Community, Featured, Items and Equipment, Lunar Guidance
Phaelia: This week, I’m honored to share a guest post from Graylo of Gray Matter, a premier Balance blog featuring tons of theorycraft beneficial to any Balance (or Restoration) Druid seeking to improve her DPS or learn vital feather-preening techniques.
The night after patch 3.0.2 dropped my guild was running Black Temple and the [Naaru-Blessed Life Rod] dropped off of the Reliquary of Souls, and my GM, who plays a Warlock, said “looks like a Warlock item to me.”
Before you start writing angry comments about how my GM is an idiot, rest assured that he was joking. Though his comment does highlight one of the issues we are going to have after Wrath of the Lich King is released. With the merger of Healing and Spell Damage into a single stat, Moonkin and Trees are going to be seeking some of the same gear. However, this does not mean that every piece of leather gear with Spell Power is ideally suited for a Tree or a Moonkin. While any item with Spell Power maybe good for both builds, it is my opinion that most items with Spell Power will lend themselves more to one spec than the other.
In this article, I will take a look at each of the relevant stats to see how they lean. Then I will look at a couple of examples to answer the question: Is it Resto gear or Moonkin gear?
I only mention it to get it out of the way. This is the primary stat for both builds and provides no insight into who benefits from this item most. Plus, when considering items of a similar level the amount of Spell Power will be fairly close on both items.
Unless something has changed in WotLK, a heal is not going to be miss or be resisted by its target. Therefore Resto Druids have no use for Hit Rating. This is the most obvious indicator of how an item leans. If it has Hit then it’s Moonkin gear.
Note from Phae: If it’s “hit” then it’s sh— … er … that is to say, it’s not something you want to GET.
Crit is a little more ambiguous. It is not the most important stat for either build, but definitely has its purpose in both builds. In TBC, Crit Rating was good for Moonkin, but horrible for Trees since few Druid heals could crit. That has changed somewhat in WotLK. Regrowth will play a much bigger role in Druid healing, Healing Touch can now be cast in Tree of Life, and the new spell Nourish can crit. All of this points to a bigger role for Crit Rating in a Resto Druid’s life.
However, it is my opinion that Crit Rating favors Moonkin more. Over 80% Moonkin DPS comes from spells that can crit. Critical hits not only increases Moonkin damage but also increases our average casting speed for Starfire and returns mana. A majority of druid healing will still come from HoTs, and critical heals have an increased risk of wasted heals due to overhealing.
Note from Phae: Yes, spell crit is better for Restoration Druids than it once was, but try not to go overboard. HoTs still can't crit, and the 50% additional crit from Improved Regrowth actually makes spell crit less desirable to Restoration Druids, not more. To understand why, imagine you have 0 crit chance and pick up gear that gives you 10% crit chance. Your net improvement would be 1.1/1.0 or 10%. Now imagine you have 50% crit chance and pick up gear that gives you an additional 10% crit chance. Your net improvement is 1.6/1.5 or 6%, a substantially lower improvement. For the sake of clarity, this assumes you get exactly double the benefit from a crit, which is actually close due to Living Seed but not exact.
Haste rating has the biggest question mark. When I talked to Phae about this stat she said she was slightly inclined to defer to Moonkin on this stat, but I think it is much more even.
Haste can be a significant DPS increase for Moonkin but it comes at a cost. It doesn’t increase mana efficiency at all so if you don’t have the mana pool for it, it won’t help your DPS much. From a Restoration perspective, haste does not decrease the duration of your HoTs, but it does have several benefits that can make a Resto Druid more effective. A shorter global cooldown means you can roll Lifebloom on more targets, or allow you to get more direct heals off in between refreshes. It also will help you to get off an emergency heal if both Nature’s Swiftness and Swiftmend are down.
In my opinion Haste doesn’t lend itself to one spec over the other. So, there is no help here.
Note from Phae: The value of haste depends almost entirely upon your style of healing. A healing style that relies primarily upon insta-cast HoTs – Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, and Wild Growth – will little benefit from haste; its global cooldown reduction is overpriced. On the other hand, an unglyphed Healing Touch or heavy Regrowth build would benefit from stacking spell haste. Still, it’s rare for a Restoration Druid to so vigorously eschew her HoTs to focus instead on direct heals.
