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Shifting Perspectives: Eclipse, AOE, and energy gains

Tyler Caraway

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat , bear , restoration and balance druids. Balance news comes at you every Friday -- learn how to master the forces of nature, and know what it means to be a giant laser turkey! Send questions, comments, or requests for something you'd like to see to or on Twitter @murmursofadruid.

Last week, we talked about the oncoming change to the talent system and what the previewed talents mean for balance druids. Understanding that everything we see now is very much in the pre-alpha stages and bound to change, talents are still but one aspect of the class that is going to need to see some changes in the next expansion. As we all know by now, Eclipse too needs to change. I'm sure that this is one topic that people are about tired of talking or hearing about, but it's simply unavoidable. Eclipse is the core of our DPS; it is everything to us. If it fails, we fail, pure and simple.

Unlike the past, we won't particularly be discussing the same old boring flaws that we have with Eclipse today. Many of those are known factors, and we already know that Blizzard is looking at addressing them. Instead, we'll be discussing some of the things that balance druids have known for a long time that Blizzard has not, as of yet, mentioned. We'll also be looking into the way in which the system does need to change in order to survive into the next expansion.

Talents and Eclipse

On Wednesday, druid blogger Lissanna asked me a rather interesting question on Twitter. She asked whether I thought that with the addition of an arcane version of Hurricane, more (if not all) of our spells should generate Eclipse energy. This question holds some merit, particularly because it is something that we saw Blizzard attempt to enforce with the change to Lunar Shower. Now that traditional talents are out the window, utility talents such as Lunar Shower might potentially be forced onto us.

All of the talents that we know of now cannot simply disappear. Many of them are far too important to the spec's ability to sustain DPS in order for this to work. While there is some leeway with things such as Starlight Wrath -- although it would hurt to lose it -- other talents such as Euphoria cannot be written off so easily. Balance druids need a way to sustain their mana regeneration; without that talent, we simply have nothing. Baking Euphoria or Dreamstate into our specializations or giving them to us as passive skills at certain levels, as was shown with Titan's Grip and Single Minded Fury for warriors, is certainly the logical step that Blizzard would take with similar, spec-dependent talents.

One thing that is currently lacking from balance druids is the ability to deal any form of damage while moving. Mages and warlocks both have movement DPS talents. Shaman, so far as we know, still have their glyph to allow Lightning Bolt to be cast while moving. Balance has nothing right now. This could mean that Lunar Shower or some other new form of movement DPS is baked into our standard ability list. Given than most druids don't take the talent as it stands now, this could be problematic.

Why Elipse generation doesn't work

There's a good reason why skipping the current Lunar Shower is so prevalent within the community. While it can be a great talent in an extremely high-movement situation, forcing Moonfire to generate Eclipse energy when we don't always want it to holds many negative aspects. In many situations where you want to cast Moonfire multiple times, it would result in a DPS loss for it to move our Eclipse meter -- I am, of course, speaking of AOE rotations.

Our current AOE format is a mixture of Wild Mushrooms, with DOTs being used between the cooldown. Right now, leaving a Solar Eclipse would result in our AOE abilities being horridly crippled. In Solar, we have some of the best (if not the best) AOE in the game; outside of Eclipse, we have some of the worst AOE in the game. Recognizing this flaw, Blizzard has already promised that we'll be seeing an increase to our ability to AOE in Lunar -- yet that is only half the battle.

Any damage that we deal outside of Eclipse, right now, is peanuts compared to what we can do inside of it. The problem has grown so bad that we actively avoid using Moonfire to overwrite Sunfire in many situations because it would result in a loss of DPS. This is something that needs to be fixed. Add in a Lunar AOE options will fix mask the problem, but it doesn't actually fix the underlying issue. Eclipse is simply too large of a damage contribution.

Problems with AOE abilities

Should more of our abilities generate Eclipse energy? The short answer: no. In the most ideal situation, yes, it would be wonderful for all of our abilities that benefit from Eclipse to move the bar in some manner or another, but this just doesn't work in a practical setting. To start, this would fix the issue that we currently have where players game Eclipse. All it would do is change the way in which the game is played.

Say, for example, that Hurricane now generates 20 Eclipse energy every time that you use it. When an AOE phase is coming up, you would clearly want to be inside of either Eclipse proc in order to get the highest amount of AOE damage; therefore, instead of doing what we do now and off-cast at the end of an Eclipse proc, you would merely never leave the start of an Eclipse proc. Should you accidentally leave Eclipse, standing around and casting an unEclipsed Hurricane would be a waste of time. Instead, you would merely spam Hurricane over and over again until you push yourself to the next Eclipse proc, and then properly AOE. That would be a horrible system.

Further, allowing our AOE to generate Eclipse energy would cause another form of abuse: gaining Eclipse outside of combat. We already have something of an issue with this now where players will abuse the presence of critters in order to build Eclipse prior to a boss fight, a situation which Blizzard is none too thrilled with. Neither Hurricane nor Wild Mushroom require targets in order to use, so it could be possible to generate Eclipse without having to actively be in combat.

It could be possible that Blizzard would implement a system where these abilities have to deal damage to a target in order to generate energy, but since each of them hits multiple targets, it would be rather awkward. To keep things simple, our standard AOE abilities cannot generate Eclipse energy.

What needs to change

How we generate Eclipse is certainly a part of the process that needs to be looked at. Both Blizzard and the players certainly aren't happy with the current system. The flaw, however, is that any changes would upset the delicate balance that we have achieved. While it might be possible to work in Eclipse generation with out DOTs, traditional AOE is certainly out of the question. That's all right, though, and probably for the best.

AOE, however, is only a portion of the problem and really only works to show the great issue at play. Our damage outside of Eclipse is simply too weak -- or you could say that Eclipse is too strong. I've been saying this ever since Cataclysm beta; now, finally, much of the community is starting to come around. Hopefully, this time, Blizzard will realize the mistake and work to fix this problem before it grows out of hand in the next expansion.

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.

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