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Moonkin in legion: Easy to learn, hard to master

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.

Core abilities:

  • 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 generatorsLunar 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 spenderStarfall 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.

Posted in Blizzcon, Legion, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna
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Druid class changes in Legion from class Q&A

Today was “class info release day” at Blizzcon. I will need to spend more time over the next few days writing about the Blizzcon announcement, but here are some major highlights from the class-specific Q&A that happened in the DMF area (that wasn’t available on the livestream):

All specs

  • Baseline, you will get fewer abilities for specs outside of your main specialization. So, balance won’t have a bunch of mostly useless bear, cat, and resto healing abilities. Instead, balance will pick a talent where you choose to have a secondary specialization in resto, feral, OR guardian. That secondary spec would be slightly weaker than the first. This allows Guardian druids to shift into moonkin form or cat form (depending on the talent choice they made) and do useful amounts of damage when their tanking partner taunts the boss off them. This same choice applies to cat and resto, as well.


  • Eclipse is gone. Playing the UI by watching the bar go back and forth just wasn’t a good playstyle. Never really worked well.
  • Balance has a focus on DOTs. Also gains and spends resources in a new way than Eclipse. This means balance gets a different mastery. Will keep existing DOT spells (moonfire, sunfire, starfall).
  • Balance will get Innervate as a specialization exclusive ability. Can cast innervate on other people: increase mana regen of your healer (or arcane mage!). No one else gets the ability to give mana to other players. This replaces Stampeding Roar which wasn’t thematically appropriate for balance.
  • The planned class blog will go live some time between Sunday and Tuesday, where you can learn a lot more details about these changes and more! I will work really hard beta testing balance along with the other balance theorycrafters. Once the info is live, I will work at collecting feedback and organizing it.


  • They will reduce the rejuv spam feel of the spec, but overall the spec is in decent shape in terms of the overall toolset.
  • Resto will get a single-target “mark of the wild style” buff they can put on another player to boost them. No specific details on this. (this is in place of stampeding roar, which is guardian/feral exclusive. Turns out trees can’t actually roar.)
  • Changes to the talent system will impact how you specialize your heals for a fight. The talent changes will impact rotational play.


  • Bears no longer dodge as their core tanking mechanic. It didn’t make sense that bear was all about dodge. That was really a mechanical thing that came from using Agility as the primary stat due to how gear worked. Magical dancing circus bears that dodged attacks is thematically inappropriate and won’t be around in Legion.
  • Bears will focus on armor and health instead – big beefy bears can take a hit and keep on going.
  • Vengence is gone. They will make the abilities and core mechanics of tanking classes work better without vengeance.
  • Tanking-related things in general will undergo some changes that are better discussed elsewhere by people who understand tank mechanics better than I do.


  • They didn’t announce much in the way of specific changes on the Q&A. There will be tweaks that fix some core problems, but no major overhaul like guardian and balance. They mentioned a couple little things like not casting rejuv in cat form. Details coming soonish.
Posted in Blizzcon, Druid - General, Legion, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna
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Blizzcon Day 1 Legion info wrapup

With all the WOW announcements at Blizzcon, I wanted to highlight a couple really important things. For more info, see my twitter that I’m live updating from the convention hall!

First, moonkin and sealion (Swim) forms are being updated. This is in addition to the polishing pass for bear/cat. Note that the moonkin graphic is still in development. This is obviously a night elf form with the tauren coloring that they showed in the demo that is unlikely to be the version that goes live. Keep in mind that the animations here are what will really matter: Your feathers are going to move like actual feathers and the animations will need to be updated along with the higher resolution models.

Updated Moonkin Form

Sealion Swim Form

Artifact Weapons Released

Blizzard released more info about the druid artifact weapons. See the blog post over at the official forums.

Bear and cat form are the only forms that dynamically update with your artifact weapon. However, they have given moonkin and resto druids really awesome weapons you can display proudly.

Balance druids will earn the Scythe of Elune.  Resto druids get a staff called G’Hanir, the Mother Tree (a branch taken from the first tree). As released at Gamescom, feral has a set of dual-wielding daggers (fang of ashamane). Guardian is dual-wielding fist weapons (claws of Ursoc).

For weapons that have less initial lore, there will be quest chains where you will go and discover their history and story. There are also lots of color variations for the artifact weapons, where you can show off your achievements across the various types of content for end-game legion.

How do artifacts work if you have multiple specs? We don’t have a ton of details about how the weapon leveling system really works. As of now, it looks like you will have to level up each of the weapons via the storyline quests (plus any other activity that awards points towards leveling your weapon at end-game). There are catch-up mechanics when one weapon is significantly behind another weapon. It will likely be time-consuming to keep two weapons at the same level of progression, but not impossible. It would be easier and more possible to keep one slightly behind the other, though. The catch-up mechanic should make it easier for you to swap to a different spec later in the expansion and still have a chance of progressing the weapon.

Since they mentioned in a Q&A that the artifact potentially impacting your rotation in the game, we can assume there are effects on the weapon that would make it highly sub-optimal to use an artifact weapon from the wrong spec, even if they share the same primary stats (e.g., int/agi). Artifacts will help give you something to focus on at max-level, as they will provide an “interesting long-term progression system” across the expansion. So, the goal isn’t to have something you level up in the first week of the expansion and then forget about. We should learn more about artifacts in Day 2, along with other changes.

