Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 6: Healing Done

This is the sixth in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

Healing Done

The Healing Done summary chart is very similar to the Damage Done chart. Players are listed by their total healing done, with the largest healing volume at the top and the lowest at the bottom. Each bar shows the player’s name and the total amount healed. In parentheses next to the total amount healed are a healing per second (HPS) value and the percentage of total healing done by all players which was contributed by that player. Total healing done and the HPS number include overhealing done.

Recount - Healing Done

Effective Healing Detail Window

Clicking on a player’s name brings up his Effective Healing detail report, which is the first of four healing done detail windows.

Effective Healing Detail Window

Much like the Damage Done detail window, it’s split in half horizontally. The top half is a summary of the effective healing done by each of the spells the player cast, where effective healing is all the healing that actually restored lost health — everything that wasn’t overhealing. Spells are listed by which spell healed the most hit points in total. After the name of the spell are three columns: the Count column, which shows how many times the spell healed during the data recording session; the Heal column, which is the total hit points healed by the spell, and the % column, which is the percentage of the player’s total effective heals contributed by that spell. Each spell is assigned a color which is used to create the pie chart on the left.

You can select an individual spell in the top half to see further details about it in the bottom half. The bottom half further divides the total healing done by the selected spell according to the different kinds of spell hits performed. The spell which was selected for the above picture was Renew, a heal-over-time (HoT) spell which cannot crit, so all it does is “Tick” once cast, periodically healing the recipient for a small amount. A different spell, such as Flash Heal, might show “Hit” and “Crit” under the Type column, reflecting data for each. Other columns show minimum, average, and maximum effective healing done per heal the spell performed, as well as the number of heals performed and what percentage of the total healing done with that spell came from that spell hit type.

Overhealing Detail Window

This detail window covers all the healing which was not effective healing, and is also split in half horizontally. The top half is a summary of the overhealing done by each of the spells the player cast. Spells are listed by which spell overhealed the most hit points in total. After the name of the spell are three columns: the Count column, which shows how many instances the spell overhealed someone during the data recording session; the Overheal column, which is the total hit points overhealed by the spell, and the % column, which is the percentage of the player’s total overheals contributed by that spell. Each spell is assigned a color which is used to create the pie chart on the left.

You can select an individual spell in the top half to see further details about it in the bottom half. The bottom half further divides the total overhealing done by the selected spell according to the different kinds of spell hits performed. Other columns show minimum, average, and maximum overhealing done per heal the spell performed, as well as the number of overheals performed and what percentage of the total overhealing done with that spell came from that spell hit type.

Healed Who Detail Window

This window is split in half horizontally. The top half lists the party/raid members on whom the player cast his healing spells, with the people receiving the most healing at the top. This list includes any pets healed. After each character or pet’s name are two columns. The Healed column lists how many hit points were healed in total for that character/pet, and the % column shows what percentage of the healer’s total healing done (both effective and overhealed) went to that character or pet. Each character/pet is assigned a color, which is used to represent it in the pie chart on the left.

Selecting a character or pet from the list brings up a detailed list of healing done to that character/pet by each kind of healing spell cast upon him. Spells are arranged here according to which dealt the most healing. After the list of spell names are two columns, with the Healing column listing the amount of healing done to the selected character/pet by that spell and the % column listing what percentage of the total healing done to the character/pet which was done by that spell. Again, each is assigned a color for use in a pie chart on the left-hand side.

There is no way to determine how much overhealing was dealt to a specific character.

Time Spent Healing Detail Window

This detail window is split horizontally into two sections. The top section lists the characters and pets healed by the player according to how much time each character/pet was under the effects of the player’s healing spells. After each character/pet name are two column entries. The first, Time (s), is the time in seconds that the character/pet was under the effects of the player’s healing spells. The second, %, lists the percentage of the player’s total time spent healing which was devoted to that character/pet. Colors are assigned to each character/pet for use in creation of the left-hand pie chart.

The bottom half of the detail window lists the healing spells used on the character/pet highlighted in the top half of the window according to which spells were in effect on the character/pet for the greatest amount of time. After the name of each healing spell are the Time (s) column, which lists the amount of time the highlighted character/pet was under the effect of that spell during the time the data was recorded, and the % column, which lists how much of the total time the selected character/pet was under the effect of the player’s heal spells was time spent under the effect of that spell.

