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Druid Selfies and outdated forms

The 6.1 patch came with a new Selfie camera, that allows you to take close-up pictures of your face. This is great for the new races that got face upgrades recently in Warlords. This Selfie camera does not work quite so well with some of the druid forms. Particularly problematic are the stumpy tree form arms that make the camera zoom close into your terrifying face. resto tree selfieMoonkin, instead, appear to have an invisible ‘selfie stick’ that allows the camera to zoom farther from your face. This mostly just hides the fact that moonkin doesn’t look so great close-up either. The camera still reminds me of why moonkin needs a new updated model. If moonkin looked better, I might consider playing moonkin more often. Buff moonkin shapeshift graphics, please! :)

Moonkin Selfie

You still, however, can take some pretty nice pictures with this new selfie camera even as a druid (even if you aren’t quite sure who is holding the camera, anyway).


Posted in Druid - General, Written By Lissanna
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Patch 6.1 Balance Druid Rundown

Patch 6.1 will be downloading in your clients and the patch itself will go live this Tuesday.  There’s a handful of changes to Balance druids you should be aware of. Here’s the notes:

Force of Nature’s Treants has been buffed with a 35% increase to their health and spellpower, and an 80% increase to their armor and attack power.

Stellar Flare (Balance) damage has been increased by 16%, and now has a duration of 24 seconds (up from 20 seconds).

Healing Touch no longer heals for 50% more when cast-on-self for Balance Druids.

Balance Druids now learn a new passive ability at level 38, Nature’s Bounty.  – Nature’s Bounty causes Healing Touch to be Critical Strikes for 8 seconds after killing an enemy that yields experience or honor.

Starfall damage decreased by 16.6%.

Starfall and Sunfall now only hits targets affected with Moonfire or Sunfire by default. – Glyph of Guided Stars has been renamed to Glyph of Untamed Stars and is now a Minor glyph. Glyph of Untamed Stars expands Starfall and Sunfall to hit all targets within range.

Displacer Beast is now classified as an Arcane School ability and can no longer be used while silenced.

First up, let’s talk about the Starfall nerf.

Starfall right now accounts for around 20-25% of total DPS by Balance Druids across all ten fights in Blackrock Foundry.  The nerf means starfall will only be doing 83.4% of it’s previous damage.  The net result is that the average DPS for Boomkins in Blackrock Foundry will drop by 3.32%.  Single target fights like Gruul will see no change, while fights like Kromog and Beastlord Darmac will see a much larger reduction.  Overall, while no one is happy to get nerfed, this isn’t too bad.  There’s no playstyle changes here, you’ll just do a tiny bit less damage.

Next lets talk about the Talent changes; both of them have the same outcome. 

A slight damage buff to Force of Nature and a damage & duration buff to Stellar Flare.  This makes both talents a little closer to being competitive but at the end of the day you’re still not going to take either.  Why?  Force of Nature’s problem has always been rooted in the poor AI behavior and this damage buff doesn’t change that.  Even despite this buff Force of Nature still won’t compete with Incarnation.  As for Stellar Flare, Euphoria is too good for low-targets and Balance of Power is better for multiple targets.  To understand just how weak Stellar Flare is, here’s some math:

  • Stellar Flare does 39%+156% spellpower over 24 seconds, or 8.125% spellpower/second
  • Moonfire does 40.5%+292.5% spellpower over 20 seconds, or 16.65% spellpower/s
  • Sunfire does 40.5%+351% spellpower over 24 seconds, or 16.31% spellpower/s

Not only does Stellar Flare do approximately half the damage of Moonfire & Sunfire, but it’s hard casted!  The terrible damage combined with the clunky useability of the spell makes it simply not a viable talent choice in a realistic raid scenario.  There are extremely niche cases where 6+ high priority adds are alive for 30 seconds or more in which Stellar Flare will outdamage Euphoria or BoP, but this scenario simply doesn’t exist in the current Raid Tier

Next, the change to Starfall’s mechanics.

Starfall is now only going to hit targets affected by your DoTs.  This was previously the function of Glyph of Guided Stars, but they are making the Glyphed function baseline, and you can use the new glyph to return Starfall to it’s current state.

Do this immediately.  This change is catering to those learning to play Balance or unable to control their Starfall.  You are a raiding moonkin and understand the concepts of LoS and range.  You do not need this hand-holding to protect yourself from errant Starfall pulls.  Glyph of Guided Stars was always a DPS loss and they are now baking this DPS loss into the baseline skill.  The first thing you should do when patch goes live is acquire a Glyph of Untamed Stars and stick it in a glyph slot.  Fortunately this is only a minor glyph, and not a major (RIP Glyph of Aquatic Form.)

Time for self-healing.

