Why overhealing is bad

November 18, 2009 § 2 Comments

Last week my shaman’s guild finally downed Hodir.  I wasn’t in the raid, but I was listening on vent.  I was just as excited for them to take him down as the people that were actually in the raid were.  Mostly because he’d given us such a hard time for such a long time.  So this time around when we went back into Ulduar I was very much looking forward to taking down…or rather freeing, Hodir.  It was a hard fight.  We kept wiping and couldn’t figure it out.  It was difficult not to feel like I was primarily responsibly as they had all been there the previous week.  As it turns out…I did share a brunt of the blame.

The reason?


I’ve mentioned previously that I one of my biggest issues as a healer is overhealing–specifically when grouped with druids.  It’s because I can’t see there HoTs.  The druid in our group was assigned to the main tank.  Well because I couldn’t see his HoTs it looked like the main tank was going down and I needed to help heal him.  As it turns out all the HoTs were doing just fine, i just couldn’t see them.

I did two things wrong here.  First, I didn’t have enough faith in my raid party member to get the job done.  Second, I was overhealing the crap out of the main tank, taking away heals from the rest of the raid.

Now I could spend an entire post on trusting the abilities of your raid members, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

So, overhealing.  You’ve heard it was bad, and know you shouldn’t do it, but do you know why?  Well, I’ll tell you why.

The most obvious reason is that overhealing wastes mana.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize if you are casting healing spells on people that don’t need them, then your just wasting mana.  That’s one of the reasons I miss downranking so much.  Back in the day, our lower level spells did less healing, but also cost less mana.  Now they do less healing but cost the same mana as the highest rank.  (Although the word on the street is they are returning to down ranking.)

Not only does it waste your mana, but it wastes the mana of other healers.  If a druid puts a healing over time spell on a target and then a shaman casts a healing wave on the same target, sure the target is at full health, but the druids’ HoT that is still ticking after the shaman’s spell hits is effectively wasted, so is the mana the druid used to cast those HoTs.

The other thing overhealing wastes is time.  Here’s a complicated example.

Tank has 20,000 health. Boss hits for x health every 2 seconds.  Healer has a spell with a 2.2 second cast time that heals for y health.

Time elapesd: 0 seconds. Tank has full health. Healer begins spell cast.

Time elapsed: 2 seconds. Boss hits Tank for 5,000 health. Tanks health is now 15,000 health.

Time elapsed: 2.2 seconds.  Healers spell heals Tank for 5,000 health. Tanks health is now 20,000. Healer begins next spell.

Time elapsed: 4 seconds. Boss hits Tank for 6,000 health. Tank parries full amount of the attack.  Tank still at full health.

Time elapsed: 4.4 seconds. Healers spell overheals Tank for 5,000.  Healer begins next spell.

Time elapsed: 5 seconds. Boss parries Tanks attack, speeding up their attack speed. Hits Tank for 7,000 health.  Tank now at 13,00 health.

Time elapsed: 6.5 seconds. Boss uses special ability to hit Tank for 10,000 health.  Tank now at 3,000 health.

Time elapsed: 6.6 seconds. Healers spell hits tank for for 2,000.  Tank now at 5,000 health.

Time elapsed: 7 seconds. Boss hits tank for 6,000 health.  Tank is now dead.


Complicated enough? Well, lets break it down.  The healer in this example can only get off a spell every 2.2 seconds, so when the tank is hit at 4 seconds in, but doesn’t take any damage, the healer should have canceled the spell and started over.  This would have allowed the healer to land a spell at 6.2 seconds in, just in time to bring the tanks health up enough to last through the bosses next attack at 7 seconds in.

Now I know some of you are probably screaming inside about how that’s not really how the game mechanics work.  Well I know that.  This is just an example to illustrate a point.  Because the healer let their spell play all the way out and over heal at one point, they were unable to time their subsequent spells correctly.  This resulted in a dead tank.

So if you are healing someone, expecting them to take lots of damage, if they don’t take that damage DON’T heal them.  Instead, cancel that heal, and start a new one.  This same idea goes if you are casting a heal on a target with less than full health, and another healer gets them before you do then for heavens sake stop healing them.  Move on to the mage that is about to die.

And finally, over healing takes heals away from others who need it.  In my Hodir example, we kept wiping because I was busy overhealing the main tank rather than focusing on the raid.  Once I realized the problem was because I spent to much time trying to heal the tank (trust the HoTs…trust the HoTs…trust the HoTs…) I was able to save my time and mana for the raid.  Because I wasn’t in the middle of casting on the tank, I was able to do a Chain Heal in anticipation of his Frozen Blows ability (which is what was killing most of us).

So, what did we learn in today’s lesson boys and girls?

Overhealing is bad.

Add this to this list of Thistlefizz’s life lessons for better playing.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”


§ 2 Responses to Why overhealing is bad

  • drug says:

    I can’t fully agree.

    The title of your post says “Why overhealing is bad”, but by reading your post I think “Why you should trust your fellow healer and have proper heal assignements” would be more appropriate.

    I think you are very right, that stopcasting is crucial. But if you know how to manage your mana, you won’t stopcast to conserve mana, but because another target needs attention (e.g. stopcasting a CH to hurl an instant riptide at a raidmember who’s suddenly dropping low in health). Mana shouldn’t really be a problem if you handle manda tide, mana pots and your watershield properly.

    Here’s why overhealing often is good: If your chainheal is very close to firing, but the main target is at full health, it will still most probably jump to another raider. If you cast LHW oder HW to the end, it might still proc Ancestral Awakening, Earthliving or Ancestral Fortitude.

    This is why overhealing is often a good thing and I think this should absolutely not be confused with players not selecting their proper healing target. The bad way of healing you describe WILL lead to a lot of overhealing yes, but the overheal isn’t bad, what’s bad is the inflexible and static healer producing it. But letting your heals land is often a very good choice nontheless.

    What confuses me even more is this though: Why didn’t you just swap healing assignments? Everyone spreading out and running around isn’t ideal for chainheal. Shamans are great tankhealers. Druids are great raidhealers. A druid will still have a good portion of his HoTs on an MT while a shaman can make clever use of riptide to crosseheal or CH to heal up melees, while producing a lot higher single target heal than a druid.

    • thistlefizz says:

      While most of my examples could also be used to make a ‘trust your other healers and have proper assignments’ post, that wasn’t really my point. I wrote it from a shaman perspective because that’s all I know, so yes, sometimes overhealing can be fine, like letting a chain heal land on a target because it will bounce to another player. But that doesn’t translate over to a healer whose spell is only hitting one target at a time. Also, just because I know how to manage mana, if the fight goes long, or something goes horribly wrong in another aspect, it may eat a large chunk of my mana.

      My point was more about maximizing healing effectiveness by reducing waste. It wasn’t meant to be the end-all-be-all of healing, just a few suggestions to help deal with healing effectiveness if someone is struggling.

      And finally: I wasn’t in charge of healing assignments. Even if I was, I know nothing about druids (as I mentioned) so I wouldn’t have been able to make the call on that. All I had to go on was the word of the raid leader, and tried to adjust things accordingly.

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