Raid Awareness WeakAuras, Hellfire Citadel

I’ve been busy lately and not as much into theorycraft projects as usual.  But a lot of people have asked me during this first week of Hellfire Citadel whether I was going to reprise my Blackrock Foundry Weakaura project for the new zone.  Since this is something I wanted to do anyway to help my own raid group, I figured I’d try to get a basic version ready for people who were interested.  Note that a lot of these are untested; I’ve only seen about half the fights so far, so give me any feedback on how it works.

Once again, I got Dayani from Healiocentric to go over all these fights and mechanics with me, as she put a huge amount of work into learning them on the beta for the purpose of writing her guides.  If you want any explanation of the encounters/mechanics listed here, I recommend you take a look at those.

For I’m just going to include the WeakAura downloads and the list of abilities I used.  See the BRF post for more explanation of the setup if you need.

WeakAura Downloads

Addon: WeakAuras 2

Awareness Auras (debuff alert and standing-in-fire alert), v 0.9: WA String

Interrupt Bars (target/focus castbar showing important spells), v 0.9: WA String

So far, includes Heroic difficulty mechanics only.  These include all the bosses already, but I haven’t gotten to test the later ones, so please report anything odd on those ones especially.

Last time around, there was a bug, I think on the WA side, where the icon displayed wouldn’t always match up to the current debuff (I have the display set to “Automatic Icon”).  I worked around it by breaking a lot of debuffs into separate auras and setting the icon manually, but that was a pain and made the package a lot bigger.  So far I haven’t done that here; let me know if you see anything wrong (or are a WA expert who might know how to address this).

Ability Lists

Big debuff alert:

  • Howling Axe
  • Artillery
  • Fel Rage
  • Shadow of Death
  • Hunger for Life
  • Touch of Doom
  • Fel Chakram
  • Fel Beam Fixate
  • Phantasmal Fel Bomb
  • Phantasmal Corruption
  • Volatile Fel Orb
  • Gift of the Man’ari
  • Ghastly Fixation
  • Font of Corruption (included for now, might be too long)
  • Edict of Comdemnation
  • Befouled
  • Latent Energy
  • Seed of Destruction
  • Fel Surge
  • Void Surge
  • Chains of Fel
  • Mark of Doom
  • Doomfire Fixate
  • Shackled Torment
  • Wrought Chaos
  • Focused Chaos
  • Devour Life
  • Void Star Fixate
  • Shared Fate (179908 only)
  • Heart Seeker (188929 only)
  • Mark of the Necromancer (only while Reap is casting — needs testing)
  • Digest (only when duration <5s)
  • Shattered Defenses (included for now, might be too long)

Standing in Fire alert w/sound:

Triggered by debuff presence:

  • Reap
  • Fel Fury
  • Doom Well
  • Blood Splatter
  • Fel Flames
  • Fel Fire
  • Felblaze Residue
  • Despoiled Ground
  • Gazing Shadows
  • Nether Tear
  • Blood of Mannoroth
  • Fuel Streak
  • Fiery Pool
  • Foul Pool
  • Shadowy Pool

Triggered by damage event (displays for 2s):

  • Shadow Globule
  • Fiery Globule
  • Foul Globule
  • [Fel Blade] (not included for now)
  • Phantasmal Nova
  • Fel Crystal (181653 only)
  • Fel Hellfire

Triggered by debuff application (displays for 2s) (currently only first stack):

  • Immolation
  • Felsinged
  • Wasting Void
  • Doomfire

Interruptible Spells:

  • Rending Howl
  • Repair
  • Felfire Volley
  • Bellowing Shout
  • Fel Blaze
  • Fel Conduit
  • Fel Chain Lightning
  • Exert Dominance
  • Shadow Bolt Volley
  • Shadow Word: Agony
  • Harbinger’s Mending
  • Fel Orb
  • Fel Blast
  • Flames of Argus

(Will try to add wowhead links when I have time)

Healer Debuff List

These are not part of the WeakAuras, but are a suggested list of debuffs for healers to highlight on their raid frames, to show targets who need quick healing:

  • Unstable Orb (consider showing only 2 stacks or higher)
  • Fel Rage
  • Heart Seeker
  • Phantasmal Wounds
  • Overwhelming Power
  • Befouled
  • Ablaze

Raid Awareness WeakAuras, Hellfire Citadel

I’ve been busy lately and not as much into theorycraft projects as usual.  But a lot of people have asked me during this first week of Hellfire Citadel whether I was going to reprise my Blackrock Foundry Weakaura project for the new zone.  Since this is something I wanted to do anyway to help my own raid group, I figured I’d try to get a basic version ready for people who were interested.  Note that a lot of these are untested; I’ve only seen about half the fights so far, so give me any feedback on how it works.

Once again, I got Dayani from Healiocentric to go over all these fights and mechanics with me, as she put a huge amount of work into learning them on the beta for the purpose of writing her guides.  If you want any explanation of the encounters/mechanics listed here, I recommend you take a look at those.

For I’m just going to include the WeakAura downloads and the list of abilities I used.  See the BRF post for more explanation of the setup if you need.

WeakAura Downloads

Addon: WeakAuras 2

Awareness Auras (debuff alert and standing-in-fire alert), v 0.9: WA String

Interrupt Bars (target/focus castbar showing important spells), v 0.9: WA String

So far, includes Heroic difficulty mechanics only.  These include all the bosses already, but I haven’t gotten to test the later ones, so please report anything odd on those ones especially.

Last time around, there was a bug, I think on the WA side, where the icon displayed wouldn’t always match up to the current debuff (I have the display set to “Automatic Icon”).  I worked around it by breaking a lot of debuffs into separate auras and setting the icon manually, but that was a pain and made the package a lot bigger.  So far I haven’t done that here; let me know if you see anything wrong (or are a WA expert who might know how to address this).

Ability Lists

Big debuff alert:

  • Howling Axe
  • Artillery
  • Fel Rage
  • Shadow of Death
  • Hunger for Life
  • Touch of Doom
  • Fel Chakram
  • Fel Beam Fixate
  • Phantasmal Fel Bomb
  • Phantasmal Corruption
  • Volatile Fel Orb
  • Gift of the Man’ari
  • Ghastly Fixation
  • Font of Corruption (included for now, might be too long)
  • Edict of Comdemnation
  • Befouled
  • Latent Energy
  • Seed of Destruction
  • Fel Surge
  • Void Surge
  • Chains of Fel
  • Mark of Doom
  • Doomfire Fixate
  • Shackled Torment
  • Wrought Chaos
  • Focused Chaos
  • Devour Life
  • Void Star Fixate
  • Shared Fate (179908 only)
  • Heart Seeker (188929 only)
  • Mark of the Necromancer (only while Reap is casting — needs testing)
  • Digest (only when duration <5s)
  • Shattered Defenses (included for now, might be too long)

Standing in Fire alert w/sound:

Triggered by debuff presence:

  • Reap
  • Fel Fury
  • Doom Well
  • Blood Splatter
  • Fel Flames
  • Fel Fire
  • Felblaze Residue
  • Despoiled Ground
  • Gazing Shadows
  • Nether Tear
  • Blood of Mannoroth
  • Fuel Streak
  • Fiery Pool
  • Foul Pool
  • Shadowy Pool

