Warlords Spirit, 6.2 Update

Continuing my discussion on projecting Spirit and mana growth in Warlords

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

Since all that, there have been two more developments:

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

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

A Somewhat Convenient Truth

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 1.50.41 AM

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Resto Druids: Haste vs. Mastery

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 Growth, Lifebloom (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 Tranquility, Swiftmend, Healing 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.

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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.

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

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.

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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 Rejuvenation, Renew, 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.

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Healer Spell Tuning–Updated Suggestions

My last experiment with suggesting specific healer tuning changes was pretty successful, I thought (Blizzard agreed with a lot of them).  Now that there’s been a little time for that round of changes to sink in, and there have been a few more miscellaneous ones in each patch, I want to look again at where they need to go from there.  The healer array is in a much better place than it was a few weeks ago.

The caveats from last time still apply.  This is still generally based on information from HealerCalcs (now published at that link).  Though it’s still meant to be a brief actionable list, I’m putting in a little more commentary than last time, since the list is shorter and sometimes I want to talk a bit about what’s changed.

I’m starting with the list from last time and showing changes from there.

  • Sruckout entries are things that occurred in patches since the first post
  • Italicized entries are newly added
  • Unadorned entries are changes I still think should be made (usually with comment)

Druid

Significantly Nerf:

  • Soul of the Forest (WG component)
  • Incarnation: This talent was not weakened by the change to work with Rejuv, and is still a huge efficiency increase.  Consider weakening Rejuv cost decrease component.

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

  • Force of Nature: huge buff still needed to be competitive with other L60 talents (on the order of 5-6x).
  • Genesis: The idea can still work, but currently very expensive for something that adds no healing.

Notes

  • Remains very mobile, which is a traditional Druid strength and can be important in raids.  No suggested changes, but a notable advantage of the class.
  • Due to Wild Growth’s status as a HoT, and potential for significant overhealing despite being an expensive spell that’s used carefully, I think it’s the rare example of a spell where 5.0-style “smart” healing behavior would be appropriate.
  • The Rampant Growth-Soul of the Forest interaction is seemingly okay at the moment (and is a pretty interesting and complex playstyle).  However, Rampant Growth is a weak PvE talent without it.
  • Total heal output is still high, may need to be tuned down slightly using a knob like Naturalist during final balancing.

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First Spell Tuning, continued

My previous two posts: suggestions for healer spell tuning from the last build, and comments on the changes that were visible in patch notes.

As noted in that comments post, the patch notes didn’t show the changes to coefficients or similar “numbers” changes, so we had to wait for today’s build and corresponding spell data (scroll down) to see the full picture.  Here are notes on those changes.  This will be abbreviated since it’s late for me; hopefully within a few days I’ll be looking in a detail on what I think further changes should look like.  If you haven’t read the last two posts I linked above, they’re probably good for context.  I might leave out some changes that I don’t have comments on off the top of my head.

Druid

Wild Growth heal and cost decreased by 15%.  Tricky spell to place correctly, but this is basically what I was thinking was needed so far. The burst throughput is not quite so huge, but the efficiency is unchanged.  Overall I’d like to see the mana cost come down slightly more–I think the HPM could be a bit higher, especially when thinking about how WG suffered more than most heals in the great de-smartening of heals. It is a HoT and will overheal quite a bit when targeted randomly.

That reminds me, I’d been meaning to try to make an argument, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet, that WG should go back to being (gasp) smart.  It might sound weird, but I think it makes sense for this spell more than most others.

Swiftmend mana cost reduced by 40%.  This helps a lot, and in particular, helps ameliorate any doubts I may have had about asking for SotF to be nerfed.  SM is finally an attractive cast without the help of talents, and making use of SotF is less expensive, making it easier to reasonably tune.  Will have to think about how to evaluate Rampant Growth now.

Noted in last post, Incarnation didn’t really change even though the mechanics changed.  Will have to give new SotF a little time to understand how its new tuning looks, but Incarnation is probably still too good.  There were some little changes to FoN in the build, but nothing to put in the same ballpark as SotF or Incarn.

Slight decrease to Healing Touch and increase to HotW.  Minor numbers tweaks to balance spells/talents, nothing exciting.

