Friday, March 12, 2010

October 12, 2010

Woot woot woot! We finally got down Sindragosa on 25-man last night. Yippeee!!!!! Woo hoo!!! Yowza! Yay!


Icecrown Citadel 25 (Priest)
So, as I was saying, we killed Sindragosa last night for the first time. That was an exciting bit of progress. I know that I personally improved my performance. From the perspective of a healer, it's all about managing the stacking buffs while keeping the raid alive. On previous nights, I had been making two clear strategy mistakes during phase 3:
  • Trying to clear my Mystic Buffet stacks at every opportunity. Every time a new raid member got ice-blocked, I tried to get behind the block long enough to remove my stacks, regardless of how many I had. Bad result = Not enough healing on the tanks. Resolution = Waiting longer to remove stacks.
  • Not noticing that I had Unchained Magic and that my Instability stacks were getting dangerously high. I had been focusing so much on Mystic Buffet that I forgot about Unchained Magic. Bad result = casting constantly, which lead to my death. Resolution = Pay attention to both debuffs and accept that fact that I must stop casting at some points to let the Instability stacks wear off. A dead healer can't heal.
Last night I focused on both of these and voila! Success! Of course, I recognize that 24 other people played part in the overall success. But at least I can be proud of this progress in my personal performance.

Gear vs. Skill vs. PC Performance
So there's this other holy priest in my guild that outheals me on all fights except Professor Putricide. (And the only reason I outheal him on that fight is that I keep Renew up on the Abomination the entire time.) Up until recently I had attributed the difference in output to the fact that he had better gear than I. However, I recently passed him up gearwise and he continues to have HPS anywhere from 600-1000 higher than mine.

Before I go on, I will point out that I recognize that healing meters are not the same as DPS meters. DPS and damage done are direct measurements of the amount of damage you're putting out. HPS and total healing are reliant upon damage taken that you can heal. In other words, a mob has a set amount of hit points, which means there's a certain amount of damage that needs to be done to kill it. You (the raid) must do that damage to succeed.

Healing is different. If none of my allies takes any damage throughout a fight, there is no damage to heal. In such a fight, my HPS would be 0. Of course, that never happens, but it does show the difference between DPS and HPS meters. Damage is can't kill the boss without it. Healing is only necessary if damage is taken.

A more realistic example is one where people actually take damage. Healers step in and heal that damage. If Raider A takes damage and Healer A heals it, that healing is added to the HPS of Helear A. If Healer B heals the same person, he only gets credit for the amount he actually healed. If Raider A takes 5000 damage then Healer A throws a heal on him that heals for 3000, then Healer B throws a heal that heals for 3000, Healer A's gets credit for 3000 and Healer B gets credit for 2000 (1000 is overhealing, and doesn't count).

(Much of this is painfully obvious, but I'm working through it in my head to get to my point).

If Healer A heals Raider A for 5000 (which brings Raider A up to full health) then Healer B's heal hits for 3000, only Healer A gets credit for the healing done. Healer B's heal is considered overheal and pointless for healing done. (Similarly, if a mob dies, any spell or attack against it after death is not counted as damage done.)

Why am I saying all of this? Because I'm trying to explain why my stats might be higher due to gear, but my healing output can be so much lower. We're casting the same spells, and mine are a little more potent, so something else must be going on.
  • Reaction time / Skill: It's very possible that the other priest is much quicker to respond and better able to predict incoming damage. This is probably defined as skilled. I think my reaction time might be slower because I'm about 20 years older than he. I might understand how to play my class as well as he, which would make me skilled in that sense. But, I sadly admit that reaction speed is also part of skill. A professional athlete in her 40s can rarely beat one of the same skill of a younger age. So, I define skill as being a combination of knowledge/experience and reaction time. I have the knowledge and experience but not the best reaction time.
  • PC Performance: When you're casting spells (at least as a priest), you get into a rhythm. I know I can cast a Circle of Healing, then Prayer of Mending followed by two renews before I can cast CoH again. When in the midst of a battle, I sense the rhythm and can usually cast a spell a split second before Power Auras tells me the spell if off cooldown. Best case scenario, it works like clockwork. No cooldowns missed, constant casting. Who could ask for better healing output? With perfect rhythm set up, what can stop me from reaching my potential? PC lag. Yep, in the midst of most battles my PC gets taxed and my FPS goes way down. Even though I know a spell is off cooldown, I try to cast it and nothing happens....until a second or two later. Under those circumstances I am unable to heal as quickly as I should, and I don't see all the damage as it's coming in. Over time this plays havoc on my healing output and on the survivability of the raid.
I'm not using PC performance as an excuse, I'm just pointing out that it does play a role in my overall healing output.

So...why talk about this? I want to improve. One thing I have control over is my PC performance. I can look into buying more memory and upgrading my graphics card. Perhaps when I do that, I can then see what a difference it makes. Then, when I've eliminated my PC as a factor, I can see my actual "skill" level. I don't think I'll ever catch up to the other healer; my reaction time is not something I can improve much. But, ate least I can get closer.

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