The Madness Begins! My Moonkin Overhaul

Let’s begin with the obvious, remembering a couple of things from my first post:

  • I am a big WoW enthusiast;
  • I love Moonkins over any other Druid spec;
  • The main motif of this blog is “If you were holding the steering wheel, how would you change the rules of your favorite game?”

It is quite easy to come to the conclusion that I would start messing up with the spec I play 99% of the time. From the experience I’m having on MoP Beta, I had the opportunity to think about how the spec evolved through time. It is not that long, so I think we can discuss the 3 eras shortly.

At first, we were held hostages to RNG. If you managed to crit with our 2 main nukes, we could proc the Eclipse buff. It sucked, because most of the time we could not count on it to program our spiky damage when it was needed the most.

Latter, an Eclipse Bar was introduced. With this bar, we could decide which Eclipse to pursue first, and we could slowly drag ourselves towards it, by casting spells from the opposite type (to reach Solar Eclipse, cast Starfire and vice-versa).

Now, on Mists of Pandaria Beta, the Eclipse Bar remains the same. Well, not being changed means that any good potential won’t be further explored, nor will the flaws be addressed. As an example, it was quite clear how Moonkins were shorthanded in PvP situations, when our sluggish nukes would take too long to get us on the end of the Eclipse Bar, dooming us to failure on such a fast paced environment as Arenas.

A second characteristic to be remembered about our Eclipse mechanic is how it affects our spells. As you probably know, during an Eclipse all our spells of the appropriate type receive a 25% damage buff until the bar reaches zero again. It means that Eclipse have a strong synergy with our already strong DoTs: Moonfire and its solar twin, Sunfire. This means that, in the live servers, we have to risk having seizures by keeping a close watch and deciding on the fly when to clip/refresh our DoTs. If you’ve played a Moonkin before, you know my pain.

Even worse, comes in the Solar Cleave. During Solar Eclipse, we have the opportunity to keep 2 buffed DoTs up: Insect Swarm (which is now removed from Beta servers – YAY!) and Sunfire. By spreading these DoTs on several enemies, we could reach considerable amounts of Dps. Here lies the problem: we got balanced around this fact.

Long story short: we SUCK at single target Dps, while we ROCK at AoE.

Well… What would you do, as a raid leader, if a Moonkin asked for a spot? Would you allow him in, because out of 8 fights, there are 3 where killing adds is really important? Nah… Believe me, I know.

Sadly enough, Mists of Pandaria recognized that, and the Devs first designed a solution to the problem: to rework Insect Swarm to work like Hunter’s Mark. Insect Swarm would no longer deal damage (half kills Solar Cleave) and would considerably buff the damage of our nukes. The problem, again, is balance. If we were to be competitive on the target with Insect Swarm, we would SUCK at everything else. It would represent one more global cooldown burned while changing targets. Forgetting to reapply Insect Swarm would destroy your Dps. The community roared at this possibility, and the spell is now defunct on the Beta Servers.

This makes me wonder: if they have designed our mechanics around having Insect Swarm up, upon removing the spell, some adjustments would be necessary. Or even a partial/total rework of the model. Nothing has hit Beta servers on this matter so far.

Another seemingly fix presented to us on Beta servers is the fact that our nukes, under Eclipse, refresh their appropriate DoT (i.e. Wrath refreshes Sunfire during Solar Eclipse). The nice part: we “no longer” have to worry about when to refresh our DoTs. Our nukes will take care of them. Kinda.

Now adding up the points made:

  1. We don’t have an adjustment to our gameplay model after the removal of Insect Swarm;
  2. Our DoTs are no longer our concern – let the nukes babysit them;
  3. The bar still moves sluggishly from the Sun to the Moon.

About this last issue, it is interesting to notice that Blizz added Celestial Alignment, a cooldown that gives us a fake double eclipse for a short period. In my modest opinion, I think it’s alarming how comfortable Blizz, and the player base, feels about the speed we move the Eclipse meter. The flaw on this mechanic is so obvious that, when Blizz wants to please us, we get a way to speed Solar and Lunar energy gains!

“Oh cool! Incarnate doubles my eclipse energy gains!”

“Sweet! This armor piece provides me more eclipse energy!”

We are dependant on reaching Eclipse to be on pair with other classes. Right now, we are BELOW them in Dps while not in eclipse, and in pair when we finally manage to move the meter to the little Sun or Moon. The pace in which each nuke move the Eclipse meter is also a failure in my opinion: Wrath gives us 13 out of 100 energy, Starsurge provides 15, Starfire provides 20. This is food to Theorycrafters, always avid to math out when should we cast Starsurge instead of one of the other 2 nukes. Do you guys know how confusing this is, if we think of the reasoning behing the new talent system overhaul?

The new talent system was designed to kill theorycrafting, because theorycrafting leads to cookie cutter specs. By comparison, adding this uneven energy gain directs us to pray and hope for the right amount and timing of Starsurge procs to reach the optimal, calculated, rotation. It is quite a paradox on the Mists of Pandaria game design philosophy, as far as I understand it.

