Why I Always Care About The Meters

You’ll frequently hear raiders knowingly make comments about “the meters.” DPSers who have to crowd-control or dispel have a bit of a case; it’s harder to be #1 if you have more to worry about than standing still, popping pots, and hitting your spells in the right order. Healers occasionally have a point, too: Purge, Dispel, Cure, BoP, PW: Shield, and buffs all take not only mana, but global cooldowns out of our resources to be the “best” healer on the charts.

Here’s the thing though: you will rarely, if ever, find someone complaining about the unfairness of the meters when their name is consistently at the top. Here are a few reasons why I never forget to check the meters:

Supervisory

Whether you think a player is afk’ing trash, throwing out the wrong heals, or making a serious contribution, it will show up on the meters. Add-ons like Recount or WWS allow you to access your players’ habits with an unbelievable level of detail. If you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t make it better. If you don’t know what’s right, you can’t give meaningful encouragement. Especially when making quantum leaps in content, (10-mans to 25-mans, or jumping tiers) being able to coach your players effectively through the transition is important.

Consistency

This works a couple of ways. On a micro-level, some classes are better suited for certain fights than others. If your Druids typically own highly-mobile fights like Leotheras or Supremus, and a new Druid isn’t keeping up with their peers, it’s a good indication that they need some help. On a macro-level, if, week after week, no matter what the fight, a certain player is always dead-last or near to it, there’s either a gear, hardware, or player issue. The raid leaders need to be able to address underperformance quickly. Why give a raid spot to a 9th healer when you’re effectively only fielding 8? Bring in another DPS, and make the fight shorter instead.

Personal Benchmarks

The first time I consistently broke 1,000 HPS was on Illidan. At first I was proud, but then I realized that I should be pushing my limits that much on EVERY fight. The first screen shot of me breaking 2,000 HPS serves as a constant reminder of my capability, and pushes me to work, heal, and fight harder; every boss, every time. It’s also fun to have some small competition to wake you up when farm content gets boring. Personally, if my favorite resto Shaman gets within 1% of my heals, I start working harder to keep my #1 spot – and he’s not afraid to point it out when he’s gaining on me.

Comparative Benchmarks

I’ve heard the arguments that the meters are skewed: AoE healers always win, healers assigned to players taking the most damage always win, healers that can hold still always win, healers that don’t have to Dispel, Cure, etc. always win. It’s not about winning. It’s about proving to yourself and your raid that you’re doing the best you can. I’ve fought for the top spot with Shamans, Pallys, and Druids. Every guild and healing corps. is different, and the sooner people stop making excuses and start pushing themselves to be their absolute best, the faster the bosses all die.

Accuracy

No meter is perfect. Some of them don’t ascribe things like the last tick of Lifebloom, or the ping of a ProM to the caster. I haven’t seen one yet that records the absorption of PW:S as the life-saver it is. You can tweak some of them so that overhealing or out-of-combat heals show up as effective healing. They all have their quirks, but any data collected over time irons out a lot of the inaccuracies and shows you real trends. I would never chew a player out over one bad night. But if that same player has nothing but bad nights, it’s important to have specific concerns to address with either them, or their class leader.

Timing

Even if the quantity of healing going out is enough, if the timing is off, it doesn’t matter . A tank taking hits for 10k needs an 8k heal. Unless they’re already topped off. Or they’re already dead. Overhealing is sloppy and wasteful, sure, but it’s also unavoidable to an extent. And to be completely honest, if no one’s dying it doesn’t matter much. But if they ARE dying, you need to be able to identify the problem. Grim-meters let you know if poor timing (and inattentive healers) were the culprit, or if the tank needs to put Shieldwall on their bars and learn to move out of fires.

Fairness

Let’s face it. No one wants to be stuck working on the same boss for weeks on end. If the definition of insanity is performing the same action but expecting a different result, it can’t be far from madness to randomly change set-ups without any data behind the decision. If you need to replace a player, you have to know whom to replace. The last thing good leaders want to do is pull a player that’s really doing their best, and keep someone who’s not working hard. And if you’re the one on the cut list, having some data to back up your desire to stay is always a good idea.

No metric is perfect. You can nitpick any measurement of success as biased in any number of ways, and healing meters are no different. The meters are absolutely not the end-all, be-all identifier for the “best” healer – but they are an invaluable tool for improving overall raid performance. My bet is that if you watch them for yourself, and for your raid, and make some key decisions based on the information you learn, you and your guild will progress further, faster, and with better players.

