The link to the original thread can be found here: Balance Cataclysm Release (updated for 4.1)
Copy and Paste below.....
This is a compendium of information on raiding as a Balance Druid. It contains everything a beginner needs to achieve basic competence at raid DPS, as well more detailed discussion for people more interested in understanding the theory or more advanced play. The article is supplemented by the attached spreadsheet.
Anyone posting on the thread should have a good familiarity with the current state of Moonkin theory, either from this guide or from anywhere else. At the very least, do not ask questions that are directly answered in the guide; they will be infracted. It's good to be familiar with things that have been discussed on the thread as well, we start new thread each patch so they don't get too long. In particular, know what's been discussed on the last few pages before posting.
In addition, I often post any Druid research/theorycraft work I do on this blog and Twitter feed:
Hamlet (HamletEJ) on Twitter
And I upload videos of myself playing various boss encounters here:
YouTube - Arawethion's Channel
Talents, Glyphs, and Race
Any PvE Balance spec will include the following talents:
Nature's Grace, Starlight Wrath, Nature's Majesty, Genesis, Balance of Power, Euphoria, Moonkin Form, Shooting Stars, Force of Nature, Sunfire, Earth and Moon, Lunar Shower, Starfall, Natural Shapeshifter, Heart of the Wild, Master Shapeshifter.
That leaves 10 points, 6 of which must be in the Balance tree (2 in tier 4 or below), mostly up to you. Options for these talents:
1) Mana. Now that Hurricane is used infrequently and the cost of Moonfire is reduced, we rarely have mana problems. If you need some mana help, Furor is better than Moonglow and still leaves your Innervate free for healers. If for your some reason you need a large amount of mana, take Dreamstate and Innervate yourself. Do not drop Euphoria even if you think you're fine on mana.
2) Other utility. Typhoon (knockback), Solar Beam (silence), and Fungal Growth (snare) can all have uses at some encounters.
3) Filler. If you don't need any of the above. Owlkin Frenzy is some DPS contribution depending on encounter. Perseverance is also a fine raid talent, especially when learning Heroics and more dangerous encounters. Blessing of the Grove is generally a very weak talent, but can add a little DPS in a Sunfire spam style (see more on this below).
So, much more than in past expansions, you have many more "optional" points where you have to use your judgment to decide what best fits the encounter you're doing. Here's a typical example:
WoW Talent Calculator - Sigrie.
- Eclipse. The base Eclipse bonus is 25%, and the 16% from Total Eclipse stacks on top of that. The damage bonus is multiplicative. Spells provide Eclipse energy when they land. Eclipse ends after the cast that takes you to 0 energy; the last spell is still affected. If your Mastery rating changes during the Eclipse, the damage bonus changes dynamically.
- Moonfury (damage): Stacks additively with Glyph of Moonfire, Glyph of IS, Gale Winds, and Blessing of the Grove. Doesn't affect Wild Mushroom or Entangling Roots.
- Moonfury (crit): Due to the odd critical bonus stacking rules, the total crit bonus for affected spells if you use a Chaotic meta is 209%.
- Balance of Power: Your base Spirit is not included in the hit rating conversion, only bonus Spirit (green number in the tooltip).
- Euphoria: This currently will not proc if you have more than 35 energy towards your next Eclipse. Unclear whether this is intended or not.
- Starlight Wrath: Applies before any haste effects.
- Moonglow: Mana cost is rounded down after multiplying. Applies after [Shard of Woe]-type effects.
- Nature's Grace: This does not affect the DoT cast that procs it.
- Moonkin Form: The damage bonus is multiplicative. The spell haste buff does not stack with Wrath of Air Totem or with the Priest talent Improved Shadowform.
- Owlkin Frenzy: This can proc from physical or magical damage, but many boss abilities which hit the player frequently do not proc it.
- Force of Nature: If casting this immediately after an instant, you have to press the spell key and then click a targeting reticle in the world frame, losing a small amount of time. The Treants will attack whichever mob hates you the most, and can be easily redirected with the pet bar. They have 90% reduction against AoE damage in PvE, allowing them to survive some boss abilities. Bloodlust and Battle Shout, among other things, will particularly improve their DPS. The Treant's Attack Power is proportional to your current spellpower (i.e. it changes if your spellpower changes after casting). They are affected by any melee hit rating you have, but not by spell hit rating from Balance of Power.
- Sunfire: Identical to Moonfire in all respects except appearance and damage type. Affected by Glyph of Moonfire, Glyph of Starfire, Genesis, Lunar Shower, Nature's Grace, and Shooting Stars. Sunfire and Moonfire overwrite each other on the same target.
