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Jov sez: Meters aren’t about the size of your e-peen

November 17, 2009

So, as our faithful readers are probably aware, our guild is currently recruiting.  In case of any of you bright, awesome, and intelligent people decide to work up the courage to try and spend a bit more time with Seri and myself, I’d just like to give a cautionary tale to keep in mind before you do so.  That tale can be summed up in a single sentence: Just because all the odds seem to be in your favor doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to make it to the interview and beyond.

Okay, to backtrack.

As you probably know, I’m the healing team lead of Axiom.  We’re recruiting healers, and have actually been getting a few good apps in.  Now, an application is your chance to make a good first impression, so a certain amount of talking yourself up is to be expected.  But there’s a good way of doing that and a bad way of doing that.  Talking yourself up to a guild in a way that makes them want to get to know you better involves stressing your positives, especially in a way that doesn’t rely entirely on putting others down to do so.

This application I’m referencing had, on the surface, all the stars in allignment.  It was an applicant from our server, our faction, and returning to the game after a hiatus.  We are recruiting his class.  He typed in complete sentences.  These are all positives.  Being local and horde means that in an iffy situation, we’re more likely to say yes and give you an initiate period.  We’re generally nice people and don’t want to waste time and (your) money on a transfer if we have concerns.  Being local gives you a toe in the door, if not a foot.  And returning to the game after a hiatus means while your gear might need some work, we’re not leaving any of our friends’ guilds in a lurch by yoinking someone from their raid team roster.  Additionally, this person was a friend of a friend of a former raider, who left the guild (the good way) a few months ago because RL was eating his time.

So why with all that going for him did he get a decline before he could even interview?

The answer lies primarily in a single sentence: “Most <applicant’s class> healers suck, so I enjoy healing against them.”

I’m a healing lead, I read that and instantly went no, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Okay, so…  Meters aren’t a competition.  This isn’t to say they’re not useful, but their utility is NOT in proving you’re so much better than everyone else around you.  It’s always said that raiding is a team sport, and that’s true, but it’s true exponentially moreso of healing.  In a team activity, you do not play against your teammates. You play with them in a trust game.  You trust them to know what they’re doing and to ask for help if needed.  You trust me to know what I’m doing in giving out assignments.  And if things go wrong, you trust everyone to work together to fix it.

“But Jov,” asks the kind and gentle ones in the audience, “why do you assume he’s talking about meters?” It’s quite simple– what does ever dps’er in your pug do at the end of every pull to show off how much they pwn?  They link the meters.  It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to guess that’s what he’s talking about when speaking of the suck of others.

“Does that mean it’s wrong to top the meters?” No, so you trees can let out that breath you’ve been holding.  There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being on the top of the meter.  It’s a listing.  Someone is going to be on the top.  Someone is going to be on the bottom.  That’s how lists work.

“If your place on the meter doesn’t really matter, why should healers even care about them?” Meters are there for self-analysis (or my analysis, I suppose) and personal improvement.  The easiest way to do that is to just look at what you’re doing.

“I don’t know how to read a meter, there’s too much information.  I don’t know what I’m looking for.” There’s really two ways of doing this:  the easy way and the hard way.  I’m a big fan of the easy way.  Pull up a boss fight, look at yourself.  What spells are you casting?  What spells aren’t you casting?  Think about your assignment on that fight, and think about why you made the spell choices you did.  Now, pull someone else of your class/spec for that same fight.  (WoL is excellent for this, since you can search by server.  Find someone roughly at your level of progression.)  Look at their spell choices for that fight.  Now do it again.  If whoever you’re checking seems to have the same spell priorities as you, you’re probably doing it right, regardless of your place (or their place) on the meter.  If your useage is different, some of that can be do to raid composition, but you might want to try out what you’ve seen.

