So, I’ve been somewhat MIA the last few weeks. I am graduating with my PhD after six very long years of graduate school this summer. So, I officially have the title of “Doctor” now after successfully defending my dissertation (though it’s a research PhD and not a medical degree). All I have left to do is to submit the final document to the university this week (after I do a last editing pass). Today, we’ll be talking a little bit about some of the recent moonkin changes in MOP. The two main topics are: shooting stars & fae empowerment.
Shooting stars is slightly worse in beta than live, though starsurge hits harder now.
So, Shooting Stars had a patch note that showed up saying that the proc rate had increased from 30% to 50%. However, we need to give this change some context.
- The live version of shooting stars:You have a 4% chance when you deal damage with your Moonfire or Insect Swarm to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and reduce its cast time by 100%. Lasts 12 sec.
- The beta version of shooting stars: You have a 50% chance when you deal critical periodic damage with your Moonfire or Sunfire to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and cause its next cast within 12 sec to be instant.
So, while shooting stars was “buffed” on beta, my level 90 druid is sometimes getting almost no shooting star procs because my crit chance is so abysmally low. This can be addressed with gearing for more crit, but I’m not sure how much we’ll do that. On live, we have two DOTs and the chance is low, but it’s also on hit. So, on Live we’re realistically getting a proc every other starsurge or so, and it usually feels pretty consistent in how starsurge behaves in our rotation.
On beta, I was testing with an 11% crit chance (that included the 5% from the mage buff that I had on me). At 11% crit on my level 90, the frequency of starsurge procs over long periods of training dummy testing felt about the same for live versus beta. However, in my beta testing, I went longer periods of time with no procs, but then got more procs occurring closer together. This was likely due to a combination of how “chance on crit” procs work, along with having an increased chance to proc when both moonfire & sunfire are up at the same time on beta (especially with celestial alignment). The streaky nature of the new shooting stars and the abysmally low crit rate my beta character has makes starsurge not really any better than it is on live right now. At the 30% proc chance, it would have been terrible, but the 50% proc chance is at least a step in the right direction.
In both cases, having DOTs up on multiple targets of course increased the proc rate of shooting stars. The point of talking about this is that while the increased proc rate up to 50% (and the buff in damage) was really nice, it doesn’t mean you’ll likely get more starsurge casts than you do on live during the beginning of MOP, especially with how devalued crit generally is for us at this point in Cataclysm. The interesting thing to see is whether or not the change has much of an impact on how we value crit (I haven’t yet seen the math on that), which could overall be good. It also means that as we gear up at level 90, we’ll get higher and higher chances to proc starsurge. So, you may see crit become a more important PVP stat for getting off more shooting star procs with your multi-dot and moonfire/sunfire spamming strategies. So, I think that the new shooting star proc design is definitely headed in the right direction and has potential, but we shouldn’t be dancing in the streets just yet. Increased time spent testing starsurge on beta has made me feel slightly better because I had more time for the streaky proc rate to start to average out more, but it wasn’t the really high proc rate feeling I was expecting to have going into the tests.
Fae Empowerment: It’s a trap!
While a lot of the fae empowerment testing has been happening in the land of charts and spreadsheets, I like testing mechanics by actually trying them out in beta (see: above starsurge testing). So, this is what happens with Fae Empowerment:
- Fae Empowerment is a buff that is on you when you cast Faerie Fire. Casting Faerie Fire gives your next three casts of starfire AND wrath a damage boost. It also applies two debuffs: Target can’t stealth (lasting 3 minutes), and the weakened armor debuff (stacks up to 3 times, lasts 30 seconds). However, if you cast FF three times in a row, you don’t gain increasing numbers of stacks of Fae Empowerment, it just resets the timer on it.
- You have 18 seconds to cast all six spells. This means you want to cast Faerie Fire one time when you are three wrath or starfire casts away from an Eclipse.
- During those 18 seconds, the following list of things will likely happen: Shooting star procs or the CD ending on starsurge naturally (high damage, and moves your Eclipse bar, and eats up time in your 18 seconds), Euphoria procs push you closer to the next Eclipse (or doesn’t proc), you have to cast starfall in your lunar eclipse cycle, you have to cast moonfire or sunfire at the start of either Eclipse cycle, you may have to move, and/or you may have to cast other non-damage utility spells. Keeping in mind that my above testing showed an increased likelihood of starsurge procs around the time of Eclipse transitions (because that’s the primary time we have double-DOTs), the buffs from Fae Empowerment leave me really underwhelmed.
- So, at a training dummy, I’m only usually averaging 5 of the 6 casts in Fae Empowerment buffing my spells (rarely I would get 4 or 6; most of the time it wore off right before my 6th cast). In addition, Fae Empowerment always gets cast at predictable points in the rotation, although that part of the rotation is already when we’re doing the most interesting & active things. So, Fae Empowerment clutters up the transition to a new Eclipse without adding any real interest or fun to the rotation at all. In most cases, for the average person reading my blog, Fae Empowerment is going to lower your overall DPS. It will only be a DPS increase for a small number of moonkin that manage to game the system to get an extra tiny damage boost.
In conclusion – Fae Empowerment is a trap that will lower damage of average or below average moonkin players, and in most cases will probably be a lot of work for no real tangible damage increase for above average moonkin. Increasing the proc rate of shooting stars, however, is a place where increased interest and randomness in our rotation has the potential to make the rotation less boring, especially at higher levels of crit than my freshly dinged 90 wearing greens currently has.
I actually think that the transition from one Eclipse to another Eclipse has plenty of things going on, and I’m not sure Fae Empowerment really does anything to improve the fun of moonkin, and the only challenge of FE is trying to perform an impossible task of getting all 6 casts off before the buff wears off, so that it won’t lower your DPS. Good luck with that!
Honestly, I think the moonkin stand-still rotation was better off without Fae Empowerment. I think a bigger problem is the fact that moonkin’s movement damage wasn’t ever really addressed. If Faerie Fire actually did some damage of it’s own, it may actually become a more interesting tool with FE attached to it. Any raid is going to want to keep up three stacks of the armor debuff, and moonkin’s using it once an Eclipse cycle isn’t really a good way to keep the armor debuff up unless using Faerie Fire in our rotation is an actual DPS increase. In this case, we worked so hard to get Faerie Fire out of our rotation even back when it was a 2 or 3 minute duration in Burning Crusade. I don’t see how forcing it into our current rotation is a good idea at all without some serious changes to the spell. Since we do no melee damage, it shouldn’t be our job to keep up a debuff that increases melee damage.