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.

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