As you can see in the image above, heal-over-time spells such as Renew dominate the top of the spell list for each character/pet. Furthermore, the total time spent healing a character/pet is the sum of each individual spell’s time in effect on the character/pet. The data fails to take into account the fact that multiple healing spells from one player can be in effect on a single character/pet at one time. For example, a priest can cast Prayer of Mending and Power Word: Fortitude on a character who is already under the effect of Renew, and land Lesser Heal on the character at the same time Glyph of Power Word: Fortitude takes effect from the protective bubble being popped. The time a player spends healing is therefore of limited usefulness.

Flaws in and Potential Abuses of the Healing Charts

Each healing class in WoW has its own unique array of spells. Subsequently, they play very differently from each other and have different strengths and weaknesses. While any healing class, given a good enough player, can heal just about any situation, certain classes are better for certain healing jobs than others. The strongest examples of this are the paladin and shaman classes. Thanks to Beacon of Light, a good paladin healer can raid heal and still keep a tank up, but a paladin really excels when all he has to do is focus on one or two people. A shaman can keep the raid up all day with chain heal, but single-target healing is tough for him.

Another consequence of the differences in strengths and weaknesses from class to class is that certain classes are doomed to do a lot of overhealing in spite of their best efforts. Any healing spells which apply healing to a character at max health are said to have overhealed the character. This can occur when a healing spell is cast on someone who is already at full health or when a healing spell heals more health than the character is currently missing. Paladins who rely heavily on Beacon of Light often overheal their beacon; chain heal does its best to target people who need health the most, but can only jump so far and sometimes heals people who are hardly injured at all; and druids lay down heal over time spells which last for a given duration without regard for the character’s current health. Analyses of overhealing done should take these differences into account, a task which is made easier with the help of the detail windows.

Then there are the discipline priests, which specialize in Power word: Fortitude. They come up low on the Healing Done summary chart during raids because they’re too busy preventing damage to heal very much. I’ve often seen ignorant leaders of PUG’d raids show disdain for and/or kick discipline priests because their HPS was below some numerical standard. Discipline priests are invaluable allies, able to keep the party or raid alive for a long time… but they’re inaccurately represented by Recount’s data.

I must confess, the Time Spent Healing detail window seems silly to me. While the data contained therein is an important part of calculating the HPS number, the only reason I can see for having it publishable is to find out which of the DPS are taking up too much of the healers’ efforts. You can find that out just by listening to the healers, though — they’re usually pretty good about telling DPS when they’re taking inordinate amounts of preventable damage.

The good that comes of the Time Spent Healing detail window is an understanding of how HPS and DPS are calculated. Casters who rely heavily on heal-over-time and damage-over-time spells will have a much higher value for the time they spend healing or damaging than players whose healing/damage mostly come from one-hit abilities. Since healing per second and damage per second are both calculated by dividing the total healing or total damage done by the amount of time spent on doing it, they will come out with a lower HPS/DPS number. At a cursory glance, classes such as fire mages, affliction warlocks, and restoration druids may look weaker than other classes for that reason alone, regardless of whatever class nerfs Blizzard has in place at any given time.

An Early End

My interest in WoW has waned. In Blizzard’s attempts to make end game content more accessible to as many people as possible (and therefore increase the number of subscription months they sell), they’ve made end game content less challenging. The game, in short, bores me now. I had hoped to finish this series of posts in spite of that, but the Magic 8 Ball in the back of my head says, “not likely”. I had to force myself to finish this post. There are a couple of key features — like the real-time graph and the death detail window — that are to be left out, which is a real shame. I may go in and do those later, anyway, if I work up the internal motivation. (That would occur in summer 2010 at the earliest, since I just landed a part in TBA Theatre‘s production of The Sound of Music on top of my full-time job and three independent study courses.)

That said, if you look through the other posts in this series, you’ll get a feel for how most of the rest of the data windows and charts work. All of the basic data summaries are similar in format. Clicking on player names in any data summary chart brings up details windows with what should, by now, be familiar formatting (with one notable exception off the top of my head).

Keep an open mind, apply a little logic, and remember that data has to be interpreted to be of any use. You must keep both class and boss mechanics in mind when looking at the accumulated data in order to get a clear, realistic picture of what happened during the battle. A good player is more than the sum of his gear score and his DPS/HPS number; he understands what his character can do and when to use each skill in his arsenal to maximum effect. Recount is a tool which can help raid leaders and players shore up their weak spots, not a scoreboard.

