Monday, September 27, 2010

Cata Build 13033: Gear and Bugs

The last beta patch had a lot of changes for moonkin that were for the most part well received by the community. Therefore, it is not surprising that Build 13033 doesn't have a lot of big changes for moonkin to discuss. However, there are a few things you may be interested in and that I want to talk about.

Tier 11 Gear:

Hit Rating/Spirit
Crit Rating
Haste Rating
Mastery Rating
Gem Socket
1M, 2R, 2Y
Socket Bonus
20 Int
30 Int
20 Int
10 Int
10 Crit
80 Int, 10 Crit

Prior to this build, some feared our tier set would have Spirit or Hit on every piece, and that we would have a hard time getting rid of hit chance. That apparently shouldn't have been a big concern because none of our tier set has Hit or Spirit on it currently.

I must admit that I am a little shocked by this itemization. I always assumed that some of our tier set would not have Spirit or Hit on it, but I also assumed that two or three pieces would. Combine this with the fact that most of the Hit buffs have been removed from the game, and it's a little difficult to guess where we are going to get all of our Hit from. If we assume that Tier 11 bosses need 17% additional hit chance the way raid bosses typically do then we will need 1742 Hit Rating to hit cap. If we use the 4 piece set bonus, then that will have to come from 12 pieces of gear for an average of 145 hit per slot. Of course, some of that burden will be relieved by Reforging, Gems, and Enchants, but that is a large number to expect from 12 slots when most of them are "small" slots with less itemization.

Personally, I would like to see these stats altered a little bit to include more Hit Rating on 2 or 3 of the items. I think it will make gearing a little easier and less awkward as we advance to the next tier.

Set Bonuses:

I know I already talked about these Set Bonuses before, but I want to talk about them again.
  • Two Piece Set Bonus: Increases the critical strike chance of your Insect Swarm and Moonfire spells by 5%.
I'm still a fan of the two piece set bonus. It may not seem like much but DoTs are a huge part of moonkin DPS at the moment. I plugged this change into my simulator and it resulted in a 1.66% DPS increase. That may not seem like much but it is a pretty good bonus for a two piece in the first tier of raiding.
  • Four Piece Set Bonus: Whenever Eclipse triggers, your critical strike chance with spells is increased by 99% for 8 sec. Each critical strike you achieve reduces that bonus by 33%,
I am still not a fan of the four piece set bonus. In my post two weeks ago, I talked about how the 8 second duration of the buff was too short. That is still an issue in my opinion, but I thought of a few other questions as well.

How are DoTs impacted by this set bonus? If they are impacted, will they hold the buff for the duration of the DoT? Will DoT crits reduce the bonus?

Our DoTs are two of our highest DPET spells. If they receive the 99% crit buff and hold it to duration without consuming any of the charges then this set bonus could be awesome. Conversely, if the DoT crits consume the charges then this set bonus is likely to be horrible since individual DoT ticks are relatively small.

It will be hard to get a definitive read on this Set Bonus until we can test it in game, but I am not getting a good feeling from it. If it only impacts Nukes, then the duration is way to short, and kind of pointless since it also has charges. If it does impact DoTs it could be awesome if the DoTs hold the buff for the duration, but that sounds very unlikely to me. What seems more likely is that the DoTs will consume the charges, and severely limit the effectiveness of the bonus.

The bright side is that this set bonus could be so bad that we don't care about it and we have two more item slots to pick up Hit Rating.

Documented Changes:
  • Wild Mushroom now affects targets within 3 yards, down from 10 yards.
Wild Mushrooms now hit very hard, and a 10 yard radius was probably to large, but a 3 yard radius feels too small. First off, it is a 91% reduction in the area affected. That means you have to place them fairly precisely to get the maximum impact. Second, they are fairly complicated to cast. You have to place each Mushroom individually, and where you want to place them is likely a high traffic area. This means it's probably going to take significant time just to place them if you know where they need to go, and then you need to push a button to detonate them.

Wild Mushroom may be very strong but I'm not sure it's cost effective given their range and the complexity of the cast. It looks to me like there is a lot of potential for error at the moment.

  • Entangling Roots now lasts 30 sec, up from 27 sec.
A lot of moonkin have been laughing at this change. My guess this is another CC standardization change, but I don't know for sure. That said, I haven't used Entangling Roots in a while, but I don't remember them ever lasting the full duration even when I wasn't hitting the target. Unless the roots are a little more resilient then I remember, this change does seem a little silly.

Undocumented Changes:

I haven't had a chance to test the most recent beta build yet, but this is what I've heard from various forums and such.

  • Moonfire and Insect Swarm now scale with Haste. Moonfire is also still a 2 second tick.
I was beginning to have my doubts that Moonkin DoTs would scale with Haste Rating, but I am glad to hear that they do now. DoTs are such a large portion of our DPS, I wouldn't want them to not scale with any stat. Also, it sets Haste apart from Crit and Mastery in terms of value. It was beginning to look like it wouldn't really matter how we geared as long as we were hit capped and had the highest ilevel possible. That would have been no fun at all.

Friday, September 24, 2010

State of the Moonkin: Cata Beta Edition

At this point, the smart money says that Cataclysm will be released sometime in the next few months. Plus, Blizzard recently made big changes to the Balance spec, and those changes were generally well received by the moonkin community. Therefore, I would say that moonkin are probably 80% to 90% done, and all that is left are balancing changes, bug fixes, and maybe a few small changes here and there.

This means now is a good time to stop and take stock of the situation. We have a little time left to make suggestions to fix the few issues that remain and to praise the changes we like to hopefully cement them into the build that is released. Hamlet made a great post regarding the current state of moonkin on the EJ forums after the 12984 beta build, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my own thoughts about the current state of moonkin.

Rotation / Complexity:

I'm having a hard time placing the Moonkin rotation on the difficulty scale. At this point I think the moonkin rotation is going to fall into one of two buckets.

  • The Simple Rotation: Try for 100% DoT uptime, use Starsurge on cooldown, and cast Starfire or Wrath as filler depending on the current position of the Eclipse bar. - I'm not saying this rotation is simple. In fact, using the standard blizzard UI in the beta, I'm having a difficult time managing it without my normal addons. However, the choices you make using this strategy are simple. Is a DoT down? No, refresh it. Is Starsurge off Cooldown? Yes, cast a nuke.

