One of the big changes with the release of Mists of Pandaria was a change to an active mitigation system for tanks. The previous system was a passive system that focused on defensive abilities through a stat system. When Mists of Pandaria launched Blizzard pushed to create more of an active system with abilities that you needed to use to keep defensive buffs and bonuses active. The aim was to keep tanks more involved in what was going on and give them more interesting game play.
Blizzard is now looking to do the same with healers, by dramatically changing the mana regeneration system and making it more interactive. Here is the section from the Warlords of Draenor patch notes outlining the changes they are implementing.
Blizzard Notes from Alpha Patch Notes 04-23-2014
Active Mana Regeneration (New)
Another part of the changes to healing is providing a way for them to better manage their mana. There are ways to spend more mana for more healing but weÂre also adding methods for healers to trade extra time, healing, or more mana to use later in a fight when they really need it.
- Innervate has been redesigned to now have a 2-second cast time with no cooldown, and restore 2.5% of the Druid's maximum mana every 4 seconds for 8 seconds. Spending any mana on a healing spell will cancel this effect.
- Crackling Jade Lightning's channel duration has been reduced to 4 seconds.
- Stance of the Wise Serpent now also causes Crackling Jade Lightning to cost no mana, and restore 2% of the MonkÂs maximum mana if the ability is channeled for its full duration.
- Divine Plea has been redesigned to be instant cast ability with no cooldown, and consume 3 Holy Power to immediately regain 7% of the Paladin's maximum mana.
- Atonement is no longer triggered by Penance.
- Penance now also refunds 1.1% of the PriestÂs maximum mana each time it deals damage.
- Chakra: Chastise in addition to existing effects, now also causes Smite and Holy Fire to restore 0.75% of the Priest's maximum mana each time they are cast instead of costing mana.
- Telluric Currents is now a passive ability for Restoration Shaman and causes Lightning Bolt to restore 1.25% of the Shaman's maximum mana each time it is cast instead of costing mana.
- Glyph of Telluric Currents has been removed.
What it all means
It is still early in the Alpha / Beta process and obviously many things can change yet, but let’s look at the abilities as they are described above.
For Druids Innervate changes dramatically as it is no longer a long cooldown ability that provides a huge amount of mana. Instead it is now a 2 second cast ability with no cooldown which will provide 5% of your mana over a 8 second time period, however during that time period you can no cast any healing spells. If as a druid you did nothing other than use innervate for 1 minute you would regenerate about 35% of your mana. This is a huge downgrade from the current innervate since you could currently regenerate mana and still heal. Since innervate is only cancelled if you cast a healing spell, you can still contribute to the fight by dealing damage during the time you are regenerating mana.
Paladins get an interesting change as well, with Divine Plea being completely redesigned. It becomes another Holy Power ability that will compete with your healing abilities. It makes you choose extra mana or extra healing each time you have 3 holy power charges. It is hard to judge how much mana this is per minute since it requires 3 charges of Holy Power before being used. This will of course depend on the use of other abilities and can range from as much as almost 50% and as little as 20%. The average should fall at about 28%.
With active mana regen, healers will actually be required to cast spells like this damage spell to regenerate mana.
The other healing class all see a similar direction to each other, in that they can choose to use damage abilities to restore mana. This could really change up the way that healers function as they will be forced to contribute at least in a small way to DPS if they want to restore mana throughout a fight.
The abilities that cause damage for each class if used non-stop for 1 minute would generate the following mana for each class.
- Monk Â About 32% mana
- Priest Â About 15% mana
- Shaman Â About 32% mana
As you can see, all classes can generate about 30% mana per minute if they just focus on mana regen. The exception being the Priest, but there is something important to understand about the overall picture as well, and that is how much healing is lost in the time you use to regenerate mana. Priests can regenerate mana while still doing some healing so loose out less than all other classes, other than the Paladin. The trade off is that the paladin does no damage at all during that time, while the other classes do.
Messiah’s Take on Active mana Regeneration
Right now it is still hard to tell how this will all work out. At first glance it seems like the Druid class is getting a huge nerf to mana regen. However to be fair they almost never ran out of mana and could set up HOTs and then sit and wait long enough to hit the 5 second rule and get full mana regen for a few seconds before having to cast again. What seems like a big nerf may in fact be to bring them into line for mana usage with other healers.
The overall direction of providing mana regen in a more active way is a little interesting, and potentially controversial. There are many players that I am sure will rejoice at having more to do as a healer, and like the fact that they can contribute to DPS as a way to boost mana regen. I am equally sure that there will be players who despise the new active regen since they like focusing on healing and don’t want to have to worry about dealing damage to get mana back.
I personally am on the fence. I can see that it provides more choices and concerns as a healer to worry about, and that potentially makes things more interesting. However, it also doesn’t seem as intuitive as making mitigation an active component for tanks, and maybe muddies the waters a bit on what a healer should be doing.
Regardless of my stance, or anyone else’s, on healers doing damage in a fight, there are some other issues that will need to be tuned. When you break it down, there are three different components to this new active mana regeneration system. Those components are:
- What % mana you can gain back per minute
- How much damage you cause while regenerating mana
- How much healing output you lose to regenerate x% mana
Right now those numbers do not seem balanced across the classes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all classes need to be completely even on each stat, but the overall effect needs to be close. Currently in the alpha it appears that Monks and Shaman would lose a lot of healing potential to regenerate mana and while they are about the same in the healing they would lose and the mana they would gain, I believe the monks would do almost twice as much damage. Meanwhile Paladins can gain the most mana (under the proper circumstances), lose very little healing power, but provide no damage.
It is early on in testing, so I am sure that Blizzard will play around with the numbers a bit, especially once it hits beta. This to me is the most critical part, making sure that all the classes get what feels like even utility through the use of the new active mana regeneration mechanic. If there is one class that feels left out, it will not take long for them to be viewed as the weakest healer and excluded from raids.