Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The fundamental problem of healing

the solution, though, being...?

i know blizzard is looking for a way to "change healing" to be a more dynamic experience... what are a few ideas we (as a community) can come up with?

my proposal: overheals "pump the tank up" to a maximum of 110% HP, which proceeds to tick down quickly (back to the norm). It would have to be a small enough portion that overhealing isn't the desired result, but meaningful enough that it's not a complete waste.
Evil comment: so the fundamental problem is the lack of skill to find the proper second :-)

@ixobelle: we druids already have this skill, it's called Living Seed
Sorry, but you are wrong about Living Seed. If your pretty crit is overheal Living Seed have 0 healing value. Maybe it shall and will be changed, but for now, it is not so.
The other big problem with healing is that there is a maximum amount of healing that you need (so once you have enough healers to cover that, you're good). That doesn't really apply to dps. This has the followon effect that raids need more healers in the progression phase but as dps gears up, you drop some from the roster.

short form: If you want to raid as much as possible and be way in demand, play a really badass dps.
On timing...

Realisticaly there are time buffers where a heal can fall in time. Its not an absolute second where they mast land most of the times and it becomes more complicated if one things the variables in the healer-target vector, healer sunergy and healing mechanics

On overhealing...

If your target ain't dead and the mob/boss is then you did fine. Who cares if you overhealed as long as you keep people alive for the duration of the fight. And that comes from a very conservative healer overall, at least when it comes to overhealing (which might be my weakness).

If healing was impossible there would be no boss kills, no 80lvl etc. There is a fine line (more like a band) in the middle that involves synergy among players - one just has to find that out. And be able to compensate for different encounters, mishaps, tactical changes and the odd event. Who said healing is boring nowadays? :p
I thought you were stopping twitter Tobold =P
I think the solution is heal early then. I'm a big advocate of overhealing. I'd rather heals were thrown at the tank and wasted than that mana was conserved and the tank died.

Overhealing is such a dirty word in the WOW community and this is a perception based on 2005 raiding. We need to move with the times and embrace the overheal.

*My perception may be colored by the fact that I play a Holy Pally and it's really hard to oom in raids no matter what I do
As the only resto shaman in my guild I've been finding I have the opposite problem in raids - if I heal 1 second too late, my heal is wasted. This has been when using chain heal (2.5 second cast) in a raid with lots of priests using Circle of Healing. So I'm interested to see how things will change in the 3.0.8 world, perhaps shamans will pick up more of the raid healing "slack"?

> If I heal 1 second too early, my spell is wasted.

As long as you don't go OOM, who cares? In fact, as a holy priest your spec actually gives you mana back from overheals.

> If I heal 1 second too late, we wipe.

There should be no situations which call for split-second healing. If you have such a situation, you're usually looking at either an under-geared tank, not enough healers, the group doing the tactic wrong, or some combination of these factors.

Can you give any specific example of a boss fight where you needed to heal the tank or group 1 second after incoming damage or wipe? I'm not talking about bad luck, but about an encounter designed in such a way as to make such situations likely. I can't really think of such situations from personal experience. Sure, people raiding in cutting edge content - Gruul/Magtheridon before their nerfs, SWP, 3D Sarth - they can run into such situations. But that is part of the challenge of encounters tuned deliberately above the level of most people.

There are no such encounters in Naxx-80, for example. Not if you follow tactics.
@Solidstate: Patchwerk is such an encounter, even with an excellently geared offtank the hateful strikes come so quick that healers don't really get the see the fight at all. All I see in that fight is 2 healthbars, the MT and the OT. I have no idea what goes on in that fight or what he looks like when fighting.

Despite all that the issue is not that healing is difficult per se, it's that healing can be rather boring but so much hinges on it, and this is the huge problem many raids are facing now. Blizzard solved the tank shortage but instead they traded it in for an ever bigger problem with an immense healer shortage. They will have to address this very quickly or many raids will simply stop.
In those situations, you overheal. Who cares, so long as it doesn't result in a wipe? Mana is not a scarce resource. You can always fill up your tank after the fight.
The worst problem you will have by healing too early, is that your target will be back up to full hp.
The worst problem you will have by healing too late, is a wipe and all the unfavourable reaction you will get by wiping.

