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Repost: The Eclipse problem version 4.2

The Eclipse problem version 4.2
via Restokin by Lissanna on 6/1/11


So, Eclipse has pretty much always been a problem in some way or another. The newest version of Eclipse is a LOT better than where it started, but we’ve seen a new problem emerge since 4.0 (and it’s gotten worse as people have gotten more and more mastery on their gear recently). Since I haven’t really done a theorycrafting moonkin post lately, here we go! I’m going to ramble a little bit here, so I do apologize for being long-winded. I also don’t expect other people to agree with me, since sometimes I just feel the need to be controversial.

Blizzard sometimes sees symptoms and fixes symptoms instead of seeing the problem & fixing the problem. I don’t really blame them, since they have 30 talent specs to worry about, and I only  have to worry about two. That said, the change they are making to have moonfire & insect swarm generate solar/lunar power is a poor attempt at fixing what is actually the real problem with moonkin right now. The real problem is that being inside a Solar Eclipse is so much more DPS than being in any other state that we have to “game” Eclipse to be competitive.

Problem #1: Eclipse is too powerful

This is seems like a silly problem to have, but it is actually very, very serious – and something likely to get worse as we continue to get more mastery on our gear.

The actual problem is that there is such a HUGE power difference between having a Solar Eclipse up and being in any other state. Either having no Eclipse or Lunar Eclipse will result in less damage being done than being in Solar Eclipse most of the time, ESPECIALLY any time the moonkin needs to AOE.

We wouldn’t need to sit in Solar Eclipse if we could actually do decent damage when our spells aren’t buffed by Eclipse. We get increased damage from 3 sources for Eclipse: The base ability gives us a damage increase buff. The base mastery increase stacks ontop of this, and we get even more Eclipse damage when we pick up Mastery on our gear.

My spells hit like wet noodles without an Eclipse buff, and hit like baseball bats with an Eclipse buff up.

Let me illustrate what this feels like to me:

You just get such a huge damage bonus from being in an Eclipse state that being outside of an Eclipse state runs the risk of making you feel weak in comparison. In 4.1, they shifted some of our damage to the Eclipse buff to make the mastery stat better, but that also made us weaker outside of Eclipse.

They need to reduce the base DPS increase of Eclipse (ie. before mastery from gear) by a small amount so that we aren’t quite as punished for doing damage outside of Eclipse. They need to shift some of that damage back to Moonfury so that moonkin in PvP can actually kill things without needing to sit in Solar and moonfire spam things, and make our AOE DPS more tolerable when we’re outside of Solar Eclipse. They can leave the increase to Eclipse from gear at the current rate so that the stat is worthwhile, but we get too much of a base DPS increase in Eclipse before the mastery on our gear, and the DPS disparity is too much. Now, some could argue that any increase will make us want to “game the system”, but there’s a sweet-spot somewhere in the middle where we won’t feel pressured to maximize the amount of time we stay in Solar Eclipse if we had other options. Some could argue that any damage buff is enough to make us want to game Eclipse, but there is a point where being caught outside of Eclipse can be too punishing, and we’re pretty much at that point going into 4.2 where we’ll be getting even more mastery from gear.

Problem #2: Our AOE rotation isn’t “balanced”

The discrepancy between Solar Eclipse & other Eclipse phases isn’t such a problem for our single-target rotation (since we’d have roughly 50 to 60% up-time on Eclipse and moving back & forth between Eclipse states isn’t a big deal). However, we are disturbingly reliant on being in Solar Eclipse during AOE situations to do decent damage. Our main spells we cast during AOE phases are: Shrooms (nature), Insect swarm (nature), and Moonfire/sunfire (either arcane or nature). Note that Starfall does equal damage whether on single-target or multi-target, so our DPS does not increase when we use it in an AOE phase (it’s just that some of the shards would hit the adds instead of the boss). Given problem #1, the fact that all 3 of our current AOE-rotation spells are buffed by Solar Eclipse (and only 1 of the 3 is buffed by Lunar Eclipse) means that your DPS sinks like a rock if you don’t time Eclipse exactly right.

Trying to prevent us from being able to stay in Solar Eclipse for AOE phases means that Blizzard is trying to take away the only decent AOE damage source, which is something only the most skilled moonkin actually pull off consistently.

If we actually did decent AOE damage outside of Solar Eclipse, or could do decent AOE damage in Lunar Eclipse, we wouldn’t be as dependent on Solar Eclipse to keep up with other DPS classes during AOE phases.

Problem #3: Hurricane is too weak

Hurricane is really a waste of space on our bars right now, because using a multi-DOT + Shrooms AOE rotation results in significantly more DPS than trying to use hurricane between shrooms. You are better off doing just about anything besides casting Hurricane ever, regardless of your Eclipse state. Sometimes, I use it when I’m feeling lazy (doing 5-mans or farm content), but I take a huge hit to my DPS when I use hurricane.

To fix our AOE situation, it might make the most sense to make Hurricane an Arcane spell (OR, a Nature/Arcane spell like Starsurge), and buff it to actually do respectable damage (so that if we get stuck in a Lunar Eclipse phase, we have an AOE option that won’t be so nerfed compared to Solar AOE).


