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.

  • Power Strikes now triggers every 15 seconds (up from every 20 seconds).
  • Chi Brew now grants 1 charge of Mana Tea (down from 2 charges).
  • Ascension now increases maximum Mana by 20% 10% (up from 15%).

Simple balancing of the L30 talents.  I’d talked about this in this post.

  • Eminence now causes a nearby target to be healed for 50% 35% of all damage caused by the Monk and includes auto attacks.
  • Blackout Kick causes Eminence to heal 5 allies instead of 1, but heals for only 20% 15% of damage dealt instead of 50%.

Buff to Eminence will help Crane Stance, but a whole bunch of knobs will probably be turned in this picture, so I’m mostly going to wait and see.

  • Selfless Healer no longer causes Bastion of Glory to apply to Flash of Light. However, it now increases the healing of Flash of Light on others by 35% per stack (up from 20%).

I’d been underestimating Selfless Healer this whole time because I never noticed Judgment was free for Holy.  It winds up being a talent much like Dream of Cenarius–you can fill some open cast time with free healing.  The amount of free healing per cast time is basically the same as DoC after this change.  However, EF is a still tough talent to stand up against (pending any nerfs), and Paladins have less open cast time than Druids and already have cheap filler due to Holy Light.  One big upside of Selfless Healer is mobility.

  • Surge of Light (Discipline, Holy) activation chance has been reduced to 8% 10% (down from 15%).

Nothing fancy, I’d thought this could come down slightly and it looks like they agree.

  • Enlightenment increases the critical healing chance of Prayer of Mending by 10%, and increases stat gains to Critical Strike from all sources by 5%.

This isn’t really a big effect, but, sure.

  • Borrowed Time has been redesigned. It now increases the Priest’s stat gains to Haste from all sources by 40% for 6 seconds.

Fancy.  This one might take more thought, although my first reaction is to be skeptical.  As background, the value of haste for Disc is really terrible right now since it doesn’t let you do anything but spam Disc’s lame fillers more often (the problem is starker than for most healers since Disc has no HoTs at all except for the negligible Holy Fire).  I think you could increase the effect of haste for Disc by 40% full-stop, and it would still be a dump stat.  So I don’t see this making haste any good.  And if you’re not using haste, then since this bonus doesn’t amount to anything, it doesn’t make PWS much better.  Note, for example, that 15% reduced cast time on a 2.5s cast (which you can get currently), is more time saved than, say, 6% haste for 6 seconds.  And you probably won’t be running 15% haste from rating alone (1500 haste rating).

  • Ancestral Vigor has been removed.

Out of left field a bit, but I guess they didn’t like a class having a 10% HP raid buff that stacked with everything.  Too bad, since it was a neat effect might not have been overpowered in the Warlords healing world.  Understandable though.

  • Chain Heal now heals each chain target for 10% 15% less than the previous target.

I thought CH needed a buff, and this is a buff, but let’s hope there’s a much bigger one in the spell data.

Ok! Quick post, just braindumping a little as I read the notes, looking forward to more info.

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.

Holy Priest

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

Holy is in very good shape right now. Good choices on single-target and AoE healing, and cheap and expensive spells.  Surge of Light is a really great fit for the class and fun to use–I wouldn’t want to nerf it too much even though it’s very attractive for Holy.  You could make a good case for Surge of Light being baseline Holy.  I’ve left off PWS, which is quite terrible for Holy, since it’s not entirely clear to me that PWS should be any good for Holy; the class already has a lot of strengths.

Disc Priest

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

  • PoH
  • Flash Heal (putting aside how this can be done independently of Holy)

Significantly Buff:

  • Penance (but probably increase cost a bit)
  • PWS (consider reinstating Rapture)
  • PoM
  • Disc needs a use for haste.

The healer in the shakiest position right now, toughest to fix with numbers alone, but I think this is right direction.  It doesn’t have the proper foundation of core rotational spells right now.  Penance needs to have a role as a powerful way to actually heal a target up, which Disc will struggle with even if its shields are better.  Atonement heals are extremely weak, but I didn’t list them for now; I like the gameplay where DPS spells contribute to healing through Archangel moreso than through Atonement.

Shaman

Significantly Nerf

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

A lot of the Shaman toolkit looks nice and I don’t have much to say.  But the AoE throughput isn’t there, and that’s all on the back of Chain Heal.  Chain Heal has to get all the way up to the point where it’s a reasonable way to raid heal without High Tide (and then to conform to that, High Tide may have to weaken somewhat).

Monk

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

A lot going on here (partially since this is both Crane and Serpent).  Probably will have more revisions due to how complex this class is. Serpent is pretty nice, except that Uplift isn’t strong enough to carry the AoE healing. Chi Explosion currently provides a way around that, but that shouldn’t be the only good way to AoE heal. Crane currently gets very little healing from all the Eminence heals, especially RSK, but Vital Mists still allows a lot of free healing, so that should be smoothed out.

