I’ve finally caught up with the times and updated all my spreadsheets for Patch 5.1, including the most recent (Nov 29) round of hotfixes for Mistweavers! I’ll talk a little about the changes to each class after the jump, so if you want some specifics, stick around.
But first, a few quick things to note –
- Drinks and early MoP cooking recipes got a buff to health and mana regen; the new values are included in my generic Heroic Dungeons guide;
- I have updated my recent post on the mathematical value of Spirit Shell vs normal healing to reflect percentage-based data, rather than calculating the difference between them, as the percentage-based data is less misleading/more informative;
- I’ve updated all of the class spreadsheets to include support for Tier 14 set bonuses!
For a “brief” compilation of specific changes for each class (I kind of got ranty about Monks and Disc Priests, sorry), see Druid Changes / Monk Changes / Paladin Changes / Priest Changes (Disc | Holy) / Shaman Changes … or of course, keep reading!
The only changes for Restoration Druids in patch 5.1 are in the Symbiosis ability. The cast-time of the spell has been lowered, meaning you will now be able to actually cast it in Random Dungeon Finder/Looking for Raid groups instead of endlessly chasing your party around and failing the cast at the last second 🙂
Tank cooldowns have been returned to the Symbiosis table for all tank specs, but they now incur a resource cost for their use for all tank specs. This is good and bad news – these tank CDs can be very valuable (some are stronger than others, of course), meaning yay for your raid, but boo for you because you’re likely going to be locked into ’em. 😦
Mistweavers were on the receiving end of a few buffs and some significant nerfs in an attempt to rebalance their healing throughput. Because I’m a positive person, let’s talk about the buffs first!
Mistweaver Monk Buffs in Patch 5.1:
Stance of the Wise Serpent now increases the contribution of Haste Rating from items by 50%, meaning you should get 50% more Haste out of your gear. This makes new levels of Renewing Mist and Enveloping Mist Haste breakpoints attainable, especially when you factor in that Renewing Mist now ticks more frequently (every 2 seconds, up from every 3 seconds), which also makes it easier to gain additional ticks.
The AI for Renewing Mist has been improved to value players over player pets, which should mean that Mistweavers find it easier to spread Renewing Mist through a raid. No longer will you be the champion of Ghost Iron Dragonling healing! 😉
You now have a chance equal to your Critical Strike chance to generate two stacks of Mana Tea instead of one. This makes Critical Strike chance more attractive to Mistweavers, and gives them additional ways to gear for mana regeneration.
The Level 45 Talent Ascension was improved to make it more competitive with Power Strikes and Chi Brew. Ascension now also increases your maximum mana by 15%, or an additional 45,000 mana; this accordingly increases base mana regen and the mana returned from Mana Tea. Whether this is actually better mp5 than Power Strikes is really going to depend on playstyle and raid format, and I am not yet advanced enough as a Mistweaver to do a more thorough analysis. I don’t think it can compete with Chi Brew for burst healing potential, though.
Tiger Power – the buff that allows your auto-attacks to ignore up to 30% of an enemy’s armor – is now fully applied by a single Tiger Palm attack. This means you can remove a lot of the ineffectual Tiger Palms from your Fistweaving rotation while still keeping your buff up. This is kind of a ‘nerf’ to Vital Mists, in that you’ll be using Tiger Palm less so gaining Vital Mists more slowly, and thus receiving instant and mana-free Surging Mist casts less frequently, but it is undeniably a Quality-of-Life improvement in terms of buff maintenance.
And Vital Mists isn’t terribly useful, really, when you think about it; the cost of 5 Tiger Palms is 5 Chi, which is at best equal to 37,500 mana (if all those Chi were generated by Expel Harm, which, let’s face it, they wouldn’t be), and by comparison, starting a Soothing Mist and following it immediately with a Surging Mist costs minimally more time than a Vital Mists-empowered Surging Mist cast and costs as little as 31,860 mana (Surging Mist + the initial mana cost of Soothing Mist + the mana cost of the tick of Soothing Mist that is likely to happen while you wait for the GCD to finish so you can cast the Surging Mist). Factor in that Soothing Mist also heals, and also has a chance to generate Chi with each tick, and you can quickly see that getting fewer Vital Mists-empowered Surging Mists is not such a big deal.
The healing from Healing Spheres has been increased. Unfortunately since my Monk is not yet at a level to even choose a spec, let alone benefit from Mastery, I cannot confirm whether this has additionally affected the Gift of the Serpent spheres. I’ll be conferring with my cadre of Monk healers about this soon. 🙂
The mana cost of Soothing Mist was decreased by an aggregate 3%, and its chance to proc Chi was increased from 25% to 30%, which now makes it a very efficient way to generate Chi, both in terms of mana-per-Chi and healing-per-mana. An average full cast of Soothing Mist will generate 2.7 Chi, at a cost of 9100 mana per Chi, and generate at least 19 healing-per-mana when you factor in the expenditure of that generated Chi. With the nerfs to Renewing Mist’s and Jab’s mana-per-Chi and healing-per-mana values, this change to increase Soothing Mist’s efficiency will mean that Mistweavers are more likely than before to work this spell into their toolkit.
