This is the tragic flaw of the system itself. There can really only be two reasons why Blizzard is attempting to destroy our ability to constantly spam Sunfire without any drawbacks. Either it wants to stop multi-DOTing in PVE, or it wants to prevent the use of Solar Cleave in PVP.
On the PVE side of changes, as I mentioned, there are so many workarounds for this change that it's silly to think that Blizzard actually believed doing this would have any impact on the PVE side of the coin. There's just nothing there. It does absolutely nothing to us at all. We won't even flinch at this change.
On the PVP side of things, only in RBGs was Solar Cleave that strong and that prevalent -- yet this change won't curb that behavior, either. The only thing that Lunar Shower actually gave us was infinite mana; the additional damage was fairly trivial. In RBGs, mana just isn't an issue for us. It's only in arenas where this playstyle didn't have as much of a place that mana mattered at all.
Why, then? Why is Blizzard attempting all of these convoluted changes to the way in which our DOTs work, if the end result is that nothing changes? There must be a reason hiding behind the curtain somewhere, a little wizard pulling all of the string, yet what is his purpose? What is the gain? So far, I'm not seeing anything.
The only thing, the only possibility left that I can possibly fathom is that Blizzard wants to nerf our control over Eclipse. Right now, we can run around spamming Sunfire or Moonfire in order to game Eclipse into the position that we want, keeping them locked where they are without suffering a huge loss in DPS (at least in Solar). Without Lunar Shower, doing this is a DPS loss over merely casting the off-Eclipse nuke. So perhaps that is Blizzard's intention, to prevent balance druids from controlling Eclipse via Moonfire spam? Seems a piss-poor issue to take offense to, when the net result only impacts our movement DPS.
Moving away from AOE DOTing
Blizzard clearly didn't intend the AOE DOTing method that balance druids currently use, yet the developers have pinned themselves into a corner with it. There is no reasonably alternative they can take that will allow our AOE to be viable and not hurt our single-target damage, which isn't overpowered at this point in time. If Blizzard wants for us to actually use our AOE abilities for AOE, then there have to be some major changes to how our AOE operates.
In fact, regardless of Blizzard's feelings for our current AOE method, I honestly think that balance druids need a massive AOE revamp. AOE DOTing is such a stupid concept. It's annoying, it's cumbersome, and no one wants to actually do it. Sure, I like AOEing more on my balance druid than I do on my warlock -- but seriously, this is one place where I will gladly sacrifice the need for "skill" at the sake of "fun." DOTing 50 billion mobs isn't entertaining -- it's annoying.
Yet we have absolutely no choice in the matter. Hurricane is far too weak to even compare in terms of AOE. Even that, though, isn't our biggest issue. The strongest challenge we face is how much more powerful we are at AOE in Solar as opposed to Lunar. Balance druids wouldn't have to game Eclipse nearly as much as we do now if there actually existed some measure of balance between the two Eclipse procs.
The difference between being in a Solar Eclipse and being in a Lunar Eclipse for AOE measures in the tens of thousands of DPS. That's a ridiculous number. Why was this never addressed during beta testing? Why hasn't it been addressed when it became an obvious problem back at the very start of Cataclysm?
For starters, we have absolutely no AOE abilities that rely on arcane damage; everything is nature-based. If anyone dares to mention Starfall, I will feed them to Fox Van Allen's ego personally. Starfall is not an AOE ability. Starfall hasn't been an AOE ability since the onset of Cataclysm. It doesn't have splash damage, and since the buff in 4.0.6, it doesn't even gain any damage when there are two targets in range. Starfall is nothing more than a really pretty single-target spell.
How could this have been overlooked? Given the vast importance that Eclipse plays on our damage, given that Blizzard took the time to balance out our movement DPS between Eclipse procs -- which is still utterly broken, by the by -- how on Azeroth could our AOE escape notice? Oh hey! We'll give them Wild Mushroom and Hurricane for AOE! All of it is nature! Wow!
Give us something to cast in Lunar -- it isn't that difficult. Seriously, if balance druids being so gamey with Eclipse is such a huge issue, why then would you attack a symptom and not the issue itself? Why bother with how balance druids game Eclipse and not the why? ... Basic game design.
AOE is only the basic issue with Eclipse. It's obvious to everyone: Solar is simply far stronger than Lunar. We have Sunfire and Insect Swarm in Solar. Did Blizzard honest think that Lunar Shower and Moonfire would account for the whole of our movement DPS? Hardly. Insect Swarm matters. It needs the Sunfire treatment, like, patches ago.
Someone, somewhere (and I do apologize for not remembering) had the best suggestion ever. Fireflies. Frankly, I love it. Having Insect Swarm morph into Fireflies under a Lunar Eclipse and dealing Arcane damage would be amazing and would be the first major step in actually creating some form of balance between Solar and Lunar.
After that, it's only a matter of our AOE damage that creates the rest of our disparity. Change Wild Mushroom to deal Spellstorm damage that way it benefits from both Eclipse procs, and you have an easy solution. That would balance AOE perfectly -- okay, now Lunar would actually be a bit stronger due to Starfall ... but who really cares?
Further! We hate multi-DOTing, remember? It sucks, it needs to die ... We want it gone, all gone. That leaves us with Hurricane. Okay, it needs to be changed somehow. Obviously, the mana cost needs to be reduced by, like, half. Seriously, there's no feasible way for us to even use Hurricane for prolonged amounts of time even if we wanted to. Why is the weakest AOE spell in the game also the most expensive? Logic!
In terms of damage, I'm not partial to a straight damage increase on Hurricane. Yes, it is needed, and perhaps we could do with a small increase in the damage, but where is the fun is just tweaking up numbers? It's bland, it's boring ... We want fun! A lot of people suggest having Hurricane sprout Wild Mushrooms. That's a good idea, but I say we go with something slightly different.
Designing fun, balanced solutions
Instead of having Hurricane grow mushrooms, let's have it increase their damage. Change Gale Winds to Revitalizing Rains or something to that effect. Have it so that every "tick" of Hurricane increases the damage of Wild Mushrooms under the effect by X%, with numbers balanced around keeping the AOE damage equal to or slightly higher than AOE DOTing.
Really, the damage should probably be equal to what we do now via DOTing; however, nerf our DOT damage by, say, 10%, and readjust that damage into our nukes as was done with shadow priests. The intention isn't to increase our AOE damage, just make it actually use AOE spells and not be a horrid, cumbersome mess. Oh yeah, and make Hurricane deal Spellstorm damage as well. That has to happen to keep the damage equal between Lunar and Solar. Alternately, you could also give Hurricane the Sunfire treatment and have it morph into Star Shower or something -- anything to make it deal Arcane damage during Lunar.
Oh look, I just removed the need for balance druids to game Eclipse, and I did it without creating stupid DOT rules that make absolutely no sense! I must be some kind of awesome.
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.