Items and Equipment, Lunar Guidance
For an additional perspective on Mana Management, check out that of Bellwether from 4Haelz! She looks at talents — both Balance and Restoration — additional trinkets not listed here, and group dynamics that can aid your Mana recovery.
One of the design quirks for Restoration Druids is a heavy emphasis on Spirit. This dependence dates back to the days when the once-defining Restoration ability, Innervate, was a 31-point talent. Multiplying its recipient’s out of combat, Spirit-based Mana regeneration by 500%, it has always been best given to a high Spirit spellcaster. With the release of the Burning Crusade, the Tree of Life was introduced, converting 25% of the Druid’s Spirit directly into a +Healing received aura for her groupmates. Living Spirit, a 3/3 talent on the same tier as our Tree of Life form, gives an additional 15% bonus to total Spirit. Like Priests, Druids have a 3-point talent that allows a portion of our Spirit-based Mana regeneration to continue while in combat. Prior to 2.2, this regeneration percentage was only 15%, but has since been increased to 30%, making Spirit an even more attractive stat relative to MP5 for a Restoration Druid. And perhaps one of the most telling changes to our class came when our caster forms’ Spirit-based Mana regeneration formula was adjusted from its previous value of SPI/5 + 15 to SPI/4.5 + 15. And while Priests continue to have the stronger base regeneration formula (SPI/4 + 15), a Druid who specs for the 15% bonus from Living Spirit can close this gap considerably.
So why then do I refer to this heavy emphasis on Spirit as a design “quirk”? Primarily because, unlike Priests, a Druid cannot reasonably expect to take advantage of time spent outside the Five Second Rule. Our HoT-based style of healing — a style which first became effective with the release of the Burning Crusade and the introduction of Lifebloom — dictates that we be casting at least once every six seconds to maximize effectiveness and healing output. And if maintaining a Lifebloom stack on more than one target, you cannot expect to be outside the Five Second Rule at any time. Fortunately, there are a number of techniques and items that can be employed to assist with Mana management.
Perhaps the most intuitive and readily-available means of restoring Mana is through the consumption of Mana potions, sticky-sweet blue (or green) alchemical concoctions. Use the following guidelines when filling your bags before a raid:
- Bring a combination of at least 12-15 [Super Mana Potions] and [Fel Mana Potions]. Fel Mana Potions are best leveraged as your final potion for longer fights. (Why?)
- Bring a few “baby” Mana potions, potions which are the equivalent of [Major Mana Potions]. These come in several easily-obtainable varieties, including the [Unstable Mana Potion] and [Major Combat Mana Potion]. These are perfect for fights where you need a little extra push toward the end but using a larger, more expensive Super or Fel Mana Potion would be overkill (overheal?). They’re also good to use early on in fights where you don’t anticipate needing to use a larger mana potion (but would still have the option to do so two minutes later).
- Are there any zone-specific Mana potions for this raid? These potions are generally cheaper than those purchased off the Auction House. These include the [Cenarion Mana Salve] (SSC and other Coilfang instances) and [Bottled Nethergon Energy] (Tempest Keep). Ask a Mana-using raidmate if you aren’t sure.
- Will there be one or more “breaks” during the encounter lasting 12 seconds or more? If so, you might consider the use of a [Major Dreamless Sleep Potion]. While these share a cooldown with other Mana Potions, they return more than any other type (3600). They do, however, take you out of the fight for 12 seconds, and it’s important that your dispellers know not to remove the Magic debuff that’s caused by imbibing one, lest your potions be on cooldown and you not receive the full return. Some examples of fights where you might consider the use of a Dreamless Sleep Potion are Curator evocations and between Tidewalker earthquakes.
- If you are an alchemist, consider wearing the craftable [Alchemist's Stone] trinket on any fight where you expect to be chain-chugging potions. This trinket will cause all the restorative potions you consume to restore 40% more Mana than they would have otherwise.
- Alchemists can also craft the [Mad Alchemist Potion]. While the average mana return on these is lower than that of a Super Mana Potion, the components for creating them are much less expensive, and they have a chance to grant you a random elixir buff upon consumption.
- On fights where you anticipate taking damage as well as needing a mana restore, consider downing a [Super Rejuvenation Potion]. These boysenberry-flavored draughts restore as much mana on average as the Mad Alchemist Potion (and thus, a little less on average than Super Mana Potions) but include an average health restore of 2200. As the average mana difference between a Super Mana Potion and a Super Rejuvenation is 200 and a Lifebloom costs around 220, Super Rejuvenation Potions are best leveraged when you can’t afford the GCD of a Lifebloom cast on yourself or if you cannot afford to wait for the health restore over time.
