New talents available in the Balance tree
- Genesis: This will affect three Balance spells (Insect Swarm, Moonfire, and Starfall), but it's another prime candidate for a restokin, as most of a Restoration Druid's healing power still lies in HoT's. The vast majority of your firepower as a moonkin is still going to come from a rotation making heavy use of the direct-damage Starfire or Wrath. A flat 5% increase to the damage of Insect Swarm and Moonkin isn't bad, with that said, Insect Swarm has typically been phased out of a high-DPS rotation as gear improves (the DPS loss from a global cooldown devoted to that rather than Starfire just isn't worth it, unless your tank really needs the extra avoidance), and 5% isn't really enough to devote 5 talent points to supplemental damage spells in an already-bloated tree. You will be getting 5/5 Starlight Wrath and that takes care of your first tier.
- Nature's Splendor. Another prime restokin talent. It does have potentially interesting implications for the traditional high-DPS moonkin rotation IS + MF + (N) Starfires, but frankly most of the moonkins I've seen in the beta don't think it's worth it. If you're just questing, stuff will die so quickly that you're unlikely to get any real benefit from this: in 5-mans, the same is true: and Insect Swarm and Moonfire are both in a somewhat shaky place right now depending on what glyphs you do or don't have equipped. More on this in the glyph section. I hate to keep saying that, but the glyphs you wind up picking will make a big difference.
- Improved Insect Swarm. This talent is a lot more compelling if you take 3/3 Eclipse and can make full use of a varied Wrath/Starfire rotation, although that seems to be the topic attracting the most debate in the balance community right now.
- Improved Moonkin Form is going to be a required talent for raiding moonkins, as your aura will grant an additional 3% haste. Bear in mind that haste is now a unified stat affecting spell, ranged, and melee damage, so that means everyone gains 3% haste with you in the raid (that's a lot of damage). 15% of your spirit will also be converted into spell damage, which dovetails neatly into a developer comment at BlizzCon about trying to ensure Spirit remained useful.
- Owlkin Frenzy is of very situational use in raids and 5-mans depending on the amount of damage you wind up taking, but it'll find its best use in PvP. It does apparently proc on AoE damage, and as a commenter notes in an Elitist Jerks thread, you can get a substantial DPS increase even with one point invested. if you see a lot of these fights in Wrath raiding, it's probably worth it. If you don't, consider it PvP- or solo-only.
- Typhoon: If only this spell had stayed bugged! It's still pretty useful while you're grinding and it's clearly a great PvP talent versus incoming melee, although I will say as a tank that the plethora of knockback effects in the game now drive me nuts in 5-mans. Please, think of the bears!
- Eclipse has been a pretty controversial talent since day one, with people arguing over whether it represents a true DPS increase, or a DPS increase that comes at the cost of too much mana or too many talent points, or no real DPS increase at all. This is another one that's going to be affected by what glyphs you choose to implement, so we'll save that discussion for the next portion of the post. Otherwise, a Wowhead commenter has argued (correctly, I think) that this might wind up being a better PvP than PvE talent as it carries the potential for serious burst damage if you're careful to watch your procs and use the appropriate spell to maximize damage as a result. Gray Matter has a look here (and a follow-up here on why investing just one point in Eclipse might be worthwhile).
- Gale Winds is a talent you want if you're raiding and AoE damage is at a premium (say, if we encounter another situation like clearing Hyjal trash) but is otherwise skippable. An extra 4 yards on Cyclone has obvious PvP use.
And, if you get nothing else in the Balance tree, get this
- Starfall: This is a rather amusing spell that's had a series of interesting graphics on the beta (I'm still not entirely sure that the one we've got right now isn't a placeholder). In its current incarnation, it's kind of a cross between Arcane Explosion and Seed of Corruption. It's an instant-cast, location-dependent spell that does additional damage based on the number of nearby mobs. The 3-minute cooldown prevents it from being the same workhorse spell that Hurricane is, and I confess the first thing that occurred to me while using it was its potential to help slaughter tightly-packed enemies in battlegrounds.
- Earth and Moon is, frankly, amazing. In my opinion it's the equivalent of Gift of the Earthmother in the resto tree -- it's the reason you want to devote so many points to that tree at all. A flat 5% increase to your spell damage in addition to a 13% increase to what is essentially all spell damage taken by your target is...words fail me. Get this, and click those talent points with a song in your heart. This is a giant, amazing contribution to your raid's DPS in addition to your own, and possibly the single biggest reason why Balance has taken a quantum leap in viability. 5% crit to all the casters, 3% haste to everyone, and a 13% increase to the spell damage taken by your targets is extraordinary.