Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is Blizzard Smoking?

In my last post I talked a little about the new set bonuses. This was my reaction to the first 4T9 set bonus of 5% Crit chance to Starfire.

I'm sure my first reaction was the same as most of yours when I saw the 4T9 set bonus. "That sucks." It's obviously worse then 4T7, and there is no way it can compete with 2T8 with the change to Eclipse. If this goes live no moonkin is going to wear 4 pieces of T9 gear.

My second reaction was "This has to be a place holder." Its not uncommon for Blizzard to put old information in tooltips in early versions of the patches. You may remember that early versions
of the Idol of the Crying Wind had the same tooltip as as our current SF idol. Since the 4T8 set bonus is so obviously underpowered and an exact copy of the 4T6 set bonus, the 4T9 set bonus has to be a place holder.
Well, as you probably already know, the speculation that the original 4T9 was a place holder was correct. However, the new set bonus is equally lame.

4 piece - Increases the critical strike chance of your Starfire and Wrath spells by 3%.
What the heck is Blizzard smoking?

Seriously! Who thought this set bonus was a good idea?

This is just wrong in so many ways, I'm having a really hard time knowing where to begin.

I don't assume that creating set bonuses is easy. It's got to be difficult to continually come up with new ideas, that have a significant impact, but that is similar in strength to other tier bonuses. However, this set bonus is just lazy and stupid. Lets look at the T7 set bonus for comparison.
4T7 - Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance.

I don't really have a problem with Blizzard recycling an old set bonus. We all loved 4T7, but what sense does it make to put a nerfed 4T7 set bonus on a higher level of gear?

Also, I've never used a lore argument before, but what sense does this make from a lore perspective. Are you telling me that the Ardent Crusade can't equal the craftsmanship of the Kirin Tor, let alone improve on it? If this goes through it will make the Ardent Crusade look like a bunch of wimps that want to play with sticks by a cliff.

My guess is that Blizzard thinks that T7 as a whole was too good for the ilevel, and that with T8 and T9 they have been trying to scale it back. I will also say that blizzard is somewhat shackled by the quality of 2T8. Assuming that it is not nerfed, that is a hard set bonus to beat with the changes to Eclipse.

I think I understand the difficulties of the situation, but I also think they are making more mistakes in the ways they are trying to deal with these issues. If you make an early set bonus two powerful, the best way to handle it is to hold line or maybe slight nerfs. In this case 3% crit to Wrath and Starfire is a HUGE nerf. I haven't done the math yet, but I doubt you will people wearing 4T9. If they do it will only be with the highest iLevel gear, because that is the only level at which the stats have an opportunity to over come the set bonus nerf.

One other suggestion before I move on to another topic. If our going to copy a set bonus, take another look at 4T5. Every one loved that set bonus. If you expanded it to have a relationship with IS and Wrath also, I think everyone would be happy.

Please Give Feedback:
Convenently Ghostcrawler has given us a place to comment on the set bonuses. I strongly encourgage everyone to go to this thread and express your feelings on the new set bonuses. I assume that most (if not all of you) will be saying something negative about the 4T9 set bonus. That is great and I agree with you. However, I want to remind everyone to be polite, constructive, and possibly say something nice about the 2T9 set bonus.

Tier 9 Costs:
It looks like they are changing the way you build your tier set. Currently tokens drop off of specific bosses for a specific armor slot. (ie Yogg 25 drops the shoulder token). Well, it looks like they are changing this in a couple of ways. The first change is that the first two levels of Tier 9 gear will be completely purchasable using Emblems of Triumph, and there doesn't appear to be another way to pick up this gear. The top level of tier gear will still use the token system, but the tokens won't be tied to a specific armor slot. It looks like they will still be tied to a set of classes.

I have a couple of reactions to this. On the positive side the token change is a good idea. It will make the tokens more useful, and few of them will go to off specs or shards soon after the patch.

On the flip side, I have a big problem with the lower to levels of tier sets being purchase able with emblems. First of all whats the incentive to buy the 232 iLevel tier set when the 245 ilevel tier set costs just 50% more? When you get enough Emblems to buy the first level of gear you will have a choice. To I spend all the badges now and wait 3 weeks to upgrade, or do I wait a week and get even better gear?

Obviously we don't complete know how the system will work, but there are a lot of potential problems. If the Tier tokens are to easy to get, the emblem tiers will be almost completely ignored. If the tier tokes are to hard to get then it will take a really long time to build a set. Finally as I said above there is no real incentive to go for the 232 iLevel set.

I think they need to scale it back to a little more like the current system. Have the top level tokes drop off of 25 man raids. Have a lower level token drop off of 10 man raids, and I think it would be a great idea to have the lowest level tier be purchasable with emblems. That way all three levels have some level of desirability.

Other Changes:

  • You may have seen this quite from Neth:

    We wanted to give everyone a very early heads-up that, in response to player requests, we’re developing a new service for World of Warcraft that will allow players to change their faction from Alliance to Horde or Horde to Alliance.
    This is very interesting in a lot of ways, and I think it will cause a lot of headaches for who ever is in charge of designing it. For instance, what do you do about quests? If you level to 80 as Alliance, do you have all the horde specific quests still available? Also what about reputations? If I'm exalted with all of the Alliance reputations do I be come exalted with all of the Horde reputations? What if I'm only exalted with half of them?

    See, it poses a lot of questions but it will also give Blizzard some new tools. I think the real reason Blizzard is doing it is to try and balance the factions on some servers. Take my server for instance. We are very Alliance dominated. I think once this service becomes available Blizzard will open up free faction transfers to try and get some of the guilds to switch over. This may be particularly useful on a sever like EU-Magtherdon that is completely Horde dominated.

  • Expendable Raid Lockouts: Blizzard hasn't announced this yet but it is popping up on the PTR. With this new feature you will be able to extend your raid lock out for another weeks. Some of you may be wondering why anyone would want to do this, but I think it is a big boost for guilds with lighter raid schedules.

