|dombnexen||Date: Wednesday, 2018-05-02, 7:42 PM | Message # 1|
1 - Introduction
Hello everyone, and welcome to my Moonkin PvE guide!
Before I get into it, I should probably say a few things about me. I am the former Guild Master of Mutual Hatred, once the top raiding guild on Frostwolf. We were 2nd in the Molten server to down The Lich King in 25-man mode, just 4 days after his release, and continued to defeat him every week for some time. I've played World of Warcraft since Dec. 2009, during which I've almost exclusively played as a Balance Druid.
I always strive to improve my performance and I have gotten to a point where I cannot really get any better except for minor details in fight adaptations. Though this claim may sound a little audacious from my part, the truth is that I've played my Moonkin almost religiously for a very long time, and I do take a certain pride in how good I've become at performing with the fluffy little owlkin.
Please note that I no longer play the game and only very, very infrequently check this thread. However, given that everything in this guide was optimized for Patch 3.3.5a and that this is still the current patch on WotLK servers, all of the information should be accurate and up to date.
With this guide, I hope to help both new and experienced players alike. I will provide information based on both theory and my experience with the game, as well as my own Moonkin-related readings that I've done over the last years. Please keep in mind, however, that this guide will not explain simple things like "What is Starfire?", as I assume that you have some grasp over basic Druid abilities, or know how to read tooltips.
2 - Strengths & weaknesses
I think the first important step in learning a specialization is to understand one's strengths and weaknesses. By properly identifying our strengths, we can apply them to make them even more valuable. Knowing our weaknesses, on the other hand, allows us to compensate for them and sometimes avoid them entirely.
Before I get into more details, here are our main strengths and weaknesses.
- Huge arsenal of raid buffs
- Powerful burst AoE damage
Eclipse is our main weakness because it is also our main damage buff. In a raid setting, and depending on your gear, Eclipse uptime may be anywhere between 60% and 80%. The problem with Eclipse is that Blizzard has designed Moonkin DPS to be balanced around it, so that whenever we are not buffed by it, our DPS drops in comparison to the average. We need Eclipse to put our DPS on par with other classes - but not only will we often be unable to use it because of movement, we will actually lose precious seconds of the buff during movement as well. We also have nothing to do while moving to compensate for this DPS loss, except to refresh our relatively weak DoTs.
At times, you even find yourself repeatedly casting Wrath for what may seem like an eternity, unable to proc Eclipse simply out of sheer bad luck. This is a huge DPS loss. RNG influences our damage more than it does most DPSers.
On the other hand, we provide great raid buffs. Here's a list:
This enormous arsenal of raid buffs, combined with the relatively low amount of Moonkin players, makes it fairly easy for us to find a spot in guilds or PuGs.
Finally, we also have the best burst AoE damage in the game. Starfall and Hurricane, combined with Nature's Grace, grant us absolutely obscene amounts of AoE damage over 10 seconds.
3 - Talent build
Though everyone has their own playstyle and should evaluate which talents better suit them, we cannot get away from the fact that there is a top DPS build, because our playstyle has to be a certain way if we want to maximize our raid DPS. However, ideal builds differ based on the encounters (for example, pushback reduction talents are useless on Deathbringer Saurfang but a must-have on Blood-Queen Lana'Thel).
The following is the ideal all-around build. I will discuss the more controversial talents below. I also highly recommend that you work on a build of your own based on what you raid and your preferences.
General PvE build: 58/0/13
However, I would recommend this build instead if you are primarily focusing on ICC raiding:
Ideal ICC build: 56/0/15
Alternatively, there are a few other builds you may want to consider, depending on whether you want to pick up mana, AoE utility, and/or pushback talents.
We have a lot of mana talents. This is a list in order of effectiveness, from highest to lowest:
As you obtain better gear, your intellect will go up and your spirit will go down, and Dreamstate will become more powerful than Intensity. However, at that point you should be far from having mana problems. Because we receive 2% of our total mana back each time we crit while in Moonkin Form (and we crit a lot), our mana efficiency is excellent. We should never need Innervate for ourselves.