In a raid situation, unless you are exclusively targetting someone (and even then, your target will inevitably draw healing from someone who isn't being pushed themselves), you are sharing healing with others, even if it is only a renew, so worrying that someone else is going to get there before you is pointless. Just cast away, and thank Blizzard for enrage timers - then you can blame the dps!
Mana is no issue right now in any raid, overheal it.
@ Harold you are supposed to overheal for PW, just have your designed target and spam those keys, either you have enough healing/geared tank or you wipe(so, feel free to look at the fight since there are no movements/other aoe damage to look out for), patchwerk is a gear check for a reason.
Overheals should refund mana based on the percent overhealed. Then healers could heal, and not worry about oom from whacking heal to much. Or perhaps give the heal a very short "grace period" after it lands that its value can be applied. So if tank is 100%/100% if he goes down within the next .5 second or so, some of the healing value then triggers.
If overheals refunded mana, it would just mean people watching TV or something and hitting their favorite heal button over and over again. The day there ceases to be any sort of skill, knowledge, experience, or timing required for healing is the day I switch to DPS.
I agree with SolidState. If you don't go OOM, who cares about overheals. I still tell that to healers in my guild that seem to get all upset about "wasted" heals. The goal is to keep everyone alive and kill the boss, if that happens and you don't go OOM, who cares?

As for pally healers, keep Judgement of Light up at all times. After 4 hours of raiding the other day, my JoL healed for 4.5 million which was 2nd to my Holy Light which healed for over 5 million. Granted the JoL was also 80% overheals, but it was basically free and helped with trying to prevent those last second heals.
I'm a druid, I overheal all the time. It's called lifebloom. =D
But my tank lives and he loves me.
Being a skilled healer is all about knowing when to heal and when to pre-heal. They already took away the skill inolved with downranking.

Did you get to raid last night with the 3.08 changes? Did the sky fall down on your raid as you predicted? Ours did fine though both priests who used to be #1 and #2 were now #3 and #4. One of them was even talking about what a great single target healer he is now.
You got 2 seconds to push a button, seems doable to me ;)
Overheals do refund mana (to Priests), if they pick the talent.

Actually, in a raid environment, healing too early (and going into overheal) can result in a wipe as well, because the following GlobalCoolDown prevents you from healing for an endlos 1.5 seconds which can well decide about the life or death of your MT. But then again, this happens only if all healers on the same target do not have the correct feeling for the amount and timing of the incoming damage. Additionally, you probably have not split the healing between some healers doing the flash heals and other casting the big ones.

But you are right, and this is no news, healing will always have to cope with the "goalkeeper issue": You are the last defender, if you rellay screw up, it may very likely result in a goal/death/wipe.
Better to overheal than wipe plus mana is not an issue for you anyway.
I still think that the tanking/threat mechanic is broken... but if we're still going to use it, the risk of a wipe needs to be spread out among more players than the main tank and an offtank, or perhaps let the main tank reestablish aggro easily upon resurrection. Shifting the burden of a wipe onto one player out of 10, 25 or 40 has always seemed like bad design to me.
I think healing needs an overhaul more toward mitigation and protection, rather than spamming direct heals. Would be nice to heal through doing damage and pre-cast heals (i.e. hots & shields & stam/def buffs)
I sit at 25k mana buffed in raids (resto shaman) most fights I can't find buttons to spend my mana on. Replenishment is huge if you have one overhealing does't matter. Fights where there an extream amount of damage on the tank, such as Sartharion 3 drakes, I don't think you can afford to not overheal the tank. Howerver, for all the rest of the fights in WoLK mana shouldn'r really be an issue.
Evil comment: so the fundamental problem is the lack of skill to find the proper second :-)

Evil counter-comment: Yes, I agree, only healers need skill in WoW. Tanks and DPS don't have that timing issue.
Evil counter-comment: Yes, I agree, only healers need skill in WoW. Tanks and DPS don't have that timing issue.

I disagree, smart DPS knows when to time their attacks to not get pounded and take away aggro from the tank. Or when to move to not stand in the fire.

