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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

Fae Empowerment: It’s a trap!

So, I’ve been somewhat MIA the last few weeks. I am graduating with my PhD after six very long years of graduate school this summer. So, I officially have the title of “Doctor” now after successfully defending my dissertation (though it’s a research PhD and not a medical degree). All I have left to do is to submit the final document to the university this week (after I do a last editing pass). Today, we’ll be talking a little bit about some of the recent moonkin changes in MOP. The two main topics are: shooting stars & fae empowerment.

Shooting stars is slightly worse in beta than live, though starsurge hits harder now.

So, Shooting Stars had a patch note that showed up saying that the proc rate had increased from 30% to 50%. However, we need to give this change some context.

  • The live version of shooting stars:You have a 4% chance when you deal damage with your Moonfire or Insect Swarm to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and reduce its cast time by 100%. Lasts 12 sec.
  • The beta version of shooting stars: You have a 50% chance when you deal critical periodic damage with your Moonfire or Sunfire to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and cause its next cast within 12 sec to be instant.

So, while shooting stars was “buffed” on beta, my level 90 druid is sometimes getting almost no shooting star procs because my crit chance is so abysmally low. This can be addressed with gearing for more crit, but I’m not sure how much we’ll do that. On live, we have two DOTs and the chance is low, but it’s also on hit. So, on Live we’re realistically getting a proc every other starsurge or so, and it usually feels pretty consistent in how starsurge behaves in our rotation.

On beta, I was testing with an 11% crit chance (that included the 5% from the mage buff that I had on me). At 11% crit on my level 90, the frequency of starsurge procs over long periods of training dummy testing felt about the same for live versus beta. However, in my beta testing, I went longer periods of time with no procs, but then got more procs occurring closer together. This was likely due to a combination of how “chance on crit” procs work, along with having an increased chance to proc when both moonfire & sunfire are up at the same time on beta (especially with celestial alignment). The streaky nature of the new shooting stars and the abysmally low crit rate my beta character has makes starsurge not really any better than it is on live right now. At the 30% proc chance, it would have been terrible, but the 50% proc chance is at least a step in the right direction.

In  both cases, having DOTs up on multiple targets of course increased the proc rate of shooting stars. The point of talking about this is that while the increased proc rate up to 50% (and the buff in damage) was really nice, it doesn’t mean you’ll likely get more starsurge casts than you do on live during the beginning of MOP, especially with how devalued crit generally is for us at this point in Cataclysm. The interesting thing to see is whether or not the change has much of an impact on how we value crit (I haven’t yet seen the math on that), which could overall  be good. It also means that as we gear up at level 90, we’ll get higher and higher chances to proc starsurge. So, you may see crit become a more important PVP stat for getting off more shooting star procs with your multi-dot and moonfire/sunfire spamming strategies. So, I think that the new shooting star proc design is definitely headed in the right direction and has potential, but we shouldn’t be dancing in the streets just yet. Increased time spent testing starsurge on beta has made me feel slightly better because I had more time for the streaky proc rate to start to average out more, but it wasn’t the really high proc rate feeling I was expecting to have going into the tests.

Fae Empowerment: It’s a trap!

While a lot of the fae empowerment testing has been happening in  the land of charts and spreadsheets, I like testing mechanics by actually trying them  out in beta (see: above starsurge testing). So, this is what happens with Fae Empowerment:

  • Fae Empowerment is a buff that is on you when you cast Faerie Fire. Casting Faerie Fire gives your next three casts of starfire AND wrath a damage boost. It also applies two debuffs: Target can’t stealth (lasting 3 minutes), and the weakened armor debuff (stacks up to 3 times, lasts 30 seconds). However, if you cast FF three times in a row, you don’t gain increasing numbers of stacks of Fae Empowerment, it just resets the timer on it.
  • You have 18 seconds to cast all six spells. This means you want to cast Faerie Fire one time when you are three wrath or starfire casts away from an Eclipse.
  • During those 18 seconds, the following list of things will likely happen: Shooting star procs or the CD ending on starsurge naturally (high damage, and moves your Eclipse bar, and eats up time in your 18 seconds), Euphoria procs push you closer to the next Eclipse (or doesn’t proc), you have to cast starfall in your lunar eclipse cycle, you have to cast moonfire or sunfire at the start of either Eclipse cycle, you may have to move, and/or you may have to cast other non-damage utility spells. Keeping in mind that my above testing showed an increased likelihood of starsurge procs around the time of Eclipse transitions (because that’s the primary time we have double-DOTs), the buffs from Fae Empowerment leave me really underwhelmed.
  • So, at a training dummy, I’m only usually averaging 5 of the 6 casts in Fae Empowerment buffing my spells (rarely I would get 4 or 6; most of the time it wore off right before my 6th cast). In addition, Fae Empowerment always gets cast at predictable points in the rotation, although that part of the rotation is already when we’re doing the most interesting & active things. So, Fae Empowerment clutters up the transition to a new Eclipse without adding any real interest or fun to the rotation at all. In most cases, for the average person reading my blog, Fae Empowerment is going to lower your overall DPS. It will only be a DPS increase for a small number of moonkin that manage to game the system to get an extra tiny damage boost.

