Table of contents
2.0 How to get help
3.0 Choosing a race
4.0 Stats n’ caps
11.0 Eclipse Phases and Rotation
12.0 Tips, Tricks, and Variations
13.0 Useful addons
14.0 Other moonkin guides
Welcome to the Cataclysm Balance PvE guide. This is a guide that was historically maintained by Qieth but, as he is ending the WoW chapter of his life, he has asked me to take over the moderation and updating of his balance guide here at MMO-Champion. I do maintain a Balance PvE guide on another site as well but, one of the things I am attempting to do with the MMO Champion guide is preserve something that Qieth did very well and that is covering the need-to-know points while also keeping the guide accessible to those that are just starting.
There are some things that need to be updated in Qieth's guide and I am changing those. This will continue as new patches and changes in content are released. I am going to inject some of the detail and flavor from my other guide but I definitely want to strike a balance between accessible to the beginner and yet deep enough to help the advanced. More to come and feedback is always welcome.
2.0 How to get help
If you have a moonkin related question, feel free to post a reply to this topic, and I or the community will do our best to answer. However, to make it easier on yourself – and on everybody else – follow these tips first:
- Read the guide. Most basics are covered here.
- Identify your problem. Are you asking about gearing up, gems, enchants, rotation, addons?
- Check the guide again – maybe you missed something that answered your question!
- Post as much detailed, relevant information as you can; Armory link, maybe a raid log, and an explanation of what your issue is.
- Are you sure it’s not in the guide? It goes a lot faster if you just read the guide, rather than you waiting for us to repeat what is written here.
We love to help, but many times the information is readily available, and you can save a lot of time by scrolling down to whatever area might give you problems. If that doesn’t help, or something in this guide isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to post in this topic, and we’ll help you out!
3.0 Choosing a race
With the release of Cataclysm, we are no longer restricted to being either night elves or tauren. Trolls and Worgen have also been added to the mix. You are free to choose whichever race you please. However, if you are trying to optimize your Balance PvE output, Worgen for alliance and Troll for Horde are the two clear choices.
Worgen offer an innate +1% critical strike through Viciousness and also gain Darkflight which is useful if an encounter event requires quick or far movement.
Trolls offer ~1% haste through Berserking and also gain Beast Slaying which can be of benefit on some encounters.
This is not to say that you can't enjoy being a Night Elf or Tauren Balance Druid -- only that those two races offer no PvE benefit to the Balance spec. By all means, if you prefer Tauren or Night Elf for other reasons, feel free to enjoy these races as well.
4.0 Stats n’ caps
First things first, be aware with the addition of Leather Specialization in Cataclysm, you should always attempt to only use leather gear. Wearing only leather items will increase your intellect by 5%. Equipping just a single piece of cloth gear will remove this bonus, and that is a massive hit to your intellect, and thus spell power and critical strike chance. There is generally no gain from wearing a cloth piece that can outweigh the loss of the leather specialization bonus.
Second, to best equip your Balance Druid for what’s ahead, you must have at least a basic knowledge of how each stat affects you. Balance stat priority can be briefly summarized as:
Int > Haste = Hit = Spirit > Mastery > Crit
A great spreadsheet that identifies stat values and allows you to setup gear, reforges, gems and see the effect on your dps can be found here:
WrathCalcs at Elitist Jerks
That said, some more complete detail on each stat is below:
Intellect: Intellect is our strongest stat and, as such, obviously something you will want a whole lot of. Intellect gives you the following:
- More mana
- Additional spell power. One point of intellect gives you 1 spell power (actually 1.169 spell power after figuring in talents and leather armor bonuses).
- Higher chance to score a critical strike with spells. One point of Intellect gives you 0.0018% crit chance. In other words, you need 555 Intellect for 1% chance to crit.
Hit Rating: Hit is an important stat for every single class. Thankfully, it is fairly easy for us to attain hit, so this should always be your first priority. Each ~102.45 hit rating gives you 1% chance to hit. Additionally, with 2/2 Balance of Power, each point of Spirit also gives you 1 point of hit rating, meaning that 102.45 Spirit increases your chance to hit by 1%. Because of this, we can simply assume that Spirit = Hit and treat them both as the same.
You will need 17% hit (1742 hit rating) to never miss a spell. You can also hover your mouse over your spell hit rating to see your chance to miss against mobs of equal level, or boss level monsters.
Haste rating: Haste is a very powerful stat for us. Each 128.05 Haste rating gives 1% spell haste. At these values, Haste provides the most DPS per point and is our best secondary stat. Haste will affect the following:
- Reduces the global cooldown of your spells.
- Reduces cast time of your Starfire, Wrath and Starsurge.
- Increases the frequency of your Moonfire, Sunfire, Insect swarm and Hurricane ticks.
Mastery: With the advent of patch 4.0.6, 179.28 mastery rating adds 2.0% to our Eclipse bonus. At this value, even though Eclipse uptime averages out around 60%, this still makes Mastery stronger than crit rating.
