A Druid’s Response to the Upcoming Change in Mana Regeneration

A Druid’s Response to the Upcoming Change in Mana Regeneration

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It has been a hard week to be a druid, dear friends. Not only did restoration druids miss out on any significant buffs in the most recently announced draft of class changes, but we’ve also been faced with an upcoming nerf to mana regeneration that stands to affect us more than any other class. As such, druid bloggers have taken notice; both Phaelia and Keeva have their own takes on the 3.1 changes. In this article I am going to take a look at the specifics of the changes to mana regeneration and speculate on possible ways to play around them. In case you missed the big blue letters, I’ll quote the substance of the change to mana regeneration below:

Regeneration while not casting (outside of the “five second rule”) will be decreased. We think that (1) the ability to cast heal over time spells and then sit back and (2) benefitting from a clearcasting proc that also gets you out of the five second rule both provide too much mana regeneration, even over short time periods.
To make this change, we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board. However we are also boosting the effects of talents such as Meditation that increase regeneration while casting. The net result should be that your regeneration while casting will stay about the same, but your not-casting regeneration will be reduced. This change will have little impact on dps casters, since they are basically always casting.
The specific talents and abilities being boosted are: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac and Spirit Tap. Yes this makes these “mandatory” talents even more mandatory, if such a thing is possible.

Since paladins rely less on Spirit as a mana-regeneration stat, we have to address them in other ways. We don’t want to change Illumination or Replenishment. However, we are going to increase the healing penalty on Divine Plea from 20% to 50%. Divine Plea was originally intended to help Protection and Retribution paladins stay full on mana. It should be a decision for Holy paladins, not something that is automatically used every cooldown.
In addition, we are also changing the way Spiritual Attunement works. In situations with a large amount of outgoing raid damage, as well as in PvP, this passive ability was responsible for more mana regeneration than we would like. We want to keep the necessary benefit it grants to tanking Protection paladins, while making it less powerful for Holy paladins in PvP or raid encounters with a lot of group damage.

We are also taking a close look at clearcasting procs themselves. One likely outcome is to change them to an Innervate-like surge of mana so that the net benefit is the same, but healers won’t shift to out-of-casting regeneration so often.

We balance around the assumption that even 10-player groups have someone offering Replenishment. To make this even easier on players we are likely to offer this ability to additional classes, as well as make sure that existing sources of Replenishment are more equitable.

These changes are ultimately being done to bring the different healing classes more in line with each other as well as to give the encounter team more leeway when designing encounters, who can balance with these new mana regeneration numbers in mind. In a world with infinite healer mana, the only way to challenge healers is with increasingly insane amount of raid damage, so that global cooldowns become the limiting factor since mana fails to be. An example is the Eredar Twins in late Sunwell. We weren’t necessarily happy with that model, and this change hopefully allows us to move towards giving healing a more deliberate and thoughtful pace rather than frenetic spam.

So, What Does All This Mean?

For those of you who may be puzzled by Blizzard’s language, I will sum up by saying that our mana regeration, which is admittedly too high at the moment, is going to be reduced by a number of combinatory factors, including both an across-the-board nerf to Spirit and tweaks to individual spells and abilities. This is the worst kind of nerf to receive, because it will be pretty difficult to tell how each of these points affects the others without extensive testing. Here’s hoping that enough people get on the PTR to avoid major bug fixes or crippled classes. I know that I’m planning to do some PTR raiding myself to test this out. Some posters on the WoW forums and on PlusHeal are predicting that nothing will change for them, or that they won’t “feel” the changes–that’s wishful thinking, or keeping one’s head in the sand. We’re going to notice. In terms of magnitude, my guess is that this one outpaces even the great nerf to Lifebloom in patch 3.0. And we’re going to notice out of combat. Questing as a healer is about to become very, very expensive as we’ll have to sit to drink much more than formerly. As many forum posters suggested, they’re going to need to put in some bigger, faster waters.

Why So Severe?