And Now For Something Completely Different … Mistweaver Nerfs in Patch 5.1:
The mana cost of all healing spells was increased by 10%, except for Expel Harm. Note that this includes Glyphed Uplift. Additionally, the mana costs of Jab, Spinning Crane Kick, Renewing Mist, and Crackling Jade Lightning were also increased by 30%. These mana cost increases are probably a reaction to the “critting” Mana Tea and possibly also to Ascension’s mana buff. Frankly, from all reports prior to patch 5.1, mana for Mistweavers was pretty trivial, and since that isn’t the case for most other healing classes, a mana efficiency nerf was probably needed. But has this gone too far?
Renewing Mist now jumps twice, rather than three times, providing a maximum of three Renewing Mist HoT effects per cast. Since Renewing Mist now ticks more frequently on those three targets, the total healing done to those three targets comes out to be just about the same as the healing that was done to the four targets it jumped to pre-5.1, if not a little better thanks to the Haste breakpoints being easier to reach.
Where this really hits Mistweavers is in Uplift’s healing throughput. Since Uplift’s healing is based on the number of targets with Renewing Mist, reducing that by 25% will also reduce Uplift’s healing by at least 25%. I say “at least”, because now that Mistweavers can cover less of their raid members with Renewing Mist, it will become more likely that the targets who need the healing that Uplift could provide don’t have Renewing Mist on them. Monks may find themselves more frequently inclined to hold off on Uplift and use more directed or smart spells instead (such as Chi Wave, Spinning Crane Kick, Soothing Mist, or Eminence healing).
Since Renewing Mist’s healing throughput per cast is staying roughly the same, Thunder Focus Tea in conjunction with Uplift will provide roughly the same (or better) healing throughput increase by refreshing those HoTs.
Enveloping Mist’s healing was reduced by 32%. Similarly, the healing of Chi Burst, Chi Wave, and Zen Sphere: Detonate were also reduced by 25%. The latter change puts Chi Burst at the top of throughput for the Level 30 Talents, according to my calculations, and Zen Sphere: Detonate at the bottom.
So What Does This All Mean?
It’s too soon to tell, to be honest. Monks were performing extremely well on the charts prior to patch 5.1, easily outhealing any other class on most, if not all, encounters. However, this high performance was, in my opinion, a symptom of the fundamental flaw of the Mistweaver spec – it produces lots and lots and lots of numbers, but that is all it has going for it. They were the kings of throughput, and also the kings of overhealing, because almost everything a Mistweaver did was AoE (ReM, Uplift, SCK, auto-attack healing) or uncontrollable (ReM spreading patterns, Eminence healing and Jade Serpent Statue healing, auto-attack healing, Mastery spheres).
Now that some of these things have been toned down, and others have been made more expensive to force Mistweavers into managing their mana more carefully, I think we may start to see more clearly just how fatal this flaw might be. Where will Monks stand with lower Uplift numbers, with less Spinning Crane Kick due to mana management concerns, and with more reliance on mobility-killing Soothing Mist?
The clear analogy to draw is with Restoration Druids in Cataclysm, who often felt that their lack of utility was so much of a drawback that their superior throughput didn’t matter, and who were reportedly being sat from fights after the Wild Growth nerfs. The resultant reduction in their throughput had unveiled a greater problem – a lack of useful raid cooldowns/utility to cope with a changing encounter design paradigm – which has now been somewhat addressed for them with Symbiosis and Ironbark (and arguably Wild Mushrooms, if they actually dealt noticeable healing, which they kinda don’t right now).
I’d love to see the same thing happen to Monks – not the “being sat from encounters” bit, I’m not bitter towards you – but the addition of meaningful raid utility abilities, to give the spec more depth, form, and function. I hope that peeling back the mask of “zomgWTFBBQ HPS”, kicking away the crutch of #1-200 WoL parses, will expose the inherent weaknesses of the spec and result in the addition of some new abilities that will lend raid utility, form, and function to the spec. Because honestly, I really want to enjoy a Mistweaver Monk, and to see it have as much depth as my beloved Restoration Shaman. 🙂
Not a lot has changed for Paladins. Light of Dawn got a 5% throughput increase, which I presume is to make it a more competitive option versus Eternal Flame for our Holy Power dump. Holy Prism has reportedly been fixed to deliver the sort of healing that it should have been delivering all along, and is now a much stronger contender amongst the Level 90 Talents tier.