  • The Clipping/Delaying Rotation: Same as above, except clip and delay casting DoTs to maximize their usage of Eclipse. - Currently, the total damage a DoT will do is determined when it is cast. If you cast a DoT, the tick damage won't change when you gain or lose a buff. So the player is incented to cast DoTs during Eclipse to have as many of them buffed by Eclipse as possible. Unfortunately, the duration of the DoTs and the duration of the Eclipse buff are unlikely to conveniently match up most of the time.

    This raises some interesting questions. Do you delay refreshing a DoT so that it can be cast during Eclipse? If so, what is the maximum beneficial delay? Is it a good idea to refresh a DoT at the end of Eclipse even if it has more then one tick left? If so, what is the maximum number of ticks should you over write? I would need the help of SimulationCraft to determine how helpful the clipping and delaying strategies are, but my worry is there might be significant benefits to clipping and delaying DoTs at the right time. If that is the case then the moonkin rotation will be very complicated.
My gut feeling is that the Simple Rotation I described above won't be far behind the best possible Clipping/Delaying strategy in terms of DPS. Clipping DoTs is expensive because it not only prevents your DoT from ticking fully but you spend extra Global Cooldowns. I expect that we will be able to make small gains in DPS by delaying or clipping a DoT by a tick or two, but anything larger then that will probably risky and counter productive. I don't have any math to back that up though.


The real bane of moonkin DPS in WotLK was movement. You could get mad at the RNG or the over poweredness of Eclipse all you want but the real problem was that it was to easy to lose due to movement and other fight mechanics.

It's obvious that one of the design goals of Cataclysm is to reduce the moonkin's vulnerability to movement, and I think moonkin have improved significantly in this area. First, Eclipse is no longer a timed buff, so we will never miss out on a proc due movement, a stun, or just bad timing. Second, Lunar Shower makes Moonfire spam powerful and mana efficient in the right situation. Third, Shooting Stars takes our highest DPET nuke off of cooldown and makes it instant cast so that it can be used on the move. These are all major improvements for a spec that could do very little during movement in WotLK.

That isn't to say everything is all rainbows and roses. Movement still has a few teeth to take a bite out of Moonkin DPS. The first issue is the Moonfire spell itself. Moonfire is still a directional spell that requires you to be facing the boss to some degree. If you're running away from the boss to get out of Bone Storm or not get hit by Blistering Cold, Moonfire and Lunar Shower are useless. I'm also a little worried that overwriting an Eclipsed Moonfire DoT with an uneclipsed Moonfire would not improve our DPS. However, according my quick napkin math that doesn't seem to be a huge concern.

The second issue is that Nature's Torment is a timed buff procced by DoT casts. Since it is a timed buff it is very vulnerable to movement. Plus, during movement Lunar Shower encourages us to cast Moonfire and potentially proc Nature's Torment at a time when it is guaranteed to be partially lost. That said Nature's Torment is only a 4% DPS increase in a Patchwerk style fight. Losing some of it's effectiveness due to movement isn't going to kill moonkin DPS.

Overall, Moonkin are much less vulnerable to movement then they currently are on Live. I would like to see Moonfire changed into a non directional spell like Insect Swarm, but if the current beta set up goes live I would be happy with it.


The DoTs
- Based upon the current Beta build Moonkin DoTs have never been stronger in my nearly 4 years playing WoW. If I remember correctly they were about 20% - 25% of moonkin DPS in the beginning of WotLK. According to my simulator they would be about 35% of moonkin DPS if the current beta build was released and please note that moonkin DoTs currently do not scale with Haste.

Insect Swarm is a very strong spell that gets a big boost from the Glyph of Insect Swarm which is unchanged from the current live version.

Moonfire's ticks were converted from a 3 second tick to a 2 second tick in the latest beta build without changing the base damage or spell power coefficients. I hope this is an intended change as Moonfire could use the boost.

My open questions regarding Moonkin DoTs are:

  1. Are moonkin DoTs still intended to scale with Haste?
  2. Is Insect Swarm too powerful and be nerfed?
  3. Are Moonfire's 2 second ticks and intended change or a bug?

The Nukes - If DoTs are relatively strong then moonkin Nukes must be relatively weak. The weakness of our nukes is primarily due to the strenght of our DoTs. In WotLK, our nukes got exclusive use of Eclipse and talents like Nature's Majesty and Wrath of Cenarious. My simulator shows that Wrath, Starfire and Starsurge combined do about 60% of our damage, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Nukes are easy, but they are vulnerable to movement. This should help our DPS in the more dynamic fights.

The Others -

  • Starfall is a little less powerful, but still a very strong spell. The big question I have is when is the best time to use it? Obviously it gets a big boost if you can use it during Lunar Eclipse, and the cooldown actually matches up with Eclipse fairly well. However, it obviously does better when there are multiple targets. The exact Strategy we use casting Starfall will probably heavily depend on the encounter.

  • Force of Nature feels the same as it always has. A solid DPS boost, but some times a pain in the ass.

  • Thorns is very strong currently and I have a feeling it will be nerfed. At the moment it is so strong you could make an argument on the main tank full time but I have a hard time believing that is the intended use of the spell. I see it more as a PvP cooldown or a way to help an Add tank build aggro quickly.

  • Wild Mushrooms are starting to get me excited. I would love to have them as I work on Heroic Lich King. I agree with Hamlet that they might be a bit to strong, but then again they are also a bit situational and take a bit of time to manage. They also got a range nerf in the most recent beta build.


I've built my simulator to stat evaluations as well. My default settings are 7000 total Spell Power (3500 SP + 3000 Int), 1742 Hit, 1000 Crit rating, 1000 Haste rating, 1000 Mastery rating, and full raid buffs. Unfortunately I don't have a good idea of what the stats levels will be for a level 85 raiding moonkin. I choose these values because they seemed reasonable and equitable. This is the stat valuation it produced.

StatMarginal Value
Spell Power
Hit Rating
Haste Rating
Crit Rating
Mastery Rating

Honestly, I was surprised by these results, but I am getting similar (but slightly different) results from WrathCalcs. Hit Rating has always been the undisputed #1 DPS stat for moonkin. If you believe these results (and I don't have any reason not to) it is a distant third behind Intellect and Spell Power. That doesn't necessarily mean we will change the way we gear. Hit Rating is still the best of the rating stats and I assume that Int and Spell Power will be received in default amounts determined by ilevel. However, it is a bit of a shock that took me a little bit to get my mind around.

