Absorb > healing explanation?

90 Human Paladin
7365
So many times I've heard respected (and not) healers say that absorbs are, in theory, better than healing. Every time I ask why I get the average you're so dumb type of response.

To my way of thinking, if you can predict damage well enough to effectively use absorbs then you can predict it well enough to start casting your heals early and time them properly. That being the case, it seems they're equal.

Can someone please explain why you think absorbs are better, if you do?
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90 Pandaren Shaman
11245
The difference with absorbs is that there will be no overheal. With most absorb mechanics the shield needs to be completely used for it to fall off.
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09/06/2012 05:48 AMPosted by Aycil
Can someone please explain why you think absorbs are better, if you do?


This is personal opinion, though you did ask why we thought not why were they definitively better.... so...

It gives wiggle room for bad things happening. Meaning.. even if you start pre-casting a heal, how many heals will it take that person(s) to get their health back into a safe zone so they are not at risk of being killed? How long will it take to cast (or channel for aoe) that spell?

Eg: Boss does xx attack that knocks someone down to 10% health... then fire spawns under that person. At 10% health it will take (theoretically) more than one cast to heal that person.. a heal that may or may not go off before a tick of that fire finishes them off. Whereas, if I was able to use an absorb that covered say... 45% of that initial damage.. they are now at 55% health giving wiggle room for them to both move out of the fire and finish getting topped off.
Edited by Morenn on 9/6/2012 6:17 AM PDT
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90 Human Hunter
5610
You cannot kill someone while they have an absorb effect — it's like an invisible second health bar to chew through.

Healing is always doomed to be reactionary. The damage has to occur first, then be healed back up. No matter how amazing your clarivoyance is, you still have to allow the hit to come in before your healing power can do anything about it.

This makes absorbs inherently safer territory because it greatly expands the number of events that can occur before the target is guaranteed to die. It also slows down the required reaction time, by "stopping time" in a fashion — the player's health bar ceases to change during an absorb effect, whereas it can and will continue to bleed off while you wind up a healing effect.

If you can cast a heal which does 1 million, you can restore anyone to full health. Say your tank has 750,000 total health. In your hands, they're immortal — as long as you finish casting.

Now say they take 500,000 damage and you've got your badass shades on and you saw it coming and you're already 80.25% through casting your 1 million heal cast. Then RNG does your mom and they take another 300,000 unexpected damage. Your 1 million megaheal just landed on a corpse.

Now let's say you can cast a pathetic little 400,000 absorb bubble and 300,000 direct heal. That's like barely half your tank's health bar! You are a pathetic healer, and no match for the 1 million megaheal caster!

But in the same situation what happens? The tank takes 500,000 damage, were already bubbled, and so their actual health only drops to 650,000. Then that 300,000 unexpected damage comes in — dropping them to 350,000. And your sad 300,000 heal with sluggish reflexes comes in and they're back to 650,000.

That's why absorbs are powerful. The example is contrived and overly simplistic, but the central idea is the driving point: heals are always stuck undoing damage that has already occurred, while absorbs simply stop it from ever happening in the first place. In an ideal situation both are on equal terms, but as healers we're really not concerned with the ideal situations, right? It's always the non-ideal ones we're stuck cleaning up. ^.~

The devs know this and this is why absorbs are much harder to produce than heals, have longer cooldowns and more complicated mechanics. In a head-to-head battle, absorbs would always win if all factors were equal. But absorbs have a powerful niche place instead, since heals are plentiful and readily available while absorbs are not.
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90 Night Elf Hunter
9780
It's situational. If content is going down, then it really doesn't matter. As someone who tanks much more often than they heal, I spend a lot of time trying to mitigate or avoid damage. So I would rather just not take the damage in the first place. I sure as heck can't die from damage I didn't take.

Does the absorb help to prevent spike damage from killing someone before they can be healed (Impale)? Does it make some mechanic of the fight easier to deal with (Infest)? Would you rather damage be avoided or mitigated than have to heal through it?
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90 Human Priest
8620
Can someone please explain why you think absorbs are better, if you do?

The only situation where absorbs are "inherently better" is if the target would have certainly died if there had been no shield on them. (Even so, holy does have Guardian Spirit).
In my experience, this is rarely an issue as all healers will naturally gravitate toward whoever is lowest, not to mention personal cds.

