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.

1 comment:

  1. While your eclipse idea would obviously be more dps than what is currently in place, I don't think blizzard would ever make a change like that ever in this game. For them to say "Here, if Eclipse procs you get a BUFF that INCREASES your cast time by 30%" is impossible. Even though grossly that would be a buff they couldn't possibly let that go live and thus practically admitting that "one of your spells is completely broken, sry bro!"