I never would have guessed that I would be at home at 10:39 pm on a friday night and start to write a blog entry. Being at home on a Friday night isn't that big of a deal. I have a 14 month old child which means I have no social life, but writing a blog entry? I should at least be playing WoW. Well there have been some more massive changes to the balance tree and I just can't wait for a better time to write this post. I have to do it now.
This post is entirely based off of Blue posts on the forums and off of the WotLK Beta talent calculator. None of these changes have been seen in an actual Beta build yet. Also, there are like to be more changes to come. Most of the raid viability changes released yesterday are not in the talent calculator yet.
Note: 1. I am only going to review talents that have changed in relation to the last beta build. Talents like Natures Reach are still different then the current live build, but have not changed in the beta at all. 2. I obviously haven't had time to run a lot of numbers for all of the changes. In most cases this is my first impression of the situation.
Natures Grasp - This is no longer a talented ability. It is being converted to a trainable spell with a 100% proc rate (src). I suppose this change is good, but it doesn't have much of an impact on me. I have never been a big fan of it so making it trainable does nothing to reduce the tree's bloat in my opinion. I would never have picked it up anyway.
Genesis (New Talent) - Increases the damage and healing done by our periodic spells by 5%. Currently DoTs make up at most 25% of my DPS. So a 5 % increase in DoT damage would only increase my DPS by 1% - 1.25%. This is definately a bonus, but it isn't huge.
Furor (resto tree) - Increases your total Intellect while in Moonkin Form by 10%. Funny, this talent has no use for resto druids but it is in the resto tree. Anyway, this is a great change. It won't have a huge impact, but all of my points in the resto tree will now benifit my dps role. This means Moonkin are no longer forced to pick up useless talents anywhere.
Moonglow - Moved from tier 5 to tier 2. No real impact for balance, but it is great for restos.
Natures Mastery (Semi New Talent) - Was formally Focused Starlight and now includes a 4% crit bonus for Nourish and Healing Touch. Again, it has no real impact on balance but it is great for restos.
Control of Nature - Being combined with Natures Focus in the Resto tree. (src) It is primarily a PvP talent so it will have little impact on most raiding moonkin.
Nature's Splendor (New Talent) - Increases the duration of your Moonfire, Insect Swarm, Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom and Flourish spells by 30%. First of all, this is great for restos. More duration = more healing. I am unsure how this will play out for Moonkin. This may be an expendable talent. In case you don't remember the Starfire glyph increases your Moonfire DoT by 3 seconds. Since Starfire will be cast in lest then 3seconds on average, it is techically possible to keep Moonfire up for quite a while without refreshing it. Therefore increase duration will have little impact. It will mean a lot more for IS. One other thing. How are they going to calculate the damage? Moonfire currently ticks ever 3 seconds. This talent increases moonfire's duration by 4 seconds. When is that lst second going to do its damage?
Natures Grace - Moved from Tier 5 to Tier 3. Again, no impact on moonkin but Phae over at Resto4Life likes it for restos.
Celestial Focus - The Push-back resistance is removed, but "increases your total spell haste by 3% For some reason I think there are a couple of ways to interpert this tool tip. Do I have a 15% chance at the haste buff or is it static? My guess is it is a static 3% spell haste buff, In which case this becomes a mush have talent. Since this is one of the talents that we currently don't spec into for raiding, this change increases our talent bloat.
Improved Insect Swarm (New Talent) - Increases damage done by your Wrath spell by 3% when the target is afflicted by your Insect Swarm, and Increases the Crit chance of your Starfire spell when the target is afflicted by your Moonfire. AWESOME NEW TALENT. I nice basic buff that synergizes with other moonkin glyphs and abilities.. It I think it favors Starfire due to the glyphs that extend MF's duration and it will make SF more mana efficent due to Mana on Crit. The great part is that it is decent for wrath also.