Intelligence and Spell Power are the clear favorites and yes Spell Power does still exist on the beta. You primarily get it your weapon, but my old enchants and socket bonuses have it as well. They are followed by Hit Rating at a distant third which makes Hit capping still a priority. Then you have Haste Rating, Crit Rating, and Mastery Rating all clumped up in a little group.

My Haste Rating valuation assumes that the DoTs will not scale with haste. If that does change on the Beta it will be a clear favorite over Crit Rating or Mastery Rating.

Mastery Rating is the clear black sheep of the family. It's not that far behind crit in my valuation, but in ever valuation I've seen it is last. I think there are a few of reasons for this.
  • First, Mastery increases our Eclipse damage. According to my simulator that means it will only impact 55% - 60% of our spells pre-Eclipse damage.

  • Second, Mastery Rating has a relatively small impact on the combined Eclipse buff. Eclipse comes with a base buff of 25% and each Mastery Point increases the buff by 1.5%. When you train Mastery at level 80 you automatically pick up 8 Mastery Points for an additional 12% buff for a total base buff of 37%. So, if you increase the eclipse buff by "1%" with Mastery Rating, you're really only increasing your damage by 0.73%.

  • Third, Mastery Rating has the lowest ratio. It takes 179.28 Mastery Rating to gain one Mastery Point. That is 179.28 Mastery Rating to increase your Eclipse buff by 1.5%.
I don't know if these are necessarily problems or not because I really don't know what a raiding moonkin's gear will look like at this point or not. However, the Rating stats do seem to be very weak when compared to Intelligence and Spell Power. It's true that rating stats tend to be weak at lower levels of gear, but I don't think they were this weak in WotLK. We can't really avoid the rating stats on gear, but it could have implications for how we gem and how we upgrade our gear when new content is released.


Overall, I think Moonkin are in a pretty good spot. I don't know where we stand in terms of DPS when compared to other classes and specs, but if the current build went live, I would be happy with it (assuming the bugs were fixed). That said here are a few of my open questions / suggestions.

  • Keep an eye on rotational complexity. I think it's in a good spot if the Simple rotation I described above is the dominate rotation, but it could get overly complex really quickly clipping and delaying DoTs shows significant DPS gains.

  • A moonkin's Movement DPS should be much better in Cataclysm, but it's based on Moonfire which is a directional spell. I would love for Moonfire to be cast on any target in 40 yards if you’re facing them or not.

  • Moonkin Nukes are a little weaker then we are used to. The DoTs are a little stronger. As long as our overall DPS is competitive none of that really matters. The main question I have is will Moonkin DoTs scale with Haste. Blizzard said they will, and they haven't said anything otherwise, but we've been in the beta for a while with out this being included.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cata Build 12984: A Happier Graylo

It's been a good week for me regarding WoW. First, I got invited to the beta, which I am very excited about. I now have an opportunity to answer my own questions rather then wait on someone else to test them for me. Second, we finally got a beta patch with some real meat on it for moonkin. In fact, it comes with 4 new talents, 3 completely reworked talents, and other tuning adjustments. Not every change is an obvious home run, but this is finally the attention we've been waiting for.

Euphoria - While not in an Eclipse state, you have a 12/24% chance to double the Solar or Lunar energy generated by your Wrath or Starfire when they deal damage. When you reach a Solar or Lunar eclipse, you instantly are restored 6/12% of your total mana.
If you read my post a couple of weeks ago, then you probably remember I did not have good things to say about Euphoria. The old talent did nothing to improve DPS. Also, the Eclipse Power it provided was very low compared to the power provided by spells that it had little impact on the number of spells cast. This change fixes both of those problems.

First, the fact that it doesn't proc when you have Eclipse is a pretty big bonus. It in sures that Euphoria is always a positive bonus. Other wise the Euphoria procs that happen while Eclipse is down are just cancelled out by the ones that proc during Eclipse.

Second, the amount of Eclipse Power generated has a real impact. If it procs on any spell cast before your last one it reduces the number of casts you need to make to proc Eclipse. That is not something you could say about the old version.

When I plugged this new Euphoria into my simulator it increased the uptime of Eclipse from 55.90% to 60.07%. That's pretty huge since Eclipse is the primary driver of our DPS. The only reservation I have about it is that it no longer procs off of Crits. It's not really a bad thing that it has a flat 24% chance to proc, but I like the extra crit scaling it would provide for us. I'm a little worried that talents like Ignite and Lava Flows will allow other classes to scale better then us at the higher levels of gear. Then again, Blizzard can always make adjustments later.


These changes were not documented by MMO Champion (I'm sure they would be hard to find by data mining), but they are important none the less.
  • Eclipse no longer decays out of combat.
  • The Eclipse buff now lasts until you reach 0 energy, and no longer has a 45 second time limit. You can go afk and you will still have eclipse when you come back.
  • Starfire and Wrath will move the Eclipse bar in only one direction after you proc Eclipse, but will go both directions after you go out of combat. For example, Wrath will not generate Lunar energy after you proc lunar Eclipse. Starsurge is bugged. Sometimes it gives "smart" energy. Other times it does not.
The first two are fairly big quality of life changes. I've really only been on the beta for a day, but it was obvious that the decay rate on Eclipse was a big pain in the butt. At level 80 my targets were dying before I could proc Eclipse, and when I did proc it I lost all of the power to OOC decay.

The only problem I see is that it will be tempting for some people to try and store up power before a boss fight. It should work well on farm content, but will be impractical for progression content when it would really matter.

The third one kills the strategies of procing the same Eclipse back to back. Ghostcrawler hinted at it a couple of months ago. Plus, we have several talents and a set bonus that make it advantagous to proc Eclipse quickly. So it's not a surprise, but this officially kills the hold Eclipse strategies.