Triggered by damage event (displays for 2s):

  • Shadow Globule
  • Fiery Globule
  • Foul Globule
  • [Fel Blade] (not included for now)
  • Phantasmal Nova
  • Fel Crystal (181653 only)
  • Fel Hellfire

Triggered by debuff application (displays for 2s) (currently only first stack):

  • Immolation
  • Felsinged
  • Wasting Void
  • Doomfire

Interruptible Spells:

  • Rending Howl
  • Repair
  • Felfire Volley
  • Bellowing Shout
  • Fel Blaze
  • Fel Conduit
  • Fel Chain Lightning
  • Exert Dominance
  • Shadow Bolt Volley
  • Shadow Word: Agony
  • Harbinger’s Mending
  • Fel Orb
  • Fel Blast
  • Flames of Argus

(Will try to add wowhead links when I have time)

Healer Debuff List

These are not part of the WeakAuras, but are a suggested list of debuffs for healers to highlight on their raid frames, to show targets who need quick healing:

  • Unstable Orb (consider showing only 2 stacks or higher)
  • Fel Rage
  • Heart Seeker
  • Phantasmal Wounds
  • Overwhelming Power
  • Befouled
  • Ablaze

Thoughts on the No-Flying Announcement

I was originally asked about my thoughts on ask.fm, and my reply was so long that part of it got cut off. The core of this post came from a reply I made to the Wowhead newspost as well as some Twitter discussions over the weekend.

The devs have a vision they want to implement and I respect that. Communication surrounding the decision could be smoothed out though and that’s not the fault of the devs–PR/community could also be involved. Since it’s a bold choice, blogs on the official site would be good that explain the decision and also help players see that even though the devs may disagree with feedback, they’re engaging with it.

If they want people to explore more, they need to get people out of the Garrison. Right now the Garrison provides a lazy way for me to get gear, gold, and profession materials. I could get more if I went out into the world, but…effort. I’d rather just log onto alts with Garrisons if I need ore, vs take a miner out into the world. You can gear up with Garrison Mission rewards vs treasures in outdoor zones or even heroic dungeons. This caused a problem for me at launch, I fell into a routine where I just checked my Garrison for gear upgrades and didn’t push myself to socialize by doing things like heroic dungeons.

And since I spend so much time in my Garrison, I get complacent and think less about cool stuff I want to collect to show off to others–mounts, pets, toys, transmog. When I go to Stormshield, which is rarely, I’m reminded that I should farm mounts more, or that I should put a cool title on to show off. But inside my Garrison with just followers for company, I’m not reminded to socialize or go out in the world.

There’s also the issue where max-level content could encourage exploration/travel more vs the leveling treasures. I did grind out some WoD reputations, but all I had to do was travel to one area, use group finder, and grind mobs in exactly the same place for a few hours–flying wouldn’t have enhanced that. An exception is Steamwheedle–this felt the most memorable because it emphasized some travel and exploration with the rares and treasures scattered about.

I do think that flying could be added to zones when they’re no longer current (I thought most of Draenor would have flying in 6.2 tbh), but I also need that motivation to want to leave my Garrison in the first place. I can’t really think of a place I’d want to go to, but decided against it because it couldn’t fly. I just think about mainly staying in my Garrison and clicking on the latest Work Order/Mission that’s done. Maybe it would be neat if you could get flying after opening X amount of treasures, or doing Loremaster–demonstrating that you’ve participated in the actual content.

Cool Shop Mounts and reward mounts should be geared more towards ground areas–don’t have the fancy details shine in flying-only areas if we’ll be mostly showing them off in current no-flying zones. I liked the Runesaber’s wings, but you could really appreciate them only in flying zones. The new Apexis Crystal mount has awesome wings, but it’s a bit bulky on the ground as well. In contrast, the Infernal Direwolf is a ground mount from Hellfire Citadel with lots of awesome fel effects–that’s an example of a ground mount done well. In addition, many of my old mounts I’m proud of are flying mounts, and they just don’t translate well in Draenor, like a waddling Mimiron’s Head.

I’ve seen some criticism that recent interviews have been done on general gaming sites vs fansites. It’s good to have a mix and Blizzard can reach new audiences via general sites. It can also help them get new feedback–a Polygon audience may latch onto something unexpected in an interview, and that’s useful for Blizzard to see. However, the recent interview trend on top of the dev Twitter consolidation/Warcraft Devs transition does leave players hungry for more detail-focused conversations. It would be good if could move towards the 2014 twitter setup where that section of the playerbase felt like they had questions answered more. For example, a long-time player may ask specific follow-up questions about flying, such as what the devs thought were successful areas that worked without flying in WoD, the Garrison’s thorny content role in WoD, or potential no-flying improvements to make the travel experience smoother.

Warlords Spirit, 6.2 Update

Continuing my discussion on projecting Spirit and mana growth in Warlords

The last time we checked on Warlords mana and projecting how far it would go was after the general raid trinket buffs and the reveal of the BRF raid loot (including two high-Spirit trinkets).  Those two changes had severely accelerated potential Spirit growth from what I initially projected.  Because of that, I went from saying that Spirit was looking to be fine (at launch) to saying that the growth had to be arrested, and that an easy and effective approach would be to simply put less Spirit on trinkets.

Since all that, there have been two more developments:

  • Blizzard, going directly counter to my opinion, further increased the Spirit on BRF trinkets.  Not only through the global 5-ilvl buff, but through a significant Spirit-only buff to the two trinkets I linked above.  The reasons for that have to do with the trinket itemization dilemma I touched on here; I won’t go into them now.
  • Completely reversing course, the datamined 6.2 healer trinkets now have low amounts of Spirit again.  379 at ilvl 695 (or equivalent) on all of them, far less than Autoclave and Talisman.  This is now in line with exactly what I recommended.

So of course the question is, after all this, where did we land?

A Somewhat Convenient Truth

By now you’re probably familiar with the bar graphs from the previous versions of this analysis.  If you’re not, the framework I use is to compute how much total mana a healer will have available to spend, in an encounter of fixed length (I use 6 minutes).  This is to give a more practical and in-context comparison than simply looking at Spirit numbers, although in the Warlords system, Spirit on gear is the only part that varies.  Without further ado:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.50.41 AM

To explain the different columns:

  • 695 (expected): This was my projection, before any of the post-launch changes, of where we’d be at ilvl 695.  More on this below.
  • 695 (BRF 6.0): Where we were in the last version of this post, after the first round of trinket buffs, when I started to be a lot more concerned about this.
  • 706 (BRF 6.1): The most Spirit you could get from BRF, wearing the two highest-Spirit trinkets after all the buffs.
  • 731 (projected): where we’d be after another tier if nothing more was changed.  Take note of the number–about 950 (i.e. 950,000 mana in a 6 minute fight).  We’ll put that in context later.
  • 695 (HFC): how things look at ilvl 695 wearing one of the new Spirit trinkets and a 0-spirit class trinket.
  • 731 (HFC): how the previous setup scales up to the best gear we know of in the next tier.

