Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Yes, it finally happened - Alierah dinged 70. I finished up the quests in Nagrand with around 2 bars left to make it to 70 and didn't feel like starting a whole new zone, so instead I went trick or treating. It started with Outland, going to get all the flight points I haven't been to and continued with Kalimdor. So not only did I get the achievement and lots of candy, but now I'm probably one of the only people in the world to ding 70 in the barrens (Camp Taurajo, to be exact). That makes her my first 70 ever, second to reach the level cap (after Dorni dinging 60 pre-BC) and my 3rd in Outland.

Now, the question is "what do I do next?", as suddenly it feels like there's too much to choose from - not only is there all the level 70 content, but I have Hallow's End and the scourge invasion to take into account. Last night I finished trick or treating, respecced, went to a BG (Arathi Basin for the daily), did one SSO daily in Nagrand and was whispered by someone who was organizing a raid on Darnassus. Having never raided a capital city I decided to go for it, although it was a little disappointing. I don't know if Tyrande and the other faction leaders were balanced for level 80, or if it's just because we made a complete mess, but we wiped miserably. Twice. That was enough for most people, including me, so I left the group and went to explore Teldrassil*. Then I hearthed back, worked on my Enchanting and Tailoring for a while and called it a night. You'll notice I didn't even have time to go get my flying mount anywhere in there, but I was overwhelmed by everything I had to do and wasn't thinking straight - I'll get it first thing today.

The Spec

Finally reaching 70, I had already decided I'd respec to a more healing-oriented build. I still have a lot of solo content to see, so solo viability is important too, but I'll probably get a lot more chances to heal now (whether in BGs or instances). Instead of going with a deep Holy build, I decided to go with a 25/33/3 Disc-Holy hybrid that will hopefully give me a good balance between soloing and healing. The basic idea was to get Improved Divine Spirit in Discipline, Spirit Tap in Shadow and then go down the Holy tree, preferably with talents that affect my DPS as well as my healing. It's going to take a while to get used to this it - whether I'm healing or soloing, I have to get used to Inner Focus, to watch out for Surge of Light or Holy Concentration proccing, and just generally finding out what works and what doesn't. But hey, that's part of the fun.

So, now what? I have a lot to do with Alierah, and hopefully I'll stick to her for a while, but I also want to finally level a Rogue past its 20s. If I do, it'll probably be human - there are oh so many factions in the world, that the Diplomacy racial just gets more and more valuable. But we'll see... For now I think I have enough new toys to play with with Alierah.

* Well, I was already there, not exploring it would have been silly. If I ever decide to go for the world exploration achievements, that takes care of the most hard to reach zone on the map.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Miserable weekend

I thought my first post this week would be about hitting 70... That didn't quite work out as I spent most of the weekend in bed with a nasty cold. I did get to play a little Friday night, though, so I made it to 69. I managed to clear quite a few quests in Nagrand, including the Nessingwary hunting quests, and finally got some gear with spirit on it.

Hopefully, I won't feel as "dead" this week, so I should be able to finally "get there". Stay tuned to see how that works out. =)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just. A little. More.

I didn't have a lot of time to play these past couple of days, but I pretty much finished with Terokkar and moved on to Nagrand. Man, that place is beautiful. First time I've ever gone there, and I think I'm really going to enjoy questing there (even if I do have to kill 30 of every mob type for Nessingwary and his friends). While I was running around slaughtering the local wildlife, I got a whisper asking if I want to heal the Ring of Blood quests, and after hearing about them so many times I gladly accepted. Still, just hearing the name doesn't mean I knew anything about what was going on, but the rest of the group were very understanding and gentle for my first time. =)

The quests themselves involve a series of 6 fights, 1 fight per quest, each giving around 17,500xp and 11 gold and earning a bunch of potions, bandages and a blue weapon to wrap it up. All in all, very nice for 10 minutes' work. The only complaint I have about these quests is that out of 6 weapons to choose from, not 1 has any spirit on it.