Thanks to PvP, our self-healing got nerfed.  Where previously we were healing for diddly-squat, now we’re healing for two-thirds of diddly-squat.  This doesn’t change how you use Healing Touch, as if you were desperate enough to spam healing touch on yourself it doesn’t matter if it’s 100 hp or 66 hp, you need it and you need it now.  But hey, they gave us Nature’s Bounty so you can get 8s of free Healing Touch criticals when you kill something.  Yippie *eyeroll*

Finally, Displacer Beast was added to the Arcane School.

Just a useability issue.  If you get locked out of your Arcane School (by say, Hans & Frans roar) you will be unable to cast Displacer Beast.  This is pretty important if say, there’s a press coming down on your head and you can’t get out of the way without Displacer Beast.  This is what we call a ‘lose more’ change, as if you screw up and get locked out of Arcane, the potential to be punished for your mistake goes up.  Just don’t get locked out of your spell schools okay?

Welcome to 6.1.  Use the Untamed Stars Glyph, take a selfie of yourself crying about the Starfall nerf, and tweet it to me @Starfeathers.

Posted in Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Uncategorized, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Alame

Mathfall, or Alame re-learns Trigonometry

Today we’re going to talk about my favorite spell, Starfall.  It should be your favorite too, because this spell is incredible.  Starfall is the big driving factor as to why Balance Druids perform so exceptionally well in Highmaul.  Long story short; every fight in Highmaul except Butcher (unless you’re padding!) provides some period where Starfall is amazing.  You’ll be thrilled to know that Blackrock Foundry launches tomorrow and also has lots of fights that make Starfall great.

The math of starfall in 6.1.

There are a couple changes currently slated for 6.1.  These changes increase the spellpower scaling of Starfire, Wrath, and Starfall.  Once I got over my initial shock of Balance being buffed (as I and many others were expecting nerfs), I re-ran the math on Starfall versus Starsurge to see if I could justify even more Starfall usage.

It should be noted that all the following math is using numbers from 6.1.  These are neither final nor are they live.

To start with we’re going to evaluate starfall vs starsurge while ignoring mastery.  Mastery is tricky to calculate and apply as it is a dynamic value, so we’re going to keep it real simple and just look at base damages.  What we’re interested in is the damage dealt by each usage of a Starsurge charge at a given number of targets.  For using Starsurge, it’s the damage of Starsurge itself plus the damage of the empowerment buffs.

As you can see, Starsurge with either starfire (SF) or wrath (W) slightly outperforms Starfall at one target, and Starfall outperforms Starsurge heavily whenever there is 2 targets or more.  You’ll also notice that the lines corresponding to Wrath (W) and Starfire (SF) are virtually indistinguishable.  This is because the scaling adjustments for 6.1 brings them much closer in strength, so 2 empowered Starfires no longer do significantly more damage than 3 empowered Wraths.

Next we’re going to isolate Starfall’s 6.1 damage increase from Mastery.  This is where I had to re-learn trig, to properly establish a function for the dynamic Mastery that I could use to scale up the damage.  It took longer than I would care to admit.

The graph only looks at one target, in Lunar eclipse.  Solar obviously doesn’t give any mastery benefit to Starfall so there’s no scaling to account for.  40% mastery is a level you can expect around 680 ilevel.  100% mastery is only shown to display the scaling, as it’s much easier to see the two inflection points on the graph.

Putting it all together! So now that we’ve established the dynamic mastery benefit we can bring back our numbers from the first stage, combine them all together and see what the end product looks like.  I’ve scaled up the Starsurge damage for ~60 energy, and the empowered Starfire/Wrath casts for an average of ~95 energy which is slightly better than what you will usually fit in your rotation.

Look at that sweet, sweet mastery benefit.  Whenever someone asks you what a Moonkin’s best stat is you should show them this graph because it really speaks for itself.  In addition to Starfall being better than Starsurge in both eclipses (which is contrary to today’s common knowledge) the mastery makes Starfall almost on-par at 1 target and significantly better at 2 targets while in Lunar after the 6.1 changes.

So my original goal of wanting to Starfall more is achieved.  While previously I had been using Starfall at 2+ targets in Lunar and 3+ targets in Solar, once 6.1 hits I will be able to Starfall at 2+ targets in both eclipses.

Starfall is love, Starfall is life.

You can find me on Twitter at @Starfeathers.  If you’d like me to cover a certain topic tweet at me and I’ll see what I can do.

Posted in Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Alame
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Why do druids hate the merging of travel form?

When the developers decided to merge all of the druids’ travel form buttons into a single button, this theoretically made sense. If you are in water, the most efficient form is swimming in your aquatic form. In places you can fly, the most efficient form is flight form. In place where you aren’t in water and you can’t fly, stag form becomes the only usable form. So, the concept of merging them all into one button (where the game chooses the most efficient form for you) seemed like a great idea.

