Saturday, May 3, 2008

Guns don't kill people, damage meters do!

Some time ago I found myself in a heroic instance and like most instances someone inevitably asked "Does anyone have a damage meter?"

There was a time when I would happily send the report and not think anything was amiss. Recently however, I have begun to cringe any time someone asks for that report. I even found myself last week refusing to acknowledge someone who had asked because I didn't feel like directly lying about having it.

What's wrong with damage meters? Nothing. It's the person evaluating what the damage meter says that's the problem. Be wary of anyone asking to see the damage meter. Chances are, he or she already has one and wants to brag about it. They already know they're at the top of the list and just want the recognition that they are on top of their game. In fact this last week our friend Jim posted it himself without even asking anyone. Imagine my surprise as he was at the top of the list.

Also, damage meters don't tell the whole story. Just because someone has the highest damage doesn't mean they have the highest dps. How long have you been tracking the information? How many bosses or trash mobs are included? The longer the tracking the more accurate the average, but only if the fights are similar in nature. Boss fights and trash mobs are two completely different animals. Although Recount now has the ability to report by each fight too, at least giving you the ability to separate some of the info.

So is all of this really bad? It's bad enought to get you killed. I was in an instance some time ago and we had someone in the group who was determined to be tops on the damage meter, so much so that he kept asking if anyone had one. When he saw he wasn't at the top, he started pulling stupid stunts. On each pull he'd start casting spells a little early just to gain a couple of seconds. His spell would hit after the tank had already attacked, but the aggro wasn't high enough and I spent my first few casts using Holy Light to save his butt. That spell is slow, mana heavy, and with the tank struggling to gain aggro, nearly cost us our lives in several occasions. After each battle I'd have to pause to consume food to regain mana and health. Very ineffecient use of our time.

Let's look at heal meters for a minute too. Almost two months ago, I found myself at about 1200 bonus healing. I have a priest friend who was around 1800 bonus healing. When grouping for Kara, I found myself constantly monitoring the heal meter to make sure that I was on top of my game and making sure that I was going to do as well as her given the difference in healing. It wasn't long before I realized, that I was constantly beating her in total healing. And not only was I beating in total heals, by the time we were done with the raid I was beating by almost twice the amount, if we went long enough. Wait! That doesn't make sense! I have 600 bonus healing less than her, how could I possibly be beating her?!

I spent hours trying to figure this out and only a few things came to mind. First, as a healadin I have the ability to spam Flash of Light until the cows come home. At the time it was healing for roughly 1000 and critting around 1500, if I remember correctly. So these aren't big heals and they only cost me 180 mana. When buffed I was around 9700 mana, so given the right situations I could heal forever. But even that shouldn't account for being a priest who has larger heals, only cast fewer times, right?

Second, because Flash of Light costs me so little, I would top people off after trash mobs just to keep the progress moving faster. My mana regen was fast enough that by the time we pulled I'd be back up to 100%. But even then that would only account for maybe 10k heals after each trash pull. I haven't done the math, but that should in no way account for twice the heals. I would think it might just catch me up.

I even discussed this with a few friends and couldn't figure out what was going on. The only other solution would be that my friend was spending time in combat not doing anything. So I watched and that wasn't the case. I did discover that she would switch to dps with her wand if the group took little damage and I was more than capable of handling it. Still, that shouldn't account for the difference either.

I've spent weeks trying to figure this out. I even went so far as to ask my friend's boyfriend if I was doing something wrong. I hope he didn't get the wrong idea, but I started to really worry that maybe I was doing something wrong as a healer. Maybe I was overhealing or being mana inefficient.

Bottom line, I have no freaking clue as to why the differences. And you know what? It doesn't matter. We both do our job and the raid succeeds and that's what matters! I've finally chalked it up to the differences between priest and pally healing.

I never used Recount before 2.4, but SW_Stats hadn't been updated when it came out, so I switched and I'm glad I did. Recount has more modes of tracking information than SW_Stats did. It's cleaner and sleeker too. As a healer, I've found that the ability to track overheals is a nice feature. Although it gives me a sense of when I'm being inefficient with my heals, I'm sure the party would rather see me overheal than wipe.

So take all those meters with a grain of salt. Watch yourself! Don't become obsessed with being the top dog. Use it for what it was intended; to better yourself. If you're the Affliction Warlock that is the #4 geared person in the group, you probably have a major problem if you're #8 on the damage meter of a 10-man raid in Karazhan with 2 healers. Come on! You should at least be beating the tank!! (Yeah, I know. I should probably let that go, but it still kills me! LOL!)


Kestrel said...

My former boss has a saying that has become my mantra: Numbers paint a picture; they don't tell the story.

Nothing bears this out more than damage (and healing) meters. On my hunter, I use a damage meter, but I use it to evaluate myself. I don't even look at it until after an instance (and way too often, I completely forget).

Damage meters are a tool, not a solution. Excellent article!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this concept. My main is a lvl 70 tankadin, and I remember my first 'full' Kara run. Now we were running with two pally tanks for Kara... I was off tank. After looking at the 'damage' report, I found out I was only taking 10% of the damage. I asked forever if that was 'acceptable' and how I could be more efficient... and I really to this day don't understand how to read the damage meters anway!

I basically use the smaller one to make sure I don't out agro the tank if I'm on a dps char. Other than that, they are all greek to me.