Anyone who frequents the Icy Veins Forums (the Shaman section, at least) will know that I am a huge proponent of planned cooldown rotations. I never shut up about them. I’m of the opinion that “raid cooldown choerography” is one of the most important things to distinguish yourself as a good Resto Shaman. I mean, we have so damn many of them that you’d be stupid not to use them. With that in mind, an interesting (exhaustively well made) post about raid cooldowns caught my eye a week or so ago. The general gist (for Shaman) was that;
- Spirit Link Totem is awesome, use Spirit Link Totem.
- Ascendance outperforms Healing Tide Totem when used optimally
- Ancestral Guidance is insane. Literally nuts-in-the-salad ridiculous.
While 1. came as no surprise to me, 2. was interesting (I had my suspicions) and 3. was a downright shock! I was initially sceptical (coming up with several possible reasons for a misleading result) but the research was genuinely well executed and the only question I had un-answered was does it do that well in reality? Good question, that one. Let’s start by showing off the numbers;
|Spell||Healing (“total”)||Healing (rotation subtracted)||Healing (with EM)|
|Healing Tide Totem||2.5M||2.5M||???|
That is a BIG difference in healing! (See the original post for caveats on the numbers; rotation required, gear assumptions, calculations, etc. The ??? signifies that it’s somewhat challenging to predict what HTT will do with Haste stacking.)
So: what happens in reality? Well I decided to take my current Haste build for testing and use Ancestral Guidance on Megaera to see how it stacked up. I tried my best to use Ancestral Guidance and Ascendance both optimally on two Rampages each, here is the log. You can see massive peaks in the healing where each Rampage happened. As a side observation, all the mana was spent in the low-HPS phases rather than the peak phases.
To properly interpret this data let’s first make sense of the cooldown rotation that we had set up. Since what we got was sliiightly different to what we planned, this is as close as I can tell what happened;
- AG + Fire Elemental + Power Word: Barrier
- Ascendance Macro
- Spirit Link Totem + Earth Elemental + Tranquillity
- Ancestral Guidance used with Elemental Mastery + PWB
- Fire Elemental + Devotion Aura + Tranquillity
- Ascendance Macro (Ancestral Guidance on cooldown)
So we see six peaks in the Healing graph. What I notice immediately is that the two where I used neither Ascendance or AG had no real peak for me personally (as of right now it’s refusing to plot a whole-team graph). In contrast, one of my peaks when using Ascendance is almost 400k HPS. Holy. Fucking. Damn.
Anyway, looking at the more sane table of healing values we find that overall Ascendance and AG did similar numbers of effective healing. AG did 5.8M healing to Ascendance’s 5.66M and AG overhealed by 52% compared to Ascendance’s 75%. You read that right: seventy five percent overhealing. Insanity. Taking account of the fact that both Ascendances used EM but one AG did not, I calculated the (approximate) distribution of healing done by spell, not taking into account health-levels;
|Spell||Healing (Million)||Total Healing (Million)|
So as predicted Ancestral Guidance does appear to outperform Ascendance under similar conditions. However this is only really a first-order analysis; in reality the situations on each Rampage were much different. As Dedralie pointed out in the comments of her article, the mean health percentage of the raid goes down on each successive Rampage, so there is always an effect where Mastery is pushing Ascendance higher than AG (since I used it on average later in the fight). In addition, the overhealing says a lot about each cooldown. Neglecting the effect of mean health percentages for now, consider the potential reasons for each mechanic overhealing;
- AG is a very smart heal – it will only really overheal when the players on lowest health in the stack are at higher health than 60% of the heal you just cast.
- Ascendance is NOT a smart heal; each raid member gets 10% of the healing you do each second. If one person is more damaged, they get less overhealing. The effectiveness then depends on how spread out the raid damage is (one of the reasons that you REALLY want to use SLT with Ascendance).
