The 6.0 Moonkin, Second Look

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.

Updates

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.

Eclipse

DoTs

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.

Sunfire

Starsurge

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.

Miscelleneous

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.

21 thoughts on “The 6.0 Moonkin, Second Look

  1. What does your spreadsheet say about the value of Mastery with the new rotation? I would expect there to be a jump, but I wonder what you see.

    • You can download it from the EJ link above, but it’s generally even with crit/multistrike (which are all a bit below haste). This is after reduced the conversion from 1.875% per point to 1.5% (based on the patch notes listing the baseline mastery bonus at 12% rather than its current 15%).

      This may still vary a lot though–mastery is hardest part of the rotation to model due to its time-dependent benefit, and may fluctuate with any various rotation tweaks that continue to be introduced.

  2. Mastery also has the added issue of being part of our snapshot mechanic, thus can be greatly inflated by a trinket proc.

    Perma-Mastery is how much Mastery you have on your gear.
    Temp-Mastery is…well…procs and stuff, obviously.
    P + T = Eclipse Bonus

    You simply reformulate all spells to include “P” and “T” where “P” snapshots the current Eclipse value (100 = 30%, baseline; 0 = 15%, baseline) — refer to the chart in the article.
    Moonfire = SP * (P + T / [MasteryRatio]) —- converting raw mastery back into a percentage.

    Then you can make DOTs update dynamically — which they already do. The “P” value is stored within the spell data.

    • I actually have looked into this some (forgot to put it in the post), and generally think it’s unlikely to be an problem.

      Even if mastery is fully snapshotted (in addition to Eclipse energy), you can only take particular advantage of that if you can regularly snapshot DoTs with both a mastery proc and a high Eclipse % at the same time. But since we don’t have control over the latter, mastery procs will, for the most part, not occur during Eclipse peaks. So you’ll infrequently get to use the proc to produce a much bigger DoT than usual (remember, usually with Moonfire you get 100% Eclipse bonus with 100% uptime to begin with).

      It’s a little different with a Use trinket that you control, but I doubt we’ll see too many Use trinkets that happen to have exactly a 40 second cooldown or just under that.

      • The window is 5sec for maximum bonus. There’s a lot of ways to game Mastery bonuses. (We still have CA and AC to help time things with ICD trinkets). And RPPM makes it very possible to get lucky strings of refreshes (mostly because it’s towards the end; of course, this depends on the frequency.

        Whether or not it’s a problem, I don’t think it’s an intended goal. (Considering they’ve done away with most snapshot mechanics.)

        • It’s not intended to game mastery, it’s just that “fixing” it is complicated and will introduce an unintuitive mechanic (similar to what you describe). So it’s not worth doing if there’s little reason to think the proc mastery will perform much better than average passive mastery. The possibility of lucky events doesn’t mean that, that’s always true with a proc.

      • I think Cyous has a valid point:
        It’s not about taking an advantage as you currently would with DoT snapshotting but rather devalueing mastery proccs for balance druid because it is the only mechanic left in the game that will snapshot.
        By snapshotting the value of the sine wave and letting the DoTs tick for the current mastery value corresponding to that sine wave level, this oddity is gone and mastery proccs won’t loose some of their value due to an “outdated” mechanic.

  3. One thought about Readiness: Celestalon has said (not in reference to balance druids, just as a general thing) that the stat can be tuned in a number of ways for each spec. So even though a spec doesn’t have major cooldowns, they can have Readiness affect more things or have it affect certain abilities more than for other specs (maybe balance cooldowns recover more rapidly for the same amount of Readiness).

    • Yup, they could definitely do spec-specific readiness like they do for Mastery (where did he say that, by the way?).

      It’s still a tricky issue for us regardless due to the Incarnation problem. Having it affect Incarnation will make the Incarnation/Readiness synergy stronger than you want for a talent, but not having it affect Incarnation will desync Incarnation from CA and potentially make either Incarnation really bad or Readiness really bad.

      • I saw it a couple times on his Twitter feed.