Showing Up to a Raid is Good Etiquette

Some World of Warcraft players have a chronic problem with accepting raid invitations and failing to show up to them. It’s a problem I’ve seen before in Dungeons & Dragons, as well. The player is of the “it’s only a game” mentality — since it’s only a game, it doesn’t matter if he shows up or not.

While it’s true that it’s only a game, such people fail to see is that it’s not about the activity you engage in. It’s about the people on the other side of the table — or internet, in the case of WoW. We could be planning a huge cake-baking session, for example, and if the guy bringing all the flour decides at the last-minute that he’d rather go see a movie with his friends, well… sure, we can get flour somehow. It’s likely to take at least half an hour, though, and that’s several other people’s time wasted because one person was inconsiderate. In business terms, if you wasted half an hour of nine people’s time at the example wage of $10 an hour, then that’s 4.5 hours or $45 (plus the extra taxes employers have to pay).

And in the case of a WoW raid, the absence of a key player (such as a tank or healer) can cause a raid to fail to get off the ground altogether. That, then, is nine people’s plans for the evening ruined. Players have to block of a 3+ hour block of time for raiding, usually. If someone simply doesn’t show up, opportunities have been missed for the other nine people to do other things that evening. Maybe another member of the raid got invited to see a movie, too, but since the movie and the raid started at the same time had to decline; by the time the raid breaks up 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, the movie is half over. If he’d known the day before that the raid wouldn’t happen, he could have gone to see the movie and still had a good time.

What it really boils down to is that you are making a time commitment to your fellow raiders. Forget the game — that’s just what you guys have chosen to do with your time. If a real emergency comes up now and again, that’s okay. Your raid group will understand (unless, of course, they’re assholes). But if you can’t give your raid leader at least a day’s notice of cancellation so he can try to find a replacement for you, you should prioritize your commitment to your raiding friends over last-minute invitations to hang out with your face-to-face friends.

Unfortunately, your face-to-face friends may get offended because “it’s just a game”. If that happens, you should either point out the dictates of courtesy to them and make them deal with it, or choose not to commit yourself to the raid group. Don’t, however, use courtesy as an excuse to let your face-to-face friends and significant other completely fall by the wayside. Keep in mind, also, that it goes both ways — if your raid leader sets up a raid on a day on which you already have plans with someone, tell him you can’t go to raid that day because of a previous engagement.

Be responsible. Be courteous to all of your friends. Have fun.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 5: Damage Taken and Friendly Fire

This is the fifth in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

The next two reports I cover, again clicking to the right in Recount, are not complicated. Their formats are similar to those of reports covered previously.

The Damage Taken Report

The Damage Taken summary chart lists players in order according to who took how much damage. Each player’s bar shows how much damage they took, followed in parentheses by what percentage of the total damage taken by everyone was taken by that player.

damage_taken

Clicking on a player’s name in the list brings up a detail window similar to those for the Damage Done report.

dt_detail_player_took_damage_from

The window is split in half, horizontally. In both halves, each item in the list is assigned a color for use in the pie chart to the left.

The top half lists the mobs which damaged the player according to how much damage they did, with those mobs doing the most damage at the top. The Damage column lists the flat number of damage dealt by all enemies with that name for the duration of the data collection, and the % column shows how much of the total damage the player took that damage is.

The lower half shows more details about the damage dealt to the player by the mobs of the selected name. It shows a list of the mobs attacks, with the attacks that dealt the most damage to the player at the top of the list. It does not show details about the mob’s critical hits, misses, and the like.

Why the Damage Taken Report Matters

The damage taken report can be used as a tool for diagnosing threat problems (though — to be completely honest with you — it’s not usually necessary, since the kind of problems it shows are usually pretty easy to diagnose without any help).

The tank(s) should be on top with a rather large chunk of the damage taken. If a damage dealer is pulling aggro, a quick look at this chart can tell you who that is so that the player can adjust his rotation or what have you and prevent further problems. Even the best tanks have trouble competing with damage dealers in superior gear going all-out on mobs — sometimes the damage dealer needs to back off a bit. A look at the Damage Taken detail window for a player can help determine if the player needs to be more careful on certain kinds of fights or against specific mobs.