Crit: 179.28 Crit rating gives 1% to crit. Because Crit gives a lower rating conversion than Haste, and we no longer have a meaningful Haste cap, Crit is substantially weaker than Haste. At these values, Crit provides the least DPS per point and, with the 4.0.6 changes to Mastery, Crit is now our worst secondary stat. This does not mean it's not beneficial -- just that we should prioritize Haste and Mastery first where possible.
Stat Addendum: Haste Breakpoints
Although I noted general Haste value above, it's worth being aware that haste changes in value at a certain breakpoints. Here's a list of these values with all typical raid buffs. You can also check WrathCalcs spreadsheet that is referred to above to see your exact caps in any setup.
With 3/3 Genesis and Moonkin Form, Moonfire/Sunfire/Insect Swarm get an 11th tick at 1423 haste rating, a 12th tick at 2778, a 13th tick at 4134, and a 14th tick at 5489. When affected by Nature's Grace, the 13th tick comes at 1924 rating, the 14th tick at 3102, the 15th tick at 4281, and the 16th tick at 5459. An important fact here is that the tick rate of a DoT depends only on your haste at the moment it's cast--it does not change dynamically while the DoT is running.
For cast-time spells, now that Wrath is a 2s base cast, it cannot run up against the 1s GCD minimum at any reasonable level of haste (outside of Heroism/Bloodlust, Haste procs). There is a weak haste cap where the GCD hits 1.0s with Nature's Grace active. This requires 1.5/(1.05*1.15) - 1 = 24.22% haste, or 3102 haste rating. The GCD does not hit 1.0s without Nature's Grace until 5489 haste.
****EDIT: There is some in game feedback that the 13th tick of dots happens at 1929 haste with NG. This doesn't mesh with what we would expect the calculations to be based on haste formulas but apparently there is some in-game rounding going on. This rounding may change some other valuations above as well but 1929 is the significant haste mark (for T11 gear) that I'd make sure and stay above.
Stat Addendum: Mastery Breakpoints
With the advent of 4.1.0, Mastery break points no longer exist for Balance. Mastery now scales linearly with each point of Mastery.
Reforging allows you to change 40% of one stat on an item into another. You can only swap between Spirit, Hit, Haste, Crit and Mastery, and you can only change one stat into another stat that isn’t already on the item. This means that if you have an item with Haste and crit, you cannot turn 40% of the Crit into more Haste, but you can turn it into Mastery rating if you are so inclined.
When reforging, you should work from these principles:
- Step 1) Find any pieces of gear that do not have Haste as a secondary stat and reforge Haste there. I generally steal from Spirit or Hit first and leave throughput stats alone but I may steal from other throughput stats if a piece doesn't have any Spirit, Hit, Haste on it (say like on DMC:Volcano).
- Step 2) After my Haste reforges are done, I take a look and see where I am relative to the hit cap.
- Step 2a) If above, I look for pieces with Spirit/Hit that I can reforge to Mastery.
- Step 2b) If below, I look for the remaining pieces that have Crit or Mastery on them as possible reforges to Spirit and take from Crit if possible.
Even with the above methodology, I would advise setting up your gear in WrathCalcs at Elitist Jerks and making test modifications there to avoid paying your local Arcane Reforger's kids way through college.
Gemming is fairly straight forward for moonkins.
Meta: Always use the Burning Shadowspirit Diamond.
Blue: You should be using Purified Demonseye in blue slots. If you do not need the Hit rating and the socket bonus is particularly bad, feel free to treat it as a red socket.
Red: Red slots should always, always, always be filled with Brilliant Inferno Ruby
Yellow: Reckless Ember Topaz will be your preference.
I'll start with listing two "cookie-cutter" specs for normal mode raiding and then heroic raiding:
Entering Raids Starting Spec and Heroic Raid Spec.
As you will notice, these specs are very similar. The main difference between the two is that you are moving points out of Dreamstate and into the damage mitigation talent Perserverance. This is because, with gear, Dreamstate becomes unnecessary to maintain our mana and, on the other hand, damage mitigation becomes very critical as you enter Heroic raiding.
Glyphs are fairly straight forward. With the addition of Prime Glyphs, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Some combinations are slightly stronger than others, however. That said, there are some core glyphs that should always be in your setup:
Core Glyphs (Don't Be Without These):
Glyph of Insect Swarm - core throughput glyph
Glyph of Moonfire- core throughput glyph
Glyph of Starfall - core throughput glyph
Glyph of Rebirth - all raid Battle Res should be 100%, no questions.
Optional / Swap-In Glyphs:
Glyph of Starfire, Glyph of Starsurge, and Glyph of Wrath all are solid 3rd Prime glyphs. It is situational which is best. Prior to 4pc-T11 I'd say Starsurge wins out. Post 4pc-T11, it comes down to the encounter whether I use Starfire, Wrath, or Starsurge.