    Let me use my own guild as an example as to why this as big bonus. My 10man group is currently working on Mimiron Hard mode and will focus on General and Yogg after that. Last night we had several sub 5 percent wipes, and are very close to killing him. The problem is that because the instance resets tonight we have to fight through 4 bosses just to attempt him again. If we get him down quickly then we have to kill another 3 bosses to work on General. The gear isn't a big concern for us, so we probably wouldn't mind extending last weeks raid ID. What we would lose in gear we would be more than made up for in time.

    This obviously won't matter to the guilds with really high activity, but for guilds like my that can't play that much this will help.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Patch 3.2: Tier Sets, Idols and Set Bonuses

Since the patch is now on the PTR more information is starting to come out regarding gear and such. You can find all of the items at World of Raids, and probably MMO-Champion. Here is my reaction.

I feel a little psychic. In yesterday's post I said I wouldn't be surprised if there was a new idol and it turns out there is.

[Idol of Lunar Fury] - Each time your Moonfire spell deals periodic damage you have a chance to gain 200 Critical Strike Rating for 12 seconds.
My first impression is a positive one. It will be nice to have an idol that affects 90% of our rotation. Of course it all depends on the proc rate.

I've plugged the idol into my model with a couple different proc rates. For reference, here is how the current idols increased the hypothetical DPS: SF Idol = 1.07%, Wrath Idol = 0.46%, & IS Idol = 1.38%.

With a 10% proc rate the new MF idol increased the Model DPS by 1.18%. When I increased the proc rate to 20%, the idol increased my Model DPS by 1.99%.

Now lets remember a couple of things about my model. First, it does not factor in movement and movement will decreased the effective uptime of the idol. Second, my model assumes DoTs are refreshed when they expire, even during Eclipse. Therefore in reality that 1.99% number is a bit high. Therefore, it is my estimation at this point that the proc rate on the Idol of Lunar Fury has to be at least 20% to be usable, but my guess is that it should probably be 25% for it to be a buff over our current idols. I will have to do more math on it in the future to confirm.

Tier Gear:
I've had a couple of worries about the T9 itemization. Would we be stuck having 4 items with Spirit? Would we be flooded with Spell Hit even more? Would the T9 set favor Haste or Crit? After a quick look at the new tier sets one thing is very clear. The T9 stat itemization is far superior to that of T8.

Only 3 of the 5 pieces have Spirit on them, only 2 of the pieces have hit on them, and Crit rating is favored over Haste rating. On top of that our gem sockets and socket bonuses are better then then T8. I haven't had a chance to look at the sets of the other casters but realistically this is about the best we could hope for.

Set Bonuses:
I'm sure my first reaction was the same as most of yours when I saw the 4T9 set bonus. "That sucks." It's obviously worse then 4T7, and there is no way it can compete with 2T8 with the change to Eclipse. If this goes live no moonkin is going to wear 4 pieces of T9 gear.

My second reaction was "This has to be a place holder." Its not uncommon for Blizzard to put old information in tooltips in early versions of the patches. You may remember that early versions of the Idol of the Crying Wind had the same tooltip as as our current SF idol. Since the 4T8 set bonus is so obviously underpowered and an exact copy of the 4T6 set bonus, the 4T9 set bonus has to be a place holder.

The 2T9 set bonus is something that some moonkin have been asking for for a while. I've adapted my model for the set bonus and it says it increases our DPS by 4.07%. For the purposes of comparison, my model says that the 4T8 set bonus is a 2.48% DPS increase. Obviously, 2T9 is an upgrade over 4T8 and is worth the upgrade.

On top of that, this set bonus raises an interesting question. Does this make Improved Moonfire a viable talent again? Currently Improved Moonfire has very little benifit for a raiding Moonkin. The Glyph of Moonfire makes it a marginal talent because your Crit damage is so small and the 10% increase to damage is over powered by the 75% increase you get from the Glyph.

But what if the DoTs can crit? Suddenly that 10% chance to crit seems a lot more interesting. You may have already guessed this but I've plugged this possibility into my model.

Without the 2T9 set bonus, two points invested Improved Moonfire increased my model DPS by about 0.50%. You can see why so many moonkin skip this talent since it provides such a small damage increase for a 2 point investment. If you include 2T9 into the equation the DPS increase goes up to 1.76%. As a general rule of thumb, some people assume that each talent point should be worth about a 1% DPS increase. (I'm not saying this a blizzard rule. Its just one I've seen several places mentioned by other people). So if we hold to that rule then the talent still falls a little behind, but Improved Moonfire will be a more significant talent when combined with 2T9. My guess is that you will see this talent become more popular in the next teir of content.

Side Note:
Several people have said that Balance of Power increases your chance to hit with spells by 6% on the PTR talent trees (up from 4%).

Well, PTR testers are saying that this is a typo, and I'm not surprised. I had a hard time believing it, because I see no other reason for this change other then a general boost to Moonkin DPS. On top of that there was no mention of it in the pre-release patch notes. While it would have been nice, there is no real need for a change of this type.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Patch 3.2: The New Eclipse

Update: Well don't I look like a psychic? There will be a new Idol with the release of 3.2. My first impression is that it looks good, but it really depends on the proc rate.

The patch notes have been out for a couple of days now and the Moonkin community has had a chance to digest the changes. You may remember my first reaction was shock. I didn't expect there to be any significant Moonkin changes even though I knew we are currently a little under powered.

Well, I'm still a little in shock and part of me can't wait for the changes. (The other part is worried that I won't be able to complete the hard modes and get the Drakes before they are dropped.) There have been a lot of numbers thrown around since the announcement and a couple of interesting ideas on how this will change our rotation. Let me try and provide a little more concrete info then what I provided last week.

Methodology: I am about to present quite a bit of numbers without showing my work. So, I would like to give you a little back ground on how I came up with these numbers. First, I assume a moonkin very similar to myself. I used my talent build, 3150 spell Power, 37% Crit rating (40% with Imp FF), 13% haste from gear, and fully hit capped. My model also assumes that the moonkin has 2T8 and 4T8 equipped, but excludes heroism.

