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.

Healing Theory: Spirit–Past, Present, and Future

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

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

Overview of Changes

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

Mana Changes

A few other relevant points:

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

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

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

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

Total Mana Availability

Let’s revisit the discussion from the first half of this post, where we computed how much total mana there was to spend in a 6-minute encounter.  There we used a character with a somewhat typical 12,000 Spirit in 5.0.  For 6.0 we’ll use a character with Spirit in the standard 4 slots (2 rings, neck, cloak), and 1 passive Spirit trinket (so you could of course have more or less than this based on trinket choice).

Things are a little different at L90 since we’re still in MoP.  My character, immediately after the squish, now has 481 Spirit.  That’s with Spirit in the standard 4 slots, plus a few leftover gems and an Amp trinket.  That’s probably pretty typical, so we’ll use that.  It also turns out it’s about the same as what you’d get from 4 Spirit items + 1 passive Spirit trinket at ilvl 580, so the comparison to L100 is still good.

At L90 post-squish, my mana in a 6-minute encounter, again in thousands of mana, is:

  • 37 (starting mana)
  • 107 (base regen (1480 MP5) over 6m)
  • 71 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 481 Spirit)
  • 23 (meta gem, evaluated @ 3 Rejuvs (2097 mana) per proc)
  • 6 (potion)
  • Total: 244

What about at L100–let’s say at ilvl 615, corresponding to Normal dungeons and Proving Grounds.  Looking at the relevant items, I’ll have roughly 54 from each of my 4 non-armor slots, and 138 from one trinket, for a total of 354 from gear.  With 784 base Spirit as a Tauren, that’s 1138 Spirit.  So now we’re looking at:

  • 160 (starting mana)
  • 230 (base regen (3200 MP5) over 6m)
  • 169 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 1138 Spirit)
  • 34 (potion)
  • Total: 593

In order to add these new numbers to the previous chart, we have to scale them to account for changes in mana pool size, as discussed above.  Here I’ve scaled them all to correspond to a mana pool size of 160,000:

Mana Bars 6.0

Looking at this, we can see a number of things.

First, remember that despite the disclaimers about comparing Mists to Warlords, the comparison of L90 6.0 to WoD is a perfect apples-to-apples comparison.  You’re using the new spell costs in both cases, and scaling to mana pool size exactly accounts for the changes in spell costs as you go to level 100.  So this is a clear way of seeing how L90 6.0 is not like level 100 Warlords healing (in particular, you can clearly see the effect of the temporary doubling of base regen, the red part of the bar).  Your gross mana availability is nearly double what it would be if it accurately reflected the level 100 experience.  This is the most important factor driving the sheer weirdness of healing between now and the launch of Warlords.

If you want to think about how things have changed since 5.0, this is a good start.  Even ignoring changes in spell costs, you have more mana than you did two weeks ago.  The subjective play experience right now is that you have much more mana than you did two weeks ago.  In late Mists you could throw heals rather freely, but now you can throw expensive filler heals completely at will, and your mana doesn’t even sink much.  This supports the notion that, in the aggregate, spell costs have come down.  Your total mana is only slightly higher in real terms, but in practice you’re far more flush with mana.  This strongly suggests that if we did construct a Consumer Price Index of spell costs and take it into account, the two leftmost bars in the above graph would be compressed further down.

Spirit Increases in Warlords

A major concern many healers have is whether increases in stats from gear, which tend to increase by a huge amount over the course of the expansion, will result in an overly large amount of regen a few tiers from now.  The Mists post I’ve been linking concluded that increase in Mists was more due to the meta gem and other factors than it was to straight Spirit increases.  This suggests that, even if no changes were made from Mists, the situation would be largely under control unless some ill-advised item were added in Warlords that gave healers huge amounts of mana.

It turns out that, even beyond that, other changes in Warlords are further damping the impact of Spirit increases.  Spirit from gear is an even smaller part of the overall mana picture than it was in Mists.  The chart above pools all “Spirit” together, but remember that of the 1138 Spirit at ilvl 615, 784 was the passive Spirit from being a level 100 Tauren.  Only 354 of it was from gear and will increase with ilvl.  That 354 Spirit accounts for only 52,500 mana over 6 minutes.  This is less than 10% of the total mana we had available at that ilvl (593,000).  The entire remainder of your mana supply will be constant.

Spirit from Gear (purple) will increase with ilvl. All other sources will remain constant.

However, the fact remains that stats, including Spirit, increase exponentially with ilvl (at the rate of 15% every 15 ilvls, or doubling every 74.4 ilvls).  And with exponential growth in the picture, we definitely cannot be satisfied with the mere fact that regen looks safe right now; we need to project the future increases in more detail.

I started doing that when I made the bar graph above, and included a column for Warlords at ilvl 695 (corresponding to Mythic gear at the end of the first raid tier).  Consulting Wowhead again, at that point we expect to have 115 Spirit on a non-armor item, and 291 from a trinket.  This results in 751 Spirit from gear, just over twice what we’ll have at ilvl 615 (as expected after an increase of 80 ilvls).  Total mana supply will have gone from 593,000 to 655,000, as was shown in the graph.  So far, nothing concerning.

Extrapolating forward, with the constant sources of mana staying constant and the gear term increasing exponentially, we have something that looks like this:

x-axis is ilvl. y-axis is thousands of mana available in a 6-minute period.  Red line is constant term only, blue line is constant + gear.

The exponential growth is pronounced, but the very small starting size of the gear term means that it doesn’t start to get out of hand until around ilvl 800, hopefully higher than we’ll ever see.  Between 600 and around 750, the growth is small next to the constant term.

Without getting too deep into speculating on Warlords, let’s remember that ilvls in Mists increased by 63 from the end of the first tier (509 from H Terrace/Heart, ignoring Elite Protectors) to the end of the third and final tier (572 from H WF Siege), ignoring upgrades.  There should be a reasonable hope of going from 695 in M Furnace to something that’s not too far above 750.  If that hope isn’t borne out and items get stronger than is currently foreseeable, then we will very rapidly have to revisit this discussion.  To match the end of Mists in squish-adjusted terms (the 1.01M mana shown in the bar graph), we’d need to reach ilvl 846, so we’re probably safe in that sense.  However, again, if you were to adjust for reduced spell costs, that number will get smaller.  For example, if you guess that spells only cost 80% of what they used to, so you only need to reach 806,000 mana to have something similar to the Mists feel, that will happen at ilvl 783 (hopefully, still out of reach).

One final interesting aside, which I’m going to leave open for now, is whether the very small impact of the “gear Spirit” term will make Spirit less attractive at low ilvls.  It’s not clear that it will (all other stats follow a similar growth pattern as well), but it’s worth trying to look into further.  A related question would be whether Spirit should have diminishing returns so that it grows linearly rather than exponentially with ilvl (this would be accomplished by having regen be O(log(Spirit))).  That seems like a much more stable growth pattern–in fact, if Spirit worked that way, they would probably not have had to squish it down so hard at the start to keep it under control for the whole expansion.  That might make it difficult to balance against other stats, however.