Our 3rd Major glyph, there's really not a strong winner. If you habitually give your Innervate away, Glyph of Innervate isn't bad. I had been using Glyph of Focus on normal mode Nefarian so I can stack on Nef cast Starfall and not draw any adds away from offtank. I no longer use this glyph in our Heroic strat but with increased Starfall radius theoretically coming in 4.1, this glyph may see more use. I was glyphing Glyph of Monsoon on Heroic Maloriak but now with WM buffed so much, I don't really Typhoon. I guess in 10 man, you could maybe make an argument for Glyph of Hurricane . . . meh, I don't know. Make sure you get Rebirth and Starfall and have fun with the third Major after that
I won't spend alot of time on minors -- I like Glyph of Dash especially now that rocket boosts are so unreliable. Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth is fine utility. Glyph of Mark of the Wild isn't bad if you have to rebuff during combat I suppose. When I was using Typhoon on H Maloriak, Glyph of Typhoon was useful as you don't want pushback on those adds. Honestly, they're minor glyphs -- have fun with the third one here too
Enchants are usually pretty straight forward. Here is what you should generally go for:
Head: Arcanum of Hyjal - Revered Guardians of Hyjal
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone - Exalted Therazane
Back: Enchant Cloak - Greater Intellect
Chest: Enchant Chest - Peerless Stats -- the poor man's version of this is Enchant Chest - Mighty Stats
Wrist: Enchant Bracer - Mighty Intellect (new with 4.0.6) -- the poor man’s version is Enchant Bracer - Speed.
Hands: Enchant Gloves - Haste
Belt: Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs: Powerful Ghostly Spellthread -- the poor man's version is Ghostly Spellthread
Boots: Enchant Boots - Lavawalker -- the poor man’s version is Enchant Boots - Haste.
Weapon: Enchant Weapon - Power Torrent -- the poor man’s version of this is Enchant Weapon - Hurricane.
Offhand: Enchant Off-Hand - Superior Intellect
As of 4.0.6, most Professions have now been normalized to give ~80 INT which makes profession choice a bit less of a min/max decision. I'm not sure if I like that but that does seem to be the trend. That said, there are still three professions that do not fall in that mold as well as small differences in how each profession gets you to that 80 INT all of which I will describe below:
As of 4.0.6, Tailoring gives the best DPS gain.
Tailoring: Lightweave Embroidery has been updated to giv 580 Int for 15 seconds, 20% proc on spellcast, 50 second cooldown. The average benefit is around 155 Int, minus the 50 Int you usually have on your cloak, for an increase of around 105 Int.
Engineering: Synapse Springs gives 480 Int, for 10 seconds out of every 60 (as of 4.0.6 -- was 12 seconds prior), for 80 Int on average.
Leatherworking: Draconic Embossment - Intellect in place of 50 INT to bracer (available in 4.0.6) gives 80 Intellect.
Jewelcrafting: 3 Brilliant Chimera's Eye in place of 3 Brilliant Inferno Ruby gives 81 Intellect.
Blacksmithing: An extra socket each in your wrists and gloves, each with a Brilliant Inferno Ruby, gives 80 Intellect.
Alchemy: Mixology (with your Flask of the Draconic Mind or Flask of Battle) will give you 80 Intellect.
Enchanting: Enchant Ring - Intellect to each ring gives 80 Intellect.
Inscription: Felfire Inscription in place of the Therazane enchant gives 80 Intellect.
The remaining professions increase the secondary stats of Haste and Crit instead of the primary stat Intellect and provide far less benefit as a result:
Herbalism: Gives a haste cooldown via Lifeblood, it averages out to 80 haste.
Skinning[: Master of Anatomy gives 80 crit rating.
Use a Flask of the Draconic Mind for an intellect boost. The Flask of Battle provided by Big Cauldron of Battle will provide the same benefit. For food, Severed Sagefish Head and Seafood Magnifique Feast both provide 90 INT / 90 STA..
Pre-pot and during-fight potion usage is pretty much covered by Volcanic Potion for a DPS boost, preferably during Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp.
11.0 Eclipse Phases and Rotation:
I'll start this section with a video that I built reviewing the Balance Rotation - single-target, multi-target, and AoE (massively multi-target). It gives a good general view of what our rotation looks like as well as showcases some of the better tracking tools for our energy bar, procs, cooldowns, and the like.
The video is one way that I think helps crystallize some of the rules we use in our rotation which I'll also go ahead and review below. I also have full encounter vids of T11 encounters from a moonkin PoV at my youtube channel here: Calc's Youtube Chan. I think these videos go a long way to showing the rotation in action in a way that can't be expressed as well in words. That said, I'll describe the phases and some strategy in text below as well.