I have modified my model in several ways. I have shortened it to 5 minutes worth of casting, but increased the number of trials to 40,000. Factored in a delay when choosing which spell to cast when Eclipse first procs. I have also made all the damage realtime, meaning that the DoT damage is accrued as it ticks instead of upfront. I have also added some lag into the model. I've tried to add lag that is consistant with SimCraft since those numbers or often quoted on the forums. Basically I used 0.075 seconds for Queue Lag and 0.150 seconds for GCD lag. Meaning a Queued spell has less lag then a spell with a cast time equal to the GCD.

I will put the new models up on file front when I get a chance.

No one doubts that this is a DPS increase. The question is how much, and I've seen several numbers thrown around. Starfox, the druid Simcraft author, updated Simcraft with the changes and estimated that it would be a 8.15% DPS increase. Hamlet, another prominant moonkin on the EJ forums, made a comment here last week and estimated that it was a 6% DPS increase using Wrathcalcs. I even used an early form of my model to estimate the increase to be 10.7% though I new that to be bit high due to the model's imperfections.

I've had a chance to play with my model a little more, and I have some numbers I'm confident in.

The Lunar Rotation with zero lag had a average DPS of 5,474. When Lag was introduced the average DPS dropped to 5,100. Using a Twisting Rotation the zero lag model had an average DPS of 5,938. When you add lag the average DPS for a twisting rotation dropped to 5,404.

Avg DPS Increase (no lag) = (5938-5474)/5474 = 8.48%
Avg DPS Increase (lag) = (5404-5100)/5100 = 5.96%

Obviously my first number of 10.7% ways quite a bit high, but my new numbers are falling in line with what other people are finding. Now, I think it is reasonable to expect a DPS increase in the region of 6%.

While these purely mathimatical gains are great, I don't think it's going to stop there. I also think that this simplifies the Moonkin rotation a little bit and that should also result in slightly higher DPS. Currently we have to watch not only for the Proc, but we have to watch for cooldown expiration. Since we have fewer things to watch for we should impliment the rotation more easily. An easier rotation means fewer mistakes, and few mistakes mean increased DPS.

Note: I want to make a quick note on potential Nerfs. I have seen several people wondering if Blizzard will nerf the Eclipse buff or possibly reduce the proc rate, because having two cooldowns seems over powered. While this is possible I don't think it will happen. At least not in 3.2. Most reports I see have moonkin Lagging behind other DPS classes by quite a bit. Ghostcrawler him self said were lagging a little behind a month or so ago, and I don't think the change to Improved Moonkin Form corrected the issue.

While I do think it is strange that one talent will have some much impact on our DPS output I don't think it will make Moonkin over powered. If it does, I don't think it will be recognized until after the patch goes live.

Stats and Gear:
Obviously, when your rotation changes, the way you use stats changes as well. So, this has a big impact on how we value the different DPS stats. For the first time in my WoW life I can confidently say Crit > Haste on a point for point basis. There are the values I found.

StatNo LagWith Lag11% Haste With Lag
Hit Rating1.6081.5951.614
Spell Power111
Haste Rating0.6780.3890.941
Crit Rating0.7530.7410.742

So, this obviously changes the way we gear right? Not really.

The fact of the matter is that there are relatively few options for gearing, and what makes most items so good is not the quality of stats but the quantity of stats. I plugged these numbers into my gear list and I was surprised at how little changed. Most of my BIS choices I would still consider BiS because they are of a higher ilevel. Stepping down from there things shifted a bit more, but remember the first two columns presented above are post 400 haste numbers. The third column is a below 400 haste valuation. As you can see it is still important to try and get around 400 haste.

Remember, that Ulduar gear is not loaded with haste. When I and other people built our Lunar BIS lists, almost all of us had our haste rating dropping into the 400 range when I had over 600 in Naxx. There are a few exceptions but for the gear that is good now will be good after 3.2.

This seems to be the biggest question on everyone's mind. Which idol should we use?

It was suggested on the EJ forums that Idol Swapping might be viable between eclipse procs when we refresh DoTs. The way it would work is that you would swap Idols while you cast your instant spells between Eclipse procs. It is possible because swapping the idol can't interrupt an instant cast and your Casting GCD would still overlap with your Swapping GCD just like in the old days.

While I think it is a very interesting idea, the process has several issues that make it impractical in my opinion. For one, the last time I checked the equipment swapping GCD was not affected by haste. Meaning you get a 1.5 second GCD instead of a 1 second GCD. On top of that the swap isn't instantaneous. Therefore the you will have a little more time added on for an even longer GCD.

This process would also force you to have a lower DoT up time. I'm not 100% sure of when the best time to refresh DoTs is, but this change would force you into the minimum DoT up time, so you may be losing DPS in this way.

In general I think Idol Swapping would significantly complicate the rotation for a relatively small gain in DPS. Therefore I suggest picking one Idol and sticking with it, but once again which Idol do we choose?

I am no longer confident in the Idol numbers I presented here. I seem to have over valued the IS idol and I am not sure why yet. I will say this though, of the three Idols currently in game the SF Idol is the best using a twisting rotation. The Wrath Idol is a distant 3rd. The IS idol is solidly behind the SF Idol, but there may be situations where It comes out ahead.

None of this matters however, because the new idol is likely to be the best. Reports from the PTR are saying it has a 50% proc rate, though I doubt that will last if true.

I've plugged the different Idols into my Twisting Model with Lag to see how they compare. here are the results:
Starfire Idol = 5,405 DPS
Wrath Idol = 5,372 DPS
Insect Swarm Idol =
5,419 DPS
Well that is a little bit of a shocker. Who would have thought the IS idol would come out ahead? I didn't. I ran the model twice to make sure it was correct.