Edit: I have read some comments out on various forums that say this change isn't that great for Starfire and better for Wrath. Their reasoning is that a straight increase in damage will produce more damage then an percentage increase to crit. This is true. In fact the 3% increase to wrath damage will increase single spell damage by 3%. The 3% increase to crit will increase single spell damage by only 2.4%. However there is Natures Grace and Mana Efficency to consider. If you include Natures Grace and lookat it form a DPS stand point. The Wrath buff increases DPS by 3% and the SF buff increases DPS by 2.94%. If you look at mana efficency the mana efficency of SF goes up by 4.59% but only 3% for Wrath. All in all I think it is fairly well balanced, assuming that our mana pool can handle the additional casting due to Nature's Grace.
Raid Stacking Changes
The changes listed from here on out are not in the new talent calculater but were a part of the Raid Stacking posts made by Zarhym. None of these changes are listed on the talent calculator currently. In this section I will not only be evaluating the changes but how the Moonkin buff compares to the buffs it does not stack with. With that in mind I will speculate on which class is best at applying the buff and how this will affect Moonkin raid viability. Please remember that this analysis could be completely incorrect once we see how these changes take affect on a real beta build.
Moonkin Aura - There is no change in the Aura but it won't stack with Elemental Oath a new WotLK buff from Elemental Shaman. Both buffs provide a 5% increase in crit chance. The only real difference is Elemental Oath is currently target based and Moonkin Aura is an Aura. Therefore Moonkin Aura can be out ranged where as Elemental Oath cannot be.
Which is Better? - - Elemental Oath, because it is target based.
Moonkin Raid Viability: This is a reduction. The only plus is that elemental shaman are fairly rare in raid guilds.
Improved Moonkin Aura - It is now a static 3% haste buff as opposed to the 20% haste buff on crit for 8 seconds. This is actually a pretty big nerf. If we assume a standard crit rate of 25%, the old haste buff would be up 19% of the time. This would result in and average haste buff of 3.85%. As you can clearly see the old haste buff is significantly better then the new static 3%. Imp Moonkin Aura will not stack with Swift Retribution and Ret Pally buff. Both are Auras, but the Pally buff also comes with the regular Retribution Aura. It is generally considered to be a bad Idea to have Retribution Aura.
Which is Better? - - Slightly Moonkin Aura
Moonkin RaidViability: This is actually a decrease in raid viability when compared to the onld Imp Moonkin Aura, but guilds my find us desirable to provide this buff.
Improved Fairie Fire - No longer affects Melee or Ranged hit chance and competes with Misery from shadow priest for a 3% buff to spell hit.
Which is Better? - - Misery by far. Shadow priest will apply it using their normal DPS rotations. For moonkin it is an extra spell that will cost us a global cooldown and reduce our DPS.
Moonkin RaidViability: A big reduction in moonkin raid viablity. There is now no reason to spec Imp FF if you have an Spriest in raid.
Earth and Moon - Now affects all spell classes and increases spell damage by 13%. It competes with Ebon Plaguebringer from Unholy DKs and Curse of Elements from warlocks.
Which is Better? - - There is some debate over this. On one hand, CoE not only increases damage but also lowers resistances resulting in higher damage. With the resistance CoE is best. On the other hand Ebon Plaguebringer and EnM will be applied during normal spell rotations, and it allows the warlock to use a damaging curse. With out the spell pen on CoE, EnM and Ebon Plaguebringer are better.
Moonkin RaidViability: Who knows how prevelent Unholy DKs will be in raids. This could be an increase if they do something about the resistances, but right now it is a reduction
What does this mean for Moonkin Raiding?
First of all, the raid stacking changes are bad for moonkin over all. All of our best buffs can be applied by a mana battery class, a superior DPS class, or a class with other unique viability. Moonkin raiding is obviously not dead, but moonkin will have a hard time finding 25 man raids unless Moonkin DPS is improved relative to pure DPS classes.
The new talents have made the Bloat issue a whole lot worse. The number of talents usable by moonkin has increase from 76 in the current live build, to 92 in the old beta, to 95 in the new beta. To make matters worse, blizzard eliminated several of the useless talents in the Balance tree and replace them with decent talents. I could easily spec in to 86 talents, but I will have only 71 points. That means I will have to skip 15 good talents.
Blizzard has said that they are looking into the bloat and will shave some points off, but I don't think a few is quite enough. It is clear to me that there is still quite a bit of work to be done.