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WOD alpha summary for frost mages

Now that my main has been a frost mage all of Mists of Pandaria, I thought I would take a look at the current set of changes for my primary raiding spec. The three resto druids already in my guild will have all our healing needs covered. So, what’s in store for frost mages for PVE? Lots of changes!

Frost Mage Ability removal: Some abilities/effects will only be available to certain specializations, so reducing off-role abilities was the primary place that mages had abilities outright cut. Some of this was meant to differentiate the AOE toolsets of the three specs, as well as other changes to remove redundancy of shared abilities.

  • Fire specialization only (no longer available to frost): dragon’s breath, flamestrike, molten armor, fire blast, and Living Bomb (no longer a frost talent).
  • Arcane only (no longer available to frost): Evocation, Arcane Explosion, mage armor, presence of mind (no longer a talent), and Nether Tempest (no longer a frost talent).
  • Removed from all specs: Mana gem, temporal shield talent, Invocation talent, Incanter’s Ward talent.

Frost major talent changes: Two abilities (Alter Time and Mirror Images) were converted to talents. Overall, there were major talent changes. You can see the current talent tree form mages on WOWhead. Some of the talents now vary by specialization, so my focus below is on frost options only.

  • New talent: Evanesce (level 15) – survivability talent that provides invulnerability from damage for 3 seconds. (replaces presence of mind talent). If you take this ability, you no longer have ice block.
  • Alter time (level 30) – Now a utility talent only (Replaces temporal shield talent).
  • Frost Bomb (level 75) – Frost mages no longer have access to living bomb or nether tempest. Frost bomb has undergone some changes. It no longer interacts with Frost Fire Bolt. It now (instead) does AOE damage when ice lance crits. The level 75 talents for frost are all AOE/cleaving abilities now.
  • Unstable Magic (level 75) – causes our single-target frostbolts to explode and do AOE damage, 25% of the time.
  • Ice Nova (level 75) – If you take this ability, you no longer have frost nova. Instead, this ability allows you to freeze and damage enemies in an 8 yard sphere around your target (instead of you).
  • Mirror Images (level 90) – Mirror images is now a talent, that is more awesome than the current version, and scales better with gear (replaces Invocation).
  • Inchanter’s Flow (level 90) – A damage increasing buff that ramps up and down over 10 second intervals. My comments: This talent is likely to undergo revisions across beta. This seems like the ramp up and down might be too quick to get spells off at the perfect timing, since you would gain 1 stack per second for 5 seconds, and then lose 1 stack per second for 5 seconds.
  • Rune of power is still a talent, but no longer interacts with mana regen, and has a longer duration (3 minutes).
  • Thermal Void (level 100): Ice Lance extends Icy Veins by 2 seconds. Now that icy veins gives us multi-strike (a chance to get bonus damage), I’m not sure this is going to be a very good talent in practice.
  • Prismatic Crystal (level 100): Cast spells at the crystal and it does damage to things nearby (1 minute cooldown). If your targets are stationary for long enough, this could be okay. However, I don’t see the ability to have the crystal follow your tank around, so the usefulness of this talent depends on frequency of tank movement.
  • Comet Storm (level 100):  A 30 second cooldown. Icy Comets split their damage between nearby targets within 4 yards.

Frost gearing changes:

  • A primary goal was to reduce the problem of soft-capping on secondary stats. This means they are making it more difficult to haste and crit soft-cap, and are making Multistrike a more interesting new stat.
  • Multistrike: The simplified version is that this stat gives you a chance to do bonus damage to the primary target. Increasing the stat increases the chance to do bonus damage. Read Lhivera’s post on Multistrike for more specific details.
  • Intellect no longer increases crit chance. Shatter was changed to impact the crit soft-cap (now multiplies crit strike chance by 1.5 instead of 2). My comments: The shatter change could interact strangely with the frost bomb redesign, with frost bomb only doing damage on Ice Lance crits.
  • Frost armor now gives increased Multistrike chance instead of increased haste.
  • Icy Veins now gives multistrike chance instead of increased haste.