Conclusion

The most immediate thing you should take away from all this is cementing the notion that the current month of healing is a complete oddity, now with more numbers to help explain it.  Keeping our sights set on level 100 though, this is a fuller explication of what I surmised in the “mana economy” post from Mists, namely, that Spirit growth would not be nearly as pronounced in Warlords.  Absent new items on the order of the Mists meta gem, or unanticipated ilvl increases, we should see only a modest increase in mana supply over the course of the expansion.

Healing Theory: Spirit–Past, Present, and Future

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

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

Overview of Changes

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

Mana Changes

A few other relevant points:

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

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

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

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

Total Mana Availability

Let’s revisit the discussion from the first half of this post, where we computed how much total mana there was to spend in a 6-minute encounter.  There we used a character with a somewhat typical 12,000 Spirit in 5.0.  For 6.0 we’ll use a character with Spirit in the standard 4 slots (2 rings, neck, cloak), and 1 passive Spirit trinket (so you could of course have more or less than this based on trinket choice).

Things are a little different at L90 since we’re still in MoP.  My character, immediately after the squish, now has 481 Spirit.  That’s with Spirit in the standard 4 slots, plus a few leftover gems and an Amp trinket.  That’s probably pretty typical, so we’ll use that.  It also turns out it’s about the same as what you’d get from 4 Spirit items + 1 passive Spirit trinket at ilvl 580, so the comparison to L100 is still good.

At L90 post-squish, my mana in a 6-minute encounter, again in thousands of mana, is:

  • 37 (starting mana)
  • 107 (base regen (1480 MP5) over 6m)
  • 71 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 481 Spirit)
  • 23 (meta gem, evaluated @ 3 Rejuvs (2097 mana) per proc)
  • 6 (potion)
  • Total: 244

What about at L100–let’s say at ilvl 615, corresponding to Normal dungeons and Proving Grounds.  Looking at the relevant items, I’ll have roughly 54 from each of my 4 non-armor slots, and 138 from one trinket, for a total of 354 from gear.  With 784 base Spirit as a Tauren, that’s 1138 Spirit.  So now we’re looking at:

  • 160 (starting mana)
  • 230 (base regen (3200 MP5) over 6m)
  • 169 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 1138 Spirit)
  • 34 (potion)
  • Total: 593

In order to add these new numbers to the previous chart, we have to scale them to account for changes in mana pool size, as discussed above.  Here I’ve scaled them all to correspond to a mana pool size of 160,000:

Mana Bars 6.0

Looking at this, we can see a number of things.

First, remember that despite the disclaimers about comparing Mists to Warlords, the comparison of L90 6.0 to WoD is a perfect apples-to-apples comparison.  You’re using the new spell costs in both cases, and scaling to mana pool size exactly accounts for the changes in spell costs as you go to level 100.  So this is a clear way of seeing how L90 6.0 is not like level 100 Warlords healing (in particular, you can clearly see the effect of the temporary doubling of base regen, the red part of the bar).  Your gross mana availability is nearly double what it would be if it accurately reflected the level 100 experience.  This is the most important factor driving the sheer weirdness of healing between now and the launch of Warlords.

If you want to think about how things have changed since 5.0, this is a good start.  Even ignoring changes in spell costs, you have more mana than you did two weeks ago.  The subjective play experience right now is that you have much more mana than you did two weeks ago.  In late Mists you could throw heals rather freely, but now you can throw expensive filler heals completely at will, and your mana doesn’t even sink much.  This supports the notion that, in the aggregate, spell costs have come down.  Your total mana is only slightly higher in real terms, but in practice you’re far more flush with mana.  This strongly suggests that if we did construct a Consumer Price Index of spell costs and take it into account, the two leftmost bars in the above graph would be compressed further down.

Spirit Increases in Warlords

A major concern many healers have is whether increases in stats from gear, which tend to increase by a huge amount over the course of the expansion, will result in an overly large amount of regen a few tiers from now.  The Mists post I’ve been linking concluded that increase in Mists was more due to the meta gem and other factors than it was to straight Spirit increases.  This suggests that, even if no changes were made from Mists, the situation would be largely under control unless some ill-advised item were added in Warlords that gave healers huge amounts of mana.

It turns out that, even beyond that, other changes in Warlords are further damping the impact of Spirit increases.  Spirit from gear is an even smaller part of the overall mana picture than it was in Mists.  The chart above pools all “Spirit” together, but remember that of the 1138 Spirit at ilvl 615, 784 was the passive Spirit from being a level 100 Tauren.  Only 354 of it was from gear and will increase with ilvl.  That 354 Spirit accounts for only 52,500 mana over 6 minutes.  This is less than 10% of the total mana we had available at that ilvl (593,000).  The entire remainder of your mana supply will be constant.

Spirit from Gear (purple) will increase with ilvl. All other sources will remain constant.

However, the fact remains that stats, including Spirit, increase exponentially with ilvl (at the rate of 15% every 15 ilvls, or doubling every 74.4 ilvls).  And with exponential growth in the picture, we definitely cannot be satisfied with the mere fact that regen looks safe right now; we need to project the future increases in more detail.

I started doing that when I made the bar graph above, and included a column for Warlords at ilvl 695 (corresponding to Mythic gear at the end of the first raid tier).  Consulting Wowhead again, at that point we expect to have 115 Spirit on a non-armor item, and 291 from a trinket.  This results in 751 Spirit from gear, just over twice what we’ll have at ilvl 615 (as expected after an increase of 80 ilvls).  Total mana supply will have gone from 593,000 to 655,000, as was shown in the graph.  So far, nothing concerning.

Extrapolating forward, with the constant sources of mana staying constant and the gear term increasing exponentially, we have something that looks like this:

x-axis is ilvl. y-axis is thousands of mana available in a 6-minute period.  Red line is constant term only, blue line is constant + gear.

The exponential growth is pronounced, but the very small starting size of the gear term means that it doesn’t start to get out of hand until around ilvl 800, hopefully higher than we’ll ever see.  Between 600 and around 750, the growth is small next to the constant term.

Without getting too deep into speculating on Warlords, let’s remember that ilvls in Mists increased by 63 from the end of the first tier (509 from H Terrace/Heart, ignoring Elite Protectors) to the end of the third and final tier (572 from H WF Siege), ignoring upgrades.  There should be a reasonable hope of going from 695 in M Furnace to something that’s not too far above 750.  If that hope isn’t borne out and items get stronger than is currently foreseeable, then we will very rapidly have to revisit this discussion.  To match the end of Mists in squish-adjusted terms (the 1.01M mana shown in the bar graph), we’d need to reach ilvl 846, so we’re probably safe in that sense.  However, again, if you were to adjust for reduced spell costs, that number will get smaller.  For example, if you guess that spells only cost 80% of what they used to, so you only need to reach 806,000 mana to have something similar to the Mists feel, that will happen at ilvl 783 (hopefully, still out of reach).

One final interesting aside, which I’m going to leave open for now, is whether the very small impact of the “gear Spirit” term will make Spirit less attractive at low ilvls.  It’s not clear that it will (all other stats follow a similar growth pattern as well), but it’s worth trying to look into further.  A related question would be whether Spirit should have diminishing returns so that it grows linearly rather than exponentially with ilvl (this would be accomplished by having regen be O(log(Spirit))).  That seems like a much more stable growth pattern–in fact, if Spirit worked that way, they would probably not have had to squish it down so hard at the start to keep it under control for the whole expansion.  That might make it difficult to balance against other stats, however.

