09 September 2008

Spellpower: Choosing pants for WotLK

I mentioned in the last post that I was thinking about taking the [Grovewalker's Leggings] when I get 100 Badges of Justice. I might still take tanking leggings instead, but the more interesting question I considered is whether I should take the [Crystalwind Leggings] instead.

First, some background: I plan to level as either Balance or Balance/Resto (Restokin) in WotLK. Along the way -- and at 80 -- I will probably respec to full Resto more than once to heal through instance runs. From what I've seen, these pants (either way) will probably last me until the high 70s at least and might well last into level 80 heroics. So the choice is fairly significant, not just for now, but also for Wrath.

Today, it's a basic question. Are you a healer or a DPS caster? The answer is more foggy in Wrath of the Lich King with the advent of Spellpower. The distinction between healing and casting items -- between +Spell Damage and +Healing -- fades away and is replaced with utilitarian Spellpower. Both items will have an identical +61 Spellpower. Neither will have more or less raw healing or casting power.

We'll end up with the following (including socket bonuses):

               Grovewalker   Crystalwind     Difference
Stamina +36 +36 0
Intellect +42 +40 +2
Spirit +47 +32 +15
Sockets B, R B, Y
Spell Power +61 +65 -4
Crit 0 +28 -28
So, the 'healer' Grovewalker pants will have greater spirit but reduced healing power and crit. That's an interesting tradeoff in itself, but then I look at the way talents are evolving in the beta. It's pretty clear that the Tree of Life aura will no longer work on Spirit; instead it will be a straight 3% increase to healing received. That already makes the Grovewalker pants less interesting.

But then I start to look at spell rotations. I can't say for sure -- I'm not in the beta -- but it really seems like Blizzard is working hard to deemphasize Lifebloom and instead encourage us to use more Regrowth and Healing Touch in particular. And that suddenly makes Crit a valuable tool for some kinds of healing. Moreover, the Nautre's Grace talent is now more accessible as the 11-point Balance talent, so I might well be able to take it in a resto build. That means that spell crits will now reduce casting time -- making Crit even more important.

The only motivation towards spirit is pretty vague at this point. There have been some forum posts that hint Blizzard is going to emphasize mana regen a bit more, and specifically out-of-combat regen requiring Spirit. I'm not sure that I see how this will work yet though; if I'm in combat then spirit is 70% (Dreamstate) less important; if I'm out of combat then I'll just drink anyway. I believe they're going to try to do what they say, but there's a good chance it will either not work out or that the mechanics may change.

All this leads me to believe that the choice is pretty tough, but that the Crystalwind pants may be the way to go. The Crit will be seriously helpful for a moonkin, and pretty useful for a tree too; on the other hand, the spirit will be probably unimportant for the moonkin and maybe unimportant for the healer.

I won't hit 100 BoJ for a few days at best, so I'll be wathching beta news closely until then. I'm sure things will change. Hopefully we'll know more soon!

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