Everything you never wanted to know about manaregen
The largest change in cataclysm for healing priests will be that we have to consider manaregen a lot more closely. This guide will go in close on how manaregen works in cataclysm, primarily at lvl 85, and provide some pointers on how to get the most out of your itemization. If you feel that this is TLDR, then the short version is that intellect is a more important stat than spirit if you need more mana, but that you still want a mix of both.
For this guide, I have created a calculator for determining how much mana you will have at your disposal, given various input parameters. It will also list how much each mana source is providing and by percentage how much a source is out of the total gains. Like all calculators, it is an estimate, so take the numbers with a grain of salt. Reality is often somewhat different than the numbers theorycrafting can provide anyway.
If you have any feedback on the guide, calculator, or otherwise, any input is appreciated.
The wonderful world of mana
The most important lesson I learned as a healing priest is that you do not need to heal forever. Healing forever seems like an awesome skillset to have - you never have to stop and drink, use manapots or worry about the blue bar - but this comes at a very high cost. Spending all your itemization on manaregen will cost you a terrible amount of throughput. So instead of worry about healing forever - worry about having enough mana for the encounter at hand. Very few encounters last longer than 8 minutes, and those that do tend to have breaks in them where healers can regain mana.
I am dividing manaregen into two categories. Passive manaregen is mana you get for free without doing anything and without any afterthought. Active regen abilities are spells and effects that you (and other partymembers) may use deliberately to increase your available mana. The total amount of mana you are able to aquire from both passive and active regen sources make out your total mana budget.
It is important to rely on both the passive and active regen - the first mistake of any fresh healer is to forget to use the shadowfiend. Also, keep a stack of manapots available - while it is nice to avoid the manapot for anything but emergencies, by using it every fight you can can spend dramatically more itemization on thoughput, which in turn is going to make you a far better healer.
Passive Regen abilities
There are a few passive regen abilities in the game, including a completely new one in cataclysm; the baseline regen.
Initial Manapool (Scales with INT)
Replenishment (Scales with INT)The simplest form of manaregen available is actually not any "regen" at all. All healers start off with a large manapool; and by simply draining that manapool, you can often last several minutes alone. Every priest get 20590 mana for free at lvl 85 - this is the "base mana" all your spells are talking about. In addition you get 15 mana per point of intellect (with the exception of the first 20 int, which only gives 1 mana each for some reason). On short fights, this source is going to be the dominant factor. On fights lasting forever, this source is not going to be worth anything - but remember, you are not healing forever. Even on a 10 minute fight, this source is often worth as much as 10% of your total mana budget. Do not underestimate it!
Spirit regen (Scales with INT and SPI)Replenishment is a raidbuff offered by a lot of other classes. The buff has been significantly nerfed in cataclysm, now offering 1% of your total manapool every 10
seconds. This really isn't a lot, and comparing this to the other passive bonuses it's by far the least important passive regen source out there. Arguably, this is an
active ability, but the uptime is so close to 100% while in a raid or instance, that you can really take it for granted. Assuming that there is actually someone
offering the buff.
Baseline RegenSpirit regen is the mana you get from the spirit formula. In the simplest incarnation, the spirit formula gives 1 mana every 10 seconds per point of spirit. Then
blizzard decided that they needed to make this formula scale to be better the more int you get - a decision which effectively made spirit give much less than 1 mana
every 10 seconds until you get to the very late endgame. The formula looks like this:
regen = 0.016725 * sqrt(INT) * SPI
To make matters more complex, spirit regen is usually not available while in combat. Healing specs have a passive ability called Meditation, which gives half of the spirit regen output as manaregen while in combat. Holypriests also have the talent Holy Concentration, which increase this from 50% to 80%. For all practical intents and purposes, when talking about spirit regen, it's the "while in combat" spirit regen that is being discussed.
Still, spirit regen is a very important source of regen, and probably the largest one available for both specs of healing priests. But even a holypriest with the massively powerful Holy Concentration talent will not see spirit regen offer more than half of the total mana budget available in a fight.
Tailor perksTo compensate the fact that spirit regen is very weak in the early parts of an expansion, blizzard added a constant passive regen for all mana users. For priests, this is equivalent of 1029 mana every 5 seconds at lvl 85. All priests get this manaregen baseline, and I suspect it to be a major source of mana until the very late endgame.
Your character sheet will list "Mana Regen" as baseline regen plus spirit regen. Similarly, "Combat Regen" is your baseline regen plus half (or 80% if you have holy concentration) of your spirit regen. Keep in mind that what is listed on your character sheet is only two sources, and makes out a small part of your total mana budget.