I mean, really... Is there a spirit deficit in Outland or something? The last time I had a quest reward with spirit on it seems like a distant dream, with all the items supposedly meant for healers getting mp5 instead. Don't get me wrong, mp5 is very nice, but not at the expense of spirit - especially if you go to the trouble of speccing into Meditation. Most of the items I get now give me more mana, health, damage and/or crit, but even if they have mp5 it's usually less than what I would get from my spirit gear. Even if it does give slightly more mp5, it still gimps my non-casting mana regen and as a result how much use I get out of Spirit Tap*.

I donno, I'm not really sure what to do about this whole thing... If this keeps up, I might follow in Cynra's footsteps and respec Discipline. Respeccing is fine, as long as I don't "break" and reroll.

* Speaking of Spirit Tap, what happens when you hit 70? Since killing doesn't give XP, it seems like this talent becomes useless for PvE, but there's still a lot of solo questing to be done. That seems like a big problem, potentially...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vampiric Touch and 3.0: Good for soloing?

As I mentioned in my previous post, I finally took Vampiric Touch for Alierah and am a little disappointed with it. I'm going to try to analyze it here, to figure out whether or not it's actually worth the extra talent point and using in fights, and you're going to read through it because... Well, because you're here. Too bad, suck it up. =)

Oh, and I'm looking at the whole thing from a soloing/leveling perspective. While leveling, you'll usually heal in groups, making this spell irrelevant, and I have no experience with raiding...

What Does It Do?

Still with me? Good. So let's start at the basics, with what the new spell actually does. The tooltip is really confusing and unclear:
Causes 450 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.25% of their maximum mana per second when you deal damage from Mind Blast.
So we have a DoT - so far so good, we all know about those. But VT is really about replenishing mana, not about the damage, so let's see if we can figure out what the rest of the tooltip means. When you deal damage with Mind Blast up to 10 party/raid members get a buff that regenerates 0.25% of their mana per second. For how long? The tooltip doesn't specify, but it seems to be a 15 second buff.

In other words, simply using VT on your target and Mind Flaying it to death will work, but not replenish any mana. Once you Mind Blast, you get a buff that in total will regenerate 3.75% of your mana.

The DoT

So let's start by looking at the DoT itself, and compare it to the others available to us. Since spell costs aren't constant anymore, but rather a percentage of your base mana, we're going to measure damage per percent of mana (dppm from here on) instead of damage per mana. Also, since the bonus damage from Shadowform applies to all of our DoTs*, I can ignore it in my calculations.

So let's start with my basic DoT - Shadow Word: Pain (Alierah is currently using Rank 9). 25% base mana doing 906 damage, for a ratio of 36.2 dppm. With Improved Shadow Word: Pain (Haven't seen a Shadow priest without it) increasing damage by 6%, that's 38.4 dppm.

Next we have Devouring Plague (currently at Rank 6). 28% of base mana doing 904 damage, or 32.3 dppm. Not as efficient as SW:P, but the health regeneration makes up for it nicely.

And finally we have Vampiric Touch (currently at Rank 2). 18% of base mana doing 600 damage, or 33.3 dppm. So it's a little more efficient than DP, but does less damage overall and takes 1.5 seconds to cast.

For comparison, Mind Flay (Rank 6) gets 36.3 dppm and Mind Blast (Rank 10) an average of 30.1 dppm, but they can crit making these numbers lower than the actual ones.

Bottom line? Very mediocre DoT. It's not very mana efficient, and doesn't do enough damage to justify being part of the rotation if the mana regeneration buff isn't used. So let's move on to the mana regen...

Mana Battery? Not Really

As I mentioned above, causing damage with Mind Blast on a target afflicted with VT will give a 15 second buff regenerating 3.75% of your maximum mana. According to Alierah's armory page (which still shows her at 63) her total mana is 6254 while her base is 1749, roughly 3.5 times larger. So the buff would regenerate around 13% of my base mana over its duration. That's starting to sound better, but we have to remember that to get that buff we have to cast both VT and MB, for a total of at least 37% of our base mana (assuming it's neither is resisted) so you still end up paying 24% of your base mana rather than gaining mana.

