You would think that, with all the variety League of Legends has, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem that we’d have to discuss it. And while that is technically true from a technical perspective, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself in an irritating situation where harassment isn’t too viable because your opponent can just heal back up. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to counter them.
Different Kinds of Healing
Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. There are a couple of ways champions can heal up. Several, in fact. One of the most common ways is from some kind of healing or lifesteal spell. Think Vladimir’s Infusion or Soraka’s Astral Infusion (are you seeing a pattern here?). There’s also the summoner’s spell Heal and passive lifesteal or regeneration. There’s a lot to go through here, so let’s dive right into it.
We can classify active spells like Infusion, Astral Infusion, and Heal as burst heals. That is – spells that give you a noticeable amount of health immediately. They vary greatly from passives like Garen’s Perseverance. All heals – to some extent – are countered by Ignite and the Grievous Wounds status.
Some will be more effective in certain situations, which we’ll get into detail later. Certain items inflict this status on opponents, so if you find yourself struggling either in lane or during the roaming stage, this can be a good option.
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Laning Against a Healing Enchanter
Healing can be especially annoying earlier on in the bot lane when you don’t have much poke and the enemy support constantly heals. Examples of these supports would be Sona, Soraka, Taric, and for the purpose of this specific lane topic, supports who can mitigate damage through shields as well. This becomes even more aggravating when they start to build items that give bonus healing or shielding when used.
For the most part, a good place to start would be at champion select. A “kill lane” basically refers to champions that can go all-in and pack some CC with them. Examples of champions like these would be Alistar, Leona, and any similar initiating champion. If the enemy team exclusively relies on healing, you’re either going to have to play very conservatively or very aggressively. There is no middle ground.
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Lifesteal and Champions Who Melt Tanks
When we talk about absurd amounts of lifesteal, it’s safe to say that a lot of us already have someone in mind, depending on the lane. Warwick comes to mind since he has it built-in, and therefore will have it at all stages of the game. Some champions like Vayne have an “okay” laning phase but may build toward it as the time progresses.
The difference between champions like that and champions like Dr. Mundo or Garen is that carries who depend on lifesteal are not inherently tanky. (Ambien) What does this mean? Carries, when targeted or caught out of position, tend to take damage and heal them back.
This is under the assumption they receive sustained damage and do not get burst down immediately. In cases like these, oftentimes a coordinated attack and an Ignite will do the trick nicely.
Grievous Wounds and When to Get It
Examples of items that include this are the following:
- Bramble Vest and Thornmail
- Chemtech Putrifier
- Chempunk Chainsword
- Oblivion Orb and Morellonomicon
- Mortal Reminder
- Executioner’s Calling
While some champions also have a built-in healing reduction, it isn’t as common as you might hope, so for the purpose of this list, we will not include it. As you can see from the list, there is at least one item for most roles: AP, AD, and tank.
The actual healing reduction varies from around 40% to 60%, and the different items have different conditions for activation. An example of this is that Bramble Vest requires an enemy champion to hit you for the debuff to activate, while items like the Chempunk Chainsword simply require you to hit the champion.
For this reason, it’s important to adjust to the enemy composition. For this reason, it’s important to note that the enemy champion you’re trying to counter is just as important as who on your team actually picks up the counter item. Some theories might sound good on paper but not translate as well into the real application.
Earlier we used Vayne as an example for lifesteal champions. Let’s use her again in a scenario. Imagine the enemy Vayne gets so fed, she’s able to melt your team’s tank in seconds. Your two options here would either be to build Grievous Wounds for your tank to buy your team time to retaliate, or for your ADC to build it if he or she can land free hits from a safe position. Again, this is as dependent on the enemy team as much as it does on yours.
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Some Exceptions: Grey Health
Earlier we talked about how Grievous Wounds would be more effective on certain healing compared to others. You might be wondering why. While it does work with basically all forms of healing, you are usually limited to it’s time limit. It doesn’t work quite as well on certain effects like Grey Health, at least, on paper.
Grey Health refers to the post-mitigation damage that some champions store, often to heal a portion of it back to normal health. Examples of this would be Tahm Kench’s Thick Skin, Dr. Mundo’s Heart Zapper, Pyke’s Gift of the Drowned Ones, and Rengar’s Battle Roar.
In the case of Grey Health, yes, Grievous Wounds does help, especially with its passive effects. However, oftentimes it is simpler to just coordinate attacks to burst them down. Exceptions of course, still apply, such as Mundo having many ways to heal over both short and long periods of time (in which case Grievous Wounds is almost a necessity) and Tahm Kench being able to just outright convert it to a shield if he feels like he would have a higher chance of survival doing that. For the latter, baiting out the shield is a better option.
I firmly believe that all the complicated mechanics and technical intricacies here in League of Legends are what makes the game so fun. There isn’t really one crazy item that changes the game too drastically, and you get a bit of a choice in terms of how you react to your opponents instead of relying on one cookie-cutter build.
Healing is an integral part of the game, so it’s awfully nice of Riot to provide us with some options on how to respond to that.