What are these logs of which you speak?

I think like most of you when I first started playing World of Warcraft I was blissfully unaware of the enormous support network of resources available on the internet to help with every aspect of character creation and development.  One of the best tools for raiders is World of Logs.  Very simply it takes a combat log and reorganizes the data into a more friendly format so that the initiated can use the information to get better as players, to analyse raid performance from the perspective of a guild master or guild leader, to compare against other players of your class, and to see how other players are doing in similar progression content.

Combat Logging and Parses

Navigating World of Logs

The combat log is the core of all external analysis tools and is not automatically created but instead must be triggered either by hand (/combatlog starts and stops logging) or by using an add on such as Loggerhead or Autolog, both of which are available through the Curse Client or from other popular add on sites.  Many guilds log their raids and have an established guild on World of Logs but if you’re not in a guild or if your guild is not logging, it’s very simple to set up a guild on the World of Logs website and start logging for yourself.  The instructions are front and center at the top of the home page.

If you’re not sure if there are any logs that feature you then a sneaky way to check is to go to WoW Heroes and look up your character.  In addition to showing armoury and boss progression there is a section that shows current World of Logs ranks and recent parses. (This is my WoW Heroes page for reference)

So, now that we’ve figured out how find or create logs to look at, there is still the little matter of figuring out what exactly to do with them and I think this is where people get a little lost.  The reality is that there is a lot of information contained in WoL parses and although much of it is useful, there are a few key places to look to find out what’s going on and what might need improvement or adjustment.

Log Analysis

Then you can look through various boss kills or wipes to try to analyse your performance.  I think that a lot of people get to a boss kill and figure out how to look at overall healing done and they see an order of the various healers and then get stuck.  You hear it all the time if you visit various forums; that raw HPS doesn’t matter.  If the raid lives and the boss dies you win.  That doing your job is more important than topping the meters.  But if topping the meters isn’t important and all you have to look at is the rank order on the Healing Done page, then what good are the logs?  What is this nebulous “job” that people are talking about?

The “job” we do as healers is to push our healing buttons in a way that has the best chance of keeping the raid alive and being efficient in our healing.  We’re also responsible for keeping ourselves alive and not being a burden to our fellow healers by avoiding avoidable damage and generally not dying.

Spell Selection and Comparebots

Spell selection is one of the playstyle areas where we can look at whether or not we’re playing in a way that maximized our healing potential.  We have a good variety of healing spells and looking at how we use them and what percentage of our healing comes from each one gives us a picture of what our healing looks like through a fight.

DashboardIt’s easy to look at any individual healer from any attempt or kill on a boss and see what spells are being used on the Healing by Spell tab but, as you know, the spells you use vary by fight based on the damage patterns and how the raid is organized.  So how do you know if you’re doing it right?  The easiest way to compare is if you have another holy paladin in your raid you can sort of flip back and forth and see who did what.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to compare the two of you side by side?  Behold the wonder that is Comparebot!  About midway down the page is a Bookmarklet that will allow you to pull parses directly from the World of Logs pages without having to copy and paste to the Comparebot.  I’ve used this very successfully in Google Chrome.  I would anticipate that it works similarly well in other browsers.  The instructions are pretty straightforward; you take the individual player page from any fight or group of fights and paste it in to the ParseURL or click the Bookmarklet and hit Compare!  What you get as a result is something that looks like this: http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af156574254eff1a000165#healing.  I used the Comparebot to compare myself and Endule on our Council of Elders kill from this week.

This is a great example of what to look at since there are a couple to things to note for when you’re looking at similar compares.  The first is to look at the top bar and just see who did more healing, you’ll see that I’m ahead by a little bit.  If you look at how much healing we did with each ability going down the list you can see that more or less our spell breakdown is about the same.  The only real discrepancies are in Light of Dawn usage, Daybreak healing and Holy Shock healing.

Since this is my parse I know that I’ve been experimenting more with using Light of Dawn since the patch so I can look at how much healing I did with Light of Dawn plus Eternal Flame versus Endule’s Eternal Flame healing (this is a whole other thing that hopefully we can talk about another time).

My Daybreak healing is higher by a pretty significant margin where I had fewer ticks but each hit for more so that likely means I’m doing better with managing Daybreak stacks since the patch.  This is somewhat curious but it’s explained a little better if you look at Holy Shock.

