Saturday, December 5, 2009

Prepping for Icecrown Citadel

I recently re-evaluated my character choices in light of the 3.3 patch (probable release date of 12/08/2009, or next week), and just wanted to go over the changes I made.

No changes - I already use 4t9 and with the 2t8 nerf I see no reason to change.  I did modify my gems slightly, going back to Potent over Reckless for good yellow sockets.  I lost 120 crit rating when I picked up a second Reign of the Unliving, and with ICC as the primary focus I don't see a need to value haste over crit any longer.

After some deliberation I decided to go into Icecrown with my Anub spec.

This took some thought.  I originally planned to go with something almost identical to the above, but without Typhoon and picking up the last point in Imp IS - that's a pretty optimized single-target build, but also with strong AOE.  However, reading strategies it looks like a lot of guilds find unglyphed Typhoon to be useful on Saurfang - there are adds that can't be tanked and need to be CCed, and Typhoon is a good choice because of the knockback + daze.

You could also easily do a build with 3/3 Imp IS and 1/2 Gale Winds, but it appears that at least two of the first four fights will have a non-trivial AOE component (Gunship/Saurfang), so I opted to go 2/2 GW.  One point in Imp IS is a relatively trivial single-target loss, while one point in Gale Winds is a very significant AOE loss.

So Starfall and Reign of the Unliving walk into a bar.
RotU: "I'm a trinket that procs from critical strikes, but only every two seconds.
Starfall: "What a coincidence - I can crit on a one-second period which exactly matches up with you.  Maybe we can work something out?"

Silliness aside, the Starfall Glyph (30 second cooldown reduction, NOT the focus glyph) and the Insect Swarm Glyph have always been relatively close in value.  My feeling is that with the neat little synergy between Reign and Starfall will make the glyph a bit more valuable, especially since I now use two of them.

If however you don't have Reign there are a few other reasons I changed to Starfall:
  1. Each one of the first four fights - and many of the later ones - have adds.  Glyphing Starfall vs IS is a close call in a single-target situation, but as raids get complicated single-target situations tend to go away.  Expect a ton of adds in ICC, which will increase the dps benefit of Starfall.
  2. Glyphed IS is important to keep up - you don't want 100% uptime but you should work it into practically every part of your rotation.  Unglyphed IS is much less critical - you pretty much want it up during Solar Eclipse... and that's it.  This frees up Insect Swarm as an, "oh, I have to move" spell - moving from fire?  Hit IS. Icecrown will most likely have a lot of movement, so having IS available more often will help mitigate some of that otherwise lost dps time.
  3. 3% miss - I don't want to get into an avoidance vs EH argument, but suffice to say that 3% miss - while not being critical or even particularly important - is still, well, 3% flat avoidance.  Your tanks can't depend on it but it might prevent a death.
Keep in mind that if you Glyph Starfall you need to keep fairly close track of it and make sure you use it as often as possible - and as fight mechanics dictate.  I use Power Auras for this (and for Treants) to let me keep track of them easily and see when they'll be available, but other addons work as well.

Obviously any of the above might change in the future, but my goal is just to go into normal modes with something solid for all of the fights - for hard modes I anticipate optimizing on a per-fight basis, of course.


  1. The issue with the starfall glyph has always been timing and specifics of boss mechanics (ToC has very good examples of this). AoE dmg avoidance/reduction, add timing, and burn phases all factor in when deciding on whether or not to glyph starfall. I still generally prefer IS glyph on most encounters but luckily there is no real reason to label one as a primary choice since it is quite easy to carry a stack of both and use them approprietly. As for fights like saurfang, unfortunately the adds do take reduced aoe damage but i believe they are on a 30 second timer which (unlike anub) will match up well with the glyph).

  2. I'd never thought about Starfall + Reign before. But I've always maintained it's a quite a misconception that Starfall and IS glyphs tend to be close in value. GoStarfall is very weak on a single target--WC in my gear has it as worth about 35 DPS over a blank glyph slot (compared to around 170 from IS). I find it very unlikely that Reign will somehow make it a DPS increase even on paper, before we get into the issues of timing Starfall.

  3. Ok, just added a decent estimate of this to WC. Having double Reign roughly doubles the value of the Starfall Glyph, still leaving it far weaker than IS against a single-target, and slightly weaker or equal in an ideal multi-target situation.

    Also, point 2 in your OP doesn't make sense. Removing an instant (IS) from your rotation makes you more vulnerable to interruptions from movement, not less. The ability to cast IS to gain some DPS while moving is something we already have--your version just makes it the weaker, unglyphed version.

  4. @Jay:
    Starfall Glyph vs IS is tricky because of rotation issues.

    If you do a quick analysis of Starfall then it should look very weak because it's a 50% increase in Starfall damage - which is decent (~1.5% dps) - but the downside is it costs you an extra GCD roughly every 3 minutes. If a GCD is valued at 7k damage (which is pretty low), then that drops it down to ~1% dps, maybe even a bit lower.