You should never spec into mana talents unless you have pre-Ulduar-level gear. If mana is an issue, Intensity is the best option.
Never neglect Omen of Clarity. It's a great mana talent for only 1 point and it procs our T10 2p bonus.
Don't waste points there. There is absolutely no reason to go 5/5 or even 2/5 into this for "more DPS." Buffing our DoTs by up to 5% is a terrible option, because they are only 10-15% of our total damage. Even in a best-case scenario, Genesis is only a 0.15% DPS increase per point. I currently have Genesis 1/5, but only because I need to spend a point somewhere to get to the next tier of talents, and the only alternative is Moonglow, which is an unnecessary mana talent.
Nature's Focus is a situational talent. You usually won't have to deal with pushback unless you stand somewhere you shouldn't. Some abilities like Bone Storm will cause constant pushback, but you can simply cast Barkskin and avoid most of it.
However, there are exceptional encounters like Festergut and Blood Queen Lana'Thel, during which there is so much pushback that all of your Wrath casts will be delayed by 1s even with Concentration Aura. Pain and Suffering also causes a lot of pushback. I'd recommend putting at least two points in Nature's Focus if you raid ICC frequently.
Many people will disregard this talent because it is assumed tanks never have threat problems in high-tier gear, and a 6-yard range increase does not seem like a clear DPS gain. However, more range is more DPS. Most fights require you to move or to switch targets (Bone Spikes, LDW adds, Volatile Oozes, etc). The DPS gained from longer range is far greater than if you dropped this talent and went into Genesis instead (the only other alternative).
Furthermore, less threat means you can burst bosses earlier or snap to newly-spawned adds with less risk of pulling aggro, which could otherwise cause a raid wipe if you didn't have the talent.
Owlkin Frenzy seems like it would be a great talent for fights during which there is a lot of AoE damage, but it is actually a really terrible PvE talent. Almost all boss AoE damage will not trigger Owlkin Frenzy, and the proc chance is too low to make it worth having for the boss abilities that do.
Typhoon is typically not necessary as it is a DPS loss to cast it between Hurricanes while AoEing. However, the pushback is extremely useful against Blood Beasts, Vile Spirits, or Blood Worms. I personally sacrificed 1 points from Imp. Insect Swarm to pick it up.
Gale Winds is situational and many will choose not to pick it up.
I personally invest 2 points in it as I can frequently make use of its bonuses in ICC. I use Typhoon on Saurfang, Dreamwalker, and Lich King, and Hurricane is a major part of my DPS on Dreamwalker. Furthermore, the only DPS alternative is Genesis. Are you going to sacrifice 30% Hurricane damage for +0.30% DPS on single-target?
I also like Gale Winds' increase on Cyclone's range. This is extremely useful on Lady Deathwhisper 25-man, where Moonkins are the best choice to Cyclone mind-controlled players. The only reason for which I could imagine not picking up Gale Winds is to make a pushback-resistance build while keeping low-DPS talents like Imp. MotW or Furor.
The top 3 DPS glyphs for Balance Druids are:
There is no getting around these. The Glyph of Insect Swarm used to be stronger than the Glyph of Starfall before Starfall was buffed in patch 3.3.3. However, Starfall's damage is now ridiculously high and it is a must to pick up the glyph for it.
Furthermore, keep in mind that Starfall isn't just useful for its damage. It also constantly procs Clearcasting and Nature's Grace, as well as mana-return from crits.
4 - Itemization
Gearing your Moonkin properly will sometimes be frustrating. Here's an example: in ICC25, there is not a single leather drop that is made for Moonkins. All caster leather drops have spirit and are thus intended for Restoration Druids. Although we do convert spirit into spellpower, it is still not as useful as haste or crit. This will often make you compete with cloth-wearers for gear, who will subsequently hate you until you remind them of your amazing auras and /dance.
These are the list of your stats from most important to least important.
