When Dual Specs came out a year or so ago, I trotted right up to the trainer in Moonglade and bought one for Beru. I opted for balance as her DPS build, largely because I just hate chasing things around as a melee player…and because I had leveled as Feral in TBC, so I thought I’d try something different and hadn’t played moonkin since Vanilla. Ok, I’ll be honest, part of it was also because Brade is Feral/Feral and he’s a good feral. Really good. He also has a hard time shutting his mouth, letting me learn my own way and not backseat driving, and I knew that I would not feral how he does it…and I just didn’t want to deal with him constantly looking over my shoulder telling me I’m doing it wrong. Thus a very neglected Moonkin was born.
I did all of the research on what I was supposed to be doing for a rotation, gearing and gemming. I watched Foofy’s “Moonkin for Dummies” videos (that’s not their official title, and they are incredibly helpful!), and got my first gear set together. I gemmed it, enchanted it, and carried it around in my bags. Now and again I’d pop it out at the target dummy, but I never raided as anything but a healer. And largely, I am more than OK with that. It’s what I’m comfortable with, and what I enjoy doing.
However, every gear reset, I would build up my moonkin gear again. Keep it gemmed and enchanted. And then ignore it as it gathered dust in my bags. Sure, I kept up with changes in the moonkin community. I made adjustments in my gearing and glyphing accordingly, but the most use the gear got was if I was putzing around trying to solo daily quests.
Once in a very blue moon I would need to pull it out to DPS farmed content, and people quite literally laughed. I mean, I can’t really blame them, I laughed too. As a moonkin, I was a joke. As a moonkin trying to lead a raid in a spec I was not comfortable or competent with, I was even more a joke. I would have done better just randomly tossing moonfires out in between heals and stayed resto, I am a healer, I heal. And largely I was 100% OK with that…until recently.
Nobody has ever really depended on me to DPS before. Ever. Sure, I wanted to make sure I was competent with it, but outside of keeping up with changes with the spec and upgrading gear, I put almost no effort into it, and nobody outside of myself really expected me to. But that all changed with one fight in our 10 man raids: Heroic Deathbringer Saurfang.
It’s really quite odd, that fight, it has been the bane of our 10 man HM raids. It took us more attempts on that one fight than HM Sindragosa and Putricide combined, and to this day we still have trouble with it. Our first kill I two healed it with a paladin, we happened to have a more competent DPS in our third healer. Just about every kill after that, however, I have been tasked to DPS the encounter.
The first time this came up and I DPS’d the encounter, I was embarrassed for myself at my performance. Completely and totally. (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/2jbhaylzerzx168g/sum/damageDone/?s=8805&e=9090) The raid didn’t pick on me, didn’t jibe me, told me I did fine, and that was really sweet of them. However, it was not a performance that I was personally very proud of, and I knew that I was a better player than that. I know it’s really not a great fight for ranged to gauge their performance on, especially if they are tasked with varying beast duties, and sure, I was asked to do a number of things: knock the beasts back, keep one rooted, etc, and it was all fairly foreign to me, but I barely broke 5k DPS.
I could do better.
And thus began my great build a better moonkin experiment, it is really just a personal challenge for me, but I thought I’d share how the process has been working for me.
There were a few things that I needed to tend to if I was ever going to be taken seriously as DPS. Firstly, I needed to get my T10 gear in line. I had been a bit slack upgrading my moonkin set pieces, largely just because I don’t sue the spec, like at all, but also because I wanted to get in on the saronite selling while the gettin’ was good. So I set my first task: Upgrade set pieces. I had also been largely passing or letting decent off spec items get sharded. I needed to stop doing that and pick up some items where my set is still behind. Ok, simple enough, I can do that.
However, I am keenly aware that gear alone wouldn’t improve my performance. Sure, it would help, but it wasn’t going to make me any kind of competitive DPS. I firmly believe that one of the only ways to get better at something is to practice, and so I set myself a goal: to DPS at least one raid a week. There were a number of things that I needed to improve on, the largest of which was to sustain DPS while changing targets. This wasn’t going to happen with a target dummy. I was never going to become comfortable with this spec unless I made myself comfortable with it.
And so started my weekly moonkin adventures. They have been anything from VoA to ToC 10/25. They have been guild runs, they have been pugs (p.s. Starfall on Anub’Arak in ToC with PuG tanks is bad…very, very bad). But one thing has remained static, I have been DPS. I join them as DPS, I make no mention of my ability to heal, and I stick to my role. No healing. I had set out with one goal: to improve as a moonkin. And dammit, I intended to do just that.
My first week (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/mjj3pq7lef36c5i7/sum/damageDone/?s=3370&e=3522 ) I did respectably. Not great, but I didn’t feel completely embarrassed either. I had joined a VoA as DPS, I still fumbled a bit just letting go of healing bars. I actually decided that if I was going to do this properly, I needed to push my GRID frames over to the side and have my DPS tools front and center for my attention. I observed that I was somewhat low on crit, and this was noticeable in the effort it took me to get eclipse procs. Sure…I know that sometimes you cast wrath a lot before an eclipse procs, but I was going one or two full cycles without a proc and was sub 25% crit. I made a note to myself: pick up some crit gear.
