Rotation Madness

After the debacle of my last dungeon run I decided to revisit Icy Veins to try & get to grips with my Balance Druid. While I know the last run was particularly bad because of the individuals involved I am still uncomfortable with my reliance on Bitten’s Druid Spellflash to play my Druid. I want to better understand the rotation.

So fortified with a strong coffee & a sugary pop tart I earlier sat down to study the Icy Veins guide – specifically the rotation page that can be found here:-

It all started well enough. The intro reads:-

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Gapezilla, one of the best Balance Druids in the world, who raids in Encore, and whose stream you can watch on Twitch, and by Cyous, a high-end Balance Druid theorycrafter and retired raider, who raided in Promethean. You can follow him on Twitter.”

Well these guys must know what they’re doing. I’m clearly in safe paws here.

The guide begins:

Apply and maintain Moonfire and Sunfire on the target.

You should try to apply and refresh both DoTs when you are [at] their respective Peaks (Lunar Peak for Moonfire and Solar Peak for Sunfire), but this is not essential.

This end bit immediately troubles me. When job applications say something is desirable but not essential you know they’re using it to sort the wheat from the chaff. I don’t want to make the wrong call here. But on the whole it seems ok. I mean I know what a DoT is (and that group on Monday called me useless. Bah. Piffle.) Ok add me to the wheat pile sir.

Since Sunfire lasts considerably less than Moonfire and since it is only available when you are in a Solar Eclipse, you will have to refresh it before leaving Solar Eclipse (or right after entering it) in order to maintain full uptime on it.

Whoa there! You told me to apply & maintain both but are now telling me Sunfire isn’t available until I am in Solar Eclipse. This implies Moonfire is always available. But later on you say you can only apply each DoT when you are in its respective eclipse. So why are you singling out Sunfire here and giving me pause for thought (or is it Paws for though – heh heh)?

I digress. It goes onto say:-

Cast  Starsurge

You should cast Starsurge often enough to make sure that its charges are always rolling.

Rolling? Is this a technical term? I’m assuming it means always building up new charges rather than letting Starsurge sit back all maxed up with unspent charges? If so please say that. What’s with all this faddy “rolling” talk. I was born in the 70s. The only roll I know is Rock’n’Roll and even that was old school in my day.

Casting Starsurge in Lunar Eclipse will grant Lunar Empowerment, and casting it in Solar Eclipse will grant  Solar Empowerment (both buffs last 30 seconds).

30 seconds. Awesome. Note to self: must not waste it by dancing, however tempted.

You should always use up the charges provided by these buffs before re-casting Starsurge, so as not to waste any charges.”

Sorry I was dancing. What charges would that be then? Not Starsurge charges as you’ve said not to use Starsurge. Do you mean Lunar/Solar Peak charges? Is that even a thing? 

Later on it says:

…you will have to make sure to use up all the charges of the current buff before re-casting Starsurge in the same eclipse. For example, if you have 2 stacks of Solar Empowerment, you should not cast Starsurge again in Solar Eclipse, because the stacks will be overwritten. We cannot stress enough how vital it is never to overwrite an Empowerment buff.

Oh god I’m shaking. I never realised how dangerous this is. I might OVERWRITE AN EMPOWERMENT BUFF. Do you know what that means? No? Thank God. Not just me then. But it’s serious stuff. It’s in bold & everything.

You should cast Starsurge as you are approaching a Lunar or Solar Peak so that you can cast the buffed spells at (or close to) the Peak.

More bold. My nerves can’t take this. Even “Peak” is capitalised. Perhaps they’re over egging it though – like when they tell you not to use a mobile phone in intensive care (a bit of texting by the bedside never did anyone any harm my grandmother used to say – in fact she said it while she was in intensive care as it happens, but then her machine went all funny and they took away my phone).

IcyVeins continues:-

Thanks to Shooting Stars, you will sometimes get a free charge of Starsurge

Awww thanks Shooting Stars. You shouldn’t have. Really you shouldn’t have. Take it back. I don’t know what to do with the ones I already have.

Cast Wrath while you are in a Solar Eclipse

Cast Starfire while you are in a Lunar Eclipse.