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Comments

  1. SaladFork says:

    Great post Wynthea. Through experience though, I’ve found that DPS is really the only thing you can accurately judge through meters (if at all). Healing is completely fight dependent, class dependent, and assignment dependent. And you can’t really judge tanking in any reliable way (damage taken? total threat?).

  2. On the other hand, being the competitive Priest that I am, I get taunted by my Resto Shaman all the time.

    One of these days, I will mop the floor with him.

  3. IcE_IcE_N00b says:

    Judge a tank by the amount of deaths to healers, ALWAYS.

  4. From a DPS prospective, I decided to leave the meters off and stop worrying about squeezing out every drop to be the top (which I never am anyway). It was amazing how I could focus on the fight and not a little bar. In the end though I think I did see about an 10% performance drop so meters do have their place in helping encourage effort. You just need to work self improvement and not king of the charts.

  5. Chaynie says:

    To an extent and commenting on the focus of this post, healing meters do have a place in analyzing a particularly problematic healer. As echoed before, the healing order does come down to the fight at hand, the responsibilities of the healer and class.

    In the end, if the lacking healer is not there to pull the raid out of a tough spot, not responsive, or simply not using the right healing spells on the right targets, it would be time to evaluate the healer, and meters shouldn’t be needed to see which healer is lacking.

    As I had personally raided with Wynthea for quite some time, I do have to say that she is quite competitive and holds to healing meters like a pastor to his Bible, and that’s what makes her such a kick-ass healer. She uses the meters correctly and that is what it comes down to. Use them right, or don’t use them at all.

  6. I like damage meters mostly not to see who’s on top, but to see who’s not. For example, a hunter pet out-damaging a ‘lock tells me something. Too many things, actually, but that’s another story.

    Healing meters…I don’t need other healers measuring epeens. If folks don’t die and objectives are met, healing worked. Generally.

  7. I find recount insanely helpful for helping myself tweak my own play style, helping others, analyses and for gaining a certain amount of authority. If you are pugging with another member of your class and you are over doubling their DPS they are a lot more likely to listen to your suggestions. Being able to look through a fight and see what abilities a person is using, their miss and crit, really help give them advice on what to do.

    Also in pugs nothing is as handy as seeing which DPS is always breaking the damn CC.

  8. Arduanne says:

    I love Recount. I find it invaluable on my rogue especially if I am testing new specs or gear. It’s the same on the paladin, it’s a nice way to get your head around exactly how a spell haste set might increase your effectiveness.

    I’m not terribly competitive with them however. We actually try to see how close we can be to each other most of the time rather than how far apart.

    It does come in handy if you are evaluating a newer healer in larger content or if you are evaluating to see if you can drop or add a healer from a rotation (that’s how we decided to drop from 3 healers to 2 for the aspects in ZA).

  9. In regards to the comment about PW:S, I believe the issue is that the game doesn’t tell you how much a hit was absorbed for if it was fully absorbed. The only way the meters would be able to measure that is to know who cast the shield, what talents they had, how much +healing they had, and whether the shield faded because the timer ran out, or it was used up.

    As opposed to everything else where they can just dump combat log events into a big table. 😀 It’s theoretically possible, but I’d wager it’d be messy as hell, hence why no one’s bothered.

    (For example: there used to be an addon which would track how much absorption self-cast shields had left. The problem was that in order to work, it had to profile every mob that attacked you, build up a table of the average damage each attack would hit you for, and then it could *estimate* how much power was left in the shield. And that was *only* for self-casting!)

  10. I love Recount – for evaluating myself. Honestly I’m not good or cleaver enough to be able to really evaluate the performance of other classes from it. Not yet. Hopefull I’ll be one day..

    Actually I wrote a blog post about the use of damage meters the other day:
    http://larisamage.blogg.se/2008/may/how-to-use-damage-meters.html

    (Mind you, I wrote it before this one was posted, else I’d of course linked to this excellent post.)

  11. Recount is an excellent way to find out that one of your fellow priests (the one who is always OOM begging for an innervate) simply spams CoH for 99% of their healing while it overheals 70% of the time. The other 1% being PoM+Renew on the MT for the pull.

Trackbacks

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