Insect Swarm in MoP

Edit: My timing sucked & this changed in the new calculator update. I edited this post to reflect the new changes. Edits are in itallics and outdated info has a strikethrough so you can see the changes.

So, we still have another month before we expect new Mists of Pandaria information. Today, I thought I would take a look at the new insect swarm ability as it is currently worded in the MoP talent calculators. Like all other things in MoP, this ability is subject to change.

  • The new insect swarm reads: (instant, 7% base mana, no cooldown, 40 yd range) “The target is swarmed by insects, increasing all damage taken from your wrath, starfire, and starsurge abilities by 30% for 1 minute. Limit 1 target”.
  • The new insect swarm (updated 2/15) reads: (Instant, 7% base mana, no cooldown 40 yd range): “The target is swarmed by insects, increasing all damage taken from your spells by 25% for 1 minute. Limit 1 target”.

Why change Insect swarm? So, this spell is no longer a DOT in MoP. Right now, it can account  for anywhere between 20% and 30% of our damage done in PvE. However, having both insect swarm and sunfire as DOTs that benefit from Solar Eclipse (and not having an arcane version of insect swarm) means that it contributes to the need to “solar cleave” for AOE damage. Removing one of our DOTs completely will make solar cleave much less beneficial for us. So, I believe that hampering solar cleave is the primary reason for the change.

The good: Changing insect swarm from a DOT to a debuff does several beneficial things:

  • One less DOT to track & rely on for DPS
  • Makes Lunar & Solar Eclipse more balanced. Combined with a better Arcane AOE rotation (where hurricane will comeback to be useful again), this pretty much destroys any chance for Solar Cleave to be as prominent in MoP.
  • Update: The Feb 15 change makes it effect all damage instead of just your nuke spells, so it would increase moonfire/sunfire damage and the AOE damage done to that one target. This is a slightly better version than the previous iteration.

The bad:

  • Makes PvP damage much more difficult, since DOTs account for a lot of the damage done in PvP for moonkin right now.
  • No longer available to resto druids (and resto druids don’t have sunfire).
  • The new insect swarm still has to be managed & refreshed multiple times in an encounter, since it has a short 1 minute cooldown (ie. in a 10 minute fight, you will still need to keep an eye on the debuff to make sure it doesn’t fall off).
  • It doesn’t do damage anymore, and it doesn’t provide any real utility. The tooltip suggests that it will only buff your spells (not the resto druid’s, not the other moonkin’s spells).
  • You can only have it on 1 target at a time, meaning you will have to keep re-applying it often for target-switch fights and for PvP.
  • We don’t know if it can be dispelled in PvP, and will leave moonkin largely unplayable in PvP if it can be dispelled.
  • It will be balanced such that your nukes will do 30 25% less damage when that buff isn’t up, and when your Eclipse is also down, it will make your nukes particularly weak. This will cause huge balancing issues for any PvE fight where you have to  switch targets a lot, and will really suck for PvP in particular where they’re also getting hit with the removal of being able to rely on DOT damage. Normally, I ignore PvP in my posts, but this is one place where I’m really worried about moonkin ever becoming PvP viable if the new insect swarm  makes things go from bad to worse.
  • Makes moonfire/Sunfire our only source of movement damage right now, leading us to really need to have the ability to cast our nukes while moving to remain viable for any type of content.

Options moving forward:

  • It could be possible to just leave Insect Swarm as a DOT and see if we still solar-cleave after all the other changes to the spec. I actually think that having Lunar Eclipshere effect some of our AOE abilities (ie. the new HurrArcane) will fix the solar cleave problem without changing IS.
  • It could be possible to remove insect swarm altogether. Our moonkin mechanics are already complicated enough that it is hard to master the spec, and there is a huge DPS gap between good moonkin & great moonkin, making the spec hard to balance. Having one less timer to track means that we’ll be able to have more moonkin succeed, and will prevent the changes to the spec from over-complicating our rotations further. They could also just make moonfire/sunfire increase the damage that our nukes do if they want this  spell effect without having to use a new spell to do it.
  • They could make sure that it is PvP friendly. Make insect swarm undispellable in PvP or reduce the effect from insect swarm to make it less punishing when it’s not on the target (down to say 10% or 15%). They could also increase the duration so that it was a little more “set it and forget it” for single-target PvE fights.
  • Make insect swarm a “finishing move” or a DPS cooldown. There are plenty of other tools moonkin could use more than the new MoP insect swarm effect. They could make it such that insect swarm was something we only cast when the target was below 25% health, or make it a cooldown that increased the damage from our nukes for only a short period of time. It would be a lot better if we could use it for controlled burst damage periods (say a 20 sec effect on a 2 min cooldown or whatever would be appropriate & balanced). Celestial Alignment doesn’t give us any burst damage if we are already in Eclipse (it only helps when we get caught outside of an Eclipse for an AOE or burst phase), so giving us another burst DPS cooldown (even if it only effected those 3 spells) would really help for burn phases in PvE and allow the PvP druids to get off more damage when they aren’t being focused (ie. pop displacer beast & then unload your cooldowns to nuke the target).