- Earth and Moon: The personal 2% damage stacks multiplicatively. The 8% damage debuff also stacks multiplicatively, and does not stack with the Warlock spell Curse of the Elements or the Death Knight disease Ebon Plague. As with other damage debuffs, spells check for presence of this debuff when the arrive at their target and log damage.
- Lunar Shower: If you don't have the buff, it only appears when you cast Moonfire or Sunfire. Once the buff is on you, it stacks and refreshes whenever you move. So if you are not moving and cast two consecutive Moonfires, the second will be affected by one stack of the buff, but to go higher, you need to move.
- Starfall: This will not fire stars when your character is stunned, and the buff will drop entirely if you shift into a Feral form. The worst use is against a single target, where you only get 10 stars. Against multiple targets, you will get 20 stars total. Each star checks your current spellpower at the time it is fired. Stars will only hit enemies that have a target or are under 100% HP.
- Heart of the Wild: Stacks multiplicatively with Mark of the Wild and Astral Leather Specialization.
Omen of Clarity: Has a 2% chance to proc on spellcast [need to verify]. Does not proc from and is not consumed by shapeshifting. Note that you can no longer force procs by casting MotW in combat.
- Master Shapeshifter: The Moonkin Form bonus multiplies with all other damage bonuses.
- Perseverance: Stacks multiplicatively with Moonkin Form and Barkskin.
The best two are is [Glyph of Insect Swarm] and [Glyph of Moonfire]. The third can vary based on the situation:
[Glyph of Starfire] can produce the most DPS in a purely stationary single-target rotation, by refreshing DoT's at very specific times. This is impractical at many raid fights, however, and the Glyph gives no benefit if you're frequently moving and clipping Moonfire (see below).
[Glyph of Starsurge] can be strong in a fight where Starfall is regularly used on cooldown on multiple targets. Even on a single target, it sometimes lets you line up every Starfall with a Lunar Eclipse, which is good for DPS (depends on haste and amount of movement).
[Glyph of Wrath] is a nice, constant bonus. Use it whenever you can't take good advantage of either of the other two.
The tier 11 4-piece bonus tends to work against Glyph of Starsurge and in favor of Glyph of Starfire.
[Glyph of Starfall] is a solid DPS increase. [Glyph of Rebirth] is also highly recommended in any raid situation--being able to Rebirth people safely is very valuable to your raid (especially with the new system of limited Rebirths).
The others are all situational:
[Glyph of Thorns] is useful anytime Thorns is good (see below).
[Glyph of Focus] gives a little bit of DPS anytime you don't need the extra range on Starfall. Sometimes the reduced range can also help you control your Starfall targets.
[Glyph of Innervate] is handy filler anytime you don't need either of the above two, since you will usually Innervate healers.
[Glyph of Solar Beam] is useful at any encounter where you have to interrupt spells (despite the tooltip, the Glyph extends the lockout effect, not the silence aura).
None of these add any DPS, so it's entirely up to personal taste.
[Glyph of Typhoon] is the only one that affects combat mechanics, but it's situation-dependent.
[Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth] can prevent you from being embarrassed with no reagents, and saves an inventory slot to boot.
[Glyph of Dash] can occasionally be handy.
[Glyph of Mark of the Wild] can save a little bit of mana if you ever have to rebuff people during a fight, but MotW is very cheap now.
Horde: Troll is best for DPS, since it gives Berserking and Beast Slaying. Tauren gives no DPS benefit.
Alliance: Worgen is best for DPS, since it gives 1% crit (Darkflight is also a nice perk). Night Elf gives no DPS benefit.
In roughly descending order of importance.
Intellect provides 1 spellpower and 0.00154% to crit per point. With Mark of the Wild, Heart of the Wild, and Astral Leather Specialization, it provides 1.169 spellpower and 0.0018% crit (555 points per 1% crit, a bit under 1/3 of a crit rating).
Similarly, with these talents, one point of Intellect increases your maximum mana by 17.53, and your regen from Replenishment, Euphoria, and Innervate correspondingly.
These things together make Int the best stat for both DPS and mana.
Intellect, without the talent bonuses, crit bonus, or mana gains. Basically a weaker form of Intellect that only appears on weapons and trinkets, but is still good.
102.45 hit rating gives 1% to hit with spells, up to the cap of 1742 rating against a level 88 target. With Balance of Power, 1 Spirit and 1 hit rating are identical for gear selection purposes (if you ever play Resto at all you probably want to gem Spirit). Along with haste, hit is one of the best DPS stats. Remember that hit rating over the cap of 1742 does nothing, so you need to reforge hit to other stats if you gear has more than this amount (see below).