Bornakk’s post offers some justification for the changes. He says, “When mana regeneration is trivial then certain parts of the game break down – classes that offer Replenishment are devalued, stats that offer mana regeneration are devalued, and spells that are efficient are neglected in preference to spells with high throughput.” I am sympathetic to this point. I see druids stacking Spirit over Mp5, because it’s been widely believed throughout Wrath that Mp5 is too expensive a stat in terms of item budget. I’ll also note that there’s comparatively little of it available, at least compared to the ubiquitous Spirit. More and more healers are stacking Intellect as well. There’s every reason to believe that this practice will continue, and in fact become more common. I’ve also seen many raiders glyphing Healing Touch, preferring a very fast, but not very efficient spell over the slower Nourish, which when supported by 4pc T7 becomes our most efficient tank heal. And guess what? They’ve been beating me on the meters. Evaluating spells by HPM has become a practice for theorycrafters and not players. So yes, I agree that some changes are in order. I just don’t like the direction they’ve taken.

Why Should Druids Worry?

More so even than priests, the healing druid’s fate is tied to that of Spirit. I remember when the initial changes to Spirit were put in place for 2.3. Before that time, one resto druid in each raiding guild would stack Spirit in order to sit in the tank group and give a passive buff to tanks. Like all other buff-givers in BC (ahem, shadow priests), a Spirit-stacking druid traded some of her individual power for the buff. A Spirit-stacker had to sacrifice healing throughput (+heal) and efficiency (Mp5) as a tradeoff for a high amount of Spirit. It’s hard to tell without testing it out myself on the PTR, which I certainly intend to do, but my guess is that we’re about to return to pre-2.3 regen values for Spirit–or else come very close to that number. Druids have a number of abilities and talents that depend on Spirit, most notably Innervate, Living Spirit, and Improved Tree of Life. I would also argue that Intensity is greatly dependent on Spirit. As a consequence, druid gear weights Spirit very heavily. Up until now, it has been projected that at high levels of gear, a player should strive to keep their Spirit to Intellect ratio at 1.1 to 1. This has been very easy for resto druids–in fact, we’ve risked having too much Spirit–just through picking up our tier pieces and emblem items. It is not going to be easy for us to de-emphasize Spirit. We’re going to get stuck with a certain amount of it.

If Spirit is Junk, What Can We Do?

At a certain point, we are limited by the gear available to us. Because one of our cherished techniques–rolling HoTs and then pausing to regen–is about to go the way of the dodo, we’re not going to have a lot that we can actively do during a fight to counter the nerf. The overall advice is going to be “heal less.” There’s no two ways around it–we’re not going to be able to maintain current levels of throughput or coverage in the raid. I can already run myself out of mana, and I’m usually doing so to try to be competitive on the meters. I have a good sense of how long inside the FSR spam casting can last, and even with my current mana regen, it’s only a very few minutes, possibly 6-8, but not 10. In terms of technique, we are going to be swapping glyphed Healing Touch for Nourish. We are also going to be keeping to tighter healing assignments. As S13 put it last night, “Tank healers will stay on tanks and just that.” Sniping heals will no longer be common practice, as we won’t be able to afford it. As for Innervate, which isn’t on the list for a buff and stands to be very greatly affected by the change, I’m expecting that it will still do at least a little something for us–half a mana bar maybe, as it might if you were now in greens with little to no spirit. We’ll probably be glyphing it and using it on ourselves only.

Gear and Gems

In terms of gearing and gemming, we can actually mitigate how much this nerf will hurt us. Despite the laments of many healers, Replenishment seems to be here to stay. The most persuasive argument I’ve seen for preferring this new regen mechanic to the traditional Spirit-based regen is its predictability. It’s admittedly much tidier than giving all dps casters their own native regen mechanics like healers have. To take advantage of Replenishment, we need Intellect and Intellect alone. I don’t expect healers to suddenly be able to roll on gear earmarked for DPS casters, so we will have to be creative to get around our gearing. I expect that, like Innervate, the Spirit World Glass and the Majestic Dragon Figurine will continue to have some use for regen, but the best trinkets in the new order will become, respectively, Je’Tze’s Bell and the Darkmoon Card: Greatness, Intellect version. Malygos’s heretofore lackluster Living Ice Crystals will also be worth equipping. We’ll also be putting yellow intellect gems in our gear where possible. The smartest thing to do would be to buy them now, when they might be selling low, and replace our Spirit and Spellpower gems later. As for a meta gem, we have two choices: Insightful Earthsiege Diamond and Ember Skyflare Diamond. I think the former will be more useful, but it really depends on the levels of Intellect a player is able to attain. As far as enchants go, in some cases we’re stuck with Spirit. There’s not an Intellect or Spellpower option for everything. However, I fully expect to use the Spellpower weapon enchant and Tuskarr’s Vitality for extra speed on my boots. If Spirit is giving a poor return, let’s make the tree go faster. That’s always good for hard content anyway.

