Raid Rx: A new balance for intellect and spirit in Mists of Pandaria

Matt Low
M. Low|11.18.11

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Raid Rx: A new balance for intellect and spirit in Mists of Pandaria
Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

One of the proposed revamps coming in Mists of Pandaria is the way intellect and spirit interact with each other in regards to healers. For the new healer, understanding the current formula for mana regen can be a little daunting. To make it really easy, let's just say that it plays off both your spirit and your intellect. However, your intellect has a gradually increasing impact on how much mana you gain back in combat situations as your gear improves.

It appears that will no longer be the case heading into the next expansion. Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) helped shed some light on the issue in a blue post earlier in the week.

The highlights?
  • Intellect becomes a sheer throughput stat
  • Spirit controls the rate of mana regen
  • Mana pools will remain fixed

I included some of the passages that I felt would be particularly relevant to healing as we move forward.

Ghostcrawler, via Nethaera
Hey all, here's some more information from Ghostcrawler about this topic-
This is our intent. We aren't trying to nerf healers across the board, and if we were, there are cleaner ways to do that. What we want to do is make the role of the stats less ambiguous. Currently, when Intellect drives mana pool and Spirit drives mana regen, then they are both longevity stats and interact in complex ways. With the change we are proposing, Intellect provides bigger heals and Spirit improves longevity. For healers, there should not always be a clear cut answer. Intellect may still be the superior stat, but not by as much as it is today. (Again, for healers -- DPS specs aren't designed to run out of mana if they use their regen mechanics every now and then.) Mana pools can still be large (we are thinking 100,000 mana at level 85) so that it doesn't feel too bizarre to existing casters and doesn't feel too much like rage or energy.

I feel that this is the system Blizzard should have settled on going into Cataclysm.

We have come a long way since classic. Remember how the first concept of mana regeneration functioned? Mana regen would temporarily stop after a spell had finished casting. After 5 seconds, it would then begin to regen. That was the origin of the five-second rule.

At least now, it'll continue nonstop. To make life easier for everyone, we don't have to worry about deciding between two mana regen stats anymore. With spirit controlling regen, we might need to blend in some hybrid intellect and spirit attributes more often than not. If the start of the this expansion is any indicator of what it'll be like when the next one comes out, something tells me we'll be needing to stack a jaw-droppingly high amount of spirit just for endgame.

Who wants to guess how much mana we'll have at level 90? I'm thinking around 222,000 as a start.

Ghostcrawler, via Nethaera
In addition, we think fixed mana pools will help healers scale better with content. Some players seem to be interpreting the 5.0 design as healing 5-player dungeons should be easy but healing raids should be very hard. That is certainly a better situation than dungeons being very hard and raids being easy, but neither is really the goal. We want the increase in difficulty to be linear. If you can handle dungeons, you should be able to graduate to raids with the normal incremental gear improvements that most players get. This is particularly true of normal and Raid Finder difficulty settings. Heroic raiding will remain more challenging, but even in that case, keep in mind that the challenge of a raid encounter is often its complexity, which requires the group to learn and execute a lot of mechanics.

Fixed mana pools is another concept that's new. The more I think about it, though, the better I think it will be for us overall.

I've stopped thinking about my mana bar in terms of absolute numbers. I've started thinking about how much of my bar gets eaten up by my healing spells. While my Prayer of Healing may have eaten up 10% of my mana bar earlier in the expansion, now it only affects 4% overall (please note that those numbers are hypothetical). Instead of casting Prayer of Healing 10 times before running out of mana, I can cast it 25 times now.

The concern now shifts to finding that equilibrium between throughput and regeneration. You can have high throughput and low mana regen, but that would turn you into a bottle rocket healer. After a limited amount of time, you'd be fresh out of gas. In other words, the thought process then shifts to asking, "How much of that mana bar is going to increase between the time I start casting and stop finishing this spell?" I have no doubt someone out there who is way smarter than I will figure out how much of each stat we need that will put us in that sweet spot.

The fact that both intellect and spirit affected regen to some disagree caused confusion to newer healers in general.

Ghostcrawler, via Nethaera
Gearing up will still be rewarding and meaningful. You'll still feel as powerful as you do today. Intellect and spirit will just do different things. If you find yourself routinely running out of mana on raid fights, you are probably either overhealing a lot or the group is taking a lot of damage that is intended to be avoidable. A fight like Phase 2 Beth'tilac on heroic is about as mana-intensive as things get, and that phase doesn't last very long, so your mana-regen mechanics and cooldowns should be sufficient to keep you going. That won't change in 5.0.

As a player who often runs dangerously low on mana during attempts at times, I can tell you that is due to slight additional overhealing. I blame it on healing paranoia. Ever see a target near you that has taken damage, but you can't really do anything about it? I'll sneak them a Renew or another spell. I find that I will sit there and watch a player take damage for what feels like eternity before using a heal because I'm not sure if anyone near them has seen them take those hits.

I really hope the developers can pull off these changes. I like the idea of the proposed changes but am a little concerned in terms of implementation and stuff. Have to wait and see!
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.
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