- Ascendance has a longer duration; considering that the other healers will be working hard to top the raid, it’s more likely to have time where the raid is at overall high HP. In that sense, it is MUCH more likely to overheal than AG.
Now this all so far points to Ascendance being the biggest overhealer (as observed), but then in addition consider that at higher HP, all of the above mechanics become more likely. That means that using cooldowns early in a fight will almost always cause more overhealing than when they are used late. So; why would you want to use cooldowns early? Simple answer: it does more healing overall, even if it overheals more. Consider the rotation I used in comparison to just using each once, towards the end of the fight. Even in an optimistic case of low (~25%) overhealing on only one use of each cooldown, using it only once produces roughly the same overall healing as the realistic case – in reality you will see a significant drop in overall healing.
When we take a look at the total healing done by each spell inclusive of overhealing, which should be a more close test of the hypothesis, we find that;
|Effective Healing (M)||Overheal (fractional)||Total Healing (M)|
I ran these numbers through the same kind of analysis which I used for the total healing numbers. This is done by calculating the ratio of predicted healing values between each cooldown with and without Elemental Mastery active (taken from comments in the post mentioned earlier) and dividing the healing from each spell up appropriately. This method was also used to account for the increase in healing under the effect of Heroism. The numbers are shown in the graph below;
We can see that the predictions for healing values for Ancestral Guidance are reasonably accurate, with a very small difference between the predicted values (from the post mentioned earlier), which is an encouraging sign. More interesting is that Ascendance appears to have healed for a massive amount more than predicted! This is a significant discovery because it implies that there is a flaw in the way that we formulate the healing that Ascendance can do for us.
At this point it occurred to me that you can do another interesting thing using World of Logs; you can select a subset of time in a fight and re-analyse your data for just that time period. Normally I would say this isn’t that useful apart from for e-peen measuring, but now it represents a method of measuring precisely how much each cooldown healed (to 7 significant figures, no less!). It was somewhat laborious to get the data, but below you will see the actual accurate amount which each use of each cooldown healed.
|Spell||Healing (M)||Total Heal (M)|
I went as far as to calculate how much of a difference that amounts to. Below, you can see the results – we have clearly systematically underestimated Ascendance as a raid cooldown in terms of raw healing output.
You can also see from the graph above that the esitmates I made to get to the previous graph are somewhat off, but are nevertheless a good approximation of the real data. Importantly, my approximations over-estimated the skew in the distribution of healing by Ascendance. This is, I believe, indicative of the effects of mean health percentages in the raid. That is to say, I think that the average healthbars were different on each use of Ascendance and that this compensated for the difference due to Heroism on Ascendance 2. Either way, we can still clearly see how ridiculously we have under-estimated the power of Ascendance for the raid.
You can also see that the usage of Ancestral Guidance was somewhat below the predicted value. I would say that this is partly because the average healthbars weren’t at the ~40% assumption that was made in predicting the original values. In addition, I would say that my gear is somewhat below the gear assumed in the original post, AND I’d say that my usage was somewhat sub-optimal. With all this in mind, I conclude that it is entirely possible to use Ancestral Guidance to the amount that the theorycraft has previously predicted. The potential still does not meet Ascendance, even if used optimally.
Remember that in many cases you will not be able to gain the advantage of a fully stacked raid – in this case Ancestral Guidance will not be optimized. In this case, or in the case where you have to do a lot of movement, Healing Tide Totem will still be your best healing cooldown. However, if you can get that cooldown optimized, it will rock your world!
To finish this post, I’d like to thank Dayani (the original poster of the theorycraft) for a really awesome chance to do what is essentially science, but for WoW. I loved it! I really think that in terms of Healing, we do a lot of Theorycraft (i.e. formulation) and not a lot of “Experimentalcraft” (i.e. proper testing of the theories). I always feel that this is where the healing Theorycraft community falls down a bit, and I’d like to see more rigorous testing of hypotheses out there.