Holy Shock is a core ability and it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to our ability to heal.  It is hammered over and over again in all forums that using it as close to on cooldown as possible is the way to play the class.  I don’t disagree with that at all but if you’re sacrificing a cast time heal or an instant Holy Power spender to make sure you use Holy Shock “on cooldown” then you’re actually missing effective healing as well.  For myself I like to see my Holy Shocks average at or above eight per minute.  The absolute maximum is ten per minute if you’re perfect.  I’m not perfect.  Ok, what was the point of that digression?  The point is that if you look at the side by side of heals per minute for Holy Shock, you can see that mine is 8.2 so that lines up with my personal ‘more than eight per minute’ goal, but Endule’s is 10.3 per minute.  “But Lucy, you just said that the absolute maximum is ten Holy Shocks per minute if someone is perfect!  Is Endule better than perfect?”  I will admit to Endule being very very good, but he’s not better than perfect.  In fact, the only way that can happen is if he’s still using the T14 4pc set and getting the five second Holy Shock cooldown.  Now, I know this to be true because we’re in the same guild and we’re friends, but even if that was not the case, I would know by looking at this that’s he’s still benefiting from last tier’s set bonus.  He has more Holy Shocks to spend therefore he’s going to do more healing with that spell than me.  He also has a lower overheal than I do which means he’s picking better targets than I am.  It also follows that he has more Holy Power to spend which lines up with doing more Eternal Flame healing which in a distributive sense he did since used Holy Power on Light of Dawn and he didn’t.

Ranks

So what if you don’t have another paladin in your raid to compare to?  Well, you want to be good at the game so you want to look at good players!  There are a couple tricks to picking out a good Comparebot buddy.  The guy in the neighbour guild might be good but he might not be that amazing either on a world scale (no offense to the guy in the neighbour guild).  I go to the World of Logs rankings to find someone.  I don’t look at the front page of rankings.  Very often to get the very high ranks, especially during farm content, concessions have been made to rank players.  Look in the top 50 to 100. Make sure that you’re comparing to someone doing the same raid size and difficulty.  You also want fight length to be as close as possible so that you’re able to use your cooldowns the same number of times.  It’s best if you look up the armory as well since gear disparity can make the numbers look a little out of whack even though distributions should be the same.  Just for fun I went and grabbed a random log to look at in addition to mine and Endule’s logs from this week.  This is Darnus from ScrubBusters with a parse rank 33rd from April.  http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af1e3674254e0c5b000192 Using your newfound detective skills, see if you can deduce what tier set he was wearing when this parse was recorded.

Cooldown Usage

In any holy paladin guide, and Kerfax has written a very good one over on the MMO-Champion website, there is an emphasis on using all of our cooldowns both the short duration CDs like Holy Shock and Holy Prism and long duration CDs such as Avenging Wrath or Guardian of Ancient Kings.  We’re also responsible for using our personal CDs like Divine Protection and Divine Shield and I’d go as far as including Healthstones in that category as well.  So, how do we know if we’re doing that well?

If you flipped through the tabs in the Comparebots from the last section then you can see that there are compares for cooldowns and power generation but I didn’t really talk about those tabs.  They can be useful in context as a point of comparison, but really should stand as an independent discussion point. The basic reason for taking them out of a raw number context is that the timing and stacking or chaining of cooldowns can be very informative when it comes to how well you’re faring against a given encounter.

I already talked about what to look at for Holy Shock specifically since that’s by far our most important short duration cooldown.   There’s really not much more to it other than the obvious “use it a lot” mantra that you’ve probably been hearing.  You want to aim to do better than 80% efficiency with Holy Shock usage.  You can calculate this by dividing number of Holy Shocks cast during the fight by the number of minutes in the fight so if I cast 59 Holy Shocks in a 7.2 minute fight, my HS/minute is ~8.2.  You don’t have to be super precise here; you’re just looking for a round way to talk about how well you’re shocking. Your numbers should be bigger than the ones in this handy table.

Maximum Holy Shocks per Minute 80% Efficiency
Without T14 4pc 10 8
Pre-5.3 T14 4pc 15 12
Post-5.3 T14 4pc 13 10.4

One caveat about looking at Holy Shock numbers: if you look at the Buffs Cast tab and the Holy Shocks in the Power Gains section, that includes Holy Power gained through Holy Avenger.  The correct number of Holy Shocks cast as an independent spell is found on the Healing by Spell tab as the number of Direct Heals.

