Archive for Theorycraft

Mana Management Test

Posted in Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory, Theorycraft with tags , , , on March 31, 2010 by Natarumah

In this post I will put down the results of my experimenting with my current spec, trying to validate the choice between using Meditation or Focused Mind as the talent to govern my mana efficiency. For this I will use two World of Logs reports for the same fight (Lich King) to allow for an easy comparison.

Current situation

In my current gear, I have the following unbuffed stats (so without Inner Fire or any other self-buffs, flasks or the like):

2987 Spellpower, 33% crit, 25% haste, 72 MP/5.

To keep the comparison easy, I also do not have any items which have a Haste proc, meaning that my Haste is a constant.

The fight as it is for me

The Lich King fight is the only fight where I can say that mana can be an issue. A mis-timed Shadowfiend, forgetting a Dispersion or similar human mistakes can mean that I end up without mana half-way into the fight. My goal to myself is making sure that at each transition phase I am at about 75% mana – that should allow me to pull through.

A lot of Shadowpriests have both Meditation and Focused Mind, and they will never have any real mana issues. But ever since my mana did not seem to run out, I slowly put less and less points in Focused Mind until I ended up in my current state. This was fine up to now – but with my low Spirit and relatively high Haste, combined with the mana issues on LK, mean I have to re-evaluate my choice.

So there will be two short pieces of math here (and you can repeat those for yourself, in your own gear situation) to help me decide which talent to take, and which one to ditch.

Test 1: Lich King, 29/3/2010
Talent: 3/3 Meditation, 0/3 Focused Mind

The first thing I did was look at my “active time”. This represents how long you’ve been actually doing anything. For me this was 3915,3 seconds (one hour and five minutes). That active time represents 783,06 “MP5 moments”. In other words, you can divide your active time by 5 to determine how many “ticks” of mana regain were in your active time.

I gained the following mana returns from abilities, calculated their MP5 value and the “ranking”:

Total MP5 Rank
Mana Leech 223565 286 1
Replenishment 179788 230 2
Dispersion 122093 156 3
Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain 49494 63 5
Judgement of Wisdom 23417 30 6
Hymn of Hope 2701 3 8
Revitalize 12122 15 7
Rapture 565 1 9
Meditation 93967 120 4

Mana Leech is my Shadowfiend, by the way. As you can see, Meditation’s a big source of mana, but by no means the biggest. This shows why being smart when using your Shadowfiend is so important. Revitalize isn’t always there (it’s a RNG thing) and sometimes I also have a Mana Tide Totem nearby.

After that I checked how many spells I cast of each kind affected by Focused Mind, how much they would cost in mana without Focused Mind, and how much mana they would cost with 3/3 Focused Mind. Then I multiplied the number of casts I made for each spell with the difference between the two mana costs.

The last step here is then to divide the Mana Saved by the number of “MP5 moments”, in other words my “Active Time” divide by five.

(Number of casts)*(Mana Cost normal – Mana Cost FM) = Mana Saved.
(Mana Saved)/(Active Time/5) = Mana Saved per 5 Seconds

(Click on the picture for a readable version)

In other words, during this particular evening I would have effectively had 224 MP/5 in savings if I would have had 3/3 Focused Mind. When you subtract the 120 MP/5 I gained from Spirit while raid-buffed, it means a net gain of 104 MP/5.

Test 2: Lich King, ??/??/????
Talent: 0/3 Meditation, 3/3 Focused Mind

This test is next up, and will involve doing all of the above again, but this time without Meditation and taking 3/3 Focused Mind. Then I will be able to see if the theoretical gain mentioned above actually works.

