Thursday, October 28, 2010

Healing Balance Discussion - Part 1

A new build hit the beta servers yesterday: Cataclysm Beta - Build 13221. You can read the details on MMO Champion, as always thx Boubouille.

I'm here going to discuss the major healing balance changes for all classes:

Druids - not affected yet, but GC already announced that they think druids use too much Rejuvenation and will probably see their mana regen nerfed to limit this.

Priests - mostly small buffs, priests are a little lower on raid recounts (even if Blizzard say you should look at them, they obviously do :p)

Shaman - Chain Heal now costs 20% of base mana, up from 17% of base mana. This is a mana nerf supposed limiting the use of chain heal by shamans.

Paladin - ok here comes the big stuff:
  • Holy Radiance's effectiveness now diminish on targets farther than x yards away.
Global nerf to our big aoe heal, this was announced because it was too strong as it can clearly be seen on the beta raid logs, holy paladin healing is crap until there is a mass aoe damage and they use this skill cleverly, then they start topping the healing meters.
Not having to re-beacon every minute is nice, it is also a slight mana gain. Not regaining mana with Lay on Hands is on the other hand a strong mana loss (especially if using the glyph of Divinity).
  • Divine Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 8538-9512 to 11100-12366
  • Flash of Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 5313-5961 to 6907-7750.
  • Holy Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 3202-3567 to 4162-4637.
  • Holy Shock base healing has been increased by 30%. From 3033-3285 to 3943-4271.
Basic buff to our heals, this is supposed to balance the nerf to Holy Radiance, we'll discuss that later on.
  • Mastery: Illuminated Healing now absorbs 10% of the amount healed, up from 8%. Now lasts 8 sec, up from 6 sec. Each point of mastery increases the absorb amount by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.
I'm still not convinced by our mastery, even though it's very close to the disc priest Divine Aegis which I know for being effective. It's a strong component pushing us to become raid healers, because if you're healing only one person (aka your tank) you're always "overwriting" the mastery shields.

A Global View on the Changes

If you look at all the changes on a global scale, most aoe healing is nerfed, either directly or by mana limitation (as for chain heal). Analyzing the first raid logs clearly shows that there are some massive raid damage and that aoe heals were very strong, if not dominant, because of that.
Balance seems to be the issue though as Holy Priests still are getting buffs when they already have strong group/raid healing abilities.

What about Holy Paladins ?

In our specific case, our big aoe heal Holy Radiance is nerfed, probably strongly enough for it to get more in par with other classes aoe heals, the priests being what is considered the "good balanced" reference right now.
My concern is that, looking at logs Holy Paladins healing is crap but for Holy Radiance. Our Beacon isn't strong enough, or our direct heals aren't, but clearly we're not on line with other healers on the direct heals side.

Now I'm complaining about something which as already been addressed, as you can read before all our direct heals are getting a 30% base healing buff. My question is: is this enough? My second question is: will it still be enough in tier 13 gear?

A Little Bit of Healing Theorycrafting

I'm going to explain these two questions here, and will probably do a dedicated post about healing theorycrafting later.
A heal strength can only be compared by using HPS: healing per second, which means the healing output a spell gives you per second if you're spamming it. If I take a regular direct heal, it's healing can be obtained by this formula:
base healing + (spell coefficient * spellpower) = global spell healing
You then divide that by its casting time and you get the spell HPS.

We got a buff to the base healing, which means a 30% buff to the first part of the equation. Now, if your gear improves, the only thing that makes your heals stronger is that your spellpower increases. What that means is that with better gear what you consider to decide of the strength of a heal is the spell coefficient and not the base healing.

Now you see where I want to go. Buffing the base healing is perhaps enough to get us in line with the other healers at 85 in blues, even with the nerf to Holy Radiance. But if the spell coefficients are not changed, we will again be lower when gear improves. On the other hand, the Holy Radiance nerf will affect it as strongly at high gear level than in blues, because it affects the global hps and not only the base coefficient.


I can understand that aoe healing could looks mindless and unskilled. And I can understand that Blizzard wants to see more dedicated healers having to target people to heal them. I have nothing against that.
My fear is that the nerf to Holy Radiance will put the paladins back down where they are right now in ICC at lvl 80. And even if I don't really like the idea that most of our hps is a single spell on a 30s cooldown, it's never fun to always be the lowest on the charts.
My second concern is that the direct heal buffs that are supposed to balance that aoe nerf are probably not right. Increasing only the base spell healing could be enough right now, but it won't last as I explained.

I understand that some could not be familiar with theorycrafting, and I'm not posting too often about it, most of the time only giving you my conclusions.
But an educated healer can better understand the problems of spell balance, and how nerfs/buffs affect it, so I will try to write a complete and more detailed / easy to understand post about spell balance later.

On a side note, my resto shaman is close to 70 now :P


  1. With the change in Lay on Hands, the glyph of Divinity is also changed to grant you a set 10% (of maximum) mana whenever you cast it.

    With this glyph, it will now return as much mana as an unglyphed Divine Plea without the healing loss.

  2. Thank you for the input. The glyph of Divinity will probably become a must have now. I'm not sure of the mana return comparison between before and now, but at least that is still something.

    Divine Plea just makes me cry now, near to useless ability.