Mana Problems in Mists of Pandaria Beta

NOTE: Since my original posting, Blizzard has changed Vampiric Touch to restore 3% mana every time it does damage (18% mana returned per cast, assuming no clipping on refresh). This should largely fix our mana problems, especially in multi-DoT situations. The points raised in this post are still valid but should be seen from the perspective of mana costs for abilities and why Vampiric Touch is our go-to for mana regen now.

As I have mentioned previously, mana regen is a huge problem in the Mists of Pandaria beta test for Shadow Priests. Before I dive in to the math, allow me to list out the current sources of mana regeneration and the costs of all spells associated.

Mana Regenerators
Dispersion 6% every 1 second for 6 seconds = 36% = 36k @ 85, 72k @ 90; 2 minute CD = 1500mp5 @ 85, 3000mp5 @ 90 (average)
Shadowfiend 3% per attack for 15sec, 10 attacks total = 30% = 30k @ 85, 60k @ 90; 4min CD = 1250mp5 @ 85, 2500mp5 @ 90 (average) worst case; 2min CD with losts of Mind Flay casts = 2500mp5 @ 85, 5000mp5 @ 90 (average) best case
Hymn of Hope 2% every 2 seconds for 8 seconds = 8% = 8k @ 85, 16k @ 90; 6 minute CD = 111mp5 @ 85, 222mp5 @ 90 (average)
Base in-combat regen 1.25% every 5 seconds (average) = 1250 mp5 @ 85, 2500mp5 @ 90

Core Spells

Spell Mana Cost (%) Mana Cost (@ 90)
Mind Blast 3% 6000
Mind Flay 1% 2000
Mind Sear 6% 12000
Mind Spike 3% 6000
Shadow Word: Death 2.6% 5200
Shadow Word: Pain 4.4% 8800
Shadowy Apparition 0% 0
Vampiric Touch 3% 6000

Situational

Spell Mana Cost (%) Mana Cost (@ 90)
Dispel Magic 2.6% 5200
Fade 3.5% 7000
Fear Ward 0.9% 1800
Leap of Faith 2.6% 5200
Levitate 0.9% 1800
Mass Dispel 38% 76000
Mind Vision 1% 2000
Power Word: Fortitude 4.4% 8800
Power Word: Shield 6.2% 12400
Psychic Horror 0% 0
Psychic Scream 3% 6000
Shackle Undead 9% 18000
Silence 0.9% 1800

Talented/Spec’d

Spell Mana Cost (%) Mana Cost (@ 90) Notes
T1 / Level 15
Void Tendrills 4% 8000  
Psyfiend 4% 8000  
Dominate Mind 2% 4000  
T2 / Level 30 None
T3 / Level 45 None with mana cost
T4 / Level 60 None with mana cost
T5 / Level 75
Power Infusion 6% 1800 Reduces mana cost by 20% for 15sec
T6 / Level 90
Cascade 14% 28000  
Divine Star 7% 14000  
Halo 28% 56000  

So what does this all mean? The table below outlines the amount of time it would take to go from 0% mana (@ 90) to 100% under various circumstances. NOTE: I did not include Hymn of Hope in the following table because it does not decrease any of the combination times except for moving Just in-combat regen to 366sec (2 casts of Hymn of Hope).

Condition Rate Time (sec) Notes
Just in-combat regen 2500mp5 400sec  
In-combat and Shadowfiend (worst case) 3125mp5 320sec Two Shadowfiend casts total:
Cast one = 0sec (13.75% @ 15sec)
Cast Two = 240sec (83.75% @ 255sec)
In-combat and Shadowfiend (best case) 3571mp5 280sec Three Shadowfiend casts total:
Cast one = 0sec (13.75% @ 15sec)
Cast Two = 120sec (53.75% @ 135sec)
Cast Three = 240sec (93.75% @ 255sec)
In-combat and Dispersion 7937mp5 126sec Two Dispersion casts total:
Cast one = 0sec (37.5% @ 6sec)
Cast Two = 120sec (100% @ 126sec)
In-combat, Dispersion, and Shadowfiend (either case) 8065mp5 124sec Two Dispersion casts and One Shadowfiend cast total:
Dispersion cast one = 0sec (41.5% @ 6sec)
Shadowfiend cast one = 0sec (46% @ 15sec)
Dispersion cast two = 120sec (100% @ 124sec)

