So, I’ve been focusing a little too much on Restoration druids lately, and I think I owe moonkin a post to go along with the latest beta build. Unfortunately, this build has a lot of crashing problems, making testing challenging at best. Also, resto is harder to evaluate this build because some things look like obvious bugs (or not so obvious bugs), but without confirmation on what is intended or not, it’s hard to tell. So, balance is just easier to test this build.
Overall, the moonkin playstyle is starting to feel good. We aren’t quite there yet, but things are really starting to come together.
So, lets start with moonkin form. The current beta build makes moonkin form do 10% more damage when you are in form. This is fine, as we really didn’t need a creative damage increase. Sometimes, passive bonuses on things like shapeshift forms becomes the right way to get the form to be useful, and that’s fine with me. This actually partially makes up for the fact that the int increase from Furor is active outside of moonkin form now. So, moonkin form is essentially fine at this point, in terms of conceptual design.
Next, lets look at Eclipse & our direct damage spells:
Eclipse now requires us to move along a slider from -100 to +100 Eclipse power. When you reach -100, your Lunar Eclipse gives you a bonus to arcane damage. When you reach zero power, your Eclipse proc goes away. When you reach +100 power, you gain a Solar Eclipse proc, and that increases nature damage. It actually is a fun mechanic, except that you have to cast a lot of wraths or starfires to go from one end to the other, so it feels a little spammy. However, it has a neat interaction with Starsurge, since Starsurge will increase how long your Eclipse proc stays up, by moving you away from the mid-point when Eclipse is active (and pushes you closer to an Eclipse proc when Eclipse isn’t active).
So, wrath, starfire, & starsurge have a really great interaction with Eclipse that ends up being pretty fun. We also don’t have to worry about movement as much, since we get more time to use the Eclipse proc than it takes to actually use it. Moonfire & insect swarm do benefit from the damage increase from the proc, which is nice. Starsurge also works pretty well as a burst damage ability, and the cooldown is short enough that you get to use it pretty often.
Changes to Thorns: Has changed to a 20 second duration, 45 second cooldown ability. Only does damage when something hits you. Shifts you out of bear & cat form. Appears to only work as a resto or moonkin PvP ability at the moment.
At level 80, with 2557 spell power (in moonkin form, with moonkin talents), thorns hit for 620 per tick. However, thorns requires something to hit you. So, the current version really has a narrow range of use. At the very least, it’s not something that feral druids or PvE druids of any type will find useful at all in the current beta form.
DOTs (insect swarm & moonfire):
Insect swarm is currently something that packs a lot of punch, but it has no more utility (the -hit debuff is gone). It also has no real interaction with our rotation or talents, other than benefiting from Lunar Eclipse.
Moonfire is currently the weakest link. I’ve spent a lot of time & effort over the course of beta talking about moonfire. At this point, the direct damage portion of moonfire is less than a tick of the DOT portion of the spell. Even with all the talents to boost the direct damage, it still doesn’t pack enough of a punch. It’s not a huge deal, but it makes me feel like those talent points aren’t worthwhile. Basically, my insect swarm ticks for about the same (or more) than the direct damage over moonfire even if I have 3 stacks of Lunar Shower up.
At this point, I’d still like to see moonfire become a stacking DOT (where more of the damage is tied to the direct damage portion, and then the DOT is weak at one stack, but does a respectable amount when it stacks up 3 times). Another option is to leave the DOT as-is, and just boost the direct damage portion so it hits a little bit more respectably (but that balancing can always be done at 85, I suppose).
Not enough talent points in the balance tree:
Just about every other beta, I’ve complained about “bloat” (having too many talent points). However, we currently don’t have enough talent points to make anything resembling interesting choices in the talent trees. Tiers 3 has five points, tier 4 has six points, and tier 5 has 4 points.
I don’t really feel like I get to make interesting choices much at all. I think that one more talent, worth 2 or 3 points – in either tier 3 or 5 would have a huge impact on the ability to choose what talents I really want. Since we’re badly in need of something making our DOTs more interesting, I would suggest putting a DOT-related talent in Tier 3 or 5, to give us the option to better spice things up a bit (something that isn’t just a flat damage increase, but adds some of the interesting synergy back into the trees).
Waiting for glyphs:
One big unknown is what glyphs will look like. They are supposed to impact our rotations in interesting ways and allow for choice (and most of the existing moonkin glyphs won’t work that well in the Cata rotations). Glyphs could be where our DOTs are better tied into the rotations (I hope!).
The design of the current Eclipse is fine. How our direct damage spells work is fine. Our DOTs need a little more attention & need to be better tied into the overall playstyle to make it a little more fun. We have a lot of good elements that just need more glue to hold it all together. Eclipse is fun, but it’s going to be either predictable or frustrating. I’d rather have something in addition to Eclipse to watch for that adds a little more spice.