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Thread: Healing tactics

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Healing tactics

    Greetings everone.

    I've been seeing discussions about why this or that healing spell is better than others (mostly always HEALING WORD > CURE WOUNDS), usually because of range > potency.

    One thing I also found is that people here would rather up a fallen party member with fewer HP than keeping they up.

    But when PCs fall, won't they lose their turn position (now they will act last). So the foes will attack before them and with low HP they are likely to simply fall again?

    Wouldn't it be better to (if possible) keep people with high HP to prevent that?

    Please, explain to me why the former scenario is better than the later.

    Thankyou all in advance.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zhorn's Avatar

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    There's actual a lot of variables to take into account.
    • How much damage they are taking per hit
    • How many hits they could potentially be taking per round
    • Where in the turn order the player being hit is
    • Where in the turn order the player doing the heal is
    • How many hits they could potentially be taking after the healer's turn before the player get's their turn

    If the healer's turn is immediately before the player's turn and their isn't a risk of them falling unconscious again before having a chance to act, then they are not losing out on a turn.
    If the enemy is hitting hard enough that they'll still get taken down even with some additional healing poured into them first, then that heal was a waste and healing after will leave them with more hp.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhorn View Post
    If the enemy is hitting hard enough that they'll still get taken down even with some additional healing poured into them first, then that heal was a waste and healing after will leave them with more hp.
    that healing wasn't a waste. it canceled the actions of several opponents, gaining action economy. further, any one of those opponents may have decided to finish the unconscious party member, depending on your dm and the kind of campaign you're running.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    that healing wasn't a waste. it canceled the actions of several opponents, gaining action economy. further, any one of those opponents may have decided to finish the unconscious party member, depending on your dm and the kind of campaign you're running.
    That's an assumption about one of the variables I was talking about.
    'how many hits' could be several, or it could be singular.
    'hitting hard enough' I was meaning as one big hit (note 'enemy' not 'enemies'), such as could be the case for a bite from a remorhaz, which the heal will have trouble outpacing.
    But in the case of numerous single dice hits, yes a heal can result in soaking more attacks.
    Last edited by Zhorn; 2020-09-07 at 06:00 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    In the best case scenario, you heal after the fight rather than during it. This mean that you can use your actions hitting the enemies, hence reducing the length of the fight, hence reducing the number of damage the team suffer, hence reducing the number of healing spells required.

    In particular, what happen if you heal a PC, and for some reason the configuration of the fight change and the monsters never happen to hit him again (or very rarely)? You wasted your action for healing now someone that could have been healed after the fight.

    A preventing heal has often the big chance of being a waste of time. While healing someone at 0HP (assuming favorable initiative order) is guaranteed to have an effect immediately useful: you used an action to give back to a PC a full turn that he otherwise would not have had.

    When considering to heal someone, the question should always be:
    "If I delay my healing by one turn, and make my next turn right now instead, is it better?"
    Often, the answer will be "yes, I get a chance to finish of this enemy one turn earlier, and it's unlikely that my ally will go down to 0HP this turn"
    Often, the answer will be "that's risky", and then that's up to your playstyle.
    Also often, the answer will be "no, my ally will definitely lose a turn if I don't heal him right now, and healing him prevent that".
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2020-09-07 at 08:44 AM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Cure Wounds is the preferred healing spell, because it heals more out of combat than Healing Word.
    A 1st level Healing Word is the preferred emergency heal, because it uses a Bonus Action instead of an Action. The extra 2hp of healing is unlikely to matter during an emergency but the extra Action might.

    (In a worst case scenario, Healing Word + grab a rope + Dash + Move is much better than Cure Wounds + grab a rope + Move)

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbaker View Post
    But when PCs fall, won't they lose their turn position (now they will act last). So the foes will attack before them and with low HP they are likely to simply fall again?
    No, they keep their same initiative. Depending on who downed them, who healed them, and their own initiative, they might have lost a turn or have not lost their turn.

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbaker View Post
    Wouldn't it be better to (if possible) keep people with high HP to prevent that?
    Neither Cure Wounds nor Healing Word used mid combat will keep people with high HP. That requires either a max level Cure Wounds, or more commonly Lay on Hands / Heal.

    If an attack deals 1d8+3 and you just cured for 1d8+3 / 1d4+3.
    Cure Wounds gives an 43.75% chance to take more than 1 hit to be downed again and a 1.95% chance to survive 2 more hits.
    Healing Word gives an 18.75% chance to take more than 1 hit to be downed again.
    The math gets even worse as attacks grow in damage faster than your 1st level cures do.
    So the advantage of Cure Wounds over Healing Word is at best 25%, 1.95%, or 0% if they are hit once, twice, or thrice. If you expect them to get hit exactly once before their next turn, then Cure Wounds is the better move. Otherwise the extra hp is unlikely to matter. In contrast, can your Action prevent more than 25% of 1 attack?

    Quote Originally Posted by Starbaker View Post
    One thing I also found is that people here would rather up a fallen party member with fewer HP than keeping they up.
    For the sake of combat working, damage dealt per Action is usually greater than healing provided per action. This means preventative healing is trading 1 of your Actions to prevent a fraction of an enemy's Action which might possibly grant your ally 1 extra turn, if the initiative order goes enemy, ally, you instead of enemy, you, ally. There is sometimes merit to that, but Cure Wounds and Healing Word are inefficient at it and it is only relevant 50% of the time (see initiative order comment). This is why Wildshape, Polymorph*, Heal, or Lay on Hands work better as preventative healing.