Notes:

  • The final two columns conservatively assume one Spirit trinket.  If you use two Spirit trinkets instead of your special Archimonde class trinket, the final bar would wind up at 818.  Both setups will likely be seen in practice, although hopefully the class trinkets wind up appealing.  Because they’re unique and interesting, and also because it helps keep this problem in check.
  • This total ignores set bonuses, and in certain cases like Shaman, a big part of the current problem is the tremendous mana value of their set bonuses.  The currently datamined set bonuses, though incomplete, don’t seem to be focused on mana, which is hopefully intentional (all of them are linked here).  So the difference between BRF and HFC is likely to be larger than it looks.

Putting it all together, the graph should speak for itself.  Spirit growth has not only slowed down, but been given a huge one-time step backwards, so that it has room to comfortably grow again.  This outcome isn’t perfect, but it’s probably is the best that could have been done after BRF.

Historical Context

Let’s look back at the first of these graphs I posted, a few weeks before Warlords launch:

Remember all those different sources of mana we had in Mists?

Note that the WoD 695 projection is the first bar in the graph at the start of this post.  That should help put these together in context.

One important bar to note is the L90 6.0 bar–showing the weird month in between 6.0 and Warlords launch, when people probably a remember a very silly mana game where you simply couldn’t spend it down.  In fact, the main point of this chart, which I posted during that time period, was that it wouldn’t be that way once we got to actual Warlords.

Well, the repeated trinket buffs almost did make a liar of me.  The L90 bar topped out at about 1,050 (1.05 million mana to spend in 6 minutes, adjusted for inflation to be in terms of L100 mana).  And you can actually get to 868 in BRF trinkets (with the potential of going to 950 next tier if nothing was changed).  While not quite at L90 levels, it is uncomfortably close.  Close enough that many people are definitely at the “can’t find a use for more mana” level, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid.  To have the feel of early Warlords, you have to be down closer to 600.

It’s still unideal that you can get to around 818 with (known) BIS Hellfire trinkets.  That is just about what a lot of people are probably playing with right now.  People generally aren’t running around with M WF Autoclave and Talisman, because it’s simply too much.  So “current mana” is probably something less than 868–something around 800 is a lot more realistic (Mythic Autoclave and Chew Toy is pretty close to this).  Despite the big cut to Spirit happening in HFC, natural ilvl growth will get us back to current levels by the end of the next tier.

Conclusion

The devs did take significant action on this issue.  After 30 more ilvls of growth, we’ll at most be back to where we are now.  That’s saying a lot.  And I said “at most”–if the class trinkets are attractive (which is reasonably likely, especially if Spirit has questionable value), then the highest possible “mana score” you can reach in HFC is around 740.  That’s around what you can reach in current BRF normal (ilvl 670) gear.

The biggest takeaway is that you’ll likely never have as much mana as you do now for the rest of this expansion.  Unless there is in fact another tier, in which case this will definitely have to be revisited.  While in some cases you might get close, the presence of a 0-Spirit trinket option is a significant factor that helps avoid even that.

It’s been more of a fight to keep mana in check than anyone wanted.  Unforeseen changes or no, it turned out to be wrong to think this wouldn’t be an issue.  And a good point for future discussion would be how to avoid this sort of instability.  Whereby, even though things were set up fine at the start, minor changes to items completely blew up the mana projections (in brief: Spirit on items should probably not go exponentially with ilvl).  For now, the growth has been reined in substantially, which is what we wanted to see going into a new tier.

Warlords Spirit, 6.2 Update

Continuing my discussion on projecting Spirit and mana growth in Warlords

The last time we checked on Warlords mana and projecting how far it would go was after the general raid trinket buffs and the reveal of the BRF raid loot (including two high-Spirit trinkets).  Those two changes had severely accelerated potential Spirit growth from what I initially projected.  Because of that, I went from saying that Spirit was looking to be fine (at launch) to saying that the growth had to be arrested, and that an easy and effective approach would be to simply put less Spirit on trinkets.

Since all that, there have been two more developments:

  • Blizzard, going directly counter to my opinion, further increased the Spirit on BRF trinkets.  Not only through the global 5-ilvl buff, but through a significant Spirit-only buff to the two trinkets I linked above.  The reasons for that have to do with the trinket itemization dilemma I touched on here; I won’t go into them now.
  • Completely reversing course, the datamined 6.2 healer trinkets now have low amounts of Spirit again.  379 at ilvl 695 (or equivalent) on all of them, far less than Autoclave and Talisman.  This is now in line with exactly what I recommended.

So of course the question is, after all this, where did we land?

A Somewhat Convenient Truth

By now you’re probably familiar with the bar graphs from the previous versions of this analysis.  If you’re not, the framework I use is to compute how much total mana a healer will have available to spend, in an encounter of fixed length (I use 6 minutes).  This is to give a more practical and in-context comparison than simply looking at Spirit numbers, although in the Warlords system, Spirit on gear is the only part that varies.  Without further ado:

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.50.41 AM

To explain the different columns:

  • 695 (expected): This was my projection, before any of the post-launch changes, of where we’d be at ilvl 695.  More on this below.
  • 695 (BRF 6.0): Where we were in the last version of this post, after the first round of trinket buffs, when I started to be a lot more concerned about this.
  • 706 (BRF 6.1): The most Spirit you could get from BRF, wearing the two highest-Spirit trinkets after all the buffs.
  • 731 (projected): where we’d be after another tier if nothing more was changed.  Take note of the number–about 950 (i.e. 950,000 mana in a 6 minute fight).  We’ll put that in context later.
  • 695 (HFC): how things look at ilvl 695 wearing one of the new Spirit trinkets and a 0-spirit class trinket.
  • 731 (HFC): how the previous setup scales up to the best gear we know of in the next tier.

Notes:

  • The final two columns conservatively assume one Spirit trinket.  If you use two Spirit trinkets instead of your special Archimonde class trinket, the final bar would wind up at 818.  Both setups will likely be seen in practice, although hopefully the class trinkets wind up appealing.  Because they’re unique and interesting, and also because it helps keep this problem in check.
  • This total ignores set bonuses, and in certain cases like Shaman, a big part of the current problem is the tremendous mana value of their set bonuses.  The currently datamined set bonuses, though incomplete, don’t seem to be focused on mana, which is hopefully intentional (all of them are linked here).  So the difference between BRF and HFC is likely to be larger than it looks.

Putting it all together, the graph should speak for itself.  Spirit growth has not only slowed down, but been given a huge one-time step backwards, so that it has room to comfortably grow again.  This outcome isn’t perfect, but it’s probably is the best that could have been done after BRF.

Historical Context

Let’s look back at the first of these graphs I posted, a few weeks before Warlords launch:

Remember all those different sources of mana we had in Mists?

Note that the WoD 695 projection is the first bar in the graph at the start of this post.  That should help put these together in context.

One important bar to note is the L90 6.0 bar–showing the weird month in between 6.0 and Warlords launch, when people probably a remember a very silly mana game where you simply couldn’t spend it down.  In fact, the main point of this chart, which I posted during that time period, was that it wouldn’t be that way once we got to actual Warlords.

Well, the repeated trinket buffs almost did make a liar of me.  The L90 bar topped out at about 1,050 (1.05 million mana to spend in 6 minutes, adjusted for inflation to be in terms of L100 mana).  And you can actually get to 868 in BRF trinkets (with the potential of going to 950 next tier if nothing was changed).  While not quite at L90 levels, it is uncomfortably close.  Close enough that many people are definitely at the “can’t find a use for more mana” level, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid.  To have the feel of early Warlords, you have to be down closer to 600.

