Monday, August 27, 2012

Level 85, Patch 5.0.4 Survival Guide

The Pre-Expansion patch arrives tomorrow with a lot of changes to adapt to quickly. Granted, this is traditionally a pretty lazy time for raiding and Min/Maxing your toon might not be 100% necessary. That said it is a good time to get a feel for some of the new mechanics and figure out your UI before it does matter in a months time.

When reading the information below, I would like you to keep a couple things in mind.

First, this is a level 85 guide based on the information I have available at the time it this was posted. A lot of this is likely to be relevant to level 90 raiding as well, but there are some differences and I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of design changes between now and Sept 25th as well.

Second, I've been doing a lot of analysis using Simulation Craft over the past couple of weeks. Without it significant portions of this post would not be possible, because maintaining my own excel based simulator was a pain in the butt. So I want to thank Starfox and everyone involved with Simulation Craft for maintaining such a great tool.

Important Changes To Remember
The DoT Revamp: Insect Swarm is out, but Sunfire becomes it's own button. Basically, we lost a DoT to put a slightly different one in it's place, but that's not the only change. The duration of Moonkin DoTs are also significantly shorter now at 14 seconds instead of 18, and the DoTs no longer proc Nature's Grace. Nature's Grace now occurs when you enter Eclipse.

Specialized Eclipses: The two Eclipse buffs have never really been equal, but for the first time they are now designed to be different. Lunar Eclipse now favors single target DPS with Starfire being a bit stronger then Wrath and the ability to cast Starfall as soon as you enter Lunar. Solar Eclipse favors AoE DPS as it always has but with a new design. Hurricane is a bit stronger then Astral Storm and Wild Mushroom is still buffed by Solar even though it should no longer be a regular AoE tool.

New Cooldowns: Moonkins will have the potential to have multiple cooldowns in MoP. The only standard cooldown is Celestial Alignment and it does requite some skill to use it correctly, since it consumes all energy when used. The other cooldowns are from talents or other spells which I will tlak about later.
Astral Communion: This is a major quality of life improvement for Moonkin and the critters of Azeroth. With the release of 5.0.4 you can set up your Eclipse prior to the pull of the boss, and if there is downtime in a fight you can skip the phase that you are out of Eclipse. For PvPers with the set bonus can cast AC while moving.

Higher Eclipse Uptime: Euphoria is no longer a random proc but a constant benefit that always doubles energy generation out side of Eclipse. This significantly increases Eclipse uptime

Talent and Glyph Changes

Tier 4 Talents: This is the DPS or Output tier of the talent tree and honestly it's the only significant choice a moonkin has to make before level 90 and Tier 6. I've run a lot of tests on these talents using Simulation Craft and have gotten fairly consistent results about which is the best. Here is the current ranking:
Incarnation > Force of Nature > Soul of the Forest

In every test I ran at level 85 Incarnation beat the other two choices by a significant margin. If you read Elitist Jerks you may have seen some comments that suggested SotF is best at some gear levels, but those tests were done at level 90 and I wasn't able to find any situation where that is the case at level 85. That said, I do think Soul of the Forest is probably best for leveling with quests.

The Other Talents Tiers: Most of the choices in the other talent tiers are fairly situational and not all that significant to be completely honest. I expect to use this build as a general rule, but what you choose depends on the situation and personal preference.

Another Glyph Revamp: I'm not sure if Glyphs can go through an expansion without getting revamped. In MoP the Prime Glyphs have been eliminated and with them most of the reasons why a Moonkin should care about glyphs at all. I honestly don't think I'm being overly dramatic in my assessment either. Any moonkin could pick their glyphs at random and it wouldn't significantly hurt them. However, there are five that I think are a bit better for raid PvE then other choices available.

I am picking Glyph of Rebirth, Glyph of the Moonbeast, and Glyph of Stampede. I'm sure that GoR will still be requited my many raid leaders since it reduces the risk that a battle rez is waisted, and there is really no reason for a Moonkin not to pick it up. GotM is great if you frequently heal yourself or pop Tranquility for the raid. GoS is nice because it gives me an those near me an extra speed buff without having to shift forms.

