We'll probably give them the "balance bar" for picking Balance at level 10, then at level 78 you get the ability to affect the bonus damage from the bar by increasing your mastery stat.
Probably? This indicates to me that the eclipse bar is going to be an additional feature to the 1 active ability and passive ability + passive mastery acquired at level 10, this is simply because earlier on in the thread, one someone suggested moonkin form was the active he said no in a manner that strongly indicated they'd already decided what the balance set was.
Regarding the bar position in the second part of the statement is as I suspected, but had begun to doubt, this is the strongest indication to me that the bar is meant to affect your nature and arcane damage as he said a while back, and it is most likely NYI on the test realm yet, which is why we haven't seen it and had me thinking for a while they may have changed their mind about that. I may be missing something here or reading it wrong, but the bar position affecting your damage seemed one of the more interesting aspects of the new eclipse mechanic. It is the only thing that allows mastery stat to affect you all the time and avoid it only affecting you at an eclipse. So your arcane damage gets larger the closer you get to a lunar eclipse for e.g. and that damage will scale with your mastery stat in addition to the mastery stat increasing the damage at an eclipse.
Besides, I quite like the idea of doing more arcane damage the further along the lunar by I am, and doing more nature damage the further along the solar half. This dynamic makes sense to me when you consider that only starfire, starsurge and wrath would move the bar - it means casting moonfire or popping starfall at a higher lunar power has greater benefit than at lower, makes min-maxing that more interesting for the hardcore player, whereas the bad player would be missing out on this. This may mean that starsurge is the level 10 ability, but I hope not, we'd be well bored if all our main nukes were already trained by level 10
Unless they significantly rework Eclipse, it is meaningless without SF. Currently no SF until 20 in LK (18 in cata beta).
I don't see much benefit in knowing both SF and Wrath at level 10. I expect our iconic ability will be Starsurge (or maybe Typhoon), and we won't see a meaningful Eclipse bar until we learn SF, somewhere around 20.
Obviously this is speculation. SF could be our "iconic" spell, but to feel iconic it needs to be something other than just another nuke. However that "something" can't be too strong, or SF's damage would need to be reduced (and SF's non-eclipse damage is already low).
I could see something like SF applies a 3 second, -20% damage-done (or -20% haste) debuff to its target (bosses immune). That would be comparable to the old 15% chance of a 3s stun, but without the RNG.
Regarding the bar position in the second part of the statement is as I suspected...
I took it to mean that the Eclipse buff you receive is increased by the Mastery stat. There is and never has been any indication that the position of the bar effects your damage in anyway. Many people seemed to think it would, but looking back no developer has ever outright stated this was the case and as of yet it has never been implemented in either the Alpha or the Beta (probably because it was never intended to work that way).
Also after doing some quick napkin math, the only way that an active Eclipse could make a difference is if it's duration (not potency) was determined by bar-position. Not that it matters because it doesn't look like they'll be going this route anyway.
I think that's what makes the most sense based on everything we've seen so far. Eclipse is only defining mechanic of the spec. Just about anything could be the token activated ability to go along with it.
I'd always been assuming that what they meant by training "mastery" at high level was that you start getting a bonus to your class-specific mastery based on the stat. That seems to be confirmed here. I still don't entirely understand what the point is, if the stat is only going to be on high-level gear anyway.
GC said they were not giving paladins divine storm at lvl10, they want AoE attacks to come later, I guess that means Starfall is probably not our activated ability at 10. Typhoon is also kinda AoE-ish guess thats out too. That leaves what? Treants perhaps. They can't call Starsurge iconic can they?
Balance levelling is all about Wrath and Starfire, eclipse does not change that, tho it does add some spice to it.
But adding Starsurge, an ability on a 15sec cooldown which works nicely with eclipse, should add more flavor to leveling, and as the spell, like the class, is a real balance between nature and arcane, it fits nicely.
GC's posts include a lot of hand waving without much substance. He doesn't go into detail about what they want to do with Eclipse, which means he isn't exactly addressing the problems we're bringing up (that it's harsh against movement and is just the old system redressed). To that end, we're kinda left in the dark about what exactly they are going to do.
I have a certain amount of faith in Blizzard, but past experience with this mechanic leads me to believe it might not be much different from the way things are working now. It seems like they're trying to solve the issues with a Balance rotation (like the fact that we don't really have one) all with this one ability. It would be nice if they made the Arcane side feel different from the Nature side of the ball, but that might be asking for too much at this point.
Divine Storm will probably go back into the talent tree. It won't be the 31-point though. Both the 31-point and the 10 ability need to have more single-target use.
Admittedly, I stumbled across this on the Resto Druid forum, but it struck me as odd. Granted, Ret paladins have their own quirks that need to be hammered out and they suffer from a general lack of abilities, but if this was a statement about 31-point talents in general, isn't it reasonable to believe they might offer Balance Druids a new one as well?
