Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Moonkin's Ode to the Notorious L. K.

This is a story bout the glory
Final boss of an expansion
Been waiting for this moment
Since Naxx was re-imagined

Learned hard modes with Sarth,
Void zones toasting raiders like bacon
Ulduar was next with Yogg-Saron insanity
Alone in the Dark without titan amnesty

Next a tourney, not on a horsey
Engaging enemies from the Northrend hood
Climax with an old friend, Anub
He's a spider-beetle-dude

Now finally we've fought through a three-headed skeleton,
KT's lady, a boat full of horde, the great cleaver
Double Grobb and the professor, the plague asylum
Then the vampiric quartet, three princes and their madam

Eventually the final wing, frosty halls
Cold in our veins as we wipe to val'kyrs
Rescue a maiden from a dragon (or a dragon who is a maiden?)
And then we think we're back in Naxx with a skeleton dragon and ice-tomb-geddon

Now we're finally at the top, Arthas' crib
Tirion at our back, the light fantastic
But he's a PvP noob who doesn't bind his human racial
So he gets to sit in that block like he's going glacial

But no problem, we've got this
Me and 24 of my friends
We've got practice and experience
We'll take this down like it's old clearance

Now it's time for me to break out my stuff
Show the world what I've got and smash meters
Casting spells, channeling nature, hitting buttons like crazy
The Lich King is going down today, see

I've got Moonfire – I bet you didn't even know Elune was on fire
I've got Insect Swarm, cockroaches from hell
Fire from the photosphere, direct from a star
And elemental anger, incarnation of Wrath on my bar

I bring down stars on Artha's head,
I block out the sun and the moon over and over again
But it's not enough, time to break out the big guns
So I summon my trees and start the forest fun

*rustling leaves* *rustling leaves* *rustling leaves*
Yeah Ash, kick the King in his ass!
*rustling leaves* *rustling leaves* *rustling leaves*
Mighty Oak, beat em up go for broke
*rustling leaves* *rustling leaves* *rustling leaves*
Go go Elm, smashin Nerzhul's special helm

We dodge shadow traps
And hope the tanks stay alive
As we smash and burn and cast
And heal or bandage fast fast fast

Finally we transition and head to the edge
The Lich King is summoning a vortex of bad
It's time for vile – er, wicked – er, raging spirits to play
We kill ice orbs and get ready to head back into the fray

Now it's time to head back to the middle
Moving fast before we're dropped in the void
It's time for fun, the valk and defile dance
Over and over while we stack warlocks and hope for chance

Now Deja Vu as we're back to the outside
Arthas was nice and rebuilt our playground
We burn and heal and dodge like there's no tomorrow
Preparing for the finals to the lich king's sorrow

Here's phase three, defile's a joke
But Arthas has a new trick and introduces us to his sword
Tries to harvest our souls but we disagree
So we end up inside running around like tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee

Now we dodge the Raging – no, Wicked Spirits who appear
Spectral explosions and ectoplasmic C4
Then we're back outside, time to run around
Because the final brother spirit Vile shows up to fight a round

Things are getting crazy
Berserk is coming up
Cooldowns and hero as we fight and try to win
That fifteen minute limit is an unreasonable sin

Now Arthas goes crazy and tanks are going down
Everyone's running like a chicken without a head
We're spread out and burning, he's at 12 percent and falling
We put up DoTs and try to live long enough to win our calling

Then Arthas starts to cast and we all groan
As he kills us with one spell and ends our hopes
He tells us all this was his plan from the start
Apparently undead chicken moon warriors are where it's at if you're smart

But we've forgotten Tirion in his ice block
The paladin extraordinaire
He finally realizes how many arena points he's going to lose
So he hits that racial and then Ashbringer's on-use

Now Arthas is spinning like a Lichy Pinata
And we're whacking away with our fists and our magic
His health drops to zero and he croaks like a crow
So we loot him for goodies – and of course, double crossbow

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cataclysm Alpha - Eclipse

Buried in the data mining of mmo-champion is this little gem:
Increases the damage done by your spells by a percentage. 
Grants a percentage of spell haste. 
The damage done by your Wrath is increased when you reach 100 Solar Power, and the damage done by your Starfire is increased when you reach 100 Lunar Power. Effect will last for 15 sec. Mastery increases the damage done by your Wrath and Starfire when you gain Eclipse.
I keep on writing rants about this so I'm just going to not post much since I can't do it civilly.  I just hope that this has nothing to do with the final version of Eclipse, and is a placeholder while they finish the mechanics.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cataclysm Alpha - Initial Thoughts

In case you aren't aware of it, we have our first look at more cataclysm moonkin changes here.