<More to come!>

Total MP5 Rank
Mana Leech 223565 286 1
Replenishment 179788 230 2
Dispersion 122093 156 3
Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain 49494 63 5
Judgement of Wisdom 23417 30 6
Hymn of Hope 2701 3 9
Revitalize 12122 15 7
Mana Tide Totem 0 0
Rapture 565 1 9
Meditation 93967 120 4

Shaking the habit

Posted in Shadowpriest, Theory, Theorycraft with tags , , on March 29, 2010 by Natarumah

There have been numerous great guides and threads full of theorycrafting on the value of various mana regain talents we have, converting each talent point into a static MP/5 value so we can easily compare those and create the talent choices wisely. But this has been broken up somewhat by our new 4piece T10 bonus. With 0.5 seconds off the base channeling time of Mind Flay, we are casting many more Mind Flays than before.

In another angle, the amount of mana we gain from Spirit has been reduced substantially because all the good gear we want has no (or nearly no) Spirit on it. Intellect also has a much better regen value than Spirit in raids, since Replenishment, Shadowfiend, Dispersion and Innervate are all based on your maximum mana.

So, we learn to cope with less Spirit in our mana regain as well as the fact that the amount of DPS gained from it will not increase. In fact, we will likely see it removed in Cataclysm.

What does this imply?

This implies that very soon some of us may elect to get rid of Meditation, and instead pick up another talent to give similar (and improved) mana efficiency: Focused Mind.

  • Meditation (3/3): Allows 50% of your Spirit-based regen to continue while casting.
  • Focused Mind (3/3): Reduces the mana cost of Mind Control, Mind Sear, Mind Flay and Mind Blast by 15%

I have been breaking my head over this, and re-written this post multiple times. Math’s not my strongest as I have stated before, and this is going to be extremely geeky. Also, since Meditation has always been considered “mandatory”, people will advocate taking it along with Focused Mind – but the fact of the matter is that mana is not an issue for us.

The core here is whether at a certain level of gear, and a certain (low) level of Spirit, Meditation is finally matched or outdone by Focused Mind. Will those of us who have plenty mana with Meditation, now find their mana pool life expectancy increased even more by respeccing?

Some base information

The amount of MP5 gained from Spirit is not very hard to check – it’s listed in your characted sheet. You can add some to account for Prayer of Spirit, but don’t expect miracles. I personally am stuck between 75 and 85 MP/5 from Spirit while casting.

As our Haste improves, we cast more spells per time frame. Take for instance a spell that takes 2,5 seconds to cast. In 5 seconds (the time it takes to recover 1 “unit” of MP/5) we can cast 2 of these spells. Once we have 100% Haste (cutting the cast time in half), each of those spells will take 1,25 seconds to cast. In 5 seconds, we will now cast four of these spells. So we just spend double the mana, but out Spirit-based regen remains the same!

Haste going up not only consumes more mana by allowing you to cast more spells in the same time, it hits your Spirit-based regen hard because that mana regen is only time-based, it does not scale. Mana cost reductions on spells (like Focused Mind) then become more attractive. Since it applies to each spell you cast, it will actually give you more benefit the more spells you cast.

Effects of Focused Mind without Haste

Focused Mind 3/3 will give you a 15% reduction on Mind Flay, Mind Sear, Mind Blast and Mind Control. How much is that exactly? Note that these costs do not include the 6% cost reduction on all Shadow spells from Shadow Focus, which would skew the results slightly less towards saving mana with FM.

Cast time Mana cost Cost/5s Mana Cost: FM Cost/5s
Mind Blast 1.5 657 597 524 476
Mind Sear 5 1082 1082 864 864
Mind Flay 3 348 209 278 167

Mind Blast

The first thing we can look at is Mind Blast. This is the easiest to calculate, since its 5.5 seconds (talented) cooldown means that we can assume it is cast every cooldown, and then calculate how much MP/5 it is worth. With a cooldown of 5.5 seconds, will spend 597 mana per 5 seconds casting it. With 3/3 Focused Mind this becomes 476 mana per 5 seconds.

The difference between these two is 121, meaning you save 121 mana per 5 seconds with 3/3 Focused Mind and casting Mind Blast on cooldown.

