Healing Theory, Part 9: First In-Depth Look at Warlords Heals

All posts in this series can be found here.

I’ve been waiting since alpha started to sink my teeth into the numbers of six new healing toolkits. Rather, I’ve been doing so for a while, but trying to get the information to the point where I can write about it in an organized way. I’ve been assembling a large spreadsheet of 6.0 heals since even before alpha started (since we had spell data). It’s mostly for my own purposes, to have a good reference for the properties of all the spells. I’ll post it here for people who want the full detailed background, while using the post to discuss various interesting points. The goal for this, and ensuing posts, is to work both for people who don’t peruse the actual sheet and just read the post (so I copy various numbers and such into the post), and also for people who want to look further into the sheet after I use a post to highlight some interesting points.

This is the sheet (download).

HT sheet image

It’s more utilitarian than user-friendly; as I said, it’s mostly an easy place for me to store/compare numbers (it’s not a character setup tool). The main focus for each heal is to compute an index for their HPM and HPCT (healing per unit cast time). In some cases, for non-spammable heals, HPCD (healing per cooldown time) is used to measure how much healing is added if the spell is used as often as possible. Some notes:

  • All of these are in unusual units, which is fine since they’re only meant to be compared against each other. For people who want details, HPCT and HPCD are in units of (spellpower coefficient)/seconds, and HPM is in units of (spellpower coefficient)/(% base mana cost).
  • All heals use the haste, crit, mastery, and multistrike values from the top of the sheet (Multistrike affects all spells equally so is not that interesting, except that Holy Priest heals get 25% more benefit).
  • Mastery is also in unusual units. “0.2” means, the amount of mastery stat that’s equivalent to 20% crit, or what was once called “20 points of mastery.”
  • The main computation in each row is to combine a spell’s spellpower coefficient from wod.wowhead.com with haste/crit/mastery/MS, any class passives or other auras, and any Draenor perks or other bonuses, to compute an overall effective spellpower coefficient.
  • I make assumptions as needed about talents, glyphs, and other variables. Usually the guideline is, a spell’s row in the sheet represents whatever case I was most interested in when thinking about how it would be used in practice.
  • Similarly, sometimes a spell has multiple entries if I want to see e.g. both glyphed and unglyphed, or if I want to see a combination of spells in a single row.
  • Blanket disclaimer: the beta build is changing often, changes aren’t always documented, some spells’ behaviors don’t match their tooltip data, and so on. I got some help from Dayani of Healiocentric, and we vetted all of the rows against in-game behavior in beta builds 18505 or 18522 (often with the techniques described here), and are continually updating them.

On to some of the interesting patterns.

Basic Direct Heals

Each class’s pair of single-target direct heals is meant to be a bigger part of gameplay in 6.0.  First is the “efficient” heal. Here’s how they look with the balanced stat array used in the sheet:

When you look only at basic, efficient, single target spam, Druid has the nicest spell (although its advantage is mostly due to Living Seed), and Disc and Paladin have the weakest. These numbers are of course out of any context of the remainder of a class’s toolkit which may affect tank healing, but they’re a starting point. The “fast” heals are worth adding before going further:

  • Regrowth (glyphed): 46 HPM, 8.51 HPCT (unglyphed RG is slightly better per-cast, but can’t be spammed effectively).
  • Regrowth (glyphed) without counting Living Seed: 31 HPM, 5.67 HPCT
  • Flash Heal (Holy): 49 HPM, 6.86 HPCT (Assumes every 3rd cast is a Heal due to Serendipity)
  • Flash Heal (Disc): 34 HPM, 6.32 HPCT. But Disc has a better spammable tank heal:
  • Clarity of Will: 80 HPM, 6.79 HPCT
  • 3xFlash of Light + Word of Glory: 37 HPM, 5.12 HPCT (HPM goes up to 46 if you replace one of the FoLs with a Holy Shock).
  • Healing Surge: 44 HPM, 7.60 HPCT (with Tidal Waves)
  • 3xSurging Mist + Enveloping Mist: 85 HPM, 10.14 HPCT (While Soothing)

As before, comparisons aren’t exactly apples-to-apples, since different classes use these spells in different ways and have other tools that supplement them (some discussed more below). But the basic numbers are helpful to look at. Glyphed Regrowth holds its own in the most optimistic assumption that Living Seed is always fully utilized, but is very inefficient otherwise.