In reality this isn't that big of a surprise. You may remember in my blog post on Idols I said that the IS does more for an individual IS cast then the other two idols do, but it falls behind because you cast IS only once every 14 seconds. As long as you could cast 3 Starfires or 5 Wraths within 14 seconds then one of the Nuking idols would be better. Using a Lunar or Solar rotation meeting those thresholds was a near certainty. With a Twisting rotation it is a little more in doubt.

We also need to realize that my model assumes a very high IS uptime. It refreshes DoTs during Eclipse. So, my number is probably a little inflated relative to some of your play styles.

When looking at the two nuking Idols the SF Idol comes out ahead. This is largely due to it being of a higher iLevel, and having a greater impact on an individual Starfire cast then the Wrath Idol does to a Wrath cast.

At this point I am not ready to declare the IS idol to the best Moonkin idol. I need to do some rotation testing to find out what is best, but it is clear that the IS idol improved relative to the nuking idols. When 3.2 is dropped I assume that many people will still stick with the SF Idol, but there will be some situations where the IS idol is better.

Of course, all of this is assuming that Blizzard doesn't add a new Idol in 3.2. So far, there is no official indication that this will happen, but I am hopeful for a couple of reasons. First, they've added new Idols with each Tier of WotLK gear. Second, they are Making Emblem's of Conquest and Emblem's of Triumph much easier to obtain in 3.2. Blizzard has said many times that they don't like them to drop from bosses, and I suspect that Blizzard likes Idols to be accessible by players of all levels. Therefore, I think 3.2 is a perfect time for Blizzard to introduce an Idol that impacts multiple Moonkin spells.

TL:DR Version:

In terms of DPS the change to Eclipse is pretty big. It will buff Moonkin DPS by around 6% - 8%.

It also has a big impact on how we will value stats after 400 Haste rating, but this will have little impact on the gear we pick up for Ulduar. Most of the gear doesn't have a lot of haste on it, and it is still important to get to the 400 soft haste cap.

The down side to this change is that it has significantly nerfed the nuking idols indirectly, and the IS idol may actually be viable when 3.2 comes out. It will be especially useful on fights with multiple targets that can be DoTed and if you have the 4T8 Set bonus.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Patch Notes: 3.2 - The End of Lunar vs Solar

We all knew that 3.2 is right around the corner. The amount of info coming out of Blizzard lately made that obvious, and I expected that the patch notes would be available soon. To be honest though, I wasn't that excited. Yes, I am interested in the new raid, but I'm so focused on Ulduar right now that its not a pressing concern. On top of that I had no expectation that Moonkins PvE would be changed. So I'm a little shocked buy some of the patch notes that came out today. Lets take a look.

The Starfire and Wrath buffs from this talent are now on separate 30 second. cooldowns. In addition, it is not possible to have both buffs active simultaneously.

Bye bye Lunar vs Solar debates.

With one change Blizzard has effectively ended the biggest debate within the Moonkin community in a way that I don't think anyone expected. In one fell swoop Blizzard has addressed several of their own stated concerns with the balance spec, if not the players concerns. I'm still digesting this info, but here is my first impression of the impact.

  1. First and foremost it obviously changes our rotation. Instead of focusing on one spell we will now use a twisting rotation to maximize Eclipse uptime. There are probably some more complicated strategy impacts as well, like trying to time one buff to happen instead of another, but I can't see those right now.
  2. Ghostcrawler said that they thought Balance DPS was a little low, and I don't think that the buff Improved Moonkin Aura has as big of an impact as he wanted. This will increase Eclipse's up time and therefore moonkin DPS.
  3. This will balance out spell usage much more. Back on 5/9/09, GC said "An ideal rotation, if we can make it work, would be more like SF x 3-6 then Wrath x 3-6, with Insect Swarm, Moonfire and the rest thrown in as needed." There are several ways you could interpret this but I think one of the things they are looking for is a more balanced use of spells. Currently, most moonkin have a primary nuke that they use 50% - 60% of the time. Then they have a secondary nuke that they use 20% - 30% of the time, with the other 20% made up of DoTs and long cooldown abilities. This change should make those nuke numbers become more equal.
  4. Ghostcrawler also said that he doesn't like that Eclipse has "driven many druids to mods to help manage it." This change will effectively eliminate the need for addons like Squawk and Awe. I'm not saying that Addons won't still be useful, but addons are currently required to manage the cooldown. Now that we will be twisting the buff, we won't have to worry as much about when the cooldown expires. You just keep casting and wait for the other eclipse to proc.
As you can probably tell I am pretty impressed with this change. I don't necessarily agree with all of GC's concerns but I'm fairly impressed with how well this one change addresses so many of them. I do think this change will be a net positive for raiding moonkin but that does not mean I don't have concerns.

  1. Eclipse will still be completely uncontrollable. Losing a proc to a silence or some other game mechanic won't be as costly as it currently is, but we still don't have any way to DPS without risking an Eclipse proc. Basically Eclipse hasn't changed, just the way we use it.
  2. This is an indirect nerf to the current moonkin Idols. The problem with a vast majority of the idols is that they impact the performance of only one spell. That is ok when a majority of your rotation is centered around one spell, but now SF and Wrath will be equal partners. Which one do you choose? I'm not even sure that the IS idol won't be best in this situation.

    Hopefully Blizzard will introduce a new cool idol like [Idol of the Unseen Moon] or [Idol of the Raven Goddess] that will make this a moot point.
Balance of Power:
Now reduces all spell damage taken by 3/6%, rather than reducing the chance to be hit by spells by 2/4%

This feels like more of a PvP change even though I know nothing about PvP, but will have some implications in PvE. It will make survivability less streaky. I don't know if it is an improvement or not. We will be hit by spells more often, but each hit will do less damage. I'm viewing it as a positive because it will give me more time to react when I am hit.

Owlkin Frenzy:
Now also restores 2% base mana every 2 seconds for the duration (10 seconds) in addition to its current effects.