Are There Good Effects to the Nerf?

I can think of one consequence of the nerf that will, in the end, favor healers. I know it seems that healing–and healing difficulty–is being made the balance point of encounters in 3.1. However, I am going to forward the radical idea that the difficulty that raiding healers currently experience will not change at all. Over time, guilds tend to take less and less healers to the same encounters. Our sphere of responsibility gets larger as the guild gets “better.” Encounters go faster with more dps, and guilds typically sit out more dps than healers on progression content. These dps want in for the farm content, and the overall load on the healers in the raid becomes greater. In fact, even in an era of enrage timers, one of the best ways to guarantee an easier time at a new encounter is to take one healer more than the most hardcore strategies suggest. I can feel the difference between 5 healer Naxx and 7 healer Naxx, both of which Conquest has done based on the players who happened to show up. I’m predicting that Ulduar is going to feel like the 5-healer Naxx–except that there will be 7-8 healers sharing this load. This change will allow a few new healers to get raid spots. Of course, the shaman (predictably) comes out looking the rosiest after the nerfs–and yes, I’m a little jealous. I’m sure that resto shamans will have many opportunities to join top-notch raiding outfits. Many guilds of all types will be looking to add a new healer to their rosters, and guilds like ours, who are actually carrying extra healers, will be able to dip into their bench. Each one of us can only do so much. We will continue, as now, to do our utmost, and no more can be asked at that point. I expect the standard number of healers for Ulduar encounters to vary between 7 and 9, as it did for most guilds in Black Temple. If Dual Specs come in, there may even be some 10 healer encounters in the future.

A Word of Encouragement

Dear friends, we have all faced the nerf bat before this moment. This current danger to our mana regeneration is in truth no greater evil than the changes to Lifebloom, which we all suffered and survived, though our tanks have taken more spike damage ever since. Some day, we will look back and remember this mana regeneration nerf, as even now we look back on the nerf to Lifebloom. Let us continue on, then, healing faithfully in raids as we always have before.

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Comments

  1. Proposed changes for a patch not yet on the PTR. Do not lose hope, fellow druids!

  2. I don’t understand why spirit would be nerfed by these changes? It’s gonna get buffed for regen inside 5sr and it stacks with abilities and buffs. I like these changes.

  3. Thanks so much for the article, Syd! I appreciate it greatly. Going to see how some of this plays out on the PTR, for sure, but it’s good to have an idea of where to go in terms of building a new gear set. One question… you think that stacking intellect will be key? Still no need to stack mp5?

  4. @Denandra: Spirit itself is getting no kind of buff, in casting or out. In fact, it’s getting a straight nerf. Spirit is mostly responsible for our out of FSR regen. It does play into regen in the 5SR, and to that extent we’ll see a change in what we regenerate in casting. Casters won’t feel the difference (and they depend less on spirit anyway), but we will. To quote Bornakk: “we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board.” That to me means it will be a direct and unmitigated hit to the functioning of Spirit. Do not misunderstand: certain talents are getting an apparent buff: intensity, meditation, etc. This will not be a “real” buff–the percentage of the total regen they grant will increase, but the mp5 they grant will be the same. So, if they grant %15 percent now, that will be upped to 25% or 30% but the net effect will not be a buff.

    @Syll: If I’ve got a horse in this race it’s Intellect. It’s less “expensive” than mp5 in terms of item points. That said, if I can trade Spirit for mp5 on an otherwise equal item, I’m going to do it. I’m just going to gem with Intellect.

  5. Yes thank you, Sydera. This is exactly what I’ve been telling my guild (see below) and I’ve looked like a bit of a QQer because of it. This is principally a druid nerf–and apparently a shaman buff. Disc priests look to be a good bet post-3.1 too. I also suddenly wondered if more druids might try out Dreamstate builds again stacking high int.

    Rivvens last blog post..Mana regen changes for 3.1 = Druid nerf

  6. Like you said, just gem for int and let yourself be carried by replenishment in raids. The places where this nerf is really going to hurt is in five mans, in pvp (especially here, because regen on pvp gear is already terrible) and while soloing. At the very least blizzard should greatly increase mana regeneration while out of combat, because downtime is noone’s idea of fun.