Paladin

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

Paladin is currently pretty weak healing individual targets, but quite nice in situations where they can leverage EF and Beacons, as always.  In all cases they don’t spend enough mana.  Given how strong EF is even in this iteration, moving some healing from EF back into HP generators will allow for more varied playstyles and also require a little more use of mana-costing heals.

Disclaimers

There are always multiple ways to solve problems.  That’s part of why I refrained from suggesting numbers even though I sometimes have them in mind–different people could agree on the direction for these spells while coming up with different sets of numbers that all work out right.  I think the most important feedback for the devs while they work on numbers tuning (especially since they’re very busy), is to see if we’re in agreement on what needs to happen before getting bogged down in long explanations of details.  Also, it’s too ambitious to jump right to “this is what the final tuning should be” in one leap, because it necessarily takes some iteration.  This post shows where I would try to go in the next iteration if it were up to me; I’m looking forward to seeing what actually happens and revising from there.

Healing Theory, Part 10: Single-Target Rotations

All posts in this series can be found here.

As promised at the end of my last post on Warlords heals, the next step would be to analyze more complex rotations involving multiple spells. This post will go into single-target healing rotations for each class, building on the overview of individual spells I did previously. Single-target rotations are only one slice of the healing picture, but one of the more readily quantifiable ones, making them a good place to start. Also, the need to directly heal tanks is expected to be a much bigger part of Warlords than it was in Mists.

On Modeling Healing Rotations

One difficulty in expressing numerical results of combined healing spells, especially cross-class, is that healers don’t use “rotations” in the same way DPS do. They’re constantly reacting to the demands of the encounter and modulating output based on that. A model of a pure max-output rotation akin to DPS is slightly informative, but rather limited because that’s an unusual mode of casting. Since you spend nearly all your time somewhere in the middle of the sliding scale of mana usage vs. healing output, it’s hard to nail down exactly what numbers to measure or model. We can choose cases to model that are informative, but it takes more thought to motivate the decision of what those are. The assumptions also have to be made clear so people understand what the numbers represent.

The usual way I approach this is anticipated by earlier posts in this series, and should also be familiar to anyone who used my TreeCalcs sheet in Wrath/Cata/Mists (for this post, I actually put the heal chart from the prior post into the WrathCalcs/TreeCalcs shell). I assume a certain subset of spells are used whenever possible: on cooldown, whenever a HoT expires, or whenever procs/resources allow. All available cast time that’s left over is for “filler” or no-cooldown/spammable spells. In the case of the single-target model, the filler time is divided between a) the cheap direct heal, b) the expensive direct heal, and c) casting nothing. This flexibility in how to allocate the filler time is needed for two important purposes:

  • One class filling all time with its cheap heal (for example) may not be parallel to another class filling with its cheap heal. The first class might do less healing but also use less mana in that comparison, but then equal the other class in both healing and mana consumption if it mixed in the expensive heal some. Every class has a different mana vs. healing profile, and being able to adjust spell usage allows more sensible comparisons.
  • It provides a basis for evaluating mana. As discussed extensively in the post on mana, mana usage affects your use of non-cooldown heals much more than it affects your use of cooldown-bearing heals. In a more concrete framework like a rotation model, you can evaluate exactly what mana lets you do by varying the spell usage correspondingly. The conceptual chart in the final section of that post, describing healing done as a function of mana, will be revisited in this post.

This is of course idealized, as is unavoidable when theorycrafting healing, but it’s useful in a lot of ways. In particular, while in various low-healing situations you might use spells more in isolation and not nonstop like in a rotation model, we already have HPCT and HPM info on individual spells. Those can be looked up anytime on the spell chart form the last post. Models of rotations let us find out more about what happens when cooldowns and cast time become a limiting factor in how much healing you can do.

I’ve not yet modeled every talent and glyph combination for every class, but I’ve tried to include the ones that were especially relevant to the current analysis.

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Theorycraft 101: The Statistics of WoW Spells

I’ve been doing a lot of in-game testing of spells lately, as a part of making spreadsheets and other projects. In particular, with the new beta, I’m more inclined to vet the info for any spell I look at by measuring in-game, rather than simply putting the coefficient from wod.wowhead into a spreadsheet, because:

  • The designers are changing spells a lot, and tooltips are out of date much more often than on live.
  • The passives, talents, and Draenor Perks aren’t all familiar, and you have make sure you know what all needs to be multiplied in between the coefficient in the data and the final damage amount.
  • There are frequent bugs on beta, and actually testing means you can help catch/report them.

