Mathfall, or Alame re-learns Trigonometry

Today we’re going to talk about my favorite spell, Starfall.  It should be your favorite too, because this spell is incredible.  Starfall is the big driving factor as to why Balance Druids perform so exceptionally well in Highmaul.  Long story short; every fight in Highmaul except Butcher (unless you’re padding!) provides some period where Starfall is amazing.  You’ll be thrilled to know that Blackrock Foundry launches tomorrow and also has lots of fights that make Starfall great.

The math of starfall in 6.1.

There are a couple changes currently slated for 6.1.  These changes increase the spellpower scaling of Starfire, Wrath, and Starfall.  Once I got over my initial shock of Balance being buffed (as I and many others were expecting nerfs), I re-ran the math on Starfall versus Starsurge to see if I could justify even more Starfall usage.

It should be noted that all the following math is using numbers from 6.1.  These are neither final nor are they live.

To start with we’re going to evaluate starfall vs starsurge while ignoring mastery.  Mastery is tricky to calculate and apply as it is a dynamic value, so we’re going to keep it real simple and just look at base damages.  What we’re interested in is the damage dealt by each usage of a Starsurge charge at a given number of targets.  For using Starsurge, it’s the damage of Starsurge itself plus the damage of the empowerment buffs.

As you can see, Starsurge with either starfire (SF) or wrath (W) slightly outperforms Starfall at one target, and Starfall outperforms Starsurge heavily whenever there is 2 targets or more.  You’ll also notice that the lines corresponding to Wrath (W) and Starfire (SF) are virtually indistinguishable.  This is because the scaling adjustments for 6.1 brings them much closer in strength, so 2 empowered Starfires no longer do significantly more damage than 3 empowered Wraths.

Next we’re going to isolate Starfall’s 6.1 damage increase from Mastery.  This is where I had to re-learn trig, to properly establish a function for the dynamic Mastery that I could use to scale up the damage.  It took longer than I would care to admit.

The graph only looks at one target, in Lunar eclipse.  Solar obviously doesn’t give any mastery benefit to Starfall so there’s no scaling to account for.  40% mastery is a level you can expect around 680 ilevel.  100% mastery is only shown to display the scaling, as it’s much easier to see the two inflection points on the graph.

Putting it all together! So now that we’ve established the dynamic mastery benefit we can bring back our numbers from the first stage, combine them all together and see what the end product looks like.  I’ve scaled up the Starsurge damage for ~60 energy, and the empowered Starfire/Wrath casts for an average of ~95 energy which is slightly better than what you will usually fit in your rotation.

Look at that sweet, sweet mastery benefit.  Whenever someone asks you what a Moonkin’s best stat is you should show them this graph because it really speaks for itself.  In addition to Starfall being better than Starsurge in both eclipses (which is contrary to today’s common knowledge) the mastery makes Starfall almost on-par at 1 target and significantly better at 2 targets while in Lunar after the 6.1 changes.

So my original goal of wanting to Starfall more is achieved.  While previously I had been using Starfall at 2+ targets in Lunar and 3+ targets in Solar, once 6.1 hits I will be able to Starfall at 2+ targets in both eclipses.

Starfall is love, Starfall is life.

You can find me on Twitter at @Starfeathers.  If you’d like me to cover a certain topic tweet at me and I’ll see what I can do.

Posted in Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Alame
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Supporting the community: Blizzard Watch

As most of you likely know by now, AOL shut down the Joystiq website that included our favorite WOW Insider. The staff who used to work for WOW Insider have been uprooted! However, all is not lost.

They are starting a new website called Blizzard Watch. This new site will bring all the features you loved from WOW Insider plus much more! They can now flexibly expand their reach to other Blizzard games. They can grow their brand to be an even bigger deal than they were before.

However, starting out, they are now without their overlord sponsor, and are thus in need of funds to get started. This is our chance as a community to give back to the site that has given so much to us! They have started a Patreon to help with getting the site up and running, and continuing to fund the site for a long time to come. The Blizzard Watch Patreon is a monthly subscription pledge that helps cover their staffing operating costs.