OK, so this is definitely not a way to replenish mana, but maybe it's still worth using from a mana efficiency point-of-view. VT and MB cost 24% of base mana, and do 600+572=1172 damage (average damage used for MB), getting 48dppm. You know what? That's actually not that bad. It's better than SW:P, which was our most efficient spell, and does eoughly the same amount of damage. The only downside is the total casting time, but if you open with VT it shouldn't be much of a consideration.

Final Thoughts

So VT isn't all I'd hoped it to be, but also isn't as bad as I'd felt. It is a little annoying that it only procs off Mind Blast, though. Considering that I hardly used Mind Blast until now, I now have to add 2 spells to my rotation. Not only that, but it sort of messes up the synergy between talents - right next to Vampiric Touch we also have Pain and Suffering which procs off of Mind Flays.

But overall, now it actually looks decent. Doing a rotation along the lines of: SW:P -> DP -> VT -> MB -> MF or SW:P -> VT -> MB -> MF -> MF, and finishing up with my wand should, in theory, work very nicely.

* I'm not going to talk about Holy Fire. For shadow priests it's irrelevant. Other priests don't have Shadowform anyway, so they don't get a bonus either way. Heck, they don't even have Vampiric Touch.

Weekend Report

So how was your weekend? Productive? Mine was... After a very disappointing start*, I managed to do a gazillion things on Saturday and Sunday.

I started Saturday at 63 or 64 (don't remember exactly) in Zangarmarsh. Did some quests and got invited on a Ramparts run, which turned into Ramparts -> Blood Furnace -> Slave Pens -> Underbog. The group consisted of me healing, a rogue, a mage, a hunter and a druid tank (2 actually. We had to replace our tank after finishing Hellfire Citadel), and everything went pretty smooth. The hunter didn't seem to speak much English, and was a little overzealous for our tanks, but I'll give him this - he was EXCELLENT. He trapped, he interrupted enemy spellcasters (Intimidation? Charge? I don't know how things work with hunters now), used every ability imaginable, whenever I'd pull aggro his boar would charge and growl the mob before it even got to me - it was amazing to watch him. Other than that, I got several compliments on my healing, which is always nice. While I didn't think too much of it in Hellfire, since I was a little high, healing Underbog at 65 without any problems was very nice. At one point, our bear commented that I did a good job, and when the mage** said "You'd never know she was Shadow, huh?" the tank was shocked. /grin It's very nice knowing I can still heal easily until I reach 70 and (probably) respec.

After that, I finished up Zangarmarsh and logged off for the night. Sunday started with leveling my Tailoring, currently stuck at 339 - the damned Bolt of Imbued Netherweave is refusing to give me that 1 final skill up to 340. The rest of the day was spent questing in Terokkar, finishing most of the quests there and logging off at 67. Yes, you heard right - 67. Alierah is now officially my highest level alt. I also found 2 Jack-o'-Lanterns, each replacing one of my Netherweave Bags and giving me another 4 bag slots (and that's not even counting the extra bank slots). Of course in between there was also some Hallow's End merriment, although I figured I'd wait with the achievements and scouring all the inns in Azeroth till I ding 70 - according to the calendar there's plenty of time left before the seasonal event ends, so I'm not too worried about that.

And that's pretty much it. This morning I finally found an Arcanite Rod so I can keep working on my Enchanting - that should be fun (and clear up some much needed storage). I am, however, starting to get "that" feeling again. You know what I'm talking about - wanting to roll a new alt (even though starting a new alt now is bordering on criminal). I'm trying to figure out why, and I think part of it is to blame on Vampiric Touch. I'll make a separate post about that, but the bottom line is that I broke down and took it, and I think it's pretty much a letdown. And now that I'm starting to see "the end" and realize that the number of talents I'll be getting is limited makes it even worse. I'm thinking about respecing, although that seems like a waste of money right now - I just had a free respec less than a week ago and the current plan is to spec Holy at 70 which isn't too far off, but if that's what it takes to make sure I actually get to 70 then it might be worth it.

