Diablo 3 Survival: Healing vs. Toughness vs. Hit Points

Diablo 3 Survival: Healing vs. Toughness vs. Hit Points

Players are greatly overvaluing Vit/HPs and undervaluing healing and resistance and defense. That’s the argument made (confusingly, IMHO) in a post on the B.net forums. But since Wyatt Cheng dropped in to commend it, clearly it’s advice we should all take to heart. Especially for Hardcore players: Diablo 3 Survival: Healing vs. Toughness vs. Hit Points?

I’ll quote the whole OP’s post and then Wyatt’s reply, though I’ll explain first since the OP’s example confused me and everyone I asked about it. After reading a bunch of replies to this post, I understand where he’s coming from, but I think it requires more explanation. Here’s how combat and damage works in Diablo 3:

  • Raw incoming damage is DiabloWikimitigated by your DiabloWikiresistances, armor, blocking, -melee/ranged% affixes, etc, which results in the red number you see displayed in game.
  • That number is subtracted from your Hit Points which are largely derived from your Vit and Life% gear.
  • Your healing (DiabloWikiregen, DiabloWikiLpH, Health Orbs, etc) produces the green numbers you see in-game, which refill your HPs pool.
  • The point the OP is making here is that all other things being equal, you derive more value from damage mitigation (via resistance, armor, blocking, etc) than you do from Vitality. But since all of those stats are factored into the single number of your Toughness, it’s hard to tell which numbers are providing the most benefit. Thus his confusing example which says that all other things being equal, it’s better to have more damage mitigation than hit points.

    Thus the example (with fake numbers). A character with 5m toughness and 200k hps is *better* off than a char with 5m toughness and 500k hps, because the 200k hps character would have to have MUCH higher damage mitigation to achieve the same 5m toughness, because vitality is a large part of toughness. (It’s not that you want lower hps — that same 200k hps char would be better off with 500k hps, but if he added 300k hps without changing his other gear, his Toughness number would increase greatly, since Vitality is a major factor in toughness. And then you’d have 2 chars with 500k hps, and one of them would have 8m toughness.)

    Anyway, here’s the post and Wyatt’s reply:

    So I have been playing for a very long time on softcore and recently have been doing a bunch on hardcore, where survivability becomes paramount (of course). I ran across someone in my clan the other day, and have actually ran across many people of a similar mindset so I decided to write it all down here so it could actually help someone.

    Anyway, he could not understand why I am able to do 1 level of difficulty higher than him when my toughness number was about 40% of what his was. So we joined a game together and started killing some things and he began to wonder why my life pool was barely moving as I took damage, while his would drain a little bit, but not significantly to put him in danger.

    The thing to remember is that your character survivability is a function of all 3 things, Damage, Toughness, and Healing.

    Also, we are assuming no other damage reduction for simplicity. we are only considering healing, life, armor, and all resist.

    Lesson 1: Kill Quickly
    The faster you kill, the less damage you take, and thus the less you have to heal. This is pretty self explanatory, and not specifically the aim of this thread.

    Lesson 2: Life is strengthened by All Resist and Armor
    What is better?

    1. 5,000,000 Toughness with a 500,000 life pool
    2. 5,000,000 Toughness with a 200,000 life pool
    3. Doesn’t matter, 5,000,000 toughness is 5,000,000 toughness

    The answer, every time, is option 2. If you keep your toughness constant while simultaneously lowering your life, it means each life point becomes stronger which makes your healing more potent.

    Let’s do some math and assume we heal for 20,000 life per second and we are fighting monsters while taking 500,000 damage per second… How long will your character last?

    1. 5,000,000 Toughness with 500,000 life pool
    The enemy does 500,000 damage per second which is 1/10 of your toughness, so that means each second, those monsters are hitting you for 50,000 life. we are healing at 20,000 life per second, so we are at a net loss of 30,000 life per second.
    In this case, we will survive for 16.67 seconds.

    Not too bad huh?

