World of Warcraft > Rants

Mana Efficiency and Healing Disappointments

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Shadowwolf:
The following is a letter I sent to Blizzards feedback. Hopefully someone reads it. I decided not to post it on the forums because I simply have no desire to deal with the trolls that lurk there.


I'm going to start by apologizing for making yet another letter on the subject of mana efficiency in relation to healers. I'm aware there are probably umpteen posts all complaining about similar issues I am about to describe but with the claims that "all feedback is read" in regards to game play feedback, I am hoping that what I have to say might actually be considered. I also apologize for the wall of text that is to follow. =)

I've played a healer for 5 years now in WoW. I don't say this to brag about how long I've played this game, quite frankly that's a silly thing to even use for bragging. At any rate, in that time I've watched the game change for the better and sadly for the worse in a lot of ways. Primarily in that 5 yr duration, I have played my Druid as a healer as it is my first love char. For a while in Burning Crusade I played a Disc Priest mainly because my guild had no healing Priests and as a GM, I do what I think is important to move my guild ahead.

Vanilla WoW was hard to judge healing because...well...it was infant WoW really. Druids, Pallys, Shaman and Priests were all pigeon holed as healing classes even with 2 other specs available, and Pallys and Druids couldn't really do it as well as Priests back then. In comes Burning Crusade and that starts to change, quite a lot where specs actually had a meaning and gear was tailored for specific specs as were spells and abilities. Little while later, Wrath came about and healing was further improved tho many including myself came to regard it as "boring" mainly because at a certain gear point, regen was ridiculous unless you were completely careless and you really only spammed 1-2 spells depending on your class/build. The thought process in healing that was present in Burning Crusade basically vanished throughout Wrath and it was sad tbh. I personally like a challenge and I also like the fact I need to think about who I need to heal priority wise and what spells to use.

Now we are in Cataclysm and healing has undergone drastic changes. All the healing capable classes have sort of been "evened out" to make them all equal in healing throughput and abilities. This...saddened me. The reason being is because there was an enjoyment to choosing a healing class because of its benefits and drawbacks. Druids were notorious for HoTs, that's what we were. Pallys for being able to single target heal like no other, Priests being better AOE healers then the others and Shaman being great for quick healing and formidable AOE healing abilities as well since back in vanilla Pallys weren't on Horde side. Come Cataclysm, the attempts to change that and make us all alike in spells and abilities took away the uniqueness of the classes for healing. Now, I understand that this was done in the spirit of "bring the player not the class" because many of the top end raiding guilds, and even Arena teams were bias to certain benefits of different healing classes and so the concept of making us all equal was to try and eliminate that prejudice. Unfortunately, its made me question why even have different classes for healers at all. If we're all going to be evened out like this, why not just make 1 class the healer and that's that. Aside from a few minor differences in spells and abilities and a few class specific advantages, there's barely any difference at all.

Now I bring this up because I hear the phrase "bring the player not the class" over and over and over again every year from Blizzard at Blizzcon and in online discussions about the progression of WoW. That's fine, and honestly, me and my guild have been following that philosophy longer than Blizz has. We've always made do with what we have and moved along the game very well doing so for being a casual group of folks. Being able to clear all of the raid content with the exception of Sunwell in BC without dictating spec or class requirements in any way I think is an outstanding accomplishment considering at the time the game didn't lend itself to our philosophy. But herein lies the problem with how you guys at Blizz have implemented this philosophy. There are many instances, more so now in Cataclysm than in Wrath where its almost a necessity to have a specific class to make it possible to overcome an encounter. You've taken away the drums we had in BC and left most buffs like Heroism/Time Warp to Mages and Shaman only, which adding it to Mages was a nice relief since Shaman aren't always around, but then, neither are mages. Then we have buffs, only mages can give Intellect, the only other class that can come close is a Warlock using a Fel Hunter and its still not exact, nor is that pet necessarily conducive to their effectiveness. Now I could go down the list of the changes to buffs all day, but the point is that you've basically made it so that its more about bringing the class/spec again because of these changes than about bringing the player. Basically my argument here is that for every time I hear that phrase uttered, I have a chuckle to myself because I sit back and watch patch changes put in place that are counterproductive to that philosophy as time passes.

