Warhammer: Vermintide

A thourough analysis of Natural Bond, it’s uses, drawbacks, and when to and not to use it.

ttfvs8xl 1024x576 - A thourough analysis of Natural Bond, it's uses, drawbacks, and when to and not to use it.


Natural Bond has been a touchy subject for many ever since the game's release. The subreddit has seen its share of memes and jokes about poor usage of the trait, as well as some backlash from people that swear by it.

Personally, I find the trait quite interesting. A powerful bonus, but with an important drawback. In beta days, the potion slot had one such trait as well, but as with bonuses of that kind, the line between disgustingly overpowered and useless is very hard to find, and Concentrated Brew – the potion trait that would give you unlimited potion uses, at the cost of your health instead, turned out to be very overpowered and had to be cut.

Natural Bond however, has managed to find and keep its place. It managed to be neither overpowered, nor useless. Its design makes both end of its deal important, and capable of making a difference in your play, for better.. or for worse. Which part ends up most prominent depends on quite a few variables, that come from both the build and career it is used in, as well as player skill. But more on that later.

First, I want to take the time to explain what natural bond does. Beyond its obvious description, what exactly does it accomplish?

To do this, I have to explain a few things about health management in Vermintide 2.

There are two types of health. Permanent, and temporary. Everyone's goal is to maintain their total health as high as possible at all times. The main way to do this is obviously to avoid damage in the first place, but of course, damage is not always avoided. That's just how this game goes. Damage is expected, and needs to be recovered ASAP in preparation for more potential damage.

The main way to recover damage quickly in this game is via temporary health. Most often on kills, very rarely on crit, but nonetheless. Generating temporary health is usually rather easy, as soon as a horde shows up. However, when there is no horde, it isn't quite as easy. Ambients will still give some, but often only enough to barely fight the degeneration that temporary health comes with.

Therein lies the main two parts of health management in Vermintide 2. Recovery, and sustain. Sustain can also be split into short-term and long-term sustain.

Recovery is usually always achieved via temporary health, but can also be via healing items when desperate enough, or when there are excess. Sustain is achieved when one manages to maintain a kill-count high enough to fight the degeneration of temporary health, or when permanent health is high enough that temporary health is not required. In the short-term, by maintaining temporary health during fights or moving through ambients, and long term by either recovering permanent health (by either excess healing items, or regeneration) or maintaining temporary health even when there are next to no opponents to generate it from.

Now, let's move back toward our initial subject. Or, at least, its main competitor. Boon of Shallya. The purpose of Boon of Shallya in this health management system should be clear enough. It helps mainly with recovery, via making kills recover temporary health faster, and healing items more effective. It also helps short-term sustain, by making the amount of kills required to fight temporary health degeneration lower. It, however, does not help long-term sustain, when kills are too sparse for their temp health to matter, and when healing items are unavailable.

And finally, Natural Bond. What does it do in this health management system? It, for the most part, does not help with recovery. It can even hinder it, because of its drawback. Its health regeneration is often far too slow to make a difference over the course of a short fight, and one has to sacrifice Boon's recovery which is far superior. It also does not help with short-term sustain, since its regeneration ticks will overwrite temporary health, not add onto it. What it does however, is exactly what Boon does not. Long-term sustain. When kills and healing items are sparse, when temporary health is degenerating, Natural Bond will not let you drain away. It instead makes you recover.

Now that we know what Natural Bond does, what exactly is its purpose? When, in a general sense, is it useful to sacrifice both recovery and short-term sustain in favor of long-term sustain?

The first case is one that most know about, and will not be surprised by. Deprivation deeds. When healing items are non-existent, long-term sustain is nigh impossible once permanent health runs low. Natural Bond is capable of fixing this, though one ought to still consider whether they are capable of surviving without the recovery and short-term sustain of Boon.

The second case is one that fewer notice, and one that also doesn't come about every match. That being long-lasting Lord or boss fights. All four Lord fights offer on average too few adds to generate any significant temporary health, and available healing is limited to what has been brought at the beginning of the fight, which often enough will be no more than a single medkit if the run has 3 tomes involved. Boon is of no help in this case, but Natural Bond is, and its drawback is irrelevant. Similarly, a long-lasting boss fight, one where all accompanying hordes and specials have been exhausted, and all that's left is a dull 1 on 1, or 1 on 2 against probably a Troll, but possibly any of the 4 bosses, can meet the same issues. The Troll especially can slowly drain the party's health with vomit ticks and blocked axe swipes in ways that Natural Bond is efficient at dealing with.