    2. 5,000,000 Toughness with 200,000 life pool
    Again, same as above… the enemies damage us for 500,000 damage which is 1/10 of our toughness… That means these monsters are hitting us for 20,000 life per second. But we are also healing for 20,000 life per second. That means we are at a net change of 0 life per second.

    In this case, we will NEVER die!

    3. 8,000,000 Toughness with 800,000 life pool (which is about what my clan-mate had)
    Again, 500,000 damage which is 1/16 of our toughness, so the monsters are hitting for 50,000 damage. we end up in the same scenario as number 1 where we eventually die, but it takes a lot longer. Losing 30,000 health per second with 800,000 health.
    In this case, we will survive for 26.67 seconds.

    Lesson 3: Healing is more potent when stacking armor and All Resist
    we saw above how someone with 3 million more toughness will eventually die when stacked next to someone whose toughness is more seated in all resist and armor. The reason is each point of life has a toughness value associated with it when taking into account all of the other multipliers.

    1. 5,000,000 Toughness with 500,000 life pool
    Each life point here accounts for 10 toughness, so when we have 20,000 healing per second, we are really only regenerating 200,000 toughness per second.

    2. 5,000,000 Toughness with 200,000 life pool
    Each life point here accounts for 25 toughness, so when we have 20,000 healing per seconds, are are actually regenerating 500,000 toughness per second

    3. 8,000,000 Toughness with 800,000 life pool (which is about what my clan-mate had)
    Each life point accounts for 10 toughness so again, we are only regenerating 200,000 toughness per second.

    Suvivability is a combination of killing speed and toughness and healing. for the defensive aspect, the more you stack Armor, All resist and damage reduction modifiers, the more potent your healing becomes so you can survive much longer even with a smaller toughness number. This leads to people witnessing a sense of “false toughness” when stacking life. In actuality, it isn’t “false toughness,” but just diluted healing

    Wyatt Cheng: Thanks for spreading awareness! Great write-up.

    Damage, Toughness and Healing are all designed to be rough guides to try and help players make gear choices, but knowledge of the underlying mechanics will always allow players to get the most out of your gear. Savvy players understand that mechanics like “+% damage to skill X” or “Cooldown Reduction %” can provide significant increases to your combat effectiveness. Equipping your character is about much more than just making an abstract number on your character sheet as large as possible.

    Healing is currently an estimation of approximately how much Life the game thinks you probably heal per second. Obviously it’s just an estimation because mechanics such as Life Per Kill and Life Per Resource Spent don’t translate directly into a Life per second value.

    We’ve been talking about changing Healing into a “Toughness healed per second” value. This unfortunately makes it even more of an abstract concept, but it would help take into account that your damage mitigation enhances the value of your Life recovery stats. The ultimate goal of the three summary stats is to provide a “quick gut check” of an item’s effect on your character, and making this change to Healing could probably help guide people better.

    Here’s my Shorter version of the whole moral of the thread and Wyat’s reply:

  • TLDR: Healing and damage mitigation (via Defense and Resistance) are more valuable than HPs, and players are getting a false sense of security from big Toughness numbers based almost entirely on high VIT, when survival is more about mitigation and healing.

  • Wyatt’s post suggests that the devs want to make the importance of Healing much more apparent to players, and that’s basically what the OP was trying to emphasize. You are much better off adding to your healing (via LpH, Regen, Life for resource spent, etc), or increasing your damage mitigation (via All Res, Defense, +blocking%, reduced damage from melee/ranged attacks, etc), instead of just tacking on some more Vit for a higher HPs number. Currently, the game doesn’t make that very clear with the way Toughness increases via gear upgrades, and the way that Healing is listed separately and not factored into your total Toughness/HPs.

    What do you guys think of Wyatt’s suggestion for a better display of the Healing mechanic? And/or do you think they need to recalculate Toughness, since it seems to overvalue Vit and types of damage mitigation your character isn’t necessarily benefiting from, while not accurately showing the more important factors in survival?

