My first post when the new Moonkin patch notes were revealed was about explaining them and giving the highlights, but not too much in-depth analysis (read that one first if you haven’t, though). But I’ve been thinking about the details of the rotation a good bit. To the extent possible on paper that is, without an actual alpha to play, but I got pretty far on a reasonable WrathCalcs model. So here are some more detailed observations on how this rotation will play. You can think of this as, how the basics of my Moonkin guide would look if this rotation were going live right now.
A few things have been mentioned by Celestalon on twitter since the last post.
- The cycle will now be 40s long instead of 30.
- The DoTs are now 40s and 20s long to correspond to that (instead of 32 and 16).
- The cycle will pause briefly at the top. Instead of a sine wave oscillating from -100 to 100 energy, it will go from -110 to +110, but with a cap on the bonus at 100. This will result in roughly a 5 second pause at the peak of each Eclipse.
- Starsurge will be instant cast.
Moonkin are preserving one aspect of gameplay that is otherwise being removed from most classes for causing too much complexity: DoT snapshotting (DoTs will snapshot their Eclipse bonus, and presumably their mastery level at cast, but not other stats like spellpower). Unsurprising then, that some of the more finicky bits of timing that are likely to appear in the new rotation are related to snapshotting.
There’s one other important decision they’ve made about DoTs that you should keep in mind throughout: they’re making the choice to condense MF/SuF to one button. So even though we have two separate DoTs, you can only refresh a particular one half the time. The upside of this is saving a button (we go from 5 to 4 main rotational buttons, or 6 to 4 if you count Starfall right now). The downside is some awkwardness in target-switch, multi-dot or similar scenarios, where we have no control over what DoT we can cast, and we can’t cast both without waiting up to half a cycle. This is generally counteracted by very long DoT durations, so in a stable DPS situation, you’re not impacted by the inability to refresh half the time.
The duration of Moonfire is equal to an entire Eclipse cycle. So this is the easiest bit of analysis to start with–since you can refresh once per cycle and get 100% uptime, you do it at the very peak of Lunar, so you get 100% uptime with 100% of your Eclipse bonus. With the new flat portion at the peak of Eclipse, you will get your 100% bonus every time without worrying about perfect timing.
Sunfire is more complex since its duration is half a cycle, so to keep 100% uptime, you have to refresh once generally near the beginning of the Solar side, and once near the end. But, your Solar bonus is poor at those two times, leading to some tension. It turns out the best approach is to refresh the first time the moment you get into Solar (at the minimum Solar bonus), and then again 70% of the way through the first DoT (14s after casting it). That way, the second refresh will have a 26s duration (the maximum allowed under the new Pandemic mechanic) and a pretty high Eclipse bonus (14s into the Solar half is just after the peak). Getting the good snapshot for 65% of the total cycle outweighs the short time spent at the minimum 50% Eclipse bonus.
This mechanic, to me, still feels a little weird. It’s both twitchy (sensitive to specific timings), and also unintuitive (contrast Moonfire, where most people will find it obvious what to do even if they haven’t read this post). It’s sensitive to specific timings because your first refresh is ideally the instant after you cross the midpoint into Solar, but if you accidentally do it early, you’ll overwrite your Moonfire with a weak one. And the second refresh is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It’s not at the Eclipse peak, and it’s not when the first one’s expiring. Do it late and you get a worse snapshot, do it early and you lose uptime. It’s not the worst thing–the most likely solution is that whatever Eclipse display addon becomes popular will have a little mark right at that spot. I could live with this Sunfire, as a slightly strange byproduct of two otherwise good things (cutting a button from the class, and keeping snapshotting gameplay), but I’ll be trying to think about revisions to it.
I got into this a little in the previous post–your first Starsurge in a cycle will want to be at the Lunar peak, to buff 2 Starfires that hit during the 5-second peak window. Even at 0 haste, you can easily finish a Starfire cast and cast another Starfire and a simultaneous Moonfire all within 5s (that actually only takes 3s). So your goal will be to cast a Starsurge (instant) around 3 seconds before arriving at the Lunar peak. The Starsurge will get a near-100% bonus, and the next two Starfires and Moonfire will all get a 100% bonus.
Since you’ll be able to use more Starsurges per cycle due to procs, you’ll be using some at the Solar peak as well, and often multiples at either peak. In theory you can plan out exactly how best to distribute them between phases, but you don’t get to choose precisely due to proc luck. Very likely, a good approach will be to use all banked charges near any peak. That way you won’t overfill on charges before the next peak and be forced to use one in between.