Probably the most exciting change – to my mind anyway – is that the 4-piece PvP bonus no longer refunds 1 Holy Power when a Divine Purpose proc is used to cast Word of Glory or Eternal Flame. This PvP set bonus was responsible for some seriously high throughput numbers prior to the 5.1 patch, not just in PvP where you might expect it to perform well, but in raids where higher-iLvl gear just couldn’t compete with the massive gains in Holy Power from the set bonus. The set bonus is still solid, and arguably it never should have applied to Divine Purpose procs anyway, so this was probably a bug fix rather than an intentional nerf. Either way I am glad, because I wasn’t looking forward to farming up the Conquest points to get PvP gear to use in PvE content. 😀
There weren’t too many general changes for Priests; just a few Talent adjustments. Psyfiend now has only 10% of the casting Priest’s health, down from 30%, and has a 2-second cast time on Psychic Horror, up from 1.5 seconds. Spectral Guise got some sort of “stealth nerf” that I can’t identify because I don’t use the Talent at all. And Mindbender got a tooltip update; he has always been returning 1.46% mana per melee attack, but until patch 5.1 the tooltip erroneously reported his mana returns at 1.3% mana per melee attack.
Oh, and Divine Star got a 133% healing increase, which means that on fights where the raid is stacked, a single cast of Divine Star will now deal more healing than a single cast of Cascade or Halo. Since it can also be used more frequently than those other two options, it is a clearly superior choice now for encounters with a stacked raid. To compensate, its radius has been reduced from 6 yards down to 4 yards (which didn’t make it into the tooltip).
For those of you who PvP, Focused Will is back!
But the bigger news is that Inner Focus now fully modifies spells cast during Spirit Shell – instead of just reducing their mana cost but producing no increase in throughput, spells cast during Spirit Shell are now doubled in throughput if Inner Focus is active.
This is generally awesome. Granted. I’m a huge fan of Spirit Shell, so stuff that makes Spirit Shell better is always going to be welcome. I am, like, 94% happy about this. But there’s two things that are bothering me about this, one of which is rather esoteric, and one of which is a wider concern about the performance of our class.
First off, the wider concern. I think Discipline Priests have already been over-buffed. Allowing Archangel to interact with Spirit Shell a while ago fixed a lot of the mechanical and synergistic issues that I had with the class. Increasing our Prayer of Healing by 25%, well … that was a Band-Aid fix, and I forgave Blizzard at that time because Priests were getting desperate.
Buffing our Divine Aegis to 50% of the healed amount, though … that is where things started to get off the rails for me. Because Prayer of Healing always applies Divine Aegis, a buff to DA really disproportionately buffs PoH’s throughput. We’re getting terrifyingly close to “one-button-wonder” territory here, with PoH being more HPM and HPET than many of our single target healing options even when only one of the five affected targets is damaged.
At that same time, Rapture got buffed to return 200% of Spirit as mana, which probably puts most Discipline Priests above the mana-positive threshold. And since Rapture can multi-proc (although, in any situation where that’s feasible, I’d question why you are PW:S blanketing the raid instead of SS:PoH blanketing the raid), and since Rapture doesn’t exclude temporary Spirit buffs like on-use trinkets, trinket procs, and Mana Tide Totem, this has largely removed, or at least trivialised, any mana constraints that were previously keeping Disc Priests from putting PoH spam into heavy rotation.
Now with Inner Focus affecting Spirit Shell – and as you’ll see below in my incredibly pedantic mathsplosion – we are getting yet another mechanic that is overvalued with Prayer of Healing. I’m willing to admit that I could be suffering from observation bias here, in the form of my guild’s Priests are awesome, so all Priests must be awesome, and these buffs made my guild’s Priests crazy awesome, so now all Priests must be crazy awesome. But it feels like the Discipline spec is being given a horrible crutch in the form of amazing Prayer of Healing spam when what it really needs is a more varied toolkit to deal with the variety of damage profiles that exist.
Basically, right now, we have a hammer called PoH, and we are treating every boss encounter like it’s a nail, and we’re beating on that nail mercilessly, except sometimes it’s not a nail, it’s a fluffy bunny, and that makes us terrible people. But our hammer is totally killing those nails, and those fluffy bunnies, and it’s doing a great job of it too, so we look like we’re fine. But we’re not. We’re terrible people. OK, this analogy got tortured along the way, I’m sorry, but I hope you see my point. It’s kind of the inverse-Mistweaver problem.
