Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Smart Heals

There's some interesting discussion on the new Blizzard healing forums. One new line of debate I'm seeing recently is the effect of "smart" heals such as Chain Heal, Circle of Light, and Wild Growth. Each of these spells are multiple target spells, but the server chooses some or all of the targets. And the choice is not random. Instead, the server usually chooses the targets with the lowest health, maximizing the spell's effectiveness.

Unlike direct heals, where the target has to be chosen a few seconds in advance of the spell landing, the smart heals choose their targets at the time of the heal, making them perfectly reactive. What this means is that these spells tend to have much less overheal than spells which require human targeting. As any paladin can attest, our overhealing skyrocketed in TBC, to the point where seeing 50%-60% overheal is common.

It's very possible that because of their high effectiveness, smart heals are a better choice than most other heals, in any situation which does not require large direct heals. As well, a great deal of the skill in healing involves proper target selection, choosing the right person to heal at the right time. Perfect smart heals controlled by the server negate a lot of that skill.

One interesting suggestion I've seen is to give the various smart heals the Beacon of Light treatment. Essentially, the smart components would only work off the effective healing done to the selected target, not the raw healing. If you cast Circle of Healing on a full health target, it does nothing, just as if you had cast a direct heal on that target.

This would once again make target selection more important, and weight healing back towards the direct single-target spells. You can't just spam Chain Heal and expect the server to do perfect bounces, you have to direct your healing to where it is needed.


  1. Smart Heals mechanic have other effects. Since smart targeting is resolved server-side:

    1) there is no way to receive an "incoming heal" notification (see grid) about smart-heals

    2) lag is zero, so smart-heals land hundreds millisecond before any direct healer can receive UI update.

  2. Chain heal isn't *that* smart - you're not going to keep anyone alive if you spam it on a full health target due to the way the healing degrades. There's always a need to target it intelligently to get the benefit of it's first, full heal. But I take your point generally. The game does make it a bit easier for the player when using smart heals.

    I guess the trade-off is in the range of the spell. Beacon of light has a much more effective range than any of the other smart heals, making it more flexible where players aren't stood on top of each other.

  3. How is the discussion in the healing forums at the moment?

    Would you say having different classes in the same "role" thread is leading to better ideas/discussion or increasing the number of troll threads?

  4. paladins not having a HoT adds to the overhealing numbers as well

  5. I was reading another blog, and someone stated they felt that pally heals were really not needed anymore with the other classes having what they have now. I still think that if you are a good healer, you will always have a spot in a group or a raid, but what are you thoughts on our healing future?

  6. @Relmstein

    At the moment, it seems the Healer forum isn't nearly as full of bile as the Class forum (at least the paladin one) usually is. I didn't read a huge amount of threads, but most of those I looked through seemed better than the norm.


  7. In TBC raiding, tanks were needed steady heals during boss fights, and no one can deliver a steady stream of healing as well as paladins. I think there will always be a raid spot for about 2 healing paladins, but past that will honestly depend on guild make-up and play style.

  8. Would you say having different classes in the same "role" thread is leading to better ideas/discussion or increasing the number of troll threads?

    The healing and tanking forums are pretty good. The DPS forum is a waste of space.

    I think it's mostly that the tanks and healers have a more "working together" mindset, and PvP concerns make the DPS even more argumentative.

  9. as the old adage goes, as long as you dont oom and nobody dies, overheal is fine. making beacon smart might make it a little op, considering it already doubles our throughput in many situations