Other Spell changes and overall notes on frost rotation:

  • Brain Freeze procs no longer make frostfire bolt instant-cast, but the goal is still to have Brain Freeze increase FFB’s damage enough that you will want to cast it. The new brain freeze procs can stack to 2, and come from frostbolt casts (where multi-strike procs from frostbolt increase the BF proc rate).
  • Perks for leveling from 90 to 100: Reduce frost bolt’s cast time by .5 seconds, once every 15 seconds. One extra ice lance stack (now up to 3). Teleport back 10 yards after casting frost nova. Improved Icy Veins benefits.  Blizzard ticks reduce cooldown on frozen orb. Passive increased damage for frostbolt, frostfire bolt, and Ice Lance.
  • Water elemental pet gets Water Jet ability (helps you generate FOF procs) as a leveling perk. This is primarily designed for PVE where pet freeze doesn’t really work in most situations. If it shares a cooldown with pet’s freeze ability, water jet won’t really get used in PVP.
  • The primary single-target rotation appears to rely on Frostbolt, Ice Lance on FOF procs (that come from casting frost bolt), and hard-casting FFB with Brain Freeze procs  (with the full cast time). We still have Frozen orb and icy veins as our primary DPS cooldowns (plus a level 90 talent that could either be active or passive). So, our single-target rotation won’t feel that much different, except that we lost a lot of mobility.
  • Frost will not multi-DOT for AOE, since we won’t have DOTs in a frost spec at all. I’m really not sure what they want frost’s AOE rotation to look like at this point. It will depend some upon whether or not the channeled Blizzard AOE is really viable. Which talents we choose will also primarily impact our AOE rotation more than our single-target rotation (both the level 75 and 100 talents include cleave/AOE talent options). We will have to do a lot of math during beta to figure out what to do with regards to AOE.
Posted in Beta Feedback, Mage, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

WOD alpha summary for resto druids

So, we finally got a first look at alpha patch notes for Warlords of Draenor. Much of the information we already knew from previous info releases. However, we have a better idea of what the system changes and spell details look like thus far. Keep in mind that the early Alpha patch undergoes significant class revisions, so what it looks like now isn’t necessarily what it will look like 3 to 6 months from now. Below is a summary of major changes, but isn’t inclusive of every change to the class.

Overall healing style changes:

  • As discussed before, we are having the anticipated stat squish. Health pools are increased relative to the size of the heals (post-squish).
  • Smart heals will be less smart: They will target any injured player (and still prioritize people over pets), but wont’ specifically target the most injured person.
  • They want people to use more single-target heals, instead of just spamming AOE heals, so single target heals should be more efficient when you need to heal 1 to 2 people for a large amount.
  • Based on the desire to make single-target heals more meaningful, Nourish is gone, leaving us with Regrowth and Healing Touch. HT and regrowth should heal for about the same amount, except that regrowth is faster and is less mana efficient.
  • Symbiosis is also removed, meaning that we can’t use tranquility on the move by putting symbiosis on a shaman anymore.
  • My Commentary: Keep in mind that they’ve always wanted us to use single-target heals in high-end raids, but the amount of AOE damage done to the raid since Wrath of the Lich King has largely made single-target healing less desirable in raids. So, the desire to increase single target spells hasn’t always worked out in raiding situations. The raid design will determine how much single-target versus AOE spells versus rejuv blanketing you actually do.

Mana Management:

  • There will be less spirit on gear, so we’ll be better balanced in terms of throughput at various gear levels. Gaining more spirit as we leveled meant that we had more room to use low efficiency spells at later raid tiers. The goal is to make managing your mana matter both at the first raid tier and the last raid tier.
  • On this same note of mana management, Innervate (and some other mana increasing spells for other classes) have been removed.
  • With these changes, the starting mana regen rate will be higher in WOD compared to Wrath or MOP. Thus, the mana regen growth curve across the expansion won’t be as steep, but mana issues shouldn’t be so great as to prevent your progress in the game. The goal is just to force players to make real deliberate decisions, instead of mindlessly mashing buttons.
  • They reduced the mana cost of resurrection spells so that mana won’t be as much of a limiting factor in recovery after wipes.
  • My commentary: Healing gets boring when you basically have a static rotation and don’t make decisions about who to heal. In this respect, encounter design actually matters just as much (or more) than the base toolkit design. The original “trinity” of single-target spells introduced in an earlier expansion was quickly made meaningless when single target spells couldn’t keep up with the damage done in raids. So, encounters will have to be designed around the mana and healing spell changes for any of this to be particularly meaningful.