Certainly, although Eclipse remains a Boomkin mechanic, it has changed significantly (for the better) since WotLK. There are now essentially four Eclipse phases with the following basic premise (which I'll expand upon more afterward):
Primary Energy Bar Movers: Wrath & Starfire
With Cataclysm, Eclipse Energy was introduced. We basically have our two primary nukes move the Energy bar in a directional heading toward or away from an Eclipse state. Starsurge also generates Energy but I'll cover that later. In terms of energy movement spells, the 4 Eclipse phases look as follows:
1. Pre-Lunar (non-Eclipse state building Lunar energy from 0 to 100 - no damage buff during this state)
Cast Wrath until you reach 100 Lunar Energy and the Lunar Eclipse buff appears. With a mod like BalancePowerTracker, which has predictive energy gains built in, you can know when to, for instance, start channeling Starfire even as say the preceding Wrath that will proc Lunar is still in flight.
2. Lunar Eclipse (Eclipse state with minimum 41 % damage buff (scales with Mastery) to Arcane spells - Starfire, Moonfire, Starfall, Starsurge)
Cast Starfire to move toward Solar. You can fit 5 Eclipsed Starfires at 20 Energy each before you cross back over the zero Energy mark and the Lunar Eclipse buff fades.
3. Pre-Solar (non-Eclipse state building Solar energy from 0 to 100 - no damage buff during this state)
When Lunar Eclipse fades (once you cross zero energy on your Eclipse bar), continue casting Starfire until you reach 100 Solar energy and the Solar Eclipse buff appears.
4. Solar Eclipse (Eclipse state with minimum 41 % damage buff (scales with Mastery) to Nature spells - Wrath, Sunfire, Wild Mushroom, Hurricane, Typhoon, Starsurge)
Cast Wrath for the duration. You can fit in 7 Eclipsed Wraths at 14 energy each before the Solar Eclipse buff fades. Continue casting when it ends to loop back around into phase 1 again.
Basically, in terms of moving your Eclipse bar, you cast Wrath until Lunar procs and cast Starfire until Solar procs. But once DoTs and other instants are involved, thinking in terms of the four-phase cycle helps you plan your casts well.
Starsurge also moves the Eclipse bar (at 15 Energy a pop whichever direction the bar is currently going) and, pre-4pc bonus, should be used on cooldown or whenever Shooting Stars procs. The only notable exception is if it would be the last spell before Eclipse. Then you can hold it up for one spell to cast it with the Eclipse buff as it gets a boost in either Lunar or Solar. Note that if you cast one Starsurge during Lunar, you still get 5 Eclipsed Starfires, so doing this is ideal. But in general, Eclipsed Starsurges are always good, since it does more damage per energy used than Wrath or Starfire.
As an addendum to this, post-4 pc bonus and with the 4.0.6 changes extending the amount of time that Shooting Stars lasts, I have taken to delaying Starsurge to line up with Eclipse procs and the 4 pc bonus. I will still use Shooting Stars procs within an Eclipse but once I am in pre-Solar or pre-Lunar, I will delay Starsurge until I enter an Eclipse phase. With Mastery changes and with 4-pc crit proc, the benefit is too large to pass up.
With the advent of 4.0.6, everyone should be taking a much harder look at Wild Mushrooms. 4.0.6 brings these changes: "Wild Mushroom is now instant cast, down from 0.5 seconds. In addition, the radius of detonation has been increased to 6 yards, up from 3, and damage done increased by 30%." These changes definitely make WM extremely strong for AoE and even good use for something to drop on the move instead of Lunar Shower spam when not in Eclipse. In other words, instead of overwriting an Eclipsed Sunfire/Moonfire with a non-Eclipsed Moonfire, it can make sense to drop mushrooms while on the move instead and then wait to Detonate until in Solar (preferably as the last charge of your 4 pc). Long and short, get WM and Detonate on good comfortable keybinds and get good placing them with the reticule whether you are stationary or on the move. With the 4.06 changes to this spell and to Mastery, this is a solid, solid addition to our PvE arsenal now.
Pre-Solar to Solar: You want to watch for when your Solar energy is at 80 or higher, so that you know your current Starfire cast is your last one, and queue a Wrath. Again, BalancePowerTracker mod helps visualize this a ton better than the default Eclipse bar. Sometimes, a Euphoria proc (double-energy gain) will cause you to get Eclipse one cast early (which even BalancePowerTracker can't predict). There's nothing you can do then; you'll wind up casting one extra Starfire. It's a dps loss to stopcast -- don't do it.
Pre-Lunar to Lunar: Since Wrath gives its Eclipse energy upon landing, it's a bit trickier to time the swap to Starfire correctly. If your Lunar energy as you start a Wrath is 74 or higher, it will be your last Wrath (because the one you are casting will give 14 energy and the one in the air will give 14 energy when it lands as well). Do your best to avoid casting extra spells beyond what's necessary to proc Eclipse. Again, beating a dead horse, but BalancePowerTracker makes this a ton easier -- go get the mod if you play Balance at all.
