Active Mana Regen Trashed – A Return to Classic Healing!

Hey. This is a rant about mana regen. Now that we both understand this, let’s talk about why this is a rant, and in my opinion, why making regen completely passive is a lazy and silly decision.

It’s important to understand Blizzard’s train of thought with any expansion and its changes, and this one is clear as a bell to me. Essentially, it is a facet of ability pruning that effects core mechanics of not only a class, but the entire holy trinity meta and game itself.

When they decided they were going ahead with ability pruning, they were actively seeking a few goals. The first goal was achieved quite easily, in the removal of spells people VERY rarely used. For paladins, this included Hand of Salvation, while another example is Scare Beast for Hunters. Personally, I love this decision. It kind of sucks losing a few abilities just because they didn’t work that well, and it does feel like “dumbing the game down” but in the end I am happier to have the free key binds, and people learning specs (especially for CM!) will be able to focus more on their core mechanics instead of their estranged utility spells.

The band Mana is also upset. It's not just me.

The band Mana is also upset. It’s not just me.

The next goal was to consolidate a lot of abilities that had two similar uses but were often used together. This was also very easy to attain, as we saw abilities like Avenging Wrath – Divine Favor, Recklessness – Skull Banner, as well as Rune Strike – Death Coil, all merge into a new shell. Once again, I see this is an advancement for a specific reason. Having abilities that differ slightly be combined clears up a LOT more room for other important key binds. This is especially important while tanking, but can also be a great benefit to healers who do a lot more than just heal.

The final goal, or at least the one we stop at, was to make healing and tanking more active and controllable. Those two words are very important: “Active” and “Controllable.”
This was a much taller task for Blizzard, but it appears they hit a home run with Tanking especially. The “control” aspect of tanking is that you now have stats to directly increase your survivability, along with abilities. On top of this, they have removed Vengeance and replaced it with Resolve, which is essentially the exact same thing, only it doesn’t effect your dps at all, just your self preservation.

In order to make it more “active,” we learn that while tanks lose essentially zero active mitigation abilities, while seeing some even get buffs. On top of this, the Resolve change is massive to an individual’s play style. A Brewmaster Monk tank now is the poster child for this system. They take a LOT of damage in 3+ mob packs, but because of the scaling with Resolve, their healing and absorbs are absolutely ludicrous. Keep in mind, this is level 90 – 92 experience, so its extremely likely this will not be as severe at 100, but regardless, it should still be relative.

So in summation, tanks have their golden generation, and seemingly both changes are quite enjoyable. But what about healers? Time to go full rant mode.

 

The “Control” of healers is known as “triage healing” by everyone who has been following the game. This means that heals are very tightly controlled with fixed variables to counteract the tanking damage on equally fixed intervals. The best way to describe this is if you heal some one with your basic healing spell 100 percent of the time, then they will be constantly healed enough to stay alive when taking normal circumstances of damage. However, when taking extraordinary amounts of damage, you may have to supplicate the basic heals with some high-throughput spells. This crosses over into the “Active” category here.

When discussing the “active” side of Triage Healing, you quickly understand exactly what is at stake. For a healer in 5 man content, its extremely likely there will be 5 targets to heal constantly, especially in higher difficulties than the ones I have tested thus far. Knowing this, you now have to make a very active choice. Who get’s what type of heal? Perhaps the mage can handle an instant cast Holy Shock, while the tank needs a quick Flash of Light, but I can spend Holy Power on some AoE healing.

Its all very decision oriented, and I personally see my self LOVING it, especially in raids. Maybe not so much in small group content where you are alone, but my favorite thing about healing is working together as a team.

But wait, you say? Oh yes, I did miss something, didn’t I. There is another side to the coin than simply pressing heals in WoW. Or at least, there was in previous expansions. Not anymore!

Blizzard has officially confirmed their intent to effectively remove mana bars from the game again, but this time go even further off the deep end. Why I relate it to Classic, is because in 40 man environments with literally no way to regen mana other than not casting for 5 seconds, you just chose your weakest spell and spammed it 100 percent of the time, and never relented unless strange circumstances existed. This was very important at the time, because it assured you did as minimal overhealing as possible, but helped you maximize your mana pool as well.

Now, its the same flavor, just with a few different toppings. Instead of having to be ultra conservative about your spell usage to prevent mana loss, you will do so to maximize mana regeneration. Currently in the Alpha, if you just cast your weakest spell 100 percent of the time, you actually gain mana! And thats at FIVE HUNDRED ITEM LEVEL! Obviously, there is a lot of tweaking to be done there, but why this is so off the chains is that it gives you way too much wiggle room in a model that is supposed to be all about control. Instead, now each spell cast that consumes mana needs to be 100 percent effective, especially in raids, otherwise you wasted your time. In 5 healing Mythic situations, the niche that will most certainly will be carved travels the path of BC healing. You simply have healers select a target and heal them with your most efficient heal every global. When there is more healing needed, you use your best heals, and then regen. In this case, regen means going back to using your most efficient heal every global.

The system they elected against, in case you aren’t aware after reading the Blue Post, was that you regen very little mana natively, but have 1-2 spells that cost an important resource and regen large chunks of mana. So instead of making healing decisions about healing, and giving globals dedicated to regen, they have now combined the two into one watered down system where spell selection is chosen by default based on the encounter’s damage.

Phew, OK sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Its very likely I am being far too critical, but what I fear the most is the end tiers just being a complete disaster. I mean, if we are able to regen our entire bars in a few seconds now, won’t the end tiers just fall prey to the same issue as we had in Wrath? They will have to FORCE us to use our best throughput spells constantly to make up for the difference in spirit. This will lead to tanks getting crushed, and the Triage concept once again completely out the window.

I hope this isn’t the case, I am REALLY looking forward to trying this in a raid environment. I love the concept of keeping many people alive but never really having everyone topped off. But if my mana bar isn’t moving while doing so, then I can’t say it would be nearly as exciting.

To close, I will give a current example of the situation they elected against, and how it has worked for years.

Potion of Concentration and Potion of Mana. This is the pillar of success for this concept and its been in the game for 7 years! The choice is whats important. You have to make a decision whether to use the Potion of Mana, regen a little mana, but continue throughput – OR – use the Potion of Concentration, regen a good amount of mana, but sacrifice all spells for 10 seconds. Every healing guide I make includes discussion of where the two potions fit into the equation, and I was REALLY looking forward to regen sections as well.

Instead, all our choices are just secondary traits of our actual healing spells. In an act of going to far on the side of “control,” we have lost some very important “active” concepts that will very likely come back to haunt us. Mark my words as you read them. This will change. It may not be in the Alpha, it may not be in the Beta, but it will not carry out as it is currently before the final tier (6.4.) Its the oversimplification that many people cry about, and for the most part it makes sense. Here is the one case where it does not.

Now mana can stay in the pool, where it belongs!

Now mana can stay in the pool, where it belongs!