New Talents:
Dreamstate (Tier 5) *New* - When you cast your Innervate on yourself, you regain an additional 10/30% of your total mana over its duration.
This an old name but a completely new talent. It's not a bad talent but I'm having a hard time figuring out where it fits. In raiding, it could be great if we end up having mana issues, but I'm not convinced that will be the case. In soloing/leveling, it's much easier just to sit down and drink. In PvP, it could be great because you are much more likely to innervate yourself in a PvP situation. However, I'm told that Innervate is also dispellable which makes innervating yourself a possibly useless activity.

At this point I would leave it out of my talent build, but I think it is a nice talent.
Sunfire (Tier 5) *New* - While in Solar Eclipse, your Moonfire spell will morph into Sunfire.
It sounds cool, but I was a little confused when I first read the discription of this talent. I wasn't quite sure how it would work. Could you have both Moonfire and Sunfire on the boss? If Moonfire was on the boss and I procced Solar Eclipse would the Moonfire on the boss already convert to Sunfire?

I did a little testing. Moonfire and Sunfire are the same exact spell that does the same damage as far as I can tell. It is impossible to have both Moonfire and Sunfire on the boss, because they over write each other. If you cast Moonfire right before Solar procs then it stays Moonfire after Solar procs. If you cast Sunfire right before you lose Solar it stays Sunfire and buffed by Solar Eclipse after you lose the Solar Eclipse. If you have the Glyph of Starfire equipped then Starfire will extend Sunfire but it's impractical given the nature of Eclipse. In short, Moonfire and Sunfire are the same exact DoT except that Sunfire is a nature version that is cast during Solar Eclipse and is buffed by Solar Eclilpse.

It sounds pretty cool. I wonder if it will be possible to keep Moonfire/Sunfire buffed by Eclipse close to 100% of the time.

Shooting Stars (Tier 3) *New* - You have a 2/4% chance when you deal damage with your Moonfire or Insect Swarm to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and reduce its cast time by 100%. Lasts 8 sec.
I like the idea of this talent. It feels like a moonkin version of Hot Streak. Starsurge is a great DPS spell because it has a much higher spell power coefficient then it's cast time would indicate, so the more often you can cast it the better. It also makes Starsurge instant cast. So you can use it on the move.

The main question I have here is will it proc enough? A 4% chance sounds very low, but then a gain we have two dots that will be ticking fairly quickly. I estimate that it should proc once every 30 - 40 seconds. That doesn't sound to bad, but I will have to put it in simulator to see how it affects DPS.
Overgrowth (Tier 2) *New* - Your Entangling Roots and Nature's Grasp have a 50/100% chance to also root all enemies within 8 yards of the target
As a raider, this is just a situational talent. I would love to have it for Dreamwalker in ICC. It might be ok for the Val'kyr phases on Lich King in a pinch as well, but I don't see it be a standard part of my build. Could be a great anti-melee talent for moonkin in PvP.

Revamped Talents:

I already went over Euphoria above, but some other talents got an overhaul as well.
Nature's Torment - You gain 5/10/15% spell haste after you cast Moonfire or Insect Swarm, lasting 15 sec. This effect has 1 minute cooldown. When you gain Lunar or Solar Eclipse, the cooldown of Nature's Torment is instantly reset.
Nature's Grace was redone and renamed Nature's Torment. This is a very interesting talent, and I'm not sure how I feel about it just yet. Overall, it feels like a good thing, but it raises a lot of questions. We are not going to proc Eclipse every 15 seconds so it will have more down time then the current Nature's Grace does, so what is the best way to optimize it. Would it be worth it to clip a DoT right after you proc Eclipse? How will Moonfire and Insect Swarm interact with a temporary haste buff? How frequently will it be wasted on movement mechanics in boss fights?

The only thing I know for sure is that it improves how we scale with Haste Rating. The quicker we cast, the more frequently we will proc Eclipse, and the greater uptime Nature's Torment will have. This might make up for the fact that Euphoria doesn't proc on Crits anymore.
Genesis - no longer increases the damage done by your periodic spells and increases the duration of your Moonfire and Insect Swarm by 6 sec instead.
I'm not sure what impact this change will have on moonkin DPS. Trading 6% damage for 6 additional seconds is pretty hard to compare on the fly, but my first impression is good. If I had to guess, I would think the extra cooldowns saved with the new Genesis more then make up for 6% damage lost. Also on the plus side, longer DoTs are easier to manage and anything that makes a rotation easier is generally a good thing in my book. At 12 seconds both Moonfire and Insect Swarm felt very short.

Other Changes:
•Starsurge now generates 15 Solar or Lunar Energy, up from 10
•Lunar Guidance is gone.
With all the new talents I'm glad to see that they got rid of one, and Lunar Guidance was a good choice in my opinion. It be came pretty weak when it boosted Starsurge by only 6 power. The only thing I am surprised about is that Starsurge only gives 15 power now instead of 16. One point isn't a huge deal, but it caught me a little off guard.
•Wild Mushroom now becomes visible after 6 sec, up from 4 sec. Base damage increased by 400% (from 269-304 to 1300-1573 damage)
•Wild Mushroom: Detonate no longer costs mana, now has a 10 sec cooldown, and affects target within 10 yards, down from 15 yards.
I've only gotten to play with Wild Mushroom on a premade toon, but they did feel very weak. The premade's gear is horrible, but the mushrooms were only hitting for 350 damage or so. I'm glad to see they've gotten buffed.
•Earth and Moon now increases spell damage taken by 8%, down from 13%.
I think this was just a tool tip error. Ebon Plague and Bane of Elements were already at 8%, so it is not surprising that Earth and Moon is brought in line with them. The only thing I wish is that Earth and Moon could be spread as an AoE just as Ebon Plague and Bane of Elements can.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Raid Tools:

Lets see if this sounds familiar to you. You've been running ICC for several months, and as a guild you are getting close to completing all of the achievements needed to complete the meta achievement and get your drakes. Unfortunately over that time, some people went on vacation, you added a couple of recruits, and others are missing individual achievements like Once Bitten, Twice Shy. At this point you don't know who needs what achievement, and you're not looking forward to combing through the armory to figure it out.

If this sounds familiar to you then you're going to love

Back when we were progressing through, Ulduar a guildie of mine wrote a small webpage that pulled together all the achievements needed by players of a certain guild rank within our guild. It greatly simplified the process of figuring out what achievements were needed by what players, and helped us get our drakes with fewer headaches.

