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[Balance] WoD Alpha Notes Discussion

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We finally have Balance changes! Here are the updates and my thoughts. Read them over and tell me what you think about them. Let's have a discussion!



Summary of changes to Balance:

  • Balance Energy is a bar that automatically cycles back and forth between Lunar and Solar sides, like night and day. The closer to one end that the bar is, the more damage that side's spells do.
  • Balance Druids now have four rotational spells.
    • Starfire: Lunar direct damage spell
      • Cast when the Lunar side is stronger
    • Wrath: Solar direct damage spell
      • Cast when the Solar side is stronger
    • Moonfire: Lunar periodic damage spell. While closer to Solar, this button is replaced with Sunfire, a Solar periodic damage spell.
      • Maintain both effects where possible
    • Starsurge: Direct damage spell that benefits from whichever side is stronger. Has up to 3 charges, and buffs the damage of the next few Wraths or Starfires.
      • Cast when able to follow up with a few strong Wraths or Starfires.

That's the basics of the new Moonkin rotation. There’s room for improvement beyond that, learning to optimally maintain both periodic damage effects with the strongest Eclipse effect, timing Starsurges to optimize the benefit of its buff, make use of Starfall and Hurricane for area damage, and taking advantage of the strengths of each side (such as Moonfire and Sunfire having significant differences now). Here are the full details of the changes.

  • Balance Energy system has been redesigned. Balance Energy is a bar that cycles back and forth between Lunar and Solar sides, like night and day, with a 30 second cycle time (from Lunar to Solar and back to Lunar).
    • Balance Energy is no longer generated through spells, talents, or other effects anymore.
  • Eclipse has been redesigned.
    • Eclipse inspires the Druid with the power of the moon and the sun, causing the damage of Lunar and Solar spells to be increased by up to 30% based on how close Balance Energy levels are to the appropriate side.
      • Example: With 0 Balance Energy, the damage bonus is evenly split between Lunar and Solar, and the Druid receives a 15% increase to damage for both spell types. With 80 Solar Energy, the Druid receives a 27% damage increase to Solar spells and a 3% damage increase to Lunar spells.
    • Mastery: Total Eclipse now increases the maximum damage bonus of Eclipse by 12% (increasing with Mastery).
  • Starfire now has a 3 second cast time (up from 2.7 seconds).
  • Moonfire now has a 16 second base duration (up from 14 seconds), but is no longer extended by Starfire and Starsurge critical strikes.
  • Sunfire now has a 16 second duration (up from 14 seconds), but is no longer extended by Wrath and Starsurge critical strikes. Additionally, Sunfire is no longer its own spell. Sunfire replaces Moonfire on the action bar whenever Balance Energy is on the Solar side. Enemies may still suffer from both Moonfire and Sunfire’s periodic damage components simultaneously.
  • Lunar Shower has been redesigned and renamed Astral Showers.
    • Astral Showers calls upon greater Lunar and Solar energy to permanently empower the Druid's Moonfire and Sunfire spells.
      • Moonfire's initial damage is increased by 100%, and the duration of its periodic damage effect is increased by 100%.
      • Sunfire's initial damage is increased by 100%, and its periodic damage effect is now applied to all enemies within 5 yards of the target.
  • Starsurge now has 3 charges and a 30 second recharge time (instead of a 15 second cooldown). Starsurge now also grants Lunar or Solar Empowerment.
    • Lunar Empowerment causes the next 2 Starfires to deal 30% more damage.
    • Solar Empowerment causes the next 3 Wraths to deal 30% more damage.
  • Starfall now shares charges with Starsurge, and has no cooldown of its own. It also now hits all nearby enemies (up from 2 nearby enemies).
  • Shooting Stars now adds 1 full charge of Starsurge and Starfall when it triggers, and now has a 2.5% chance to trigger on Moonfire and Sunfire periodic damage. This chance is doubled on critical strikes.
  • Hurricane's range has been increased to 35 yards (up from 30 yards).
  • Astral Storm has been removed.
  • Wild Mushroom (Balance) now begins snaring enemies immediately when summoned, lasts 20 seconds, and can no longer be detonated to deal damage.
    • Wild Mushroom: Detonate has been removed.
  • Celestial Alignment has been redesigned.
    • Celestial Alignment causes the Druid to enter Celestial Alignment, a state where Balance Energy cycle is paused, and all Lunar and Solar spells benefit from the maximum Eclipse bonus. Lasts 15 seconds with a 3 minute cooldown.
  • Astral Communion now increases the rate that Balance Energy cycles by 300% while channeled.
  • Euphoria has been removed.
  • Insect Swarm has been redesigned and renamed Stellar Flare.
    • Stellar Flare is a powerful spell benefitting from both Lunar and Solar Eclipses, dealing the most damage when they are equal. Burns the target for Spellstorm damage and cause additional damage over 15 seconds. The ability has a cast time of 1.5 seconds.
  • Soul of the Forest (Balance) has been redesigned.
    • Soul of the Forest (Balance) now increases the damage bonus from Lunar and Solar Empowerment by an additional 30%.
  • Equinox has been replaced with a new talent, Balance of Power.
    • Balance of Power causes Wrath to extend the duration of Sunfire by 4 seconds and Starfire to extend the duration of Moonfire by 6 seconds.
  • Sunfall has been replaced with a new talent, Euphoria.
    • Euphoria grants the Druid a deeper connection to the stars, causing Balance Energy to cycle 50% faster. Additionally, Starsurge also grants 20% Haste for 6 seconds.
  • Several Glyphs and Draenor Perks will be redesigned in a future build, and so are currently TBD.
    • Glyph of Omens
    • Glyph of Sudden Eclipse
    • Empowered Starfall
    • Enhanced Mushrooms
    • Enhanced Starsurge
    • Enhanced Storms


