League of Legends’ healing systems have been drastically reworked since the durability update, with patch 12.14 including some of the biggest changes yet. There are more to come as Riot continues to filter its new philosophy around balancing the mechanic.
Healing is a contentious topic in League of Legends. It’s seen by many as being too excessive, especially in certain roles, and the durability update of LoL patch 12.10 only exacerbated the problem by dragging out teamfights.
Riot are aware of the pain points healing presents to players: “Simply put, satisfying healing mechanics are typically frustrating for opponents to play against,” developer Matt ‘Phroxzon’ Leung-Harrison told players.
“Watching an opponent burst heal through your damage output and survive is typically a frustrating experience.
“If a drain tanking champion gets ahead, there is little room for counterplay as they are neither ‘burstable’ nor able to be killed in extended combat. It also reduces the quality of gameplay by creating a strong incentive to not fight.
“Healing in League can also be snowbally. Healing spells are often fairly ratio and level driven to ensure that they remain at a satisfying value throughout the game. Secondly, healing can also take the form of Lifesteal or Omnivamp, which directly scales with how ahead you are.”
However, it’s a “valuable and satisfying mechanic” and a “core expectation” for certain champions and archetypes. You expect a vampire like Vladimir to drain your life to increase his own. You expect an enchanter support like Soraka to bolster carries with heals and shields.
Where the problem lies is where the baseline level of healing is too high — something Riot discovered as part of LoL patch 12.13. If the “intended counterplay” against a champion doesn’t work to kill them through their healing, then things have gotten out of hand.
“You’re kiting out Aatrox, he’s missing half his spells, and then he activates Goredrinker with his Passive and gets back to full health immediately. This probably feels off to most players,” Phroxzon described. “This is generally fine, but when they are still able to do it without being ahead, then something is off.”
The problem can very easily flip to be the opposite though. That’s where Grievous Wounds comes into play, and the plentiful nerfs Riot has shipped since LoL patch 12.10 and the durability patch.
“In the same way that buying a Chain Vest against Zed does not guarantee that you will survive against his burst, you should not expect buying Grievous Wounds to mean that you win against these champions, especially if they get ahead,” Leung-Harrison continued.
“We intend to balance Grievous Wounds to be optimal when the enemy team has more than two heavy healers doing moderately well.
“While we would prefer players didn’t have to opt into Grievous Wounds items over other, more exciting options, it’s a necessary mechanic to prevent a team of 5 healers resulting in a degeneration of League’s gameplay.”
All of this is to say Riot is planning on more healing changes as they try and identify how much healing is too much in League of Legends. It could be the case healing cut gets buffed, or certain archetypes of champions get adjusted.
LoL patch 12.14 was the first pass at this with some baseline healing nerfs for champions like Wukong who aren’t predominantly “healers”, as well as a tone down on enchanters. Future updates across Season 12 and beyond will continue tinkering with this.