Image courtesy of Xanderalex What do you think mana-pots taste like, anyway? I vote for blue-raspberry kool-aid.
Note: I wrote this piece BEFORE the news announcement about down-ranking spells in WotLK. I anticipate that this will make a tremendous impact on mana-regen, along with the possibility of debuffs like Potion Sickness, and I look forward to finding out how new talents like Serendipity help mitigate this situation. (I’m not specc’d into Serendipity right now on the Beta, mostly because Matt says it doesn’t work yet.)
In the 2.4 game mechanics, mana-regen for any class whose relevant stats include spirit is nothing short of phenomenal. Still, some of my colleagues occasionally have trouble making it through particularly intense fights with only self-sufficient regen tools. I’m of the philosophy that in most situations, Holy Priests can and should keep their own mana up just fine. If you are having trouble doing that, here are some troubleshooting tips for improving your own self-sufficiency:
When You’re The Problem
- Forgetting your CD (cooldown) rotation. Do you wait to take a Mana Pot until you’re nearly out of mana? Do you keep an eye on your Trinket, Shadow Fiend, and Inner Focus cooldowns and use them all to their fullest potential? Be honest with yourself, and if you know you could be getting more out of your built-in tools, either find a mod to monitor them for you, or move them to a more visible portion of your UI.
- Over-extending yourself. If your assignment is to heal parties 3 & 4, but you find yourself topping off the tanks and sneaking heals onto the melee, you’re probably just trying to give your best effort to your raid – and that impulse is good. What’s NOT good is that you’re under-serving the players you’re supposed to be protecting – and if they take sudden damage while you’re in the middle of casting a heal, even as a best-case scenario they’ll have to wait at least a 1.5 second cast or a GCD to get the heal that they’re supposed to be getting from you. This means some other healer is probably going to have to pick up YOUR slack. Even if you’re carefully monitoring your assignment, healing where you’re not supposed to gives an unrealistic experience to the healers that you’re “helping.” Sure, you know that FoL-spamming isn’t enough to keep up the MT, but that loladin that’s supposed to keep him alive will never figure it out if you keep sprinkling in ProM, G.heals, and Renews. You’re robbing him, and your guild, of that Pally’s chance to become a better healer.
- Improper gear optimization. Let’s face it, no one cares that your Greater Heal will hit for an average of 6k if you’re oom and can’t cast it. You don’t need 2,000 unbuffed +healing to heal Karazhan. (Or Kael, for that matter, and I have screenshots to prove it.) No matter what level of content you’ve reached, continuing to stack +heal after being fully capable of healing the incoming damage for your current raid content comes at the expense of other stats. This means objectively evaluating the stats YOU need for gems, enchants, or on relatively equivalent pieces of gear. (For example, T6 offers two healing staves – the Apostle of Argus (Archimonde) or the Staff of Immaculate Recovery (Bloodboil). The Apostle has more +heal, but the IR has balanced Spirit and Mp5. You need to be able to decide which stats will make the greatest impact on your gameplay.)
- Poor consumables. Raiding isn’t cheap. If you don’t want to spend the money on the best enchants, gems, and consumables you shouldn’t be running end-game content. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be playing WoW, just that you need to find some other less resource-intensive passion within the game. Know what your options are, and don’t try to cheap out. The repair bills and nights of frustration end up being more expensive, anyway. So if the flasks you should be using are pre-BC, and the food you need to eat is rare, and the pots you ought to use don’t come from a freebie quest reward…. Suck it up, use the premium consumables, and see what a difference a few little things will make in your mana-return.
- Overhealing. If you don’t downrank your spells, you’re burning extra mana. There is absolutely no reason to cast a 6k heal on someone taking 1k hits who is only missing 2k health. Overshoot it by the incoming 1k damage, throw a 3k heal on them, and spend the 2-300 mana you just saved on someone else.
When Something Else Is The Problem
- Poor class make up for the fight. Because Priests CAN do any healing job, frequently the burdens of under- or incorrect staffing fall on our shoulders. We’re the only class who can always pick up the slack. There’s not much you can do about this during a raid, but afterwards, approach your healing leader, raid leader, or GM with solutions – Maybe a healer-friend who would be an excellent addition to the roster, or a positioning strategy that would help lessen the strain.
- Poor group composition. Some fights, until you gear-soak a bit, you really just need a mana battery. If you don’t have a Shadow Priest, or a Shaman with a Mana-totem, ask for one. Check around with friends who have done the same fight, and see if they’re getting some kind of support that you’re not.
- Re-speccing. I’m assuming you’re a Priest as you read this. If your guild can’t decide whether you should be Improved Spirit or CoH, know that both healing-styles are different enough to affect your mana regen. Auz over at ChickGM is a dyed-in-the-wool IDS priest, and averages 65% of her time in the 5SR. As CoH Spec, I spend upwards of 85% of my time “casting.” That is a HUGE difference in non-casting mana regen, and makes Mp5 more valuable to me as a stat than it is to Auz, EVEN THOUGH WE’RE BOTH HOLY PRIESTS. You can’t control wishy-washy raid leadership, but keep a couple extra trinkets and consumables to swap around to make sure you’re good to go no matter which way they tell you to Spec.
How To Fix It
- Train yourself. Don’t do this on a progression run, but learn how to wean yourself off the crutches: Instruct your Druids that they should use their innervates for themselves. Ask for a Mage to be given your spot in the S.priest group. (Added bonus! Your Mage-buddy will love you!) Bring smaller mana pots, and use them as you would the Supers – you stay in the habit of burning your cooldown, but get used to operating with less mana. Swap your trinkets out for less-helpful ones. (Keep them similar, so you keep in the habit of popping them.) Or just swap your trinkets in general – maybe the proc from the Bangle is worth more than the extra 170 Spirit use from the Earring.
- Use mods that keep track of how much time you spend “casting” and learn how to maximize your inherent regen. (My favorite is RegenFu, but it requires FuBar to work.)
- Chain your abilities. When you get a Clearcast proc, use it, and follow up with an Inner Focus – If both are used with 3-second casts, and followed up with a stop-casting macro, you can buy a lot of oo5sr time without abandoning your job.
- Fix your broken gear. I don’t mean repairs (but check that, too!) Do the research and spend the money to make sure that your gear is fully optimized. No common gems, no cheap enchants. Make the most of what you have.
- Know your capabilities. Test on your own to know what your current gear can do when pushed to its max. Swap an item or trinket and test again. Research and find out what other Priests are capable of doing.
It’s not that you’ll never need any outside support to maintain your mana pool. If a lot of healers have died, or you started out short-handed, or you’re truly under-geared for your content, you could need some help. Obviously, Vampiric Touch, Mana Tide, and Innervate are in the game for a reason. The idea isn’t that you should never need them, just that if you always rely on them, you’re cheating yourself and your raid out of the exceptional contributions that you can make, not to mention hogging resources that could go to other players.