It’s still unideal that you can get to around 818 with (known) BIS Hellfire trinkets.  That is just about what a lot of people are probably playing with right now.  People generally aren’t running around with M WF Autoclave and Talisman, because it’s simply too much.  So “current mana” is probably something less than 868–something around 800 is a lot more realistic (Mythic Autoclave and Chew Toy is pretty close to this).  Despite the big cut to Spirit happening in HFC, natural ilvl growth will get us back to current levels by the end of the next tier.

Conclusion

The devs did take significant action on this issue.  After 30 more ilvls of growth, we’ll at most be back to where we are now.  That’s saying a lot.  And I said “at most”–if the class trinkets are attractive (which is reasonably likely, especially if Spirit has questionable value), then the highest possible “mana score” you can reach in HFC is around 740.  That’s around what you can reach in current BRF normal (ilvl 670) gear.

The biggest takeaway is that you’ll likely never have as much mana as you do now for the rest of this expansion.  Unless there is in fact another tier, in which case this will definitely have to be revisited.  While in some cases you might get close, the presence of a 0-Spirit trinket option is a significant factor that helps avoid even that.

It’s been more of a fight to keep mana in check than anyone wanted.  Unforeseen changes or no, it turned out to be wrong to think this wouldn’t be an issue.  And a good point for future discussion would be how to avoid this sort of instability.  Whereby, even though things were set up fine at the start, minor changes to items completely blew up the mana projections (in brief: Spirit on items should probably not go exponentially with ilvl).  For now, the growth has been reined in substantially, which is what we wanted to see going into a new tier.

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.

Raid Awareness, Applied: Blackrock Foundry Edition

If you read this blog, you’ve hopefully seen my post on how I think about raid awareness.  I’ve always wondered exactly how to follow up on it, and while this post isn’t nearly so broad in scope, it’s way of trying to revisit that topic.  I’m not introducing any fundamentally new ideas, but rather, using Blackrock Foundry as an example of how those ideas can be applied.  This post tries to make it as easy as possible to implement some of the most important and universal UI techniques for yourself.

WeakAura Downloads

In some cases I included WeakAuras I built so that you can try them out with a minimum of effort.  I got Dayani (who researched the BRF fights in extreme detail in order to prepare her set of guides) to work on a list of boss abilities with me, and think about the best way to handle each one.

If you do nothing else upon reading this post, try installing these Auras–your raid leader will be happy with the outcome.  All you have to do is download the addon and import these two strings:

BRF – Debuff Alert and Standing In Fire (v 0.91) (for everyone): Link

BRF – Interrupt Bars (v 0.91) (for interrupters): Link

(These are substantially complete, but we’ve only been able to do limited testing on our own, and I expect to make some tweaks after people try them out and provide any suggestions or problems)

Thus far it includes Heroic difficulty Blackrock Foundry.  An added module for Mythic is something we hope to do after finalizing this one.

3/3: v.0.91:

  • Exported from newest WeakAuras (2.1)
  • Alert for standing in someone else’s Blazing Radiance disabled until I figure out a way to prevent it from firing erroneously
  • Some debuffs split into their own aura with manually-selected icon, since “Automatic Icon” didn’t seem to be picking them up correctly.  Please report more of these if you see them.
  • No changes to Interrupt Bars.

The Big Debuff Alert

This component is the one example of completely universal raid UI that I illustrated in the raid awareness article.  You should want everyone in your raid to have it, and in fact a big motivation of this project was simply to increase uptake by handing over a WeakAura, or at least a debuff list, that people could use.  I split it into two parts: 1) encounter-specific debuffs that require immediate movement and 2) the specific situation of “standing in fire”.  In both cases, the concept is as described in the article: if any of these is happening to you, a UI that makes it possible for you to miss or ignore that fact is inadequate.

Both parts are in the first Aura I linked above.  I’ll address the specific-debuff module first.

The Aura pops up a giant icon like this when you have any of the listed debuffs:

If someone in your raid didn’t move out with this debuff, they probably didn’t have this alert.

If you already use some addon to track your auras and simply want the list of debuffs for which we thought you should have a similar alert, here’s the one we used for the Aura:

(Yes, there are a lot of boss abilities in BRF).  In the ideal case, there would only be one such alert in any phase of a fight, so that a giant icon appearing meant only one thing only.  That’s not completely possible–for example at Ka’graz, you can get either Molten Torrent (run to a clump of people) or Blazing Radiance (avoid people).  The fact that you have to distinguish these can’t be avoided in any alert system.  The huge icon should make it easy regardless.

On the other side, we excluded certain things such as Pinned Down, because once you have it it’s too late to react.

If this aura pops up, you have something that you should move to handle appropriately before worrying about anything else.

The Standing in Fire Alert

This is such a ubiquitous scenario that we split it into its own warning.  You’re standing in something that, until you move out of it, will continue damaging you.  I kept this simple but effective: a skull and crossbones and a loud noise (loud noise not pictured):

You’ll never again have to say “I didn’t realize I was too close to the edge of the fire.”

Again, if you want to do your own alerts, here’s the list we came up with.  This is a little more complicated, because there are few types of alerts.

Debuffs that damage you as long as you’re in them:

Ground effects that damage you but don’t use a debuff.  The aura pops up the skull for 2 seconds after any damage event:

Effects that apply a debuff that persists after you move out (so you don’t want to alert based on debuff being on you) that is also a DoT (so you don’t want to alert based on damage events).  The aura triggers for 2 seconds after a debuff application only:

Finally, just to reiterate, this aura includes a sound out of the box.  As I said in the raid awareness post, I believe in using sounds sparingly (more on this below).  But hopefully you’ll understand that, on the short list of things that would make me feel justified in playing a noise in your ear, your standing in fire is at the top.

The Interrupt Bars

This is simple idea that far too few people seem to use: target/focus castbars that only show spells you’d like to interrupt.  This is exactly in line with my usual comments: something you want to want to react to in an important way (such as by interrupting) should be starkly visually distinguishable from anything else.  Having things you need to interrupt and things you don’t need to interrupt in the same castbar, so you have to read the spell each time to distinguish which is it, is kind of silly when you think about it.

For a long time I’ve used a castbar addon called Gnosis for this.  It’s similar to Quartz, but allows you to white- and blacklist spells from any bar.  My preferred way to do this is to leave my usual target and focus castbars as they are, and add a second set of target/focus castbars which are much larger and more prominent, and whitelist only a sort set of raid-interruptible spells.

So you can either try Gnosis, or use the pair of castbars (target and focus) included in the second WeakAura above.  In either case, the spells we listed are:

Debuff Highlights for Healers

Sadly, this is the end of the portion where I can hand you a WeakAura.  This section is a tip for healers about setting up your raid frames.

Any healer should have a way of highlighting specific debuffs on their frames, to call your attention to immediately to targets who require it.  This is beyond the simple indicator you should have for any debuffs, but a specific, prominent highlight (I do it by recoloring their whole bar for the duration of the debuff).  It’s typically good for strong DoTs or delayed-damage effects.  Vuhdo makes this easy with their custom debuff list; I hope other raid frames do as well.  We generally don’t include ordinary dispellable debuffs, since it’s assumed you have a general method of always highlighting them.

