10 February 2009

The tragedy of replenishment

Not so long ago, before the 3.1 mana regen bombshell dropped, ghostcrawler stuck his neck out and had this to say about replenishment:

We consider replenishment mandatory. What I mean by that is we assume that you have replenishment available to your raid.
And later:

...we don't want it to feel optional...
And finally:

...we assume you have replenishment just like we assume you have a tank.
Right now, replenishment is available via talents to shadow priests, retribution paladins and survival hunters. If you ask me, that makes it far too specialised for you to be able to rely on having it, at least in 10 man raids. Blizzard, it would seem, agrees, because in 3.1 replenishment will become available additionally to frost mages and destruction warlocks. It may not have passed you by that these are rather underwhelming talent trees right now, so we can assume this gift is intended to boost their appeal to raiders.

Blizzard is going to extraordinary lengths to ensure an abundance of replenishment because, by their own design, the buff is mandatory. After having gone to extraordinary lengths not-so-long ago to design a raid buff system that ensured no buffs were... mandatory.

They are designing encounters around the assumption that every mana-using class will have a near-constant mana regeneration effect on them — at exactly the same time they are changing how mana regeneration works because some classes and specs had simply no reason to manage mana at all.

At best, this is a lazy, over-simplified bandage on a far-more variable problem. Every mana-using class already has personal mana-management tools available to it. They work in different ways and are designed to fit with the lore and stylistic design of the individual classes. This is a system I can understand and support, because it ensures each class has control over their own resources and are able to manage them accordingly. If you start designing around external (raid-wide) factors you are essentially saying this is not enough. But of course we know, from the problem with healer mana, that it often is enough. So this is very clearly not a one-size-fits all issue, despite what Blizzard would have us believe.

In fact, with replenishment, Blizzard seems destined to repeat old mistakes. Shadow priest stacking in BC drove designers to pressure healers in ways other than longevity, because it was simply impossible to engineer them to run out of mana. They consequently changed vampiric touch to prevent that situation from continuing.

But with replenishment we see the same problem — sure, it's on a much smaller scale, and yes, it's spread across several classes instead of just one, but the design flaw is essentially identical: mana regeneration has become a non-issue to healers (again) because of the power and availability of group regeneration buffs (again).

They did the right think in tackling vampiric touch, even if I don't like the end result. But this time, they've missed the mark — the problem is not with healer regeneration, it is with the range and power of the raid-wide buffs they receive that boost their regeneration to such trivial levels. Why hurt base regeneration when external buffs remain so powerful? Why make sweeping changes to mana regeneration which you have to work around for other classes, when each class and talent tree needs to be considered individually?

Admittedly, this is not just a replenishment issue. Blessing of wisdom and mana spring are both powerful raid buffs in their own right. But these provide fixed mana returns, so do not scale so powerfully, nor, as far as we know, are they considered mandatory.

If Blizzard is serious about making raids accessible to all specs and all classes, and removing the need to stack certain combinations, they need to look again at replenishment, which is the true cause of this issue, not get distracted by the symptoms.

12 comments:

Hannibal said...

Lately i noticed that blizzard is trying too hard to be in everyones favor and because of that, he messes up things. Like... The old times when there were distinctions between PVP tree and PVE tree. And now they are trying to make every tree PVP AND PVE... I think that is a big mistake and they will only cripple booth in the long run :(

feardotwin said...

I guess Replenishment is easy for me to stomach because our 10 man raid uses a Shadowpriest, Survival Hunter and a Ret Pally so it's always up and available. I don't know about your server but Ret Pallys on my server are a dime a dozen and most raiding Hunters seem to be Survival. Replenishment is already easy to come across.

I remember Blizzard saying they were trying to make Demonology more appealing to PVE so I really thought they would put the Replenishment talent there rather than Destruction. That was kind of a let down.

I do agree, however, that their claim to bring the player not the class is kind of falling apart making replenishment mandatory but if they gave it to every spec of every mana using class then it would always be up. At that point they might as well just give us a buff as soon as we zone in to the raids that gives us mana back. I'm still at a toss up about it but I'll get over it because I already provide the buff. Damn selfish players lol.

Merlot said...

"At that point they might as well just give us a buff as soon as we zone in to the raids that gives us mana back."

That's pretty much my argument anyway - but you said it better :P What's the point in a buff that's so prevalent, it's no longer a buff at all? All you've done is raise the mana regen baseline across all mana users, whether they needed it or not. Silly.

Hannibal said...

Hey Merlot, I wanted to ask you something because i think you are awesome in multiple ways :D

I met a lvl 55 priest while i was leveling who was holy. And i asked that isn't it hard to level as holy ( or disc for that matter that is the only other tree i'm playing though of using ) and he said that it is almost same as shadow but he can heal better and he is taken to instances more often.

