Archive for the ‘theory’ Category

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Dealing with the Deplorable Drape

07/27/2010

Alliteration is fun!  Kurn and I had been talking about this a bit and I thought I’d post about it.

– Why the Drape of the Violet Tower is mediocre –

First off, this is obviously written for healadins, but shaman can get on this boat as well, as the gearing needs of shaman tend to closely resemble those of healadins these days, at as far as back slot goes.  The Drape of the Violet Tower is the cloak purchased with 50 Emblems of Frost.  The stats on it are crit/MP5 and the socket color is blue.

The main problem with this cloak is that both crit and MP5 are considered regen stats, both of which are undesirable.  The truly desirable stat is that our throughput stat of haste, which is what we gear towards, is completely missing from this piece.  I am going with the generally accepted stat weighting of:  INT > haste > crit and MP5  There will be some light use of numbers to explain ways to work around or work with this item.

– Solution #1:  Avoid it –

It is important to point out that ilevel is generally -not- an important element to gearing for healadins if the stats are not optimal.  The loss of some INT is worth keeping the correct itemization on a lower ilevel cloak.  There are some quite acceptable alternatives to this piece at varying levels of difficulty.  I will write out the loss/gains of choosing each alternative.  Also, I am trying to list them in order of “best alternative to weakest alternative,” but all of these can be considered instead of the Drape.

Cloak of the Burning Dusk (-30 MP5, +4 INT, +4 crit, +7 SP, + 64 haste, yellow socket for +5 SP):  Obviously, this is the best bet of cloaks.  You’ll have to fight every other caster out there for it, but Halion-25 is puggable in this day and age.  It might take a few weeks, but getting this cloak is doable with some patience.  (Heroic: -30 MP5, +14 INT, +13 crit, +21 SP, +73 haste, yellow socket for +5 SP)

Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape (-30 MP5, +8 crit, +52 haste):  This cape comes from Valithria-25 and used to be the best caster cloak.  Since the release of Halion and his cloaks, this one might be easier to get.  Healadins also have a leg-up on getting this boss down in a PuG, since we are so useful for the fight.  Any PuG that can clear the first four ICC bosses should be able to get this encounter finished no problem.  (Heroic:  -30 MP5, +9 INT, +16 crit, +13 SP, +60 haste)

Abduction’s Cover (-6 MP5, -4 INT, -52 crit, -6 SP, +57 haste):  This cape off Halion-10 is a great example of why ilevel means so little compared to itemization.  Despite the slightly lower ilevel is it quite obvious that this cloak is superior to the Drape.  Again, PuGs for this are not terribly hard to find.  With some time and some lucky rolls, this is quite the nice upgrade.  (Heroic: -2 MP5, +4 INT, -52 crit, +7 SP, +64 haste)

Heartsick Mender’s Cape (-3 MP5, -8 INT, -52 crit, -12 SP, +45 haste):   Compared to the first three options, this cloak off of Princes-10 is a little light on the haste, but is still an excellent choice.  This encounter might be harder on PuGs than some others, but it is at the least available to strict 10-man groups.  And yes, despite the lower ilevel this is a far and away better choice than the Drape.  The hardmode version is even better, if you can get your hands on it.  (Heroic:  -52 crit, +52 haste)

Pennant Cloak (-30 MP5, -23 INT, -18 crit, -33 SP, +42 haste):  People hate to hear it, but this Sarth+2 25-man cloak is actually generally better than the Drape.  That -23 INT is a bit hard to bear, but the gain of haste makes up for it.  Point for point, this cloak is going to yield better results than even the ilevel 245 listed below.

Flowing Sapphiron Drape (-30 MP5, -15 INT, -2 crit, -8 SP, +35 haste, -socket):  The loss of the socket on this is a major “ouch.”  The total INT loss with that socket would be -35 INT, so it is important to look at the rest of your gear before grabbing this off of Onyxia-25.  Do you have at least 675 haste?  Do you have enough regen on other items?  Generally, if you answer “no” to the first question, this is a better choice than the Drape.  If you answered “yes” to the first, then the second question is one you might have to play around with to figure out.

– Solution #2: Work with it –

It is possible to use the Drape if you are careful to cover the item’s weaknesses elsewhere.  Generally, a healadin can get away with a single slot without haste if we take the time to compensate elsewhere.  This really only works if the Drape is the only piece of crit/MP5 gear you are using.  The use of any other crit/MP5 piece upsets the balance too much to make this a viable solution.

Gearing changes:  A way to work with the extra load of regen from the Drape is to replace 2-3 haste/MP5 items with haste/crit items.  It is important to do this -only- with slots where switching would yield either more haste or equal haste.  For example, switching your Mail of Crimson Coins to Meteor Chaser’s Raiment.

Consumables:  Switch your food to either Imperial Manta Steak or Very Burnt Worg.  The 40 haste from either of these choices is really the way to go for healadins.  (Dare I say that all healadins should be using these, regardless!)  A more costly change, but one that should seriously be considered by anyone wanting to use the Drape, is to switch from using a flask to using two elixirs.  The two best choices for elixirs would be Elixir of Lightning Speed (45 haste) and Elixir of Mighty Thoughts (45 INT).  The haste gain is great and the INT elixir will help make up for losing the 65 INT from the Flask of Distilled Wisdom that all healadins should be using.  (Pardon me while I yell at myself for not doing so 100% of the time, too.)

