Evaluating Healer Performance


This is a guest post from Derevka who has been actively blogging on his blog Tales of a Priest. This post is in reply to Healing Meters Suck and tries to tie in some qualitative and quantitative healing performance analysis.

Healing Meters suck? I tend to disagree. Healing meters and WWS Reports provide an insane amount of information and value to a well educated healer.  But now where does that leave us? You have 11 healers signed up for tonight’s raid and only 7 healing slots available — or you have a new recruit healer and you need to evaluate how they are performing. What do you do? How do you go about evaluating healers in a world where the DPSers are e-peening over their DPS and Total Damage Done?

Nearly a year and a half ago, Priestly Endeavors did a post about measuring healer performance. This is a great post, and I encourage everyone to read it.  Perhaps it is time to reflect on what methods are best to evaluate a healer?

Healing Meters:  Recount & WWS

Gasp! Hiss! Boo! There is a lot more to healing than just meters, yes, but don’t forget there is a lot of very valuable information here. The trick is finding the best way for you to harness this data to evaluate yourself and your healing team and learn where can you improve. 

The first thing you need to understand about deciphering healing meter data is knowing the encounter that the data is from.  Looking at a Recount data from Malygos is going to heavily favor the COH Priests and WG Druids, thanks just to Vortex. (While post-3.08 that may change; I don’t think it will skew it that much). You always need to ask yourself "Does this fight heavily favor a specific spec/class over another?". If the answer is yes, you have to both qualitatively and quantitatively account for that information.

Finding out how much effective healing was done by Priest X using COH over other spells can be done in Recount and WWS.  If it is a fight that doesn’t have a ton of AOE damage, and a priest has 20% of the effective healing of the 7 healers, of which 70% was COH, you might have a performance problem here. 
Discipline Priests typically are low on the healing meters since PW: Shield, Grace, and Divine Aegis have no impact on effective healing. How do you evaluate a Disc priest on a numbers game in which they are at a disadvantage? However, with a bit of poking around you should be able to find some good data in there.  On a conceptual level, PW:S is the only spell in the game that guarantees zero "overhealing".

So dive into WWS information. Find out how many times that player buffed the MTs with PW:S then you can gauge the total "effective healing" those shields provided. (I know, not an exact science since you need to weigh in SP coefficients, did the whole shield get eaten, etc. But it does provide additional data that WWS/Recount completely disregarded).

Since we are playing the numbers game using meter evaluation, does that mean it is okay for them to be dead last on the meters with 3% healing done on a fight? Maybe… however, likely not.

Healer Focus and Assignments

Plain and simple: are your healers focusing on the task at hand? Are they sticking to their assignments and trusting their guildmates? Trusting your fellow raiders to do their job is key. You cannot be all things to all people. This often can be easily discovered if you see the healer switching to other healing assignments and slacking on their primary target. Great example would be Patchwerk. You have a healer who was assigned to heal a Hateful Strike Tank, they shift focus to try to get a heal on the Main Tank — BOOM! Your resident Enhancement Shaman eats a hateful strike and dies.

Also data lives on WWS that can also provide good insight, but again keep the encounter and assignments in mind! This report can be found in the "Who Heals Whom" section. The smaller the number the fewer the people that person healed. A high focus number can generally mean the person healed "randomly" and may have deviated from their assignment. On fights that have AOE damage or multiple targets assigned to the same healer, focus numbers can increase for certain healers. A great example is my guild’s Sartharion 2-Drake strategy:  We let the Tenebron’s whelps pop, and AOE them down (and usually have some AOE damage to the raid as a result), and send in a DK , DPS, and 1 healer to heal the damage for Shadron’s Disciple. That healer, typically has a higher than average focus. Again, it is all about knowing which fight you are analyzing.

Ability to React to the Unforeseen

This measurement is very subjective, and not numerical so it is often very hard to guage. When you see it happen, it is usually quite apparent. Sometimes a healer disconnects or dies mid fight, and you need to react. Good healers are able adjust when this happens, take adjusted healing assignments. Great healers excel in these situations. They thrive.