To summarize the important stuff:


No more Eclipses, we simply have more bonus damage for our lunar/solar spells the more lunar/solar energy we have. We now automatically gain and loose energy on a timer rather than by casting spells. At 100 lunar/solar energy, we get +30% lunar/solar damage. At 0, we get +15% to both.


Mastery increases this total +30%.  Celestial Alignment freezes our energy bar and gives us the full 100-energy bonus to both schools. Astral Communion speeds up our energy bar to 4x rate (so, going from one max to the next in 3.75 seconds).


Moonfire and Sunfire share a button just like in Cata, and are active while you have their respective energies. Moonfire will hit harder for single target, while Sunfire will apply itself to everything in 5 yards. They last for 16 seconds and are no longer extended by Starsurge.


Starsurge now is now on a 3-charge system with a 30-second recharge rate. Every use gives a buff (depending on energy) to increase our next 2 Starfires or 3 Wraths by 30%. SotF will now increase this buff to 60%.


Starsurge charges are shared with Starfall, and it will hit all nearby enemies.


Shooting Stars now has a flat 2.5% chance on Moonfire/Sunfire tick to give us an extra charge of Starsurge, 5% on crit.


Level 100 talents are totally revamped with some nice options.


No more Astral Storm. No more worrying about mushroom for damage; they'll simply be AoE snares now.


My thoughts:


So, their goal was to make the spec quick to pick up but hard to max out. I think they've hit it on the head here.


Without being able to theorycraft with some tuned numbers yet (waiting for beta), it's looking like we'll play it as so:


Apply Moonfire/Sunfire as soon as available (when crossing 0 energy threshold), and reapply right before they become unavailable (right before 0 energy threshold). This will be how we keep 100% uptime on both of them. Remember that without snapshotting they will update dynamically, so it is okay for us to be casting them when they have only the +15% damage and not the full +30% damage.


Spend Starsurge charges with Celestial Alignment and/or trinkets depending on how they're lining up. Celestial Alignment will likely be a priority since we'll have the full +30% on both spells. We'll want to chain Starsurge>Starfire>Starfire>Starsurge>Starfire>Starfire,etc. assuming Starfire DPET>Wrath DPET still. With Starfire going to 3-second base cast time, if Wrath ends up with a higher DPET, you'll follow every Starsurge with three Wraths.


