Tuesday, 20 January 2009

If I had to choose, I'd rather be wise than be mighty

Sometimes, I am disappointed with Paladins... these so-called knights and warriors of the light. I suppose I have to accept that they are mortal and of the younger races, and therefore have the natural tendency to think that to be mighty is always better than being wise.

But in this, I feel I must make an effort at some apologetics—I had been accused of not being zealous enough for requesting a Greater Blessing of Wisdom from them rather than a Greater Blessing of Might. It had been implied that I did not know my job enough to make the "informed" decision to want to be powerful rather than be wise. And it was the paladin who would dare say so! The paladin! They who belong to the same order as Tirion, who long ago chose wisdom and loyalty over strength and now is the most powerful paladin alive.

I feel I must explain myself. Even a nightelf can lose face. Even a nightelf can be shamed. I am a hunter... one who aspired to be a Sentinel or a Warden. By Elune, I shall not take this lying down.

I will state it as simply as possible first, then deal with the objection. Basically, a Blessing of Wisdom allows me to delay my use of Aspect of the Viper as long as I possibly can which, in my experience, gives me more DPS because I spend more time in 100% DPS mode than when I have to frequently switch aspects to regen mana.

Objection: You are gimping your DPS if you'd rather have mana regen than an attack power buff.

With all due respect to the paladin and some other hunters out there who may think the same way, this is not strictly true. It is not that I do not want attack power buffs—I already have it. Since I made sure I do not need buffs to cap my hit rating (which means I don't need food buffs) I can safely bring buff foods and elixirs or flasks that increase my attack power already. And any hunter of any talent build will invest in talents that already increase DPS without having to resort to another class' buffs (we are a very strong soloable class, after all). What I need is hefty mana regen. It's a question of balance.

But the pally is insistent: It's better to hit hard and kill the opponent faster than to make sure your mana pool is not emptied—use your mana and if you really want your mana back, use AotV. It seems reasonable. It even seems logical. But in practice, it's impractical. Let me illustrate. I have exactly 6161 base mana, my items add an additional 5070 mana, for a total of 11,231 mana.

I use the following shots in rotation to maintain DPS:
  • Arcane Shot (costs 7% of my base mana or 432 mana, cooldown 6 seconds)
  • Serpent Sting (costs 15 mana, no cooldown)
  • Chimera Shot (costs 16% of my base mana or 986 mana, cooldown 10 seconds)
  • Steady Shot (costs 5% base mana or 308 mana, 2 second cast time)

I open with casting Hunter's Mark (with a macro to also send my pet) then cast Serpent Sting, and then I rotate by casting Chimera Shot (which refreshes the sting), then cast Arcane Shot, cast Steady Shot 3-4 times, then I rinse and repeat. Hunter's Mark costs 2% of base mana, so it's 123 mana. So, at the opening, that would be 123 + 15 + 986 + 432 + (308 * 3) = 2652 mana in that opening salvo, and 986 + 432 + (308 * 3) = 2514 mana every cycle.

Since mana regen even for hunters is actually spirit based and since no hunter would ever itemize, enchant or gem for spirit, our base mana regen has no innate bonuses whatsoever. From WoW Wiki, MP5 = 5 * (0.001 + sqrt(INT) * SPI * Base Regen) then our base MP5 = 5 * (0.001 + sqrt(431) * 105 * 0.005575). So that's 5 * (0.001 + 20.760539492026695) * 105 * 0.005575 = 5 * 20.761539492026695 * 105 * 0.005575 = 60.766430900725632928125 mana. Rounding up, that's 61 mana every 5 seconds, or 12 mana per second. But this is only true if you follow the 5-second rule (FSR) because this is the Spirit-based mana regen that even hunters have.

What does this mean? It means that this 61 MP5 only happens when:
  • 5 seconds have passed after an instant spell is cast
  • 5 seconds have passed after a channeled spell is begun
If I channeled exactly Steady Shot, the moment I start channeling, the FSR begins. If Steady Shot channels for 2 seconds, this 61 MP5 only begins 3 seconds later... if I am not casting anything else. But wait! Look at my shot rotation: I try to channel Steady Shot every 2 seconds, and use instant shots one after the other. What does this mean?

To dumb it down, this already paltry 61 MP5 almost never happens for me except if I pause long enough to let only Auto Shot to go. Suffice to say, I don't even consider it for my mana regen needs.

If I expend 2514 mana every cycle, with a total mana of 11,231, how many cycles am I capable of? Only four to five cycles. That's not bad. To make it simpler, let's say I did around 25,000 worth of damage (unmitaged) per cycle, each cycle lasting 10 to 12 seconds (roughly 2.5k DPS), I would be doing around 100,000-125,000 worth of damage until my mana runs dry.

Now, let's pretend that it takes only 10 seconds to refill my mana bar after I switch to AotV (pre-patch 3.0.8, this switching actually resets the GCD, so I can't shoot for 1 full second after I switch, and I can only regen mana when I'm doing damage), during that entire time (the length of one cycle) I'm doing 12,500 damage since my damage output is halved during this time.

