Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Switching from 2t8 to 4t9.

2t8: Increases the bonus granted by Eclipse for Starfire and Wrath by 15%.
4t9: Increases the damage done by your Starfire and Wrath spells by 4%.

I've recently decided to switch early to 4t9 from 2t8 (by "early" I mean before I can access ilvl 258 tier), and I just wanted to go over some reasons and logic for that, given that on average I should lose 1-2% dps from the change.

1) 2t8 is not consistent for burst dps.
Most if not all of the math I see on moonkin dps is about average, sustained dps.  I don't have a problem with this as it's the best and most consistent way to thoerycraft, but it is important to realize that it's not all of the story.  There are many situations, especially in hard modes, where burst dps is a very important consideration.  Off the top of my head:
XT's heart.
The Saronite Animus on General
Lord Jaraxxus, killing Nether Portals/Infernal Volcanos.
Twin Valks, breaking shields.
Anub p3
(Note: by "burst dps" I mean any dps situation roughly 90 seconds or smaller, where the value of cooldowns will be exaggerated by the short time frame).

The problem with 2t8 in these situations is that it isn't consistent, and I'll use an example from Lord Jaraxxus yesterday.  On the first Nether Portal of the kill I got lucky and it procced with a Lunar Eclipse, so I was chaining starfire crits at 16k each.  On the second, I couldn't get an Eclipse proc and so was only hitting for 7-7.5k, and less often - because of no nature's grace.  So while we killed both in time, my personal contribution dropped by almost 50% simply because of an Eclipse proc.  The fact that I use 2t8 increased that difference.

A second factor in 2t8 is that it simply doesn't scale as well with heroism - you will almost certainly waste a Solar Eclipse proc everytime that cooldown is used, and that means your 2t8 isn't doing you any good.

2) 2t8 increases RNG.
Obviously all classes have RNG (random number generator - in this case referring to how much randomness effects dps), some more then others.  Moonkins with Eclipse - and especially with 2t8 - have more then most.  2t8 is an average dps increase of roughly 6%, which is very good.  The problem is that 6% is only a theoretical number - on any single fight you could see anywhere from 4% to 10% from it, for example.  Possibly more or less - it's hard to say.

Now it's awesome when the stars align and you get a perfect dps parse to top the meters, but it's less awesome when the stars line up, beat you up with baseball bats and you place 15th.  Moonkins are always going to have RNG until and if they change Eclipse, but 2t8 adds even more. 

This is really important now with limited attempt hard modes - before we killed Twin Valks on heroic we had a 0% wipe, and it was close enough that if RNG had been a bit different we might have killed it.  So consistent dps can be really valuable.

3) I have way too much hit.
Ok, this is a personal reason and not one most of you will have, but it's one to consider.  The two pieces of t8 I use are the gloves and the legs, with a combined hit total of 116.  I recently picked up a dagger upgrade and gained 51 hit, which means I am now 87 hit over the cap.  Dropping 2t8 for 4t9 will let me convert some of that extra hit into useful dps stats, and while I might end up socketing a little hit to make the 236 cap, it will be more then worth it.

4) 4t9 will increase my gearscore.
...kidding.  Really.

5) 4t9 allows more flexibility in rotation. 
Another weakness of theorycrafting is that it generally only considers single target situations.  There are a fair amount of situations where this isn't the case - Yogg-Saron p2 being the biggest one right now.  This is a fight where dotting multiple corrupters plus the crusher isn't padding the meters but is a real necessity for the hard modes - that stuff needs to die consistently for p3 to be smooth.

The problem with 2t8 here is that it increases the opportunity cost of ignoring Eclipse - because so much of your dps is tied into that one ability, ignoring it to multi-target DoT really hurts.  It's still a dps gain, but it's less of one.  4t9 isn't tied to Eclipse, so it becomes more worthwhile to DoT up a bunch of things and just make use of Eclipse where you can.

Another benefit is that by reducing the benefit of Eclipse, you can reapply DoTs slightly more often and still see a dps gain - instead of being 6+ seconds, you instead want to reapply at 4+ for IS, and 3+ for Moonfire.  That leads to a bit more consistent rotation and damage, because more of your dps is coming from those DoTs instead of more RNG-dependent spells.

Those are the main considerations I made before deciding this.  I consider those reasons pretty valid, but of course your mileage may vary.


  1. Glad to see you've made a blog. I follow Graylo's blog a lot, but when it comes to endgame raiding, I've often found myself following you (via random forum posts) and sporadically checking on your armory and what you're dropping in favor of other things. I've been wondering about this 2t8 thing vs 4t9 (even ilvl245) for a bit now, so once you do get 4 pieces of the 245 set, I'd love to hear about how it's working for you in your raiding environment.

    -Selvaria, Exodar

  2. Welcome to blogging man :) Good to have another moonkin blogger out here.

    I currently have 2pc T9.245 (Helm/Chest), and 2pc T8.226 (Gloves, Legs). I can't see myself dropping 2pc T8 for 4pc T9.245. If I ever get full T9.258 I will definitely make the swap, but I don't see myself doing it for 245 pieces.

