Category Archives: Blizzard

On Mana and the Glyph of Illumination at Level 85

My original post on mana regeneration for Mists of Pandaria was focused on level 90. I try to post content that is useful beyond today, but the apparent interest in the new mechanics told me many people want something useful for the time remaining before they run off to punch monkeys and bunnies. So let’s look at mana regeneration again and play with the math for the Glyph of Illumination as it applies to level 85.

Level 85 casters and healers have 100,000 mana with very few exceptions. If you find yourself running out of mana then you’re either spending too much or you lack sufficient regeneration, which now means you lack sufficient Spirit.

Spirit Economics

Just like your finances, always look at your spending first. Are your teammates taking unnecessary damage? Are you casting efficient spells or setting new records for overhealing? Are you using your cooldowns, which let you save mana when you do not need them for output? Are you using your regeneration spells frequently and appropriately? Are you selecting appropriate talents and glyphs to fit your play style and the expected encounter? Have you reevaluated your stat priorities? Haste break pionts have changed and more Crit or Mastery could increase the efficiency of your healing.

For Paladins, spells are now more expensive when compared to other healers. Paying this cost ahead of time means Holy Power spells are not really free. Paladins must choose to pay more or less for each point, magnifying the effects of good and bad decisions throughout a fight. The way you spend your mana will be greatly affected by your familiarity with the changes to your class. Simple things, like broken addons not alerting you to Divine Plea coming off cooldown, can also have a big effect.

When considering your income, reevaluate the following aspects of your character.

  • Reforging: Make sure you’re not sacrificing any Spirit. Discipline Priests were noted for their low Spirit requirements.
  • Enchants: Heartsong provides a great deal of Spirit while Power Torrent is purely a buff to output.
  • Gear: Change to regen trinkets and consider replacing other pieces which did not come with Spirit already. The two-piece bonus from Tier 12 is a strong option for healers, though Blizzard may ‘fix’ this later.
  • Buffs: It’s easy to forget, but there is food and a flask which increases your Spirit.

The Glyph of Illumination

The math for level 90 directly applies to level 85. The major differences are the details of maximum mana and available gear. In my last post I described a situation where lower gear levels (with lower Spirit) could make the glyph a good choice but eventually it would be outgrown. For the next few weeks we get to experience how the glyph could perform at Tier 16 gear levels.

Let’s start with the spreadsheet and tweak it. Please make yourself a copy or download it to enter your own values. The first change is “Total mana” now reads 100,000. The second change is the addition of a “Shocks per Minute Calculator”. Choose a fight you’ve completed (longer is better) and enter the following numbers:

  • Crit rate of your Holy Shock, as a percentage (40% enters 40)
  • Number of Holy Shocks cast during the fight
  • The length, in seconds, of that fight.

Recount or World of Logs provide easy ways to find this information. The table and graph will update and give you a verdict. For example, here is what the graph looks like based on a fight lasting 3:36 where I cast 25 Shocks at 44% crit rate.

Level 85 Example of Glyph of Illumination

Not looking so hot.

Based on this fight performance the crossover point is at 2,200. The glyph is a good choice if I have don’t have that much Spirit. Remember to include procs and raid buffs! The conclusions I can reach for myself are:

  • I need to cast Holy Shock more frequently.
  • Glyph of Illumination is a horrible, horrible, horrible choice for me because I have nearly 5,000 Spirit during a raid.
  • You might say I have too much Spirit but I’d call you a big meanie who hates Spirit. And freedom.

After you do the same analysis for your own character, the simple thing to do is to wash our hands and be done with it. If you’re within a few hundred Spirit of where the crossover occurs then his would be wrong. Though Spirit is the strongest regen stat, it is worth your time to fully investigate the potential for Crit as well. That’s why you’re here, right?

Head over to chardev, load up your Paladin and maximize your Spirit followed by Crit. Find the difference in Crit percentage from the WoW Armory and your changes at chardev. Increase the crit rate found from your combat logs by this difference. The first graphing process told you if the glyph was a good choice right now. This second graphing process tells you if increasing your Crit will make the glyph a good choice. Based on my first example, if the crit rate were 10% higher it would push the crossover point to 2,700 Spirit.

Conclusion

I don’t want to sound enthusiastic about a glyph which looks downright horrible, but I am intrigued by the potential of Crit doing double duty as a regen and throughput stat. Hopefully this will prove useful if only to warn people away from a bad choice. Or maybe this will help convince Blizzard of the need to change or remove this glyph.