What do you think about this matter?

thanks,
Gergely.

Merlot said...

Keep up the flattery Hannibal!

Honestly, I'd be lying if I said I knew what it was like levelling with a healing spec. Lots of people do it though so it can't be that awful. It's really not as efficient as shadow, which is simply designed to deal more damage more easily, but with three points in spirit tap you shouldn't have too much of a mana problem. If you like healing or want to roleplay the spiritual side of a priest, why not? It works both ways though - you can heal normal instances as shadow, at least at that level, just as you can level holy. Whatever floats your boat, right!?

Esdras said...

i think they need to make up there mind how they want to play the game.

They said with lich king they didnbt want to limit the classes you took to raids then say the assume all raids have a replenishment lol.

So not only do you need a tank,healer and dps you need a repleneshment added there too.

Hannibal said...

Thanks Merlot :) Again your proved your cunning to me ;)

I'm not sure. I think i want to heal in the end and i'm guessing i should work myself towards that. Also i very much like face melting :D But in the end effect ( given that everybody has now replenishment ) i would be just another dps... ( that is not necessarily true i don't know yet everything about priests :) )

Also i like Disc too :) I never would go holy i think :DDD

Merlot said...

I completely agree Esdras. A raid stacked with mana users is going to need at least two sources of replenishment, so not only are you prescribing what classes to bring you will potentially need to force a lock, hunter or mage into a lower-dps spec.

Anonymous said...

@Hannibul

I have personally leveled my priest as holy pretty much all the way to 80, have grinded all my primals etc with holy. Only difference with holy and shadow is that it takes longer to kill a mob, you just smite your way to 80.. Bonus side is that you have an easier time to find groups for instance quests if you're properly heal specced.. And ofc the cool factor ;)

Hannibal said...

Hehehe :))) Cool :)

BTW i respected to disc yesterday.. I DO like it :) But i miss face melting :)) Healbot is a cool addon though :)

GreenieMax said...

I'd like to answer the question about leveling as holy.

My guild needed a priest because I was on vacation when WotLK was released and I came like 1 month late into it, I had to level my priest first as we didn't had a priest for 25 men Naxx, being stuck on Instructor.

Leveling was nothing but "PAIN", freaking most painful experience ever, leveling any class.

I was 1 month late to level thus most of the pro players had leveled, i.e. the hordes I met were either new or alts, thus weren't as geared in PvP or PvE aspect.

So I started my leveling as Shadow and every damn pass horde killed me, even though I had full merciless Gladiator.

Ok, I thought I need need to be PvP speced, so I speced Disc, USELESS! Still horde would kill me, my dots don't do enough damage and others have too many DPS to kill me.

On normal mobs I'd do 1800 DPS, which is amazing even compared to my mage which would do 1400 DPS.

So I said I'll level holy as I can at least find groups to go to Instance, then level was PAIN again, doing quest becomes so hard.

issue being mana as holy you run out of mana while casting those noobish spells like Holy Fire and Smite.

FOR GOD SAKE why the fuck we have those spells? If they can't do crap damage? Just fucking take them off.

Overall experience PAINFUL! I'm so happy its over and I got to 80 thanks to my guild who ran me instances and helped me do quests.

But if this continues I will not level my priest 1 more level because I can't take it anymore, really PvP aspect of this class has to be changed, it can't be leveled on PvP server with such pathetic PvP talents.

I don't like to play on PvE servers and please don't give me crap like level on PvE server. I want Blizzard Class designers to really Play priest a bit and find out its issue and fix them for good. Till 60 I was doing ok in PvP, I'm not a bad PvPers as mage, Paladin (even before IMBA upgrade) I was doing great in BG and as warrior in Arena I did great too.

But priest wasn't so good, so I said to myself Yeah I suck as priest. But then no, its not me, its the freaking design of the class at PvP and in PvE Raids, this class seriously needs help from blizzard.

I hate being Holy in Raid because I can't out heal Druids, I can't spam heal past paladin and I can't group heal as good as shaman.

I really don't care if I have to go healer but if we're good at something, priest is good at nothing, useless class that can't do crap in any field, Healing they suck, DPS they suck, PvP they suck.

Today I'll get my DK to 80 and start raiding with it.

Good bye Priest till Blizzard fix your problems.

Typhoonandrew said...

It seems the need for replenishment is a 180 degree turn in the strategy. Bring the player, not the class is bullshit. I've been taken out of a run because a ret pally was needed.

If they want Replenishment to be a baseline, then baseline it into 3-4 classes. Like a Priest stam buff. Pretty simple really.

Also I have to say that leveling as Holy is a pain. I took Shadow and solo'ed my way to 70 in an ok manner. Now that I'm trying 70-80 as Holy, its like pulling teeth. I can heal better, but I can't dps for nuts. Harsh language is better than smite in a short fight.