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Patch 6.1 Balance Druid Rundown

Patch 6.1 will be downloading in your Battle.net 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
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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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Starsurge Recharge – How do I Use These Things Anyway?

Hi everyone! We have a new guest writer today, Alame. He will be covering moonkin topics on the blog to help new and experienced moonkin. I am happy to have him join the team! Since I’m busy writing mage and resto things, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to moonkin. I hope that Alame can help answer some of your pressing moonkin questions! – Lissanna

Hi Restokin readers!  I am Alame.  I am a Balance Druid for Last Word on US-Ner’zhul Horde.  I have been playing World of Warcraft since the release of Cataclysm, as a Resto druid until Siege of Orgrimmar where Balance became my main spec.  I am very much into progression raiding and theorycrafting.  Outside of Azeroth I study Immunology & Infection, and can be found in the Gym or the local bar.

Starsurge management

Starsurge charge management is one of my favorite aspects of the new Balance Druid that Warlords of Draenor has brought us.  This is mostly due to the duality of the mechanic; you can manage your Starsurge charges very simply by using them and do quite well.  You can also go several steps further in analyzing and predicting recharge rates to pool and dump charges to push your DPS that little bit higher.

We’ll get to usage in a moment, but first let’s look at Starsurge Recharging.

You have two sources of Starsurge charges – the base recharge and Shooting Stars procs.  The base recharge is nice and predictable at a steady 1 charge every 30s.  Shooting Stars on the other hand can be unpredictable and in my experience very streaky.  Some fights I am swimming in procs and charges, and other fights I am struggling to keep up.

Shooting Stars has two levels of inherent RNG attached to it, which greatly contributes to how unpredictable it can be.  The first level of RNG is the proc chance itself, a 5% chance whenever your most recent DoT deals damage.  The second level is the critical strike bonus, where your 5% chance is doubled whenever the DoT deals a crit.  The important thing to take away from the mechanics of Shooting Stars is that you can increase your chances of receiving procs.  You do this through your Haste (more ticks!) and Crit (higher chance!) ratings.

The chart below shows the number of charges acquired per source over a ten-minute interval.  The graph operates under 2 assumptions which we will address up front:

  1. Haste and Crit levels are equal at either 1,100 or 1,500.  The 1,100 line represents around 680 ilevel, and the 1,500 line is approximately 710ilevel and used to demonstrate the scaling.  Haste and Crit are used in equal values as they are weighted very closely, and you should strive to balance the two wherever possible.
  2. The proc rate for Shooting Stars is calculated as a statistical average! In no way should you take away a message that you will always get 21 SS procs in 10 minutes. That’s not how RNG works.

Charges gained per source over 10 minutes

For those of you not quite in 680 gear yet (It’s a little high I know.  I hit that landmark recently so I’m a little excited about it!) you can extrapolate your gear from the given values.  Around 660 the Shooting Stars generation will be very close to the base recharge rate, and around 20 ilevels corresponds to an extra charge every 10 minutes assuming your stats are distributed evenly.

The key thing to remember looking at the graph is that you benefit from both the base recharge and Shooting Stars simultaneously.  At 680 ilevel you will on average, generate 41 (20 base, 21 SS) additional Starsurge charges over ten minutes for a rate of 4 per minute, or 1 charge every 14.5 seconds.  At our theoretical 710 ilevel, you’re looking at 1 charge every 14 seconds flat.

Now that we understand where the charges are coming from, lets move onto Starsurge Charge Usage.

There are four rules we try to follow when consuming our Starsurge charges, but it’s important to note that each of these rules has exceptions to them.  Rules are made to be broken you know.

Rule #1:  At no point should your available Starsurge Charges reach 3.

The reason for this is three-fold.  Firstly, reaching 3 charges will freeze the base recharge timer.  If this happens you are not actively generating an additional charge, and not maximizing the number of charges you will generate in the encounter.  Keep that timer working!  Secondly, any Shooting Stars procs received while charge-capped will have no effect.  Again in the interests of maximizing charges gained you want to make sure your Shooting Stars procs always have room to add another Charge.  Thirdly, reaching 3 charges via a Shooting Stars proc will reset the base charge timer.  If you are halfway through the timer (15s until next charge) and this occurs, you will now be 30s away from the next charge when you charge-dump.  The ideal place for your Starsurge timer to be, is 1 charge stored with 10-20s on the base timer until the next charge.