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MoP Mana Regen: Theorycrafting Paladins’ Options

Note: This post focuses on level 90. See here for further discussion on level 85.

Note 2: The level 90 spreadsheet has been updated to account for a potential change to the 4-piece t14 bonus and expanded for higher Spirit values. You may not have edit rights, but you can always save your own copy from the File menu. The spreadsheet, as usual, is found here.

With Mists of Pandaria (MoP) in Public Beta and the pre-expansion 5.0 PTR going live soon, our friendly neighborhood theorycrafters are swarming about trying to determine stat weights, rating conversions, and rotations. In the healing realm we are especially concerned with mana regeneration.

New Ground Rules

To make sure everyone is aware of where we’re starting, I’ll list the major changes to mana use in MoP:

  • Intellect will only increase the power of spells and no longer increase the size of a caster’s mana pool.
  • All casters have the same amount of mana at any given level. At level 90 this is 300,000.
  • With very few exceptions, nothing will change a caster’s maximum mana. Gear upgrades, in particular, have no effect on mana levels.
  • Spell costs are still calculated from base mana, but caster-only classes have 300,000 base mana while Paladins and others have 60,000. Classes without modifiers appear to have wildly cheaper spells but end up about the same. See Flash of Light at 37.8% of base mana while Flash Heal is at 6.6%.

HOLY PALADIN MANA REGEN

The Paladin’s Holy Insight is one of the new specialization-specific grab bag spells used by tanks and healers in Mists of Pandaria. In Vanilla terms it would have been at least four different multi-point talents. In MoP it comes free when we choose Holy. It includes increased healing power, mana pool size, and combat mana regeneration as well as additional Hit chance for our damaging spells.

Building off Derevka’s work at Tales of a Priest, we have the formula for Holy Paladin mana regeneration in Mists of Pandaria as expressed in the common terms of Mana per 5 seconds (Mp5).

Combat Mp5 = Total Mana *0.02 + (1.1287 *Spirit* Holy Insight%)

This can be used to calculate the value of gear and buffs. It can also be used to compare non-Spirit regen mechanics, as Derevka also did here for racial bonuses.

The Glyph of Illumination

The new  Glyph of Illumination presents another regen option. It is worth investigating for a few reasons:

  • We want to cast Holy Shock often because it is a mana efficient heal and generates Holy Power for more mana-free healing.
  • Shock crits proc Infusion of Light for faster heals.
  • Shock has a built in 25% crit bonus.

Can something we’re already doing also increase our mana regeneration or is this glyph just a bad idea?

The glyph changes two things. It reduces Holy Insight from 50% to 40% and it makes each Holy Shock crit return 1% of our total mana. The formula above provides an easy way to account for the reduction by adjusting one variable. Then we just need to add on the regen from Shock crits. We can use the following formula to calculate the expected Mp5 returns:

Shock Mp5 = Total Mana *0.01 *Shocks per Min *Shock Crit% * 5/60

We can use the following values in both formulas:

  • Total Mana at level 90 is 300,000
  • Use the Spirit value from our character sheet and be sure to include stacking (Solace, HoU, etc), periodic (Heartsong, etc), and raid buffs (food, flask, etc).
  • Figure Shocks per Minute from combat logs or we can start with an estimate of 8. The maximum possible is 10. The maximum with the 4-piece bonus for tier 14 is 12.
  • Shock Crit% will be our character sheet’s Crit% (including other buffs as we did for Spirit) plus 25% built in to Holy Shock.

We can plot the mana returns, both with and without the glyph, onto a chart for a comparison based on selected stats. This helps us determine if the Glyph of Illumination is a good choice. I have the calculations displayed on the first tab of this spreadsheet and we’ll look at one example of what we might expect early in tier 14 raid progression by estimating 8 Shocks per minute and 35% Crit.

Comparison at 8 Shock/Min & 35% Crit

The most important information shown by this graph is the steeper slope of 50% Holy Insight means the glyph will always be outgeared as we increase our Spirit. In this example the yellow line of our expected regen with the glyph is outperformed starting between 6,000 and 7,000 Spirit.

Wowhead’s character profiler easily produces a character with over 7,000 Spirit when equipped with tier 14 Heroic Dungeon and Raid Finder equipment. The usefulness of the glyph appears limited to stat ranges seen while leveling and gearing up through 5-man dungeons.

