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[MoP Beta] Priest Mana Regen Revisited

Posted by Malevica on June - 24 - 2012

This is a follow-up to my previous post on the subject, to look in a bit more detail at actual, not just potential, returns from From Darkness, Comes Light.

As of 1st July 2012 I’ve merged the corrections and the discussion on the various options from here into the previous post to keep it all in one place. The big change is that the recent buff to Mindbender with Build 15799 (1.0% per swing -> 1.3%) it’s a stronger choice now and competitive with the others, although still probably not an automatic go-to since PW:Solace and FD,CL have greater potential.

FD,CL Procs and Regen

In my initial comparison of FD,CL procs I chose to simply treat them as occurring on 15% of casts, and thus attributing 15% of the mana saving (19,500 mana) to each eligible heal.

That’s fine in spreadsheets and for simplifying the analysis, but how can we quantify the randomness? One way is to simulate a lot of encounters and see what sort of range we might expect.

Considering a 5-minute fight, and two usage scenarios, here’s what I get from an arbitrary run of the sim (10,000 iterations):

  1. Bare minimum – 2 casts per minute – Mean saving per fight: 29,253 mana – StdDev: 22,456 mana.
  2. Tank-healing heavy – 20 casts per minute – Mean saving per fight: 295,563 mana – StdDev: 70,406 mana.

The standard deviation (StdDev) is a measure of the size of the variation from the average, and that’s the important figure here. The more statistically-minded will already have drawn their own conclusions, but for the rest of us the short version is this:
If you’re casting FD,CL-eligible heals infrequently you might get lucky and nearly double your returns but you’re just as likely to end up with practically nothing. If you cast frequently you’re better off, but you could still end up losing out on a quarter of the returns you were expecting.

Obviously over a longer fight the numbers will even out a little better, but the majority of the fights do fall into the ~5-6 minute range, at least in Cataclysm.

The point of all this is that because of the huge variations of FD,CL’s procs you really need to be casting a lot of eligible heals to be sure of getting the benefit. When comparing PW:Solace and FD,CL, you should underestimate the value of FD,CL, particularly if running out of mana is likely to be a killer rather than an inconvenience. PW:Solace gives you flexibility that FD,CL does not.

Again, this doesn’t change the conclusion that PW:Solace is better for raid healing and FD,CL only if you’re tank- or single-target-healing a lot, but it does shine light on the massive unreliability you can expect to see in FD,CL returns.



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[MoP Beta] Priest Mana Regen Options

Posted by Malevica on June - 22 - 2012

Tier 3 of the Priest talent tree for Mists of Pandaria will be all about mana regeneration. But which is the best option: From Darkness, Comes Light? Mindbender? Or the shiny new Power Word: Solace?

Updated 24th June, see the follow-up post for details.
Updated again 1st July, to take account of the 1.0% -> 1.3% bump in Mindbender’s mana return. This changes the conclusions a little: originally Mindbender was barely an advantage over Shadowfiend, now it is a viable option.

For another take on this, Derevka at Tales of a Priest has carried out a similar analysis including presenting the data in some slightly different ways. That’s well worth a read as well; more eyes and more opinions are of course always a good thing for the community, as are different ways of explaining and presenting things.

It Depends

Obviously it’s going to be situational, there’s no question about that. Each of the talents has a different focus and will help in different scenarios:

  • From Darkness, Comes Light – Gives you a 15% chance on casting a Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal or Greater Heal to get a free, instant-cast Flash Heal. You can store up to 2 free heals.
  • Mindbender – Replaces Shadowfiend with a Mindbender. With Mindbender you get 1.3% Mana per swing instead of 3%, but a 1 minute CD instead of 3 minutes. You also get an extra two swings from the Mindbender because it has a 15s duration compared to the Shadowfiend’s 12s. The Mindbender’s damage is around 5.5k per swing (for me at level 88) compared to around 6.5k for the Shadowfiend.
  • Power Word: Solace – New! Deals light damage to an enemy, but grants 2% of mana back per cast. Priestly Telluric Currents, if you will. (Currently this restores mana even against immune enemies or if you miss, which is convenient).

