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Happy 6.2 patch day for druids and mages

The 6.2 patch is hitting the servers this week, with a new raid, a new questing zone, and various class changes. With playing both a druid and a mage, I’ll cover a couple things for resto and balance druids, with a bonus “what should I be?” for mages.

General updates:

Resto druid updates:

  • The good news for resto druids is that you didn’t change very much this patch. So, healing should be very similar in 6.2 compared to today. Overall, resto druids are solid in terms of healing toolset and output.
  • Note, however, that hunters’ aspect of the fox went away and can’t be paired with tranquility anymore (so, no more Tranq on the move).
  • The Tier 18 set bonuses buff your Lifebloom. The 2-piece makes your lifebloom HOT have a chance to proc a big burst ‘bloom’ periodically, and the 4-piece allows you to put lifebloom on both of your tanks. This should help make you more competitive as a tank healer, though the lifebloom ‘bloom’ procs are totally random and risk overhealing.
  • The legendary healing ring comes with a group buff you have to be aware of. When one person activates the ring, it increases all healing being done and causes all raid members to share a shield blanket that absorbs damage for the amount that people heal for. So, this basically becomes a very powerful AOE heal for all raid members that needs to be timed in progression fights – BUT only one person can use it a fight (e.g., like heroism). In LFR, expect random people to pop it at the wrong time – because that’s just how LFR rolls.
  • The druid trinket from Archimonde (seed of creation) allows druid rejuv & lifebloom heals to sometimes ‘cleave’ to heal a second person.
  • Other than those minor things to be aware of, you can mostly continue on doing what you were doing. Druids are still fine for healing overall (not the best persay, but certainly good enough to bring to raids).

Balance druid updates:

  • All the major changes to balance druids shouldn’t impact your rotation. They just did fixes to make gear scaling work better, which has always been a problem for balance druids and a few other classes.
  • The balance Tier 18 set bonuses don’t change your rotation or healing style. You have a chance to gain a temporary damage-dealing pet (2-piece) and that pet increases your damage (4-piece), similar to some of the other set bonuses.
  • The damage legendary ring group bonus will be something moonkin won’t actually hit the button for, as the person who uses it should be in melee range. You do, however, get a damage bonus when one of your melee uses the legendary ring effect. If you want to use it at the start of the fight in LFR, you are welcome to run in and pop it in melee range (but I can pretty much guarantee you that if anyone else has it, they’re doing the same thing).
  • The trinket has a chance for starsurge to also cast a starfall effect. So, you should use this in guiding whether you glyph starfall (untamed stars) or not (e.g., do you want starfall to hit one thing or many things?). The glyph may be swapped out between fights as necessary.

Mage updates:

The changes to mages mean that mages have to make more substantial decisions than druids do in the patch – namely, which of the 3 specs should they be? As always, gearing and skill are going to impact how much damage you do. So, changing specs isn’t guaranteed to be a damage increase for you and will require practice time to perfect rotations (plus you have to change your gear/enchants/gems/food).

  • The ‘right’ answer of “what mage spec should I be for Mythic HFC?” is “arcane for single-target plus either frost or fire for cleave/AOE fights, depending on where you are in progression”. If you never intend to do Mythic HFC, then frost actually becomes a much more viable choice (see below).
  • They did some pretty major buffs to frost mages in 6.2, since frost was having a hard time keeping up as the other specs got more gear. Thus, while I had dropped my frost spec entirely for the end of BRF progression (in favor of fire for all the AOE fights), frost is now more viable for HFC raids; particularly if you are working on fights where you can cleave to two or more targets. Frost is going to suffer from scaling problems (and there is a risk that some future bug fixes might substantially nerf frost damage again); so frost is really only an optimal choice for normal/heroic raiders who want one good spec they can use for all the fights without having to swap between two specs. TLDR: Frost wins if you want one well-rounded spec, particularly for normal/heroic HFC.
  • Arcane is by far the best single-target fight but suffers from basically a complete lack of notable cleave/AOE damage compared to the other two options. So, if what you really care about is being the best single-target damage dealer you can be, then arcane is the best choice. Note that the stat priority changes for the Tier 18 arcane and makes haste more powerful when you have the pet that doesn’t scale with your mastery (See the altered time post). Basically, if you go arcane – mastery is better than haste until you have the 2-piece set bonus for Tier 18. After that, you want to spec for haste over mastery. TLDR: Arcane is good single-target and weak AOE.
  • Fire is by far the best at AOE compared to the other specs; this is what made fire so powerful in all the AOE fights the last raid tier. Fire is less helpful in HFC because there are fewer good AOE/cleave fights where fire was really ahead on the PTR and the changes that end up nerfing fire damage leave fire behind on single-target quite significantly (enough to make fire single-target outright bad on any of the simcraft data). If you don’t ever intend to do mythic, then you could probably get away with staying fire for normal or heroic, but even in lower gear levels, your single-target will likely leave something to be desired unless you have lucky crits that boost your damage. TLDR: Fire is weak single-target and good AOE.
  • There is a larger FAQ for mages over at the Altered Time forums covering all other important things you should know.

