Spell Downranking and Mana Cost Inflation

Posted: 14 August, 2008 in Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, pvp, Raiding, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Wrath of the Lich King
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It seems there’s another beta build on the test servers and there’s a fairly massive change been slipped in. WoW Insider just reported that downranked spells now cost much more mana than maximum rank, sometimes more than 100 mana more than the highest rank.  How is this going to affect you?  Over to our panel of experts.  Calli, you first.

*yawn*  Oh sorry, you wanted a comment? Well I guess that on fights like Morogrim Tidewalker in Serpentshrine Cavern, Mages are going to have use max rank Frost Nova to root the murlocs in place and keep them away from the healers, assuming your raid uses that strategy and doesn’t have a tankadin or a Water Elemental to do it from a safe distance.  The increased damage is fairly trivial, so threat shouldn’t be an issue.  Can’t see anything to get excited about, personally.

Ow! Put the stick away!  Ok, ok..  pvp implications…  Well the days of spamming Rank 1 Arcane Explosion to flush Rogues and Kitties out of hiding are well and truly over.  Yes, the Rogues are rolling their faces all over their keyboards in utter glee at this one.  Rank 1 Frostbolt will probably still be used to get that initial snare off quickly but it’s probably going to be a lot more situational now, and the days of spamming Rank 1 Frostbolt to get that Winter’s Chill debuff up are probably long gone too.  Rank 1 Frost Nova in pvp is also dead and buried.  Speaking personally, I’m a raiding Fire Mage who’s already paid the pvp penance to get the trinket, so I have no need to either use downranked anything or pvp at all anymore.

Now on the other hand if I was a Frost Mage who did Arenas or Battlegrounds…  ouch.  Shinano, over to you.

Thanks Calli.  Well pretty much like Calli up there, I have no further need of honour points since I already have my Season 2 tanking shoulders and have switched back to Restoration for raiding.  Are there any Trees out there who use downranked anything in raids/dungeons?  Not me at least, so I can’t see anything in this change to get excited about.  On the other hand if I were doing Arenas as a Resto Druid I might not be quite so happy.  I’ve read stories about pillar-hugging Resto druids spamming downranked HoTs on themselves while a couple of melee classes batter them down with no visible effect on either a) Their health bar or b) Their Mana bar.  I’m not sure how much this is either a) true or b) a reflection on the skills of the melee classes involved, since I’ve done zero Arenas, but if true then I guess this could help even the playing field against Resto Druids in Arenas too.  Much like Calli, however, I see little to get excited about from a personal perspective but can understand the concerns, if not sympathise with, Resto Druids in pvp.

Galadan, your ball.  Catch!

Thanks, and can I just say, love what you’re doing with your hair, babe!  Ok, first of all, I have a duty to report that this beta build just totally broke Illumination.  It is dead.  Kaput.  It worketh not.  It is an ex-talent. This is doubtless because heals in Wrath are costing a precentage of base mana rather than a fixed cost, and so Illumination now doesn’t have a clue how much fixed mana to return. Panic not, Holy Knights, this is a bug and will be fixed.

The biggest implication I can see with this change that seems to be intended and not a bug, is that downranking healing spells to heal just enough, just in time, is going to cost you more mana than it’s worth.  Of course, how much a heal is “worth” is totally relative.  If it keeps the tank alive and prevents the raid or group from wiping then it’s worth whatever it cost to cast it.  But I’m certainly not alone amongst healers if I say that I don’t have just the maximum rank of my heals on my casting bar.  Outside of healing the Main Tank, Flash of Light doesn’t heal for enough and Holy Light heals for too much.  When I’m healing the Tank and Light’s Grace is up, a downranked Holy Light is perfect for topping up a raid member who’s taken a substantial chunk of damage but for whom a Flash of Light isn’t enough.  If a downranked holy Light is going to cost me more mana than Max Rank then that raid member is going to get Overhealed with a max rank, simple as that.  Either way I’m going to waste mana.  There is simply no point in my even having the lower ranks on my casting bar.