An example would be the healers for Lady Blaumeux and Sir Zeliek on Four Horsemen. Lets pretend one of your ranged tanks DCs. This healer quickly adjusts, calls out on vent they are now tanking Blaumeux (along with the other ranged tank) and spams heals on themselves until a new ranged player comes to replace them from the front group. No one else dies, as you get your shiny epics from the chest minutes later.
This measurement encompasses the "don’t stand in the fire" rule:  Situational Awareness.

Are you in  Sartharion’s Void Zone? Are you standing in Sapphrion’s Blizzard? Now these points, are easily counted.

The Death Test

Probably the easiest to check, but perhaps the most subjective of all. If your assigned target not die, you win. Generally, yes – but not always. You need to look at the bigger picture. Did they go OOM and another healer have to step up and do double duty? Did they lose awareness and chain a KT Frost Blast to the melee?
Evaluating healers is not easy. I am typically the one to do healing assignments, and often the officer to pass final judgement on a recruit healer.  When I say /promote or /gkick, or when I chose one healer over another healer when making up the raid roster for the evening, I often have a lot of math and though behind those decisions. Using WWS and Recount, as well as many subjective methods.

Ultimately your healing roster and performance is something that should be constantly evaluated. Finding out your flaws, and taking steps to correct them is one of the best ways to improve; diving into the details really is the best way to do that.

Further reading:

Matt wrote a Spiritual Guidance column on WoW Insider several months ago titled: Measuring a Priest. Several of those points still ring true today.

Image courtesy of danzo08

10 thoughts on “Evaluating Healer Performance”

  1. I would say that I’m fairly new to the whole healing game, I respec’d for Wrath so it’s been a few months now. But in my opinion healer evaluation is definitely the most complicated, for many of the things mentioned in this article. You also have to consider gearing and spec tuning. For instance, if there are a few healer assigned to raid healing I usually cant top the meters because alot of our healers are spec’d for fast heals because they stack +haste and spec for improved cast times. That allows them to top the meters and really good for those ‘oh s—‘ moments where someone starts taking some big damage, but as far as mana management, not so much. When I started a trial member there was another druid competing for my spot and he was spec’d for haste and +sp where I had a nice balance and much more mana regen. He would be oom at the end of every boss fight and I would still have my innervate up.

    Great article!

  2. Healing meters should be used to evaluate execution. Pasting the healing done report in /raid is not valuable. Clicking on recount and seeing if your hateful strike healer was doing something he shouldn’t is valuable.

  3. Regarding evaluating healers or really “WTF Happened there”, Acheron Death Reports are an awesome tool inside the game to find things like that out.

    They can provide a blow by blow account of what happened in the preceeding X seconds before someone died. Did they take one massive hit and from what? Did they take lots of slow hits and receive no healing? Did they get a one two that should have been corrected but someone was using the wrong heal, or busy healing someone else?


  4. Totally agree with Perring. I would go even further, saying that Death Reports (or Death Replays) are by far the most important evaluation tool for healers.

    There is not much sense in analyzing data from the fight you won, because you have to use too many subjective methods. What you want from a healer is to never be the reason of wipe. Death Reports is a perfect tool to see whether some healer caused a wipe.

  5. When our guild raids with its top healers, there’s often more healing power than there’s damage to heal. We have a few guys, me included, who excell at topping the meter in such battles. Does that make us better healers?
    Whenever there’s a lot of damage, some guys show not only incredible and clever burst healing but also impressive mana management. How did the meter reflect that?

    There are many problems that the meters can not answer us. Therefor, evaluating your healer should never be restricted to meters (even more detailed ones) or a single battle. Understanding the abilities of a meter and its limitations is just as crucial as the meter itself.

    That said: I find myself looking at meters after every raid. But I refrain from looking at meters during the raid: I find that I lose track of more important information such as observing the raid, overall status, people’s positioning, movement and their mana management.

  6. @ Cringer –

    If you have an Innervate that you don’t need, why aren’t you sharing with this guy? Help a nub out!

    You can also use a recount of what happened to cause a death. and see if someone was not healed for 6 seconds here (for example) to try and fix next attempt.

    Interesting Post

  7. @ Perring and Enge – You are correct. I am really trying to drive the point home that meters are valuable; however it takes some effort to get to the data you are trying to get to. I always am sad when I see “meters mean s**t” from a healer. When in reality, just takes some digging. 🙂

    Derevkas last blog post..Derevka’s UI


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