There are many Leader role classes in D&D4.0 these days.

  • Cleric
  • Warlord
  • Bard
  • Shaman
  • etc

Which one makes the most effective healer by the numbers?

Numbers to be evaluated

  • Hit points healed per turn.
  • Hit points healed per encounter.

Feel free to provide one per tier if it differs significantly (all should be in one answer).


6 Answers 6


That is a very hard question to answer, because it depends on tier and what you mean by the numbers. However, here are my leading candidates.

  • Cleric. The cleric has more utility heals than any other class, and its heals are bigger. You can't overestimate the power of adding the Wisdom modifier to most of your heals, plus the cleric has an at-will that heals, which is unique to that class. When you want to bring someone from bloodied to full hit points in one go, you want the cleric.
  • Warlord. The warlord's heals aren't as big, but if you take the Fight On paragon tier feat you can pump out four Inspiring Words an encounter by level 16; this is good flexibility.
  • Bard. The bard's heals aren't particularly big either, but a valorous bard produces a ridiculous amount of temps -- particularly if she's a tiefling with the Stirring Song of Baator feat and a flaming weapon. And the great thing about temps is that they're not wasted if someone at full health receives them.
  • Shaman. You want to go Protector Spirit for best effect; your heals are, again, not huge but you can heal multiple people at once with flexibility no other class can match.

To summarize: clerics win for huge single-target healing. Warlords probably have the most stamina. Bards are right up there with warlords, albeit via temps rather than pure heals; and shamans are unmatched for party healing.

(And of course, there's nothing wrong with the ardent or the runepriest. Runepriests give really good buffs to their party, which is the other half of the leader's role; ardents have a superb range of at-wills and also grant temps rather easily. A well-played leader speeds up combat by buffing allies along with healing.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ On an off topic, we had a Righteous Brand focused cleric last week. With a +5 Strength he was giving out bonuses like crazy. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Sep 9, 2010 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a point of order, the cleric nerfs (only adding the bonuses to spent surges) means that the cleric is far far less out in front than she was.) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2010 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C. Ross. Righteous Brand has been fixed: now it gives a plain (but still respectable) +3 bonus to the ally's attack roll. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2010 at 10:25

As of December 2010, here is a list of leaders.

Thinking about the Art of Leading, or the art of healing, there is a third category "damage directly prevented."

Therefore, the following list will assess how much damage has been ameliorated over the course of an encounter, looking at every leader class, but only the "best" damage ameliorator of the class.

For all of these classes, we will assume that 2 level equivalent enemies are attacking the defender for the encounter, and that there will be one Opportunity Attack made by the enemies during the encounter. All math will be at level 11 for purposes of comparison.

Primary and secondary stats will be even, starting at base 18, at 21 (+5) Tertiary stat at +3.

Enemies hit 50% of the time, for 19 damage on average.

The combat will be 5 rounds long and there are 4 other party members, and everyone will hit 50% of the time. A standard surge at level 11 will be 19. I will assume 1 daily use, 3 encounters, and 1 at-will, with up to 2 utility if they are minor. and 1 Action pointed action.

I'm going to ignore item optimization (except for absolutely critical items), and calculate the effects of 1-2 non MC feats if necessary.

I'm going to assume 3 people can focus-fire a target that has a beneficial leader effect on it.

