Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analysis: Mistweaver Edition

This is going to be a pretty short post as I don’t want to get into all the details of Mistweaver changes – just check the patch notes’ Monk section for the vast majority of the details that have been released so far — I just want to examine one particular aspect of Mistweaver that’s always fascinated me – the Renewing Mist spreading mechanics.

Just in case you need a refresher, right now things work like this:

  • Renewing Mist ticks every 2 seconds, with a duration of 18 seconds, under no Haste.
  • Haste reduces the tick interval, which also lowers the duration of the HoT, until a Haste breakpoint is reached; at the breakpoint, the spell gains another tick, which then extends the total duration a bit.
  • The total duration wavers around 18 seconds ± 1 second.
  • Each time ReM ticks, it can jump to another player. This can occur up to twice.
  • Fluctuations in tick interval and HoT duration can change the maximum number of ReMs you will see active at any one time, which causes variation in the number of Uplift targets you get with each Uplift cast.
  • The median number of ReM HoTs active on the raid at any one time is 6. However, this can fluctuate up to 8 right after casting a new ReM, at high Haste levels, but this lasts only a few seconds.
  • A Thunder Focus Tea-empowered Uplift resets the duration of all existing ReM HoTs, allowing you to briefly gain very wide raid coverage – up to 15 targets! – with ReM.

(If you’re interested in more, you can check out my previous post on this subject, but be warned that it was a novice attempt. The post is in error where it implies that ReM itself does less healing in between breakpoints than at breakpoints. However, all the stuff about Haste’s effects on Uplift targets is accurate!)

Now let’s move on to the Warlords-specific details and their implications for Mistweaver gameplay.

Renewing Renewing Mist

There are three key changes that have been announced in the Warlords patch notes and data junket that will affect the way Renewing Mist spreads throughout the raid in 6.0 and beyond:

  1. Haste will no longer affect the duration of a heal-over-time spell. (See Hamlet’s post here for a very detailed explanation of what Haste will in fact do for HoTs.) It will continue to affect the tick interval, so as you add Haste, your HoT will tick more quickly, and thus spread to new targets more quickly.
  2. Improved Renewing Mist, a Draenor leveling perk that you will earn as you level from 90 to 100, extends the duration of Renewing Mist by 2 seconds, to a total of 20 seconds/10 ticks.
  3. Thunder Focus Tea no longer empowers Uplift to refresh all existing ReMs, but will instead empower your next Renewing Mist cast to jump 4 times instead of 2.

As a result of these first two changes, your “average” ReM behaviour in a raid – assuming you cast it on CD – will be to bounce between 4 seconds of 8 active ReMs and 4 seconds of 7 active ReMs on an infinite cycle. The average number of ReMs available to you for Uplift will be 7.5, and this is a buff in Uplift healing over what we have on live servers today (where averages during non-TFT/Uplift periods hover more around 6.5-6.8 Uplift targets).

ReM's spreading behaviour, without TFT. Starting 18 seconds from 1st cast, assuming you pre-cast ReMs before the pull.

ReM’s spreading behaviour, without TFT. Starting 18 seconds from 1st cast, assuming you pre-cast ReMs before the pull.

The third change is a nerf to your ability to cover the entire raid with ReMs. It adds 2 additional bounces to one ReM, and since the maximum number of ReMs you reach normally is 8, this bumps it up to a maximum of 10 (down from 15). However, the window during which you have your raid covered in more ReMs than you usually do can be quite long – 20 seconds – which makes TFT usage a little less skill-dependent than it has been throughout Mists of Pandaria.

Comparison of ReM spreading with (purple dashed line) and without (green solid line) TFT's influence.

Comparison of ReM spreading with (purple dashed line) and without (green solid line) TFT’s influence.

The resulting bump in potential Uplift targets should lead to approximately a 25% increase in your Uplift throughput over the 20-second period. This of course is heavily dependent on whether ReM is on the targets who need it, and how frequently those targets need it during that time, but you have roughly 2 additional targets for Uplift and (8+2)/8 = 1.25. Of course, (7+2/7) = 1.286, so this is why I say “approximately a 25% increase”. It’s close to that.

The TFT boost on live can be as much as 2 times your normal Uplift healing, but these windows are only open for a very, very brief period of time, and on average it is more like a 50% increase in your Uplift healing during the TFT-boosted window of increased raid coverage. So this is a nerf to Uplift’s burst healing potential from live standards, but since in practice I doubt most Mistweavers get the truly maximum benefit out of Uplift during the TFT-boosted window, while it ought to be somewhat easier during the extended, ‘flattened’ window of the WoD version of TFT, it’s hard to say exactly how much of a nerf it’ll end up being.