The other possibilities are Glyph of Stampeding Roar and Glyph of Innervate. Both could be useful in the right situation, but I think the others I've chosen are more universally useful. As far as Minor glyphs go, they don't matter at all. Pick which ever one makes you happiest.

New Rotations

Please keep in mind that I am speaking generally with regard to the rotations below. There are exceptions to all of them depending on the situation, but I am not going to go through all of the exceptions.

Starting Rotation: The main thing you are trying to do with your starting rotation is maximize your buffs and cooldowns.
  • Use Astral Communion until you are one Wrath away from Lunar Eclipse.
  • After the pull cast Starfall and then Wrath. This uses your Starfall cooldown and immediately resets it by entering Lunar Eclipse.
  • After entering Eclipse cast Incarnation, followed by Moonfire and Sunfire to get both DoTs on the target.
  • At this point you want to start casting towards Solar Eclipse. Cast Starsurge on cooldown and fill the rotation with Starfire. Also make sure to recast Starfall when it falls off, and before you leave Eclipse.
  • Once you leave Eclipse Cast Celestial Alignment and recast Moonfire no matter how much remains to apply both Moonfire and Sunfire
  • Again cast Starsurge on cooldown and fill the rotation with Starfire. Also make sure to recast Starfall when it falls off. It's also a good idea to cast a Moonfire at the end if both DoTs don't have much time left.

With this rotation you are casting three Starfire's fairly quickly, getting two Nature's Grace Buffs and a whole lot of buffed nukes and DoTs.
Single Target Rotation: After the Starting rotation, the single target Moonkin rotation is fairly close to what you are used too, but with less guess work. Here are the main things you want to remember.
  • The buffed DoT should always be recast when you enter Eclipse no matter how much is remaining on the current uneclipsed DoT. For example, if you have 6 seconds left on MF and you enter Lunar Eclipse recast MF on the target.
  • In my testing I found very little benefit to clipping a DoT at the end of Eclipse. My Simulation Craft tests did indicate that you could improve your DPS by 0.20% by clipping a DoT with 3 or 4 seconds left at the end of Eclipse, but that benefit is so small and risky that it's not really worth it.
Recast DoTs when they fall off, however I would recommend that you delay the casting the DoT if you are one nuke away from entering the Eclipse relevent to the DoT's school. Simulation Craft didn't show that doing this made a significant difference but I have a feeling that has more to do with the gear level I tested then anything else.
  • Cast Starsurge and Starfall on cooldown and fill with Starfire and Wrath depending on the direction.
  • Incarnation should always be used at the start of an Eclipse and then cast normally until you leave that Eclipse. Then Celestial Alignment should be cast followed by Moonfire. Then cast Starsurge and Starfire until the end of CA ending with a Wrath or Moonfire depending on what you have time for. Incarnation and Celestial Alignment should aways be used in this way to maximize their benefit.

  • AoE Rotation: The Moonkin AoE spells are changing in two big ways in MoP.
    First Hurricane now has a Lunar version called Astral Storm and both have been buffed compared to what we saw in Cata. Astral Storm is a little bit weaker then Hurricane, but is buffed by Lunar Eclipse. This means that you want to be in Solar for AoE if possible, but AoEing in Lunar Eclipse is a lot better then it was if you get stuck.

    Second, Wild Mushroom is much easier to use, but was nerfed quite a bit. Wild Mushrooms should only be used for AoE if they can be placed ahead of time. Otherwise they don't keep up with the improved Hurricane. Also, it is important to remember that they are still buffed by Solar Eclipse despite there being some talk of them not being buffed by either version.

    Movement Rotation: Movement DPS hasn't really improved for Moonkin in MoP but it is a little different then what we have on live currently. Lunar Shower still has problems, but it no longer generates energy in MoP. Therefore you can spam MF or SnF while moving, but be careful which one you spam because you don't want to overate and eclipsed DoT with the uneclipsed version. Wild Mushroom is also still available for movement DPS and as said before is now easier to use.
    Stat Changes

    Hit Cap Change: For casters the base chance to miss a Skull level boss is being reduced from 17% to 15% in patch 5.0.4. This means the hit cap is shrinking from 1743 to 1535.
    Crit > Haste = Mastery: The stat equation is getting flipped in MoP. It's clear that Crit Rating should be the best secondary stat for most players at level 85.