Here’s the list we came up with for BRF:

Bossmod Config

Finally, a section that’s important, but has no clear way to give specific advice.  Even if I picked one specific bossmod addon, there are two many combinations of roles and difficulty levels that require paying attention to different abilities.  On the other hand, it’s really an important part of this.  I expressed in the raid awareness post the importance of cutting down on bossmod spam, especially given the overly-enthusiastic default settings that are common.  So most of what I can do is reiterate the importance of starting with everything off and then opting in to timers and alerts you need.  As one example of many, I happened to just recently run through this exercise for a fight my raid is working on, and this was the set of timers and countdowns I decided I needed:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 1.55.02 AM

Yes, lots of those abilities are important.  None of them are things where I need the timer information to act on in any specific way, X seconds before they happen.  In many, many cases, an appropriate alert when something actually happens is simpler and more effective warning, and occupies less of your attention unnecessarily at other times, as a countdown.

One specific component of all this is sounds.  It’s important to have them when they’re needed, and to not have them when they’re not needed.  In the bossmod I use, DBM, here’s a handy tip.  Go to Special Warnings in the Options, and turn off the sounds for the first two types of special warnings, but leave it on for the third (the one labeled “very important special warnings”). Choose any sound you like for that one:

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 2.02.10 AM

This is a little confusingly set up, but DBM will assign any important to event to one of these three alerts (it calls them SW1, SW2, and SW3).  You can choose which you like for any warning in that boss’s menu.  If you don’t go into that much detail, having sounds off for SW1 and SW2 will cut down on your addon noise quite a bit, while SW3 is what’s usually set as the default for the most important alerts.  Maybe there similar one-time config fixes for other mods that affect their behavior generally.

Conclusion

If you already had a set of similar alerts (good for you) including other sets of WeakAuras people have made for similar purposes, I hope you can still benefit from the detailed suggestions here, and the research and thinking on fight mechanics.  If not, then this post provides a very easy starting point for implementing good raid awareness UI.  Try out the auras at least, and see if it helps you.

Quick Notes on Efficient use of Bloodlust

You probably hear this all the time for various encounters, especially from DPS: “Bloodlust at the start of the fight, because everyone’s standing still and [some mechanic] isn’t happening yet, so you get the best DPS value out of it.”  This post is slightly tricky because I want to talk about 1) a subtle fallacy here (that Bloodlust is inherently better at times when raid DPS is higher), while also noting that, 2) in the end, it often is correct to use it at the start of the encounter (because it will have the strongest intersection with everyone’s cooldowns and trinkets).

There are two reasons that (1) can be incorrect.  First, it can be more important to get through a hard phase of the fight faster than to end the whole fight more quickly.  This is important but I’m not going to get into it too much here.  It’s generally well-recognized and, when Bloodlust isn’t used at the start, this is typically the reason.  What’s more interesting and counterintuitive though is that using Bloodlust when the raid’s doing the most DPS isn’t even necessarily best for ending the fight quickly.

How is that possible?  It’s (roughly speaking) a uniform %-based DPS increase.  It’s most valuable when the underlying damage is the highest! (You might be saying).

Basic Example

Say you have a 2-phase encounter.  Phase 1 goes until 50%.  It does nothing–it’s a target dummy and the raid does its maximum DPS (our hypothetical encounter designer is very amenable to setting up weird examples for me).  Phase 2 has lots of abilities that interfere with DPS, movement and the like.  Say the raid does half of its maximum DPS here.  The boss has 20 million HP and the raid’s maximum DPS is 100,000.  And forget about potions and trinkets etc. for the moment (I’m keeping things very abstract and continuous for now, but will revisit some of these assumptions below).

  • Without Bloodlust: P1 takes 100 seconds, and P2 (at half DPS) takes 200 seconds.  Boss dies in 300 seconds.
  • With Bloodlust in P1: the raid does 130,000 DPS for 40 seconds, doing 5.2 million damage.  The remaining 4.8 million of P1 take 48 seconds.  P2 still takes 200 seconds.  Boss dies in 288 seconds.
  • With Bloodlust in P2: at the start of P2, the raid does 65,000 DPS for 40 seconds, doing 2.6 million damage.  The remaining 7.4 million damage of P2 takes 148 seconds.  P1 still took 100 seconds.  Boss dies in 288 seconds.

“Ok Hamlet,” you might say, “what kind of math voodoo is this?  Bloodlust to add 15000 DPS for the 40s duration is equally effective as Bloodlust to add 30,000 DPS for the 40s duration?”

Well, think about it this way.  Bloodlust adds 30% haste for 40 seconds.  In this uniform, continuous model, Bloodlust lets you do 52 seconds of work in 40 seconds.  So, yes, in all examples, it saved 12 seconds of encounter time, and you shouldn’t expect anything different.  The only important caveat to this is that it works out because I hypothesized an encounter where the phases are %-based (this is, of course, very common).  In a boss with time-based windows of different conditions, the result would be different.

In a moment I’ll get into some of the ways reality deviates from this basic model, but it still served an important purpose.  It shows that one intuitive reason to use Bloodlust in P1–that it’s better while the raid is doing more DPS because encounter mechanics are leaving you alone–isn’t true.

Practical Issues

So in a baseline abstract model, the two times to use Lust are “tied”.  When would you use it in a real encounter that worked like I described?  There are two important factors, that cut in opposite ways.

First, using it at the start is the easiest time to get it to overlap with all your trinkets and potions and cooldowns.  It’s not the only time–you can set up a full burst with everything except for proc trinkets anytime you want–but it’s a natural and convenient one.  This is real DPS value.  The Bloodlust is worth more when multiplied into cooldowns, and if I’d factored in an opening raid DPS burst in the example above, P1 would have come out ahead.

However, the point of using Bloodlust is to improve damage, and the point of doing more damage (unless you have a tight Berserk, which is rare these days) is to shorten the parts of the fight which are most dangerous and most likely to cause wipes.  In a fight that’s totally uniform, no phase changes or anything, that’s the same as optimizing for total damage.  But in a fight that’s not, you really want to separate optimizing for best chances of success from optimizing for shortest encounter/highest DPS.

In the example, Bloodlusting in your opening DPS stack will, as I just said, end the fight a few seconds earlier.  But P1 is trivial and has no chance of people dying (or similarly, of using excessive healer mana), and P2 is hard and might involve deaths.  Ending P2 faster is better for avoiding risk of a wipe, that is, for probability of winning.  Ending P1 faster is completely meaningless.  You could go make a sandwich during it if you wanted to and your raid’s chance of success wouldn’t be hurt.

So the example is still exaggerated of course, but it’s still an example of a hypothetical encounter where a good raid leader will Bloodlust in phase 2, even though that’s worse on Warcraftlogs.

Conclusion

And the example is not even quite as farfetched as it sounds.  The thought for this quick note came to me when I was thinking about a new encounter I saw this week, Hans’gar and Franzok (Heroic–I don’t know if Mythic mechanic will change this).  The first phase goes to 85% and has pretty close to nothing going on.  Two bosses stand there next to each other, there’s nothing to dodge, and you can plow into them full-throttle.  A Bloodlust there feels pretty satisfying for DPS.  And the final phase, with the stamping presses and moving conveyors, and the bosses apart more because Hans is Body Slamming more times, feels terrible.  It’s pretty much just like the P2 in my example.  And for the same reasons, I don’t see why you wouldn’t Lust there.

