Questions, concerns, conundrums

So, a few days into this whole “Moonkin” thing, and it’s going okay.

I do have a few questions, and while Twitter folks (especially @restokin, @greenwithenvy01, @jadedalt and @owlbearmoose) have been helpful, there ain’t a lot of characters to say things without spamming walls of Twits. I mean Tweets. Tweets for Twits? Twits that Tweet? Twitter Tweat, smell my feet, okay damnit, stop it, stop it right now.

First question up for discussion. Lunar Shower.

What the hell is up with Lunar Shower?

Pretend for a moment that I don’t know what it was like before, or how it affected how you played, or whatever drama has been going on.

From the point of view of someone walking into Moonkin today, it’s nothing but win… but makes figuring out spellcast priorities a nightmare.

From my outside looking in view, Lunar Shower means that I cast Moonfire or Sunfire ONCE, and start moving. As I move, the Lunar Shower buff goes up to 3, and continuous refreshes itself. If I stop moving, the buff starts dropping off.

While the buff is up, my Moonfire and Sunfire instant cast direct damage is incredibly buffed, and the mana cost is nerfed to the ground. I can spam Moofire until the cows come home.

Additionally, the Shooting Stars Talent lets your Moonfire and Insect Swarms cause your Starsurge to reset the cooldown and make it instant cast.

So what am I to think from this? That we are being encouraged to spend 5 talent points to spam Moonfire, dropping occassional instant cast Starsurge bombs.

Lunar Shower even lets your Moonfire/Sunfire grant some Eclipse energy, pushing the bar forward while you fire.

Here’s what I don’t get. 

I’ve had people tell me that the movement aspect of Lunar Shower ain’t actually part of it anymore, and yet I thought that was the key part of it. Is the tooltip wrong?

Some people I’ve read say that on AoE pulls, Moonkin should be dropping Insect Swarm and Moonfire on every single individual mob, and then popping three mushrooms on ’em. No Hurricane, EVER. Am I supposed to be moving while I do this? I have tried, and yes, I can tab-target while running while spamming IS and Moonfire and while dropping mushrooms and detonating them.

Why is it this feels like something intended for PvP, and that I may be barking up the wrong tree? How does this stack against popping Hurricane with the appropriate Nature buff from Eclipse?

Just… I dunno. I guess what I need to do is see how much DPS running Moonfire spam with mushrooms and Insect Swarm and Starsurge procs do over 5 minutes, and compare that with stand and deliver Wrath/Starfire Eclipse pushing with standard IS and Moonfire when the dot drops off.

Your thoughts on all this would be MOST helpful. I’m supposed to actually do a serious raid tomorrow as a Moonkin, and I’d sure like to know how you’d recommend I practise.

One last thing… does anyone have any tips for fast and precise Mushroom dropping? Right now, I can either click the button for mushroom and then move the cursor to position it, OR what I’m actually doing, which is having Mushroom activation be the “3” button on my keyboard, and having the cursor already in position to drop it.

What I’m thinking is, I’d like to set Mushroom to the 4 button on my mouse, so I can just mouse over drop points and tap the button with my thumb to prime the mushroom pump, maybe set detonation to the 5 button on my mouse.

Still, a lot of you folks have had years to master this, shower me with your wisdom!

If you’d like, you can take a look at my spec and gear and mock me terribly by checking out Bigbearbutt at Azuremyst-US. I am in current gear and spec for Moonkin. GO ahead. Make fun, it’s cool.

Singed Feathers

Last night, I took my Moonkin specced Druid into the Firelands, to join Team Teddybear (and friends) in a spontaneous clearing of trash.

I know, right? My Moonkin spec is active one day and I’m managing Eclipses against Firelands trash.

Ahem. A little trial by fire.


So fun, though. Playing on my main is really so much more satisfying than on alts. If given the choice, I’d always be on my main, and I’m being given the choice.

You see that up there? What that spider is doing to the head of that Hawk… that ain’t right.

Now, taking on the Firelands bosses may seem daunting, but let me tell you, killing the trash is well within a raiding team’s capability. If your raid has been able to successfully down most of the current bosses prior to the Nefarian and Council fights, then you can do eet. 

Why would you want to? Well, this is the ICC rep raid of the expansion. Farming trash mobs gives you reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal, and at each rank you gain access to some truly sweet gear purchased with minimal gold.

At Friendly, you get an option of very, very nice cloaks, at Honored there are Belts, and so on.

The cloaks look cool, too. The bottoms are rounded and the pattern is very fancy, not that how they look makes a difference to anyone. Er, anyone else. Hmm. Looking good, Captain Shakespeare, looking mighty good. 

We went in and cleared trash under Matheos leadership, and after just three clears/resets, everyone in the raid was Friendly and had some new cloaks.

We also averaged one BoE epic drop per trash run. Each of the firs two runs, a BoE item dropped, and the third time it was a Leatherworking recipe. A one handed Strength axe and a Strength/Expertise necklace. 

