When Resto Shamans’ Mastery was first launched in the raiding scene, in the patch before Cataclysm release, it was difficult to view it as anything but a passing fancy, a distraction in our ongoing love affair with Haste. Little did we know at the time, but Tier 11 was about to convince us of exactly the opposite, and over the course of the expansion, we’d learn just how powerful Mastery could truly be given the right triage environment. In the end, Mastery became the go-to stat for Shaman in hard modes, and our assignations with haste were left to normal modes and those times at the end of the tier, when fights were shorter and mana less constraining. But, is that going to be the case in Mists of Pandaria or are we wearing blinders once again?
In light of the changes and the revamped triage environment waiting for us just around the corner, today I wanted to take some time to revisit Mastery, its effects, and its interaction with the secondary stat that’s been waiting in the shadows all time time—Crit. Because, I have the sneaking suspicion that Resto Shaman are once more on the verge of another unexpected romance.
(Feel free to skip to the Mastery v. Crit section if you don’t need the background on Mastery’s calcs and application).
How Deep Healing Works
Although Mastery’s contribution may seem mysterious because it’s not discernable in WoW’s combat logs, in concept, Mastery is fairly simple. For Resto Shaman, every 600 points that we invest into Mastery, we receive a +3% bonus to Deep Healing (which is to say that every 200 points nets us 1%). Combined with a base value of 39% at level 90, which is comprised of 24% base plus 15% due to shaman’s passive Mastery buff, your percent Mastery indicates the maximum amount of additional healing that your spells will do.
Because of its linear application, this means that you’ll receive the maximum benefit of your Mastery when a target is at 1 HP and no benefit being applied when the target is at 100% HP. Your contribution between those two points can thus determined by the following equation:
Mastery bonus on heal = (1 – (% HP of Target/100)) x Maximum Mastery contribution
So, for a heal cast target who’s at 70% HP by a level 90 shaman who has only the base +39% Deep Healing, the calc would be:
Mastery bonus on heal = (1 – (70/100)) x 0.39
Mastery bonus on heal = 0.117 or 11.7% bonus healing
What Deep Healing Affects
Since 4.1, Mastery has operated under the following conditions:
- It will affect all single-target heals, including HW, HS, GHW, and UL
- It will affect all mutli-target heals, including CH and HR
- It will affect all of CH hits independently
- It will affect BOTH the initial hit of RT and the subsequent hot ticks (which will vary based on target HP at the time of the respective tick)
- It will affect HST and ES
- It will affect Earthliving’s ticks
- It will not affect the heal from Glyph of Cleansing Waters
- It will not double-dip on AA, meaning that AA’s heal will be 30% of the initial heal with no additional Mastery bonus applied.
- It will not affect the “healing” done by Spirit Link Totem
In Pandaria, it’s also important to remember:
- It will affect Healing Tide Totem
- Its affects will be transferred via Ascendance, but Ascendance’s healing will not be subject to an additional Mastery bonus. (For example, a base heal of 10,000 that becomes an effective heal of 10,500 subsequent to Mastery’s effects, will be duplicated by Ascendance as 10,500 and not subject to an additional Mastery bonus when the Ascendance heal is applied to a target).
Mastery v. Crit – The Great Debate
Although Resto Shaman (and theorycrafters) can delight in analyzing the benefits of three secondary stats, when it comes to a triage environment, there are really only two to consider—Mastery and Crit. Because of haste’s negative impact on Mp5, its HPS gain is offset by an increased demand for Spirit, something which will have a finite limit in every tier. This means that haste will continue to be limited by our available regen (and the duration of the encounter in question). So, with only two secondary stats to play with, the question then becomes, “which is more powerful—Crit or Mastery?” This was a question that I addressed at the start of Cataclysm in the monster post: Resto Shaman Mastery: The Complete Story. So, last week I dusted off the spreadsheets that I used in that analysis and started through the same process once again.
