Healing in 5th edition D&D is a role that often goes unappreciated until it becomes crucial. While it may not be the most desired role, it can make or break a battle. With limited options for healers in a party, the spells they choose to prepare become vital. This is especially true for bards, druids, clerics, and Divine Soul sorcerers, who must decide between Healing Word and Cure Wounds from the start of their adventuring campaign. So, which spell is truly superior and why? Let’s take a closer look at both spells and their benefits in battle.
Healing Word and Cure Wounds Comparison
Before we delve into the details, let’s review the full spell descriptions of Healing Word and Cure Wounds:
- Healing Word: a bonus action spell that allows you to heal an ally from up to 60 feet away. It provides quick healing, allowing you to perform other actions in the same turn.
- Cure Wounds: an action spell that provides more powerful healing. It requires close proximity to the target but can be beneficial, especially at higher spell levels.
Cure Wounds is available to a wider range of classes and archetypes compared to Healing Word. However, for Magic Initiates, artificers, bards, clerics, druids, or Divine Soul sorcerers, the choice between the two spells becomes important.
For Magic Initiates and half casters, such as artificers, Healing Word is the superior choice. Its ability to revive an ally at 0 HP from a distance doesn’t require higher level spell slots, making it more convenient. Additionally, as a bonus action spell, Healing Word allows you to perform other actions in the same turn, optimizing your battle strategy.
Healers face a more challenging decision. At low levels, the difference in healing between 1d4 (Healing Word) and 1d8 (Cure Wounds) is minimal but can make a difference. Healing Word’s superior action economy often makes it the preferred choice from levels 1-3. However, as you reach higher levels, factors such as available spell lists, class features, archetypes, and magic items come into play.
- Bard: If you’re a bard focused on managing the battlefield from a distance or performing skills off the battlefield, Healing Word fits perfectly. Combat-oriented bards, such as those pursuing the College of Valor or College of Swords, can benefit from both Cure Wounds and Healing Word. Cure Wounds provides superior healing for themselves or frontline allies, while Healing Word remains handy for emergencies.
- Cleric: Clerics, with their ability to wade into melee combat, find both Healing Word and Cure Wounds useful at lower levels. Certain domains, such as Life Domain and Grave Domain, enhance the healing potential of Cure Wounds. Mass Healing Word also becomes a better option for ranged healing emergencies.
- Druid: Druids can excel at healing, especially with Circle of Dreams, Circle of the Shepherd, and Circle of Stars. Healing Word is less favorable for Druids, as they have access to the 2nd level spell Healing Spirit, which provides superior healing. Cure Wounds competes with Healing Word at higher levels and offers more overall healing potential.
- Sorcerer: Divine Soul sorcerers, similar to clerics, have access to the cleric spell list. They can fully utilize healing spells like Cure Wounds, especially with Beacon of Hope. However, sorcerers lack armor proficiency, making touch spells riskier. Healing Word becomes a safer option for healing from a distance.
Mass Healing Word vs Mass Cure Wounds in 5E
Both Healing Word and Cure Wounds have upgraded “mass” versions that can heal up to 6 creatures simultaneously. However, there are differences to consider with these advanced spells.
Mass Healing Word, a 3rd level spell, provides a powerful emergency healing option for the entire party. It retains the same bonus action casting time as Healing Word, making it highly efficient. Unfortunately, the druid cannot learn Mass Healing Word.
Mass Cure Wounds, a 5th level spell, offers more potent healing, but its availability is limited due to its higher spell level. It has a larger range, with a 30-foot radius sphere, allowing for healing at greater distances. However, it falls short in terms of overall effectiveness compared to other high-level spells that deal mass damage.
Ultimately, Mass Healing Word is better designed, as it builds upon the strengths of Healing Word and is available at a lower spell level. Mass Cure Wounds can be useful if properly set up, but it requires additional support, such as Beacon of Hope or class features, to maximize its potential.
In conclusion, Healing Word and Cure Wounds each have their place in 5th edition D&D. Healing Word excels in quick, ranged healing, while Cure Wounds provides more substantial healing, especially at higher spell levels. When it comes to their mass versions, Mass Healing Word is the better spell overall, but Mass Cure Wounds offers the advantage of a larger range. However, the effectiveness of both spells is limited compared to area of effect damage spells.
Remember, the choice between Healing Word and Cure Wounds depends on your character’s class, playstyle, and available options. Consider the specific needs of your party and plan accordingly.