BETA: The Dawning of the Death of Downranking

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.

Zarhym

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!

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

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