Would it be worth stopping your normal raids to go farm trash? I don’t think so. Personally, I’d prefer to do all the current raids until they were well and fully nailed down if I hadn’t already, and then move on to Firelands. It’s not going anywhere.

At the same time, if you miss the days of pug raids forming to do IceCrown Citadel, then you should be delighted to hear that they’re back, at least as far as trash clearing goes.

I don’t like doing spoilers, but there were a few things I wanted to mention about Firelands that I think won’t ruin anything.

First, it feels much better than Molten Core, or other underground raids. Having it be totally open to the sky, with fiery meteors hurtling to the ground and blazing Hawks circling overhead adds a sense of being exposed to scrutiny, with the freedom to move around.

Gazing across the vast landscape truly feels like you’re venturing into another world. 

Second, this may surprise you, but the trash encounters are more forgiving than the early run up to the first boss in ICC.

In ICC, you had a narrow channel you had to go down, and there were traps that would activate the giants (that were instant raid wipes in the early days if you popped them while other trash was still alive), and there were masses of things to web your party, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

In Firelands, it’s very open. If you are careful, you can pull each different group or single individual without getting extras, and without getting knocked back into other mobs. If you charge straight in like a bunch of billy badasses, well, that’s not the fault of the design team. 

The Molten Lords are two tank fights, where each tank wants to swap lead whenever they reach 3 stacks of the debuff. The rest of the group wants to watch for a little powder-puff of flame under their feet, it signals an impending eruption of boom. Not too bad, not an instant kill or even all that damaging, but do you really want to stand in the bad if you can avoid it by paying attention?

The groups of 5 salamanders are designed to test your groups CC. There are two (or three) casters that WILL chain heal the rest… hey, this shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s done Molten Core before. Since we CC’ed three of the Salamanders, I can’t tell you how many were casters, but it’s an easy fight if you get your CC off and keep on it while the first two get burned down. 

The turtles and the hellhound patrols… we avoided those. Matheo said they are bad news, and there is plenty of trash to kill without having to worry about them. We did pull one group of turtles, and you know, they were pretty tough. We ran out like little girls, in the finest traditions of raiders tired of repair bills everywhere.

Really, it was just fun. I was expecting to continue Hyjal questing to unlock the Firelands dailies, and ended up having a very fun night of raiding instead.

It helps that the mobs patrol everywhere, and you’ve got freedom to move where you want as you go. They’re spread out a bit, and while some paths overlap each other, well, that’s what Silencing moves are for, to drag ’em, right?

Anyway, what I’m saying here is that if you’ve got solid heroic gear, and you put in the effort to get crafted epics made for your character, and you’ve been doing some Troll dungeons and got your shiny new Justice gear wearing a hole in your pockets, well, why not look for some Firelands trash clearing pugs, and have yourself a great time?

Boldly going where this Bear ain’t gone before

Good day to you, my friends, and welcome to what is likely to be the only WoW blog post you’ll read today that ain’t about Patch 4.2 or the Firelands.

What I wanted to share with you was my excitement and nervousness as I boldy embark on a great new adventure in the life of the Big Bear Butt.

No, I ain’t quitting WoW. Or the blog.

Some of you got your hopes up there for a second, didn’t ya?

My Druid has, for the very first time in the history of WoW, got a Moonkin spec, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I knew so little about the Moonkin lifestyle going into this that it’d be just like having someone hand you their max level character and saying, “Here, go play this for a while. Have fun, knock yourself out.”

“But what do all these things do? How do they work together?”
“Eh, you’ll figure it out.”
“Hey, why did you rename your character Farkingebaynub?”
“I believe in giving my friends fair warning.”

After reading up about the current state of the spec at Grey Matter, I find I’m pretty excited. It’s always cool to try something completely new, and this ain’t even an alt. This is my main.

The joys of playing a hybrid. Even after all these years, you can have the same character, and still do something new.

Now, before we go any further, this post ain’t to say, “Oh, look at me, I did something new, blah blah blah”. What this is about is the excitement of learning about a very rich, well imagined and implemented character class. 

Last night, after reading Graylos’ fully updated Moonkin raiding guide, and checking out the recommendations of the Twitterati, I walked away impressed with how well conceived the spec sounds now.

These days, I expect each class to be well-balanced.

I expect classes to be designed so that, in the hands of a reasonably competant player, DPS characters can reach a consistent sustained and burst damage ratio. Tanks can survive a certain amount of damage for a certain amount of time, and have cooldowns to boost spike survivability. Healers can generate positive health by a certain amount per second, to a certain number of players to handle burst and sustained damage.

Maybe one is capable of a little more burst compared to the others, or handles sustained fights with consistent output while others go silent to recoup Mana, but by and large, they’re balanced.

What surprises me about the Moonkin is how delightful the Eclipse management system sounds as a concept, how different it seems to the other caster classes I’ve played.

With the other classes, you cast a spell, it activates, and aside from what it can do, it might also trigger something else that makes another spell more powerful. Once that buff is gone, though, you start over. Warlocks can burn their Soul Shards to buff spells, but it’s still a ‘cast this, trigger something else to be buffed, cast first spell again and start sequence fresh’ type of power progression.

