Bring back downranking, but nerf it

| Friday, March 27, 2009
I hate trying to start posts. I want to just repeat my title. It feels like a good first sentence. It gets to the point and doesn't ramble, unlike everything else I write.

So yes, why would I want this?

Why downrank?
Sometimes you just don't need a big heal. Sometimes even flash heal is too big.

This thought was brought on by a recent SFK run on my druid. A 41 shaman was running a warlock and I tagged along. It was pretty slow, partially because the shaman wasn't very good (strange spec, strange gear, and just slow moving). He kept telling me to heal because "I'm the weakest one." That seemed strange, since there wasn't much to heal. I thought, why not have him heal, I'd pull a bunch and tank it while the warlock was AoE. That sounded fast. But the shaman didn't seem interested.

In retrospect it wouldn't have worked well. The overhealing would have been massive and as a result the shaman might have been unable to keep up. Downranking would have helped then and I think it would help a lot now.

What's the nerf?
Downranking was removed, at least as far as I know, because it was giving ridiculous efficiencies. Lower ranks gained less from +healing, but not enough to offset the lower mana costs. So why not have the total healing reduced directly in proportion to the lower mana cost? This would mean no gain in efficiency. Instead healers could use this to reduce healing output for a lower mana cost. Currently this is possible, the it either involves changing spells or delaying casts. Neither is very good.

Changing spells, for example HL to FoL, will result in much lower spending but also much lower output. This is frying pan to fire: massive overhealing to massive underhealing (also known as a dead tank). Mixing would reduce the effect, such as alternating FoL and HL, but then this just means sometimes you underheal and sometimes you overheal. With luck the tank won't die from the underhealing times, but luck isn't always nice.

Delaying casts is even worse. Tanks tend to need healing now, or at least 1.5 seconds from now. Delaying heals means they don't get that heal. Even if the healing averages out properly, tanks don't live by average; they die by extremes.

Downranking would also allow for more flexibility. Do you want to skimp on regen, stack SP, and downrank? Or do you want to go for more regen and use higher rank heals? Maybe go somewhere in the middle and balance the two with a fairly high rank. This would also help to make Ulduar gear (at least as I remember it a couple weeks ago) more attractive. Downranking makes crit less effective compared to mana/5 and allows for an actual choice between the two rather than just crit>mana/5.

In the reverse direction, how about talents with effects like "increases healing by 50% and mana costs by 50%, lasts X seconds." Bad things are happening and you can respond to them, but this isn't something to spam. Or maybe it allows regen to be an output stat as well since it would allow a player to use this cooldown more often.

Maybe this is just the wishful thinking of a bad healer who wishes the game was more accommodating of his lack of skill.


Dorgol said...

"Mixing would reduce the effect, such as alternating FoL and HL, but then this just means sometimes you underheal and sometimes you overheal. With luck the tank won't die from the underhealing times, but luck isn't always nice."

I think this is the point. Blizzard wants us to use multiple spells to do our job. It's up to is as the healer to know when to switch.

Sometimes it is (bad) luck that causes a tank death when casting FoL. Most of the time, though, we should know when to switch to the big guns.

Ruhtra said...

The major problem I see with this is at higher levels. In runs where my Paladin is healing, often times I have to cast before the damage starts getting out of control. If I start casting and then a major blow comes after I start the cast, it will result in the tank going bye bye.

I also agree with Dorgol that as a healer it should not be just stand there hit one spell and the game decides what spell goes off. To me it would cheapen the healing and make me less likely to want to be the "unskilled" player.

Klepsacovic said...

@Dorgol I'm trying to find a middle ground between FoL and HoL. Currently that middle ground is a dice roll, which I don't like. We'd still use multiple spells. There's a limit to how much you can rank up FoL before you need HL to get the output. And other spells are still needed, such as SS and HS. Still, I think I see where you're coming from.

@Ruhtra The game wouldn't choose the heal size. You could still anticipate damage and uprank or switch spells.

Stabs said...

It would make bars very cluttered at max level. A priest will already have for example: coh, poh, pom, flash heal renew shield and greater heal on his bars. Adding in several different ranks of each spell would require about 20 hotkeys.

It's not very future-proof. As WoW goes on more and more healing spells and talents will get added.

Many abilities are procced by casting heals. For instance you could spam cheap heals to proc Inspiration or to get a second off your Holy Light cast times. This is both a borderline exploit and pretty annoying in terms of the constant spamming of heals in raids.

You are mistaken that downranking would not increase efficiency. Raw healing per mana is not the same as efficiency because it does not take overheal into account. Topping up the tank with small cheap heals is better than using big heals which overheal more and waste a part of the heal.

Last but not least: they really need to fix the infinite mana issue first. We need to see tanks dying because the healers blew all their mana spamming silly heals again. That would create a much more interesting healing end game.

Centuri said...

Downranking seperated the good healers from the great healers. Like much of the rest of the game, anything that rewarded skill with increased performance had to be nurfed, so that players with little skill could keep up.

I remember having 20+ spells to cast on my shaman while healing in TBC. Now after 10 more levels, I have 5. ~Centuri

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