Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Maybe an addon will fix it?

No. Arcane Brilliance doesn’t seem to cut it. Nor does the gnome racial increased intelligence.

No matter how much I try to expand my intellect, I’m simply not cleaver enough to understand the idea of Blizzard’s new “Mana Adept” concept for arcane mages, to be launched in Cataclysm.

Frankly I feel rather stupid. The only comfort I have is that I’m not alone in being clueless. Not even the gurus at Elitist Jerks seem to have figured out what to make of it yet, judging from the discussion.

Mana managing game
For all of you non-mages who may not have heard of it, the new idea is that arcane mages will deal damage based on how much mana the mage has. A mage at 100 percent mana will make more damage than at 50 percent.

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

But before I start this little piece of classic mage qq, I want to point out that I don’t have anything against Blizzard putting some more emphasis on the noble art of mana managing.

It’s always been a task for arcane mages to make good use of our limited sources. We squeeze out as much as we can of our pool, altering burn phases with conservation. We evocate at the proper moment and we strive to end up with a more or less empty mana bar as the boss dies. The mana game is a part of my arcane identity and I enjoy it.

The problem is that the mana game that is now presented to me looks more strange than fun. For instance: exactly at which point in a fight are you likely to be at 100 percent mana, and because of this enjoying your biggest damage output? Yeah, I thought so too. Right in the beginning. Personally I have yet to see a fight where you’re expected to go all out right from the start. At least I think the tanks will have objections.

In my world you’re normally expected to top off towards the end, sometimes fighting against an enrage timer. Now imagine spending the entire boss fight anxiously managing your mana bar to be absolutely sure that it’s filled to the top for that short period. That doesn’t sound challenging or interesting at all to me – only frustrating and counter intuitive.

When I think about it they might as well have done the opposite construction – adding more damage to the mage, the less mana he has left. It would probably have some backsides that I don't think of, non-game designer as I am, but at least it would make sense.

To be honest I wonder if the Blizzard devs really thought this over. Doesn’t it sound a bit like one of those ideas you may crack as you’re hanging around a coffee machine: “What if…”?

EJ thinkers or a new addon
For my own part I can’t see myself mastering the Mana Adept challenge, at least not based on the information we have for the moment.

If someone replaced my brain with a calculator I might be able to figure out when to keep nuking in spite of a shrinking damage output and when to stop for refill. Maybe. It would be a complicated equation with many factors tto consider though. There’s not only the mana pool to worry about, but also the cooldowns – my own and others. Has heroism been cast? But wait – it will just burn my mana quicker. I’ll soon hit the not-so-good-damage percentage… maybe rather evocate? What about arcane power? Adding more damage – yes, but at the cost of more mana. Use it or not? Maths, maths, maths.

But I tell you: I’m just a gnome with a normal pinkish soft brain. I’m not a borg. And my head gets all dizzy when I think about Mana Adept issues.

Hopefully the great EJ thinkers will figure something out during the summer and have a new shiny spellcasting cycle ready for us when Cataclysm launches.

If they fail, maybe someone will make up an addon that can come to my rescue, telling me what’s most beneficial for me at the moment – evocating or nuking. It doesn't sound like entirely fun to let an addon decide my actions, but what’s an un-mathematical arcane mage to do?

Or I could of course just give up and go back to the so-much buffed fire tree.


I’m glad there’s a long time to go to Cataclysm. Hopefully they’ll have some time to sort this out better – or to even throw the whole thing in the trash bin.


Christopher D. said...

You are thinking about it too much...

100% mana doesn't mean 100% damage, 50% mana is 100% damage. Stay over 50% and you are doing more than optimal performance! Right now mages have around, what, 30k mana when raid buffed? And lets look at replenishment that restores a % of mana, not a fixed amount. The more mana you have, the slower it will deplete. Its been a while since I played my mage (when Ony was rereleased) but I remember going the whole fight in Ony 25 without going oom... Yes I had to use my cooldowns to do it, but it wasn't that hard. PvE buff... since most mages cruise through most pve content with 70%+ mana, and with this change I don't see that changing much. This is more of a pvp thing... Drain the mana, and you gimp the mage.

Seems ok from where I'm sitting... Lets wait till it goes live and talk about it a few weeks after that.

Andy said...

I do think it's a bit early to be working out rotations and suchlike - who knows what new mana-regen tricks mages will have come Cataclysm? You maybe have talents that will temporarily increase your mana regen faster than you can use it, in effect giving you a power boost.

Now DKs only tanking in Blood spec, that right there makes me uncomfortable. I likes my DW frost tank :(

Anonymous said...

It's impossible to figure out a rotation or stuff now or whatever, but I think, in all honesty, that Blizzard is counting on making your mana regen matter more to Arcane Mages. Yes, every Mage has to manage their Mana Gems and Evocation, but for Arcane Mages it matters a lot more to play that mana game as tightly as possible, because you get more DPS out of it.