Conclusion

The most immediate thing you should take away from all this is cementing the notion that the current month of healing is a complete oddity, now with more numbers to help explain it.  Keeping our sights set on level 100 though, this is a fuller explication of what I surmised in the “mana economy” post from Mists, namely, that Spirit growth would not be nearly as pronounced in Warlords.  Absent new items on the order of the Mists meta gem, or unanticipated ilvl increases, we should see only a modest increase in mana supply over the course of the expansion.

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.

Spreadsheet Updates

Download the current version I used for this post here.

As before, this post can be read on its own, or with the sheet open to look at things in more detail. The spreadsheet has had a lot of additions since last time, to both add a rotation model and to provide a lot of analysis of the effects of spells and talents. It’s had some user-friendliness updates but also is a lot more complicated. I’m going to refrain from giving a full tutorial now—I’m going to be continually building more into it and if I ever get it ready for totally public use I’ll do so then. For now, most of what’s going on is evident from playing with the “Main” tab, where you can set up a character and see the output of the current rotation. The actual workings of the rotations are a bit opaque for now, but they generally work as discussed for each class below.

One of the handy parts of the sheet is that, next to every talent and stat, it shows how much HPS and MP5 they’re adding to the current rotation.

I’ve also replaced the abstract framework using raw spellpower coefficients with one using more traditional stats. HPS and HPM work as you’d expect. Throughout this post, I assume 4000 spellpower from gear, 1000 Spirit, and 600 of each other secondary stat. This is a generous amount of Spirit (more than you’ll have in low gear), but I expect gearing in Warlords to heavily favor it where possible, and it may well be a popular food/flask as well. The only impact of Spirit in the discussion is factoring into the “net MP5 usage” described for each rotation—essentially setting what the zero point is. For reference, spending 5000 net MP5 will drain a full mana bar in 160 seconds; spending 2000 MP5 will do so in 400 seconds.

Druid (and some further explanation of the methods)

With all filler time on Healing Touch, this rotation clocks in at 44.7k HPS while burning 4353 MP5 (net mana drain including regen). This is actually a slightly more aggressive approach than it looks. Druid burns a lot of mana on its rotational spells due to Rejuv and Swiftmend, and does a significant amount of baseline healing (Swiftmend is actually a poor addition to the rotation on its own, but it enables SotF). So we’re going to use less filler heals to compensate. If we cut to 50% filler time on HT (and the rest unused), we’re at 34.9k HPS for only 1610 MP5.

Rather than typing out more individual cases, we can plot the whole variation on a graph:

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.51.41 AM

The leftmost part is where we slide from spending 0% of our open time on HT up to 100%. Then after the kink, we start replacing HT with RG. Because HT is a very good spell, the efficiency of added mana is strong earlier on while we have time to add in more HT, but then drops quite a bit when we need even more healing and the only way to get it is to replace them with RG.

(I will not show this individual graph for each class; I used this one to illustrate the concept. However, at the end of the post is a combined one showing all healers, so if you want to refer to that as you look through the classes, it might help put the numbers you read in perspective.)

Note that we have built the graph from the end of part 6 in a concrete case with actual numbers. Neat! The only important difference is that the current graph is measuring net mana consumption including Spirit regen, so “0 mana usage” here refers to what you can do while holding steady on mana, not to what you can do without spending mana at all. It’s only a visual difference, with the y-axis being further to the right in this case. I took Spirit regen into account here to help relate these numbers to your mana usage in practice, and to better account for talents that affect regen.

Back to Druids. You’ll see when we get to other classes that these numbers are good. Most classes can build a reasonable rotation of around 30k HPS with little net mana use, but getting up to 45k HPS without resorting to excessive mana use is beyond every other healer besides Monk. While it’s true that Druid is strong, there are a few important components to note here:

  • Living Seed. Around 12% of the healing in the all-HT rotation is from Living Seed. Whether you get full value from this depends on how well the Seed is utilized when spamming HT nonstop on a tank.
  • 2 talents, Germination and especially SotF, are very strong in this context. In a very efficient rotation, they can add over 20% output by increasing Rejuv healing so much.

Any way to look at it, Druid is very strong on a single target. Being able to reach 25k HPS without spending any mana on direct heals, due to the strength of Lifebloom and Rejuv and the talents that boost Rejuv, gives it a very high baseline.

Disc

The first issue with Disc single-target is, as hinted in the previous post, its relative helplessness without Clarity of Will. Filling with Heal can get to a decent mana-neutral rotation for 22.5k HPS, but mixing in Flash Heal increases the mana burn rate rapidly for a modest gain, topping out at a maximum of 30.7k HPS for a full burn of about 8900 MP5 (switching to Surge of Light for this purpose).

There’s actually very little Disc can do to improve on pure CoW spam (35k HPS), and those improvements come in terms of efficiency. Technically adding PWS is a small throughput increase if you account for Borrowed Time into a 2.5s cast, but at half the efficiency of CoW it’s not attractive to add in (the prior post discussed some problems with the costing of instants). Penance, inversely, is a small throughput loss compared to CoW, but very cheap, so it’s some free mana savings. Mixing in Holy Fire and Smite (some weak casts) to allow Archangel is also an HPS wash that saves significant mana. It saves even more mana by allowing full value from the PW:Solace talent.

So we can actually build a very efficient rotation, but it tops out at 32.8k HPS (spending only 1264 MP5). This is actually similar to what Druid could do for a similar low mana cost. This is fine so far, but the Druid can extend much higher, while Disc spells just don’t have the single-target throughput needed to provide that option. Due to the mana return from Solace and the efficiency of Penance, Disc can even do reasonable healing at zero net mana use (at the 1000 Spirit used for this post), reaching about 26.5k HPS.

Holy

At an efficient mix between the two filler options, this rotation produces 35k HPS for 3196 MP5. That’s a pretty nice place to be, though not as efficient as the Druid for similar healing. Surge of Light is very strong in a context with heavy Heal and Flash Heal use.

There’s not too much to say about this one. There’s no one overly strong spell, but Serendipity and Surge of Light together allow for good mana savings while mixing in nontrivial amounts of Flash Heal. This lets throughput reach pretty standard levels without high mana use.

I’ve left out Saving Grace, even though it can improve the average rotation, since I’m not sure that’s a realistic usage model. The talent’s a little odd right now because the stacking debuff encourages you to use it very rigidly, casting 3-4 times and then letting the debuff fall off (you never want to restack the debuff anytime other than immediately after the previous SG). I’m not sure this is the desired outcome for the talent. I’ve similarly left off the Level 90 talents, which can technically be slight throughput increases on a single-target, since they’re inefficient for this purpose and are usually used for other things.

Paladin

Because the EF direct heal is comparatively stronger than before, and there’s Empowered Beacon of Light, it’s better to recast on the tank every time you have 3HP than to blanket around the raid (for this purpose). One EF rolling on yourself adds a very small amount overall. Sacred Shield is almost as good on a single target, and both talents have a lot more value when you consider multiple targets, so this will be an interesting comparison in group healing models. Selfless Healer is generally useless to Holy in its current form.