The good news for you guys is that he has expanded the website to display more then just my guild. If you go to you can find all of your guilds Raiding Meta Achievement needs. It can search both US and EU servers, and you can also select the ranks you would like it to pull to exclude the alt and non-raider ranks. If it's the first time your guild has been searched for it will take a little while to pull all of the information, but I have never had to wait for more then five minutes. The site is fairly new. If you have any suggestions on how to improve it, he has also provided a simple and clear way to provide feed back.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cataclysm: Moonkin Glyphs

None of the major WoW news sights are reporting them but several beta testers are reporting that the druid glyphs are available in the Beta now. Who knows what stage of development the glyphs are in, but it is something interesting to talk about. Lissanna has the most complete list here on her blog (and I've stolen her list), but you can also find them on the Moonkin Repository. If you haven't seen the glyphs elsewhere, here is what we can look forward to in Cataclysm.

In case you don't remember, there will be three types Glyphs in Cataclysm instead of the two we have now. Blizzard is adding a third category of glyph called a Prime glyph which is really what we think of as Major Glyphs now. These will be the clear DPS boosting glyphs have been the bread and butter of the Major Glyphs in WotLK. In Cataclysm, the Major Glyph category will be the more situationally helpful but generally ignored Major glyphs we had in WotLK. The Minor Glyph Category is so far unchanged.

Prime Glyphs:

  • Starsurge – When your starsurge deals damage, the cooldown remaining on your Starfall is reduced by 5 sec.
  • Insect Swarm – Still increases damage by 30%, no longer mentions debuff.
  • Moonfire – Increases the periodic damage of moonfire by 20%.
  • Starfire – Unchanged (Starfire increases duration of Moonfire by 3 sec up to a maximum of 9 sec)
  • Wrath – Your wrath does 10% additional damage to targets afflicted by your insect swarm.
If Cataclysm was going live today, what would I pick? I don't have any math to back it up, but my gut reaction is to go with the classic WotLK combo of Starfire, Moonfire, and Insect Swarm. I would choose these three right now because every report I hear out of the beta says that DoTs are strong and Nukes are weak. Therefore it makes the most sense to pick the Glyphs that boost the DoTs.

At this point I think the Glyph of Insect Swarm (GoIS) and Glyph of Starfire (GoSF) are no brainers. With a 30% damage boost GoIS was a very strong for most of WotLK and only fell because our DoTs didn't scale well. Since that is changing in Cataclysm, I assume that GoIS will be very strong once again.

I am a little surprised that GoSF hasn't changed, though it still can. When I pick it I am assuming that it actually adds 3 seconds to the duration of MF and scales with haste, instead of just adding an additional tick. If that is the case, then GoSF should be very strong.

The big question is should we go with Glyph of Wrath (GoW) and increase our Wrath damage by 10% or with the Glyph of Moonfire (GoMF) and increase our MF DoT damage by 20%. It's a tough call. Buffing DoTs over nukes is generally not a good idea because nukes tend to make up a much larger portion of our DPS then DoTs do. However, what I'm reading is that our nukes are currently very weak in the beta and that the DoTs are very strong. On top of that there is some synergy between the GoSF and GoMF that shouldn't be ignored. Therefore, I have to go with GoMF right now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that change by the time Cataclysm is released.

Glyph of Starsurge (GoSS) is the "also ran " of this category. There are a couple of things that make this unattractive from my perspective. First, Starfall has been nerfed quite a bit in the Beta. Reducing it's cooldown is nice, but won't pack the same punch that it does currently on live. Second, Starfall isn't always an ability you want to use on cooldown. If you're saving it for an add phase each time then the cooldown reductions are wasted. Though it is possible that GoSS might allow you to use Starfall every add phase instead of every other add phase assuming the timing is right.

Major Glyphs:

  • Focus – unchanged (Increases Starfall dmg by 10% and reduces range by 50%).
  • Thorns – Reduces cooldown by 20 sec.
  • Barkskin – Unchanged (reduces chance to be crit by melee attacks).
  • Entangling Roots – Reduces cast time of roots by 100%.
  • Hurricane – Slows movement speed by 50% (up from 20%).
  • Innervate – When innervate is cast on a friendly target other than the caster, the caster will gain 50% of inntervate’s effect. (up from 45%)
  • Monsoon – Unchanged (reduces cooldown of Typhoon by 3 sec)
  • Rebirth – Unchanged (res with 100% health)
  • Solar beam – Increases the duration of your solar beam silence by 5 sec.
  • Starfall – Reduces the cooldown on starfall by 30 sec
That is a lot of choices. Also, pretty much all of them are only situationally useful, and it will be difficult to pick out three and say "these are the best to use." I won't be surprised if we will be switching out of several of these choices quite often.

If I had to choose my standard three I would probably pick Glyph of Starfall (GoSFall), Glyph of Innervate (GoI) and Glyph of Rebirth (GoR). Unless you are saving it for adds GoSFall is a pretty clear DPS increase for a Major Glyph. GoR is a clear winner for me, because you never want to see your rez target die due to a poorly timed AoE or rez acceptance. Finally, I choose GoI because of all the mana talk that Blizzard is making for healers, and there is talk that Cataclysm will be the return of the Oomkin. If healers need mana and we need mana then GoI is a smart choice.

Glyph of Focus could be very nice in the right type of fight, but I am not a fan of the range reduction. In general, I think it reduces the usefulness of Starfall rather then helps it's damage output. Glyph of Hurricane would also be very helpful in the right situation, but I think there has been only one fight in all of WotLK where I thought it might help. The other Major Glyphs are primarily PvP related, but could have some impact in PvE. However, I expect most of them to be rarely used if at all.