Meta gemTailors can choose between two really great back enchants; the darkglow and the lightweave enchant. These offer a chance proc of 580 spirit or int respectively. Both effects come with a 20% proc chance, 15 second duration and a 60 second cooldown.
Weapon EnchantAs far as I can see on the cataclysm wowhead listings, there is no meta gem equivalent of the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond. The only metagem available befitting mana-hungry healers seems to be the Ember Shadowspirit Diamond, which grants a some additional mana, but absolutely nothing else. 2% manapool is frankly not a whole lot, and while the passive intellect is nice, it's not going to make a massive difference, unlike the WoTLK metagems.
Of course, there is always the option of going for the WoTLK Insightful Earthsiege Diamond. Contrary to it's listed value, this is still worth around 600 mana per proc, and there don't seem to be any internal cooldown present. Meaning, this metagem is still a truly excellent choice for cataclysm, outshining quite a few other lvl 85 sources of manaregen.
Until Blizzard figures out that they missed a meta gem in catalcysm, or decides to nerf the lvl 80 gem to heck, I recommend sticking to the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond if manaregen is your priority. There is a point where it starts getting less effective though.
Active Regen abilitiesThere is only really one regen based enchant in Cataclysm;Heartsong. The only real alternative is Power Torrent, which doesn't really offer any regen whatsoever, but does offer a much improved throughput. Whether heartsong is worth it for you or not is something you will have to decide for yourself.
The active regen abilities are abilities that the priest (or other party members) can use to regain mana. Almost all of these scale with INT, so in order to make SPI somewhat attractive most of these have been nerfed compared to WoTLK.
Archangel (Scales with INT)
Rapture (Scales with INT)A new talent in cataclysm, this ability can be triggered once every 30 seconds, and consumes a stack of the evangelism buff. In the best case scenario, this ability will regenerate 5% of your maximum mana pool, but the cost of 5 smites is a lot higher than what you will gain. For a discpriest with atonement this still may be a worthwhile way to increase longevity, but for a holypriest, archangel is probably not worth it. I like to think of archangel as an ability that will recuperate a fraction of the cost of the smites, allowing you to smite a little longer. Probably good for levelling, but not brilliant for healing.
Hymn of Hope (Scales with INT)Discipline priests can trigger this effect every 6 seconds (and Discpriests will be sad to learn that the wotlk proc bug where you could proc 20 shields at once has been fixed). Considering it is hard to burst a bubble on command every 12 seconds, the average time-to-proc is going to be larger than 12 seconds. But doing so once every 14 or 16 seconds or so should probably not be very impossible. Rapture will regain 2.5% of your maximum manapool per proc, and is an important source of the discipline mana budget, even if it will not return WoTLK numbers.
Hymn of Hope return 8% of the max manapool of each of the target it affects. There is no guarantee that the spell will affect the casting priest, but most priests usually cast this spell as a last-ditch resort when they are very dry for mana anyway. Given the massive cooldown of this spell, this means casting it more than once is rare, and if you do cast it, it is rarely worth more than 2-4% of your total mana budget. As such, it is quite underwhelming.
The strength of this spell is that it also increase your manapool by 15% for the people it affects. That means that all the other regen sources which base themselves on the maximum manapool size will increase by 15%. In short, if you manage to use your shadowfiend while casting this ability, the shadowfiend will return 15% more mana than normal. This effect also stacks cumulatively; two priests increase it by 32%, three priests by 52% and so on. By employing good communication with your fellow priests, this spell can easily turn into a manaregen powerhouse. But in my experience, this rarely ever happens.
Shadowfiend (Scales with INT)
Manatide totem (Scales with SPI and INT)Shadowfiend has been severely nerfed in cataclysm, now returning only 3% of your maximum manapool per hit. A shadowfiend will hit for 8-12 hits depending on how many haste buffs is affecting it and how much time it spends running around. It will get particularly many hits off during a bloodlust, so if you are going to use it only once during a fight, use it when bloodlust is down for that extra boost if possible.
Still, the shadowfiend will no longer fill half a manabar; now it's less than a third. On the upside, you can spend 2 talent points in the shadow tree to reduce the cooldown of the shadowfiend to 4 minutes, but still - it is not going to be a major contributor to your mana budget anymore. That does not mean you shouldn't use it though - it's just not going to keep you floating for particularly long alone anymore.
Arcane Torrent (Scales with INT)Manatide totem is a restoration shaman ability that in cataclysm increase your spirit regen by 350%. This is a hell of a lot, and I am willing to bet that it will be nerfed before too long. The downside is that the only source of regen that actually benefits from spirit is the spirit regen, and that's not a hell of a lot in the common case. It also don't last particularly long, giving only 12 seconds of awesome manaregen. Still, a manatide totem is unquestionably a lot better than hymn of hope and will make a notable impact on your manapool.
