A reason to downrank heals?

Okay, so after I wrote the second half of this post, I saw that GC had just posted about downranking heals here:

We were spending more and more of our design time trying to make sure that the lower ranked spells didn’t always trump the higher ranked spells since with enough spell power etc. the coefficients start to matter a lot more than the flat value of the heals. We kept nerfing the coefficients over and over and could have kept doing that, but at some point we asked ourselves why so much of our healing design time was spent balancing downranking when it was a pretty obscure concept (from a new player perspective) in the first place and we were having trouble getting healers to use their entire arsenal of spells.

We recognize that there is some fun in matching the right heal to the job, and we would love to add some smaller heals back to the game, but first we have to get the balance right where huge, fast, expensive heals don’t always win. Otherwise, offering you small, cheap heals won’t do anything.

So, this is interesting because currently the only time you would want to downrank your heals is if you cared about how much overhealing you were doing. There is only one encounter for end-game raiding where it is actually possible to heal too much:

Anub in Trial of the Crusader has an interesting final mechanic. In the last 30%, he has the ability to heal himself based on 10% or 20% of the total health you have at that second. If you keep everyone healed to full, that means the boss is healing a lot. If you keep people around 50% health during that phase, you end up with the boss healing for half as much as he would otherwise. With the relatively short enrage timer, you really don’t have the ability to let him soak up our health like a sponge until you can out gear the encounter. The boss also does enough AOE damage to the raid that keeping them alive can be a bit of a struggle if you can’t use big burst AOE heals on them.

One thing that looks like it could help with healing for the last part of the Anub fight as a druid could be to pull out lower ranks of some spells (ie. rejuv & wild growth), so that you could have more control over their health more. In our 25-man (non-heroic) kill this last week, I actually found that using my max rank rejuv had a habit of keeping them higher health than I wanted, but if I dropped down to a low rank of rejuv, they still got a decent sized heal from my tier 8 set bonus, without as big of a HOT at the end doing more than I wanted it to. A downranked wild growth could heal for enough to keep people from dieing, but not enough to keep them topped off at full. There is (unfortunately) only one rank of nourish…

I used max rank heals for everything before that, and I used max rank HOTs on the tank for that phase (they take a lot of dmg). You also wouldn’t really want to use rank 1, as there’s not enough oomph on the HOT portion. Also, you don’t save any mana by using lower ranks. This is also probably the only place currently in the game where using lower ranked heals is to your advantage. However, this is also NOT for beginners. Figuring out the right size heal to use is tricky… and you may need to try it a little bit before you found something that worked the best for your raid. (and as Bai points out, for the hard mode/heroic versions of the fights, you may need the highest ranked spells – you also want to keep people at a higher health % for hard mode compared to normal).

You also won’t be able to take advantage of this for long, given the incoming tier 8 set bonus nerf, along with downranking becoming impossible in Cataclysm once they take away the ability to buy new ranks of spells as you level (you’ll have one rank of each spell that just scales with you every time you level).

7 Comments

  1. Bai
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if you are talking about heroic Anub or normal, but my experiences with heroic are that rejuv works well. Penetrating Cold is countered nicely in P2 with a glyphed rejuv, and the leech is pretty nicely taken care of with 1 application of LB, a WG here and there, and a Rejuv when someone is slipping too close to 10%. I was keeping the raid (except for those with Penetrating cold) at about 30% using max – rank spells.

    I would see a use for a lower ranked direct heal in that fight though. The T8 4set is a nice small heal but you might need the initial heal w/out the rejuv while mice-managing the raid in p2.

  2. Lissanna
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    For non-heroic (especially the 10-man), it can out heal the damage being done sometimes, especially if you don’t have quite the right level of communication between all the healers (not everyone is at the point where they are beating the hard-mode 25-man version yet).

    You actually still get most of the instant heal from rejuv when using the lower ranked version. So, you can essentially get the instant heal without having such a big HOT for when you want more control over that small heal. It’s still supplemental, though. I wouldn’t replace the higher ranked versions of things on my bars…

  3. Krae
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    This was more of an issue in Vanilla WOW. I havent heard or it much since then really. Right when +heal started comming out on gear, you could downrank and still get good output from your heals. The cost less mana and were a bit faster to cast. This was right around when BWL came out. I was one of those mad downranking dr00ds.

    After they nerfed it, they improved mana regen, so it wasnt even needed as much anyway. Not sure why it would be common practice other than the aforementioned fight.

  4. Brent
    Posted September 8, 2009 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Part of this had to do with the old cast times too. Healing Touch was 3.5 (3 with talent) secs at 60, but I think it was Rank 5 that was 3 secs (2.5 with talent), and Regrowth had an earlier rank that was 2 secs (1.5 with talent).

    The Healing coefficients were such that the mana cost of the downranked heals combined with shorter cast times gave you better HPS than the max rank spell. I used to be able to spam Healing Touch constantly at the downranked value without any issue whatsoever (and yes in those days HT was spammed :-p)

  5. Lissanna
    Posted September 8, 2009 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Right now, Rank 3 healing touch is still 2.5 seconds before talents. It just doesn’t heal enough anymore to be worth casting.

  6. Posted September 8, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    wow that sounds interesting.

  7. Lamente
    Posted September 13, 2009 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    As an interesting note – I walked into anub’arak 25 seriously considering downranking wg/rejuv for phase 3. In practice, however, I haven’t found wg/rejuv to be an excessive amount of healing in 25 mans, at their top ranks. On 10 man Anub’arak, however, since the incoming damage is significantly lower, downranking might actually be something to consider depending on how you feel about how you’re doing against the enrage timer.