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Moonkin PvP failure – and how to rise again? (part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of my moonkin PvP analysis series. Part 1 can be found here (read part 1 before part 2). There was also some good feedback from part 1 in the moonkin repository cross-post. I suggest reading the moonkin repository comments, as well.

So, lets jump right in!

If typhoon was the answer, what was the problem?

Moonkin survivability has been the #1 moonkin PvP complaint, that crops up in many different forms ever since we all hit level 80. The developers toned down some of the burst damage, which allowed resto specs to regain their standings in arenas, but somehow moonkin still got left behind.

I found a PvP guide for moonkin on the laser chicken blog, when I was doing a google search for reference material for this post. I read through it and thought a lot of the advice was pretty good, and then I realized that the advice was over a year old, and it was still pretty much the advice that I would give people today. It also highlights problems that are still present in moonkin PvP. Yes, you can tell that in some ways it’s out of date, but in other ways, it’s really not. The only new PvP tool we got was Typhoon (another nature spell). It works as a knockback, with a 3 second daze. It’s the “get out of my face” PvP ability, on a moderate cooldown.

Typhoon on it’s own isn’t enough to make moonkin PvP strong enough. We’re still dieing too quickly in stunlocks and such, with no real counter to a lot of the abilities that lock us down. We’re not a burst-damage spec. We’re not a high survivability spec. We’re not really a kite/dot spec. We were supposed to be casters that could soak up damage with our high armor – however after multiple armor nerfs due to the bear form changes, we can’t soak up anything. We didn’t get any good PvP survivability talents in the WotLK talent tree revamps, and we are really just squishy chickens. While Arena PvP is about being part of a team, it feels like moonkin hold back their team members rather than having anything to contribute.

What goes up must come down

One problem right now with moonkin PvP seems to be that moonkin damage is too strong when moonkin are allowed to stand still and nuke. I know, at this point you would say “wait, how is having good damage a problem?!?” This is what I mean: In PvE, moonkin are dependent on a large chunk of their damage to come from Eclipse procs. In PvP Eclipse is really, really worthless – because the last thing anyone is going to do is let a moonkin stand still and nuke them to death. So, the moonkin is either locked down (in ways we can’t counter), or they are forced to move around in ways that makes Eclipse pretty pointless.

I think the problem with 3.0 when it first came out was that moonkin were probably being ignored too much, and thus moonkin were able to get off big starfires that they hadn’t been able to do before. In addition, starfall was actually a good PvP tool before the multiple nerfs (no more mana return, stun, unstealthing rogues, or shapeshifting to bear/travel/cat), and we also had a stun proc on starfire.

So, right now, moonkin are suffering from a lack of survivability, since no one would listen to moonkin asking for survivability talents when moonkin were doing okay at level 70 PvP with the WotLK talents. Once everyone leveled up to 80, as I predicted, everyone else passed by the moonkin and moonkin became a horrible PvP spec. Since arena PvP is not about the individual, but about the team, it comes down to moonkin just not fitting well on any team combination – compared to the BETTER tools they can get from other classes.

So, now that we know what the problems are, how do we fix moonkin pvp?

A while back, I suggested another survivability talent should be added to the balance tree. I’m not going to go over it again, because I stand behind my last post on that subject here. We got some good typhoon fixes after that post, but we didn’t get the survivability buff to go along with it. Since we needed both for moonkin PvP to be viable, it’s still hanging on in a pretty weak place. It’s much, much easier to spec resto and HOT your way to a high arena rating, rather than struggle and hold teams back as a failing moonkin. We could stand to have something that reduces the damage we take while stunned/feared.

Another option is to add in another PvP spell (arcane, NOT nature), following what I wrote in my last post. It could do something like consume insect swarm or moonfire’s DOT and turn it into direct damage (with the ability to glyph for the DOT to not get consumed).

We could also maybe have something like “strangling roots” that would be a channeled spell that roots the target and does damage to them.

Or, they could change cyclone (just for moonkin) to allow us to do damage to them. Or, they could give us just about anything offensive or defensive that will help us:

  • Last long enough to get through the initial burst
  • actually be able to kill people if we last through the initial burst
  • and be taken seriously enough that we aren’t holding back our team, but rather adding to it in a valuable way. At this point, anything moonkin bring, so do resto druids (and resto druids are powerful enough to keep their party alive while cycloning/nature’s grasp/rooting/hybernating!).

We’re lacking both of these in a major way. Typhoon helped, but we’re a spec designed for stand-and-nuke PvE encounters, and not at all designed to be good for PvP. This is going to need to change “soon”. Just buffing innervate is also not enough, since it’s more likely that the moonkin will die before being able to cast enough to run OOM in the first place.