128.05 haste rating gives 1% spell haste. Again a solid DPS stat. Along with hit, generally a stat you want to look for on gear. Haste adds extra DoT ticks at certain points (depending on which buffs you have up); WrathCalcs can compute them.
89.64 mastery rating adds 1% to our Eclipse bonus. Because only about 60% our spells are cast during Eclipse, this makes it weaker than haste rating, point-for-point. [Removed in 4.1: The mastery bonus rounds down to the nearest whole percent.]
Critical strike rating:
179.28 crit rating gives 1% to crit. With Moonfury and a Chaotic Skyflare Diamond, crits with most of our our main spells do 2.09 times the damage of non-crits. Because of the poor rating conversion on crit, it winds up as our worst secondary stat.
The stat priority can be briefly summarized as:
Int >> haste = hit/Spirit > mastery > crit
More details on overall gear strategy at the end of this section.
Gem [Burning Shadowspirit Diamond] in your meta socket.
Gem [Brilliant Inferno Ruby] in all red/prismatic sockets, and in any blue/yellow socket where the bonus is worse than 20 Int (this is a good guideline--you can always use WrathCalcs to check in detail whether a socket bonus is worth it). In blue/yellow sockets where the bonus is 20 Int or better, use [Purified Demonseye] or [Reckless Ember Topaz].
The tier 11 (Stormrider's Regalia) set bonuses are both good (especially the 4-piece). Equip them if you have them.
The T11 4-piece bonus does add another twist to the rotation--you want to avoid consuming the charges with Moonfire or Starfall (more on this below). Depending on how busy the fight is, you may or may not babysit the buff to this extent to squeeze out a little extra DPS. Even if you don't, however, it is a very good set bonus.
Whenever possible, evaluate trinkets using the same metric you would any other item. Compute the average uptime of the proc or use effect to obtain an average stat value. WrathCalcs now gives good estimates of most trinkets.
The best trinket currently available is [Darkmoon Card: Volcano]. For second place, [Heart of Ignacious] and [Theralion's Mirror] are very close. The Mirror tends to look better on paper, although there can be advantages to an activated trinket (as opposed to a proc). [Bell of Enraging Resonance], [Witching Hourglass], and [Stump of Time] are also good.
Note that WrathCalcs will occasionally overvalue some trinkets with haste procs (such as [Witching Hourglass]), if you happen to be be near a DoT breakpoint. This is something that needs to be addressed in a later version. For now, just be suspicious if it tells you that [Witching Hourglass] is much better than epic trinkets.
[Mirror of Broken Images] is quite useful in many PvE encounters. Macroing it to Barkskin is the easiest way to use it.
Typically the best time to activate is with your DoT's. Not only does this ensure you get a set of buffed DoT's, but you often refresh DoT's at the beginning of Eclipse. Even better, if it's a 20 second buff (like many are), your 18 second DoT's should get a second set of refreshes during the trinket activation. So, macroing trinkets to IS is not a bad plan if you don't want to deal with them manually all the time (as you'll see below in the DoT's section, you generally refresh IS first).
Here's a macro you can stick into any spell (such as IS) to activate a trinket without spamming error messages or sounds:
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/script UIErrorsFrame:UnregisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE"); /console Sound_EnableSFX 0 /use 14 /console Sound_EnableSFX 1 /script UIErrorsFrame:RegisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
Use [Flask of the Draconic Mind] or a Cauldron of Battle. Similarly use a 90 Int food (such as [Severed Sagefish Head]) or a Seafood Feast.
The best DPS potion is [Volcanic Potion]. You want to use it during Bloodlust. When you're trying to completely maximize your DPS, remember you can click a potion just before combat starts (ask your tank to count down), and then be able to use another potion later in the fight.
Excluding profession bonuses.
Head: 60 Int/35 crit (Guardians of Hyjal revered).
Shoulders: 50 Int/25 haste (Therazane exalted).
Back - 50 Int
Chest - 20 stats
Wrists - 50 Int
Gloves - 50 haste
Legs - 95 Int/55 Spirit ([Powerful Ghostly Spellthread])
Boots - Run speed/35 mastery
Weapon - Power Torrent
Offhand - 40 Int
Tailoring is currently far better than all other professions.: Lightweave Embroidery gives 580 Int for 15 seconds, 20% proc on spellcast, 50 second cooldown. The average benefit is around 170 Int, minus the 50 Int you usually have on your cloak, for an increase of around 120 Int
Beyond that, most professions provide roughly equal gains.
