Healing Discussion Podcast #3

We’re not going to be able to do one of these again for a few weeks due to Blizzcon and other traveling, so we made sure to get in one more before leaving.  As we did last time, we spent an hour on one topic.  This time it was Level 100 talents (handy link so you can look at them while listening).

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0:00 Intro
2:40 Druid Level 100 Talents
14:45 Shaman Level 100 Talents (extra reading)
28:20 Priest Level 100 Talents (Disc and Holy)
46:40 Paladin Level 100 Talents
57:15 Monk Level 100 Talents
1:03:15 Outro — See you all at BlizzCon!

Healing Discussion Podcast #2

We sat down again for an important topic we didn’t get to last time–how to pick stats for healers in Warlords.  That kept us going for an hour, since we talked about all the different classes and stats and what we think is best to use.

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General list of topics:
0:00 Intro, Spirit (referenced Spirit post)
2:00 Loot allocation
5:00 Multistrike mechanics
9:00 Versatility mechanics
18:00 Attunement stats
19:00 Evaluating Haste for healers
25:45 Resto Druid stats
30:30 Holy Priest stats
33:00 Mistweaver Monk stats
36:20 Why it’s still important to pick a best stat in Warlords
38:15 Resto Shaman stats (referenced CM video)
47:25 Holy Paladin stats
51:15 Disc Priest stats

Sorry if the audio recording still has some annoying pops.  I updated Mumble to 1.2.8 and tried the Mumble recorder again.  We will see if we can try something else next time.

Healing Theory: Spirit–Past, Present, and Future

All posts in this series can be found here.  Good background for this post can be found in this entry.

Many of the big questions about the new healing gameplay in Warlords center around mana management.  While that will probably be a complex topic throughout the expansion, one place we can start is by looking at exactly what’s changed regarding Spirit, regen, and the amount of mana you have to spend.  I’ve been discussing recently how we have a temporary period of even more mana abundance than we had in 5.0, but that this not reflect Warlords healing at all.  Here I’ll explore that in more detail as well as other questions about mana in Warlords.

Overview of Changes

To start with the facts–this how the basic parameters are changing:

Mana Changes

A few other relevant points:

  • Spirit from will now only be available on certain slots (ring/neck/cloak/trinket).  This affects how much you expect to have, which is discussed below.
  • Many significant sources of mana went away or will go away: most importantly, the meta gem and Innervate and similar spells.

Finally, spell costs as a % of base mana often went down.  Not in every case, especially for spells that got design changes which increased costs (Chain Heal).  AoE spells also tended to relatively increase.  But many typical spells that were not changed, such as Rejuvenation, Renew, and Regrowth cost around 2/3 of what they did before (as a % of base mana).  I’m not going to explore this point in too much detail, because it would require making some kind of complicated Consumer Price Index for spell costs.  But keep it in mind when comparing 5.0 numbers to 6.0 numbers.

Even if I did some elaborate normalization of spell costs, that wouldn’t mean much.  Damage comes in in different amounts now, and you use your spells in different quantities.  Basically, we can’t compute a precise watershed amount of mana or regen that will make 6.0 healing feel exactly the same as 5.0 healing, since too many other things changed.  We’ll look at the comparison as well as we can though.

We do have to adjust for deflation somehow though, since 1 mana means something very different in each of the 3 time periods in the above chart.  For the most part I’m simply going to use total mana pool size as the reference.  That is, since it’s gone from 300,000 to 160,000, assume that 1 mana now is equivalent to roughly 300/160 = 1.875 pre-squish mana.  The point above about changing spell costs is mostly to say that this is likely an underestimate of the difference.

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Healing Discussion Podcast

In the aftermath of last week’s Wowhead Weekly episode, where Dayani and I got together and talked about healing for 45 minutes, we thought it might be fun to record some of our general healing chat sessions and put them to use.  We spend a lot of time talking to each other about healing theory, and while some of that does end up in blog or forum posts, or on Twitter, a lot of discussion doesn’t ever make it anywhere.

So we hopped in Mumble and chatted about a few current topics, and now present it to you here in podcast form.

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General list of topics:

00:00 – Introduction
00:50 – Weird Raiding Month/Magical Unicorn Fairyland Time
>> See http://healiocentric.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/patch-6-0-2-full-of-sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing/
08:22 – Spirit in Warlords
16:00 – Discipline Priests
29:00 – Mistweaver Monks and Crane Stance
37:15 – Mobility
43:45 – Holy Paladin Issues
50:55 – Raid Cooldowns in Warlords
58:30 – Wrap-up

You’ll note we’re pretty casual – this is an experiment more than anything.  Plans going forward for this are not specific, but we liked doing it, so we’ll see about doing it whenever there are some ripe topics to go over.  Let us know if you enjoyed it, and we’re always open to feedback, suggestions for improvement, and commentary.

