Sunday, October 10, 2010

Moonkin PvP: Those we hate

I wanted to make a post about the classes I, personally and as a Moonkin, hate to face.  Those classes that I find myself at a total disadvantage against - and although, considering my own spec, that is potentially every class, there are still those out there that seem so extremely more powerful than me, that they may make me wonder how anyone else can take them down, or why they even have the abilities they have in the first place.

Now of course, this sort of feeling often just rises after being facerolled by one of such classes, and for that reason, it is usually an unreasonable sentiment.  Blizzard puts a huge amount of time and effort in balancing the classes, and not just when it comes to ability types - for example, every damaging ability has a base range of damage, and a power coefficient that comes with it.  All of those numbers are very precise, and Blizzard has to come up with them.

This is not to say that Blizz has made everything perfect, far from it, though one of the main issues seems to come from the PvP environment itself.  Blizzard prioritizes balancing the game around PvE, and if you pay attention, you will notice that all of the classes are much more balanced in PvE than in PvP.  I don't believe PvP is terribly unbalanced, but I do believe there are some mechanics that are overpowered (such as Dispel Magic).

This post will be to reflect upon certain class/spec combinations that I often find myself at a loss against.  This isn't a rant - I've had my rants in the past enough already :)  Well.. it still feels good to justify myself for losing feathers against certain other players.  Some issues are not L2P.  Some issues are, well.. Moonkin.

Shadow Priest
I will start with Shadow Priest, because it is the first spec that made me face the terrible reality of Moonkin PvP.  I've had my good moments against them, but these moments are rare, even while playing other classes.

Let's go over what makes them, in my opinion, quite potentially overpowered:
  • Powerful damage-over-time spells: Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word: Pain, and Devouring Plague.  Only Vampiric Touch has a cast time, but the others can be placed while on the move, and cannot be interrupted.  Once they are on, no amount of kiting / pillar-hugging will get rid of them.  They all benefit from crit (and 100% crit damage) and both Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague benefit from haste.
  • Control.  Due to the passive nature of DoTs, Shadow Priests are able to focus on survival and control without sacrificing much damage.  Crowd-control tools include: Psychic Scream, Psychic Horror, Silence, Mind Flay.  Though Mind Flay, in terms of CC, only reduces movement speed, this makes running away out of LoS more difficult.  Some will argue that Shadow Priests suffer from lack of burst damage, however, they can easily chain all of these abilities, and keep casters unable to do anything for an extended period of time, all the while casting Mind Blast when it's off cooldown, and spamming Mind Flay in between.
  • Dispel Magic. Mass Dispel. A caster Druid's main source of survivability is his heal-over-time spells, and Priests can simply dispel them. Lifebloom provides some measure of protection against this, but it is inefficient to use it in the long run. They can, of course, also dispel Innervate, and remove the debuffs I place on them. Recently, I even found out that they could reduce my healing thanks to their Improved Mind Blast talent.
  • Survivability.  Shadowform grants 15% overall damage reduction, and Vampiric Embrace allows 25% (when talented) of the damage a Shadow Priest causes as healing, in addition to the 15% healing already gained from Devouring Plague. On top of that, they have a potent Power Word: Shield, and if I am somehow able to get my nukes rolling, they still have Dispersion to absorb the brunt of my burst. Moonkins are sometimes compared to Shadow Priests in that both have a damaging form that locks them out of healing spells - however, a good PvPing Moonkin will be out of form more often than not, but you'll rarely see Shadow Priests outside of Shadowform.

I feel extremely impotent when it comes to Shadow Priests.  Their DoT damage is extremely powerful, and they have many control and survival tools they can use while they are ticking on you.  They have passive damage reduction and healing, and lots of instant buttons to play with.  I can hardly ever dent a good Shadow Priest, as I can hardly have the time to cast any damaging spells, and my DoTs are laughable in comparison to theirs - not to mention they can also dispel those.

Arcane Mage
I've dueled Arcane Mages many, many times, just like Shadow Priests, and have encountered them often in PvP environments.  I'm not as familiar with all of their abilities as I am with those of Shadow Priests, though I know enough.  They have, mainly, two spells that make it insanely difficult for me to defeat them.  Funnily enough, those spells are available to all types of Mages, not just those who spec Arcane.  However, I've never really encountered Fire Mages in PvP and do not know much about fighting them, and though Frost Mages have a lot of control, my Polymorph immunity and my ability to shapeshift out of Frost Nova reduces the amount of burst they can output against me - whereas in comparison, I find Arcane burst to be nothing short of insane.

