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healing on the wall

April 4, 2009

Do you want to cause an instant argument? Tell someone that the dedicated healers in WAR heal worse than the ‘hybrid’ healers.

No, you didn’t hear that incorrectly. The classes designed to serve a role primarily as healers are inferior to classes designed to perform multiple roles. Now I will admit that statement is misleading, but it seems to be a fairly common misunderstanding. To clarify: No healing class shows any sign of design as a pure healer; though, due to poor design four of the six healing classes function in that role exclusively. However, for the sake of this article the ‘pure’ healing classes are Zealot and Rune Priest, while the ‘hybrid’ healing classes are Archmage and Shaman.

I’ll make this as clear as possible: Archmage and Shaman are better healers than Zealot and Rune Priest in a main healing role, while Disciple of Khaine and Warrior Priest are better as off-healers than Zealot and Rune Priest – a situation that makes the two ‘flex’ healers in WAR only useful due to enhanced survivability over Archmage and Shaman.

Indeed, Disciple of Khaine and Warrior Priest are actually so much better with AOE heals that they can, with the addition of heal-over-time effects out pace Rune Priest and Zealot as single target healers. Again, the situation between those mirrors is further complicated by differences between AP management and secondary resources.

The problem present in these classes runs quite deep. So much so that without giving them blatantly superior baseline heals there is no way to solve the problem without completely remodeling the classes mastery paths. For those who may be unaware, WAR has three types of healing. Generic heals, special class based heals and the flex heals.

Generic heals come in three forms: A bloom, a big heal and an AOE heal. Special heals are present in the Archmage, Shaman, Disciple of Khaine and Warrior Priest classes. I will be leaving Disciple of Khaine and Warrior Priest out of this article however, because of massive imbalances which make them extremely hard to analyze on the same field. However, Archmage and Shaman are quite easy to analyze directly against Zealot and Rune Priest. Archmage possess a channeled single target heal, while Shaman possesses a secondary heal-over-time ability. The flex healers get a bouncing heal-over-time and an instant cast flash heal.

Bloom heals are interesting and all healers have them. They are very fast casting, then leave a heal-over-time afterwards. The issue is their extreme inefficiency. Big heals are medium-speed and heal for a very large amount on individual targets. However, the real monster is the AOE heal. The generic AOE heal casts in the same time as a big heal, but heals for roughly twenty-five percent less. The advantage is that it hits the entire party of the caster at once and does not obey line-of-sight.

When it comes to the more specialized healing, it’s a mixed bag. Archmage has an exceptional single target channel which out heals even the big heals per-cast, while delivering that healing at a better pace. Shaman gain Do Sumfin’ Useful, which is a very efficient heal-over-time to stack on non-priority targets. The flex healers gain their bouncing heal-over-time, which can be quite efficient, but is the slowest healing heal within WAR. They also have been granted the worst heal in the entire game: Flash heals. These heals are horribly inefficient, supposedly a trade-off for their usability on the run.

Despite gaining inferior heals to the ‘hybrids’ the flex healers are actually crippled by something much greater: The mastery system. The flex healers have their trees broken up into direct, over-time and area-of-effect trees. This means that these healers are required to prioritize a single type of heal, while the other two types suffer. Because of the massive inefficiency of bloom heals, it leaves a choice between AOE and direct healing. This is a choice that Archmage and Shaman do not have to make. In fact, due to AP draining abilities, Shaman and Archmage can use their bloom heals to great effect without concerns over running out of AP.

How much impact do mastery trees have? Big heals gain 25 healing per point. AOE heals gain 17 healing per point. Bloom heals gain 16.12 healing per point. For those maxing out trees, those numbers are 375, 255 and 241 respectively. For comparison, to gain the same amount on the bloom heal you would be required to gain 803 willpower. For the big heal you’d need to gain 625. For the AOE heal you’d need to gain 425.

Seems too extreme? How about this, for the big heal each individual mastery point is worth slightly more than 41 willpower.

How about those individual heals though, how do they stack up? Glad you asked. Didn’t ask? Suffer.

