A topic that I kept wondering about again recently – how useful are potions (not elixirs), actually? And when I say potions, I’ll forgo something like a potion of speed (www.wowhead.com/?item=40211) for the sake of ... well… I only use those when I remember, when the raidleader shouts at us or when I accidentally found one in my bags. Anyway… the point in this post will be about healing potions. Healing, not mana, although I’m almost sure it’ll apply there as well.
In my perfect world, a healing potion would allow me to smooth over a healing glitch or an unforeseen situation in battle. I would drink one and receive the equivalent of a heal that somehow never arrived – maybe my healer is having his hair done by snowbolds or I pulled three gnolls and a patrol while levelling. It should feel like another cooldown that reduces the impact of damage – and as I play most of my time as a protection warrior that means a potion has to compete with my Last Stand and enraged regeneration.
Both of those increase my current health by 30% (although in practical terms that’s now how they are used – same as druids most warriors will probably hit last stand immediately followed by enraged regeneration – which means enraged regeneration grants us more health per tic than when used alone).
When I look at my (rather sizable) stack of runic healing potions the same impact does not seem to be there. A maximum health gain of 4500 points is approximately equivalent to 10% health – with 10 man raidbuffs. The perspective is totally skewed, of course. My gear gradually got better, tanks generally have more health than the average player (that is sort of the point, after all) and I seem to remember potions being really quite good while levelling.
So … *opens spreadsheet* it’s time for some statistics, methinks. There are a total of 8 different healing potions available. This is a blatant lie, obviously – there are many more, but those are usually just renamed, funkily coloured offshoots of the main eight. I’ll stick to eight.
Those range in minimum level requirement from nothing (which technically makes them level 1 minimum, I presume) to 70 for the current highest tier (the runic healing potion mentioned above).
But how does that relate to health? This is where it gets a tad tricky. I can’t really say for myself. Of course I can enter my own health into the graph – with or without buffs. I can also log in my low level alts to try and get more information. All of that is not exactly going to help.
I found help here:
Zardoz has gone mined the armoury (and is still doing it), grabbing all sorts of information about all realms. His database is enormous. However, his data (grabbing only the health) is unfortunately displayed as average health with a minimum and maximum value. He does tell me how many samples he took for each class, but not how many for each level. A shame … I vaguely remember that doing an average of averages is not such a hot idea in statistics.
That leaves me with – well – many sets of data.
The above image shows a few sets – limited to a more or less random selection. Only the averages are shown, as I want to try and keep the obviously skewed data out of it – all feral druids would be misrepresented, as their actual health in bear form is much larger. Classes with multiple roles also show a large amount of wrongly represented data – usually by logging out in gear that is not matched to the set (read: Arms warriors with 35k health and such). This might be a dedicated pvp champion, or someone who specced arms and donned prot gear for whatever reason.
So what does it mean? Obvious things first: a potion does not provide a full heal. The effects of potions become less pronounced the lower the level of the potion compared to the user – and there is no level 80 healing potion.
Does everyone need potions in the end-game, though? Blizzards’ thinking seems to point towards “no”. The tanks take too much damage for a potion to have any serious effect. Bosses routinely hit around the 15.000 damage mark. The measly 3600 average runic potion heal is not going to make a lot of difference. The “oh shit” buttons available to tanks are also much better for the use of one keystroke – especially as they scale with health or directly affect damage taken.
However, the damage dealer seem to hover somewhere around the 18.000 health mark on average (keep in mind the above note about not averaging averages – I just did, and I don’t care *shakes fist*). The same potion there is 20% of their health (remarkably precisely). As all damage for damage dealers is supposedly splash (well.. that or they need attention when a snowbold chews up their head, or they are sitting in a flaming pool of burning fire with extra scorch on top) they are not expected to take the same amount of damage again. A potion there will cover a broken line of sight to the healers – or having run in the wrong direction when facing a flame wall.
And while levelling?
Up to level 60 an appropriate level potion will (on average) restore almost half health. After level 60 this diverges a little, but by then most classes already have a good few “oh shit” buttons available in their talents. A potion still won’t save players from stupidity (“hmm… if I leap down that cliff and sprint into the gnoll camp I can take out the named mob before the mage reaches it and gets his grimy paws on my random green”) but it’s most probably enough for those slightly hairy situations one tends to stumble into.
My attempts at a summary: Healing potions are always useful – in moderate amounts. If you are constantly in need of one every fight, you are probably attempting content that is not designed for your level. In the end-game they can cover for momentary losses of healer attention (due to line of sight or distance) but are completely unable to cover for stupidity or the total lack of a healer. For tanks, the situation is slightly worse. The use of a potion is worse than all available cooldowns and requires the same amount of effort. As such it is only recommended as a last resort. Even the warlocks healthstone is better.