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With that in mind, when exactly is it actually correct to sacrifice Boon in favor of Natural Bond? The two described cases are where Natural Bond shines most (though not the only points where it can be useful), but both of those cases do not encompass an entire mission. Lord and Boss fights are only a part of a mission, and while deprivation deeds affect an entire mission, they do not remove the need for recovery and short-term sustain that Boon still offers.

That part is where careers, builds and to an extent player skill come into play. Different careers and builds will need help in different part of their health management. Recovery can be harder to careers that have large pools of health to recover, or difficulties generating temporary health. Different builds for a same career will achieve different things and make for different needs. Player skill also does matter. An inexperienced player will take more damage, more often and thus will need as much recovery as humanly possible to stay alive at all. An experienced player will take less damage, often only taking damage in spikes when a mistake is made, and probably severely punished as legend tends to do. Recovery will be needed less often (but still will be), and short-term sustain will be naturally easier due to a probably higher kill count. Long-term sustain will be needed more often, as they will tend to survive long enough for it to become a concern.

So, for Natural Bond to become a good trait choice, there needs to be a need for long-term sustain that Natural Bond would cover better than excess healing items would, without the loss of Boon leaving a need for recovery and short-term sustain.

There are 5 points to check against when considering Natural Bond. If your career and build meets all 5 of them, or close to, then Natural Bond may actually be a strong choice. If not, then Boon is probably the better choice.

  1. Your career/build needs to be capable of recovering from a spike of damage without the aid of Boon or a healing draught. The regeneration is slow, and is not what you should count on in most situations to keep you topped off during fights.

  2. Your career/build needs to be able to survive a spike of damage in the first place. If spikes of damage always send you into the wounded state, even when you were in good health before them, then the drawback of Natural Bond will make you suffer.

  3. Your career/build needs to have something that makes Natural Bond's healing worth more than its base. The base is 2 health per 10 seconds. It's tuned low, on purpose. Too low to be really good on its own, but not so low that it can't be useful with bonuses. Whether those bonuses are from increased healing, reduced damage taken or else matters little, but there needs to be something.

  4. Your career/build needs to have a use for the long-term sustain of Natural Bond. If your build is somehow already capable of long-term sustain in some way other than Natural Bond itself, it loses a significant part of its value, due to its drawback.

  5. You, as a player, need to not be going down left and right. Long-term sustain is useless if you don't survive long enough to need it. If being in a wounded state at all makes you uncomfortable, even when not also being low on health, and if you tend to die to going down while already wounded in situations where you would've been revivable, then Natural Bond will be a problem for you.

With those 5 points stated, here's my assessment of which of them all 15 careers do and do not meet, and which can then hope to actually make good use of the trait.

Battle Wizard : 3/4

  1. Yes. (BW tends to be AoE and thus get plenty of health off hordes, and has a 30% healing received increase.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie. Yes if last man standing and using Molten Skin.)
  3. Yes. (30% healing received increase. Potentially also Molten Skin if last standing.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Pyromancer : 1/4

  1. Yes. (Wizard AoE, skull throws are somewhat AoE and Bonded Flame can make skull generate even more temp health.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (Pyro has no increased healing/damage reduction.)
  4. No. (Pyro can obtain some long-term sustain already via Bonded Flame constantly generating temporary health, even without kills.)

Unchained : 4/4

  1. Yes. (Wizard AoE, and any temp health is usually worth almost twice as much due to damage reduction. Tanky enough to take a hit without immediately becoming at risk.)
  2. Yes. (Unchained is possibly the tankiest class once one learns how to avoid accidental explosions.)
  3. Yes. (50% damage reduction increases the value of health gained.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Waystalker : 1/4

  1. Yes. (Depends on build. Swiftbow/hagbane AoE, and Lifebloom Arrows for on demand temp health make it possible.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (No increased healing/damage reduction. Amaranthe, while working alongside, does not help the trait's healing itself.)
  4. No. (Already has Amaranthe.)