(Mind you, in Mythic raiding there are only 20 people in your raid, so you are being ‘nerfed’ from a 15/25 maximum coverage rate of 60% to a 10/20 maximum coverage rate of 50%, and the 50% coverage in WoD will last much, much longer than the 60% coverage in MoP did. I am talking about this as a nerf only in terms of how much healing each individual Uplift will do – overall, I think in WoD your TFT usage will be much easier, and getting the most out of your Uplifts during that time will be correspondingly easier. There will still exist 25-player formats, though, particularly LFR and the flexible Normal/Heroic.)

This is of course perfectly in line with the Warlords healing design philosophy of de-emphasising the healing of individual AoE casts to make single-target spells and thoughtful healing decisions more important. (See my previous post on this subject for more details and explanation on the WoD philosophy.)

Mist Opportunities

Another aspect of the Renewing Mist engine that I think is worth examining is the ramp-up time. Under current, Mists of Pandaria mechanics, the time required for a Mistweaver to go from no ReMs to their maximum ReM spread is a whopping 40+ seconds, and any mistake with ReM casts in the encounter can have a significant effect upon the Mistweaver’s Uplift throughput.

While there’s nothing exactly wrong with this, it’s a huge penalty for letting your ReMs fall off for one reason or another. And yes, penalties are important to incentivising proper play and encouraging us to learn encounters well, but there are some things that will interfere with the Mistweaver’s ability to follow proper playstyle through no fault of their own.

It’s a Mistweaver’s fault for letting their ReMs fall off through inattention or poor planning. But it’s not a Mistweaver’s fault for letting their ReMs fall off if they are chosen as a Touch of Y’Shaarj target in the Garrosh Hellscream encounter, or if they are assigned to tower team healing on Galakras, or if they are Banished to the Sha Realm in the Heroic Sha of Pride fight, or are correctly doing their job by entering the Test of Reliance on Norushen. These mechanics are intensely frustrating, because once you complete them, you know that you are stuck for the next 40 seconds unable to react in a responsive manner to raidwide AoE damage.

This is also something to consider in Warlords because Mistweavers are being given a new stance, Stance of the Spirited Crane, and their abilities are being split between their two stances such that Spirited Crane is the Eminence, damage-to-healing stance, and Wise Serpent is the traditional healing stance. This is intended to make Mistweavers really commit to one Stance or the other, and developers have designed it such that cherry-picking stances is not ideal (swapping stances incurs a GCD and the loss of your Chi, so it’s not something you’re going to want to do as frequently as a Holy Priest will change their Chakra).

In Spirited Crane, Renewing Mist is not available. And AoE healing options are pretty limited:

  • The Serpent’s Zeal functionality that turned auto-attacks into splash AoE healing has been removed, and each auto-attack will now simply generate one heal at 35% of the size of the damage dealt.
  • Spinning Crane Kick’s functionality is unclear, but at this stage it seems likely that in Crane stance, it will only damage enemies, and each damaging event will generate one heal at 35% of the damage dealt. This means its AoE healing potential in Crane stance is greatly diminished.
  • Blackout Kick will retain some “cleave” healing, despite being changed to an exclusively single-target damage spell via Crane Style Techniques, a new passive associated with the Stance of the Spirited Crane. This is not meaningful raid-wide AoE (a maximum of 8 targets at once if the Statue of the Jade Serpent is used, equivalent to the maximum of a non-TFT rotation Uplift in number-of-targets).
  • Revival will be available, as will the Level 30 and 90 Talents.

If you want to read more about Stance of the Spirited Crane, you can check out Reglitch’s coverage of it here.

Crane stance AoE healing does exist, but it’s going to be pretty lackluster – not something that would be suitable for a Megaera-style Rampage mechanic in an encounter. Mistweavers who opt to switch into the Stance of the Spirited Crane will need to switch back to Stance of the Wise Serpent in order to deal with this type of heavy incoming damage. And when they do, they’re likely to be starting from scratch in building their ReM spreads on the raid.

So I was interested in looking at the ramp-up time from 0 ReM to max ReM (10) that Mistweavers will now have – in effect simulating what happens when a Mistweaver switches to Crane stance to deal damage in between, say, Megaera’s Rampage attacks. How long will they be able to stay in Crane stance, and how long before the damaging AoE will they have to swap back to Serpent stance in order to contribute meaningfully to healing up the raid? Ramp-up time has heavy implications for Crane stance’s viability in an ebb-and-flow type of damage pattern, and I thought it pertinent to examine this aspect more closely.