I added Stay of Execution even though I’m not usually including things with medium or long cooldowns, since it’s a talent whose explicit purpose is single-target.

Another class with some difficulty keeping up. Like Disc, Paladin can do a solid amount (25k HPS) for free, in this case because it has some very cheap spells (and Glyph of Illumination, which now is almost always a net benefit). But similarly, Flash of Light can’t push you higher with any decent efficiency. Much of the strength here is the Paladin’s baseline cheap Holy Power generation from Holy Shock and Holy Light, and cashing that out into Word of Glory on the tank. Upgrading the Holy Lights to Flash of Lights at significant cost is not a huge gain, since you spend a lot of extra mana but aren’t getting much more Holy Power. Even going up to 6000 MP5 spent or higher will only get to around 30k HPS.

Unlike Disc, Paladin is not quite as bad as it looks here, because by focusing on one target we ignore the benefit of Beacon (other than through the perk). In real situations, nonstop Beacon flow from all your group healing will cut into the needed healing on the tank, making the lower throughput more acceptable when you do heal them directly. But if you’re behind on one target and need to pour heals into them aggressively, it will be harder.

One caveat is that this does not account for cooldowns, and Avenging Wrath is a far stronger single-target throughput cooldown than anyone else has. If situations where heavy burst throughput is required only occasionally, a Paladin can actually cover them quite easily. This might ameliorate the disadvantage of having trouble maintaining heavy throughput on a single target. Not to mention there is also Lay on Hands for serious problems, which is a much bigger deal than it used to be, now that HP bars are so large relative to heal size.

Shaman

Shaman is a little tricker than most to set up in a “pure single-target” model, because on only one target, you have no reason to Riptide more than once every 18 seconds, or to Chain Heal ever. This means that your filler heals don’t all have Tidal Waves, whereas in most realistic situations you’ll at least be using enough Riptide to have Tidal Waves whenever you cast on the tank. I experimented a bit with including Riptides on off-targets in the model (most reasonable way to do this seemed to be counting their healing done and mana cost to both be 0), just to produce Tidal Waves. This is mostly a wash in the end so I didn’t include it.

Earth Shield is also tricky to model. I chose a somewhat arbitrary refresh time (18 seconds) and assumed 100% uptime. It turns out that the per-cast HPCT and HPM for the Earth Shield cast itself are reasonably close to neutral for the whole rotation (specifically, pretty similar to Healing Wave), so things don’t change much if you have to refresh more or less often. And it’s a big healing increase simply to have it on there. If it gets eaten rapidly, the constant GCDs to refresh could be awkward, but the numbers come out pretty even in any case. If gets eaten so fast that you can’t reasonably keep it up, you’ll lose some output.

Finally, I didn’t include Healing Rain. It can add a a little throughput on a single target due to the Perk, but is quite expensive for this. I also don’t want to dash Shamans’ hopes for Warlords quite yet, so I’m maintaining the possibility that there can be situations where you don’t cast Healing Rain.

With all that explanation, Shaman come out average or slightly below. A Healing Wave-only filler rotation (except for Unleashed Fury, which is always used on HS) nets 29.2k HPS for 2847 MP5. It is worth pointing out that, similar to the Paladin case, you’ll mix in some non-tank healing in the real world, and some of that will come essentially free (because, as mentioned above, Riptides on other targets cancel out their own time and mana cost through Tidal Waves, leaving the tank healing unchanged). So only counting healing on one target ignores some amount of potential output. Moreover, the Healing Rains and Healing Stream Totems that the Shaman is using in any group situation (not included here), will contribute to tank throughput a little as well.

Like Druid and Paladin, mixing in the expensive heal comes at a steep cost, because the basic heal is reasonably good and the expensive heal is only a marginal improvement. Shaman can output near 40,000 HPS with a heavy mana burn but still won’t reach Druid and Monk levels.

Monk

The most unusual single-target rotation. The backbone of the huge efficiency of the Monk setup is nonstop Soothing Mist, which continues even while using more expensive filler heals. Note that this model benefits from one very favorable assumption, which is that your Statue is also Soothing the tank. It quite reasonable that this will often be the case when healing on a single target matters, but it is not controllable. Because so much of the strength of this rotation comes from using Soothing as often as possible, removing the Statue bonus would lose on the order of 20% of the healing. One other generous assumption here is that mastery spheres from the single-target heals are fully counted. That wasn’t worth trying to dig into further since it only accounts for 3-4% of the healing (single-target heals don’t produce as many spheres as AoE heals).

Finally, it’s rather hard to account for the GCDs used restarting Soothing Mist, since you have to do so every time you interrupt to cast certain spells, and you get an inconsistent amount of Soothing time per GCD used. I actually ignored this problem for now (as well as the GCDs used on Mana Tea), meaning that if you crank filler usage up to 100%, you get a nonphysical rotation that uses too many GCDs. This is fine, since Surging is such an expensive filler that 100% use isn’t a very important case anyway. Monk (with the assumptions mentioned above) surpasses the other healers in throughput even at much lower filler usage.

Monk starts out at a strong baseline. Even with no Surging Mist use, Monk can manage 29.7k HPS and remain mana-neutral or slightly positive. This is with nonstop Soothing Mist (stopping only to cast Expel Harm and Chi Wave), and Enveloping Mist only using the Chi from Expel Harm and Chi Brew.

Adding in Surging Mist adds healing quickly and not too inefficiently, due to the powerful Enveloping Mists they enable you to cast more of. Enveloping Mist has great value when you’re already Soothing most of the time, which in this model there’s no reason not to be. It will become a little less effective in real-world situations where you have to stop Soothing to cast other things more often, but only marginally. By adding Surgings, Monk can pass 50k HPS, higher than anyone besides a Regrowth-using Druid, at a mana cost that that’s not at all outlandish, 6882 MP5.

So Monk is clearly very strong. It’s hard to say exactly how strong, because they are benefiting from some helpful assumptions (most importantly that the Statue is always assisting you). The message is still clear that Soothing and Enveloping are two of the best tank heals, a fact which will remain even when you have to spend some of your time healing other targets. And even when the Statue is healing someone else, or the tank’s not getting mastery spheres, they are still providing value by doing effective healing on other targets. Monks exemplify a theme in these single-target rotations that applies to almost all classes: leaning as much you can on your efficient baseline heals (e.g. using them often even when the tank’s almost full) will go a long way towards overall efficiency in the long run.

Synthesis

To start with, here is a graph summarizing the HPS/MP5 numbers for all the rotations discussed above.

HT10 Graph

I put this at the end because it’s best looked at with a full understanding of what it means for each class: what spells/talents are included, and what assumptions are needed for a single-target model that work for or against the class. The relative position of the classes is generally anticipated by the comments above, but this helps to see it all at once. To restate the most notable patterns:

  • Druid and Monk can push higher HPS than anyone else, in both cases at reasonable cost. This has to do with HoTs primarily.
  • Paladin struggles to do much on a single target; they really need to be using Beacon to get value out of their heals. Even that won’t be a massive increase (especially since Holy Light and Flash of Light are cast on the Beacon anyway).
  • Disc can get to reasonable point somewhat efficiently through CoW spam, but has almost no other relevant options.
  • Holy seems like a very solid example of what a class should look like. There’s an efficient and mana-neutral option that gets you pretty far using Heal alone, and mixing in Flash Heal provides meaningful added returns for the extra mana. Note how the slope of the right half of the Holy line is steeper than Druid, Paladin, and Shaman, showing that Holy gets better value for added mana spent.
  • Shaman is weaker than Holy but stronger than Paladin (although not quite as efficient), subject to the difficulty of modeling Tidal Waves. Of the two healers in the middle, I like Holy’s mana vs. HPS tradeoff slightly better (in terms of good choices for gameplay).