    The problem is that the above is too simple of a comparison. Glyphed IS is a dpsct increase over a lot of other spells - so if you glyph it then IS will be a substantial percentage of your dps. Unglyphed IS, however, is much weaker and is mainly only valuable as an Imp IS boost and as something to hit when you move. This should change your rotation and move some damage from IS to other spells, which is more dps that should be counted as a boost to the Starfall Glyph.

    I am not familar with the code to Wrathcalcs but unless your comparison includes rotation changes in the analysis I would take the numbers with a grain of salt.

    The second point is just that:
    1) If you glyph IS you should use it fairly often - not going for 100% uptime, but certainly for "very high" uptime.
    2) If IS is up a lot, then when you move you often either A) Don't use it because it's already up, B) Refresh it which is a much smaller dps gain.

    Using unglyphed IS should change your rotation so IS will be up less, which means when you move you're more likely to be able to hit it without a refresh.

  5. Still going by WC (this is Hamlet btw):
    Even unglyphing IS, it's very slightly better (possibly within error bounds) to keep using IS even if unglyphed (you can look on page 2 of WC to see different DoT setups). This might change with gear, but the important thing is that it's nearly a wash to cast unglyphed IS. So a potential rotation change when you change Glyphs doesn't fundamentally alter the result. Also, if you're unglyphing IS anyway, you should be keeping it up for the hit debuff, since the DPS loss, if anything, is negligible.

    In my experience, estimates of the value of Glyph of Starfall as being good have usually been based on two errors:
    1) ignoring the extra GCD cost.
    2) vastly overestimating the value of the added NG uptime (which is very small given our already high NG uptime).
    If you're not doing either of these things, I'm curious how you find it to be so good.


    Just to give a napkin math example--Starfall does about 15000 damage per cast. Adding 15k damage every 180s is 83 DPS. More than half of that is soaked up by the extra GCD used however. So expecting the Glyph to be worth around 30-40 DPS is about right. There's no point pursing the rough math more, since the WC model takes so much more into account already, but this is a good sanity check. The spreadsheet agrees with our intuitive notion that the Starfall Glyph should be worth about 30-40 DPS and the IS Glyph around 150+ depending on your spellpower. A similar rough check shows that double Reign isn't going to add more than 30-40 DPS to the Starfall glyph, which is again borne out by the spreadsheet (and is actually an overestimate, since it doesn't take into account the shared Reign cooldown between Starfall and nuke crits).

  6. It is primarily based on two assumptions:
    1) At least 50% of the extra GCDs from Starfall will be usable during movement or to minimize future movement.
    2) Because unglyphed IS is a wash, I will be able to use it as a movement spell (I do not consider the miss debuff to be significant) and minimize dps lost there.

    I ignore the nature's grace component as it is mostly insignificant except in AOE situations.

    Also as an interesting note: I was trying to find a WoL to get good "baseline" numbers from and I couldn't really find one. Everything has some sort of adds that Starfall would hit and skew the numbers.

  7. Edit to the above:
    Just to be clear, if those assumptions prove false I'll be switching back to IS. I plan to optimize spec/glyphs for hard modes on a fight-by-fight basis anyway, most of the above is just for normal modes.

  8. For some context, however, on the point about multiple targets:

    If I straight-up double the value of Starfall in the sheet (to simulate the 20 stars you get against a multiple targets instead of 10), the Glyph is still noticeably weaker than IS. This is why my guide says "Starfall is usually weak even in AoE situation." Now, this quick test doesn't count the splash damage, but it's to give some idea of how big a DPS gap you're looking at on paper.

    Not to say that you'd never use it. At Anub, for example, you regularly have 5 clustered targets, are using the NG procs for Hurricane, and aren't casting IS anyway. Situations can always be well-tailored for one thing or another. I'm mainly responding to the idea that two are somehow "close" for ordinary single-target purposes such small factors may tip it one way or the other (which they're not, though it's a common misconception). It's important for people to know that Glyph of Starfall is a _really_ niche use--even having "multiple targets" or "some movement" isn't enough to make it better.

  9. Just a question concerning Starfall glyph and Reign of the Dead.
    I did a couple of tests on dummies and found that the trinket mote stacking action seems to have an internal cool down.
    Initially I tested this alone with starfall, and found that the motes gained did not correlate with the crits produced. I thought this most likely was due to the splash damage crit being not counted, but wanted to make sure about it.
    I then spammed the target with wraths, most of which were 1 sec casts. Crits that occurred consecutively did not not seem to generate a mote. This lead me to think that there is some or other internal CD of the trinket
    Has anyone found this to be the case?

    If this is so, then glyphing starfall to get mote procs might actually result in far less procs than anticipated.