Downranking described the usage of spell ranks lower than the highest one in order to increase damage or healing per mana spent, or for the use of a secondary, rank-independent effect, in trade for a lower amount of damage or healing. For healers, this was sometimes necessary to prevent overhealing. Mana reservation was the desired aim. In most circumstances, downranking is no longer a viable tactic.

Downranking has been nerfed several times and ultimately removed in Wrath of the Lich King. The first time, it was nerfed so that any spell learned below level 20 suffered a penalty. Then, with patch 2.0.1, it was nerfed again so that any spell of a certain number of levels too low was nerfed.

The most severe nerf was introduced with the release of patch 3.0.2, which caused player spells to cost a percentage of the caster's base mana, which either remained constant for all ranks or decreased with higher ranks.

In addition to voluntary downranking, when a buff spell is cast on a character whose level is too low to receive that buff, the character will receive a downranked version of the buff instead.

Removed from game

In Patch 3.0.2 (Wrath of the Lich King release), downranking was killed by making spells cost a percentage of base mana rather than be based on rank.[citation needed]

Previous practical uses of downranking

Downranking is still useful in a few circumstances:

Downranking Algorithm

When it was relevant...

Wrath of the Lich King

At some point between patch 2.2 and the release of Wrath of the Lich King, the downranking formula was changed again.

Ghostcrawler made the following statement about the downranking formula:

If caster level is less than max caster level, then the penalty = 1.0.
If caster level is at or greater than max caster level, then the penalty = (22 + max level - caster level) / 20.
The penalty is capped at 0. Max caster level per spell is also pretty inconsistent, but it's around 4 levels higher than the level at which you get the spell.
Basically, once the caster is 3 levels higher than the max cast level of the spell, the standard coefficient of the spell is multiplied by that penalty (losing 5% of the coefficient per level), with the coefficient reaching zero when the player is 22 levels higher than the max cast level.


Burning Crusade

As of Patch 2.2, the downranking algorith is as follows:

Each spell rank has a range in which it is supposed to be used. Greater Heal rank 2, for instance, is learned at level 46 and lasts until level 51 (Rank 3 is learned at level 52). The range for Greater Heal rank2 is thus 46-51.

The spell coefficient is given as follows:

downrank = (spell_maxlevel + 6) / playerlevel;
if (downrank > 1) downrank = 1;
if(spell_minlevel  < 20) 
  sub20downrank = 1.0 - ((20-spell_minlevel) * 0.0375);
  if(sub20downrank < 0) sub20downrank = 0;
  downrank = downrank * sub20downrank;

This number is in turn multiplied with your spell coefficient and your bonus healing/damage.

Downranking is the process of using a lower than maximum spell rank in order to gain higher efficiency per mana. It is particularly used by healing classes - Shamans, Druids, Paladins, and Priests - in order to extend their longevity in long boss fights.

General Downranking Penalty

A penalty for downranking to spells below level 20 has been present since early in the game's development. Shortly before the release of the 2.0 content patch, an additional downranking modifier was added in order to combat significant downranking of healing spells in raiding. With the original system, as long as the spell was over level 20, there was no penalty. This led to situations where certain classes were using spells down to into the lower 20s and compensating for the lower base healing amount by stacking +heal stats, resulting in an extreme increases in healing per mana beyond what Blizzard's encounter design had intended.

The new formula scales down bonus healing and damage for spells which could have been learned more than 11 levels ago, by a simple multiplier:

sLvl = Level that the rank of this spell can first be learned
cLvl = Caster's Current Level
Downranking Multiplier = Min(1, (sLvL + 11) / cLvl)

Example: Flash Heal 4

Flash Heal 4 is a level 26 Priest spell. For a level 70 player, the multiplier for Flash Heal 4 is therefore Min(1, (26 + 11) / 70) = 0.529. This is in addition to the multiplier reduction due to Flash Heal's cast time - the final multiplier, including this, is 0.227

Level 20 penalty

The original form of downranking penalty was the Level 20 penalty, applied to all spells level 20 and below based on the level the spell was learned. This applies from the moment the spell is acquired, but it usually does not matter to the lower level characters as spell power gear is rarely available until later in a character's progression.

sLvl = Level that the spell is acquired at
Level 20 Penalty Multiplier = 1 - ((20 - sLvl) * 0.0375)

Example: Healing Wave 2
Healing Wave 2 is a level 6 Shaman spell. The level 20 penalty multiplier is therefore 1 - ((20 - 6) * 0.0375) = 0.475. This is in addition to the downranking penalty and the reduction due to Healing Wave's cast time - the final multiplier, including both of these factors, is 0.066


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