In conclusion – Fae Empowerment is a trap that will lower damage of average or below average moonkin players, and in most cases will probably be a lot of work for no real tangible damage increase for above average moonkin. Increasing the proc rate of shooting stars, however, is a place where increased interest and randomness in our rotation has the potential to make the rotation less boring, especially at higher levels of crit than my freshly dinged 90 wearing greens currently has.

I actually think that the transition from one Eclipse to another Eclipse has plenty of things going on, and I’m not sure Fae Empowerment really does anything to improve the fun of moonkin, and the only challenge of FE is trying to perform an impossible task of getting all 6 casts off before the buff wears off, so that it won’t lower your DPS. Good luck with that!

Honestly, I think the moonkin stand-still rotation was better off without Fae Empowerment. I think a bigger problem is the fact that moonkin’s movement damage wasn’t ever really addressed. If Faerie Fire actually did some damage of it’s own, it may actually become a more interesting tool with FE attached to it. Any raid is going to want to keep up three stacks of the armor debuff, and moonkin’s using it once an Eclipse cycle isn’t really a good way to keep the armor debuff up unless using Faerie Fire in our rotation is an actual DPS increase. In this case, we worked so hard to get Faerie Fire out of our rotation even back when it was a 2 or 3 minute duration in Burning Crusade. I don’t see how forcing it into our current rotation is a good idea at all without some serious changes to the spell. Since we do no melee damage, it shouldn’t be our job to keep up a debuff that increases melee damage.

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

MoP news: mounting in moonkin form

Right now on beta, Moonkin form can mount! We’ve known all of beta that mounting in the astral glyph form has been working. However, moonkin was bugged until this latest patch where you had to shift out of moonkin form to be able to get on a mount. Sunfyre noticed today that we were able to mount in moonkin form (something people have been wanting for a long, long time). I’m fairly sure that the ability to mount from moonkin form will go live, since astral form would be overpowered if it could mount and moonkin couldn’t. Here are a few shots of me in the MoP beta. Please let us keep this!

This took a while to figure out since we were bugged and had no mounts at all in  the latest beta build due to the new UI feature not working all that well.

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

State of the moonkin PvE MOP edition

Now that we have been in beta a couple of weeks, it is time for me to start doing my moonkin beta posts, which I write a couple times each beta. I’m going to try and keep this reasonably short to just highlight some major areas where things are going well and where we still need attention. The beta forum version can be found here.

Overall rotation:

  • At this point, our single target “training dummy” rotation works okay. Solar and Lunar feel relatively balanced. Removing insect swarm works out fine. There is still a lot of skill involved in maximizing moonfire & sunfire “double-DOT” up-time. I’m fine with insect swarm being gone, though I wouldn’t mind if it came back as an instant-cast execute ability to help give moonkin a finisher and more instant-cast damage outside of shooting stars procs and moonfire spam.
  • For AOE purposes, the changes to hurricane (astral storm) makes our AOE rotations more balanced between the two specs. So, it’s likely that our AOE rotation in Mists will feel a lot better. The targeting mechanic for shrooms is also a lot better. Hurricane still costs too much mana, but that will likely be a balancing issue for level 90.
  • Our movement DPS options are still severely lacking. Being limited to moonfire spam is not going to cut it. In terms of how to fix this issue, I’ve been suggesting adding Spiritwalker’s Grace and Aspect of the Fox to moonkin’s Symbiosis spell list (where having either a shaman or hunter in your raid would allow for casting wrath & starfire while moving during the duration). A way to cast wrath & starfire while moving could also be a good option for glyphs.

Talents:

Glyphs:

  • Right now, moonkin lack any sort of real set of major glyphs that impact the spells we use. I do love glyph of moonbeast, since it allows me to be the true “restokin” I always wanted to be (I’ve been wanting to cast heals in moonkin form since moonkin form was created in patch 1.8). However, other classes are still getting glyphs that impact their main role (even if they come at a cost).
  •  Glyph of Focus (inreased starfall’s damage but reduced it’s range) is actually something I think should be added back. It had the cost of sometimes being out of range of the boss for starfall in exchange for sometimes not hitting things you needed to keep alive.
  • Other glyph options: We could have a glyph like glyph of flame shock, that reduced moonfire/sunfire’s direct damage but increased it’s duration.  Glyph of unleashed lightning could be adapted to moonkin, where we could cast wrath & starfire while moving at the cost of an increased cast time. We could have a glyph where starsurge was always instant cast but lowered the chance for shooting stars to proc. Glyph of Mushroom where you drop three mushrooms at once but it increases the bloom cooldown by 5 or 10 seconds.

Symbiosis:

  • Moonkin have a lot of options for PvP, but most of them won’t give you any type of real benefit in PvE at all (and some of the spells just don’t do anything for you). For example, you don’t need misdirect as a moonkin for PvP at all, and if you already have a hunter in the raid, you don’t need it for PvE either. Symbiosis is a good place to add ways of doing DPS on the move. Giving us a couple options that will have minor impacts on our DPS will not be overpowered or problematic as long as we have 3 or 4 different options of things that give us similar PvE benefits. I worked out a google doc spreadsheet thinking about ideas for what moonkin could want, to have a somewhat well-rounded ability list that wasn’t likely to be overpowered for either PvP or PvE purposes.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ow2iKen7eW-HyQ3Qo0u-kypD4BdRjOWrvpt0UMaRSgU/edit?pli=1

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

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