While it's hardly comprehensive there's also a lot of information there.  Some interesting things:
  1. Solar Beam - this was discussed in a blue post but it's always nice to get more details.  Looks like a nice PvP boost.
  2. Nature's Splendor - the calculator doesn't show it for the first rank but this is apparently now a 3-rank talent that adds 3 seconds (33%/66%/100% chance of applying).  With the new way haste is going to work with dots I'm guessing they can just add three seconds to something like Insect Swarm and not have it be an issue.
  3. Insect Swarm - on that note, it's gone.  No longer a talent.  Since it's referenced elsewhere the implication is it's now baseline (restos rejoice?).
  4. Starsurge - this looks like the "Nature's Torrent" that was referenced before here, from what I can tell.  With the new Lunar Guidance this should become a significant way to swing the Eclipse meter.
  5. Balance of Power - this is where we get our base 4% hit and the the spirit->hit conversion.  No real surprises.
  6. Moonkin Form and Improved Moonkin Form - I am really not sure what to think of this change.  It looks like Moonkin Form literally only provides armor now, while the improved version gives 6% raid crit - a combined change that's confusing on several levels.  First, why increase the buff to 6%?  The implication I had for cata was that powerful buffs are being reduced (and they are, see Earth and Moon!) not increased.  Second, where is the "selfish" benefit for a moonkin taking Improved Moonkin Form?  While it's kind of interesting as an optional talent (especially since then you could theoretically dps in caster form...), I don't really want to either 1) respec every time the elemental shaman can't make the raid, or 2) spend a GCD to shift into moonkin when the elemental shaman dies, and the rest of the time waste three talent points.  This seems like a promising change but one that still needs some polishing.
  7. Wrath of Cenarius - I find this very odd.  The talent reads (at rank 1):  "While moving, the direct damage of your Moonfire spell is increased by 5% and it's mana cost is reduced by 10% for 3 seconds.  This effect can stack up to 3 times and lasts 3 seconds, but is refreshed as long as you are in movement."  So depending on how this scales at a max of three ranks you could be looking at moonfire spam in PvP that costs 90% less and does 45% more damage.  Along with some other changes here I'm going to predict the Moonfire Glyph is going away and the direct damage of Moonfire will be much more significant.
  8. Eclipse - now a three-point talent that increases the amount of Solar/Lunary energy your spells create.  Nothing exciting, but probably still a core talent.
  9. Earth and Moon - really interesting change here, apparently all "Curse of Elements" type effects are going to be 8% instead of 13%.  This fits and was expected - it's a similar change to how sunder is being nerfed.
  10. Fungal Growth - 70% AOE snare when your treants die or wild mushroom pops.  Interesting PvP implications and has some potential PvE uses.
  11. Naturalist was moved down - Naturalist as a tier 3 talent is an easy way to force ferals into speccing "deeper" into restoration (most ferals already use that many points, but this effectively forces you to pick up master shapeshifter), which makes sense - they need somewhere to go with the extra five talent points.  Since Moonkins are in the same boat, expect some sort of change either in restoration or tier 1 feral to give us some additional spec options.
There are a lot of talents I expect to see change (Nature's Grace, Owlkin Frenzy, Furor, etc) that currently haven't, but this is a very early build - lots of classes have less changes then this.  It'll be interesting to see where they go from here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update: Moonkin DPS Talents, Glyphs and Set Bonuses

Given the 3.3.3 changes I went ahead and spent some time updating my chart of our talents and set bonuses.  I added a couple of new things (Glyph of Focus and a combined Glyph of Moonfire + Starfire), and I also changed it to a percentage basis instead of a raw dps number as I feel that's more valuable information.

The original post is here - I updated that image to match this one.  The methodology was identical, and they are ordered by their average % dps increase.

The one big change is Brambles - according to Simcraft (and I ran this several times) it's behind Genesis now on a per-point basis.  I'd guess that's due to stat scaling since I used a significantly better geared set to get these calculations, but it's hard to be 100% sure.  Either way the overall difference is negligible at 1-2 dps difference per point.

Another factor to consider is that the above ignores any benefit to a tank from Thorns - if you are considering rdps then an extra ~30 damage to the boss from Thorns every few seconds will outweigh the difference with Genesis by quite a bit.  So if you are the Thorns-buffer then Brambles should pull ahead again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heroic Moonkin: Blood and Frost

Finally dealt with some RL stuff so I'll be trying to get back to this - sorry about the huge lack of recent posts.

I decided to combine Blood and Frost because of how short the posts were looking to be.  For the first four bosses, please go here.

