Topping Meters vs Assigned Role

Ask the healing community what they think about healing meters and you’ll get a varied response. Some people swear by them and attempt to dominate the healing charts or rank on fights through World of Logs (usually recent converts from DPS roles to healing). Other folks see them as a tool to measure spell usage and the overall feel of healing for a fight, not really caring what the overall numbers say.

Recently there has been a resurgence in the camp of people that evaluate healing based on nothing more than the number on meters and logs. While normally this is relegated to what I like to call “outsiders looking in”, or rather non-healers attempting to evaluate healing, it has become an increasing point of measurement amongst healers in Cataclysm. It is with that in mind that I bring up the age old question once again; what is more important,  topping meters or performing well in your assigned task?

Top O’the charts to ye

There are a group of players that care only about the numbers, and only care about how they rank in relation to one another. They have an inherit need to be the top dog, the big boss, the head honcho of the meters. This is because they equate larger numbers with success. For DPS there is some merit there, and having that competition between DPSers can help push your raid’s DPS to rather insane numbers. Sadly though, this doesn’t work for healers or tanks quite as well. Being concerned with topping the charts can lead to some unfortunate happenings.

The most notable effect is that people who tend to heal with the sole intent of hitting the top of the charts tend to run on E longer than other healers, and sooner. They waste more consumables and waste more raid resources like Innervates, or force earlier Mana Tides just to keep going. The wasting of resources can lead to trouble for other healers down the line, and can jeopardize the raid as a whole. A second effect is that you tend to snipe heals from other healers. This means an increase in over-healing and a waste of mana. Every time a healer snipes a heal from another healer, you’re basically denying them the effective healing for mana spent on whatever spell was about to land. Lastly, you have the potential to spread yourself too thin, which can result in a dead raid. Topping the meters on a wipe, well it’s still a wipe.

…narrow of purpose and wide of vision

Another group of players follows their assignments with slavish devotion. They latch on to their healing assignment, and even when they can see other people in need of help do not deviate. They put on healing blinders as it were. This can cause just as many problems as people who try to hog the healing glory. A tank healer may keep the tank alive, but may end the fight with a full mana bar, where other healers may have struggled and ended the fight with no mana and a list of dead that shouldn’t have been dead. The raid healer who focuses on nothing but the raid, but ignores the tanks could see a dead tank.

Locking yourself into one tiny aspect can turn you into a dead weight that brings the raid down with you. If you and your assignment are the last ones standing, and everyone else in the group is dead because you couldn’t deviate from the plan slightly or adjust, well you just doomed them all.

The Question, the answer, and the in-between

Would you rather 1. Follow your healing assignment or 2.  Show up at the top of the healing meters ?

I posed this very question on twitter to see what type of response I would get from the healing community. Seems like both sides of the coin are tainted so to speak doesn’t it? The question is in and of itself a trick. Both answers are wrong. Adhering to a narrow view of the raid can be as bad as trying to garner meter glory. I was pleased that almost everyone responded with the correct answer, adapt.

While healers shouldn’t be concerned with their placement on the meters so much as making sure they are putting out the healing relevant to their current raid content, they shouldn’t abandon their assignments and just do whatever they want. Raid leaders and healing leads assign people to certain tasks for reasons. Whether it is to coordinate defensive cooldowns on a fight or to make sure the healing load is even, they (hopefully) have the best intent for the group and know what they are talking about. That said,they expect you to adapt to the situation around you and help out as you can. Don’t try to be the hero, trust your teammates, but keep an eye out on what’s going on.

If your healing assignment is stable and you see a problem area that needs a little TLC, help. If you are in need of a little help in your task, ask for it. If you don’t agree with your assignment don’t ignore it outright, talk with the heal / raid lead about it and see if you can make a better plan. Our job as healers is to deal with some of the most difficult things the game has to offer. We have to adjust to fluctuating damage, mix ups, mistakes all while dodging fires, void zones, raid bosses, and rabid hockey fans. You have to stay on your toes and be aware, and be prepared to adapt.

