Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Gauge Performance

All raiders that are at least a little serious about their own personal (read character’s) progression, or their guild’s progression should be constantly checking on their performance. Whether it’s as compared to someone, or to a potential, it’s important to have some sort of understanding of how you are doing. With the proliferation of addons such as recount or skada, people have put a huge emphasis on “the metres” and sometimes this is helpful, but other times a step back is needed to understand why someone isn’t topping the charts.

  1. Class or spec. This is one that is often the go to favourite of people. While there will always be a little bit of a spread between the top spec and the bottom spec, blizzard does a pretty good job of balancing them out, at least with in reason. There will always be some specs better on some types of fights than others. For example demo locks are better on heavy aoe fights then affliction, but on single target affliction locks tend to out show demo locks. This is one reason why you should really look past the numbers to see the reasons. While this is a very cut and dry example of why people should learn to play all their class’s specs (so they can swap depending on need), other times it’s a little less obvious.
  2. Utility vs. Numbers. Some specs or classes are currently a little underpowered on throughput, but they bring important utility. Shaman for example have, in the past (and still somewhat) been known as more of a support class. At first in vanilla they were buffers, they provided the raid with buffs that made them better, in Cataclysm resto shaman were brought normally for their mana tide and not for their total through put, and enhancement/elemental were brought for their amazing interrupt (wind shear).
  3. Gaming the numbers. While until now I’ve talked about why some people may seem low, there is also times when you have to think about why that person is always on top. Ghostcrawler has talked a bit about this in the past, with for example resto druids always being a little higher on the healing charts because of their amazing cooldown of tranquility, when they are actually supposed to be no better than any other healers the rest of the time. But there are also times when people intentionally game the numbers. For example I was watching a live streamed raid the other day by one of the top guilds, and on Alysrazor their rogue popped on bladeflurry during the time when Alysrazor was grounded, during this time their tanks had silenced and brought in the two adds. These adds don’t need to be killed, and he had intentionally nerfed his single target damage to artificially inflate his numbers. I know this same guild has a shadow priest that on Shannox will triple dot, even though the dogs should be ignored by the dps.
  4. Role. While you rarely hear of people talking about how low the tanks’ DPS is, I’m talking about something a little less obvious, such as people who are handling a particular mechanic. Shannox for example, generally guilds will run one or two people who have the job of controlling rageface, and breaking his “facerage” ability. These dps generally have substantially lower numbers than those who get to focus on only killing Shannox.

So how can you really tell where you are when all these variables make add-ons very poor gauges? Dig a little deeper, spend some time looking at more than one screen, go to worldoflogs (if your raid uses them), or just reason it out (or even talk to them). For example: Why does that healer keep having his tank die? (Death logs: oh the tank stood in bad stuff and took unnecessary damage) Why is that healer always ahead of me? (Spell breakdown on WorldofLogs: Oh 10% of his healing came from a tranquility). Why is that DPS ahead of me? (Damage done by target: oh 50% of his damage was to unnecessary targets). Or even better, compare yourself to your potential rather than others. Hit a target dummy and see how much damage you do, and extrapolate from that with raid buffs how much you SHOULD be doing, or look online for how much you SHOULD be doing, and try to reach that target (without gaming the system!). Or if you are a healer, focus more on why someone died, and how you could have prevented it (if you could have), or if no one died, then look at things like how many judgements you got off, and how many you could have (pallies), or if you could have cast more mana efficient heals, or maybe even dps’d a little? And if you were on a fight like Shannox in charge of breaking face rages, look at the amount of damage you did to Rageface, and see if you were perhaps focusing TOO much on him and could have put some more dps into Shannox, or how much damage he did by facerage, maybe you should have been quicker to break those.

There are always ways to gauge your performance, and by taking a bit of time before or after raid, or maybe on a down night, to dig into your performance you can see what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, and how you can improve the next time around.

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