Engineering: Synapse Springs give 480 Int, for 10 seconds out of every 60, for 80 Int on average (varies slightly in practice).
A macro similar to the one given above for trinkets can be used for glove tinkers--the glove slot is number 10.
Leatherworking: 130 Int to bracers in place of the usual 50 Int gives you 80 Intellect.
Jewelcrafting: 3 [Brilliant Chimera's Eye] in place of 3 [Brilliant Inferno Ruby] gives 81 Intellect.
Blacksmithing is similar. An extra socket each in your wrists and gloves, each with a [Brilliant Inferno Ruby], gives 80 Intellect.
Alchemy: Mixology (with your [Flask of the Draconic Mind]) will give you 80 Intellect.
Enchanting: 40 Int to each ring gives 80 Intellect.
Inscription: 130 Int/25 haste to shoulders in place of the Therazane enchant gives 80 Intellect.
The remaining professions are weaker:
Herbalism now gives a haste cooldown via Lifeblood. At 480 haste for 20s every 2 minutes, it averages out to 80 haste.
Skinning gives 80 crit rating.
Mining provides minor survivability benefits, but no DPS gain.
I'm not going to set out full BIS lists here, for a few different reasons. It's best for you to read this guide until you understand the class well enough to choose gear based on the things I've said above. But here's some overall advice to help provide some guidance.
Caster epics have Intellect, Stamina, spellpower in the case of weapons, and 2 out of the 5 secondary stats: crit rating, hit rating, haste rating, mastery rating or Spirit. Keep in mind a few rules of thumb, which are enough to get a quick estimate of the value of any piece:
Higher-ilvl gear is stronger. Intellect usually increases very regularly with ilvl, so we have a predictable gain.
More sockets are better (since they allow us to stack more Intellect, primarily).
As far as secondary stats, Spirit/haste (or hit/haste) items are the best. Between haste/mastery and Spirit/mastery items, haste/mastery is usually a slightly better choice after all your reforging is done.
When picking items, don't worry about being over or under the hit cap--that will be addressed in reforging.
Since the 5% Intellect from Leather Specialization is a strong bonus, you should generally ignore cloth gear.
To compare items more precisely and check for upgrades, use WrathCalcs to test different setups. You can also use WrathCalcs to compute DPS weights for all your stats for guidance. Generally though, the above rules are sufficient to figure out which of two items is better. See below for more on WrathCalcs.
Given all of the options we have for shuffling stats around now, it can be confusing to find the optimal way to select gear and gem/reforge it while remaining at the hit cap. Computational optimizers like Rawr can assist with this, but knowing the basic guidelines can save you a lot of time when going over your options. It's best to mock up your setup in WrathCalcs and decide how you want to gem/reforge, and then actually do it all at once on live servers.
This is a basic way to approach reforging that covers most situations:
1) In each slot, put on your best individual item (see above), ignoring the hit cap. This will generally be your highest-ilvl leather spellpower item, preferring haste/hit or T11 pieces where possible.
2) Gem in the way described above.
If you are under the hit cap of 1742, do the following until you hit 1742:
3A) On any crit/haste or mastery/haste pieces, reforge the crit or mastery to hit or Spirit (you may prefer Spirit so you can use your items for Resto spec as well).
4A) Reforge any other pieces. Remember that you can reforge hit onto an item with Spirit, and vice versa.
If you were over the hit cap of 1742, do the following until you're just over 1742:
3B) Reforging hit/Spirit to haste on any non-haste items.
4B) Reforging hit/Spirit to mastery on any haste items.
5) Once you are at hit cap, if you have any unreforged items that don't have haste, reforge the crit or mastery on them to haste.
6) There's some possible further optimization by reforging crit/mastery to hit on some items and reforging back on others, or by changing between red and purple gems, but at this point you'll have to work it our yourself or resort to automated tools.
The first rule of DPS is to always be casting (or waiting out a GCD after an instant). Anytime a spell ends, you should already have queued your next one (see below). Don't delay a cast to make a decision or react to proc--train yourself to start another spell regardless of what's going on, and change the subsequent spellcast if necessary after you've had another second to think.
As a preliminary note, this type of macro might be useful for automatically assisting with your nukes when you have a raid member targeted:
Code: Select all
#showtooltip /use [@target, harm, nodead][@targettarget, harm, nodead] Starfire
First, recall that the client processes events when you release the key. Keep that in mind for learning your timing. Some mods have options to change this if you like.
