Image courtesy of andrewatla
A few words on Spell Haste: I can tell that Spell Haste is going to be the next big epeen-measurement stat. There are a couple of reasons behind this, the biggest one being that Sunwell fights are so demanding that Spell Haste is indispensable to heal all the incoming damage. The thought process runs something like this: If it’s good enough for Sunwell, it’s good enough for everyone, right? In fact, the more you have, the better you must be, right? Nope. Of course not – if that were true, I wouldn’t have a reason to post.
Sorry, I missed a left turn at Albaquerque. What is Spell Haste? Simply put, Spell Haste allows you to cast the same spells – faster. 15.67 of Spell Haste is a 1% casting-time reduction. Haste can also decrease your global cooldown to a minimum of one second. (That’s at something like 475 – effectively haste-capped. At this point, I’m not entirely sure it’s even possible to stack up that much spell haste. It certainly isn’t possible without running your other stats into the ground.)
As cool (and useful in Sunwell) as Spell Haste is, there are a lot of reasons it just doesn’t live up to the hype:
Once in a while, some misguided soul will compare healing a raid to playing whack-a-mole. Maybe it’s accurate for your first few raids – before you figure out much about game mechanics and set up your UI properly you might have no idea who was going to take damage next. This is probably why you see so many entry-level wws reports showing an abundance of Flash Heals; the healers just aren’t experienced enough to not play a reactive game. But good healers know their fights, know their raid-mates, and know their raid frames well enough to start a cast before damage happens. Giving those same, inexperienced healers spell haste before developing their other, more relevant stats first, simply reinforces that gut reaction o-m-g-he’s-gonna-die-i-gotta-toss-healz-nao mentality. Spell haste won’t make inexperienced (or bad, for that matter) healers better, but it will train them to think faster is better – when really, planning ahead and paying attention is better.
Flash back to Economics class with me: Opportunity cost is the cost of resources that must be given up in order to obtain other resources. You’ll notice a pattern with pre-Sunwell Spell Haste items – to get the haste, you have to give up mana regen.
Exception: Brooch of Nature’s Mercy, which is worth farming Eagle Boss in ZA for its Spirit alone.
As you’re working your way through content, you have a lot to think about in terms of stat-balancing. Your +healing must be high enough to handle the incoming damage, you have to have enough regen to last the entire fight, and you have to have enough Stamina so that you can actually do some healing. If you’re not to the point where most of your slots have few upgrades, you probably don’t have stats to spare. If you think you do, you probably don’t have enough regen. These other stats are so important for T4, T5, and BT/Hyjal content that giving them up for a stat that is not required is foolish. Wait to stack Spell Haste until you really can afford the cost to your other metrics.
Running Out of Mana
One thing that I notice most often with premature Spell Haste stacking is that casters run out of mana.
Bear with me. (Warning: I like easy math, so I’m using VERY rounded numbers and assuming no Quartz, Lag or other fun stuff)
Say I have a 10k mana pool, and that each Greater Heal costs 500 mana. This means I can throw out 20 of them before I go out of mana. But, I also have 250 Mp5. Each of those 20 casts took 2.5 seconds – a total of 50 seconds.
So I accrued 10 full ticks of my Mp5 – an extra 2500 mana.
An extra 5 Heals. An extra 12.5 seconds of casting.
Which, thanks to the magic of Mp5, bought me ANOTHER 1094 mana.
ANOTHER 2 casts, ANOTHER 5 seconds – and I’m done. (Because that only bought me 250 mana, which added to the 94 I had left over isn’t enough to cast another heal for this experiment.)
So TOTAL, my 10k mana pool and 250 Mp5 bought me 27 heals over 67.5 seconds. (There is a FABULOUS mod called Dr. Damage that will show you all of this in a tool tip.)
If my G.Heal hits for 6k, I just healed for 162,000. But what if we trade regen for S.Haste? Okay, now I have a 10k mana pool, each heal costs 500 mana, so I still get to throw 20 of them before I go oom. But NOW, each of those 20 casts took TWO seconds. So NOW, it only took 40 seconds. Which means I only got 8 ticks of my Mp5, which is now 200. So I only got back 1600 mana. An extra 3 heals. An extra 6 seconds of casting. Only 300 mana back. Suddenly, I’m done. (Sure, I could wait 1 second, and buy a 24th heal but then i’m REALLY done – and it takes me longer to get back in the game, because my regen is less.) Total: 23 heals over 46 seconds. 138,000 healing. Down 24,000. Down by more than my Main Tank’s pool.
For what? To get that 138k out fast enough so that it’s overheals? Because in 95% of the raiding-game, you don’t need to throw ‘em out that fast to keep up with the damage, so they would be wasted. But you’re not chain-casting? You’d have more time to regen mana? Great. Then you really don’t need the Spell Haste.
Lack of Available Gear
Another reason not to fuss over Spell Haste too much is how little gear there really is out there with Spell Haste on it. WoWhead lists 29 Priest-friendly healing items with Spell Haste GAME WIDE. Of these, 16 drop in SW, 1 in Hyjal, 2 in BT, and two require Hearts of Darkness. So unless you’re very wealthy or your guild is working through advanced End-game, you have 8 options total – and a few of those are for the same slots!
Not Fully Developed as A Talentable Stat
As Priests, we have a couple of talents that reduce the casting time of certain spells. Could be divine fury, could be shortening up our Mass Dispel or Mana Burns. But, there is no far-reaching talent option to truly take advantage of this stat wholesale. Yet. I anticipate that WotLK will bring a lot more viability to this stat as a whole, with the introduction of talents like Improved Holy Concentration. The new content will probably require a decent amount of Spell Haste, but, as currently implemented, the fact that Spell Haste gains no help from any available builds further decreases the value of gaining it as compared to other stats – spirit or +heal – that DO gain multipliers from our available talent trees.
Sunwell fights are a holy-crap-did-you-see-that-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth kind of experience. I know a guy who, before the 2.4.3 nerfs, was spending nearly 1,000g on Mu’ru attempts PER NIGHT. (Scrolls, haste pots, elixirs, repairs, etc. He’s actually leveling an herbalist just to take the pressure off.) The best comparison is to old-school Naxxramus. You just don’t do Sunwell unless you’re really dedicated to the game, and long after WotLK comes out, veteran raiders will be swapping stories about how hardcore the fights were, and what a mind-bender it was.