Gemming:  I do -not- suggest switching any INT gems to haste gems.  If you are running so low on haste that gemming for it becomes a consideration, then you shouldn’t be using the Drape at all.  Likewise, there isn’t a metagem that will make up for the loss of haste, so just stick with your IED.

– Blizzard hates good itemization –

They pretty much always have.  The question is how to deal with what they give you.  While working around the Drape of the Violet Tower is possible, most people are going to find that simply avoiding the thing will take far less time and effort.  Of course, part of the reason I bothered to write this all out is so that Kurn will no longer tease me for using it myself.  But hey, using it thoughtfully and balancing out the weaknesses is okay.  Using it just because it’s there, without thinking about it, is what causes issues.  Remember, higher ilevel does not mean automatic upgrade.

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Simple Questions/Simple Answers #1

07/20/2010

There is a section on ElitistJerks.com where you can post your questions and get them answered.  I don’t think many people actually -use- that, as there are so many who find the website disorganized or otherwise intimidating.  (They do live up to the “jerks” part pretty regularly.)  So I thought I’d offer that service here, instead.  The choice to do so was mostly made as I was helping a new-ish paladin streamline his gearing the other day and some of the things he didn’t know astounded me.  I’m going to start with a few of his questions here and hopefully my readers will toss more my way.

“Do you have to use two Nightmare Tears to activate the IED metagem?” – Nope, you don’t.  A Nightmare Tear counts for a red, yellow -and- blue in a single gem.  That means popping a single Nightmare Tear into your helm will allow you to gem pure INT everywhere else.

“What is the best libram and how do I get it?” – That would be the Libram of Renewal, available for purchase from the Heroism badge vendor.  (You’ll have to downgrade your Triumph badges to Heroism ones to buy it, just like you would if you were buying gems.)  You do NOT need to run Naxx for it.

“Should healadins gem for socket bonuses?” – No.

“What spells should a healadin be using?” – Mostly Holy Lights, with the occasional Flash of Light thrown in.  During low damage times, using more FoLs will be okay, but HL is the primary spell you should use.  Holy Shock is saved for movement or emergencies.

“What stats should a Disc. priest go for?” – Spellpower is king.  Everything else falls far down the list of importance.  Crit is more useful than haste or Spirit/MP5, so your gear should all have crit on it.  Whether you go crit/haste or crit/Spirit is rather unimportant.  Take whichever is higher ilevel of the two (more spellpower that way).  If you end up needing more mana, lean more towards crit/Spirit gear.

“Why do Resto. shaman run with such low MP5 these days?” – Because with enough crit (from their crit/haste gear), MP5 is largely unnecessary.  This is especially true when said shaman is using a (heroic) Solace.

“Does raiding with two Disc. priests work?” – Yes, just make sure healing assignments are by group and -very- clear.

There you have it.  Any other questions I run into will be posted at a later date.  It is rather hard trying to not give huge, in-depth answers!

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Healadin Do-it Yourself – Converting INT (and crit) to MP5

05/24/2010

I was emailed just recently asking for the formulas to convert INT into MP5.  The answer I sent back was rather complicated and took a long time to write, so I figured I’d turn it into a blog post.  More people might want to take a “do-it yourself” attitude towards their mana regen.  Why wouldn’t you, right?

– First it is about averages –

Before you can even begin to look at the math, you need to figure out the average amount of times things happen.  Open up those WoLs, ladies and gents, and let’s get ready to spend some time at it.  This is the most time consuming part of the whole process, but it is necessary if you are going to get an accurate answer.  (Otherwise you’d just straight up believe me when I tell you it should be about 1 INT =~ .8 MP5!  But that’s not what this is about, is it?)  I like to go through and find all the hardmodes for my averages, as I tend to get very lazy during farm content and that throws off my numbers.  Just remember to get as large a sample as you can.

The abilities are you looking for are Divine Plea, Judgment of Blah (doesn’t matter which) and Arcane Torrent if you’re a blood elf.  You’re also looking for uptime on Replenishment and Revitalize.  Also, you need to know if you normally have a Restoration Shaman in your group for Mana Tide totem.  For most people, that’s a binary yes-no answer.  If you are like me and always have at least one, but sometimes have -two,- I suggest doing the math figured with just the one and consider the second a “bonus.”

You will need to convert your casts into casts per five minutes for all fights, before trying to average them.  It’s not hard, just convert those 12 Judgments during that 6.5 minute fight into x casts for a 5 minute one by putting it into seconds.  (12/360 = x/300)  Do that for each fight and then add up all the xs and divide by your sample size.  It is completely alright to work with a decimals (ex. 10.6) as that won’t mess up the math.

To get an accurate number from the crit rating portion of it, you’ll likewise need to find the average casts per minute for Holy Light, Flash of Light and Holy Shock.  Note that it is casts per -one minute- for those spells and not per five minutes as for the others.  Decimals are again okay to have.

Now we figure out your average up-time on Replenishment and Revitalize.  WoL is very nice in that it gives you the number of ticks per fight.  So you’ll be converting those 270 ticks in that 5.25 minute fight to x ticks in a 5 minute fight.  (270/315 = x/300)  What we’re looking for is the average up-time, this time, so once you find that average x, go ahead and divide it by 300.  If you don’t have a number that is less than 1, then something went wrong in your calculations.

That was step one.  Now it’s time to move onto the far more fun step two!