Cataclysm introduces a new ability queueing system, similar to the single-spell queue in WLK but more consistent and more customizable.
When you send a spell command to the server, if your character is unable to cast immediately (typically because it's still casting or GCD-locked from your last spell), the server will see if you become ready to cast within a certain short window. If you do, it will begin the cast immediately. You can set the length of this window with an interface option called "Custom Latency Tolerance." You want to set this value to a high enough amount that you can always press the next spell key comfortably before the current spell finishes, and never have a gap between casts. But you don't want to set it too high, because you can't change your mind after you queue a spell, so your reaction time is effectively slower if you "lock in" each spell a long time before it begins casting. Experiment and find something you're comfortable with.
The Short Version
- Start by applying Insect Swarm and Moonfire, and casting Starsurge. Whenever either DoT falls off the target, or Starsurge comes off cooldown, recast it.
- Cast Starfire until until a Solar (Wrath) Eclipse procs, then switch to Wrath. Cast Wrath until a Lunar (Starfire) Eclipse procs, then switch back to Starfire.
- Repeat this Eclipse cycle, always keeping your two DoT's on the target and using Starsurge, Starfall and Force of Nature on cooldown.
For more detail, continue to the following sections.
The Eclipse Rotation
You will generally operate in a four-step cycle.
- Pre-Lunar. Cast Wrath until the Eclipse buff appears (have some mod that will make it very obvious when you gain the buff).
- Lunar Eclipse. When you see the buff, finish casting your current Wrath and then cast Starfire for the duration of Eclipse.
- Pre-Solar. When Eclipse fades, continue casting Starfire until the Eclipse buff appears.
- Solar Eclipse. Cast Wrath for the duration. Continue casting when it ends to loop back around into step 1.
Subtleties of Transitions
- Solar: You want to watch for when your Solar energy is at 80 or higher, so that you know your current Starfire cast is your last one, and queue a Wrath.
- Lunar: Since Wrath gives its Eclipse energy upon landing, it's a bit trickier to time the swap to Starfire correctly. If your Lunar energy as you start a Wrath is 74 or higher, it will be your last Wrath (because the one in the air will give 13 energy when it lands).
- Do your best to avoid casting extra spells beyond what's necessary to proc Eclipse.
When you die, you Eclipse bar is reset to 0. So on learning attempts for any boss, you'll get used to starting from 0 energy. As you attempt a particular fight more and more, you can sometimes plan out your Eclipses for certain AoE/movement phases. I'm not going to give a boss-by-boss guide here, but you should pay attention to the order of events in each fight and refine your routine. An important technique is that using Moonfire/Sunfire/Mushroom spam doesn't move your Eclipse bar, so sometimes you can use that to control when you enter or leave Eclipse at various points in an encounter. At some encounters, planning out your Eclipses at specific points in the fight will be a major part of doing good DPS.
When you're not wiping, you can start boss fights at 100 energy with a freshly procced Eclipse. As you get near the end of the trash, go to the end of the Eclipse bar and stay there (by stopping Wrath/Starfire usage). During trash itself, where you're often going to be using DoT's and AoE spells, you can simply sit in Solar and use the Sunfire-based style (see below).
Compared to WLK, our DoT's are far stronger now. You want to do your best to maintain very high uptime on both of them. Typically, the only time you will hold up recasting of a DoT is if it falls off and the corresponding Eclipse is coming up very soon--you'll wait one or two casts and refresh at the beginning of Eclipse. If both DoT's are coming up at around the same time when you start Eclipse, remember that Nature's Grace will only affect the second one, so you want to remember to use Insect Swarm first (because Moonfire/Sunfire is stronger than IS under either Eclipse).
Cataclysm changed the way DoT refreshing works--when you refresh a currently ticking DoT, you no longer waste a partial tick. Significantly, if you refresh a DoT when it has only one tick remaining, there is no loss at all. This means the optimal time to refresh a DoT is during its last tick, thereby maintaining true 100% uptime. Failing that, refresh at the same time you do now, as soon at it falls off.
DoT ticks use your spellpower, haste, and +% damage (e.g. Eclipse) values from the moment the DoT was cast--they do not update in real time until the next time you cast the DoT. Crit chance of the ticks, on the other hand, does change dynamically if you gain or lose crit buffs while the DoT is ticking. Because the entire DoT is effected by your stats at the moment of cast, there can be detailed decisionmaking in when to apply them--see "Advanced Points" below for more.