Screw the meters, our job is to make sure that we worked as a team to keep the raid alive through the encounter as best we can. You do the task assigned to you, and once your stable and comfortable you branch out if you can and help sure up the sides. To give you a perfect example, we had an encounter where a raid cooldown went off early due to a miss-click. One of the other healers immediately stepped in and filled in out of his normal sequence for cooldowns to cover the miss-click, without being asked to. The healing team was able to adjust and it literally saved the encounter. It’s all about balance in the end. You do what you can to help out the raid without trying to be a hero. I encourage you to throw meters out the window and focus on survival, survival of the raid, of your assignment and of yourself. THAT is what you should be worried about. You show me a parse where you pulled 32k HPS on a H- Chimaeron wipe, and I’ll still show you a wipe. If people try to evaluate you purely on your meter rankings rather than looking at everything you do, ignore them.

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About Lodur

Lodur is the right hand shaman to Matticus on World of Matticus, and a recruiting officer of Conquest and Co-Host of For the Lore podcast. Read more of his works at WoW Insider.

Comments

  1. I wish every healer would adhere to this advice … assignments are good for starters, because you can see where the problem areas are and in later attempts/kills you can assign others to spot heal for those that are in need of help. Those that just hog the meters ’cause they think they’re being awesome? Well, WoL can find them out just as easily. Nobody is immune from the raid review monster!

    I continually find it rather sad, and rather humorous at the same time, that so many people are out to see #1 succeed; they aren’t at all concerned with how others are doing (for better or for worse) so long as they are doing well. Raiding is a team effort, and if you help out the team, you’re ultimately helping out yourself. Everyone needs to cooperate to make it happen, and both sets of extremes need to take off their blinders and look at the whole picture, IMO. Good post 🙂

  2. I agree with the premise that as healers we have to adapt in its entirety.
    But here is the interesting question to me. When you’re up against a boss-wall and wiping consistently for weeks on end, how do you evaluate to improve and finally kill him?
    That’s when meter whoring starts becoming a temptation to me. Because if the end goal of my healing, the boss dead and teammates alive, seems impossible, how do I ensure I’m doing my part. Topping the meters seems a nice way to prove to myself im pulling my weight.

    • That starts with identifying the problem as a whole first. Are you hitting the raid wall because of healing? Are you hitting the raid wall because your DPS is too low to get the encounter down in a reasonable enough time? Is the raid successfully completing the mechanics of the fight? These need to be answered first.

      Even when those are answered, meter glory seeking doesn’t necessarily mean you did your part. By itself it really means nothing. Are you casting the appropriate spells for the incoming damage? Are you yourself standing in bad? are you blowing through your mana 10seconds into the fight? Your habits in healing are where you should start evaluating yourself, not meters.

    • “meter whoring” is different to an analysis of incoming damage, heal usage, issue identification etc. It’s one thing to use the data as a tool to identify if spell usage was poor, inefficient, if key cooldowns were missed – or if the healers weren’t the issue but someone failing to avoid damage or taunt at the right time etc.

      If you are using ‘being top for a wipe’ as your sole means of deciding if you’re doing a good job, then you’re probably not *grin*. Meters are a context driven thing – if someone is on dispel duty, they may not be healing as much as other healers but their contribution is just as important. Working out why you died, why the rest of the raid died – that’s a far more productive use of your time than checking the healing list to see if you topped it.

  3. Seems to me that this advice only works for experienced healers. There’s a point at which, when you’re learning to heal, you aren’t an adequate judge of whether your assignment is stable enough to leave alone and cover someone else’s target.

    I remember seeing a post from Kurn, and I’m not sure where, where she basically said she knew which of her healers were okay to interpret their healing assignments loosely and which weren’t and she made sure they knew too. I really like that approach if it works.

    Our current 10s healing team is small enough that we know almost without discussing it who will be healing what, and who might need support in certain roles and how to provide it, but if we didn’t the discussion and the assignments would help keep every wipe from feeling like a personal failure. I can’t be personally responsible for every raid member all the time, that’s the road to burnout.

    • If your RL knows your abilities better than you know yourself, there’s a problem there. Healers should borrow that competitive mindset from DPS and WANT to prove they can handle the tough assignments. Don’t give me a loose “do what you want” assignment, tell me “Vik will be handling groups XYZ during such and such”.

  4. I agree with you that it’s impossible to judge the effictiveness of a healer by the meters. Or how good somebody is. We had at one moment a healer in our team who posted the meters every time he ended up number one, much to the amusement of the rest.

    But I cannot help feeling a little pang of pride when I come out of a fight on top, with little overhealing. I won’t say anything about in raid/healer channel, but I am giving myself a little pat on the back.

