Healing Theory, Part 8: Three 6.0 Topics

Previous posts in this series can be found here

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

6.0 Regen Math

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

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

Spirit Regen

Two important things are happening to Spirit in 6.0:

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

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

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Healing Theory, Part 7: Introduction to Active Mana Regeneration

Previous posts in this series can be found here

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

The Active Regen Spells

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

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

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Healing Theory, Part 6: The Mana Economy

Previous posts in this series can be found here

Much of the focus on this series so far has been on Spirit and mana. Choices surrounding mana are some of the least obvious and most interesting character setup choices in WoW. They allow gear decisions to impact gameplay in a way that is somewhat unique. And, from our current perspective at the end of raiding in Mists, the story of how healing gameplay changed since launch is largely a story about mana. This is particularly interesting because I think, for reasons I discuss below, that the designers tried to avoid allowing healers to reach this point of having such ample mana at the end of Mists, after seeing it happen in Wrath and Catalysm.

This post continues the thoughts of earlier posts in the series, which focused on the difference between cooldown and non-cooldown heals and why that difference is important to an understanding of mana. Here I explore some of the theoretical foundation for that distinction and how it helps us make gear and play decisions.

The Balance Sheet: Mana Assets

One obstacle to understanding mana is that information about your total mana income and expenditures is obscure; in typical play, your only information is how full your bar is at a given moment. But since you spend many bars’ worth of mana in even a short encounter, this look is actually not too informative. For a better understanding of where your mana comes from and where it goes, we want to instead look at an accounting that considers an encounter as a whole.

Let’s work through a example on paper and see how it looks. What we’re looking for here isn’t a set of detailed output numbers, which would be better served by a full-blown spreadsheet like my TreeCalcs, but the overall picture and what it can teach us about the way we think about mana.

The first question is how much total mana I have to spend over the course of an encounter. That depends on many variables, but I’ll illustrate a typical hypothetical example for a 6-minute fight. I might have (values in thousands of mana):

  • 300 (starting mana)
  • 432 (base regen (6000 Mp5) over 6m)
  • 487 (6 minutes of Spirit regen, at 12k Spirit (6768 MP5))
  • 285 (1.61 meta procs per minute, @ 3 Rejuvs (26.1k mana) per proc (with a 13% bonus for bad luck protection))
  • 129 (ilvl 561 Dysmorphic trinket, average value running for 6 minutes at 37.5% haste)
  • 120 (two Innervates at 12k Spirit)
  • 87 (two Mana Tides from a Shaman with 12k Spirit)
  • 18 (regen effect from one Hymn of Hope)
  • 30 (potion)
  • Total: 1888 (1.89 million mana).

Healer Pie

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Healing Theory, Part 5: Haste

Previous posts in this series can be found here. In particular, the Haste section of Part 2 might be useful background.

Haste is the most complex of the healing stats, and often appears to be the least well understood. Its effect is a combination of added throughput, increased mana consumption, and increased HoT healing due to those “haste breakpoints” that are so easy to look up online but so hard to evaluate in importance. Part 2 in this series, linked above, gave some high-level comments on the behavior of haste, and generally concluded that based on its basic function, it’s likely to be unattractive. I said that I would dig into its effects on a class-by-class basis in the future, and that is what I’m doing in this post.

Incidentally, this post is written from a patch 5.4 perspective. Among various other things, haste will have no effect on the RPPM proc rate of the legendary meta (and legendary cloak), greatly simplifying the analysis.

Concepts

First, a slightly different framework for how haste effects the two main categories of spells. We’ll refer to this throughout the post.

1) Non-HoTs. Haste does not increase the healing per cast (HPC), nor therefore, the healing per mana (HPM). It increases the healing per cast time (HPCT) by 1% every 425 rating. It is worth pointing out for comparison that a typical mastery, like Druid, Holy Priest, or Paladin, increases all of these metrics (HPC, HPM and HPCT) by 1% per 480 rating. In general even from a pure HPCT (spam throughput) perspective, haste tends to be only slightly ahead of stats that increase your healing on a per-cast basis.

2) HoTs. Haste now increases the HPC. An important point I want to press on: in the long run, haste still increases the HPC by 1% per 425 rating. The “haste breakpoint” (HBP) phenomenon means that that increase to HPC comes in clumps, but the average gain is unchanged. Especially late in the expansion when the difference between a high-haste and low-haste build may be 20000 rating, it’s this overall scaling pattern that generally determines the relative attractiveness of the two. HBPs tell you what haste points to “snap” to in your reforging, but generally don’t control the overall value of haste. The only general exception is the first non-automatic HBP for any important spell, which requires a smaller investment to reach.

Haste2

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Healing Theory, Part 4: Comparison of No-Cooldown Heals

Previous posts in this series can be found here.

The background and motivation for the heal comparison I did here is in the previous post; I recommend you read that if you haven’t. The goal is to compare all of the “filler” heals of various classes, although I may be defining that a bit differently from what you expect. It basically means, anything you can keep casting nonstop. The idea is is that you’re limited in how many Wild Growths or Penances or Healing Rains you can cast due to their cooldown. So if we put aside all of those spells, what we’re left with the spells that are primarily controlled by mana–they’re what to use to turn most of your mana (everything that’s not used on your rotational spells) into healing. The efficiency with which those spells can lever a point of mana into healing output is largely what determines the marginal value of mana for your class.

The goal is to focus on a specific set of heals that’s somewhat limited in scope (i.e. not building a full spreadsheet for every class’s rotation) but is informative on an important cross-class issue, one that’s motivated by the other recent posts I’ve written. The primary result of this is finally having some concrete sense of the relative value of Spirit, but there are other conclusions to be found as well.