– Plug and chug –

This is pretty straightforward, but I suggest using a round number for INT in these equations.  I favor using 10 INT, since working with smaller numbers can get messy.  (You’d just divide by 10 at the end if you want to know what 1 INT is in MP5.)  If you are looking for a specific MP5 amount from a given item, like the Talisman of Resurgence, you -can- plug it into the equations and do it that way, although I’d probably recommend finding for 1 INT and then multiplying at the end instead.  Also, if you’re looking for the MP5 from an item, -always- remember to add in that extra 10% INT that healadins get!  (The aforementioned Talisman yields ~141 INT to healadins.)

Okay, enough talk.  Time for numbers!

Mana from INT:
1 INT = 18 mana
z INT * 18 = x

a) Crit mana return formula:
((z / 166.66667) + 3.336) = Crit % from z INT
Crit % from z INT * 45.91 = Crit rating from z INT
(HLPM * 382.2 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) + (HSPM * 237.3 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) + (FoLPM * 92.1 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) = the MP5 1 crit is worth to you for this fight where HLPM = Holy Lights per minute, HSPM = Holy Shocks per minute, and FoLPM = Flash of Lights per minute
Crit rating from z INT * MP5 from 1 crit = a
a = MP5 from z INT via crit

b) Mana Tide formula:
(x * 0.24 / 5 / 60) * 5 = mp5 from Mana Tide, where x is the mana gained from z INT
b = MP5 from z INT via Mana Tide

c) Replenishment formula:
(x * 0.01) * y = mp5 from Replenishment, where x is the mana gained from z INT and y is the average uptime expressed as a decimal
c = MP5 from z INT via Replenishment

d) Revitalize formula:
(x * 0.01) * y = mp5 from Revitalize, where x is the mana gained from z INT and y is the average uptime expressed as a decimal
d = MP5 from z INT via Revitalize

e) Judgments formula:
((x * .04) * y) + ((4394 * .02) * y) / 60 = mp5 from Judgments, where x is the mana gained from z INT and y is the average number of Judgments in 5 minutes
e = MP5 from z INT via Judgments

f) Divine Plea formula:
(x * .25) * y) / 60 = mp5 from Divine Plea, where x is the mana gained from z INT and y is the average number of Pleas in 5 minutes
f = MP5 from z INT via Divine Plea

g) Arcane Torrent formula (blood elf only):
(x * .06) * y) / 60 = mp5 from Arcane Torrent, where x is the mana gained from z INT and y is the average number of Torrents in 5 minutes
g = MP5 from z INT via Arcane Torrent

a + b + c + d + e + f + g = MP5 gained from z INT

– Wasn’t that fun? –

That first step of finding the averages of everything is my least favorite part, since it takes so long to really get a good sample size.  Since the crit rating formula is in there, I labeled this for finding the MP5 from crit, too.  Now that I’m looking back at it… I feel like I have forgotten something in there, some step that would be really useful to know for beginners or something.  Hmm.  Well, if anyone spots it, let me know, I guess!

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Recycle-a-Post: Holy Paladin mana regen

04/22/2010

I hope this green isn’t too difficult to read, but I thought I’d post in this color to honor Earth Day and because I’m doing a Recycle-a-Post. I figured I’d go back and take a look at my first really in-depth math post to make sure that I still like it and whatnot.  All comments from me in the current day will be in this green italic.

This post has been bouncing around in my head and recently comments on my dislike of MP5 have made me think that I need to show -why- I don’t really like it.  There shall be math involved!

– Some basics to know beforehand –

First of all, there is an element of play style involved in these calculations.  Things like group composition, frequency of heals cast and skillful use of all paladin abilities really determine things.  I’ll be as specific as I can.  Let me lay some ground work.

Item budget:  INT = 1, Crit = 1, MP5 = 2

Item budget determines how costly it is to put a specific stat on an item per point.  For example, to put 1 point of INT on an ilevel 200 epic costs 1 ilevel, leaving 199 ilevels left.  To put 1 point of Crit on an ilevel 200 epic costs 1 ilevel, leaving 199 ilevels left.  To put 1 point of MP5 on an ilevel 200 epic costs 2 ilevels, leaving 198 ilevels left.  In short, it’s twice as costly to put MP5 on an item as INT or crit.  This is important when we’re comparing usefulness for mana regen.

These comments about item budget are rather confusing, I think.  I should have just said “for every 1 point of MP5 on a piece of gear, you’d get 2 points of crit or INT.”  That’s part of the reason why later computations don’t look as clean, I think.  Making sure that the proper comparison is 1 crit = 1 INT = .5 MP5 when adjusted for item budget would have been a better choice.

Synergy:  MP5 gives nothing but mana regen.  Crit gives some mana regen and a random chance of increasing throughput.  INT gives mana regen, a random chance of increasing throughput  and a constant throughput increase through spellpower.

– Critical Strike Rating –

Healadins have a great talent (although highly nerfed now) to get mana back when our heals crit, Illumination.  The way it works is that the more you cast, the better it is.  Fights were you are constantly casting get more mana regen from crit than fights where you have long pauses or cast slowly.  This means that crit is very fight dependent.  Generally, once all the math is done, crit gives 30-50% of the mana regen MP5 does when you’re comparing two items.  (This is taking into account item budget.)