Disc has a lot of difficulty healing a tank efficiently except for the Clarity of Will talent, which is currently very effective. Worth noting that while most classes have other tools such as HoTs that will supplement the heals shown here, Disc has nothing that adds HPS to a single target when worked in (Power Word: Shield and Penance are both lower HPCT than Flash Heal or CoW spam). PWS can add slight net HPCT if you Borrowed Time into a 2.5s spell, but is very inefficient.

The winner in this category is Monk, who can spit out solid healing in 4 GCDs with 3 Surgings and an Enveloping (the HPM value does take into account the later recoupment of Mana Tea). It’s not quite that simple, since you made need a GCD to set up by starting a Soothing on the target, and around half the heal is in the form of a HoT that you cast last so the heal’s somewhat spread out (but you may well have Chi coming in). But in the Warlords world, efficiency and the total output of a cast is more important than small shifts in heal timing. The HPCT is slightly misleading since it includes 30% of 6 seconds’ worth of Soothing Mist, which requires staying on the target for longer than the 4-5 GCDs to cast all this (for reference, it’s at a solid 8.57 HPCT without that).

Paladin is the trickiest case for looking at spam heals without any context. Talents will typically add a constant HoT on the tank from either Eternal Flame or Sacred Shield. If you assume those have 100% uptime, the value of Holy Power in a tank healing context is the value of the Word of Glory. An interesting fact that can be verified in the sheet, which is a change from 5.0, is that 50% of the total healing from an EF (i.e. an EF transferred from Beacon) is less than the full upfront healing from the Word of Glory portion only. The HoT is less than half the total value of an EF now, and in addition, a direct cast on tank benefits from mastery and gets 10% from Empowered Beacon of Light. So if your sole goal is to the heal the tank, it is better to cast each WoG directly on them than to blanket EFs around the raid. So a reasonable way to look at a tank-spam filler heal is to check the 3HL-WoG and 3FoL-WoG units, as I did above, and they both come in somewhat unimpressive on the HPCT front. They will gain a lot of efficiency in real raiding situations, when Beacon can be leveraged probably (which it can’t in these examples), but their ability to pull a tank’s HP up rapidly is limited.

AoE Heals

AoE heals are a little bit simpler to look at, because they can often be evaluated as standalone casts. Their use does depend on the number of available targets and in some cases the positioning, but the best case is reasonably clear due to their target limits. A few of the most important high-throughput options that each affect 5 or 6 targets:

The obvious standout here is Wild Growth. In a recent beta patch (18297) its healing and mana cost were increased by factor of around 4, making it the most AoE healing from one cast by far (except for some less rotational spells like Light’s Hammer). Its mana cost is pretty typical for the healing done, but being able to do that much from one cast is still an advantage. It is a particular advantage for Druids who leverage powerful buffs that affect “one cast”, Clearcasting and Soul of the Forest (the Swiftmend-WG combo, with SotF, is 132 HPM and 41.8 HPCT). One way or another, Wild Growth should likely come down from its current position, if only because it’s too asymmetrical. That said, a larger than average heal is reasonable since the spell is limited both in being a HoT and having a cooldown (unlike most others here). The only other similar one, Healing Rain, also has a high heal per cast to show for it. When heavy AoE heals are in order, other classes can cast multiple spells consecutively if needed, but Wild Growth and Healing Rain will only be cast once.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Prayer of Healing, which is quite mediocre even after having its heal and mana cost recently doubled. Prayer of Healing is a spell I’d always hoped to see redesigned due to its anachronistic group-based mechanic, but so far the only nod to that is Holy Priests’ ability to replace it with Clarity of Purpose for a position-based AoE heal. Nevertheless, Prayer, while spammable, rates poorly on the efficiency scale and has little to show for it. Holy Priests still fare quite well because of Circle of Healing always being the first cast before you start having to spend on PoH. Furthermore, Holy has Binding Heal which is far more mana-friendly than it ever was, allowing a BH-BH-PoH combo that adds a lot of efficiency (up to 86 HPM and 11.58 HPCT with Glyph of Binding Heal).