Starfall is losing the oomph it gained in 3.3.3 come Cataclysm and while it's DPCT will mean we will almost always use it on cooldown, to say it has single-target use isn't quite accurate. In a lot of ways it behaves very similar to Divine Storm in the sense that it's just free damage floating around when there's more than one mob.
It would be a nice surprise if they unveil the new trees and suddenly see we have a new spell to work with, but that does seem like something of a stretch. If anything though, it does hint even more at Starsurge being the lvl 10 ability.
Neither of those really come as a big surprise. Also from the official patch notes it looks as though the Druid trees didn't get as far as the some of the other classes so we can probably expect to see another overhaul within the near future.
Omen of Clarity
I might not comment on this too heavily--I think it's pretty transitory. Moonkin Form being gone and Starsurge being there is odd, since Starsurge is supposed to be our L10 spell. Vengeance being gone is odd too. Otherwise, they moved a few things around and cut every talent down to a max of 3 points.
As it stands right now you're forced to put points into some combination of Genesis, Lunar Justice, Gale Winds, Fungal Growth and Owlkin Frenzy in order to actually get 31 points into Balance. That just feels awkward all around. Maybe it's because these trees offer nothing new to them. That can be said for quite a lot of talent trees though. In an effort to provide "choices" they seem to have done nothing more than limit them. Some trees barely even have 31 points total. Ours feels awkwardly bloated. Really all they've done is strip the talent tree of any +dmg modifiers and all that's left is this... skeleton.
If they want to add choice they rethink this strategy. There isn't a choice when you have nothing to choose between. If they want to make this concept work, they need to add more talents deeper in the tree that do diverse things. Fungal growth is a great example of a 100% utility talent, but because there's no other talents to choose from [that have any possible PvE impact], you end up picking it up simply because there's nothing else to pick up.
I believe and hope this will be an unprecedented opportunity to give balance druids a meaningful talent tree that is not a restoration's second cousin once removed
I'm proud of blizzard for being bold to do things like this and hope they really make the most of this for this spec. The debate they're having is whether to make moonkin form or starsurge the activation talent. I hope it is moonkin form because the form can be spec defining ability. Which is good and makes it necessary to be more important than it is now. That is do more than a mere 5% crit/haste.
Tbh, since the druid is a shapeshifter and our thing is shapeshifting as opposed to totems for shaman or pets for warlocks, shapeshift should mean more to a balance druid than a shadow priests shadow form or warlocks metamorphosis, and it should be interesting. As it was in previous builds, its boring and really only a cosmetic for the 3 passive buffs it yields.
How about a Moonkin form shapeshift mechanic modified slightly to reflects the nature/arcane balance of magic the form is centerd around now? Giving it an interesting dynamic that is more than a mere buff.
For e.g., shove the crit/haste or part of the ability you get when you pick up the form, but its available in any form. Freeing the form to mean something. For balance druids shifting becomes slightly different from shifting for feral druids or restos. It becomes something you do during combat. Give us a reason to move between caster form and moonkin form during combat.
An easy example is during the eclipses, during a lunar eclipse, damage in Moonkin form will be higher, and during a solar eclipse damage in caster form will be higher. Simple, it means balance druids use both forms, and outside and eclipse you can stay in the form you want. Adding some unique utilities that are very situational to moonkin form make it more meaningful. Make sure they're not rotation required abilities or that makes it compulsory to be in all the time like cat/bear form. Something light but useful in the right situation like a slow fall or a moonslide.
Now you have a dynamic form with some perks you can use when needed. if you don't like the form, you can minimize your time in it, only shifting for lunar eclipses, if you do you can stay mostly in it but you'll have to shift for solar eclipses. Druids shift, its part of the class, and for balance it is exciting.
Some extra incentives for caster form (or nature form) can exist too, and maybe moonkin form can have a trinket like feature, maybe Owlkin Frenzy turned into a 45 sec buff with 5 min cooldown during which a moonkin feels like the empowered caster it should have been all along casting spells like wrath/starfire/starsurge/starfall and cyclone better during that duration.
As you can tell this makes moonkin form not compulsory yet necessary, it makes it meaningfully as a spec defining feature and the way it operates reflects the specs theme portraying the balance between nature and arcane. It gets exciting and the empower ability, the owlkin frenzy stuff makes switching to the form have a powerful feel to it even though you may only use that empower frenzy once every x mins. Well there you have it.
May I just ask all you beta and forum posters this time to give quality feedback and your ideas in the forums, discuss this civilly without any whining, we have sometimes suffered from providing qulaity feedback by having our topics riddled with moans so they get ignored, quality feedback and ideas help make things happen faster.