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Shifting Perspectives: The potential return of Insect Swarm for balance druids


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Shifting Perspectives for cat, bear, restoration and balance druids. Welcome to our DPS edition, brought to you by Chase Hasbrouck, aka Alaron of The Fluid Druid blog. This week, we go hunting for mosquito nets.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the impact of removing Insect Swarm from balance druids' toolboxes. I was pretty positive about the change; in my view, Insect Swarm was mostly superfluous, as the times you would use it independently from Moonfire were few and far between. Removing it was a welcome simplification to the rotation. Several commenters took an opposite view, however. To them, removing IS (along with some of the other changes) took things too far, and made the spec boring to play.

Well, if you were one of those commenters, you're in luck. Take it away, Ghostcrawler!


I'm mostly concerned with the depth of this spec. The rotation that we now appear to have on the beta servers seems very watered down and very linear and has no player involvement at all.

We are in fact experimenting with adding Insect Swarm back to the rotation.

If we add Insect Swarm back, it would not be just to have another dot to manage, but to give players some way to interact with solar or lunar power more. There are other ways to do that too, so it may not ultimately be Insect Swarm. The rotation is close to where we want it, but it needs just a little more to play with.
At the 5000 foot view, the point of the Eclipse mechanic to begin with was to cast X spells for a time, then switch to Y spells with the Druid having some control over when or why that occurred. We don't think killing critters to get the bar moving or gaming it so that you stayed at one side of the bar forever really delivered on the vision for Eclipse. However, those tactics did give players some control -- a way to game things so that more clever players could extract a bit more performance out of the mechanic.
We are concerned that we are too far to the other extreme now, where the game UI tells you whether to use your solar buttons or lunar buttons and you really aren't making any strategic decisions. We want to introduce some relatively simple, elegant mechanic to give you more control over how much lunar or solar power you have. Maybe that's Insect Swarm. Maybe it's something else. Try it out over the next few builds, keeping in mind that it may take a bit before we have something we are satisfied with.

Insect Swarm Possibilities

So, balance druids are probably getting something else, which may or may not be Insect Swarm, that gives you more control over your lunar/solar power level. Cool! Let's put our amateur game design hats on, and think up some ideas as to what that could look like. Obviously, assume that developers will rebalance abilities and talents around the new abilities, and remember: these are theoretical! Don't go posting on the official forums about these.

From the conservative to the outrageous:

Controllable Nature's Grace Instant, 60 sec cooldown. Grants 15% spell haste for 15 sec. The Cataclysm version of Nature's Grace is somewhat controllable, in that you know it's coming immediately after you use a DoT. The Mists of Pandaria version continues with the simplification trend by just baking the bonus into Eclipse. What if it was completely controllable, however?

Sure, you'd probably still prefer to use it in conjunction with an Eclipse, but maybe not all the time. Maybe Eclipse happens to correspond with a phase-change/movement phase, and you want to power through to the next Eclipse quicker. Maybe you save it for a DPS burn that happens-mid Eclipse. Who knows? Point is, you could put your foot on the gas when you wanted to, and that'd be cool.

Energized Insect Swarm 2.5 sec cast, 30 sec duration debuff. All Lunar or Solar energy-granting abilities that damage the target generate an additional 5 Lunar or Solar energy. The old "two trains leave a station" problem. Do you want to start towards the other Eclipse now, or start later but get there faster? This could be an interesting approach, but I suspect people wouldn't enjoy having to regularly cast a spell that does nothing by itself. It could also be a self-buff, though that really wouldn't fit with the Insect Swarm theme.

Astral Charge Instant, only usable in combat. Removes all current Lunar/Solar energy, and adds a buff to the casting Druid with charges equivalent to the amount of energy removed. On second use, consumes the buff and adds 1 Lunar/Solar energy for each charge consumed. This is probably my favorite idea; give balance druids a battery. On a stand-and-nuke fight, they'll never use it. On a fight where DPS bursts are required, though, let them stay out of Eclipse a little longer by charging up Astral Charge, then let them shorten the time between two later Eclipses by using the energy.

Ecliptic Shift Instant, 3 minute cooldown. Converts all current Lunar/Solar energy to its opposite and reverses the direction of the Eclipse bar. This is somewhat similar to what balance druids do now with Eclipse-camping, but more balanced (it's on a cooldown, so you can't abuse it) and somewhat more intuitive. It'd be similar to the Astral Charge idea in that it gives you a second Eclipse very quickly, but it's more powerful because you don't have to charge it (hence the long cooldown).

So, what are your thoughts? Do moonkin need an additional button to press, or are you happy with a simpler rotation? If you could press an additional button, what would you want it to do? Finally, and possibly most importantly, does the new moonkin armor during Incarnation draw attention to all the wrong places? Let me know in the comments!

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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