Example schematic of ReM spread, with TFT used on 2nd ReM cast. Look how pretty :3

Example schematic of ReM spread, with TFT used on 2nd ReM cast. Look how pretty :3

In order to figure this out, I ended up drawing very colourful schematics to help me visualise the ReM spread with three various Thunder Focus Tea strategies:

  1. TFT/ReM immediately after leaving Crane stance (and, I guess, generating a Chi);
  2. TFT the second ReM you cast after leaving Crane stance
  3. TFT the third ReM you cast after leaving Crane stance

I then tallied up the number of active ReM HoTs at each second, and generated graphs like the ones above showing the number of ReMs on the raid as a function of time, to compare the speed with which each of these strategies reaches maximum ReM saturation:

Comparing three strategies for achieving maximum ReM coverage after exiting Crane Stance Blue: TFT-empower the 1st ReM Yellow: TFT-empower the 2nd ReM Red: TFT-empower the 3rd ReM

Comparing three strategies for achieving maximum ReM coverage after exiting Crane Stance
Blue: TFT-empower the 1st ReM
Yellow: TFT-empower the 2nd ReM
Red: TFT-empower the 3rd ReM

You’ll note that – and this of course makes sense – the three strategies reach maximum ReM saturation at successively later times, shifting the maximum throughput window a little later each time.

While the TFT-1 strategy results in the narrowest max-Uplift-targets window, you’ll also note that it gets the ReMs out faster at the start, which could be quite beneficial if you have come out of Crane stance too late. It peaks at 16 seconds, but starts to take off over the non-TFT strategies as early as 6 seconds after you’ve exited Crane. While this is the worst strategy for providing maximum AoE throughput, since the window of maximum Uplift targets is so small, there may be many fights where this is ‘sufficient’ and the benefits of staying in Crane stance until around 12 seconds before the damaging event may outweigh the benefits of stance-swapping earlier.

TFT-2 and TFT-3 strategies result in identically-sized “maximum throughput” windows, lasting 20 seconds, but do so at varying times. Because TFT-3 is just TFT-2, but later, there’s really never a need for a Mistweaver just exiting Crane stance to employ the TFT-3 strategy. If you need maximum throughput for an AoE ability, but want to provide Crane DPS until the last second, go with the TFT-2 strategy, and exit Crane stance around 16 seconds before the damaging event. This, of course, would be the ideal strategy for Megaera’s Rampage mechanic, since it lasts 20 seconds itself, but remember that is just an example, and you can evaluate for yourself the benefits of using TFT-1 vs TFT-2 in each encounter.

Mistweaver ramp-up has been cut down from 40 seconds to around 18 seconds in Warlords, which is a significant improvement. Assuming a minute between the end of one “Rampage”-style mechanic and the start of another, Mistweavers could be in Crane stance for up to 42 seconds, or 70% of the time, without losing their ability to provide strong AoE healing during the most dangerous portion of the fight. This should make the other annoying mechanics I described above, like Mind Controls and Banishments, feel less penalising too.

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2 Responses to Warlords of Draenor Mini-Analysis: Mistweaver Edition

  1. M.L. (@caid) says:

    A very nice analysis, the RM/Uplift mechanic is perhaps what made me quit healing on my Mistweaver in ToT. Even back in HoF, when it still jumped 3 times, setting it up for e.g. Force and Verve felt almost impossible. We don’t have actual numbers yet, so its hard to see if this is an actual buff or if the reason it takes less time to reach maximum coverage is just because we can’t get as much coverage anymore, but I’m going to be cautiously positive. If players spend most of the time < 100% health, covering the right parts of the raid will be less of an issue.

    Still wish there was more control involved though. :(

  2. Great Write-up as always.. Like M.L said, it’s amazing how blizz is dodging the issue of lack of control for our heals.. Do they intend to make encounters mainly require using SM and EM now? That’d be boring… I was hoping at least they’d let us either spread to 20-25 people or make it so we get a stacking buff (n times) every time our ReM jumps such that when there’s raid wide dmg instead of being at the mercy of RNG for our uplifts, our uplift heals the n amount of hurt people at that time instead of targets with ReM on…
    Just like hunter changes, monk changers are imo uninspired and disappointing

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