So our DoTs equate to about 25% (give or take) of our total dps on a Patchwerk fight. This post is just a (kind of) simple guide to managing your DoTs to optimize the GCDs that it costs to apply them.
The first thing that everybody should be aware of, is in the time it takes you to apply a DoT you could have gotten off half of a Starfire cast or 66% of a Wrath cast. This is just something that everybody should keep in the back of their minds.
In an ideal world you want to be refreshing one tick before DoT expiration. Our DoTs do initial damage. The next best scenario for DoT refreshing would be to refresh it directly after it's last tick. The only time refreshing early is okay is if the DoT will be falling off within 7 seconds, the DoT will be Mastery&Haste buffed, and you're about to leave the eclipse that buffs that DoT.
Let's start off at the start of your rotation after you have finished your initial burst cycle.
So we'll be starting at 0 eclipse energy (middle of the bar) going TOWARDS solar eclipse.
We'll also assume that your raid has decied to use Bloodlust/Heroism on the pull.
Now that all of that is out of the way, we'll move on to why everybody is reading:
You should have just re-applied your DoTs before Celestial Alignment ended. 15 seconds of DoTs should hold you over through almost all of Solar eclipse, if not all of it. Here is where we start making decisions based on different situations.
If we never got any DoT extentions through critting with hardcasts, then our DoTs would never differ more than 1 GCD in duration.
So, hypothetically, let's assume that you got a Starsurge crit and 2 Wrath crits between Celestial Alignment ending, and you LEAVING Solar eclipse (You have the best RNG). Well by now your Moonfire has 3.5sec left on it and your Sunfire has 6.5sec left on it (it's hypothetical guys) with 5 Solar energy left. So how do you go about refreshing your DoTs. Well you're going to start by refreshing your Sunfire since it will be both Mastery AND Nature's Grace buffed.
Make sure that you always get at least one Mastery&Haste refresh per eclipse.
So you're going to be refreshing Sunfire so that it stays Mastery&Haste buffed for another full duration. Since Sunfire doesn't have enough time left on it to carry over to Lunar anyways, you're better off refreshing it now. Now since Moonfire still has 2.5seconds left on it (3.5 - 1GCD) you have time to hardcast a Wrath before refreshing it.
Understand that snce Moonfire doesn't benefit from Solar, you don't have to refresh it before you leave Solar. You merely have to refresh it while you still have Nature's Grace. This is where a lot of people go wrong, they think that "Eclipse is good, so this is when I should refresh my DoTs."
Now let's keep going. You've now refreshed both of your DoTs and have saved one hardcast and 2seconds on Moonfire.
You're continuing your rotation and get into Lunar. Another common mistake that is made is people refresh their Mastery DoT the moment they enter their respective eclipse. This is something of the past, it's what was best to do in Cataclysm. It's a dps loss now in Pandaria. You save 4-5 seconds if you don't refresh immediately and you STILL get the FULL duration of a Mastery buffed Moonfire, you just have to be patient.
What should be done, rather, is Starsurge (if off CD), followed by Starfall, into normal rotation. After 2-3 hardcasts your Sunfire should be falling off, refresh it one tick before expiration. Refresh your Moonfire when you have 20 Lunar energy left and continue to hardcast as usual.
If your DoTs fall off at the same time, refresh the NON-Mastery buffed DoT first so the Mastery buffed one will get added damage from Lunar Shower, much like in your burst.
I hope most of this made sense and I hope people get use out of it. I'll be posting more on this thread in the days to come such as a Burst Guide and whatnot.
Wouldn't it make more sense to refresh the eclipsed DoT immediatly upon entering eclipse and once one cast before leaving eclipse? The way you describe it you're aiming for the full duration of an eclipsed dot. However, if you refresh at the start, might you not be able to inch in some extra ticks on top of that full duration?
Or are the extra ticks (before refreshing at 20 Lunar f.e.) not worth the opportunity cost of the hardcast time lost?
I play my Balance Druid as an alt, next to my Elemental Shaman, so I'm by no means as knowledgeable as a regular player, so I'm going to edit my post here with some scenarios while I queue for LFR. DoT refreshing is the one aspect I'm not entirely sure of.
1. I leave CA with my dots refreshed. I get no extension in Solar and I refresh my SF at about the last cast before leaving Solar when both my DoTs are about to fall off...
=> Do I refresh my MF too at that time? What I've been doing lately is I've been refreshing my SF, but I kept my MF off until the next Lunar (in this very specific first Solar-Lunar cycle).