When possible, consume a potion as soon as you are missing the maximum Mana that can possibly be restored by that potion. It can be helpful to use a unitframes addon (such as Pitbull) that can be configured to display the value of Mana missing.
Flasks and Elixirs
In addition to Mana Potions that directly restore Mana, there are a variety of consumable elixirs and flasks that provide other regenerative benefits:
- [Elixir of Major Mageblood]: Grants 16 MP5 and lasts for one hour. This is a Guardian Elixir and can be used in conjunction with an [Elixir of Healing Power].
- [Flask of Mighty Restoration]: For the truly discerning raider, a Flask of Mighty Restoration provides 25 MP5, last two hours, and persists through death. Flasks cannot be used in combination with Guardian or Battle Elixirs, so you can’t use both a FoR and an Elixir of Major Mageblood.
Once our spec-definining ability, Innervate is now available to Druids of all talent specs. It remains, however, of greatest benefit to a Restoration Druid since our Balance brethren tend to focus more heavily upon Intellect (I won’t even begin to delve into the politics of trying to pry an Innervate out of the [Grasp of the Moonkin], however). As a Druid, you should be aware of how much Mana will be restored by Innervate under various raid conditions (Blessing of Kings, Divine Spirit), so that you can leverage it in the same way as a potion, using it as soon as you are able to do so without wasting any of the Mana restored. (Because you can continue casting while under the effects of Innervate, you can use it a little before you’re missing the total Mana it will restore). On longer fights, using your Innervate as early as possible will often allow you to use it twice. Netherspite is one example of such a fight.
While the Mana regeneration afforded by Innervate is nice enough on its own, there are a couple of additional techniques that can be utilized to maximize your return, including an automated weapon swap to a high-Spirit weapon and the activation of the on-use effect of the [Bangle of Endless Blessings]. These techniques are detailed in my earlier article on Getting More out of Innervate.
When to share?
Depending on your guild’s policies on such things, it’s not entirely uncommon to hear “Can I get an Innervate?” over voice chat. If you look around and notice that you are the only Druid in the raid, it’s possible that the person is talking to you. So when do you share? Well, first of all if it’s a Paladin or a Shaman, it’s time to hit your self-Innervate macro so you can truthfully respond, “Oh sorry, it’s down.” If it’s a Holy Priest, it’s time to employ some discretion. Things to keep in mind when making the judgment call:
- Is the person making the request responsibily consuming Mana potions? You should not have to subsidize someone else’s unwillingness to use consumables. Help those who help themselves.
- Is the person making the request ordinarily a meaningful contributor? Less of an issue in progression-based guilds where dead weight is cut away with regularity, in a casual raiding guild, it isn’t uncommon to receive Innervate requests from healers performing at 60% of your throughput.
- Bonus points for the person requesting if you know they run an addon such as Evocation2 that will automatically perform a Spirit-based weapon swap, ensuring they get more out of your Innervate.
- Remember that a Restoration-specced Druid with 3/3 Living Spirit derives close to the same benefit from Innervate as does a Holy Priest. Many Priests aren’t aware of this and may subsequently feel a sense of entitlement to your Innervate. Remember that as a Restoration Druid, you are equally deserving of your Innervate.
In my experience, Shadow Priests are often self-conscious about requesting an Innervate since they’re aware they aren’t among the “Mana essential” healers. However, they frequently serve as Mana batteries for the raid’s healers, and so it’s a good idea to watch their Mana yourself, volunteering an Innervate when possible (or better yet, a Feral raidmate’s Innervate) to ensure that their groupmates continue benefitting from Vampiric Embrace.
As you may have guessed, I’m pretty selfish about sharing my Innervate. To do so requires holding down CTRL and the middle mouse button while panning the camera in and out. Then I have to spin around in my chair three times while reciting the EULA backwards and in Latin. A dialog window then pops up to confirm that I really, actually want to give my Innervate to [Target]. Two possible choices are displayed: “NO” and “HELL NO.” I have to click in between these two buttons on a secret “MAYBE” button. When this happened (the one time), a zone-wide announcement was made (with my blog address, of course) in addition to /rsay, /gsay, and /say. Every decision to give Innervate to a raidmate is one calculated to ensure our raid’s success.