Rule #2: Lunar and Solar Empowerment should be consumed and not overwritten.

This is the most frequently-excepted rule, for reasons we will cover when we talk about charge-dumping.  The two (Lunar) or three (Solar) stacks of empowerment you receive when casting Starsurge in a given eclipse should all be used before casting Starsurge again in the same eclipse.  Overwriting these is a pretty straight up DPS loss.  Again there are exceptions to this rule that will be covered shortly.

Rule #3: Starsurge versus Starfall.

This is much more simple than it is made out to be.  When in Lunar eclipse, Starfall instead of Starsurge at 2 or more targets.  When in Solar eclipse, Starfall instead of Starsurge at 3 or more targets.  The exception to this rule is when you should NOT be AoEing (Hello Ko’ragh & Imperator Mar’gok) in which case you should use Starsurge regardless.  Seriously, Starfall is incredibly strong right now. Make the most of it before the nerf bat catches up to it.

Rule #4: When charged-starved, save charges for Empowered Starfires instead of Empowered Wraths.

Just simple math here.  Starfire does 234% of Spellpower, multiplied by 2 and empowered for 30% results in 608.4% Spellpower.  Wrath does 146.3% spellpower, multiplied by 3 and empowered for 30% spits out 570.57% Spellpower.  608.4% > 570.57%.  Good?  Good.

With those rules in mind the last concepts I have for you today are Charge Pooling & Dumping.

Charge pooling is super simple; it’s saving up charges past where you normally want to sit (1 available and halfway to the second) in anticipation of an event.  These events are usually Celestial Alignment coming off cooldown, add phases (hello Kargath, Tectus, Ko’ragh, Imperator) or the like.  Around 20-25s before whatever event I will stop casting Starsurge and being pooling.  With our 14.5s per charge recharge time we determined earlier, this will usually sit me very close to 3 charges when the event begins.  This is however, playing with fire in capping your charges and breaking Rule #1.  This is okay.  The DPS gain you will see from an additional Starsurge during Celestial Alignment, or an additional Starfall during an add phase will be much greater than the DPS loss from a small base-timer reset, or a wasted Shooting Stars proc.

Charge dumping is slightly more complicated.  The purpose behind charge dumping is to avoid breaking Rule #1.    It involves burning Starsurge charges where you normally wouldn’t in anticipation of your charges capping.  The three best ways to charge-dump are:

  1. Starsurge on the downswing of Eclipse, carrying the Empowerment buff through the next eclipse. (This does not mean casting Starfire in Solar!  Simply hold onto the buff until your eclipse changes again and you can consume them in the correct eclipse.)
  2. Starsurge while moving, regardless of Eclipse state / empowerment buffs.  Thanks to our WoD perk making Starsurge instant, we can cast it while on the move.  Whenever you are looking to charge dump (2 or more charges) and need to move, hit Starsurge with glee.  Not only does this charge dump for you, it also mitigates the huge impact movement has on our DPS.  You should never consume more than 1 charge at time like this, as you will quickly charge-starve yourself if you do so. You are breaking Rule #2 doing this, and that’s totally okay.  However, if you are overwriting 2 Lunar or 3 Solar buffs like this, do dump #3 instead.
  3. Starfall!  I love Starfall.  You should too.  If you can’t Starsurge while moving without overwriting too many empowerment buffs, hit Starfall.  Even on one target Starfall does excellent damage (in fact it does MORE single-target than Starsurge without empowerment buffs) and it’s an instant-cast you can use on the move.  However please do not Starfall where it will negatively impact your raid!  Ko’ragh and Imperator adds are the best example for this.

That’s all I have for you guys on Starsurge management.  If you need some clarification please leave a comment below, and if you’d like to see me cover a particular topic drop me a line on twitter @Starfeathers!