Minor Glyphs:
  • Aquatic form – increases swim speed by 50% in aquatic form
  • Mark of the Wild – Reduces cost of MOTW by 50% (NOTE: GOTW is gone and MOTW is now group & already costs no reagent)
  • Unburdened Rebirth (unchanged) – rebirth no longer requires a reagent
  • Challenging Roar – Reduces cooldown by 30 sec
  • Dash – reduces cooldown by 20 sec
  • Typhoon – reduces cost of the spell by 8%, increases radius by 10 yards, but no longer knocks enemies back
The Minor Glyphs haven't changed much. The only big change was that the Glyph of Thorns was made into a Major Glyph. Unless, they add a new minor glyph I will probably stay with Unburdened Rebirth, Mark of the Wild, and probably take Glyph of Typhoon as the third.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cata Build 12942: The Frustrated Graylo

Once again Blizzard releases a new beta build with few Moonkin, but nothing that really addresses the issues talked about Lissanna, Murmurs, Relevart, and the other beta testers. I am an advocate for patience. I don't believe that Blizzard wants Moonkin to suck and in no way do I believe that Blizzard will let moonkin suck. That said, I am getting very frustrated. Each patch comes out with a few changes here and a few changes there, but nothing that seems to address the real issues. Here are my thoughts on the most recent changes.

Tier 11 Balance Set Bonuses:

These are pretty hard to evaluate when you don't really know the context that they will be operating in. I still think Blizzard needs to do quite a bit of tuning on moonkin to make them competitive. That said there are couple of things I noticed right off the bat.

  • Two Piece Set Bonus: Increases the critical strike chance of your Insect Swarm and Moonfire spells by 5%.
The two piece set bonus seems decent. If you assume that we will have about a 25% crit chance in Tier 11 content and that our DoTs will make up between 25% to 40% of our total DPS, then this set bonus should increase our DPS by 1.0% to 1.5%. It may not sound like much but it is pretty good for a 2 piece bonus from the first tier of raid content. At this point, I would not be upset if this one went live.
  • Four Piece Set Bonus: Whenever Eclipse triggers, your critical strike chance with spells is increased by 99% for 8 sec. Each critical strike you achieve reduces that bonus by 33%,
How the four piece set bonus would impact moonkin DPS is hard to tell but I can see one issue with it right away. The 8 second duration of the buff is way to short and it will be a problem for a couple of reasons.

  1. Any experienced moonkin is no stranger to the first reason. An 8 second buff is very easy to lose to movement, stuns, or anything else that prevents you from casting for a short period of time. That is one of the main problems of the current version of eclipse that we are trying to fix with the new system. Therefore it doesn't make sense to structure the buff this way.
  2. The second reason 8 seconds is to short, is because you can barely fit 3 Starfire casts in 8 seconds, and it might be impossible when you consider lag and reaction time if procced early with Euphoria. Plus, while the first two casts are pretty much guaranteed to crit, the third probably had a 60% chance at best. If it does not you've lost that 33% chance to crit because there is not enough time left to cast a fourth Starfire with the buff up.
If this set bonus is to have any chance of being used then the duration on the buff needs to be increased. I think it needs to be 15 seconds at minimum, but 20 or 25 might be better if Blizzard really wants to protect it.

If it is fixed it will be interesting to see how this affects the Cata rotation debate. The primary way seen discussed to do that would be to extend the Eclipse buff for the full 45 seconds and then instantly proc the same eclipse when the old one drops. That increases the time between Eclipse procs and obviously devalues this set bonus.

Talent Tree Changes:

Has Blizzard abandoned the interesting and fun talent design goal that they couldn't stop talking about 6 months ago? If you remember, Blizzard kept saying they wanted players to have more interesting and fun talent choices and to get away from all the passive bonuses that have traditionally been the glue of talent trees. Now with each patch it seems like a new passive bonus is added or expanded. Two builds ago we had 10% damage to moonkin form. Last build they expanded Nature's Majesty to affect all spells. Now we are getting these changes.

  • Nature's Grace revamped - Increases your spell haste by 1/2/3%.
In this change Blizzard is taking what could be considered an interesting and fun talent and turning it into a passive bonus. Not only that, but it's a complete nerf. If you assume a 25% crit chance and a Patchwerk style fight the old Nature's Grace would have resulted in an average haste value of about 6.5%. Granted that value would be lowered by movement and such, but I doubt it would be cut in half.

The other impact of this change is that it simplifies the moonkin rotation. With the old version it would be best to cast DoTs while NG is up because it's a large buff that would last for the duration of the DoT. Therefore, turning Nature's Grace into a passive buff should make the moonkin rotation easier. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing really depends on your point of view.

  • Balance of Power no longer increases your chance to hit with spells, increases your nature and arcane spell damage by 1/2% instead.
I don't have a problem with the chance to hit being removed from this talent. I have a feeling that we will have Spirit coming out of our ears by default and needing more could actually help us some with itemization. However, I am a little annoyed that they slap another passive buff on there to make up for the loss. How many of our talents now have passive buffs on them? It's got to be 5 or 6 of them.

  • Lunar Shower now increases the direct damage done by Moonfire by 15/30/45%. (Old - Increased all damage dealt by Moonfire)
Not a big surprise here. I don't think Lunar Shower was ever intended to buff anything other then the direct damage portion of Moonfire. This probably isn't a real change. It's just a case of Blizzard correcting a mistake.


There are not a lot of changes to discuss in this new talent build, and the few that we do get are just following the trend of previous builds. Blizzard continues to add more passive damage buffs to the Balance tree despite it being a stated goal of Cataclysm to do away with passive buffs.

The Nature's Grace change is a straight up nerf, but should make our casting rotation easier to manage. I don't think the Balance of Power change isn't horrible, but it's completely uninteresting. Why not just add that 2% the Moonfury mastery. Finally the Lunar Shower change is probably just correcting a mistake.

The 2 piece set bonus seems ok, and would probably be fine if it went live. The 4 piece set bonus leaves a bit to be desired, but if it does survive to live in some form it will be interesting to see how it impacts the rotation discussions that have been going on,

The Blog Birthday:

Gray Matter's blog birthday came and went this past Monday and I didn't even notice it. I've been writing this blog for over three years now and that just doesn't seem possible.

As it seems to become an annual tradition, I want to thank all the people have supported, read, and helped this blog over the years (despite the grammar issues). Though it isn't perfect or flash, I am extremely proud of this blog, and it brings me a lot of satisfaction to know that readers find it useful and entertaining. As cliché as it is to say, this blog wouldn't be possible or as rewarding without you guys.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fun W/ SimulationCraft: WotLK Rotations

With Cataclysm right around the corner some of you maybe wondering why I'm writing about a WotLK rotation when we know everything is going to change. I agree. It seems silly, but I was recently challenged on the rotation I've been using and that prompted me to do some more research. In the off chance that some of you still care about WotLK, I thought I would post my results and how to do the tests for yourself.