Simple dimple. Even I can do this bit. On a good day. Perhaps I’ll just ignore the earlier stuff & spam these ones. Just kidding. I know I have to apply DoTs when available, use Starsurge to keep it rolling, don’t use Starsurge when Lunar & Solar empowerment buffs give me some other charge (I trust some icon will flash at this point), but do use it just before/after entering eclipse to get said buffs. And of course don’t stand in fire, try to be a bit social by typing in chat, grow 8 more hands and another pair of eyes. Easy peasy.

But then just as I’m getting confident Icy Veins blows it all by saying:

This is the basic rotation cycle. There are certain subtleties with regards to eclipses that you will need to understand. This is a very important aspect, which we discuss in our detailed rotation section.

Oh god. I need more cofffee. That was the simple stuff?

I look at their advice for the opening rotation:

The ideal opening rotation at the start of the fight is as follows:

Cast Incarnation: Chosen of Elune 3 seconds before the pull.

Note to self: tell PUG tank I need to be alerted 3 seconds before every boss pull. That’ll go down well.

Prepot and cast Starsurge 1.5 seconds before the pull.

Prepot? I’m assuming this is tech talk for swig a potion. I’ll stick to my coffee thanks. And 1.5 seconds – crikey that’s precise. Even heart surgeons allow for some flex in their timings (or Granny’s did – another reason for the intensive care machine mishap perhaps – so can I have my phone back now please? I have a funeral to arrange.)

Back to Ivy Veins:-

In case you are closer to the boss than maximum range when you begin the fight, use Starsurge 1 second before the pull, instead.

Whaa? Firstly comma overload. Secondly I never stand anywhere other than max range. Often in fact I’m out of range checking Recount & wondering why my DpS is so low. Thirdly – 1 second? Where did my 0.5 go? I’m just going to ignore this bit. This is balance rotation at a quantum level.

I skim further down.

Astral Communion spell … accelerates your Balance Energy cycle by 300% for 4 seconds. This ability is channeled, and it makes it easy to quickly get into a desired Eclipse, if for some reason you want to do this.

That last bit is vague isn’t it? Why would I want to pick one over the other? Until I’m advised differently my decision will be based on where I am in my monthly cycle (fits with the overall theme I think).

In order to keep up Sunfire, you need [to] refresh it shortly before leaving Solar Eclipse, or … sometimes you will need to refresh it immediately on re-entering Solar Eclipse to prevent it from dropping off. This is acceptable.

Thank god. I thought I’d made a major faux pas the last time I did that (like the time I ate my soup with a fish knife)

There no longer is any real restriction about when it is too soon to refresh a DoT.

Good stuff. Those restrictions were onerous. I’ll just spam away. I think I’m getting the hang of this balance stuff.

If you are using Euphoria as your Tier 7 talent, then there is a slight change in how your DoTs should be refreshed. Namely, Moonfire only needs to be refreshed every other  Lunar Peak, and  Sunfire only needs to be refreshed every  Solar Peak (instead of casting it twice per cycle).

What? No! Just shut up, shut up, shut up.  That’s it. It’s over. I’m out. I’ll never get the hang of this and I’m never looking at the sun or moon again. Cat form here I come. Clawing, ripping & shredding. I can do that (you should see me eat chicken). Just nobody mention combo points. I really don’t want to know.


12 thoughts on “Rotation Madness

  1. This post is fascinating! I used to review the Icy Veins guide for Brewmasters, and I was constantly caught between writing a teaching resource for beginners or a reference guide for experts. I tried really hard to compromise between the two, but that just left me with mean comments about how the guide simplified complex ideas. I learned that when beginners see a guide that doesn’t meet their needs, they’ll quietly move on to something else and be confused or discouraged, where experts will make their expertise known if something isn’t 100% valid for them. That, combined with how guide writers are experts themselves, makes a beginner guide a rare sight. (It’s also why I stopped reviewing the Icy Veins guide — too much pressure for a group of people I’m not terribly interested in helping!)

    This is sort of a tangent, but writing a guide for a beginner is so interesting, and much more difficult than writing a guide for an expert. It’s hard to remember what things you didn’t know once, or identifying what terms and concepts that you know well now were once foreign to you. You have to simplify stuff in a way that makes it invalid for experienced players but more approachable to new ones. There are a lot of mechanics that can be safely ignored when you’re not completing bleeding edge content, like pre-pull rotations. This all fits in with “learning theory”, where you have to build knowledge one block at a time. You can’t teach kids how to do calculus right away, you have to start with the extremely simplified version of addition and subtraction. Same goes for complicated games like this one!

