Friday, January 29, 2010

Moonkin DPS Talents, Glyphs and Set Bonuses

Edit: This is updated and is current for 3.3.3.

Hopefully you all will find this at least interesting and possibly helpful:

This is a chart of all current balance dps talents, glyphs and set bonuses that I could work out a way to test (either with Simcraft or reasonably exact data).  4t9 was not included because of it's additive nature, so it was nearly impossible for me to determine how much it added.  The ordering is done by average dps per talent point (or in the case of glyphs or set bonuses, just the dps increase).

: I only calculated the personal dps bonus.  Even if the talent provides a raid dps buff, you are assumed to have it from some other source.  For example: Improved Moonkin Form on this chart is only showing the spell power benefit, the haste is a raid buff and is ignored.  Moonkin form isn't shown at all because the personal benefit is 0 (assuming you have some other source of 5% crit).

I used Simcraft to calculate all of these.  The base wowhead profile I used was this:
The spec was chosen so that I could more easily move talents around to get values and to provide a more consistent baseline.

My original result for Celestial Focus was weird (the final point showed an actual dps loss).  This is a simulation artifact - what happens is at certain very exact values of haste, adding more can be a dps "loss" because of interactions with Eclipse, latency and spell queueing.  In real life these will not happen reliably (although you can use Simcraft to find and plan around them if you wish).  In order to get a better, more useful number for Celestial Focus I changed a gear piece to use a difference haste value (697) and that is represented as CF_697haste in the above chart - if you are looking for Celestial Focus numbers this is what I would use.

Keep in mind that the above chart is based on my current gear and isn't going to be accurate for you - however, it should still give a good idea of the relative value of everything displayed.

Edit: If you are interested the raw data I have uploaded it here.  The formatting is bad (non-existent, really) so view at your own risk.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick Thoughts - Nibelung and Owlkin Frenzy

Nibelung -

I picked this up because there's potential for it to be BIS for moonkins and what's dkp for if not to spend?

So far my impression has been very favorable - on most fights the valks live enough to provide a decent dps gain and the loss of stats just isn't as significant for a moonkin as it would be for most casters.  With that said it's hard to tell if Nibelung is actually a dps increase over my ToGC 25 MH/OH combo but it does seem competitive, my numbers were pretty comparable to top WoL parses:

Given that we're only talking about 6 ilvls difference and heroic vs non-heroic loot, I'd say that's a pretty good bonus in Nibelung's favor.

The only really bad fight for it is Blood Queen - her pulsing aura shreds the valks in about 6-8 seconds basically every time, so I used the MH/OH combo there.

Owlkin Frenzy -

This is just a general FYI.  Blood Queen's Pulsing shadow aura (the same one that kills Nibelung Valks) has a silver lining - it can proc Owlkin Frenzy.

On our kill I had just under 40% uptime with 3/3, which means the talent is worth more then 1% dps per point - very much worth speccing into for this fight (although if you're expecting a lot of procs on other fights, prepare yourself to be disappointed).  On other attempts I saw as high as 50% uptime.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Test Dummy DPS is Pointless

I'm sure most of you already know this but I always see threads about it.  And apparently there are people who worry about it or think it is legitimate.

So put it as simply as I can: Test dummy dps is not mathematically significant.  There is a caveat to this, and I'll get to it later.  But for now, onwards.

There are big reasons (and lots of small ones) why test dummies don't matter.

1. Test Dummies Are Not An Isolated Environment
Which is to say that when a warrior comes up and hits your test dummy and applies sunder, he's ruining your test by introducing an outside dps buff.  Is it a big change?  No - you're a balance druid.  But your treants being buffed is significant.  If a mage is trying fire and puts Scorch up, then that 5% crit is big.  Or the ret pally who's doing 3% crit.