I didn’t really talk about Holy Prism but it’s easy to do the math to figure out how many Holy Prisms could be cast during a fight and how many actually were cast.  The cooldown on Holy Prism is 20 seconds and it heals five targets per cast as long as you have an enemy targeted and not like, yourself by accident, not that I’ve EVER done that.  So according to the logs you can hit a maximum of fifteen targets per minute, assuming you hit five in the first second of the fight and going up from there.  In fact Holy Prism probably shouldn’t be used precisely on cooldown although delaying for more than about five seconds or so is probably wasting it.  You want to actually heal as many targets as possible so if the only possible smart thing for it to do is zap the tank then it’s probably worth holding unless just nothing is going to happen until it could be off cooldown again.  I don’t get too fussed about Holy Prism unless it’s clearly just going unused for long periods of time.  In the Council fight we’ve been looking at I had 80 direct heals out of a possible maximum of 105 so I missed five possible casts.  I should probably aim for better.

That pretty much covers the short duration cooldowns.  So now we get to talk about the fun stuff.  Realistically we’re pretty weak outside our cooldowns and our unbuffed sustained healing is nothing really to get excited about.  The good news is we have a number of throughput cooldowns that we can use!  This includes Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, Guardian of Ancient Kings and Holy Avenger.

Figuring out if we’re hitting the button the appropriate number of times is pretty easy.  You look at the fight length, the length of the various cooldowns and do some basic math.  A three minute cooldown can be used twice in a five minute fight; a five minute cooldown once; and a two minute cooldown three times.  That’s super.  Hitting those numbers tells us nothing about using them effectively.  We’re not dps in that we shouldn’t aim to use our healing cooldowns the absolute maximum number of times in all fights.  There are fights when you do want to use them as many times as possible (Heroic Tortos comes to mind) but more often there are good times to use them that may end up sniping a possible maximum number of uses in favour of optimal usage.

If you’re looking at your own logs then you sort of know what you did but what if you’re looking at someone else’s logs and trying to figure out how they’re using their cooldowns?  Are they stacking cooldowns and bursting or spreading them out?  What abilities are they using their own personal defensive cooldowns to combat?

Buffs

Well, the first thing to do is to show cooldown usage on the fight timeline.  Luckily this is pretty easy to do if you know the super-secret trick.  Next to all the buffs and debuffs is a pound sign.  If you click that it will put an encounter timeline up for you and color the time the buff/debuff is active.  Tricky, yeah?   So let’s look at what happens if you use that to see how I use my cooldowns on Megeara.  This fight has very distinct high damage phases so for someone who’s new to it, it might be worth seeing how paladins that have already killed the fight are approaching it.

Output CDs

So looking at this Megeara fight, you can see that I made sure I had cooldowns for each Rampage.  Knowing that each one is roughly a minute after the last you can see that I held my GoaK for the last Rampage.  What you can’t tell from looking at this is why but even knowing that I’ve stacked a bunch at the end is worth noting if you’re just starting the fight.

Now what about defensive cooldowns?  How are they being used?  In the Buffs Gained tab you can add in encounter debuffs in addition to personal cooldowns or output cooldowns which carry over if you’ve clicked them on the Buffs Cast tab but also show up here as well.  Using this we can see how someone like Bobina from Blood Legion  used Divine Protection to mitigate Huddle in Terror damage on Heroic Sha of Fear.

Huddle

In addition to personals like Divine Protection, Divine Shield and Lay on Hands, we have all of our hand spells like Hand of Sacrifice, Hand of Protection, Hand of Purity (which is amazing on a lot of Throne of Thunder mechanics), Hand of Salvation and Hand of Freedom.  These are mostly situational but when used properly can make a huge difference in the outcome of a raid.  As you look at other Holy Paladin logs, it’s good to see what’s being used and if it looks like one or more is getting more use than seems normal try to figure out why.

Hand of Purity is used to counter specific mechanics so digging through logs to find out what it’s being used on can be extremely helpful when you’re progressing on a new boss.  Here you can see how Fashionstar from Dread is using Hand of Purity to soak Feed Pools on Ji-Kun.

Ji-Kun

Well, I’ve gone from talking about how to set up a log to how to analyse your performance against other Holy Paladins and what to look for in your own logs to see if you’re maximizing your performance.  We’ve also looked at ways to see what other players are doing to deal with encounter mechanics so that if you and your guild are getting ready to start a new fight you can look ahead to try and figure out what you might need to do to be as prepared as possible to live up to your potential.  There is even more you can do with your logs but this should give a good place to get started.

Hopefully you’ve found something here to take away and use to better yourself.  Feel free to comment or ask any questions!

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