Mind Sear

We can observe Mind Sear best in a specific scenario: mowing down trash. A good example is the ICC trash before Marrowgar or Deathwhisper, where there’s practically no time to drink as the raid rushes forward to get through. In this situation, without any haste, Mind Sear will take 5 seconds to cast and require 1017 mana. This also means 1082 mana spent per 5 seconds. Gosh, that’s a lot.

With 3/3 Focused Mind this becomes 864 mana spent per 5 seconds, saving 218 Mana per 5 seconds.

Mind Flay

This is actually the hardest to calculate, since you won’t cast Mind Flay “on cooldown” or “spam it”, rather you will weave it between Mind Blasts and keeping your DoTs up. Still, we have to divine some way of finding out how much we can save on it.

The only way I can think of is to assume that we will fire “5 second bursts” of Mind Flay. In reality we will do either 2 Mind Flays consequtively, or maybe 3, but not many of us master the art of the MF clipping. When we consider one of such 5 second bursts, we are assuming a scenario that we put up our DoTs, cast Mind Blast, flay for 5 seconds, then Mind Blast again. This we repeat. Not perfect, but it’s a start.

What happens here is that in 5 seconds we burst through 167 mana instead of  209, but we spend one 5-second window without using Mind Flay at all. So we halve the benefit we get from FM on Mind Flay. Half of the 42 mana benefit is 21, so we have a 21 Mana per 5 seconds benefit in this scenario.

But wait! We now have 4pT10 – our Mind Flays become 2,5 seconds base, how convenient! In a 5-second burst we can now cast 2 Mind Flays, costing us 696 mana. With 3/3 Focused Mind we use 556 mana instead, for a 140 mana difference. Halving this gives us a 70 Mana per 5 seconds benefit.

See how the 4-piece bonus changes this all?

Just considering this (really bad) use of Mind Flay, we have 70 MP/5 equivalent on Mind Flay from using Focused Mind – and you can add the 121 MP/5 you effectively get from saving mana on Mind Blast as well.

Now I can see my math being way off – let’s face it that this is very basic napkin math simply comparing base casts and costs. But I know that since I have about 80 MP/5 raid-buffed now from Meditation, this would be already equal to the half the bonus I’d get from Focused Mind. In other words, it’s worth the trade even with 50% math error.

An example of such difficulties I could foresee is the connection between Improved Spirit Tap, getting a Spirit bonus which improves the value of Meditation. It also adds to the amount of mana regained in combat – this however is easy to ignore, because that happens regardless of having Meditation.

And with Mind Sear spam on trash, the results are even greater.


When your Spirit-based regen starts to drop below 100 MP/5 in combat raid-buffed, it becomes worth it to look into Focused Mind instead. This probably requires you to have 4piece T10, and will scale up with the amount of Haste you have.

In other words, the more Haste you have, the more it becomes a priority to save mana per cast, rather than get a steady flow of mana.

If you have better math skills than me (I know some of you do) feel free to run the math – this is hazardous ground for me theory-wise, and I know some people might hang me up a high tree for daring to drop Meditation. In my opinion, it might not be a bad idea to just respecc to 3/3 Focused Mind and see whether my time until OoM improves.

I guess that’s the only test whether I am on to something here.

Emerging from the Shadows – Reborn!

Posted in News, Raids and Instances, Theory with tags , , on September 2, 2008 by Natarumah

And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen: love from Blizzard. And not the mushy stuff, but the thing we needed most. Mind Flay, our bread and butter nuke, will be re-evaluated and changed to our new standards.

Yes, you heard me. is in a furor, and wowinsider‘s got an article about it. When it’s blue, it has to be true, right?

“We’ll be increasing Mind Flay’s coefficient (base) by roughly 30% to start, and allow Mind Flay to crit. We may also do some tuneups to the Shadow tree as well, but as other players have mentioned the tree is really not the problem, just the base spells not scaling.” – by Koraa on the WoW forums

Finally our scaling issues will be investigated, and our DPS – even though it may start small – will scale properly with gear! I am overjoyed to a level which requires me to take medication to keep my hands steady as I write this. What a news!

