I wanted to create a topic to discuss the upcoming balance druid changes constructively. I know a lot pf people who played during the eclipse days (myself having started playing during wotlk) have strong opinions about it. A lot hated it and a lot look back on it and liked it. There are also a fair number of fellow boomkins who never played the spec in any of the eclipse iterations and so have no real knowledge of what was fun about it, where the problems were and how blizzard attempted to change eclipse to fix the problems First let me paste the notes here for everyone to easily see:
Solar and Lunar Empowerments are being strengthened and updated into Eclipses. Wrath and Starfire will grant each other alternating Lunar and Solar Eclipses for a longer duration, with special moments of Celestial Alignment allowing both to occur at once.
Starsurge will extend the current Eclipse to continue focusing power into either Wrath or Starfire.
Starfall returns to its previous design. Instead of needing to telegraph the affected area, Balance Druids again call down waves of stars, which strike the surrounding ground while they stand, run, or flap for its duration…
Ok, having played this spec as a main since wotlk I wanted to quickly go through the different versions of eclipse. I’m not going to go through all the specific nuances but just general information as i remember it (please correct me if I have remembered wrong):
Wrath of the Lich King:
This is the “crit-chicken” iteration. You would use Insect Swarm and Moonfire for Dots but more because they buffed Wrath and Starfire. You would spam wrath until it crit and procced a lunar eclipse and would then get a 15 second 30% crit buff to Starfire. Then you would spam Starfire throughout the eclipse and afterwards until a Starfire crit would proc a Solar Eclipse at which point you would spam wrath.
The biggest problem that people complained about was the lack of control over when you would get an eclipse and the perceived huge dps loss it would cause to get a proc when you had heavy movement since the buff was rng and on a 15sec timer, and it was a big buff. Plus some people felt it was boring to just spam one or the other and then switch. I found this version, despite its flaws, to be the most fun of all the eclipse versions, and my DPS was almost always at or near the top in the runs I was in. And I’m by no means, or ever was, a hardcore player.
Blizzards first attempt at fixing eclipse. We had a static eclipse bar that we had control of. Started in the middle with 0 or neutral lunar or solar power. You would cast wrath to generate a set amount of lunar power until you reached lunar eclipse and which point you would cast the appropriate dot to get a haste buff from one of our talents and then you would spam starfire generating energy towards solar eclipse. once you moved past neutral the eclipse would end and you would build to the solar eclipse and switch to wrath again. Rinse and repeat.
This gave you more control but it felt slow and we felt weak outside of eclipse. Starsurge was introduced at this time and benefitted from either eclipse. Additionally there were things like solar cleave that had boomkins staying in solar eclipse and spamming sunfire due to a talent that stacked a direct damage buff. It wasnt exciting gameplay. Some people did like the place boomkins were in though due to easy aoe damage with solar cleave and in general decent dps.
Eclipse bar was basically the same as Cata. They added some talents to get you into eclipses faster. Solar cleave was eliminated (maybe in the end of cata actually) by having the dots generate energy so you couldnt sit in an eclipse anymore. The biggest problem iirc with this iteration was that they made tweaks so that getting into either eclipse didn’t feel particularly excitiing.
This where they changed the energy bar to automatically cycle between lunar and solar and you needed to keep track of which side you were in the know which spells to cast. at the top of each cycle you would get lunar or solar peak and this would give you a buff. SS was also changed to 3 charges which buffed wrath and starfire. This version, imo, was detestable and was what spelled the end of eclipse. One thing to note is that this version of celestial alignment seems to be closest to the proposed version we see for shadowlands. It paused the cycle and gave you both lunar and solar peak buffs and a % damage increase iirc.
This version brought us back to less control and was annoying to track (basically easiest way was to see whether you had moonfire or sunfire since they switched with the cycle).
So, with all that info (and i know its basic without getting into the specifics of nuanced rotational theory) we can try to analyze what blizzard is proposing to give us. I for one feel that eclipse was what made our spec unique. Now we are just another builder/spender classs, and while the spec is in a decent spot as far as dps meters goes…it’s not very unique anymore. Build Astral power, spend astral power. With an empowerment buff thrown in. Lets not forget that without stacking streaking stars we are pretty bad. Streaking stars isn’t interesting gameplay at all. Activate our one boring CD and then be forced to never repeat a spell cast.
It looks like to me that blizzard is trying to give us back an eclipse mechanic that is closest in design to the wrath of the lich king version (btw i like the fact that they are going back to starfire instead of lunar strike). We are getting a celestial alignment more in lines with what we had in warlords of draenor which could be more interesting than the push this button for more damage only and sounds like it will alter our rotation dynamically. Starsurge sounds like it will be a way for us to control our eclipses in a more dynamic way. All in all I am in favor of this change. This spec, while performing decently, doesn’t feel dynamic in any way. The wrath of the lich king version was the best version of eclipse. It was fun and it was more dynamic with an rng proc that felt exciting when it would happen. Although the lack of any real control was a problem, blizzard never really fixed it in the right way and then brought it to a point where it was just eliminated to turn us into just another builder spender spec. I am excited to get our unique identity back, and I am choosing to have faith that blizzard can design it in a way to be dynamic yet with enough control to make it work the way it should have worked.
Oh and starfall was never a melee aoe ability. The range was very good on it and it was probably one of our most fun spells to hit. Did it cause an occasional problem with pulling unwanted mobs? yeah!! but man was it fun to hit that button and just watch a rain of stars just hit everything around you!! I hate the current iteration of this spell. Pretty sure most boomkins who played with the old version are excited for this change!!