Quick notes on Int/Spirit trinket changes

Quick notes for now since I’m at PAX East. I’m I’ll give this more discussion going forward, probably on the next podcast (hopefully soon) especially.

As many healers have noticed, in Patch 6.1, all non-Spirit items were removed from the healer classes’ lootspecs.  So healers can’t get them from any source that respects lootspec (bonus rolls, personal loot in dungeons or raids, LFR, mission tokens, challenge mode rewards, and so on).  This seems like an odd choice since Int vs. Spirit, especially on trinkets, was generally considered an interesting loot choice and there was a lot of variation in people’s views on it.

To briefly summarize why it happened: tanks have a similar situation with Bonus Armor, and for them there isn’t as much choice.  Bonus Armor is unequivocally better for tanks, and so this change was needed in their case–it prevent them from getting non-Armor items they’d never use.  But for healers, Spirit is not always unequivocally far better than Int; in fact many healers have situations where they choose Int on trinkets.  So this change has the odd effect of removing an interesting loot choice.  Blizzard’s stated reason is that they want “healer” and “DPS” trinkets to be clearly delineated, so there aren’t items with overly broad competition in a raid, which is frustrating.  That makes sense, but overall I don’t think the 6.1 solution is a good way of addressing it.

There are some mana balance issues unrelated to all this.  Disc has a super undercosted spell so they have excess mana (separate class toolkit issue). Paladin doesn’t have heals with enough marginal gain over Holy Light casts (separate class toolkit issue).  For now, let’s take a class with a very well-working mana game, and a good spellcasting options which are influenced by mana constraints (Shaman or Druid).  Right now, the weird thing is, things should be totally fine for these classes.  Int and Spirit (on trinkets) are reasonably well-balanced options.  That’s a hard thing to do and it’s done surprisingly well.  There are good cases for both stats and it can vary with content/encounter.  Furthermore, they removed the choice from most slots (4 where you always want Spirit and many where you never do) to prevent being able to swing it too much, but left the choice in 2 important slots (trinkets).

Everything about this, so far, is so good and healthy that it’s a little bizarre that they feel a need to stamp it out.  We’re talking about removing actual, good, gameplay in the form of meaningful stat choices (one of the most prominent places such a thing remains).  The biggest problem with the solution is that it seems to ignore that the class/stat design doesn’t support this notion of Spirit being unequivocally far better in every situation.  That’s not even close to true, even for a class like Druid (even if Spirit is often slightly better in many situations).  That might take an expansion-level change, again.

And furthermore, they’d have to massively buff Spirit in a way that didn’t accelerate mana flooding (which is okay in Warlords, but touchy, as I got into here: Healing Theory: Warlords Spirit Update | It’s Dangerous to Go Alone ).  That’s okay–for example, the recent Monk change was careful about this.  Watcher’s suggestion in a recent interview of making Spirit also give SP to healers would do it for all healers.  But totally reworking the function of the stat seems like next-expansion territory.

If they do make an big fundamental change, wouldn’t it better to still have the option of regen stat vs. throughput stat–an option that is already designed, implemented, and well-balanced (rather than mashing them into one stat)?  It would be perfectly fine to have Spirit and Heal Power trinkets, both of which were not shared with DPS.  Or simply go the Mists route of having some trinkets that only proc on damaging events and some that only proc on heal events.  There are various potential ways to have clearly-defined “DPS trinkets”, “Healer Spirit trinkets” and “Healer throughput trinkets.”

In short, this change feels a little reactionary in response to players exercising a choice of stats (which is of course a good thing).  Not only does it sacrifice a solid, if minor, bit of decisionmaking, but it doesn’t even solve the problem.  Healers will still want exactly the same items they wanted before, but now, in certain cases, it will be much more annoying to get them.

7 thoughts on “Quick notes on Int/Spirit trinket changes

  1. This change for me was a boon. I say this as a monk who is the extra healer for our Heroic team, who is trying to bonus roll a trinket off Blast Furnace. Since I normally am a Wind Walker healing is my OS, and used when we have a healer out, or want to try using an extra healer. I have been after spirit since the 6.1 patch, and having not a lot of luck. Most encounters feel a lot like I am sinking in mud, just keeping my head from going under. I have 1541 spirit, and that is not enough to feel good. So my question is this, for challenge modes, or just new 100 Mistweavers, how do you get to a point the mana isn’t the biggest barrier to play feeling rewarding?​

    I understand this isn’t directly related to the post, but I think I’m not alone in this, and you are the guy who knows about Spirit :)

    • I’m a MS Mistweaver and I use DPS trinkets because I prefer the higher base healing output. I’m only at 1100 spirit and despite the 6.1 mana tea changes I still don’t feel like mana is an issue and I continue to be 1st or 2nd highest healer on fights.