Delay of proc recognition and best first cast once entering Eclipse:
I usually don't have dots that have just dropped and/or need refreshed when I'm entering Eclipse. Because of this, usually my natural first cast is whichever of Wrath/Starfire is the Eclipse amped nuke or Starsurge if it's up. That said, a couple things to be aware of on Eclipse entry:
a) if your dots did just expire and you have to refresh them, it still is worth making your first cast an Eclipse amped nuke. This is due to the lag on recognition of the Eclipse proc. If you cast an instant like Insect Swarm right after the proc, there is a good chance the instant will be recognized before the Eclipse and you won't trigger Nature's Grace with that dot cast.
b) In the same vein, if you have a Shooting Stars proc you are trying to carry into an Eclipse, it's best to hard cast a nuke before you use that as well as the Starsurge may not benefit from the Eclipse state if you cast it immediately.
c) If Starsurge is off cooldown (even when not a Shooting Stars proc), I still am very tentative on making it my first cast in Lunar eclipse. This is mainly due to the fact that I am hard casting my first Lunar nuke while the Wrath that will proc Lunar is still in the air. Starsurge cast time is often too short and goes off right before the Lunar proc is recognized. So in Lunar, Starfire is my first cast, then Starsurge if it is up. On a Solar proc however, Starfire doesn't have travel time, so I absolutely can queue a cast-time Starsurge as my first Solar spell (though as noted above, an instant Shooting Stars proc in Solar may not get the benefit so I will hard cast a Wrath first in that case).
As a final note, it is very much worth being aware that this same lag issue on Eclipse entry which can cause an immediate instant cast to not benefit from Eclipse can be used to our advantage on Eclipse exit. As an example, let's say that I'm at 5 Lunar Energy and my current Starfire cast will exit me from the Eclipse (crossing me over zero and putting me at 15 Solar). If I immediately follow that Starfire with an instant cast (say Moonfire or a Shooting Stars Starsurge), that instant cast spell WILL also benefit from Lunar Eclipse because it gets in before everything catches up and I am recognized as being outside of Eclipse. This is a way to get an "extra" Eclipse-buffed cast in -- fair is fair, lag to the negative on way in, lag to the positive on the way out.
Compared to WotLK, our DoT's are far stronger now. You want to do your best to maintain very high uptime on both of them. Typically, the only time you will hold up recasting of a DoT is if it falls off and the corresponding Eclipse is coming up very soon--you might wait one (two casts maximum) and refresh at the beginning of Eclipse. If both DoT's are coming up at around the same time when you start Eclipse, remember that Nature's Grace will only affect the second one, so you want to use Insect Swarm first (because Moonfire/Sunfire is stronger than IS under either Eclipse).
It is also worth noting that Cataclysm changed the way DoT refreshing works--when you refresh a currently ticking DoT, you no longer waste a partial tick. Significantly, if you refresh a DoT when it has only one tick remaining, there is no loss at all. This means the optimal time to refresh a DoT is during its last tick, thereby maintaining true 100% uptime.
DoT ticks use your spellpower, haste, and +% damage (e.g. Eclipse) values from the moment the DoT was cast--they do not update in real time until the next time you cast the DoT. Crit chance of the ticks, on the other hand, does change dynamically if you gain or lose crit buffs while the DoT is ticking.
Your dot casts are also what proc Nature's Grace (NG), which is a significant haste gain that we should maintain around 60% uptime. However, there is no reason to refresh dots as soon as you enter Eclipse -- especially not if you would significantly clip the dot by doing so. As long as you refresh your dots before exiting the Eclipse (crossing zero energy), you will still get Eclipse buffed dots for the duration as well as get full use of the Nature's Grace haste proc. The video I linked above gives a variety of dot refresh scenarios throughout if you pay attention to my dot timers and Eclipse bar.
The key thing to remember is, as long as you refresh your dots before you cross zero energy and exit the eclipse, you will accomplish the three things you need to:
1) a set of eclipse amped dots
2) high uptime on dots without unnecessary clipping
2) 15 second NG proc.
NG uptime is not impacted positively or negatively by refreshing early or late in an Eclipse. The two things that really affect NG uptime are your haste and whether or not you are able to keep hard casting to move your energy bar. As long as you get 15 seconds of NG time each traverse of the bar AND don't clip the prior NG buff with the new NG, you will achieve the same uptime whether or not you refresh dots / proc NG early or late.
Long Duration Cooldowns
Starfall: Prior to 4 pc T11, If possible, cast this at the beginning of Lunar Eclipse. But depending on your haste and other factors, your cycle might be too short to use Starfall during Lunar each time. In that case, use it on cooldown. In fights which occasionally have multiple targets up at once, save Starfall for those times. After 4 pc T11, see my notes in the rotation changes section below.
Force of Nature: use this as many times as possible in a given fight. If you know when Bloodlust/Heroism is coming, try to cast this very soon after so that the Treants get the benefit for their full duration (but not if this requires waiting so long that you can't use it as many times during the encounter). There's no special benefit for having a spellpower buff active at the moment you cast this; the Treants' attack power changes dynamically with your spellpower. As you learn each fight, pay attention to things that kill the Treants and time your cast to avoid them if possible.
