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.