Something very important to keep in mind that this is how long it would take you to go from 0% mana to 100% mana while in combat and while not casting any other spells! If you run OOM on a boss fight (and believe me, you will), here is a rundown of how long it will take you to be able to cast each spell given that your Dispersion, Shadow Fiend, and Hymn of Hope are all on cooldown:

Spell Mana Cost (@ 90) Time Before Cast
Core Spells
Mind Blast 6000 12sec
Mind Flay 2000 4sec
Mind Sear 12000 24sec
Mind Spike 6000 12sec
Shadow Word: Death 5200 10.4sec
Shadow Word: Pain 8800 17.6sec
Shadowy Apparition 0 0sec
Vampiric Touch 6000 12sec
Situational
Dispel Magic 5200 10.4sec
Fade 7000 14sec
Fear Ward 1800 3.6sec
Leap of Faith 5200 10.4sec
Levitate 1800 3.6sec
Mass Dispel 76000 152sec
Mind Vision 2000 4sec
Power Word: Fortitude 8800 17.6sec
Power Word: Shield 12400 24.8sec
Psychic Horror 0 0sec
Psychic Scream 6000 12sec
Shackle Undead 18000 36sec
Silence 1800 3.6sec
Talented / Spec’d
Void Tendrills 8000 16sec
Psyfiend 8000 16sec
Dominate Mind 4000 8sec
Power Infusion 12000 24sec
Cascade 28000 56sec
Divine Star 14000 28sec
Halo 56000 112sec

It should be noted, however, that if you have Power Infusion as a talent, it will reduce the mana cost of spells by 20% for 15 seconds. The following table assumes that you have Power Infusion cast upon yourself. NOTE: Think of this table as “this is how long I would need to wait in order to cast one of these spells if I also had enough mana for Power Infusion on top of it.” This is NOT how you would use this spell in a real situation, rather you would want to cast this spell at the beginning of a fight or after you have used Dispersion to increase your longevity on the mana you have.

Spell Mana Cost (@ 90) Time Before Cast
Core Spells
Mind Blast 4800 9.6sec
Mind Flay 1600 3.2sec
Mind Sear 9600 19.2sec
Mind Spike 4800 9.6sec
Shadow Word: Death 4160 8.32sec
Shadow Word: Pain 7040 17.6sec
Shadowy Apparition 0 0sec
Vampiric Touch 4800 9.6sec
Situational
Dispel Magic 4160 8.32sec
Fade 5600 11.2sec
Fear Ward 1440 2.88sec
Leap of Faith 4160 8.32sec
Levitate 1440 2.88sec
Mass Dispel 60800 121.6sec
Mind Vision 1600 3.2sec
Power Word: Fortitude 7040 14.08sec
Power Word: Shield 9920 19.84sec
Psychic Horror 0 0sec
Psychic Scream 4800 9.6sec
Shackle Undead 14400 28.8sec
Silence 1440 2.88sec
Talented / Spec’d
Void Tendrills 6400 12.8sec
Psyfiend 6400 12.8sec
Dominate Mind 3200 6.4sec
Power Infusion 9600 19.2sec
Cascade 22400 44.8sec
Divine Star 11200 22.4sec
Halo 44800 89.6ec

As you can see, when you run out of mana and don’t have a cooldown available, you’re dead in the water and not contributing at all to your party’s DPS. This happens. A LOT. At this point it appears that for longevity reasons, it may be a better idea to take Power Infusion over Divine Insight for your Tier 6 / Level 75 talent (NOTE: DI is bugged at the moment and ALWAYS procs on a Mind Blast hit, causing the number of SW: Death casts to rise, which is also contributing towards going OOM).

This is something that Blizzard has to, otherwise Shadow as a raiding spec is infeasible even under the best of conditions.

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