Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to use Combat Loggers - Deaths, Friendly Fire & Damage/Healing Taken

In my third post on how to decipher combat log information I thought we'd take a look at the name and shame modes of the combat loggers - Deaths, Friendly Fire and Damage/Healing Taken.

My earlier posts in the series are;
  1. Damage Done & DPS
  2. Healing Done & Overhealing Done

Being high on this list is of course a bad thing. But dying isn't always the fault of the one who dies however, and by checking this mode you can look in detail who to blame. The reason we want someone to blame is so that we know exactly what went wrong and work to fix that area, not to make people feel bad. If person X died because he stood in fire, because he wasn't healed, because some skill wasn't interrupted, we want to know this and why this happened to reduce the risk of it happening again. Everyone does mistakes, but if we don't locate them we won't learn from them.

Red is bad and green is good. We can also see this player died from standing in bad stuff.

In the case of a wipe, every player will show up in the Death list. You only want to check the players that died from things you don't know. The Death mode will in detail show the last seconds of that players life. We use this in raids alot, because it tells us a bunch of things. Like mentioned above - Did the target die from avoidable damage? Did the target die due to lack of healing? Did all healers heal their assigned targets (this is especially useful if you're looking at why a tank died)? And if the answer is yes on the last question, might you need more healers on that target or do you need to change something else? If the answer is no then maybe you must find out what were keeping the healers from doing their assigned jobs. You can also see if the target took damage that just isn't healable. In those cases you most likely weren't doing some part of the boss tactics right, or you need to pop cooldowns when that happens. Overall the Death mode will help you learn alot about how to handle a fight. Charging head in without taking a moment to evaluate what went wrong the first time around is only going to cause unecessary wipes.

Friendly Fire
Friendly Fire basically means "any damage dealt by someone on your side to someone on your side" or "damage done that wasn't done to the bad guy". In many cases is it a bad thing to be high on Friendly Fire, because friendly fire is always damage dealt to your raid which you want to avoid, however it is important to note that alot of classes have spell mechanics that have them deal damage to themselves (most often) or in some rare cases some other friendly player. One example is the warlock talent Soul Link that will have the warlock transfer damage taken to his pet, which of course will register as the warlock dealing damage to the pet. The dk skill Unholy Frenzy also deals damage to the player, and it will therefore register as if the player is hurting himself. There are reasons to look at these things with a critizising eye as well however, because dealing damage to yourself when there is already alot of raid damage going around isn't always a good thing. If a warlock is low on hp and does Life Tap he might die (he can't actually die from the Life Tap, but he can bring himself low enough on hp to die from some boss mechanic). Same goes with all self damage dealing skills, and you have to make sure people don't use them recklessly. Both Friendly Fire and the Death mode are good for seeing these kinds of things.

Ok Friendly Fire

Then we have the friendly fire that is always bad. The one that comes from boss mechanics in which a player will deal damage to the rest of the raid during some circumstances. Some examples are Engulfing Magic on Valiona & Theralion, Lightning Rod on Ascendant Council and Puking on Cho'gall. If you find a player high on this (and it's a problem for your raid) you have to make sure they understand the fight mechanics to avoid it happening again.

Bad Friendly Fire

Damage Taken (& Healing Taken)
Even if people don't die, they might take unecessary damage. This mode is great for sifting out those players that stand in fire a little too long or "accidentally" get hit from cleaves a little too often. It puts a strain on healers, and thus on the rest of the raid that is avoidable and should therefore be pinpointed and dealt with as soon as possible. Eventhough no one died, that might simply be due to an unusually excellent performance by other members of the raid, and as the content becomes more and more difficult, people won't be able to "cover" eachothers mistakes as much anylonger. Trying to avoid mistakes as much as possible is therefore a good idea.

Just looking at the percentages is rarely useful, if you want to know why someone is high on Damage Taken you should check the specifics to see which skills they were affected by. The tanks should, in most cases, be highest on this list. That is only natural. Below the tanks should the rest of the raid be on relatively equal grounds. Just as with many of the other modes are there things like Fight Differences and Class Differences to take into account when deciphering Damage Taken damage. Some classes are better at avoiding damage, some fight require that some players take more damage than others (for instance alot of raid fights right now will have melee take more damage than ranged). There will always be some damage to everyone in the raid, that is simply how the fights are designed nowadays.

Don't stand in fire...

This goes for heroics as well
. In a regular heroic my tank lies between 50-70% of damage taken. It all depends on how much aoe damage is going around, and how much of that that is avoidable.

The meters on Healing Taken will roughly correspond to Damage Taken, because hopefully whoever takes damage in your group will also receive heals. People can be higher on healing taken than damage taken however, in that they selfheal alot, or become overhealed alot.  One example are Shadow Priests who selfheal alot through Vampiric Embrace. Healing Taken doesn't give us much useful information that we can't already find in the mentioned modes. One possible use could be to see if some target is receiving too much healing, in case your healers are having serious mana issues and all other reasons have already been taken into account. Maybe the healers are healing tank B too much? But this is really treading into some serious min-maxing grounds, and not something often used by most people.

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