To find out for yourself how much regen each point of crit is giving you, you need to know how many times you cast each of your heals per minute.  That is calculated by knowing your total casts and the fight length.  HLPM is Holy Light casts per minute, HSPM is Holy Shock casts per minute and FoLPM is Flash of Light casts per minute.  The formula is thus:

(HLPM * 382.2 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) + (HSPM * 237.3 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) + (FoLPM * 92.1 * 0.0002178 * .o83333) = the MP5 1 crit is worth to you for this fight

The second number in each parenthesis is the amount of mana gained per spell crit, after that is the crit added per point of crit in decimal form, and after that is the amount of MP5 ticks in a minute in decimal form.  Not as complicated as you’d think right?  Remember at the end to double the number you get before you compare it to 1 MP5, due to 2 crit = 1 MP5 in item budget.  (Or you can compare the number you arrive at above to .5 MP5, both work out in the end.)

As you can see, the mana regen we get from crit is no where near as good as what we get from MP5.  However, crit is -not- purely a mana regen stat.  It also increases HPS, which is something to consider.

Wow, I should have really backed this up with a specific example.  Even during fights with phases where I don’t do any healing at all (LK’s last phase) or where I die early (Marrowgar-25 hardmode), I never see the usefulness of crit drop below 30% and generally it stays up around 50% of MP5s usefulness as a regen stat.  This is of course added to the HPS bonus of it all.  I wrote this back in ToGC days, when tanks had less HP.  As time as gone on, crit has increased in importance as a throughput stat, what with bigger tank health pools and faster/harder boss hits.

– Intellect –

This one is far more complicated than then crit and doesn’t really depend nearly as much on play style.  Mana regen from INT is actually much more dependent on group composition than anything else.  For sake of ease, we’ll start by exploring what 100 INT gets you and then break it down to show what 1 INT is.

100 INT =
1800 mana, mana that you start a fight with
18 MP5 from 100% uptime Replenishment
37.5 MP5 from using Divine Plea every cooldown
16 MP5 from Judging using Seal of Wisdom twice a minute
10 MP5 from crit gained
7.2 MP5 from Mana Tide Totem on cooldown (requires a Resto shaman in your party)
(4.5 MP5 from Arcane Torrent if you’re a Blood Elf)
= 88.7 MP5 (93.2 MP5 for Blood Elves)

Not all of these numbers would be considered “real world.” You’ll probably only have a 80-90% uptime on Replenishment, might not be running with a Resto shaman and might not be able to use Divine Plea exactly on cooldown. (The number from crit is an estimate from above, as well.) However, Judging on cooldown more than makes up for it. Thus, this is a relatively close estimate.

So, we can give an average of .887 MP5 for 1 INT. Taking into account that 2 INT = 1 MP5 (1.774 MP5 vs. 1 MP5) for item budget, you can see that the regen power of INT far outweighs MP5. This doesn’t take into account the added mana you begin the fight with.

As an added bonus, you also get crit rating and spellpower from INT. (100 INT = .726% crit, 20 spellpower) It isn’t much of a throughput bonus, but considering that MP5 gives no bonus at all…

I find this is a bit higher than what I get now, since Replenishment almost never has a 100% uptime and there is generally some time spent between when Plea comes off cooldown and when I use it.  However, I Judge constantly, which makes up for a huge chunk of that regen.  Generally, I like to round down to .75 as a good number.  It makes my calculations look much cleaner!  I really need to work on making awkward comparisons much clearer.  That whole item budget thing makes this look messy again.  “The choice between 2 INT and 1 MP5 amounts to the choice between 1.5 MP5 from the INT and 1 MP5.”  Or something like that.

– In the end… –

Blizzard tried to strong-arm Healadins into taking MP5 gear by severely reducing the mana we regen from crit and also reducing what we gain from INT, but even with all the changes they’ve made, Intellect is -still- our prime mana regen stat. You’ll often read in guides that healadins recommend gemming/enchanting towards INT, but that is simply because it is that good. There are very nice INT trinkets out there as well that I highly recommend picking up. Going towards INT gives you double the goodness; you’re picking up small amounts of throughput from the INT itself and you’re freeing up yourself to wear more straight throughput items.

Crit isn’t a very good mana regen stat anymore, as I’ve shown. However, it does give you throughput, whereas MP5 gives no throughput at all. Picking up an item with both haste and crit on it gives you double throughput with some mana regen on it. With a proper eye turned towards enough INT being on the item, you may be able to get the exact same regen in that slot as you would with an MP5 piece, without sacrificing any throughput!

Generally, it isn’t gearing that causes many healadins to run short on mana, but rather improper use of regen mechanics. If you forget to Judge, forget to use Divine Plea and never remember to use a mana potion, those are things you need to remedy -first.- Trying to compensate for those things by stacking more and more regen isn’t helping your raid any. As healers, we need to gear just enough mana regen that we can end the fight with just a little sliver of mana left (that we keep for emergencies) with all cool-downs blown. Any more than that is just a waste!

I’m pretty happy with how this was written.  It gets into the math without being entirely overwhelming.  I look forward to having to translate all these regen mechanics for the new expansion, of course!  Good thing I have a priest and a druid so I’m used to Spirit-based mana regen already, heh.

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More details on why I don’t talk about FoL spec

04/20/2010

Why the heck not, right?  It’s been a long couple of days and I don’t really feel like crunching any numbers right now.

– Introduction type part of the post –

(I’m having issues thinking of witty catch-phrases, can you tell?)  My first post on this was a quick explanation of why I don’t want to discuss Flash of Light specced paladins.  Of the five, albeit not terribly in-depth, points I made, the second one is the one that people really latched onto and tried to argue against.  To quote myself: “There is no way I could keep the tanks up with that on some fights.”  Notice the pronoun there?  I never said that it will never, ever keep the tanks up.  It was quite clear that it isn’t a viable spec for the sheer amount of healing I’m doing.  In this case, that means having 5 healers with only myself on the tanks, generally.  Rather curious is that no one actually latched onto my other points (ie. trading HPS for HPM, stat scaling issues) to refute, just the validity one.

