Ask Moon Chicken: Leveling as Balance

26 07 2008

Well, Pike comes in with a question regarding how to do better DPS while she is leveling as Balance. Here’s her question:

 

Dear Moon Chicken:

I am a level 40 moonkin and my DPS sucks! I was in an instance the other day and got out-DPS’d by a level 34 rogue and a level 34 enhancement shammy– granted, they had Windfury, but, you know. I was six levels higher than them!

Since then I have been wondering… am I doing something wrong, or is it just hard to do good DPS on moonkins at the lower levels? Is there some big secret I’m missing out on in terms of spell rotation/usage? I don’t want to be the “huntard” of moonkins (I am allowed to use the word “huntard” because I have a level 70 hunter and a level 63 hunter >.> ;) Any advice would be great!

 

Well, first, I’d like to thank you for trusting me with this question. I’ll do what I can. First of all, it’s a well-known issue that leveling as Balance is very difficult in the old world. Well, perhaps difficult is the wrong word, but maybe slow is better. This isn’t due to the talents, which are fine (if a tad bloated after the first few tiers) but rather the itemization. And this ties directly to your issue. You see, back in vanilla WoW, Moonkins weren’t exactly…endorsed, if you will…by Blizzard. Not that they came right out and said “Oi, Moonkins, go spec Resto or else” while menacingly brandishing a sharp shiv. No, rather, they implied as much through the itemization they gave Druids. The end game was dominated by Resto Druids because back then, if you could heal, you did heal. Ferals could get by on Rogue gear, but Balance Druids were left in the dust. 

 

And to this day Blizzard has done little to fix this. Now, although I leveled mostly as Feral, I did spend some time in the old world as Balance, and I know how you feel Pike. Your DPS will skyrocket after you hit Outland, but until then, here are some suggestions and explanations. 

 

First, the Shaman and Rogue were probably just better geared. This is no offense to you, it’s just that Enhancement Shamans can wear Rogue gear and be fine, and that might be what was going on. And the quality of their weapons are very important, so they might have had a good two-hander, which just gives insane burst damage. And Blizzard loves Rogues, so he probably had fine gear. And Windfury is HUGE. So don’t worry too much about that, let’s just worry about trying to improve you. 

 

First, let me suggest this spec (link). I don’t know what your spec is, but I personally like this one at this level. Celestial Focus is nice for soloing. Now Lunar Guidance and Dreamstate are very good to pick up. The problem is that the talents get bloated around those tiers, so some tough decisions abound until you get past level 50. Moonglow might help the most though, so I would recommend finishing that out and then going for Lunar Guidance. The problem is that you don’t really have much in the way of spell damage (if any) at this level, and that is the Moonkin’s primary damage stat. The treants will help you a lot, and Wrath of Cenarius is great once you do get some spell damage, but if you have none, fill out the other talents first, those will help you no matter what. 

 

Second, don’t be afraid to wear cloth. You didn’t mention your itemization, but if you are trying to wear all leather you will do less DPS. It gets better in Outland, but not much. The great thing is that you can hide the nasty looking assortment of gear everyone struggles with by hopping into Moonkin Form! Cloth is all over the place in the Old World and will have the stats you need, which are mostly Intellect, Spell Damage and Stamina. Spirit doesn’t help much until you get Intensity (which won’t be until almost level 70) but it’s not bad and comes on a lot of cloth. Now, you need to be careful not to step on the toes of other clothies you run with, but be polite and ask if you can roll Need as well. And of course, pick up cloth upgrades from quests if they exist. Your 400% armor increase will help you out if you have come cloth. And it’s cheaper to repair!

 

As for DPS rotations, there are a few depending on what you want to do. For most trash pulls before bosses, a good old Wrath spam will be nice. Right now Nature’s Grace limits how quickly you can chain Wraths together, but don’t worry about that. They will go down too quickly to really be worth a Moonfire or Insect Swarm, and Starfire will miss them on the last cast sometimes. So as long as your mana is OK, just go with Wrath. Now if you need to conserve mana or you are on a Boss in an instance, put up Moonfire and Insect Swarm then cast Starfire until the Moonfire DoT runs out and reapply it. You might have heard that Moonfire is inefficient, but this is a myth. It is very efficient. It is only inefficient if you don’t let the DoT do its thing by spamming Moonfire over and over again. You see, casting a new Moonfire resets the DoT and because you can cast every 1.5 seconds but the DoT takes 3 seconds to start doing damage, it never does any damage! If you do need to have both mobility and damage, cast Moonfire and then cast the second highest rank of Moonfire you have. It will do almost as much upfront damage but won’t replace the higher-ranked DoT, giving you much better mana efficiency. 

 

Summary: Wrath = DPS, Starfire = DPM (damage per mana). Let Moonfire’s DoT do it’s damage. And Insect Swarm is one of the most efficient spells in the game.