      This isn’t to say it is necessarily the right choice to make, but you can certainly be completely competitive with relatively low spirit by being more careful with your mana. Soothing mist has an exceptionally high base throughput to mana ratio, expel harm and the power strikes talent enable you to generate chi for a very low mana cost and using thunder focus tea to double the healing of the occasional surging mist you throw out all allow you to supplement standard uplift healing quite nicely without expending much mana.

      I find the changes to healer bonus rolls a bit upsetting. Obviously there was a problem with some healers only wanting spirit trinkets and then rolling and receiving dps trinkets. I’m pretty welcoming to not being able to receive non-spirit jewellery and cloaks from bonus rolls mainly because it cuts down on the amount of non-tier loot on my loot table :P With the trinkets however, I feel it would be more productive to implement some ability to choose whether you want int or spirit trinkets (though this would be rather unfeasible this tier/patch) or to add spellpower to the effects of spirit for healers.

  2. I feel like returning to Mists’ “on damage” and “on heal” procs doesn’t actually fix anything; while I was gearing up my healing offset in Mists, I would just cast a few Lightning Bolts right before a burst phase to trigger the “on damage” procs when I actually needed them. In a sense, an on damage proc is actually more useful than an on heal proc, because you’re (generally) always healing but can control when you do damage, and thus when it procs, to line up with CDs or burst healing requirements.

    You -could- do it by disabling the proc for the wrong spec (or massively nerfing it, a la dps cloaks for tanks), which might be the way to go here. Without a proc, there’s no way a “wrong” spec trinket would ever be better, so you solve the loot competition issues with about as subtle a hand as armor specialization. This also doesn’t require a huge overhaul in itemization or re-balancing current items, which makes it an attractive immediate solution.

    Ideally, though, in the long-term we’d see a throughput/regeneration tradeoff in healer items; it’s been one of the most interesting itemization decisions in the game’s entire lifespan, and I’d rather not lose it. I think that the eventual scenario here is going to see a “dps power” and “heal power” stat emerge to completely disambiguate jewelry, and let healers choose between “heal power” and “spirit” items as their tradeoff options. It might not be too late to get something like that implemented as early as next tier, since all you’re really doing is just returning the age-old spirit/throughput tradeoff to healers without letting dps roll on that gear, which is good for loot distribution.

  3. It’s funny how often lately they re-invent concepts that used to be in the game for many years and got removed. The game used to have different items for healers and dps – originally, there were items with “+ spell damage” and items with “+ healing”. In BC, they had “+ damage and healing” and “+ healing”, and later changed the healing items to also provide 1/3 of that for damage. Later, both stats were combined to “Spell Power”, which eventually got renamed to “Int” as it is today (removing the original effect Int had).

    Looks like they’re not happy with that direction after all… well, it’s only been 6 years.

  4. I think the throughput / mana regen trade-off is actually quite good (at least for resto druids; I’m not proficient enough to comment on other specs). Looking at your graph depicting “Available Mana in 6-minute Encounter” (http://iam.yellingontheinternet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Screen-Shot-2014-12-22-at-2.41.30-AM.png), at iLvl 695 and roughly 1500 spirit from gear the mana regen via spirit from gear is about equal to base regen. Removing ~1000 spirit by replacing both spirit trinkets with throughput trinkets would shrink that regen part by two thirds, which is quite significant. Of course, fine tuning is always possible; if you would like to put more emphasis on mana regen via spirit on gear, you would have to reduce base regen (very slightly, to avoid Cata-esque Healer problems during gearing up), and by a similar – static – amount increase the spirit on equip (at least on trinkets). You would most probably want to avoid a steeper spirit increase curve among equip of different iLvls, since that would lead to “exploding” amounts of mana available, therefore an equal boost to spirit items across all iLvls would be needed. This would lead to more desirable spirit equip, but as I initially wrote, I actually think the trade-off in it’s current form is quite ok.

    Concerning a seperate +healing power stat, I think the negative impact of limiting the healers offensive power outweigh the benefits of having disjunct caster vs. healer throughput equip. But this is of course a matter of personal taste (when I choose to go throughput, I wouldn’t like my throughput to be limited to either healing or damage).

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