  7. @Sydera:
    Ok, I was wrong. To my excuse I was upset about some druid on the official forums talking about stacking mp5 now (!). I know spirit will be nerfed and I fully understand how the changes are going to affect druids and holy priests. My point is I’ve been very dissapointed about how easy it has been so far getting enough regen. If more than 6 healers will be used in ulduar and more than 2.5 (No not half a healer but 2 for most encounters) for 10-man. I’m gonna be dissapointed. But whats so bad about requiring replenishment? It’s a team effort anyway right? And for downtime I remember spamming my drinkbutton at the end of pulls and with magewater that is not such a horrible thing.

    P.S. I think they might have to look at shamans and paladins regen abit more though.

  8. So the in combat regen stays the same or becomes better, only your OOC regen becomes less.

    Woooot! we finally get punished less for doing our job: casting heals.

    I’ve always found it odd that it was rewarded (and even expected) to sit back and watch. Generally if you compare healer activity against dps activity the healer has been staring at the screen (mana bar, pleaseplease become fuller) while the dps has had fun mashing buttons.

    The one thing I do hope is that they get it right straight away, and keep regen viable enough to indeed…keep casting.

  9. I’m a priest, so my views may change a little but I feel druids and priests have a comparable regen system. I think the impact of this change will be notable and will impact the balance between spirit and intellect. But I’m not so sure about the impact on the balance between spirit and mp5. Yes, it will be impacted… but the manaregen formula contains a product with intellect which means that these stats can work in tandem to beat mp5. Mathematically speaking, the spirit formula will outscale any lineair nerf or static value that mp5 can offer. The question is only: where is this point, and consequently, is this point achievable with our gear?

    My calculated guess points towards “yes”. Currently, a spirit healer outgears mp5 (in favor of spirit) easily with roughly 700-800 intellect and 80% FSR. This will now change in favor of MP5, but I’m more than confident this will not scale that much!

    Even if they introduce some absurd nerf, say… cut spirit regen in half and double our regen while casting talent (because they want FSR regen to be the same) and then they cut our ability to escape the FSR in half, then we’ll notice roughly a 15-20% decrease in mana regen from spirit.
    But this isn’t enough to kill spirit in favor of mp5.
    If the nerf takes this form, then spirit outscales MP5 as a passive regen stat at 1300 intellect (raidbuffed!). Assuming you use abilities that increase the value of spirit (innervate, your aura and what not), then you can expect spirit to beat mp5 earlier than with 1200 intellect.

    Those are very feasable stats for any raider with some naxx gear. On top of that, 3.1 introduces a new level of gear which will scale spirit even further away from mp5. In a way we’ll be closer to what TBC was: mp5 gives the best regen in the early content but spirit becomes better quickly once you farmed that content.

  10. I’ve been resto since back in the days of MC and they’ve changed druids healing style soo many times now its unreal. I remeber when they first introduced swiftmend instead of innervate and made innervate trainable (oh i was upset) -I learned how to use it, moved on. they introduced treeform… you can’t cast healing touch?! and wtf is this LB ability? I went feral (i dont do melee classes). Started raiding properly went resto, changed my healing style to suit blizz (again), learned how to utalise what they had given me, moved on. And now this? This is just another in a long line of changes. I’ll pick up the pieces of my ‘broken’ class and relearn how to play it to its full potential. And you never know, this might just not be that big a deal, we might really not notice the change. ( i doubt it)

    I have deliberatly left out the LB nerf, with the restrictions in tree from it needed to be powerful -i dont doubt that. take those restrictions out of the equation? well all your doing is giving druids back thier old flexibility preBC, but without the LB nerf they’re left with an OP’d spell. Yes LB is nice, it has very nice utility in certain situations, but its not the be all and end all -and never should have been.

  11. From what I’ve read, the net benefit of Spirit while in the 5-second rule should remain the same. Outside the 5-second rule is where the nerf will take place. So if you value Spirit’s value as:

    80% w/in 5SR
    15% outside 5SR
    5% Innervate

    Let’s say outside the 5SR and Innervate both get nerfed 40%, then the new value of Spirit would be:

    80 * 1 = 80
    15 *.6 = 9
    5 * .6 = 3

    For a total of 92% of it’s former value. Obviously this will depend on how you value each portion of Spirit and how much of a nerf it is. The druids in my guild only go outside the 5-second rule when there no damage to heal. But if there’s no damage to heal, you’ll likely never have any mana problems to begin with.