First I’ll look at Mindbender and compare it to the other two options, then discuss the comparison of FD,CL with PW:Solace. If you just want the short version, then skip to the conclusions.

Mindbender

The graphs below show the amount of mana returned for Mindbender compared to Shadowfiend for a range of fight durations from 3 to 12 minutes. Because Mindbender replaces Shadowfiend, this is the net benefit of taking the talent.

The first shows the best-case situation, where you cast Shadowfiend or Mindbender pretty much on the pull and none of the mana returned is wasted. At level 90 this is consistent with chain-casting anything but Heal. This also assumes a 15% miss chance (healers are likely to have no hit bonus, and 15% is the standard chance to miss a boss-level mob).

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Immediate first cast)

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Immediate first cast)

Under this scenario Mindbender generates additional mana, both because of the extra swings and higher mana per swing, and because of the greater granularity (so you can fit more casts in.

If you don’t need the mana in the very early stages of the fight and delay the first casts of both until you’ve opened up a suitable mana deficit, the effect is more pronounced. The second graph shows the effect if you choose to delay Shadowfiend for a minute after the pull compared with waiting 20 seconds to cast Mindbender (in both cases the delay is sufficient to let a sufficient mana deficit build up, even being fairly frugal with mana).

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Delayed first cast)

Mindbender and Shadowfiend mana returns for a range of fight durations (Level 90, Delayed first cast)

In this case the greater granularity of Mindbender lets you fit an extra cast in much earlier, opening up a slightly larger gap over most fight durations.

However, remember that the benefit of Mindbender is the difference between Mindbender and Shadowfiend. So the possible advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend needs to be weighed against the potential benefit of the other two talents.

Looking at the graphs the gap widens and narrows as the encounter duration changes. For a 12-minute fight the gap is the largest, at 162,180 mana. To compare that to the other talents, consider that PW:Solace gives 2%, or 6,000 mana, per cast. So Mindbender equivalent to 162,180/6,000= 27.03 PW:Solace casts over the course of the fight, which is 2.25 PW:Solace casts per minute over 12 minutes. So if you can squeeze in just over 2 PW:Solace casts per minute, PW:Solace beats Mindbender. Since 2 FD,CL-eligible heals are worth roughly 1 PW:Solace cast, double those figures to see how Mindbender compares to FD,CL.

Let’s look at how the gap looks over the same range of fight durations as before:

Advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend, expressed as PW:Solace Casts per Minute

Advantage of Mindbender over Shadowfiend, expressed as PW:Solace Casts per Minute

The dotted line is where things used to be at 1%, and the solid line is the current state, including the buff to 1.3%.

While there is a lot of variation depending on the fight length, the range is generally between 1 and 3 PW:Solace casts needed to break even, and typically comes out around 2, on average.

The bottom line is this: if you can cast at least 3 PW:Solaces per minute of the fight then Mindbender is simply the weaker choice. If you’re not sure, check the chart and consider the likely fight length, and decide whether you think you can hit the target number instead.

Mindbender does have other advantages to be aware of though that could change the equation in specific cases:

  1. If your Shadowfiend is likely to get killed, the Mindbender gives you more bites at the cherry. 2/3 of the mana if one Mindbender dies is better than 0/3 if you lose the Shadowfiend. But this shouldn’t be a huge problem. More importantly;
  2. Mindbender is very much fire-and-forget. When the button lights up you just cast and get a nice mana income. No fuss, no bother. Usually encounters aren’t non-stop from start to finish, but if you find yourself really struggling then MB isn’t a bad option
  3. The Mindbender does a lot more damage over the course of the fight. Each SF cast is good for about (depending on crits and misses etc, of course) around 50,000 damage; Each Mindbender cast also accounts for around 50,000 damage but you get 3 Mindbenders to every Shadowfiend, so you’re comparing 50,000 to 150,000. When DPS counts, Mindbender gives an advantage, albeit a small one.