So, what looks like a problem of moonkin gaming the system to stay in Solar Eclipse is really a symptom, and not the problem. If several changes were made (AOE DPS outside of Solar Eclipse was not so punishing), then moonkin wouldn’t feel the need to “game” Eclipse to try and stay in solar as much as possible. So, just forcing us out of Solar Eclipse faster doesn’t fix the spec, it just makes the spec more frustrating to play and harder to do well.

Posted in patch 4.2, Written By Lissanna

Repost: 4.2 – and then there were bracers

via Restokin by Lissanna on 5/30/11


So, one of the biggest frustrations for gearing up druids in our guild is how hard it has been to come by bracers. I finally got mine of Chimaeron a couple weeks ago, but some of our other druids haven’t been so lucky.

According to a recent post on mmo-champion, Blizzard seems to be fixing some gearing problems in 4.2 by making the non-set pieces from the Valor points fill these hard-to-fill slots, including bracers!

The 4.2 valor point bracers have spirit & crit on them. While not the best stat combo, it’s better than some 333 to 346 blues that I’m sure some of you are still wearing! These bracers are also BOE (meaning you could sell them on the AH or mail them from a main to an alt). I’m hoping this ends the Great Druid Hunt for bracers that has been ongoing since some time in WotLK.

If I’m going to spend badges on chest pieces, pants, or gloves – I’m going to spend them on set pieces. What you really want badge pieces to do is to fill non-set pieces for hard-to-gear slots. Hopefully, the 4.2 tier will be less frustratingly itemized. We still have a few more weeks before the 4.2 patch will be out,  so there will be plenty of time to see what new goodies are in store for us!

Also, I hope you are all having a great Memorial Day weekend. We had some good BBQ pork for dinner!

Posted in patch 4.2, Written By Lissanna

Some thoughts on the Dungeon Journal

So, one of the major changes coming in patch 4.2 is the Dungeon Journal. There is a preview for it on mmo-champion, but  be careful if you are trying to avoid Firelands spoilers there (I’ll avoid from posting those Firelands pictures here).

This dungeon journal lists out information for the 5-mans and the raids. So, if your 5-man group is stuck on a boss, you can yell at them to look at their encounter journal and read about why the 100,000 damage the boss does with X ability is bigger than people’s health pools and that’s why they died.

What is included in the dungeon journal:

  • All the bosses’ pictures and some Lore (so you can know why you are there).
  • A listing of loot from the bosses in the dungeons & raids
  • Descriptions of the boss abilities (such as: X ability spews from the dragon’s mouth, inflicting X damage to nearby foes).
  • Our little blue crabby friend to guide our way (top left corner).

What is NOT included in the dungeon journal:

  • There are NO boss strategies. There are a few things like the note that it would be a bad idea to stand in the Lich King’s defiles, which would be obvious the first second you stepped into the encounter. Other than things like that, they have worked to keep subtle strategy points out of reach.
  • In addition, there is a difference between knowing that the LK’s defile is bad, and having a raid team that is successfully able to move appropriately during the Defile phase. So, knowing that you have to move out of the fire doesn’t mean you have 10 or 25 raiders who will move out of the fire perfectly every time (and if you do, well, then you are probably testing things out on the PTR because you already got through 13/13 hard-mode in this tier of content).
  • I don’t see range numbers (ie. how many yards do I have to stand from X) listed in the previews that I’ve seen (though I don’t have access to the PTR). So, the third-party sites may have some details about the abilities themselves that the Journal doesn’t necessarily always include, since “how far do I need to be?” is probably the question we have to look up the answer to most often during raids (well, maybe second after “what is the name of that thing that just killed me?”)
  • To prepare for raids, I read the spell abilities on wowpedia, and THEN I read strategies there. Then, I hop over to watch a Tankspot video on youtube and read the comments on tankspot. Given that the spell abilities are more flavor-text than helpful text, there is still information that I’ll need about abilities that won’t be in the Journal. So, I’ll still sometimes have to rely on those 3rd party sites (which, in the end, is really fine with me, since the strategy my raid leader decides upon may end up not being in any of the sources I read, anyway).

Why the dungeon journal is a really “neutral” change:

  1. Third party sites and addons did the same thing, but better and with more detail. For example, when @thexerian tweeted me that they were able to replace atlas loot after the change, @atlasloot responded to remind us that their addon has features that the dungeon journal’s gear listing doesn’t. For example, the dungeon journal: “doesn’t provide anything but loot. No chat linking, no filtering, no sorting. No faction loot, pvp rewards, crafting stuff, wish list. You can’t even use the dressing room”. So, if you want all those features, you have to keep using the Atlasloot addon (thanks for the reminder!).
  2. For boss strategies, we’ll all still be watching Tankspot videos. There is a huge difference between learning a fight by reading boss abilities out of context and having someone read out a whole detailed strategy on how to kill the boss, including showing you how they did it step by step in a video. However, after we watch the videos, how many guilds change something about the strategy to make it work for them? I bet most of us have to adapt things and can’t use the cookie-cutter strategy for every boss. For example, when first learning magmaw on normal-mode, we tried one strategy that didn’t work for us (trying to kill the adds) because our overall DPS on our 25-man just wasn’t sufficient. So, our DK tank found out from a source that some guilds were just kiting the adds, and so he gave that a try, and we’re pretty reliant on him to be our add-tank for that fight because it just works for us that way (even though we now have the DPS where we could probably easily nuke the adds).
  3. Most raid groups “spoiler” bosses before they step foot in a raid dungeon AND the groups who don’t read the strats online on purpose can avoid reading the dungeon journal (so long as they have something resembling impulse control). All the info was out in the internet before, and so if you were able to avoid it before, you’ll still be able to avoid it now. In addition, the PTR is actually the worst boss spoiler of all, because it is actually where the world-first boss kills are occurring, and where people are getting a head-start on learning the boss before it goes to the live server. We have accepted PTR as something people are going to do, and a couple months from now, the dungeon journal won’t be a big deal, either.
  4. The dungeon journal isn’t really that different from what we had before, it’s just cooler and in-game. While “straight from the mouth of Blizzard” is considered better, I am predicting that the dungeon journal will indeed have typos or errors somewhere along the way (some of the unfinished boss pictures in some of the previews are just a start, lol). So, while it is a direct source from the game, it’s not necessarily much more reliable of a source compared to the data-mining sites that pull out spell information straight from Blizzard’s code. In fact, the info in the Journal will likely be used to supplement (but not replace!) the other sources of info you are already used to relying upon. So, I’m expecting that it will be a new “fun” toy for the first few weeks, but then we’ll settle into a routine where you add it to your strategy prep: “A. read journal, B. read 3rd party fight description with strategy hints, C. watch tankspot video”. While I like the Journal in theory, because it gives you an easy reference source mid-raid (instead of “hold on while I bring up X website), it’s a supplement to existing information, and doesn’t bring you anything really groundbreaking that you couldn’t eventually find from somewhere else.

So, I’m happy to see this feature finally making it’s way into the game. However, I’m not going to worry too much about it, since it still won’t replace the time and skill that is necessary to find a strategy and implement the strategy that works for your team. The fun has always been in trying to execute and tweak the strategies available to us (and trying to make those cookie-cutter strats into our own strat that works for us). The fun of this game is not about trying to spend hours to figure out what spells the boss is casting, or how many yards you have to spread out to avoid a chain-lightning effect (the fun is in trying to figure out if you should still group up, anyway). Also, it still won’t make your raiders (or people in the 5-mans) move out of the darn fires if their reflexes just aren’t fast enough, but it can distract you with pretty pictures while they do their corpse-runs back to the group.

Posted in patch 4.2, Patches

In Harmony: The new resto druid mastery

So, the 4.2 patch notes showed up with a surprise while I was traveling. They changed the resto druid mastery to a new ability called “Harmony”. Here’s what the new mastery reads:

Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.

So, Lets break this down. It actually has two effects:

  • First, it buffs all of our direct heals by 10% plus mastery on your gear. Direct heals are considered to be: nourish, regrowth,  healing touch, and swiftmend.
  • Second, you get a buff on YOU for 10 seconds that buffs your HOTs by 10% plus mastery. You get this buff every time you cast a direct heal (including swiftmend!).

Here’s how this will work in practice:

  • You no longer have to “chase HOTs” when healing (ie. you get nothing more if you cast a WG and then follow it with a rejuv on the same person), since we are losing symbiosis. This means that we have to essentially “forget” Symbiosis healing, which will be the hardest part of the change.
  • However,  this also means that casting Nourish on someone without a HOT won’t be nearly as penalizing, since you aren’t getting penalized by both the mastery and the base effect, but instead it would prime the mastery.
  • Swiftmend will keep up the mastery 2/3rds of the time (10 out of 15 seconds) if you use it every cooldown. This means that you only need to cast an actual cast-time heal once between swiftmend cooldowns to keep the mastery up.
  • Sometimes, you will want to use a direct heal to refresh Lifebloom on your tank to activate the mastery. Since LB’s duration is shorter than the proc duration, refreshing LB with direct heals activates your mastery.
  • Between swiftmend refreshing and using direct heals to keep lifebloom rolling, the mastery actually encourages you to have a good healing style that is still incredibly HOT-focused and semi-mobile.
  • This mastery has the potential of buffing every cast you make if you manage it correctly, which is way better than our healing style was working in 25-mans (and you can heal who needs healing the most even if they don’t have a HOT already on them).
  • Instead of opening with a HOT on your tank, however, you will want to prime the mastery with a direct heal and then start your opening HOT sequence on them.

While the values are slightly lower than the previous mastery, this new mastery should be a buff to our AOE/raid healing numbers, and shouldn’t really hurt our tank healing abilities. This is a really nice way to encourage the use of both direct heals and HOTs, and it doesn’t require us to cast very many cast-time direct heals to maintain it, so the mastery really favors a type of healing style that will be very comfortable and natural to our spec (and after a while, maintaining the buff will become second-nature).

In conclusion, this is a really NICE change in mechanic, and it’s really going to be awesome in the long-run.

Posted in patch 4.2, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees


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