|This post was originally written during Mists of Pandaria. Its content may be outdated due to changes that come with expansion packs. Please consider this while reading.
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I’ve begun noticing whenever I look at Skada data and logs of under-performing Resto druids, one very common mistake being made is under-utilisation of Innervate. Innervate is often cast once, late in the fight, when mana is low. It’s understandable that people play that way – in Wrath of the Lich King, you’d be more likely to Innervate some DPS than yourself, mana wasn’t an issue. I remember the frame of mind well, but it’s no longer correct to simply Innervate when you are running low on mana. Over the course of Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, mana has become a real thing requiring actual attention from healers. No longer is it simply a pretty blue bar that separates the ranged and healers from the melee and tanks.
Mana today is something that you want to spend. Think of it as a type of money, one that you can’t save to buy your girlfriend an iPad. Unfortunately, all it’s good for is casting spells. So use as much as possible to cast those spells!
If nothing’s broke, why fix it?
You might think you can manage fine as is without Innervating. You don’t *need* the extra mana. The answer to this is pretty simple: You have too much spirit. Spirit that could be reforged/re-gemmed/re-enchanted into mastery. Mastery, in turn, makes your heals much more powerful. So basically, if you’re not managing your mana properly, that means you are sitting on wasted stats. This is very much the sort of thing that is the difference between a really excellent resto druid and a mediocre one.
How frequently should Innervate be cast?
As many times as the fight allows. To get a rough goal, work out how long an encounter may last for, and divide that by 3. 7 minute fight? Innervate 3 times. 11 minute fight? 4 times. 4 minute fight? Twice.
One method I use for maintaining Innervate usage is picking out an early deficit I’ll cast it at – I prefer to Innervate when I’m down to around 80% mana, and I usually regen most or all of it. After that, I’ll use it on cooldown, and I’ll remind myself to check at other deficit marks – 50%, 30%, 20%, etc. The idea is, you don’t want your Innervate to be wasted in the sense that it is regenning mana when you are already at 100%, but you don’t have to be afraid of being back close to full mana 60-90 seconds into a fight. In fact, it’s good practice.
Why should I Innervate so often?
You begin a fight with 300,000 mana. The amount of actual mana available for you to spend is that 300,000, PLUS any mana gained through passive regen (combat regen), PLUS any mana gained through active regen abilities such as Innervate (as well as Hymn of Hope, Mana Tide, etc). On a given fight, you might actually be able to spend somewhere close to 1,000,000 mana. With 12k spirit, Innervate restores 60,000 mana. That’s a lot of spells you could have cast! If you are a once per fight Innervate-r, squeezing out just another 2 is nearly equivalent to half your starting mana pool in extra, usable mana on each fight.
On the subject of spirit, it can be difficult to detect when you have “too much” mana. I find when I do, I get lazy, and so I usually spend all my mana pretty well anyway, but a lot of the time that’s thanks to a not-too-healthy dose of spam. between 12k-14k mana is generally suitable for 5.4. The better you are at your mechanics, the less you need. Beyond 14k I feel is excessive. I run at a little over 10k, but I am generally equipping the Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity – the epicly named trinket that has a very good spirit proc. I am keen to drop lower but I need some improvement before I feel comfortable doing so.