 

Another thing I might suggest is getting the AddOn Quartz, if you are familiar with AddOns. This AddOn is a special cast bar which shows you your latency in real time by creating a red bar of varying length at the end of your cast bar. When you see your cast reach that red box, it is time to press the button for your next spell. This is because latency affects what you see yourself as doing and what the server sees you as doing. But by using this sort of AddOn you will fit in many more spell casts than if you just pressed the next button when you saw that it was over, because technically it was over a fraction of a second ago. I know it might not seem like much, but it can be a huge boost to your DPS. Rogues and Enhance Shamans don’t need to worry as much because they do a lot of auto attacks. But you’ve gotta be on your game. You said you had a hunter, so if you use that AddOn which shows you your auto shot timer in order to weave in other shots correctly, it is sort of like that. 

 

Those are the best suggestions I have. If I left something out, I profusely apologize, and hopefully some kind soul will comment with another suggestion. Yes, Balance Druids will have a hard time topping DPS charts at your level, but they are a lot of fun as well, and it gets much better around your level. Best of luck to you and have fun!

 

/wave

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46 responses

26 07 2008
doomkin

This likely won’t help you now commenter, but I have realized the dire need of help that boomkin require in vanilla WoW because of Blizzard’s lack of “endorsement” as well as the resulting unpopularity of playing that spec so early in the game, so I have decided to make an ultimate Boomkin guide that covers leveling, itemization, talent builds, spell rotations, play styles, etc; here on WordPress called “I am Doomkin (And So Can You!)”

If anyone here that reads moonchicken especially teh leet lazerturkey themselves would like to contribute to this guide please feel entitled to contact me at ddirkess@yahoo.com

26 07 2008
moonchicken

This sounds like a good idea, I’ll email you and figure out more of what you’re looking for.

27 07 2008
Pike

Ooh, big thanks for all the help! I do suppose I should’ve linked my armory, it is here. I have some healy stuff on because I find myself healing in many situations as opposed to Boomkin’ing. Anyways, the advice was super helpful, and helps me feel better about my fledgling moonkin-ness! Thank you very much =)

27 07 2008
moonchicken

Okay, well in terms of your Armory you’ve already got everything under control. When you can drop some Spirit heavy items for some more Intellect, but you’ve obviously got the right idea. Good luck!

-Sylv

29 07 2008
Graylo

Moonchicken has provided some great tips on how to improve your DPS but wouldn’t really worry about it.

It is always nice to top DPS charts and put up big numbers, and everyone should always strive to do your best. However, in my opinion there are only two times when performance really matters. 1) max level. 2) Twinking.

Remember you have two primary goals while leveling. 1) Have fun. 2) Reach the next level. Maxamazing your performance is nice, but it depends on so manythings while leveling that it is really hard to evaluate. Here are a couple of examples.

1) Gear: Its not just the itemization problem, and to be honest I don’t consider it a problem since there is plenty of cloth available. The bigs problem is the source of your gear. Instances are great for gear. Quests are bad for gear until outland. Some one who runs a lot of instances or has friends that run them through instances will have a lot better gear and it makes a big difference. Not only that someone who is lower level then you but has similar gear will get more out of that gear due to how Blizzard calculates Crit bonuses and such.

When I level I try to get to the next level as quick as possible. So my gear is horrible compared to my level. I can’t remember which toon it was but I think I wore a lvl 20 something piece of gear into outland. Other people do a lot of instances and buy gear of the AH. It doesn’t mean that I am bad player. It just means I have different priorities.

2) Spells: Rotations are really hard to figure out in a group setting while leveling. Its not like every five levels you get Wrath and Starfire at the same time. You get wrath at lvl 30 that will give you 1.08 DPM and 72 DPS. At level 34 you geat a SF worth 1.22 DPM and 73.6 DPS. Then at 38 you get another wrath with 1.18 DPM and 98.6 DPS.

Its pretty clear at 34 you should be using SF because it has better DPM and DPS then Wrath, but at 38 Wrath becomes very competative with a similar DPM and a much higher DPS. Then it flip flops again at 42 when you have a new starfire because it has better DPS and DPM.

So, just to reiterate my point. Don’t get two hung up on performance while leveling. There will be plenty of time to worry about that when you start raiding or PvPing.

30 07 2008
moonchicken

Ah, the wise Graylo brings up many wonderful points I hadn’t even considered, especially the idea that different ranks come at different times. Just a disclaimer: those rotations are definitely based on max rank spells. Now, the ideas behind them hold true if you have similar ranks but just as Graylo pointed out, you have to keep in mind whether that is true or not.

And yes, Azeroth quests are miserable for their gear rewards, usually several levels below what you “should” have at that level when you can solo the quest and it’s just pretty miserable. But I can’t emphasize enough how right he was about the two goals of leveling. Now the second one does require a bit of know-how if you want to do it quickly, but it seems that Pike is doing perfectly fine, much better than I was at level 40 and then again in he mid 50′s. Good luck.

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