FD,CL vs Power Word: Solace

Power Word: Solace

Power Word: Solace

If you’re not casting single-target heals very often, the choice becomes simpler because you’re not going to see the benefits of FD,CL. But if you’re doing a bit of both, how do you decide?

Let’s get a feel for the numbers first.

  • Assuming no internal cooldown, FD,CL has a 15% chance to proc from one of the named heals. We can (very roughly) say that each eligible cast you make is worth 15% of the mana cost of Flash Heal, or 2925 mana at level 90.
  • PW:Solace is worth 2% of your mana per cast, or 6000 mana at level 90.

With those numbers in mind, have a look at your logs or just make an educated estimate of how many times you’re casting an eligible heal in a fight. Divide that by 2 and that’s how many PW:Solace casts you’ll need to squeeze in to come out ahead.

Remember that Evangelism procs from Penance in MoP, so if you’re heavily raid healing then you may not need to cast Smite at all. This means that FD,CL is not an automatic choice for Discipline even if we’re using Archangel liberally.

As a general rule of thumb to get started, if I were going to be primarily raid-healing I’d lean towards PW:Solace to begin with, while if I knew the tank might need more attention on a given encounter I might try FD,CL as my first pick. But the key to maximising this is actually reflecting on your healing style and the number of PW:Solace opportunities in a given encounter and making an informed decision.

 

Conclusions

For tank healing FD,CL looks like the strongest choice. If you’re able to cast more than 6 FD,CL-eligible heals per minute (and you should be if you’re healing the tank) then FD,CL beats Mindbender. Deciding between FD,CL and PW:Solace is trickier, but bear in mind that you need to fit in at least 1 PW:Solace for every FD,CL-eligible heal you cast. If you’re throwing a stream of Heals and Greater Heals (with PW:S, Penance, PoM and Smite/HF woven in) at your tank then you’re looking at somewhere on the order of 10 PW:Solace casts per minute to break even.

For raid healing PW:Solace should be your first choice. To guarantee to beat Mindbender you need to fit in 3 Power Word: Solace casts per minute on average, but you can often come out ahead with just 2 PW:Solaces per minute.
However, if you’re finding yourself in a ‘floater’ role and you find that you’re casting more than twice as many FD,CL-eligible heals (Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Flash Heal and Smite) PW:Solace casts, then you might see a greater benefit from picking FD,CL. I’d recommend starting off with PW:Solace and looking for as many opportunities to cast it as possible, and then checking your logs and seeing what’s most appropriate for your playstyle.
Remember that PW:Solace has the most potential if you can find and take the maximum number of opportunities and cast it as often as possible.

Mindbender is valuable for non-stop raid-healing when you aren’t going to benefit from FD,CL but also can’t squeeze in enough PW:Solace casts. Its fire-and-forget nature leaves you free to get back to what you’re doing without much thought and management.



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The Monk

Posted by Malevica on March - 17 - 2010

A concept that comes up from time to time in the WoW community is the concept of the ‘Monk’. Inspired by other RPGs, the generic Monk is primarily a healer but with an active resource model. For example the Monk could use melee attacks to generate and store a reserve of healing power which could then be spent on healing abilities.

Some people take this idea further and propose applying an active regen model to all healing classes to replace the current mostly passive model, although this usually gets shot down pretty quickly. Retrofitting such a huge change onto every class is likely to upset a great many players, and Blizzard are unlikely to do that. For the purposes of this entry, I will only talk about the Monk as a new, distinct class.

Pro

The Monk is often proposed as a solution or part-solution to the perennial healer shortage. The argument goes that for the most part healing works the same: you stand stationary, usually at range, and cast healing spells sequentially on the raid members. There’s a lot more complexity to healing, but in essence this describes healing in WoW at the moment.
So, say the proponents, design a totally different type of healer and it will have a broader appeal. More people playing healers means more people healing. After all, that’s been done for tanks, although results have been fairly underwhelming.