13.0 Tips, Tricks, and Variations
Eclipse Energy Decay Prevention and You
In beta, Blizzard introduced a feature that prevented Eclipse energy from resetting. This is generally good but it does cause situations where you may enter a boss fight in a non-ideal Eclipse state / direction. With pre-planning, you can manipulate your Eclipse bar on trash fights to allow you to start an encounter with ideal Eclipse bar position and direction. That said, if after trash you are at a bad position or direction, you can always double-respec to reset your Eclipse energy to zero and your Eclipse direction to neutral.
As of 4.0.6, Blizzard did fix the issue where you would retain your Eclipse direction after death. Our Eclipse energy is still reset to zero as before but we now also have our energy direction set to neutral and can go either direction to start without playing the double-respec games we had to prior to 4.0.6. This is a very welcome change.
Since I am talking about Eclipse direction for openers, let me try to answer a common question that goes something to the effect of "What is the best direction to go when starting a fight?":
As it is with many things in life, it's not going to be an "always-head-this-way" answer or at least it shouldn't be. Many times, what direction I head has to do with understanding the timings of the encounter, when significant add phases will be coming, and what phase I want to be in when they do. Maloriak for instance I will always head Lunar first because the time it takes to go from 0 to Lunar and then traverse all the way back to Solar lines up incredibly well with when Black Phase adds spawn . . . and I absolutely want to be in Solar for the duration of Black Phase.
On other fights, it may make sense to head Solar first -- it really just depends. All things being the same, if there are no timing considerations where what phase I'm in matters, I'm most likely to head to Solar first due to trinket and other profession cooldowns proc'ing INT early and Solar having both dots getting a double-amp from not only the INT proc but also Eclipse.
Extending Eclipse Phases
The above section may make energy decay prevention / energy retention seem like a nuisance. However, you can very much use this feature to your advantage as well (especially where predictable add phases and / or movement are concerned). Generally speaking your goal with Eclipse phases is to keep moving through them as quickly as possible thus proc'ing Nature's Grace more frequently and increasing the uptime of this haste benefit. Around ~60% uptime is reasonable.
However, there are times when you know that adds are coming in where you may delay your exit from a Lunar or Solar Eclipse. One way you delay your exit is stop casting your energy moving spells (Starfire, Wrath, Starsurge) and instead do some repeated Moonfire/Sunfire spam (depending on which Eclipse you are sitting in) which will be buffed up by Lunar Shower. The benefit of this is, when the adds do spawn, you will be able to cast an Eclipse amped Starfall (if in Lunar) or use "Solar Cleave" if in Solar (Solar Cleave methodology is described later in the AoE section). This is also worthwhile if you know there will be extended movement incoming (such as in an Atramedes air phase) where again your dps will be much higher if an Eclipse is propping up your Lunar Shower. Moonfire/Sunfire spam.
In both cases, I'm not advocating you extend an Eclipse unnaturally long (anything over 10 seconds or so and you probably should have just kept hard casting into the subsequent Eclipse and used that school for the AoE). This is definitely a valuable tactic when used correctly however.
4 PC T11 Rotation Changes
Item - Druid T11 Balance 4P Bonus provides a very strong dps benefit to Boomkin (on the order of ~2k sustained dps). However, it does take some rotation changes. I've included a video below that goes through the differences and how to maximize the value of the bonus:
That said, there are some key things to be aware of and to change in your rotation once you have 4 pc T11:
Dot ticks benefit from the crit but do not consume a charge. The dot will adjust dynamically to the bonus.
Moonfire/Sunfire initial hits however do eat a charge.
Each star from Starfall consumes a charge of the buff
Hurricane ticks do NOT consume charges.
So, with that understood, here is how we handle dot refreshes / rotation in each Eclipse pre-4 pc and post-4 pc for comparison.
Solar Eclipse Changes
On Solar Eclipse, (assuming dots need to be refreshed) my pre-4pc T11 cast order has been:
Wrath (or SS if up), IS, Sunfire, Wrath, Wrath
Post 4-pc T11 (again, assuming dots are falling off and need to be refreshed), it will have to look more like:
Wrath (or SS if up), IS, Wrath, Wrath, Wrath, Sunfire.
There is an extra Wrath in there that won't benefit from the crit but is cast to do something with the GCD because, if you cast Sunfire after the third hard cast spell Sunfire would hit before Starsurge/Wrath travel time and consume the buff. It is worth noting, you only need to modify your Solar rotation if the dots are about to expire/have just expired. In some cases, the dots wouldn't be due for refresh and there is no substantial change. The video above shows these changes put into practice.