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    39 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Survival: Healing vs. Toughness vs. Hit Points

    1. Wait a second… I thought Armour mechanically worked exactly the same as All Resistance. When you hover over your armour value in the advanced details screen it implicitly says that it “reduces damage from all sources by x%”

      In any case, I agree with what the original poster was saying. In reality though it’s very hard to maximize your damage whilst also stacking resistance, armour & healing. There’s just not enough primarys to go around: Unless you’re a Monk with ungodly luck on how your items roll in combination with ‘One with Everything’.

      • Armor is functionally equivalent to all res, they both reduce damage from everything in the game. Flux is just confused.

        • Yeah, I meant to remove that paragraph from the ending after I researched the functions and rewrote the opening. I find D3’s Armor = All Res in function to be one of the worst and most inelegant design choices in the game, and thus do my best to forget it every time it’s not staring me right in the face.

          Armor/Defense *should* be something that is found on shiny plate mail type equipment, which makes you take less damage when demons try to hit you with a sword. I’d be okay with it providing some reduction to some elemental attacks, as a sheet of metal between you and a fireball would do some good, but making it reduce all damage the same seems like something JW forced in during his “the Barb must be the strongest” design meetings.

          • While I like the aesthetic of that, I think that it would be impractical in the extreme for actual play. For the most part, aside from a few enemies, most enemies attack with elemental damage. If armor was only really good for blocking physical hits, it would devalue armor even more than it does now, since armor would only be valuable against certain enemies.

            Furthermore, against all of the strong enemies (Elites, Champions and Bosses), physical resistance is practically worthless, as aside from the Desecrator affix, and maybe Reflects Damage, all other Elite/Champion affixes that deal damage deal elemental damage. Also, of the Uber bosses, only 3 of the 7 deal primarily physical damage, making armor mostly a poor choice against them. Even if you separated Resistances and Armor completely, Resistances would still be the better affix in general, as most damage coming in is elemental, and would check against resistances rather than armor.

            • “Furthermore, against all of the strong enemies (Elites, Champions and Bosses), physical resistance is practically worthless, as aside from the Desecrator affix, and maybe Reflects Damage, all other Elite/Champion affixes that deal damage deal elemental damage.”

              Of course, this itself is a weird and kinda stupid design decision. It’s long been a pet peeve of mine that the most dangerous attacks are almost always big blobs of magic AoE spam.

          • I agree that I wish armor reduced a lot of physical resist more than all res, but it’s still way better than “armor” in D2 where it was just dodge chance.

    2. quote: “a ranged char who seldom takes melee damage doesn’t benefit from their Defense”

      Not sure where you got this from but there is no defense. Maybe you meant armor. In any case, every damage type is mitigated by every type of defense. Allres/armor/dodge reduce all types of damage.

    3. Damage, Toughness, and Healing are all complete gibberish numbers as-is. Trying to work in nebulous generalizations like that is only hurting players, and Wyatt not bothering to correct him (and instead throwing out some other obfuscating mush-mouth term) is only doing the community at large a disservice.

      I’d rather see the numbers removed completely to encourage people to *think* about how their characters are made… even though I know this would only end in mountains of “WUT IS BEST WIZZERD” threads.

    4. I think the players that overvalue Life undervalue Mitigation, and the players that overvalue mitigation undervalue life.

      You need both.

      For slots like shoulders/chest/belt/pants/boots, you can easily get Mainstat/Vit/All Res and another affix such as CDR for shoulders, sockets for chest and pants, skill dmg for boots. Those types of slots are easy for maximizing your toughness.

      The issue is what to prioritize when there isn’t room for both (for example, on Gloves, with only 4 primary affixes to choose, you’ll get Int/x/Crit Dmg/Crit Chance ideally. Would you want Vit or All Res on that x?

      That’s what I haven’t figured out yet. For my Wizard, I generally prefer Vitality because I have 2000+ all res from my Int stat, and having All Res on several key pieces of gear (chest, pants etc). If I were to get 90 all res I might only really gain 0.8% mitigation, whereas with 700 Vit, I’ll gain significantly more effective HP. At least, that’s what I’m assuming. I’m no number cruncher.

      • My understanding is that there actually are no diminishing returns on Armor/AR – each point gives you a set amount of EHP. The amount depends on how much HP you have (the higher your HP, the more EHP you get per point of AR, and vice versa).