The two spells are:
  • Counterspell.  And God forbid that it be Improved.  Because half my nukes, all of my heals, and all of my CCs are from the Nature school of magic, Counterspelling a Nature spell hurts a lot.  I can only do my best to run away and hide behind a pillar, though that may be difficult when he can Blink right next to me, spam Slow, and use Frost Nova if needed.
  • Spellsteal.  First, the Mage steals my Mark of the Wild buff, giving him a bonus to his already extremely high innate magic resistance.  He can also steal my Innervate and any of my HoTs.  He can steal Barkskin.  If I need to heal and I am out of LoS, short of spamming Lifebloom I am a dead chicken, as trying to cast any healing spells to avoid using HoTs will result in a swift Counterspell.

What makes Arcane Mages so deadly is that they have enough burst-on-demand to kill me during that 8 second duration of nothingness after the Counterspell.  Fakecasting is useless against a good Mage, as well as popping Barkskin and then casting Starfire, hoping he would use his cooldown on an Arcane spell instead.  Good Mages won't fall for that.

Faced against abilities/cooldowns like: Presence of MindTorment the Weak, and Missile Barrage, combined with Arcane Missiles, Arcane Blast, and Arcane Barrage, having lost my magic resistances to his spellsteal, and being locked out of 90% of my spells for 8 seconds when I try to heal, it is, in my opinion and as a Moonkin, quasi-impossible to beat a decent Arcane Mage without heavily abusing LoS.  If no pillars are available, run if you can.

Destruction Warlocks
Lately, Destruction Warlocks have been going up my most-hated/run-away-when-you-see-them list.  It's hard to do anything against such a resilient, powerful class.

Let's go over why:
  • Demonic Embrace + Fel Vitality ~ +13% HP.  That's more than what I get on my Protection Warrior.
  • Nether Protection. Nether Protection procs a ridiculous amount. In fact, it almost guarantees the Warlock an additional 30% resistance to whatever school of magic is being used against him. The uptime is much too high for any balance to be found in this spell.
  • Soul Link.  If you see a Warlock, kill his pet.  Though this will probably make him hate you because he'll then need to resummon him and use a Soul Shard, you're hardly every going to be able to kill a Warlock while his pet is out and taking 20% of the damage you're dealing.  Unfortunately, this does bring up the issue that you won't be focusing on the Warlock himself, and he is free to do whatever he wants to you.  DoT the minion, use Nature's Grasp and Starfall, and hope that he will die in the process.
  • In addition, Destruction Warlocks are actually fairly well equipped for self-healing:  Death Coil, Soul Leech, Fel Armor, and Fel Healthstone talented.
  • Though you won't often find PvPing Warlocks using their Voidwalker, if they ever do, they can benefit from Sacrifice.  Yes, you read that right.  8,350 damage absorption.
  • All other minions grant them other abilities.  The Imp, though not ideal, provides extra health through Blood Pact.  The Succubus allows the use of Seduction, and the Felhunter, which I hate the most, can use Devour Magic and Spell Lock.  One of the really annoying things about those minions is that their abilities don't share the same global cooldown as those of the Warlock, allowing simultaneous actions, and even if I get out of range of the Warlock or Cyclone him, he can still annoy me with his minion.
  • Burst damage.  This is really a problem Moonkins have against all casters, but Warlocks get pretty insane.  They do have to cast, like Moonkins, but on the other hand, they have a spammable Fear to keep us controlled for a while, as well as Shadowfury and Death Coil.  While I'm controlled, they can cast Immolate > Conflagrate > Chaos Bolt, and that is a hefty chunk of all my HP gone - provided he crits, I'm almost dead.

Destruction Warlocks are easily one of the most nonmobile casters in PvP.  This is important to them, due to the bulk of their damaging abilities requiring a cast time, just like Moonkins.  However, unlike Moonkins, they can actually pull it off, with abilities such as Fear, Death Coil, and the movement reduction that comes with Conflagrate when talented.

Yes, there actually is a conclusion to this.  As I was writing this post, I had to force myself to stop after the above three classes.  I also wanted to write a section about Elemental Shamans, and Marksmanship Hunters. The central theme behind this is casters.  Moonkins are heavily disadvantaged against casters - though we aren't that much better against melee, we at least have decent mitigation through our armor, and capability for kiting through our shapeshifting, roots, and heal-over-time spells.

Against casters, we have nothing but a mere 6% damage reduction with Balance of Power, which is extremely poor compared to the tools of the other classes, as described above.  While all casters (and all melees) have at least one instant-cast stun, interrupt, or silence, Moonkins have nothing.  We can kite melees to an extent, but we are nearly helpless against casters, all of which have more control, more survivability, and more on-demand damage than we do.

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