The Friendly Fire Report

The Friendly Fire report doesn’t usually have anything to show you. The only times friendly fire comes into effect is when a player is mind controlled or has one (or more) of their spells reflected. When there is data, its summary looks more like the Damage Taken summary than the Damage Done summary. It only shows the amount of friendly fire damage done by a player and what percentage of the total friendly fire dealt that said amount was.

friendly_fire

In contrast, the detail window is pretty much identical to the detail window for a player’s hostile attacks under the Damage Done report.

ff_detail_window

The window is split in half, horizontally. In both halves, each item in the list is assigned a color for use in the pie chart to the left.

The top half lists the player’s damaging abilities according to how much of the player’s total damage they composed, from greatest to least. This amount is shown in the Damage column as an exact number, in the % column as a percentage of the total, and graphically in the pie chart. The Count column tells you how many times the ability hit something, not how many times it was used. So a multi-target ability (such as Blizzard) would add to the Count total every time it hits a mob.

The lower half shows further detail for the damaging ability selected. It shows how many of the counted hits with the ability were hits, crits, misses, dodged, parried, resisted, or what have you. They are listed by frequency, with most frequent at the top and least frequent at the bottom. For each type of hit, the minimum, maximum, and average damage dealt is shown.

Why the Friendly Fire Report Matters

In boss fights such as, say, Yogg-Saron where you have the potential to have multiple players mind controlled at once, you can look at who’s doing the most friendly fire damage to determine who needs to be taken care of first.

In situations where you’re dealing with spell reflect, however, it can really only serve as a reminder to casters to watch out for spell reflect. It could also be used by an individual to track his progress in avoiding spell reflect.

Coming Up Next

Next time I start getting into the healing charts. They’re the charts most often looked at after the Damage Done and DPS charts — and, likewise, the ones most abused after the Damage Done and DPS charts.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 4: The DPS Report

This is the fourth in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

A Quick Note

In my last installment I overlooked the most obvious part of the Damage Done window, which is the summary chart. It’s fairly straightforward, but I still should have covered it.

recount

The chart lists all the players who did damage during the fight or fights whose data is displayed, with the player who did the most damage at the top of the chart. Each player is represented by a bar in the color which commonly represents their class. Overlaid on that bar are the player’s name and the total damage they did during the fight or fights for which data is displayed, followed by parentheses containing a decimal number representing the damage the player did per second while in combat and what percentage of all damage done came from that player. All of the summary charts Recount displays use similar formatting.

That said, you may have noticed that the person who did the second-largest amount of damage in the above screenshot did more damage per second than the person who did the largest amount of damage. This leads me into Recount’s second data report.

The DPS Report

The second data report recount offers us — assuming we’re proceeding from left to right using the navigational arrows at the top of the window — is the DPS report. DPS is an abbreviation for Damage Per Second, and is a measure of ouchies a player causes in a given amount of time.

I don’t know what happened to the image I had for this. I may add it in later, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. The DPS report looks a lot like the Damage Done report, except that the only numbers displayed on a player’s bar are the DPS number and their percentage of the total damage done (the latter of which is in parentheses). Players are ranked according to who’s putting out the highest damage over time according to Recount’s calculating formula.

Clicking a player’s name in the list brings up the same detail windows you get from clicking player names on the Damage Done report.

Why DPS is Not Valid as a Sole Measure of a Player’s Eliteness

If the player who throws out the highest DPS dies in the first few seconds of the fight, he can end up being last on the Damage Done chart. (Just for the record, this is a perfect example of why good gear doesn’t make a good player. He who does not live to bring his massive DPS to bear is as useless as bringing a sack of flour to the raid.)

Now, even if all players stay alive for the duration of the fight, you’ll see some discrepancies between the Damage Done and DPS reports. There are two possible reasons for this:

  1. The player(s) with higher DPS weren’t attacking as much as the player(s) with the highest Damage Done. There are any number of possible reasons for this. For some fights you have to move around a lot, so a spell caster with few or no instant cast spells ends up being robbed of time in which he could be attacking. In a fight in which the melee fighters have to keep switching targets, they can potentially spend a lot of time out of range of anything to attack. The raid leader might have started the fight while someone was AFK, or the player could have disconnected mid-fight. The player may have had his face handed to the floor in one swell foop after catching the boss’s attention with a poorly timed critical hit. The player may have spent most of their time on crowd-control and/or interrupts. Etcetera.
  2. Recount’s DPS formula doesn’t represent all classes (or specs, even) equally. To use an example from my own class, if a fire mage and an arcane mage do the same amount of damage in the same amount of time, the arcane mage will always show up with a higher DPS number. Why? It seems to have to do with the fact that fire magery is more DoT based than arcane magery. We fire mages — if we’re playing right — are always sapping life from our enemies somehow, which inflates our active attack time and lowers our DPS number. I don’t know what similar inaccuracies there are for other classes, but I’m sure they exist.

