Mana regen and why it's bad for the game

I was pretty surprised to see a nerf to mana regen in the recent patch notes honestly. Starting out I don’t know why aRPGs in general is stuck in this rigid system without even giving it a second thought.

With mana regen as a core concept there is two possible scenarios when you play a game:

  1. You’re character feels bad, slugish and slow when you don’t have enough recovery.

  2. You don’t even notice the system in place.

There is ultimately no in between. It’s a do or die situation. So why are we stuck with a archaic system like this in modern aRPGs? There is a lot of different systems that can be put in a game to restrict ability spam if that is the goal, this can be done while the player is active. Having to stand around waiting for your mana to recover has never been a fun way to play a game. I honestly cannot come up with a good reason to have a system that so severally limits a player’s enjoyment of a game.

It’s especially bad when you’re leveling in the current game I feel. At low levels I feel like I get punished when I can’t handle the high mana cost of my spells. In a lot of the boss fights I just end up using my default ability and nothing else. Why bother with a costly ability that in the end lowers my DPS because I can’t use my default ability?

I’m sure something can be said about late game itemization, but is that really the only reason to keep a system as bad as this in the game?


There could be some innovation in this area. I actually prefer cooldown mechanics for skills that need to be use restricted. I do like the idea of a mana pool (or whatever the game calls it). I like the idea of using an alternate pool for new ways to mitigate damage (like damage dealt to mana before HP). I also like the idea of reserving the pool for passive effects. I would prefer Holy Aura reserved mana than being free with an active use cost.

Basically, I like the mana pool for reasons other than actively casting skills. :confused:


The alternative is that every skill has a cooldown with higher damage / AoE skills have higher cooldowns than lower damage / single target skills, or every skill has the same damage/AoE/etc in order to balance them.

What would your solution to the issue of restricting the usage of high damage skills be?

Fortunately the devs have given every class ways to regain mana so they can use their more expensive skills. Just because you don’t want to use them doesn’t mean they are bad or don’t exist.


I don’t think high mana skills should be just big damage. They should have other debilitating effects. Those effects themselves should have cooldowns in most cases so they can’t be chained. Earthquake is a prime example of that with the stun lock abuse.

Instead of the mana system that has been around forever, they could have stuff that manipulates cooldowns. They already have some affixes that reduce them.

WoW has a rogue skill that has a high cooldown that resets the cooldowns of your other skills.


reverting base mana regen from 8 back to 10 would be perfect (considering the patch buffs to % mana regen increases on gear and on passives). That would hit a happy medium for all.

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No, it wouldn’t. Just as the OP said, both sides are not great. Advocating for the side that makes mana not matter is silly. If mana doesn’t matter because regen is so high, what is the point in even having mana? Just make all skills free and use cooldowns.

I have been playing a shaman in the recent patch and have had zero mana issues. The “nerf” did nothing.

If I were to experiment with “mana”, I would change it to an MP pool. It would be denoted by some low number of pips, like 4. So you would basically have 4 MP points. MP would have its own “skill” set. There could be a generic set of MP skills and there could be sets of class MP skills. Maybe the Sorcerer could have a “skill” that reduced cooldowns by 15% and it cost 1 MP. The MP points would be spent just like skill points. Spellblade could have one that reduced damage taken by 10% (this would represent the damage dealt to MP before HP kind of thing). A generic MP skill could be “10% more spell damage”.

On top of that, class skills like Holy Aura could reserve a MP point to always be active.

All skills would have no cost, but would instead be balanced around cooldowns. There could be other balances for attack skills that cost mana but can be spammed (Like Shatter Strike) where maybe you could spend 3 or 4 of your MP to make the skill have no (or minimal) CD.

The MP Skills would need to be respecced to get the MP point back. Class skills, like Holy Aura, could just be toggled off to get the MP point back.


That sounds interesting at least.

I think the reason Garfunkel came to the conclusion that it was just a matter of reverting the mana regen changes in the patch was because of my post. I admit it was overly focused on the negative effect on gameplay that insufficient mana recovery has. But I don’t want to put words in his mouth.