  • Ardent - Mantle of Clarity. PP: Argent Soul = 221.85 damage ameliorated
    • Wis mod to defenses against OA protects against (.25)*19 = 4.75
    • 2 uses of Ardent Surge + improved ardent surge (2 surges, +3d6 HP per, +1 defenses) = 2*(19+10.5+.05*19+5) = 70.9
    • Argent Soul - Restoring Critical (6 attacks, grant a surge on crit.) 6*.05*19=5.7
    • Daily: Fate exchange, (2 attacks, if hit, grant 2 surges + teleportation = 2*(.50*(19))=19
    • Action Point: +3 THP for everyone in 5 squares = 15 THP
    • Argent Strike: .5*19=9.5
    • 2 more rewarding strike augment 2's: 14.25*3=42.75
    • Second wind + wind of sympathy feat = Someone else takes their second wind for free = 19
    • From the brink: surge-free heal a dying ally. 19+11+5=35
  • Artificer, Resistive Formula, any PP = 353.2 damage ameliorated
    • The beauty of Artificer is in Resistive Formula + Armor of Shared Valor + Enhanced Resistive Formula + Potent restorables. = Person in the group with largest surge grants: +1 AC, as free action (read: when hit) free surge as THP + 2*con (to 2 people) + half to artificer. = 5*(19+10+4)=165 THP over the course of an encounter (at the net cost of 2 surges after the second encounter from people who've taken the least damage). + 4*(.05*19) blocked from the AC = 3.8 At the *start* of the encounter, so you don't have to deal with emergency after-the-fact healing.
    • No at-will healing, spam Magic Weapon.
    • IR: Daily: Healer's Momentum: target spends surge, 2 allies get THP = surge, artifcer gets 1/2 THP from armor. = 19+4 + 2.5*(19+4) THP = 80.5
    • IR: Debilitating Intercession: -2 to attacks aura to [defender], EoNT = .5*(2*.10*19)=1.9
    • II: Shocking Feedback: resist 5 all EoNT = .5*2*5=5 resisted
    • (Daily, Standard, utility instead of a boring encounter) Healing Figurine: 3*(19+4+3) surge free heals = 78 + 1 triggered second wind = 19
  • Cunning Bard, Summer Rhymer PP 228.5 healed
      • Consider valorous bard and war chanter. THP when someone drops an enemy is solid, but less inspiring than +cha to healing from summer rhymer
    • Majestic Word + improved majestic word, 2*(19+7+5+5)=62
    • Song of rest + Sitar of Restfullness = 9 THP + 5 to surge values during short rest. Assuming everyone uses 1.5 surges = 5*1.5*5=37.5 free healing
    • No healing at-wills
    • Daily: Stirring shout (for use on solos) 5*3*.5*10=75
    • Unicorn's charge .5*3*10=15
    • Chord of Resilience = 10 resist
    • Theft of Life = 19+5+ (5 THP) = 29
  • Pacifist Cleric, Miracle Worker PP 507.5 damage ameliorated (But you're contributing *very* little outside healing and a bit of debuffing)
    • Pacifist Healer: Benefit: When you use a divine power that allows a target to spend a healing surge, the target regains additional hit points equal to 1d6 + your Charisma modifier. The additional hit points increase to 2d6 + your Charisma modifier at 11th level, and to 3d6 + your Charisma modifier at 21st level.
    • Healing Word + Pacifist Cleric + Healer's Implement (feat) = 2*(19+3d8+2d6+5+5+3)=98
    • AP: adjacent allies heal = 3*8.5=25.5
    • Daily: Consecrated Ground = you+bloodied allies get 6 healing free while in zone. Will assume bloodied allies for half the battle. 3*.5*5*6=45
    • Ii: Reversal of Fortunes = .5*(19+5+7+5+11) = 23.5
    • Healer's mercy = 3 surges = 3*(19+5+7+5)=108
    • 2 encounters that don't do healing
    • Astral Seal = .5*(7) = 3.5 HP Healed (assuming at least 1 hit)
    • Word of Vigor = 3*(19+5+7+5+7)=129