        • There isn’t diminishing returns in a matter of speaking.

          If you have 2000 all res but only 4000 armor then your mitigation increase per item affix will be proportionally higher for the armor until you reach an equilibrium where armor/all res reduction are roughly equal.

    5. Toughness is simply a literal measurement of your effective HP, i.e. how much damage you take before you die (with I think a bit of fudging to approximate the value of single resists). So when you see that replacing AR with Vit will increase your Toughness, that’s absolutely true – you will take more damage before dying. What isn’t represented is the fact that the healing stats heal you for a flat amount of health, which means that low-health-high-mitigation characters get more benefit from healing stats than high-health-low-mitigation characters.

      Personally however I have not found healing stats to be that important in RoS, speaking as a Barb. In vanilla, the common strategy was to get enough healing via Life Steal/LoH to allow you to cancel out all incoming damage and thus live forever, provided you had some minimum amount of EHP so you don’t get one-shotted. To do that it was important you had a lot of mitigation to maximize the value of your healing. In RoS that’s just not possible anymore, LoH/LpS will never be enough to cancel out all monster damage at higher difficulties. However, you can stack a ton of EHP to live a long time, and health potions and health globes both heal you for a percentage of max health, at no cost to your stats. Thus I find the most important thing is to maximize Toughness so you can take a lot of damage before you go down, long enough to kill an elite pack or two and recover from globes/potions. You do need AR in conjunction with Vit to get those levels of toughness, but I think LoH/LpS are luxuries that are ultimately better off being replaced with DPS/Toughness stats.

      • I completely agree. While I can’t say anything about higher difficulties, even d3v2 I found that globes+pot was pretty much enough to keep me alive, given I killed things at a reasonable speed. So far everyone in this thread compared vit value to mitigation value, but most sources of healing is a mainstat too. To get healing, you are likely giving up some form of EHP. Then again, for t6, where you are unlikely to kill fast, option 2 (mitigation+healing) might be the only viable choice.

      • I think that recovery is important as well, but I’m only at the T3-4 level, where I can get enough with Paragon points + some skills.

      • The mistake a lot of players make is assuming healing should be the replacement for LS, which healed you to full over the course of seconds. Healing is just there to sustain you, not top you off with every swing.

        Stacking HP to the exclusion of healing isn’t a good idea, and doing this you’ll experience a lot spikier damage (and deaths) as a result. Only if you’re killing enemies instantly (where you can easily get health globes) on low difficulties would this ever work out. If you’re relying on health potions, then you can already see the issue. It’s not really the best position to be in to rely on a 30 sec CD heal.

        I think there’s too much misinformation out there regarding healing mechanics, because people compare it to the power of LS (instant full heals basically) which was a broken mechanic, and conclude that it’s just not worth it, because “4k LoH can never heal your 400k health pool to full!!” But you never take 200k damage in one hit, it’s a lot of small hits, which can be steadily recovered through either LoH/LPS/LPK, making a pile of elite affixes much less of a nightmare.

    6. I believe people need to understand defense gearing by reaching for an equilibrium point between vit – allres – armor.

      For me, the sweet spot of buffed values is:

      500k – 1000 – 7000 (for my DH)

      My monk with owe gets allres much easier, so the numbers go:

      500k – 1500 – 10k

      I guess some guidelines of this sort would help people better, as the toughness value is quite irrelevant.

      • I would never recommend +Armor as an affix to anyone though, the values it rolls are just far too low. To pick a random example, my Shoulders can roll +86-90 AR, or +340-364 Armor. That’s less than half the amount of mitigation – it’s a really horrible affix.

        • agreed. and the worst part is, it keeps rolling instead of all res for everything my crusader finds. >__> its like, i have 20 mil armor and 500 phys resist, come on.

        • “my Shoulders can roll +86-90 AR, or +340-364 Armor. That’s less than half the amount of mitigation – it’s a really horrible affix.”