So, think of all the times you do some mana regaining action while DPSing. Now, since Mana Adept isn't going to encourage you to NOT cast a spell [which must be a DPS loss no matter what], it puts more emphasis on those mana regaining actions and on pacing your mana usage throughout a battle, trying to keep it around say 80 or 90%, instead of around 60%.

In addition, it's the third Mastery bonus, which means it's something you can actively augment through your gear. So if you find yourself amazingly awesome at this mana game, you can seek out the Mastery stat and become even more awesome at DPS. Conversely, if you find that you suck at the mana game, you can avoid the Maserty stat and stack more of the conventional stats.

Anjin said...

I'm a pretty sad mage seeing you stress out over this already. I don't play Arcane, so I'll probably never have to deal with it. However, I think there is way too little data available about Mana Adept to make any statements one way or another. It sounds like it could be crazy, but it could be cool, too. We will know soon, but there is no need to worry until then.

Fitz said...

I've got an entry brewing on healer homogenization, but it looks like Matticus beat me to the punch. Le sigh. I do think that's an issue with cataclysm, but it's not like everyone will get every same set of abilities right away or ever.

As for mages getting heroism, it's long overdue because Shamans have benefited more than long enough. Having a raid without a shaman is a major gimp, and now hopefully that will never happen. It's not so much mages deserved it but someone needed it.

Oh and as for the new Arcane system, it may crash and burn in beta, or it may be one of the most brilliantly fun mechanics Blizzard has envisioned. I hope for the latter but I expect the former.

Klepsacovic said...

Regen is the new highest DPS stat. You heard it here first! Also arcane will be putting out absurd amounts of damage compared to other classes, due to being balanced around not always being at 100% damage, but with all the regen, they will anyway. Then regen will get nerfed, healers will get even more angry, and a lot of tanks will die and blame other classes.

I'm not being a pessimist! Maybe.

Chewy said...

..at least not based on the information we have for the moment..

I think you hit the nail on the head and I can only agree with your other contributors, too early to tell.

"sigh" is female surely ?

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit disappointed.
Mentioning mana juggling yesterday, I expected to read some happy time warp anecdote today. Instead I found mind bending about unfinished eggs.
We are not here for geeky game discussions.
In that case I could have asked Spinks to invent the ideal tank keyboard. (Hm, interesting thought. We could brand it as "Spinksboard" and sell it in different sizes. Remember me to ask her in a good moment.)
This place is about as much common sense as fits between two pigtails.

But to ease your concerns about mana adept a bit. I did run some field test with my beloved mage. Did you know that he was originally a gnome? His sole intention was to accompany my girlfriends gnome warlock. The leveling process was rather hard, because we couldn't stop playing hide in seek in the snow and behind tufts. Gnomish Jumps and Giggles are also not beneficial to concentration. We ended up either jumping or bombing.

But where was I?
Ah, I was doing some field test with my former gnome mage, who turned into an undead after some unpleasant portal accident. Which by the way raised the question, why he didn't stayed in gnome size, when undying. Besides the loss of Eyelids brought another problem: his name does not fit anymore.
"Zwinker" means "Twinkler" a perfect name for a gnome mage, who seems to consist of a pair of huge eyes and a nose. But not so much for a undead...

Back to Twinklers field test:
I observed that the Damage Output tended to zero, once the Manabar dropped to zero. In fact it did not reach zero, but gravitated around the damage caused by an undead impacting the target, once he had enough mana to blink. Which brings back the question how a undead without eyelids blinks.

Surprised by this result I did some math and came to the ground breaking observation, that the damage stayed around 100% once the mana bar was filled over 0%.
Now coming back to your Mana Adept issue, this would imply that you just have to keep your Mana bar from falling to the dangerous 0% ground to stay on 100% damage and take Mana Adept as the metaphoric version of your preferred drink. Fruity flavored and ice could, giving you a most enjoyable break, either raising your mark over 100% or balancing out any possible moment where you unfortunately hit the mana ground, drastically lowering your damage from 100% to 0%. (Unless you are an undead not understanding the concept of blinking).

I hope my elitist calculations helped easing your concerns.



Markus said...

The Mana Adept concept does indeed seem counter intuitive as my arcane mage would always strive to have an empty mana bar at the end of a fight. We shall just have to wait and see.

BTW, I see that BEst Buy in the US is allowing preorders for Cataclysm with a release date of October 1, 2010. Give how things have gone in the past, we are probably looking at it coming out sometime in November.

krizzlybear said...

A little early to make a judgment on it, but based on the little information that we have, you have a right to be somewhat worried about how it will pan out in the long haul. Somehow I imagine something crazy like talents that convert spirit into hit rating, and all of a sudden, priest gear is being rolled on as arcane mage gear or some craziness like that.