Summary: they agreed with a lot of my changes.  They didn’t make Rejuv slightly more efficient, but I was doubting that one anyway.  They can probably use it as a fine-tuning for Druid efficiency later on if needed.

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First Spell Tuning Followup

Today’s patch notes showed the first signs of healer tuning fixes, so I’m going to make a quick post with my reactions (rather than dumping them onto twitter as I read).  Also, since my last post was meant to be a list of concise, actionable healer tuning items, it seems good to follow up now that there’s a round of changes.  However, I’m guessing we’ve only seen part of the changes, namely the changes that appear in patch notes, which usually doesn’t include bare coefficient or cost changes.  So I think we’ll only have the complete picture of this first tuning pass once there’s another around of spell data.  At that point, I might try making another list of changes after we see what things are like in the new build.

  • Soul of the Forest (Restoration) when casting Swiftmend, the Druid gains Soul of the Forest. Soul of the Forest reduces the cast time of the next Healing Touch by 50%, or increases the healing of the next Regrowth, or Rejuvenation, or Wild Growth by 100%, or increases the healing of the next Wild Growth by 50%.

Exactly what I suggested, so good.  I’m not totally sure about the right ultimate tuning of WG yet–in the post I said that the healing cost should both come down a little.  I’ll stick with that for now, with maybe the addition that the HPM could come up slightly in the process.

  • Incarnation: Tree of Life no longer enhances Lifebloom. Instead, it also enhances Rejuvenation, increasing its healing by 50%, and reducing its cost by 50%.

That’s pretty interesting.  Oddly, it has a small effect on Tree, since a 150% half-cost Rejuv is very similar to a Lifebloom overall (probably nicer due to having more even healing).  Tree is a still around as strong as it was; it’s just a little cleaner mechanically (works with things like Germination and Rampant Growth now, as well as Genesis).

Tree and SotF are still very strong.  It’s possible they’ll buff FoN by a huge amount and be done with it.  That would mean that even after tuning the class, the choice of L60 talent will be a very big component of performance.

That also reminds me, I do think Genesis needs a buff and I forgot to include it last time.

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Healer Spell Tuning–Current Suggestions

I want to get into discussion of healer spell tuning, and there’s no reason to be blocked by how long it takes me to write up long-form blog posts with lots of explanation.  Instead I’m going to post a whole bunch of conclusions–i.e. what spells I think should go up or down, and see how they jive with what others expect.  That way they’re at least here to start discussion, and I can elaborate more as needed.  So tell me if any entries seem out of place, if you want to know why I think they need a buff or nerf, or just post your own comments on what spells should be numerically stronger or weaker and why.

I haven’t looked at every spell and talent in detail, but I’ve looked at a great majority of them.  I’m leaving out obvious bugs.

In general, factors I’m thinking about include:

  • HPM/HPCT metrics.  Whether a spell comports with the usual overarching tradeoff off efficiency vs. burstiness.  No strict formula.
  • How a spell fares against other options of that class. Does it need to be weaker or stronger to result in an internally balanced toolkit for the class.
  • Relatedly, whether a spell is solely responsible for too large of a component of the class’s performance.
  • How a spell fares against similar spells of other classes.  Spells in the same “category” don’t have to be strictly balanced across healers, but big outliers are a red flag.
  • How a talent fares against other talents in its row (even if the power level of the talent isn’t otherwise an issue for balance purposes).

This is generally based on theory and not on reported experience from raid tests.

Some helpful references might be my recent posts on healing theorycraft, as well as my big spreadsheet, current version found here (user-friendliness is making progress, but not ready to be published as a stand-alone tool).

Without further ado:

Druid

Significantly Nerf:

Slightly Nerf:

Slightly Buff:

Significantly Buff:

Druids have the potential for very strong throughput, but also have expensive spells.  This is a good foundation for a skill-intensive class, but it still might need to be flattened out just a little.  I don’t want to draw conclusions on overall strength until the huge throughput of SotF+WG or and huge efficiency of Incarnation are reined in.

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Healing Theory, Part 10: Single-Target Rotations

All posts in this series can be found here.

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

On Modeling Healing Rotations

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

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

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

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

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

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

All posts in this series can be found here.

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

This is the sheet (download).

HT sheet image

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

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

On to some of the interesting patterns. Continue reading