So, my fellow healers, do you run with Recount (or Skada) or not? What do you use it for? I know there are healers who just don’t bother installing a recount-type addon, and I think that’s a mistake since it gathers good data for us. On the other hand, I’ve run with healers who look at their heals-per-second minute as thought it actually means something, or worse, as though “winning” that category in a raid means that they are the best healer.
First Things First: Your heals per second number means basically nothing. Ignore it. It’s a trap. In fact, in many cases the healer doing, say, 11k heals per second is objectively a worse healer than the one doing 7k. Why? Because often the big, heal-meter-padding skills are going to run you out of mana. Cataclysm healing is a marathon, not a sprint. Looking at heals per second is akin to saying “This guy averaged 8 miles per hour, and this guy averaged 5, so the first one wins” in a marathon – without realizing that the first guy dropped out at mile 5 and the second one went on to finish the race. Heals per second only counts the time you actually spend healing. So if you do, say, 100k heals in 10 seconds and go OOM, you just did 10k HPS. But the healer next to you who does 200k over the entire minute-long fight just did about 3.5k HPS. Now, maybe you blew all your mana saving a tank from some unexpected thing, and that saved the day. But it’s more likely that you just blew all your mana and then stood around looking pretty for the rest of the fight.
All right, that’s done. So let’s talk about what you can get out of a healing meter.
First, there’s the DPS/damage done tab. I prefer the “Damage Done” tab in recount to the DPS tab. The damage done will show me the course of the whole fight, not just the average. I can easily see that Mr. Rogue has great dps but poor overall damage because he’s slow getting into fights or dies a lot. The most useful part of this tab is knowing who to battle rez, blow a cooldown for, or give some specific damage-boosting cooldown. In a raid, this will often be called for you but if it’s up to your discretion, this part of the meter can help you out a lot.
Second, there’s the informative tabs – Dispells, Interrupts, Crowd Control, CC Breakers, etc. Now more than ever it’s good to know who is dispelling things, interrupting, or breaking crowd control – and Recount keeps track of all these things. If you’ve never flipped through the tabs, do it now. You might be surprised that Mage 1 does 95% of the decursing while Mage 2 never bothers. Or remind the Enhancement shaman to use his interrupts.
Third, there’s the healing meter tab. I just said that HPS weren’t useful, but the breakdowns can be. You can see what spells you or the other healers are using, and spot problems in rotations (assuming you know rotations well enough). I like to glance at it and make sure that I’m using a fairly balanced mix of spells, with Lifebloom counting for a lot of my heals. If you think someone is underperforming, this tab can help you figure out where and why.
Fourth, the overhealing tab. Ahhh…. now this one is key. In Wrath I’d often see huge overheal numbers, as a druid. I’m working hard to get those down. A little overheal is not a problem; things like Wild Growth can overheal, as can Lifebloom or Efflorescence or…. but keep an eye on your percentages and try not to have much there. I’m trying to get my overheals below 10%.
Note: Paladins are likely to have a good bit of overhealing due to Beacon of Light and Tower of Radiance, but if you look at their parse and see a lot of other overhealing, you might ask why that is.
And most importantly, to me, the death reports tab. I’ve just started really using this one, but man does it have a lot of information. You can get a tick-by-tick rundown of the last seconds of a fight, showing incoming damage and heals by name. There’s even a way to see it in graph form. So you can see who was healing the tank just before he dropped, and who wasn’t. I’m not saying this so you can call people out better, but for learning. It’s also a good way to confirm what killed someone: “Yup, you stood in the whirlwind”, or “Yeah, the boss was beating on you for a good ten seconds there”.
So if you’re not using it, download Recount or Skada and give it a whirl. If you are using one, explore a bit and see what other tabs you have never really looked at. Right now we need all the analysis tools we can get our hands on as we learn strategies and encounters without the safety margin of inflated gear.