A PvE nerf? Yeah, right
The change, for those of you who might not be up-to-date on the issue, is that now Moonfire/Sunfire are our only DOT spells that will generate Eclipse Energy -- but they only do so with the Lunar Shower talent, and only when the talent is active. Further, Lunar Shower itself has been changed. Instead of stacking as the druid moves, it now stacks each time the druid casts Moonfire, meaning you have to cast the spell a total of three times in order to get a full stack. That's a terrible design for a number of reasons -- but that part comes a bit later. First, let's take a look at how this will impact PVE.
In short, this change has absolutely no impact on PvE at all. Based upon the original thought that Blizzard was attempting to weaken multi-DOTing -- which certainly makes sense given the recent shadow priest changes as well -- the newest update to our DOTs is just plum confusing.
If you want to avoid the energy gains from Lunar Shower, then there are two easy ways to avoid it. First, you can simply not take the talent. Lunar Shower is pretty terrible in terms of DPS; we've never actually taken it because it offers this huge DPS increase. I know that there are so many claims of how Solar Cleave is so close in terms of damage to our standard rotation; that is partially true, but it was never because of Lunar Shower. While the talent did increase our Moonfire DPS rather significantly, it was never the primary source of our damage, by any means.
The only reason that Solar Cleave was at all viable had absolutely nothing to do with Lunar Shower and everything to do with the uptime on Eclipse itself. Eclipse is ridiculously strong; we're ridiculously strong while under Eclipse. Being able to sit in a Solar Eclipse and have that increased damage on both Sunfire and Insect Swarm ticking away constantly was a huge boon to our damage. It's easily a 50% increase to two of our strongest spells.
The other factor that supported Solar Cleave was the mobility. Movement had absolutely zero impact on our DPS potential. We always did the exact same level of DPS, whether we were moving or standing still. The same cannot be said for the standard rotation, and a lot of encounters in this raiding tier require a significant amount of movement.
Lunar Shower's really only taken for two reasons. First, there's just nothing else to take. It's a minor DPS increase, but it's the only DPS increase that we can take ... so we do. Second is the mana conservation that it provides. Having Moonfire cost less mana than our base regeneration means that you could spam it and actually gain mana -- purely win-win.
Dropping Lunar Shower and completely avoiding this change will have absolutely no impact on your play at all. The only difference is that you would consume more mana during AOE DOTing, which we can manage. Especially since the Innervate nerf means we virtually never have to give it out to a healer again, we can just drop Lunar Shower for Dreamstate and never have to worry about mana again.
The cheap gimmick
Now, while there are loads of benefits to not taking Lunar Shower, that isn't to say that the new Lunar Shower doesn't have some upsides. While it is still broken that we cannot reach a Lunar Eclipse using Moonfire, it is still possible to push towards a Solar Eclipse using Moonfire, and making use of this factor is a decent benefit for the times that it would be useful.
What about all those times when you don't want for Lunar Shower to generate Eclipse Energy? Simple! Just create a /cancelaura macro to remove the buff after every Moonfire cast. Now, you can Moonfire as much as you like and never have to pay any energy for it.
That's too easy, though! Clearly, Blizzard will think of this and kill it before it ever reaches live. It is possible that Blizzard will find some workaround that would prevent us from using a simple macro to completely void the changes when it isn't convenient for us, yet even that doesn't stop us from being able to game Lunar Shower however we want.
Of most import is our AOE multi-DOTing, when we want to roll Sunfire on as many targets as possible. In these situations, you still have far more to do than just Sunfire. By filling in with Insect Swarm and Wild Mushroom
placement between each Sunfire, you can just wait out the laughable 3-second buff and cast another Sunfire once it drops. A minor inconvenience and a slight reduction in AOE power -- but hey, it circumvents this change completely.
In short, this does absolutely nothing so much as tickle balance's AOE DOTing methods. We'll adapt. We'll work around it. And we'll laugh at Blizzard while sipping on our tea and eating stale crumpet things that no one really likes. Surely Blizzard must have known this would happen. I mean, it isn't rocket surgery -- a sea monkey could figure out all of these workarounds, so why even bother with this change at all? If it isn't going to have any impact on AOE multi-DOTing, then why even make the change?
Either Blizzard isn't interested in removing our ability to multi-DOT, or it has plankton making all of the game decisions. I'm going with the former.
PvP takes a hit
There is one, and only one, standard balance druid tactic that this change has any impact on: using Solar Cleave in PVP to run around spamming Sunfire on anything that so much as looks at us funny.
Here, however, is where I am still confused. This tactic is used in both arenas and rated BGs (although it is far less effective in the former than the latter). In fact, one might argue that balance druids using Solar Cleave in RBGs actually aren't half bad; it can be pretty viable, if an annoying and silly method. Clearly then, this change was made to destroy that ability. That the evil Blizzard empire has set the foot down to stomp out the one thing balance does well in PVP.
Hardly so. The Lunar Shower change does pretty much ruin Solar Cleave for arenas. Unless I'm totally bonkers from not sleeping, Innervate can still be stripped off the druid, and doing so is generally rather trivial. In fact, any good arena team is going to make damn sure that they take your Innervate away if they can; it's 50% of your mana, after all. Without the mana conservation from Lunar Shower, the arena druid just won't be able to keep up with constant Sunfire spamming.
RBGs are a totally different story. You have time
in these battles. You have far more freedom. You can get an Innervate off, and you can die and it really isn't that huge of a deal. Heck, you probably even find the time to sit down for a quick drink, if you play your cards right. You won't be able to last forever, no, but you don't have to. You have options to regain your mana, should you absolutely need to take them.
If a balance druid in an RBG really wants to keep on using Solar Cleave, this change is going to do absolutely nothing to stop them. They have far more options in terms of mana regeneration than their arena counterparts do.