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Community Spotlight: Healing in PvP

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 14 2012 at 4:07PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Thoughts on healing in PvP" by dais. In the thread, dais wonders what the community feels about whether DPS classes should be able outdamage the healing output of a healer:

So I wanted to see if I could get some feedback from some of you guys/gals on something that I have seen pretty heated arguments for and against.  The current game that I am playing until my month is up is SWTOR, and my main is a healer.  I have played a ton of MMOs but the ones that I spent a good amount of time PvPing in was WoW and to a lesser extent Rift.  The question that I have for you guys is do you feel that healers should outheal DPS, or should a DPS always out damage heals (healing resources excluded).  Here are a couple of hypothetical scenarios:

1) Fighter A finds Fighter B afk, and starts to beat on him.  Random neighborhood friendly healer stumbles upon the fight and tries to spam heal Fighter B to save him.  Assuming Fighter A never switches targets and the healer never runs out of mana, should Fighter B ever die?

2)In a 2v2 arena in an open field with no LoS issues, with two teams at exactly the same skill/classbalance/gear level should a 2 DPS team win over a 1 DPS / 1 Heal team?

The purpose of me asking these questions isn't an attempt at a "gotcha" moment, or any attempt at a trick question.  I am really just curious because this is one of those topics that is a constant tug of war, and it is a VERY fine line that seperates being underpowered/overpowered.  In my opinion when I left WoW healers were very strong, and in good gear could laugh with impunity at 2 DPS beating on them, all the while keeping their team alive in battlegrounds.  Rift seemed pretty balanced, but I only played it for a few months after release; I have no idea how it is now.  With SWTOR healers seem very underpowered.  DPS seem to have a very easy time keeping up with if not exceeding healing output, and once you throw in the overabundance of stuns/interrupts/knockbacks the game seems to have showered onto the DPS it's game over for that healer.  Most 1v1 fights with a healer vs DPS at equal skill the healer would be eating dirt.

Ultimately this isn't about any one specific game, but just where should a healers place be in that struggle.  In the #1 scenario above my view is Fighter B should never die, until the healer runs out of healing resources.  Also in scenarion #2 I think the team with the healer should be the winning team.  I would like to see healers in a place where 1v1 if they know their class they should always survive the encounter, but not always kill their opponent.  In a 2v1 all they could hope to do is run away successfully.  In the end if a healer cannot keep up with the damage then why even bring a healer?  At that point everyone should just play DPS and strive to do more damage than your opponent to win.

Ikeda offers a fairly nuanced response on the discussion:

I see what you're saying.  I played a Priest in WoW, a heal spec in Rift, and now have a Sawbones.

If you follow the trend though, why not end with the obviously GW2 "Everyone heals"?


I should be able to heal people.  I wouldn't mind getting the snot pummelled out of me by  DPS'r if it didn't affect my cast time.

For example, I think that if Warrior is being attacked by Warrior, a healer should ROUGHLY be able to heal up the warrior abou 4-5 times from down to full.  By then you should be seriously hurting for mana.

I think that if you were healing said warrior, and  Rogue started punching you in the back, you should be able to protect yourself for roughly half your health, have enough time to get a heal down on yourself, before you dropped.  That seems like the best terms for ME.  For the other Warrior, it'd be a WTF NERF THIS WARRIOR opinion.  For the Rogue, it'd be a PRIEST IS OP NERF THEM!  If a Priest dropped in 2 hits it'd be, PRIEST is so crap.  They need a buff.


Xstyles feels the balance should be even, and offers some commentary on the overall paradigm of healers in PvP:

Healing is the most proactive form of support there is and it's stupid for a class to only being able to heal and do nothing else.

I think that healers often ruin the excitement of PvP. People don't have to play defensive, They just steamroll, because someone is constantly healing them and the team with the best balance of healers/damage dealers wins..

In 1v1 a dps should be able to kill a healer, BUT the healer should also have a chance to kill the dps. That means down the healing output and up the damage of healers.

The most fun PvP I ever had was when there were no healers present.

Guild wars 2 has no healers or tanks. I'm looking forward to it :)

gaeanprayer flat out thinks healers should be able to outheal DPS:

Yes, I do think a healer should be able to out-heal dps. People are forgetting there are more ways to win a battle than simply stabbing someone. If a healer can't really heal you for the damage you're taking, they're not worth having. Likewise, if the only thing you are capable of doing is slashing at the healer, don't be surprised when it's inneffective. Damn near every MMO I can think of outfits even the purest of meleers with a few crowd control abilities (stuns, knockdowns, etc.) to combat the situation. 

