Greetings, druids. This week, I'll be pulling out an email request for the discussion topic, which is great as we wait for more 4.3 information. There's always tons of requests by players for others to review their damage because they don't quite measure up to where they think that they should be. While there are guides a-plenty all across the internet, one of things often not mentioned is how to make these reviews yourself. Asking for help is a great step, but as the adage goes, it is often better to teach a man to fish rather than to merely give him one.
What am I talking about? Reading through damage reports, of course! We always talk about how to deal damage and what you should be doing, but we all know that encounters are chaotic. Even the best of us can't hold to what's technically the best option in any given situation. To that end, we'll be discussing those things to look out for in log reports in order to determine where it might be that you might having a few slip-ups. Hold on to your hats -- this one is going to be a thrill!
Disclaimer: While there are multiple sites out there designed to track this form of data, we'll be focusing exclusively on World of Logs. Finding many of the items that you need can be hidden in different parts of different sites; WoL holds everything that you need and in easy-to-find locations. If you use another site, you may have to look in different locations for the information you need.
Identifying Eclipse uptime problems
As balance druids, we live and die by Eclipse. It is our everything, the primary source of our damage. Flaws in Eclipse are often the first place to look if you feel that your damage just isn't holding up to par. The goal should always be to stay within Eclipse for as long as possible, sucking out as much damage from each proc as you possibly can. The benchmark for this goal, however, is a tricky devil to actually pin down.
What is an Eclipse failure? Simply put, it is spending far too much time outside of Eclipse compared to in it. Eclipse is designed near perfectly so that you should have close to a 50/50 split between Eclipse and non-Eclipse damage. Of course, nothing in this game is quite that simple. Encounter design, talents such as Euphoria and Shooting Stars plus itemization such as the four-piece T12 bonus all change Eclipse uptime. Of those, the biggest factor is always going to be the encounter at hand. As a general rule of thumb, though, you should always be shooting for that 50/50 area.
Figuring out your overall Eclipse uptime is a rather simple matter. To start with, make sure you are focusing on parse that will have significant data -- either a kill or really solid attempt against a boss where you actually had a chance to go through all the steps. Under the tab on the upper bar on WoL, mouse over the part that says Full Report. From there, a menu should drop down that allows you to single out specific boss encounters attempted on the log; from there, pick an attempt or kill that suits your needs. Next, you'll need to scroll down from the Dashboard menu located right next to Full Report. Here, you'll want to select Damage Done.
This will bring up a pretty little graph full of squiggly lines, below which is a table that ranks every player in the raid according to their total damage done on that parse. The graph can be ignored; what matters here in the table. Find yourself on the table and click your name; this will display a new screen that has a bunch of new tabs to select. Our interest here is the Buffs Gained tab. At first glance, the table you'll be presented with may seem daunting, but a majority of everything listed can be ignored. On the primary table labled Buffs, search until you find Eclipse (Lunar) and Eclipse (Solar). Next to these two buffs should be a bunch of numbers; the farthest right number is a percentage, and that's all you need. Each Eclipse buff is logged separately and should account for approximately 25% each (50% combined). More likely, one is going to be higher than the other, but both should be around the same.
Staying in Eclipse too long
While balance druids live by moving Eclipse, there are times where you don't want to force Eclipse. When going into AOE or heavy movement phases, for example, you'll want to sit inside of a Solar Eclipse in order to increase your damage. This is done by either casting Starfire on a single target or Sunfire on multiple targets while you're in a Solar Eclipse. In encounters where you do this, such as Rhyolith or Beth'tilac, your Solar Eclipse uptime should be much higher than Lunar Eclipse. Sometimes, however, players have a tendency to sit in Solar far longer than they should.
Judging when you can make that full cycle from Solar to Lunar and back can be difficult at times, and there are tons of factors that can throw a wrench in any perfectly laid-out plan. Yet if you're noticing that your Solar Eclipse is routinely far higher than Lunar, this could indicate the reverse of the above problem: You're spending too much time inside of Eclipse. Eclipse is strong, but a majority of that strength comes from the bonus that our nukes gain. Using Starfire to prolong a Solar Eclipse is great, but remember that you're giving up a lot of single-target damage to do so.
In a pure AOE encounter like heroic Rhyolith, you should have around an 85% or higher uptime on your Solar Eclipse, but on encounters with sporadic AOE or multi-DOTing, that number shouldn't be nearly as high. For an encounter such as Ragnaros where there's only sporadic AOE, you should be looking to hit around 50% to 60% max uptime on Solar. Any more than that and it means you aren't contributing enough single-target damage as a trade-off for your increased AOE.
Tracking DOT usage
Our DOTs are rather tricky business. They've become super-powerful this expansion, even so much so that they're the cornerstone of our AOE abilities, but many people often overestimate their power. One of the primary goals of the single-target rotation is to never have unEclipsed DOTs ticking on the boss. Barring something crazy happening inbetween Eclipse procs, you should also time yourself so that your last DOT casts last until your next Eclipse proc; if they aren't going to make it, then you should be refreshing them before you leave Eclipse.
While the perfect ideal is to have a 1:1 ratio where you cast DOTs only once per Eclipse proc, outside of Bloodlust, you aren't likely to have the haste required to see this every time. It can be managed depending on when you have to refresh your DOTs, but normally you'll want to aim for a 1:2:1 ratio (one Moonfire and two Sunfires per Eclipse proc). Judging your DOT count is pretty easy, but it takes a bit more digging to get at.
Starting with the previous Buffs Gained tab, go back to the Eclipse (Lunar) and Eclipse (Solar) cells in the table. The first number next to each of these entries is the number count for that encounter, the number of times the buff was gained. Note both of those numbers. Now, back up at the top tab, switch over to the Damage By Spell tab. This will present a new table with all of your spells used listed and a slew of numbers next to them.
Combine your number of hits and crits to see the total number of times that you cast each of these spells. These numbers should be close to the number of times that you go to each corresponding Eclipse proc. For example, if you had five Lunar Eclipse procs, you should have around six Moonfire casts, one of which starts off the fight and one for each Eclipse cycle. While you really want Sunfire to be as close to the number of Solar procs, it can be up to two times the number of Eclipse procs. If either of these numbers is significantly higher, this means you are overcasting DOTs. Some of this might be due to movement, which is fine, but you want to limit movement as much as you possibly can.
Obviously, AOE encounters where you multi-DOT things to death aren't going to follow this same pattern, but the only spell which should change should be Sunfire. You should never be using Moonfire for AOE. In the best case, it means you're in a Lunar Eclipse; worst, you don't have any Eclipse up at all. Neither of these options is really ideal. You're losing out on Insect Swarm damage any time that you use it, and you are missing out on Wild Mushroom damage, which is our strongest AOE spell.
Just the beginning
Working around Eclipse is one of the trickiest parts of playing a balance druid, and pinning down Eclipse procs in WoL can be equally difficult. With the above, you should have a pretty good baseline to get a feel of where to start, hitting all of the major mistakes that new balance druids tend to make. Next week, we'll continue exploring damage parses to help identify other, harder-to-spot problems. Stay tuned, cool cats.
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.