The patch has been out for a few days now, and surprisingly, it went extrodanarily well. Not saying that Blizzard is bad or it sucks at patching, but I don't think there was ever a major content patch, especially one that introduced a raid, in which everyone was actually able to raid that day. Not only that, but maintainence wasn't even extended for hours upon hours. Everything went well, at least on the technical end. For druids -- well, it was a bit of a different experience.
Going into this patch, we knew that we were in for some changes, but there was some hope that Blizzard might at least do those changes correctly, that it would at least attempt to address the problems it sought to fix. Alas, we were not so lucky. Despite that, balance druids adapted, evolved, and carry on as we always do. Here's how.
What to do with Lunar Shower
It's been the topic a few times now since the change was first introduced on the PTR. I still got quite a number of emails, and there was still more than a few forum posts about it on the official boards. For those of you who are wondering, taking this simple answer with you: Lunar Shower is a worthless talent in PVE. Do not take it.
For those out there who are more inclined to focus on being optimal in every single situation, to be the best of the best, then your answer to the Lunar Shower issue, sadly, doesn't get to be quite as simple. Then again, when is it ever? In a large number of cases, the same does apply as above. Lunar Shower is still a very weak talent, and there is simply little use to having it, for the most part. In particular, you really do not want to deal with Lunar Shower during AOE. You can keep the talent if you want, but you have to use one of the many tricks to work around it.
When is Lunar Shower used, though? During pure movement. Atramedes would be a great Lunar Shower encounter now -- like it wasn't one before, either. However, the strategy that you need to use is totally different. Lunar Shower is all right damage-wise, provided you can actually benefit from the fact that it now moves the Eclipse bar. Starting in a Lunar Eclipse, moving in through a Solar Eclipse -- that's fairly decent mobile damage. Vastly inferior to what we had prior to the patch, but still not bad.
It is very important for long movement phases when you plan on making prolonged use of Lunar Shower to start in a Lunar Eclipse. (I guess with names like that, they were just meant for each other.) The thing of it is, Blizzard never corrected that you cannot transition from a Solar Eclipse to a Lunar Eclipse via Moonfire. Spamming Sunfire will take you out of Solar, but once you drop Solar and hit the dead space between again, you become stuck. At that point, you have plain, old Moonfire again, and it will not move the bar any more. Since you have Moonfire, it will be attempting to move back to Solar, but the bar is locked in the other direction ... so you get nothing.
Starting in Lunar, you can go through all of Lunar, the dead area, and then into a Solar Eclipse before you eventually hit that dead area. Constant Moonfire spamming such as that is pretty decent DPS on the run, but you cannot drop Solar. If you do, you really need to find a way to hard cast Wrath or Starsurge in order to get back to Lunar.
I've got these three points -- now what?
If you've chosen to forgo Lunar Shower (and honestly, there isn't much of a point in having it right now), then you'll find yourself with three talent points that you need to toss somewhere. At this stage, most raiding balance druid have probably taken most of their talent points out of mana regeneration. At the very least, you've probably completely dropped Dreamstate, because it was previously expected of you to Innervate healers on cooldown. Those days are now gone.
Innervate was another one of the abilities that was hit by Blizzard. I feel that I should link back to the five or six different beta posts I made about mana and how this is the exact problem that Blizzard would be facing. Perhaps a good I told you so will suffice.
I told you so.
Now that Innervate has been changed to no longer be of much use when used on anyone other than yourself, Dreamstate is worth taking -- moreso because spamming Sunfire during AOE will eat up your mana now instead of actually returning mana. Putting two of the points from Lunar Shower into Dreamstate is more than enough to offset the increased mana cost you'll see from the loss of Lunar Shower.
I've run exactly that setup through numerous encounters and stress testing on target dummies. Mana is simply a non-issue. You can run out if you never single-target again, but it isn't going to be quickly, and no one is suggesting that you Sunfire spam for an entire encounter.
As for the last talent point, Owlkin Frenzy, Perseverance, or Gale Winds is a good spot to stick it, depending on which you currently don't have maxed out and which you find to be the most useful. Given that Owlkin Frenzy is back to its I proc off everything status, I rather like having it maxed, especially since I'm not giving anything important up for it.
Starfall -- more like Wipefall
A patch cannot go by where Blizzard doesn't break something that wasn't changed in the least according to the patch notes and has absolutely nothing to do with anything. This time around, it was Starfall. As some astute balance druids may have noticed by now, Starfall is once again hitting anything that happens to be within its massive range. Using it in a few dungeons -- and certainly during Firelands trash -- can be tricky, and often it is best not to use it.
I was never entirely for the change to begin with (which, I know, makes me a bad person). I never had an issue with paying attention to my surroundings before using Starfall. However, I have rather gotten used to the ability to just toss it out whenever and not have to worry that I'm going to aggro everything within a 5-mile radius. Having that taken away from me isn't cool, especially when I had no idea that it had happened. Oh god, there were turtles.
It's a bug, it should be fixed; until then, just be careful.
The great four-piece nerf
So we had this really powerful set bonus. This set bonus was so powerful, in fact, that it wasn't worth giving up the heroic version of it for the new tier set. That's power, right there.
And in standard Blizzard form, said set bonus has been nerfed so far into the ground that it's now over in China. Zing! The previous four-piece tier 11 set bonus gave us a lot of crit (which we abused to no end) was too strong, without a doubt. Since then, it has been replaced with something that is a little bit more lackluster. By that, I mean it's pretty much useless. The new set bonus wasn't nerfed; it was gutted, chewed up, spat out, crushed, and then shot into orbit, where it crisped in the atmosphere.
In case you missed it, the new bonus is this: You gain 15% critical strike chance with three charges. Each time you critically hit, you lose a charge and 5% critical strike chance. Lasts 8 seconds.
It's not so much that the bonus is terrible, but if you suddenly find yourself not using up all of the charges, don't be surprised. Chances are, you probably won't use up your last charge, which grants a fabulous 5% additional crit. The bonus is kind of still good -- at least it is better to have it than to not have it -- but it certainly isn't spectacular. Blizzard did actually buff us from baseline to offset this nerf (which the buff more than did), but that's a really funny situation. We were only balanced in terms of damage because of our four-piece proc. In order to nerf that, Blizzard had to buff the entire spec for the rest of the expansion. Yeah, nothing was wrong there at all.
You should still get your tier 11 four-piece, if you don't have it. You should still hold on to it until you can get your tier 12 two-peice, if you already have it. Unless, of course, you somehow manage to get non-tier gloves, shoulders, and a chest. Then, you know, you can break that four-piece. Don't really see that happening, though. Just sayin'.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives: Balance brings you druidic truth, beauty and insight ... from a moonkin's perspective. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, tweak your UI and your endgame gear, analyze balance racials and abilities, and even walk you through PvP as a balance druid.