“I’m using the same spells, at roughly the same priority.  But I’m at the bottom and X is at the top!” There’s a lot of things which can account for meter position, but the biggest culprit is going to be one of two things:  lag and overstacking of healers.  Lag is the most unfortunate, and the one I can sympathize with most.  But to put it simply, if you’re running at a higher ping or lower framerate than your raid-mates, chances are they’re going to get the heal off before you do.  More of your heal will be overage, more of their heal will be effective.  They’ll move up the meter compared to you.  Overstacking healers also tends to lead to jumps in effective healing.  Unlike DPS, who can do damage and do damage and do damage until the boss is dead, healers can only heal as much damage as has been taken.  The reason fewer and fewer healers are needed as content goes on farm isn’t a matter of the healing power of the healers increasing from gear as much as it is the incoming damage becomes less as the tanks gear up and the raid is more comfortable with the encounter dynamics, reducing raid damage.  In that situation, it can feel very much like a race sometimes to see who can get the heal off first.

“After all that, I still want to know what’s wrong with wanting to top meters, it just means I’m wanting to do better, right?” No, no it doesn’t.  It goes back to that trust issue I mentioned above.  If you try to top the meter, you’re going to do that by trying to do your job and everyone else’s at the same time.  That means I as the healing lead (and 23 other people in the raid) can’t trust you to keep your assignment first in your mind.  I’m not talking about X Priest only healing group 2; I’m talking about X Priest keeping group 2 as their top priority and only tossing hots/prom/coh/shields on g4 if g2 is stable.  If your focus is on outhealing PallyZ, that is where your focus is, not on G2′s health.

So if you’re wanting to apply to Axiom, tell me how awesome you are.  Don’t tell me that everyone else sucks and you’ve got the recount screenshot to prove it.  That’s much more likely to get you an interview.

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19 comments

  1. Meters are awesome, but as far as I’m concerned my damage meter is for my eyes only. I think I’ve learnt more about the game and my class / spec combination through Recount than anything else. For example, I’ll look at the meter and think ‘Hey! Why am I lower this time then last time… oh right so there’s no rogue in the team, I was interrupting all by myself’ or ‘Why did that pally outdps me on this fight when I was better on the previous fight?’ or even ‘I suck when I’m tired… bedtime!’. All of these things are useful and definitely make me a better player… but when someone says ‘link recount plz’ I feel all nervous and exposed (even if I’m favourably positioned) because it’s MY tool for improving MY gameplay… if you want a damage meter get your own!


    • You’re using them the right way then. ;)


  2. Metres are the best way to tell good players from bad: good players use them to improve their own game, and to figure out why the tank for WTFPWNed by the boss (you’ll be surprised how many people get into vault tanking with less than 540 defence, even now); bad players spam them and ask the players at the bottom to “pick it up” (*groan*).


    • Exactly. Also, VoA pugs are always doomed to failure.


      • GRRR @ VoA pugs that all leave right after Koralon… that’s totally not on.


  3. Man, I was totally gonna post one of my favorite ridiculous meter screenshots ever (my beta dk with retardedly high dps & healing due to some, ah, scaling issues at the time), but I seem to have lost it. Sadness :(


    • *also sadness* :(


  4. “But to put it simply, if you’re running at a higher ping or lower framerate than your raid-mates, chances are they’re going to get the heal off before you do. More of your heal will be overage, more of their heal will be effective. ”

    For reactive healing (ooh, player x is standing in fire), I’d agree with you.

    For predictive healing (the tank is going to take damage throughout the fight, spam to keep her up…or alternately – I’ve got a 1.5 sec bossmod timer on boss ability z, melee is going to get hammered), not necessarily. There are a number of good tools to reduce your latency effect on throughput (quartz cast bar is one of the best). Some people also swear by one of the “instanthealth” type addons that update your raid frames based on combat log rather than server info, but I found this had some performance issues for me (and I have a pretty decent machine).


  5. I judge people with meters all the time, but I do not use them to boost my self esteem at another persons expense. I use them as part of evaluating new healers and in pugs I use them to see what others are doing. I use them to compare my spell usage to anothers or even to get a better idea of what spells other classes use.