- Hit rating (if below cap)
- Haste rating (if below soft cap)
- Critical strike rating (if below soft cap)
- Haste rating
- Critical strike rating
Hit rating, like for every DPS class, is the #1 damage stat until capped. It takes 26.23 hit rating to achieve 1% spell hit chance, and you have a base 17% chance to miss a ?? raid boss (+3 levels) with spells.
Balance of Power and Imp. Faerie Fire reduce your chance to miss to 10%. This means that the Moonkin hit rating cap is 10 * 26.23 = 263. With a Draenei in your group (and within your range), it drops to 237. However, this isn't likely to happen all the time. Get 263 hit rating and then focus on other stats.
Spellpower is the bread and butter of all DPS caster classes, and will always be better than your other stats (unless not hit capped). Moonkins love spellpower far more than any of the other stats listed below - get lots of it.
Haste is great and not-so-great at the same time. We don't scale very well with haste, because at 585 haste (401 w/ the Wrath of Air Totem), Wrath will have a 1.00s cast time with Nature's Grace (which, as your gear gets better, has a very high uptime).
Any amount of haste that brings down Wrath's cast time below 1.00s is wasted, because the global cooldown cannot go below 1 second. This also means that we only benefit from Heroism/Bloodlust during a Lunar Eclipse. Starfire will always benefit from haste, however.
Critical strike rating:
Crit rating becomes more valuable than haste after you are past the soft haste cap. That said, even the soft crit cap is fairly low, which is why spellpower easily surpasses all of our other stats. You reach your soft crit cap when Starfire has a 100% chance to crit during a Lunar Eclipse. To calculate this cap, first add all of your buffs/talents that increases Starfire's crit chance.
That gives a total of 54.80%. This means you will reach your soft crit cap when you have 45.20% crit chance while buffed and in Moonkin Form. Other abilities such as Focus Magic or Improved Scorch may reduce it even further.
Once you are over both the soft crit and haste caps, haste rating becomes (very slightly) more valuable than crit rating once again.
Spirit is not a terrible stat, but the other stats already mentioned easily outshine it. Imp. Moonkin Form converts 30% of our spirit into spellpower - however, this does not mean you should gear for it.
Take this example: would you rather have 100 spirit, or 100 crit rating? You can safely ignore the regeneration from spirit. You should choose the crit rating, because 100 of it will give you more damage than 30 spellpower.
Some players believe intellect is the supreme Moonkin stat, because it increases our mana pool, our regen (2% of total mana back from crits), our critical strike chance, our spellpower (12% of intel converted into spellpower), and scales with Furor (+10% intel).
However, point-for-point, intellect is very weak. It buffs our stats, but only very slightly. 1 point of intellect only increases your crit chance by 0.006%, for example. It is never better to gem intellect over another stat.
Here's the list. It's pretty straightforward: spellpower wherever you can have it.
If you're wondering about Tuskarr's Vitality: the appeal of this enchant is the run speed increase. The faster speed means getting from Point A to Point B more quickly, which means more time to DPS, or more time to avoid getting killed by something.
Gemming is also very straightforward:
About blue sockets: a Purified Dreadstone is only better than a Runed Cardinal Ruby if the socket bonus is +9 spellpower. This is because 10 spirit will be converted into 3 spellpower, giving you 12 + 9 + 3 = 24 spellpower.
However, you need at least 2 blue gems to activate your meta gem, so you should put 2 Purified Dreadstones in your two blue sockets that grant the highest spellpower bonuses. Put Runed Cardinal Rubies in the rest, unless you still have blue sockets with +9 spellpower bonuses (highly unlikely).
5 - Professions
The link I had here has expired, sadly. So instead of describing every profession I will just go over the best two: Jewelcrafting and Engineering. First, however, let me just say that it doesn't really matter what professions you get, as almost every non-gathering profession will end up giving you the equivalent of about 46 spellpower, which is what you want.
Jewelcrafting stands a little above the other professions for two reasons - first, because it gives you enormous flexibility in the stats you want; and second, because the custom gems give you more stats than other professions (for example you can get +48 spellpower from Jewelcrafting while you can only get +46 spellpower from Enchanting).