For those looking for more understanding you may need the following formulas:
willpower / 5 * coefficient = bonus
base heal + bonus = healing
healing / cast time = hps (Direct)
healing / duration = hps (HoT)
healing / cost = healing per ap
250 / cost * cast time = time til 0 ap
time til 0 ap / cast time * healing = healing til 0 ap

For specific AOE comparison charts, the following is also needed:
healing * targets – ( ( healing – deficit ) * targets ) = over healing
IF over healing < 0 THEN healing * targets ELSE healing * targets – over healing = healing per cast
healing per cast / 65 = healing per ap
healing per cast / 2.5 = healing per second

I’ll explain a little about the more complex numbers before getting into the charts. Bonus is how much a heal benefits from the casters willpower. HPS is short for healing per second, which is a measure of how quickly the spell heals. Healing per AP is an efficiency scale. The more a spell heals per AP spent the more efficient it is. Time til 0 AP is how long you can spam that heal with no modifiers before running out of action points. Healing til 0 AP is a measure of how much healing a spell delivers in that time span.

For AOE heals there is a more comprehensive analysis needed. Over healing is a measure of how much healing is lost when the spell is cast. This is due to the targets not having low enough health for the spell to have its maximum effect. Healing per cast is complicated and can cause a lot of headaches. The more important part is factoring the average health that targets have lost. Healing per AP here is gauged using healing per cast, rather than pure healing. The same is true of healing per second.

Don’t like math? Well, as I’ve cryptically mentioned, today I will not scare you by repeating hundreds of lines of text in order to display things. Instead, Omelettez has been kind enough to convert my personal spreadsheet into a format readable by ‘normal people’ (aka: anyone who isn’t me.). So, rather than the need of a notepad and a calculator, you can just compare everything via a handy chart. Don’t like charts? Again, suffer.


This chart uses the base willpower of a rank 40 healer: 221. This is an extremely low number, but it is a good foundation. You may notice that the AOE heal performs very poorly – the only heal worse is the flex healers’ flash heals. The core heal-over-time is the non-mastery heal that all healers get, which shines a great deal in efficiency, but should be noted for its extremely slow healing. Taking a break of one second between big heals, allowing natural AP regen for a single tick results in big heals becoming more efficient than the baseline heal-over-time. You should also note the following: The chain heal-over-time spells are the slowest healing spells in game, while the flash heals are the least efficient.


Here I’ve bumped the willpower up to 500. This is typical of a healer who is using damage gear, or stacking some other statistic such as toughness and wounds. Something to keep an eye on is the bonus spells receive from willpower. Due to coefficients being mildly standardized at either 1.5, or 3, you’ll notice that the big heal, AOE heal and Funnel Essence all scale at double the rate of other heals. This is quite visible in reference to the previous chart, where bloom heals were superior to AOE heals when spammed, which is no longer the case with the added willpower.


In this chart you’re looking at a much more standard willpower count of 800. The poor scaling of the flex heals becomes even more apparent here. At this point it is important to note that while Funnel Essence has lower HPS than big heals, during an emergency it will actually heal for more, providing Archmage with the best low-health saving heal. Shaman shines more and more as their second cheap heal-over-time.


For those paying attention to the far left portion of these charts, this is where that target number shines. AOE heals had been looking very bad – this is where that changed: With two targets, the AOE heals surpass big heals in efficiency, HPS and healing til 0 AP. It’s also important to note that the chain heal-over-time abilities also gain a great deal of efficiency when they’re able to chain targets, but keep in mind that unlike with the AOE heals this does not increase their worst-in-game HPS.

Now, what about those AOE heals? That’s what everyone is really interested in. The reason I put out these charts is to show how other heals stack up and scale with one another. The AOE heals are substantially more complex. Let’s have a look.

ittybittytables_healingAgain we’re starting with base willpower. Note that the group size is maximum, which is a standard situation. However, here I’ve introduced the final limiting factor: Average -HP, or deficit health. Here is the assumption: Players with -HP greater than the AOE heal number are treated as that healing number. So if your group of six has a member at 2000 out of 3000 health, they would be averaged as 897.6 instead. So, why did I pick a low number like 400, which is less than half the heal amount? Because at base willpower, if your group is on average missing 400 health, the AOE heal outperforms the big heals with 800 willpower. That’s with nearly 3000 healing wasted.

