Okay, so Ghostcrawler has posted in multiple balance druid threads in the damage dealing forum in the last week. He shot down two ideas (ie. a glyph for wrath haste scaling, and Owlkin Frenzy buffs). He seems to be paying attention to moonkin, and to changes that will come before Cataclysm, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut way to fix moonkin’s problems without major talent tree overhauls.
What are the problems?
- Wrath scales poorly with haste, causing there to be a soft-cap of around 400 haste rating, where after that rating level, your wrath cast time drops below a second and clips the GCD (when Nature’s Grace is active). Also causes problems when Heroism is up.
- Eclipse has been buffed too many times, and now makes the crit cap for Starfire be too low, and Eclipse makes up too large of a % of our overall DPS. Eclipse is also a clunky & uncontrolled mechanic, leading to big RNG swings in our DPS not being reliable (ie. we have good RNG days and bad RNG days, with larger DPS swings up and down than other classes have to deal with).
- Moonkin have to stand rooted in place to do good damage. For example, on Festgergut in ICC, I’ve deemed myself a “melee moonkin” so I can pump out between 2,000 and 3,000 more DPS than if I was in range (a bigger swing than any of our other ranged damage dealers). Lack of mobility effects both PvP and PvE moonkin.
- Given that the fight mechanics require a lot of moving around and we scale poorly with stats, we tend to fall behind on DPS compared to people who don’t have those same movement or scaling problems. In some fights in ICC 25-man, I can come in 4th place on the meters & in the same instance, I can also come in 11th place; since my DPS goes up and down all over the place, which isn’t happening to the other people in my raid (ie. they stay relatively the same & I move up and down willy nilly).
- Moonkin don’t do well in PvP. Given that all of Moonkin’s mechanics are designed around doing good PvE damage, moonkin have very few good PvP abilities, and lack the defensive cooldowns or escape mechanics that other classes have. Combined with clunky damage dealing mechanics and no burst-damage cooldowns they can use on demand (and how hard it would be to maintain an Eclipse rotation in pvp), moonkin haven’t been doing well overall in Arena teams all expansion (with very few exceptions of moonkin who have managed to “stick it out).
Are there ways we can fix these problems before Cataclysm? What are the real fixes these problems need?
- No. Well, not without some clunky mechanic like the glyph that GC doesn’t like. The real fix for poor haste scaling is that Nature’s Grace needs to be removed for Cataclysm’s talent changes, where the trees can be designed around the talent’s removal without being a huge nerf. Anything else is just going to likely to be clunky (like the glyph option).
- No. Eclipse can’t be fixed until Cataclysm either. What moonkin’s rotation needs is about 2 more spells that we can mix into our rotations, in which case Eclipse would be much more easily modified at that point. In addition, other talents can be put in the mix to reduce our dependency on Eclipse forcing us to do more than just cast starfire. In addition, Eclipse wouldn’t need to be as strong if Wrath didn’t clip the GCD so much (ie. wrath was actually desirable to use in PvE). They could also take wrath out of our rotation and give us something else that was a medium cast-time nuke, and save Wrath for being a PvP spell (where fast cast times are more favorable).
- No. To fix our problems with movement-heavy or target switching fights, the changes they could make to our overall rotation and new spells could help address that “rooted” problem. For example, an instant-cast direct damage spell that did decent burst damage could be timed to use while moving when movement was predictable (and typhoon or refreshing DOTs just doesn’t fill that role well enough).
- Yes, the developers can boost our overall DPS so that we don’t fall behind the other classes.
- Not really. Moonkin PvP needs the talent trees redesigned, new abilities implemented, and new “on use” defensive/offensive cooldowns to stand much of a chance in pvp. Moonkin could also use an imp barkskin talent like exactly what they gave to resto druids instead of moonkin. There are little things Blizzard can do to make life for PvP moonkin more tolerable, but there’s no fix for a spec that is totally broken for PvP.
What can be changed before Cataclysm?
- This is something that a newer moonkin blogger, Random Moonkin Generator, has been mulling over, and suggests things like: removing haste from celestial focus, changing improved insect swarm (ie. making wrath crit more & starfire do more damage to help increase the crit cap for Lunare Eclipse starfires), making nature’s splendor increase duration of IS & moonfire more, having our DOTs scale with haste or crit from talents. Some of these I’ll talk about below, but you should go read that thread, too.
- The fastest solution to falling behind on DPS is just to give flat damage increases to talents like Earth & Moon that can easily be removed for Cataclysm, and work great without having to do too much testing. That’s what they did with Earth & Moon once already in 3.3. They could just tack on an additional damage bonus to imp moonkin form or something.
- The easiest solution would be to do nothing and make us “wait until Cata”, so that in Alpha/Beta testing for Cata, the whole talent tree can just be re-designed from the ground up (or something like that).
- Better scaling with gear? I like the idea of having DOTs scale better with gear. Our tier 9 set bonus allowed moonfire to crit, which was a nice temporary way of DOTs scaling with our crit. However, once you upgrade to T10 gear, none of our DOTs scale with either haste or crit. It might be interesting to have one (or both) of our DOTs scale better with either crit or haste. It doesn’t fix the immediate problems of wrath and starfire scaling, but it’s something interesting that could be examined.
- Reducing Starfire’s Crit chance? If the possibility of crit-capping Starfire on Eclipse procs is problematic, the crit bonuses given to starfire through imp insect swarm or improved Faerie Fire could potentially be changed to flat damage increases instead of crit increases. Imp insect swarm would be the most obvious candidate, since only starfire gains crit from that talent. The crit for starfire on imp IS could also be turned into X% haste, and then the haste from Celestial Focus could be removed and turned into something else.
- Celestial focus – If the haste was removed from CF, then it could be possible to give some PvP effect that helped with their survivability or offensive ability. Moonkin PvP could still really use something to give them a chance to be more than just a training dummy out on the field of battle.
- Owlkin Frenzy is another talent that could be changed to help moonkin PvP. I’m sure the devs could think of something (ie. make it reduce how much damage the moonkin are taking from players as they get beat on, for when they’re not able to take advantage of the damage boost). They could also just put a clone of Imp Barkskin into the balance tree so moonkin could actually shift out of moonkin form some time, and increase the usefulness of barkskin for them. They could also give moonkin the ability to cast heal spells in form (maybe just 1 or 2).
- Changing the moonkin Tier 10 2-piece bonus? This is somewhere that they could adjust something that would effect high-end raiders more than everyone else at this point. The OOC proc damage increase mechanic contributes to the randomness of damage swings, since you could have OOC proc 5 times in a row, or not proc at all. It would also keep moonkin from finding ways to “force” OOC to proc (even mana expensive ways that consume reagents). The damage bonus also doesn’t last very long, so you could miss out on it while moving too much. It doesn’t matter too much what they changed it to, so long as it gave a more steady damage boost, rather than more random burst. They could also just swap the T9 2-piece with the T10 2-piece, since people at lower gear levels are likely less concerned with gear scaling problems (ie. people wearing all T10 could really use the crit scaling for moonfire). People at lower gear levels would also be able to better absorb the RNG-nature of the OOC proc bonus, and would have absolutely no effect on people wearing 2 pieces of each.
- There are many other changes the developers could decide to do to help moonkin PvP and PvE. However, only the developers can really decide what they want to change now versus what can wait until Cataclysm. Anything from minor changes to large changes could be done at any time, and it’s really up to them to decide what it is they actually want to do. GC seems to want community feedback at the moment, but he isn’t really giving us directions on what we should be focusing on for our suggestions. It feels more like trying to shoot at moving targets in the dark, where we only know when we missed the target.