Raid Rx: Analyzing your healers Part 1

Raid Rx is designed to encapsulate and cure the shock and horror that is 25-man raid healing. Ok, so it's mostly horror... Anyways, if you're a big fan of X-TREME Whack-A-Mole (or are being forced into it against your will) this is the column for you. Holyrizz, a Dwarf Holy Priest on Thrall, sent in this screenie of RoS. You know the best part? The tiny mage peeking out from under all of the raidframes. Click on it for a bigger version.

Doing the assignments is the glamorous and most visually apparent part of being a healing lead. Every boss fight you dish out tasks with a hefty side of sage advice like "If it's on the floor, stand in it no more." and my favorite "Ok, one more time with feeling." after some rather nasty wipage. The healers look to you for guidance and the ability to use each class to their fullest potential.

Well, in order to do that last part, you need to be serious about the real purpose of you position: setting the bar for performance expectations and helping every healer reach or exceed them. This isn't an easy task by any means, but it's definitely something that needs to be done to maintain the well-oiled machine that is your healer group.

In this series, I'm going over how to analyze your healing team, including various tools and techniques, plus how to relay that information back in a way that motivates a healer to change. Note that I didn't say it'll motivate them to like you and bake you cookies. If that's what you're going for, you need to switch to Guild Nice Person and save yourself the heartache.

Today I'm going to talk about my philosophy when it comes to analyzing classes you haven't played, plus what you need in place to perform a solid, thorough critique of you healers.

Analysis Philosophy
I think a number of healing leads get a bit wishy-washy on checking the performance of classes they haven't played in a raid environment. You feel confident in the knowledge of your own class but have doubts about your ability to critique others. There are two things you can do to solve this. The first is to read up on other classes. EJ class mechanics threads are a great option since they're concise and centered on raiding. I've mentioned them before, but here's some links if you missed them the first time: Resto Druid, Resto Shaman, Holy Priest, and Holy Paladin. Read the first summary posts and then the last couple of pages in the thread. Don't be afraid to look up what spells or abilities do on WoWWiki, either.

The second thing you can do to even the playing field is to understand that you're looking for similarities and differences between a class, not rankings. This means your analysis should concentrate on comparing between Druids, for example. If you start down the slippery slope of trying to figure out why Druids out-heal Paladins, you'll end up spending your time analyzing the generalities of the classes, not your specific healers. You'll start saying things like "Well, Paladins are stuck using Flash because of the constant movement required." rather than "One Paladin seems to be casting 55% Flash but the other is around 30% Flash and generating a higher healing output." It's important that you focus on what will improve your healing team, not theorycrafting just to theorycraft.

What You Need
So let's start putting together our analyzing arsenal. First up is WWS. Every raiding guild should have at least 1 person recording their combat log and parsing it into a form that is meaningful. If you can snag a partner in crime, all the better since you can combine logs. You'll need to either upload the info to the WWS site or host it locally. If no one is currently providing this service, then you're it. Here are instructions on how to set everything up.

The next item you need is an in-game meter. In the past I would have suggested SWStats but as of Patch 2.4 it's been struggling. /sad So grab something like Recap and start recording data for during-the-run checkups. Be sure you go into its options and select the healer data to display. The goal here isn't to use an in-game meter for snap decisions but as a general way to make sure everyone is in the ballpark of where they should be.

The third thing you need might surprise you: a clear screen. You can gain a ton of information from a fight merely by being able to see what's going on. Just the other night we had a number of melee bite the dust on Council. When it was all over, the question went out asking what had killed them. Was it the healers reacting too slowly or was it the melee spending too much time in AoE? Well, from my vantage point, it was obvious. The melee went from a Consecrate to a fire that had a Blizzard on top of it. Did the melee know what they had run through? Nope, they were too close to the action to see much. But by standing back as a healer and being aware of my surroundings, there was no chance we were going to play the blame game or spend time fixing something that wasn't broken. The melee just had a bit of bad, unhealable luck.

Most raid frames are compact enough that even with all the extra addon junk you have, there's a good sized chunk of viewable screen. Just spend some time arranging your addons with space-saving in mind. If you really are limited by all of your have-to-haves and can procure some financial backing, a widescreen monitor maybe a good solution. I prefer those to the 1:1 because it gives me more elbow room on the sides, keeping the area in the middle for viewing.

In a really chaotic environment, FRAPS or some other screen capturing software is one option to do the looking for you. If your raid frames are set up to show healers and their targets, reviewing the footage later can reveal some insights about both how well your assignments actually work and which healers are better at cross healing. Now, I'm not saying you should record every fight. The loss in fps can outweigh the benefits, especially in large zones with a lot of spells, but if you have one particular boss that you just can't seem to beat, some footage of a few attempts can help.

The Armory can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. On ones hand, it tells you in explicit detail exactly what gear, spec, and rep your healers are sporting. On the other hand, sometimes you'll wish you didn't know those things. No, I'm pretty sure it's spell crit that you wanted, not physical. /wince But it's a necessary evil that must be done if you want a complete picture of each individual healer. So get to know the Armory profiles of your team.

Next week I'm going to cover what you do with all of these gadgets and gizmos. Also, if you have any cool healing pictures, send them my way. I'm anxiously awaiting them at marcie [dot] knox [at] weblogsinc [dot] com.

Marcie Knox has been healing lead for over a year, including old school AQ40/BWL/Naxx. She has suffered through holy priest and now basks in the glory that is healadin. Her pally is currently crouched in a corner of SWP, clutching her [Amulet of Flowing Life], and whispering "My preciousss..."