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Shifting Perspectives: Moonkin in 3.02 and beyond, part 3

Ah, the glyph section. This is where things start to get a little hairy, because the bulk of arguing about the right balance DPS rotation hinges a lot on the glyphs you've got equipped and the type of fight you're doing. But first, some of what I think are going to be less important glyphs in the great scheme of things:

  • Glyph of Entangling Roots: Great for solo work and some dungeon work (if a mob can be safely rooted somewhere without attracting attention from a patrol).
  • Glyph of Hurricane: Eh. Not really all that impressive, and I'm kind of stumped as to where or even how this will be put to good use outside of battlegrounds (most obviously Alterac Valley) while defending against a rush.
  • Glyph of Innervate: Depending on how you typically use Innervate, this is either a Balance or Resto glyph, leaning heavily toward Resto. Most Balance Druids typically use Innervate for their own DPS unless there's a raid emergency, and with the current mana efficiency of Resto, I'd have to say this is typically going to be a Resto glyph (if it sees extensive use at all). There are only three classes -- Druids, Mages, and Priests -- for whom Spirit exists in sufficient quantity on their gear to make Innervate worthwhile anyway. This may wind up depending a lot on how good the Replenishment buff is over a lengthy raid fight.
  • Glyph of Starfall: As a commenter on the Wowhead thread points out, Starfall limits you to no more than 20 stars regardless of the spell's duration, so the DPS gain from this is probably minimal at best.
  • Glyph of Wrath: Another big eh. Very good for soloing work if you just nuke things down without bothering to Root them, and highly useful for PvP, but unlikely to find much application in PvE dungeon or raid content .
And finally, the big boys. These three glyphs are the subject of more contention than anything else, as people have (correctly) pointed out that, if you're raiding, a lot of balance DPS is going to be highly dependent on encounter design in Wrath. Bear in mind that Blizzard has pretty baldly stated their intention to move away from static encounters, and to make boss fights more dependent on movement (read: stay out of fire), individual initiative (stay out of fire), and individual contributions (stay out of fire). Given this, I'm not sure that the old paradigm of an IS/MF/SF (and, with better gear, MF/SF) rotation is your best bet on high-mobility encounters. For 5-man work and trash clears, Wrath spam is still your best bet. It's DPS on bosses that's attracting the most debate.
  • Glyph of Insect Swarm: Insect Swarm is already the most mana-efficient DoT in the game -- this raises that efficiency to new heights but removes the very useful -3% hit component on its target. Is your guild dependent on that? In early raiding, you may not have as much wiggle room on this as you will later with everything on farm, and your raid leader's probably not going to be happy if your tanks need every possible advantage. With that said, at 70 when you'll have only two glyph slots available, this still isn't anywhere near the DPS increase provided by the following two glyphs --
  • Glyph of Starfire: Yes, this indefinitely extends a preexisting Moonfire. Yes, this means that as long as you can keep getting Starfire off on a regular basis, you may very well only have to hit your Moonfire button once at the beginning of the fight and never hit it again.
  • Glyph of Moonfire: This is very, very big, and essentially required for PvE purposes, especially as the DoT portion of Moonfire gains almost three times as much benefit from your spell damage as the initial hit does. Take this with Glyph of Starfire. Pop your trinkets as you apply the first Moonfire hit. Refresh it as necessary with Starfire. Point at boss. Laugh. This is the same thing resto Druids used to do to get crazy numbers on Lifebloom ticks, and I confirmed in the beta that, while it still doesn't work for Lifebloom, it DOES work for Moonfire, at least for the moment.
At 70, the glyphs you really want for PvE are Starfire and Moonfire, hands down, even for 5-man and trash work (if for no other reason than the lack of glyphs directly benefiting actual Wrath DPS). At 80, the third glyph slot is going to be a toss-up. I would vote for Insect Swarm to cover your bases for encounters where you'll wind up moving a lot and want or need the damage of Insect Swarm and Moonfire to be as high as possible (e.g. the last boss of the Nexus), but again, the removal of the -3% hit component is a bitter pill to swallow on progression content. That'll probably be something you want to discuss with your tanks, because there are going to be some encounters with crazy damage where they'd kill for the extra avoidance.

My guild's moonkin is currently looking at this as a potential general-purpose PvE raid spec at 80 but isn't sold on it. The sheer bloat of the tree in its existing form right now should be fairly obvious, and a number of Druid bloggers are hoping that many necessary talents (particularly Earth and Moon) will be downsized to free up points for a more reasonable PvE spec.

And I don't know if we have any Balance theorycrafters out there, but if you saw the earlier link on increased moonkin DPS from a PTR tester, you may have noticed a small note there the poster that has probably occured to most Balance players. My sense of things is the amount of +haste you're likely to see on Wrath gear -- and you will see a great deal of it -- is inherently prejudicial toward Starfire, rather than Wrath rotations. The global cooldown can never be reduced beyond 1 second, but assuming you have a 5/5 Starlight Wrath and 3/3 Nature's Grace, any crit you get will shave the cast time of Wrath down to 1 second anyway, with the unfortunate result of completely wasting the +haste itemization on your gear. Starfire will never have that problem, benefits extremely well from +haste, and is needed anyway to refresh the Moonfire DoT assuming you have Glyph of Starfire.

So for no other reason than the unfortunate issue with Wrath and upcoming itemization, you will probably want to continue an Insect Swarm + Moonfire + Starfire rotation, or Moonfire + Starfire at higher levels of gear. However, on high mobility encounters, Eclipse is a worthwhile talent to take in order to ensure that you get the most benefit from whatever spell you have the time to cast -- i.e.Wrath is going to be better DPS in any situation where you're moving constantly (Wrath is technically better DPS than Starfire period, which is why it's better for 5-mans and trash, but its mana cost makes it lower DPM and thus unappealing for most boss fights). This does require a lot of attention to your procs and will probably also require an addon like DoTimer to ensure you're not wasting global cooldowns having to refresh Moonfire. Happy nuking!

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