Moonkin in 3.3.3: To dot… or not to dot.

Okay, so now that 3.3.3 is getting closer to release, we have more details about what moonkin PvE will look like “soon.” However, this is still subject to change.

One big looming question that a lot of high-end moonkin are struggling with is when to cast dots, or when to not cast them. The buffs to starfall actually have the effect of making our DOTs seem even less worthwhile.

Recommended reading: Murmur’s post on DOTs, along with Hamlet’s work (among other posters) at EJ.

The problem:

Our Damage over time spells (insect swarm and moonfire) have not kept up with the rest of our rotation and are not scaling well enough at high gear levels (ie. Tier 10, ICC 25-man gear). So, there has been a lot of discussion lately about how to glyph (since all of our glyphs previously were being used to buff our DOTs), along with when to cast our DOTs (along with if we still use them).

Glyphing in 3.3.3:

The nerfs to Glyph of Focus in the latest PTR build, even with the huge buff to starfall’s damage, make the most common/obvious glyph choices: Glyph of Starfire, Moonfire, Starfall. I will be dropping the Insect Swarm glyph, in favor of Starfall when the patch hits. These glyphs will be the best choices even for beginners. There will likely still be some situational variability, but these are the glyphs that I assume you will have when I talk about DOTs in 3.3.3.

DOTs for new level 80’s:

At the lowest gear levels, and even in Tier 9 gear, our DOTs are worthwile to maintain in 3.3.3. So, the newbie “how to DPS” guides still work great for beginners, because it’s always going to be a DPS boost to refresh your DOTs at the lowest gear levels. So, the basic rotation guide still applies to you. For people wearing 2-piece Tier 9, moonfire is definitely a good damage ability to keep going.  You should also have an idol that requires DOT damage to be effective. In practice, for new moonkin, refreshing DOTs when they fall off will work well enough, since the problem really ends up being at high levels of gear (and for new moonkin, a complicated DOT refreshing system would end up being a DPS loss due to confusion problems & hesitating).

DOTs for ICC 25-man geared moonkin:

It’s much more complicated, and there seems to be very little agreement on what to do about it, and the recommendations seem to be subject to change based on various factors. For patch 3.3.3, this seems to be the most reliable (current) advice, however this is likely to change again between now and when 3.3.3 is released, based on lots of different factors.

  • Since you won’t use the glyph for insect swarm, then you can use IS (potentially even at a DPS loss) just to keep up the hit debuff to help your raid, even in high-end content. It appears to be worth casting IS when Eclipse is not active, but ends up being a larger DPS loss to cast IS when Eclipse is active. If you are trying to keep up the debuff, but not lose too much DPS, then one solution would be to refresh insect swarm after it falls off  when your Eclipse proc has ended (regardless of which kind of Eclipse). If you don’t care about keeping up the hit debuff, then you would likely want to refresh right before you proc a Solar Eclipse and start casting wrath.
  • It is also looking like moonfire shouldn’t be refreshed during a solar Eclipse portion of your cycle, since it is only a consistent DPS increase if you can get off 3 starfire casts before it falls off. When you are chain-casting wrath for a prolonged period of time, then refresthing moonfire is likely a DPS loss because it will fall off before you benefit from the starfire refreshing glyph. If you have the moonfire & Starfire glyphs, then it is going to be worth casting starfire before a Lunar Eclipse proc, where you will be able to cast more than 3 starfires before it falls off.
  • The really only clear piece of the puzzle is to: cast DOTs while moving. Since DOTs are instant-cast abilities, you should always be able to refresh DOTs while moving, regardless of what part of the DPS cycle you are on.  For fights with predictable movement, you can likely avoid recasting right before a movement phase, so that it will fall off before you can refresh it on the run (ie. Marrowgar’s Bone Storm ability). Since most fights have movement phases, and you should “Always Be Casting”, then movement periods are always the best time to cast your DOTs.
  • EDIT Disclaimer: Part of the problem is that DOTs make up such a small % of our DPS that the difference between various DOT refreshing strategies ends up being pretty small, so people are likely going to work out different strategies of DOT refreshing, since a lot of different factors will impact the theorycrafting math. Gear also makes a big difference in DOT scaling issue calculations. So, there may not be a good one-size-fits-all strategy for DOT refreshing in 3.3 – which makes it hard for people like me who are given the task of simplifying all the theorycrafting into bite-sized morsels.

Additional starfall 3.3.3 reminders: When starfall gets it’s buff, you should cast starfall as often as you can (it will be a 1 minute cooldown with the starfall glyph). Please remember to still being smart about not wiping the raid by pulling extra things, and paying attention to other factors specific to boss fights. Each fight may have times where it’s better (or worse) to pop starfall, so be aware of the fact that it is going to have a large radius around you if you aren’t using the Focus glyph. Starfall may also potentially cause threat issues when used on new sets of adds (which is good for sarufang if you are trying to pull the adds away from the boss, but not as good for other fights with adds spawning), so watch your timing of when you pop your ability. There may be situations where you need the focus glyph if you aren’t as confident about being able to keep things under control, but this is going to be a more personal choice.


When should you switch from a “refresh all the time” to a more complicated refresh pattern? I would say that once you have your 4-piece Tier 10 bonus, you probably have the knowledge and need for the more complicated DPS rotation in the 3.3.3 patch. When you refresh DOTs ends up not even being that important, since DOTs are such a small DPS difference in the first place. Even with all that work, the timing of DOT refreshing may only add up to a couple hundred DPS difference at most. The total DOT damage (moonfire & insect swarm combined) makes up between 10 & 20% of my total damage, even on single-target fights.