So the point is twofold.  Lust has more value than simply shortening the total fight length (rankings notwithstanding).  And second, that even to shorten fight length, there’s often no inherent advantage (surprisingly) in using it for a high-DPS phase.  Real encounters are more nuanced than the example, but I hope this all helps to analyze the tradeoff.

Addendum

Few things:

  • I presented a scenario that might be counterintuitive, because it’s interesting and really happens at times.  There are a lot of cases where things will still work just as they seem.  For example, at Mythic Twin Ogron, despite being a fight with a lot of internal variation and dangerous parts at the end, you probably want to lust at the start (and cleave into two bosses while standing still, just like I said you don’t want to do at Hans and Franz).  The main difference is that Twins doesn’t have any %-based triggers.
  • I should mention that Bloodlust can also be a powerful healing cooldown.  There are a few reasons this tends to wind up being the less important factor in using it (haste’s value for healers having some limitations is a big one).  However, you can look for nice alignments where Bloodlust during a hard phase both ends it faster and lets healers handle it more easily.
  • Similar logic to this post also applies to Execute-type mechanics.  Alignment with Bloodlust doesn’t in and of itself increase their effectiveness (the added damage you can do if you lust with them up is canceled out by the added time it takes to get to them).  The basic theme is here is things that depend on a boss’s % health not interacting with Bloodlust very much.

Resto Druids: Haste vs. Mastery

Resto Druids: Haste vs. Mastery

Posted on  by Hamlet

With all the various things I focus on lately, one thing I haven’t been doing often enough is giving play advice and analysis of my favorite class, Resto Druids.  Today I want to give a detailed discussion of one of the topics that has gotten a lot of attention lately–whether our most favored stat should be haste or mastery.  In my Resto Guide I say haste, but don’t have the opportunity in that format to explain the recommendation in detail.  Here, my goal is to work through the question very thoroughly, answer your questions, and see if I can help get you comfortable with a stat decision for this expansion.

The Stats

Mastery increases the bonus from Harmony by 1% per 88 rating.  It is additive with a flat bonus of 16.25% from the baseline effect and raid buff.  Measured against a starting point of having no mastery from gear, each relative 1% increase requires 102.3 mastery rating.  So long as the buff is maintained, it improves all healing other than the Lifebloom bloom, Ysera’s Gift, and Dream of Cenarius.

Haste has two effects.  First, it increases the tick frequency and therefore the total healing per cast (I described the mechanics details here) of any HoT effect by 1% for every 90 points (as of this week).  With Resto’s attunement taken into account, this is 1% every 85.7 points (haste rating is not additive with anything).  Second, it reduces the time it takes to cast all spells by the same amount.

Breaking Down Haste

Because so much of Resto’s healing is in the form of HoTs, haste, above and beyond its cast time and GCD reduction, directly adds healing done to many of our spells.  For most other healers this is a feature generally reserved to non-haste stats, which contributes to my low view of haste for other healers.  For Druids, most heals go against the general rule and increase their output with haste like they do with other stats.  This includes Rejuvenation (except for initial tick), Wild GrowthLifebloom (except the bloom) and Wild Mushroom.  It also includes a few rarer spells, Force of Nature and Dream of Cenarius, which are essentially throughput increases since they get cast time reductions with no related mana cost.

The important heal effects which are not improved by haste beyond the reduction to cast time are TranquilitySwiftmendHealing Touch, and Regrowth.

The basic analysis of haste in this post will be done by keeping the two components separate throughout, and remembering that haste is as strong as their sum:

  • The cast-time reduction, which applies to all spells, but does not improve healing per cast.  Therefore, it increases HPCT (healing per unit cast time), but not HPM (healing per mana), of all spells, by an amount equal to the haste percentage.  Because some spells have cooldowns and some don’t, it only increases the cast frequency of certain spells.
  • The value of added healing on certain spells, which increases HPCT and HPM to those spells and does nothing for the others.

The result is a complex mosaic of effects, unlike Mastery’s totally uniform HPCT and HPM increase to nearly all spells.  Some spells have their healing per cast increased and not the rate at which you cast them (Wild Growth), so the effect is parallel and easily comparable to mastery.  Some spells don’t have any healing per cast, HPM, or frequency increased at all (Nature’s Swiftness-HT).  And on the flip side, some get an HPM increase as well as a double-dipped HPCT increase (Rejuvenation).  So there’s no simple comparison; it will largely come down to the frequency with which you use the various types of spells.

Categorizing Spells

So let’s try to break our typical spell usage into a reasonably small number of categories that will help clarify this.

1. Spells where haste increases the healing done with no effect on timing or usage (i.e. spells where haste and mastery do the same thing): Wild Growth, Wild Mushroom, and Lifebloom.

These are the easiest spells for which to evaluate the comparison.  Haste and mastery are essentially interchangeable in their effect, and haste has a significant numerical advantage in how much it does (at 0 rating each, haste is 20% more effective, referencing the rating comparisons above).

One other spell that’s best put in this category is Clearcast Regrowth.  It doesn’t sound like it fits, since the frequency of procs increases, but not the healing.  Since it’s a free spell, the combined result is the same though.  As you add haste, you do proportionately more healing with CCRG per minute, at no added mana cost (in fact, at no added time cost either, since the shorter cast time and higher frequency cancel out).

2. Spells where haste has no effect on healing done: Tranquility, Swiftmend, and NSHT.

These are also easy to evaluate.  Haste does nothing of significance for these spells.  Their use constitutes the argument against haste, as this is the only place where haste is worse than mastery.

3. Spells which are like the spells in category 1, but with the further benefit of being able to spam it more frequently when you choose: Rejuvenation.

This one gets its own category because it’s behavior is unique and because it’s a centerpiece of healing in all circumstances.  A lot of the final outcome rests on the evaluation of Rejuvenation.

I started to give it away in the heading.  Haste’s effect on Rejuv is at least what it is for the spells in group 1, because it has the same healing-increase effect, before you even get to the ability to cast more often (if you’re doing really meticulous math, technically the initial tick–around 1/7 of the healing depending on stats/talents, should be excluded from that).

The Effect of Faster Casting Speed

What to make of the increased cast rate?  The easiest way to view is increased flexibility.  You can choose to cram more Rejuv casts into, say, a 10-second period.  The added casts are of course not free, but doing them in less time is a valuable option.  Keep clear the distinction–haste is giving 2 separate benefits to Rejuv: the added healing per cast, which is free healing, and the added casts per unit time, which is not.  One benefit is positive HPM and the other is neutral to HPM.

The total effect is best seen with two opposite scenarios.  In the short, hectic fight, where healing is under significant time constraints and mana is secondary (Butcher), haste gives benefit to all the spells mentioned above and a double benefit to Rejuv, making it extremely dominant.  In the long fight where efficiency is paramount (Mar’gok) cast speed is almost irrelevant, because taking a little longer to cast some rejuvs doesn’t matter–you have all that downtime anyway.  There, haste is worth its basic benefit to all the spells mentioned in categories 1 and 3, as was discussed.  The comparison to mastery will be based on what % of your healing is done with these spells.