    Or when, in the same spec/gear as another healer, I outheal him by double the amount, I do think: hmm…what the hell are you exactly doing?

    And while everybody can say it’s not saying anything, or that they aren’t doing it, I’m not believing it. In the end, even a healer likes to shine now and then, even if it’s quietly behind his/her own computer….

  5. It’s pretty clear to me, in my time raiding, that certain people are just incapable of putting out good throughput. They can stick to their assignments like you wouldn’t believe, but either those assignments die, or other people do because they put out so little healing.

    Give me a healer who can put out a ton of throughput, and I’ll make sure he follows his assignment or gets the blame if he goes OOM from overhealing. But I can’t do very much with a player without the ability to perform well on the throughput side.

    This to me is why you often see people focus on the meters. If you are unable to put out big healing when it counts, you’re not a good healer and it will show up on a difficult boss fight. At the same time, if try to pad your healing and go OOM, that is obvious on the overheal meters or your cries of “I’m OOM”.

    • Actually, you can tell there is a problem with the healer who stuck to their assignment and their target still died – because the problem is that their target died. That has less to do with meter-topping (because meters don’t measure your healing on ONE person, they measure how well you sprinkle AOE heals around multiple people). That same healer could have thrown out a bunch of AOE heals, looked great on the meter, and still had their tank die. Regardless of that person’s meter placement – if you are assigned to healing a tank and the tank dies (if the death was due to lack of healing), then that healer needs to look at what they could have done to prevent the death. That’s a problem completely unrelated to their placement on the “how many people did I heal?” meter. If the healing meter weighted healing done by how many people you healed, then tank healers would always come out on top.

  6. I completely agree Lodur. Healers who are ranking on world of logs are either fucking terrible, overgeared for the encounter and simply trying to log for fun, have a terrible heal team which they are completely carrying, or the must common cause IMHO healing the fight with less healers then recommended.

  7. Personally, and I am certainly not the pinnacle of healing excellence, but the only value the healing logs provide is to allow me to monitor my overhealing and tweak my perfomance if I am unable to keep a target up (HPS) or last long enough (Mana used). The overall log file (WoL) will allow me to check incoming damage patterns and adjust my gameplan when required.

    With regards to assignments, it should be a priority system rather than a set in concrete: Assigned Target > Yourself/Other healers > Other targets and I would love to see more players follow this approach

    IMHO only of course.

  8. My answer to the tweet was ‘Follow the healing assignment but help out other healers where necessary’ and in my guild, this works well. We are a close knit group, and while we don’t have assignments, we all have our specific roles and know what they are. We don’t need to top meters as the important thing is the boss dies before we do, and while it is nice to put out the most healing, I am happy to be at the bottom, provided this happens.

    The only time I have found meters useful is a quick glance check on if we have a new healer or stand in, and things seem to not be going as they should. Often you find, especially at the start of the expansion, that some players haven’t adapted as they should and are using the wrong heals, or only using some of their heals.

    Excellent post as ever though Lodur, I hope that healers read it and adopt the same philosophy to healing.

  9. I watch meters to make sure I am pulling my weight post raid(World of logs).

    One of the raid teams I sub for 2 weeks ago there healers do no cross healing and all about there assignments.

    My Chimaeron healing group that I needed to top off before Massacre there was no way I could do it in time. I look over the log and the two other healers did not help there other healers at all, where I was throwing hots out to help the other raid healer. We wipe 3 times till I pick up that I was on my own.

  10. krizhek says:

    You’d think
    With Lodur’s love
    of all
    things
    Dwarf
    He would change his avatar?
    Alas.
    Much love <3
    No homo </3

  11. Misplaced says:

    Looks like a few people have a bad opinion of healers who like to be on top of meters. From a healer who likes to top meters, I’ll share a few things.

    I’m a holy priest and I raid heal.
    I’m not pounding the hardest heals constantly to top meters because OOM healers sink like a rock.
    I heal what I’m assigned to AND I assist other targets during spikes of damage.
    I do use regen cool downs.

    The only time I consider my performance poor is if at any time during a fight I’m jumping around because I’m oom and waiting for cool downs.

    So if I can get through a fight constantly being active, with mana leftover, and on top of meters then I’ve done great. Anything less and I readjust the healing throttle.