Similarly to DoT's, simply use this on cooldown or any time Shooting Stars procs. As with DoT's, the only notable exception is if it would be the last spell before Eclipse. Then you can hold it up for one spell to cast it with the Eclipse buff. With the T11 4-piece bonus, you can hold up Starsurge a bit longer for the guaranteed Starsurge crit as soon as Eclipse starts.
Starfall: If possible, cast this at the beginning of Lunar Eclipse. But depending on your haste and other factors, your cycle might be too short to use Starfall during Lunar each time. In that case, use it on cooldown. In fights which occasionally have multiple targets up at once, save Starfall for those times. With the tier 11 4-piece bonus, try not to have Starfall up when you gain an Eclipse, because it will immediately consume the buff.
Force of Nature: use this as many times as possible in a given fight. If you know when Bloodlust/Heroism is coming, try to cast this immediately beforehand (but not if this requires waiting so long that you can't use it as many times during the encounter). There's no special benefit for having a spellpower buff active at the moment you cast this; the Treants' attack power changes dynamically with your spellpower. This macro is handy:
Code: Select all
/use Force of Nature /petattack
Thorns: This spell can do good damage. At around 15 procs per cast, it starts to become worth casting on cooldown. In situations where any tank is tanking multiple mobs, you will definitely want to use this on cooldown and probably Glyph it as well. Note that it is expensive, so you have to be careful if you're planning to use it heavily. Here's macro to cast it on your target if friendly, otherwise on the target's target (useful if you're targeting the boss and want to cast Thorns on the tank):
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#showtooltip /use [@target, help, nodead][@targettarget, help, nodead][@mouseover, help, nodead] Thorns
Typhoon: With Wild Mushroom and DoT's providing stronger AoE options, the main reason you use this is for the knockback. Occasionally it's useful in a raid encounter to spend a GCD pushing something away. For this it must be unglyphed. If you do ever want to use it for any DPS reason, make sure to Glyph it.
Faerie Fire: We no longer need to use this unless the raid is missing an Armor debuff.
Innervate: As discussed above, you need to evaluate your mana situation to know whether you plan to use this on yourself or on others, since it affects talent/Glyph choices, but using it on others is probably more common. Remember that if you have some Int procs (such as Power Torrent, or especially DMC:Volcano), you can maximize the value of Innervate by casting it when you have a large mana pool.
Rebirth: The most important issue is to avoid wasting it, especially now that the raid can only use a limited number per attempt (3 in 25-man, 1 in 10-man). First, make sure to coordinate with other Druids in your raid using macros or Vent so two of you don't cast on the same target. Second, people love to accept the resurrection as soon as it appears and die to something immediately. It can be good to warn them if it's a bad time to accept, and Glyph of Rebirth provides further insurance. Remember that Rebirth drops Moonkin Form, so be ready to reshift as your next cast.
Here's a macro that casts Revive instead of Rebirth if you're out of combat, and also alerts your raid if Rebirth is used:
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#showtooltip /use [nocombat] Revive /stopmacro [nocombat] /use Rebirth /ra Rebirth on %t
With the WLK haste cap issues gone, our spells are now all buffed nicely by Bloodlust. Nothing significant will change during the rotation, except that DoT's are exceedingly good. Make sure to DoT any possible target as soon as Bloodlust starts, probably even clipping any existing DoT's at that point (use any timers here if possible, such as Berserking and your Volcanic Potion). If you have a Nature's Grace near the beginning of Bloodlust, even better to spam DoT's with.
The basic solution to any movement situation is to try to get the most out of DoT's and Lunar Shower. Cast Moonfire the instant movement begins (or even just before) to start stacking the buff, then spam it on the target while running. Use IS, Wild Mushroom, and any other instants you have available (such as Shooting Stars) as well. Planting Wild Mushrooms at the enemy's feet while moving take some practice but is worthwhile; remember that you can wait until your next Solar Eclipse to detonate them.
Finally, if at all possible, you want to be in an Eclipse for movement, although you might often have little control over this.
It's important to manage our DoT's well during high-movement situations. You want to plan your casting so that you cast DoT's (or other instants) while moving, and nukes while standing still. This requires you to be highly aware of both your spell rotation and your surroundings, so you can anticipate movement. It's always worth delaying a DoT by a few seconds to cast it while moving, so you can cast another nuke while still. This also holds true for other instants.
Multiple Targets and AoE
In multi-target (3 or more) situations, Wild Mushroom and DoT's tend to overpower all other spells due to their high DPET.
Wild Mushroom should always be used on cooldown against clumped targets (i.e. plant a set of 3 Mushrooms and detonate them every 10 seconds).