Requiring the Monk to attack from melee or at range in order to generate resources might be a good way of making the healer more aware of the dynamics of the fight itself, getting them to look away from the mana bars a bit more often. This green bar tunnel vision is a problem which can very easily affect healers, while the Monk would be allowed, nay encouraged, to engage in the fight more directly.
Howeve, it could equally be argued that the focus required to take in both the healing and DPS games at the same time would be a real challenge, to the point where the Monk was generally, albeit not universally, not performing at its best.

Since the Monk would be expected to attack, they could be given relatively competitive DPS for the time they were active. This could allow them to slot into the half-a-healer spot that many encounters and raid groups would like to have, when a boss stretches the DPS but you need that last healer for a particularly challenging phase. As an analogue, In the past plate DPS were often able to play a 4th tank role when an add needed tanking, although this largely fell by the wayside in Wrath.

It’s obviously not as simple as this though. A Monk with zero passive regeneration will be engaged in a constant balancing act to ensure they have enough resources to put out the healing when it is required. How finely-balanced this is depends to a large extent on the size of the resource pool. A small pool of 3 heals would require a lot of weaving, while a pool of 20+ heals would mean the Monk would need to switch roles less frequently.

This model would also provides the developers with a much-desired opportunity for a truly ‘difficult to master’ class which would require skill at dividing GCDs and ability cooldowns appropriately to produce high throughput in both the healing and damage modes. The Monk would need to understand the rhythms of the encounter to know when regeneration is the right choice, and when to burn those precious resources instead.

Let’s not forget that WoW does have active regeneration at the moment: Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, Seal/Judgement of Wisdom, Divine Plea and Mana Tide are all abilities which classes use to generate significant amounts of mana. The Monk-ification of healing could be seen as an extension of lowering passive mana regeneration and shortening the cooldowns on these active abilities, increasing the relative importance of the active regeneration.

Con

Retribution, Shadow, Enhancement, Elemental, Feral and Balance are already designed for dealing damage of all types, so for a healer longing to DPS the opportunity already exists in the form of dual-spec. What’s more, that DPS spec is specifically designed for that purpose. Even though the Monk would allow the weaving of DPS and healing in the same encounter, which is a different paradigm, dual-spec may haved reduced some of the supposed market for the class.

Dual-spec also erodes some of the flexibility advantage that the Monk could offer to a raid team because dual-spec already brings a large amount of flexibility to a raid group. Healers today can become, on demand, a range of DPS types with a range of raid buffs.

What’s more, the Monk is unlikely to offer real flexibility, since in order to make the class manageable the DPS or healing skillset, or probably both to different degrees, would need to become simplified compared to the current DPS or healing specs. This may well leave the Monk as a true ‘master of none’, out of place in a min/maxed world.
At a time when the developers are going to great lengths to ensure that every healing spec is able to cope at least passably with both tank and raid healing, and that no healer should be limited in their choice of heroics because of their class (I took my Resto Shaman into MgT once and only once: not a pleasant experience and not one I wished to repeat) it would seem counter-productive to introduce a class which necessarily had a limited range of abilities.

Finally, as much as healers might lament a model where one is required to slow down or even do nothing in order to conserve or regenerate mana, the Monk is not necessarily a solution to this perceived problem. The Monk merely presses his extra buttons instead of simply pausing, which could actually lead to more UI-focus and tunnel-vision and less awareness.

Conclusions

Despite my initial reaction of “over my Undead body”, I can actually accept a few of the arguments in favour of the Monk.

It’s just a little difficult to shake off the feeling that, since I actually enjoy healing the way it works at the moment (with some caveats, of course), perhaps those people arguing for a radically different paradigm are playing the wrong role at the moment.
The arguments for the class tend to be dominated by individual enjoyment, preferences or challenge, whereas the counter-arguments relate to the role and necessity of the Monk in groups and raids. I think that in the longer term it is the position of the Monk in the class ecosystem which will determine its appeal.

On the whole I remain to be convinced about the value of the Monk in the World of Warcraft, but after thinking through this article I’m a lot more willing to be convinced than I used to be.



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Categories: Opinion