That being said, as I mentioned in my post, there is a lot of interesting ways that games could restrict the player from just using the “powerful” abilities outside of the bland mana system. Yours is a good example and I bet you didn’t even have to think that long about it either.

Not all classes are equal on mana. Beastmaster got 0 mana /mana regen passives. And with Storm Crow skill huge 50 mana cost + Howl + War Cry + Totem it costs a lot to cast.

I had to respec Thunderous blast skill in Storm Crow skill tree because no reason to have -% cooldown on the Crow abilty when it costs that much. I just don’t have enough mana all the time.

I am doing Storm Crow, Storm Totem, and Tempest Strike. It’s hard for me to spend my mana unless I just sit there and spam the totem for no reason. I use the crow’s ability off CD when on a boss too. I haven’t specced any mana regen on tree or items purposefully. I may never.

Maybe that would get easier later in game but atm (I"m lvl 34) it is pita. 31 mana for Howl, 50 - Storm Crow ability, War Cry - 19, Leap -20. And I only have 102 mana pool.

Whether you like mana regen or not, it is such a difficult thing to balance across all levels and skills. Consider the factors in setting a base mana regen:

  • Cooldowns exist for some skills not others
  • Some skills cost health instead of mana
  • Some builds spam skills indirectly, via minions
  • Some players want 5 active skills, others use 1 or none
  • Some active skills chain with others, other active skills synergise with nothing else.
  • Some builds and classes are inherently tanky, while others are glass cannon
  • Early game mana items need to be weak, end game items need to be strong
  • Enemies provide a variety of situations to deal with. Some are high damage, low health. Some are ridiculously high health, some are swarms, some are continuous swarms, some have phases, some are invulnerable, most have an AOE clear the screen ability of death which means players must stand in a particular spot to stay alive.
  • Some skills have mana reduction choices, some do not.

Now if you get the balance ‘wrong’ because you have too many plates in the air to ever get it ‘right’, you get legitimate critiques of the system as found in this thread:

  • A whole lot of skills are now gated by cooldowns and mana, so players just stand around and wait, which does feels bad
  • A build which can use health instead of mana gets a huge advantage over the mana builds. Do we now nerf the health cost builds to oblivion? Do we really have time to check health costs, life regen, leech when we change a number for mana regen?
  • A low damage, many cast build (say applying poisons via hungering souls) now has mana to manage, so now has no stat slots for either damage or defence, so becomes unappealing vs having, say skeleton mages apply the poison for you. Both builds become F-tier vs end game content because your clear speed either becomes ungodly slow, or your skeletons get wiped en masse. (In 3 years of acolyte builds, show me one that uses the poison nodes on skeleton mages or hungering souls… in fact, show me more than one that does not scale crit as it’s damage source)
  • Having 5 active skills becomes impossible, so whole creative skills trees, and creative chain skill interactions disappear - players focus on raw stats and power for just one skill because that’s all they have mana to cast.
  • Builds end up being pidgeonholed into certain item/stat combos. If you are playing thorn totems right now (and who is?) you must have 2 mana items equipped, and have 30 points in shaman mastery’s attunement and mana regen. No viable alternatives exist.
  • The gap between the rich and poor, the elite and casual becomes incredibly wide. Got sweet gear and wiling to grind for days to get blessings, etc.? OK, you can build pure damage nodes on the skill tree and face end game content that relentlessly sends high HP enemies at you that need huge amounts of mana to kill. Playing casually? OK, you will need to find enough low tier mana items on gear, and invest enough in mana efficiency on the skill tree to even cast your stuff. This will mean your damage feels terrible, and your grind to your next mission, boss, etc takes 3 times as long…
  • Some skills now get nerfed to oblivion by just a small numerical adjustment. Were you previously spamming an AOE skill? If you previously missed a mob, that’s OK, you have the mana to cast again. Now if you miss a mob, you cannot cast again for 2 seconds, and the mob swarms you.