But wait - this is controllable, right?  We can get a true, isolated test dummy dps test.  So for the sake of argument let's scratch this and move on to the next problem:

2 1.  Raid Buffs Change How DPS Scales.
This is true for all raid buffs - all of your spells scale differently with each and every stat.  Everything has a different spell power coefficient.  IS doesn't scale with crit at all (MF only does with 2t9), and Wrath and Starfire also vary significantly due to Eclipse.  But that's just the tip of the iceberg - the biggest problem for a moonkin on test dummies is haste.  Letting alone that past the soft cap starfire is the only thing that scales decently with it, you run into the problem that it moves.

The normal soft haste cap is right about 400.  But that's raid buffed and it includes the 5% spell haste from a shaman.  Take away that buff and the cap shoots up to 585.  Any moonkin about 400 haste is going to see inflated test dummy dps.  Now, you could get a test dummy raid together - I suppose it's possible, and if anyone's done it I'd love to hear about it.  But that does make it pretty useless for comparison purposes unless everyone does that.

2.  N
Which is to say, the statistical sample size N (the number of tests you do) that is actually significant.

If you want a lot of math (real math with letters, not the number math most people use) then I'd suggest reading here.  Yes it's wikipedia - and yes, it's only accurate on average.  But that is still accurate significantly more often then test dummy dps, so I'd recommend not arguing with it.

Ignore the other problems.  Let's assume that you've managed 100 tests of a decent length so they actually resemble something close to what a balance druid gets (~3 minutes or more).  Let's assume you made them all equal length - that no one outside intereferred and human error was zero.

Then maybe, maybe you can take those results and come up with something within 10% of the "real" number - which is to say, the number that accurately represents your unbuffed test dummy dps and totally ignores raid scaling and all the other issues.  And what you've got still isn't very useful, because all you can is that probably you do more dps then the other guy if you ever find yourself trying to solo Patchwerk at level 80.

3.  You're Killing Patchwerk
The problem here is that you're never going to kill him in a raid.

There are fights in ICC that allow melee to pull a patchwerk*
*except some of them can't use certain moves at certain times because AOE is a bad idea**
**oh, and the ones where even if they can probably sometimes stand still the entire time, occasionally they have to move due to fight mechanics.

There aren't any fights where casters can - the closest thing is Deathwhisper (if your raid lets you) and even then you need to be capable of stopping dps so you actually transition correctly.  Or if you see a Curse about to put your Starfire on cooldown for 15 seconds at the start of Lunar Eclipse.

No one fights Patchwerk anymore.  It's just not happening - maybe in the entry raids at 85, sure, and it will be fun.  But mechanics get more complicated and difficult as time goes on, and that involves movement - interrupts, all sorts of things you need to worry about.  Unless your test dummy dps involves those too (and remember they have to be consistent for it to be statistically valid), well, all you're doing is killing a level 60 boss and talking about your dps - and it's just not important.

The Caveat
Test dummy dps isn't really important, but that's not quite the same thing as saying test dummies are useless.  I use them all the time.

Test dummies are excellent for testing a lot of simple things.  Want to know how Moonfire works with the glyph and Imp Moonfire?  Test dummies will tell you.  Want to test the new 4t10 bonus when you get it?  Test dummies are good for that (although keep in mind there are bugs that only occur on test dummies, so it's not conclusive).  Now that doesn't mean you can use test dummies to compare something like 4t10 to 2t9, but it does mean you can probably get solid numbers from them, and from that it's math.  EJ uses test dummies for specific purposes all the time - validly - but they also make sure they control the test and they get a big N.

The real purpose of test dummies, however, is practice.  When my rotation changed in 3.2 I spent a lot of time on test dummies getting used to it.  I use test dummies when I want to make sure Power Auras will track Eclipse like I want it to.  I use test dummies when I'm working on my UI, because I want to see as much as I would in a raid - DBM Test bars, cooldown bars going, everything tracking.  That means I know it works, and more importantly I get used to looking in the right place for the information.

