If not Healing Meters what?

Few thoughts on some GC comments today.

Resto Shaman are in a bad spot; behind in most metrics, including the weakest raid CD in 25s. They need some love in 5.4
What metrics? We find HPS is a poor way to evaluate healer power. Healing often doesn’t come down to just button mashing. (Source)
HPS is a huge metric in what healers are brought to raids only next to utility/absorb, why is it poor viewing?
The job of healers is to keep the raid alive, not heal as much as they can every second. (Source)
HPS can be a useful measurement in that discussion, but too many forum posts and tweets want to equate HPS with “healerness.” (Source)

For example dps < dmg done to the correct target. Topping the meters is fairly easy…
I feel the need to repeat this every so often: HPS from aggregate sites is not a great way to measure who is the best healer. (Source)
Many raid leaders have a good sense for who their reliable healers are, but not the kind of thing that shows up from a simple Raidbots link. (Source)
WoL and Raidbots were some of the best… and worst… tools to put in the hands of the community. (Source)

How about the metric that every shaman that is posting on the forums is all but begging for your attention for change.
That’s not really a useful metric and it’s one shared by all healers. (Source)
This is why a forum discussion of strengths and weaknesses of *all* healers interests me more than the class forum thread. (Source)
Class forums have a propensity for: Bliz has no direction for us, never plays us, doesn’t respond to our threads. (Source)
Stick with class forums for discussions of gems etc. If you want to talk power, do it where other classes will respond IMO. (Source)

TL:DR; Don’t look at healing meters to just a Healer’s usefulness.

This got me thinking, what is the best universal metric for a healer’s usefulness? A useful metric depends a great deal upon what kind of comparison you’re trying to do.  Healing meters are often used as a measure of how good healers are for several reasons.  The most common is a situation about classes not knowing the mechanics of other classes.  This can come in the form of mainly DPS or Tank players trying to judge which healers are performing the best or other healing classes trying to judge how good their class is in comparison to other classes without knowing what the other class’s mechanics are.  It can even be the case that the player doesn’t know enough about their own class and believes their class to be weaker than others simply by looking at numbers.  Typically people stick to one or two classes for serious raiding or they only prefer to play DPS or Tank classes so it’s very common that misinterpretations happen when taking only healing meters in to concern.

But why do healing meters matter at all? Every time we say “Healing Meters don’t mean anything”, what do we actually think means something?  I would rather rephrase the statement to “Healing Meters don’t mean everything” but then I guess that would also suggests that Healing Meters mean a majority of things but you get my point.  This is also the part where people start throwing the term “raid utility” around.  For example, resto shamans have a lot of “raid utility” despite their low HPS.  As GC probably knows, the multitudes are ready to gather their pitchforks and torches at a single poorly used adjective which (ironically) in this case (by my opinion) is the word “poor”.    Healing meters are not a great measure of how good a healer is but they are one of the measures and a valid measure at that.  I do not mean that how good a healer is can be measured by just one parameter.  High HPS doesn’t always just mean button mashing and I am only saying this because it seems that every time the healing meters argument is brought up this is a criticism of it.  Part of the time, high HPS means a lot of useful healing.  “The job of healers is to keep the raid alive, not heal as much as they can every second.” is true in it’s minimalist interpretation but a fair amount of the job of keeping people alive is to heal as much as you can.

Part of the situation in terms of socially is that so many players out there are so ready and willing to blame Blizzard and stone any other healer who comes in to their class forums to discuss a comparison to a different class.  This is often because those other players are also antagonistic and defensive of their own opinions typically something along the lines of “your class don’t need no buffs” without really understanding either their target’s class or their own class.  Much of the useful discussion is camouflaged by endless pages and pages of class complaining about Blizzard, complaining about other classes and immediately discrediting anyone that attempts to say anything different.  After all, why complain if you have nothing to complain about?  It would be awesome to distill all of this atmosphere down to an intelligent discussion between healer classes who understand the mechanics of multiple classes and are ready to argue about ways to change to their class rather about nothing that can be changed at all.

Back to the main point of this post, what are some of the other measures with which ‘healer power’ can be judged?  I can name a few things off the top of my head but by no means everything.  The first situation listed is one in which the measure has helped in keeping people alive and second is one which it has not.