Coming Up Next

The next report on our list is the Damage Taken report.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 3: Damage Done Details

This is the third in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

Individual Player Data – Mouse Over

In the last installment, I introduced the basics of the Recount window you see by default. If you hover your mouse cursor over a player’s name on the Damage Done summary data chart, you get some detail on the top three damage-dealing abilities/spells used by that player and on which three mobs the player has done the most damage. If that player has a pet (be it a permanent companion like a hunter’s pet or a temporary cooldown pet like a shadow priest’s shadowfiend), the top damage abilities of that pet are also shown.

Recount Mouseover Data w/ Pet

So when this data was recorded, Frostfire Bolt made up 29% of the total damage I did, Blizzard made up 15%, and damage over time from the Ignite talent was 12%. My Mirror Images were 3% of my total damage output. 67% of their total damage output (67% of that 3% of my total output) came from Frostbolt, and 32% came from Fire Blast.

The following is an example of what the mouse over data looks like for someone without a pet:

Recount Mouseover Data, No Pet

As you can see, the Top 3 Attacked chart collects data by creature name. As often as not, it lists trash mobs — if you fight 50 mobs called Unyielding Constrictor, Recount will count the total damage done to all of the Unyielding Constrictors for creating this chart.

Individual Player Data – Click

If you look at the top image, you’ll see that my top three damage abilities and the Mirror Images only add up to 59% of the total damage I’d done. To see the full details of a player’s damage done, you would click their name in the data summary chart. This opens a new window like the one below.

Recount Click Detail - Hostile Attacks

The window is split in half, horizontally. In both halves, each item in the list is assigned a color for use in the pie chart to the left.

The top half lists the player’s damaging abilities according to how much of the player’s total damage they composed, from greatest to least. This amount is shown in the Damage column as an exact number, in the % column as a percentage of the total, and graphically in the pie chart. The Count column tells you how many times the ability hit something, not how many times it was used. So a multi-target ability (such as Blizzard) would add to the Count total every time it hits a mob.

The lower half shows further detail for the damaging ability selected. It shows how many of the counted hits with the ability were hits, crits, misses, dodged, parried, resisted, or what have you. They are listed by frequency, with most frequent at the top and least frequent at the bottom. For each type of hit, the minimum, maximum, and average damage dealt is shown.

The best uses of this detail window are:

  1. Making sure your hit rating is high enough. If your hit rating isn’t high enough, you’ll have misses. It’s a less painful way to be sure than calculating hit percentages or memorizing what buffs give you how much of a boost. (For full details on how much hit rating you need to be effective, I recommend reading WoWWiki’s hit rating and/or spell hit pages, depending on your class.)
  2. Understanding your spell/ability rotation better. Being able to see where exactly your damage comes from helps you make the best use of your spells during complicated fights in which you can’t hold still or what have you. And what better way to maximize your spell rotation than to understand the individual parts? For fire mages, as an example, it makes it clear why you need to avoid ignite munching (namely, that Ignite damage is such a large part of your DPS that it behooves you to throw out the extra scorches before your instant Pyroblasts from Hot Streak).

Additional Damage Done Detail Windows

You may have noticed that this detail window has left/right scrolling arrows at the top by the report and close buttons. There are other Damage Done detail charts. The first of these under discussion is the Player Damaged Who screen.

Damage Done Detail - Player Damaged Who

Players/mobs attacked are listed in the top half by damage the player dealt. As with the Top 3 Attacked chart in the individual’s mouse over summary, all mobs with the same name are counted as one for purposes of data gathering and chart creation. The lower half shows the damage dealt to the mob selected in the upper half by each ability used.

Damage Done Detail - Player Time Spent Attacking

The last of the Damage Done detail displays is for time the player spent attacking given players/mobs. It’s much like the Player Damaged Who window, but it shows time spent attacking with each spell instead of damage done.