Healer Spell Tuning–Updated Suggestions

My last experiment with suggesting specific healer tuning changes was pretty successful, I thought (Blizzard agreed with a lot of them).  Now that there’s been a little time for that round of changes to sink in, and there have been a few more miscellaneous ones in each patch, I want to look again at where they need to go from there.  The healer array is in a much better place than it was a few weeks ago.

The caveats from last time still apply.  This is still generally based on information from HealerCalcs (now published at that link).  Though it’s still meant to be a brief actionable list, I’m putting in a little more commentary than last time, since the list is shorter and sometimes I want to talk a bit about what’s changed.

I’m starting with the list from last time and showing changes from there.

  • Sruckout entries are things that occurred in patches since the first post
  • Italicized entries are newly added
  • Unadorned entries are changes I still think should be made (usually with comment)

Druid

Significantly Nerf:

  • Soul of the Forest (WG component)
  • Incarnation: This talent was not weakened by the change to work with Rejuv, and is still a huge efficiency increase.  Consider weakening Rejuv cost decrease component.

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

  • Force of Nature: huge buff still needed to be competitive with other L60 talents (on the order of 5-6x).
  • Genesis: The idea can still work, but currently very expensive for something that adds no healing.

Notes

  • Remains very mobile, which is a traditional Druid strength and can be important in raids.  No suggested changes, but a notable advantage of the class.
  • Due to Wild Growth’s status as a HoT, and potential for significant overhealing despite being an expensive spell that’s used carefully, I think it’s the rare example of a spell where 5.0-style “smart” healing behavior would be appropriate.
  • The Rampant Growth-Soul of the Forest interaction is seemingly okay at the moment (and is a pretty interesting and complex playstyle).  However, Rampant Growth is a weak PvE talent without it.
  • Total heal output is still high, may need to be tuned down slightly using a knob like Naturalist during final balancing.

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HealerCalcs

I’ve included in various Warlords alpha posts the spreadsheet that I’ve been making to help with healer theorycraft.  It’s far enough along now that I put it on its own page (link under the site banner as well), along with a detailed description, so other people can take a closer look.  Let me know what you think!

Gaming Questionnaire

Jasyla has been doing a bunch of blogging about non-WoW games lately, and recently posted this questionnaire to get people talking about games.  I’ll take a little break from work and Warlords today to muse on my favorite games and talk about some of my background with them.

When did you start playing video games?
What is the first game you remember playing?

The first game I remember playing is Space Invaders on an old Texas Instruments-made computer.  So that’s technically when I started playing games, but what’s probably more meaningful is the Sega Master System I got soon after, which I started playing regularly.  The first game I played a lot on it was Missile Defense 3-D, a lightgun-based Missile Command remake which was in 3D.  As you probably wouldn’t expect for a console made in 1985, the SMS had a 3D feature that worked rather well (the glasses plugged into the zillionconsole and synchronized with alternating frames on the display).  So that was pretty cool.

Just to throw it out there, the SMS game I got into the most was Zillion, a pretty great 2-D combat/exploration game that was somewhat like Metroid.  I’ve gone back and beaten it later.

PC or Console?
XBox, PlayStation, or Wii?

I’ve always played games on both and don’t have strong feelings; in recent years it’s been mostly PC just because of WoW.  I haven’t bought recent-generation consoles because not I’m sure I’d play them enough, given how I don’t get to play games as much as I’d like.  I also have a strong tendency to play a small number of games a huge amount rather than play a bunch of different games, so consoles feel hard to justify.  This might be a bad decision if it cuts me off from finding console exclusives that would sweep me away.  That said, the games that did so came to PC anyway (XCOM: Enemy UnknownDark Souls).  Dark Souls is a notable example because it was PS3 exclusive, but became so famous that the clamor for a PC release caused a company with no PC experience to just release it anyway.

There’s no general answer to what console I would buy; it’s whatever one had an exclusive that gave me a desire to play which I couldn’t get out of my head.  Nintendo is probably the most likely, since I’ve always loved their games (their first-party ones in particular) and for the most part you can’t play them on PC.  If Zelda ever went back to its roots, there’s probably no way I could resist.

Oh wait, Zelda did go back to its roots with A Link Between Worlds, which was for 3DS, a system I have.  So there you go.

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First Spell Tuning, continued

My previous two posts: suggestions for healer spell tuning from the last build, and comments on the changes that were visible in patch notes.

As noted in that comments post, the patch notes didn’t show the changes to coefficients or similar “numbers” changes, so we had to wait for today’s build and corresponding spell data (scroll down) to see the full picture.  Here are notes on those changes.  This will be abbreviated since it’s late for me; hopefully within a few days I’ll be looking in a detail on what I think further changes should look like.  If you haven’t read the last two posts I linked above, they’re probably good for context.  I might leave out some changes that I don’t have comments on off the top of my head.

Druid

Wild Growth heal and cost decreased by 15%.  Tricky spell to place correctly, but this is basically what I was thinking was needed so far. The burst throughput is not quite so huge, but the efficiency is unchanged.  Overall I’d like to see the mana cost come down slightly more–I think the HPM could be a bit higher, especially when thinking about how WG suffered more than most heals in the great de-smartening of heals. It is a HoT and will overheal quite a bit when targeted randomly.

