Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Out Of Mana

A repost of mine from the Beta forums.

I've been thinking that the only way to solve Balance Druid mana regen issues while preventing run-away regen once we gear further is to make Moonkin rely on Dreamstate for the entirety of Cataclysm.
The constant (but inevitable) comparison is the Elemental Shaman given the classes' hybrid caster-healer commonality, but I believe that Innervate is the single spell which is preventing the Balance Druid from having mana be as much of a non-issue as Elemental Shaman.


Euphoria - By buffing Euphoria (to say 24% or so), the Balance Druid will eventually gear far enough that a self-cast Innervate will no longer be required for sustainability. This will lead to the Balance Druid eventually becoming very desireable to stack, ultimately being not the way to buff Balance mana regen.

Innervate - By buffing Innervate itself (even if by a Balance talent), again Moonkin will suddenly have a powerful mana regen tool to throw out in a raid. Even if required to keep self sustainability, the boon of having the option to essentially drain oneself to give a load of mana to a healer is too powerful.

Dreamstate - By buffing Dreamstate so that only the Moonkin is gaining significant mana from Innervate is the strongest way to assist the Balance Druid's mana regen without letting them ever have it free to cast on other players. Any other form of mana regen leaves Innervate open to future issues where they outscale the necessity for it being self-cast.
The current issue is that a Balance Druid is typically oom well within 3 minutes with a very basic rotation. Therefore, perhaps the following would be an appropriate incarnation of it.

When you cast your Innervate on yourself, the cooldown of your Innervate is reduced by 90 sec and you regain an additional 15/45% of your mana over its duration.

These numbers are very debatable and very likely doesn't require a double buff, but I feel a change along these lines is the only way to guarantee that Moonkin do not oom from dpsing, which includes Starfall, Typhoon, Moonfire and utility spells.
In my opinion, the only time a hybrid caster should have a very real risk of oom is if they are healing. This appears to be true for the other hybrids, as it should be.

I don't wish to be another 'oomkin' for Cataclysm (including knowing that we'll eventually receive 'bandaid' fixes to keep us in line) and would rather see other factors be what limits our potential. There are other issues with Balance, however, this is one that has been around for a very long time in some form or another.


Fellow poster Karadrum followed up by pointing out the pointlessness of having Innervate so strongly bound to the Balance Druid's regen. It makes one wonder why Innervate is even able to be used on other players in the Cataclysm environment when it is so very necessary always to be cast on oneself. This is what will continue to be the bane of Balance Druid mana issues without careful change.

What the future holds...

Balance, Borked, or Somewhere Inbetween?

A repost of mine from the Beta forums.

The Balance tree needs variety and talent choice in order to:

    - differentiate their talent arsenal from untalented spells. - give playstyle differentiation to the Balance Druid (relative to both other casters, and both Resto and Feral).
    - increase the amount of talent (and glyph) decisions required for the spec (eg. survivability vs utility)
    - increase the amount of sub-themes and sub-streams of talents within Balance that give the spec uniqueness (eg. such as the area control of WM/FG, Solar Beam, Overgrowth)


I believe making Starfall deal Spellstorm damage would be a healthy change, but I agree that it needs more functionality. A stacking haste increase on Starfire? Say "When you deal damage with your Starfall spell, the cast time of your Starfire spell is reduced by 20%. This effect stacks up to 5 times."

Starfall having such a short cooldown needs to be a spell you want to cast as often as possible. This very much so isn't currently the case. Having it never attack mobs that are not in combat and also not targeting CC'd mobs would go a long way to bringing back Starfall into our core arsenal.


I still strongly feel that there needs to be more talents in the Balance tree that dramatically change the function or add effects to Balance spells in comparison to Resto using those same spells. A Resto druid comes very close to being identical to a Balance Druid if using an offensive spell rotation; Resto's offensive spells act identically to Balance. This has begun to change with the introduction of Shooting Stars and the new Nature's Grace, but otherwise remains uninspiring. Resto does get such a unique spell change in the form of Fury of Stormrage.

I like the subtle theme of area control Balance has via Overgrowth and Wild Mushrooms w/ Fungal Growth.
Random ideas:

- Cooldowned, non-channelled Hurricane a la Vortex Pinncale mobs (especially if also adding a proc to cast it free, such as Flamestrike and FS/Blastwave combo)
- Void zone (eg. Increase duration of Lunar Power and have Starsurge consume charges to plant a void zone at target)
- Instant Wild Mushrooms for Balance (especially if able to be glyphed/talented for proximity explosion, or allow WM:Detonation to be toggled to off-GCD auto-cast)

Mana issues can be solved passively, but mana regen scaling needs to be carefully monitored so that the Balance Druid still relies on Innervate as Cataclysm ages. Otherwise we'll end up with Balance Druids having free Innervates, which will be unhealthy for the game in general.

While Resto has already stolen the concept of inceasing Omen of Clarity procs, I believe it is also a mechanic that will greatly benefit Balance. It would prevent us from going oom during our normal dps rotation while then also allowing overuse of instant utility to still potentially dent our mana pool.


Damage mitigation is in need of a solid implementation, especially against magic. It's debatable whether this should be in the form of a new active defense ability, however, it seems to be wholly agreed that there is a need for passive damage reduction. Barkskin gaining additional benefits in the Balance tree would be good too, imo.

What if a deep Balance ability allowed Bear Form to now be our emergency panic button by massively reducing incoming damage either as long as one remains in the form with an internal cooldown, or via some other means.
Perhaps "When you shift into Bear form, all damage deal to you is reduced by 60% for 12 seconds. This bonus is reduced by 10% every 2 se!%*!il the effect expires or you shift out of Bear Form."