Coming Up Next

Next time, I’ll be looking past the Damage Done charts. The other summary charts and their corresponding detail windows tend to work much the same way, but there are a couple of exceptions — notably the Deaths detail window.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 2: Display Window Basics

This is the second in a series of posts about Recount, an add-on for World of Warcraft. It gathers and reports on data taken during combat.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

Display Window Basics

The main window is the only one you’ll ever see if you don’t play around with the addon much. It gives you the most basic summaries of the collected data, shown as ranked bar charts. It also has a number of buttons serving various purposes. Not all of these buttons appear on all windows.

Recount: The Basic Window

  1. Window Title
    This just tells you what you’re looking at. In the basic window, it’s the title of the data summary you’re looking at.
  2. Report Data Button
    Clicking this button opens up the Report Data interface, which allows you to share the listed data with your party, raid, guild, or anyone else you can message in the game.
  3. Options Button
    Clicking this button opens up Recount’s options menu. This is not the same as the Recount options under the Add-ons tab in WoW’s interface options! The Interface options panel for Recount and the options accessed through the add-on itself do completely different things.
  4. Button for Choosing Which Fight(s)’s Data to Show
    Clicking this button allows you to select one of several data collections to view analyses of. The default is Overall Data.
  5. Reset Data Button
    Clicking this button cleans Recount’s battle data slate. No confirmation is asked, and all data is irrevocably lost. Resetting the battle data can also be accomplished by typing /recount reset.
  6. Buttons for Scrolling Through Available Data Types
    The default data display is overall Damage Done. Clicking these arrows allows you to scroll through all of the data summary charts.
  7. Hide Recount Button
    Clicking this button closes the Recount display, but doesn’t stop it from collecting and analyzing battle data. This can also be accomplished by typing /recount hide. The window can be recovered by typing /recount show.
  8. Data Summary Display
    This is the ranked summary of the currently selected data type.
  9. Window Resizing Arrow
    Click and drag one of the lower corners to resize the window.

Coming Up Next

In the next section, I will start getting into the depth of detail you can eke out of Recount.

Making the Best Use of Recount, Part 1: The Introduction

This is the first in what is to be a series of posts about Recount.

Segment List:

  1. The Introduction
  2. Display Window Basics
  3. Damage Done Details
  4. The DPS Report
  5. Damage Taken and Friendly Fire
  6. Healing Done

What Recount Is

Recount is an add-on for World of Warcraft. It keeps track of many types of battle data for all members of your group. The data collected and displayed by Recount are:

  • Damage Done
  • DPS
  • Friendly Fire
  • Damage Taken
  • Healing Done
  • Healing Taken
  • Overhealing Done
  • Deaths
  • DOT Uptime
  • HOT Uptime
  • Dispels
  • Dispelled
  • Interrupts
  • Ressers
  • CC Breakers
  • Activity
  • Mana Gained
  • Energy Gained
  • Rage Gained
  • Runic Power Gained

As you can see, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. In my experience, however, some people don’t even realize Recount shows anything but Damage Done, and many more people than that never use any of its other charts.

How Recount Collects Data

Understanding how Recount collects data is important if you really want to understand its data reports. If you’ve ever looked at Recount data posted into raid or party chat by someone else and compared it to your own, you may have noticed some discrepancies in the numbers reported (though Recount data from different players will usually be very similar).

The reason for this is that Recount can only collect data for group members within a certain distance of the player — 40 yards, I believe, though that figure is based solely on personal observation.

Coming Up Next

In the next part of the series, I’ll be talking about how to read Recount and make it do your bidding.

On Being a Good World of Warcraft Player

Too many World of Warcraft players rely on this:

Recount DPS Chart

as an indicator of how good a player one is. Or on the color of the names of one’s gear. Or on how fast they got from 0 to 80. None of these are good indicators. There’s also a vast difference in what it takes to be good at PvP versus being good at PvE. (Usually, people who are good at PvP are also good at PvE, though the reverse is far less common.) Since I personally suck at PvP, having little interest in it, I will focus here on what it takes to be a good PvE player.

Let me clarify what I mean by PvE, here. PvE is short for Player vs. Environment, and technically applies to anything that isn’t Player vs. Player. How one fares alone against a single enemy off in some isolated corner of, say, Storm Peaks, however, is of no real interest to anyone else. You can go whatever pace you want, use whatever strategy you want, do whatever floats your boat, and it doesn’t do any harm to the game experience of other players. By all means, have your fun. It’s when you get into groups for dungeons (of any size) that your playing quality matters.