* Internet was dead all Friday. While it means I didn't get to do much work, it also means no WoW.

** Who died in that particular fight, but there really wasn't anything I could have done - he was gone in a second while I was in the middle of a heal on our tank.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So, those of us playing in the EU finally got the patch - only to be greeted by unstable realms that keep crashing. I did get a couple of minutes to take Alierah on a short test run, and so far I like most of the changes.

General Changes

First, having macros saved on the server instead of locally is really nice. No need to worry about backing them up when reinstalling the game, no need to keep my laptop and PC macros synced. This is long overdue, and even though it won't matter to most people I'm very happy with it.

The calendar and barber are nice. That's about all I can say about them... They'll both probably see some limited use, but for the most part will be irrelevant (for me. If you have an obssession about your hair, have fun). The achievements look like they'll be providing lots of wasted time, though. Maybe not the really crazy ones, but I can definitely see myself doing the world expoloration and dungeon achievements.

Threat warnings are nice for a couple of reasons. Even though I use Omen, it requires other people in your group to have it as well. Now there's something that "always" works. Also, I'm assuming a lot more info about threat is available through scripting, which means that Omen (and other threat meters) should be able to get much more accurate results and not require everyone to have them installed.

Focus control and being able to set a key to cast a spell directly on your focus are very welcome changes. Looks like I'll have to rethink my Nostromo bindings and work it in somehow.

UPDATE: Ooh, I just noticed something. There's an option to track low-level quests! How awesome is that? And why didn't anyone tell me?

Priest Changes

Logging in to Alierah, I was faced with having to choose a spec. I ended up chickening out and going Shadow again - you can see my spec here. After visiting the trainer, and getting Hymn of Hope and Devouring Plague, I was on my way out to Hellfire Peninsula. Hymn of Hope looks like it'll come in handy for instances, but it's a Holy spell so it doesn't mix well with Shadowform*. Devouring Plague is pretty neat - pretty similar to Shadow Word: Pain, with the added bonus of healing. While I'm not sure I'll use it as part of my "usual" solo sequence (to preserve mana), it'll come in handy when I need to heal (along with Vampiric Embrace and the bonus damage from Shadowform, it should get me back on my feet in no time) or when there's more than one mob beating on me. Hey, if I get Vampiric Touch I can almost be like a Warlock with all those DoTs.

UPDATE: After actually playing with it a bit more, I realized that the CD on Devouring Plague is 24 seconds, so you can't have it on more than 1 mob at a time... On the other hand, I started using both Devouring Plague and SW:P in my fights, and still don't have any mana problems.

The other side of the "racial issue" is losing Mana Tap (true for all Blood Elfs, not just priests). Not such a big deal, since it really didn't drain that much mana to be noticeable, but it has some "unwelcome" side-effects. As it happens, I was trying things out against mobs that gain 75% damage reduction to the type of damage of the first spell cast on them. With Mana Tap, I could start with that causing them to get a lot of Arcane damage reduction, and then burn them down with Shadow spells. Now, the only spells I have "available" are Shadow. Either that or I keep switching in and out of Shadowform. Still, not really a big deal, since this kind of mob isn't what I'd call common.

And now we get to the good parts. First, my damage has gone up, and it has nothing to do with the spell power. Mind Flay can crit now, shadow priests around the world rejoice. Second thing, which is all kinds of awesome, I didn't see mentioned anywhere - wands no longer trigger the GCD. Yes, you heard me right - no more having to stop wanding and waiting 2 seconds before you can cast a spell. Just hit that spell button any time and you're good. This makes me so happy, you can't imagine. Finally, it seems like my mana is in a much better state now - I keep finishing fights with almost full mana. This is probably due to the change in spell mana costs and the removal of spell ranks, but I'm not complaining. Being able to throw more spells in a fight without having more downtime is definitely a good thing.

