Troubleshooting – “Help! Why are my numbers low?”

I don’t get questions very often. Not blogging much anymore will do that. But over the years, there’s been one question that’s come up a lot:

How do I get my numbers up?

Its cousin question is worth mentioning too: “This paladin is new to my guild and their numbers are terrible, what are they doing wrong?

Obligatory Side Note on Healing Meters

Do I really need to say that healing meters should be approached with caution? After so many essays around the WoW community about how healing meters work, I’m probably wasting my typing energy, but to avoid having to clarify things later on, here’s your basic “how to look at healing meters“.

When looking at healing logs, look at the big picture. Healing meters are a detail in that big picture.

Let’s look at this snapshot:

The random pally is slightly behind the random druid. Not a big enough gap to send out alarm bells. Different fights and different healing strategies might give one player more healing done than another. Heck, I’ve seen Baleroc logs where the Death Knight tank was way ahead of any healer on the meters.

But there could be a problem. The random pally could have let their assignment(s) die while goofing around, blowing cooldowns. They could have kept healing after a wipe was called. They could have been spamming healing on themselves while standing in crap. The recorded segment might even have been too short to get a clear image of the general healing output.

The random pally’s numbers aren’t a problem, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that random pally is problem-free.

As for “You”, You’s numbers are a problem. But maybe You died early. If it’s a one-time occurrence, it’s nothing to be concerned about. But if all of You’s healing meters look like this, then this post is for You.

Your numbers are low because…

1) You’re not casting enough

I’ve got Codi‘s cheerful voice stamped in my head from the Raid Warning Holy Paladin Roundtable: “ABC! Always be casting!

This is the main problem with low numbers. You’re not going to get any healing done if you’re not casting heals. (Duh)

Case in point, lets look at the amount of casts from each paladin from the above snapshot:

Random Pally:

You:

You cast 7 Flash of Lights while Random Pally didn’t, but otherwise:

Random Pally cast 21 Divine Lights while You only cast 8.
Random Pally got 163 Beacon of Light transfers while You only got 69.
Random Pally cast 28 Holy Shocks while You only cast 14.

Get the idea?

Lows cast numbers are usually cause by one or more of the following:

- Waiting for damage: This is super common in new holy paladins. Don’t wait for damage. Unless you’re pressed for mana or you’re clearly not expecting any damage, you should have holy lights and holy shocks going at pretty much all times. Also learn each fight’s damage patterns to anticipate when to start reving up those massive heals.

- Bad healing frames: You need frames that leave enough room on your screen to see the fight, that make targeting heals easy and that let you see the buffs/debuffs you need to track. If you want a big selection, Grimmtooth wrote a fantastic frames comparison series. Otherwise, I suggest using whichever addon the other healers in your team use. That way, if you need help, you’ll have a few experts at your disposal.

- Bad computer/internet: It sucks, but you wouldn’t play hockey with a broken stick and broken skates, would you? If your equipment is so bad that you’re not able to do anything in raids, hold off on the raiding until you can get some functional equipment. (The good news is that the equipment requirements for raiding 10 mans at a casual level aren’t that high.)

- Low haste: Actually, when huge discrepancies occur on healing meters, gear differences will be the most minor factor. I mean, gear will up your numbers, that’s why we get gear and gem it and reforge it. But among the other low healing output culprits listed here, gear will have the least effect.

Your numbers are low because…

2) Your Beacon Strategy Needs Tweeking

Now that you’re casting more, have a look at who you’re casting Beacon on. If you’re unsure of how to visualize Beacon (and other buff/debuff) uptime, I’ve got a detailed how-to at your disposal.

- Keep it up: On the picture here, Beacon fell off. Beacon should be up at all times. All times. If your Beacon is falling off, find some frames that show you clearly how much time you have left on Beacon.

- Choose your target carefully: Beacon of Light targets should fit in with your healing strategy. When you’re talking about strategy in your healer chat pre (or post)-pull, bring up your reasoning for your Beacon target so your teamates can work with it. While Beacon alone won’t keep a tank up, it’ll still be a major part of your healing and it’s very important to do it right. You can read about choosing a Beacon target here (it’s a bit dated and was written with 25s in mind, but the gist of it is still applicable).

Your numbers are low because…

3) You’re Not Using Cooldowns

When briefing new paladins, I often stress the cooldown rotation aspect of paladin healing. We’re like tanks that way: we’ve got so many cooldown that we’re not healing anywhere near our full potential if we’re not using them regularly.