To avoid testing hundreds of stat combinations we can make our formulas equal to each other, do a little algebra, and create something more useful.

50% Holy Insight Mp5 = 40% Holy Insight Mp5 + Holy Shock Mp5

*Insert math you never thought you’d use outside of school.*

Equivalent Spirit = 2214.9375 * Shocks per Min * Shock Crit%

Now we can create a graph for varying numbers of Holy Shocks per minute. I’ve calculated all of this on the second tab of this spreadsheet where we can also experiment with non-integer values for casts per minute which might better approximate actual encounters. Here is a graph showing several cast rates to help everyone get a rough estimate.

Thresholds for Glyph of Illumination

After selecting a value for Shocks per minute, any range of stats under the matching line should regenerate more mana with the Glyph of Illumination. We can plot actual or theoretical stats onto any point and quickly determine if the glyph is a good choice.

CONCLUSION

For players prioritizing Spirit, the charts deserves a look if we find ourselves with a lot of Crit or if we wear four piece tier 14 with a lot of lower level gear. Even then, reforging out of Crit is always an option. If the glyph ever becomes a good choice then it is worth auditing logs frequently for cast and crit rates to make sure we continue getting the best deal.

Players might choose, instead, to prioritize Crit over Spirit with the goal of boosting output and relying on cheaper spells to extend our mana. Glyph of Illumination would help offset the regen lost from sacrificing Spirit. To justify one build over the other also requires modeling their potential output, which is beyond the scope of this post. I will say sacrificing other stats for Crit makes our output unreliable. We would dread a streak of non-crits making fights harder or even leading to player deaths.

The biggest hurdle to using the glyph is the prevalence of Spirit on gear and how well it scales for regen. Upgrades which increase Crit usually also come with Spirit. Unless something changes in the future, the Glyph of Illumination looks like a dead end and a reduction to our mana regeneration in most foreseeable circumstances.

The worst thing to happen to Holy. Ever.

Since I’ve always felt left out of all the Paladin whining, I thought I’d offer my honest opinion on the 4.1 patch notes. Behold! The WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO HOLY PALADINS.

EVER:

Paladins

Really, Blizz? Really?!

So I was dueling a Priest the other day…

… and I have no idea what spec he was running, but it wasn’t shadow. We were just herp derp’ing around at the stone before a Baradin Hold raid. I had the foresight to run my solo/questing spec, which is also what I use while looking really bad in some weekly 2s Arena. I lost the first 3 (4?) matches while I was figuring stuff out and before we gave up on the last match I was turning it into a real game. Between his Drain Mana and my aggressiveness I was usually near empty on mana and spending a lot of time under half health. What kept me in the game? Rebuke to lock him down a bit, Denounce for free dps, dirt cheap Holy Shock heals, Blessed Life for extra Holy Power, a self-Beacon with Tower of Radiance for even more Holy Power, and Word of Glory (often with only 1 or 2 charges). He could not believe I could be healing myself so well with basically no mana. I admit I felt a little Overpoweredtm!

Efficient direct heals have always been key to the Paladin style and, as much as Blizzard says they want to avoid overspecializing the classes into particular healing niches, they know nobody would appreciate copy-pasting the same toolkit across every spec. So I really appreciate the new Paladin experience and Blizzard’s experimentation with some new and unique mechanics.

Did I say ‘experiment’? Well, in case you haven’t been MPQ-diving or reading the fine print on the Holy talent panel, there’s been a little ‘b’ for ‘beta’ next to each version number since The Shattering. Posts like this and this in my feed reader provide confirmation. Doesn’t that just suck all kinds of *nasty and horrible things you don’t want near your face*? Sure this change by itself isn’t game breaking and I’m sure I’ll heal pretty well next week, but it’s all getting a little bizarre. This recent comment from Nathera, combined with the 4.0.6a change, reveals how unstable the entire Holy Power system is for healing. Blizzard doesn’t quite have a handle on it but, worst of all, it looks like their right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

I enjoy Holy Power, but what was once a interesting and situationally powerful mechanic is slowly becoming a minor bump to healing output that only makes a difference in the long run. No matter how much crap I used to give my guild leader about padding with Judgement of Light, I’m not a meter whore and neither is any good healer. I play a Paladin because I save people and because, when it comes down to it, I’m one of the best at keeping that one special player alive; whether he’s the tank, the debuff target, or just “special”. Spending Holy Power for a little extra output just isn’t interesting or even very relevant to the way I play as a healer.

