of Eclipse and lower your damage.
Ability Pruning:

In general I think Ability Pruning is a good idea, but it really hasn't had all that significant of an impact on Moonkin. To be fair, I can't really think of any moonkin spell that is useless enough to cut. All of our DPS spells do have a purpose in the rotation, but I do think Hamlet's idea of cutting Starfall is an interesting idea. It's currently a fairly boring spell that is cast at a very specific time in the rotation. If it was cut I wouldn't miss it.

Now lets look at the spells that really are gone.
  • Symbiosis: Since I didn't play WoW for most of the Mists expansion I don't have a lot of experience with Symbiosis, but it was clear it had issues early on. As I said in the TeamWaffle Moonkin Roundtable in 2012, Symbiosis was a cool idea on paper that doesn't work in the game. A lot of the trades were unfair with one player getting something useful and the other getting something useless. It was also a pain keeping track of what my 10 options were and who it was good for and who it wasn't. All in all I think it turned out to be a bigger headache then it was worth.
  • Innervate: Not gone completely, but no longer available to Moonkins. Moonkin haven't needed Innervate for several expansions now. It was a nice bit of Utility that I could bring to the raid, but it was always a little difficult to figure out who I should cast it on. I'm fine that it's gone.
  • Tranquility: Also not gone completely, but no longer available to Moonkins. It started out pretty weak for moonkin, but has been a nice piece of utility for the last couple of expansions. Though it now sounds like it got a little out of hand in MoP. All in all, it's nice having a Raid saving cooldown like Tranq, but I probably won't miss it. I would rather focus on my primary role of DPS.

The glyph system is another one of those ideas that sounded cool on paper but doesn't work very well once it got into game. In Wrath they were powerful, but boring because everyone chose the same 3. In Cataclysm they tried to make them interesting by adding a new tier of glyph that shouldn't have a DPS advantage, but again everyone chose the same set of glyphs. Finally in MoP they completely gutted the system and focused it on adding Utility and cosmetic affects, and it's still pretty boring.

If it wasn't for the Inscription profession, I bet the entire glyph system would be removed from the game or incorporate it into the talent system. With that in mind, all they are doing is making quality of life changes to the system. The Auto Learning is a good idea since getting back to an auction house while leveling can be difficult and buying the glyphs can be expensive. Combining the two stampeding roar glyphs is also a good idea.


Professions have been in a bit of a weird place for several expansions. You have some professions like Alchemy, Jewelcrafting, and Enchanting that are ways in high demand. You have others like Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring that are mostly useless other than their leg enchants. Then you have the Gathering professions that I lot of people like, but some feel like they can't take because they don't have big enough Performance buffs.

There aren't any big changes here, but they all sound pretty good.
  • For one Raiders can be gathers again. As someone server hopped most of Cataclysm I can say it sucked to have two crafting professions on my main. Both of my professions needed herbs but the only way I could farm them was off of the Auction House. If I hadn't invested so much into both of my professions I would probably change one of them to herbalism as soon as this went live.
  • "The yield an herbalist will be able to harvest from each node is now determined by skill level." Miners and skinners have similar improvements. My question is what is the upper limit on how much a skilled gather can get from a single node. If the upper limit is high enough this could be awesome. Leveling a crafting profession is a real pain right now because you don't get enough mats while questing, and the mats on the Auction House are few and expensive. If a maxed out herbalist can go pick 20 Peacebloom from a single node, it reduce the impact of those issues.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I thought I was out, but WoW sucked me back in.

Here's the deal. I've been given an opportunity to come back to WoW and raid again. I'm still thinking about it, but the chances are very high that I'll give it a shot. However, I haven't raided in over 18 months, and haven't paid much attention to what is going on with moonkin or WoW in general since then. Obviously, my skills are rusty and I have a lot of catching up to do. As a result, I've been doing a lot of research, reading patch notes, listening to TeamWaffle podcasts, and looking over Hamlet's Moonkin guide. During this process, I came across an old problem. I don't have anyone to talk to about WoW.

The only reason I started this blog almost 7 years ago was to get my thoughts out of my head and into a form that other people could read or hear. Over time I added the guides and such to attract more readers, but the main reason I kept up with the blog was always to rant at Blizzard about Moonkin design, 10vs25 man raids, or one of a hundred other miscellaneous topics. Now that I'm looking at the WoW and Moonkin news again, I'm having all these thoughts without a good way to express them. So, I guess I'm back to blogging to a limited extent.

I must stress that I'm back to a LIMITED extent.

The guides are likely a thing of my past. There's no way in hell that I'm doing a gear guide again. They are too much work for little or no reward. I doubt I would do a spec guide again, because there other people that make better guides then me anyway.

I also don't know how much I will post. Though I failed miserably a lot, I always tried to post regularly. I'm not going to worry about that this time. I have one post written that will go up soon, but how often I post after that is anyone’s guess. It could be once a month, once a year, or never again. When I have time to write down my thoughts, I'll post them. That's all I can guarantee.

If you’re still with me at this point, thank you. It means a lot to me that people valued my opinion in the past and I hope that my opinion will continue to mean something. Either way I will continue to rant and rave about some random topic as long as I have something to rant and rave about.