Prioritizing Potions vs. Innervate
Because both can be used early on to ensure their respective cooldowns are available sooner, it’s important to correctly prioritize the use of each. In general, on fights lasting eight or more minutes, use Innervate as soon as it’s possible to do so without wasting any of the Mana returned. For fights that are close to the 8-minute mark, it’s okay to use it a little earlier even if a bit of Mana is wasted if it means that you will have it available to you again near the end of the fight. In any case where you Innervate before consuming a Mana potion, watch your Mana total closely so that you can drink a potion as soon as you can. On shorter (but Mana-intensive) fights, use a potion first since there is little chance of being able to use a second Innervate.
Enchants and Gems
Regemming and enchanting gear is a great (if somewhat expensive) way to shuffle around your stats if you find yourself needing more Mana regeneration on a semi-permanent basis. While far from a complete list, here are a couple that I recommend:
- Metagems: In addition to passively granting 12 Intellect, the [Insightful Earthstorm Diamond] has a chance to proc a 300 Mana restore on every cast. According to user-submitted information on WoWHead, it’s worth up to 20 MP5 (assuming you are chain casting Lifebloom with little to no latency). Considering a Restoration Druid’s other PvE-oriented meta gem options ([Bracing Earthstorm Diamond]), it’s a great choice for a healer who often finds herself strapped for Mana. Similar to the Insightful Earthstorm Diamond, the Tier 4 2-piece set bonus has a chance to proc a 120 Mana restore on every “helpful” spellcast. With no internal cooldown, an approximate 5% spell cast, this set bonus would yield an additional 36 MP5 assuming that you were casting Lifebloom every 2 seconds.
- Weapon Enchant: The Spellsurge weapon enchant represents approximately 8 MP5 (assuming 1 PPM) for your entire group. To obtain this, you opt to forego the 81 +Healing enchant, so it’s not the best of tradeoffs unless you know that multiple group members will be using it (5 group members = 40 MP5 for all). Alternatively, there are some addons that will automatically swap your weapons around once Spellsurge has procced, but that’s another article that needs writing…
- Head-Slot Enchant: The [Glyph of Renewal] can be purchased from Honor Hold/Thrallmar at Revered reputation and affords an additional 7 MP5 as well as granting 35 +Healing.
- Shoulder-slot Enchants from Aldor and Scryers: Players having chosen the Scryer faction gain access to the [Inscription of the Oracle] at Honored reputation and the [Greater Inscription of the Oracle] at Exalted. Aldor members gain access to the less regenerative [Greater Inscription of Faith] at Exalted reputation.
Of course, no discussion of Mana management would be complete without a look at the various consumable foods and other items that can enhance your Mana regeneration (either directly or through Spirit):
- [Superior Mana Oil]: Crafted by Enchanters (but usable by all), Mana Oil can be applied to your weapon to grant 14 MP5 for one hour. Best of all, this effect persists through death (unless you get killed by a roll of paper towels or a Kleenex).
- [Drums of Restoration]: Available to Leatherworkers, each has 50 charges and affords an additional 25 MP5 to you and your groupmates when used each cooldown. Because these Drums are on a separate timer from Mana potions and affect your group, it’s best to wait until you’ve run through the batch of Mana restored by your first potion. This helps to ensure that the Mana restore is less likely to be wasted since other casters in your group are likely to also be missing Mana.
- Foodstuffs: [Blackened Sporefish] may initially appear to be a better choice than [Golden Fish Sticks] from a purely mana regeneration viewpoint, but the MP5 of Sporefish is roughly equivalent to the mana regeneration from the Spirit afforded by Fish Sticks. Essentially, you’re choosing between 44 +Healing and 20 Stamina.
Jewelcrafting Trinket: Talasite Owl
Jewelcrafters have access to the [Talasite Owl], a crafted trinket that affords 14 MP5 passively and can be activated to grant an additional 900 mana over 12 seconds once every five minutes. This works out to be a total of 29 MP5 if used every cooldown ((900/(5*60) * 5) + 14).
Items Granting Mana Regen while Casting
There are several items that allow a portion of your out of combat mana regeneration to continue for a certain period of time, either passively or through a proc from spellcasting:
You can determine the MP5 value of these items by determining their proc rate (if applicable) and your Spirit-based mana regeneration when outside of the 5SR.
All of these techniques when used together may be overkill. Or they might just free you up to bestow your Innervate on a deserving raidmate (if there is such a thing; personally I think this is just a quaint myth used to scare sapling Restos). But for fights where longevity is key, you can opt into one or more of these methods to ensure you can keep on going when other healers have run bone dry.
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