    How players will value Haste and Mastery is not clear at all, and really depends on the individual. Some of my tests slightly favored Haste. In other's Mastery was a little bit better. How you value these stats depends on what gear you have an you have reforged it. I had to run 3 or 4 simulations to figure out what was the best set up for reforges. If you are looking to maximize your gear you will have to do the same.

    Other Changes

    Balance Power Tracker: This is the addon I used to track Eclipse in Cata and there is a new version for MoP. You can find it here.

    Fewer Heals: Many of the healing spells Moonkin are used to having are no longer standard for druids. If you have self healing macro please realize that you only have Rejuv and Healing Touch after the patch.
    No More Stat Sticks: The Ranged weapon socket is being removed from the game which means no more relics for druids.

    Things You Won't see

    Tier 6 Talents: These talents require level 90 and obviously won't matter until MoP is released and we level up. Therefore there is no point in talking about Dream of Cenarius vs Nature's Vigil in this post.

    Symbiosis: The Symbiosis spell is gained at level 87 and not available at this point. That said, I think it's a big disappointment for PvE.

    Fae Empowerment: This was a failed experiment that was scrapped a little over a month ago. If you are Moonkin three is no reason to cast Faerie Fire unless your raid needs the debuff.


    Dave said...

    How does the transition in and out of eclipse work now? It used to be that when entering eclipse at 100 energy, instants weren't buffed but casts were and when leaving the eclipse at 0 energy instants were buffed but casts weren't. Also what about the travel time of wrath? Does eclipse now trigger when the cast is complete or when the wrath hits the target?

    Talifabian said...

    Is the stat priority you gave still applicable on heroic spine?

    Barkin said...

    Re: Dave
    Was testing last night and eclipse does indeed now proc after your last wrath cast is finished and not after it lands. I.e no more waiting for travel time to Rag or Deathwings head.
    I couldn't quite tell how quick the response was

    Foulbbqchikn said...

    I don't think your rotation is correct.

    Graylo said...

    Eclipse energy is gained as soon as a cast is completed now for all spells. So we no longer have to worry about travel time. Due to server lag it is still possible to get one last eclipsed dot in before you leave eclipse if you cast the dot very quickly after you leave eclipse, but that is a bit risky.


    I don't know, and honestly I don't think it really matters at this point.


    The rotation I wrote down here is what tested best in SimulationCraft and is very close two what I see other people recommending.

    That doesn't mean I can't be wrong though. What rotation do you suggest?

    Jabari said...

    Dumb question:

    Has anyone simmed a rotation where non-eclipse phases are just Communion-ed through? (for a patchwerk type boss)
    (i.e.: Enter Lunar, Starfall, MF, SF, Starfire/Starsurge*5, then you're at 0 and hit Communion and wait for 4 seconds instead of casting 3 more Starfires).

    I just ran a target-dummy test doing that and my DPS was higher by using the Communion-rotation.

    (Caveat: Part of the reason will be that Starfall has an insane uptime when you do this, and I couldn't get only 1 target hit...)

    - My unEclipsed DoT was only down for a second or so each phase on a single cast (the Eclipsed DoT was normally extended all the way through) - I only recast them at the start of each new Eclipse. When I cast Starfire to go 0->100, the DoTs either fell off or I had to cast completely unbuffed ones (i.e., no eclipse OR NG)
    - Insane Nature's Grace uptime (i.e.: 100%, as Communion isn't shortened).
    - Insane Starfall uptime.

    Anonymous said...

    What's changed that made crit better?

    24ca397a-f610-11e1-aa7a-000f20980440 said...

    Should the Incarnation/Celestial Alignment sequence only be used with a lunar eclipse, or is a solar also acceptable?

    Jabari said...

    Starsurge procs from DoT Crit ticks, plus the fact that Starsurge is quite a good spell now.

    Also, the fact that spell crits extend (at least) one of your DoTs.

    @Graylo: You around still? :)

    Blizz seems to think that Moonkin are fine (they're not on the "needs to be adjusted" lists that I've seen thrown around), but I still can't get anywhere near competitive DPS with them.
    How are they simming right now compared to other classes at the same ilvl?