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Patch 6.0, Warlords of Draenor
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Beginner Moonkin Eclipse Strategies

The new Eclipse mechanic is confusing a lot of druids. While Lore made a great intro video, some of the timing and advice is above what brand new moonkin druids can do. So, we’ll cover the general new player strategy below. If you are an advanced player, you should move directly to the guides written by Cyous.

Once upon a time, I was falling in love (with moonkin), but now I’m only falling apart. There’s nothing I can do. A Total Eclipse of the Heart.

What is Eclipse?

Illustration of the Eclipse power bar

Eclipse is the most difficult mechanic to learn as a moonkin. Eclipse puts a bar under your name-plate (if you are using the default User Interface, without any addons). You get Eclipse at level 10, so you can start learning the mechanic early. Do not ignore Eclipse! There is a new Eclipse version again this expansion.

When you start combat, the new version of Eclipse makes the bar automatically swing back and forth, even if you aren’t casting anything. It starts out heading towards the moon (Lunar Eclipse) side. The closer you are to the moon (Lunar Eclipse), the more damage your Arcane spells (e.g., Starfire and Moonfire) do.

When Eclipse crosses into the yellow Sun side (Solar Eclipse) at the zero balance power mid-point, your moonfire turns into Sunfire. Sunfire does nature damage (instead of arcane damage). The closer you are to the sun (Solar Eclipse), the more damage your nature spells (e.g., wrath and sunfire) do.

Are there addons to make playing moonkin easier?

Yes! The most recent patch broke every previous addon tool everyone used to manage their Eclipse rotation. At this point, Cyous has made a tool using Weak Auras 2 for managing the new Eclipse rotation. This helps you with timing Eclipse for more optimal play. If you plan to raid at end-game with your druid, you want to get the Weak Auras 2 build that Cyous put together.

What do you cast in Lunar Phase as a new druid?

  • Moonfire: This is a Damage over Time spell. You want this DOT on your target to tick over time. In the most simple rotation, you can always just cast this once every time you enter a new Lunar Eclipse phase (or refresh it at any point during the lunar phase). NOTE: While you get double-damage to the instant damage from moonfire/sunfire in the ‘peak’ Eclipse, the DOT isn’t impacted by this extra buff. Instead, the DOT dynamically updates every tick. Thus, maintaining high DOT up-time is the first step in learning the rotation (e.g., more ticks is more damage; regardless of when you cast moonfire).
  • Starsurge: This is spell has three charges. The simplest time to cast this is at the start of a new Lunar phase. When you cast starsurge, it buffs the damage of your next two Starfire spells. Avoid casting starsurge when you are about to leave the Lunar Phase (otherwise, you can usually fit in one or two starsurges per cycle).
  • Starfire is the main ‘filler’ spell you cast during Lunar Phase.
  • Beginner Lunar rotation Summary: Moonfire -> Starsurge -> Cast a bunch of starfires -> Swap to Solar phase at the zero midpoint.

What do you cast in Solar Phase as a new druid?

  • Sunfire: This is another DOT. You want this DOT on your target to tick over time. In the most simple rotation, you can always just cast this once every time you enter a new Solar Eclipse phase (or refresh it at any point in the solar phase). This shares the same mechanics as moonfire.
  • Starsurge: The simplest time to cast this is at the start of a new Solar phase. When you cast starsurge, it now buffs your next three wrath spells in this phase. Avoid casting starsurge when you are about to leave the Solar Phase.
  • Wrath is your main ‘filler’ spell you cast during Solar Phase.
  • Beginner Solar rotation Summary: Sunfire -> Starsurge -> Cast a bunch of wraths-> Swap to Solar Phase at the zero midpoint.

Can I just spam moonfire all the time?

No, learning at least the very basic lunar vs solar distinction is helpful for building the foundation for learning the rotation. Also, now that moonfire turns into sunfire, you only have access to moonfire half the time, anyway. So, everyone who just spammed moonfire should learn the basic rotation described above for alternating lunar and solar phases. However, moonfire spam can be useful for movement. Keep in mind that the DOT updates dynamically with spell power buffs and such, so that the timing is more forgiving.

What are the more advanced rotation decisions?

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Uncategorized, Written By Lissanna

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