This has to be PvP change. Who knows what our mana will look like after 3.2, but my I doubt the nerf to Replenishment will hurt us that bad. I just don't see many raiding moonkins picking up OF any time soon. From a PvP perspective I have no clue. It has to be a plus, but I don't know what kind of mana issues Moonkin are having in Arena right now.

Duration reduced to 10 seconds, and cooldown reduced to 3 minutes. This means each use of Innervate will give half as much mana as before, but it will be available twice as often.

Good change. It makes it more useful in both PvE and PvP.

Other Interesting Changes:
Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

I'm not sure how this will impact Moonkin. Most of us aren't having any mana issues, but that could change.
  • Both the 10 and 25 player instances of the Crusaders' Coliseum drop a new Emblem of Triumph.
  • Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.
  • The heroic dungeon daily quest will now reward 2 Emblems of Triumph and the normal daily dungeon quest will reward 1 Emblem of Triumph.
WARNING: Look out for tons of Casual vs Hardcore QQ on the WoW forums. Personally, I don't care, but you know its coming.
Ominous Clouds in the Yogg-Saron encounter are now more vocal about touching players.
If you listen really closely you will hear raid leaders around the world cheering. I have to say one of the most frustrating things about learning Yogg was not knowing who spawned the additional adds. Believe it or not I'm not saying this just because it would give us some one to yell at. If you don't know that your the one that screwed up, then you can't fix the problem.

There are a bunch of other little changes that you might find interesting. You can find the full patch notes here. If you have a couple minutes let me know what you think of these notes in the comments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New 3.2 Info: Professions, Heirlooms, and Squires

It is becoming clear that patch 3.2 is just a round the corner because the CM team is starting to release new information about the changes coming in the patch. I personally wouldn't be surprised if we saw patch notes released with in a week.

Anyway, none of the changes announced so far are Moonkin specific, but there are some interesting changes that you may want to pay attention to.


When the next major content patch launches we will be introducing epic quality gems and updating the perks for each profession.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. I've long speculated that Blacksmithing will become the profession of choice because when Epic Gems are released there buff would go up while the buff of all other professions would would stay the same. Apparently, Blizzard realized this also and is buffing all of the professions except Blacksmithing. Don't expect the buffs to be huge, but an additional 8-10 spell power is nice.

The second thing I noticed about this change is that they are buffing the gathering professions as well has the crafting professions.
  • Lifeblood: Increased healing (Rank 6), Scales slightly with maximum health, & No longer affected by global cooldown

  • Toughness (Rank 6) provides more Stamina

  • Master of Anatomy (Rank 6) provides more critical strike rating
The benefits of the gathering professions are a bit situational for Caster DPS, but I really like the changes to Lifeblood. If you look back at some of my old comments on the ability you will see that I thought Herbalism got shafted. In it's current form Lifeblood is a week dot that didn't scale, and probably wouldn't save you from anything. Obviously I can't make any definite comments on it right now, but I think these changes are all moves in the right direction. The only other thing I would suggest is to make it a direct heal instead of a DoT.

Personally, I like all of these changes, but it throws some of my plans right out the window again. I had been planning to drop Herbalism at some point to pick up Jewelcrafting, because the prismatic gems were so awesome and lifeblood was so weak. Then they nerfed Jewelcrafting. Then I figured I would switch to Blacksmithing once the Epic gems were made available because lifeblood is so weak and I will get 8 more SP then I would with any other profession.

Now, it doesn't really seem to matter which profession you pick. I would get more DPS from a crafting profession and they would save me money on some items and enchants. However, I really like having an extra oh crap button on my bar, and if Lifebloom becomes decent it could be a powerful heal and a critical time. So, I'm back to square one. At this point I'll probably stick with Herbalism until I see a clear reason to switch.

Heirlooms & Squires:
  • One thing I can tell you is that chest piece heirlooms will be available in the next content patch. They will provide a 10% experience bonus that stacks with the shoulder bonus.

  • An Upgraded Squire: As any good squire should, this upgraded squire now has a mount and can be called forth every eight hours for three minutes of duty. The upgrade cost is 150 Champion Seals and your squire will also offer one of three services: bank, mail, or vendor access.
These changes have to do with the Argent Tournament, and I have to say I find them very distressing. Up until this point I have almost completely ignored the Argent Tournament and have been quite happy to do so. I don't really care about reps and the rewards didn't really interest me. So, I was quite happy to allow everyone else mess around with it while I raided and leveled new toons. Now that Blizzard is adding attractive rewards I feel like I have to participate in an event that I was otherwise happy to ignore.

When they first announced the new Heirloom items I assumed that they would be similar to the current set, but fill in some of the gaps. Now that we know there are new chest pieces and that they have a 10% experience buff that stacks with the shoulder buff, I have to pick it up. As you can tell, I like to have alts, but I also like to level them as quickly as possible. Having the extra 10% is not an option. Its a requirement.

I do hope that the chests aren't the only new Heirlooms. When I was looking at options for my Shaman, I realized that they are pretty limited. When leveling my shaman I've been using the caster items I already have, but it would be nice to have something that is designed a little better for a shaman.

The other big change I see is the Squire. Despite the child safety/labor concerns, I see this as a must have. Being able to access your bank, mail or vendors only once every 8 hours may not seem like a big deal to some, but I really want it. I currently lug around an entire Bear set on the off chance that my guild will need me. I could free up a lot of bag space by leaving it in the bank. Also, how many times have we bought something from the AH, or had something mailed from an alt but forgot to pick it up. A little bit of convenience goes a long way with me.

So, last night I made my way up to Icecrown and started doing dailies for the first time in months. Damn you Blizzard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Raiding 101: Boot Enchants

About a month ago Arawethion (aka Hamlet) started a new beginners guide on the Elitist Jerks forums. Most of it is pretty straight forward, but there is one line that I am sure has confused quite a few people:
Boots - Run speed/15 stam. Run speed/9 stam is a cheaper option until you need the HP.
Most new raiders would assume that Icewalker is the best Moonkin boot enchant. This is understandable because it provides two DPS stats and is very cheap.

