Healing Theory, Part 6: The Mana Economy

Previous posts in this series can be found here

Much of the focus on this series so far has been on Spirit and mana. Choices surrounding mana are some of the least obvious and most interesting character setup choices in WoW. They allow gear decisions to impact gameplay in a way that is somewhat unique. And, from our current perspective at the end of raiding in Mists, the story of how healing gameplay changed since launch is largely a story about mana. This is particularly interesting because I think, for reasons I discuss below, that the designers tried to avoid allowing healers to reach this point of having such ample mana at the end of Mists, after seeing it happen in Wrath and Catalysm.

This post continues the thoughts of earlier posts in the series, which focused on the difference between cooldown and non-cooldown heals and why that difference is important to an understanding of mana. Here I explore some of the theoretical foundation for that distinction and how it helps us make gear and play decisions.

The Balance Sheet: Mana Assets

One obstacle to understanding mana is that information about your total mana income and expenditures is obscure; in typical play, your only information is how full your bar is at a given moment. But since you spend many bars’ worth of mana in even a short encounter, this look is actually not too informative. For a better understanding of where your mana comes from and where it goes, we want to instead look at an accounting that considers an encounter as a whole.

Let’s work through a example on paper and see how it looks. What we’re looking for here isn’t a set of detailed output numbers, which would be better served by a full-blown spreadsheet like my TreeCalcs, but the overall picture and what it can teach us about the way we think about mana.

The first question is how much total mana I have to spend over the course of an encounter. That depends on many variables, but I’ll illustrate a typical hypothetical example for a 6-minute fight. I might have (values in thousands of mana):

  • 300 (starting mana)
  • 432 (base regen (6000 Mp5) over 6m)
  • 487 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 12k Spirit (6768 MP5))
  • 285 (1.61 meta procs per minute, @ 3 Rejuvs (26.1k mana) per proc (with a 13% bonus for bad luck protection))
  • 129 (ilvl 561 Dysmorphic trinket, average value running for 6 minutes at 37.5% haste)
  • 120 (two Innervates at 12k Spirit)
  • 87 (two Mana Tides from a Shaman with 12k Spirit)
  • 18 (regen effect from one Hymn of Hope)
  • 30 (potion)
  • Total: 1888 (1.89 million mana).

Healer Pie

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