Disc currently languishes in AoE healing with its efficiency option being Holy Nova (clocking in at 55 HPM and 3.51 HPCT).  However, I suspect that it was oversight for Holy Nova to not have its healing doubled when PoH and CoH did in the last build. At 110 and 7.02 on a no-cooldown heal, it will be a solid option whenever the positioning requirements allow. Disc will lack a good higher-throughput cast. The overall strength of PoH is likely fine when Archangel is used well, but the mana cost might need some help.

Monks come in just slightly behind on burst AoE throughput, with Uplift itself accomplishing up to 9.48 HPCT when used on 8 targets, and that’s ignoring where you get the Chi from. Fortunately, Spinning Crane Kick is a reasonably efficient spammable AoE heal and Chi generator, allowing ongoing AoE similar to casting PoH. But the numbers are below average, and the flexibility is poor with the uncontrolled nature of Uplift. Thunder Focus Tea will help slightly but it still rather inflexible in how it adds healing.

Miscellaneous Heals

The above was far from every important heal, but a sampling of reasonably comparable heals from the various classes. What I want to do for the rest of this first post is survey the chart for anything that’s interesting or stands out.

Lifebloom‘s bloom is currently 6 times what the spell data lists. 3 times is expected since they recently condensed what used to be 3 LB casts into one cast. I’m not sure what the other 2 is, and at any rate, the bloom might be need to be smaller than thrice the previous bloom. It’s currently quite a lot of healing for one GCD and no cost, albeit with a delay. I’m not too concerned about the apparently huge HPM numbers–high HPM can be a little misleading on spells that are limited in use, such as cooldowns or Lifebloom’s target restriction (if that’s not apparent, recall that some spells are free but not overpowered). However, the particular case of glyphed Lifebloom is 2.091 HPCD for no appreciable mana cost. (I haven’t discussed HPCD much but it means that using it on cooldown is equivalent to someone doing 2.091 HPS nonstop on average). This is far higher than 0.873 ticking HPS of the HoT ticking on its own; adding that 1.2 rotational tank HPS is probably not the intended use of Glyph of Blooming.

One point covering a few spells is that instant casts lose some of their value in the Warlords world. Compared to a 1.5s cast, an instant shifts the timing of the heal by a GCD (the beginning of a GCD vs. the start) but doesn’t change the HPCT. This only matters when the target dies during the GCD, which is more of a frequent concern in Mists than Warlords. Otherwise, there is little reason to spend extra mana or burden a spell with a cooldown to make that heal happen 1.5 seconds sooner. Movement is a possibility, but unlike DPS you don’t have to do something while moving; there’s much less compulsion spend mana on an inefficient spell. Swiftmend (41 HPM, 7.92 HPCT) and Power Word: Shield (43 HPM, 5.66), both come in about even with inefficient spammable heal options. This is a little odd for spells bearing cooldowns. It may be an attempt to shift away from having as many “rotational” heals, but their use is somewhat limited if they exist mainly to produce gameplay from the excitement of saving someone from near death.