Finally, note that the classes performing best (Druid and Monk) are there largely because of a more Mists-like rotation, with high baseline HPS and then more optional filler heals. The classes with no or almost no strong rotational heals to build on (Disc) are the ones languishing.

All of the above should suggest some spell tweaks to help with class balance. For this post I’ve spent a lot of time (and words) simply doing the analysis of 6 classes, so I don’t have detailed tuning proposals, but I think the things you’d focus on most are:

  • Possibly too strong: Soothing Mist, Enveloping Mist, Healing Touch, Soul of the Forest, Surge of Light
  • Possibly too weak: Penance, Power Word: Shield, Holy Fire, Flash Heal, Flash of Light

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot to discuss even on a seemingly narrow part of the healing world—only healing one target. Starting here was good, because the mana dynamics are complex, and we’ll need the robust framework to go into the even more openended world of analyzing multi-target healing. I’m looking forward to it, and hope this has been an informative look at the healing classes of Warlords so far.

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.

Background

The focus of this post is how to measure a spell damage value in-game, but I should give at least an outline of what to do with that information once you get it.

Take your measured value and divide by your spellpower or attackpower, and you have your coefficient (including any modifiers). If it matches the Wowhead data, or the Wowhead data plus the modifers you know about (20% from a Draenor Perk is common), then everything checks out and you’re done. Otherwise, you’re looking at a modifier you don’t know about, a bug, an incorrect tooltip, or something else.

2 brief points just in case they help people:

  • Some passives don’t show up in the spellbook any longer (typically, ones that do nothing but give passive bonuses), but they usually show up in the “Specialization” tab on Wowhead (a submenu under “Spells”).
  • Checking the tooltip in-game can help track down discrepancies (unless it turns out to be a case where it’s entirely wrong). Since the Wowhead data is itself from tooltips, if you know all the modifiers that should be included, they should always match. If the game tooltip is what you expect after taking bonuses into account, but your observed damage/heals are different, then the client tooltip data is wrong and you can’t rely on it. If the game tooltip differs what you’d expect based on the Wowhead tooltip, the game one factoring in a bonus that you don’t know about.

Weapon-based attacks are a little more complicated, but I won’t run through that all here.

Spell Ranges

For spells with constant damage/healing (such as HoTs and DoTs), taking the in-game measurement is easy; you only have to look at one tick. Also, many non-DoT spells have constant damage/healing right now, since they no longer have base values like they used to (it’s just coefficient*spellpower, both constants). It looks like there’s a system for artificially re-inserting variance like there used to be, but it’s not done or not used everywhere yet.

But how do you measure the average damage/healing when it’s not constant? The average is what you want, because 1) when you need to compute a spellpower coefficient, that’s what you want to start from, and 2) when you’re actually making a model, you typically only care about average damage values.  The instinct is to take a large data set with a lot of casts, and take the mean.

An Abnormal Distribution

Why is that the instinct? Probably because it would be correct in nearly any real-world context. If you’re scientifically-trained, or have done statistics in basically any other context, it’s probably second nature to process a large set of measurements by taking their mean (and possibly standard deviation) and going from there. It may never even have occurred to you to do anything else.

However, the reason we do that rests on an assumption–one that’s so universal in the real world that it’s rarely worth thinking about: the assumption that measurements of uncertain phenomena are normally distributed. The “normal distribution” is a specific statistical distribution that earned that name because of its ubiquity. What makes the normal distribution special is the Central Limit Theorem, which states that when you combine a large number of identical probability distributions, a normal distribution results (I’ll defer to the wikipedia article for a less abbreviated summary of how that works).

normal_distribution_500x263

WoW spells, however, do not follow a normal distribution. Nor are they (like many real-world measurements) an aggregate of microscopic phenomena that, regardless of the behavior of each individual molecule, aggregates to a normal distribution due to the Central Limit Theorem. They follow a predictable, known, artificial distribution: a perfectly uniform spread between the min and max values.

Random_Uniform_Distribution

What this means is that when playing the role of the scientist, looking at data and trying to figure out what the underlying behavior is, we have a huge advantage. We know the exact form of the phenomenon we’re observing, and all we’re missing is two numbers: the min and the max. Get those, and we know the complete underlying distribution with full precision.

The Upshot

Which brings to the thesis of this post. When you attack a target dummy 10 or even 100 times, there are only two trials you need to record: the min and the max observed values. The rest is quite irrelevant (which is logical: if you’ve seen a hit for 100 and a hit for 120, then a hit for 119 adds literally zero information to what you know about the spell*). In both cases, the mean value of the spell that you should put in your spreadsheet is 110.

It’s interesting to think about why this is different if you measuring something in a real-world scientific experiment. There, if you’d measured 100 and then 120, your best estimate of the true mean value would be 110. And then when you measured 119 on the next trial, your updated estimate would be the mean of 100, 120, and 119, which is 113. If those were the only three trials you did (bad procedure, I know), your best information going forward would be that the true value is 113.

So the difference is quite material. In the WoW setting, taking that extra step of averaging in the 119 data point is not only unnecessary work (possibly substantially so, depending on how much data you’re taking), but it’s also incorrect.

*Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that, maybe it at least allows a secondary inference of how close to the true min and max you’ve gotten so far. For example if you get 100, 120, and a whole bunch of 118-119’s, that’s not evidence that the 120 is less likely to be maximal. That’s your intuition for normal distributions talking.

Conclusion

There are two potential audiences for this post. The first are people who already did this intuitively when measuring WoW spells. I was in this category for while before thinking about the statistic rationale. For them, I hope it was interesting to stop and focus on this odd method of taking data that feels like a shortcut (glancing through numbers for the min and max and ignoring the rest). Specifically, how it’s a product of the way that games generate random events and how it differs from the way that nature generally does The other are people who are making WoW spreadsheets and can hopefully save some time and effort with this explanation.

In any event, I’m glad all the talk about theorycraft on beta prompted me to write this down. I do want to be better about writing down things I think about when working on WoW projects, especially when the topic has a little math intrigue. Hopefully there will be more to come.

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.