  • Mana return, which is both individual and synergistic or has “raid utility” value.  For example, in healing setups where there is a resto-shaman, other healers need not worry overly about their spirit and can focus some of their stats into other secondary stats or intellect.  Individually, a healer who has a lot of mana return can literally do the same thing. Mana returns show up in the logs but in terms of HPS, the person with the mana return spells do not always have the highest HPS.  Hence a good example of “healing meters don’t mean everything”. Taking the example of a resto-shaman providing a mana-battery:
    • Situation 1: Fight is extremely mana intensive, without mana tide healers would run out of mana at various parts during the fight resulting in deaths.
    • Situation 2: Healers are fine on mana throughout the fight either being able to regen enough mana even with gemming out of spirit in between damage phases so more mana return doesn’t contribute to those healers keeping people alive.
  • Damage reduction cooldowns, prevent damage from occurring but also doesn’t reveal itself in the form of healing meters and rather probably decreases effective HPS overall.  This is also one of those it appears on logs but gauging whether it’s useful is hard.  What? you think, who can damage reduction cooldowns be not useful?
    • Situation 1: Using cooldown at the right time, preventing unhealable damage or high damage which would otherwise waste a lot of healer mana, cooldowns that might be better used in the long run.
    • Situation 2: Using cooldown at the wrong time, preventing minimal damage healable with low or no mana loss overall, better used at a different time which now will require more healer mana and other cooldowns to heal through
  • Player saving cooldowns, things like Lay on Hands, Hand of Protection, Void Shift, Dispersion (yes saving yourself is also saving someone healers), Pain Suppression, etc…these kinds of things make minimal impact if you just look at healing meters but could be saving pulls which saves time.
    • Situation 1: Using this at the instant someone would otherwise die which is pretty hard to determine precisely but you can kind of do this by listening to your other healers go “Heal the TANK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” then after using it for them to go “There’s the lay on hands.”
    • Situation 2: Using this any other time which in some cases could end up wiping a raid lolz.
  • Performance related skills, unrelated to class and better performing players may end up decreasing overall HPS or increasing HPS depending on what they’re better at.  This in my opinion is the main reason why healing meters are not everything.  Even though these days screwing up on mechanics is typically unhealable an example of this could be standing in sand pools on Horridon for 2 ticks.  The ones that kill you will obviously impact healing meters.  On the other hand if you’re really bad at mechanics and are constantly running around to avoid things at the last second you will probably see a drop in healing from all the movement.  Also in this category are things such as anticipating damage which will likely increase your HPS. Unfortunately for absorb classes, we’re more likely to have our high effective HPS be attributed to simple button smashing because the fact of the matter is without any type of knowledge about how to play your class, simple button smashing does now increase HPS more than less button smashing.  Knowing stat priorities and spell priorities are a given in this and kind of the first steps needed to master the class.  This obviously has a positive impact on HPS.
    • Situation 1:  Anticipate movement, minimize unneeded movement, knowing when to use healing cooldowns, a lot of other things
    • Situation 2: Dying, taking useless damage, spamming your spells which does mean increasing HPS, but doesn’t mean a better player
  • Class related spells such as Purification (I think) from shamans which increases base health and may sometimes be that last chunk of health needed for a heal to go off and save a tank life. I don’t think there are any non-passive healing spells so this can’t really be controlled.  Some other related spells might be the other shaman ability Ancestral Vigor which heals for more at lower life %.  This does not translate directly to HPS either which probably explains a lot of why Shamans tend to have lower HPS on Raidbots or World of Logs especially in farm.  Lets just take the Ancestral Vigor example and show how it can be useful and not useful:
    • Situation 1: Progression fight, people are standing in things everywhere, tanks are undergeared and taking more damage
    • Situation 2: Farm fight, people don’t stand in things they’re not supposed to stand in, everyone is overgeared

I apologize for kind of a sloppy job on describing these things.  Part of the reason is these types of measure are a lot more subjective to what kind of fight it is, how well people are geared, how well people player and many other things which are a whole log harder to gauge than looking at a single number on a meter.  The effect of doing these things rights has a relationship to healing meters but the relationship is not always positive.  I think the best way to think about healing meters is that it is a summary of the fight with lower numbers not necessarily meaning worse healer and higher numbers don’t necessarily mean better healer. You can kind of compare how good healing meters are at telling how good a healer to how good a report card is at telling how intelligent a person is.  More intelligence is just like a better healer, the qualities are hard to list exactly and the report card is only one indication of a huge number of different actions.

Anyways would love to hear opinions on this topic and would definitely love to see some combined discourse from different classes of healers who actually want a good multi-sided discussion.  Waiting on the next build to be released in the next few days 🙂


8 thoughts on “If not Healing Meters what?

  1. I struggle with the idea of healing meters, because I feel like you either focus on trying to top the meters and put out as much throughput as you can all of the time, or you focus on healing the damage as mana efficiently as possible so that you have mana later in case the shit hits the fan and you have to pull out a bunch of expensive spells to cover the gap. The first kind of healer is often applauded for topping the meters, and the second kind of more cautious healer is often told that they’re not doing enough or not contributing.

    It’s a tough one to figure out – it used to be classed as a good thing to save your mana for emergencies, but nowadays people seem a lot more focused on meters.