Now, just to set things straight: having the best gear doesn’t make someone the best player, no… but it’s still important. Having good gear sets a limit on a player’s potential. The better one’s gear, the higher one’s potential abilities. A skillfully-played tank will still get crushed if he only has 15k health and gets hit for 17k damage. The only way to get around such limitations is to get better gear. But if you’ve ever tried playing with someone who bought their toon fully leveled and tricked out in epics but doesn’t have a clue what all his abilities are, you know that gear isn’t everything.

Likewise, I’m not going to get too much into talent specs. I believe you should choose the spec that you most enjoy and/or which best suits your playing style. Within that spec, however, you should know which talents are useful and which are not. Sometimes it’s as clear as a summer’s day — a talent may be a valuable addition to your repertoire regardless of what you plan to do with the character. Other talents you will never use. Most of the time, however, the talents available to you will have varying degrees of use depending on your play style and the situation. There are certain “standard” specs commonly used by most people, but they are not necessarily the only valid specs to use.

Which brings me to my first tip for players: know your class’s abilities. You have a plethora of talents/abilities/spells. Each of these has advantages, disadvantages, and limits. Read the descriptions. Make sure you understand them. Know when it’s good to use an ability and when it isn’t. Here are a few examples of abilities and talents from the mages’ arsenal and their uses:

  • The spell Amplify Magic is a buff which increases the effects of any and all spells cast on the buffed person. This includes both heals and harmful spells, making this spell great for when you’re fighting a boss that never uses magic, but not worth using in any other situation. (I almost never use it.)
  • Its brother, Dampen Magic, does the opposite. This spell is horrible if you have a healer, but great for solo fighting.
  • The mage fire talent Blazing Speed gives the mage a chance to run faster and break out of any traps holding them in place whenever they are hit by a phsyical attack. That’s great for PvP. Its only application in PvE will be for running away when the party wipes, so a PvE-specced mage would do much better placing the two points he’d invest to fully stock this talent elsewhere.

My second tip for players: understand that running dungeons is like any other team activity. If you don’t work together, you will fail. Any dungeon running group, regardless of size, is made up of people filling one of three roles. A tank’s role is to make the enemy (mob) hate him enough to attack him and only him, and have enough armor and health to survive whatever the mob can dish out. A healer’s role is to keep any players who are taking damage alive. A damage dealer’s role is to do as much damage as possible to the mobs without doing so much that the enemy will be diverted from the tank.

That last part is critical. Generically speaking, if a damage dealer does an average of 3000 damage per second (DPS) for the first half of a fight, then pulls the enemy from the tank and spends the rest of the fight dead, his overall DPS for the fight is 3000/2 = 1500. Getting oneself killed to show off how much damage you can do only proves that you’re not as good a player as you think you are. A lot of DPS want to blame such situations on the tank for not being good enough or not having enough gear, but really… a good damage dealer can always hold back enough to keep from taking aggro away from the tank. There have been times I’ve run dungeons on normal difficulty with a tank whose gear was nowhere as good as mine and ended up taking off half my gear just to lower the number of critical hits I get so I wouldn’t pull mobs on accident.

Assuming all players have roughly equivalent gear and that this gear is appropriately match to the difficulty of the fight, the following guidelines can be used to determine who is at fault for a death/wipe:

  • If the tank dies first, it’s the healer’s fault.
  • If the healer dies first, it’s the tank’s fault.
  • If a damage dealer dies first, it’s their own damn fault.

Assignment of blame, by the way, is not an excuse for being a dick to your fellow players. Acknowledging who was at fault for a death/wipe is, however, the first step toward improving one’s playing skillz. When someone is aware that it’s their fault the party wiped, they can examine what happened to look for ways to prevent it from happening again. And accidents happen even to the best of players. A tank can miss the healer say he’s going to the bathroom in chat and pull before he gets back, a tank might get critically hit a zillion times in a row only to have the healer’s Big Heal fall half a second too late, etc.

