Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Can you hear it?

There’s a gentle hum in the ether. It’s a grinding of cogs and a rattlin’ of nuts and bolts. It’s the sound of the WoW developers thinking about us healers. Yay, they’re showing us some development love! Ah, but this time, they’re thinking about getting us to DPS. Wait, wut? I’m a healer, not a DPS! That’s like the antithesis of healer, right?

Well, that was my first thought when I read Ghostcrawler’s musings, over on MMOChampion. I’m not going to regurgitate the blue tracker verbatim here as you’ve probably already read it, but for reference the basics are that the devs are thinking about giving us healers some DPS utility. It sounds like their current plane of thought keeps healers away from having a duty to do X damage in a group setting but enables them to do some damage if they want to. That is, enabling us to damage things might make things a bit faster for the group in a Heroic, say, or fun for us if we fancy it.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage, and there’s nothing  concrete now or definitely going to happen in the future. But if it is an option then it got me thinking. How would I feel, as a healer, about having new and improved DPS options?

The power! Now that you mention it. I mean, we don’t know any details of how much damage they’re thinking we might be able to do. But come on – having your group’s cute, fluffy priest patch the team up and then turn round and smite ye monsters seems a bit well, Heroic. The fluffy priest would be worth the utility of two single-role players. That sounds a little over-powered to me, or at least like a back-door into Hero class status. “Uber-healer” perhaps.

I’m sure the devs have already thought of the potential of too much power, too much utility. Powerful healer class also able to kick out a believable impression of another role? Surely not. So perhaps we’re going to see some kind of power trade-off. A glass ceiling on our healing capabilities to make room for DPS utility, so we’re not too good. Perhaps that ceiling will even be customizable, so that you can decide how much or little you fancy being able to DPS – in return for being a slightly less capable healer.

I wonder whether this could lead to a whole new breed of hybrid. I’m not just talking about a hybrid class, or role, made by Uber healers – although that could happen, exponentially more if it were to be customizable. I’m talking about a hybrid player type. I’m willing to bet that not all healers want or much care to be able to DPS. I know I don’t, for one. Personally I think that healing classes should be about restoring health, not subtracting it. I also think if that’s what the class’ or spec’s lore is centred around, a lot of healers might have a problem with doing damage. Mimetir herself would, as tree. Zap the enemies? No, that’s what lazer-chicken form is for.

Saying that, I’m sure it’d be fun for some healers, and there are probably healers all the way along the spectrum from “meh” to “w00t laz0rtree here I come!”

Either way we’re getting into the battle-lines drawn up between “spec ret if you want to DPS” and “healers should contribute as much as they can”.  Both are fair sides, and the latter gets me thinking about mechanics. An Uber healer putting out twice the threat to usual? Think of your holy pally dropping some huge heals and then nuking the mobs with something suitably vengeful. That’s either going to be one dead Uber-healer, one twitching tank or one game play mechanic in need of serious tweaks. So that the players don’t, you know, break.

Not to mention the brief fate met by a PvP mage who’s missed the patch notes and has just met his first Uber healer in Warsong Gulch. Or team of them in the arenas. I know I wouldn’t be amused if I was that mage, particularly if I then found the battlegrounds were overrun by these new Hero classes. Oops, Uber healers.

It also occurs to me that whatever it does or doesn’t do to healers, cataclysm does bring with it a drive to get us all to start new characters. Do we really want the capital cities to be filled with fluffy but overpowered priests months down the line? Imagine the looting.

So what do you think? Do you want to be able to DPS as well as heal? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or do you have anything you’d really like to see done with it?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

Ghostcrawler Provides Specifics on the 3.1 Mana Regen Nerf

crab

Phew! Priests and druids can breathe again as, today, Ghostcrawler explained the specific nature of the upcoming revision to out-of-casting mana regeneration. I’ll let the crab’s words speak for themselves, but you can read the whole interesting discussion here.

The goal is to have mana last about the same for all healers. We don’t think many players would be that interested in a style where you heal crazy good for a short period and then run OOM. How classes manage their mana varies a lot, and we are making tweaks to it for 3.1 to try and keep them in line. For example, the shadow fiend needs to be more reliable.

I am still not following the logic that Int now trumps Spirit by even more. It may have been a better stat already, but these changes shouldn’t affect it that much unless you A) skip Meditation and Intensity, or B) relied a whole lot more on OOFSR regen than the average raid healer of reasonable skill.

I will break from our normal practice and go ahead and provide the numbers, just to make sure nobody is guessing about the details when doing their estimates:

The amount of base mana regen granted has been reduced 40%. We called this “Spirit” in the notes, since most players associate OOFSR regen with Spirit, but in reality Int factors into the equation as well and we only lowered the constant, not the relative contributions of Int or Spirit. In retrospect, this probably caused more confusion than it alleviated, but mana regeneration is a fairly technical concept.

– The effects of talents that provide mana regen while casting have been increased by 67%. This includes: Arcane Meditation, Improved Spirit Tap, Intensity, Mage Armor, Meditation, Pyromaniac, and Spirit Tap. For example, Intensity and Meditation are now 17/33/50% mana regen while casting (up from 10/20/30%). For most dps classes who never got much mana from OOFSR in the first place, the results should not be noticeable. Boomkin may be a possible exception because of Innervate, and we’ll take a look at that.

This should leave mana regeneration while casting (even the contribution of Spirit) relatively unchanged, but reduce mana regeneration while not casting by 40%.