Since moonfire seemed to benefit so much from being able to crit with the T9 set bonus, I think that Insect Swarm probably needs the same treatment to remain viable – and this isn’t something that I think can wait until Cataclysm to fix it. As people get more and more heroic gear, and possibly into the new dungeon, it is going to become more and more tempting to start not using IS at all. When we have all the bosses on farm, then I would anticipate not needing the 3% miss debuff at all, and so this isn’t something that we should wait until Cataclysm to fix. The fact that refreshing our DOTs at the wrong time is a DPS loss is actually really concerning, and should be something the developers are concerned about fixing sooner rather than waiting. I am more concerned about Insect Swarm than moonfire, and I think adding in crit IS ticks would be a really good step to helping with moonkin’s stat scaling issues in high-end gear (ie. I’m already crit soft-capped, hit capped, & haste soft-capped, and I’m in mostly 10-man ICC gear).

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Patch 3.3 WotLK, Patches

9 comments on “Moonkin in 3.3.3: To dot… or not to dot.
  1. Fealen says:

    So you hit upon the not using IS but still using MF with the T9 2set. If you grab the T10 4set is it assumed that you should push IS and MF off a standard rotation and save just for movement or is MF still part of the standard rotation?

    And in my personal case I still have the 245 Boomkin idol so I get the buff from MF being on the boss (will keep MF up for that reason) but will changing to the new idol make IS usable seeing as it adds to the increase in critical strike?

  2. Fealen says:

    Edit: I meant IS not IF. 2:30 afternoon woes….

  3. Lissanna says:

    You will still use both DOTs regardless of what your gear is. It’s just a matter of how frequently you refresh them.If you are rocking 4-piece T10, you should have picked up the frost badge idol before that point, anyway (so, with at least one of your DOTs usually up, the crit bonus shouldn’t fall off).

  4. Relevart says:

    I just wanted to say that Starfall doesn’t hit the Dark Nuclei.

  5. Kiliani says:

    I just wanted to say what Relevart said.

    Beat me to it! 🙂

  6. Hamlet says:

    Kind of like my comment on your other Moonkin post lately, this might be awkwardly timed given how things are up in the air at the moment. I wouldn’t say anything firm yet about when to refresh DoT’s with 4T10. As most people are seeing, it will likely be linked to Eclipse in some fashion, but there are number of possible configurations.

    For people who are interested, we’re going into it in quite a bit of depth at the moment near the end of the EJ thread linked in the OP.

  7. Lissanna says:

    Hamlet – This is early because I wanted to open discussion here, and I hadn’t really gone into much detail about 3.3 stuff changing. I did add a lot of disclaimers about it being subject to change. I also wanted to be able to write about why I think insect swarm should crit, and it accidentally turned into this. I can always re-edit this or update as things change.

    This week is also my spring break, so I’m trying to get the framework of a couple things in place before 3.3.3, since I’m going to be pretty busy once the semester starts back up. Also, since I aim to post about every other day, there are only so many topics I can write about. 😉

    Relevart & Kilani – I tend to have to heal on blood princes, so I didn’t realize that it didn’t kill them.

  8. Shingetsu says:

    I love the days of end tbc and only using two spells and blizzard going nuts about it and then implementing Eclipse.

    Then throughout wrath it became apparent that it was needed for the use of all 4 spells to be used in a very random situation.

    Then that issue was fixed with eclipse mega buff( 15sec on 15sec cd ).

    Now it seems that due to the gear stats of t10 that buffing IS/MF will acutally be a dps loss, unless we stick to two spells in our main nuke turret rotation.
    Then at times of movement drop down to placing dots up( but still taking into hand we want the most minimum movement possible so we can get back to turret gun mode ).

    Hummm i sense a pattern ^^( where in a circle ), problem is with the way Blizz blue posts have been talking recently about the major floors in the moonkin rotation, its heavy relliance on eclipse that they wont be able to fix it until cataclysm :(.

    Proposal –
    Now i can get that major changes now would just be pointless with cataclysm round the corner( what 3 months still maybe )but i agree with that there needs to be something implemented like a new imp insect swarm( but glyph ).
    We could trade out the old IS glyph for this new one which works much as in the way of the talent Imp IS( i mean in the way it effects both IS/MF )where that it allows both IS/MF to crit on its peroidic ticks. This would not just solve the issue of that its % dmg is low but then would maybe give Boomkins a reason to keep both up on a target.
    Wouldn’t this change be something that Blizz developers are pushing for, making out rotations fun!! by making it more interactive and require us to think about the rotation, and not just turret gun it.

    Conclusion –
    Personnaly atm I have gone casual and only play maybe an hr a day at best but still when i do daily heroics or raids I try to keep up on boss’s( longer fights )both dots. It makes me fill more interactive with the fight because unless i dont have to move i would prefere to have a slightly more complex rotation in that of ensuring dots are up but not cutting too harshly into eclipse.

    Tbh I hope that Blizz keep there eyes on blogs like this cause then they could see what ppl fill about the way boomkins are going and that there is some issues in that we see the dps problem and instead of finding balancing waysto cast spells we are simply gonna drop down to lesser complex and somewhat simple turret gun rotation.

  9. Shingetsu says:

    fix: buffing IS/MF should be casting IS/MF


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