A note on specs:
I consider this to be the "core" moonkin talents.  There are two floater points that can pretty much go anywhere, depending on the fight - normally for single target they end up in Brambles for me.  So when I talk about "56/0/13 + 2" I'm saying use this spec.

Blood Prince Council
Spec: Standard (56/0/13 + 2)
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall

Just like normal mode, this fight is effectively three different phases that are repeated in a pseudo-random (shuffle) manner.  Unlike normal mode however we have a new mechanic: Shadow Prison.
Binds an enemy. Movement by a bound enemy inflicts 350 initial Shadow damage, increasing by 500 for each second of movement. Remaining motionless for 10 sec will reset the stack.
Think of this as Bizzaro Hodir - instead of a mechanic that penalizes you for staying still, it penalizes you for movement.  The stacks aren't incredibly bad on their own but can kill you when combined with other mechanics, so it should change your strategy - try to move all at once instead of the normal strategy of shifting slowly when you cast instant spells.

This fight is relatively easy but has some tricky areas.  If you are assigned to dps Kinetic Bombs then keep in mind you can hit anything in a 180 degree arc in front of you - it can be very helpful to face at a right-angle to the boss instead of directly on him, as this will allow you to dps a target almost directly behind you without actually turning around.  Secondly, feel free to use Starfall on cooldown - it will pad the meters but it won't steal the Shadow Orbs the Keleseth tank needs.

Blood-Queen Lana'thelSpec: Standard (56/0/13 + 2)
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall

Note: Owlkin Frenzy no longer has a higher than normal proc rate on this fight, so don't bother speccing it - it's now officially useless for PvE raiding.  Just use a normal single-target dps spec.

Mechanically BQL is not different at all from the normal version - she just has more health and her abilities hit harder.  The major difference is that it will be more important to optimize your movement (as the enrage is much tighter).  I really try to emphasize a single-dot rotation on this fight (alternating MF and IS, that is) so I always have something to hit if I need to move, and I use GotW liberally for the 2t10 procs.  Other then that the only major factors of your dps are going to be:
1) Intelligent use of cooldowns - Starfall as soon as it's up, FoN at the start and then with Hero
2) Positioning - the closer you are to the middle the less dps you'll lose from getting Pact
3) Bite Order - this is the biggest factor.

2 and 3 may not be under your control but make sure you talk to your raid leader, they are probably the biggest factors for your dps on this fight.

Valithria Dreamwalker
Spec: AOE (55/0/13 + 2/2 Gale Winds + 1/1 Typhoon).  I take the extra point from Improved Insect Swarm - it's relatively weak on target-swapping fights anyway.
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall

Another fight with no significant mechanic changes from the normal version.  It is more tightly tuned so it will be important to maximize dps, however.  Typhoon and AOE are for suppressors since they are the second most important add to kill - Typhoon to slow and proc NG, and Hurricane because you should usually be able to hit 3-4 of them at a time, plus occasionally other mobs.  You shouldn't have time to DoT up the most important mob (Blazing Skeletons) anyway, so maximizing AOE dps at the expense of Imp IS is a pretty easy trade.  You also get an incidental boost to killing Rot Worms which can really wreck a tank.

I like to drop FoN on Abominations and Starfall is very good for killing suppressors fast.  Also make sure you position intelligently - I try to be near (but not inside) the dragon, so I can reach anything quickly but I can still see void zones and other things to move out of.

SindragosaSpec: Standard (56/0/13 + 2)
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall

Finally a fight with an actual mechanic change!  Backlash is different:
Deals Arcane damage to all allies within 20 yards for each magical spell cast while afflicted with Unchained Magic.
...oh.  So now instead of getting to dps a little with Unchained Magic, instead we can't dps at all or we'll kill the raid.  Thanks, Blizzard.

Overall this fight is very similar to the normal version, except you can't dps as much.  There are some things you can do though:
1) Use Travel Form for Blistering Cold.  It's outdoors and a 40% movement boost will let you start dpsing faster.  You can also use this to help position correctly for Ice Tombs or to move faster when you need to clear stacks in P3.  Note: If you do this be careful with your Starfall use, shifting to travel will cancel the spell.  Also make sure you don't hit Starfall when Sindragosa is about to go into the air.
2) In P1 you can run out of the raid and at least dps a little even when you have Unchained.  6-7 stacks are safe, just make sure you aren't going to get pulled in and are 20 yards away from everyone.  In P3 you shouldn't really dps at all.

3) Use a feral staff and melee dps during P3 when you have Unchained Magic.  Just make sure you swap weapons back when it's over and you still clear stacks.