First off, thanks go out to dais for creating such an excellent discussion! This is a matter I tend to be fairly opinionated on. Playing SW:TOR with friends, for example, I often find it amusing when they complain about not being able to kill a healer. Well, in my mind, I don't think you should be able to unless you focus it down with at least one other person. If healers can't outheal a single character's DPS, well, they aren't going to be able to perform adequately.

It's a fairly simple balance. It's not always the goal to kill the healer. Even if you can't kill them, applying pressure via your DPS actually contributes to the battle as the healer has to focus on healing his or herself instead of their allies. This is almost as good as killing the healer outright. Where things get out of whack is when there are a disproportionate number of healers on either team (assuming this is a team based conflict). In such a case, obviously the team with more healers will have a better chance at winning, but this isn't always the case. Things obviously get a bit harder to discuss when you start considering the varied ways a team can be built, especially in a PUG environment. But if it comes down to should a single DPS character be able to outdps the heals of a single healer? My answer is no. Healers often deal with even more pressure than that, and they need to be able to withstand a bit of pressure to perform adequately.

Now, if your game design actually supports the role of tanks in PvP, well, then you can get a bit looser with what healers should be able to withstand as tanks should be protecting healers from DPS classes crossing the front line. For all the CC in Warhammer Online, there was just something satisfying about being able to confidently protect your healer as a Swordmaster, knocking groups of enemies away and guarding them from damage.

What are your thoughts on healers in PvP? Share 'em in the comments below!

Monofox writes:

If a healer cannot heal through at least a single DPS players Damage, then there is no reason to play a healer at all. You wouldnt be able to get kills, you wouldnt be able to keep yourself nor your teammates alive in a 1v1 and you are basically just taking up a spot that could be filled by a more useful teammate. 

You HAVE to be able to heal more than a single DPS can deal to you. Thats just the fact of a balanced system

Sat Jan 14 2012 5:50PM Report
MikeB writes:

@Monofox: Yup!

Sat Jan 14 2012 5:51PM Report
Sweede writes:

What i find frustrating is that some classes in World of warcraft that are considered melee like dk's and rogues can outheal a healer pretty much, seen rogues use recouperate and heal himself for over 7k a every x seconds, sure my priest is only 82 but his hot in holy spec with bit over 4400sp ticks for around 2k, add to that my holy's dps is not exactly hot either while a rogue or dk has crap loads of dps.

Sat Jan 14 2012 8:32PM Report
Lord.Bachus writes:

1) the warrior should survive forcing the ennemy to take out the healer first. So basically if the ennemy is a better player then the healer. THe other warrior still dies after the healer gets killed.,

2) If the DPS only DPS's and does not use crowd controll and interupts they should loose. Again, if they manage to take the healer out first they could win. Self healing should never be as strong as healing others. In general ballance should make the best players win in this situation.



Sun Jan 15 2012 12:37AM Report
Zeus.CM writes:

Take out the healers, bring in the tactics pls.

Sun Jan 15 2012 7:54AM Report
Kyleran writes:

I'm old school, I preferred healing to be a specialized role as in old school DAOC, so the healer could never kill a DPS, escape was the most that could be hoped for.

But that was a different time for a different sort of player.....doesn't work anymore today, so I'm looking forward to the GW2 approach to see if they can come up with a new balance for the skill.

Sun Jan 15 2012 1:21PM Report
badgerer writes:

In the above example, the afk fighter is obviously unable to use any kind of active damage mititgation abilities on himself, so the healer should find it hard to keep up. That's how it should be, if the design is there. 

Sun Jan 15 2012 2:23PM Report
Konfess writes:

1. Yes

2. No

In an absolute ballance situation 2 DPS will gang up on the Healer.  The Healers healing will cancel out one DPS.  The Healer would die at the same instant that his DPS kill one of the two DPS.  Then the remianing DPS kill each other simultaniously.  That is ballance.

But in modern MMOs we have gear, and skill \ tallent tress to introduce imballance.  With this imballance due to gear and tress the Healer is able to with stand two DPS.  Allowing the one DPS to take out the two, one at a time.  Clearly what this discussion is about, allowing only DPS classes to benifit from gear and tress.  So as to over power Healers and Tanks as DPS feel is their right.

Mon Jan 16 2012 3:28AM Report
Konfess writes:

In the DAOC example above, if the Healer focused on him self and healed, the healer would have survived.   In the example given, the Healer sacrificed himself,  healing another player (most likly a DPS) so that his faction would win.  The squish nature that DPS love about Healers is their self sacrifice.  When a healer doesn't self sacrifice and heals them self adn fights with what little dps they have, this is what is ment by Healer are Over Powered.