I'm not trying to call anyone a noob here, because I used this enchant at one time also. When I pull up the armory profile of several prominent moonkin I see that some of them still use it as well. The benefits of the Icewalker enchant are clear and reasonable, but the Moonkin that use it are missing an opportunity to pick up a little utility that they can't really find many other places. So in this post I want to try and look at the benefits that each enchant provides so you can choose the enchant that makes sense for you.

First, lets look at what you gain from the Icewalker enchant. With this enchant you gain 12 Hit rating and 12 Crit rating. It's great for early raiding because you may not be at the cap yet, and raid bosses are a little simpler. However, if you think about it, you may realize it is a pretty weak enchant. Just look at the two stats it provides

Hit rating is a really good stat, but you need it in limited quantities. Many Moonkin I know are looking for ways do decrease their Hit rating since we get so much hit chance from talents and we have a lot on our tier gear. So, for many moonkin that extra 12 hit is useless. Even if you do need a little extra it is just as easy to socket a Veiled or Rigid gem instead.

Realistically it is impossible to cap Crit Chance, but Crit rating is one of the weakest stats for Moonkin and only gets weaker as your Crit Chance grows. An extra 12 Crit rating will have very little impact on your over all DPS.

Tuskar's Vitality:
The benefit of the 15 stam is obvious. The additional health is always helpful, but that is not the reason why you should consider this enchant. The 8% speed increase is a fairly unique quality that can have a significant impact on your raid performance in terms of survivability and DPS.

1. Survivability: Take a quick look at the raids in Ulduar and you will see many opportunities where a little extra speed could be helpful.

Flame Leviathan: Getting back to your vehicle if your a launchie.
Razorscale: Getting out of the fire.
XT-002 Deconstructor: Moving away from the group when you get Searing Light or Gravity Bomb.
Iron Councel: Avoiding Lightning Tendrils and/or Rune of Death.
Kologarn: Avoiding the Eye Beams.
Auriaya: Avoiding Void Zones and grouping back up after a fear.
Freya: Avoiding a lot of different damaging abilities.
Hodir: Avoiding Icicles and jumping on drifts.
Thorim: Avoiding Lightning Charge and more stuff in hard mode.
Mimiron: Tons of stuff to avoid in normal mode and more on hard mode.
General Vezax: Avoiding Shadow Crashes and Mark of the Faceless.
Yogg: Getting together for Brain Link or avoiding Death Ray.

That is 12 out of the 13 main bosses in Ulduar where a little extra speed can help you survive. I know that it is completely possible to survive these things without the speed boost, but none of us are perfect. We all have had that moment when things seem to be going a little crazy and you see the void zone spawn under you a little late. So it is possible to survive without it, but it will help you to recover from those small mistakes that we all make.

2. DPS: I'm not going to make a big list like I did for survivability, but there is a lot of movement in the Ulduar Boss fights. Unfortunately for Moonkin, there is very little we can do for DPS while we are moving. We don't have a lot of instants. We don't have an auto attack. Typically, if we are moving we are not DPSing. Therefore it is extremely important to get to our next spot as quickly as possible.

It is really hard to quantify how the extra speed will translate into DPS, cause it won't always mean you get an extra spell cast off, but there will be those times when you get a spell of right before you have to move that you wouldn't have gotten if you had gotten to that spot .2 seconds later.

Now that you know the benefits of a speed boost some of you may be asking "why do I have to sacrifice DPS stats to get it? Can't I get it another way?"

Yes, there are other ways to get a speed boost, but they have issues that make the Boot Enchant more attractive. First off, Unlike some other specs Moonkin don't have any talents that increase our run speed. If you want this buff you have to get it from gear or raid buffs. You could get it from Aspect of the Pack, but that has a down side of getting stunned and would seriously hurt your Hunter's DPS. You could also get it by gemming a [Tireless Skyflare Diamond], but picking up the speed boost this way would really hurt your DPS. Since the Icewalker Enchant is fairly weak comparatively then this is a perfect place to pickup the minor speed increase.

TL:DR Version:

Taking the Icewalker Enchant is not a bad way to go, but many high level raiders choose to go a different way. The DPS increases gained from the Icewalker Enchant are fairly small, and you could gain more survivability that is not really available without the Tuskar's Vitality boot enchant. There is so much damage to be avoided in Ulduar that a little extra speed can mean the difference between life and death, and a dead moonkin can't DPS.

P.S. Just in case anyone is wondering. The Greater Vitality enchant shouldn't even be considered in this debate. Mana is not a concern and 6 MP5 is very minor even if you do have mana issues.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Hot Fixes: 6/11/09

If your a raider then you've probably already heard about the changes that were Hot fixed into Ulduar on Thursday. If you haven't, they are:
  • The Yogg-Saron encounter has received the following changes: Death Ray no longer hits players who are under the effect of Malady of the Mind, Guardians of Yogg-Saron no longer use Dominate Mind, the spawn rate of Guardians of Yogg-Saron is more forgiving, and these Guardians will no longer spawn if a player that is protected by Hodir’s Flash Freeze hits an Ominous Cloud.
  • In the opening sequence of Ulduar you can now see Liquid Pyrite from farther away.
  • The Flame Leviathan encounter has received the following changes: the bonus health Flame Leviathan receives per tower has been reduced, the ejection height from Flame Leviathan has been reduced, the snare effect of the Tower of Frost has been removed, and the cannons on Demolishers and Siege Enginers should now break Flash Frozen vehicles in 1 shot.
  • The XT-002 Deconstructor encounter has received the following changes: the health of the heart has been slightly reduced in heroic difficulty and the rate at which Gravity Lapse and Searing Light are cast has been reduced.
To be completely honest I've debated writing on this topic. Just like some readers think I am sexist after this post, there is the potential that I will come off as an elitist a-hole to some in this one. That is not my intention, but as a whole these changes disappoint me in a couple of ways.