ittybittytables_healing2Now that our healer has put their clothes back on, you can see the numbers at 800 willpower. Notice something else? That’s right, the only number that has increased is over healing By gaining 579 willpower you have not increased your healing. This is the great equalizer. The situations where you will over heal fifty-percent or more with your AOE heals are quite abundant, making them a great choice for under geared players, who will be able to put out substantially higher healing numbers.

ittybittytables_healing3Here we’ve taken a step back, but exposed our naked healer to a scenario where his party has taken a hit from an AOE ability, reducing their health by 897.6, or more. This is the result. At this point a naked AOE-spamming healer is more than twice as efficient as an 800 willpower single target healer. They are also putting out over three times as much HPS.

ittybittytables_healing4Here again, our healer has gotten dressed. The result is the same as before, the healing is identical to being naked, but over healing has increased. As I said, this is the great equalizer. These heals compensate players in such a way that gear concerns are greatly diminished.


ittybittytables_healing6These charts show the effect of group size. Smaller groups produce smaller healing numbers for AOE heals. However, keep in mind that even in the group of three the HPS of this AOE heal outperforms single target healing. The trade off is a slight hit in efficiency. In actual play this is a smaller issue than it appears as other AP returns will be in play to compensate – something I’ll touch on more below.

ittybittytables_healing7Ah yes, the ever-feared maximum efficiency AOE heal. This is where you can really begin to understand the term super scaling. The big heal is gaining 347.4 healing from your addition 579 willpower. At max efficiency the AOE heal is gaining 2084.4. If that’s too heady think of it this way: The big heals gain .6 healing, while the AOE heals gain 3.6. Still too convoluted? They scale six times faster than the next-best scaling heal in the game.

AOE heals are a extremely powerful, so much that in a normal situation they nullify the use of single target healing within full parties. A bold statement, perhaps, but keep in mind the maximum efficiency of these heals – a healer with base willpower at maximum efficiency can out heal a single target healer with seven-thousand and fifty-eight willpower. The problem is that as these heals are generic, there would be little reason for a healer with that much willpower to use their single target healing – their AOE heal would be capable of putting out just under thirty-thousand healing per cast, while their single target heal would be healing for just under fifty-four hundred. If you don’t like to read typing that’s 30,000 versus 5,400.

What does all this have to do with my original statements? Rummage over the flex heals. Now try to organize a case where you would rather have those two heals, rather than the specialized heal available to Archmage, or Shaman. You have the least efficient heal in game and the slowest-healing heal in game on one side, while you have the second best heal-over-time or the best single target burst heal in game on the other.

This is complicated by the overwhelming superiority of the AOE heals, which forces Zealot and Rune Priest to specialize entirely in their AOE tree to keep up with two classes which have their single-target and heal-over-time spells organized into a single tree. Then they must deal with the AP drains those classes utilize which allows them to make very inefficient healing methods become viable. This includes the use of bloom heals combined with big heals, or AOE heals to help top off targets.

Now, they’ve been left out, due to how they handle healing costs, but let’s bring our friends the Warrior Priest and Disciple of Khaine back into the party. These classes, along with the ‘hybrid’ healers, have a single healing path. The difference is that they lack the large big heals. In exchange they have something that even AP drains can’t compensate for, which is their power mechanic. Rather than AP they have 250 power to consume for healing use, but do not regen these points while in combat. The compensation is that they may use AP to restore their power, as well as having steady access to off-hand items which restore power. On top of this, their AOE heals are different, casting in one second, but having a second and a half cool down afterwards.

So, how does this play out? For single target healing these classes use their AOE heal, while mixing in the standard heal-over-time, bloom heal and actions to refund power. How much can they get back? Well, books and chalices restore 12 every second, which means they’re refunded 30 power during each cast of their AOE heal. This reduces the effective cost of their AOE heal to 35 power. Warrior Priest then uses Smite between these heals to restore 45 power every 5 seconds. Disciple of Khaine uses Essence Lash in the same way, but may only return 45 every 10 seconds. This further reduces the effective cost of these heals to 12.4 for Warrior Priest and 23.75 for Disciple of Khaine. Furthermore, each class also has a spell which directly converts AP to power at a rate of 30 per second, for up to 5 seconds. The two classes respectively consume 49.6 power and 95 power per 10 seconds, far below the up to 150 they can gain through their conversion abilities.