        Here’s a good quote from him:
        ——————————————————————————————
        The number of abilities affected by Readiness will vary by spec (will be listed in spellbook, like Mastery). Coefficient likely to vary too.
        ——————————————————————————————

        https://twitter.com/Celestalon/status/403619951409233920

  4. I am really bummed out by the 40s eclipse cycle. It is nice that they gave us a plateau at either tops, but this makes the rotation even longer, leading to further hardships on double-dotting.
    I personally am not too happy about loosing the separate button for our two dots. I believe the ability to instantly double-dot (especially during PVP, and to a lesser extent during questing, soloing old content, or even during mini-add-bursts) is something that we will miss. Regarding PVP, as I said before, the threat (and power) of dispels is constantly being ignored. Since our dots are freakishly long (40/52 sec for moonfire is kind of crazy), losing one of them for 20 seconds will be a huge dps loss (even greater now with the longer cycle times). I would, if I could, lobby for getting back both buttons (it is telling how they wanted to go 1-button an expansion ago, but blessedly they came back to the 2-button approach before launch).

    I also share Hamlet’s concern about the solar-timing weirdness. I am a lot less troubled by that than the 1-dot-button, but it does make boomkin one of the least intuitive classes to play (it will be practically impossible for someone who does not read EJ/here to figure out optimal dot-refresh without addons, which goes 100% against the declared design goal). Few ways to fix it could be:
    (1) making “pandemic” extend the dot snapshot if it is higher than currently (potentially making the class too easy to play/need rebalancing around the assumption of fully empowered dots all the time, making us even weaker against dispels)
    (2) making pandemic extend the dot snapshot no matter what (even if it is weaker than the current eclipse state); this would make it really hard to recover from a poorly executed dot, plus potentially needing balancing around fully powered dots again, making us even x 2 weaker against dispels
    (3) making Starsurge extend both dots by X seconds (ideally, by 3-4 seconds, meaning that the 1 lunar SS would push the fully buffed sunfire to last exactly until we enter Solar again)
    (4) making Faerie Fire extend dot durations by, say 6 seconds (would be an interesting gameplay mechanic, giving up current damage for later damage PLUS a solution to our movement problems, I am liking this idea the more I think about it) (5) Give our two dots back! Then we could use fully powered Sunfires at the peak, and prop it up with a superweak sunfire at the end of lunar.

    I have a slight concern about stellar flare (even though I know I will take it, the more dots the happier boomkin I am :)), is that the 1.5sec cast time will make it again really hard to time — again, we will need an addon that yells at us 1.5 secs before the middle state…)

    • It’s worth thinking about the 1-button thing more. It’s tricky because saving a button is a pretty big deal, so if there’s a way to avoid frustrations with something like multidotting, it’s worth it.

      I’m not too worried about Stellar Flare. Its bonus is pretty flat near the center, much like Moonfire is at the peak (even before they added the pause).

  5. Maybe it’s only me, but I actually do not like the fact that Starsurge was made instant. Sure, instant cast spells are handy, but there are as I see it two major problems with the implementation.

    The first being what was mentioned in the article, half the benefit (or more) to Starsurge will be to buff other spells. Using it purely for movement likely either waste the buff on weak spells or forces you to overwrite it completely with more saved up starsurges, so it will not be a great use for movement anyway.

    The second problem is the GCD. You will want to use as many spells as close to the peak as possible. Instant starsurge work against that. Eclipse bonus have to be calculated at the launch of a spell to not give odd behaviours. This mean that an instant starsurge will be used 1.5 sec (modified by haste) earlier then it would be if it was casted, granting it a lesser eclipse bonus at no other benefit. Casted starsurge could with some haste be fitted to hit at the peak of lunar along with 2 buffed starfires -and- a moonfire. Instant have to be used 1.5 sec of-phase, which ruduces eclipse bonus to 91% of maximum. Even if you get more haste to fit it the spells in, the only time an instant starsurge will ever be beneficial (outside of movement), is if your eclipse is reducing. In which case it would be a bad time to use it anyway, as you will cast even weaker spells following it.

    To summarize, the only possible gain of an instant starsurge is for movement, where it is also a poor thing to use. I rather have another way to deal with movement then my main spell that is to bring skill to the spec. I wouldn’t be surprised go-to strategy is to only use starsurges during movement if you would otherwise cap them.

