Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Healing meters don't mean squat

Ladies and gentlemen - in what I am sure will not be the last time, I want to poke a big fat stick and finger at what is quite possibly the second biggest bane in the Holy Paladin's existence (other than being pigeonholed as tank healers).

Topping healing meters does not a good healer make.

Hell, topping DPS meters does not a good DPSer make (usually).

Meter topping nonsense

First off, unless you're in an epeen swinging PUG (where these kinds of things seem to matter), total healing doesn't mean squat - and neither does effective healing, or over healing - unless your raid is wiping. Look at me, I'm keeping up JoL and healing the raid! I'm high on the meters, I must be good!

Oh, what do you mean that I wasn't doing my job. I was topping the meters! Well, yes - one of my assigned targets was dead, but OBVIOUSLY that only happened because I was healing everyone else. After all, I topped the meters!


This is exactly the same mentality that DPS get into with fights that involve target switching. One of my least favorite mages, Decius from had this awesome tendency to top the DPS meters in any raid he was in. Of course a quick glance at recount/WoL shows that his damage to bone spikes/adds/snobolds was precisely zero. That's not doing your job, that's sacrificing your team for the sake of your personal epeen.

You simply cannot measure someone based upon a tool like recount, unless you know exactly what you're looking for. Saying that "topping the meters is the sign of a good healer" is ludicrous at best. Any fight that I want to top the meters on I'll simply run into the melee, beacon a tank, and spam HL on myself while rotating my CDs and DP for mana efficiency.

OK, so what does make a good healer?

Like I mentioned last week, you have to start with trust. Trust that your teammate will do their job, and focus on your responsibility. This is the first step in forming a cohesive healing team. Even in a PUG, you have to trust that the person assigned to heal target X is doing that job. If you spend 1/2 as much time watching what everyone else is doing, instead of concentrating on the things you're supposed to - you're going to drop the ball on something.

Realizing that not everything a healer does will show up on the healing meters is the next step towards becoming that good healer. Cleansing targets to prevent incoming damage, or to clear a polymorph, is just one of the many things you should be watching for. Instead of just mindlessly spamming your heal, look to see what other little things you can pick up. Maybe an interrupt here, or a quick Hand of Protection there.

My point is, you can't just focus on pure throughput numbers.

How do I evaluate a healer then?

This is a tough question, and I'll be the first to say that I don't rightly know.

Start by looking at who they're healing vs. who they're assigned to. Look at what spells they're casting, and compare it with their spec. Check glyphs, gems, and flasks. Look at cleansing and CD usage.

But most importantly,


Hopefully you have a healing lead who is communicating with your healers. Find out if things feel out of control, or if they're bored because there are too many healers. Look at GrimReaper to find out how your raid members are dying, and see what can be done to adjust it (remember, you can't heal stupid).


  1. ...And so say all of us. At least in the general blogosphere this is becoming mostly accepted, with, of course, a few notable exceptions. Which really is a shame. What is more of a concern is the number of words being written about this shows that much of the playerbase and a few bloggers still hold this view.

    All DPS should play healers for a while to understand the problems. Oh wait, even some of the DPS who do end-game raiding as healers don't understand. /headdesk.

  2. Not that I'm disagreeing with your point, but dispells will show up on recount.

  3. Oh Saunder - I thought you said "...And so say WE all". I had a little Battlestar moment there.

    I know dispells will show up on recount, but the point of the post was that the actual healing meter number, in and of itself, doesn't mean anything. Generally, that's what folks ask for - "Link the healing meters". On a fight like Yogg, I link the cleansing meters (if I'm feeling snarky).

    A good evaluation will use all the tools available - not just the final raw output.

  4. I dislike having to evaluate healers. With dps it's easier to say "You should be this tall to ride," but healing depends a lot on the fight.

    I guess a lot of whether not I like someone as a healer depends on more than actual healing. For instance, do they cleanse? Can they do something besides healing when they have to? I'll love a resto shaman to death who can help with spell interupts because we don't have a rogue.

    If an unfamiliar healer tells me "I can't do that, I'm too busy healing" it generally doesn't leave a good impression on me (especially if they die in a fire because they're too busy healing) unless I know the fight is particularly taxing.

    I remember how much I loved it when my guild first beat Blood Princes and I heard my heal team in vent totally calling out when someone moved out of range, calling out their cooldowns so someone could get a MTT or a little breathing room for Divine Plea. It was excellent teamwork.

    If a healer can keep lines of communication open, handle tasks other than just healing (just a good dps can do more than pew-pew the boss), and demonstrates some level of raid awareness, I'm pretty sure that I won't have to worry about the meat and potatoes of the actual healing.

  5. HPS/HPE are really tools that are used to make a good healer into a great healer. If you're a bad healer, then looking at meters will not help you stop being bad. (Like the healer in your example.) I used healing meters with my team to judge if people are slacking off or need to tweak their play somewhat. If one of the Trees is at the top of the meters and the other is at the bottom, with similar gear, there is a problem. This is, of course, assuming their are both good healers.


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