TLDR: Balance and resto druids are fine enough for now – you didn’t get redesigned this patch (YAY!). Mages have to drop fire for any single-target fights and go arcane (or frost) instead.

Posted in Druid - General, Mage, Moonkin Balance DPS, Patch 6.2, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna


Moonkin Logs – Sorting the Feathers from the Fluff

Today I’m going to walk you through how to analyze Moonkin logs from Warcraft Logs.  Analyzing logs is the easiest way to find out what you’re doing wrong, and how you can improve as a Druid.  I’m going to assume you know absolutely nothing about Warcraft Logs, so bear with me if you have some familiarity.

First we need to find your logs.  Go to the Warcraft Logs home page and type your character’s name into the search bar.  Select the right name/realm combination to bring up the rankings screen.  If your name/realm combination doesn’t appear on the list you don’t have any logs uploaded.  You need to download the client from the link at the top of the page, and run it while raiding to record and upload your logs.  If you don’t have any logs of your own to use, you can use my logs and follow along.

With the rankings screen, we want to figure out how you stack up against other Druids of similar ilevel.  Using the ilevel bracket menu, select the ilevel of your character (select 695+ if using my logs.) This will filter out all logs not withing your ilevel bracket, and adjust the percentiles accordingly.  The number in the “Historical %” column is the important one – 50% is the average parse, and higher is better.

 

To find mistakes and target improvements we have to look at the actual combat log.  Click any one of your parses in the table to open up the logs.  This will open up the Damage Done tab of the log as seen below.

The first mistake we look for is Casting in the wrong eclipse.  This is one of the most basic principles of Balance, so you’re probably already doing it right, and it’s super easy to fix if you’re not.  Click your name from the damage done tab (see above) to open up your damage source graph as seen below.

From this graph we’re looking at the brown peaks.  These peaks correspond to Wrath casts, so double check the colors in your log.  Wrath peaks should be roughly symmetrical and span about 20 seconds (if using Euphoria.)  Peaks wider than 20 seconds means Wrath is being casted in Lunar eclipse, and peaks smaller than 20s means Starfire is being casted in Solar.  It’s not the end of the world if your peaks aren’t nicely shaped – it simply means you missed a cast for whatever reason.

 

The second thing we look for is Potion usage.  This is super easy to find.  Open up the ‘buffs’ tab and look for how many counts of the “Draenic Intellect Potion” you have.  You should have 2.

Next we want to look at Cooldown Usage.  We can do so from the screen we are already on, the buffs tab.  Look for Celestial Alignment and Incarnation: Chosen of Elune.  Incarnation should be used on pull and every 3 minutes afterwards (2 uses in 3 minutes, 3 in 6 minutes, 4 in 9 minutes etc.) and Celestial Alignment should be double that (if you have the 4 set bonus) or the same (without 4 set bonus.)  Check to make sure the cooldowns are being used enough, and then check to make sure that Incarnation and odd-numbered Celestial Alignments are being used together.  It should be noted that there are some fights in BRF where cooldowns are not used on pull or saved for specific mechanics, in those fights simply look for number of usages and usage at the correct times.

 

Our Fourth mistake to look for is Starsurge usage and Empowerement consumption.  First we want to make sure that Starsurge charges are being used enough.  We determine how many charges are available by adding our Shooting Stars procs to the base generation.  The forumla you should use is 3 + (SS procs) + (fight length in seconds / 30s).  Calculating from my Gruul log shown above, we have 3 + (25) + (294/30) = 37.8.  We always round this number down because you can’t use 0.8 Starsurge charges.  In my parse I had 37 available Starsurges and I used 33.  This means I lost SS charges to being charge-capped at some point during the fight.  The number of Starsurge uses can be found on the damage source screen we used earlier.

Looking for Empowerement consumption is quite difficult and time consuming, and I’d advise you don’t bother unless you’re trying to squeeze out every drop of DPS.  The buff stacks are not tracked in the combat log, meaning we have to use cast sequences to determine buff overwrites.  First click the “Casts” tab, then scroll down and click the “+” sign at the far left of the row for Starsurge, Starfire, and Wrath.  You should be left with a screen that looks like this:

To look for overwrites, look for each cast of starsurge (yellow peak, middle graph) and check the Starfire/Wrath graphs for 2 Starfire or 3 wrath casts before another Starsurge peak appears.  This is very imprecise and difficult, so as I said earlier don’t concern yourself too much with this.  Give it a quick once-over looking for obvious Starsurge casts without Starfires/Wraths in between.