    • Stream of Life + a source of regen 5= 5 rounds of 15 healing free = 5*15 = 75
  • Sun Warpriest, Miracle Worker 339.5 damage ameliorated
    • AP: adjacent allies heal = 3*8.5=25.5
    • Healing Word = 2*(19+10.5) + 2*4 THP. = 67
    • Ii: Reversal of Fortunes = .5*(19+11) = 15
    • Daily: Consecrated Ground = you+bloodied allies get 6 healing free while in zone. Will assume bloodied allies for half the battle. 3*.5*5*6=45
    • Resurgent Sun: 19
    • 3*Blessing of Battle = Defender gets conmod to resist as effect = 3*2*.5*5 = 15
    • Word of Vigor = 3*(19+7)=78
    • Stream of Life + a source of regen 5= 5 rounds of 15 healing free = 5*15 = 75
  • Runepriest PP Rune Shield 175 (This number feels low, but the runepriest is all about defensive buffs, and so it's hard to quantify. If there's a better way to calculate "avoided" damage, please note it in comments. Still, this class is significantly better than this healing rating implies, it's also a PH3 class, so it hasn't received much love.)
    • Mark of warding is vital to the build. +1 to all granted defense buffs.
    • Resist 4 all to adjacent allies, every turn = 3 (attacks) * 5 (turns) * 4 resist = 60
    • Daily: Rune of Endless Fire: + 4 to healing and THP granted.
    • Rune of Mending = 2*(19+7+4) = 60 + all allies gain +2 to all defenses = 2*5*.1*19 = 19
    • II: Word of the Blinding Shield: .6*.25*19=2.85 (accurate blind as an II) .6*9 THP=5.4
    • Symbol of Cowardice: -7 to attack rolls = .6*.35*19 = 4
    • Banner of Resolution: (encounter long THP on hit for an ally) = 5*.5*9=22.5
    • Word of Shielding:.5*9=4.5
  • Bear Shaman, PP: Scarred Healer 268.5 damage ameliorated
    • A very difficult class to price, I will assume that enemies will pop your spirit companion 3 turns out of the 5. Saving the party 27 HP of damage
    • AP: 10 THP
    • Healing Spirit + Vigorous Spirit+ strengthening spirit:2*(19+10.5+5+5)=79 + 2 allies * 2 uses + 5 THP = 20 THP
    • 2 triggers of Spirit's Shield= 2*10=20 HP healed
    • Daily: Spirit of the Healing flood: Regen 2 while blooded, minion popper, end for 15 HP healed (and the entire party gets this). assume 19 damage healed per person = 5*19=95
    • Sharing the kill: .5*2*(3.5+10)=13.5 healing
    • Spring Renewal Strike: .5*(19+10)=14.5
    • Thunder Bear's Warding: .5*2*5 = 5 damage resisted, .5*10 THP = 5
    • Protecting Strike: .5*2*10 THP gained by 2 allies adjacent to spirit = 10
    • Hearth Spirit: (2 second winds as minor) 3*3.5 healing = 2*19+3*3.5=48.5
  • Sentinel (Essentials Druid), PP: Scarred Healer (Shaman) 286.5
      • Taking MC Shaman (not looking at the extra healing) for access to scarred Healer PP
    • Herb Lore. +4 to surges during short rest. 4*1.5*5=30
    • 2 Healing Words 2*(19+10.5+5)=69
    • AP: 10 THP
    • Sharing the kill: .5*2*(3.5+10)=13.5 healing
    • Daily: Reap vitality: Adjacent bloodied allies get 10 HP. = 40 HP
    • 4*Tending Strike = 4*10 THP = 40 THP
    • Goodberry = 4*(15 HP)=60 HP
    • Seed of Healing = 19+15=24 HP
  • Inspiring Warlord, PP: Twiceborn leader 448.5
    • 3*Twiceborn Recovery 3*2*(19+2.5)=129 (With 2 rousing assault buffs and the "Fight On!" feat)
    • Rousing assault*2 (Assuming 2.5 healing buff, due to chance to miss.
    • Daily: Stand the Fallen 5*(19+2.5+5)=132.5
    • Lion's Roar: 19+2.5+5 = 26.5
    • (there are very few healing encounter powers)
    • Strength of Conviction (very nice for single-target healing, too) = 5*(19+2.5)=107.5
    • Rousing Words = 2*(19+2.5+5)=53