          Single resists can’t roll together with AR, but can with Armor. People *really* undervalue this fact. Also, for classes that have Intelligence as their main stat Armor isn’t that bad by itself either. Another thing to consider is that you get a flat amount of AR from Paragon points, but a percentage based one for Armor.

          • Even excluding AR, I think every slot probably has four other affixes that are better than Armor. The +% Armor paragon stat isn’t very good either, even on my Barb with a ton of armor it still gives less Toughness than AR. I don’t think having Int as your main stat changes things, AR still gives you the same amount of Toughness as far as I know.

        • To go one step farther, All resist, particularly from gems is far less scaling than flat resist of one type (secondary stat on items) and flat stat bonuses from gems for STR INT DEX, int classes in particular gain so much resists from intelligence alone it basically never makes sense to use diamonds in their armor as topaz out performs it. The same applies with STR for most barb/crusader as the armor + dmg gained from Rubies -very- quickly outscales diamonds. The problem being for STR based class is you need to be in the thick of things and early on in gearing it can be much more efficient to get allres from diamonds until you have better gems and the gear you need.

          All res on items procs for around 80-90 allres per item in my experience, and flat resistance seems to range from 140-155 on legendaries. at the top end that’s basically double the amount of resistance to one stat, and we can quickly discern that the dangerous affixes are Arcane/Fire/Poison/Lightning in that order with cold/physical presenting the least threatening damage but arguably annoying crowd control (Ice Climbers please?), with all your gear having a flat resist to a specific stat it saves a primary affix for something else, be it primary stat, crit, aspd, crit dmg or anything else.

          At the top end of gearing I would suspect you would have -very- little all resist on your gear and derive your resistances from secondary stats and elsewhere. (I do find the paragon points into Allres and life regen to be the absolute most efficient two.)

      • The sweet spot isn’t that clear cut. Do you care about Healing as well? Then you’re better off foregoing a little Vitality, even if that will decrease your Toughness, and swapping it to Healing or other, damage resistance stats. Doing this can result in better survivability, because of more efficient recovery.

        And for Wyatt (I’m sure he’ll read this…): “Toughness healed per second” indeed sounds like an abstract and nebulous concept, but why not call it “EHP healed per second”? I think that’s much more clear and it means the same thing? Why even call Toughness like that when it’s essentially our effective Life pool?

    7. “I believe the OP is incorrect in his 200k vs. 500k example”

      Do you mean when he says “5,000,000 Toughness with a 200,000 life pool” is better than “5,000,000 Toughness with a 500,000 life pool”? Because he is 100% correct on that. You cannot argue it. Math.

    8. ” By his logic you’d always be better off with fewer HPs/lower Toughness, but with higher Healing, since then the damage you took would be tiny and you’d instantly heal it all up. Build a 1000 hps char with 1000 healing = immortality!”

      That’s not quite what he’s saying. I have no idea if he’s right but the correct example would be more like: if you could build a 1,000 HP char that somehow had 5,000,000 toughness, than a monster with 500K damage would only hit you for 100 HP. If that were the case then yeah, 1000 healing = immortality. What he’s saying is that it’s not really the amount of HP that matters, it’s the amount of the HP-to-Toughness ratio.

      But again, I have no idea if he’s right!

      • Also worth noting that he does say that the char with 8M Tough/800K HP can take 60% more hits than the char with 5M Tough/500K HP as one would expect. So the argument is definitely that Vit doesn’t matter!

    9. The basic idea is more that the more HP you take, the weaker the Healing stat becomes. Take a hypothetical character with 10 million Toughness. He could have this by having either 10 million health, or 5 million health, and 50% damage reduction. The latter case has more use out of the healing stats (life on hit/kill, etc), as these are not percentage based, but absolute numbers, and thus has actually higher survivability because of that.

    10. The poster listed in the article is correct. All other factors aside, like gearing, 5m toughness with 200k life pool is far easier to keep alive than 5m @500k life.

      Vitality certainly still matters, the post is just pointing out that healing and mitigation should be considered together. He should have used a more extreme example for healthpool like 2,000,000hp @ 5m toughness. You would require monstrous healing amounts to be able to sustain.