This places the scaling from an odd 57% to roughly 87% (rough maths). Allowing it to crit means that Crit Rating suddenly becomes a thing of interest to us…mmm. Yummy.

They are also checking the Shadow tree, so I am hoping that means we get a bit of fun back into our tree. Still, this looks mightily interesting and it fills my dark heart with glee.

Flay on, my brethren, flay on!

Spell Focus: Shadow Word (Death)

Posted in Guides, Theory with tags , on September 1, 2008 by Natarumah

Today I will start a new feature, where I introduce, explain and theorycraft on a specific spell in our arsenal. We’ll discuss the spell, what stats and talents affect it, what gear may have a special effect on it, and what the spell will look like in Wrath of the Lich King. Mind you, this is not high-brow theorycrafting, just the basic workings.

The first of our withering spells to make the spotlight is also our most double-edged sword – Shadow Word: Death.

The spell

Initially meant to be a “finisher” spell, Shadow Word:Death deals a sizeable amount of damage to our target. However, if this fails to kill our target, we take backlash damage equal to the amount of damage we dealt to the target.

  • 42% coefficient, meaning 100 +Shadow damage will increase the damage dealt by 42.
  • Shadow Word: Death has a 12 second cooldown.
  • Shadow Word: Death can achieve a critical hit, and deals +50% damage.
  • Procs Shadow Weaving.


There are several talents in both the Shadow and Discipline trees which affect the use of Shadow Word: Death.

  • Mental Agility (requires 15 points in Discipline): Reduces the mana cost of your instant cast spells by 2% per point. (Max 10%)
  • Shadow Reach (requires 15 points in Shadow): Increases the range of your offensive Shadow spells by 10% per point. (Max 20%)
  • Shadow Power (requires 30 points in Shadow): Increases the Critical Strike chance of Shadow Word: Death and Mind Blast by 3% per point. (Max 15%)

General Use

Even though it was meant as a “kill” spell, Shadowpriests currently use it in their standard rotations; most healers are aware of the fact that Shadowpriests routinely hurt themselves with this spell.

Generally, the best way to use this spell is after your DoTs and VE are up, and then unleashing this spell. By casting Mind Blast as the next spell in the row, the damage dealt will heal back quite a chunk of the damage you suffered from SW:D.

Tips and Tricks

It is best not to use this spell in fights where you will suffer a lot of AoE damage, or where casting spells has a penalty to you which is severe (such as Zul’jin’s Eagle phase, the Curator while evocating, or parts of the Reliquary of Souls fight in BT).

In PvP it is more usable as a kill spell, but can also be very well used as a “scare” tactic. Especially if a foe is not yet aware of your presence, the loss of a sizeable chunk of health sometimes induces a panic in enemy players. Even though you suffer some backlash damage, in my experience this discomforts me a lot less than my enemies.

An unpopular tactic in PvP is to use this spell at low health, so that the backlash kills you. This way, the opponent does not get a killing blow nor honor. Although considered cowardly and “cheating” an opponent out of his honor, this method can also be used to expediate a trip to the graveyard in case of low health and mana, so you are back in the fight quicker.

How will it be in Wrath of the Lich King?

Like all our spells, Shadow Word: Death will cost us a % of our base mana instead of its listed mana cost. In addition, the Shadow Power talent will give substantially less critical strike chance (a maximum of 10%). In return, this talent will now reduce the backlash damage taken by up to 30% if fully talented.

As Wrath sees us probably focusing slightly more on Critical Strike than before, the power of this spell will increase. The talent’s focus on also preventing some of this damage caters to us using it as a bread-and-butter spell, with less risk of one-shotting ourselves when a critical hit produces damage numbers greater than our maximum health.

With patch 3.1, the talent Blackout was removed, negating a Shadowpriest’s ability to Stun foes.