Well, what would I do? Let us begin the crazy talk, shall we?

  1. Even Wrath and Starfire Eclipse energy gains. Let the proc on Starsurge make the number of casts more unpredictable. If needed, make the casting time similar as well.
  2. Kill or fully redesign our DoTs. They’ve done nothing but making our feathers turn prematurely white and nerf us to the ground due to Solar Cleave. If Blizz wants something with good synergy with the Eclipse swing, I’ll give you something below.
  3. If Blizz wants the “this is your main target, kill it first” model it attempted with Insect Swarm, do it without messing with Dps output – it leads inexorably to imbalance. Put down 2 Insect Swarm-like spells, and make them in such a way they turn the life of their targets a living hell.

Utility, you say? Not quite, but almost. Let me try an example:

(Don’t pay attention to values, durations, etc.)

———————-

Solar Beam

Reworked. Targets within the area will get (blind/silenced/knocked down/etc) if hit by Wrath. Lasts 20 sec.

Faerie Fire (don’t hate me)

Reworked. In addition to its current effects, Faerie Fire consumes Rage, Energy, Focus, Runic Power and Mana every time the target is hit by Starfire. Lasts 20 sec.

———————-

This is the point where you ask: what is the point? It won’t make me do more Dps during boss fights.

It will do. Devs won’t be afraid of you DoTing one bazillion adds and going crazy on crits. But it would still remain priceless against adds in boss fights. Your nukes will not be balanced around your DoTs. This is heaven.

What about the nukes? Here comes reaching Solar and Lunar Eclipse.

I would still be conservative about making Eclipse to buff our nukes. By doing so, we fall in the trap of sucking outside of Eclipse, and also on the dead-end of only receiving “get more Eclipse energy” kinda reward from talents, glyphs, tier bonuses, etc. I would like better something along the lines of:

———————-

Eclipse (Solar): your Wrath spell apply Sunfire effect on its target. Sunfire deals X% of Wrath maximum damage over 5 secs. This effect stacks. Mastery increases X by Y.

Eclipse (Lunar): your Starfire spell apply Moonfire effect on its target. Moonfire deals X% of Starfire maximum damage over 5 secs. This effect stacks. Mastery increases X by Y.

———————-

There are our DoTs again! If we are not to worry about it, why make us apply it once at the beginning of Eclipse? Notice that this Moonfire and Sunfire can crit and proc Starsurge.

So we would have a “rotation” like this:

Faerie Fire, screw the target with Starfire. Reach Solar Eclipse. Solar Beam for the annoyance, Wrath with stacks of Sunfire. All the way back, but this time, Starfire will get stacks of Moonfire as well.

We only have one quick escalation time: the first Eclipse cycle. From this point forward, it is a steady Dps rotation, with some increased output on the main target through passive DoTs we don’t have to watch or worry. Starsurge and Celestial Alignment (if we decide to keep it) would bring up versatility and fun, either by being a bit random or by the control it provides.

On quick scenarios like arenas, we have potent nukes that are not balanced under the shadow of the Solar Cleave colossus. We won’t have sluggish casts like the current Starfire. We would have utility backed in by Solar Beam and Faerie Fire that would enhance our survivability.

Of course this model probably has numerous faults. This is of course normal. But I hope that the way I feel deep inside my Moonkin innards that drove me while writing remain clear:

We cannot be balanced around multi-dotting.

We need strong nukes.

We need an agile Eclipse bar.

We don’t need to babysit DoTs like crazy.

We got to have more to look forward besides “provides more Eclipse energy”.

What would you do?

-FakeGameDesigner

P.S.: I might (and probably will) edit it latter looking for typos and adding images to the wall of text.

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Here is fakegamedesign!

Hey guys. My name is Bruno, and I’ll introduce you to the fakegamedesign blog!

The name is plain straight forward. I am no game designer, but as an addict to World of Warcraft and tabletop RPGs, I’ve always wished I could tinker with the game rules a little bit. I hope to find readers who feel the same way and unleash our collective creative efforts!

If this blog works as I planned, it will be a fire starter on healthy and constructive discussions about game design. We might not work for game companies, but we do play their products, and with a little luck and time I certainly hope to make gamers and game companies to understand each other more and more.

It is hard to simply nod and swallow game design decisions we don’t understand, decisions who were a result of a process we also don’t fully participate or comprehend. In this matter, I’m currently reading some books about game design to act as a devil’s advocate. But rest assured that my opinions will always be of a passionate gamer who wish he had the steering wheel for a minute.

I hope we accomplish great things together, even if it’s unlikely they will ever see daylight. It holds incredible importance, however, to express how we feel about things. It is the first step to make our opinions heard and to change the world.

Even a virtual world. 😉

Hope to hear a lot from you all.

– Fakegamedesigner