Basic Direct Heals

Each class’s pair of single-target direct heals is meant to be a bigger part of gameplay in 6.0.  First is the “efficient” heal. Here’s how they look with the balanced stat array used in the sheet:

When you look only at basic, efficient, single target spam, Druid has the nicest spell (although its advantage is mostly due to Living Seed), and Disc and Paladin have the weakest. These numbers are of course out of any context of the remainder of a class’s toolkit which may affect tank healing, but they’re a starting point. The “fast” heals are worth adding before going further:

  • Regrowth (glyphed): 46 HPM, 8.51 HPCT (unglyphed RG is slightly better per-cast, but can’t be spammed effectively).
  • Regrowth (glyphed) without counting Living Seed: 31 HPM, 5.67 HPCT
  • Flash Heal (Holy): 49 HPM, 6.86 HPCT (Assumes every 3rd cast is a Heal due to Serendipity)
  • Flash Heal (Disc): 34 HPM, 6.32 HPCT. But Disc has a better spammable tank heal:
  • Clarity of Will: 80 HPM, 6.79 HPCT
  • 3xFlash of Light + Word of Glory: 37 HPM, 5.12 HPCT (HPM goes up to 46 if you replace one of the FoLs with a Holy Shock).
  • Healing Surge: 44 HPM, 7.60 HPCT (with Tidal Waves)
  • 3xSurging Mist + Enveloping Mist: 85 HPM, 10.14 HPCT (While Soothing)

As before, comparisons aren’t exactly apples-to-apples, since different classes use these spells in different ways and have other tools that supplement them (some discussed more below). But the basic numbers are helpful to look at. Glyphed Regrowth holds its own in the most optimistic assumption that Living Seed is always fully utilized, but is very inefficient otherwise.

Disc has a lot of difficulty healing a tank efficiently except for the Clarity of Will talent, which is currently very effective. Worth noting that while most classes have other tools such as HoTs that will supplement the heals shown here, Disc has nothing that adds HPS to a single target when worked in (Power Word: Shield and Penance are both lower HPCT than Flash Heal or CoW spam). PWS can add slight net HPCT if you Borrowed Time into a 2.5s spell, but is very inefficient.

The winner in this category is Monk, who can spit out solid healing in 4 GCDs with 3 Surgings and an Enveloping (the HPM value does take into account the later recoupment of Mana Tea). It’s not quite that simple, since you made need a GCD to set up by starting a Soothing on the target, and around half the heal is in the form of a HoT that you cast last so the heal’s somewhat spread out (but you may well have Chi coming in). But in the Warlords world, efficiency and the total output of a cast is more important than small shifts in heal timing. The HPCT is slightly misleading since it includes 30% of 6 seconds’ worth of Soothing Mist, which requires staying on the target for longer than the 4-5 GCDs to cast all this (for reference, it’s at a solid 8.57 HPCT without that).

Paladin is the trickiest case for looking at spam heals without any context. Talents will typically add a constant HoT on the tank from either Eternal Flame or Sacred Shield. If you assume those have 100% uptime, the value of Holy Power in a tank healing context is the value of the Word of Glory. An interesting fact that can be verified in the sheet, which is a change from 5.0, is that 50% of the total healing from an EF (i.e. an EF transferred from Beacon) is less than the full upfront healing from the Word of Glory portion only. The HoT is less than half the total value of an EF now, and in addition, a direct cast on tank benefits from mastery and gets 10% from Empowered Beacon of Light. So if your sole goal is to the heal the tank, it is better to cast each WoG directly on them than to blanket EFs around the raid. So a reasonable way to look at a tank-spam filler heal is to check the 3HL-WoG and 3FoL-WoG units, as I did above, and they both come in somewhat unimpressive on the HPCT front. They will gain a lot of efficiency in real raiding situations, when Beacon can be leveraged probably (which it can’t in these examples), but their ability to pull a tank’s HP up rapidly is limited.

AoE Heals

AoE heals are a little bit simpler to look at, because they can often be evaluated as standalone casts. Their use does depend on the number of available targets and in some cases the positioning, but the best case is reasonably clear due to their target limits. A few of the most important high-throughput options that each affect 5 or 6 targets:

The obvious standout here is Wild Growth. In a recent beta patch (18297) its healing and mana cost were increased by factor of around 4, making it the most AoE healing from one cast by far (except for some less rotational spells like Light’s Hammer). Its mana cost is pretty typical for the healing done, but being able to do that much from one cast is still an advantage. It is a particular advantage for Druids who leverage powerful buffs that affect “one cast”, Clearcasting and Soul of the Forest (the Swiftmend-WG combo, with SotF, is 132 HPM and 41.8 HPCT). One way or another, Wild Growth should likely come down from its current position, if only because it’s too asymmetrical. That said, a larger than average heal is reasonable since the spell is limited both in being a HoT and having a cooldown (unlike most others here). The only other similar one, Healing Rain, also has a high heal per cast to show for it. When heavy AoE heals are in order, other classes can cast multiple spells consecutively if needed, but Wild Growth and Healing Rain will only be cast once.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Prayer of Healing, which is quite mediocre even after having its heal and mana cost recently doubled. Prayer of Healing is a spell I’d always hoped to see redesigned due to its anachronistic group-based mechanic, but so far the only nod to that is Holy Priests’ ability to replace it with Clarity of Purpose for a position-based AoE heal. Nevertheless, Prayer, while spammable, rates poorly on the efficiency scale and has little to show for it. Holy Priests still fare quite well because of Circle of Healing always being the first cast before you start having to spend on PoH. Furthermore, Holy has Binding Heal which is far more mana-friendly than it ever was, allowing a BH-BH-PoH combo that adds a lot of efficiency (up to 86 HPM and 11.58 HPCT with Glyph of Binding Heal).

Disc currently languishes in AoE healing with its efficiency option being Holy Nova (clocking in at 55 HPM and 3.51 HPCT).  However, I suspect that it was oversight for Holy Nova to not have its healing doubled when PoH and CoH did in the last build. At 110 and 7.02 on a no-cooldown heal, it will be a solid option whenever the positioning requirements allow. Disc will lack a good higher-throughput cast. The overall strength of PoH is likely fine when Archangel is used well, but the mana cost might need some help.

Monks come in just slightly behind on burst AoE throughput, with Uplift itself accomplishing up to 9.48 HPCT when used on 8 targets, and that’s ignoring where you get the Chi from. Fortunately, Spinning Crane Kick is a reasonably efficient spammable AoE heal and Chi generator, allowing ongoing AoE similar to casting PoH. But the numbers are below average, and the flexibility is poor with the uncontrolled nature of Uplift. Thunder Focus Tea will help slightly but it still rather inflexible in how it adds healing.

Miscellaneous Heals

The above was far from every important heal, but a sampling of reasonably comparable heals from the various classes. What I want to do for the rest of this first post is survey the chart for anything that’s interesting or stands out.

Lifebloom‘s bloom is currently 6 times what the spell data lists. 3 times is expected since they recently condensed what used to be 3 LB casts into one cast. I’m not sure what the other 2 is, and at any rate, the bloom might be need to be smaller than thrice the previous bloom. It’s currently quite a lot of healing for one GCD and no cost, albeit with a delay. I’m not too concerned about the apparently huge HPM numbers–high HPM can be a little misleading on spells that are limited in use, such as cooldowns or Lifebloom’s target restriction (if that’s not apparent, recall that some spells are free but not overpowered). However, the particular case of glyphed Lifebloom is 2.091 HPCD for no appreciable mana cost. (I haven’t discussed HPCD much but it means that using it on cooldown is equivalent to someone doing 2.091 HPS nonstop on average). This is far higher than 0.873 ticking HPS of the HoT ticking on its own; adding that 1.2 rotational tank HPS is probably not the intended use of Glyph of Blooming.