Overall spell changes:

  • The list of removed abilities for resto druids includes Innervate, Nourish, Symbiosis.
  • Wild Growth now has a 1.5 second cast time.
  • Efflorescence is now permanently tied to shrooms.
  • Survival instincts is available to all specs, to make up for the loss of symbiosis: “Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 70% (up from 50%) with a 2-minute cooldown (down from 3)” for resto druids.
  • They changed how tranquility works a little bit, to make it less confusing: “Tranquility now heals every Party and Raid member within range every 2 seconds for 8 seconds. It no longer places a periodic effect on each target.”
  • Swift rejuvenation was removed, making it such that it’s no longer starting at the GCD haste-cap (making haste more valuable to resto druids). One of the perks you gain leveling up from 90 to 100 is extending rejuv’s duration by 3 seconds (back up to 15 seconds), meaning that the removal of swift rejuv is probably a wash in terms of total blanket coverage.
  • Other leveling perks in addition to rejuv include: Increased healing to Healing Touch & Regrowth by 30%. Increased crit rate of Healing Touch on targets effected by Lifebloom. Increased HOT healing on targets effected by Ironbark. Increased living seed heal size by 20%.
  • Some glyphs are going to be automatically learned as you level up, instead of having to buy the glyphs. Here’s some of the more relevant ones: Rebirth (increased baseline health level), Rejuvenation (now that we don’t have nourish, I’m not sure if it will impact healing touch instead?), Healing Touch (reduces Nature’s Swiftness cooldown), Master Shapeshifter (reduces mana cost of shifting).

Talent changes: You can see the full level 100 talent tree on Wowhead (based on the data available to WOWhead at this time). Note that the talents change by specialization, so to see the resto talents and level 90 to 100 perks, make sure you choose the resto specialization. Some highlights below:

  • The current changes to resto talents relevant to raiding include primarily the level 90 and 100 talents.
  • They made changes to the level 90 talent design. Heart of the Wild won’t increase your int, and they’ve toned down main role bonuses for DOC and Nature’s Vigil.
  • My level 90 talent commentary: Based on the numbers I can see without doing math, Nature’s Vigil is still probably a net healing bonus to resto druids, whereas heart of the wild is probably something you would skip entirely for progression raiding. Dream of Cenarius is going to be a better damage talent than Heart of the Wild since it will still provide some healing benefit. These talents are still likely to undergo revisions when every resto druid just defaults to Nature’s Vigil.
  • The level 100 talents are new and provide different functionality to existing abilities, such as extending omen of clarity’s mana benefit, allowing 2 rejuvenations on the same target, or dramatically changing how swiftmend functions (e.g., munching your own HOTs with no cooldown on swiftmend).
  • My level 100 talent commentary: I’m not sure which level 100 talent will work out best until after we see what the WOD healing content is like. I don’t really like the swiftmend talent all that much, since eating our HOTs was never a part of swiftmend we liked at all (and Efflorescence isn’t attached to swiftmend anymore, making it not have AOE functionality).

In general, there may be fairly drastic changes to how healing works coming in WOD. We won’t really know how all the puzzle pieces come together until after we get a chance to play with the changes in 5-mans and raids in the actual beta client. Resto druid healing should overall still be pretty fun in WOD. We still have a lot of work to do!

Posted in Beta Feedback, Restoration Healing Trees, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

MOP Druid leveling guide preview: Talents

With the new talent system being released with the 5.0 MOP pre-patch, I have started working on the newest version of my leveling guide. With the talent changes, I am doing one talent section that covers info for all four specs, since there is a lot of info that would have been redundant if I did one for each of the four specs. Since I spent all day working on the guide, I thought I’d release the talent section early. Please note that it’s subject to change if Blizzard changes talents. Also, keep in mind that the leveling guide is targeting people level 1 to 89, and when you hit 90, you should be looking at end-game guides for talent advice. I’ll have end-game talent suggestions for moonkin & resto druids closer to MOP’s patch day.

Druid Leveling Talents in Mists of Pandaria (patch 5.0):

There is a new talent system which has a set of talents that is shared across all four druid specializations. Choosing your specialization now gives you a bunch of abilities as you level up. Then, you get to choose 6 additional abilities from the talent set. Here, I will briefly explain the sets of options you have and how useful they are to each spec for leveling (your max-level choices may be different). The purpose of these talents is to allow for choice, so I will spend more time explaining what they do than telling you which one to choose.

Level 15: All specializations choose either feline swiftness or wild charge.

