Health draining as a stat

| Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Now and then I decide that I really should reforge my weapon, then realize that I've not done that yet because Bryn'troll has nothing to reforge. Stam, strength, and... lifestealing? That's not a stat, it's a proc. Those clearly aren't stats. Or are they? Once again, I'll make possibly useless comparisons to Torchlight. Which you should try.

WoW has more than a few lifestealing weapons, enchants, and spells. Warlocks have drain life and deathcoil. I won't count them since that would be as absurd as claiming polymorph as a potential gear stat. Alright, quick list, may not be complete: Lifestealing enchant, Skullforge Reaver from Stratholme, Demonfork from Lower Blackrock Spire, Syphon of the Nathrezim, and a list of all weapons with "steal" in the name, which does have some mis-hits, stealth, and the effective duplication of Shadowstrike.

So the stat is there and has been giving some sort of value. That means we could see it more often if we wanted it.

More than a few things go against this. It goes against Blizzard's attempt to simplify stats. Though the DPS gain per class/spec should be somewhat straightforward, it's still an added bit of complexity. To make it worse, it's a melee-focused stat, but melee have the agility-strength divide, so the weapon would either have to be gimped for one side or have nothing but lifestealing. Then within the agility community there's the melee-range split, and guess what, this wouldn't be very useful for hunters, unless on a ranged weapon, in which case it's useless for melee.

The usefulness of the healing aspect would depend heavily on the situation. It is likely to save downtime while soloing and could be a slight help against stray damage in PvE, but it's not going to save anyone from what would otherwise kill them, or at least so rarely as to be insignificant.

But maybe it could be a gem. A meta or perhaps one-per-set prismatic. Torchlight uses it as a gem and sometimes on weapons, which are named as Draining, much like WoW has Owl or Bear. My experience has mostly been as a Vanquisher where my constant kiting meant that I rarely took damage, so a bit of healing here and there would make up for it. On the downside, my constant kiting also meant that I wasn't able to autoshot very often, so it wasn't triggered much. For a Destroyer or a melee-oriented Vanquisher it might have been more useful. But I liked the idea of the stat and found it to be fun. After all, there's a strange thrill to not being a healing class but seeing that health bar go up anyway.

Blizzard's attitude towards lifestealing would need to change for it to be a real stat. Currently it's a gimmick, barely noticeable except that for some reason a huge lifestealing proc was put on an axe, Bryn'troll, off the first boss of 25-man Icecrown Citadel, making it the easiest 264 weapon, easier in my opinion than most of even the 251 weapons. I doubt this will happen, but what better time for senseless, useless speculation and theorycraft than around an election?

Would you want to see lifestealing given a more common place in WoW?


Gevlon said...

The melee/ranged/strength/agility problem could be solved if the "life stealing" stat would be defined as "return X% of your damage done to enemies to you as health", no matter how you deal damage.

However it would be an interesting question who needs this stat? Tanks maybe, but for them damage mitigation is better. DPS as "raid healing" stat? Then it would collide with the raid healing specs viability. I mean if "life steal" is weak, no one takes it. If it's strong, no one takes raid healers to the raid and "life steal" becomes mandatory to DPS.

The only solution would be making it a pure soloing stat by "returns HP when killing something providing XP or honor".

caerphoto said...

If it was a stat on any kind of gear it could be useful as long as it was balanced with the need to have a raid healer.

Then again, who's to say dedicated raid healers are even necessary? Perhaps forcing everyone to mostly take care of their own health would be beneficial in the long run, with 'healers' just being DPS classes that are a little better at healing than others.

In fact that's got me wondering what it'd be like if even the tank role did not exist, and instead monsters either attacked randomly or maybe went after whoever was closest.

Unknown said...

I've been a huge fan of the simplification (or, in some term, the DotA-fication) of stats. But not because there were to many, but so we could do something like this. My Other game, League of Legends, has 2 fairly common stats - Lifesteal and Spell Vamp. They're the same mechanically, its just one is for physical hits, the other for spell hits. Integrating them as gems, enchants, and gear stats for WoW wouldn't be that much of an issue, and with Cata coming like it looks, may be very useful.

Nikodhemus said...

Lifestealing has always been one of the premier choices in games like this ie: Diablo, Titan's Quest. However, those games are primarily soloing games, where to get the most out of WoW you will be playing in a group.

I think it works great as a DPS or Tanking option, perhaps as a trinket or ring to make any attacks drain life, a percentage of damage dealt. Big boss fights with serious AOE damage would benefit with the DPS healing themselves a bit.

Klepsacovic said...

@Gevlon: Your thought of healers being replaced could actually be useful. Currently players often bring extra healers to early fights, then they switch them out as they gear up and learn fights. Rather than shifting a role, players could instead use lifestealing items early on, then as they are adapted to the fights, switch to higher damage non-stealing weapons.

@Andy: Ah the slippery slope of no more holy trinity. The MMO Protestants.

@Vogie: I never thought of the reduced stats meaning more room for truly different stats, but you're right.

@Nikodhemus: Maybe it could be an activated item, so when really bad stuff happens the DPS can help with the recovery, much as tanks do now.

Shintar said...

I don't think this would be a good idea, as the benefit of "a bit of fun for some people" would be countered by the huge balance issues it would cause in PvP situations. I mean, shadow priests' vampiric embrace pretty much does just that already (heals the caster for damage done), and it has been nerfed so many times by now it's silly.

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