First and foremost, LoE hasn't attempted the FL or XT hard mode. So they've been nerfed before I had a chance to know if we were up to the challenge, and that bugs me. If the encounter was really to hard then I agree with the nerfs, but I don't think it was. Plenty of guild have done it and I think most people haven't because they want to spend more time on the Keepers so they can get to Algalon. I just wonder if I've missed an opportunity.

The second reason I'm disappointed is I don't think all of these changes are necessary. Take the Yogg changes for example. The trick to phase one is killing all the Guardians on Sara before you get over run with adds. It's a big part of why this fight is tough. Therefore the more "forgiving" spawn rate, and adds not spawning if your protected by Hodir might make phase one to simple.

I don't have a problem with the Death Ray/Malady of the Mind change. Random deaths are stupid. I also go back and forth on removing the MC. It could really screw your raid, but it only really became an issue when you started to fall behind. That said however, I worry that by nerfing phase 1 so much they've really taken the soul out of the fight.

I may catch some heat for this, but I will admit that part of the reason I don't like them is because it will make it easier for other guilds to kill Yogg for the first time. I think for a lot of raiders, raiding is a competition. You want to see who can get there first. Therefore a nerf is a little like providing a short cut for the people behind you.

I'm really proud of my guild. If you look on GuildOx or WowProgress we are ranked 4th on out server, but we raid only 9 hours a week. All of the guilds around us raid 16 to 20 hours a week. So I love that we have similar or better progress with less time spent raiding. Therefore I want to maintain that ranking and nerfs make that a little more difficult.

The final reason I dislike these nerfs is that I think there are bigger fish to fry. WoWRiot recently had an interview with two of Ensidia's Guild Leaders, and one of the questions they asked was which Ulduar Hard Mode do they like best. Both said Mimiron. In fact, both said that Mimiron hard mode was harder than Algalon the Tear Muncher.

I don't have any experience with Mimiron Hard mode on 25man but my guild has been working on the 10man version for a couple of weeks and it is hard. We've rolled through the other hard modes with out much effort and this one is much harder. I'm not saying they should nerf it, but if any fight need it then Mimiron is it.

Anyway, I'm sure some of you disagree with me. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My New Shiny and Hodir Hard Mode

In my last post I mentioned how LoE is working on Hodir Hard Mode. After a near miss on Monday, we came back in on Wednesday determined to get him down in under 3 minutes. It took a couple of attempts, he went down with time to spare on the night. To make it even better I got a new shiny.

That's right. The [Staff of Endless Winter] dropped and I won it. I've named her Lucille and yes she is a girl. As most of you know this is an awesome Staff, and I've rated it as BiS in my list. Some may think that a MH/OH combo would be king given the weapons and off hands that drop off of Algalon, but I disagree. That would only be true if you needed the hit and most Moonkin I know are working hard to stay at the cap.

All of that said Hodir Hard Mode was harder then I expected. The general consensus from around the forums and the WoW community seems to be that Hodir is the easiest hard mode of the keepers at least. On top of that my 10man group had absolutely no trouble with him. So when we started our attempts last Thursday I was very optimistic.

I don't really like to write Moonkin Boss Guides because I think they are highly dependant on how your guild is dealing with the encounter. So what helped me might not be applicable to your situation. That said I think these tips are fairly universal.

1. Know your Buffs: The NPCs provide 3 buffs. Getting these buffs and stacking them in the right way is the key to winning this fight. They are:

Storm Power - Increases critical strike damage by 135% for 30 sec. - This is the most important buff a moonkin can get in this fight. It seems to behave a lot like the [Chaotic Skyflare Diamond]. So, instead of a simple 135% increase, its more like a 200+% increase to our crits. With all of the buffs combined my Starfires where criting for over 65k damage.

The tough part is getting the buff. The shaman will cast it on one player and that player will give the buff to 6 other near by players. I found it difficult to see who had it, and therefore hard to actively pursue the buff. Hopefully your Raid Leaders have DBM or Bigwiggs and those addons are putting a skull on the person with Storm Cloud. If you see a skull, run to it. The other suggestion is don't get separated from the group. More often then not I got the buff without seeing who game it to me. Staying near the group helps this.

Toasty Fire - This buff is the second most important and does a couple of things. First it allows you to apply Singed to the boss which will due additional damage and make him vulnerable to magic damage. As nice as that is, it is not the real benefit of this buff. It also prevents Biting Cold from stacking, this allows you to stand and nuke the boss with little or no movement necessary. As we all know, movement is a moonkin's enemy.

Starlight - Attack and casting speeds increased by 50%. - Having an additional 50% haste is awesome, but I think you can see why I rank it last. The 50% haste is only going to affect your Starfire casts because most moonkin will already have 400 haste. On top of that, the buff area is pretty small which might cause players to clump up and get targeted for Icicles.

2. Power Auras: I think this addon or one like it is essential for pushing maximum DPS for this fight. What it does is allow you to program an on-screen alert when you get a buff or debuff. This way I knew when I new for sure that I was standing in a Toasty Fire or Starlight. I also new exactly when I got Storm power so that I could pop consumables and such.

All in all a great mod. I already use it to track my 4T8 procs, and I can think of a few other bosses where it will be a big help.

3. Consumables: Normally I like to save my potion cooldown in case I need mana or health, but this is one of the few fights where I think a DPS pot is really helpful. Popping a Potion of Wild Magic at the right time can give you a big boost to your DPS. I tried to pop them when I had Eclipse and Storm Power. If I could get Starlight as well that is awesome.

Some of you may be wondering why Wild Magic instead of Potion of Speed. Hodir is such a movement heavy fight that it is easy to lose the benefit due to a cancelled cast. On top of that you may not benefit from it if you have Starlight. Wild Magic on the other hand is a little less risky and works very well Storm Power and the other buffs.

4. Watch Your Aggro: I learned this lesson the hard way. Early in one of our attempts all of the stars aligned for me. I found a Toasty Fire quickly, Starlight spawned near me, I got Storm Power, and SF Eclipse procced. I popped a Potion of Wild Magic and started shooting off 1 second Starfire Crits for 65k damage each.