    • Well to bring up the PVP perspective again, I have to disagree. The instant starsurges do give us SOME burst potential (even if it is really expensive in the long run), maybe we’ll have a chance of finishing a healer at times? Sure, it is a lot weaker than a hardcast SS+Starfire+proc SS, but it is easier to plan for this burst (both offensively and defensively).

      • Empowered Owlkin Frenzy will already make the next spell, damage or heal, instant when it procs (15% chance when damaged). You also have a second instant heal if you pick DoC. That along with the statement that they want all casters to use less instants in PvP will probably mean that it is preferable to go back to the old moonkin playstyle in PvP. Tank damage and try to get distance, then nuke them.

        Traveltime instants are bad for burst damage too. You can layer it right after a wrath, but that won’t give a big burst, and following that you have a minimum of 3 seconds for the next non-instant spell. If you mean bursting by chaining multiple SS, that will deal the same damage as if it was casted over time.
        Keeping it casted would let you start a starsurge, and as it travel (1 second traveltime) start a buffed starfire. A short time after it lands, the starfire hits, leading to some nice burst. If it would be instant, that “burst” would be spread out by 1 GCD more.

        The only gain is if that one instant starsurge right now would finnish someone, else it’s a loss. Do you think that specifik situation is worth the loss? I don’t think so, not for PvE, nor for PvP. Keeping it casted allow for more depth of play with more planning and setting up bursts.

        • Well to be fair we are kind of shot for PVP as it is… can you imagine trying to set up a kill in Arena… and now you not only have to track the opponents’ trinkets and DRs and CDs, and keep good communication with your own teammate, but you also have to set the kill window up close to the peak of balance power…

          I think instant SS will help with kills because when the moment comes, we are harder to shut down. We can chase after the pesky disengaging hunter, the mistweaver that just rolled away etc.

          But I see your point, the PEAK burst that we can achieve might go down a little.

    • Starsurge being instant isn’t bad for movement DPS purposes; it just might not be very good. It’s good to at least have the option. It’s a loss to SS at an odd time, but having a loss when moving is normal. I’m more concerned about having no option for when you have to move for more than 1 GCD.

      You’re right that it’s worth looking into whether movement SSs will even be worth doing. Probably yes though–0 DPS for a GCD is a pretty big loss.

      Moving SS casts slightly away from the peak because they’re instant is a very tiny DPS loss. It’s also partially canceled out because when you SS after the peak (using multiple SS during one phase), it moves closer to the peak.

      • Do you know exactely how SS will function in relation to the buffs? Will casting it during lunar boost your next two SF only, or will it boost either two starfire or three wraths? Can you choose one whichever nuke and that consumes the other one too?

        Even with 40 sec cycle time, the time from the end of the peak to the end of lunar is only 6.3 seconds. That doesn’t even fit in an instant SS after the peak before moderate amounts of haste. And since you ideally have 2xSF and a moonfire centered on the peak. Assuming you cast the moonfire at the last moment of the peak, you leave the peak during the GCD from the moonfire, meaning 2 GCD and 2 starfires in a 6.3 sec window to not go into solar region. That requires 43% haste. And let’s not even mention Stellar Flare that you want at the border of lunar and solar.

        All those effects makes it seem to me that you probably won’t use any starsurges going down from the peak other then to prevent capping charges. My guess is that you may use SS going up to and at the peak, but rarely after. Which probably wouldn’t happen before an avarage of 4 charges a cycle.

        I think it’s a really interesting concept though, with many small tricks to it that you could perfect. No idea how it would feel though.

        • I think you’re right that if you SS after the midpoint, it will still be during the peak, not during the decline. If you use two Starsurges during a Lunar, you’ll probably SS-SF-SF-MF-SS-SF-SF, with the middle three spells during the peak. My overall point’s still true though, that shifting the upwards Starsurge 1 GCD back isn’t a big deal for total DPS.

          I’m pretty sure SS gives either a Lunar or Solar Empowerment buff, depending on what phase you’re in when you cast it. So you’re right, casting it near the end of a phase is a problem. Should think about that more–it could be awkward if charges appear at bad times.

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