The Theory:

If you are a reader of the Moonkin Repository you may remember a post that RandomSmo made a month and a half ago regarding when is the best time to cast Moonfire and Insect Swarm. The question he asked was: Is it better to cast the DoTs outside of Eclipse or is it better to only cast Moonfire at the beginning of Lunar Eclipse and only cast Insect Swarm at the beginning of Solar Eclipse?

The theory behind the question is that moonkin DPS is driven by Eclipse uptime. Therefore you want to do everything possible to maximize the uptime of Eclipse. Casting a DoT while Eclipse is down just delays procing the next Eclipse, and therefore reduces the uptime of Eclipse.

I agree that the theory is very counterintuitive. If moonkin DPS is so driven by Eclipse then why cast something that is not affected by Eclipse?

There are a couple of possible reasons. First, in the case of Moonfire casting a DoT doesn't necessarily prevent a Starfire cast from getting Eclipse. If you have 1.5 seconds left on Eclipse there is no way that Starfire will benefit from that remaining buff. It would have been better to have Moonfire ticking the entire duration and gotten the same number of Eclipsed Starfires. Second, in the case of Insect Swarm there were synergies to consider. Wrath does 3% more damage when Insect Swarm is on the mob. So, it is possible that if you combine the 3% buff with the added uptime of Insect Swarm that you would make up for the lost Eclipsed Wrath.

Admittedly there were some problems with the simulations RandomSmo ran. However, when I ran some quick tests in July correcting for his mistakes I got smaller, but similar results. I then accepted the results, but as I said before was recently challenged regarding some of the strategies I was using. With that I desided I would redo the tests to see if the results had changed.

What SimulationCraft Says:
All simulations were run using Graylo with full raid buffs, as a 5 minute fight, and with 10,000 iterations.

A quick look at Starfall and the default set up: I ran 17 different rotations through SimulationCraft. In those tests I was primarily changing when and how DoTs were applied, but I do want to make a quick comment about the default set up for SimulationCraft.

If you import your toon right into SimulationCraft the default rotation assumes that you don't cast Starfall during Eclipse. When I ran Graylo using the default rotation I had a DPS value of 12,304. When I had it cast Starfall when ever it was off cooldown I had a DPS value of 12,351. This indicates that it is better not to delay casting Starfall to cast it out side of Eclipse. However, I would like to present a couple of reminders first.

First, the SimulationCraft tests I ran assumed a Patchwerk style fight, and 7 out of 12 ICC bosses have specific add phases where it is better to use Starfall. Second, big delays over long fights will add up quickly. If you delay Starfall 3 or 4 times for 10 seconds or more over a long fight you've probably lost a Starfall cast in that fight. Shorter delays and delays on shorter fights will have less of an impact.

Here is the general rule I would use. On a Patchwerk style fight try not to delay Starfall too much, but feel free to delay it a few seconds if it becomes available at the end of an Eclipse buff.

When is the best time to cast DoTs?
In all of the simulations below I assume that Starfall is cast when it is available.

These are some of the measures I used when I asked some similar questions last December.

Never Skip12,298
Skip on Opposite12,419
Skip Always12,426

With "Never Skip" the tests refreshed the DoTs when ever they were down. Even if Eclipse is up with only a few seconds left. With "Skip on Opposite" DoTs were only refreshed during Eclipse if they take advantage of Improved Insect Swarm. Therefore, if Lunar Eclipse is up you would refresh Moonfire but not Insect Swarm. With "Skip Always" the tests skip both DoTs if either Eclipse buff is up.

If you remember that post you can see that the results are a bit different this time around. In December there was an obvious advantage to trying to keep a 100% uptime on DoTs. Now our DoTs are relatively week and it is better in some cases skip them in favor of Eclipse buffed nukes.

Smo's Theory: So how does RandomSmo's theory stack up against these baseline values?

Only at Start of Same Eclipse12,320

When tested against my toon, Smo's theory comes about 106 DPS behind the Skip Always strategy above. That means the Skip All Strategy provides about 0.86% more damage. That isn't a huge difference but it is clear to me that it is an inferior strategy.

Can we improve on the Skip Always Strategy? Now that it is clear that Smo's theory is an inferior strategy, the question is: Can the Skip Always strategy be improved upon? As I said before I ran about 17 different rotations through the simulator. Here are the most telling results.

Cast Either DoT if Eclipse is Down or has more then 4 sec remaining.12,338
Cast MF for 100% Uptime, Cast IS only when Eclipse is down.12,392
Cast IS for 100% Uptime, Cast MF only when Eclipse is down.12,335
Cast DoT if Own Eclipse has more then 4 sec remaining or if Eclipse is down12,443
Cast MF if Lunar Eclipse has more then 4 sec remaining or if Eclipse is down, Cast IS if Eclipse is down12,438
Cast IS if Solar Eclipse has more then 4 sec remaining or if Eclipse is down, Cast MF if Eclipse is down12,427

Judging from these results there doesn't appear to be a way to significantly improve on the Skip Always Strategy. There do appear to be some slight improvements when casting Moonfire at the beginning of Lunar Eclipse, but these differences probably fall within the margin of error and are very slight even if they don't.


In my most recent testing Smo's theory of casting DoTs only at the beginning of Eclipse does not appear to be beneficial. I was able to get noticeably better results from SimulationCraft using a strategy where you always skip DoTs during Eclipse. SimulationCraft did show slightly improved results using a strategy that would cast Moonfire at the start of Lunar Eclipse, but the results probably fall within the margin of error.

For Starfall, SimulationCraft defaults it to only be cast when Eclipse is down. However, I got better results from SimulatonCraft if Starfall was cast when it was off cooldown. However, I would be careful when applying these results. It is probably advantageous to make small delays in casting Starfall during shorter fights because you are unlikely to reduce the number of Starfalls you will get in the encounter. Making longer delays, or delays during longer fights is more risky because you risk losing a Starfall cast during an attempt.

Do It Yourself: If you would like to run this analysis for yourself. Here is how you do it.

Go download SimulationCraft from here. The Import tab will allow you to download your toon from the Armory, Rawr, or WoWhead if you have a profile set up there.