So that's it for now. I'll go try to log in again, and see if I find something else interesting to mention. Y'all should do the same instead of wasting your time reading this. ;-)

* It's also channeled now, so not ideal for soloing. Yes, I know Mind Flay is also channeled, but since HoH is more of an emergency button I don't think it's wise to count on being able to bubble when you need it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

3.0 Priest spec

Had me some free time today to mess around with the talent calculators, and think about what I'm going to do with Alierah when 3.0.2 hits tomorrow. Right now I'm using this Shadow spec (yes, I dinged 61) - it has the "obligatory" 14 points in Discipline, with Wand Specialization, Improved Power Word: Shield, Inner Focus and Meditation. On the shadow side, there were 1 or 2 points I wasn't entirely happy with, but they were used as fillers anyway, so weren't such a big problem. Now, however, everything is going to change - whether or not I stick with Shadow. So let's play around with the different trees and see if I can come up with something I like.


With Improved PW:S moved down to the 3rd tier, it seems like getting the goodies from Discipline will require more points to get to the goodies. Add to that the removal of Wand Specialization, and it means a lot more filler... I'm hoping that Twin Disciplines will justify the 5 points to it, at least*.

On the Shadow side, things remain fairly similar to my old spec. Spirit Tap now only takes 3 points to max, and while Improved Spirit Tap doesn't look like it'll be that useful, it still beats Blackout for PvE/solo play. The next change is in only taking 4/5 Improved Mind Blast this time. I don't use Mind Blast as much as I used to, relying on Mind Flay much more, so I probably won't miss that extra 0.5 second it takes for the CD to finish. Shadow Weaving will still get 3 points, except that now that's the maximum, instead of being 3/5 - nice bonus. The rest is pretty similar - Shadowform, Vampiric Embrace (and Improved VE), 4/5 in Darkness and Shadow Power, and finally 1 point in Misery. The bonuses in Improved Shadowform seem nice, but don't really strike me as must-have's. So here's what I've got for Shadow at level 61, now let's see about the other trees.


Looking at the Shadow spec, and seeing 16 points (well, it might be 17, if I decide to get Inner Focus as well) got me considering a Discipline spec. So, let's see...

First off, I still want my Spirit Tap, especially now that it's only 3 points. Hooray!

The bottom part of the Discipline tree looks fairly similar to the Shadow build - I don't want a PvP build and I prefer "soloing" talents over healing talents so there isn't much choice there. I will get Inner Focus, though. 3 points in Mental Agility will get me past the next tier so I can get Divine Spirit and Improved Divine Spirit - more mana and more spell damage is very nice. For the next 2 points, I'm a little undecided on whether I should finish off Mental Agility or get 2/5 in Mental Strength, but it doesn't seem to be that important for now. Next, Focused Power for that little extra umph and Enlightenment for stamina and spirit. Now we have Reflective Shield and Rapture right down from it, both of which seem very useful.

This brings us to level 52. The options now seem to be between continuing down the Discipline tree, which seems to mostly have more survivability/"emergency" talents, or to get some Holy talents for better smiting... I think I'll go with that for now. So that gives us this spec.


Finally, let's give a shot to a Holy spec. Again, start with Spirit Tap and some Discipline, and then start working on the Holy tree. Again, going on the principle that I want to improve my offensive spells, there aren't too many choices here. I went with Holy Specialization, Improved Renew**, Divine Fury, Blessed Recovery, Searing Light, Spiritual Guidance, Spirit of Redemption*** and Surge of Light. And that's it... There aren't any more talents to help with mana regeneration or with doing more damage - everything else is for healing.

So now I can either keep going with Holy, improving healing or I can put my remaining 5 points in one of the other trees. There's nothing that useful in Shadow right now, and the first 2 points would pretty much be wasted anyway, but Discipline has some very attractive offers. Another 5 points there are just enough for Divine Spirit, so going with Inner Focus and 3/5 Mental Agility, or 4/5 Mental Agility could be a pretty good choice. So here's the "final" level 61 spec. I suppose you could say that being 21/28/3 makes it more of a hybrid spec than a Holy spec, and you'd be right - but like I said, there aren't really any other choices in the Holy tree for soloing.