The best focused healer is the pacifist cleric, followed by the Inspiring Warlord (very counterintuitively, but those mass-heals boost healed damage incredibly.)

The best healer that is focused on other things is the Artificer, but he's almost as boring to play (having played one) as the pacifist healer, as he must use magic weapon as his at-will, because it's so good. Happily, interrupts make for an actually interesting fight. The Arti is easily the cheapest healer, dropping 145 THP at the start of the fight for 2 surges from the most healthy at the end. Ardent is a great "get in there and swing" and I suspect her numbers are a touch low.

There are some curious racial or non-class based PPs that modulate the above healing.

  • Rainbringer requires the use of dark sun themes. The use (not hitting) of any power with a healing keyword gives adjacent allies THP equal to half of their healing surge value.
  • There are a number of "spend an AP, grant a surge" PPs
  • the Sanctuary Guardian has an impressive level 12 utility, as well as: Ghallanda's Sanctuary (16th level): When any ally within 5 squares of you takes a total defense or second wind action, that ally gains temporary hit points equal to 5 + your Charisma modifier. -- While, nominally speaking, 10 or so THP isn't worth a standard, allies who regularly take total defense actions will appreciate this, as well as any kind of second-wind heavy group.
  • The Scarred Healer merits mention for two reasons.
    • The shaman multiclass, while costing 2 feats, grants the character an encounter heal
    • Healing Paths (16th level): When any ally within 5 squares of you or your spirit companion spends a healing surge to regain hit points, he or she regains additional hit points equal to your Wisdom modifier.
    • As a consequence, the two primal healing classes add wis+con on top of anything else they're healing at level 16, and even non-primal classes can gain significant benefits.
  • Master Preserver has a fascinating level 16 Surging Vitality (16th level): Whenever you spend a healing surge, one ally within 10 squares of you regains hit points equal to twice your primary ability modifier. In addition, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls with arcane attack powers until the end of your next turn.
    • As any kind of defender role, this could make you an exemplary secondary healer.
  • The Compassionate Healer PP works well with any leader, especially ones that can grant themselves THP.
  • The Miracle Worker PP can be quite effective for the Druid Sentinel with the right feats.
  • Spiral Wind's Ally Druid PP is one of the better non-leader specific PP in the game: While you are not in beast form, any bloodied ally within 5 squares of you who spends a healing surge regains additional hit points equal to your Wisdom modifier.
  • The Paladin's Hospitalier presents a remarkable amount of healing for violating his mark. With some kind of reliable marking scheme, this could enhance a leader's healing significantly.
  • The Warforged Lifeseeker presents a remarkable amount of self-healing for a leader, allowing them to play off-tank without needing to spend healing resources on their behalf, especially as there are a number of at-will powers that heal allies, they can theoretically gain HP every round for free.
  • The White Raven PP is excellent for parties that bunch up.

And of course there are innumerable feat combinations. The best feat to take for parties that are always short of healing is the Tribal feat Enduring Mountain:

Benefit: Whenever you spend a healing surge, you regain 2 additional hit points. You regain 1 more additional hit point for each ally within 10 squares of you who has this feat, to a maximum of 5 additional hit points.

While everyone has to take this feat for it to be effective, the +7 HP granted by the feat outweigh (until epic) any healing benefit granted by the PPs above or in the class calculations.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good analysis. A good formula to calculate damage mitigated through defenses is really needed. As a sample, a rune priest 11, Rune Shield Paragon Path can provide +4 to defenses of all adjacent allies: +2 with the 9th level Power "Word of Divine Providence" and +2 with the new Runic State of the Paragon Path. Also, may the Mark of Warding can apply as well, providing +6 to all defenses or ~30% less chance to be hit 1/day. At 14th level is possible to provide +8CA with rune of exchange or rune of binding at-will powers, which makes many tanks and off tanks nearly invulnerable though CA (39CA+). \$\endgroup\$
    – user4491
    Sep 27, 2012 at 17:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Combat advantage? Did you mean AC? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 27, 2012 at 23:41