I did a few more runs in that first week, and managed to pinpoint another pretty big flaw that I had: I struggled with target swapping. Naturally, switching targets will cause my output to suffer some, but not as much as it was. As a result I made a few changes to help me with target swaps, namely setting focus targets on encounters where I knew I would have to switch targets, and making some macros.
My second week (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/okktgkcy1y9qofqz/sum/damageDone/?s=617&e=1045 ) I felt pretty good about my performance in fights with target swaps. The changes that I had made to help me with changing targets had paid off well. It was still a work in progress for me, but I was doing significantly better at it, and more yet I was starting to feel comfortable in my feathers. (As a side note, I also would have caught Brade’s hunter, Axen, if I hadn’t gotten a frost breath EVERY SINGLE BREATH! /grumble). =)
Now that I was starting to feel more comfortable in my new role, I needed to do something else: lead while DPSing. I lead our raids, and if I intended to be viable as a DPS when we needed DPS and fewer heals, I need to be able to DPS and lead at the same time.
My third week (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/i14xyik19fd16sz7/sum/damageDone/?s=8335&e=8773 ) I tried to lead and DPS…and target swap! Because let’s be real, it is a very real possibility that I will be required to do all of these things if I am asked to DPS in a raid. And so I took a deep breath, and said “I can do this”. Now, I did, in fact to it, and I think I did ok. However, I also think my performance suffered this raid because I was leading rather than just being a member of the pack. This is something that I need more practice with. I still need to watch my cooldowns like a hawk, I still need to think very much about what I am doing as a moonkin. This means that when I am distracted by something else, like what is going on with the entirety of the raid, my performance suffers a little bit.
This is something that I think will only be resolved with more practice. The more comfortable I become with performing as a moonkin, the more second nature it will come to me, and the easier time I will have trying to multi-task leading raids. That being said, I did MILES better this night than I have ever done before trying to lead and DPS. And I was really, really pleased with that. It still needs improvement, but I’m happy about not completely falling on my face as a DPS or as a raid leader.
My fourth week (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/x71spjsp81xzf5yr/dashboard/?s=14976&e=15139 ) I hit a personal milestone. I had gotten my set pieces upgraded, I had been doing a number of raids over the past month or so as a moonkin, and in this VoA I broke 10k. I wasn’t leading, and I wasn’t required to swap targets, so it was pretty much a target dummy of a fight, but I pushed out some really respectable numbers. I was really, really pleased with this performance. I have been working on my gear, I have been working on my rotation and managing my cooldowns. However, I am not confident that I would be able to repeat it. So…more practice is in order! I intend to keep DPSing at least one raid a week for this expansion, and into the next, so that I continue to become comfortable and improve my performance. As a personal goal, I’d like to be able to seamlessly switch between roles in the raid.
And about that pesky HM DBS, you ask? (http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/0yoklg2eiqhxu8hc/sum/damageDone/?s=5032&e=5262 ), well here is this week’s kill. My DPS has picked up a healthy amount, and something to note about this performance is that I was on the adds 100% of the time. I was leading, target swapping like a mad chicken, knocking back…and I still showed improvement from my first attempts.
So is the Moonkin Experiment Closed?
No. Even after a month, I still have plenty of places to improve. I intend to keep at my “one raid a week” rule. I still firmly believe that the only way I’m going to improve is by practice and repetition. I mean, c’mon, you don’t run a marathon after taking just a few jogs around the block, do you?
There are, however, still a few things that I’d like to continue improving on:
Gear – While I am at (over) the crit cap, I am still shy some haste. There are also a few key upgrades that I need, a ring (hello frozen loop!) and some trinkets. I’m shamelessly using my heroic Abacus as one of my dps trinkets because it’s better than anything else I have! I keep hoping for a spyglass, but the darn thing just won’t drop! I would also like to nab up an off spec lich king mace for the haste. I think just about everyone who needs one for main spec has one, we’ve been hugely fortunate with them. But until then, I am going to continue to make the best of what I have!
Leading – I want to become more competent at leading raids while DPSing, without either aspect suffering. I think the only way to do this is going to be by getting more comfortable as a moonkin. I need moonkining to feel more second nature to me, and the only way that is going to happen is with more practice! Luckily, I’m having a pretty good time dpsing in the pugs that I find myself joining up with. So I am largely looking forward to continuing to work on this.
Consistency – Just like above, I think that this will only come with practice and intimate familiarity with the spec. While I am getting better at things like target swaps, they still fluster me a little bit. I tend to make assist macros for things that I know I am going to fumble with (like the beasts on DBS). But…if I do it enough, I’m going to get there! I may also remember things like speed pots…
How about you? How comfortable are you with your off-spec? What do you do to improve your performance with your off-spec? If it’s something that you would like to improve on, I offer you my own personal challenge: do one raid a week with it, and seek to improve each raid.