– Since paladins don’t rely on any of those abilities for mana regeneration, we lowered the healing penalty of Divine Plea to -50%. We are also likely to make Spiritual Attunement provide less mana for non-tanking paladins. We are not touching Illumination for the moment. Nor are we lowering the effects of Replenishment (though as I have suggested, it would be our likely next target if we aren’t happy with the results of these changes).

What’s the Difference?

Previously, accounts of the proposed nerf to mana regeneration were misleading. The net result is the same in either case–a reduction in the number you’ll see for regen outside of the 5-second rule–but the method is different. Blue poster Bornakk originally described the change as an adjustment to the contribution of Spirit: “To make this change, we are reducing mana regeneration granted by Spirit across the board.” Considering that statement, it’s no wonder that so many priests and druids panicked. Ghostcrawler amends this statement to the more reasonable proposition of decreasing the amount of O5SR regen we get by 40%, which is no insignificant amount, but his comment directly declares that the relative contribution of Intellect and Spirit will remain the same.

Why Does the Method Matter?

Blizzard could in fact have achieved their goal of reducing O5SR regen by reducing the contribution of spirit. At current, mana regeneration is arrived at by an equation that takes into account level, Spirit, and Intellect. For more information on this particular formula, I’ll direct you to some of Phaelia’s work on the subject–here I am in over my head. However, I can summarize. Spirit, at current, contributes more to mana regeneration than Intellect, but the formula uses them both. It has been theorized that, right now, the best mana regeneration occurs when a character has a Spirit to Intellect ratio of approximately 1:1, or perhaps 1.1:1 at higher gear levels. If the relative contribution of Spirit had been reduced, Intellect would have become, consequently, a more important factor in the equation.

But That’s Not All!

A directed nerf to Spirit would have caused other complications. After all, we don’t pick up Spirit and Intellect just for their contribution to the mana regen formula. For Priests and Druids, Spirit can affect our Spellpower and certain talents like Meditation and Intensity (which increase in-five-second-rule regen). Druids have the most reason to bet on Spirit in the Spirit-Intellect horse race. The following talents and abilities depend on Spirit: Intensity, Living Spirit, Improved Tree of Life, and Innervate. There’s a very good reason that most leather Spellpower gear prefers Spirit over mp5, which is a regen stat that does nothing but regen. Intellect, on the other hand, has become the new most-coveted stat in the healing game. It increases the size of one’s mana pool as it has always done, and it plays the same role in the regen formula that it has since patch 2.4. However, the size of the mana pool used to matter less than it does currently. Replenishment returns mana based on a percentage of total intellect–thus, we now have a way to refill those giant mana pools. Most healers believe that Replenishment made its way into the game to facilitate caster dps, and I agree, but without it, healer regen would be somewhat less than extraordinary. In my opinion, the devs made an excellent choice when they decided to keep Spirit and Intellect’s relative contributions the same as they are now–otherwise, Intellect would have gained popularity just like a runaway train on a downward slope gains speed.

Do I have to Re-Gear and Re-Gem?

The jury is still out on this one. If the nerf had been directly to Spirit, you certainly would have. You might have even had to throw away your Spirit trinkets–the Spirit-World Glass and the Majestic Dragon Figurine–which would have been a shame. All the Naxx Spirit gear might have suddenly seemed like an unwise purchase. It is true that Intellect is probably already the stronger stat. As such, as mana regen becomes tougher, and you become faced with needing to add more Intellect or more Spirit, you might choose Intellect–if you have a choice. For example, I might still pick the Darkmoon Card Greatness: Intellect over the Spirit version. I’ll also be heading to the PTR with a stack of pure Intellect gems in order to get a sense of whether re-gemming is in order. It does not seem, however, that mp5 will be gaining much status. It’s already the downtrodden healer stat of Wrath, and I expect it to make only slight gains now. You won’t throw away your Spirit gems for mp5, after all, though you probably won’t turn down a necklace or ring with mp5 instead of Spirit once 3.1 hits.

Conspiracy Theories

How is it that two such very different accounts of the nerf have appeared? In my mind, one of two things must have happened.

1. The devs think we’re really stupid. This is the cause that GC hints at in his post. They might not realize that the community, as a whole, is very educated about their game and how it works. I’ve known that Intellect plays a part in my regen ever since 2.4 hit. If this is the case, I’d like to express my disappointment. To use an analogy from my own life, I get better results in my college classes when I treat my students like adults, capable of grappling with complex issues, than when I treat them like children who can only absorb one simple idea at a time. I’d never tell my students that Columbus “discovered” America. That’s an hour lecture on who encountered what and what it means to “explore” new lands that are already full of people.

2. They changed their mind. The devs might have realized that the current spirit-heavy druid and priest gear would become irrelevant. Rather than having to revisit all of those items which play up Spirit, it seemed far easier in the end to keep Spirit and Intellect in balance. It would probably have made people really angry to have to try extreme methods–like using the wrong armor type, or regemming for straight +Intellect regardless of bonuses–to get a competent level of regen with the gear currently available. If so, congrats to them. If they never admit to a change in thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised. All it means is that someone on that team has a few brain cells to rub together. I’ve never been one to think the devs are stupid–they’re just sometimes slow to anticipate the community’s reaction. Being a part of the WoW community, I’m much closer to that reaction and can guess it pretty accurately. If they changed their method of attack on the OFSR regen, they just made a really smart call.

In any case, I am one relieved druid as of today.