If you didn’t realize it was that bad, I won’t hold it against you. This is a mechanical advantage to those two classes allowing them to be extremely inefficient in exchange for massive amounts of AOE healing. Again, tying this back in to our heroes, or at least our reasonably attractive flex healers, what place does this leave for them? If they attempt to play a single-target game they will be outperformed by Archmages and Shamans, while being out healed by anyone using a heavy mix of AOE, regardless of gear. If they specialize to AOE they will be outperformed by the efficiency of the other healing classes, while producing even less single target healing than the Archmages and Shamans they wished to show their dominance over.

Now, you may be thinking that AOE damage is still greatly out pacing AOE healing and damage in general can’t be out healed with any reliability. Fear not, that’s coming shortly. I also resisted illustrating the advantages of AOE heals due to line-of-sight. Not to worry, there’s more in store. For now, I’m very concerned with the Shaman and Archmage changes, which may be punishing the classes without just cause. Remember, the flex healers have all the tools provided to Archmage and Shaman and more. If the plan is to fix Zealot and Rune Priest by reducing the power of their competition, Mythic is playing a very risky gamble. Not only will it risk drawing the two easiest healing classes even more to the forefront, but punishing the games premier healers.

Remember the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not nerf one class to buff another.

The 12th? Not sure, but it probably has something to do with poor AOE balance. Alas, that shall be a story for another day. Most likely Monday, as I’ll probably be distracted one way or another this weekend. Too much so to allow the mortar to properly settle on the battlements.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. Omelettez permalink*
    April 4, 2009 1:29 pm

    Yay InDesign Hero! You got table power! Nice spread!

    *goes back to her corner*

  2. pancakez permalink*
    April 4, 2009 1:30 pm

    It’s innuendoriffic!

  3. ghaz permalink
    April 4, 2009 1:54 pm

    oh holy sh*t when i clicked read more i wasn’t expecting that O_O, how many words, did it beat the last wall o text? lol (and no i haven’t actually read it yet but i think i’ll have to actually take the time to sit and read this one hehe)

  4. April 5, 2009 7:29 am

    My head hurts.

  5. pancakez permalink*
    April 5, 2009 11:13 am

    As long as it wasn’t from banging your head against something, I’m cool with that.

    Oh and Ghaz, this is actually quite a bit shorter than most of my longer posts at around 3k. If you seperate my greatweapon and hybrid class article those are 4k and 5k, while the mirror article was around 7.5k by itself. This just looks longer because of the charts. =)

  6. ghaz permalink
    April 5, 2009 1:02 pm

    ahh and what glorious charts they are 😀 lol, good article i really had no idea that the healing situation was quite that bad with zealots and RP’s. I don’t play a healer so it doesn’t affect me directly apart from the fact that i’ll be shunning zealots from now on 😛 hehe

  7. April 7, 2009 3:02 am

    This post made me subscribe, thanks for greatly increasing my understanding of the healing portion of the game. Looking forward to reading the next article.

  8. shadowwar permalink
    April 7, 2009 3:29 pm

    Arghh, I love your posts, I really do. But this stuff makes my eyes start to wander. It’s my own damn fault really, I’m reading this when I should be working, and my brain refuses to follow math when it’s trying to slack off.

  9. May 17, 2009 11:29 pm

    I like you because you write epic posts about stuff. This demonstrates that you’re thinking about stuff beyond ‘I want more lootz”, which is also impressive.
    The only downside despite your absolutely not in dispute* charts, numbers, research, is that I found out about it from a former player who now doesn’t really want to return to the game because of the above…which is unfortunate considering the intended purpose of the essay, as I understand it, is to have the classes fixed. Any chance you sent this off to Mythic?

    *For the AMs Funnel Essence there’s a 13 second cooldown during which time other heals are cast continually thus reducing available AP. This can be countered by using Drain Magic and slotting the associated tactic to drain AP AoE style. I am also curious as to whether both AM and Shaman calculations included the making use of the -20%cast time or add +5%/DPSability cast mechanic.


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