In the end, it’s not really my place to say how to fix moonkin PvP. I can give ideas and options, and I can restate other people’s good ideas, but it’s the developers job (that they get paid for) to develop the classes – so it ends up being their problem to figure out how to fix it.

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Player Versus Player

Why moonkin pvp failed at level 80 (part 1 of 2)

counterspell1Okay, so one of the reasons why I hated the children’s week achievements so much was that I went into each battleground as a moonkin wearing PvE gear. My focus really isn’t PvP, but with all the nerf resto druid posts on the WoW forums (half of which are misplaced in the damage dealing forum just to add to confusion), I really feel the need to speak for the moonkin so that we can try to avoid any collatoral damage to moonkin’s struggling spec in the process. I pretty much hate PvP and I hate arenas even more. I did PvP back in the days of the pre-BC ranks, so I did like PvP at some point. It’s just not really fun to heal in both PvP and PvE, and resto has really been the strongest PvP spec for druids since… way back in the day.

I’ve heard about a hundred different possible solutions, so it’s hard to not just repeat and sound like a broken record. I really want to take a closer look at things here, in a way that’s hard to do on the regular forum posts. This post also got to be really long, so I’m going to break this up into 2 chunks, the first of which I’ll post today.

Problems with the spells available to moonkin:

  1. Roots (nature)
  2. cyclone (nature)
  3. Wrath (nature)
  4. Insect Swarm (nature)
  5. Typhoon (nature)
  6. Force of Nature (nature)
  7. Barkskin (nature)
  8. All our healing spells (nature)
  9. Moonfire (arcane)
  10. Starfire (arcane)
  11. Starfall (arcane)

If we get locked out of the nature school, we can’t cast anything but moonfire spam (lawl). This is probably why so many moonkin are focused on making starfall a better PvP spell – because it’s one of the 3 arcane spells available to moonkin. This is also why the moonkin are asking for roots to be instant-cast (so that casting roots won’t risk locking moonkin out of 90% of their spells). You could say “but nature’s grasp is instant!” However, nature’s grasp requires them to hit you for it to proc, wheras regular roots can be cast from a distance to prevent your target from closing the gap.

To make moonkin PvP better, some of these existing abilities need to be arcane, OR moonkin need better/new arcane PvP spells. While it mostly goes against fuzzy feelings- changing treants, cyclone, roots, and/or Typhoon to something other than nature (to arcane or even a third school of magic that could be added) would actually go a long way towards making moonkin playable in PvP.

The developers may actually want to think about turning starfall into a PvP spell. I have been the champion of “but starfall is a PvE spell” on the forums for months, trying to support Ghostcrawler’s decisions regarding starfall. However, as one of the 3 arcane spells we have access to, if they aren’t going to change the school of magic of any of our spells, they need to make our arcane spells better for PvP. We need to have something we can do when we get locked out of the nature tree, besides just moonfire spam or pray that we can get off a starfire.

Spell lockouts isn’t just a moonkin problem

Either our spells need to change, or it needs to not be so easy to lock classes out of casting. If you think about why melee dominates, it probably comes down to this question.

  • How do you lock out a melee from attacking? A. You either prevent them from getting into melee range (which they have ways to counter), or you crowdcontrol them (which they have ways to counter).
  • How do you lock out a moonkin from casting? A. Counterspell, interrupts, any form of spell lockout, and any form of crowd control.
  • How can casters counter spell lockout? A. We can’t.

My bet is that moonkin would become a lot more popular for PvP if we were given a PvP disarm ability that allowed us to disarm the melee that is killing us. We don’t even currently have a counterspell to counter the other casters, and disarm abilities in the hands of casters are either rare or non-existant. In the game of rock-paper-scissors, moonkin needs to be the counter to something else – and right now, we can counter nothing.

At the very least, casters are suffering because they aren’t able to cast. This isn’t just a moonkin problem, but it’s amplified by the lack of PvP tools that moonkin have, and the fact that most moonkin damage & crowd control tools are on the same school of magic as our heal spells (and thus all our survivability is easily locked out from us with a lockout of our nature school). With our nerfed armor values in WotLK, and lack of PvP survivability talents, moonkin are pretty much turkey dinners without access to our nature spells.

Posted in Moonkin Balance DPS, Player Versus Player

Possible feral (bear & cat) builds for 3.1


This weekend, I’m planning to work on the update for the feral section of my leveling guide for the 3.1 patch. However, before I sit down and work on the leveling build, I wanted to take a look at cat, bear, & feral PvP builds that could be useful to think about when planning out what we are likely doing for feral dual specs at level 80.

