Halls Of Healing: Bringing Balance to the Force
Each week or thereabouts here at Ask A Jedi, we’ll meditate on the finer points of the healer’s role in Star Wars: The Old Republic. No matter where your allegiance lies, you’re sure to find guidance here in the Halls Of Healing!
Last week’s patch started some heavy complaints on the official forums and elsewhere in the blogosphere when they announced the nerf to Surge Rating. I was, maybe to your surprise, quite delighted at these changes. Why you may ask? I currently play a Scoundrel, and as you might know Critical Rating and Surge Rating are a very important part of the mechanics due to talents such as Accomplished Sawbones and Prognosis: Critical. So why would I be delighted at these changes? Currently the state of the Scoundrel/Operative healing is quite poor. I’m not talking in terms of numbers or how to be competitive, but how the actual mechanics and toolbox of the class. We are heavily dependant on our critical hits to be able to put out good numbers and if you ask me this is where the fault in the design is. While it is particularly so for Scoundrel/Operative healers the way Critical Strikes is designed in the game, it has a major effect on other healers as well.
Balance Of the Force
Something that I’ve always loved about healing is how little impact the theorycrafting and the actual min-maxing has on your performance. Sure, in many situations and especially in high-end Operations you probably want to stick to what your numbers say give you the highest possible output. But the most important factor when healing is the power to be able to adapt to situations, and those situations are something you cannot predict accurately with math and formulas. Yes you can come up with an average but you won’t be able to get a lot more accurate than that. There are many different philosophies when it comes to this… will you for gear towards the worst possible scenario? For example when you don’t get any critical hits at all, or will you gear towards the average scenario? Or something in between? There isn’t any hard data on which you can base this decision on. That is what I love about healing as it allows each player to weigh the various Attributes and formulas based on his or her own feelings, because that’s really what it boils down to, what you feel is best for you.
Some years ago I came across a very fitting saying: Damage is science, Tanking is strategy, but Healing is an art. And it’s something that I’ve taken to heart. We healers are artists when it comes to our restorative skills, be it the Force, medpacs or health scanners!
Playing With Dice
I mentioned previously that I didn’t like the idea of having to rely heavily on critical hits in order to have a sufficient throughput when healing. I have many reasons for this, one of them is the fact that there are already too many random variables in the game that will affect your healing severely, add in some human errors and bad luck and you have a recipe for disaster.
Obviously we want to reduce the number of random variables that affect us in each encounter as much as possible. Some of these variables are influenceable others not. For example if there’s a randomly targeted skill the boss is doing but it requires line of sight, you can control this by having people you don’t want to get hit by moving out of line of sight. Another example is if there’s a targeted AoE, if you have your group spread out evenly you will reduce the amount of targets to be hit to a minimum and therefore reducing the impact of RNG on that fight.
There are numerous of other examples of this, most of them we don’t even think about. But the one that you personally have the most control over though is your attributes and your gear. For example by prioritizing attributes like Power over Critical Rating and Surge Rating you can reduce the randomness of your heals since you know that Power will increase the potency of all your heals and not just some of them whereas Critical Rating and Surge Rating will only improve your critical hits. Right now though in most situations this is just not a possibility since Surge and Crit are too powerful, it’s in most situations more beneficial to stack these even though your throughput will be heavily dependant on luck. I hope that the developers keep pressing in the same direction that they showed last patch, either by reducing the potency of critical hits or by increasing the health pools of the Operation team and through that increase the time in which we can land our heals, making the average healing throughput more important than the worst case scenario reliable throughput.