The person who playes a healer often does it as a Peragon of Self Sacrafice healing EVERY ONE ELSE in the raid before them selves.  The Tank, the fool melee DPS who grabs agro from the tank, and the defenceless range DPS (who should be protected from adds by the melee DPS) all getting healed by the lone Healer who is getting pounded by adds and the raid boss.  If the Healer focuses this raid level healing on him self durring PvP and take no damage.  While doing a measly 1/4 the DPS of his non-healing opponent, then that is just wrong adn unfair and must be nerfed or done away with entirely.  With calls for death to the Trinity, and Inovation Now.

Let DPS be the class favored by fools.  Let Healer heal and be the class favored by Paragons, if this means the class is Over Powered so be it.  if the fools (I mean DPS) don't like it, ban them from the forums. ( :|  , I'm not kidding. )

Mon Jan 16 2012 4:05AM Report
Hluill writes:

The idea of healing In combat, while taking hits is just absurd to me.  It's like tightening down a neck tourniquet before getting shot in the head: "sure, it's a technique, but it's not the preferred method."

Like levels and hitpoints, it's another of those immature mechanics that seem to be carved into the very foundation of MMOs.  Like the industry will fall apart without incombat healing.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could break out of this rut.

Mon Jan 16 2012 7:44PM Report
Akrux writes:

Agreed Hluill but healing is the foundation of the holy trinity of tank, heals and dps. If a game has big bad bosses then it needs a tank with taunt and the tank needs a healer. in PvP there is no effective taunt for the enemy. Why are newbie players so much smarter than world bosses? Why not have smarter bosses?

I am still waiting for a game that avoids the holy trinity.

Mon Jan 16 2012 11:25PM Report
rodrigods writes:

1) Yes. But not imediatly. For exemple: the healer would have a skill, with a long cooldown, that would heal a lot of the fighters hp, and a general, spammable heal. He could use the spam skill, then, when the fighter gets to less then 50% health, use the other healing skill, basically refilling the fighter. Since it has a long cooldown, he wouldnt be able to do it a second time, so the fighter would die eventually.

2) No. It should be a fair chance for both sides. A 2x dps can dish out a lot more damage, but the 1 dps 1 heal can survive longer, considering the healer can actually do some damage as well. All in all, should be an even fight.


Of course, all this without considering random critical chances, disables, better use of cooldowns etc

Tue Jan 17 2012 8:22AM Report
Fierytex writes:

In SWTOR PVP, I get so exicted when someone heals me--Idon't care about the ratios--so few people actually heal in PVP that it is shocking and nice when you get a heal--much less really good one.  This has been my experience in this particular game anyway.  I'm a general DPS player, so I think DPS should always be able to win, but I acknowledge that is only my persceptive.

Tue Jan 17 2012 5:50PM Report
Maelkor writes:

I dont think it is a matter of dps being able to outdamage a healers ability to heal. I think there should be situational skills that make it difficult for a healer to heal when targeted by another player. IE cast interupts, mana drains, stuns etc. The healer should have an additional arsenal of ways to counter or ablate the original counters while still taking an overall toll against there healing per second to deal with the dps side counters.

IE add intelligence into the mix instead of relying on a very strict balance of Healers can heal 500 damage per second and a dps can do 500 damage per second.

While I do not consider Guild Wars a true MMO - there pvp system excelled at this principle. I think MMO's could learn a great deal from their combat system. Every spell or attack had a counter and many counters had a counter. It was very much a rock paper scissor sort of system in many ways. When you add in multiple players though with a mix of attacks and counters it became very tactical and strategic.

The ability to see what the other player is casting or what ability is being used in order to try to counter it with an appropriate spell.

If you rely purely on a heal per second versus a damage per second versus damage mitigation scenario you will rarely produce a good balance that all players can be happy with.

If you take in the spell - counter spell system and add in spell affects that can be stacked and buffed with the right combination of attacks you can design a truly awesome combat system. This system does not need to be stuck on a fantasy basis either. It can easily be translated into a sci fi type of environment - think flame thrower versus fireball etc.

Thu Jan 19 2012 1:04AM Report
Kiljaedenas writes:

Healing is a very valid tactic. If you know the enemy has healing, plan for it. So what if one healer can handle the raw DPS output of one, two or even three pure DPS fighters? Stun him, silence him, drain his energy, or bring more than three fighters and focus fire on one healer at a time. Use more advanced tactics than the enemy and drop their characters based on who is the biggest threat to you winning at the time.

You have a brain. Use it.

Mon Feb 06 2012 8:57PM Report writes:
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