In the Burning Crusade, Spirit clearly lent itself to Restoration build,s and it is still a good stat for Trees in WotLK due to talents like Intensity, Living Spirit, and Improved Tree of Life. Moonkin on the other hand had very little use for Spirit. It was good for mana regeneration because most Moonkin picked up Intensity, but it did little for our DPS. That is changing with the addition of Improved Moonkin Form, which increases Spell Damage by 15% of your total Spirit.
Despite this change, I still believe that Spirit lends itself more to Restoration then Balance. The Resto Tree has more talents that benefit from Spirit, and I think healers in general benefit more from mana regen then DPSers do. Restos can easily blow through their mana really quickly trying to keep someone up and prevent a wipe. A Moonkin’s mana usage is much more consistent and can be managed in other ways. Plus, the extra DPS a Moonkin will get from Spirit is fairly small.
Note from Phae: I’m the one with Spirit; I don’t wanna hear it! Living Spirit means a Restoration Druid gets 1.15 Spirit for every 1 Spirit that a Moonkin would get. If said Moonkin doesn’t even have Intensity, I’d punch it in the beak for trying to take an item with a ton of Spirit.
Obviously both builds need some amount of Intellect, but an item with an extraordinary large amount of Intellect probably lends itself more to a Moonkin. The Balance tree has two talents, Lunar Guidance and Dreamstate, that buff the druid based upon his level of Intellect. Restos can’t get these buffs without putting over 20 points in the Balance Tree.
Note from Phae: I believe that the new mana regeneration effect, Replenishment, makes Intellect desirable for all casters since the amount of mana restored is based on your total mana. As a result, I would be less inclined to consider this a stat that favors solely Moonkin, though I agree that Lunar Guidance and Dreamstate does seem to give the slight advantage to Balance Druids.
To be honest this isn’t a great stat for either build. It is a very expensive relative to the other stats listed above. Plus, it has only a situational impact on performance. If you don’t have mana issues currently, then more MP5 isn’t going change anything.
That being said, I believe that MP5 lends itself more to Restoration builds. As I said before I believe that mana regen is a little more important for healers then it is for DPS.
Note from Phae: Ewwwww … MP5! This stat continues to be overpriced for those casters with an Intensity-esque ability (ex. Meditation, Arcane Meditation). I’d look the other way on an item who sinks a large portion of its item budget into MP5.
To illustrate these points lets look at two pairs of boots that drop in Naxx25:
I think both boots would be good for either a Restoration or Balance Druid, but I think I know which one Restos would prefer. Despite having 38 Crit rating, I believe the [Boots of Septic Wounds] are more of a Resto item. They have a large amount of Spirit and the gem socket allow for more potent heals and greater longevity. On the other hand, the [Boots of the Escaped Captive] favor a Moonkin build in my opinion. The sheer quantity of Haste means that they will provide more DPS at the expense of less valuable base stats.
For another example look at these two chest pieces, also drops from Naxx25:
In my opinion, the [Vest of Vitality] is clearly a Moonkin item. The large quantity of Crit and complete lack of Spirit say this item is for all out DPS. The [Tunic of Prejudice] is a much more balanced item that has lots of Spirit that I think Restos will find more attractive.
Leather vs Cloth
I want to make a quick comment on the Leather vs. Cloth debate. Moonkin are used to having to fight with Mages, Warlocks, and Priests for cloth gear because there was very little leather caster DPS gear in the Burning Crusade. My guess is that in Wrath of the Lich King we are going to see clothies push back and say they should get priority over Druids.
I still believe that armor type doesn't matter for the most part. The stats on the gear are what cause you to do more DPS or be a more effective healer. Therefore, I say rolling on cloth items that are clearly better then the other options available should be okay. That being said, be mindful of the clothies' needs. Don't roll on a cloth item when there is a leather item that is equally accessible. For example, a Moonkin should probably pass on [Slippers of the Seacaller] if a clothie wants it, because the [Naturewarden's Treads] are available just a few bosses later.
None of this means that Restos shouldn’t roll on the [Vest of Vitality], or that Moonkin shouldn’t use the Boots [Boots of Septic Wounds]. All of these items could be upgrades for either spec. These are just guidelines to help you navigate your gear choices.
My suggestion is that you talk to the other caster druids in your guild and see what gear they are looking for and how big of an upgrade it is. This type of planning with your shape shifting brethren can prevent arguments and feelings of animosity. It can also save you DKP and help you get the item that best suits your needs when it drops.
I want to say thanks to Phae for giving me this opportunity and supporting my blog. The Druid community would be at a loss without you. Note from Phae: <3 Thanks, Gray!