Otherwise, keep Starsurge at 2 charges. When we get Shooting Stars to put us at three, spend down to 2 again. Otherwise spam starfire/wrath.


That's pretty simple to start with, but learning when to dump Starsurges to burst will be where we see the separation between great players and okay players. We'll have to see how the new level 100 talents play out, as they'll add another layer of complexity here.


Speak of Level 100 talents:


Balance of Power will be the easy choice for beginning players, trivializing DoT uptimes. I also can see this as being our go-to for multi-target fights where we'll be able to just extend duration of our DoTs on each target by simply cycling though while we spam our fillers.


Stellar Flare is looking fun - a new DoT you'll want to get cast exactly at 0 energy (so starting cast 1.5sec earlier) to get the full power on it every time you're cycling back and forth. This will smooth out our DPS output a bit more, I think, by giving us something to do when our bonus damage from Eclipse energy is weakening.


Euphoria will simply make our energy cycle 50% faster (from one end to the other in 10 seconds instead of 15) and add a short haste buff to our Starsurges. Given the rework to Soul of the Forest, I'm willing to bet this will be the single-target champion when taken together for advanced players that can take good advantage of the spec.


I'm really digging a few things. First, we'll have more control over our output with Starsurge. If we need to kill something quickly, right now, we have to hope for Shooting Stars to proc and hope we're in an Eclipse.  The new setup will be easier to control. We'll be able to simply Starsurge and spam a few beefed-up spells following it.


We can multi-dot all we want! We also won't have to worry about the dilemma between multi-dotting or cycling through Eclipses. The cycle will happen without us doing anything special, we'll be free to throw up some extra DoTs. 


We'll have controllable, reliable ability to start bursting AoE. If there's a lot of adds that need nuking, we can simply give up a Starsurge charge to drop a Starfall on things. If we happen to be in the solar part of the cycle, say hello 5-yard cleave application of Sunfire.


We won't be so ridiculous when it comes to gear scaling. Our problems right now are that we're really weak with no gear and pretty sweet with tons of gear. As we go from a meager 20% crit in weak gear to a nicer 45% crit with good gear, our average likelihood of proccing SS goes from 6% to 13.5% chance on tick. Going from 20% to 45% will now only take us from an average 3% to 3.6%.


I'm actually pretty excited to get in and play around and see how our stats will play out now. Give us beta, already! Okay, wait. Get some tuning in on this, and then give us beat, already!

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The only thing that I'm not sure about is the casting moonfire/sunfire at 0 energy.  Some things will retain snapshotting and iirc, eclipse %damage was part of that.  Now that the % increases with time, I would think they would want you applying it at the highest potential %damage instead of having to re-apply it constantly.

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Didn't they say in a previous pacth that balance dots (MF/SF) will hold the Eclipse damage for the duration? (so basically the bonus damage was the only snapshot)

Or did that change now with these changes?

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I'm assuming that anything written previously doesn't count since they've now given us big changes that they hadn't been looking at before, but that's definitely something to try to find out if possible. My wager is that the snapshotting wouldn't be a thing, because hitting each as soon as it's available at 0 and right beore it becomes unavailable again at 0 will be the only way to have 100% uptime, which you'll want or Shooting Stars. Even with the reduced proc chance, we'll still want to get as many of as we can.


If they gave us snapshotting or Eclipse damage, maximizing DoT damage while keeping 100% uptime would mean casting them around 0, and then casting the empowered one at 100, then casting them around 0 again. But, clipping DoTs early like that is going to lead to loss of DPET which will lead to a loss of DPS as a whole. The only way I could see it viable to do the reapplication at 100 would be to sacrifice 20% uptime and only do it at 100 with the Euphoria build for 20-second long total cycle. You'll be hitting it every 20 seconds at 100 of its energy with 16 second duration.


Again, going on a lack of information, but I can't see the logic in working another way.