 

The second-last thing we look for is Idle time.  Time where you’re not casting or performing actions.  We can do this from the casts tab.  On the very bottom graph (the one with grey & orange peaks) click on all the greyed-out spell names at the top of the graph to add peaks for each spell.  When the graph is showing all your casts simultaneously, there should be no large gaps.  Large gaps means downtime, and downtime means lost DPS.  If there are large gaps, make a note of the time they appear, and keep track of those timestamps for our final step.

 

The final step is examining Movement for mechanics.  In the top right of the page click on “replay” to bring up the fight replay.  Click on everyone’s name except your own to hide their movements, and show only yours.  Start the replay and look for large and unnecessary movements that kill your DPS.  Check the timestamps you recorded in the last step to see if the gaps in casting correspond with movement.  This is again one of the more difficult things to analyze as you have to be able to determine for yourself if movement is necessary or superfluous.

 

Outside of looking for those specific mistakes, the best way to figure out what you’re doing wrong is to compare your log to that of a more experienced/progressed Boomkin.  You’re welcome to use my public-access logs to compare yourself to, or I’d recommend using logs from Sepe-Ner’zhul.  Sepe is one of the top boomkins in the world and consistently has excellent parses throughout progression.

 

If you’re still struggling to figure out what you’re doing wrong, feel free to tweet your logs to me @Starfeathers, and I’ll see what I can pull out for you.  Also I highly encourage you all to support Kihra in the maintenance and development of Warcraft Logs by supporting the patreon at https://www.patreon.com/warcraftlogs.

Posted in Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Patch 6.0, Patch 6.2, Written By Alame


New 6.2 patch news!

Blizzard put the patch 6.2 content on the PTR last night. Thus, the WOW community has now had some time to digest the patch notes and the datamined content. There are a couple key points worth highlighting early on that aren’t necessarily as easy to see from the quest notes and datamined info.

The 6.2 patch has a ton of content. Following a small content patch in 6.1, all of the new real patch content for the entire expansion is being released all at once. They are opening an entire new end-game content zone (Tanaan Jungle), a raid dungeon, small 5-man group content, and the last legendary ring quests. It should be a really great and entertaining patch with something for everyone. This will be a huge patch with tons of things to do right when the patch launches. However, as this includes the end of the legendary ring quests, this is likely to be the last real raid tier of the expansion as predicted. It may be possible to see a 6.3 patch, but it looks much more like they put all their eggs in the 6.2 patch basket. This expansion feels more like two mini expansions rolled into one, rather than having content spread out over time across different patches.

Tanaan Jungle’s description pretty much guarantees that flying won’t come back. They have highlighted the content being more ‘open world’ questing, treasure puzzles, and rare spawns. This design is similar to the Timeless Isle except for one thing – Tanaan Jungle is a giant zone in the middle of the map. So, if you can’t fly in Tanaan Jungle, you can’t fly anywhere else, either. Tanaan Jungle is also going to be content that is gated by the garrison interactions, in that you can only unlock the TJ content if you have a level 3 garrison and construct your shipyard. So, if you love jumping puzzles in WOD so far and loved the Timeless Isle, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will love Tanaan Jungle. This also comes with a new batch of daily quests, so perhaps we can get a little more out of Tanaan Jungle than we did out of the Timeless Isle in terms of reasons to keep returning over time. If those things aren’t your cup of tea, I’m sure there will be plenty of garrison missions to help keep you entertained. The garrison will come with more follower missions, including being able to build ships and send ships out into battle.

Blizzard’s design team is removing more class-related utility. The patch notes come with the removal of two raid buffs: Hunters are losing aspect of the fox, and mages are losing amplify magic. These two raid buffs weren’t huge, but the mage’s amplify magic spell was a brand new spell we’ve only had for a couple months in the first place.

Will the legendary ring procs may provide much more significant raid utility? Shortly after posting about the legendary ring procs, the @warcraftdevs twitter posted that the datamined legendary ring procs were outdated. So, it’s possible that the internal testing hasn’t shown the bouncing raid utility buffs to be a good idea. This isn’t really surprising, but I’ll withhold judgement until we see the final procs. I would still expect to see multiple versions of the ring procs across beta if they are trying to do something other than just provide traditional bonuses.

Look at this pretty birdThere will be a lot more info coming in the next few months. However, the recolored dread raven bird mount that comes as the raid achievement reward next patch is really pretty. There are other fun toys & mounts coming next patch for all the collectors. There is plenty of stuff to look forward to in the next patch. Keep in mind that everything is subject to change this early in a patch cycle.

MMO-champion datamined picture of the dread raven bird mount.

Posted in Patch 6.2, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna
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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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