2. I refreshed SF before leaving Solar and have refreshed MF (which I let drop off) upon entering Lunar. My DoTs are now on different timers. Let's assume my Crit is shite (which it is). My SF will be dropping off soon, so I refresh it before the last tick with the Haste buff. I'm entering the last hardcast before Lunar ends...
=> Do I refresh my MF? Regardless of DoT duration in the event I get lucky with crits? Or only when there's <8 seconds left?
3. Now the interesting part (for me): I leave Lunar with a refreshed MF at 20 Lunar. My SF has been refreshed halfway and will be at about 4-6 seconds (no mathematical estimate) when entering Solar...
=> Do I refresh right off the bat? Or do I wait for the last tick before refreshing the uneclipsed SF with an eclipsed SF?
Another, slightly related, question:
What I've been doing now upon entering Lunar is queueing Starfall, then refreshing dots if necessary, then Starsurge > Starfire.
Would it be more optimal to either queue a Starsurge or a Starfire before the instant Starfall?
When entering Solar, same thing: Do I immediatly refresh dots, or do I queue a Wrath/Starsurge before queueing a dot after the cast?
I don't think it makes more sense to refresh them upon entering and eclipse if it means clipping a haste-buffed DoT. If you go to a training dummy, assuming you don't have much mastery left in your gear, a mastery buffed MF will do about 3-4k more than a non-mastery buffed DoT.
So let's assume the following is true (these will vary by gear but the numbers should be pretty close):
The non-buffed Moonfire will last until there is 40 or 20 Lunar energy left.
A cast of Moonfire is worth 1 GCD.
A cast of Starfire is worth 2 GCDs.
Half of a buffed Starfire is worth 60-70k damage (without critting).
Moving 60-80 Lunar energy takes 6-8 seconds.
6-8 seconds of Mastery and Haste buffed Moonfire is 56k-72k damage.
6-8 seconds of Haste buffed Moonfire is 35k-45k damage.
56k to 72k minus 35k to 45k = 21k to 27k damage.
Even if these numbers are off by 10k, it still goes to show that if you refresh immediately upon entering an eclipse, refreshing you DoT will yeild you about 20k-30k MORE dps than not doing it. HOWEVER instead of using the GCD to get a DoT off, you could have gotten half a cast of Starfire off, which would do the same or more damage, and move you down the eclipse bar. Especially if you're refreshing your Moonfire AGAIN during the same Nature's Grace period, then it's not worth it.
Alrighty second question. This ties into the first one. The difference between your refreshes and mine for MOONFIRE in this scenerio are as follows. I would have refreshed my Moonfire before Nature's Grace from SOLAR ended. This would have been 1-2 hardcasts after Sunfire, or possible right before Sunfire depending on when it fell off. This Moonfire would have held over through most of Lunar and I would have merely refreshed it right before leaving Lunar or right before it fell off.
Now from how you're currently reapplying your DoTs, I do think it would be worth it to refresh right before leaving Lunar eclipse. I personally feel applying the same DoT twice in one eclipse is a complete waste of a GCD, but I'm sure others disagree with me.
Question 3. Yes wait for one tick before expiration before refreshing it, that's how I normally operate in my rotation. Again take this with a grain of salt, I'm not a pro.
As for priorities upon entering an eclipse:
DoTs (if needed such as during burst) > Starsurge > Starfall > Starfire/Wrath.
Now when I say DoTs first, don't clip your DoTs. Clipping DoTs when they have more than 1 or 2 ticks left is a pretty large dps loss and will account for about 10 GCDs lost over the course of a fight.
I don't think I directly answered question one but my initial statements should help you out on that.
I hope this helps, I'm sure there are opinions that differ from mine, however this is what I feel is best until proven wrong or.
You seem to not be taking into account trink/weap/profs procs which can be a major factor in deciding as well whether or not to reapply a dot... Say the following is procc'd: jade spirit (1.6k int) + light of cosmos trink (3k ish int?) + dmc trink (another 3k ish int) + lightweave (1.6k int?), that is a massive amount of intellect that you can't simply ignore and follow a standard rule. I look at these buffs and try to time reapping my dots based on them along with eclipse and NG buff, can't say I have a strict rule but I don't mind doing a bigger dot clipping if that will get the dot a big proc buff etc...
I disagree with refreshing Moonfire a cast after having left Solar. By leaving only 1 dot on your target you are losing a couple ticks of an uneclipsed Moonfire, part of which will be made up by the fact that you will have more overall ticks of eclipsed Moonfire, and the rest will be made up by decreasing your downtime between Eclipses, leading to higher NG uptime, more Starfalls, and technically more Inc/NV (but the fight would have to be super long to make this actually lead to 1 more Inc/NV usage).