Good warrior tanks have timing issues too. My friend has to constantly switch targets to keep aggro off of me.
Here is an idea i thought of that could replace the "healer" class:

What if there was a preset amount of constant healing taht could be distributed throughout the group/raid. For example, every second 5,000 health exists in the group's collective "health pool". Players can, perhaps with some restrictions, tap into this health pool at any time.

How could it work? Let's say the tank is taking a beating. All other party members would have to ensure that they are not tapped into the health pool so that the tank can recieve the maximum heal. AOE attack just damaged the raid? Well, the whole raid could tap into the health pool at once, but that would gimp the tanks heals in the process. Strategy and coordination would be required to have only one or two raid members tap into the health pool at a time so that the tank still recieves decent heals.

Developers could play with a lot of options of how effective/large the health pool is. There would be no one "healer" class because every group member would have access to health, but they would also have to take ownership of when to "ask" for a heal and when not to. In practice this could solve the problem you just mentioned Tobold. A player at full health who taps the health pool will not receive any healing, thus there are no "overheals". A player who needs a heal ASAP can "call" for a heal by tapping into the pool and will recieve a near-instant response. The usual responsibility of a healer, deciding who most needs a heal, is now delegated to the group members.

What do you think? Could a system such as this work?

"* If I heal 1 second too early, my spell is wasted.
* If I heal 1 second too late, we wipe."

You've just described why I like healing so much. I think I may be addicted to pressure tho...
Tobold, please add:

* If I heal 1 second too early, my spell is wasted.
* If I heal 1 second too late, we wipe.
* If I heal at exactly the right second, but someone else in the group
makes a mistake, I will get blamed and yelled at by everyone in the group.
just get a mana battery shadow priest, and you'll never have to worry about going oom. just spam heals
merimet, that's actually a pretty neat idea, but it eliminates an entire third of the trinity (tank, heals, DPS).

by limiting it down to just tanks and dps, i think you're starting down a very slippery slope. at first, everyone would 'tap in' the instant they took damage, until eventually they realized that being a ranged DPS and being at 50% HP isn't really a big deal assuming there's no other AoE you're standing in. People wold adjust to the new system, but how would you work it into the game? I mean, and have it "make sense"? I guess you wouldn't REALLY need to have it make sense, you could just say "healing sucks, here's the new mechanic we're replacing healers with", but a large portion of the playerbase would be alienated.

Guild Wars solved the problem protection spells. Shame WoW has no such concept.
Evil counter-comment: Yes, I agree, only healers need skill in WoW. Tanks and DPS don't have that timing issue.
Sorry Tobold, both tanks and dps have rotations that they have to watch out for, taken into account the cooldown of their skills to maximize their DPS. It might not be an issue for now because Wrath raid is allowing more mistakes for the raid, but a tank with perfect tanking rotation can push 4k~4.5k Threat per second (while a spamming could get you max 2k~3k), with DPS getting more and more geared their threats are sky rocketing (e.g. mine fury warrior is pushing 3.4k TPS easy in a 25 men raid) So if the tank doesn't know what he's doing, he's gimping the whole raid. (And possibly hit the enrage timer since DPS are doing too low).
The rotation of a DPS could mean a difference between 1.5k and 2.3k dps.
I agree that the "loss" from healer missing those seconds will have more impact than a dps/tank missing those seconds of rotation but just pointing out that not contributing fully from raid members ==> possibility of wiping.
Oh and... if an ability could kill your tank in 1 second, I think it's probably meant to 1 shot everything (i.e. void zone) You sounded like overheal means so much in Wow, STOP looking at the healing meter and just be happy that everyone's alive at the end of the day.
Meter addons are really the whine of wow right now...
As a tank, I love me some overheals! Seriously, when every time I look at my health bar it's full, I feel warm and cozy and focus on my rotations, inc pats, which dps is single targeting the "not the skull" mob, etc. When my health bar looks like a sideways yo-yo, my hands keep drifting over to my "OS buttons" and hover there distractedly while my faith in the future wavers.
Am I the only one feeling more like:

If my heal is 1 sec. early - we wipe.
If my heal is 1 sec. late - we wipe.
If my heal is on time - I overheal?
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