So, Lavata and I came up with what we think is likely to be the most reasonable PvE and PvP specs for ferals in 3.1. These are still preliminary specs. I welcome feedback and discussion, so that I can further shape these specs as we get closer to the 3.1 release. Also, I consider the following three specs to be level 80 end-game builds, and not necessarily the best for leveling if you don’t have access to the dual-spec system.

The bear spec would look something like this.

This seems to be a standard 0/60/11 tanking build. I picked the Frenzied regen, Maul, & savage roar glyphs for this tanking spec. If you aren’t relying on Furor that much, you can shift 2 points into Improved Mark for the 2% stat increase.

The cat spec would look something like this.

This is another 0/60/11 build, but now for cat damage dealing. I picked the shred, mangle, & savage roar glyphs for this DPS spec.

The PvP spec was a little bit harder to put together, however the PvP spec could look something like this.

For the 0/55/16 PvP build, I tried to pick up mostly damage dealing with some survivability & reduced mana shapeshifting costs. The glyphs I went with were: barkskin, savage roar, & shred for the PvP spec. There are likely other PvP specs that would be good (with either more or less points in resto). I can probably work on a few other possible pvp specs at some point.

This is what I have worked out so far. Again, these are preliminary and I welcome feedback (and, what specs you end up with will likely be different than these above “guidelines”).

Posted in Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Patch 3.1 WotLK, Player Versus Player

Feral PvP – The DD forum discussion and suggestions

Ghostcrawler posted a lengthy response in the feral druid PvP “nerf” thread, which contained a decent amount of information about how the developers think about PvP balance, but nothing that was really helpful for the ferals that felt their chance at pvp success in 3.1 had been taken away from them. Here’s an excerpt with what I consider to be the “meat” of GC’s post:

We made some adjustments to Feral damage in both PvE and PvP settings. Most of the nerfs are pretty straight forward, so it’s probably easy to understand what we were trying to accomplish with them.

We understand the point was to nerf feral PvE and PvP, I am still not sure why feral PvP needed to be tuned down. It’s possible that when the developers made massive sweeping changes to other classes recently, including a significant nerf to fear mechanics, that feral stood out too high on their internal testing, but that almost just doesn’t make sense. I’m fairly convinced at this point that it’s not possible to balance all the classes for arena pvp, that there will always be complaints about PvP balance on the forums, and it could all just be a lost cause at this point.

I tend to not write a lot about feral PvP, since it’s usually my weakest area of mechanics & theorycrafting knowledge. However, I think the problem with the latest round of changes is that most of the changes came because of feral being too strong at PvE (in raid DPS on Ulduar testing), and not necessarily related to any PvP testing at all on the PTR. Thus, I think some of the PvP nerfs weren’t really intended to be PvP nerfs. So, that’s why it’s really not obvious to people like me. I’m even more concerned since I have been directing people to pick up feral PvP specs for arena, as resto & balance druids aren’t looking so great for arenas in 3.1 the last few weeks, either.

Now that I’m done with the “doom and gloom” segment of this post, lets get to what we can do about it, and where the weaknesses actually are. The most constructive post about feral’s PvP weaknesses (and how to fix the problem) in PvP comes from Deep in the Damage Dealing forums.

I really wanted to draw attention to Deep’s main point. Feral druids rely on finishing moves (rip and savage roar) to boost their damage. Both of these are easy to keep up in PvE raids, but are hard to use correctly in arena PvP (even if they look theoretically good on paper and lead to bursty damage on rare occassions).

The “savage roar” problem described by Deep is similar to what is probably causing moonkin druids a lot of problem in PvP. A lot of moonkin damage now comes from Eclipse, which is unreliable in PvP settings, and thus moonkin automatically take a damage hit when they enter arena settings. Being able to do high PvE damage seems to overshadow moonkin survivability and mana issues in PvP.

Dependency on spells or abilities that are great for PvE and not so great for PvP make balancing the pvp aspects of our class a lot harder than it should be. At this point, I just hope that other classes got tuned down enough that feral and moonkin will be able to do well enough to keep druids in the arena game.

Then again, the complaints coming from the balance PvP community has little to do with damage done, and more to do with survivability/mana regen/utility issues. Maybe damage done by druids is less of a problem than the damage done to druids by the other classes that are performing well in pvp situations.

Update 1: Unhappy with the 3.1 Arena abilities for druids? Go test them out Tuesday-

Focus testing in the arenas on the PTR has been tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday, March 31.

UPDATE 2: Ghostcrawler responded a few more times in that original thread, with a little more clarity and helpful information. Check out the newer GC feral comments starting here.

Posted in Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Player Versus Player


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