    Graylo said...


    I haven't tested it, and I haven't seen results from anyone else doing so. I'm not even sure that SC has been programmed to handle it.

    That said, it doesn't sound like a good strategy to me. Giving up 4 seconds of DPS is a pretty big penalty even if it's uneclipsed DPS. I'll try and take a look at it, but I doubt it will be an improvement. Plus, if it did work I would expect Blizzard to modify it because they've said they don't intend it to be used that way.

    What Jabari said. Basically, Crits do more then increase the spells damage now and there for make Crit rating better then it was in the past.

    @ (random text name)
    Solar is also acceptable. I did sims with three different strategies: the next eclipse, only lunar, only solar. The next Eclipse strategy was a little bit better then the Lunar only strategy, and only Solar was way behind Lunar only. All of these tests assumed a single target situation.

    The main thing this tells me is that you don't want to delay your use of the cooldowns to much. Skipping solar might cause you to not be able to use the CDs one last time in a fight.

    That said, while the CDs favor Lunar in a single target situation, that might not be true in a multi target situation.


    The latest comparison I've seen from Simulation Craft still has Moonkin very low when compared to other classes. However, while I am a big fan of Simulation Craft, it is important to keep it's limitations in mind.

    First, it's an all volunteer effort, and while I think it has a very high level of quality that doesn't mean there aren't errors that could be skewing some of the data either low or high.

    Second, the sims are based on a single target patchwerk scenario which won't occur in game. Even a fight like Ultraxion had points where you had to interrupt your rotation to hit a button. It's hard to say how DPS will change in these real scenarios, but it will be different then what we see in the Sims.

    Third, Moonkin are clearly designed to favor Multi-target situations that allow for multi-dotting. In which case we probably should be towards the bottom when doing a comparison of single target DPS.

    Finally, it's important to remember that Blizzard is usually very conservative when it comes to balancing. When it comes to models, Blizzard has it's own that it trusts a lot more then Simulation Craft or any other system. Blizzard also prefers to make changes based on real data in real situations rather then modeled data in hypothetical situations.

    In short, Blizzard takes a very long view when it comes to balancing. Some times they do make quick changes when one class is or another is way ahead or way behind. However, more often then not they prefer to see how the number shape up over a period of time to come up with the right solution.

    For example, on the release of Cataclysm, there wasn't a whole lot of players advocating the Solar Cleave rotation, but after a month or two it became the dominant rotation for Moonkin in Tier 11.

    The point is that the problems may look obvious right now, but there are a lot of variables to consider and it's not as simple as it may appear. Believe me, I am frustrated like everyone else, but I don't see a huge point in getting really worked up about it until I see the real numbers.

    Jabari said...

    Try a Communion rotation on the dummies - you'll be surprised I think. It's also far easier mechanically - trying to manage Moonfire/Sunfire refreshes "doing it right" is a complete PITA (and extremely error prone, IME).

    Remember that it's not just that the spells are un-eclipsed - they're un-Nature's-Graced as well, and you're also refreshing (totally unbuffed) DoTs, one of which is only going to be there for 6-8 seconds anyway.

    As far as multi-dotting, that's nice and all for trash (and my moonkin tops the charts on Zonozz trash for example), but there's exactly ONE boss fight in the last 2 raids conducive to that (Blackthorn).

    "Toward the bottom" is one thing if you're 5% behind the average, but it's totally different when you're 20+% behind...

    (On the other hand, I've been having tons of fun with my Wild Healing Mushrooms in Resto! Soooo good!)

    Jabari said...

    Ok, I found the issue I think.

    The problem is that casting unbuffed DoTs is a complete waste of a GCD. The bit in the original post that says "Recast DoTs when they fall off" is completely wrong - this kills your standstill DPS.

    Here's my char:

    Target dummy tests. I did not use food or flasks or pots, but did have Mark of the Wild. For tests with Incarnation, I ran it through one Inc-cycle (stopped with the CD was ready again).

    The first 3 are with an empty level-60 talent slot (no Incarnation or SotF), just running up and down the Balance Bar.