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Confirmation via Celestalon tweets: Moonfire and Sunfire WILL still snapshot Eclipse. Eclipse bonus will not be linear, it will be somewhat sinusoidal, meaning the difference between 0 to 10 or 0 to 20 will be much less than 90 to 100 and 80 to 100. He also said they're still working on the idea of going for 100% uptime rather than damage.


Also, bigger information: 30 seconds after leaving combat, our Eclipse bar will freeze at 0 and upon entering combat will progress towards lunar first. This is one of the things I was really worried about them coming up with so we can be consistent in our opener.

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You should link it here or quote any big highlights we've overlooked so we can get more discussion here. I'm really excited about all of this.

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there's his blog.


This is a graph he made that shows the differences between the old and new eclipse mechanics





I like his thoughts on AoE, since that was one of the biggest problems with boomkins.



Even though Starsurge and its new buff are single-target effects only, you actually have a choice of how to spend each charge: you can spend it on Starsurge or on Starfall. Starfall will now be a true AoE spell again, and it won’t be used on a single target, because Starsurge will be a better use on a single target. The AoE system is much richer though, when you have to choose how to pool and spend charges on Starfalls at important AoE moments. This may affect your single-target rotation planning as well, if you hold off on casting Starsurge in order to build up Starfall charges in advance.


Aside from Starfalls, AoE is done using Hurricane and potentially multi-dotting (Wild Mushroom no longer does damage). A lot of math will have to be done on the details of multi-dotting, now that 1) Shooting Stars procs will give extra Starfall casts and 2) the Sunfire DoT has an AoE effect.


The lack of Eclipse control over AoE may still be a problem as it is now, especially since Starfall is only buffed by Lunar. It’s possible the idea is that, since Starfall is buffed by Lunar, while Hurricane and Sunfire are buffed by Solar, AoE damage winds up roughly even regardless of where you were in the cycle. This is something to keep an eye on as we start playing with the class. If AoE damage is roughly balanced between Nature and Arcae (i.e. around 50% of it is Starfall), this should work out about right, but that balance will vary since Starfall use won’t always be totally consistent. At any rate, the situation will be much better than it is now due to the absence of Nature’s Grace.



Basically since they put starsurge on a charge system where it shares charges with starfall, this is the key change to AoE and single target.  But, since starfall is only affected in lunar, they need to keep the current trend of solar being the AoE eclipse, since it moves by itself.  So Sunfire is an AoE dot along with hurricane/astral storm, and now starfall on a charge system.

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I think he undervalues the charge system or Starsurges and the control it will give us over our burst. We won't be Destro warlocks, but we'll be much more able to react to trinket procs to dump our damage than we are now. 


I'm still not sold on the Moonfire/Sunfire at peak idea he's for, either. I'll have to wait until beta access when spells and mechanics will have some degree of tuning to really play around. I can see making the choice if you're taking Euphoria, but I'm not sure about the others. Celestalon indicated they're emphasizing uptime rather than damage. Snapshotting would mean either sacrificing uptime or re-casting so frequently that the value of the cast and snapshot is completely lost.


The most snapshotting we'll be able to do and maintain that uptime is 30% of the duration early (remember Warlocks' Pandemic is becoming a baseline mechanic for all of us at 30%), meaning about 4.5 seconds early. To do this, we'd still have to re-apply the DoT as soon as it becomes available at 0, and then hit it at about 4.5 seconds left, or about 55-60 energy on the down swing. If the energy pattern follows a true sinusoidal curve with a period of 30 seconds, that would give us about 90% of our damage bonus for ~20 of every 30 seconds, with 50% filling in the remaining ~10. Trying to hit the peak will simply cost us uptime, meaning possibly losing Shooting Stars procs, and interfere with people able to use our Starsurge + Starfire/Wrath nuke sequence at/around the peak.

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More new stuff: Starsurge is going to 1.5sec cast with a possibility of instant cast.


We may get a glyph to swap Hurricane/Starfall to Astral Storm/Sunfall, respectively (one glyph does both).