    Meters are a tool…nothing more. When looking at a meter you cannot just judge the top healer to be best. There is a lot more to it than that! That said I worry when the holy priest is lower on the meter than the prot pally…and yes I have seen this. However another healer doing badly on the meter doesn’t translate to me being awesome!


  6. I actually raid sans-recount, though that has never affected my ability to dps or heal in unfavorable ways. The only times when I have actually enjoyed seeing my DPS posted after a kill is when my gentlemenly rogue managed to oomph himself to a higher numerical value than Mr “LOL I AM LEET AND U SUK” enhancement pug shaman. (Obviously, dead in a void zone, my poor shattered expectations)

    That said, I have always wondered one thing about these guild recruitement adds I see in a few blogs I scout out; While you always are eager to find max-level raiders of X class, what is your stance on new arrivals? That is, players that would’ve either started over from scratch on a new realm, or even entirely new players that bring with them maturity and desire for self-improvement? (one can dream)

    Do you ask for a minimum level before application? A few words with the player perhaps?

    I understand that guilds are mostly for the purpose of raiding, but the community aspect of it is not to be overlooked.

    Again, this is merely a question to satisfy my personal curiosity, as well as that of anyone else, on the matter of new recruits in raiding guilds, casual or otherwise (though I suspect hardcore guilds to be stricter, or have a higher minimum level requirement of admitance).


    • It goes back to the type of guild and what they’re recruiting for. Raiding guilds recruit max-level characters because they need those people RIGHT NOW to do the content they’re working on RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately for people looking to reroll or level up, they’re not filling the hole in the current roster.

      People don’t generally post recruitment for social members, simply because they make friends in a much more organic manner. Fishing on guild recruitment for friends is like going through the phonebook and picking phone numbers at random. You don’t know anything about them, they don’t know anything about you. Why would you invite them to your birthday party tomorrow night? Or ask them to babysit your kid? (Simple answer: you wouldn’t, you’d ask your friend who lives down the street, or you at least speak to regularly.)

      That being said, our guild has a social rank for friends and family who aren’t raiders. I imagine many guilds do the same. But it’s not something we’re ever going to hit up the LFG forum for.


  7. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading this post. I know exactly waht you are talking about and I myself am not even up to 80 yet. I have just recently bought Wrath, and am just now over 70, and I know what people you are talking about that are all about meters. It truly is a part of the game that is a double edged sword. The way that you went over this issue is pretty much the exact same way I look at it. I guess after all this I just want to say thanks. Maybe if you guys are still recruiting I may apply once I reach that infamouos Level 80.

    Good Hunting All


  8. I definitely agree with the point you made about meters being used mostly for self-analysis. I use recount in particular for the breakdown of what heals I used made the largest impact and in particular cases (like prayer of mending on twin-valks) making sure that I always keep spells on cooldown.

    What I rely on more than meters, oddly enough, is actually grim reaper (or whatever death report mod gives the most accurate story). I want to know why x-tank died on y-impale, if they need a CD to survive it next time, if the healer was using flashes, why they didn’t call out that they had a snobold on them, how long they went without a heal from their specified healer, etc. Looking at a second-by-second breakdown tells me if the damage they took was survivable or completely, laughably suicidal.


  9. I was in a totc25 pug the other night. They brought in a second healer of my class (paladin) whom was assigned to heal my guild’s tank while I was assigned to heal the bad undergeared offtank, this made me irritated but oh well.

    After one of the attempts on the northrend beasts, he spammed the meter and complained about feeling he was the only one healing.

    Given the spells he was casting, it looks like he was relying on me casting big heals to keep both tanks up while he sat back and sniped heals. His tank was taking nice even damage because the tank is well geared and doesn’t suck, while mine was taking spikes and required my attention and proactive big heals. While I stayed true to my healing assignment, he just wanted to top the meters (and only got second) and cried for innervates. He was even judging light to pad the meter.

    In the end he got loot favoritism because of it.