  2. Yeah I remember back in the really old days in Vanilla/BC, I felt like people didn’t really look at healing meters as seriously as they do now. It always feels good to be on top but the more important thing back then was healers recognized when being on top meant you were just an overpowered class or when being on top meant you were actually skilled at your class.It’s been a long time since then but I think I remember that for most fights healers didn’t have all of these mana return things that would boost you up from 60% to 100% so if you were at 60% you were hoping at least that you were halfway through the fight and you were liable to run out of mana on any kind of farm or progression fight if you didn’t conserve your mana. I think in those days, people were more likely to judge how good a healer was based on their overhealing. Now Blizzard is creating all of these spells which almost encourage or in the least don’t discourage overhealing.Times have surely changed…

  3. I think that logs are a pretty accurate way to judge someone’s healing, as long as you don’t focus on the numbers. Understanding the class mechanics well when you’re looking at a healer’s logs will tell you if they are using the correct spells and utilizing their cooldowns in an appropriate manner.

    Numbers for healers shouldn’t matter as much as they do. I talked to someone the other day who was frustrated with their guild’s holy paladin and asked me to take a look at the pally’s logs. I looked at them and they were fine. I learned later that the person had been running with another hpally before their current one and that their previous hpally had consistently been parsing 4th or 5th on fights. I didn’t get logs there, but I have a feeling if I had seen them, I would have found a lot of meter cheesing.

    As for meters themselves–I don’t think they ever paint a full picture. Logs help round out that picture a bit, but they still aren’t perfect. Case in point–the raid leaders who expect their healers to rank on every fight.

  4. “Seal of Insight no longer has a chance to restore mana on attacks.”

    Am I the only one who’s starting to miss mana return via Judgement..? Not that Im gonna miss having to afk on boss to get mana back but still.

    • I’m not going to make a post today because I feel angry and that will most likely translate to an extremely biased post.
      Honestly, I think the seal of insight change is a really bad move. Nerf the values from it but don’t nerf the mechanic. It doesn’t screw holy paladins as much as it screws prot but at least for holy you were still able to go and melee the boss for mana back. As one of the less mana efficient healing classes, for a lot of progression fights where you can stand and melee the boss just a few times, seal of insight was amazing and basically gave me just enough mana back to help keep myself and other people stay alive. This is even more important for 10 mans where you don’t always have a shaman to give mana tide. Also what happened to giving us some compensation for nerfing IH on eternal flame? Absolutely nothing except another unnecessary nerf.
      The whole thing makes me angry because they say “don’t get mad at PTR changes, they are PTR changes”. But what were they thinking nerfing SoI for mana? If they’re not afraid of people getting angry at PTR changes then they should release something, anything about what they have in terms of ideas for compensating holy paladins and see what the reaction is. Just a blue post saying they’re still working on balancing this, this and this would be better than the situation going on right now.

  5. Hey there,

    Nice post. I do have to say I like your idea’s on how to play as a holy paladin. I do find myself in most of your posts/guides.

    This one, sadly, is not one of those. I, for one, welcome the idea of healing meters. I think the current situation of WoW makes it so that we cannot argue about being mana conservative or “raid utility”. What I mean by this is the following:
    A. You top healing meters when you are the FASTEST of the healers, therefore being very reactive and aware of what is going on (e.g. knowing the fight and knowing when damage will be incoming). This really shines through when the amount of healers increases. Two healing has higher numbers and bigger difference between healers. Three healing (mostly) means people being on the same line (lower difference) and way lower numbers. I do think that healing meters are a good indication for RAID and CLASS knowledge.

    B. “Raid utility”, as a concept, is being abused. EVERY healer class has a certain ability which can be classified as a raid utility, but they are not someone’s Holy Grail. A well placed Devotion Aura is just a good as a well placed Healing Tide or a Revival spell. Raid utility is raid utility and nothing more. It does not define your class as “OP or not”. A bad healer who cannot use his raid utility well, will still be low on healing meters. Besides, one ability will never give you the chance to top those healing meters.

    All in all, I do find it’s a good measurement of someone’s healing abilities. I for one always get the same comment on my holy paladin: “you snipe”. No I don’t snipe heals, I just know when big splashes of damage are incoming and how to counter them.

    Healing is art. But even the finest of art can still be measured in quality.

    • Your points are valid. I agree that healing meters are a good indication for raid and class knowledge but I don’t think that they are the end all in determining how good a healer is. Also some things that are indications that a player has good raid or class knowledge aren’t reflected in healing meters. For example, shamans are set-up to be basically reactive healers due to their mastery and yet they are performing the lowest this tier. Discipline priests are matching us in healing by simply DPSing the boss, thats just cause of a difference in class mechanics. We can all be knowledgeable about a raid’s mechanics but this doesn’t always reflect through in the healing meters. Individual class comparisons I would say is fairer game of course. To your second point, I agree with everything you said but simply looking at numbers Devotion Aura is far better than Revival or Healing Tide. Revival isn’t going to make monks top healers but it does heal for millions during fights. Devotion Aura can prevent maybe 100,000 damage on each person in a 10 man raid. That doesn’t as you said make it useless just less better. One of the messages I don’t know if I put across in this post was that some classes’s skill is better reflected by looking at their HPS where others are not.

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