Obviously, even the 91 MP5 that Greater Blessing of Wisdom (plus any other MP5 I get from items, both of which do not follow the FSR) will not prevent me from eventually switching to AotV... but because it does not follow the FSR it regens my mana even when I am casting.

What does this mean. If I can do even just one more cycle before running out of mana, I can potentially up my damage done by at least 25k more and reduce the time spent in AotV doing only 50% damage.

But the original objection remains: Ok, [huntard], let's say you do spend more time doing 100% damage... but if I give you an attack power buff, you'd do more than 100% of your damage even if you run out of mana. Let's inspect that (Disclaimer: to make the equations simple enough to be understood, I am not regarding the other AP bonuses my armor, food buffs, consumables and enchants already give; I mean, I already have that anyway. I am also, due to time constraints, not making the actual figures Elitist Jerks precise, but I have made the figures as close as possible in the hope that I can show that it is valid to be spending more time doing 100% damage is better than frequently doing 50% damage).

Greater Blessing of Wisdom gives us an additional 550 attack power. At level 80, self-buffed and not counting food or elixir buffs, I already have 3610 attack power (unbuffed), which, if every 14 attack power adds 1 DPS to my base DPS, already adds +257.85 DPS to my existing DPS. 3610 + 550 = 4160 RAP... which makes my RAP bonus go up to +297.14 DPS (a difference of roughly 40 more DPS.

If my base DPS is 197.1 (129.6 from the bow and 67.5 from my ammo), then DPS is:
  • No BoM: 454.95 DPS
  • With BoM: 494.24 DPS
Let's say that, due to BoW, I am able to do 6 cycles, each cycles lasting 10 seconds each, and having at least 10 seconds to regen mana with AotV. Each cycle will be doing 4549.5 damage, for a total of 27,297 damage in 6 cycles, and additional 2,274.75 damage done during AotV, for total of 29,571.75 damage done after 6 cycles and a cycle of AotV.

Let's say that, with BoM, I am only able to do 5 cycles because my mana runs out faster. Each cycle will do 4942.4 damage (wow! bigger figure)... for a total of 24,712 damage done after 5 cycles (wha-?), and additional 2471.2 damage done during AotV, for a total of 27,183.2 damage done after 5 cycles and a cycle of AotV.

Now, will I want that 29,571.75 damage done in one repetition (thanks to BoW), or 27,183.2 (with BoM)?

And that's assuming that the time spent in AotV is the same amount of time=10 seconds.

Now, these cycles are actually more complex in practice... and I only did the math right now to show how mana regen can make a difference.

The additional reason why I'd rather not run out of mana is downtime. In a typical trash mob fight, I can only go through one repetition, and I'd rather end the encounter with a bit of mana so I do not have to drink after the encounter or, if I do drink, it would not last too long. With more mana regen, I can go through 2 or even 3 waves of trash mobs before having to drink, compared to (in my experience) the having to drink after every wave with BoM.

Let me repeat: we hunters will eventually go Aspect of the Viper anyway and, especially for long boss fights, this is necessary. I am also not dissing AotV... unlike other classes with a mana regen mechanic, it allows me to still do damage while regenerating mana.

My point is that if I ask for BoW, it is not "gimping" my DPS. If there are 2 pallies that can give me BoM and BoW, I'll gladly take both.

And, even if BoM does give me some very small percentage of DPS increase, I'd rather have 2.5k DPS (which is sufficiently effective for most heroic instances) and not have to drink very often than have 2.7k DPS and go through a stack of tea.

Yes,I know there are some that will do anything just to appear at the top of the Recount meters, and they think it proves they are 1337 DPS and that they, therefore, better than the next DPS they out-DPSed by about 200 DPS. I don't get my kicks out of having some number—I get my kicks out of being effective and efficient.

I have presented this argument already with the paladin, but because two other hunters insist that BoM is better and, as a result, they are higher than me on the DPS charts, this paladin still insists on giving me this blessing even when he is the only paladin around.

In all fairness and with all due humility, I was using the Sawed-off Hand Cannon reputation reward from the Alliance Vanguard, and they both had the Drake-mounted Crossbow. Even if I had better RAP bonuses and crit ratings and was hit-capped compared to them, my base damage coefficient is much, much lower than theirs. It was this, more than anything else, that made me decide to bite the bullet and purchase a Nessingwary 4000. I didn't want to—I was perfectly happy with my blue gun and my performance was satisfactory even by Naxx standards... but I hate it when they think I'm a noob just because I make a reasonable request for what is actually a more beneficial blessing.

Even then, they still technically outgeared me (they had more epic 200 ilvl items, and I still have blue items and 1 green) and I cannot overtake their DPS—what nobody wanted to notice was that I was approaching their DPS all of a sudden with my inferior gear, but with a better balance of stat bonuses, hit rating and crit. That is, I was coming so close behind them... and all they saw was "Ha-ha, I'm over you."