BETA: The Dawning of the Death of Downranking

Image courtesy of deboer

A blue post has yielded valuable information that will change the way we heal:

This is not a bug.

In the latest WotLK beta push, we made a large change to the mana cost of spells.

All player spells now cost a percentage of base mana rather than a fixed cost. Base mana is a special value determined by the player’s level and class, regardless of any effects or items that increase intellect. It is the size of a player’s mana pool if the player has zero intellect.

This change was made primarily to prevent downranking, as it’s a technique that was never quite intended. Rather than continue to find ways to penalize players for casting low-rank spells, we decided to essentially make doing so obsolete. If rank 5 and rank 6 of a spell cost the same amount of mana, but rank 6 does more damage/healing, then there is no reason to consider casting rank 5.

So, each spell line (eg. Frostbolt, Shadowbolt, Greater Heal, Rejuvenation, etc.) has a fixed percentage of base mana that it costs for most of its ranks. That means each time a player gains a level the cost will go up some. The percentages were picked to attempt to keep the costs relatively similar to what they are currently in World of Warcraft. For most spells, that percentage will drop some when the player receives their highest-rank spell in existing Burning Crusade content. This was done to better fit the existing cost curve, and to keep the mana cost for level 70 players as close as possible to existing costs. Level 70 characters will see most of their maximum rank spells change in cost slightly up or down, but not by significant amounts.

We anticipate there being some balance concerns due to this change, and our development staff will be ready to implement new spells, abilities, or talents to resolve those issues as the testing process continues.


Old and busted

In the past, downranking our heals served primarily as a way for Priests to maintain mana as much as possible. Why spend almost 500 mana to cast a Flash Heal when a rank 2 Greater Heal that costs 210 mana does the same? Okay, sure, I stretched the cost slightly, but not by much. But I trust you get the idea.

Between downranking, chain-potting, trinkets, talents, spells, and other abilities, getting mana back was like tapping into the oil sands in Alberta for gas. There’d be enough to fuel one person for a long time.

The new hotness

Your max rank spell now costs more than a down ranked spell. My max rank Greater Heal cost me ~750 mana and all of my downrank spells cost ~860. The big question going into the expansion right now is how mana regeneration will function in raids. Chain potting has been nerfed big time with that debuff (although the debuff itself no longer appears, I’ve heard scattered reports that the debuff itself is present. It just doesn’t show up on the buff bar. Downranking now removes another form for casters and healers to conserve mana.

So what’s left?

  • Trinkets
  • Abilities
  • Gear
  • Tuned encounters

Trinkets, talents and abilities are simple no brainers. Gear is going to be jaw droppingly and fist pumpingly awesome. I’m anticipating about 110 spirit and 150 intellect on level 80 epic items. That will help increase our ability to regenerate mana yes. To counteract this effect, our spell prices will also increase once we’re at level 80.

I suspect raid compositions and raid specs will shift slightly from a DPS optimization build towards raid mana endurance. An example would be bringing classes that can help restore mana (Shamans, Druids, Shadow Priests, etc).

The last thing now is to ensure that the encounters in the game are at a bar high enough to present a challenge and low enough that it can be reached by the dedicated and the few (at least early on before it understandably becomes nerfed).

We are now at the mercy of Blizzard.

Halfway through level 71. My new job is keeping me busy on the weekdays. I cannot blog, raid, beta, and work at the same time! Need to max out time management skill to 300!

18 thoughts on “BETA: The Dawning of the Death of Downranking”

  1. Seeing as I never downranked a heal spell in raiding, I don’t think this will change my playstyle at all. I was never an old school raider, so never got trained that way.

    Still, should be interesting for paladins. I know a few of my guilds had a down ranked Holy Light build vs the spam of Flash of Light one.

    Cayleighs last blog post..Busy Week

  2. Indeed, Cayleigh: When I was training my Paladin, I was taught on boss fights to queue up a long rank Holy Light to activate the talent and keep the cast time even lower.

  3. I remain excited and somewhat optimistic. It’s learning a new playstyle, which frankly I did when TBC opened as well (two of my most frequently-used spells: ProM and CoH didn’t really exist in vanilla wow)

    The only thing that really worries me is the new top-tier holy talent. That little spirit of “you don’t die” seems to me like it will become a “this encounter requires this spell rotation” which, frankly, is my weak point.

  4. “max rank spell now costs more than a down ranked spell” I’m confused, shouldn’t that be less now? With the example you gave I think it is less mana cost for max rank as opposed to downrank….maybe I read it wrong.

    I am one of those rare priests that does not do a lot of downranking to begin with, but I also rarely go out of mana so I don’t see a need to. *insert growns and mumbling from the crowd here*

  5. I suspect raid compositions and raid specs will shift slightly from a DPS optimization build towards raid mana endurance. An example would be bringing classes that can help restore mana (Shamans, Druids, Shadow Priests, etc).

    The other thing is that physical DPS is made more desirable since most of those classes use little to no mana. In a prolonged fight, you never need to worry about a Rogues or Deathkinght running out of mana.

  6. [quote]It should be noted that chain potted has been re-actived on the current beta (potion sickness is gone), but no word on if this is intended or not.[/quote]

    It is not gone. Only the debuff icon is gone. Basically if you use a pot while in combat the cooldown on the pot won’t start until you leave combat. (this is at least cleveryly done so using abilities that get you out of combat still make you wait till your potion cooldown is back up).

    I still have faith in Blizz balancing the encounters around all the new stuff. There will be many classes with mana regen, it just means rethinking how to set up your raid, and when to cast which spell.

  7. I don’t understand why they’d get rid of downranking… I think one of the most useful aspects (at least in PvP) for downranking is the reduced cast time. I am not experienced in healing at the least, however, I do have an interest in learning to heal and am currently leveling two Priests with some friends who have just started playing on different servers (and I stumbled upon this site only a few days ago and have LOVED every post I’ve read). Anyway, since I haven’t played any caster above level 36 or so (my 60-70 characters are Hunter, Warrior, Rogue), I can only go from my limited understanding of Mages and Priests.

    To my understanding, downranking was a way to generate less threat, quicken the cast of a spell (although its effect is weaker), and in some cases, conserve mana when it would be unnecessary to use a more powerful level of the spell (a creature only has half the amount of hp of your highest rank firebolt, so you use a lower rank that will still guarantee the kill but it will come out faster and cost less mana). Also, casting a level 1 frostbolt is useful for kiting monsters and it’s also useful to slow enemy players quickly (although this is probably the part that was unintended).

    One thing that I’m not sure of is how +spell damage or +healing works with spells where the ranks don’t affect the cast time. I know there is a coefficient based on cast time that the +healing/+spell damage are subject to, but I don’t think there is anything like that for lesser ranks of spells (provided the cast time is the same between ranks). So I can see the developers having a problem with that as you can basically cast lower rank spells with much greater effect than was intended (though I personally think making a coefficient based on lower ranks for +spell damage/+healing would be a better route so that they are still viable choices, they just aren’t as beneficial).

    My brother also brought up a good point. If downranking wasn’t intentional, why did they not remove the spells from your spellbook when you acquired a greater rank, just like what happens for Warriors and Rogues?


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