Anyhow, on to mana efficiency. While I appreciate the revamp on healing from what it was in Wrath which was boring, the problem now that I see is 2 pronged. First, with regen being not as high as it was, the efficiency of spells is horrid. I am now forced into using more efficient but vastly lower effective spells if I want my mana pool to last on raid boss fights. The problem with that is because these spells are so much less effective than the more costly ones they simply do not do whats required to offset the damage in raids. For example, Nourish is supposed to be the efficient "top off" spell for Druid healers. The problem with Nourish is without a ton of Intellect, it's practically ineffective with the size of health pools in Cataclysm as well as the damage output on tanks and even the raid as a whole. My Nourish at this moment heals for a paltry 8-9k if I am rolling every HoT I have on the target, typically its only about 5-6k without all HoTs. The problem here is to make it heal for 2-3k more than its lowest, I have to burn all kinds of mana to get HoTs on that target which negates the mana efficiency of the spell. Even with full HoTs though, the spell is nowhere near as powerful as it needs to be to be of any practical use in raids. Doing Halfus Wyrmbreaker the other night I was healing the off-tank who was tanking the drakes. Spamming full HoTs and Nourish could not keep up with the damage being done by the drake alone which forced me to spam Healing Touch instead to allow the tank to survive. The problem then became how long could my mana pool withstand that spamming because Healing Touch while an effective heal is absolutely horrible on mana efficiency. Especially with mana regeneration what it is right now. This is including my having 3 stacks of Lifebloom on said tank to keep Replenishment active. By some miracle, mainly dumping all my mana on the tank in the forum of Healing Touch we managed to get the first drake down, then to replenish myself I used my Innervate, which in the past was a really good spell for regeneration and since Cataclysm has become just horrible. Granted its better than a pot for fights but for one reason alone, on long fights it can be used more than once if timed properly. The problem with it now though is I get about 17.5k of mana left which is barely enough to do anything. That buys me maybe 30-40sec at best on a high damage fight. Whats frustrating is I get more mana back from a [item]Potion of Concentration[/item] than I do my own Innervate.

The second problem I see in this is over complication in healing. As a Druid healer, in Wrath I spammed about 2-3 spells tops, Rejuvenation, Lifebloom and Nourish with an occasional Swiftmend or Wild Growth for AOE healing in a pinch. Now in Cataclysm, I have to choose from 8 different spells on fights to heal. This is a bit extreme because if I choose the wrong spell and it happens to be inefficient, my mana suffers, which in turn makes me limited on how much healing I can dole out for the remainder of the fight, which in turn results in someone if not everyone dying eventually. It's become so complicated in healing I simply do not have enough fingers on my hand to manage all my spells and have had to invest in a mouse with macro abilities in order to accommodate all my healing spells. I'm all for the need to make a choice, but the problem with this is too many options are as bad if not worse than limited options. Especially in Cataclysm raids where the damage output is just ridiculously higher than it was in Wrath due to the increased health pool sizes. In addition to that, my HoTs are now ineffective, the amount of healing they do compared to what they did in previous expansions as well as in relation to the damage intake of the raid on bosses forces me to have to use a long cast large heal which as I stated before leaves me with but one option and that is Healing Touch which is just too expensive in cost. My HoTs alone simply do not compensate for the damage intake by themselves which is sad because that is what a Druid has become known for, being a mobile healer that has heals that offset damage intake, they don't necessarily heal past the intake, but they've offset it making way for other larger heals to be used to heal through spikes in damage. Now I find my class reduced to having 8 options to choose from, but being forced into using the only one that's effective on raid fights which is also the most costly in mana.

I've spoken to other class healers on this issue so this seems to be a pretty spread problem not just limited to Druid healers. Priests and Shaman have complained similarly that the spells they have to use are too costly compared to regen and that they have entirely too many spells to juggle to be effective. The other issue is that almost all AOE healing has been severely cut back from what it was in Wrath. This applies to all class healers, not just Druids and so all of us are forced to use larger single target heals to get people back up quickly, and on fast paced fights, there simply isn't enough time. Basically it feels like an Arena match on raid bosses as a healer where every GCD is critical and the wrong choice will end up killing someone down the road, it's not an "if they will die" it becomes a "when they will die". So I look at this now and I see that in raids, our limitation of success on a boss no longer is the fight mechanics and doing things properly but whether or not the healers mana pool can withstand the fight long enough to defeat the boss. As such I see the difficulty in Cataclysm raids no longer being a question of skill and attentiveness but how much mana your healers have and how lucky they are in using the right spells at the right time and optimizing every GCD they have available. To me that is not fun, thats not enjoyment at all, its high stress on the healers. As a healer, knowing that its upon me and my other healers on whether or not we will be successful on a boss, every boss fight is an anxiety attack and burns me out that much quicker. Watching every GCD like a hawk and hoping I use each one the right way isn't the way fights should be done. In Burning Crusade I had to think about my healing too, but my options were less and I had time to make decisions as a healer over what spells to use and who to heal first. Now I have no more than a split second to make those decisions and more than double the options to make those decisions with which is just silly and stressful.