Handmaiden : 2.5/4

  1. Questionable. (Dash allows for powerful AoE on hordes, but short-term sustain is somewhat missing without Boon's help. Yes if last man standing with Defiance.)
  2. Yes. (150 health, and dash allows for a powerful escape from many spikes.)
  3. No. (Unless last man standing with Defiance.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Shade : 1/4

  1. No. (Single-target oriented class, no help from talents.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (No increased healing/damage reduction.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Witch-hunter Captain : 1/4

  1. No. (Not an AoE class. Justice Bounty is too little without Boon.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (No increased healing/damage reduction aside from Suffer No Heresy, which is seldom useful.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Bounty Hunter : 1/4

  1. No. (Not an AoE class. Pious Fervour is for the most part too little without Boon if it is used over Prize Bounty.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (No increased healing/damage reduction.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Zealot : 2.5/4

  1. Questionable. (Temp health is worth more with damage reduction, and can generate more with Pleasure from Pain, but questionable due to high lost value from not running Boon.)
  2. Yes. (150-180 health, Flagellant and Heart of Iron make Zealot more than capable of taking a hit.)
  3. Yes. (Flagellant gives some form of damage reduction.)
  4. No. (Has some weak form of long-term sustain via Pleasure from Pain, which becomes stronger with Boon.)

Mercenary : 4/4

  1. Yes. (Can recover on-demand with ultimate, and has a 30% healing received talent.)
  2. Yes. (150 health, and instantaneous extra health/potential escape with ultimate, as well as potentially some conditional damage reductions.)
  3. Yes. (30% healing received talent.)
  4. Yes. (No real long-term sustain. While the ultimate can attempt to be used that way, it is much better used as recovery, and cannot be easily thrown away due to long cooldown.)

Huntsman : 1/4

  1. Questionable. (Usually not an AoE class. Questionable if using a blunderbuss and Hunter's Respite.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. No. (No increased healing/damage reduction.)
  4. Questionable. (No real long-term sustain unless Hunter's Respite is used, which benefits from Boon more.)

Foot Knight : 3/4

  1. No. (Can take a hit without needing immediate recovery, but has very little actual means of recovery or sustain.)
  2. Yes. (180-225 health alongside damage reduction is enough to survive most spikes.)
  3. Yes. (Damage reduction gives some extra value.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

Ranger Veteran : 2.5/4

  1. Yes. (30% healing received talent, and potentially Catch a Breath.)
  2. No. (120 health squishie.)
  3. Yes. (30% healing received talent.)
  4. Questionable. (Potential weak long-term sustain from Catch a Breath, which benefits from Boon more.)

Ironbreaker : 3/4

  1. Questionable. (No AoE, but Gromril Armor combined with a large health pool and damage reduction help buy time to recover, though not with sustain.)
  2. Yes. (180-216 health and damage reduction, plus ult to become nigh invincible for a limited time.)
  3. Yes. (Damage reduction gives some extra value.)
  4. Questionable. (Definite no during Nurgle's Rot deeds via Rune-Forged. Questionable outside of such deed unless a teammate constantly causes the armor to trigger with intentional friendly fire, which still sacrifices the armor itself.)

Slayer : 3/4

  1. No. (Single-target oriented class, no help from talents.)
  2. Yes. (120-150 health, but also has Oblivious to Pain, and potentially Moving Target.)
  3. Yes. (Damage reduction gives some extra value.)
  4. Yes. (No long-term sustain.)

This leaves us with 2 perfect scores. Unchained, which is unlikely to surprise most, and Mercenary, which most will not have thought about, but as it turns out, it happens to work.

Keep in mind that each of these scores are given to careers, not builds. Depending on whichever talents you take (or don't take), the score may vary. It is up to you to test your build against the points stated above. Most of the 'Questionable' scores in particular are dependant on your build.

And last but not least, consider the situation that you are taking your build into. I have above noted 2 examples in which Natural Bond is useful in a general sense, but none in which it is detrimental in a general sense. And there IS a clear case where it is detrimental in a general sense. That being when there are large amounts of Healing Draughts available to you, and few players in need of them.

While some of those careers for example can become clear 4/4 when using last man standing talents (BW and handmaiden), being last man standing also makes you most likely to have access to more healing draughts than you will need, which make Natural Bond a worse choice. Duo and solo runs will have as many supplies on the map, but less players to use them. Etc.

So, here it is. My view on potentially the most hated trait in the game. As it turns out, it's not all bad. At least when it's used correctly.

Go ahead and share your thoughts.

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