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D&D 5E Cure Wounds needs help or Healing Word needs a nerf...

Undrave

Hero
It can keep you fighting longer. This is quite good in my book.

I'm used to card games where life point gain tactics are usually VERY VERY bad because they don't advance your game state and can be undone in a subsequent turn after you spent the ressources on.

I also think Healing Surges were the best healing mechanic in D&D by far and to see the return of surgeless healing is quite sad.
 

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NotAYakk

Legend
I'm used to card games where life point gain tactics are usually VERY VERY bad because they don't advance your game state and can be undone in a subsequent turn after you spent the ressources on.

I also think Healing Surges were the best healing mechanic in D&D by far and to see the return of surgeless healing is quite sad.
What I'm playing with for my next campaign is that magical healing also requires and gives a HD of HP (plus gritty rest and some HD recovery overnight).

This makes the level 1 HW stronger in amount healed, but weaker magical healing also drains the target more (consumes a higher HD:Magical healing ratio).
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Two very different spells. Especially when you stop thinking of them as 1st level spells and think of them as 1st through 5th level spells.

Healing Word is only a bonus action (which can actually be a problem at time, as my glamour bard who could either trigger his bardic inspiration OR cast a healing word found out far too often), and at range, but it's just enough to get someone standing, not to prevent them from falling again. It's pitiful when upcast - there are times you still do it because you don't have cure wounds available, but you know it's just a tiny boost. You'll almost never see healing word out of combat.

Cure Wounds takes an action and is range touch. but ti can offset a lot more damage, especially when upcast. It the choice for out-of-combat single target healing between the two until (if!) you get something dedicated for out of combat like healing prayer. (And no longer Healing Spirit after the errata.) Or the Mass version if much of the party is hurt.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Cure wounds is on more spell lists than Healing word, so there is a point to both. But the practical problem is that healing would have to be 3 times greater than DPR for it to be a viable strategy beyond keeping people from bleeding out, because that's how the action economy works out.
 

Undrave

Hero
Cure wounds is on more spell lists than Healing word, so there is a point to both. But the practical problem is that healing would have to be 3 times greater than DPR for it to be a viable strategy beyond keeping people from bleeding out, because that's how the action economy works out.

Apparently the designer value 1 HP healed to be worth the same thing 1 HP of damage dealt, which I think is BS.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Cure wounds is on more spell lists than Healing word, so there is a point to both. But the practical problem is that healing would have to be 3 times greater than DPR for it to be a viable strategy beyond keeping people from bleeding out, because that's how the action economy works out.
In some cases, it actually is. By DPR, you can't just take the average dice, you have to adjust the enemy's to-hit with the healing target's AC. Or save vs save DC.

So, let's say you have a party consisting of a wizard, the cleric (you), and a barbarian. Let's say you're all fighting an Ogre and everyone in your team is down 15 hp. Well, if the wizard has mage armor up, they'd probably have 15 AC by level 2. You're a knowledge cleric for no reason other than to have your AC at 18. Your Barbarian has an AC of 15 and decided to rage and reckless attack.

Which one should you heal, and when?

Well, at your wizard, he'll do 8.25 DPR. At you, he'll do 6.3. However, at the Barbarian, he does 5.89 DPR.

This is interesting, because the average for a CW is likely to be 7.5 HP. Meanwhile, the likely HPR for HW would be 5.5, less than the average damage the barbarian would take. That means, you're likely to buy the barbarian 2 rounds of combat with CW while buying only 1 (maybe none if the ogre's turn is next anyways) with HW.

This goes into the effective HP of the fights and the impact of this effective HP. A heal is much more valuable on a martial, period, because martials usually have ways to mitigate damage like Rage, Evasion, BA dodges and high AC. They're more likely to boost the effectiveness of the healing than a spellcaster like a wizard or sorcerer. You can throw buffs on to increase this effectiveness as well, something like shield of faith.

I'm not sure you need 3x the enemy's DPR for a heal to be worth it, so long as it buys the martial more than one turn of time, it may be fine. The DPR drop of a martial like a barbarian going down could be around 11.415 against that Ogre. In a way, that heal was an indirect vehicle to prevent damage from falling 11.415. It does depend on turn order, but since you might buy the barbarian 2 turns, you can spend an extra turn contributing to the battle in more meaningful ways than your cantrips. Might give you room to cast Bless or Bane or Command.
 

