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.