This ability scales with both SPI and INT since the manaregen formula does so, but priests stacking spirit will get a whole lot more out of pairing up with a shaman than a one that does not.
Mythical Mana PotionArcane torrent is a blood elf racial, and a very good reason to race change if you are playing on the horde side. If you manage to use it regularly, it is going to be better than a manapot, and in a world where healers are struggling with manaregen, it is a very great ability to have. If nothing else, this ability allows you to itemize a little more for throughput than your non-bloodelf brethren.
Comparison of INT and SPIThe cataclysm mana potion, offering 9250-10750 mana per potion. Like all potions, it brings you potion sickness if you use it. Relatively, a manapotion is slightly weaker than in wotlk, considering that base manapools are a lot higher this time around. Still, it's great to have a mana potion around both for emergencies, but also for regular use as I discussed earlier. Especially, in the beginning you WILL to use a lot of these to keep up.
I haven't seen any Alchemists-only manapotions like the ones in WoTLK, but there are some fun alternative manapots for everyone. The Potion of Concentration is a manapot that works like a much-improved self-only Hymn of Hope, but the downside is that it cannot be interrupted. If you are healing, taking a 10 second break is always a risky gamble! There is also the Mysterious potion, offering 1-15000 mana in return. On average this is not worth it, but you can get lucky. Or not. You will probably cry if you really need mana and get 26 mana back.
TLDR: Stack INT like crazy.
If you look at all the sources of manaregen above, then there is one thing that strikes me at least. With the exception of two of these, almost all of them scale with INT. There is a threshold where INT is overtaken by SPI based on how much INT you already have - but this threshold is very high. If your INT and SPI stats are somewhat close together, then INT is going to be the superior stat for manaregen.
This in particular holds true for discipline priests due to the spec bonus of 15% extra INT and comparably weaker gains from SPI due to Rapture scaling off INT only where the holypriest counterpart, Holy Concentration, scaling off both stats (but primarily SPI). For a discpriest, I can recommend stacking INT almost exclusively over SPI. For a holypriest, the two stats are much closer together in value as far as regen goes, but INT wins the day by also offering throughput.
If you aim to optimize your manaregen, then you ideally want a little bit of both stats. Since holypriests gain comparably more regen from SPI and comparably less regen from INT, they would want a little more SPI than a disc counterpart. You can play around with various levels of INT and SPI in the calculator link above and find your optimal fit given your desired fight length and sources of manaregeneration.
But, this calculation totally ignores the massive throughput given by INT. Each point of INT gives 1 point of spellpower as well as some crit. While it is quite likely that you get more regen by regearing 1k INT for 1k additional SPI, you will lose a massive amount of throughput in the process - which in turn means more spells cast. The gains from such an optimization would almost always be lost when you have to cast that flash heal twice.
Concluding, I can recommend priests of both healing specs to stack INT like crazy, almost to the point of neglecting SPI completely. You won't be able to avoid SPI - it's usually on most of our gear anyway - nor should you. But given the choice between INT and SPI, the answer is almost always INT.
Discpriests will probably not complain about that recommendation. But holypriests may find it weird. By stacking the stat that is designed to be slightly weaker for your spec, you still end up stronger as a result. This is because spirit is a very weak stat, and a very string Holy Concentration don't add up for it. The throughput gain of going INT over SPI is notable as a holypriest, and you don't really lose a lot of regen in the process. Don't hesitate to stack INT for all your regen needs.
However - you very rarely get to choose between these two stats. With the exception of gems and enchants, no gear will allow you to chose between INT and SPI. All gear will have INT on it, the real choice is between SPI and haste/mastery/crit. Even if INT is the best stat for regen out there, you should probably still go for the SPI gear as the secondary stat of choice as long as you need regen.
HPM and Overhealing
Healing-per-mana is a metric for measuring healer efficiency - the higher your HPM, the more healing you get done per point of mana. You can use this number in two ways; by looking at HPM per spell, or looking a HPM over the duration of a fight as a measurement for comparing healers.
On a per-spell basis, you can find the HPM by calculating the healing done divided by the mana cost of the spell. In cataclysm no heal except for Heal is going to be particularly efficient, but some heals (Flash Heal) is designed to be inefficient to boot. This does not mean you should avoid those spells. Avoiding the expensive spells is a surefire way to ensure that your peers will die a painful death, and label you as the priest equivalent of a "FoL-only paladin". Do not be afraid to use the expensive heals. Just make sure that you get a return on your investment.
