In the past week I've been getting back into some ten-man fun: We killed the first two bosses in the new raid instance and finally downed Yogg-Saron in Ulduar. It was great fun all around, but it also served as a reminder of just how much I hate replenishment, or rather not having it when it's so badly needed.
Despite of Blizzard's assurances that it's considered mandatory for all raiding and should be easy to come by now that five different classes can potentially provide it, I'm finding myself without it all too often. In fact I've done all the ten-mans mostly without it. So far I've managed, but it's been really painful in many respects.
The thing about replenishment is that it's not really a buff, it's a binary state of being: either you have it and it will be virtually impossible to deplete your mana bar, or you don't have it and will barely be able to make it to the end of a boss fight if you're sufficiently overgeared, pull every trick in the book to squeeze some extra mana out of various sources, and then hope that the raid gets lucky during the last thirty seconds of the boss fight as you stand in the back, completely out of mana and cooldowns, and just shoot at the big bad with your wand.
Unfortunately I can't find a quote on it right now, but I distinctly seem to remember that when the developers decided to get rid of Blessing of Salvation, a blue poster said something along the lines of not wanting any class or spec to be absolutely manadatory for raiding just because of some buff they have. This affected shadow priests too, and even though I was shadow myself at the time and enjoying it, I could still see the logic behind it. I mean, people were nearly getting into fights over who would get to be in a party with me. So normalising shadow's damage output while nerfing vampiric touch and its mana regeneration aspect seemed sensible.
I don't know when and how that turned into: "Actually, let's keep it, give a mass mana regen ability to five different classes and make it required for every raid." And I really wish it hadn't, because it's stupid.
I don't know the actual mp5 values for the old vampiric touch and replenishment as it is now, it might have been somewhat reduced in power actually, but in many respects it's only become more powerful than ever. At least in BC the buff was only party-wide, and depended on the shadow priest actually dps-ing and doing it well. If they got stunned, feared or otherwise incapacitated by a boss there was no mana regen, or very little if they played badly. Now a retribution paladin just has to auto-attack and judge whenever it's on cooldown, and ten people in the whole raid get fifteen seconds of guaranteed mana regen.
You'd think that with how many classes can now provide replenishment there really shouldn't be a problem getting it anyway, but that's not true either. Retri paladins are pretty much the only reliable replenishers I've seen. Shadow priests try it as well, but due to the effect only triggering from a vampiric touch and mind blast combo, there are situations where they simply won't get much of a chance to make it happen (think of things like Thorim's arena). I also thought that hunters could be relied on to provide replenishment since survival is everyone's favourite raiding spec at the moment, but only last night our hunter leader showed up to our raid as survival without replen, simply because he preferred to put those particular talent points into talents that boost his personal damage output. Warlocks come in all kinds of flavours so getting one that provides the buff is very hit-or-miss. And frost mages? Are you kidding me? That's no help at all, considering all raiding mages these days are fire or arcane.
When I complained about having to raid without replen yet again last night everybody just mocked me. "Oh look, Shintar's whining about mana regen again." They know that I'll keep them alive somehow. But I don't think any of them, even the dps warrior with the windfury addiction, appreciates just how extremely frustrating it is to rely so completely on another class's buffs to be able to do your job properly.
Now just to clarify, I don't actually want endless mana. I do think that having to watch cooldowns and conserving mana is part of a healer's job. But when I use my shadow fiend twice during a fight, pop inner focus and my regen trinket whenever they are on cooldown, use a mana potion, get innervated, and still people die at the end of the fight because I was out of mana, even though I'm fully kitted out with gear from one tier up on the raid ladder, and it's all because I'm missing a single buff, something is seriously wrong in my book.
In my ideal world the developers would just admit that replenishment was a bad idea, scrap it, and then buff everyone's mana regeneration ever so slightly to enable them to play without it again while not giving anyone endless mana pools. A woman can dream.