Burst is the tank killer

I often tell people off-handedly healing is easy because "It's just making health bars go up". It's not really true though, a healer's job isn't to fix health missing from damage, it's to stop that health reaching zero (Chimaeron, annoying as he is, is highly instructive in this). 0HP means you lost, otherwise you're still good, for now. When you get out of the mindset that health levels matter just because they're not full, you get to asking "What health level does matter then?". The sharp end of healing is dealing with players in immediate danger of death, that health level that because of encounter mechanics means a player could die before you could react and cast a large enough heal to stop them reaching 0HP.

When you screw this up and someone dies unexpectedly, more often than not it'll be because the player took a burst of damage that wasn't entirely predictable; the health level you thought they were safe at turns out not to be. This is part of learning an encounter to an extent but there's more to this, because it makes certain types of heal better than others in a lot of situations. And now it's time to talk about tanks.

No! Come back, I promise it's relevant.

Death knight tanks can heal themselves for a large chunk of health with Improved Death Strike. DK self-healing is mentioned again and again as how they're distinct and interesting as a tank and sometimes as an excuse for how spiky their health level can be. But if you read my nerdy deconstruction of healing you might recognise that ImpDS is a direct heal yet tanks that block or absorb damage (ie the others) are ALSO self-healing, just with a different kind of heal. A better kind of heal. See, the closer a player's health gets to zero, the less burst is required to take them to 0HP. What you'll see with DKs is they take a big hit, get close to death and then fix up a lot of it with ImpDS, but until they do, they are in a lot of danger. I won't get into hit tables and coverage now, but in T12 a paladin with enough mastery can parry, dodge or block every single melee swing against them. That block is also a heal in the form of mitigation, every blocked hit "heals" the mitigated damage in a way that effectively adds that health on top of their existing health pool. That extra health takes them further from 0HP even if you don't see the numbers on your unit frames. On paper the DK's heal might appear to be at least equally powerful, but I've yet to see a DK use ImpDS to heal up overkill after an unlucky couple of avoidance rolls. Another way to think about this is absorbs and mitigation smooth out the effect of incoming damage on health levels, which is really nice to see as a healer because then people don't go from fine to nearly dead to probably ok, all in one GCD. Less information you have to process and less decisions to make and then have to change because they're now wrong.

Fortunately for tanks Blizzard are aware of this and may even fix it at some point soon by giving DKs a consistent absorb effect. But there's more to talk about yet because healers have this distinction in their own toolkit, direct heals vs adding temporary health through absorbs or mitigation. I'll expand on this another day, but think for yourself now, for different types of damage could you and would you prefer to heal it before or after it happened? PW: Shield or Greater Heal? Barrier or Tranquility?

No comments:

Post a Comment