    I personally don’t use meters that much for healing. I only look to see if everyone is carrying their weight. My meter can tell me if I do more absorbs than the disc priest, if I do so, which I have, then I know that the disc priest probably needs some guidance. What matters is the boss dying, not the numbers on the silly meter.


  10. Healing meters have just two purposes for me:

    A) Quantity: If two healers play the same class and have the same healing assignment, it is absolutely ok to compare their healing output/HPS.

    B) Quality: People who lead a healing team can quickly check, if people are using the right spells for their task (healing soakers on heroic Twins with CH, nono! Not using fast and instant spells on Champions heroic, not clever).

    Apart from that, the only feedback a healer ever needs, is if his heal assignment is alive, or if would have had to resources to save someone who wasn’t his direct heal assignment (aka being flexible).

    Comparing healers of different classes or different healing assignments is nonsense most of the time. Thinks like druid HoTs overhealing, The huge overheal of Chainheal, Disc Absorbs etc. make it really hard to compare healers.

    Also, I agree very much, that healers should be very much a team. I guess that’s what I enjoy most about healing, that little cozy healer team with an own channel.

    There’s just something, that bugs me a little bit, when it comes to healing. Many healers, are just a little bit to self-content. Too lazy to maximize there output. Too lazy to perfect their play style. Because obviously, we healers don’t have valid feedback in form of a DPS meter. A DPS player, who’s constantly at the bottom of the meter will most likely loose his raid spot over the time or officers will have a serious talk with him. Bad healers will stick around in guilds forever without anyone caring or noticing it.


  11. You’re totally right – I agree, DPS needs a ‘how to read healing meters 101′ class. Jov’s teaching, k?


  12. I see it from two perspectives. On the one hand, I love meters. It allows me to quantify what I’m doing either from a dps or healing standpoint and have a number to look at (and compare to previous numbers) to make me feel that changes I make; either in gear or in sockets/enchants, are actually affecting what I’m doing.
    On the other hand, when I am lowest in the charts, because I’m a new 80, I hate them. I’m at the bottom, people criticize my current gear choices (I would have better stuff if I could, people!), and overall it’s more frustrating than it is helpful.
    I see the whole thing just like I see gear score. They’re great tools, when used properly.
    Same thing as most everything in the real world.


  13. I’m a holy priest, new to progression raiding, still learning what works, and what doesn’t. My confidence is still fairly shaky.

    It *is* hard to feel confident in your skills when your effective heal (which I think is what recount shows under the “heal” section) is quite low. When trees and squids seem to do “better” – or quite a few tank healers. Hardly anyone looks at the overheal figures, or considers the effect of stacking a holy priest and two druids on raid healing on healing meters.

    Trying to explain that disc figures are lower because their heals are based on absorption and mitigation, or the concept of overheal seems like protesting too much.


  14. I can see your point. On one hand if the guy is so interested in being number one that he neglects his job, and doesn’t understand what’s wrong with that, that’s a problem.

    On the other hand said newbie priest trying to join your guild — might simply not know any other way. There are quite a lot of guilds where this kind of sick culture of heal snipping, and I am leet because I am best on meter kind of thing goes on. (Even amongst the healers).

    Before I knew any better I was in a guild like that and I fell prey to that kind of nonsense myself for a while. It did come from a desire to be a better healer. To have some kind of benchmark by which to judge how well I was doing. It came from not having any true healing mentors to look up to or get guidance from. I stumbled around kind of blindly for a while and I made a lot of mistakes.

    Thankfully along the way though I did meet people who knew more than me, and guided me in the right direct. Perhaps if they read your blog this post will help them. And then again perhaps not.

    I think (so long as this person is open to feedback) that you could have missed a good opprotunity here, to educate them. Perhaps they learn well. Perhaps they could of been what your guild was looking for. Or at least grown into, what u were looking for. You’re the healer class lead. Leads/teachers take on much the same roles at times.

    Hopefully they read this on your blog..



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