Also, I've worked a little basic math. 


Since we're getting the 30% version of Pandemic, the way refreshing our DoTs will now work is this (TLDR at the end):


Say we refresh Moonfire with 7.5 seconds left, at its base tick speed of 2 seconds (16 second maximum duration). The next tick is in 1.5 seconds, and we'll get that at current strength. We'll add the new 16 seconds to what will then be 6 seconds remaining after that tick, for a total of 22 seconds. 130% of the base duration is 20.8 seconds, so we'll lose that 1.2 seconds. At the very instant of our refreshing, we'll see 22.3 seconds left (1.5+20.8), and we'll get one more tick at the original strength, 10 ticks at our new strength (calculated now, not when the new strength takes over after the new tick), and 40% of a tick (0.8 seconds worth of a DoT that ticks at 2.0 second intervals) at the new strength at the very end.


Now, our DoT speed is affected by haste, and every time there's an odd amount of time left over at the end (say we hit 33.33% haste and get to a 1.50 second tick speed), we'll get a partial tick for that (so, 1.5*10=15 seconds, 1 second left over so we'll see 1/1.5 = two-thirds of a tick added at the end).


Our options are like this: If cast our DoTs as soon as available and right at the peak 7.5 seconds later at 100 energy, we'll see 28.8 seconds per 30-second cycle. If we wait until we're within 30%, it means we're refreshing between the 5th and 6th ticks, and we'll add the 16 seconds to the 4 remaining after the 6th tick and see 32 seconds per cycle. So, we have to refresh earlier. We can either go back and get it after the fourth tick (as we would if we're hitting the peak) or the fifth tick.


I'll spare everyone all the numbers, but it's about 1-2% better to have the refresh at the 5th tick instead of at the peak and have 93%-95% of our Eclipse Damage (depending on where in that 2-second window between ticks that we refresh) on our DoTs for most of the duration. and not lose any uptime (the 96% we'd see from freshing at the peak is good, but not as good as having 100%). This is before accounting for the lost chance for a Shooting Stars proc.


But, it also offers us other benefits. What benefits, you ask? The benefits of being able to drop a Starsurge and nuke the boss closer to the peak without having to interrupt it for our DoTs. We'll see 1-2% more damage on our DoTs this way, AND see the added benefit of surrounding the peak of our Eclipse bonus damage with nuke spells.


Due to the way haste will affect our tick times, this "sweet spot" will change slightly. As our tick speed changes, exactly where the optimal point to refresh is will change, but you'll want to look for whichever point in your DoT ticking puts you you about 9.5-10 seconds in. Once you go past 10, you're going to start seeing that 1-2% become 0% and become a loss. Basically, aim for 2-2.5 seconds after peak if you can for refreshing.


TLDR: I did some math, and the new DoT mechanics make it 1-2% better to refresh DoTs about 2-2.5 seconds after 100 energy without accounting for other spells benefiting from extra Eclipse damage in their place at the peaks.

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More stuff I missed in the last couple of days while working:


Extending to 40-second cycle from 30-second (Euphoria will still go down to 20-seconds).


We're going to have a modified sine wave for energy bonus. Essentially, they're making the sine curve steeper an flattening the top part. Instead of going from 100% of one eclipse bonus to 100% of the other, it'll cap at 100% of our eclipse bonus damage but the sine curve will follow as if it went from 110% to 110%.


Pictures a worth a thousand words, so... the light, faded blue and yellow curves were lunar/solar bonus damage in the original changes. The darker, bolder blue and yellow curves are lunar/solar bonus damage in the new changes.



Looks like they're also going with instant cast for Starsurge now, which will mean a little more mobility for us to counteract how much we're losing in constant SS procs now.

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So, now with Alpha info...


Eclipse bonus is linear with your energy, and energy is gained sinusoidally. It's a sine curve with an amplitude of 110 that caps at 100. Doesn't change much (that graph is still roughly correct), but it's just a weird way of implementing it, IMO.

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