Engineering is the other "best" profession because of how well it works with Eclipse. Hyperspeed Accelerators can be activated to grant you a 340 haste boost for 12 seconds on a 1 minute cooldown. This means that you can potentially gain a haste buff every other Lunar Eclipse - this is incredibly strong and you shouldn't pass it up. You also get all of the additional perks, such as Nitro Boosts and Jeeves.
6 - Rotation
In this section, I will discuss the Balance Druid "rotation" (I will also link a video further down). I quote the word because I find that "spell priority" is a more accurate way to describe the process. The spells you will cast depend on specific factors, which I will try to explain below. The rotation itself is fairly simple:
Maintain Faerie Fire on the target, unless a Feral Druid is tanking it.
Cast Starfall on cooldown. There are a few reasons you may want to delay casting Starfall (though never by more than 5-10s):
- You would pull unwanted aggro on nearby mobs.
- You know you will be moving very soon - save it for then.
- You are expected to do AoE burst damage soon.
Cast Force of Nature on cooldown, but try to time it so that the Treants stay alive as long as possible.
Spam Wrath during Solar Eclipse, and spam Starfire during Lunar Eclipse.
Spam Wrath after leaving Solar Eclipse, and spam Starfire after leaving Lunar Eclipse, until the next Eclipse procs.
The tricky part begins when DoTs are involved. Our DoTs don't scale very well (especially Insect Swarm). When out of Eclipse, DoTs are definitely worth casting, but when in Eclipse, they are not.
The issue with deciding when DoTs are worth casting is that the global cooldown used to cast one could also have been used to cast Wrath, which may have proc-ed Eclipse - so even if the DpET (Damage per Execution Time) of a DoT might be better than an un-Eclipsed Wrath, it's still hard to gauge the potential DPS difference had the Wrath proc-ed a Lunar.
It also depends on gear. DoTs are less important at higher gear levels, but they are still quite worth it at T9 levels of gear (especially with the 2p bonus). My advice on DoT priority is the following:
- If out of Eclipse and DoTs are down: refresh DoTs.
- If in Eclipse and DoTs go down: don't refresh DoTs. Stick to Wrath/Starfire.
- If Eclipse just proc-ed and DoTs are down: refresh Insect Swarm for Solar, Moonfire for Lunar.
- If Eclipse just ended and DoTs are down: refresh IS if you just came out of Lunar, refresh MF if you just came out of Solar.
- If Eclipse just proc-ed and DoTs have 3+ seconds left on them: don't refresh DoTs. Especially if Moonfire still hasn't been extended and the Eclipse is Lunar.
I recorded a quick video showing the Moonkin rotation, which you can find here:
[WoW]3.3.5 Moonkin rotation
And here's another DPS video that I recorded randomly. My rotation is more polished and my DPS is higher in this one:
[WoW]Moonkin trinket test (RotU + PotNL)
Also, I have recorded myself in a guild ICC10! It's not a pro-raid (mostly alts), but it should show you everything you need:
- If you have haste items you can use during a fight, use them during a Lunar Eclipse. Do not ever waste them on Wrath.
- Use Barkskin when you are expecting pushback (like during Bone Storm).
7 - Best-in-slot list
Because so many people have asked, here is a Moonkin BiS list for 3.3.5.
I will not be listing armor. Not only can you find those items on your own based on your current gear needs, but armor is also incredibly easy to obtain in-game.
Getting Flare of the Heavens should most likely be at the top of your list, as it is a very strong trinket and it may take some time before you are able to replace it with a better one.
8 - Conclusion
Moonkins are awesome! We have decent DPS, great raid buffs, and we're fun to play. We're fluffy and feathery! Go Moonkins!
Comments are welcome and encouraged. I love me some Moonkin discussions. Let me know if I've made a mistake somewhere and I'll correct it. Make sure to read existing comments, especially if you're interested in Moonkin stuff. There is a lot of discussion and content to be found there, and I've tried answering all of the questions I can.