Some notes on Wild Mushroom and 4 pc T11 from a poster at EJ that has tested them:
This has been verified. The last charge of your 4-pc bonus is a good time to pop Detonate OR on a gimmick fight like H Maloriak Green Phase, it's fine to consume all three 4 pc charges for 100% crit. Usually though, the final charge or after all charges are gone is the most ideal time to Detonate.I played around with it a little during Chimaeron heroic last night, and mushrooms definitely consume charges of the 4 set, at a rate of one per mushroom (not one per cast of detonate), but it would seem that if you detonate 3 mushrooms with one charge remaining, all three benefit from that one charge. I tested this on a Raider's Training Dummy by laying three mushrooms (while the 4 set buff was not active) and detonating them all together when there was one charge of the buff left.
Lunar Eclipse Changes
Due to Starfall, Lunar rotation will get modified every time with 4 pc T11.
On Lunar Eclipse, (assuming dots need to be refreshed) my pre-4pc T11 cast order has been:
Pop Starfall as my final Wrath to trigger Lunar is in flight. Then Starfire (or Starsurge if up), IS, Moonfire, Starfire, Starfire
Post 4-pc T11 (again, assuming dots are falling off and need to be refreshed), it will have to look more like:
Starfire (or Starsurge if up), IS, Starfire, Starfire, Starfall, Moonfire
It is worth noting that this will take us to anywhere from 45 to 40 Lunar Energy remaining before we cast Starfall. Even with Moonfire cast after, we might get at best 50% of Starfall's 10 second duration under Lunar Eclipse benefit. Due to this, my general advice post 4 pc T11 is to cast Starfall on cooldown anytime it's up (obviously outside of the 8 second 4 pc bonus window) and reglyphing Glyph of Starfire or Glyph of Wrath in place of Glyph of Starsurge. That said, on multi-target fights, we can pop Starfall this late in Lunar and then use some GCDs to place Mushrooms or the like. Glyphing Starsurge in these situations can still be the highest throughput glyph to use for our third Prime even post 4 pc T11.
UPDATE: As an alternate to the above rotation changes with 4 pc T11, I have also come up with a slightly different variation using Glyph of Starfire instead of Glyph of Wrath. The same rules apply regarding not casting Starfall or Moonfire/Sunfire before charges are consumed but now there is a good chance you will maintain much higher dot uptime. I describe and demonstrate this alternative in the video below:
Rotation changes aside, 4 pc T11 is exceedingly strong for us -- especially if we make the modifications to our rotation described above to maximize it's effects.
4.0.6 Starsurge Delay Cast Methodology for 4 pc T11
Prior to 4 pc T11 and 4.0.6 mastery buff, my rule of thumb was to use Starsurge on cooldown or on Shooting Stars proc immediately with no delay. The most I would delay is a single cast (maybe two max) if I was about to enter an Eclipse.
With 4.0.6 mastery buff, 4 pc T11, and 12 second Shooting Stars proc, I started playing with delaying Starsurge to either 1st or 2nd cast in each Eclipse. By doing this, the loss is I will fit in fewer Starsurges per time period, and perhaps have slightly slower energy gain per time period as well. The gain is my average Stasurge hit/crit goes up substantially. I have gotten my Starsurge overall crit rate upwards of 65-70% using a delay methodology. Starsurge just scales extremely well so even when I get in fewer Starsurges versus a prompt-cast methodology, my overall Starsurge damage is higher as is my overall dps when I delay-cast into the 4 pc bonus charges.
I am aware I'm replacing a guaranteed Wrath/Starfire crit with a Starsurge crit by doing this . . . but Starsurge hits a good bit harder than Wrath or Starfire on crits. Over 130 million damage in logs tonight (fairly large sample size), my average Wrath crit 31,505; average Starfire crit 44,136; average Starsurge crit 73,098. I'm going to call that substantial and a good replacement use of a 4 pc proc.
I'm also aware that l lose some Shooting Stars procs - but the only ones I lose are non-Eclipsed Shooting Stars proc as I will always use a Shooting Stars proc within an Eclipse. Also, with 12 sec duration on Shooting Stars proc in 4.0.6, I don't necessarily lose the proc but only delay my use of it -- there is risk exposure yes but only loss if another proc hits before I use that one which happens but somewhat rarely in that time window.
Also, what I risk losing is a non-Eclipsed Starsurge which doesn't hit very hard even when critting. At any rate, my findings are the delay to is worth it as it increases both overall Starsurge damage and overall dps. My advice for 4 pc T11 is that a delay cast Starsurge methodology will work best. This advice is only once you have the 4 pc bonus. Prior to 4 pc, I'd stick with a prompt cast Starsurge methodology.
As it regards AoE, we should always work to be within an Eclipse for significant add phases. In a best case scenario, we will prefer to be specifically within Solar. I'll outline what AoE should look like below:
What I term "Solar Cleave" is essentially the way we can use the large Nature Damage buff from Eclipse (Solar) together with our skills to do maximum damage across multiple enemies. It is essentially our cleave. Solar Cleave assumes you are in Solar Eclipse and that you extend that Solar Eclipse for the duration of the AoE cycle. Post 4.0.6, Solar Cleave basically looks different depending on how long adds will live.