It has also been said that I’m not writing about FoL spec because it doesn’t work for me.  Well… yes?  I also have no desire to do any real tanking on my paladin, so I refrain from writing about that, too.  The gist of my previous post was that I don’t write about it because I don’t like it.  That seems like a valid reason to me.

Let me note that I have used FoL spec before.  In fact, there was a time when I used nothing but!  There was also a time when I stacked MP5 through the roof and where I refused to spec into Divine Sacrifice because it would hurt my numbers.  Thankfully, those times have passed and I have moved on to min-maxing my play.

As per usual, if you want to prove me wrong about some of the factual reasons given in this post, please do so!  If you don’t feel comfortable posting your WoL data in the comments, you can also email it to me at leontheyal AT gmail DOT com.  Saying “I pull 7k HPS and keep both LK tanks up just fine with FoL spec” is all well and good, but please back it up with proof.  I rather like being proven wrong, but anecdotal claims aren’t true evidence.

– First the math-y reasons –

HPM vs. HPS:  I just spent some time doing some math, taking into account my current gear (shown here) and optimal FoL spec gear before hardmodes (shown here), calculating the average HPS for each taking into account both SoL/FoL glyphs and crit ratio.  I didn’t take into account the healing from the HL glyph because it would make things more complicated and I wanted to focus on the amount of pure tank healing that could be averaged for each spell for each appropriately geared healer.  In the end, the combination of the haste cap and the lower spellpower coefficient are really what did in FoL for HPS.  (HL has a 188.5% coefficient and FoL only has a 113% one.)  On average, FoL will net 5911.5714 HPS while HL will net 9629.1765 HPS.  On the HPM side, FoL costs 307.58 MPS, while HL costs 1019.408 MPS.  That gives FoL 19.21696 HPM per second and HL 9.4458 HPM per second.  That’s a -huge- difference for mana use, but also a -huge- difference in healing.  FoL spec leans heavily on the mana efficiency side of the equation and HL spec leans heavily on the throughput side of the equation.  The kicker comes in the fact that you don’t need the sort of HPM you get from FoL if you are using your mana regen skills effectively.  You end up having an over-abundance of mana and start coming in really short for potential throughput.

Ability to keep tanks alive:  This one is more math based that some might think.  I’m currently going through the parse from the Lich King encounter (shown here) and I’m seeing that Soul Reaper had an average initial hit of 30798.7 damage with an average tick of 27091.9 damage five seconds later, even with multiple cooldowns up at once.  This happens throughout phases two and three, in addition to the average 19905.6 damage melee swings.  Looking at the numbers I calculated above, how can HL spec be anything -but- better for keeping the tanks alive?  I’m trying to find the Lich King’s average DPS, but I don’t seem to see it.  What I can say is that, given the heavy damage in all the most difficult fights, FoL spec seems more a detriment than anything.  Couple this with the fact that nearly all fights have lulls where it is safe to regen your mana, the HPS loss for HPM is more than unnecessary.  Damage in WotLK has been incredibly spikey, something the developers are trying to move away from in the next expansion.  Spike damage of that nature means that your tank may go from 100% health to dead in 2 seconds.  Given that, logic dictates that fast, big heals are of more use than a steady stream of smaller ones.

Promoting the use of one spell:  Let’s face it, both specs do this.  The major difference is that FoL spec can’t support pure HL spam, whereas HL spec completely supports FoL spam.  There are fights where I almost cast nothing -but- FoL in my HL spec.  Going back to my average HPS calculations (taking into account my current gear and glyphs), I can pull about 5209.515 HPS using FoL.  That’s right, my average FoL HPS is only 702 less than what a fully geared/gemmed FoL user sees.  The main difference is that when the big hits start coming in, I can pump out a steady stream of big heals for much longer than a FoL specced user could.

Stat disparity:  This is an interesting problem, similar to the issues that Disc priests have.  What I mean by this is that there comes a point in gearing where only two stats will improve your healing for FoL specced paladins, those being critical strike and spellpower.  The other two stats found on gear are considered wasted, because they do no help improve your healing.  Haste beyond the 676 cap is considered wasted because you can’t cast faster than 1 second due to the GCD.  MP5 is considered wasted because FoL is so mana efficient and HL usage is sporadic, not constant.  HL spec, however, sees no stats as wasted so long as a healthy balance of MP5 to crit is maintained.  It makes gearing more mindful, rather than just “is it high ilevel with crit on it?”  It also means there is less waste in item budget, allowing paladins to get more bang for their buck.

– Less math based reasons –

FoL is boring:  It bores the life out of me!  It’s a slightly speedier version of Whack-a-Mole, only without the fun elements of getting to see huge crits and lots of little numbers from the splash.  It also reduces the amount of regen skills I need to use, meaning fewer Judgments and less general time spent looking at my mana bar.  Timing my Pleas well and often, running in to sneak melee swings between casts… these are all things that give me something to do that isn’t straight up heal spam.  Yes, I could still do them while hitting FoL, but the point is I don’t have to, so I’m liable to get lazy. I know, I’ve seen myself do it.  I want my big numbers and my need for tight mana control.  It’s the only way to keep myself interested with the repetitive nature of healing.