The Default Setting for Moonkin in SimulationCraft does not cast Insect Swarm unless you are moving. So for the first simulation you run you will want to add a line for Insect Swarm below the line for Moonfire. For every test after that just replace the Moonfire and Insect Swarm lines with the lines I provide below.

For 100% DoT uptime (Never Skip Strat), replace the lines with:
For the Skip Always Strat, replace the lines with:
For the Skip on Opposite Strat, replace the lines with:
To run Smo's Theory, replace the lines with:
For the Cast DoT if Own Eclipse has more then 4 sec remaining or if Eclipse is down Strat:
From here you can mix and match the different bits of code to get the other results I had. One thing to remember is that this is a simulator so you may not get the same results each time you run it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Impact of Euphoria and Wasted Power

It's hard not to think that we are getting close to the end of the beta and to the release of the next World of Warcraft Expansion: Cataclysm. The signs are all there. A hint from a high level Blizzard employee. Fewer and fewer structural changes to the classes and talent trees. Most of the Cataclysm content seems to have been released. Granted there is still a lot of work to be done, but it is hard not to get the feeling that we are closer to the end then we are to the beginning.

With that the questions we ask start to change. No longer are we ask what new spells/talents/buffs am I getting? Now we have to ask ourselves how do I use this stuff that Blizzard gave me?

There are a lot of unanswered questions out there. We have no way of answering most of them at the moment, but a few things are becoming clear. To me it is very clear that Eclipse will remain the primary driver of moonkin DPS, and one of the best ways to maximize moonkin DPS is to maximize the uptime of Eclipse. This brings me to a very common question I see asked about moonkin in Cataclysm. What is the impact of Euphoria?

A Quick Note on Damage Theorycrafting:

I don't know how other theorycrafters feel, but I feel like I'm learning a new language when I try and crunch the numbers from Cataclysm. Not only are we dealing with new mechanics like the new Eclipse, but all the inputs are changing as well. Spell Power is gone. Crit and haste are likely to be dramatically reduced from what we see today. Plus, we have to figure out how to include mastery into the equation.

Since I am not in the Beta I have found it very difficult to find any hard data on how these things will work, the starting values of spells, or what I think we can expect when it all goes live. So it's very hard to answer a question like "what is the highest DPS rotation?"

In this analysis I try not to get to heavy into the damage calculations, because they are definitely incorrect. Instead I try to use something reasonable based upon the data available from the beta, and what we have historically seen from Blizzard.

The Impact of Euphoria:

This is probably the most common question I see. If you don't remember, when you have Euphoria your Wrath and Starfire critical strikes will generate a little extra Solar or Lunar power. At first this sounded great. It added a little randomness to the rotation, and it always helped you by reducing the time it took to proc Eclipse without reducing the uptime of Eclipse.

That changed when Eclipse was changed to a 45 second buff that was lost as soon as you reduced your Solar or Lunar power to zero. Now, Euphoria not only reduces the down time of Eclipse but it also reduces Eclipse's uptime. As you can imagine this raises a lot of questions, and it is hard to tell of Euphoria is good, bad or neutral just by looking at it.

To try answer this question I created a new rotation simulator using excel. As I said above the damage calculations used are not very good, but I was trying to get a good handle on how Euphoria affected the uptime of Eclipse. The model simulates a 500 cast rotation and I ran a thousand trials of the simulation.

When I ran the simulation with Euphoria, Eclipse had an average uptime of 55.38% with a standard deviation of 1.18% in a thousand trials. When I ran the simulation without Euphoria, Eclipse had an average up time of just 54.68%with a standard deviation of 0.93% over another thousand trials. I'm not sure what the statistical significance of these results are, but I ran the simulations several times and got similar results each time.

I am confident in saying that Euphoria is neither a good thing or a bad thing. It is completely neutral. Truthfully this doesn't surprise me much. The theory is that the negative impact of a crit during Eclipse is balanced out by the positive impact of crits while Eclipse is down.

The Impact of Wasted Power:

What did surprise me about the Euphoria analysis was that Eclipse's uptime was lower then I expected. I thought it would be higher because of what is being called "Smart" Eclipse.

When someone talks about "Smart" Eclipse they are talking about the way that Starsurge generates Solar or Lunar Power but always in a positive way. When you cast Starsurge your Lunar or Solar power always increases whether the Eclipse buff is up or not. Therefore, the power generated by Starsurge is always positive, because it either extends your Eclipse uptime or reduces your Eclipse down time. This should result in an Eclipse uptime greater the 50%.

The question then becomes, what is pulling the uptime of Eclipse down? I think the answer is Wasted Power.

Lets say you want to proc Solar Eclipse, and after a few casts you end up with 94 Solar Power. Obviously your next Starsurge or Starfire cast will put you over the edge and you will proc Solar Eclipse. However, when you proc an Eclipse, your power level is capped at 100. So by casting Starfire when you already have 94 Solar Power, you are losing 14 or 22 due to the power cap. This effectively lengthens you downtime when you are trying to proc Eclipse.

I tested my theory using the model I created. I modified it so that the Powers were not capped at 100, but would Eclipse would proc at 100. I did a thousand trials of a 500 cast rotation. The average Eclipse uptime when the Powers are not capped was 58.48% and had a standard deviation of 1.12%. This seems to confirm my theory given that it is a sizable increase in Eclipse uptime over the 55.38% I got with the caps.

To be clear, I'm not saying this is good or bad. I just didn't expect it. So, don't go grab your pitch forks and torches just yet if this angers you. As moonkin we do and should try to maximize Eclipse uptime to maximize DPS. However, as long as Blizzard recognizes the impact of Wasted Power and balances us around the lower level of Eclipse uptime, then we should still be competitive when compared to other DPS classes.


Euphoria is in a weird position in that it both reduces the time to proc Eclipse and reduces the time that Eclipse is available. The question was if the impact was positive, negative, or neutral. After creating a model to test it, I think the impact is neutral. So, in the end Euphoria only serves to randomize the moonkin rotation a little and to provide mana.

However, during the analysis I noticed another interesting occurrence. When you proc Eclipse you lose some amount of Solar or Lunar power unless you hit 100 power exactly. As a result this reduces Eclipse uptime, and could reduce moonkin DPS if Blizzard doesn't compensate for the us for the loss somewhere else.