For short-lived adds, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate, tab-dot 6-7 x Sunfire, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate will often be enough to drop them, with perhaps a few extra tab-dot Sunfire for final clean-up. Something like Poison adds on Omnotron fits in this category. Starfall can be used here as well if desired.
For longer-lived adds, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate, use next 6-7 GCDs to tab-dot Sunfire, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate, use next 6-7 GCDs for tab-dot of Sunfire plus some tab-dot Insect Swarm if all targets have Sunfire on them, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate, next 6-7 GCDs on Sunfire plus some Insect Swarm if all targets have Sunfire on them, rinse, wash, repeat until the adds are down. Starfall (although not buffed by Solar) can and should still be used here on cooldown. You can also use one of the tab-dot GCDs for Typhoon though you need to keep in mind whether knockback is or isn't desired on that encounter and glyph Glyph of Typhoon if appropriate.
It is worth noting and emphasizing that, for Solar Cleave methodology:
a) Insect Swarm should only be applied if Sunfire is up on all targets AND the targets you are applying it to have >12-15 seconds to live.
b) While Solar-amped Sunfire does very solid damage, 3 x Wild Mushroom, Wild Mushroom: Detonate needs to happen as close to the 10-second cooldown as possible. If you are slow on tab-dotting and/or WM placement, then only fit in perhaps 5 x tab-dot Sunfire per cycle. Mushrooms are the heavy damage dealer here and the priority should always be with getting a 3-Mushroom Detonate off every 10, and then supplement that with as much Sunfire / Insect Swarm as you can without delaying the next Detonate.
Finally, an observant reader may notice that I did not include Hurricane. At the moment, it's not a terribly good spell from a coefficient or mana efficiency perspective. This is not to say I never use it. It can be appropriate for Heroic Cho'gall later add phases (perhaps with Glyph of Hurricane if your raid comp merits it). It can also be appropriate for Green Phase Maloriak if you line it up well with your 4 pc bonus (though you will need to a) have already pre-placed 3 Mushrooms and b) break the Hurricane channel early to ensure you get your WM Detonate off before 4 pc bonus expires). Other than that though, until/if/when Blizzard makes fundamental changes, Hurricane will likely remain a very niche spell.
Below is a vid of Solar Cleave AoE in action:
Lunar Cleave is essentially a much watered-down version of Solar Cleave that is used during Eclipse (Lunar) as we have fewer and also less powerful tools that benefit from the Arcane damage buff that Lunar provides. Similar to Solar Cleave, Lunar Cleave assumes you are in Lunar Eclipse and that you extend that Lunar Eclipse for the duration of the AoE cycle.
Lunar Cleave basically looks like Starfall followed by alot of tab-dot Moonfire for short-lived adds. For longer lived adds, some tab-dotInsect Swarm can also be added in if all targets have Moonfire on them AND if the adds have longer than ~12-15 seconds to live. While Lunar Cleave is not nearly as ideal as Solar Cleave, it's still better than non-Eclipsed damage. Do whatever you can to be in one Eclipse or the other when adds come up. Proper planning and raid event awareness will go a long way toward improving your success.
14.0 Useful addons
There are plenty of addons to choose from, and most are merely a question of preference. You don’t need all of these, but here is a list of common addons you could and should consider using:
- Balance Power Tracker: A highly configurable mod designed to track Lunar and Solar energy for Balance Druids in 4.0.
- ForteXorcist useful for tracking long duration cooldowns, trinket internal cooldowns and the like.
- Power Aura’s: My personal favorite, Power Aura’s allows you to add visual notifications to practically everything. Eclipse procs, DOTs with timers, debuffs on a specific fight and so on. It does take a bit of time to set up, but it is an awesome addon that allows for much customization. For what it's worth, a nice thing about Power Auras is the ability to export your settings so someone else can easily Import your configuration. I have all of my Balance and Boss Power Aura exports available for copy and paste in my guide at TMR.
General raid addons:
- Omen Threat Meter: Nearly invaluable in a raid setting, allows you to avoid pulling aggro.
- Big Wigs Boss Mods: Adds alerts and countdown bars to literally every encounter in the game, range finders to keep appropriate distance from other raid members where appropriate, etc. Updates have been extremely active throughout Cataclysm and this is the best boss mod on the block at the moment for my money. As an alternative, DeadlyBossMods could be used instead.
- Recount is a fine damage meter.
- Unit frames such as Grid, VuhDo and the like, gives a great overview of your raid allows for quick decurses, innervates, rebirths and so on.
- Quartz: A well used cast bar for tracking casts, cast times, DOTs and HOTs on various targets and so on.
- Rebirther: Very useful for raiding moonkins – or raid leaders – to track available Rebirths and Innervates in the group.
15.0 Other moonkin guides
Think you have the basics down and would like some more advanced reading? Check out the following Balance Guides:
Calculated Balance PvE Guide 4.1.0 at TMR
Elitist Jerks Balance Guide 4.1.0
I have "BiS" lists in my TMR guide if you are interested in gear options.