That reminds me, I’d been meaning to try to make an argument, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet, that WG should go back to being (gasp) smart.  It might sound weird, but I think it makes sense for this spell more than most others.

Swiftmend mana cost reduced by 40%.  This helps a lot, and in particular, helps ameliorate any doubts I may have had about asking for SotF to be nerfed.  SM is finally an attractive cast without the help of talents, and making use of SotF is less expensive, making it easier to reasonably tune.  Will have to think about how to evaluate Rampant Growth now.

Noted in last post, Incarnation didn’t really change even though the mechanics changed.  Will have to give new SotF a little time to understand how its new tuning looks, but Incarnation is probably still too good.  There were some little changes to FoN in the build, but nothing to put in the same ballpark as SotF or Incarn.

Slight decrease to Healing Touch and increase to HotW.  Minor numbers tweaks to balance spells/talents, nothing exciting.

Summary: they agreed with a lot of my changes.  They didn’t make Rejuv slightly more efficient, but I was doubting that one anyway.  They can probably use it as a fine-tuning for Druid efficiency later on if needed.

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First Spell Tuning Followup

Today’s patch notes showed the first signs of healer tuning fixes, so I’m going to make a quick post with my reactions (rather than dumping them onto twitter as I read).  Also, since my last post was meant to be a list of concise, actionable healer tuning items, it seems good to follow up now that there’s a round of changes.  However, I’m guessing we’ve only seen part of the changes, namely the changes that appear in patch notes, which usually doesn’t include bare coefficient or cost changes.  So I think we’ll only have the complete picture of this first tuning pass once there’s another around of spell data.  At that point, I might try making another list of changes after we see what things are like in the new build.

  • Soul of the Forest (Restoration) when casting Swiftmend, the Druid gains Soul of the Forest. Soul of the Forest reduces the cast time of the next Healing Touch by 50%, or increases the healing of the next Regrowth, or Rejuvenation, or Wild Growth by 100%, or increases the healing of the next Wild Growth by 50%.

Exactly what I suggested, so good.  I’m not totally sure about the right ultimate tuning of WG yet–in the post I said that the healing cost should both come down a little.  I’ll stick with that for now, with maybe the addition that the HPM could come up slightly in the process.

  • Incarnation: Tree of Life no longer enhances Lifebloom. Instead, it also enhances Rejuvenation, increasing its healing by 50%, and reducing its cost by 50%.

That’s pretty interesting.  Oddly, it has a small effect on Tree, since a 150% half-cost Rejuv is very similar to a Lifebloom overall (probably nicer due to having more even healing).  Tree is a still around as strong as it was; it’s just a little cleaner mechanically (works with things like Germination and Rampant Growth now, as well as Genesis).

Tree and SotF are still very strong.  It’s possible they’ll buff FoN by a huge amount and be done with it.  That would mean that even after tuning the class, the choice of L60 talent will be a very big component of performance.

That also reminds me, I do think Genesis needs a buff and I forgot to include it last time.

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Healer Spell Tuning–Current Suggestions

I want to get into discussion of healer spell tuning, and there’s no reason to be blocked by how long it takes me to write up long-form blog posts with lots of explanation.  Instead I’m going to post a whole bunch of conclusions–i.e. what spells I think should go up or down, and see how they jive with what others expect.  That way they’re at least here to start discussion, and I can elaborate more as needed.  So tell me if any entries seem out of place, if you want to know why I think they need a buff or nerf, or just post your own comments on what spells should be numerically stronger or weaker and why.

I haven’t looked at every spell and talent in detail, but I’ve looked at a great majority of them.  I’m leaving out obvious bugs.

In general, factors I’m thinking about include:

  • HPM/HPCT metrics.  Whether a spell comports with the usual overarching tradeoff off efficiency vs. burstiness.  No strict formula.
  • How a spell fares against other options of that class. Does it need to be weaker or stronger to result in an internally balanced toolkit for the class.
  • Relatedly, whether a spell is solely responsible for too large of a component of the class’s performance.
  • How a spell fares against similar spells of other classes.  Spells in the same “category” don’t have to be strictly balanced across healers, but big outliers are a red flag.
  • How a talent fares against other talents in its row (even if the power level of the talent isn’t otherwise an issue for balance purposes).

This is generally based on theory and not on reported experience from raid tests.

Some helpful references might be my recent posts on healing theorycraft, as well as my big spreadsheet, current version found here (user-friendliness is making progress, but not ready to be published as a stand-alone tool).

Without further ado:

Druid

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

Druids have the potential for very strong throughput, but also have expensive spells.  This is a good foundation for a skill-intensive class, but it still might need to be flattened out just a little.  I don’t want to draw conclusions on overall strength until the huge throughput of SotF+WG or and huge efficiency of Incarnation are reined in.

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