My third tip for players: if possible, be familiar with the fights before going into them. Blizzard is doing its best to bring us new, interesting boss fights with new, interesting mechanics to keep the fighting fresh and keep us on our toes. For five-man dungeons, it’s not really important to be In The Know ahead of time (notable exception: The Occulous). For raids, where you have ten or twenty-five people to coordinate through sometimes complex boss encounters, it can be critical to success

There are many web sites out there which exist (in whole or in part) to help you with understanding the boss fights. My favorites are TankSpot (which makes excellent explanatory videos which are great for people who don’t like to read) and WoWwiki. People also put videos of the boss fights up on YouTube which you can watch to get a better feel for the fight before ever setting foot in the dungeon. Oftentimes, information is available before a dungeon is officially released in a patch because Blizzard opens them up for testing in the Public Test Realms.

In Summary

  1. DPS charts lie. Do not trust them.
  2. Gear is not the end-all, be-all of a player’s skill. It is the limit on their potential.
  3. Learn what all your toon can and can’t do, and in which situations certain abilities should/should not be employed.
  4. Understand the balance of roles in your group, and remember there is no “i” in “team”.
  5. Know the bosses’ paces before they put you through them.

If you keep these things in mind, you’re on the path to being a great PvE player in World of World of Warcraft. Or, probably, for any MMORPG out there.

What World of Warcraft and Milk Have in Common

If you were to trace the balance of power between classes in World of Warcraft over the course of multiple patch updates, you’d probably find it similar to watching a very drunk man walking down the street. In one version, warlocks are overpowered. Next, it’s the hunters’ turn. There go the rogues. Hey, warlocks again! Oooooh, mages! Watching the series of nerfs and buffs and nerfs and buffs to one’s favorite character can cause inflammation of the brain and outright frustration.

To be fair, Blizzard has a tough job in trying to balance ten classes (with the addition of death knights in the new expansion). They not only have to balance the pain dealt out by the damage dealing classes, but balance the ability of tanking classes to hold a monster’s attention and balance the abilitiy of the healing classes to… well, to heal. Some classes have the ability, through the redistribution of talent points, to switch from role to role, and a couple of classes can play all three roles. To complicate things further, the PvP and PvE systems in place are completely different; a change in gameplay or formulas which creates balance in dungeon boss fights may grant one class an extreme advantage in the multiplayer arena.

Blizzard took advantage of the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the maximum character level’s rise to 80 to try to address some of the balance issues in the game. They added new talents to every talent tree, rearranged existing talents within the trees, changed what some talents did, added new spells/abilities, made some old spells/abilities available to all members of a class regardless of talent spec, took some spells/abilities away, and changed the way damage, healing, and threat were calculated — among other things.

What all these changes really boil down to, though, is homogenizing the classes. A lot of the new talents for one class were borrowed (albeit usually in modified form) from another class. The death knight talent Bloody Vengeance is ripped straight from the paladin’s retribution tree talent Vengeance. The mages’ Mirror Image spell is pretty much the same thing as that spell the druids have to summon trees (the name of which I don’t recall, sorry), except that where the trees run up and hit things, the mirror images stand back and cast spells. The mirror images have the ability to polymorph (not that it’s proven all that useful to me so far) and draw NPCs’ attention away from the player character, but… they’re still a few uncontrollable summoned damage dealers lasting 30 seconds or until killed. The mage talent Hot Streak is just the warlocks’ Nightfall with a different trigger.

It’s been a somewhat effective campaign. These changes haven’t taken care of all of the balance issues, though. And they’ve had the unfortunate effect of making all the classes of a given type (damage dealer or DPS, tank, healer) seem a lot closer to Identical than they did before. Those things that made each class special and unique are disappearing. Crowd control is obsolete in a party environment these days, since AoE spells/abilities have been improved so much. What’s the point in having the pig, penguin, and turtle Polymorph spells if I can’t show them off? Why should I bother paying 4000+ gold for the black cat Polymorph book I can buy in Dalaran? I’ve seen shadow priests switch talent trees or switch toons altogether because they didn’t want to play a mage — a lot of the support functionality they had has been taken away from them to turn them into a straight-up DPS.

While I’m sick of people bitching about how their classes are underpowered and sick of the classism that used to abound (“No, a boomkin isn’t good enough. We need a warlock or a mage.” Pah.) and still exists to a certain extent, I really don’t think taking away the special flavors of each class is the best idea, either. It’s very disappointing to see the game developer that brought us StarCraft fail so epically at balancing a game.