Q: How do you plan on addressing our inflating spirit and mana pools later in the expansion to keep mana a resource, rather than a solid blue bar? Do you plan to preserve a principle of rational use of mana, which makes it interesting to play a healer? In the beginning of Cataclysm we had to use almost every spell to succeed, while now everything is about pushing a couple of your best healing spells. With the release of a new patch the level of equipment will raise significantly, and we won't have to think about mana regeneration any more. Do you plan to somehow adjust encounters or healing mechanics perhaps? – Nehalim (NA), ?????? (EU-RU)
A: Our plan was always that healers could gradually grow out of being very mana-limited, but we didn't want that to happen in the very first tier of content. If it happens in the final tier of content, that's fine. It will help healers feel like they have actually become more powerful from accumulating so much gear. Consider that tank health, mitigation and avoidance increase with each tier, as does the size of heals and the rate at which you cast them, and those are probably sufficient to offset the increased damage being done by bosses and trash.
In heroic raids, even today, healers often rely on their inefficient heals a great deal, so there isn't a ton of room to expand into becoming even more inefficient (and therefore requiring more mana regeneration). As such, you should consider Spirit somewhere in between the stat continuum of hit and something like haste or crit. For the former, there are hard caps. For the latter, there are inflexion points where the value of a stat grows faster or slower, but in general more is always helpful. For Spirit you need enough to feel good about your healing longevity and anything beyond that is probably of diminishing value. We think this actually makes itemization as a healer more interesting for the player than just grabbing more and more of a particular uber stat.
With the raid content we have released for Cataclysm so far, we feel like we can put pressure on healers to keep tanks alive without repeating the gameplay we had in Wrath of the Lich King, where the smart way to play was to keep heals constantly going because of the risk of the tank dying in two back to back hits. Even with increasing regeneration, we don't think we'll get back to a two-shot the tank situation for Cataclysm. If your tanks are dying faster than you can heal them currently, again, you're probably missing something about the encounter or aren't quite ready for it yet.
We had originally planned on having bosses in later tiers scale so that players would need more crit, hit, expertise, dodge and parry for later tiers. We ultimately decided not to do this, at least for the current expansion. That decision was driven partially because we couldn't figure out an elegant way for stats like haste to scale with boss power and partially because we weren't convinced our planned UI would communicate the concept clearly enough to players. For example, would just bosses be affected? Just raid bosses? If not, would you want separate sets of gear for dungeons vs. raids? Those are solvable problems, but we weren't convinced the path we were on would solve them as well as we would like.
Our current numbers wouldn't work if we had a dozen raid tiers before increasing the level cap, but that's not our plan.