Friday, May 08, 2009

Regenerating Mana and Healing

Ghostcrawler has mentioned several times that Blizzard is trying to constrain mana regeneration for healers, in order to encourage healers to heal more efficiently and more thoughtfully. For the most part, Blizzard has failed in this task. The 3.1 changes haven't really had much effect on mana concerns.

There is one fight in Ulduar where mana conservation becomes vital: General Vezax.

Vezax has an ability called Aura of Despair which shuts down pretty much all mana regeneration for casters. No Illumination, no mp5, no spirit, no Replenishment, etc. The only way casters can regenerate mana is by standing in pools of saronite vapour every so often. However, the vapour damages you as it returns mana. Hard-mode for Vezax involves not using the vapour at all.

In our first attempt on Vezax, I tried using the vapour, but managed to kill myself while only regenerating 600 mana. I'm still not 100% sure what happened there, but I chose to ignore the vapour for the remaining attempts.

Vezax was the most fun I've had healing in a long time. It's so good to watch overhealing once again, to heal carefully, to predict damage and use cooldowns appropriately, rather than spam madly. Almost all the raid damage in the Vezax encounter is avoidable.

But the lengths the fight had to go to create that dynamic. No regeneration at all. Entire stats and talents become useless. Blizzard's tiptoeing around for the rest of game, cutting the effect of spirit by a few percent, or nerfing Illumination, none of that had the effect of simply saying, "No Regen."

I still think that mana is the best resource for healing. I've played games that use an energy-like system and--while energy is great for DPS--it just isn't as good as the gameplay involved in healing while keeping a careful eye on a dwindling mana bar.

It's too late for WoW, but I think that future MMOs based around the tank-healer-dps trinity would be well-served by taking a cue from General Vezax and simply not allowing healers to regenerate mana in combat. Give them talents that add extra effects, or do new things, but close the door on regeneration permanently. It seems to be the only way to prevent healing from falling into the mindless spam routine.


  1. So no judgement of wisdom or anything? Could you bubble and then stand in the vapor? Or sacred shield yourself?

  2. The most fun I had being a healer had to be vanilla WoW where there was barely any mp5 and manapools so big you could just spam heal.

  3. Actually, that was how healing worked in vanilla in 5 mans. Oom after every pull.

    I know how excited I was when my gear got better and I was able to heal a 5 man without drinking. That was the ultimate kick, not having these mana problems.

    Although I do agree, that mana regeneration is way to high since 2.4 I think that this is a topic where the grass always will be greener on the other side.

    Besides that, the first to pay the price for a nerfed healer mana regeneration will be the warlock class because they cannot regenerate mana without life tap and the do have to life tap in a boss fight.

  4. What's the point of regen anyway? It used to be a sort of gear/skill check with careful management of out of casting regen and balancing regen with output... and buying massive numbers of mana potions and forcing the shamans and druids to go resto.

    Bigger mana pools, focusing more on intellect, would do the same thing as regen: allowing for healing over more time and acting as a gear check. Regen is redundant. Mana burns in PvP would need to be heavily nerfed if regen went away or was heavily nerfed.

    A static mana bar that only goes down isn't what I'd want, but much slower movement up would make life more interesting. And then once healers have to balance stats and efficiency more, maybe healers can have fewer other annoyances.

  5. Bigger mana pools do nothing for us either, since now every spell costs a percentage of our mana rather than a fixed number.

  6. @Anonymous: Spell cost a percentage of BASE mana, not total mana. All that means is that spell costs scale with level.

  7. @Barrista - you can use Judgement of the Wise, but (as I discovered trying to spec sheathadin to avoid it) you get a debuff that reduces your healing by 75%. I was getting 3k HL crits - ugh. Viper works for hunters, but since they aren't healing, it doesn't really matter.

    The problem I had with bubbling and standing in the vapor is it's a stacking debuff. So you bubble, stand in it, heal, and then your bubble falls off and you get one shot.

  8. This is definitely my favorite fight of the expansion. Since I switched from a DPS to a healing main halfway through Naxxramas, I never actually had to learn to conserve mana. So General Vexaz is a real trial by fire -- a test of skills that I never actually learned. It's a blast.

  9. I have to disagree that they failed on the mana regen front. If you are not overgeared for the fight (ie in Naxx25 or greater gear while healing Uld10) then you're gonna OOM on some of the fights, especially as you're learning them.

  10. I think mana regen changed by increments. No specific change was big enough to make the designers stop and ask "are we happy with this regen model", but the net effect of all the changes is a big change.

    Here a talent that allows 30% spirit regen while casting, there a talent that grants mp5 from int, divine plea, water shield, itemization that puts large amounts of mp5 and spirit on gear too, and after all the changes and tweaks, you have a lot more mana regen than people used to have.

    I think people have slowly gotten used to the large in-combat regen, and agree that I wish regen were lower.

  11. The problem I have is the speed at which healing has to be done now. Yes, it was somewhat boring in vanilla wow, but the "thoughfullness" of healing was there usually. Now, tanks can lose health so fast, I sometimes just hit whatever heal button is closest to by finger without even thinking. That kind of thing in the past would've made me go oom pretty fast, but then of course I wasn't constantly under this "rushed" feeling...I could plan out a healing rotation and a tank's health would slowly drop (with proper gear of course).

  12. hmm interesting fight, I really want to see this fight now... Does Divine Plea not work either then?

  13. well i guess stack your raid with death knights, warriors, and rogues for the general.

  14. Our guild just got Hodir down so we aren't far from Vezax. WOW sounds a tad scarey for our pallies. Think I'll just run and hide as all good mages should hehe.

  15. Your suggestion for not having healers regenerate mana at all has already been done to some extent. In both original WoW and EverQuest, regeneration was minimal compared to expenditure.

    And in both cases, it led to the same concept - healing rotations with hyper-efficient spells (and no others).

  16. This comment is a little late, but here it is anyways. :-)

    I play a Shaman with Naxx 25 level gear with T8 gloves a Ulduar head piece, I'm gemmed for INT and I still go oom in both 10 and 25 versions of Ulduar because my guild is still learning the fights so they drag on to close to enrage timers.

    So your comment about how they failed to address mana regen is not accurate for everyone, especially not resto shammys. Going oom even with my totems, pots+alchemist stone still happens all the time we (our other shammans are still struggling as well. :-(

    AoE and tank damage in Ulduar is so hard hitting and fast that you need to be healing full out the whole fight all the while moving to avoid voidzones, aoe etc.. It's great. :-)

    Obviously once my guild starts to down things faster it won't be such an issue, but it seems to be an issue for every healing class other then the pally. :-(