Always put both DoT's on any target that's going to live for more than a few seconds.
Save Starfall for multi-target situations if there are any in the encounter.
Hurricane and Typhoon have little use for DPS right now, since you can basically fill your time with Wild Mushroom and DoT's.
Since all of the above spells are instant, you can move continuously while doing all this (it takes a little bit of practice). This keeps Lunar Shower stacked, while slightly increases the DPS of any Moonfire casts and makes them much more affordable.
You want to be in Solar if possible for AoE phases. On encounters with a major AoE component, a big part of your planning should revolve around being in Solar Eclipse at the right time, due to the importance of Wild Mushroom.
The Sunfire Spam "Rotation"
In Solar Eclipse, Insect Swarm, Sunfire (with Lunar Shower), and Wild Mushroom do quite a lot of damage, and do not deplete your Solar Energy. Because of this, you can sometimes use an alternate "rotation" where you use only these three spells, and remain in Solar Eclipse permanently. You simply keep moving to maintain Lunar Shower, maintain both DoT's on all possible targets, use WM on cooldown, and spam Sunfire on any target at all other times. The advantages are constant mobility, very little attention required, and virtually no mana cost. The only important factor is to keep your DoT's ticking on everything, it's where most of the DPS comes from.
Against a single target, this is a DPS loss and generally not recommended (although you will wind up doing something similar whenever you're forced to move). As the number of available targets for your DoT's increases however, this technique becomes increasingly viable. It's something to keep in mind for trash, add phases, or any other multi-target situation where the added mobility is helpful. As mentioned above, you can also use it to save an Eclipse for an important part of an encounter.
One refinement is that you can work instant Starsurges into the mix, depending on the situation (you get very frequent Shooting Stars procs with all the DoT's going). Your Solar Eclipse will fade after 7 Starsurges, so if you want to maintain this rotation for a long time, you can't do it. But if you're only doing it for a short fight or part of a fight, Starsurge will add DPS. Try out the various options when you're learning a fight to come up with a smooth routine.
If you're doing this often, Blessing of the Grove adds a marginal amount of DPS.
The Balance spec in Cataclysm has a number of interacting buffs and procs, making it currently one of the complex classes in the game to play well. There's no concise list of rules for what to cast and when (which is part of why this guide is so long); you need to have the solid understanding of how the different abilities works and use your judgment in a variety of situations. When you feel you've mastered the basic techniques described so far, here are more subtle points you can try to start working into your play:
If you queue an instant spell after the final Wrath/SF that procs an Eclipse, that instant will not be affected by the Eclipse. So if you want to refresh DoT's at the beginning of an Eclipse, you have to cast one other spell first.
Corollary: if you queue a Starsurge at that point, it will be affected by Eclipse unless it's instant cast. So be careful with Shooting Stars procs around the beginning of Eclipse. This is especially important with the tier 11 4-piece bonus, as you don't want to use your first guaranteed crit on an uneclipsed Starsurge. It's often quite good to hold your Starsurge cooldown or an SS proc into the beginning of a new Eclipse, just keep this is mind if you do.
Similarly, if you queue an instant spell after the last spell of an Eclipse (i.e. the spell that takes you past 0), the instant will also be Eclipsed. You can use this to refresh DoT's as Eclipse ends, or even cast an instant Starsurge. If that last spell is Wrath or Starsurge, you can sometimes get two extra instants off, depending on travel time.
There are a wide variety of things that affect the damage done by a DoT at the time you cast. A non-exhaustive list: Nature's Grace, Eclipse, trinket procs, Lightweave/Synapse/Power Torrent, Bloodlust, Volcanic Potion, Berserking. Depending on you closely you monitor your buffs (there's no way you can watch all these things effectively without a mod organizing your buff information), you can squeeze out extra DPS by watching what's going on as you refresh DoT's, and adjusting slightly earlier or later as necessary.
This also means that if you're moving, sometimes you don't want to use the usual Lunar Shower spam because it will overwrite a strong DoT with a weak one (for example if Eclipse just faded). This is the sort of situation where you might plant Wild Mushrooms to fill time for 3 GCD's, and detonate them at any later time (e.g during Solar).
From a reset Eclipse position, Starsurge will give Solar energy. Keep this in mind when planning your first few casts of the fight, to make sure you start cleanly towards whichever Eclipse you want first (which Eclipse this is depends on your plan for the fight). A solid starting routine is important, because you have your Volcanic Potion, first set of trinket procs, and often Bloodlust, and want to maximize their effect. Pay particular attention to DoT refreshing.