The worst kind of return you can get is overhealing. This is when your heal heals for too much, effectively doing no healing. If you have a lot of overhealing, then that means you are probably being too aggressive with keeping people topped up. Expect healers to be judged based on how much overhealing they do in cataclysm. HPM can also be used to measure overall fight efficiency by taking the total healing done and divide by the total mana spent, per healer. I'm not sure if HPM is a great way to compare healers, but it is an interesting metric nonetheless when looking for self-improvement. In WOTLK, the "winner" on the healing team was the healer pushing the most healing done. It was a pretty silly competition, really, because it really favoured the healers focusing on raw strenghts (druids) over everyone else.
When mana suddenly matters, the best healer is the healer that makes the most out of his resources - because everyone can and will run OOM if spamming the big heals, and a OOM healer is a useless healer. Running around with a very low HPM might be a good thing if the extra mana spent prevented deaths - so both overhealing meters, spell usage and healing done also matter if you want to compare healers. But assuming noone went into "FoL spam mode", then the highest HPM healer probably did something right anyway.
Of course, the more spellpower you stack, the better HPM you get for free. So comparing these numbers directly between healers is not a great strategy.
I really really need more mana! Help!
Are you using the right heals?
Chances are you don't really need more mana, you just need to use less of it. In other words, take a look at your selection of heals. Your basic healing spell, "Heal", may be boring to cast, but it is really cheap compared to absolutely every other heal in your arsenal. Spamming this spell mindlessly is not a bad thing at all. Of course, unless your group has perfect execution and amazing gear, this spell is not going to be enough on its own. Some fights, and this in particular goes for heroics, are basically a quick and hectic spamfest of your most expensive heals until the boss or trashpack decide to die. Using the right spell for the situation is what really matters, and that spell is usually "Heal".
Are you using your cooldowns properly?
You are balanced around using your shadowfiend, your hymn of hope and anything else you can come up with that will give you mana. Heck, farm some dark runes if you have to. The day you stop casting your active regen abilities is the day you are probably having too much manaregen anwyay.
In particular, never leave home without a manapot, and make sure to use it. If your tank is particularly aggressive in his pulling or if your dpsers are pulling way too low numbers, then you may have to chug pots at every single pack in the instance. Given the cost of manapots, that may cost a small fortune. But don't be afraid to use the pots. They are really the only reliable buffer of additional mana you have, especially when just starting out.
Are you getting the support you need?
Let your DPSers know that CC isn't optional; one CC'ed mob usually amount to several hundred thousand less healing needed in a few minutes. This can be the difference between having to spam "Heal" and having to spam "Greater Heal", which in turn decide whether you can last 10 minutes or 2 minutes into the fight.
Let your tank know that it is a new world order - healing require a ton of mana, and drinking is going to be a commonplace occurrance, usually for every single pull. If he decide to rush off while you are drinking, then you can either catch up with a ton of flash heals, or you can let him die. I seriously suggest the latter alternative. Nothing beats a little Pavlovian learning experience.
Many meleers love to soak up damage, merrily standing in the cleaves. This can be a monumental drain on your manapool, and the GCDs lost healing the silly rogue means you have to catch up on the tank with a bigger heal which is going to cost you even more. If you have to, let the meleer die. Then after ressing him, point out why, and feel free to add that a ress costs way less mana. If the meleer persist on taking excessive amounts of damage, teach them about the the wonderful world of self-bandaging. Your resources are vital and limited, if they are going to squander it, the fact that it will cost them instead of costing you is a great way for them to skillup. Or votekick you. Whatever, healing queues are instant these days.
The principle counts for everyone though. If anyone is taking unnecessary damage, they need to remedy it somehow. Eitehr by offering you more mana (innervates?), or redeeming the mistake themselves (bandage, lightwell, etc). These things really make or break a tight fight.
Are you focusing on INT?
If you need more manaregen, get more INT. It is truly the stat of choice for manaregen, even in cataclysm, despite being nerfed. This holds true both for Discipline and Holypriests, but in particular for Discipline. There is a threshold where SPI is more beneficial to get - and if you are there, by all means get SPI before gearing for more INT again. But you will likely be surprised how much better INT is, especially in the beginning. But also consider getting more throughput - while crit is a sad stat for healers still, a few well-timed crits can easily save you several casts per minute in the long run. And that is the equivalent of a truly amazing amount of pure regen stats.
Regen Trinkets comparison!
NYI. Wish I could add these to a second post, but heck. Here they go. Once I finish them