What the WoW Insider community meant to me:

WoW Insider actually helped launch this blog with a post Dan O’Halloran made many years ago!

Wowinsider_Archive3_Cropped

They have also been big supporters of this blog in terms of giving me periodic signal boosts by linking to various posts over the years. While I never wrote for them, I always considered WOW Insider to be part of my Blizzard community. I raided in WOW with Matt Rossi for a while in Mists of Pandaria, and their former warlock writer, Poneria, is one of my current guild members. Thus, I consider this community to be a really important part of my life. Nothing matters more in Warcraft than friends, family, and community. They have done so many important things for so many members of the community that it only feels right to return the favor in helping support them in their time of need.

How we can help!

The new Blizzard Watch crew are fabulous people and I want to see them succeed! Head over to Blizzard Watch and help support Alex Ziebart, Adam Holisky, Anne Stickney, Matthew Rossi, and Elizabeth Harper start this new adventure! You can also follow @BlizzardWatch on twitter to hear updates (note that any of the old WOW Insider social media pages are now no longer under their control and have been taken over by the AOL overlords!). Please consider sponsoring their Paetron to help them get on their feet and get the site running! The more we pledge, the more awesome things they can bring us! Lets keep the spirit of WOW Insider alive at their new home at Blizzard Watch!

Goonies never say die!

Update: The Patreon for Blizzard Watch passed 10,000 per month in pledged donations! I am very excited to watch their new adventure! They are even bringing back class columns, so maybe we’ll see the return of Allison Robert’s druid analyses (or her cough syrup mad rantings, one of the two). If not Allison, we may see a new druid take up the mantle. I can’t write for the site due to my real-life job being so demanding of my time, so I look forward to reading the work of someone else to bring more joy to the druid community!

Posted in Written By Lissanna

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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Resto gearing: And the winner is haste!

I have received a lot of questions about the ‘haste versus mastery’ debate for restoration druids. The winner of this debate all along was haste, but a bug to wild growth let people open up this debate. I believe Hamlet’s recent haste vs mastery post speaks for itself, but I wanted to put my support behind the “haste wins” conclusions.

While there was previously some room for debate, two recent major changes (in favor of haste) help boost the value of haste relative to mastery. Here are the changes:

  1. Bug fix for Wild Growth. Wild Growth launched with a bug that wasn’t giving the final partial tick, allowing it to still technically have a haste breakpoint. This drove some people to try and gear around the bugged breakpoint. This spell was fixed recently such that it now properly scales linearly with haste.
  2. They buffed haste for all classes. They lowered the amount of haste rating required to achieve 1% haste. This means haste is now more potent for all classes. While this buff also came with a nerf to the amount healed by rejuv, haste remains more potent overall in general.

With these two changes combined, haste comes out as a clear winner in the math versus mastery for resto druid. That said, a substantially higher ilevel piece with mastery is still a good item for resto druids. Even better are pieces with both haste and mastery, since all gear comes with two secondary stats.

If you happen to be in a position where you have two otherwise identical items and have to choose between the haste piece and the mastery piece, then the haste piece is going to come out ahead for resto druids. In general, as Hamlet illustrated in his haste post, unless you are trying to gear specifically to boost your tranquility spell, maintain 100% up-time on your harmony mastery (which, lets be honest, a lot of people fail at), and meet several other important criteria, then haste is going to give you the most consistent bang for your buck.

Now, this still means that both haste and mastery come out ahead of crit and versatility. With more raid dungeons and LFR opening up soon, we’re finally hitting the point where you get to make decisions other than about equipping a higher ilevel piece. This is also complicated by things like the tertiary stats that get rolled randomly when an item drops. Thus, gearing has been greatly over-complicated this expansion, during a time where Blizzard claimed to be simplifying. For resto druids, however, I think the community has finally settled on a general stat priority – for what that’s worth. Go forth and be hasty!

Posted in Patch 6.0, Restoration Healing Trees, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

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