The official class previews were posted Wednesday. For druids, balance is likely undergoing the most dramatic changes. Thus, I’ll focus on changes to the core moonkin spells today. Eclipse is gone, and if you need to remember why Eclipse needed to be removed, I suggest reading this post by Chase at Blizzardwatch.
- Damage over Time (DOTs): We are keeping moonfire and sunfire which will each be a separate DOT that can be placed on the target. As such, the core rotation will require keeping high up-time on both DOTs. Sunfire has the ‘spread to nearby target’ mechanic, and moonfire is single-target only.
- Astral power generators: Lunar Strike replaces starfire, and has an AOE cleave component. Wrath is now called Solar Wrath but otherwise mostly stays the same single-target.
- AOE astral power spender: Starfall consumes astral power instead of having charges. It now has a large targeting circle you place on the ground, as the ‘targets the druid’ mechanic was somewhat difficult in execution. While this is a 15 yard radius targeting circle, we can extend the radius of this circle via talents. Targets in the circle take more DOT damage and the talented version would also let you cast while moving from within the circle.
- Single-target astral power spender: Starsurge is instant-cast, consumes astral power, and provides 1 charge of Solar Power (buffs solar wrath) and 1 charge of lunar power (buffs lunar strike). This empowerment will require us to spend these charges
- Utility: We know moonkin will get innervate (give a healer or arcane mage some mana in the fight). You will also likely want to pick up an affinity talent that maximizes survivability (guardian’s passive damage reduction) or utility (resto healing abilities and passive).
Changing Resources and mastery:
- Eclipse was removed and we no longer watch the balance ‘bar’ on our interface.
- Astral Power: Balance druids now have a ‘build and spend’ mechanic via a new Astral power resource. Our “builder” spells will generate astral power (e.g., solar wrath and lunar strike generate astral power). Our “spender” spells can be cast and use that astral power (starsurge and starfall), providing large benefits, such as Empowerments to our abilities.
- New Mastery: Starlight Increases the damage of Starfall and Starsurge, and the effect of the Empowerments that they grant by an additional 30% (with Mastery from typical gear). This means that starlight doesn’t impact our core rotation in the way Eclipse does. It instead buffs spells you should be using anyway.
Analysis of overall changes:
The base rotation will be to keep up DOTs, use spells to generate astral power, and then spend astral power on your starfall/starsurge spells. The empowerment will mean you follow starsurge with one lunar strike and one solar wrath (then use the appropriate spell depending on need for cleave to keep earning power). Rinse and repeat! Keep in mind that there will be other abilities that aren’t included in this list, as well as talents that will have big impacts. It is easier to manipulate a resource like astral power than to manipulate the ‘charges’ mechanic that we used for starsurge and starfall in Draenor.
For AOE, we won’t have Hurricane anymore. Instead, the plan is for DOT spam, starfall, and lunar strike to be our AOE toolkit. It’s possible we could get other AOE from talents, but we haven’t seen the talents yet.
Overall, this new starting point is going to be beneficial for balance druids. This will provide an opportunity for the true “easy to learn, hard to master” spec. For a long time, balance has been the opposite: Eclipse was hard to learn (unless you had good addons), and easy to master once you got the core concept. Getting rid of the clunky Eclipse mechanic is good for balance druids. It frees balance druids from a system that never truly worked – there was never really a reason to swap between two sets of spells that were basically identical in all but name. While the initial rotation sounds super simple, there is plenty of room for skill to be rewarded by the time everything else has been revealed for druids. The talents will provide flexibility in terms of being able to choose talents that increase the complexity of the spec. You can choose all passive talents as a new druid OR choose more active talents for more complexity in advanced high-end raiding.
I will be highly active during beta testing and plan on raiding moonkin in Legion if all goes well. At this point, I think our rotation holds onto the core mechanics of being about weaving DOTs and direct damage.