Spirit: Worth less but not Worthless

September 1, 2009 at 9:21 pm (5 mans, Gearing, Glyphs, Grouping, Mana, Raiding, Stats)

Spirit and Mp5 (mana per five seconds) look like two sides of the same coin. You get mana over time. That’s pretty much it. Yet as always, for the people who care about this sort of thing there is maths and graphs about which is the best and under what circumstances. Rather than laying out the decimal places and coefficients I want to just pick a few salient points which I think are useful.

Spirit Image

If you’re a Holy Priest Spiritual Guidance turns 25% of your Spirit into spell power. This means that unless Spirit turns out to be completely awful (which it isn’t) it’s much better for you than pure MP5 because of all the extra spell power it gives.

As a Shadow Priest you also get spell power from Spirit but it’s a little less. Glyph of Shadow and Twisted Faith each give you a nice 10% of your Spirit as Spell Power. This means that, whilst as a Shadow priest you don’t really need much extra spirit for mana, it’s at least a little bit of a DPS boost for you if you do happen to pick some up. On the whole as a Shadow Priest most of your mana will come from Shadow Fiend, Dispersion and Replenishment, but at least any Spirit on your gear is not wasted.

As a Discipline Priest there is no big bonus to Spirit. You get 6% more of it from Enlightenment, but you get no benefit from Spirit except for more mana. So as a Discipline Priest all you really care about is: “Which gives you more mana, Spirit or MP5?”

The answer to this question is: Intellect. Okay, so I cheated.

Intellect gives you much much better mana return than either Spirit or MP5. As a Discipline Priest with mana problems you solve them by stacking more Intellect. However, except for Gems and Enchants the gear choices you have are usually not between Intellect and Spirit, usually an item will have Intellect AND either MP5 or Spirit. So whilst Intellect is the best, knowing whether to prefer MP5 or Spirit is still useful.

Spirit returns more mana the more Intellect you have, so the better your Intellect is, the less bad Spirit is. Improving your intellect by 1% actually improves the value of Spirit to you by 0.5%. So just think, the difference between your Intellect when you first hit 80 and when you are farming Ulduar is probably 40%, so Spirit is 20% more valuable now than it was when you first hit 80! That doesn’t mean Spirit is the best thing, but it’s 20% less bad than it was.

The big problem with Spirit is that when you cast spells Spirit stops giving you any mana, any at all, for the next five seconds. So if you cast spells non stop, Spirit is returning you much less mana than when you are standing doing nothing. That’s why Meditation is so valuable, it means you get at least some benefit from Spirit.

Meditation only gives you half of what you could be getting, so the less often you’re casting spells the more the benefit you get from Spirit. This makes Spirit a very good questing stat. Sure, when you’re questing you’re killing mobs, but you’re also running, flying, looting, gathering, picking up quest items, and turning them in. All the time you are spending doing that stuff is time when you aren’t casting, and when you aren’t casting Spirit is filling your mana bar right up.

Conversely, for Boss fights Spirit is looking less attractive because, (despite how much talking and corpse running seems to happen in my raids,) you spend most of the important time casting spells. So for these situations you’re getting that reduced amount of benefit from Spirit.

Now that doesn’t necessarily make Spirit a bad raiding stat – so far we’re just looking at the mechanics. What is going to be important is the numbers – How much Intellect you have, what talents you have, and how much time you spend casting.

To try and nail it down – If you’re a Holy Priest then ignore MP5 and stack Spirit. If you’re a Shadow Priest ignore MP5 and if you get Spirit from gear then so be it. As a Discipline Priest – things are actually close.

Because as a Discipline Priest you have Mental Strength and probably Blessing of Kings you’ve got that extra Intellect to improve your Spirit Regen. You’ve got that extra 6% Spirit from Enlightenment. This makes Spirit less bad for you.

As a specific example, my Priest has about 1400 Intellect raid buffed. During a typical boss fight I spend around 90% of my time only getting that reduced level of Spirit Regen from Meditation. In these circumstances 1 point of Spirit is worth about 0.4 mana per five seconds. That’s not quite as bad as it seems because you usually get twice as much Spirit on an item as you get MP5. So you ought to really compare two points of Spirit to one pointof MP5. Two points of Spirit are therefore worth 0.8 mana per five seconds. Spirit is thus 20% worse than pure MP5 would be. If I had less Intellect it would be even worse, if I spent less time casting it would be better.

Whilst that’s not great, lets be practical. No piece of gear is perfect. Usually you’d like more Intellect, or less Stamina. Sometimes the set bonuses are not great, but otherwise the gear is nice. Sometimes the set bonus is fantastic but otherwise the gear is awful. You have to make compromises. When it comes to Spirit, yes, you’d rather Intellect, or even MP5 instead of Spirit, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s only 20% worse than MP5 would be, and if trading some MP5 for some Spirit means you gain some more Crit, or more Haste or a better set bonus then that may well be a good deal.

I think the point to take away from this is that Spirit is not awful. It even has places where it’s quite good. If you’re questing Spirit is great. If you’re raiding, it’s not the best (by a long shot) but it’s not worthless. Indeed, given it’s pretty hard to avoid getting 1000 or so Spirit nowadays think of it this way: That Spirit is probably saving you from having to gem for an extra 4-500 Intellect. Because you have all that Spirit you can put Spell Power gems in your red sockets instead of being force to get more Intellect. Spirit is not entirely wasted on you.

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