Wednesday, October 13, 2010

[Druid] 4.0.1 Live Moonkin Impression

First things first. I have much love for Skywall Horde, and for the fantastic server shut down party we held in the Alliance inn in Dalaran. I also have love for the Alliance moonkin who joined us in all the dancing and merriment. It just goes to show that you can't be an angry person and play a moonkin. There's too much goodwill to be found among those who would play something as silly as a magic-using owlbear.

So, I got into WoW late last night after the long patch install process finished. My first stop was the auction house, to pick up any glyphs I could not obtain yesterday. But no luck. Everyone was gouging. Fortunately the guild bank was well loaded and I got almost everything I needed there. I just need a Glyph of Wrath now and I'll be in business.

For level 80 raiding I selected a 31/0/5 spec. As with all Cataclysm specs, it's more notable what I didn't take since the majority of talents will be found in any given build.

In Tier 2 I skipped 3 points in Moonglow. Though 85 druids are having mana problems in the Beta (problems that might soon be addressed), that's not likely to be relevant to level 80 raiding, especially to those in full ICC gear. I've yet to test this myself since my guild does not raid until Saturday, but the scuttlebutt on Elitist Jerks is that it will not be.

This frees up 3 points that I put into Gale Winds and Solar Beam. These three points? Completely optional. I could also have put them into Owlkin Frenzy instead, except that relies on me getting hit, which I hopefully will not be. Owlkin Frenzy will be helpful while leveling, but I'm not there yet. The ability to have my own interrupt (still good in ICC, especially as a 10m raider) is useful, and the extra AoE is just gravy for clearing out the trash.

The last talent I skipped over is Fungal Growth reason being that there's only one fight where I really wanted a snare, that being Heroic Saurfang, and without Wild Mushroom until level 85, this talent is too uncontrollable. We can have a general idea of where our treants are going to die, but we can't make them die exactly where and when we want. And we can only use them once every three minutes, which makes the usefulness of this talent spotty at best.

Everything else in the balance tree is pretty solid, though it should be mentioned that Sunfire is not working correctly and is not affected by haste in the same manner that Moonfire is. However, moonkin will take it anyway to get to Lunar Shower, which will help with a lot of our movement issues. This is likely a bug that will be addressed in a future patch.

As far as the resto tree goes, without the ability to access Master Shapeshifter (we can only put 5 points in resto) our only real choices are Blessing of the Grove and Heart of the Wild, but they are both dps increases and worth taking over skipped talents in the balance tree.

After having specced myself, I figured the best thing to do to get used to my new moonage was to join a heroic, and while I did queue for one, I saw an ad in Trade for the raid weekly, which was Noth. I decided I'd get some action faster joining the raid weekly than sitting in queue, so I whispered the raid leader and off I went.

The biggest change to moonkin in anticipation of Cataclysm is no doubt the change to Eclipse. It's now a core mechanic of our spec and a part of a young owlbear from the moment they hit level 10, even before they can transform into a boomer proper.

We now have a little Eclipse bar underneath our health and mana bars, which is half purple on one side with a moon on the end, and half orange on the other with a little sun. Upon logging in, there is a little diamond in the middle, the neutral starting position.

The way the bar works is simple. Keep doing nature damage and the diamond moves towards the moon. Keep doing arcane damage and the diamond moves towards the sun. When you hit either end of the bar, you get an Eclipse and do more damage for the appropriate element. Hit the moon and you do more arcane damage. Hit the sun and you do more nature damage.

But as you cast more arcane or nature damage you move the bar back in the other direction and thus the eclipse eventually wears off.

So the way the bar works is simple, but in practice there are things that could be improved. The biggest issue is that the bar is a tiny little thing underneath the mana bar, which doesn't help its visibility at all.

The UI does try to compensate for this. When in a lunar eclipse the Starfire and Moonfire buttons will be highlighted to give you an idea of which buttons to press, but when your field of vision is largely in the middle of the screen, who's going to be looking at a tiny bar in the upper left-hand corner? I don't click buttons either. I'm a keybinder so I'm not looking at whether or not my action bars are highlighted when I'm going through my rotations.

This would be fixable with add-ons, but unfortunately Squawk and Awe, the most popular Eclipse add-on, isn't fully updated for 4.0.1 yet. Andriele has a test version on the EJ forums that adds Starsurge, Sunfire, Lunar Shower, and the new Nature's Grace, but it doesn't do any power tracking. So in the meantime, I will probably try getting the test version running as my dot/cooldown timer and pick up Eclipse Bar Plus for the Eclipse bar. EBP allows the Eclipse bar to be moved out from under the player frame and enlarged so it can more easily be seen. It also allows for power increases to be displayed as numbers or percentages.

Considering how important Eclipse is for moonkin, it's a little surprising that some element of the sun and moon effect were not integrated with the new Power Auras-style alert that splash around the screen when certain abilities proc. I kept seeing these green floral patterns appear on either side of me and there's nothing incredibly obvious to say what they are. It wasn't until I looked at the tiny little buffs in the upper right corner that I realized they were letting me know that Nature's Grace was ready.

Power Auras works because the player personally sets up the icons so even if it's something as odd as a skull or a fist, they know what it represents to them. Green plants on either side doesn't tell me anything. They have no meaning. Well, they do now, but only after I kept staring at my buffs to see what the proc was. For a novice player who doesn't read patch notes or know about the Power Auras mod I can only imagine their confusion.

Oddly enough, while Nature's Grace is covered by the new auras, Eclipse is not, and I managed to hit an Eclipse numerous times without realizing that I had because there is no obvious alert for it and I do not look at my action bars or my character portrait when dps-ing.

I didn't have any add-ons installed when I did the raid weekly, but I believe my dps was reasonably good, because I was the only player to regularly pull Noth off the tank and I did it twice. I did feel very bad for the tank though, as he or she was no doubt trying to get used to class changes just as much as I was, and without Omen I wasn't sure how quickly I was riding up on threat.

Once I get mods set up to better track Eclipse, dots, and the new Starsurge spell (since I don't look at my action bars I don't see it come up off cooldown), I think I should be back in business, and it'll just be a matter of lining up in front of the target dummies and doing a few practice rounds to get the muscle memory set up.

I did change my keybindings a little, moving Typhoon to the tilda key so I could add Starsurge to the 1 button so it could sit next to Wrath (2) and Starfire (3), thus lining up all three nukes in a row, but otherwise my bindings are almost exactly the same. I should be reasonably comfortable by Saturday.

I'll just have to hope that everyone else adapts as easily.


Thorn said...

The default auras have a sun on the right and a moon on the left when eclipse procs (as well as the old bubble over the head) on my 4.01 moonkin.
Massive but actually easy to miss because again it's not where your eyes are looking
I discovered icehud has an eclipse bar which I've moved inside my 'zone' which helps for now and power auras has been tweaked for everything else :)

Jong said...

Moonkins are owning faces this patch.

Unknown said...

I thought the green plants were Omen of Clarity as they also seemed to appear at the same time as clearcasting appears in the text on screen. No?

Unknown said...

The Orginal Power Auras will support this in the next release (hopefully tonight) see here:

Hana said...

@Thorn - I'll have to take a look for them, but yeah, if I didn't see them... obviously not where I'm looking! I've never been good about noticing the bubble above my head. Sometimes I would see it, sometimes I wouldn't. :\

@Jong - So I hear!

@Todd - You might be right. I'll check when I get on again.

@Smacker - That looks interesting. I'll probably try the Eclipse bar first though. My personal preference goes towards something resembling a timer bars than a number display.