  • Feline Swiftness: Increases your movement speed by 15% at all times. This is pretty useful for all four specializations.
  • Displacer beast: Teleports you 20 yards away and shifts you into cat form. This talent isn’t useful for anyone because it is too easy to break you out of stealth. Bad for all specs.
  • Wild charge: Gives you a different movement teleport effect depending on your specialization. In caster form, you teleport to the location of your targeted ally.  Moonkin bound backwards 20 yards. Travel form leaps forward 20 yards. Swim form goes faster. Cats jump behind your targeted enemy. Bears charge at their enemy and imobilize them for 4 seconds. Good for everyone except resto druids for leveling.

Level 30:  Resto: choose Nature’s Swiftness or Cenarion Ward. All other specs: Choose nature’s swiftness or Renewal.

  • Nature’s Swiftness: makes your next healing spell, roots, rebirth, or cyclone instant-cast and usable in all forms. This is useful for all specializations.
  • Renewal: Instant cast that heals yourself for 30% of your health. Useful for DPS and tank druids for keeping yourself alive. Less helpful for resto druids where the other options can be used on either yourself or others.
  • Cenarion Ward: A buff you put on your target that will apply a HOT to tick down after they get hit. This could be useful for resto druids, but I’d recommend other specs to pick up one of the more burst heals. In addition, this may not heal very much at lower levels, so one of the other talents could be a better healing talent for leveling.

Level 45: Overall, I prefer typhoon. However, for leveling, your choice of crowd control here doesn’t matter much.

  • Faerie Swarm: Your faerie fire spell slows your target’s movement speed. Situationally useful.
  • Mass Entanglement: Will root multiple targets in place for a short time. Situationally useful.
  • Typhoon: Knocks back your target and dazes (slows) them for a short period of time. Situationally useful.

Level 60: Varies by spec (see below). All of these are designed to help your main role, so any choice ends up being potentially helpful for leveling. Each talent does something different for each specialization.

  • Soul of the forest: Gives balance more solar or lunar energy when you exit Eclipse (good option because it gets you back into an Eclipse faster). Gives feral more energy when you use finishing moves (not as helpful for leveling if things die fast). For Guardian, mangle generates more rage (helpful for leveling as a tank). For resto, using swiftmend makes your next cast spell faster (not as helpful for leveling as resto). The nice part of this is that your bonus is passive so you don’t have to remember to cast it.
  • Incarnation: For balance, increases your damage while Eclipse is active (probably better for grouping than solo). For feral, this gives you a couple different bonuses (probably better for grouping or max level than solo leveling). Guardian: Reduces the cooldown on abilities (good for leveling in instances). Resto: increases your healing done and gives you several nice bonuses (good for leveling in instances).
  • Force of Nature: Summons treants to fight for you. For balance, treants cast wrath & roots (helpful for leveling). For feral, treants do melee damage and can stun the target (helpful for leveling). For guardian, treants taunt (not as helpful for leveling). Resto treants cast Healing Touch (helpful for leveling).

Level 75: Another crowd control tier where it doesn’t matter what talent you choose.

  • Disorienting roar: Disorients all enemies within 10 yards (your targets won’t attack for the duration of the effect, but any damage you do will break the disorient).
  • Ursol’s Vortex: Will slow the movement speed of enemies in the vortex.
  • Mighty bash: A 5 second stun that requires being in melee range.

Level 90: See end-game guides for recommendations once they’ve been released. Heart of the wild‘s passive bonuses are useful for everyone (though the “utility” benefit is less useful), so you can start out with Heart of the Wild and choose your talent based on the end-game content you want to do. The other two talents are more situational.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Druid - General, Leveling, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

They fixed moonkin! Beta build 15913

The latest beta patch brought with it a large number of changes to the moonkin rotation, so I’ll take some time now to explain some of the changes. Overall, I am really happy with the latest beta build for moonkin, and as long as they don’t muck with it too much, we should be in really great shape for MOP.

So, what are the latest MOP moonkin changes?

  • Fae Empowerment was removed (good riddance!).
  • Moonfire and Sunfire are now two distinct spells that you can cast at any time (no more morphing from one into the other). This means that it is possible to have 100% up-time on both DOTs, and that things like  movement are less problematic.
  • Crits from our direct damage spells will extend our DOTs (starfire increasing moonfire, wrath increasing sunfire) instead of the original DOT extension mechanic for MOP. They also slightly increased the duration of moonfire & sunfire.
  • Also important, they changed how Euphoria works, so that it dramatically decreases the time you spend outside of Eclipse (and adjusted the timing of astral communion as a result). The new 4-piece PvP bonus allows astral commune to be cast while moving.