To my way of thinking, if you can predict damage well enough to effectively use absorbs then you can predict it well enough to start casting your heals early and time them properly. That being the case, it seems they're equal.

That is exactly correct and all good healers do this.
Edited by Kyaas on 9/6/2012 7:31 AM PDT
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90 Troll Shaman
17270
Absorbs don't overheal in the way that normal heals overheal... there are two equivalents to overhealing for absorbs:
-Absorb falls off unused. This can only occur if a player is shield and takes little/no damage in the duration of the absorb, and the absorb isn't refreshed.
-Absorb hits a cap. The paladin mastery absorb is capped at 1/3 of the casting paladins health. There is really no effective difference between applying addition absorb to a capped player and healing a player that is at full health.

So yeah, absorbs don't overheal that often. This makes them ideal for:
-tank healing
-very predictable burst damage (only if a massive % of the casted heals are absorbs... aka PW:S, spirit shell)
-continuous damage

Of course "mixed" absorbs, where healing applies a % absorb like paladin mastery is really bad for sporadic raid damage (you heal someone then they take no damage for a long time). Absorb-only spells become hard to use as well or simply unusable on anyone but the tank or debuffed players.
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90 Human Paladin
7365
I can see now why absorbs are perhaps the safer way to go given human error, but not any better.

The argument that absorbs rarely overheal perplexes me though. Overhealing is irrelevant until it's coupled with mana issues, in which case it still sounds like absorbs are only making up for human error.

I can see why people find that desirable but it doesn't seem like a healthy mentality to approach healing from.
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90 Draenei Shaman
16765
An absorb will increase the effective health of the target temporarily. This additional perk makes it better than normal healing. Given your example on prediction, it's certainly true and that reason alone completely disintegrates EH theory to a healer, thus the perk is often academic.

Also, if you precast an absorb on a tank and I precast a large heal for the incoming damage, then all you've done is displaced the overhealing onto me.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
7315
Absorbs are much more important than being used to combat "human error."

As a healer, when I know impale is coming, I will put Power Word: Shield on my tank, Spirit Shell, immediately followed by heavy healing to max out the Spirit Shell and continue to stack Divine Aegis totaling an absorb of somewhere around 250K plus.

Remember, this absorb preparation is occurring at a time when there is an incredibly SMALL amount of damage going out to the raid so the other healer has no problem spot healing during this time.

now.. my tank is ready for a huge hit, and the healers can focus on dealing with the elementium bolt or just chill out and let mana come back.

I think it's very silly for someone to say the only thing Absorb is good for, is to compensate for human error. It is a highly underrated utility for healers and tanks. Since spike damage is not usually preceded by high damage, the lull before spike damage is an incredibly opportune time to prepare for the damage so that as soon as it hits we're able to more casually address it.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
7315
An absorb will increase the effective health of the target temporarily. This additional perk makes it better than normal healing. Given your example on prediction, it's certainly true and that reason alone completely disintegrates EH theory to a healer, thus the perk is often academic.

Also, if you precast an absorb on a tank and I precast a large heal for the incoming damage, then all you've done is displaced the overhealing onto me.


Another problem that comes from this is if the healer sets up a huge absorb that doesn't get fully used. I've misjudged a spike a time or two and when I set up a 250K absorb on a tank or the entire raid, only to have it barely used, I facepalm.
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90 Draenei Shaman
16765
I'm not sure if this discussion is intended for Spirit Shell to be a factor for consideration. It's a cooldown specifically designed to exploit that additional perk it has over ordinary healing. As you also described, it unfortunately inflates the potential for your absorbs to go unused as well.

If the OP was actually referring to Spirit Shell, then my mistake.
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100 Night Elf Priest
13930
To my way of thinking, if you can predict damage well enough to effectively use absorbs then you can predict it well enough to start casting your heals early and time them properly. That being the case, it seems they're equal.

That is exactly correct and all good healers do this.


The problem with this thought is that a Discipline Priest who recognizes incoming damage and uses SS+PoH, stacks DA, or pre-shields a group has effectively decreased the amount of healing needed by other players. If the next big hit will hit each player for 100k and the DPriest manages to shield everyone for 50k, the rest of the healers are going to be doing much less. If the DPriest manages 80k, they'll have even less to work with.

In the early stages of progression, this is usually less noticeable.