One point covering a few spells is that instant casts lose some of their value in the Warlords world. Compared to a 1.5s cast, an instant shifts the timing of the heal by a GCD (the beginning of a GCD vs. the start) but doesn’t change the HPCT. This only matters when the target dies during the GCD, which is more of a frequent concern in Mists than Warlords. Otherwise, there is little reason to spend extra mana or burden a spell with a cooldown to make that heal happen 1.5 seconds sooner. Movement is a possibility, but unlike DPS you don’t have to do something while moving; there’s much less compulsion spend mana on an inefficient spell. Swiftmend (41 HPM, 7.92 HPCT) and Power Word: Shield (43 HPM, 5.66), both come in about even with inefficient spammable heal options. This is a little odd for spells bearing cooldowns. It may be an attempt to shift away from having as many “rotational” heals, but their use is somewhat limited if they exist mainly to produce gameplay from the excitement of saving someone from near death.

Earth Shield‘s current behavior is that there’s no ICD on the use of charges, so it gets consumed quickly. This means that maintaining 100% uptime eats a lot of GCDs, and the spell’s stats as a cast in its own right (45 HPM, 5.01 HPCT) matter more than they used to. It’s a weak spell for the healing it does, so its only value is the 20% heal buff. This is good as always, but now that it falls off easily, it may well not be worth spending a GCD on recasting during busy moments.

Unleashed Fury combines with Healing Surge to make a huge tank heal (especially given HS’s 40% crit buff from Tidal Waves). UF’s 95% buff to one cast amounts to a free direct heal for no extra time, with only a 15 second cooldown. This can jump a tank’s HP upwards quickly when needed, or simply act as free rotational HPS.

Chain Heal is very weak (52 HPM, 3.72 HPCT with Riptide and Perk). I could have mentioned that in the AoE section, but I think it should to come up. There might be some concern about a spammable smart heal after the smart heal reductions in Warlords, but right now it’s not attractive to cast over even single-target heals. High Tide helps, but still leaves it as a mediocre Uplift–not what you want from a L100 talent (92 HPM, 6.56 HPCT on a Riptide target + 5 others).

I haven’t touched on damage-heals much. Smite is very weak (23 HPM, 1.41 HPCT), with its use having shifting almost entirely into building Evangelism stacks rather than doing healing of its own. This is good gameplay on its face–use Smite during lulls to set up Archangel, but don’t cast it when you actually need healing. The numbers on Archangel use will be better evaluated in the context of full rotational analysis later, but it’s a little concerning to have to cast 5 such inefficient spells to get it (even Holy Fire is 64 HPM, 2.55 HPCT). While I prefer this Archangel-oriented setup for the Atonement spells, because it’s a nice way to keep the mechanic while making the smart healing unimportant, we have to check that it’s not a trap with current numbers.

The one healing rotation that hasn’t been mentioned so far is the Crane Stance Mistweaver. Simply put, it does not do much healing right now. It’s not totally firm what the expectation is for this stance since it’s new, but in the past they’ve gone for around 50% healing and 50% DPS output from a meleeing Monk. The cheap filler rotation, JabTiger Palm is 29 HPM, 0.71 HPCT with all of Crane Stance’s buffs ramped up. Autoattacks add around 0.61 HPS to this, and free Surging Mists every 5 combos adds around that much again. So you can view Crane managing around 2 HPCT with the filler spells, which is approaching half of a normal healer’s “weak” filler heal. Even though this isn’t a full rotation analysis, a quick look at the HPCT of Crane’s bigger heal (1.51 for Rising Sun Kick) shows it’s not going to improve that average. Blackout Kick manages 3.08 HPCT for an AoE heal, well under half of Uplift for the same Chi. Exacerbating this is that Spinning Crane Kick now does very little healing (2.01 HPCT) and Crackling Jade Lightning is extremely expensive, so getting Chi in Crane punishes you heavily in terms of mana. This may in the end be worse than the very low healing output, since it’s a resource loss that stays with you when you shift back into Serpent Stance. It’s possible that regardless of throughput, the efficiency of melee heals can’t be that terrible or else using them will be too much of a tradeoff against even your normal healing ability.

Conclusion

This was my first effort at synthesizing the large amount of information in the sheet into broad comparisons across the healing classes. I plan to keep going with it, in particular to start adding more rotations to move beyond looking at single spells at a time. You can see some of that happening already in this post, but most of the work so far has merely gone into the spell table. I did not realize when I started how it would be (thanks again to Dayani for providing another set of eyes on nearly the entire thing by this point). But it’s gotten me to where I wanted to start for Warlords analysis, with the time put in up front to organize all this spell information in a way that facilitates future analysis. This is the first output from that process, but I’m looking forward to adding more as beta continues.

Behavior of DoTs and Haste in Warlords of Draenor

Among the various bits of mechanical info that’s been revealed about Warlords is the fact DoTs and HoTs will no longer have “haste breakpoints” and will no longer “snapshot” your stats at cast time. Celestalon has mentioned this a few times on twitter and frequently responded to questions about it. Since a lot of people seem to have questions on how the math of this breakpoint-less system will work, I want to to explain some of the behavior that will result from this. First, a brief history of this whole problem.

Current System: Haste Breakpoints and Rounding

Before Cataclysm, haste generally did not affect the rate of DoT ticks. There were a few exceptions, such as the Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation that caused the tick rate of Rejuvenation to be affected by haste. But this did so by shortening the total duration of the HoT and keeping the number of ticks constant, so it didn’t have to address the big question of DoTs and haste: what do to with the fractional ticks that appear when you do this?

When Cataclysm introduced a general mechanic whereby DoT ticks would be accelerated by haste, it handled this problem by changing the duration of the DoT, rounding it to the nearest integer number of ticks.

To work an example: say a DoT has a 12-second duration and a tick period of 3 seconds. Unhasted, when you cast the DoT, a 12-second debuff appears on the target, and the 4th tick will occur exactly as the debuff expires. If you add 25% haste, the tick period will decrease to 2.4 seconds (3/1.25). Since 5 ticks at 2.4 seconds is exactly 12, you will still get a 12-second debuff when you cast the DoT, and now it will be the 5th tick that occurs as the debuff expires. But what if you only had 20% haste? Now the tick period is 2.5 seconds (3/1.2). Since there is no system in place for handling partial ticks, the game can either give you:

  • A 4-tick DoT that lasts 10 seconds, or
  • A 5-tick DoT that lasts 12.5 seconds.

In fact, you get the latter. The game rounds to the closest whole number of ticks, and since in this example, the 5-tick option is closer to the default duration of 12, that’s what you get.

Finally, if you had 12.5% haste, the tick rate would be 2.667. So a 4-tick DoT would be 10.67 seconds, and a 5-tick DoT would be 13.33 seconds. These are equidistant from 12, and this is the oft-discussed “breakpoint.” At any higher amount of haste, you get 5 ticks, and at any lower amount, you get 4.