So there ypu have it - 3 experimental specs, 2 of which are for trees I have no experience with at all. Are they any good? I guess that at least for 1 of them, I'll find out soon enough. For the rest, I guess it's up to you. What do you think? Are they good/bad/ugly? Will they work? Have any suggestions for improvement?
Oh, and I really hope the links will still work after the patch goes live. :)

* I wonder if the bonus applies to Vampiric Embrace, too. It's instant, and it heals - it's just not a direct HoT. If it does, it might make it slightly more attractive for Shadow priests.

** Yes, I know it's not an offensive spell, but I needed somewhere to put the points and it'll probably be used very often (especially with the bonus from Twin Disciplines).

*** Not so much for the spirit healer thing, but more for the spirit bonus.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outland, here I come

Last night Alierah dinged* 60, making her my 3rd character to reach Outland and the 1st on the Horde side. Like Dorni, she dinged in the Eastern Plaguelands, turning in one of Tirion Fordring's quests. Leveling her so far was actually kind of nice - I even managed to completely avoid questing in Stranglethorn Vale, which is quite an achievement**.

It's not all fun, though. As expected, entering Outlands and finishing quest I'm getting some nice quest rewards with very nice stats, except for Spirit. Not that they don't have any - they do, just not as much as my "Azeroth" gear. Now, the other stats are a huge improvement - lots more Intelligence, Stamina and spell damage, but when it gets to mana regen it looks like I'll be suffering. I guess I could start using Mana Oil instead of Wizard Oil, but it really doesn't look like it'll make that big of a difference - 8 mp5 would regenerate less than 100 mana a minute, which is practically useless.

Another thing I've noticed is that mobs hit a lot harder here, to the point where my Power Word: Shield usually isn't enough, even with Improved Power Word: Shield maxed out. That means I can't just Mind Flay quietly while sitting in a bubble, so I have to figure out how to make it through fights. I guess it's a good thing we'll all be getting a free respec soon - I might want to switch around some of my talents once I figure out which spells I actually use and which talents will be more useful. With the patch supposedly coming this week, that gives me 2 days to figure it all out.

* I wonder, is it "dinged" or "dung"? /grin

** Hmm, I wonder if there's an achievement for that in WotLK...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Healing set? HA!

Despite the fact that I chose the "easy" way to level Alierah and went Shadow with her (despite the recent forays into Discipline), I get quite a few chances to take her to instances and heal. And I'm enjoying it, too*. And, as anyone playing a healing class will tell you, you need a healing set**.

So like a good little girl, Alierah's been collecting lots of equipment with +heal on it and using it when healing. So, yeah, it definitely makes my heals bigger, but it also has a lot less Spirit than my usual soloing gear. That basically means I have to heal a little less (heals are bigger, so I don't need as many of them), but I hardly regenerate any mana during the "down time" in fights. So instead of having 10 seconds of downtime with good mana regen, I have longer to rest between heals but regenerating a lot less mana. I mean, I suppose if I was healing non-stop and couldn't keep up with the damage the tank was taking, but that's far from being the case...

I noticed this when I forgot to switch out of my soloing gear on a BRD run. While I've been starting to have trouble healing in my +heal heavy set, doing it with tons of spirit was a piece of cake. So yeah, instead of healing for 1600 with Greater Heal, I only healed for 1500. Does anyone really think that makes that much of a difference?

So that decides it for me - no more healing set. I'm sure my bags will thank me.

* Still, due to the time difference, I spend most of my time soloing so I don't plan on going Holy any time soon.

** Yes, I know that's precisely the reason Blizz are turning +heal and +spell damage to one stat. I don't have that much spell damage either.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Soloing shadow priest - Mana regen and spirit

Today we make a brief foray into theorycrafting land, take a look at how shadow priests regenerate mana after solo fights and try to figure out just how much downtime we have between fights. I know it's probably not the brightest idea to write up something like this less than 2 weeks before patch 3.0, but from all I've seen so far I don't see any changes that will effect this. If there are... Well, guess I'll have to make a new post then. Or not. Deal with it. /grin

UPDATE: As pointed out by The Gaming Diva, this can relate to non-shadow priests as well, as long as they get Spirit Tap. Good thing it's a 1st tier talent.