    Anyways, back on target. Nowadays I like to look at the Wowhead class guides for learning a new spec. Icy Veins leans towards expert readers (all their reviewers are high end raiders), whereas Wowhead leans towards beginners (their writers are typically community leaders). The moonkin guide is especially good because it was written by Hamlet, who has contributed a lot to the WoW community and cares a good deal about teaching. He actually works for Blizzard now, which is a little sad because he probably can’t continue to maintain these guides in the future, but it just goes to show how much he knows.

    1. I’ve always gone to Icy Veins but it’s probably not right for the stage I’m at. I like its general approach/structure & how easily you can check out what glyphs you should be using, the best talents, enchants, gear etc. That said as you can see in my post when I read the rotation guide I am usually left with more questions than answers. You are right of course – it is impossible to create something that helps everyone – we have such different needs. I will check out the Wowhead guides – if they lean more to beginners that will be perfect (although I’ve been playing the game for so many years I feel slightly ashamed to still be a beginner but there you go – it’s a fact!).

  2. It seems like you may actually know this, but just in case… “Prepot” means to take a potion immediately *before* combat begins. (Long explanation in next paragraph.)

    The reason for this is that the potion cooldown is locked while you are in combat. If you take a potion immediately before the pull (when you are *not* in combat) your cooldown will start counting down. This effectively allows you to use 2 potions per combat session (1 at the start, and another at your convenience after the 1 minute cooldown). This can make a big difference in dps, since the “pre-potion” will boost your opening use of offensive cooldowns and still allow you to use a potion later during combat (usually when your cooldowns become available again or during Bloodlust/Heroism).

    1. Thank you. Although I knew that prepot would likely mean take a potion before the fight I did not know the reason and your explanation has really helped!

  3. This is so humorous, yet true! I like Icy Veins guides for their explanations of Talents in particular.
    I think part of the appeal of World of Warcraft is that it can be played at so many levels and by so many playstyles.
    It always seems odd to me that guides to classes are always aimed at the max level player. I think if you’ve made it to max level, you must have mastered the essentials. I suppose these guides are meant for raiders who want to fine tune their characters.

    1. Yes I think that’s true. I think I need to use more beginner level guides as suggested by Sunnier earlier in the comments. I’m just not Icy Veins standard!!

  4. I looked at Wowhead’s guide for Rogues and it was also aimed at level 90s. Ten Ton Hammer used to do nice guides that were broader and gave you a place to start. Sunnier’s Art of War is exactly what I’d like to find for every class in the game. Though my Monks are still way low level, that’s where I’ll look when it is time. For Rogues I found, which is very thorough. I just need to hunt down good sites like that for every class. Because I play them all, but don’t feel a master of any.

  5. “Elitist jerks” is not a bad site either. It varies how accessible the guides are, and there is bound to be information in them that wont be relevant for non-raiders, but the name doesnt Do the, justice 🙂 I generally prefer them to icy veins, but admittedly i also like getting a bit more in depth with the reasoning for why to do X, than icy veins usually do.

    On a side-note… Damned boomkin rotation seems convoluted, im used to facerolling as a paladin 🙂

    1. I’ve switched to Feral as questing spec & Restoration for LFR. I bravely entered the three Highmaul LFRs yesterday as a healer. It went ok & I enjoyed it. I’m going to do some more reading on the Restoration side of things – not sure whether I should be using Grid & Clique or Vuhdo or Healbot or something like that. I am worried I won’t remember the mouseover keybinds & end up in a right mess. So far I’m just sticking to the default UI & raid frames which seems to be fine for me.

      1. Heh, I don’t know the current state of ferals, but back when i played it as an alt some expansions ago it was beoynd a doubt the hardest rotation I’ve tried. Good luck 🙂

      2. After thinking some more about it I opted for Restoration instead. I’m enjoying healing – although very much at the beginner level. I think I’m going to see how that goes before trying out the world of the feral druid 🙂

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