Spreading out responsibility for the tanks is bad:  This is another subjective one, but the last thing I want to do is to make more work for my team.  I want to know that I can keep the tank(s) up all by myself and help them out on raid healing at the same time, even if it’s only with HL splash.  They are busy enough as it is!  This is similar to my reasoning against 51/5/15 specs; Divine Sacrifice is good for the entire raid, even if you have to lose a bit of your personal bonuses.  My HL spec takes pressure off the raid healers, because they don’t have to worry about rolling on the tanks when they’re busy.  They know that during single tank fights, I’ll have the tank Beaconed and be spamming a combination of fast FoLs and hard-hitting HLs (with splash!) on the raid to help them out.  During two tank fights, they know I’ll have one tank Beaconed and be casting HLs (with splash!) on the tank closest to melee to give them some wiggle room in raid healing.  I can help -them- with their assignments, not the other way around.

– But in the end… –

I don’t think my reasoning is going to sway FoL specced healers away from their chosen role.  FoL spec isn’t for min-maxing healers, as I’ve shown with my numbers, but it is generally the non-math based reasons that sway most people towards that spec.  FoL spec is “good enough,” even if it isn’t optimal.

Before anyone starts telling me that it works just fine for 10-mans, HL spec works just as well for 10s with the added bonus of working best for 25-mans.  As always, my motto is “prepare for the hardest content and the rest will be just fine.”  I gear, spec, and write so that I can be the very best healer I can be.  That is why I don’t write about FoL spec and related tactics.  From a min-maxing point of view, it -isn’t- the best healer I be.

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OOM? – Tips for healers with mana problems

03/29/2010

I was in the midst of this big post with much math and I decided that something a little simpler and down to earth would be a good idea.

– First things first –

Before you go into the process of dealing with your gems, gear, enchants or other expensive changes, I recommend that you always look at what you’re casting and when.  With the current level of content, mana is rarely an issue, as there is more regen now on gear than in previous tiers.  After that, I’d suggest looking at your spec.  Sometimes (especially during respecs) important regen talents can get skipped.  Some glyphs are also good for helping that little bit that you might need.

Also, keep in mind that ending the fight with more than 5% of your mana is a rather big waste.  I know that seeing that blue bar creeping down there can be scary, but if you’re really close to the end of the fight, just hold on until the end.  Having enough for in use of emergencies is fine; having enough to heal for another full minute is pushing it.

– Things for all classes –

Runic Mana Potions:  This is my biggest weakness, by far.  Mana potions should be used in all difficult fights.  Breaking myself of the habit of keeping them “just in case” is one of the hardest things I’ve done as a healer.  By using it by default in progression fights, I’m able to gear harder towards throughput which decreases the amount of “just in case” moments that I have.  If you’re having a hard time convincing yourself to use potions regularly, I suggest getting a few Dark Runes for those -truly- problem moments.   You’ll recognize those from Vanilla days and possibly from those Vezax hardmodes.

Insightful Earthsiege Diamond metagem:  I know that I sound like a cheerleader for this thing, but it really is a healer’s best-friend.  It blows away all the other metagems for mana regen and gives you generally more “bang for your buck” than anything else for that slot.  I suggest changing this little guy out before your other gems because you’ll lose less and gain more.

Stand in melee and hit the boss:  This only works when you have a paladin in your raid group (highly likely) and when you standing in melee wouldn’t endanger yourself or others.  Even if you don’t cast mostly instants, it’s possible to take a swing between casts, so long as you aren’t in a phase that requires constant flat-out casting.  The mana return on taking a couple of swings now and again can be quite noticable.

Darkglow Embroidery (tailors only): Generally, I prefer this thread over the Lightweave because I have an intense dislike of throughput procs.  Mana return procs you can model for and plan around, but having a throughput proc when you don’t want it instead of when you do just annoys me.  (Granted, my tailor is a Disc priest and spellpower procs are the most annoying things when you’re bubble spamming.  Getting that “a more powerful spell blah blah” message makes me so mad.)

Mighty Rhino Dogs/Spiced Fried Herring:  There are fights that need just that little extra push in the regen area and changing out what you eat is a cheap way to get it.  I don’t suggest gearing towards always using this food, though, as you’ll be missing the beauty of having it specifically for difficult fights.  For you Spirit using classes, I suggest staying away from food that gives you Spirit.  You’ll get far less regen than from the MP5 food and you won’t get nearly enough spellpower to make it up.  You’ll just be losing large amounts of budget by trying to stay on the fence.

Change your trinkets:  This is a blog post in and of itself, but not all mana regen trinkets have the same strength.  Trinket slots are great because they allow for quite a bit of flexibility and style.  Do some research on which are better than the others and pick them up.  Switching around your trinkets depending on the fight you’re on is an old, wonderful trick and well worth the pain it is to lug around several different choices.

I do -not- suggest using Flasks of Pure Mojo, as it is very underbudget for a flask.  The correct budget would be 54-55 MP5.  I’m not really sure what Blizzard was thinking with this thing, but it’s not worth losing that budget on it.  Stick to those Frost Wyrm flasks.  Well, unless you’re a paladin, but more on that later.