For the Moonkin, this whole Eclipse sounds like an amazing playstyle to flow with.

Maybe you’re a highly experienced Moonkin player, or maybe you don’t know anything about them and don’t care, but from my fresh perspective, it sounds brilliant and I’m itching to try it on level 85 bad guys.

In fact, the only thing about it that I would wish, coming at it completely fresh, is that I wish the spell names and effects were tweaked the rest of the way to really highlight that you’re channeling the raw power of the Sun or the Moon.

You have an actual Eclipse bar registering both Solar and Lunar energy. Think of it as how attuned you are to one or the other at any given time.

Some of your spells, when cast, generate Solar power, and others generate Lunar power.

When your bar is at full Solar or Lunar power, you are at an Eclipse. The corresponding power is buffed… but every time you cast that spell, you move away from full eclipse and back towards the other side. The buff remains until the moment you reach equilibrium.

The amazing thing about this mechanic, to me, is that it gives you control over when your Eclipse buff will go off. Not all of your spells cause Solar or Lunar power… and you can intentionally cast the opposing spell to drop your bar back a step.

Think of it this way, and by all means correct me if I’m wrong, but say you’re on a boss fight.

For a lot of the fight, you’re doing the best damage you can, including pushing to each Eclipse point, but at some point you want to be able to push it on command. To ‘pop all cooldowns’, to go all out. Heroism is fired, everybody on the boss.

You want to be using Eclipse to buff your spells during the fight, otherwise you are hurting yourself, sure. But you also know that when the boss falls to, say, 35% health, it’s time to go all in. And when the mark ticks 35%, that’s when you want your chosen Eclipse, Lunar or Solar, to activate.

So when the boss gets to 40% or so and you’re getting close, a Moonkin can cast a Lunar spell pushing towards a Lunar Eclipse… and then once you’re on the edge of the Eclipse, cast a Solar spell or two, bringing it back again.

At 35% boss health, you can actually cast that one last Lunar spell, tipping the bar to 100 and firing off a Lunar Eclipse, right on schedule, buffing your Lunar spells like crazy. But of course, each buffed Lunar spell you cast drops you back towards equilibrium again.

That’s so freaking cool.

As I said, my only teeny gripe about this is that some of your spells are still Nature based in name. To my mind, the idea that you are channeling the raw force of the Sun, or the more muted, radiant energy reflected off the Moon is awesome. I’d prefer all my spells to relate to this Solar/Lunar theme.

I fully understand that the Moonkin started out with pure Nature, and the Solar/Lunar thing grew later based on Moonfires and Starfires, but now the Eclipse theme is so sweet that I’d like to expand on that, and leave the Swarm of Angry little Bees Chasing Pooh the Bear behind, y’know? I’d love to see Entangling Roots become more of a Gravity Well thing to pin people down.

I ain’t crying, just saying.

And for those of you that love Moonkin and wish they’d drop Solar and Lunar Eclipse, Moonfire and stuff, and go back to pure Nature for the spell theme… I totally understand.

I personally see the Eclipse thing as being more appropriate to an Astrologer-style Mage, and seeming kind of wierd tacked on to the Owlbear.

But I love the Moonkin form, the Moonkin dance, and the Eclipse cosmology. Can I help it if I want them juxtaposed, no matter how little sense it might make?

So, off I go. I intend to try running normal instances as Moonkin to try my hand at the playstyle. I’m going to explore totally new territory.

Oh wait, I AM scared. Hold me!

Now, on to a more serious note.

The Moonkin playstyle really is not that different from other casters, except that it gives you the ability to manage a resource that has no zero point. You have a sliding scale, and at any given time, you are moving somewhere on the scale, and you can change directions at will. 

It is that aspect of the mechanic added to the traditional caster playstyle that I find very intriguing. With the help of addons like the one Graylo recommends, Balance Power, you can see exactly where you are at any given moment, and also how far the next spell you are actively casting is about to push you towards an Eclipse.

This small addition is just enough to take away the feeling that there is a specific fixed rotation to master, and instead, however mistakenly, gives me the feeling I am in control of my own destiny. I and I alone choose when I buff my spells, AND which spells will be buffed (Solar or Lunar), based on the choices I will make. The moment I unleash the power of an Eclipse will be in my hands.

It’s a small thing, but at the same time, just the idea feels more fulfilling than knowing that a spell I cast as a Mage has a chance to proc an extra buff or effect on a Crit.

I have no control over when crits go off, unless I have a spell I can trigger to make my next cast spell an auto-crit, which doesn’t have the same feel. All I can really do is stack more crit, which is a function of gear upgrades and Reforging/Gemming and Enchanting.

It’s a small thing, but it adds an excitement to the idea of playing a ranged spellcaster that had been a little lacking before.

It makes me wonder… is the way the Moonkin changed over the years a sign of how Blizzard sees class design these days? And if so, is this the level of control over our class we can expect to see them introducing in the new MMO they’ve been working on?