Greetings once again, fellow owlbirds. I've returned once again after a weekend visit with the enemy. I'll spare the gritty details, but suffice to say that I was bored to tears for a majority of the trip and, in fact, the 15-hour drive there and then again coming back home was the most exciting portion of the trip. Not to mention, shadow priests make the worst hosts. Chalk that up as another reason why balance druids are just plain better.
While I was away, my inbox got a little bit piled up, so I figured this was the perfect time to address all those burning questions in people's minds. Maybe it's a bit lazy of me, but, you know, I like being efficient sometimes (just not often). Let's hit the virtual books, shall we?
What's with this whole mastery break point thing? Currently in the game, balance's mastery, Total Eclipse, has something of a rounding issue. Something got changed around during patch 4.0.6 that caused Eclipse to scale in a very odd way; it only benefits from whole numbers. This isn't whole numbers of mastery that you see on your character sheet -- it's only the bonus that you get from the actual buff that procs.
These numbers occur at every 0.5 and whole numbers of mastery. Anything else is rounded down to the nearest whole. This means that if you have 10.3 or 10.7 mastery, then any of it over 10 or 10.5 isn't actually doing anything.
This is clearly a bug and has actually been ninja fixed on the 4.1.0 PTR. Once the patch finally comes out, you won't have to worry about these break points any more. Due to this, I don't really think it's that worth it to go too deeply into tweaking your gear for something that won't exist in just a little bit of time.
Have you ever licked a lamppost in winter? Yes, I've licked a lamppost in winter!
Will Blizzard ever allow us to not use Moonkin Form? Probably not. Blizzard really seems to like the idea of druids shifting around, and the change with Tree of Life went over rather poorly within a wide section of the playerbase, so I really doubt Blizzard will be willing to take such drastic steps again anytime soon.
There might be a model update at some point in time, though how good of a change that will actually end up being I don't know. During beta, is was said that it would happen at some point in the future with a patch, but it's also possible that the entire concept will go the way of the dance studio.
How much mana regeneration do I really need? That's a rather tricky subject, as it all depends on a lot of factors. Some encounters are a little bit more mana-intensive than others, and raid composition has a lot to do with it as well. There's also the matter of what you are using your mana for -- solo grinding, 5-man content, or raid content.
For 5-mans, you really only need as much as it takes to get through any given boss encounter, which is going to vary from boss to boss. That being said, you honestly shouldn't need all that much, no matter how you slice it, simply due to the fact that the encounters are so short. Having a little bit more will cut out any downtime you may have between pulls, but you aren't likely to have any to begin with. If you do, chances are your healers needs a mana break as well, so you shouldn't be holding up the group either way.
When it comes to raiding, it's a little bit different. Realistically, you still only need as much as it takes to last the length of any given encounter, but there a little hiccup in that most raids are going to expect you to use Innervate on healers. This means that you really cannot always assume that you'll get your own Innervate, and you have to plan accordingly. The value of Dreamstate drops significantly in a raid setting, while the value of Moonglow and Furor will increase.
In a general sense, I would say that you should probably be running with 2/3 Moonglow and 2/3 Furor as a minimum for entry-level raiding, switching out to only hold 3/3 Furor once you get full raiding gear. At that point, you shouldn't have any mana concerns for any encounter you come across.
Which glyphs should I be using? I thought Starsurge was best. That's a little bit of a complicated answer, because glyphs really do change between encounters. If you want an all-purpose best glyph, then you probably want to go with Wrath, but there just isn't any way around needing to change for different encounters, depending on the situation.
For pure single-target encounters, Wrath is the best, primarily due to all the work that we have to do with Eclipse in regards to the four-piece bonus. Starsurge only works if you are able to use Starfall on cooldown every time that it comes off cooldown. When you have to delay using the ability because of Eclipse procs, then you start cutting into your gains -- that, and Wrath no longer has the restriction of needing Insect Swarm up, which is a far larger deal than people think.
When you get into AoE encounters, however, you'd probably better off switching to Starsurge. This is because Wrath will account for far less of your damage, as you'll end up casting far fewer of them overall. Your number of Starsurge casts shouldn't change all that much, though, since you can get a few uses out of Shooting Stars before losing an Eclipse proc.
This way, you'll at least get some benefit from your third glyph instead of getting nothing.
If we're talking about major glyphs, well, that's a lot easier to narrow down. Rebirth is a given. You can't risk bringing people back only to have them instantly gibbed, and you don't want to waste additional healer mana just to have them heal up a target. Then, you easily want to use Starfall, since it's a flat reduction in the cooldown.
After that, you have something of a choice. There are a lot of encounters in which you can make use of Focus. It's an increase in damage, but generally the decrease in range won't be an issue, especially since 4.0.6. There are, however, some encounters for which you won't be able to retain the reduced range for Starfall. In those situations, it really doesn't matter what you use. Innervate works, but you shouldn't need the mana, anyway.
Thorns can still be viable in a few situations where there are a lot of adds that have to be tanked, but those are rather few and far between.
Why do you hate shadow priests so much? Because they're just terrible people. I've known quite a number of shadow priests in my time, and I don't think there's a single one that I've actually liked. A certain nameless priest in particular irritates me beyond reason.
Is there anything you can't do better than shadow priests? There are! I'm not quite as good at begging, groveling, dying, or knitting pretty scarves for the winter. Oh, and I do admit that priests tend to look better in fancy shoes -- damn my trollish feet not fitting into anything sensible. I do look better in a dress, though.
What do we call you now? I'm a boomlock. I know, it's confusing, but it does sound better than warkin. Or you could simply call me Murmurs, or Tyler ... Either works.
Is there such a thing as too much haste? Not really. With certain combinations of procs or abilities or trinkets, you can still break the GCD on Wrath and Starsurge; however, this is rarely much of an issue. In nearly all of the cases that this is going to happen, doing so will also provide you with an additional tick on your DoTs, so it rather works out in the end.
Now, as with everything else, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, if you have a haste trinket that you can use and you know it won't be up again before the encounter is over, then it's best to use it during a time when you are casting Starfire if it is going to haste-cap you on Wrath. Ideally, you use it just before getting into Solar, so that you get the maximum Starfire benefit and then be able to apply both of your DoTs with the effect still up once you hit Solar.
There may come a time in the future that this is more of a concern, but that will just be something that we'll have to deal with when the time comes. There won't even really be a point that gearing for haste isn't the best choice, but the point at which you use haste trinkets or other such effects may be impacted slightly.
Why doesn't my Moonfire macro work for Sunfire? It's very common to see this issue, and it's kind of understadable why it happens. Sunfire is a highly unique talent that isn't reflected in any other ability out there. The talent literally goes into your spellbook and untrains Moonfire, only to replace it with the Sunfire ability. Normally, this doesn't do anything; the game itself goes through your keybinding lists and replaces Moonfire with Sunfire. Macros, however, are a different story.
Macros are direct inputs to the system, so to speak. Blizzard cannot innately change them the way that it does a common keybinding, so when you use a Moonfire macro during a Solar Eclipse, you are literally attempting to use a spell that does not exist in your spellbook.
A fix for this is actually rather simple: You merely need to add a /cast Sunfire string to the macro just after Moonfire. This will cause the macro to attempt to cast Moonfire and, failing that, cast Sunfire instead.
Blizzard has said that it would like to fix this little quirk, but I don't honestly see how that will ever be possible. Moonfire and Sunfire are entirely different spells in the game coding, and macros aren't changable by the game sever itself. This minor workaround is a very simple solution, though.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance brings you druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, tweak your UI and your endgame gear, analyze balance racials and abilities, and even walk you through PvP as a balance druid.