Balance does not need another offensive means of protecting oneself.


What if deep Balance had a means of gaining combo points on a target so that they may switch to Cat form and unleash a Maim or what not?

"Shifting into Cat form instantly grants you 4 combo points on your current target." 

Friday, 24 September 2010

The State of Balance

Last week’s push brought us to build 12984 where the Druid received much <3. Most very obviously, Balance received it’s first solid iteration in many months and the future of the Moonkin has become much clearer.

There are several major changes, most of which are working out very nicely to give the Balance Druid a unique toolset. I feel that this is just the beginning for the spec and that there will be several iterations over the next few builds to bring them in line with other casters in both PvE and PvP.


Euphoria first effect revamped - While not in an Eclipse state, you have a 12/24% chance to double the Solar or Lunar energy generated by your Wrath or Starfire when they deal damage. When you reach a Solar or Lunar eclipse, you instantly are restored 6/12% of your total mana.
Eclipse leveling/PvP regeneration has been address and this is hopefully enough. Time will tell if Euphoria requires additional tuning.

Shooting Stars (Tier 3) *New* - You have a 2/4% chance when you deal damage with your Moonfire or Insect Swarm to instantly reset the cooldown of your Starsurge and reduce its cast time by 100%. Lasts 8 sec.
Randomness added via tie-in with DoTs. Adds cross-spell synergy, while also adding Eclipse RNG and rotational RNG. All of which have been discussed extensively and looks promising. The was this plays out is fantastic and very much echoes what I enjoy about Fire Mages. I do feel that 4% is currently too low and would instead prefer 8%, however, that may be to do with currently often having to forego the use of Moonfire due to the mana drain that it current is.

While I lament the removal of Starsurge's knock-down, the addition of Shooting Stars is just too good to complain about and having the ability to have (RNG) chain stuns would be likely unhealthy. Hopefully we'll get some PvP love once the PvE side of things settle. 

Nature's Grace revamped - You gain 5/10/15% spell haste after you cast Moonfire or Insect Swarm, lasting 15 sec. This effect has 1 minute cooldown. When you gain Lunar or Solar Eclipse, the cooldown of Nature's Torment is instantly reset.
Interesting, especially much more so than as a flat 3% haste. Will have to test this out to see what it's like, but it appears to be a regular haste buff to our DoTs so long as quickly pushing from Eclipse to Eclipse.
This is quite a quirky little talent that allows Balance to gain a solid haste boost while preventing Resto from also having to take this by default. The only issue is being aware of the internal cooldown on this effect as, of course, there is no way to track that without external mods.

Sunfire (Tier 5) *New* - While in Solar Eclipse, your Moonfire spell will morph into Sunfire - Burns the enemy for 196.24 to 239.85 Nature damage and then an additional [ 374.92 * ( Genesis : 100%/102%/104%/106% ) ] Nature damage over 12 sec.
Added flavour to our arsenal, as well as getting rid of the dirty feeling felt when casting a spell not of the current Eclipse's school. Great change, although not actually implemented fully yet. All Druids who have learned their mastery (Eclipse) will have Moonfire turn into some other random spell or simply just do nothing. There's really no way this can be a bad talent once fully implemented, however, I'm concerned with the mana cost of Moonfire in general. Mana is the biggest issue Balance is currently facing.

Overgrowth (Tier 2) *New* - Your Entangling Roots and Nature's Grasp have a 50/100% chance to also root all enemies within 8 yards of the target.
Quite a surprise, especially given it being in tier 2. The previous build's addition of instant Roots via a major glyph only adds to the awesomeness. Roots has made solid push as an icon of the Druid, which is part of the whole "What is a Balance Druid?" question I've often asked. 


Wild Mushrooms have been tuned and now pack a solid punch of easily 12-13k non-crits in my dodgy blue dungeon gear. While Fungal Growth is currently broken, the purpose of these guys still isn't obvious given the deemphasis of AoE in Cataclysm as well as Moonkin already having two very solid AoE spells in Starfire and Hurricane. 

I vaguely (maybe) remember it being said that these will end up in our rotation. The issue with this that players are worried about is that Wild Mushrooms require a targeting reticle to place and then need a second global cooldown to blow them (edit: WM:Detotate is now off the GCD :D) . We'll really just have to wait and see. 


Sustainability is currently the biggest problem facing Balance. A basic rotation cannot be maintained for more than around a minute. Adding in any extra tricks (Typhoon, Starfire, Moonfire, etc) just speeds that up. The reimplementation of a revamped Dreamstate is welcome (30% extra mana from self-cast Innervates), however, it simply means that once every 3 mins we delay going oom. Further buffing Euphoria up from its current 12% mana return on Eclipse would leave us with additional problems down the track when that alone becomes enough to sustain us and then leaving us with free Innverates (which isn't the current goal). 

Buffing Innervate for Balance further will also lead to similar issues as we have now. I believe an increase in the proc chance of Omen of Clarity may solve all issues here (even though Resto has already stolen that concept!) due to Omen only benefitting cast-time spells, which would leave a Moonkin still requiring mana management when abusing utility etc.
Keep eye on this issue and see what the future brings :)


The only other point to make at this stage is that the new iteration of Eclipse is fantastic. All key issues of past versions are solved (no more ooc energy decay, infinite Eclipse duration) and only now leaves me wondering if this is the final version or whether they will end up reimplementing decay so as to avoid one holding an Eclipse charge for a boss etc, which is something they've frowned upon in other class mechanics.