Maybe that last one isn't too great, but other then that... well, it's Sindragosa.  It's hard to optimize dps on a fight where the best strategy involves you twiddling your thumbs doing almost nothing half of the time.  Be clean with movement when you can dps and use cooldowns intelligently, but there's just not much you can do here.

Plague Wing
Coming Soon!  This will hopefully actually be an interesting post, since all three plague fights actually require a significant strategy change.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Heroic Moonkin: Storming The Citadel

Now that I've seen Hard Modes for a few weeks now I've been meaning to make a series of posts talking about them.  This isn't designed to be a strategy guide, although I will discuss parts of my guild's strategy for bosses here - this is more talking about issues you might see with the fights, and the best choices to optimize your role in them.

A note on specs:
I consider this to be the "core" moonkin talents.  There are two floater points that can pretty much go anywhere, depending on the fight - normally for single target they end up in Brambles for me.  So when I talk about "56/0/13 + 2" I'm saying use this spec.

Now on to the bosses:

Spec: Standard (56/0/13 + 2)
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/(Starfall or IS)

Marrowgar is one of the most annoying fights in ICC as a moonkin in my experience.  The fight combines two negative factors:
1) High movement.  More importantly, unpredictable movement.  In Phase 1 you will have to move relatively randomly when Coldflame is going to hit you - in Phase 2 (Bonestorm) you have to move for either the boss moving toward you or if a Bone Spike is out of range.  Depending on strategy you may also need to move away from other ranged or healers.
2) Target-switching.  Killing Bone Spikes is a high priority, but the health is low enough that if the full raid switches you will rarely get more then one spell cast per target.

The key then is to negate the above two factors as much as possible, by minimizing movement and optimizing bone spike dps.  The first is very standard (and something that has to be done on nearly every fight).  During P1, use your dots to move without losing as much dps - for example if you're in a Lunar Eclipse, cast IS.  If IS is up, cast Gift of the Wild for a 2t10 proc.  Stand as far away from the boss as you reasonably can, this will give you time to react to Coldflame in the best manner (and also means that Coldflame is more likely to miss you).  During Bonestorm it's much more difficult to do this.  Use GotW liberally, and it's likely worth it to use DoTs on Bone Spikes when they first spawn if you need to move.  Keep in mind that being anywhere near the boss during this phase will likely kill you - the whirlwind effect does a lot of damage if you are close.

Optimizing Bone Spike dps is a bit different.  What I use is mouseover macros - for example, something like this for Wrath:
/cast [@mouseover,nohelp,nodead][] Wrath

This macro will cast on your mouseover target if they are hostile or neutral, and alive, otherwise on your regular target.  These require some precision with your mouse movement and you have to be careful that you target the correct thing.  But they allow you to simply mouseover a Bone Spike and keep spamming your rotation - you can target it afterward for more reliable dps, but for the initial switch mouseover macros can be very key. You can also switch targets using something like tabbing, mouse targetting or a /tar macro, but I find those to be less efficient.

A second optimization is position and facing.  As a caster it's important to note that you can hit anything that is within your forward 180 degree arc, not simply what's directly in front of you.  Therefore on something like Marrowgar I almost never look directly at the boss - instead, I try to stand on the outside edge and I face the rough center of the raid.  Then no matter where a Bone Spike spawns it's in front of me and I can hit it without changing the direction I'm facing.

Lady Deathwhisper
Spec: AOE (56/0/13 + 2/2 Gale Winds).  Consider glyphed Typhoon from a point of Improved Insect Swarm for additional Phase1 dps if your guild is struggling with killing adds.
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall
Note: My guild uses a strategy where we stand behind Lady Deathwhisper and AOE the adds down.  If your guild doesn't use this strategy you should concentrate more on single-target dps in your spec.

The first thing I want to talk about is Mind Controls.  Heroic DW mind controls three targets at a time, and having some sort of CC on them is fairly critical - 35k starfires will one shot almost anyone, as an example.  Cyclone is pretty ideal for this - it lasts almost the same time as the MC, it works on anyone and it also keeps them from taking incidental damage.  Target switching to Cyclone is going to impact your dps negatively however, so again I go with mouseover macros (focus is included for more controlled CC on something like Faction Champs):
/cast [@mouseover,nohelp,nodead][@focus,nohelp,nodead][] Cyclone
This will let you Cyclone those MCed targets without switching off Deathwhisper.