DoThaste1

A few important results of this:

  • The damage done with a single cast jumps up at the breakpoint, as you probably already understand. But hopefully this clarified why the breakpoint has to exist in the current system.
  • The DoT duration went all over the place: it started at 12, then went down under 11, then up over 13, then back to 12. In fact, it follows a sawtooth pattern, as shown in the graph below.
  • The tick period decreases steadily and smoothly. This does mean that if you continuously maintain a DoT, the DPS it does increases smoothly. However, the frequency with which you have to spend a GCD refreshing the DoT depends on its duration, and that behaves erratically, as discussed.
DoThaste2

A related issue is what happens when you refresh a DoT while it’s ticking. Pre-Catalysm, you would start a fully new DoT and lose the remaining portion of the previous. Starting in Cataclysm, you get the next tick of the old DoT, and then the full duration of the new DoT. So the window to refresh a DoT with zero loss of uptime is the final tick period of each DoT. Warlocks, due to Pandemic, have a much longer window–half the length of a DoT.

Finally, since the computation of a DoT’s duration must be made at the time of cast or refresh, it has to snapshot your haste at that time. There’s no way to update the tick period on the fly when the duration is precomputed to be a whole number of ticks and there’s no system for handling a partial tick.

The Warlords System: Smooth Scaling with Haste

So the two mains goals for a revision in Warlords were:

  • Eliminate haste breakpoints, because, especially with the removal of reforging, they cause a lot of gearing confusion, and
  • Eliminate DoT snapshotting, which was seen as introducing too much of a skill gap in some classes, and also imposing a UI requirement.

The one new piece of tech that makes both of these possible is, as you may have guessed, partial DoT ticks. What exactly is a “partial DoT tick”?

When a DoT expires, it will do a partial tick of damage based on how much time had elapsed since the previous full tick.

So if a DoT had been ticking every 2 seconds, and it ticks with 3 seconds remaining in the duration, it will give a full tick with 1 second remaining. Then, when the debuff expires, the DoT will see that 1 second (half of a tick period) has elapsed since the previous full tick, and will give a tick of half the usual strength.

And that’s actually all. Partial ticks are simply a way of reconciling the fact that the DoT itself doesn’t necessarily end at the exact moment a tick occurs. Once there’s a way for the DoT duration to end whenever it ends, rather than ensuring it happens on a tick, there’s complete flexibility to vary DoT tick timing as needed to accomplish the goals above. To focus on one important point, even though the partial tick only happens if the DoT falls off, this does still affect you if you continuously refresh a DoT, because the initial duration of the DoT no longer changes with your haste. The example below should make this clear.

One other point to discuss before examples is how refreshing will work. When the “final tick” of a DoT will usually be a partial tick of any length, the system of requiring a refresh in the final tick period doesn’t work as well anymore. What Blizzard has suggested is that they will give everyone a mechanic like Pandemic, although at some percentage lower than 50% (possibly 30%). So your window to refresh a DoT without any loss of uptime will be 30% of the duration, regardless of the tick interval.

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 4.19.15 PM

Examples

Basic example: with our 12-second DoT with a 3-second tick period from above. At 0 haste or 25% haste, the behavior will be the same as above (putting aside changing haste or clipping), since you already had a whole number of ticks. But at 20% haste (2.5 second tick time), the new system will become clear. When you cast the DoT, a 12-second debuff will appear on the target, ticking every 2.5 seconds, as opposed to the 12.5-second debuff you’d get in the current system. The 4th tick will happen after 10 seconds, and there will be 2 seconds remaining. If you do not refresh, then after those two seconds, the DoT will expire, doing a partial tick that is 80% as strong as a regular tick (2/2.5 = 0.8).

Example with added ticks: Now you’re under the effect of Bloodlust and some other procs, and are up to 60% haste. The number of ticks you’d expect for one cast, from a default of 4 ticks, is 4*1.6 = 6.4 ticks. So you will get 6 full ticks, exactly as under the current system, but now there will be a new partial tick at 40% strength as the DoT expires. Under the new system, haste does still add full DoT ticks, but it doesn’t add them all at once at certain points. More haste will add increasing fractions of the next tick, until it’s created a whole new tick, and then start adding fractions of the subsequent tick.

Example with refresh: Back to the initial example with 20% haste, say you refresh anytime in the last 3.6 seconds of the initial DoT (30% of the 12-second duration). Then the DoT will be extended by 12 seconds, so it will be set to expire 24 seconds after the initial cast. The 4th tick will happen at 10 seconds after initial cast as before. But now no partial tick will happen at 12s (since the DoT is not expiring), and the 5th tick will happen right on schedule at 12.5s. Ticks will continue to happen at 15, 17.5, 20, and 22.5. Then when the DoT expires at 24s, 1.5s after the previous full tick, you will get a tick worth 60% of full value.

Note what has happened in total: you’ve cast the DoT 2 times and spent 2 GCDs. The DoT was on the target for 24.0 seconds (twice the default duration). You got 9.6 ticks’ worth of damage. This is exactly right, as you cast a DoT with a default 4 ticks, twice, with 20% haste. 4*2*1.2 = 9.6.

Example with changing haste: Same example as the previous, but after 15 seconds, your haste decreases from 20% to 11.1%, increasing your tick interval from 2.5 to 2.7 seconds. So after the tick at 15 seconds, ticks will occur at 17.7, 20.4, and 23.1. When the HoT expires at the 24-second mark, it will have been 0.9s since the last full tick, so the partial tick upon expiration will be 1/3 of full strength (0.9/2.7).

Example with continuous refresh: Now, in a 300-second fight, you cast the DoT at the start, and always refresh in the Pandemic window after that. Because every cast of the DoT adds 12 seconds of duration, after you cast 25 times, it will expire exactly as the fight ends.  With 20% haste, it will tick every 2.5 seconds that entire time, giving a total of 120 ticks by the end of the fight. This is exactly what you would expect: without haste, the 3-second DoT would have ticked 100 times in the fight, so with 20% haste, it ticked 120 times.

If you point out that that’s the same thing that would happen in the current system, 120 ticks over the course of the encounter in that example, you’d be right. However, in the current system, each application of the DoT adds 12.5 seconds of duration, so you’d only have cast it 24 times to cover a 300-second fight. That oddity will no longer be present in Warlords.

Conclusion

In an ideal world with no tech limitations, one could imagine DoTs that do damage perfectly continuously. Then, there would be no issue of a DoT ending between “ticks,” and the damage could smoothly increase with any stat as desired. The best summary of the Warlords system is that it mirrors this result, but it buckets the damage into ticks. If you think of each tick as including the damage that occurred since the previous one, that explains the partial tick perfectly. When the DoT expires between ticks, the leftover amount of damage that the DoT should do is gathered together and put into one final tick. In the end, the total amount of damage done always corresponds to the amount of time the DoT was active, and the “ticks” are simply a way of delivering the damage in periodic clumps.

The end result is that the system is coherent from all angles. A DoT cast always adds a fixed amount of duration, and a DoT always does an amount of damage corresponding to the time it was active. Haste will smoothly increase the amount of damage a DoT does while active. If you focus on these things rather than on the partial tick, the system is easiest to understand. The partial tick is simply a mechanism to make sure that the final bit of damage is done correctly, and in general you shouldn’t worry about it. The most prominent change from the current system is that the duration of a DoT doesn’t change with haste.