  12. Great post! Thanks for putting it all in a concise little package.

    Stompalinas last blog post..How not to be a Deathtard- DPSing in PuGs.

  13. Padrebayonet says:

    I am looking for ward to these changes. My Holy Priest has a current INT of around 970, SPI 650 with a 274 in 5sr regen. My SP is over 2270.

    ALL other Holy P’s i armory have 950+ INT and 950+ SPI and about 100-200 LESS SP than i do…

    I have mainteined all along that spirit was not as important as people believe for Priests…My gear is mainly mp5, SP gems, INT gems

    and i always top the priests on the meter while keeping the raid alive.

  14. @Padrebayonet : of course gearing strategies and preferences can differ. Given your stats I think your top IFSR regen in raids would be about 462 mp5. By focusing on int and spi I had about that amount of regen in pre-Nax gear. In healing output I was on par with T7 healers 🙂

    But a gearing strategy is not an exact science and the fact that we can so easily manage as a healer, give or take 100 mp5, is exactly the reason Blizzard wants to nerf our mana regen. But I doubt it will be enough to throw away spirit. The IFSR regen you can get from spirit is still competitive with straight mp5 and they claim our IFSR regen will remain the same.

  15. Padrebayonet says:

    I see your point Zus…. My point is dont waste gem slots on +16 Spirit. Go for SP and INT and mp5.

    There is more than enough Spirit stats on gear to get a priest to at least 750 unbuffed. That regen is enough.

    Give me more spellpower anyday and wise usage of Shadowfiend, mana pots or any other tricks.

    In my guild there is a Holy Priest who has 1800 SP and 1000+Int & 1000+SPI,
    He rarely ranks above the pally tank on heals. Of course he always has mana! lol

    I am just glad Blizzard has seen my way of thinking. I am now snickering as i see all the Holy Priests scrambling to get mp5 gear and more Spellpower!

    I’ve been prepared for this patch since i was level 60!

  16. The way I see it

    Imagine they nerfed spellpower you wouldn’t have many choices other than get more spell power

  17. Padrebayonet, you make me wish I was there to witness it. My experience is telling the exact opposite 🙂
    But hey, as far as I’m concerned, that diversity is a plus to this game. And I think the regen nerf won’t diminish this. Shift yes, kill no.

  18. Kallaister says:

    If your a priest with lots of intelect and mana per 5, this comin spirit nerf wont even be felt.

  19. My main is a druid, so the first thing that came into my mind when reading those changes was “Druid nerf”… but over all I’m pretty sure if it hurts us too badly they will reverese it.

    Besides, It might actually help regeneration in arena’s where we chain cast.

  20. Hey all, my name is lyife and I am the raiding tree for the 4th ranking guid on aerie peak server and just going to post my thoughts on this issue. At first I began preparing to change my gear from spirit to MP5 after a test on the PTR showed that applying lifebloom, rejuv and regrowth to a tank will oom me in aroudn 4 mins 30 if i roll the lifeblooms. On patch application however I discovered while a change in healing style is nescessary a regear is not. My char now only has 900 spirit which is nescessary in order for innervate to give me enough mana back but in raidnig practice the mana regen did not affect me hugely.

    Changes to my healing style mean i no longer apply lifebloom as a method of raid healing, i use rejuv instead and I apply lifeblooms last to tanks on my healing hots. This ensures I do not tie up so much of my mana in lifeblooms which are not nescessary. Also unless the tank is taking huge damage and needs to be spam healed I allow my lifeblooms to tick over. I have also glyphed and specced for healing touch. The reason for this is because in fights where the raid is taking large AOE damage we found that our AOE heals were not saving people on the brink of death so in fights such as P2 mimiron and XT002 tantrum I use HT to land a fast cast lifesaving heal on those that look like were about to die as well as spamming WG.

    The changes to my healing style have meant that my mana regen is the same and needs no gear change, though i did replace all spirit gems with spellpower. Overall while the spirit nerf has affected some classes I have not found myself OOM more than five times since the patch and that was on mimiron progression.

    In concluesion, Lyife say relax 🙂

  21. @Lyife: Please consult the date on the post. This was posted back in Feb.

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