But it doesn’t end there.  Paladins who stack spell haste gear and Main Tank Heal with downranked Holy Lights and the Libram of Mending are totally boned.  They can just forget it ever happened.  What this change means is that Paladins are going to have two healing spells on their casting bar and they’re either going to be the kings of overhealing or reduced to Flash of Light lolspam.  What remains to be seen is if the mana regen mechanics get a fundamental reworking to compensate for the massive overhealing that’s going to happen.  Aluriel, your shout.

Sorry, I’m going to need a minute, and a spare tissue if you have one.  Thanks.  *sniff*

Ok, hands up any Priest out there who doesn’t have at least three ranks of Greater heal on their casting bar?  Shadow Priests, put your hands down and stop being smartasses.  And why do we have mutiple ranks of Greater Heal?  Because why would I ever want to cast a 6k+ heal on someone who only needs a 4k heal?  Use Flash Heal?  That costs more than max rank Greater Heal!!

There are times, and it happens in every fight, when maximum rank healing spells are total overkill and just waste your mana.  No, I’m not talking about cheap tricks like spamming rank 1 heals to try to force an Inspiration proc, I’m talking about using your healing arsenal intelligently and selecting the heal that fits the situation, instead of just rolling your face over the keyboard.  Much like my Holy friend Galadan, I’m less than happy to see pve healers smacked in the teeth with the nerfbat just to keep pvp Rogues happy that Mages can’t spam Arcane Explosion to pop them out of stealth anymore.  I will expect to see both fundamental changes to mana regen and a better spell co-efficient on our never-used Lesser Heal to make up for this or I will not be a happy hedgehog!  Fingers, over to you.

I’m sorry, I’m too busy cackling like a madman and rolling my face over my keyboard to have anything useful to say.  I mean, Improved Sap, Cloak of LOL, Shadowstep and now this?  Where did I put my lollerskates?

Jingles, your turn.

That’s “The Mighty Jingles” to you!

Greetings, peasants.  The future Overlord of the Universe (that’s me) has a few things to say about all of this, so listen up, or it’s the Salt Mines for you!  As my minions have already informed you, this change marks the end of efficient downranking spells, but aside from healing, only really has pvp implications.  My calculations show that if you do not pvp or you are not a healer, there is very little to get excited about.  However, if you do pvp and have a mana bar, things are going to change.  The old trick of stacking trivial rank one buffs to provide some insurance for your useful buffs against dispel mechanics is most likely as dead as a Mage with a felhunter snapping at her ass.  Ahaha.  Ahahahaa..  MUAHAHAAAHAAA!

Er… sorry Calli, force of habit.  Anyway, what you nincompoops are forgetting is that all of this applies to BASE mana.  That’s your mana pool unadjusted by talents or gear.  Butt naked, as it were.  Hmm…  Aluriel…  naked…

*smack*  Ow!  You’ll regret that, night elf!  When I take over the world, it’s the Slave Brothels for you!  Gorn, teach this elf hussy some manners!

Sorry Boss.  Gorn always nice to healers.  They keep Gorn standing when big monster try to eat Gorn’s face.  Gorn not sure he happy about this because Aluriel and Galadan not happy, and Gorn usually live longer when Aluriel and Galadan happy.  Gorn not too smart, but hearing Aluriel or Galadan say stuff like “Oh shi…” is usually last thing Gorn ever hear.

Gorn like that them Frosties now not able to slow Gorn down as much though.  That make Gorn angry, but not angry enuff to be useful, in a way that Gorn would fink is ironic if Gorn knowed what ironic was.

Gorn got sum cool scars.  Wanna see?

Ah’m afraid yer gonna hafta excuse mah wee Warrior friend up there, he got hisself dropped on the heid when he wiz just a wee baby, know what ah mean?  Anyway, Henriksen’s the name, and there’s nuthin I love more than spamming Rank 1 Viper Sting and Serpent Sting to make them pesky dispellers waste mana and Global Cooldowns to remove the….