There are a lot of various techniques and tricks you get used to for doing this stuff quickly, but I wanted to dash off a quick post on one that both saves work and is mathematically interesting.  It looks like Theck is starting a series on general concepts of theorycrafting, and while I don’t expect to do anything that elaborate, I do want to write down ideas that are familiar to me but might be helpful to people who are just getting into it.

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Healing Theory, Part 9: First In-Depth Look at Warlords Heals

All posts in this series can be found here.

I’ve been waiting since alpha started to sink my teeth into the numbers of six new healing toolkits. Rather, I’ve been doing so for a while, but trying to get the information to the point where I can write about it in an organized way. I’ve been assembling a large spreadsheet of 6.0 heals since even before alpha started (since we had spell data). It’s mostly for my own purposes, to have a good reference for the properties of all the spells. I’ll post it here for people who want the full detailed background, while using the post to discuss various interesting points. The goal for this, and ensuing posts, is to work both for people who don’t peruse the actual sheet and just read the post (so I copy various numbers and such into the post), and also for people who want to look further into the sheet after I use a post to highlight some interesting points.

This is the sheet (download).

HT sheet image

It’s more utilitarian than user-friendly; as I said, it’s mostly an easy place for me to store/compare numbers (it’s not a character setup tool). The main focus for each heal is to compute an index for their HPM and HPCT (healing per unit cast time). In some cases, for non-spammable heals, HPCD (healing per cooldown time) is used to measure how much healing is added if the spell is used as often as possible. Some notes:

  • All of these are in unusual units, which is fine since they’re only meant to be compared against each other. For people who want details, HPCT and HPCD are in units of (spellpower coefficient)/seconds, and HPM is in units of (spellpower coefficient)/(% base mana cost).
  • All heals use the haste, crit, mastery, and multistrike values from the top of the sheet (Multistrike affects all spells equally so is not that interesting, except that Holy Priest heals get 25% more benefit).
  • Mastery is also in unusual units. “0.2″ means, the amount of mastery stat that’s equivalent to 20% crit, or what was once called “20 points of mastery.”
  • The main computation in each row is to combine a spell’s spellpower coefficient from wod.wowhead.com with haste/crit/mastery/MS, any class passives or other auras, and any Draenor perks or other bonuses, to compute an overall effective spellpower coefficient.
  • I make assumptions as needed about talents, glyphs, and other variables. Usually the guideline is, a spell’s row in the sheet represents whatever case I was most interested in when thinking about how it would be used in practice.
  • Similarly, sometimes a spell has multiple entries if I want to see e.g. both glyphed and unglyphed, or if I want to see a combination of spells in a single row.
  • Blanket disclaimer: the beta build is changing often, changes aren’t always documented, some spells’ behaviors don’t match their tooltip data, and so on. I got some help from Dayani of Healiocentric, and we vetted all of the rows against in-game behavior in beta builds 18505 or 18522 (often with the techniques described here), and are continually updating them.

On to some of the interesting patterns. Continue reading

Healing Theory, Part 8: Three 6.0 Topics

Previous posts in this series can be found here

This is an interim update covering a few loosely related topics about 6.0. Not exactly a normal post in this series that analyzes some point of theory in detail, but I wanted to catch up on a few issues, and I figured most of the same people who read this series will be interested in this.

6.0 Regen Math

Now that I’ve gotten to play the alpha some, I have some more concrete numbers on regen in 6.0.

As a reminder, regen currently (5.0) consists of base regen and spirit regen.  Base regen is an amount of MP5 equal to 2% of your max mana (6000 MP5 currently). Spirit regen is 0.564 MP5 per Spirit, in combat.

Spirit Regen

Two important things are happening to Spirit in 6.0:

  • Each point of Spirit is worth substantially more MP5 (2.061 MP5 in combat). This increase is even more dramatic when you consider that mana pools will be smaller by factor of around 2. Adjusted for this deflation, the real value of Spirit (proportional to the size of your mana bar) is about 6.85 times stronger in 6.0 than it is in 5.0.
  • You will have much less Spirit, even after controlling for the item squish. This is because you will only have it on a few slots: rings, necks, cloaks, and possibly trinkets.

The end result is that these two effects, roughly speaking, cancel each other out. The amount of regen you get from Spirit, controlling for the changed size of your mana bar, will be in the same ballpark as it is now (i.e. at a comparable gear level, your mana bar will “look” like it refills at around the same rate).

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The 6.0 Moonkin, Second Look

My first post when the new Moonkin patch notes were revealed was about explaining them and giving the highlights, but not too much in-depth analysis (read that one first if you haven’t, though). But I’ve been thinking about the details of the rotation a good bit. To the extent possible on paper that is, without an actual alpha to play, but I got pretty far on a reasonable WrathCalcs model. So here are some more detailed observations on how this rotation will play. You can think of this as, how the basics of my Moonkin guide would look if this rotation were going live right now.