Conclusions:

With how many changes are being made to the moonkin toolkit overall, it will really be hard to see how this all works out until we get into Beta, or at least see the talent calculator updates. However, the current version is likely going to cause a lot of headaches as the tooltip is written. There is, however, still a lot of time between now & release, and this may be an ability that undergoes several revisions before it goes live (at least this prediction has already come true in today’s talent calculator update, lol). What do you guys think about the new insect swarm design?

12 Comments

  1. Posted February 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    The other option would be to make insect swarm nature/arcane damage so benifits in both solar and lunar cycles.

  2. Atanae
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    IMO, they could have made Insect Swarm the “lunar hurricane.” It has great potential as an AoE spell – so widen the range and make it channeled.

    IS as it is in the MoP talent calculator makes no sense. It just adds another layer of complexity to an overly complicated system. If Blizzard is looking to fill in the “mini-toolkits” of lunar and solar spells, then repurposing IS as a counterpart to Hurricane is a simple solution.

  3. Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Insect Swarm needs to be more interesting period. Having it just be a debuff that you refresh every minute is boring. I don’t necessarily mind it being limited to 1 target (other specs deal with this like Shadow Priests with Devouring Plague) as long as the spell is more interesting to cast. Even having Insect Swarm return a portion of damage as health would be more interesting than it’s current design. Have it do something other than just sit there and look pretty.

    The 30% will likely have to be scaled down mainly because that just seems like a huge damage loss in PvP if Insect Swarm ends up being Dispel-able. Having it increase damage by 20% and then appropriately buffing Wrath/Starfire/Starsuge is likely the better way to go. Maybe having IS have a “bite back” effect for Dispelling would be a good (like Vampiric Touch or Unstable Affliction) effect for PvP so it’s worth casting.

  4. Grayback
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Coming from someone who has a warlock main, I think I understand the change a little differently. You mentioned that in add fights where you need to swap targets, having to recast IS will hurt PVE utility of the spell. With my ‘lock, every fight with adds is like this in regards to curses/banes – of course, I can put a different curse on the incoming target, or change the Bane of Agony on the first add to a Bane of Havoc and cast Bane of Agony on the second add meaning I can still do damage to the first add. Also, it’s very similar to the Improved Soul Fire buff in that without having it up at all times, my DPS is really hurt. If they made it more of a self-buff like ISF – cast it once on a mob and it affects your spells regardless of target, then I’d be ok with it.

    As far as less spells you cast during movement, again – coming from a warlock main, I have little sympathy. The spammability of Moon/Sunfire means you’re doing damage on the go, regardless of whether it’s the best DPS spell to fit in that particular part of your rotation or not. The only equivalent for warlocks is Fel Flame – which is nice in that it refreshes your immolate, but as Moonfire has a DoT with it, it’s very similar. I don’t think it’s as damaging as to say that it makes us “really need to have the ability to cast our nukes while moving to remain viable for any type of content”, however.

    As you stated, I think it will help balance out the Solar vs Lunar eclipse damage which will help in the overall picture. There have been many fights where you need to be in Solar for a certain phase, and losing DPS previous to that phase in order to make sure you’re in the proper eclipse when the phase changes was pretty cruddy.

    I agree that in PVP uses, it’s going to be a pain if it can be dispelled and that’s obviously something that needs to be looked into. Also, playing as a Resto Druid with Moonkin as an offspec, losing IS as resto is my biggest complaint. That little bit of extra damage from DoTs when you have a spare second or during the skittles boss in order to help burn the blobs really does help and IS was a big part of that DoT damage.

    • Lissanna
      Posted February 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      moonfire/sunfire is actually pretty crappy for movement damage, especially with the changes they have made to Lunar Shower across the course of cataclysm. We’re actually pretty reliant on the movement damage of insect swarm right now, and nothing in the MoP calculator as it stands now addresses that problem. Moonfire/sunfire spam was never a real solution to having movement-friendly DPS.

      Having BOTH Eclipse and Insect Swarm increase the damage of our nukes is problematic if there are times when we’ll be trying to cast spells with out either up. I’m worried about how the two abilities will interact with eachother in PvP where it will be basically impossible for moonkin to do anything other than moonfire/sunfire spam (for crappier damage) after the changes go live (and then still be reliant on sitting in Solar Eclipse, spamming sunfire over and over and over again, for any source of damage). The change actually has the ability to make moonkin more reliant on spamming an Eclipsed moonfire/sunfire for any source of PvP damage without actually fixing a single problem for the spec.