Aw jings!  Yer kidding me?  Ah need a beer….  Shame a pint isn’t cheaper than a half, now that would make my kind of sense.  Askara, your turn, lass…

hai.  ir do dps lol kkthnxbai!!11shifteleven!!oneoneone

But if she were level 70 and did any kind of pvp, she’d probably be appalled that Rank 1 Shocks, particularly Earthshock, were now going to make her go OOM faster than the max rank versions.  Restoration shamans in particular are concerned that this change is going to force them to spam Water Shield after crits with their Global cooldown instead of doing what they’re in a raid to do..  which is..  you know..  heal?

Blizzard have confirmed that their intention with this change is to remove downranking:

This is not a bug.

In the latest WotLK beta push, we made a large change to the mana cost of spells. All player spells now cost a percentage of base mana rather than a fixed cost. Base mana is a special value determined by the player’s level and class, regardless of any effects or items that increase intellect. It is the size of a player’s mana pool if the player has zero intellect.

This change was made primarily to prevent downranking, as it’s a technique that was never quite intended. Rather than continue to find ways to penalize players for casting low-rank spells, we decided to essentially make doing so obsolete. If rank 5 and rank 6 of a spell cost the same amount of mana, but rank 6 does more damage/healing, then there is no reason to consider casting rank 5.

So, each spell line (eg. Frostbolt, Shadowbolt, Greater Heal, Rejuvenation, etc.) has a fixed percentage of base mana that it costs for most of its ranks. That means each time a player gains a level the cost will go up some. The percentages were picked to attempt to keep the costs relatively similar to what they are currently in World of Warcraft. For most spells, that percentage will drop some when the player receives their highest-rank spell in existing Burning Crusade content. This was done to better fit the existing cost curve, and to keep the mana cost for level 70 players as close as possible to existing costs. Level 70 characters will see most of their maximum rank spells change in cost slightly up or down, but not by significant amounts.

We anticipate there being some balance concerns due to this change, and our development staff will be ready to implement new spells, abilities, or talents to resolve those issues as the testing process continues.

So essentially, this is how Blizzard intended things to work all along, and you can kind of see the logic in it.  It just baffles me that it took a year for them to notice since their last attempt to remove downranking from the game and get round to doing something about it.  As others have posted on various fora, if Blizzard don’t want people to use lower ranked spells, why even have them in the spellbook?  Warriors, Rogues and Druids don’t even have the option of using Rank 1 Heroic Strike, Sinister Strike or Mangle.  Once a new rank is learned it simply replaces the old rank because the old rank is then obsolete.  Why go to the complicated trouble of changing spell cost coefficients for every rank of every spell in the game?  Just remove the old ranks if your stated intention is to make casting lower ranks as obsolete for casters as they are for melee.  I just don’t see the logic.

Anyway, this change, while perhaps not in it’s finished form, and further perhaps with other mitigating or compensatory tweaks yet to be implemented, is here to stay.  We’d better get used to it.

  1. Euripedes says:

    I can whine all I like about this change, but damn, this was an awesome read!

    ❤ Gorn.

  2. pewpewlazerz says:

    He tries, but with an intellect of 29 what can you expect? 😉

  3. gnomeaggedon says:

    I echo Euripedes’ sentiments, this was an awesome read

  4. pewpewlazerz says:

    It seems there’s been a development with regards to downranking. The argument was that why should mages get a cheap, fast casting snare with Rank 1 Frostbolt? We’re not interested in the damage, we just want the same effect and the fast cast. Same with Rank 1 Cone of Cold, and the cheap root from Rank 1 Frost Nova. As well as that, there’s the whining from the stealth classes about Rank 1 Arcane Explosion giving us a cheap, spammable de-stealthing ability (same deal with Rank 1 Consecrate). Also using rank 1 Polymorph to avoid wasting mana on the full rank that has its’ duration gimped in pvp anyway.

    So the core of the issue was, we shouldn’t be able to pay next to no mana to get an effect that the same spell at a higher rank for more mana gives us too.

    So, does this mechanic sound anything like Shaman Rank 1 Earthshock being used to get a cheap spell shutdown? It’s exactly the same deal, isn’t it? Yes, it is.

    Shamans are getting some form of compensation to negate the effect of this nerf. They get to spam their cheap interrupts. We get hosed. Again.


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