However, another way to think about it is this: a Discipline Priest will artificially increase your raid's health with their absorbs. You can't heal the dead. A PW:Shield on someone lower than the rest can prevent them from dying. A groupwide DA/SS takes the pressure off of other healers if the damage would have brought everyone perilously low.
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90 Human Paladin
7365
As a healer, when I know impale is coming, I will put Power Word: Shield on my tank, Spirit Shell, immediately followed by heavy healing to max out the Spirit Shell and continue to stack Divine Aegis totaling an absorb of somewhere around 250K plus.

Remember, this absorb preparation is occurring at a time when there is an incredibly SMALL amount of damage going out to the raid so the other healer has no problem spot healing during this time.

You'll understand why I can dismiss this easily using exactly what you said. During mechanic spikes like that the damage surrounding the spike is low, usually to an extreme degree. Because only disc priests have the ability to drop a shield anywhere near that big, the designers can't rely on a raid having it and will have to continue to factor in traditional tank CDs and reactive healing.

You even get the same mana regen time, simply before instead of after which in an extended encounter is just as good.
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90 Human Paladin
7365
09/06/2012 08:59 AMPosted by Elethia
The problem with this thought is that a Discipline Priest who recognizes incoming damage and uses SS+PoH, stacks DA, or pre-shields a group has effectively decreased the amount of healing needed by other players. If the next big hit will hit each player for 100k and the DPriest manages to shield everyone for 50k, the rest of the healers are going to be doing much less. If the DPriest manages 80k, they'll have even less to work with.

In the same regard as Asharian's example, because you can't rely on a Disc priest, raid encounters will never feature a situation like that which both reduces people to a dangerous level and doesn't get a raid CD without ample time to apply the proper AoE heals. Added bonus, the reactive healing in that case would be more mana effective
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90 Blood Elf Priest
13110
OP, I'm really not sure what you're after here. You asked people to explain why absorption effects are so strong, and then all of your replies appear to be arguments as to why the individual posters are wrong, and they're not as strong as they think.

Did you seriously come here to start a fight over Disc Priests? o_O
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Ok... everyone has given their reasons why they think absorbs are better, you disagree. Cool cool.

/thread

Tiriel beat me...but with more pizazz, as always...Damn Blood Elves.

<3
Edited by Morenn on 9/6/2012 9:18 AM PDT
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90 Human Paladin
7365
OP, I'm really not sure what you're after here. You asked people to explain why absorption effects are so strong, and then all of your replies appear to be arguments as to why the individual posters are wrong, and they're not as strong as they think.

Did you seriously come here to start a fight over Disc Priests? o_O

That's not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm sorry it came off that way. I'm looking for a reason that makes sense to me. For the ones that don't, I present my reasoning why not in hopes that you'll have something more to add.

Looking back, it does look aggressive. I'm sorry. Just looking for a conversation here.
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100 Night Elf Priest
13930
09/06/2012 09:08 AMPosted by Aycil
In the same regard as Asharian's example, because you can't rely on a Disc priest, raid encounters will never feature a situation like that which both reduces people to a dangerous level and doesn't get a raid CD without ample time to apply the proper AoE heals. Added bonus, the reactive healing in that case would be more mana effective


Never say never. There have been mechanics that, in the recent past, made Disc Priests nearly necessary because they otherwise would have decimated the raid.

We've given you reasons why absorption is better. Is it always better in every way? No. Objectively, though, negating the need for healing is better than raw healing. Discipline Priests do less well at raw healing because of how strong absorption is. If they were nearly as powerful with raw healing as they were with absorption, they would be dominating forces at all times.
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90 Human Hunter
5610
You seem to be conflating 2 very different things:

a) The game is designed for content to be defeated without heavy use of absorb mechanics

and

b) Therefore absorbs are perfectly equal in value to raw reactive healing

The devs go to enormous lengths to control to what extent absorb mechanics can be used; even Disc Priests are to no small degree throttled in just how much absorption they can reasonably put out vs. actual healing (because I think everyone remembers Ulduar).

Absorbs are designed with more penalties, hoops, and limitations than raw healing exactly because absorbs are so much more powerful. Content is designed to be defeated without absorbs because not everyone is capable of bringing them, while everyone is capable of bringing raw healing.

That doesn't mean absorbs aren't exploited by clever players (release DS Blood Shield > Impale etc), and that exploitation is again precisely because of how powerful not taking damage is vs. undoing damage.
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