Healing meters – Do numbers really not matter?10/31/2009
I’ve been reading a whole lot more healing blogs recently, specifically the answers to Jessabelle’s non-meme and there’s a pattern that I’ve noticed of some disparaging remarks being made in regards to healing meters. Do I think we should all be watching our numbers like hawks? Heck no. But I wanted to touch on why numbers aren’t as bad as people make out. So let’s have a conversation about Healing Per Second (HPS), Healing Per Mana (HPM), Healing Per Cast Time (HPCT) and Healing Per Encounter (HPC)!
– Trivial content vs. progression content –
Let’s face it, everyone has encounters that our raiding groups find incredibly easy. For some it might be, say, something along the lines of Sarth+0 that they find easy or for others it might be ToC. Whatever it is, fights that you out skill, over-gear, and frankly out heal are just not very good times to look at your healing numbers in any serious fashion. The less you have to work at keeping people alive, the less you have to care about how well you’re doing. (Makes sense right?) Those are the times to relax, maybe do a little DPSing around your heals or goof off by playing the “pad the meters” game. If the only content you are running is stuff that your raiding group finds easy, then you pretty much never have to worry about anything other than making sure you keep people up. It isn’t until you’re doing encounters that pushes you that you have to worry about how well you’re really doing.
– Healing isn’t a competition with other people, just yourself –
DPS was my raiding role for quite a while and it wasn’t until I’d really gotten a handle on the healing game that I realized how much I didn’t like DPSing at all. For one it was boring and for two I hated having to compete with the other DPSers. Healing doesn’t have that; in fact, it has the opposite! Healers need to work together closely to keep people alive and have everything move smoothly. It’s a team sport all the way.
There is a general feeling that runs among the healing crowd that healing meters work against that feeling of team-play, but I’m going to argue against that. If anything, I think being able to see what your other healers are doing -promotes- good teamwork. We can all see what everyone is doing, so we’re more aware of each other. It also fosters personal responsibility, in that if you aren’t pulling your weight and you’re making the jobs of the other 5 people harder, they will know about it. Being able to see the meters is also a learning tool for the team. “Hey look,” the Holy priest says, “Tree druid is getting most of her heals from Rejuv. Teach me, oh leafy one, the reasons behind this.” Knowing more about each other’s spells and abilities makes for a smoother, more cohesive healing structure.
Can healing meters make for some competition? Of course. Is that Recount’s fault? Heck no. If you do have other healers or raid leadership looking at your Recount numbers in disapproval, use those numbers to show them what you’re doing and why. Bad assignments, too many healers for content and other factors influence your standing on the meters, so be sure to bring those issues up with raid leadership. However, if you -are- having issues pulling your weight on the healing team and making it harder for everyone else to do their jobs, let Recount be a tool to fixing that. To quote Isaac Asimov, “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”
– A tool is there to be used –
Let’s touch on what Recount/World of Logs is actually giving you insight into. (For the record, Recount isn’t as good at helping you see what’s going on with your healing, but since you can’t look at your group’s WoL -during- attempts, it can help solve problems on the fly.)
HPS (healing per second): Our burst healing metric. This is an important one to keep an eye on during those fights where you have people going from 100% to dead in 3 seconds. Just like DPS meters, if you’re just looking at Recount’s raw numbers, it’ll be giving you an average HPS for the fight, which is less accurate than narrowing the timeframe. Increasing spellpower is the main way to increase this number along with haste.
HPCT (healing per cast time): Very similar to HPS and generally more useful (and harder) to know. You know those fights where everyone is just taking extreme amounts of damage at an alarming rate? This is the one to look at, especially for raid healers. Think of it as the Renew to HPS’s Flash Heal. Haste is very important for this, especially reaching that GCD soft-cap. After that, it’s all about spellpower.
HPM (healing per mana): Ah, mana efficiency. We all know the importance of having enough mana to heal an entire fight, but this is one that does indeed have a “soft-cap” of sorts, in that it stops being as important as throughput after a while. A general rule of thumb is to worry about HPM during the lulls most fights have and then let it fall away when the difficult parts come up. If you end a fight with just a teeny bit of mana left and all cooldowns blown, you’ve found the “sweetspot” for mana efficiency.
HPE (healing per encounter/overall healing): This is your final number at the end of a fight, what I like to call The Big One. What can you learn by looking at it? Not terribly much other than where you stand compared to the other healers. Yes, I know that healers hate having that competitive thing going on, but it is important to be able to see if you’re falling way behind everyone else.
Overheal: Ah, the thing we all hate and can’t get away from. I recently solo-healed a Beasts-10 harmode (the other healer died right off the bat) and I had the lowest overheal to HPS ratio I’ve ever had. LOL Let’s face it, you -will- overheal. Some classes will overheal a lot more than others and some spells will overheal a lot more than others. It’s important to know those distinctions and to work to minimize the overheal you -can- control.
Effective healing: This pretty much boils down to HPE – overheal = effective healing. I actually find this to be less of a useful number than the others. If you have a person or two in the group that has very low effective healing, that probably means that you have too many healers for the encounter. Looking at the effective healing per spell can be useful, however, in determining the best spell for specific encounter mechanics.
Spells cast: I love this one, although Recount doesn’t do nearly as well on the breakdown as World of Logs. How many times did you cast X spell and on who? This is a great, great tool for analyzing healing skill and class knowledge. (ie. if your Disc priest is casting Powerword: Shield only 5 times in a fight, there are issues) Sometimes all it takes is looking at your spells cast to immediately see a place you can improve.
Active time: There are two versions of this. One is active time per spell and the other is active time per healer. Per spell you can consider most useful for tracking HoT and buff uptime. This is especially important to look at when it comes to tank healers. Tanks should have a very, very high uptime on all of class-related healing abilities. (ie. Inspiration, Sacred Shield, Earth Shield, Rejuv, etc.) Per healer means how much of the encounter that healer was doing -something- other than stand around. This is very much factor dependant on fight mechanics (long pauses between phases) and healing assignments (tank healer vs raid healer). However, if a person is active a whole lot less than their teammates, that’s a big red flag.
– Putting it all together –
When people say that “numbers don’t matter,” I’m not sure they’re taking a look at the bigger picture. The numbers -do- matter in context and I think it’s a matter of too many people being judged on raw HPS and HPE that makes healers rebel so completely. Let’s face it, I’ve seen plenty of bosses where our healing output was a serious consideration. The first time I healed Patchwerk, it was all about HPE numbers being high enough to keep the tanks up. General Vezax needs a very, very careful watch on the team’s HPM. Mimiron has some fun phases where first it is all about HPS and then all about HPCT, especially for druids and priests.
These are all things that a good healing lead needs to consider when setting up assignments and in couching her/his team towards victory. We all know that it royally sucks when a boss kill just won’t come because the healers can’t keep people alive. Looking at the logs can help you see where, exactly, you’re lacking and give you ideas on how to fix it. Yes, it sucks to have people studying you to see where you’re weakest, but if you don’t know where you can improve, you -won’t- improve.
Looking at the big healing picture, healing meters are just one piece of the whole. There’s a whole lot they can tell you and a whole lot they can help you make educated guesses on, but they’re just a tool. Think of Recount/WoL as an MRI scan. Information galore can be gleaned from it, but you aren’t going to make all your medical decisions solely on it. Use the numbers to improve, use them to open up communication with your healing teammates and your raid leadership. Raiding is a group effort, so let’s all do our very best out on that field.