      Toughness is a merely a measure of ‘time till death’ irregardless of healing.

    11. Hmm, someone at Blizzard should notify Miriam of this, since she loves double-rolling VIT so much when you enchant items.

    12. The poster was definitely correct, it just sounds confusing the way he said it. The key is his 2 examples have the same toughness even though 1 has more than double the health of the other. 200k vs 500k with the same toughness is ridiculous: that’s like 1 character with lvl 65 armor with nothing but vit and %life and another with level 70 gear with almost no vit and tons of armor and all resist.

      Toughness isn’t an overly useful stat…unless you keep your hp at a relatively static point, then it’s extremely useful. I only do T3 and below, but I think 300k for ranged and 400k for melee is a good amount of HP. I focus mostly on all-resist, except for wizard and witch doctor. For them I like to go more 50/50 with armor. Healing is a trickier stat to incorporate in gear. It’s important yes, but really getting more than a little seems counter-productive. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice toughness for healing, so you’re going to sacrifice damage. Killing slower and healing more makes sense if you want to fight indefinitely, but a better goal is surviving only long enough to kill a champion pack. Increasing your DPS generally makes it easier to accomplish this than increasing your healing. So really like 15k healing is pretty good (as long as it’s not from life per kill), but going much beyond that and you’re making your character into a tank.

      • Having read it about 10x and various replies, I see the OP’s point. As you say, very confusingly worded as he makes it sound like the basic game mechanic is to subtract damage from toughness.

        The point is that since the toughness value is derived from multiple factors, including HPs, Res All, Armor, -damage%, etc…. you are better off raising your toughness via damage mitigation than via HPs. (It’s seldom an either/or scenario in the game, of course. But if you could magically turn your Vit bonuses into Res All/Armor, you’d be increasing your survivability while reducing your hps.)

        Not actual math, but the theory is that a char with 1500 res all and 200k hps would be much tougher than a char with 500 res all and 500k hps. Even if they had the same Toughness number. Plus healing is more impactful on a char with lower total hps.

    13. The real tricky part where this comes into play is when it is better to REDUCE your toughness number while also REDUCING your total life to INCREASE the value of your healing and thus the total dps that can be sustained over a period of time (we’ll call it sustainability). This is most prevalent on Shoulders/Chest/Belt if you are deciding between life %/vit/armor/life regen.

      Now, the one caveat to the relationship above is that you can’t drop your toughness below a threshold amount where you get blown up in 1 second (I’ve found 10mil toughness to be about right for T3). So assuming we are just talking about survivability, here is an example that shows LESS toughness = BETTER SURVIVABILITY. These are actual numbers pre and post enchanting.

      Chest choice: 12% life vs. 500 armor
      12% life –> 400k life, 8.5mil toughness, 28k healing/sec
      Regen 7% of total life/sec or can sustain through 600k dmg/sec

      500 armor –> 360k life, 8mil toughness, 28k healing/sec
      Regen 7.8% total life/sec or can sustain through 620k dmg/sec

      Its weird to see your toughness go down and survivability go up but this shows armor is more valuable (Vile Ward making a comeback?). Just dont drop below your personal threshold toughness value.

      Also, life regen ends up being super close in sustainability value so it depends on your build. Just dont blindly follow the green!! Happy hunting

    14. OP on battle forum is correct (about 5.000.000 toughness and 500.000/200.000 hp)

      Remember exploit of wizard energy shield? you had as less hp as possible + healing and you were IMMORTAL.

      A)5.000.000toughness 500.000hp 50.000 healing
      B)5.000.000 toughness 200.000hp 50.000 healing

      B’s Armor, Resists etc is much higher than A’ (so it will be possible to have same toughness with much less hp)

      If monster’s raw dmg is f.e 100.000 on 1) it does 60.000 dmg while on B) 40.000 dmg

      A) will die while B) will never die

    15. Does this tougher HP theory apply to Witch Doctor’s pets?
      If damage mitigation does not apply to pets, then wouldn’t pet doctor be better off with more vit?

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