The Basics

First off, why am I writing this? Well, I tried to find some analysis about mana regeneration for priests soloing their way through Azeroth, but didn't find anything. It seems to me like other than leveling specs (which are also hard to find sometimes), there is usually a lack of information on how to actually play the different classes while leveling - much less in depth anlyses and theorycrafting. So I couldn't find the information I needed and had to go through the math myself (joy of joys), and figured I might as well post it here, right? This way at least I can read it on my PC at home when the laptop I'm writing this with is off. =)

So, let's start from the basics, and lay down some assumptions for our leveling priest:
  • Being the fragile creatures that we are, we wouldn't want to risk breaking a nail hitting a mob - that means most* of the damage we will be dealing will be through spells and our wands.
  • One of the first talents** we will be getting, if not the first is Spirit Tap. Since our main down time will be caused due to having to regenerate lost mana, this is arguably the most important talent in the shadow tree for a leveling solo priest.
  • The general fight sequence will involve starting with Power Word: Shield, followed by some face melting and finally wanding the last 5 seconds or so to make the best of Spirit Tap.
Now, Wowwiki teaches us that mana regeneration outside the Five-second Rule is linear to our spirit - double your spirit and you double the mana regenerated. That means that Spirit Tap, coupled with lots and lots of +spirit on our gear, lets us regenerate a lot of mana after the fight if we're "not casting". It also means that 50% the regular mana regeneration at double spirit lets us keep casting at the usual "non-casting" regen rate - so while we try to end with wanding to get the double regen, with enough spirit that may not be such a big issue.

The Numbers

By now you must be thinking "how can this be a theorycrafting post if there's no number crunching?", and I agree. So for now, let's take a look at Alierah as an example. Here's a screenshot of her Armory profile:

According to this, Alierah gets 189 mana every 5 seconds when not casting. With Spirit Tap active that rate would double to 378 mana, and over the 15 seconds of Spirit Tap she can regenerate 1134 mana. That means that assuming I end the fight with 1134 mana less than my total, I'll get back to full in 15 seconds. But is that enough?

Well, let's see - my usual fights consist of shield, Shadow Word: Pain, 3 Mind Flays, and wanding the rest of the way. With the current ranks I have and with 3 points in Focused Mind that means I use 355 + 385 + 3 * 115 = 1085 mana. That's kind of nice - it means that Spirit Tap by itself is enough to recover my mana, limiting my downtime to 15 seconds between fights. Cool.

Is That All?

No, it isn't. If that was all, I could have just said "Spirit Tap is cool" and have been done with it. But now that we've covered that, we can go ahead and start playing around with it. For a start, let's try to see what happens if we have take downtime between fights.

So I just killed a mob, and gained ST for 15 seconds. However, instead of the usual 1134 mana, I will only get half of that back - 567 mana beacuse I'm already casting again. That's a little harsh, as it means I'll run out of mana after 5-6 mobs. But that's not entirely true, you see. How long do you actually spend wanding that mob down? Exactly 5 seconds? I doubt it. In my case, it usually takes around 10 shots to finally kill the mobs. With my current wand speed being 1.90, and not having any haste, that means 19 seconds wanding (sure doesn't feel that long, but hey, who am I to argue with numbers?). Round it up to 20, and it means you get another 15 seconds of good-old mana regeneration during the fight, giving us another 567 mana and making the total regenerated mana per fight 1134 again.

Now that's cool. At this rate, it means that using this rotation I can keep on going indefinitely. And if you add it all up, you find that killing the mob takes around 40 seconds. A mob every 40 seconds? Yup, definitely cool.

Does it actually work in practice? Well, for the most part, yes. Since it implicitly assumes fighting only 1 mob at a time (maybe 2, if your shield can take it), there is some downtime for looting and getting to the next mob. And of course, some mobs are tougher than others ("tanks") while some are more fragile (casters, usually) - so you have to adjust the rotation to fit the mob. Sometimes you'll need 4 Mind Flays, and sometimes only 2. And you know what? Waiting 15 seconds for your mana to fill up completely once in a while won't kill you.