Most fights have some of both elements mixed in.  The comparison becomes clearer when you add some numbers, though:

  • Where HPM is the sole concern, haste adds 1% per 85.7 rating to spells in categories 1 and 3.  Mastery adds 1% per 102.3 rating to all spells.  This means that if around 1/6 of your healing is from category 2, the two stats are equal.  If category 2 grows, the value of haste will decline gradually, but the stats will be, loosely speaking, similar in value.
  • Where speed is important, haste is much better than any other stat.  In the extreme where you truly don’t care about mana, Rejuv scales doubly with haste, and instead of haste being 120% the value of mastery, it will be 240% the value of mastery on this very significant spell (when raid healing that rapidly, most GCDs are used on Rejuv).  In a moment where bringing people up is a goal worth spending mana on, which, to put it simply, is not very unusual, haste blows away every other stat including mastery.

I’ve been working in numerical details gradually while focusing on explaining the thinking, but this was a key step.  With no numerical context, it’s one thing to talk about “efficiency vs. throughput” in the abstract.  And if you stopped there, you would very compelled to say that the importance of efficiency in Warlords would lead you to mastery.  But what matter is that haste is slightly worse for efficiency (and in some cases, possibly not even worse!), and far better for increasing your throughput ceiling.  It essentially free flexibility to do much more healing very rapidly when you need to, without significant hit to your efficiency even when you don’t need to.

Tranquility

We’ve seen that if category 2 spells are around 1/6 of your healing, haste and mastery are equally strong on an HPM basis.  This requires us to revisit the first open question from above: whether to count Tranquility, a spell which can by itself account for 20% of your metered healing.  On the one hand, healing is healing, and it often is that simple.  Healing done by Tranquility, even beyond what’s needed to survive in the moment, saves on healing required in the subsequent seconds.  There are 2 reasons you might discount its value:

  • Healing added by Tranquility is much more likely to be overheal than most other spells.
  • Concentrating healing in a 3-minute cooldown is worse than improving it uniformly.

The first is probably true, but I’m always hesitant about “it’s probably overhealing” arguments, probably because they can be applied to anything.  This discounts the value of Tranquility, but maybe not by much.  The second is more important though.  Even if the Tranquility adds a lot of points of healing as it grows slightly larger, does that reduce expected deaths more than improving my healing during the other 174 out of every 180 seconds?  I think not.  There’s a certain diminishing returns on dumping that much healing into the raid at once.  The meters, which count all points of healing as equal, don’t show it, but adding, say, 50,000 healing on top of the few million poured onto the raid during a Tranquility is not as likely to avoid a death as 50,000 healing done at some other time when the raid has not just been powerfully stabilized.

You can use your judgment, when looking your heal breakdown, of whether to exclude Tranquility, or include it, or count it for a partial amount such as 50% (which seems reasonable).

Putting it all Together

I avoided, in this post, simply building a model and throwing it at you (which I think is actually one of the least effective ways to present a theorycraft result).  The goal was to build up the thinking with only the math required for important context, and see how far it can go (it turns out, quite far).  I’m not hiding the ball on any math–if you want to dig deeper on your own numbers, go look at your logs from whatever fight you’re working on, and see what % of total healing is being done by category 2 spells, and keep that open while you read this section.  That’s Tranquility (keeping in mind the previous section), Swiftmend, and HT (if you use a lot of non-Clearcast Regrowths you can include them too, but if you care about HPM, you should probably stop doing that in the first place).

I don’t have your log in front me, but I would be surprised if Swifmend and NSHT combined to count for more than 10% in any normal situation.  Tranquility likely will push that over 20% or even 30%.  That’s why it got a section to itself–in typical cases it will singlehandedly flip the comparison of haste and mastery for total HPM purposes.  There’s a very real question of to what extent, if any, you actually want to “gear for Tranquility.”

Looking at your spell breakdown and making a judgment about Tranquility, you will have a good stat comparison on a pure HPM basis.  This will either have haste ahead, in which case your decision is done, or mastery ahead, in which case you have to think about whether you ever care about anything other than HPM.  Because, as described two sections up, that would make haste a clear winner if they’re otherwise close.  I think it’s the rare fight where you should take the position that you don’t.

Math Interlude: Scaling

One topic that I don’t have nearly the space to treat properly in this post is how any stat gets relatively better as other stats increase.  In other words, if stats A and B are equally-valud when you have 0 of each, and then you stack a large amount of A, B gets better relative to A.  People bring this up a lot in stat discussions, but it’s much easier to trot it out than it is to weigh it carefully.  And used injudiciously, it becomes a way to avoid reaching a firm conclusion on stats by always falling back on “balancing” them.  I’d caution heavily against relying on this effect to push back on stat priority conclusions unless you really know what you are doing mathematically.

For a brief look–I said above that, at 0 haste and mastery from gear, haste’s numbers were around 20% stronger (to any spell affected in the same way by both), based on the rating conversions.  This number will be very close to that any time you have equal haste and mastery rating.  If haste starts to far exceed mastery, its value will decline, but not rapidly.  For example, for haste to decay down to the match the value of mastery, at 0 mastery (a relative 1% gain per 102.3 rating), you’d need 19.35% haste from rating alone, or 1742 haste rating.  And of course, you have far from 0 mastery on your gear, it being your second-best stat.  It takes very, very wide stat disparities to change the sorts of results described here.  If your haste is ~1000 points higher than your mastery, then yes, the HPM equalization will occur at around 8% healing from category 2 rather than 16%.  That effect is real, and I wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on it in future tiers if gear choices happen to allow for overwhelming haste stacking.  But once you account for all the factors discussed in this post, so far it is not likely to change the outcome in typical cases.

Conclusion

While the problem is an interesting one, and it was a great chance to touch on lots of points of healing theory in the process of a practical problem, the goal was to have a clear answer for people.  And from my perspective we do: there is convincing support for haste as a generally recommended stat for Resto Druids.

With the analysis of this post in mind, we can construct a situation where you’d prefer mastery.  Generally, one where:

  • HPM is your only concern (you are never in a rush to top people off and always have ample time to use high-efficiency heals),
  • Tranquility is of such importance that you’re inclined to alter your setup for that spell alone,
  • You’re not using Dream of Cenarius, and
  • You’re maintaining 100% Harmony uptime.

The latter two are standard assumptions that seem odd to call out, I know.  But full-blown endurance tests, the situations we’re talking about, are precisely where they might fail to hold, and either of them can somewhat undermine the value of mastery.

I don’t deny the possibility of such a situation, but it’s an edge case at best.  And where it applies, the edge to mastery is slight.  The most serious players reading this can feel free to keep the possibility in mind, and hopefully this post arms you with a great deal of detail in making the evaluation of when it arises.

But the focus is post was identifying whether one stat was much better most of the time, and I think it’s done that.  For the many people whose question was simply “haste or mastery?”, my answer for Resto Druids in Warlords is: “haste.”

Healing Theory: Warlords Spirit Update

All posts in this series can be found here.

Before the launch of the expansion, I made this post outlining, among other things, how I projected healer mana availability to increase over the course of Warlords.  The conclusion was that, due to the fact that much of our mana comes from constant sources and comparatively little on gear (due to the limited slots on which Spirit can appear), the growth would be slow.  It appeared that there would not be an explosion of mana that eliminated significant mana constraints on healer gameplay until ilvls beyond 750.  Now seemed like a good time to revisit that analysis with any new information we’ve gained since launch.