So, why do people so adamantly oppose the merging of these seemingly redundant forms? Why is this something so terrible there are four posts on the Beta forums, even after Blizzard thought they addressed all our concerns? Why are druid shapeshift forms a problem rivaled only by arms warriors for the contest of most class complaints?  To answer this question, we need to talk about what shapeshifting means to druids.

What shapeshift forms mean to druids

For some context, shapeshifting is one of the key things that druids do. Many people chose the druid class because they like shapeshifting. In fact, our forms are so popular that 8 of our 13 minor glyphs in the Warlords of Draneor build are tied directly to our forms.

In addition, the aesthetics of druid forms are so important to the druid class that my most popular guide on this blog is NOT either the leveling guide, or the healing guide. The charts I made mapping the bear/cat hair colors to worgen and troll forms rival my actual real guides for viewer counts. In fact, I’m actually embarrassed that I didn’t invest more time into making them “pretty” when I originally threw them together – two expansions later, they still draw the most consistent blog hits via google searches. In fact, in the last month, the two color charts for worgen and troll druids have had more than double the number of page views as my healing guide. Our shapeshift graphics are so important that we will need to make new mappings once the race changes are complete so that we have up to date color mappings between our hair and our forms.

We (druids) like to party

We interrupt this post to give you random druid parties across Azeroth:

Actually, wait, there’s more druid parties, and stag stacking!

In fact, I could actually post dozens of pictures I’ve taken at various druid parties over the many years I have been playing the game, but I think people would believe me when I say that partying in your forms, even a form that might not be the most efficient form, is probably one of the biggest features of the druid class. Sometimes, druids just want to have fun. This fun factor, however, is one of the hardest things to explain to people who aren’t druids. Why would people actually care about being able to swim in stag form when aquatic form is objectively more efficient? The answer really is just that druids sometimes prefer aesthetics over efficiency, and like having control over their forms. While everything else in the game, and the problem of “button bloat” was all about increasing efficiency, when it comes to our forms, flexibility and fun is what we care about the most. My balance druid on live actually glyphed for tree form just to have access to all the shapeshift forms on one character. It’s not rational, it’s just pure fun.

Forgetting the past?

Lets also not forget what happened when they tried to take away the original grumpy tree form and turn it into a big beefy cooldown tree. That’s why it got added back as a cosmetic glyph – because druids really liked having that button on their button bar and the ability to use an outdated form (even after they complained that it was ugly and needed a graphical update in the first place). Even the generic cheetah form couldn’t go away completely, and had to stick around as a PVP glyph. Druids really don’t like having their forms taken away, and the happiest you can make druids is to introduce new colors or form variety.

A possible glyph solution?

While the developers still didn’t quite understand our fascination with our forms, they changed glyph of the stag to have the following effect: Your ground form is the rideable stag that can carry a party member. Then, your flight form becomes a new button, seperated from the other shapeshift form. However, this has one very fatal flaw for all your friends. When you have someone on your stag’s back and you go into the water, you still shift into aquatic form, leaving your friends behind in the water to drown. So, at the very least, this glyph needs to be changed to have all three forms back on their own buttons so you can’t risk drowning your friends on accident by having them fall off your back when you go into a puddle that is too deep.

In addition, earlier I said that 8 of our 12 minor glyphs are all cosmetic. To be able to take this glyph, you can’t take the cheetah glyph, or the Travel glyph (that increases your mount speed). You also can’t take the cheetah glyph with the speed boost travel glyph either (likely a purposeful PVP nerf).

In the words of the almighty Alamo, “DURIDS IS 4 haf FUN TIME WIT FRENS”

Do we need a change at all?

For people that wanted the functionality of combining all our travel forms to one button, it was always possible to find a macro for shapeshifting. Thus, it’s not necessarily apparent that taking away druid form buttons actually helped with reducing button bloat in any significant way. The main thing that the change did was it took away choice and control, and that seems to be something druids care about more than efficiency or our number of buttons. I’m happy to have one more button for some cosmetic form I’ll never fight in. Thus, while this idea seems neat (and works better now that many of the bigger bugs are fixed), it’s still insanely unpopular. This remains unpopular even after they glyphed it to split off flight form from the rideable stag.

Is this change something we could learn to accept and live with? Maybe. In some of the questing, auto-shifting from travel to aquatic form seemed to be kinda helpful. However, it’s still a problem of whether druids prefer the efficiency of auto-shifting to the control of having separate buttons. I’m not sure that merging the forms is a change for the better, or if it’s just a change for the sake of change. In the end, this may be a problem where druids just want to have fun.

Posted in Druid - General, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna


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