    Your points are good, but I still can't see myself making the swap. The added crit I picked up from my 2pc T9 makes proc'ing Eclipse an ease, and while I see your point about it sometimes being inconsistent in terms of burst DPS -- I think we have more chances now than before to have Eclipse up when we need to burst than to not. Even if you have 4pc T9 when you need to burst -- not having Eclipse would still have significantly lowered your contribution to the targets you need to burst down.

    Sure, 4pc T8 may slightly increase our dependency on RNG, but ever since 3.2 I stopped complaining about RNG. Last time I looked at a parse, my Eclipse uptime was something like 84%, which I think is pretty good.

    Sure, 4pc T9 may allow greater flexibility on Yogg P2 than 2pc T8, but wouldn't you say then, that 4pc T8 allows even more flexibility? I remember running around killing stuff with instant Starfires -- good times.

    I don't see myself getting T9.258 in the future (still an app in my guild, no DKP), so for now, I plan on sticking with 2pc T9, 2pc T8 unless something changes my mind.

    - Ballerkin, Illidan

    P.S. - Is there a guy named Iustitia in your guild that joined recently?

  3. Ballerkin -
    Actually now that I've found out about WiseEclipse, dropping 2t8 might actually increase RNG (slightly). I still feel it is weaker for burst dps because of the tribute system, where having bad dps on any single fight can reduce the eventual loot and rankings you end up with - a wipe on Jaraxxus can mean less loot from Anub. And yes, it's unlikely that my personal dps will make the difference, but it's also unlikely that (for example) my enchants or gems will - but I still try to optimize those. I view this in the same way.

    When I talk about flexibility of rotation, I'm mostly referring to the opportunity cost of ignoring Eclipse. If you want to ignore Eclipse w/2t8 and cast something that's not part of the rotation, the cost is very high - 45% starfire crit or ~40% wrath damage. If you remove 2t8, you lessen that opportunity cost substantially. 4t8 doesn't really do this, it gives you extra starfires but you still pay the same cost if you want to apply extra DoTs, for example.

    There are a couple of other considerations that I haven't mentioned yet, but I think are somewhat important:
    The crit soft cap - with 2t8 this is actually pretty low - I hit it right now. That means additional crit I get from gear isn't benefiting Starfire during Eclipse (the main time I cast it), which is a massive loss in the value of crit, probably on the order of ~30% less value.
    Movement - 2t8 is hurt the more you move. 4t9 isn't hurt at all. Most ToC Hard modes require movement.

    Hope that explains my reasoning a bit more, and I appreciate the comment.

    Oh, and on Iustitia - he trialed for I think less then a week and then left. I'm not 100% sure what happened with him.

  4. Hamlet here--

    I think the RNG element of 2T8 is largely overblown, especially given WiseEclipse and current high crit rates. The eggs-in-one-basket effect of lumping so much DPS into the Eclipsed part of our cycle is less an issue of RNG and more an issue of dealing with things that interrupt our DPS rotation. In a situation where you can't maintain a proper DPS rotation (say, Faction Champions), I'd agree that 4T9 becomes more heavily favored.

    But now that our mean cycle length is only around 35 seconds, it's a rare fight that limits our ability to make good use of Eclipse. In the current content it really only is Faction Champions.

    The point about burst is weak--burst with 2T8 is significantly higher if you're lucky, and both setups have an equal lack of control over when you actually get to Eclipse.

    The point about opportunity cost of instants is interest, but again it cuts both ways. When I'm operating a stationary DPS cycle and can avoid giving up Eclipse time, it actually works in my favor.

    In short--on what fights in the current content do you find the intangible gains to be worth sacrificing some total output? I can't think of any. I think you're in a top a guild, so you're probably working on Anub Heroic. Would you really drop the 2T8 bonus for that final 30% burn?

  5. I agree that the RNG element is pretty small (I think I mispoke in my last comment and said increase when I meant decrease).

    The point about burst is a worst-case scenario one. Worst case with 4t9 is better then worst case with 2t8. Probably for the same reason that I'm really big on EH for tanking, I'd prefer 4t9 because it's better in worst-case scenarios. Especially with limited attempts, this seems like a good idea to me.

    The point about opportunity cost when you can sit still and dps is a good one, but I don't believe you can effectively do that on any of the HM ToC fights. All of them involve movement, and the more movement you do the less Eclipse uptime you have. Anub is probably the best fight for standing still, but it has an AOE component that lessens how much use you can make out of Eclipse.

    Additionally I'm already past the soft crit cap, so keeping 2t8 means the value of additional crit for me is lowered, and most upgrades I get involve crit. So dropping 2t8 will let me scale better.

    Finally - as far as I can tell, it should actually be a dps gain on Anub. I get enough stat upgrades from the switch to be worth about 2.5% dps (simply because I'm so far over hit cap), plus 4t9 should be worth ~3.5%. So the single-target component should break even, but it should pull ahead because the stat bonus will benefit my AOE and neither set bonus does.

  6. @ Randomsmo --

    Your points make sense. I haven't found myself moving *too* much in hard-mode ToC, but I guess I would consider the swap to 4pc T9 eventually.

    It's not in my near future though, so I will content myself with my critting Moonfires and my 2pc T8.

    Keep it up with the blog :)