The same issue arises with life leech, as addressed in this old post.

The end result is that game directors and management have a well meaning brainstorm about the direction of a game - “Mana will be a resource players care about!”. Yet it won’t matter how much checking is done, the rollout of the seemingly simple change will feel like that familiar cycle of random huge buff/nerfs and the only way to achieve some sort of balance will be endless power creep, graveyards full of potentially creative skills and items, forums dedicated to trolls instead of build ideas, and bandaid adjustments - which POE players will be familiar with.


Siriusly I really don’t think this is a complete insue.
Maybe, sobe skill needs to rearrange a little bit. But definitely this is not the end of the world.

Well that my perspective.

Mana could be replaced with a fixed, point-based system, Let me give an example.

Say you have 10 Power Points.

  • Standard attacks cost 0, but restore 3.
  • Specials are in a range from 1-10 depending on power level.

A. 3 point attack - Standard (restore 3) - Repeat
B. 5 point attack - 5 point attack - Standard 2 times - 5 point attack - repeat
C. 7 point attack - 3 point attack - Standard - 3 point attack - Standard 3 times - repeat
D. 10 point attack - Standard 4 times to get back to 10 - 10 point attack - repeat

You get the idea. Players would invent rotations to maximize DPS or have different rotations when a quick defense is needed (teleport, shield, etc.)

With this sort of system, instead of mana efficiency or regeneration, you instead add very, very conditional Power Point gains which require narrow circumstances.


  • You spec into a node somewhere in a tree (class or skill) which says something like “Using Fury Leap, and then Swipe, and then Earthquake restores 1 Power Point.”

And have varieties of these placed in a way where you can spec into them at the cost of not getting extra speed or damage (for example). i.e. CHOICES. Players can say “I’ll just go damage and wait patiently and use standard rotations” or “I have learned 6 different 3-move combos that let me crank out skills 25% faster if I use them all in succession.”

Just an idea/example of a mana-less (and regen-less) system.

This sounds like a D: OS approach in a lot of ways, but maybe could be argued as a WoW Rogue system with the combo points (kind of). It also sounds a lot like what Darkdeal proposed.

I see so many devs fall into this trap and end up in an endless buff/nerf cycle as a result. Sure, it’s great for job security in some twisted “planned obsolescence” sort of way, but it’s terrible for gameplay.

The only time I want to care about Mana is if it’s a build enabling/defining feature for something I want to play. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be a serious concern for other builds to have to invest much into.

Another thing I constantly see on this topic is this slippery slope of “we can’t have huge damage/aoe be free!” Nobody is suggesting that. The problem is that making this shift to require investment in mana stats actually hurts build diversity and makes affixes even more boring because it adds to the list of “mandatory” things you need for any build to function at a base level. This is backward design. It discourages build experimentation and allows for less room for it.

Point systems in general are by its very nature limiting. Same can be said for anything that limits what we feel like we want to do.

In D&D back in the brown box era (1974-75) there was a similar argument. Spell slots and allocation based on spell level was very unpopular at the time. Most mages/clerics wanted to fling around spells anytime they wanted, with unlimited power and no need of reagents.

Those constant failures were condensed when action the A in arpg swept over. Mana and cooldowns are used for one purpose and only one. To prevent automated or extreme IO requests from overloading the client/server or both.

So take the mana on Awipe node in Swipe, or mana on Tempest Strike. Every class has several tools to deal with this.

And, you know, balance.

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I think this is a fair point. However in endgame i played Mage, Primalist shaper swipe and Sentinel and had 0 mana issues. With mana regen its easier for me to get mana without NEEDING to use a mana skill beside that or NEEDING to pick mana points at skills.

Thats why i actually love this change. As a mage for example i always needed focus.
Now i can run some builds without it which is great for build diversity in my opinion.

The availability of more mana regen is totally cool. The removal of mana efficiency and nerfing base regen is not.

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