Cure wounds is on more spell lists than Healing word, so there is a point to both. But the practical problem is that healing would have to be 3 times greater than DPR for it to be a viable strategy beyond keeping people from bleeding out, because that's how the action economy works out.
Strange, in me games HW is usually used to prevent a combattant from getting in range of the point where they might fall. The whack a mole syndrome has all but disappeared because as soon as one comattant is downed and gets back up, this means that if the enemies are intelligent, the next time that this combattant falls, he will be finished off by as much enemies it take to make a perma death.

This leads to players doing disengage (if possible, depending on map) and dodge maneuvers (if disengage would not be tactically sound) to get to the healer to get more meaningful healing (or at least buy enough time for the healer to get near enough) and gulping healing potions if necessary.

This is why my fights are usually around the 6 to 10 rounds (for average fights or deadlier) than the 3 to 5 rounds that seems to be so common on this forum.
 

delphonso

Explorer
A first level life cleric with +3 wis:

Healing word: 7-10hp healed.
Cure wounds: 7-14hp healed.

In this situation, healing word is clearly better since you still have an action to give a potion, cast Spare the Dying, or swing a weapon/cantrip. Even outside of combat, cure wounds doen't feel much better. (Obviously this changes at higher casts, and is mostly because of the Life Cleric's extra heals)

Most enemies of this level will deal 1d8+3 or so, so you're still in the range of getting knocked out again or very close to it with either spell.

Personally, I would like cure wounds to heal up a little more, or heal two targets within touch range (target and caster or two targets). Perhaps some homebrew of "you recover 1d8+mod hp and gain half as many temp hit points." Or something like that.
 

In my games I have only ever had like two players use healing word, I'm jokingly not even sure if most of my players know the spell exists. That said, as said by others it is definitely the best spell for emergency spot heals to get players back up.

I do feel that Cure Wounds could be conceived to be a tad weak if one is wanting it to be used in combat as healing spell, though I do point out that while in a white room the concept of "never heal in a fight" sounds well, in practice spending one's action healing does have it's uses, such as to prevent someone from getting killed by death saves (as stated, not everyone gets healing word as an option or can spare two spells known for healing, especially at low levels). One could make the argument that maybe attacking the target that is after said downed person is better, but attack rolls are a gamble, and misses do happen while healing spells are guaranteed to land. Am example, my divine soul sorcerer was put in this very situation but a few sessions ago when a pair of assassins were after her brother, and would have succeeded in killing him if she hadn't spent her turn throwing a cure spell on him, and she doesn't have healing word because she generally does what people suggest is "better": heals out of combat.

As for the original post's suggested change, it is not a bad idea, though if you feel the spell is too weak, I'd rather suggest you just increase the spell's dice to either d10's or just make the initial healing use 2d8 instead, and let them add their modifier to each level increased. It would increase it substantially and give it strong boost without being too absurd. The reason I caution against using the "spend hit dice" option is because it very quickly will result in a "well guys, guess one of us has to play cleric" sort of mindset mentioned previously. The very point of them adding hit dice is to make it so a healer isn't as required, what they need to do is short rest.
 

FireLance

Legend
I recently posted the following suggestions on another thread, although the objective was to have healing more proportional to a character's hit points:

Cure wounds restores hit points as if the target had spent a Hit Die (including Constitution bonus) per spell slot level.

Healing word restores 1 Hit Die, capped at 4 + Con mod, per spell slot level. This way, a larger Hit Die means a better chance of getting the maximum hit points restored, and a Con bonus means potentially more hit points restored.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Most of my players are used to the older editions, and this is the first time I've run a cleric in 5E. To try something different, I went with Healing Word instead of Cure Wounds for my cleric. So far, only have played one session, but my experience sure makes me feel like 5E decided to beat down healing magic and real took a dislike to Cure Wounds.

If that's your conclusion after one session, I got to ask (obviously joking question): did that session actually stopped immediately after the last round of the first combat? Because at the very least, Cure Wounds absolutely beats Healing Word after the combat is finished :)

You said it yourself, Cure Wounds is the choice for out-of-combat. But I see it getting used in combat too. There are many variables which play a part here:

  • you might already be near your ally, or getting near may not cost an extra risk
  • you might not be very effective with attacks in the current combat, so giving up the attack may not be a big deal
  • you might not know the Flame Strike cantrip
  • you might have a different bonus action ability to use

I think CW and HW are pretty balanced with each other, to the point that it makes sense to have clerics with CW prepared, clerics with HW prepared, and even clerics with both prepared. In fact, I don't think in 6 years with the current edition many people complained about these spells.
 