The Data

It’s a bit awkward to present spreadsheet computations in the post. I’m going to give a link to the sheet I was working in, and a screenshot (but you can’t see the formulas), along with a lot of explanation. I’m definitely interested in feedback from class experts on whether I left out anything important. It was a lot of work to try to look up everything I had to take into account for each healing class to give a meaningful and accurate account of the efficiency of a single spell. I tried to pick up the most prominent spells for each class (and some that I was just curious about), but should be able to add anything people suggest that fits the concept.

Spreadsheet download: Dropbox (updated 5/23)

Screenshot (5/23):Heals

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Healing Theory, Part 3: Mana and other Resources

In the first two posts in the sequence, we started building a foundation of how to think about the task of healing, and conducted a basic survey of how all the various stats might impact your performance. As promised in the last post, this is going to be a whole piece focusing on how to make decisions concerning mana (and secondary resources if your class has them). It will also finally bring us back around to the issue that started me down this whole train of thought in Mists.

Beyond Spirituality

Everyone accepts what the purposes of Int, mastery, crit, and haste are: to do more healing. You can do more healing in a given amount of time, you can do more healing with a given amount of mana (haste doesn’t actually do this, but that’s not for this post), and ultimately you can keep more people alive over the course of an entire encounter. The first premise of this article is that Spirit is no different. If you’re using a stat, it must be for the purpose of doing more healing, and its value is determined by how much more you can do (usual disclaimer applies throughout–“more healing” doesn’t necessarily mean more meter healing, it means fulfulling your healing tasks more consistently). In order to be worth using, Spirit has to pull its weight by allowing you do more than you could do with an equal amount of crit or mastery. I want to stress how different this is from viewing it as an independent requirement of some kind, a sort of “you must be this tall to ride” minimum to survive any encounter, before you can worry about other stats. It’s a stat like any other, and if it doesn’t pay its dues in terms of added performance, you’re free to replace it with a stat that does.

So what does Spirit do for you? It lets you use your non-cooldown heals more frequently. I’ll only briefly recapitulate the basic dichotomy between cooldown and non-cooldown heals here; it’s appeared in every one of my MoP healing posts thus far. Remember from the previous post that well over half, possibly as much as 3/4 depending on class, of your total available mana is from sources other than Spirit. Even if you had 0 Spirit, you’d be just fine casting your core short-cooldown heals as much as you wanted (Wild Growth, Penance, Holy Shock, Renewing Mist, Riptide, etc.). These heals are cheap and powerful, and form a sort of healing “baseline” that’s mostly unchanged by added mana reserves beyond what you start with. The most important point is that if you find you’re coming up short to cast these at the end of a fight, it is not because of insufficient Spirit. You budgeted your mana poorly and spent too much on less-efficient no-cooldown heals earlier in the fight.

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Healing Theory, Part 2: A Tour of Your Character Sheet

My last post was a trip back to the fundamentals of healing, and claimed to be the beginning of a series where we build from that to more detailed analysis of the various healing classes. There’s still a little ways to go before we’re ready (both in terms of my math work on healing classes, and in terms of laying the foundation in posts) for very detailed cross-class comparison or balance discussion. But let’s get a little less abstract than the first time around, and look at some stats. Along the way we’ll not only relate back to the principles of the previous post, but finally have some foundation to approach the throughput and regen questions of the earlier Int vs. Spirit post.

Spellpower

All heals scale linearly with spellpower–there’s a base heal amount and then a spellpower term with some coefficient particular to each heal. An interesting point in MoP is that for nearly all heals, the base amount is scaled to be roughly 11,000 times the coefficient. For example, Divine Light has a mean base heal of 16817 and a coefficient of 149%, a ratio of 11287. For the HoT portion of Lifebloom, the base heal of each tick is 9315/15 = 621, and the coefficient is 5.7%, for a ratio of 10894. I actually don’t know of any heals off the top of my head that don’t follow this, but there are probably a few.

The significance is that heals tend to scale in proportion with each other as your spellpower increases. With 11000 spellpower, they all do twice as much as they do with 0, and so on. Since for raiding purposes, your spellpower is affected by a 10% buff, the better rule of thumb is that the base heal is worth 10,000 spellpower. This is handy to keep in mind, as it gives you a concrete picture of what a spellpower increase means to you. If you had 20,000 spellpower when you started raiding and now you have 30,000, you can expect that all of your heals are healing for 1/3 more than what they were before (and that’s before mastery scaling and any other benefits you might have).

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Healing Theory, Part 1: Principles

In my last post on healing, I outlined a rough mathematical argument to show how Spirit should not be valued as strongly as common wisdom indicated. The bulk of the criticisms centered on the fact that I was generalizing far too much about other classes without digging into their mechanics to the same extent I have with Druids. And while responding to this comprehensively would require a significant project of theorycrafting other classes more (which, as an aside, is still something I want to get into in MoP), I took something else away from that whole discussion. Which is that, theorycraft aside, there just isn’t much established foundation on the basic logic and philosophy of healer strategy. When talking about questions like regen and throughput, the math arguments tend to be sort of shallow because there isn’t even a mutual understanding of what we’re evaluating and how. So I’ll go as far as I can in this post, and continue to follow up as needed, about what should be going through our minds when we click the green boxes.

Healing Meters: 2 comments

I’m going to present two seemingly contradictory arguments here, each of which (hopefully) has no obvious flaws. Think about how you might reconcile them with each other while you read the rest of this piece, and going forward after that.

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