I've been a pretty busy little mage as of late, hence the lack of time for my blog here, so I thought I'd get things rolling with something from awhile back (from something I posted in the Avalon guild forums) that never made it into my space here.
Namely, I was interested in the current state of spirit, it's usefulness to a mage and how it has scaled under the common circumstances of 25-man raiding of today. Mages are known for their lengthy and obsessive theorycrafting over dps, but I feel that they do so to the detriment of taking near as much time to consider and understand mana regen as well.
An average mage of today has around 200 spirit (which may or may not be even a noticable improvement over what we had at level 60), even though everything else has scaled upwards (in some cases rather dramatically) since then. This is not the fault of mages however, as much as it is itemization decisions Blizzard has made that have punished mages.
In the interest of trying to finger at what point spirit-based in combat mana regen will allow a mage (like myself) to be self-sufficient independently of shadow priest support, I posed the question. Initial estimation pointed towards 1700 spirit being the point at which I could simply cast fireball over and over without going out of mana. In fact, without my mana bar moving much at all...
Someone else theorized, allowing the mage to actually finish at 0 mana at the 10 minute mark (effectively making them perfectly tuned for maximum sustained dps over the length of an SSC-level fight, provided all bosses in SSC were Golemagg ~ haha) brings that figure down to roughly 1100 spirit ~ still not allowing for the use of Mana Pots, which I suspect would bring that down to about 700-800 spirit, but that's just a ballpark guess. And again, this would be for a fully sustained fight, with no interrupts, which no longer exist.
Still unrealistic, I know, but it provides a workable upper end for figuring out where the potency/quantity of spirit for a mage needs to be.
Next I was interested in finding out just how long my present mana pool can last... I could have just done a Dr. Boom test and found out in 5 minutes, but it seemed important to factor in full raid buffs, since no one really cares how long you can last unbuffed.
Factoring in:*219 unbuffed spirit (my current *at the time of the calculation)
*Blessing of Kings
*Blessing of Wisdom
*Well Fed +20 spirit
*Evocation with Staff of Divine Spirit and Flawless Wand of Spirit swapped in
*Elixir of Draenic Wisdom
*Super Mana Potions
*Mana Emerald, Ruby, Citrine, Jade (didn't last long enough to use the Jade though)
During hard 100% sustained nuking (scorch+fireball), breaking only to use Evocation and allowing for some latency, the point at which I ran out of means to replenish mana (ie. all cooldowns were down) and went effectively OOM was 5 minutes 48 seconds.
Ick, I know. I was about a minute shy of my mana pot cooldown coming up. It's also not a realistic boss scenario either.
My mana returns over this time, from various sources:
Mage Armor: 4623 mana
Blessing of Wisdom: 2747 mana
Clearcasting: 4800 mana (not spent at all, subject to considerable variance over such a short period of time)
Master of Elements: 4611 mana (subject to considerable variance over such a short period of time)
Mana Potions: 7200 mana (subject to a small amount of variance)
Mana Gems: 3200 mana (subject to very little variance)
Evocation: 7035 mana
Unfortunately, the only two ways to effectively improve any of these figures (most of them simply don't get better, short of casting lower dps, but more mana efficient spells a la Scorch) is via spell crit or spirit. Now as much as I'd like to say, double my spell crit, I'm not really sure that's going to happen. All it would have taken is a small boost in one area to get me over that hump to the next mana pot cooldown, and I would last upwards of 2 minutes longer.
So we have the current reality, somewhere in the ballpark of 200ish spirit and the magical wonderland where we have 700-800 spirit and all problems are solved. There has to be a better, more ideal place in the middle somewhere ~ perhaps even solved by Blizzard doubling either the amount or effectiveness of spirit. Even though I scoffed at the idea of that being enough earlier, it might not be that bad...