Thursday, May 17, 2007

Musings on Spell Damage

Something about the way +spell damage and healing works has always struck me as wrong.

In the current system, the amount of bonus an individual spell gets is given by a coefficient which is related to the cast time of the spell. Specifically, it's cast time divided by 3.5. This means that all spells get the same benefit from +spell damage over time. You get the same benefit from spamming Flash of Light for 15s as you would for spamming Holy Light.

And that seems wrong to me. Holy Light is the more powerful spell. It should get a bigger boost than Flash of Light. Indeed, the fact that both spells benefit equally from spell damage makes Flash of Light the better spell, in a way. It's cheaper to get the benefit of spell damage with Flash of Light.

Take a look at Blessing of Light. Blessing of Light gives a small bonus to FoL, and a much larger bonus to HL. This feels right. There should be an advantage to using the more powerful spell.

I think that rather than using cast time to determine the coefficient, a different metric should be used. To me, the best measure would be the amount of mana spent per second while casting the spell.

If you spam HL, you are spending 840 mana every 2.5s, or 336 mana/s.
If you spam FoL, you are spending 180 mana every 1.5s, or 120 mana/s.

Eyeballing that says that HL should get about 3 times the benefit in spell damage that FoL gets (on a per second basis). Intuitively, that seems reasonable to me. HL is our power spell, represented by its higher cost, and it seems right that our powerful spells should get more benefit from spell damage.

Blessing of Light tracks this ratio. BoL grants HL roughly 3 times the benefit it gives to FoL.

Because benefit is not linked to cost, +spell damage biases the caster towards cheaper spells. Restoring the link between benefit and cost will make using more powerful spells more attractive.


  1. Will that not make HL overpowered? Right now, I have 1124 +healing so HL would receive roughly +800 healing and FoL would get +480. Granted, it’s a bit much for FoL to get, but consider that we have only these two heals we consistently use and one is on a rather longish cast. FoL, therefore, has to receive a big bonus, cause it’s the one we spam 5 times to get anyone back up their feet. If someone is at 40%, HL could possibly take too long to cast and the target could die. Spamming a few big FoLs and then a smaller HL would do the trick and not even cost a heap of mana.
    My max rank HL heals for 3500/3700 and crit for 5K+, max FoL heals for 1100 and crits for 1600. I’m still wearing two greens too and have not been in any heroic or 70+ raid so gear-wise I could be better.

    I’d like to know how you see this. Is it on the verge of being OP or would the +healing between HL and FoL just shift slightly, say by 100/200 each? (notice how I’m not a math wizard ;)).

    EU- Aerie peak

  2. There are some major issues with this idea.

    First off, how do you gage the difference. Since you usually get new healing spells at a different rate of progression, instead of on the same level, what happens when the value between two spells closes? Does that mean a spell gets more of a buff for a short while? By having it based solely on the untalented casting time of the spell it's a static value that never changes.

    In this vein are talents that change the basic info of the spells, like lowering mana cost and casting time. If it works like it does now, these changes wouldn't affect the benefit, which is fine. But if they did, then talents like ones that lower the mana cost would actually lower the effect of +healing on the spell, and most likely would be shunned.

    Next problem is that this concept only really works for paladin healing spells. The paladin 1.5 second healing spell is fairly unique in that it has a significantly lower mana cost than other healing spells of the same cast time. The trade off for this much lower cost is that it has a decidedly lower healing range. In fact, most other 1.5 second heals have higher mana per second values as their untalented 3 second counterparts:

    If you spam Healing Wave, you are spending 720 mana every 3s, or 240 mana/s.
    If you spam Lesser Healing Wave, you are spending 440 mana every 1.5s, or 293.3~ mana/s.

    If you spam Greater Heal, you are spending 825 mana every 3s, or 275 mana/s.
    If you spam Flash Heal, you are spending 470 mana every 1.5s, or 313.3~ mana/s.

    Going by this info, it would change from every Paladin spamming FoL to other classes spamming their 1.5 second heal. Not, I think, the fix to the problem you speak of. While I understand your stance and to a degree agree on your opinions, this isn't the way to solve it. I'll do some thinking and see what I can come up with.

  3. As Kaziel said in a rather long-winded manner, the difference between spells is made to make them useful in specific circumstances.

    For a paladin, Flash of light is more efficient, but Holy Light heals more health per second (HPS). If you can get by with Flash, great. If your target is taking a lot of damage, though, you make the trade off of efficiency for healing power.

    If Holy Light was better in every way, over Flash of Light, you'd be a 1-button monkey instead of a 2-button monkey.

    Thus, +spell numbers help each spell equally. Balance is maintained.

    (Though I'd add that Holy Light needs to be more powerful to handle some of the increased damage people are taking nowadays, but I'd rather tank than heal :P)

  4. Kaziel, the 1.5s heals still cost more mana.

    You spam Flash Heal you will go out of mana faster than you would by using Greater Heal. But if Flash Heal gets a bigger benefit from spell damage, then it becomes a more complicated trade-off.

    Under the current system, you are biased towards Greater Heal because you spend less and get the exact same effect.

    As well, this system would solve down-ranking once and for all. If the cost of the spell goes down, the benefit goes down as well.

    Holy Light would not better than Flash of Light. It would still cost more mana, and Flash of Light would still be more efficient.

    But Holy Light would be proportionately more powerful, and thus be a more useful spell in more situations.

  5. But by having priest spells receive different benefits, eventually Flash Heal would surpass Greater Heal in value.

    As it stands right now, Flash Heal's selling point is it's fast. Using it might not be as efficient, but you will get the heal to the hurt person much faster.

    On the flip side, Greater Heal has better Health per Mana (HpM) and better Health per Second (HpS). But with it's much longer casting time, you could be making a big gamble.

    If the healing coefficient is based upon mana per second, then eventually the more costly, faster spell will have better HpM and HpS. Yes, you use up your mana a little faster using Flash Heal instead of Greater Heal, but the increased efficiency will more than make up for it.

    With the coefficient based on speed, what you said as your justification of why it should change: "You get the same benefit from spamming Flash of Light for 15s as you would for spamming Holy Light." That's why it shouldn't change. The devs designed each spell with certain advantages and disadvantages. By keeping the benefit equal over dozens of casts of that spell means that the advantages and disadvantages also remain no matter how much spell damage or healing you have. Flash of Light's advantage is that it has better HpM but it's disadvantage is that it has worse HpS. Holy Light is the opposite in that it has better HpS but worse HpM. No matter how much +healing you have, it will always be that way.

    In that vein, Greater Heal will always be the more efficient spell in all regards. If that's the case, why use Flash Heal? Because it will always be faster. If you need those heals on the tank right now, Flash Heal is what you need and will use.

  6. I honestly dont think it matters. Fast cast heals will more or less always be better than slower ones because of heals and the fact that in raiding, especially BC 5k dps bosses, multiple healers are constantly keeping the tank topped off.