So in summary, I think that the intentions were there in good faith for these changes to mana regen and healing but the concept and implementation didn't quite make the cut and severely needs improvement. Healing doesn't need to be mind numbingly simplistic, but it also can't be ridiculously complicated either. Too much of either extreme and no one will want to do it which is what I see as being the problem lately. There needs to be a middle ground and as healers we need time to react and think about our decisions instead of being pressured into knee-jerk reactions which is where things are now. I should be able to toss a HoT on someone and then have a few seconds to consider my options on how to get them back up to full without them dying an instant later because I didnt react in time or I used the wrong spell, plus, in using the wrong spell, I shouldn't have to be concerned then that I wasted my mana and then worry about having enough to heal everyone else for the rest of the fight. To be honest I don't know exactly what will fix the problems I've pointed out. At the moment I can only suggest that:

1) Spell mana costs be re-evaluated. Big heal spells shouldn't have to always be the most costly in mana. Cast times should play an equal part if not larger part in which heals select. With the lackluster potency of say Nourish, it should not be the same cast time as Healing Touch.
2) Mana Regeneration be re-evaluated. While I understand the need for making mana "matter", right now it simply has virtually no margin for error.
3) Re-evaluate the healer "normalization". There needs to be a difference in healer benefits and types. Without one then there is no point to having different healer classes, we may as well all be 1 class with the same spells.
4) Reduce the number of essential spells. We dont need 8-9 spells to choose from. At most 5 is plenty. Simplify our options so we can more easily make the right choices in those critical moments of a fight.

Thank you for your time.
- Shadowwolf

Kothnok:
Signed. +1

In an attempt to improve my game, I've been trying to cut out my lag spikes by upgrading my laptop's OS an some of it's parts.  I hope it helps, but trial by fire will be needed at some point to know for sure.  Seems like none of the raid fights are fault tolerant of even a little bit of lag.  :-\

Tony:
This is exactly why I currently am not playing the game. I really wanted to heal this expansion, every time I log onto the game, it makes me want to puke. Fair well to the all mighty Paladin.

Lord Entropy:
Well said Shadow.  One of the reasons I gravitated toward disc is that it is different from the other healing specs thanks to shields.  At this point, though, shields have a lot of problems.  The increased mana cost to PW:S is basically a band-aid for the over-buffing they gave they spell with 4.0.6.  I'm not sure what Blizz will do long term.  Even so, shields are still about 30-50% of my healing.

And I agree about mana regen.  I don't know what I would do without my alchemy trinket and engineering tinker which, together, get me over 17k mana from a mythical mana pot. 

I've played around with reforging my gear and flasks (spirit vs int) to try to find a balance between sustaining enough mana to last the fight and having enough healing oomph to keep people from dying and right now, even with the epic gear I have, there really is a substantial trade-off that it doesn't seem like I can reliably do both.

Practically, this means, like you said, I have to play almost perfectly with regard to each GCD.  Even if I'm able to do that, there is the rest of the raid to consider which much also minimize errors which will cause them extra damage.  Too many errors and even if we're at the top of our game (which is rare in my case), we won't recover.

It's certainly frustrating.

gossamer:
Yes, yes and......YES!.... Shadow I hope they pay attention to that letter, you hit the nail on the head.  Only thing I see we can do for the time being is to stack spirit like crazy and hope that Blizz fixes it.  I did however notice that last few patches they are changing things little by little to help druids in the mana issue. Rejuv costing less mana...stuff like that, maybe they just don't want to do it all at once or maybe I'm dreaming lol...

Goss O0

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