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Shifting Perspectives: Astrally Communing with your balance druid


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 get the party started.

Unfortunately, real life's caught up to me the past few weeks, so I've been out of action for a bit. Well, OK, two parts real life and one part Diablo III barbarian. Cleave. Cleave. Cleave. (Ahem.) Anyway, the barbarian's died valiantly and frequently to Infernal bees, the cough syrup has been drunk, the viruses are dead, the family's alive (or is that backwards?), and I'm back and ready to talk druid again.

First of all, check out that sweet tier 14 getup. I like it! It really fits well with druids' shapeshifting motif and is much better than the abomination that were the tier 12 and 13 sets. (Tier 11 wasn't terrible, but it made us look like Tyrael.) This is quite possibly my favorite tier set since tier 7.5 and easily my favorite headpiece of all. I do hope our shoulders end up matching, though, and I hope the red-accented set gets brightened up a bit. Of course, I like the set with jade green accents the best, which means it'll undoubtedly be for whatever spec/difficulty I'm not doing. Sigh.

Enough about looks, though; let's talk turkey. In my last post before my break, I talked about Ghostcrawler's thoughts on the balance rotation, where he felt balance druids needed something to help control their energy levels. (No, no, "Eclipse" energy. Put down the caffeinated beverages. That said, the idea of a moonkin chain-drinking Monsters is pretty funny.) I speculated about a few possible ways they could go with that, and the eventual result was pretty similar to my Energized Insect Swarm idea -- a DPS fast-forward of sorts.

Shifting Perspectives Astral Communion and you
Pass the Astral Communion plate

Astral Communion Channeled. Commune with the sun and moon, gaining 15 Lunar or Solar energy every 1 seconds for 7 seconds. Generates the power type most beneficial to you. Completely destroys any chance of the "charging mah lazer" meme falling into disuse.

One of the preceding sentences may not be part of the actual tooltip.

Anyway, I'll admit it -- at first, I was underwhelmed. First of all, it wasn't Insect Swarm (which is likely dead now, though the visual effect might come back as a trinket/set bonus). Second, it doesn't really seem all that interesting. I thought about it more, though, and realized that Balance doesn't really need to be more interesting; it's already got a solid rotation locked in. This little spell does a pretty good job dealing with some of the most pressing issues.

Astral Communion in PvE

"Wait up, guys! I need to kill some critters so I can charge up my Eclipse before we pull the boss!"

Remember this? Was it fun? No. Blizzard's pretty good at realizing when its mechanics force players to jump through hoops, and I'm glad it finally got around to this one. (I'm still scarred from 'lock shard management -- but that's ancient history now.)

There's still a problem here in that AC takes you all the way to your next Eclipse if you let it, which is bad if you're doing it as a preparatory tool. You don't want to waste that tasty Haste bonus, after all. Currently, AC cuts off once you hit the Eclipse state; hopefully, it gets redesigned so it leaves you just short of the next Eclipse. If not, you'll have to be aware of the channel and interrupt it yourself one tick short so you can proc it with your first cast.

Also, I did notice in my testing that it appears to be unaffected by haste; it's a flat 15 energy per second. This is actually a good thing. Some preliminary theorycrafting was showing it to be a DPS increase to work AC into the rotation with sufficient haste, such as during Bloodlust/Heroism, as the damage lost from not using Starfire/Wrath for a few seconds was offset by higher dual-DoT uptimes. Of course, a few seconds after that theorycraft was done, Blizzard nerfed it from 20 energy to 15, which pretty much removed any chance of its being used rotationally. For Spine-type fights that require burst damage, however, this will see heavy use.

Astral Communion in PvP

As we've previously discussed, balance druids are designed around cycling through Eclipse states regularly for mana purposes. It was very hard to do that consistently; either you were getting interrupted or there weren't any enemies around to cast on (BGs). This gives you another method to do that.

Of course, since it's a channel, you'll want to make sure you're doing it in a moment of safety. Drop a Cyclone, or duck around a pillar. I'm not sure yet what'll be the effect of its being interrupted (there's no cooldown, after all), but if it's a Nature/Arcane spell like Starsurge, you might get both spell schools locked out, which would suck. There will be some skill involved there in picking good spots.

So now that balance druids have AC, what else do they need? Glyphs. Seriously, where are they? I want to have several choices out there and be forced to pick between compelling options! The current major glyphs just don't feel very interesting. I mean, Rebirth is good, and then there's Moonbeast -- and then things get barren. Stampede? Cyclone? Hurricane? Yawn. Resto druids get glyphs for their core abilities, such as Regrowth and Rejuvenation. How about something for Starfall or Moonfire?

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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