  12. Maybe it’s because I’m a tank, not a healer, but I’m really not a fan of people who think that a meter, any meter, is the be-all and end-all of their performance. The stuff I do as a tank doesn’t always show up on meters–did I position a boss correctly, did I pick up adds like I was supposed to, did I interrupt when I was supposed to, stuff like that.

    Now that’s not to say they aren’t useful, of course. I pay attention to them on the rare occasions I DPS to see where I am relative to other people in the raid. I look at my Recount to see if I need to work on adjusting rotations or if there’s an ability I need to use more or less. They’re tools, and they’re useful, but they’re not the primary indicator of success. The primary indicator of your success as a raid is, did that boss die and how smoothly did it go? I would much rather have a corps of “average” healers behind me, who know their jobs and know how to perform their assigned roles, than healers who can throw out insane numbers but leave me hanging halfway through the fight because they’re gasping for mana.

  13. I think the core of this argument is following assignment strictly (wasting globals if you have to) or not following assignment strictly, and using spare globals for healing of groups which may need it.

    I’m certainly falling into the second group most of the time, as I see no real use in wasting globals. This problem tends to go away with proper healing assignments (that is, assignments that include both a primary target as well as secondary targets).

    In terms of resource consumption, I think concerns are overstated. I personally adjust my mana consumption burn rate based on our progress in the fight (and what encounter it is), and I suspect most healers (particularly those that burn spare gcd’s on non-primary targets) are the same.

  14. The person giving out assignments owes a responsibility to their team to have an accurate understanding of what will be needed. Don’t give generic assignments and expect the good healers to cross-over. Give accurate ones that will allow for rapid understanding of what’s needed and adjustment if required. If one player and keep the tanks up solo, don’t put two healers on tanks full-time, because they you’re just gimping the raid. Once you’ve set accurate assignments, you have the grounds to expect rapid and honest communication from the players carrying out those assignments.

    Bottom line, a good healing coordinator controls who tops the meters.

  15. Yeah, but what if you find youself constantly at the top of the meters, are able to manage your mana effeciently, keep the raid alive for the duration, and stick to your assignements while helping when necessary – all combining to result in a successful kill?

    Does it mean that I am doing something wrong; like trying to be superman by stealing other healers heals? Or does it mean that I am one heck of a healer? I am not trying to sound cocky or fecetious here – but I have rarely been in a situation where I have been outhealed. I rarely run out mana, and I am on the top 200 World of Logs for Halifus on my Disc spec (16.1k HPS), as well as for Chogall on my Holy spec (12.9k HPS).

    I have all normal mode 359 gear with 353 shoulders. I still don’t have the 4 piece.

    Seeing other healers doing great HPS on the meters tells me that typically they have a nice combination of gear and skill. It takes skill to be able to get the gear to top the charts in the first place typically – and if they have the gear but are not doing great HPS – it tells me that they are most likely lacking in skill somewhat.

    I am in a normal mode guild. We are currently 10/12 but got a late start. None of the healers in our guild purposely spam ineffecient heals and falsely crank up their HPS while going OOM to inflate their HPS. We all do a pretty good job. But most of the time when I pug, or when a new healer is introduced to the raid team – if they aren’t doing good HPS, they are usually lacking in skill and/or an overall knowledge of their toon.

    So to me, HPS DOES matter. Less HPS from the other healer means there is more for me to heal – meaning I go OOM faster trying my ass off to successfully heal MY assignment as well as picking up the slack with his.

    It’s just been my experience.

    • Asculapius says:

      Yes you can use the charts to get a basic feel of how someone is doing. When you meet a new healer looking at how much HPS they can put out on a heavy damage fight shows you they can do that. It doesn’t mean that someone who does less HPS is a bad healer. I myself and top the charts if I wish with my priest without overhealing but I don’t because to me saving my mana for when mistakes are made I have the extra mana to spend.

      Also to the first part of your post topping the charts isn’t a bad thing and doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong. The thing you have to watch out for is if a healer thinks that topping the charts is the only thing that matters.

      (If i misunderstood your post at all let me know.)

    • You need respectable healing numbers combined with: staying out of fires, adapting your heals to the situation, working as a team, dispelling, effective cooldown usage, an understanding that damage reduction doesn’t get counted on HPS meters, et cetra. If someone isn’t contributing to the team, you know this in more ways than just reading HPS. You need decent healing numbers in addition to appropriately reacting to situations.

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