Sunday, January 23, 2011

State of Healing

Love showed me a site called the other day. Well actually it was more me hanging over his shoulder than him actively showing something to me, but anyway. is a site that "lists the DPS for each class as compiled from the top parses from World of Logs". It does show healing done too however, and I immediately set out to investigate. How are we healers doing in Cata? Is there some class that is outperforming the rest of us at the moment? Let's have a look.

Finding your way to the healing totals isn't an easy thing to do. One way to go about it is to click "charts", mark "healers", press "update" and then go back to "index". It should show healer totals then. In any case, this is what it displayed when I last checked (19/1)

Class             H/DPS (Avg)    Median    Variance    %     Samples
Paladin           12217                12221       22.02         100     2339
Priest - Holy   11293                10881       23.85         92       2340
Druid              11160               11166        22.74         91       2340
Shaman          9882                   9619        20.71         81       2340
Priest - Disc   9603                   9446        27.18         79       2289

Let me explain the columns first.
  • Class is quite obvious, if you didn't figure that one out by yourself I don't think you understand this text either.
  • H/DPS (Avg) is the average total hps of the class. Paladin shows the highest hps and discipline the lowest. The easiest way to interpret this is that paladins have the highest average healing output at the moment while discipline has the lowest. This doesn't automatically mean that paladins are good and discipline is bad (yeah it does...) but only that the way paladins and discipline heals will give them these numbers. Overall though, being able to keep a high hps is better than not being able to, although not all fights necessarily require alot of hps. In current raid content however, I'd say bad hps = fail.
  • Median describes the middle value from highest to lowest on the list. For most classes this comes really close to highest, which tells us that the performance of the sample doesn't vary much ie the best player and the least good player are performing about equal.
  • Variance is another way to tell us how big the spread of the sample is. Shaman has the lowest variance and discipline the highest. This means the difference between the best and the least good discipline player is bigger than for all the other healing classes, and for shamans that it is lower than for all other healing classes. The way I'd interpret this is that discipline is the most difficult to get the hang of making it more noticeable when someone is doing a good job and when someone is doing a bad job. Someone who really knows how to get the most out of discipline healing will differ alot from someone who doesn't. For shamans it's the opposite, whether you know much about the class or not won't affect your performance a whole lot. Note however that the variance between the classes still is small, so these differences are probably marginal (like mentioned above).
  • % indicites the percentage of healing output the class has compared to the best class. This shows us that holy priests and druids lie on shared second place with 9/10 of the healing output of the best class, paladin. Shamans and discipline priests are at shared third place with 8/10 of the healing output of the best class. These aren't big differences, but still too big in my opinion.
  • Samples is the amount of players that have provided data. Statistically one usually says that something has to have a sample of at least 100 (depending on what is being researched) to have somewhat reliable data. These samples of about 2300 players should be considered reliable data. But I suck at statistics. I took a course in it at the University and I hated it. Also I am amazed that they actually found samples from nearly 2300 raiding discipline priests. Are there really that many raiding discipline priests out there? Crazy!
How does this conform with my general idea of how healers are doing in raids right now?
I haven't had a good chance to raid with a holy paladin, but the other day we had loaned a holydin from another guild for our 25 mans so I at least got to see some holydin action. Fortunately we've at least got active priests, shamans and druids to give me some base to make this analysis. Overall I totally agree with the numbers. I feel like holy priests are really strong, but not much stronger than druids. We don't have more healing throughput than druids, what we do have however is better average mana regen. Fortunately our druids manage their mana at least until the last 10-15% of the fight so they keep up with priest throughput most of the way. They probably have higher throughput the first half of the fight, and then priests catch up towards the end because we just never oom. When watching logs I have noticed that druids, just like back in Wrath, is the class with the most overhealing done by far. I don't think it's the druids in my raids that suck at healing, I think that is the way druid healing is designed considering much of their healing revolves around keeping LB stacked on the tank, using WG each cd and other things that usually lead to overhealing. Most other healers are more responsive, with discipline probably being the most responsive healer (shamans pretty much too).

Yet again when looking at logs I do feel like shamans and discipline are performing in the lower half of the group right now. As soon as I switch from holy to discipline in a raid, even for the same fights, my healing done drops me from first or second on the list to last. That doesn't mean I feel like discipline are doing bad (more about that tomorrow), but clearly there is a difference. The shamans in our raids are also usually last on healing done. I don't mean to tell you that healing done defines the value of a healers performance, but when doing a boss fight where everyones hp is on the edge and every choice of heal could mean death or survival for the target, and you have someone who is doing 70% of the other healers healing, you've got a reason to question those numbers. Either the player isn't doing a good job or the class is having issues. In the case of my fellow raid members I am inclined to think it's the second option. We've had plenty of shamans and they all usually end up last on healing done. Maybe this doesn't have to be a bad thing, maybe a class that brings op totems and BL to the raid doesn't have to, or shouldn't, do competitive healing. I don't know. What do they lack that the top healers have? Good aoe heals of course. Shamans have one - Healing Rain. Discipline Priests have one - Prayer of Healing (and Barrier, but that's difficult to count). Resto druids don't have awesome aoe healing either, but instead they can dish out what probably is the best single target healing. Alot better than that of discipline priests, although that is supposed to be their healing niche and signature healing style.

What to conclude?
Shamans and discipline priests need a buff! Clearly. Disc priests are getting some love in the upcoming patch (which hasn't been implemented when writing this) and I can only hope that it will be enough to make discipline as good as they deserve to be. I don't require for all classes to be exactly in line with eachother, I feel like every class brings some unique feature to a raid that warrants their existance even if they're not performing exactly as well as the top class. But right now the differences are too big. Either they need to re-design the way the fights are right now, so that they require less aoe healing (and that won't happen) or they have to buff the aoe healing of the classes in the bottom. What they are doing now is buffing the point healing of the classes in the bottom, and I think that is because they want to keep the signature healing of these classes. Blizzard doesn't want 4 classes that will spam aoe heals in raids. In a way I agree wtih that view and discipline for one is alot about avoiding damage (barrier, PS) instead. But in the end we all want to feel like we are pulling our weight as much as the other guy. We'll see how it turns out.


  1. Nice write-up. I want to add another conclusion from this though that I think is quite interesting...

    Healering specs are FAR more balanced than the dps specs, all of them within 20% of each other where the dps specs can be as far as 50% apart. :o


  2. Hah... wish I could edit my post, that's just terrible. :D


  3. @Gav
    Yeah I've made some pretty nice spelling mistakes myself. Love laughs but I usually say that it gives my posts a nice "personal" touch ;)