I don't have the numbers on hand to back me up but I would bet that a Pacificst Cleric outdoes everyone on the healing across every tier-- not just through direct healing, but also the effects of powers like Astral Seal.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would think so too, but I'd like to see the numbers. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Sep 9, 2010 at 17:01
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Between the wis to heals, pacifist feat and the healing domain's interaction with astral seal, cleric wins on all levels at least as far as pure healing goes. It's not just that clerics have the best mechanics, its that there is so much content for clerics that they have more feats, powers and PP then any of the other leaders (except maybe warlord). In D&D, more options almost always equates to more power. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2010 at 18:46
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Important note about Pacifist Clerics - while you do get Severely Awesome Healing, you get that by sacrificing nearly all your offensive capability. And Awesome Healing does run out if the party doesn't have enough oomph to kill things without you. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 21, 2011 at 3:04

there's also the Artificer, who althought not leading in any particular bit of healing, lets you move healing surges arround, which is tremendously useful


So I thought I'd post a 6th level cleric as a heroic tier baseline.

Dante Fairwood, level 6 Human, Cleric Background: Explorer/Guide, Windrise Ports (Explorer/Guide Benefit)

FINAL ABILITY SCORES Str 10, Con 13, Dex 8, Int 10, Wis 20, Cha 16.

STARTING ABILITY SCORES Str 10, Con 13, Dex 8, Int 10, Wis 17, Cha 15.

AC: 22 Fort: 16 Reflex: 15 Will: 22 HP: 50 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 12

TRAINED SKILLS Nature +15, Religion +8, Insight +13, Heal +15, Arcana +8, Diplomacy +11

UNTRAINED SKILLS Acrobatics +1, Bluff +6, Dungeoneering +8, Endurance +3, History +3, Intimidate +6, Perception +8, Stealth +1, Streetwise +6, Thievery +1, Athletics +2

FEATS Cleric: Ritual Caster Human: Pacifist Healer Level 1: Soldier of Virtue Level 2: Power of Life Level 4: Implement Expertise (Holy Symbol) Level 6: Deva Heritage

POWERS Bonus At-Will Power: Gaze of Defiance Channel Divinity: Healer's Mercy Cleric at-will 1: Astral Seal Cleric at-will 1: Sacred Flame Cleric encounter 1: Exacting Utterance Cleric daily 1: Beacon of Hope Cleric utility 2: Return from Death's Door Cleric encounter 3: Hymn of Resurgence Cleric daily 5: Iron to Glass Cleric utility 6: Spirit of Healing

So healing highlights:

  • Astral seal almost always hits (+13 vs will is huge at 6 level) and heals 11 (or 16 if beacon of hope is active) plus 3 temp. This is +5 if Spirit of Healing is up.
  • Healing words heal and insane HS+2d6+9 (+5 if BoH)
  • You can use your CD to heal bloodied allies HS+1d6+9 in a Burst 5

That's not to mention the temp hp, saving throws and status removal effects you have. Also worth noting is that none of these powers work against your pacifist feat. Be warned, this character was about as fun to play as watching paint dry and was very disrupting at the table.


If you're looking for Big Heals, I'd go Pacifist Cleric - you can stack bonuses to the roof.

If you're looking for Lotsa Heals, I'm told Bards are the champs - you can multiclass into all the other Leader classes to gain extra uses of the various "let someone spend a healing surge" ability.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Bards are severely underwhelming when it comes to healing. They're far more proactive enablers than their reactive cleric cousins. The idea of "lotsa heals" is better exemplified by one power that can heal multiple people, and there are tons of those. Again, bards don't really focus in that regard, and sacrificing feats for daily heals... is trying to make a bard into something she's not. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19, 2011 at 1:39

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