What does moonkin’s new rotation look like?

  • We will want to cast Astral Communion out of combat to get 1 cast away from Eclipse & cancel it before Eclipse procs (so we don’t trigger nature’s grace).
  • We will alternate between periods of wrath spam and starfire spam like we do in Cataclysm. We will have considerably higher up-time on Eclipse for both PvP and PvE (due to the new Euphoria), and the Eclipse cycle as a whole is shorter when we are rotating back and forth between starfire & wrath (ie. less time between exiting an Eclipse phase and entering a new one).
  • We get to keep two DOTs like we have in Cataclysm (though Insect swarm is out of the game, Sunfire becoming its own spell will take that place in our rotation without unbalancing the two Eclipses), so we will be managing both DOT timers. If you pick up Soul of the Forest (SOTF) as a talent, there will be times when you probably wouldn’t need to refresh the DOTs when outside the appropriate Eclipse that would buff it (especially at high enough haste values).  In some cases (especially without SOTF), you may want to go for having high up-time on both DOTs and refresh as soon as they fall off. With periods of movement in encounters, you likely will be using one of the moonfire/sunfire as movement damage, so that will have an impact on refreshing and such (which we need more math people to map out for us). In PvP, you will want to keep both DOTs on people as much as possible.
  • Starsurge overall hits harder again. We will still have random Shooting Stars procs, but they will feel a little more random since they are a chance on DOT crit, instead of a chance on DOT hit. Crit as a stat is also much more valuable in MOP’s changes now that we have multiple things tied to crit (shooting stars & DOT refreshes).
  • The new changes devalues Celestial Alignment as part of our normal single target rotation. When CE is up, you want to use moonfire (& not sunfire) since only moonfire applies double-DOTs during the duration. It is possible that CE may  be a better cooldown for PvP or for AOE periods than single-target PvE damage, though this still needs to be mathed out.
  • Hurricane (which morphps into astral storm in Lunar Eclipse) is now more useful, but it’s still unknown how the changes to our DOTs will rank multi-DOT strategies versus hurricane/astral storm spam. Wild Mushrooms are overall devalued enough that I’m still not sure how they fit into our overall rotation, aside from setting them up prior to pulls or in periods of down-time, or perhaps when we need the movement snare (the latest patch neutered the damage shrooms did even further).
  • Nature’s Grace procs from entering a new Eclipse state, which means that we still value cycling between Eclipses for the haste bonus, even after the changes to our DOTs.
  • Hitting a Lunar Eclipse will reset starfall’s cooldown, so you will want to cast starfall after you proc a Lunar Eclipse (so starfall won’t need to be managed quite as closely). However, it’s still hitting more things than it should and we lost the glyph that shrunk its’ radius, so there will still be encounters where starfall is bad to cast, and it will sometimes get you killed when soloing by attracting too  many unwanted guests.

What does this all mean?

  • Moonkin in MOP will be fun for you if it is currently fun in Cataclysm (and possibly more fun, given that we have a better overall toolset).
  • They fixed several major problems, such as making Lunar Eclipse a more worthwhile state to be in (the two Eclipse states are much more “balanced”).
  • They fixed these problems without over-simplifying moonkin’s rotation (like they did the first try) or adding in clunky mechanics (like they did the second try). This newest build overall may have some issues to work out as we do further testing, but they finally made moonkin fun again!
  • We should be okay for movement DPS with having two DOTs, and astral communion on the move will help PvP moonkin get back into Eclipses faster.
  • We have more access to damage increasing cooldowns and survivability cooldowns, making us far more viable in PvP in MOP.
  • There will still  be more work to do over the  next few weeks/months to work out what the details of the final PvE rotation will look like, and we don’t yet know the final gearing stat priorities or which talents will work the best due to all the changes. This means that the 5.0 patch may be a little rocky with how major the changes are so late in the build.

What this all really means is that I will still be raiding on my moonkin in MOP! I’m finally having fun on my moonkin (even when I’m just playing on the training dummies for working on the blog article). Looks like I won’t be switching mains. Lissanna is here to stay!

Posted in Beta Feedback, Mists of Pandaria, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna

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