Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hitting the Mark with Healers

Anyone who has looked at some of the new healing trees might notice something particularly interesting, and it is the desire for healers to contribute some dps as a way to heal with the 1-2 punch of talents like enlightened judgements and inspired judgement for paladins or as a way of conserving and regenerating mana with symbiotic talents like evangelism and archangel for discipline (possibly holy) priests. Shaman currently have a similar yet simpler ability in the current beta build called telluric currents. Because of last weeks developer chat, we now, without question, know these talents are no fluke.

Q. Some of the new talent trees for healers seem to emphasize a style of "mana regeneration by dealing damage." Is that intentional? If so, why?

A. Yes. In almost any situation, there are periods where heals are not urgently needed 100% of the time. Today, you probably just cast heals anyway in case someone takes damage, since mana doesn’t matter much. But if mana did matter, the “right” thing to do would be to do nothing. Talents such as Telluric Currents provide an active way to recharge mana while contributing damage. (Source)

Hit Rating

These talents look fun, and as someone who previously whined about the spell lockout for tree of life, I have to admit I am very excited. My only concern is the always hated and usually misunderstood stat of hit. Hit’s hated because it’s not sexy. Hit is the girlfriend guys keep because she’s safe and consistent. Want to boost your DPS? Get hit capped. It is the cheapest and most successful way to boost your dps until you reach the cap. It has similar qualities for threat as well. Sure, arcane mages would rather do the dirty with that beautiful haste down the street, but when it comes to topping the meters, they first have to take care of the lovely lady hit who they wake up next to every morning.

Until Cataclysm launches hit has also been a tolerable stat because it’s relatively low maintenance. Once you know your cap, you work around it and then like a good girlfriend, she lets you head over to hooters and check out the big crits as long as you come home sober and are able to mow the lawn on Saturdays. When 4.0 hits the live servers, hit is going to become that naggy girlfriend who isn’t sexy but demands a whole lot more attention because hit requirements will increase as you climb raiding tiers. Yup, hit rating is about to become a wife.

What is it Healers are Managing?

After reading the previously mentioned dev chat, a very specific comment on ret paladins started churning in my head and how it might relate to healers. “In the Ret case, we started with a basic question: what is it they should be managing? There are a lot of things they *could* be managing. Today it's cooldowns. It could be mana or procs or a lot of things.”

The most glaring distinction between a face rolling class like the current ret pally, and a more complex class is resource management. Arcane mages are relatively easy to play with a 2 spell rotation, but no one is accusing them of being lolmages last I checked. They sure as hell don’t get the snarky comments from the great and powerful crab the way paladins do. The question then becomes why?

In the case of arcane mages, it’s because they are managing procs and with both the Exodus like cast time and hefty mana cost of stacking arcane blasts, they are managing mana as well as the growing resource of mobility. Any time a mage spends standing in fire casting their blast is time they risk dying. If they decide to move, well they risk the loss of potential dps. Affliction locks manage dots and procs. Survivalist hunters manage abilities on varying cooldowns and lock and load procs which they need to use but shouldn’t clip. Ret pallies only manage cooldowns, and because of it they are seen as the huntards of Wrath, able to put out competitive DPS, but at the cost of letting valuable brain cells rot from lack of use.

Right now, healers manage time, or GCDs. It’s one reason haste is so important to a shaman trying to reduce the cast time of his chain heal and why insta-cast healers like disc priest and druids covet the haste soft cap. We have been told what feels like countless times now that healers won’t actually be spamming their biggest heals come Cataclysm because mana will matter. In many ways, where bring the player not the class was drilled into us for Wrath, “mana will matter” seems to be the theme of Cataclysm. Whether you are looking at the devs justifying DPS talents reducing damage taken, discussions on EH vs. avoidance, or healing, everything comes back to one central thought, “a healer’s mana will matter, so choose your stats/talents wisely.”

The Head Scratcher

With the understanding that healing decisions will matter, based on the heal you choose, or in the case of the talents, the healing you don’t choose in an attempt to regenerate mana, I am perplexed at another one of the answers in the dev chat.

Q. I'm excited about the Smite mechanic in Disc. Are you going to do anything about hit so that mechanic can be effective?

A. We had a talent to give you a bunch of spell hit in a beta build, but spell hit on your offensive spells is a hard sell in the new talent model. But yes, we want to do something about spell hit for the Discipline Archangel specialization, possibly move up Twisting Faith to a tier that Discipline can obtain it in Shadow (so your spirit would convert to hit as Discipline/Shadow sub-specialization).

What the fuck kind of answer is that? In a world where mana is the issue and not the time it takes to get the heal off, why would it matter if smite had a 100% hit chance for disc priest tied into a deeper talent? We know through things like glyphs for spells like righteous defense and dark command allow for a single spell to receive a hit modifier when your others do not. If discipline priests are expected to smite when they need mana and the opportunity cost of doing so is no healing, I will ask again, what the hell would it matter if every smite hit? The same logic applies to shaman with telluric currents. If the devs are concerned with healing specs doing too much damage because of their hit, then why even consider letting them grab talents like the new twisted faith. Allowing them to grab all encompassing hit talents would then bump up their dps because any spell will hit. Allow discipline priests to smite away for mana, but don’t let them put up devouring plagues and mind blasts without the added cost of a miss.

Shaman are the class who could really face mana issues in higher tiers of content without the expectation of taking elemental precision making it a pretty costly talent when it’s supposed to synergize with a talent hanging out deep on in the restoration tree. The logic is faulty at best, and mind numbing when it starts to get scrutinized.

The solution is easy, and it’s not one the devs are vehemently against or they wouldn’t have hit bonuses in the paladin tree. Latch on spell specific hit bonuses to talents deep in the tree. It might make the tooltip a little long and confusing, but after seeing the tooltip for chakra we know long and confusing tooltips aren’t exactly a concern of anyone over at Blizzard HQ.

1 comment:

  1. I know this is a little bit late, but could blizzard not add another bonus to each tree when it gets specialized in? Something like "Smite deals 60% less damage but has a 100% hit rate". 60% is a filler obviously, but they could have something similar in all healing tress. Increase one aspect of an ability (hit rating) and decrease another (damage) to balance them out. It was just a sudden thought, and I may have overlooked something.