The previous post’s projection of mana resources in Warlords.  x-axis is ilvl. y-axis is thousands of mana available in a 6-minute encounter.

New Information and Assumptions

To review, the prior post’s analysis was done by examining the amount of Spirit available at each ilvl character with Spirit on two rings, a neck, a cloak, and one trinket, assuming all slots grew according to the standard ilvl budget formula.  The framework used in the post is to look at the total mana a heal has available to spend during an encounter of a certain length (I used 6 minutes) from all sources: starting mana, base regen, Spirit, and so on.  By and large the analysis is still correct.  There are a few things that have either changed or were not taken into account the prior post:

  • You have a legendary ring.  This made starting Spirit a little higher than projected, since many ilvl 615 characters had a 680 Spirit ring.  However, it appears that you will keep the 680 ring at least into Foundry, and the next step is 690.  The highest one currently datamined is 710.  Finally, the proc doesn’t give Spirit, but rather Int (a lesson they probably learned from the Mists meta gem).  So in the end, the ring doesn’t significantly affect the analysis.
  • You (probably should) have a Spirit enchant.  It gives 500 Spirit, with a 15s second duration and a 40 second ICD.  I’ll use 15/45 uptime below.  In any case, it is constant, so it doesn’t affect growth.
  • Most or all healer-intended raid trinkets have Spirit.  Wearing two Spirit trinkets will probably not be unusual; it’s worth considering.
  • Everburning Candle, when the dust settled, gives twice as much mana as its tooltip indicates.  This results in it having an equivalent of 211 Spirit.  That is actually less than normal for a Spirit trinket of its ilvl, so we can ignore it (the reason it continues to be so good is the extremely high Int).
  • Finally and most importantly, raid trinkets were all buffed to account for the trinket itemization problems that were noticed after launch.  Because some trinkets were overbudget, Blizzard buffed all raid drop trinkets to ensure they were still strong relative to the others.  This results in Highmaul and Foundry trinkets having stats that are higher that would be expected for their ilvl.  One might guess that Blizzard will have to keep this up in future tiers to continue the trinket progression; in effect, they’ve been forced to increase the expected budget on trinkets.  This is the main change we should focus on now.

With a passive ilvl 630 trinket having 159 Spirit, you would expect that a level 695 trinket would have 291 Spirit.  That is in fact what Elementalist’s Shielding Talisman had when the previous post was written.  But now it has 476.  And Autoclave has 565 due to its weaker proc.  So where the last analysis imagined that a healer at ilvl 695 would have 291 from one Spirit trinket, in reality a healer at ilvl 695 might have 1041 from two Spirit trinkets.  This definitely should cause us to redo the projection.

I think, though, that this is an overestimate of the Spirit budget that will be used going forward, for two reasons.  First, a constraint Blizzard had in buffing trinkets is that they could not change proc tooltips in a hotfix, so they mostly resorted to changing passives (at least, I think that’s why they did so).  So when raid trinkets with passive Spirit and a secondary stat proc needed a large buff in that hotfix, all they could do was inflate the Spirit.  I doubt we will see future raid trinkets with a very lopsided portion of their itemization in Spirit like these two have.  Second, they might try to ease total trinket budgeting back down towards the standard track, while still ensuring future ones are upgrades.

I’ll consider a projection based on 1041 Spirit from trinkets at 695 to be the worst case.  It’s a little hard to give an expected case, because the patchwork of trinket buffs and nerfs produced some inconsistencies that prevent there from being a clear formula for trinket itemization like there was in the past.  My best guess is that the two 685 Highmaul trinkets with Spirit, one of which is fully passive, reflect an intended amount.  398 at ilvl 685, which would be 437 Spirit at ilvl 695, or 874 from two trinkets.

Updated Results

Let’s modify our previous accounting of the total mana available in a 6 minute encounter, at ilvl 695, for 1) the addition of 166.7 Spirit from an enchant (folded into “base Spirit” since it’s constant) and 2) 1041 Spirit from two trinkets rather than 291 from one trinket, or a total of 1501 Spirit from gear.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 2.41.30 AM

For more context I also included the real situation from ilvl 630 (with no enchant and one trinket, to match the “old” ilvl 695 model), as well as an ilvl 735 projection based on ilvl 695 as it actually is now.  Even the actual ilvl 695 behavior is a significant jump upward from what was expected.  Part of is due to using a second Spirit trinket, a possibility I should have included in the previous Spirit post.  But part of it is actual ilvl 695 trinkets having almost twice as much Spirit as expected.

788,000 mana in 6 minutes is a lot more than we were expecting to have in the first tier.  In the prior post’s model, that did not happen until ilvl 778.  And in the worst-case model I described, where trinkets continue forward with Spirit int he same proportion, at ilvl 735 we would have 889,000 mana (which the old model did not have us reaching until ilvl 815).

x-axis is ilvl. y-axis is thousands of mana available in a 6-minute encounter.

The yellow line is the reference of where we started before raiding (ilvl 630). The blue line is where we would have gone if things continued proportionately from there.  The red line is where we would go if Blackrock Foundry trinkets became the new standard.  Slightly below the red line is where we’ll be if Blizzard carves back amount of Spirit on trinkets.  Note that graph goes to unrealistically high ilvls to see the overall shape of the curve, but even below 750 the difference is pronounced.

An Inconvenient Truth

Is there cause for concern?  I think there might be, but it depends largely on some unknowns.  In the last post, I said that things looked very flat in the expected ilvl range for this expansion.  Starting from around 600,000 mana available in 6 minutes at 630, we only reached 700,000 mana available by 730 (it would have been around 750,000 if I included double Spirit trinkets).  That, to me, was no cause for concern, as I said in that post.  Healers are supposed to feel some increased mana availability as Spirit increases over the expansion, and a modest increase like that felt like something that would be noticeable but not significantly change the need to pay attention to mana.

We now know that we will surpass that amount in the first tier, with existing ilvl 695 trinkets.  In a very conservative estimate, that there’s one more raid tier capping out at 720, we’d have 847,000.  That’s getting close to a 50% increase in how much mana you can spend in an encounter, compared to what we were playing with a few weeks ago.  If there are multiple planned raid tiers, then we risk getting to ilvl 750 where the exponential growth in the graph is starting to take off.

In short, whether there’s a problem depends on how high ilvls get in remaining tiers, and how much Blizzard backs off of Blackrock Foundry trinket itemization patterns.  We don’t know either of those things.  But even if the growth in this first tier is not a disaster, it seems in any case to be more than is ideal.  I would be happy if Blizzard:

  • Reduces the Spirit on Blackrock Foundry trinkets before they get released.  Not essential, but helps smooth out future growth as needed for the next step.
  • In future tiers, itemizes a smaller portion of trinkets towards Spirit.  In particular, if ilvls go beyond 715 or 720, treat Spirit differently from other stats, and itemize an unusually low portion to it in the case of trinkets.

Things are probably going to be fine, but we shouldn’t take risks with our future.  To ensure that we preserve a healthy Spirit environment, we should take action now.  It will only get harder as Spirit levels continue to rise.