Now, onto the fight:
Lady DW has two phases.  Phase 1 is the dps race - it's not exceptionally difficult, but good dps is important to help with a clean P1->P2 transition.  Therefore I spec to increase AOE dps.  Typhoon is somewhat iffy because Starfall will haste your Hurricanes most of the time, therefore I don't normally include it here.  More importantly you may be threat capped quite often in Phase 2, so increasing you single-target dps won't help much.

Phase 2 is the harder part of the fight and is simply about staying alive.  Ghost explosions won't one-shot anyone, but it will leave them low enough that any other source of damage will kill them.  They also have a 20-yard range, and combined with Lady DWs frost AOE this can easily kill multiple people.  So:
1) If you are slowed (due to the frost AOE), then keep in mind you can shift out of Moonkin Form to break it.  If a ghost spawns near you this can easily save your life (and other people too).
2) Ghosts will only explode if they reach their actual target - they can run over other people without causing any issue.  If you have some sort of aggro alert (I use Power Auras) then that will tell you whether or not a ghost is targeting you.  You will still need to move when they first spawn so you have time to get away, but the difference between 1-2 seconds of movement and 4-5 is very significant.
3) Turn off unimportant UI elements like health bars for Phase 2 - there is a very distinctive lightning-like effect when ghosts are spawning that you can use as an early warning system, but it can be hard to see if adds or other player are close, or if you have something like DBM bars obscuring it.
4) Watch your threat - I always stay below 100% of the current tank.  Keep in mind if you are mind controlled it will reset your threat.  If you are threat capped on Lady Deathwhisper then consider helping out on the side adds that spawn.

Have fun.

Deathbringer Saurfang
Spec: AOE (56/0/13 + 1 + Typhoon) - if you don't need Typhoon for Blood Beasts then skip the talent.
Glyphs: Moonfire/Starfire/Starfall

This fight is very straightforward as a dps - you probably won't have to move at all.  The most complicated parts are the target switch to burn blood beasts and using Typhoon (if necessary).

Typhoon is very simple - use it when your guild wants you to.  We use a warlock AOE stun (3 seconds) followed by Typhoon to knockback and daze adds, and that's it - everything dies before that wears off.  You'll probably be assigned to dps an add or a side, so just switch to one - the mouseover macros I talked about with Marrowgar work here, but since the adds always spawn in the same spot clicking or tabbing can work fine too.

Keep in mind that for Blood Beasts, the main stars on Starfall are not considered AOE and will do full damage - using it will substantially help burning them down.

That's it for the start of Icecrown Citadel - the next post will be covering the blood wing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Challenge: Moonkin Bandaids before 4.0

I think it's pretty clear at this point that moonkins won't be seeing any major revamps before the big cataclysm patch.  We've seen some bandaids, and that's most likely all we'll see.

A somewhat interesting question, then, is what are the good PvE bandaids Blizzard could throw our way to help a little bit with scaling?  Some important criteria:
1) Minimal impact on restoration (both in PvE and PvP), and on moonkin PvP.  This rules out most Nature's Grace changes and most outside cooldowns we could add.
2) No massive changes to moonkin PvE - so no Eclipse redesign (yeah, I know).

Within those boundaries, however, there are some changes we could see that would help clean up moonkins a bit.  Some examples:
  1. Celestial Focus - changing the haste on this talent to either raw spell damage (or damage and healing) would be a positive change.  This both raises our soft haste cap slightly and provides a small dps boost.  There is an impact on restoration, but it is overall a very small one given that not every restoration druid specs into the talent and that the benefit is relatively minor.
  2. Improved Insect Swarm - this one is easy.  Reverse the bonuses.  3% crit to Wrath helps proc that elusive Lunar Eclipse, and 3% damage to Starfire is just as good as 3% damage to Wrath.  More importantly, however, this lowers the soft crit cap slightly which helps out endgame moonkins.
  3. Nature's Splendor - increasing the duration this adds to Moonfire and Insect Swarm helps moonkin pve dps, but does not impact moonkin PvP or restoration to any great extent.
  4. Insect Swarm and Moonfire - allow some combination of these spells scaling with haste or crit.  Doesn't have to be both with each, but this is a very simple way to let moonkins scale better with the relative stats.  This improves damage without improving burst.
That's a short list, I'm sure there are more.  Everything on their is minor, and well I'm sure it would impact PvP I can't see it causing any massive issues that Blizzard would have to worry about.

What - if any - useful "bandaids" would you like to see moonkins get before 4.0?  Again: nothing major, hopefully nothing hard to implement, but changes that would help moonkins with scaling and give us some help in PvE.

Respond here, respond on your blog (but let me know if you do!), send me an email, or even send up smoke signals - I'd like to hear what other people think about this.  Bandaids are hardly an ideal solution, but they are a practical one.