Earth Shield‘s current behavior is that there’s no ICD on the use of charges, so it gets consumed quickly. This means that maintaining 100% uptime eats a lot of GCDs, and the spell’s stats as a cast in its own right (45 HPM, 5.01 HPCT) matter more than they used to. It’s a weak spell for the healing it does, so its only value is the 20% heal buff. This is good as always, but now that it falls off easily, it may well not be worth spending a GCD on recasting during busy moments.

Unleashed Fury combines with Healing Surge to make a huge tank heal (especially given HS’s 40% crit buff from Tidal Waves). UF’s 95% buff to one cast amounts to a free direct heal for no extra time, with only a 15 second cooldown. This can jump a tank’s HP upwards quickly when needed, or simply act as free rotational HPS.

Chain Heal is very weak (52 HPM, 3.72 HPCT with Riptide and Perk). I could have mentioned that in the AoE section, but I think it should to come up. There might be some concern about a spammable smart heal after the smart heal reductions in Warlords, but right now it’s not attractive to cast over even single-target heals. High Tide helps, but still leaves it as a mediocre Uplift–not what you want from a L100 talent (92 HPM, 6.56 HPCT on a Riptide target + 5 others).

I haven’t touched on damage-heals much. Smite is very weak (23 HPM, 1.41 HPCT), with its use having shifting almost entirely into building Evangelism stacks rather than doing healing of its own. This is good gameplay on its face–use Smite during lulls to set up Archangel, but don’t cast it when you actually need healing. The numbers on Archangel use will be better evaluated in the context of full rotational analysis later, but it’s a little concerning to have to cast 5 such inefficient spells to get it (even Holy Fire is 64 HPM, 2.55 HPCT). While I prefer this Archangel-oriented setup for the Atonement spells, because it’s a nice way to keep the mechanic while making the smart healing unimportant, we have to check that it’s not a trap with current numbers.

The one healing rotation that hasn’t been mentioned so far is the Crane Stance Mistweaver. Simply put, it does not do much healing right now. It’s not totally firm what the expectation is for this stance since it’s new, but in the past they’ve gone for around 50% healing and 50% DPS output from a meleeing Monk. The cheap filler rotation, JabTiger Palm is 29 HPM, 0.71 HPCT with all of Crane Stance’s buffs ramped up. Autoattacks add around 0.61 HPS to this, and free Surging Mists every 5 combos adds around that much again. So you can view Crane managing around 2 HPCT with the filler spells, which is approaching half of a normal healer’s “weak” filler heal. Even though this isn’t a full rotation analysis, a quick look at the HPCT of Crane’s bigger heal (1.51 for Rising Sun Kick) shows it’s not going to improve that average. Blackout Kick manages 3.08 HPCT for an AoE heal, well under half of Uplift for the same Chi. Exacerbating this is that Spinning Crane Kick now does very little healing (2.01 HPCT) and Crackling Jade Lightning is extremely expensive, so getting Chi in Crane punishes you heavily in terms of mana. This may in the end be worse than the very low healing output, since it’s a resource loss that stays with you when you shift back into Serpent Stance. It’s possible that regardless of throughput, the efficiency of melee heals can’t be that terrible or else using them will be too much of a tradeoff against even your normal healing ability.


This was my first effort at synthesizing the large amount of information in the sheet into broad comparisons across the healing classes. I plan to keep going with it, in particular to start adding more rotations to move beyond looking at single spells at a time. You can see some of that happening already in this post, but most of the work so far has merely gone into the spell table. I did not realize when I started how it would be (thanks again to Dayani for providing another set of eyes on nearly the entire thing by this point). But it’s gotten me to where I wanted to start for Warlords analysis, with the time put in up front to organize all this spell information in a way that facilitates future analysis. This is the first output from that process, but I’m looking forward to adding more as beta continues.

10 thoughts on “Healing Theory, Part 9: First In-Depth Look at Warlords Heals

  1. If I might ask, how does Druid’s DoC-Wrath look so far? One has a certain amount of hope that between 150% healing transfer and the Draenor Perk, it might be acceptable to spec in some situations.