My second problem with Inner Focus/Spirit Shell’s interaction? Pardon me my esoteric little rant here, but I hate the way this was implemented. This was hard-coded in and it is mathematically inaccurate. The text of Inner Focus states that it increases your next eligible spell’s Critical Strike Chance to 100%, which is like setting your Crit to 1. So what this should really do is set every instance of “Crit” in the Spirit Shell equations to 1. For Prayer of Healing, the equation is (1+Crit)*(1.3 (the “old Divine Aegis” factor))*(1+Mastery)*avg PoH heal. What this should look like under Inner Focus is (1+1)*(1.3)*(1+Mastery)*avg PoH heal, or 2.6*(1+Mastery)*avg PoH heal. What it instead looks like is 2.6*(1+Crit)*(1+Mastery)*avg PoH heal — which is larger than expected. If you have 10% Crit already, instead of setting your Crit to 100%, the way Blizzard has done it is actually allowing your Spirit Shell PoH to benefit from 120% Crit.
“So what,” you might think. “Bigger is always better! Why is Dayani Overanalysis Dedralie being so nitpicky?” And that’s fine, but now let’s consider how it affects the non-PoH heals that are eligible for both Inner Focus and Spirit Shell. Their equations are a little more complicated: (1+Crit)*(1+Mastery)*(1+Crit*0.3)*avg heal. Crit shows up twice. What this should look like under Inner Focus is (1+1)*(1+Mastery)*(1+0.3)*avg heal, or 2*1.3*(1+Mastery)*avg heal, or 2.6*(1+Mastery)*avg heal. What it instead looks like is 2*(1+Crit)*(1+Mastery)*(1+Crit*0.3)*avg heal. Again using the 10% Crit example, Blizzard’s implementation gives us 2.2*(1+Mastery)*(1+0.03)*avg heal, or 2.226*(1+Mastery)*avg heal – meaning your Spirit Shell/Inner Focus usage with Greater Heal, Flash Heal, or Heal is producing smaller shields than it really should.
Now, this is not that big of a deal, I know. Most of us use Spirit Shell with Prayer of Healing, and getting a larger-than-expected Prayer of Healing spell is not something you’d typically go QQing to the forums about. But it offends my sensibilities, okay? Words mean things, dammit. Sigh.
Chakras got buffed. Serenity and Sanctuary Chakras now increase healing done by 25% when you cast eligible spells, up from 15%. Chastise Chakra now increases damage done by 50% and reduces mana costs by 90%.
While the buffs are certainly welcome, in that bigger numbers are fun, even when they’re green numbers, I’m not sure that this actually addresses the issues that Holy Priests have been having. Chakra’s cooldown remains unchanged, leaving many Holy Priests feeling that they are too locked in to a single Chakra to be able to provide the flexibility they desire. And nothing has been done to help Holy in the mana regeneration department, other than slightly larger spells that should give Holy Priests more time between heals to spam Power Word: Solace or regen mana passively. It’s early yet – it’s possible that these changes may be enough to make Holy feel more fluid and less hampered by their core mechanics, but I’m skeptical.
Mechanically, the largest change to Shamans in patch 5.1 is that our totems are now considered Spells, rather than Physical effects, meaning that when we are silenced or locked out of a spell school, we can no longer drop our totems. Most of our totems are considered to be in the “Nature” school of spells, while our Fire totems are in the “Fire” school. This nerf is probably aimed at Restoration Shaman’s PvP prowess, but the developers cast a wide net on this one and it’s catching every Shaman.
For PvE Shamans, though, it’s not a terribly big problem. There are a few PvE mechanics that cause silences or spell school lockouts – the big rock dudes in front of Baleroc, for example, or Freya’s Ancient Protectors phase – but these are few and far between. Where this may affect us the most is in encounters with a Charm component – e.g. Imperial Vizier Zor’lok. Other players who get mind controlled may use their Silence or interrupt abilities on us, and for their duration we will be unable to drop our totems. This isn’t really something that we can plan around; it’s just an annoying random factor that we’ll have to be aware of.
The Restoration Shaman 4-piece Tier 14 set bonus has been changed. Instead of providing an additional charge of Tidal Waves when casting Riptide or Chain Heal, Tidal Waves now produces 5% additional effect. This is a much better set bonus than the old one, especially for Shamans raiding 25-player content where Tidal Waves charges are abundant because we are mostly AoE healing and not consuming them. Now, at least, when we finally do consume them, they’ll provide a little more benefit. For Resto Shamans in 10-player content, it’s also better now, because the additional Tidal Waves charge just wasn’t solving a problem we were having.
Finally, Stormlash Totem now applies its effects to all raid and party members within 40 yards of the totem, up from 30 yards. Now it should be slightly easier to cheese an extra set of Energy Charges on Heroic Elegon without having to micro-manage your totem positioning. 🙂
… Okay, and that’s everything! Whew! Sorry for the wall of text with no pictures, there just … wasn’t much to illustrate here.