Of course, this is very gear-dependent, but I don't think my gear is "uber" in any way - I don't buy things off the AH, and only make do with what I can make or find on my journeys. Then again, I just got out of Sunken Temple with some nice upgrades. Still, I think it's pretty "average" gear all in all.

Wrap It Up Already

This is starting to get a little long now, so let's start wrapping up. First, just to "cover my ass" - my current gear also gives me 4 mp5, which is not affected by Spirit Tap, but does show up in the mana regeneration info on the character sheet. Still, the difference isn't that big, and I didn't feel the need to make the calculations even more complicated than they already are. Well, OK, that's a lie. I just thought of it halfway through the post, and didn't feel like going back and fixing it since that would have ended up with even more mistakes.

Now, there's still a lot to of "unexplored" territory here - what's the "cap" for having no downtime? How much spell damage equates to 1 spirit (since doing more damage means having to cast less)? Who's still reading after this wall of text?

For the Spirit "cap", I don't think there's a good answer that would work for everyone since we all have our personal rotations and fight sequences. For spell damage, I might just write a post about that as well, once I get into Outlands and start seeing a lot more spell damage gear. As for who's still reading... Well, you tell me.

* I say most, because just 2 days ago I ran into water elementals who were immune to my wand's frost damage. Good thing I keep my staff skill relatively high (why do you think Blizzard put critters in the game?)

** The first 5 talent points often go to Wand Specialization, delaying Spirit Tap for a couple of levels. That's fine. Also, Wand Specialization seems to have been dropped in the beta, so I expect this to become a moo*** point anyway.

*** "It's like a cow's opinion - it's "moo"". Yes, I liked "Friends" and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What happened to Nopet?

There was supposed to be a Nopet post here, but due to circumstances which were out of my control I didn't actually get to play him this week. What circumstances, you ask?
  1. Playing Alierah was just too much fun. She's 45 already, and wreaking havoc in Feralas with her Mind Flay.
  2. After reading so much about it, I had to get the Bejeweled add-on. You can fill in the rest. /sigh
  3. Thanks to the wonderful people over at Good Old Games, a lot of time was spent with Fallout (in preparation for Fallout 3 coming out this month, of course).
  4. My girlfriend decided she wants me to teach her how to play. Since her English isn't too good, that means having to do a lot of explaining. Not to mention that, being a Japanese girl, it took her a whole hour (yes, an hour, I'm not exaggerating) to decide what her character should look like and to find a name that wasn't already taken. But Tsubaki, her Blood Elf hunter made it out of the newbie zone (levels 1-5) and to the first inn.
So you see? It wasn't my fault, really.

Bejeweled Away

Anyway, on the subject of Bejeweled, I can just see it now. It starts with people saying on their blogs "I got Bejeweled". Then they'll start recommending other people download it. And then, inevitably, they'll start posting Bejeweled tips under the guise of WoW blogs until all the WoWosphere* is only blogging about that instead of the game. In fact, since PopCap are working on a new and improved version of Bejeweled, if they're fast enough to release it before WotLK, they might actually cause the downfall of WoW - imagine that.


Yes, languages again. The one area of the game no one in their right mind actually thinks/cares about. This time I was thinking about the whole business with Horde and Alliance not being able to communicate. I can understand not speaking any common languages. I can even understand how all goblins can speak fluent Common and Orcish. But Warlocks seem to be able to understand demonic. Why shouldn't Alliance and Horde 'locks be able to talk to each other? What, demons have different dialects depending on who's enslaving them? And demons in the wild also adapt according to who's coming to fight them?

Stupid Things

As a last note, I'd like to send a note to myself. Self, next time you happen to get the chance to be present when Vol'Jin goes for a drink and get a 10% XP buff, please try not to go into a BG. If possible, try to avoid long trips just to get some new flight points as well. Thanks in advance,You.

* I'm not sure, is that a real word? Am I allowed to use it? Do I need to credit someone for it? How does this work?