    • In the numbers/setup used for this post, it’s 51 HPM, 2.69 HPCT. This is including the fact that Wrath seems to have a hidden 25% buff in Resto. That makes it hard to imagine using–same HPM as Regrowth, very low throughput. Even if it weren’t a talent, you’d really only use that in situations where mana and throughput don’t matter and you’ll filling time, which isn’t a good sign.

      • I was more inclined to compare DoC-Wrath to Healing Touch, as I would expect it more to act as “high efficiency” filler than “high throughput” filler, but even then it comes up a bit short. It’s about half the HPM, which is fair enough, and it’s a little bit less than half the HPCT. But of course since the damage to healing transfer is 150%, you aren’t even actually getting 50% damage / 50% heals. It’s more like 32% damage / 47% heals – and this is of your lowest grade filler spell, to say nothing of fitting it into any kind of rotation. It is currently as you say it is, difficult to give up Nature’s Vigil for DoC. You’d actually get more damage casting HT under Nature’s Vigil than you would casting Wrath.

        But I see that it’s still stronger than Smite. Which I feel is fair to expect, as it both costs a useful talent point and is somewhat antisynergistic with the rest of the Druid spells. As Smite is very weak on it’s own, perhaps they’ll both see uptuning as beta unfolds.

        Of course, if they’re happy with Smite being more for maintenance buff then for output, perhaps it’s just time for a new lvl 90 talent instead.

        • I don’t even think 50% heals/50% damage (relative to time/mana expenditure) is a good rubric. Anytime mana matters, you don’t want to spent it on something that inefficient. That’s why I compared to RG–if you’re going to spend mana that inefficiently, you do it when you need a burst heal, not for a weak idle heal. In that situation you’d rather just not cast.

          Having a filler spell that you can use when healing’s not hard (like Smite) is fine as a spell (and as noted, Smite is used to enable Archangel). But it’s hard to justify it as a talent. You can’t use it to gain efficiency and you can’t use it to can gain throughput in any situation.

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  4. The wowhead spell coefficients aren’t matching the tool tips on Beta currently.

    At level 90 with no gear I have a paladin with 296 SP, 6% crit, 10% mastery, and 10% haste. No MS or Versatility and buffs removed (no seal active so 5% healing is removed)

    The Holy Shock SPc of 122.2% would tell me the spell should hit for 362 healing, but in actuality it is 452 healing which matches the in game tool tip.

    Based on comparing the tooltip at various SP ratings and the tooltip I am calculating a mean that provides a SP coefficient of 152.6787% for Holy Shock.

    Since I am simply trying to calculate the heal strength before crit or MS and excluding efficiency right now I do not trust the SPc from wowhead or mmo from the build parsing. Pally Mastery is easy to remove since you can verify this on the buffs. Either there is something else contributing that I have not found yet or very possibly my math is wrong and verification would be helpful.

    The new mean calculated SPc are getting pretty close to the tooltip based on SP changes (296 to 1805) with only +/- 5 hp with heals reaching almost 8000 hp.

    • Holy Paladin has +25% passive healing, which accounts for your difference:

      I know it can be a little frustrating since that’s not listed in the spellbook anymore. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of those these days. I’m pretty sure I’ve got all of them, so looking in the spreadsheet and seeing what modifiers are applied to a spell should let you know if you’re missing anything.

      • That was it and I was scouring the spellbook, talent window, and otherwise to find it in game to no avail. Thanks for the quick response.

        • Yeah, in Warlords those passives are removed from the spellbook (ones that do nothing but change the numbers on spells that you can already see in their tooltips). It makes sense, since the spell tooltips accurately include them, so the bonus doesn’t matter at all except for people who are making spreadsheets and trying to connect the coefficient from spelldata to the number in the tooltip.

          A good place to look is the “specializations” spell filter in Wowhead:
          Most passives are still flagged as belonging to the appropriate specialization even if not in the spellbook.

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