Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mitigate...the untold story

Well, thanks to Miss Medicina for setting off a world-wide firestorm debating the proper use of healing terms such as reactive, direct, and mitigate. Currently at the forefront of WoW philosophizing...mitigation vs. prevention. Or something like that. Anyway, reading Miss Medicina's post and Wugan's follow up one realizes that there are many different ways to define and interpret healing and the words we use to describe it. There are a few words that came up in particular. The word that started it all was mitigation. To lessen. In healing terms to lessen the effect of damage. By definition all healing spells are mitigation spells (for the sake of argument, "all healing spells" includes actual heals, shields and poison/curse/disease eradicators), because all of those spells have the potential to lessen damage. A shield will lessen damage, in fact it may prevent the damage from a blow entirely. In a raid/instance, it is unlikely that a shield will be entirely preventative, as it will more than likely absorb the maximum amount of damage before it times itself out. For the sake of easy numbers lets say the shield could absorb a 5k hit and the tank was hit for 10k. 5k damage was prevented....and the 10k hit was was lessened in severity. Now, if the hit was only 2.5k and the mob only hit once before he died, then yes the bubble was entirely preventive. A cleansing totem can be both preventive and mitigative. Hunter gets hit by poison bug in AN. Damage starts to roll. Cleansing totem ticks and abolishes poison effect. It has mitigated the effect and prevented further effect. Can a healing wave do this? Or a flash heal? No. They can only mitigate damage. Damage occurs and a traditional heal spell heals the damage...mitigates it...lessens it. Life was removed from our health pool, and the spell filled it again. So all healing type spells mitigate, but they don't all prevent. Some can do both...but not all.

So, if we're clear on my vision of mitigation vs. prevention, let's move on to the next set of words I saw. Proactive vs. reactive. To be fair, the spells themselves are neither proactive or reactive (for the most part!). It is how they are used that is proactive or reactive. If a druid casts an HoT in anticipation of damage, it is proactive. Same for a shield. Same for a chain heal. If it's cast before damage, to either prevent or mitigate by landing as close to simultaneously as is proactive. The key word is before. A bubble could be cast as much reactively as it could proactively. The priest sees a dps going down but the tank requires some fast healing. The priest could reactively bubble the dps to prevent or mitigate further damage. Therefore, I suggest that proactive and reactive be reserved to describe healing itself. The style with which one heals. Obviously any healer uses both, and all healing spells could be used both ways (for the most part! One would not cure disease or cleanse something proactively so those dont apply). I also said the spells themselves are not pro or reactive, rather it is the cast that is. Casting an earth shield is proactive. However, I would say that the way the spell itself works is entirely reactive, as is PoM. I suppose they are proactively reactive. We still on board here?
The last pair of words I saw were direct vs heal over time. This is the obvious one. All traditional spells fall into one or both categories. I think really, these are the only two words we need to describe traditional healing spells. Do they fill the health pool right away, slowly, or a little of both.

In conclusion...all healing type spells mitigate. Some prevent. Some do both. The healer casts his/her mitigatory or preventive (some of which may or may not be direct or heal over time) spells in a proactive or reactive manner. Man I am so lost. Feel free to comment on my awesome philosophization.


  1. "By definition all healing spells are mitigation spells (for the sake of argument, "all healing spells" includes actual heals, shields and poison/curse/disease eradicators), because all of those spells have the potential to lessen damage."

    AhHA - but, traditional healing spells do NOT lessen damage. They do NOT lessen damage received, and are therefore not mitigation. That is the trick - If I cast Flash Heal on a tank, and heal him for 5k, that has absolutely no effect on the 7k hit he just took. Nothing about my Flash Heal will change that 5k the Tank received. It simply refills the health pool after the hit was taken.

    This is an important difference, because it does NOT increase the tank's effective health. It doesn't matter if you're spamming Flash Heal - if the tank has 5k health, and he gets hit for 7k, he or she is dead without some nifty Ardent Defender or Guardian Spirit cooldown. Green-bar-go-up heals do not reduce the amount of damage that the victim takes - they merely replace the health the damage removed. That's not to say they aren't important, because they are the foundation of all healing.

    In a general sense, you could call all heals mitigation because, philosophically, the fact that health can be healed after damage is taken lessens the severity of damage being dealt period. You can generally recover from it if there is anyone available who can heal. But that does not necessarily mean that the damage itself is lessened.

  2. are good. However...does a spell mitigate the swing of the sword or the damage caused by the sword? A shield actually lessens or stops the landing of the mob's weapon. Prevented. Should the blow land and the sword give our heroic tank some ghastly wound, we can then mitigate the effects of the damage done to the tank by casting a flash heal and bringing him back up to full health. We have lessened the severity of the damage. We're talking about prevent and mitigate again. A 5k blow remains a 5k blow if the tank does not receive a heal of some type. The damage or effects of the damage from that same 5k blow are lessened, or mitigated by the healing spell we choose. In other words, I'd say that a direct healing or HoT does in fact mitigate the effects of the damaging blow. Not the pre-determined numerical amount of damage, but the effects of that damage (ie -5k health). Admit it...I got ya.

  3. Well but that's what I meant by saying philosophically it all is mitigation because if you take it in such a general sense then all healing done mitigates the situation. So does not standing in the fire, or not even entering the room. Hell, if you REALLY want to mitigate damage, or shall I say, lessen the severity of the damage... You could just not enter combat period.

    A situation in which you are fighting a boss is only dangerous because you are taking damage and will therefore die. Casting a flash heal on you does not lessen the severity of the damage that was done - it lessens the severity of the situation in which you took damage. By that same definition, you could also say that focusing on having all your dps be 10k+ would be mitigating as well - the boss dies faster, therefore producing leas damage and lessening the severity of the situation.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I DO understand what YOU mean when you are saying all heals mitigate, because I had an internal debate about the same thing before I posted. I came to the conclusion that taking it to that extreme abstraction was a bit far off into the lnds of semantics, even for me, lol. All definitions need a functional, working, logical limit, or else you can argue that every definition is wrong if taken to a more drastic degree.

    Damn, how's that for some linguistic philosophy?

  4. That was philofantastical! I guess for me, it works to say that all healing spells are mitigative. And yes, it could certainly be abstracted to the point of not even entering combat. For me, to see the effects of the damage as opposed to the numerical value is concrete. Someone comes into my office with a knifewound. I can't reverse time. The wound has occured. I can however mitigate the effects of the knifewound. I can stop the bleeding, clean the wound, stitch it, give antibiotics and pain meds. I have not mitigated the knife strike, rather I have mitigated the effects of the knife strike. I think we may be agreeing with each other, but I'm not sure because I can't see through the haze of awesome philovoluminizing we're doing!