    *Although see another thread debating about whether polymorphing an ally is worth it or not.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-09-07 at 10:08 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    In the best case scenario, you heal after the fight rather than during it. This mean that you can use your actions hitting the enemies, hence reducing the length of the fight, hence reducing the number of damage the team suffer, hence reducing the number of healing spells required.
    you are still using your spells, though.
    for the purpose of spell economy, casting hold person to stop an enemy from acting and dealing damage, or allowing the enemy to deal damage that you can cancel with a cure moderate wounds... in both cases, it cost you a 2nd level spell. and with the cure, there's no chance he'll make his saving throw.

    not saying it happens all the time, but it is, indeed, highly situational. can't make general rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    For the sake of combat working, damage dealt per Action is usually greater than healing provided per action.
    that's debatable, and highly dependent on the optimization level. heal restores 150 hp with one action, it's rare that a pc will take more than 150 damage as the result of an opponent's action. mass heal does the same to all the party. plus they also remove a lot of nasty status effects. this kind of healing output is only outdone at very high optimization, when fighting becomes rocket tag and a solid hit on a opponent (be it from an ubercharger or a spell) is almost guaranteed to kill.
    and the same applies at low level. 1d8+1 for cure light wounds is not much, but most CR1 enemies will deal less damage than that, and only if they manage to hit the armor class in the first place.

    in fact, i would say that in most conditions, the most powerful healing spell available to the party will heal much more than the average damage dealt. of course, that requires one of your highest level spell slots, so you can't spam it. the low level healing spells, those you can spam? yes, those generally heal less than the damage dealt in an action, so they are ineffective during combat and are worthy for healing after combat.

    i had a cleric healbot in my group, and i tried to help him find other styles, because at the time i still had absorbed this forum's prejudice that healbots are weak and boring.
    cue this cleric casting mass heal every round of combat. and possibly a quickened mass heal, if needed. cue the enemies being ridiculized into uselessness. furthermore, many of those enemies were liches, so he would not only heal the party but also smoke the enemies.
    in my experience, if someone plays a dedicated healer, the only option to overcome that is to try oneshotting party members.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    you are still using your spells, though.
    for the purpose of spell economy, casting hold person to stop an enemy from acting and dealing damage, or allowing the enemy to deal damage that you can cancel with a cure moderate wounds... in both cases, it cost you a 2nd level spell. and with the cure, there's no chance he'll make his saving throw.
    You're not wrong, but you always have the cantrip option (or weapon attack). So between "cantrip now and healing after the fight" and "healing now", the cantrip option is better in a lot of cases.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Healing tactics

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    that's debatable, and highly dependent on the optimization level. heal restores 150 hp with one action, it's rare that a pc will take more than 150 damage as the result of an opponent's action. mass heal does the same to all the party. plus they also remove a lot of nasty status effects. this kind of healing output is only outdone at very high optimization, when fighting becomes rocket tag and a solid hit on a opponent (be it from an ubercharger or a spell) is almost guaranteed to kill.
    and the same applies at low level. 1d8+1 for cure light wounds is not much, but most CR1 enemies will deal less damage than that, and only if they manage to hit the armor class in the first place.

    in fact, i would say that in most conditions, the most powerful healing spell available to the party will heal much more than the average damage dealt. of course, that requires one of your highest level spell slots, so you can't spam it. the low level healing spells, those you can spam? yes, those generally heal less than the damage dealt in an action, so they are ineffective during combat and are worthy for healing after combat.

    i had a cleric healbot in my group, and i tried to help him find other styles, because at the time i still had absorbed this forum's prejudice that healbots are weak and boring.
    cue this cleric casting mass heal every round of combat. and possibly a quickened mass heal, if needed. cue the enemies being ridiculized into uselessness. furthermore, many of those enemies were liches, so he would not only heal the party but also smoke the enemies.
    in my experience, if someone plays a dedicated healer, the only option to overcome that is to try oneshotting party members.
    Despite your initial sentence to the contrary, I see you agreed with me. Qualifiers like "usually" or "generally" can be expanded into more detail, like you just did. (Especially since your reply relied on an exception I explicitly mentioned)

    Heal and Mass Heal are known exceptions to this general case.
    There are circumstances where a max level Cure Wounds is also an exception.
    Lay on Hands is also an exception, with limited uses, until very high level.

    However generally combat works as a battle of attrition and thus an action of healing generally negates a fraction of an action. For those cases I examined the in combat reactive use of Cure Wounds vs Healing Word. This resulted in the conclusion that Cure Wounds is better out of combat and Healing Word is generally* better in combat.
    *(see the specific post for specifics)


    As an aside:
    A dedicated healer can start the party off with ~ 3.5L extra hp before each combat. So regardless of their in combat healing, they already create a big protective buffer. This can also create the concern about needing to oneshot. Then in combat healing gets a big buff when Heal comes online.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2020-09-08 at 09:52 AM.

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