Jov sez: That’s great, now work on your overhealJune 9, 2009
Back in Vanilla-WoW, the dividing line between the “good healers” and the “bad healers” wasn’t usually so much a matter of keeping people alive (since, apparently, even bad healers could be carried for that) but that little overheal number.
TBC, with it’s limitless regen and bottomless mana pool seemed to take the stance “overheal doesn’t matter as long as your assignment lives and your mana holds out.” The TBC attitude has definitely carried over into Wrath raiding, and with encounters like Naxx, it was easy to slip into a zoned-out buttonspam while you smacked around the various loot pinatas for purples.
In short, it made us sloppy, where we’ve a lot less room for sloppiness in Ulduar and, presumably, moving forward.
What is Overheal?
Overheal is any healing which occurs over the healing needed by the target (effective healing). This can be caused by spell selection (which is pretty easy to control if you’re paying attention) or crit (which is somewhat more difficult). So if Roguechick is down 4k health, your flash hits for 6k and your greater hits for 12k, your flash will have lower overheal (6k heal – 4k deficit = 2k overheal vs. 12k heal – 4k deficit = 8k overheal).
Overheal is symptomatic of several things, meaning there’s no one answer. It could be there are too many healers for the encounter (leaving 8 healers fighting to get their heals off first because the fight only needs 7). It could be your healers aren’t familiar with an encounter so are reactively healing (4 healers going “oh crap, that mage took a ton of damage *healheal*) rather than proactively (I know Mage is gonna take a big clump of damage here, so I’m going to pre-shield/ProM/get flash ready.) It could just be the spammy nature of some of the fights (And in P2 Mimiron, I do nothing but spam PoH on g2 and 3).
Some classes and roles are more inclined toward overheal in general. Tank healers, specifically (pallies and Disc priests) tend to face situations where tanks can be gibbed at a moment’s notice, so tend to adopt the spam-heal-and-let-it-land approach, and often see very high overheal numbers (over 60%) It’s currently a fact of the game, but at the same time, that’s 2/3 of your mana wasted.
Why not overheal?
As I somewhat touched on above, mana is the primary issue. Through potion sickness, and the regen coefficient nerfs of early 3.x content, to the more recent hit to OoC regen outlined in Zusterke’s posts of last week, we can’t count on the bottomless mana pool sticking around. I’m not meaning to turn into a “Blizz is hitting healers with the nerf bat” poster, but I get the strong feeling that this is a trend which will be continuing for some time. I feel this is backed up, in part, by a post from Ghostcrawler just 3 days ago.
We want healing to be less spammy and more deliberate, but that won’t work until overhealing matters. To get to that point, mana regen has to matter but the risk of the tank dying in two boss hits also has to be chilled out.
In other words, tank healing is likely to get less finicky, but the nerfs to regen aren’t finished.
But how do I stop?
First of all, I don’t want to come down unilaterally hard on overheal and say “all overheal is bad!!!11” For the most part, as the game stands currently, any overheal that your gear can support isn’t by itself bad. In some situations (the above-mentioned tank healing, for example) it’s a requirement. What the overhealing metric is good for is giving you a direction you can improve on. Yeah, it’s great that you’ve officially gotten Freya on farm; now work on better spell selection and less zoning out to whack-a-mole and getting your overheal below 40%.