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Pauln6

Explorer
One other option is to allow the recipient of the healing spell to use their reaction to spend a hit die to increase the benefits.
 

Stormonu

Legend
If that's your conclusion after one session, I got to ask (obviously joking question): did that session actually stopped immediately after the last round of the first combat? Because at the very least, Cure Wounds absolutely beats Healing Word after the combat is finished :)

You said it yourself, Cure Wounds is the choice for out-of-combat. But I see it getting used in combat too. There are many variables which play a part here:

  • you might already be near your ally, or getting near may not cost an extra risk
  • you might not be very effective with attacks in the current combat, so giving up the attack may not be a big deal
  • you might not know the Flame Strike cantrip
  • you might have a different bonus action ability to use

I think CW and HW are pretty balanced with each other, to the point that it makes sense to have clerics with CW prepared, clerics with HW prepared, and even clerics with both prepared. In fact, I don't think in 6 years with the current edition many people complained about these spells.
Three combats in the session, actually (centaur using Shilleglegh on a charge for most of the combats so far). Character hit 2nd level, I've picked up Cure Wounds. However, after having seen my group use nothing but CW since 5E started, so far I really like HW much better. It makes CW seem like a level 1/2 spell, not a 1st level spell.

I'm curious to see how the two spells (and upcoming Prayer of Healing) all tend to interact in the actual game.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
In my current game there is no Cleric, the Paladin is the only guy with healing magic and he generally runs out of spells before he heals anyone with them. So he ends up using lay on hands, sometimes in combat. In 5e healing potions are gear available for purchase and my characters typically stock up on them too. Between the potions, lay on hands and the hit dice they get with a short rest they are usually ok.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
Before I actually implement anything in my own games, I'd like to get thoughts on how the two spells are actually used in your game...

Like others, healing word is used almost exclusively when someone drops to 0 hp. It's largely useless for anything else. Cure wounds is rarely used because in combat, it stinks, and out of combat, potions are an easy option for any party with gold to spare.

If you're concerned about the disparity, you could reduce healing word to its base die (d4, no modifiers). It still has the utility of ranged healing to get someone up from 0hp without the extra "oomph" a cure spell provides.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Personally, I don't want to lessen healing word. I actually want to bump the other healing spells up to have a little more oomph.

I run a paladin in another game, and I have been unhappy with how much better lay on hands is to the likes of cure wounds.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Healing word has range, cure wounds is more effective. That's about it.

Don't dismiss bonus action vs. full action. That can be a big deal.

I see almost nobody who has access to both take Cure Wounds anymore. The (average) 2 additional points is not worth it.

If Cure Wounds healed 2d6, plus 2d6 per additional level, I could see it being a tougher choice.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
Personally, I don't want to lessen healing word. I actually want to bump the other healing spells up to have a little more oomph.

I run a paladin in another game, and I have been unhappy with how much better lay on hands is to the likes of cure wounds.
You have to be very careful how effective something like Cure Wounds can be. If it's so effective that a war cleric can make it work every round, that's going to be the expectation of the group. If cure wounds outdid an enemy's damage, when someone goes down, they'll blame the cleric/bard.

Cure wounds is strictly OoC healing. It's quick enough that the party doesn't have to wait 10 minutes and it's more effective than the alternative due to spell slot economy. You really don't want to have to heal in combat anyways, but if you must, healing word is designed for that.

Out of combat, you'll probably perfer the 1d8+SCM than 1d4+SCM. Prayer of healing is nice but you'll need relative breathing room to cast it. Once you have time, though, it's a great option. Mass Healing Word isn't as effective since multiple people going down in a turn means a TPK is probably imminent anyways. Mass Cure Wounds is pretty good, since you'll probably have an average of 4(3d8+SCM) which probably averages to 74 HP healed without being a life cleric.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
One solution might be to combine them as a single spell. For example, it could be 1d4 + mod, touch, full action. Then pick two from: +30’ range, bonus action, or another d4. And you can pick the range or the d4 twice.
 

aco175

Legend
I find that it depends on the cleric and how he is played. A fighting cleric may need/want to swing something each round and thus Healing Word is best for him, while a 2nd rank cleric may hang back and find Cure Wounds better. Also may depend on the player some, in that a newer player may need more time to sort through all the options and find that more HP is better than another action.
 

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