Monday, February 7, 2011

How to use Combat Loggers - Healing Done & Overhealing Done

This is my second post in a series on how to decipher the information given by a combat logger. My first post was about Damage Done & DPS
This time I thought I'd talk about Healing Done and Overhealing Done.

Healing Done
Healing Done works pretty much exactly like Damage Done, and should in most regards be used in the same way. Because of this, alot of what I said in my post on the Damage Done mode will be repeated here.

There are two things that will help you succeed with an encounter - dps and healing. They work in synergy and depending on the encounter you might need more of the one than the other, but in essence - if the one is lacking the other one has to work harder (tanking works more to control the fight and has a little bit of everything). So just because people start dying, it doesn't automatically mean that there is a trouble with the overall healing. It could just as well be, as I mentioned in my post on Damage Done, that the overall damage is too low and the healers can't deal with the extra strain.

The goal of the healer is to keep people alive. Actually the goal of all people is to stay alive, only that healers will focus on it. That doesn't mean (and this is especially true in current content) that no one else should lift a finger to help out on healing. In most raid encounters, and some heroic encounters, dpsers and tanks will have to help out with healing. Some dpsers/tanks do alot of healing this way, like dks, druids and shadow priests and in some cases paladins. Because of this you can, or will want to, expect to see someone other than you healer relatively high on the Healing Done meters.

Just as with Damage Done, people tend to think that being highest on Healing Done automatically means you're the best. And just as with Damage Done, things aren't that simple.

Class Differences
Just as with dps, there are differences in how good the various healers are right now. When writing this it's approximately paladin-druid-holy priest-shaman- disc priest in healing output. If the paladin outperforms your disc priest on the meters, it does not mean that the one is a better player than the other, simply that there are differences in how the classes work and there isn't much we as players can do about that. In most cases will a good player still do a better job with a less good class than vice versa, so picking healers solely based on their class is just silly (unless you're cutting edge hard core).

No difference here!

Fight Differences
Some fights require alot of aoe healing, some require point healing. Some require alot of moving around. Because healers have different strengths and weaknesses, they will be able to handle each fight differently. One good example is that disc priests usually outperform all classes on Halfus, because of how the fight works. The fight mechanics are very beneficial to disc priest healing. In encounters where you have to run around alot, druids with their hots usually have the upper hand against shamans and disc priests who don't have many non-cast time instants.

Healing the right target
There could also be the case of assignments. If you've told one healer to focus on a tank (or other important target), he might naturally do less healing than the ones focusing on the raid. He isn't supposed to put out as much healing and will for these reasons have done less healing overall. An example is when fighting Argaloth where priests are good for their mass dispel. Because mass dispel is very costly and you should try to time it well, you could put other healers to raid heal, and the priests to focus on mass dispelling. The priests will then naturally end up fairly low on healing done.
Target assignment is also a way to check if someone has failed. When someone dies (which usually is the tank) you can check if the healers assigned to that target have done their job. If they haven't you know exactly what went wrong (although there could be multiple reasons for this) and if they did you have to find another solution to your problem.

That seems about right...

Comparing Players
Overall, because of the class differences, there is little point in comparing players performances unless they play the same class and the same spec. There is one good reason to do this however, and that is to find out which healer seems to deal with which situation the best. If you see that holy priest seem to have the best aoe heal but bad point heal and druids have bad aoe heal but strong point heal, then you've got ground for assignments. It would be a waste of precious potential to place healers in situations that someone else deals better. This too has to do with Class Differences. The best way to get this information however is to ask your healers - they should know. Only as a last resort should you have to figure it out by yourself through combat loggers.

Skill Usage
One of the things I personally love about combat loggers is to check out what skills people use (especially me). Having a good idea of how people use their skills is the best way to know how to use them properly, this goes for dps, tanks and healers alike. Taking the above into account, if you notice a difference in healing output between two players who play the same class and the same spec you can check their skill usage to see if there seems to be a difference. What heals is the one using that the other isn't?
Skill Usage is also a great place to check how good various skills work. If you're carrying an item that has a heal proc, this is a great place to check if it does much of a difference or not (like Glyph of Prayer of Healing or trinkets).

Look how good people are at using the Lightwell <3

Overhealing Done
Overhealing is special, because only healers actually have a limit to what their maximum output should be. A dpser should generally try to dish out as much dps as possible, and a tank should try to do as much threat as possible, but healers shouldn't always try to heal as much as possible. In fact most encounters in Cataclysm call for what we now call "triage healing", that is healing the bare  minimum and trying to exceed that by as little as possible. Keeping people constantly topped off is rarely the goal. Healers want to make sure that anyone in the raid at any given moment can receive whatever damage that comes next without dying. If that damage is an aoe that deal 30k damage, we really don't have to keep people at 100k hp. 50k is enough!

The first reason to check Overhealing Done
is when your healers have mana issues. First you check their Skill Usage. If everything seems fine there, you check if the raid are taking too much damage. If that's not the problem you check the healers Overhealing Done. There you can easily see if a player might be a little too eager to top people off. But yet again, being highest on Overhealing Done doesn't mean you're a bad player. Even here the above issues need to be taken into account. There are Class Differences and Fight Differences and assignments that will change the way the meters look. Druids and paladins generally overheal alot more than shamans and priests. Also remember that if your healers don't have mana issues, there is no reason to bother with the Overhealing meters at all. Healers can spam heals all they like if they have the mana for it! That is alot how things worked in Wrath.

What can I do more effectively?

Even if you don't have mana issues, Overhealing Done is a good place to check for ways to tweak your healing. If your CoH/WG/Healing Rain/Holy Radiance (just as examples) are mostly overheals, you should consider using it differently.

When does overhealing reach a bad level? It's difficult to say, because some spells are used in a way that naturally might land them very high on overhealing. Heal for priests for example is often used continously even when the target is at full health, because it doesn't cost much mana and rolling it gives buffs. The same goes with Lifebloom for druids. Earth Shield, Lightwell and Beacon of Light are spells of which the healers doesn't have 100% control and these kind of spells can overheal some too. A thumbrule is that you want the direct, expensive big heals to be low on overhealing. Spells like Healing Touch (unless Clearcast), Greater Heal, Prayer of Healing, Healing Surge, Flash Heal and Flash of Light to mention a few. These are usually spells that aren't supposed to be used unless the shit has hit the fan, and that usually happens when people are dangerously low on hp which shouldn't land them on much overheal.

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