Realm-only Heroic Queue?

A caller brought this up on Episode 216 of The Instance (54:45): what if you had the option to restrict your random dungeon queue to only players from your server? The current system has lead to a loss of familiarity, if not camaraderie, with the rest of the players on our servers. It is absurdly easy to avoid most interaction with players you’re likely to encounter on a day to day basis.

There are many positive aspects to adding this feature. Meeting new people you’d want to group with again is at the top of the list. Since moving to Backrock my Friends list is basically empty.

There are also some ‘negative’ aspects to this feature, which necessarily follow the loss of anonymity. I was placed into a partially complete Stonecore with four players from the same guild on a different server. Ozruk, of course, was the next target. Following at least half a dozen wipes where the tank proved entirely incapable of avoiding Shatter, the GM shaman resurrected everyone on the other side of the boss. I understand this is one of the more difficult mechanics to deal with, but complaining in chat about Blizzard’s design is poor form for a guild leader. I am willing to cut the tank some slack, too, as it isn’t something I’ve had to learn (yet) and the mechanic is not at all forgiving.

What broke the run for me, however, was the pre-Azil trash packs. One pack was pulled and I nearly died; the tank and myself being the only two with aggro on the mobs. Then, following an interminable wait while I have to assume the tank was discussing boss strategy with his guild, both of the last two packs are pulled simultaneously with Azil. I believe the tank was dead (with heals and Hand of Sacrifice) before any mob was killed. I dropped group, for the first time ever finding myself in a dungeon run with players who seemed to be actively wasting my time.

The (largest) part of me that holds no grudges and wants to move forward quickly forgot their names, their guild, and their server. The rest of me is still offended more than 12 hours later that people would inflict themselves on others in this way. If they were on my server I would have more incentive to shame them. They would have more incentive to improve, or at least find a regular healer. As it stands they can continue to be horrible, anonymous players in a system where I roll the dice every time I click “Find Group”.

Next time? I’m taking notes and aiming for the Bee Pit.

Update Your Armory Links!

Go go go, FFS, and such-forth!

It’s been about a month since old Armory links ceased functioning.  I don’t care what the fine print on WoWArmory.com’s disclaimer says, many goblins should be tossed into the fires of the Molten Core.  Whose goblins?  Yours if you haven’t updated all of your Armory links in your blog links and forum signatures!

It’s pretty simple, too:  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/blackrock/yoseketh/

Realm names, especially, are much simpler now that all the apostrophes, dashes, and spaces have been removed.  I make no claims on special characters used in names, but it all looks transparent in Firefox.

Shorter Than Expected

Thursday evening, a couple dozen quests into Uldum, I reached 85.  Just a bit over three weeks.  I think the new Cataclysm quest design gives a serious boost, which I really don’t mind.  Because who wants to gather 2 or 3 quests sending you halfway across a zone in two different directions?

Osris?  Buried in sand.  Prince trying to help?  50 yards away, but no biggie, he’ll just wait for someone like you to come along and take care of it.

For the first week or two prime time queues on Blackrock were easily over two hours.  This past week waits were less than 30 minutes and under 900 players long.  Maybe everybody’s offline for the holidays.  Maybe the free realm transfers to several possible targets made the difference.  Either way, I slowed down my own leveling pace this last week.  Even logged in, I was AFK plenty during 84.  I spent two to three hours, about four nights per week.  Roughly 30+ hours which included a lot of time on my professions, reading quest text, and exploring various niche sub-zones.  A zerg could easily be half that but it’s just not my style.

80 to 85 as Holy really takes as long as you want it to take.  Being able to fly, epic or not, will have more impact on the speed of leveling than using a ‘healing’ spec.  Unlike Ret, however, killing mobs in any reasonable amount of time and without stopping to drink after three of them definitely requires the proper spec.  Working thoroughly through the early zones also makes for a safer experience

I’ve run four of the available dungeons and the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with in any of them is the swarms of glass-cannon trash in The Stonecore.  Mobs like Rock Borers, Imps, and Devout Followers.  They’re easy to kill but will chew through you and your party surprisingly quickly if not handled properly.  Borers, in particular, are nasty about patrolling their caverns and catching your group in the flank or rear.  Don’t forget: run to the tank.

Now begins the task of raid gearing, which I’ll post on next.