So I’m sure this has been said by others. I’ve maybe even said it before.

I was looking at some numbers the other day — I don’t remember why now — when it occurred to me that healing surges brought nothing to the game but bookkeeping. Surges are fairly arbitrary but they exist for a clear purpose.

If you’re familiar with regenerating health in modern shooting games (among others) then you’ll understand healing surges right away — almost. They function as a daily resource. Some characters are able to recover more health more often throughout the adventuring day than others.

In a video game, this enables encounters to be balanced toward the exact amount of health a player will have when they begin the encounter. You don’t have to worry about luck and player skill so much when you make your game.

Healing surges would seem to provide this same feature in 4e — but they don’t.

See, because not all characters are equal — in surges or hit points — then you won’t enter each encounter with a blank slate. Encounters will continue to (predictably) get more difficult as you burn through surges and daily powers.

A GM still has to balance for luck and player skill.

Much like land in a “mana screw” situation in Magic: the Gathering, your party either has too many surges or too few. The answer — as in Magic — it’s a poorly-utilized mechanic that probably shouldn’t be in the game at all.

Really, it makes the most sense to ditch healing surges entirely and just permit the characters to fully heal after a short or extended rest. I’m on board with the 5e “one hour” short rest — just forget the “hit dice” recovery mechanic.

I can’t think of a single other reason to keep healing surges. Even limiting in-combat healing works if healing powers are largely encounter-based. Powers are really only (well, mostly) supposed to be used in combat anyhow.

In the end, I think healing surges actually detract from the utility of daily powers because they’re “one more” daily resource that must be tracked.

I think you get one limited resource. 4e has healing surges and by extension, hit points. And daily powers. And also money. There might even be others. It might be okay to have others under the right circumstances — but 4e did it poorly — though they did tidy things up quite a bit by the end.