– Class specific –

Druids:  You have Innervate, what more could you need, right?  Many times, druids are asked to pass along their Innervates to other people, especially to people that they have just battle rezzed.  If this is a regular occurence for your raiding group, you might want to consider picking up a glyph for it.  That way, when you give it away, you still get a little something for yourself.  Spec wise, make doubly sure you’ve picked up Revitalize.  I’m not kidding.  The amount of mana you get from it when you’re rolling Rejuv on groups that include yourself is massive.  15% chance to proc on every tick to give you 1% of your total mana.  That’s massive.  If you’re doing a fight where there are slight lulls or times when healing is less frantic but you can’t stop casting altogether (this is most fights, really), switch in that Idol of Awakening you have hopping around your bags since Naxx.  Yes, you -can- change idols during a fight!  You will lose the bonus spellpower from the Black Willow idol, but you can just switch it back when things pick up again.  Let’s not forget the oldest trick in the Tree regen book, of course.  That would be casting a single Lifebloom when you get an Omen of Clarity proc and letting it bloom for the free mana back.  It doesn’t -just- work on Vezax!

Shaman:  For you guys it is less about tricks for when you are running out of mana and more about preventing yourselves from getting to that point in the first place.  One of the biggest issues I see shaman having is in keeping up their Water Shield during fights with lots of AoE damage.  It is -vitally- important to keep that bad-boy up.  A trick I use is that if I ever have a GCD or am moving at all, I will recast it without even caring if I still have a charge or two left on it.  Those fights where you feel you don’t have a free GCD can really suck for it, but sometimes you just have to make that decision to have mana for the end of the fight.  There are some great add-ons that will track your shield’s uptime, too.  (I use PowerAuras.  The combination of sounds and giant graphic really works to alert me.)  Another key ability you need to work with is Mana Tide Totem.  I like to drop it as soon as I hit 75% mana, in the hopes that I’ll be able to drop it again at the end of the fight.  Those things seem to be common knowledge, but here’s a tip that you might not see much: bind your Tidal Force to all your cast-time spells.  Crazy idea, I know, but shaman get mana back from crits, so maximizing the number of times you crit can really help your regen.  I used to be one of those people who saved Tidal Force for when I needed a burst of heavy healing, but doing that meant that I wasn’t using it often at all.  Using it as a regen tactic makes far more sense to me, as you can use it to its full potential.  Like druids, you could also switch to using your Totem of Forest Growth during lower healing portions of fights, but the mana saved won’t be as great for you as for your Tree friends.  Still, it’s nice to have that option, since you can switch totems back and forth during combat.

Paladins:  Of all the classes, healadins have the most tools at hand to deal with mana, so it really comes down to using each bit to its maximum potential.  One of the big issues I often see is timing the use of Divine Plea.  Some people try to use it as little as possible, stacking MP5 on their gear to make up the difference.  However, by using little tricks to help out while Pleaing, you’ll not need to do that.  The 2T10 bonus is really handy here, as you can simply macro Divine Illumination to your Plea; you won’t be as nerfed by the Plea and your HLs will cost less during your heavy spam time.  If it is on cooldown, using Avenging Wrath during your next Plea is great, too.  I do -not- suggest making a macro for that one, as using AW means you won’t be able to bubble for a time.  It needs to be a conscious choice to use it so you don’t screw yourself up if you’re using other cooldowns.  Unless you need them for specific fight mechanics, popping Divine Sacrifice or Hand of Sacrifice (let the other healers know you’re doing so!) can offset the healing reduction from Plea quite nicely, too.  Macroing your Divine Favor to a spell or two so it’s always on cooldown is a great trick.  (I used to only macro it to Holy Shock, but I’ve since moved on to macroing it with Holy Light, too, since I need the mana more during “sit and spam” fights more than movement ones.)  Healadins can use Lay on Hands on themselves for a short boost of mana, although it causes Forbearance so keep an eye on your timing.  Using Glyph of Divinity means that you can get twice that amount at the same time as you give another healer a mana boost.  This is a favorite trick of mine!  Another little trick that can add up to big savings is cast Judgement of Light/Wisdom on cooldown.  (Only use Light if someone else is using Wisdom.)  Not only do you get mana from the Judgement of Wisdom on the mob, but it procs your Seal of Wisdom for extra mana back.

Priests, Disc:  Discipline is full of great mana saving tools that are very easy to use, so it is very much about using those effectively.  One of the most important things is that you need to know what kind of damage to expect in each fight and when.  Trying to keep an entire raid bubbled is very costly to your mana, especially given the 12 second cooldown on Rapture.  It isn’t so bad if the damage is a constant, so that you’ll be getting the proc every 12 seconds, but it is in a single burst, your mana will be hurting.  Keeping Rapture always on cooldown by putting a bubble up on the tanks is really a key part of regen for Disc priests.  After that, it is all about making sure you are using Inner Focus effectively.  Macroing it to Divine Hymn and Prayer of Healing are both musts, of course, but in many fights neither of those spells will see any use.  Knowing that, I like to keep a separate hotkey for it, to be used in conjuction with a Penance on the tank.  Planning your uses is really key, as you can keep it on cooldown for the first half of a fight, planning on using your Diving Hymn near the end with it.  A very, very simple trick is using your Shadowfiend just before Heroism is cast.  As it is considered a pet, casting Heroism after you summon it will make it attack faster and return more mana.  Popping Heroism is planned out by the raid, so knowing when you should use your pet is really key.  While it isn’t really so much a trick, I like to bubble before casting Hymn of Hope.  You know, just in case!