The 4T11 bonus constricts your use of Starfall and Moonfire, since you want to avoid using up charges on either. Be especially careful not to Starfall near the beginning of a new Eclipse. Conversely, you might hold your Starsurge cooldown for many seconds to start an Eclipse with a crit Starsurge.
The 4T11 bonus allows a particular trick with Wild Mushroom. If you detonate a set of Mushrooms with the Astral Alignment buff up, all of the hits will be affected by the current number of charges (i.e. the crit bonus applies before the charges are used). By carefully planning an Eclipse (ideally Solar) to start right before you use a set of Mushrooms, you can do enormous burst AoE damage with 100% crit on the detonation.
Glyph of Starfire further complicates DoT refreshing. If you have it equipped, any Starfire will cause the number of ticks on your current Moonfire to be recomputed based on your current haste. This means that, among other things, it's no longer important to try to cast Moonfire with Nature's Grace up (since further Starfires will apply it anyway). So during Lunar Eclipse you should reverse the usual DoT order and refresh Moonfire before Insect Swarm.
Mods & Tools
SquawkAndAwe: A convenient set of bars for all Moonkin-related timers. Generally working now in 4.0.
Balance Power Tracker: An alternative energy bar for 4.0. Among various display features, this bar has the option to add the expected energy from currently casting/traveling spells to your energy bar, to help you see when you need to swap spells for the next Eclipse. Try this feature out to see if you like it, but remember that if you've been practicing with the default energy bar, the timing change will take a bit of getting used to.
Quartz: as a primary caster, you should have a proper cast bar. This is an excellent one.
Rawr is up and running for level 85, I believe, but I've not played with it yet.
WrathCalcs (attached to this post). Moonkin theorycraft spreadsheet. Will give you the exact value of stats/talents/glyphs in your current setup, and lets you experiment with different rotations. Originally made by Adoriele here. I've since taken it over and used it as the platform for my own theorycrafting, reflected in the version posted here.
For those of you who used WrathCalcs in Wrath of the Lich King, the main change is a new front page where you can select gear, gems, enchants, and reforges from drop-down menus. Stats are automatically totaled and passed to the second page, where you'll find all the features from before: talent and buff selection, and all the same detailed outputs.
For everyone else, here's a basic description to get you started:
1) Input your gear, gems, enchants, and reforges on the front page. The basic rule is that any light-blue box is a dropdown menu where you can choose something. The sheet will automatically black out any enchant/gem slots that don't exist, and will highlight any inactive socket bonuses or meta gems in red. To un-reforge (or un-gem or un-enchant) and item, just the delete the current reforge/gem/enchant selection.
2) On the second page, input your talents, glyphs and buffs. Again, light blue boxes are menus where you can enter your setup. Don't modify the pink boxes, which are the stats inherited from the front page--these are shown so you can see the stat weights (see below). You can also set some parameters about how you use your spells in the purple boxes.
3) Basic results are in green boxes. You can read your overall DPS and net mana use in the "main results" box (these are also copied to the front page so you can easily see how they change when you change gear). Other green boxes show your hit/haste breakpoints, the DPET and DPM of each of your spells, and the damage breakdown of all your spells (also shown in the pie chart).
4) Advanced results are in the blue boxes. These require the use of data tables, which you have to recompute manually by pressing F9 (Windows) or Cmd-= (Mac). These include:
a) next to each stat, buff, glyph, and talent, the amount of DPS and MP5 derived from that particular thing. For stats, it shows the benefit of having 1 more of that stat. For talents and other bonuses, it shows a) if you have no points in the talent, the value you would gain from one point, b) if you have points, the value you currently gain from those points (i.e. the amount you would lose by dropping them).
b) next to the spell table, the amount by an additional stat point improves each individual spell.
There is now one version of the sheet for both Excel and OpenOffice. OO users select "OpenOffice" from the dropdown on the first page, and everything should work (except for the data tables/advanced outputs, which are not supported by OO).
There's also a profile save/load feature now (only works in Windows Excel) so you can swap between different gear sets more easily.
Known Spreadsheet Issues
The combination of Glyph of Starfire, 4T11, and the "refresh Moonfire once per Eclipse" option gives a very optimistic DPS estimate. In practice it's impractical to get perfect output from all of these things at once.
Omen of Clarity is still affecting all spells. A minor error actually, since some instants are cheaper than nukes and some are more expensive.
Averaged-in haste procs can give extra DoT ticks on all casts.
Still trying to figure out exactly how hit rating affects Treants.