Blizzard has never fundamentally borked our class to the point of a necessary overhaul in the way that Hunters and to a lesser extent DK's have experienced. I think you should wait it out.

Jim said...

Right, I think you answered part of the question at the beginning of your post, since in Cat, Intellect = Spellpower= damage ( i think) Mana Regen will have to change too. Now saying that I don't know what Mana adept has as a mechanic in the new system, we shall see I guess.

Josh said...

The funny part is that all of the gear stat simplifications were aimed at taking away the number-crunching necessities of spreadsheets and add-ons. Seems that Mana Adept is taking things in the opposite direction.

Dorgol said...

My thinking is that the "increased damage from more mana" isn't going to be all that much. Maybe a 5% shift?

By comparison, look at what Arms Warriors are getting from their Mastery - a chance at an extra swing that does 50% damage. How much more damage will a 50% Auto Attack really add? 5% over a long fight?

There ya go.

So at 100% mana you do 5% more damage. It would drop 1% for every 20% of mana!

Larísa said...

D: yeah, probably I'm overcomplicating it. However I don't buy the explanation that you should see the 50 percent mana as 100 percent damage and the rest like bonus. That's not how it works. You can SAY so but the mages will see the opportunity cost rather. The lost damage due to low mana is a loss, nothing else.

@Andy: indeed it's early. I don't know. Maybe they could as well have waited to inform about this until they had figured out what to do with the mana-regen.

: Hm... you mean you can still spec arcane without having to deal with Mana Adept maths?

@Anjin: I'm not THAT stressed out. I'm comparatively relaxed, biding my time. I just hope that EJ and addon makers will help me out. And I think I'm not the only arcane mage out there to feel slightly worried.

@Fitz: come on, don't be stupid. Ofc you can give your take on the homogenization even if Matticus has written about it! We want to hear YOUR voice.

: OK, prediction noted!

@Chewy: indeed it's early, but those previews are there for us to speculate on, right?

@Usiel: I couldn't follow your calculations for a second, but they seem to have some sort of gnomish logic in them and I giggled happily. Thanks for cheering me up you silly commenter!

@Markus: I would have guessed November too until they released this information and started to signal so strongly about the upcoming Gnomeregan offensive. Now I'm more and more leaning towards some point close to Blizzcon. Possibly mid or end of September.

: thanks for at least sympathizing a bit with my concerns, even if you're personally in the middle of a party celebrating the glorious future of frost.

@Jim: hm... yeah. I keep forgetting about that - that spellpower disappears. Makes my mind even more boggled tbh.

@Josh: exactly my view! To me the Cataclysm take on Arcane mages weems way more complicated and spreadsheet demanding.

@Dorgol: hm... maybe. But on the other hand if they make it so small that people will flat ignore it, have they then achieved the mana game element they were looking for?

What's my main Again? said...

What is more troubling to me... is the exact opposite of the arcane problem... Fire will have a talent that allows them to cast spells for a health cost instead of mana when they run out of mana... so now every healer in a heroic will be crying when the fire mage never bothers to drink, or evocate... and just keeps spamming spells expecting to be healed through the health cost.

It'll be worse than warlocks!

firespirit said...

I think that we are all jumping the gun too early. How I would give to have this kind of depth to Retribution Paladin playstyle.

I think, instead of it being counter intuative, like you propose larisa, it is actually one of thise "timing things".

*Disclaimer* I am not a mage, I dont know mages, I have never played a mage.

But think about it like this. You start off the fight with 100% mana. You can use your "mana light" spells (the ones that hit smaller damage, and use less mana), and they will hit as hard as your nukes. Yes your nukes will hit harder, but you lose the DPS buff pretty bad.

So you can sip on your mana and do decent damage, right until you need to burn it down. Then pop your regens, get closer to full mana and keep nuking them. Then go back into mana regen state, to get your "sipping" spells back up to decent damage.

Markus said...


Interesting concept. An Arcane Mage, for example, could cast Scorch, Arcane Barrage or Frostbolt to conserve mana, yet still have decent DPS. Once the mana bar drops down, you switch to your normal Arcane Blast/MBAR rotation. Then mana gem, Evoc and start the process all over again.

Blizz did mention that they wanted to see certain spells get used more often, ie, Scorch. Certainly use more spells that way. lol!

Anonymous said...

When you're all done figuring out Mana Adept (maybe you mages will get an Aspect of the Viper), will you please explain to me how I'm supposed to play my hunter in light of the conversion to energy instead of mana? WTB a class that doesn't get fundamentally changed every expansion.


Fitz said...

Indeed, sigh is certainly female. I'll remember to use my proper articles... :-)

And you will see that article on healer homogenization. I'm still percolating though.