    OP Rotation (refreshing DoTs midway thru): 24000
    Communion Rotation: 25000
    Cast-Through rotation, only casting both DoTs at the start of each eclipse: 27200 (!) - your DoT uptime is actually pretty terrible here, probably 70-75%, but that's quite a DPS improvement...

    For these tests, I used Alignment on first "exit eclipse", and Incarnation right at the start (entering Lunar) as described in the "Starting Rotation".

    Incarnation, not refreshing DoTs: 29000
    Soul of the Forest: 30700.

    Pretty close. The burst during Incarnation-time is pretty incredible - was hitting 42k pretty consistently there, and if you have a 4-minute fight where you can Incarnation twice it'll be better for sure. Soul of the Forest is also very good - certainly not "far below other choices" by any stretch.

    (Note: doing this can pull aggro from the tank - initial threat doesn't seem to be what it used to be!)

    One other consideration is Bloodlust - Lust helps Incarnation more, though I don't think you want to overlap them (Lust doesn't help your DoT uptime during or right after Alignment, but you can sure fly up and down the bar during it and have better uptime that way). With SotF, you have nearly 100% DoT uptime anyway so Lust doesn't have quite as much of a benefit.

    Now, I still think Communion is useful - if you get stuck in a non-eclipsed state (example: running to an Ooze on Yorsahj), it's probably better to Communion to the next Eclipse instead of nuking to get there (unless it's one nuke away) - you certainly don't want to DoT things until you hit the Eclipse.

    Anonymous said...

    What do you think the stat prios and their weight will be at 90???

    Jabari said...

    Stabbing in the dark, but I can't imagine that it would be any different than now (barring mechanics changes). Weights likely don't matter - take highest ilvl and reforge.

    INT > hit (to cap) > crit > mastery > haste.

    Haste has to be last as you get 20% "baseline" between Nature's Grace and Moonkin Form, so anything from gear is just incremental on that. Could be wrong on this of course, but it's exactly the same reason why haste was awful for my Enhancement Shaman (before the 5.0.4 Flurry changes).

    Anonymous said...

    "Weights likely don't matter"

    Ofc weights matter, and if you dont know how much theirs specific values you cant make a reliable spreadsheet with your gear.

    Jabari said...

    "cant make a reliable spreadsheet"

    Wait ... what? Here I thought I was playing a game! *laugh*

    More seriously, stat weights simply don't matter due to the way items are designed. For equipped items, item level is king* and it's just a matter of figuring out how to reforge it. It doesn't matter at all if crit is 0.6 or 0.4, only that crit > mastery > haste (or whatever it happens to be for your class/spec).

    *(Obvious exceptions will be obvious, such as 390 NoKaled > 397 Morningstar due to the proc, and there's no way to put a "weight" on such procs anyway)

    For things like gems and enchants, simulation will tell you what's best, and that's all you need to know.

    Jabari said...

    Anyway, back to the rotation.

    I was really happy for a bit as my Target Dummy damage was actually good for the first time in a long, long time. (My 390 Moonkin was keeping pace with my 397 Hunter!)

    Then I ran DS. :(

    The rotation's damage numbers are completely based on Nature's Grace uptime - any kind of movement (even small position adjustments like what is needed on Zon) eats up NG time and throws the whole Balance cycle off-kilter - your DPS just plummets for the entire time until you hit the next eclipse. It SUCKS, and I'm not sure anything can be done about it with the current design.

    I ran with Incarnation, and it was ok but nothing great - it's rare to get 30 seconds of "standstill time" to use it, and even when you do you're waiting for it and often losing a "use" during that fight because you're not using it on CD.

    Soul of the Forest has problems when you get caught moving when non-eclipsed - you really want to Communion to the other side (instead of casting 2 or 3 REALLY SLOW nukes), but that defeats the whole purpose of SotF.

    I haven't run the numbers yet on the Treants, but if they're anywhere close to the others I'm just going to go back to them as a "use on CD" button. *sigh* At least they're consistent and don't have to have 10 other things all go right to work properly.

    The other issue is that Moonkin have absolutely no "movement dps" at all. This is where my hunter shines - he does about 90% of his normal DPS "on the run" (and can do 100% of it if I can plan a little beforehand).