Mana is a stat that I have always wanted to matter in Last Epoch. I mean this in multiple ways. It should matter when an ability has a high mana cost and you have to adapt and use low cost “filler” abilities as well because your main ability is difficult to sustain. It should also matter when a player puts a hefty investment into mana and its related stats in order to sustain an ability better. Currently, my issue with the mana system is that it is inconsistent about the first of these purposes, and almost entirely lacking in the second.
The independent problems with mana can be traced back to two main sources:
Skills like Focus and Vengeance exist that can let players regain large amounts of mana in a short amount of time with almost no investment. Focus only requires a time investment of leveling the tree. Vengeance requires 5 passive points and a chest suffix. Classes like Primalist without options like this end up left in the dust in regards to high cost abilities.
Mana and mana regen have no relationship with each other. Mana regen is not plentiful enough to matter, and Mana itself only serves to prolong an initial burst of damage before a player returns to a regular gameplay cycle. Rather, there is no functional difference between 500 and 100 mana after both have been drained.
The first of these two problems is easy to solve: Remove or heavily rework focus and curtail the mana generation from skills such as Vengeance. [Honestly I think 5 or 10 is the most mana a skill should ever give back at a baseline]
The second problem is one that requires alterations to base mechanics in the game, although I have a simple suggestion in mind, which is as follows:
Make base mana regen equal to 10 + 4% of your maximum mana.
Why this solution? There are a few reasons.
Base mana regen being tied to mana makes it so that there can’t be high regen builds that don’t invest in mana, which would further defeat the purpose of mana as a stat.
Maximum mana scaling your mana regen creates a dual-scaling system wherein heavy investment into both stats allows a player to sustain high-cost abilities for a longer time.
All classes have access to mana and mana regen, preventing cases where one class’ methods of mana gain [i.e. Mage or Sentinel] are drastically better than another’s. You see high ranking meteor and glacier builds all the time, but you can’t say the same for something like Earthquake. This would fix that to some degree.
4% is a low enough value to not break the game, but a high enough value to matter. It also leads to 50 base mana regen at 1000 mana, which is satisfying.
There are some immediate concerns with my proposed system, the main one being that mana regen could potentially get out of control and allow players to infinitely use high cost abilities. However, I do not feel this is a concern.
[[WARNING!! MATH AND TECHNICAL STUFF BELOW!!]]
Consider three skills. One has a base cost of 0, the other 10, and the last 60. Consider a cast time of 2.5 casts a second, which I would say is standard on a caster, leading to total costs per second of 0, 25, and 150.
Next, let us look at an example of a build with 500 mana and one with 1000 mana, both of which sporting 80% mana regen from affixes. Both of these builds require a large amount of gearing and passive point sacrifices, obviously with 1000 mana being the higher extreme.
With my proposed system, the 500 mana build would have (10 + [.04 x 500]) x 1.8 = 54 mana regen a second, at base. This seems like a lot at first, but a build with this much mana investment is likely going to be running the 150 mana per second cost build. This leaves the build at a net loss of -96 mana per second, meaning it will only be able to cast its high cost ability for just over 5 seconds. It will then need to cool down for around 9 seconds. However, during this downtime, you are free to cast your 0 cost ability, which may also give slight mana back on cast, leading to a quicker downtime. You could also use your 25 cost per second ability, which would create a longer downtime on your high cost ability, but would leave you casting a decently strong one in the meantime.
The important things illustrated here are that an investment of mana and mana regen was highly rewarded, but did not sustain a high cost ability infinitely, and also that the player was given a choice during the downtime. Currently a player is just going to spam a 0 cost ability that gives mana back or Focus because their mana regen can’t keep up with anything else. This heavily limits the players choice when deciding between their main and filler abilities.
Now, take the more extreme example of 1000 mana, which would lead to a regen of (10 + [.04 x 1000]) x 1.8 = 90. Well, this case is still much lower than 150, the cost per second of the high-impact ability, but for the player’s investment, they have also created a much lower net loss of 60 mana per second. A player would effectively be able to sustain this skill for 16 seconds, and then would need 11 to recharge. As a note, this is currently the uptime ratio of a build that uses Meteor and Focus, but the duration of a “drain n’ gain” cycle is longer. Now, the sustained use time is quite long here, but not infinite. And, should a player invest at every possible opportunity into mana and mana regen, then they should be able to sustain a high cost ability for a lengthy period of time.
Some other important things to take into consideration is that having a massive mana pool could allow a player to run “% of damage taken from mana before health” defenses, which are currently in a bad spot. This would further take away from the sustain time of high cost abilities. Also, a player that has invested this much into mana will most likely be taking things such as Sorcery Staff, which boosts mana costs, or nodes within high cost skill trees that do the same for a large power boost. Thus, a player is probably going to be expending much more than 150 mana a second if they have chosen to build such a large pool.
Normally, the only reward for getting mana values this high would be to allow an initial burst of damage to last longer, but then a player will be stuck there waiting 5 to 10x longer for their mana to come back, which is not at all enjoyable for most players. There will still be a waiting time on my system, but it will be one that is far faster, and where a player could choose to spam abilities that cost little to medium mana, as opposed to now where a 0-cost or mana-gaining ability are the only options for fillers, unless someone wishes to wait an entire minute for their mana to return.
[[MATH FINISHED!! RESUME THREAD ENJOYMENT!!]]
If you’ve made it this far, I hope I have illustrated my reasonings for why my sustain would be an improvement on the one we have now. I also hope I have provided decent explanations against possible counterarguments to my system in order to further make a point that it would be healthier and lead to more diversity than the current one. If you have any questions or want anything clarified, please let me know in the replies. Also, if you have anything else to add, leave that in the replies as well. Thank you for reading!