So, Lodur at world of matticus recently asked a question: “What is more important, topping meters or performing well at your assigned task?”
He proposes that neither meter-topping, or sticking 100% to your assigned task, ends up being the preferred strategy. Instead, he argues that “adapt” is the best strategy (ie. doing relevant healing outside your primary focus while not neglecting your assignment).
So, if we can’t evaluate healers only by their HPS, or by how well they stick to the assignment they are given, how do we evaluate healers? This is something I struggle with a lot as a healing lead for my guild. I’m constantly having to figure out if a healer is “doing their job”, or needs more help (especially when trying to evaluate new healers in the guild). Below are some things I look for
1) Not dieing in fires – that is, how well do we handle both healing and movement in fights, and stay out of fires? In some fights, there are points where our numbers on World of Logs should dip appropriately because you are moving out of something (even with my instant-cast heals that I cast on the move and all my HOTs ticking, during the course of an average fight, my numbers go up and down appropriately depending on the situation). Someone who had high output during a movement phase, but then died 30 seconds later, is likely not reacting appropriately during the fight (even if they don’t die, they could be inflating healing meters accidentally by healing themselves through standing in bad, which you can evaluate by seeing how much damage they took in the fights).
2) Do people with the same spec AND the same assignment have similar numbers? This is harder to evaluate on 10′s than 25′s. In our 25′s, if tank healers are below raid healers on a fight, and both of the tank healers look low (on multi-tank fights), then I know that it just wasn’t a tank-heavy damage fight. If no tanks died, it means that both tank healers were doing their jobs (especially if the raid healers put out enough #’s to keep the raid alive). In 25-mans, I expect more specialization than in 10-mans, but even in 25′s, tank healers can throw out AOE’s that will splash on the melee (so long as their tank doesn’t die!). However, I understand that the role people are assigned to to will impact meter-placement, and so that is heavily weighed into evaluations (in some cases, specialization is preferable to tank deaths!). This is about more than just HPS – it also means similar distributions in terms of spell usage, cooldown usage, utility spells, etc.
3) Who died & why? If the healers’ jobs are to keep people alive, were deaths caused by failures of the healing team, or by something a DPS or tank did that caused the deaths? If there were avoidable deaths caused by lack of healing, then I know our healing team needs to make adjustments to improve. Otherwise, I just hope that the tanks/DPS work things out. If everyone else stays alive, and the boss dies, then I consider all the healers successful as a team.
4) Do we adapt to the situations that arise? This is important, since assignments tend to be pretty flexible things (ie. more like “guidelines”, lol). So, did we use our utility and heals appropriately to work together as a team and complement each others’ healing? If not, I look for ways to try and help us better adapt to the situation (ie. maybe we need to set up a cooldown rotation for X ability such as tranquility).
5) Are we using the right combination of spells? Also, d0 we have enough spell diversity going on? For example, when we’re running druid-heavy, we sometimes have a lot of HOT healing going on, so it may not make sense for 3 druids to be spamming rejuv while 3 priests spam renew (because then no one is using direct heals at all!). I tend to watch everyone’s healing breakdown and adjust assignments based on how people are healing and what spells they are using. The “best” strategy in one situation may not be the best strategy in another, so picking one healing strategy out of someone’s guide and sticking to a “rotation” that is the same for every fight is actually not a very good healing strategy overall. So, you would expect to see differences in spell usage on different fights (ie. rejuv/WG spam is not very effective on Chimaeron because you sometimes need fast direct healing in the form of regrowth as a druid to get people out of the danger zone).
6) Are we working as a team? It doesn’t matter in the end what one person’s healing numbers look like (so long as they are doing their best to contribute to the raid). It only matters if we worked well as a team, while adapting to the situations and moving appropriately. In the end, the goal of a healing team is to be a team, and we’re here to have fun while working together to accomplish a goal. Healing isn’t a competition, it’s a team sport. So, meter-topping isn’t always a good thing – it can sometimes (though not all the time) mean that person wasn’t being a team player (if you see those numbers came with a cost such as if they weren’t moving appropriately, weren’t dispelling when needed, and weren’t adapting to the situation). Though being too far behind the other healers may mean that you aren’t using a good healing strategy that works with the team, either. So, the goal then is to adjust your healing strategy to work well with the others in your raid, and the healing teams that work together to adapt to situations will be the ones that progress the fastest. (while having fun!).
Evaluating a healing team requires more than just the ability to read HPS output on recount/Skada. It requires using multiple tools and looking at things from multiple angles. If they are able to stay out of fires, have decent numbers (both in healing and other factors), adapt to the situation, et cetra – then they are probably doing it right.