Scythe of Elune

Scythe of Elune – Balance weapon

Resto druid weapon art

G’Hanir – Resto weapon

Posted in Blizzcon, Legion, Written By Lissanna
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WOD: Happy with the raid size changes

Now that I’ve gotten rid of the big, black cloud hanging over my head, I can talk about some things I am really looking forward to in WOD. The first of these is the change in raid sizes. It is no secret that I was really unhappy with the initial split of 10 v 25. Like everything in the game, I went through several stages of grief, including: Angry posting and cursing, as well as bargaining and trying to find a compromise, and depression over what I thought was going to signal the loss of 25-mans forever when Blizzard chose to do nothing in MOP, and acceptance of the loss of many 25-man guilds from the World of Warcraft as 10-man guilds largely replaced all but two of the dozens of 25-man guilds we started out with on my server before 10-man progression raiding was implemented.

Through all of the ups and downs, I have remained an active raider in a 25-man raiding guild. I never have done much in the way of 10-man raiding. The 10-man raid size was never my thing. It is with that larger context in mind that I wanted to share my thoughts on the changes for raiding in WOD. While I have great sympathy for 10-mans having to transition to 20-mans, I don’t have a sense of perspective where it would make sense for me to try to represent that population. Instead, I’ll focus on my own transition from 25-man to 20-man raiding.

Here is a brief recap of what raiding in WOD will look like:

  • The current LFR system will stay in place. This will use current LFR loot.
  • The current 10-25 man Flex mode will now be a called Normal-mode and will be flexible in size between 10 and 25. You can choose between LFR loot and and master-looter.
  • The current Normal raiding will now be called Heroic. It will be flexible in size between 10 and 25 raiders, and you can choose between LFR loot and master-looter.
  • The current Heroic raiding will now be called Mythic, and will be limited to 20 people only.
  • The raid sizes other than Mythic will also be cross-realm capable, and it looks like each difficulty is on a different lockout (meaning you could get 4 chances of loot – one off each raid size).

As a 25-man raiding guild, my guild will likely do the following content:

  • Our main raiding size will be the new Heroic flexible size. We will likely run with between 20 and 25 raid members in Heroic.
  • We will kill some Mythic bosses. Whether or not we kill all the mythic bosses in a raid tier will depend on lots of different factors.
  • We will likely have some normal-mode Flexible size runs for our alts during times when we have alts who are raid-ready, and we could potentially start with normal-mode Flexible in the first raid tier while people are still gearing up. We will be unlikely to run LFR as a group, though individual members are welcome to run it on their own.

We will have to make some tough decisions along the way:

With a roster of between 30 and 32 people, we will have to be careful about how we recruit between now and the start of WOD raiding. We will want to start WOD raiding with a roster between 25 and 27 people. This means that most of the time, our Heroic flexible raid will be at (or close to) the maximum 25-person capacity, but that we won’t be sitting a huge number of people on Mythic nights that require no more than 20. We have to shrink our roster a little bit, but since people naturally come and go around the time of expansions, it means we have room to let our roster attrition down to a comfortable place by just halting recruitment at the point where we’re mostly done with SOO raiding.

I am happy with this new system of raiding.

When I knew that “separate but equal” 10 v 25-man raiding wasn’t going to be possible, I wrote multiple posts suggesting we drop down to one 15-man size. This was before Flexible raid sizes were possible. However, with flexible raid sizes, I see how 20 people could be desirable for a max-tier raiding. The most hardcore guilds are still often 25-man guilds. The changes don’t really impact people who would never hit Mythic-level raiding.

While the changes prevent dabbling by guilds into killing 1 or 2 mythic bosses, it clearly shows where the division of difficulty should be divided: The hardest difficulty can be tuned for a single raid size, and mechanics that would fail in 10-mans can be used in 20-mans. It also allows two 10-mans to be combined into a single 20-man, and doesn’t require 25-mans to cut huge chunks of people from their rosters. I basically get what I want: A single raid size at the most hardcore end of raiding. It also still allows people to do 10-man normal-mode raiding if they really want to. Seeing as how only a tiny percentage of the WOW player base will ever raid Mythic difficulty, I believe that even with some short-term growing pains, this new way of raiding is going to feel better for most people in the long-run.

Suggestions for easing the transition.

  • To Blizzard: The costs of server and faction transfers need to be reduced around the time of the expansion transition to ease the burden on guilds trying to recruit new members. The 10-man teams who have to add 15 more people to their rosters will only survive if the costs of transferring are worth the risks of joining a group that may show instability early in the transition. If two guilds on different servers want to merge, the costs of doing that merger is often prohibitively expensive. So, if a huge factor in the survival of current guilds comes down to the ease of bringing in people from another server, these server transfer costs needs to be something Blizzard considers in the upcoming months leading to the expansion.
  • To guild leadership: Guilds need to be open to their members about what the plans are for how to deal with the transition. Guilds need to plan early, so that the expansion transition doesn’t catch anyone by surprise. Any transition for a new expansion can be difficult. There are always new things (both good and bad) to deal with as the content changes. Guild leadership needs to communicate early and often. If the guild plans to recruit more people, then get all the members involved. If the guilds are going to lose people, then communicate early about how that is going to be handled. Whatever unique problems that the expansion poses for guilds, be clear to your members about how you will handle the transitions.
  • To players at large: Plan in advance for what raiding you really want to do in the next expansion. This transition will be a great time to join new raid groups, help shape the direction of your current raid groups, or help with recruiting new members to your team. If you are returning to the game, the expansion transition will be a great time to find new guilds who have opened their rosters.

In conclusion, I think Blizzard made the right choice in their changing the raid sizes to have one single end-game raid size. Using the flexible technology for every other raid size also allows a lot more flexibility and choice. In the end, the change in raid size is one of the things I am looking forward to the most. I appreciate that Blizzard was able to finally fix the failing 10 v 25-man raid size problem. I look forward to seeing the future of raiding.

Posted in Blizzcon, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna


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