When using multiplies around a peak, you try to fit them as closely around the center as possible. With 2 Starsurges going into Lunar, you can shift the first one slightly earlier. You’ll wind up casting SS-SF-SF-MF-SS-SF-SF, with the MF roughly at the center of the peak window. This would move the first buffed SF outside the window, but remember that the “window” is not sharply defined–your bonus is still close to 100% for a few seconds before and after it. The goal is to fit the buffed spells generally evenly before and after the peak, so all of them are generally near the peak. This might not be an exact science due to the need to adapt to random procs, but you’ll want to have a habit of checking whether you have 1 or 2 Starsurge charges as you approach a peak. Then you can start to use them either just before the peak (with 1), or halfway up the peak (with 2). You won’t have 3 charges–anytime you get a 3rd charge due to fast procs you’ll probably want to use it right away regardless of Eclipse timing, to avoid sitting at the cap and wasting charge time.
Some things I’ve looked at and will note here at least briefly, and hope to flesh out some of them more in later posts.
- Astral Communion is interesting. The math of it is quite complicated–doing 0 DPS for a bit to speed through part of an Eclipse. So far, it is not worth using rotationally (which is good). Its use will be to set up Eclipse for a specific burst phase, in situations where you know there’s a certain part of the fight that’s an important DPS check, and DPS in the previous phase isn’t that important.
- The benefit of using AC in this way is most pronounced on very short burn phases. For example, when a 10 or 15 second burst is needed, setting up Eclipse so you peak right in the center of the burst window will add a lot. For longer burns, say a minute, the benefit is minimal since you’re cycling through multiple peaks and valleys within the window anyway.
- I’d like to a see something that lets you use AC before an encounter to set up your Eclipse however you want, much like now. That’s a reasonably interesting decision now, and will be more so with the new Eclipse. It’s a little tricky to see how it could work, but I think they could do something much like now. That is, Eclipse is stationary until you start combat, but you can move it to wherever you want with AC.
- Movement is still a concern. One of the big downsides of having snapshot mechanics remain is that DoTs are not a satisfactory movement solution. This is especially true when you can’t even refresh both DoTs after you stop moving–you might have to live with a bad Moonfire snapshot for most of a cycle. Instant Starsurge is meant to address this, but it may not feel great to use Starsurge at a bad time just to fill movement GCDs. When there’s an alpha, we’ll have to see how ranged classes are being treated for movement generally–they’ve indicated that they want it to be a factor for DPS, so its possible that inconvenience is intended.
- This is obviously very preliminary when we don’t even have final spell coefficients, but haste is looking to be a strong stat. That’s what WC says so far, and it makes sense, for the usual reason that haste has a better rating conversion ratio than other stats. That’s intended since many classes have special benefits from crit that add to its value (as Balance does in 5.0). In 6.0, crit won’t increase Shooting Stars procs as strongly as it does now, which is generally good since it got out of control at the end of the expansion. But it means crit won’t be quite as strong. So, if it helps to visualize gameplay over the course of an expansion, the best guess is that we’ll be a haste-favoring class.
- We don’t have enough information on Readiness to evaluate it yet (for example, the spelldata has it at the same rating conversion factor as crit, which I think is a placeholder because it’s too low). However, I’m guess that Readiness won’t be that exciting a stat for us, because we don’t have strong cooldowns. CA is actually not a very strong cooldown in terms of total damage added per use. Incarnation might not be affected at all since it’s a talent (would be hard to balance against the other talents). Basically, without speculating too much, just noting that Balance isn’t a class with huge cooldowns so it’s hard to get value from a stat associated with them.
- Stellar Flare is looking like a nice talent. It think it will be fun to have something to cast at the Eclipse low point, and it’s a simple concept and easy to understand/use. It’s also looking quite strong with even a small spellpower coefficient (but that doesn’t mean much at this stage). My thoughts on the other two new talents are unchanged from before. Euphoria’s cycle-shortening function is hard to see a clear use for (it’s telling that they had to add a haste component to give the talent an actual DPS increase). Balance of Power (infinitely extendable DoTs) is going to be hard to make numerically attractive, and its benefit will be lost anytime you’re doing anything other than long-term Patchwerk DPS on one target.