Now, there are several important factors to consider when analyzing Crit and Mastery. First, it’s important that we recognize that we’re dealing with two data sets—heals that can trigger Ancestral Awakening (ie: HS, GHW, HW, RT, UE) and heals that can’t trigger it (everything else). For heals that cannot trigger AA, the critical strike bonus is limited to 200%, but for heals that can trigger AA, the critical strike bonus becomes 200% + (2 x 30%) = 260%.
Second, it’s important to remember that Crit and Mastery are two factors which interact when contributing to the total value of a heal. In other words, if you are ever healing someone below 100% HP (which should be the case, with rare exception) you will be dealing with a contribution from both Mastery and Crit rating. This is why the analysis of Crit and Mastery isn’t simply setting Mastery = Crit, and solving for the HP % at which the contribution is the same. You have to include Mastery in both sides of the equation.
Which leads us to the third factor in this analysis—the amount of stats you have available to allocate. Because Crit and Mastery scale differently and are unequal in terms of conversion, we need to identify a budget of stats to work with during the course of our analysis so that we have a reasonable frame of reference. (Which is to say, it wouldn’t do us much good to try and model a Crit rating of 95% or 0%, nor would it be appropriate to model Mastery in the same way; we want to identify a reasonable range of values that we can expect to see in MoP). So, while I used 2000 in my Cataclysm analysis, it seemed more reasonable to work with a value of 4000 this time around to account for the stat inflation we’ll see on Pandaria gear. This equated to a range of 6-12% for Crit and 39-59% for Mastery.
So, where did all of these factors get me? To the point where I could, for a given base heal value, % HP, and ratio of Crit to Mastery, determine an average expected heal. Plotting those expected heals netted me the following graphs:
What does the two graphs tell us? A couple things:
- The HP values where the lines intersect are those points where Mastery has a greater impact on HPS than Crit. For spells that do not trigger AA, the data suggests a value of approximately 64%. For spells that do trigger AA, the data suggests a value of approximately 39%.
- The point of intersection between all these lines is NOT a constant.
This is, in fact, the same data behavior that was observed in Cataclysm. Whereas a theorycrafter might be inclined to think that the data would behave as if it had a single pivot point, in fact, it shows us that as you begin to stack more and more Mastery, the point of rotation (the point of intersection between that line and another) actually decreases. This behavior is something that can be illustrated if you take the data above a step farther, and look at the Mastery per Point of Healing. And that’s exactly what I did below, by dividing the total Mastery investment, in points, by the healing gain (expected heal – base healing value).
If the point where Mastery overtook Crit in terms of HPS benefit was a constant, the asymptotes implied by the above graphs would be stacked. Instead, you can see that they shift downwards, as I increased the percentage of my available stat budget that I invested into Mastery. Alternately, you could invert the data from the above, and look at the Healing Gain per point of Mastery, which is illustrated below:
Likewise, if Mastery versus Crit had a single breakpoint, you would get the same value when you compared the point of intersection between two lines. But, as I discovered through my analysis, the point of intersection for the Mastery-Crit combinations that I looked at varied:
- For heals that trigger AA, the breakpoint range was: ~40 – 46% HP
- For heals that don’t trigger AA, the breakpoint range was: ~64 – 66% HP
The relevant and actionable information that you can get from this look at Resto Shaman Mastery in Mists of Pandaria is twofold:
- The breakpoints have dropped, significantly, from where they were in Cataclysm. Mastery is not the standout king any longer.
- The breakpoints where Mastery contributes a greater amount of throughput than Crit are: approximately 43% HP for heals that can trigger AA, and approximately 65% for heals that can’t trigger AA.
With this information, it then becomes a question for each Resto Shaman to identify which heals make up the majority of your effective healing, and if encounter mechanics are hitting hard enough to drop your raid consistently below those Mastery v. Crit thresholds. In Cata, we absolutely saw fight mechanics and triage states where the raid simply could not be topped, and from what I’ve seen from testing thus far, there’s compelling enough evidence to suggest that that will be the case in MoP as well. But, with the breakpoints dropping to much lower levels than we saw in Cata, I don’t think Resto Shaman can continue to ignore Crit to the degree we did before. We may not be eloping with it any time soon, but it’s certainly worth rekindling a friendship with just in case Mastery starts to seem a little stale.