      The change ends up being a PvE “pseudo-fix” that kills any potential for PvP moonkin in MoP to be successful, without doing anything to really improve moonkin’s playstyle in PvE. In Cataclysm, moonkin don’t very often get left alone to just stand there and hard-cast wrath or starfire, and nothing in the MoP talent calculator allows them to actually cast nuke spells in PvP. Taking away a DOT from moonkin PvP (and changing it to a frustrating debuff) likely renders moonkin totally incapable of killing things in PvP at all. Making moonkin more reliant on moonfire/sunfire isn’t really a fix in PvP at all.

      They would need to allow for some sort of casting IS/Starfire on the move, or add in another source of instant direct damage for moonkin PvP to have any sort of viability at all after the change.

      • Grayback
        Posted February 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps reducing the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness to make Wrath or Starfire more reliable or at least reduce the cast time via a Balance talent to allow for those times when you’re on the move. If the damage increase from the new IS were to affect Moon/Sunfire as well, then I think spamming Moon/Sunfire as a nuke while moving could outweigh having an IS DoT up. As the spell is now, however, I concede the point that losing the damage from the IS DoT could hurt overall Moonkin DPS in heavy movement fights.

        As far as PVP, I’ve never done arenas in Balance, but I would agree that taking away a DoT and keeping lengthy cast times on the primary nukes really cripples Moonkins and the only reason you would see a druid not go feral or resto for an arena team is for the moderate CC abilities – which are just as easily gained from another class, virtually eliminating Moonkin PVP altogether.

        • Lissanna
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          Well, last night’s update made IS affect moonfire/sunfire as well, so that’s at least a step in the right direction. :)

  5. Berdache
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Nice description here and I agree with all the problems you outline with IS. I am less worried with pve, where I expect it will all get balanced than with pvp where it seems to kill us even more than our present state.

    On top of this the changes just seem to make the spell redundant. For it to give a 25% buff to our damage they must nerf our damage by 25% in the first place to balance with other casters. So in single boss fights it is merely a waste of GCD every minute and in multiple target boss fights a significant nerf.

    • Lissanna
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Yup, that’s exactly what I’m worried about.

  6. Asrah
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I think they gave it to us so we have a higher damage than our other specializations. However it is the worst implementation to deal with that. Shamans still have their Shamanism and Elemental Fury. While we have Moonkin Form and IS. We lost Earth and Moon and Moonfury. Those were 18% of our damage, 8% is a re applicable E&M. Possible solution would be to give us back Moonfury with 10-20% damage up to make us better with damage spells than restos and ferals.

    IS could stay the same as now. Lunar and Solar doesn’t need to be the same. Solar: more dot, less direct. Lunar: more direct less dot. The problem is not the different amount of spells in the two sides, rahter the different amount of damage we can do with them. But the worst problem was our Solar aoe vs Lunar aoe and not the single target damage anyway. I wouldn’t mind keeping my insects as the are. It is an iconic spell for balance druids. We attack with the power of nature. Roots, insects and anything we could find in a forest. It feels like while other classes get easier ways to switch target, we will become weaker at it.

    If they really want to get rid of one of our dots then they should make it into something useful. Dispel protection, burst cooldown. Maybe a spell in the poison or physical damage category instead of magic. It would be unique as it cannot be removed by dispel magic, but can be by poison removing effects.

    • Azrael
      Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      We don’t even know if it is a magic effect in MoP.

      Besides, i’m fairly certain that the target limit is a rather important part of the change. They want to limit our multi-target damage while improving single, and make us use Hurricane/Arcane Storm when we’re dealing with groups instead of multi-dotting. What you’re suggesting completely fails to do that.

      I’d like it to work a little more creatively(like the insects sting for an additional 25% of all damage we do to the target as nature that doesn’t scale with anything, instead of just increasing it), but in general it seems perfectly fine for the job.

      • Berdache
        Posted February 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Other reasons to dislike it …
        given that it likely to be balanced arround being on for 60 secs then any mob who is alive for less than that will imply a nerf to our damage.
        So if we are single targeting trash down in an instance if the mobs live for 10-15 secs => 10% loss in damage compared to everyone else
        Grinding dailies / levelling (85+ or 10+) where the mobs dont live long enough to warrant it casting on them => 25% loss in damage compared to everyone else.
        Its like a hunters mark but with less utility, range, duration but a far greater effect on dps if we dont use it.

        I really hope they chage this.