Updates

A few things have been mentioned by Celestalon on twitter since the last post.

  • The cycle will now be 40s long instead of 30.
  • The DoTs are now 40s and 20s long to correspond to that (instead of 32 and 16).
  • The cycle will pause briefly at the top. Instead of a sine wave oscillating from -100 to 100 energy, it will go from -110 to +110, but with a cap on the bonus at 100. This will result in roughly a 5 second pause at the peak of each Eclipse.
  • Starsurge will be instant cast.

Eclipse

DoTs

Moonkin are preserving one aspect of gameplay that is otherwise being removed from most classes for causing too much complexity: DoT snapshotting (DoTs will snapshot their Eclipse bonus, and presumably their mastery level at cast, but not other stats like spellpower). Unsurprising then, that some of the more finicky bits of timing that are likely to appear in the new rotation are related to snapshotting.

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The New 6.0 Moonkin Rotation

After a conspicuous lack of Balance changes in the 6.0 notes before now, the newest update shows what they’ve been working on: a complete rework of the class.

Eclipse

There is still an Eclipse bar, but it’s changed in two important ways:

  • Its movement is no longer affected by your casts at all; it cycles on its own between the two endpoints, making one complete loop every 30 seconds.
  • Your Arcane and Nature damage bonuses vary continuously based on the Eclipse marker. At the midpoint, you get half of your mastery bonus to either element, and at an endpoint, the full mastery bonus to one element only.

So, some things stay the same. Your Eclipse cycles back and forth regularly, and you cast Starfire half the time and Wrath half the time. You use Starsurge regularly (see below) in either half of the rotation, since it’s buffed by either bonus. You maintain DoTs, and casting them when you have a high Eclipse bonus is still beneficial (even though DoTs will no longer snapshot most effects, they will still snapshot Eclipse).

The reason cited for the change is that Moonkin was daunting to initially learn, but relatively easy to play well once you understood it (which is the reverse of what you usually want in a class). I think this is generally correct, subject to some details of Eclipse management at the highest levels of play. Eclipse is confusing to explain and understand at first, to new players to the class, and the new version hopefully won’t have this problem.

In addition to the stated problem related to the learning curve, the 5.0 Eclipse had some issues that commonly caused frustration among players. I tended to pinpoint the problem as being related to Nature’s Grace–a major DPS buff that lasted a fixed amount of time and whose uptime was determined by your ability to race between Eclipses as quickly as possible. This made the class somewhat reliant on haste to avoid being stuck outside of NG, and severely penalized the class for any time not spent advanced in the Eclipse bar, in particular, movement and AoE. Even before seeing these changes, I’d suggested to the devs that they remove Nature’s Grace in 6.0. With the new constantly-oscillating Eclipse, they are not only removing Nature’s Grace, but making it so that your choice of what to cast doesn’t even effect the uptime of an Eclipse bonus. This should make the performance of the class much more stable.

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Healing Theory, Part 7: Introduction to Active Mana Regeneration

Previous posts in this series can be found here

This is the first post in this series that’s explicitly about new mechanics in Warlords. As a general disclaimer, at the moment there is not yet a public alpha, so all we have to go on is information in patch notes and spell data. So I while I will be going into some numbers in this post, keep in mind that anything can change. The point will be more about how to understand active mana regen, and not as much, in particular, about comparing the relative strengths of each class’s new mechanic.

The Active Regen Spells

  • Druid: Innervate. The Druid casts Innervate (2 seconds), which lasts 8 seconds or until the Druid spends mana on a healing spell. If it runs for the full duration, it regenerates 5% mana.
  • Shaman: Telluric Currents. Lightning Bolt casts return 1.25% mana.
  • Monk: Crackling Jade Lightning returns 2% mana after a full-duration channel, which takes 4 seconds. Monks also still have Mana Tea.
  • Paladin: Divine Plea costs 3 Holy Power, and returns 7% mana.
  • Disc Priest: Penance, when used offensively, returns 1.1% mana per hit (and no longer Atones).
  • Holy Priest: When in Chastise, Smite and Holy Fire each return 0.75% mana. Notably, Chakra shifts have a 10s cooldown.

The idea behind these is pretty easy to see: give every healer an ability that lets them choose to regain some mana, at the cost of giving some opportunity to heal. This is a response by Blizzard to the problem that current mana-related abilities tend to involve little or no decisionmaking; you generally simply use them on cooldown. They were prime candidates for removal during the ability-culling process, and that is what happened at first. And while there was no huge problem with that (mana is still interesting due to the inherent choice in choosing how to spend it), abilities whose purpose is to regain mana are definitely a place to add something to healer gameplay.

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