I also usually treat test dummies as close as I can to real boss fights - any player who rides by is a boss mechanic.  Shamans are usually coldflame, Warriors are void zones, Mages are AOE explosions and Hunters I, er, ignore.  But you get the idea - make it as dynamic as you can.  The key to practice is to do what you actually have to do in a raid, and if you use test dummies for that then I'll salute you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Moonkins, Demonology Warlocks and Cataclysm

Wow, it's been a while since I posted.

Everyone's currently talking about the (minor) balance buff in 3.32.  From MMO:
Keep in mind that we tend to make much smaller adjustments during a minor patch cycle due to the limited amount of testing time we're allotted before applying such patches. For this reason you're not likely to see any major Balance druid changes coming in the next minor patch.

With that being said, one small change we have in the pipeline will double the passive effectiveness of Earth and Moon so that it provides a flat 2/4/6% spell damage increase, up from 1/2/3%. As an obligatory warning, this is subject to change prior to the next minor patch going live. (Source)
The short of it is this is probably the final nail in the coffin for significant moonkin changes before 4.0.  Slightly less than 3% is certainly nothing to sneeze at (and thankfully it isn't negatively impacted by movement like the Eclipse buff), but it's also obviously a stop-gap measure to keep moonkin dps from completely bombing in ICC.  But as moonkins start gearing into the range where we only have one significantly scaling stat (spell power) I anticipate seeing dps hitting a pretty significant plateau while other classes continue to scale.

Now to tangent - I recently (just after 3.3) got a warlock to level 80 and have been playing him as an alt:

(I named him Moonkin because I had the name and, well, I wasn't going to rename my druid.  Besides, it's funny).

I've been mostly playing him as Demonology.  If you're not familar with the spec Demonology has a talent called Molten Core - I'm just going to concentrate on one specific aspect of it though.
Increases the duration of your Immolate by 9 sec, and you have a 12% chance to gain the Molten Core effect when your Corruption deals damage. The Molten Core effect empowers your next 3 Incinerate or Soul Fire spells cast within 15 sec.

Incinerate - Increases damage done by 18% and reduces cast time by 30%.

Soul Fire - Increases damage done by 18% and increases critical strike chance by 15%.

Now it took me a while to realize this (sometimes I can be slow) but Molten Core is exactly what Eclipse wants to be.
  1. It forces demonology to use a second nuke that they otherwise wouldn't touch.
  2. It introduces additional RNG, but without a cooldown.  This is significant - a moonkin who goes 15 seconds without an Eclipse proc has effectively lost dps that he can never get back, but a demonology warlock who goes 15 seconds without a Molten Core proc can easily gain that back later with positive RNG.
  3. It's charge based, which reduces the impact movement has on the benefit.
  4. While it is a significant dps benefit, it's nowhere near the 25%-30% that Eclipse makes up for moonkins.  Therefore even with very bad Molten Core RNG, a warlock will still be in ok shape.
  5. It does not force demonology warlock into two (or even one!) soft caps for either haste or crit (there is a slight one at well over 1k haste, and also during heroism - but nothing comparable to the 400 haste moonkins see).
To me at least the parallels are amazing - two talents with effectively the same goal but with a vast difference in execution.  After playing demonology and then going to my druid my first thought is always "man, I wish Eclipse was more like Molten Core".

Now obviously I don't want a clone - that 1) wouldn't work and 2) would be kind of boring.  But image if Eclipse read something like this:
Your Insect Swarm and Moonfire ticks have a 10% chance to give you the Eclipse effect.  This empowers your next 4 Wraths cast within 20 seconds, increasing damage by 75% and cast time by 20%.
 Now those are placeholder numbers that would need to be tweaked, but the implications are pretty big - this removes both the haste and crit soft caps (in a way that doesn't impact Nature's Grace, so avoiding resto implications), removes some of balance's dependence on movement and gives moonkins a very dynamic rotation.

Even if we don't see something like this in 4.0 (and we very well might not, since Nature's Grace is going to see changes too) the design of of the talent itself is at least reason for hope.  Blizzard may have dropped the ball big time on Eclipse, but they are learning.