Unfortunately, I as fairly close to the Boss and ripped aggro off the tank. We were only a minute into the fight and I was dead. Just remember to watch your aggro like a hawk when you start to get a lot of buffs.

Friday, June 5, 2009

General Update: 6/5/2009

Sorry, guys for the recent brake in blogging. My real life has been quite hectic lately. On top of that I've been raiding a little more lately, therefore the time available for blogging has gone down. I hope my life will smooth out a little bit and I can get back to a more regular schedule soon.

With that, there are several things happening around the land of Graylo and Moonkin that I would like to talk about.

New Druid Forms:
The big druid news in recent weeks is the new Bear and Cat forms that will be released with 3.2. Unfortunately none of the other forms including Moonkin are being updated at this time, but seem to be in the queue for a later patch.

The druid forms have never been a big issue for me. I agree that its boring to look at the same form from level 10 to level 80 and look like every other druid you see, but what I looked like didn't really matter to me. That said, I like the new forms for the most part. The black Tauren Cat looks like a baboon to me. I would love it if they found a way to scale with gear, but I understand that that could be difficult. Now if they could just come up with some cool Moonkin forms, I might get a little more excited.

Moonkin Stats - Graylo vs Murmurs:
If you follow the Moonkin Repository you may have noticed that Murmurs and I have had a bit of a debate regarding the value Haste Rating and Crit Rating.

A month or so ago (its been a slow debate) Murmurs posted some shocking numbers regarding the value of Crit relative to Haste where Crit was actually worth more then Haste for a Lunar rotation. This goes so far against the conventional wisdom and the numbers that I had calculated that I was immediately sceptical of his results.

If your interested I suggest that you read through the thread. I had several issues with his math, but I had two primary concerns. First, I think his starting value of Crit Chance was way to low, and Murmurs conceded that point. The second concern I had was his numbers did not factor Eclipse or Set Bonuses into the value. He made some good points regarding here, but I still think its wrong to completely exclude them.

Obviously, I am supportive of my numbers. I did discover a couple of small issues with my model while arguing this debate so My lunar stats have changed a little bit, but not materially. However, you might find my last post in the thread very interesting.

Conceding the point about Set Bonuses I reran my model 4 times with various set bonuses to see how it affected the results. Here are the results:

StatNo Tier4T72T84T8
Hit Rating1.521.5261.5361.518
Spell Power1111
Haste Rating0.8190.8080.7910.709
Crit Rating0.6530.6270.6330.639

As you can see, the value of Crit Rating relative to Spell Power was fairly similar for all 4 runs. It was highest with no Tier bonuses, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are all within the margin of error.

What I found odd was how much the value of Haste Dropped with the introduction of 4T8. I new that 4T8 would devalue Haste but I didn't expect it to be by so much. However, its important not to overreact to this result. These results assume a T7.25 gear level with a ton of haste rating. Every BIS list I've seen produced for a Lunar rotation sees a significant drop in the amount of Haste being stacked. At my highest, I had about 628 Haste rating. I am already down below 500, and most of the BiS lists I've seen would put most people at about 425 -450. At the same time our Spell Power is going to go way up and our Crit Chance is going to go up. Since we are losing haste Rating, but gaining significant amounts of Spell Power and Crit Rating, the relative value of haste will be very similar to what I've reported in the past.

New Moonkin Blogger: Relevart’s Druid Reliquary
I want to give a little support to a new Moonkin Blogger. Relevart's blog is still very new, but he has already gotten several good theorycrafting posts out and seems to be on the right track.

Most new moonkin bloggers I see fall in one of a couple of categories. They either post too generally without detail, don't provide reasonable explanations or support their conclusions, or stop writing after a couple of posts. Relevart on the other hand seems to be off to a good start.

If you like my blog, you may like his also. If you don't like my blog, why the heck are you still reading. :)

Graylo and the Alts Update:
Its been a long time since I did a toon update, so I thought I would give you a little update on how things are going for me in Ulduar and such. Our 25man group has cleared through Yogg on normal mode with medium mode kills on FL and IC. We were the fifth guild on my server to kill Yogg. That is a little behind what I had hoped, but is still impressive given that we raid only 9 hours a week and all of the guilds ahead raid at least 16 hours a week. This week we started on the Keeper Hard Modes. Our first target is Hodir, and it has been a little tougher then I expected. Our best attempts are getting him to 15% before the three minutes ticks off, which isn't bad after one night of attempts. I think if we can get a little better at stacking the buffs he should be down shortly.

From a 10man perspective, I was left high and dry for a little while. My late night group broke up because some of the members decided to raid at different times and there wasn't enough interest to fill the empty slots. So, I had a couple of weeks without any 10man action, but then the late night group was reformed.

Our 10man groups have been going very well. We killed Yogg very quickly and have been working on hard modes for a couple of weeks. Personally the only Hard Modes I have left are Mimiron, General, Yogg, FL+3, and FL+4. This is part of the reason I was surprised at how hard Hodir Hard mode is. The 10man versions have been much easier in most cases. That said, it is understandable why we are having less of an issue. We out gear the content because we are 25man raiders.

The biggest test we've had so far is Mimiron Hard mode. The fire's add a lot of complexity to an already complex fight. The main issues we seem to be having is range. We seem to be able to control the fires, but it isn't unusual for some one to die because they got separated from the raid. We need to work out our positioning a little more and pump out more DPS so that we limit the number of Plasma Blasts we get.

Hopefully we can get him soon, because would then be able to start working on Algalon.

Finally, there hasn't been much activity for the alts. Grayfel and Graypal have primarily been Profession Mules since 3.1 dropped. I have worked on my Mage some and he is up to about 45 now I think. I also transferred my shaman over. I know its a little stupid to transfer a level 16 toon, but I didn't want to start over. He is now up to level 22 or so.