Priests, Holy:  First off, all the tips from above about Inner Focus, Shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope apply.  Added to that, Holy priests have this great little proc called Surge of Light that needs to be used effectively.  Having an add-on that will keep track of the procs is a great idea.  Keeping Holy Concentration up at all times is also really key in making sure you don’t run out of mana.  Try not to waste mana using Circle of Healing to heal only a single person, as a good Empowered Renew can do just as well.  (I see that happening more than I care to mention.)  One of my favorite tricks is to use Guardian Spirit constantly.  It is a very cheap ability to use and the glyph means that it can be used at will without it not being around to save a tank’s life.  I especially like it when I know that certain people tend to take longer to “get out of the fire” than others, so it alleviates some of the pressure in keeping that person alive.  Using GS and then an Emp. Renew is a great, and very cheap, duo.

– More knowledge means less regen needed –

I’ve never been a fan of stacking regen stats as, really, it isn’t needed.  Knowing how your class regenerates mana and what you can do to maximize that while still stacking those throughput stats is really the key to be a grade-A healer.  We all have fights where our mana is taxed, so don’t feel that struggling now and again is any sort of reflection on skill.  Heck, difficult fights -should- tax our mana, as well as our throughput and our nerves!  It is in how we react to those taxing situations that shows what kind of player we are.

One of the best pieces of advice I could ever give to someone is “look to your skills first and to changing your gear second.”  Or perhaps I should say that after your skills comes looking at your communication!  Talk to your other healers to coordinate things like when to drop Mana Tide or when to have your priests use Hymn of Hope.  See if you can work your healing assignments so that your Trees will always have a rolling Rejuv on your healers.  Make some plans about when the best time may be for your healadin to pop Divine Sacrifice.  As the group becomes more efficient, so will each member of that group.

If you have any additional tips or tricks when it comes to mana usage, please let me know!  I love hearing what other people do to get the most out of their raiding experience.

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Restoration Druid 4T10 bonus

03/15/2010

This was a topic brought up while discussing Trauma last week, so I thought it would do good to really delve into it for you Trees out there.  The choice here is less dependent on fight mechanics than the healadin 4T10 bonus, but is very much dependent on 10-man vs. 25- man.

– For 25-mans… –

The bonus was very much created for the 25-man raiding Tree and it is so incredibly powerful.  I remember well the hub-bub when the changes to GotEM went through and we all started to cry over the loss of that beautiful 4T9 bonus, but this bonus is almost better for the raid healing Tree then that one.  Having your Rejuvs spawning new ones on people near by makes all that “blanketing” you do that much more effective, especially as the bonus favors jumping to those who don’t have a Rejuv up on them yet.  Think of it this way: while you do your 5x Rejuv 1xWG spamming, your HoTs are jumping of their own accord to new people without you having to do a darn thing.  Considering that a single Tree can only logically cover about half a 25-man raid, the likelihood of the proc being wasted because everyone already has a Rejuv on them is very low.

Probably the main issue with picking up the 4T10 bonus is that Blizzard felt the need to put very little haste on any of the Tree tier.  It was a very disappointing choice on their part, as crit is almost totally wasted on a raid healing druid.  That does not mean that it is impossible to reach the haste soft cap while getting the 4T10 bonus.  The 25-man raider is helped by having both a Wrath of Air totem and either a Ret paladin or moonkin in their raid, as well, which can’t be assumed for 10-mans.  With careful gemming and choices of off-set gear, reaching the haste soft cap even with tier (and Trauma!) is certainly not difficult.

Do you really need to be haste soft capped?  If you’re looking to use the 4T10 bonus and raid heal, absolutely.  The key to getting the most of the proc is to have as many Rejuvs on the raid at one time as you can.  That means that a 1 second GCD is a must.  Speccing into Celestial Focus/Revitalize is another must.  (Not taking Celestial Focus as a raid healing Tree is like shooting yourself in the foot.  Not taking Revitalize is like shooting the rest of your raid in the foot.)  As much as it will pain you, gemming into that last bit of haste that you’ll need is a must, too.  Those Rejuvs bouncing around your raid will make it all worth it, I promise.

There really is nothing like a Tree using 4T10, Trauma and Althor’s Abacus.  Here is my best-in-slot list for 25-mans, maximized for that raid healing experience.

– For 10-mans… –

This is a bit more convoluted than it is with 25-mans.  A few of the issues that crop up with this decision is that there is easily attainable ilevel 264 gear, while the only tier available to the 10-man raider is ilevel 251.  We all know that spellpower is a major factor for druids, so that’s quite a difference.  Added to the above mentioned issue with the terrible itemization of the tier and you’re looking at a serious throughput loss in taking any of the tier pieces.  Another real strike against the bonus is that you only have 10 people to cover in these raids, making it far more likely that you’ll simply have almost everyone covered with a Rejuv already.

Interesting to me is the fact that many people claim haste is less useful in 10-mans, which is exactly the opposite of the way things.  A druid doesn’t have 4 other healers to cover the spike damage; being able to whip off those fast Nourishes and get back to rolling your HoTs is a must.  Haste is a guaranteed throughput boost on every spell you will be casting (up to the 1 second GCD, of course).  Your other choice on gear is crit, which only effects specific spells and is -not- guaranteed.  Also add in the fact that you aren’t certain to have a shaman or Ret. paladin/moonkin in your raids with you and haste from your gear/spec becomes ever more important.  The simple fact is that up until haste soft cap, haste gives a Tree more throughput point-for-point than even spellpower.

So, really, for 10-mans I highly recommend not going for the 4T10 bonus.  Heck, even the 2T10 bonus is completely underwhelming for 10-mans when you look at how much you lose.

Here is my best-in-slot list that I made for my own “strict 10-mans” druid.  You’ll notice that I gemmed very heavily for haste.  This is due to the fact that we almost never have the correct raid buffs.