The cooldown usage for “You” here was actually pretty good (especially considering this was a 4 minute Ragnaros attempt). Divine Favor or Lay on Hands didn’t show up on the list, but otherwise, You was using their toolbox pretty extensively.

When remembering to use cooldowns is an issue start practicing. Run some 5 mans or some battlegrounds and hit your cooldowns whenever they come up. Once they become second nature, reflect on the opportune moments to use them. But get in the habit of actually using before you start sitting on them “just in case”. We have so many cooldowns that you’ll usually have at least one available for emergencies.

Your numbers are low because…

4) You’re Using the Wrong Spells

This is the least likely to responsible for low healing numbers. After cooldown and Beacon usage is out of the way, our healing is pretty straightforward: Holy Shock on cooldown, Holy Light as a base heal and Divine Light as a major-damage heal. Some paladins use Flash of Light when in an emergency. (I’ve seen some use Flash of Light as their base heal, but I wouldn’t. It’s a lot of mana wastage.)

But if you want to get technical, lets look at “You”‘s spell breakdown again.

Holy Shock wasn’t used on cooldown. Holy Light should have been cast a lot more. A lot more. There was mana wastage with 7 uses of Flash of Light – if there were truly 7 emergencies during that attempt, at least several could have been avoided with a more consistent use of Holy Light.

As for Holy Power sinks (Word of Glory vs Light of Dawn), Word of Glory is the typical option in 10s and when healing a non-Beacon target. Light of Dawn is fantastic in 25s (though there has been some tweeking with the Holy Power sink spells so I don’t know if Light of Dawn still offers more tank healing via Beacon than Word of Glory) and has some leverage in 10s when the team is grouped up for major splash damage.

Your numbers are low because…

5) You’re Not Judging Enough

Random Paladin:

You:

Unless there’s an excruciatingly healing-intensive moment, Judgement should be used on cooldown. On cooldown.

The first paladin here judged 12 times, the other judged 7. Something’s not right.

While Judging won’t directly increase your healing done (the tiny self heal you get from judging is insignificant) the effect it has on mana during the fight is noticeable. More mana means more freedom to use bigger heals and less Divine Pleas, which will influence your output (and usefulness).

I keep a button with Judgement on my bars so I can see when it comes off cooldown, but you’ll find that with some practice, you’ll feel the rythm of paladin healing and will just know when you can cast it again. Keep the attack target targetted (or have a Judgement macro that assists the tank) and bind Judgement to an easy key (I move with ESDF, so I have Judgement bound to “R”, it’s super easy to hit).

So Cast, Judge and be Merry

There you have them: the keys to keeping up with your teammates in terms of healing done. Don’t stop casting, put some thought into your Beacons, use your Cooldowns, pick your spells properly and judge. That’s all there is to it.

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31 Comments on “Troubleshooting – “Help! Why are my numbers low?””

  1. Valithria Says:

    Are those logs from Tuesday? hehe.
    I find that my healing is never what I want it to be, especially on Majordomo Staghelm. I’ve looked these over, and unfortunately I’ve tried them all (besides the spell order), but to no avail.
    Oh well, I usually do better on other fights.

    • Ophelie Says:

      They’re from Thursday, I picked the most dramatic Rags attempt where all 3 healers stayed alive until the wipe. I wasn’t there Tuesday and no one took logs :(

      I don’t like Recount and/or Skada as gages of performances because they’re not very accurate and don’t show much information.

      Like I wrote in the introduction, a small difference in output isn’t a big deal. It’s class/assignment/mechanics dependent. Aiming to actually top healing meters, should only be ever in jest. When actually playing, your goal is to do your job. Your second goal is to help your teammates do their job. If you’ve got both goals down, then your spot on the meters will be nothing to worry about.

      But if you want to artificially boost yourself on the meters as a paladin, cast Holy Radiance as often as your mana allows it and time it for when DPS isn’t at full health. Consider pairing it with Avenging Wrath or Divine Favor. Then make sure you use Guardian and Lay on Hands every attempt. *shrug*

  2. Grimmtooth Says:

    As a caution, that overview of unit frame addons was focused on general purpose unit frames, though it did include the big three healing frame addons too. I’ve always intended to follow that up with a genuine comparison of the healer-focused frames from a healer’s PoV, but haven’t played my healer much since the expansion hit. But were I to rank them on that basis:

    1) Grid, because I’m used to it.
    2) Vuhdo, because it replaces around a dozen addons and Grid plugins.
    3) Healbot, but I hate the layout tools for that one. If you get past that, it looks very capable (I have not used it as a healer)
    4) Healium if nothing else works, but its interface is not friendly to the notion of saving space.

    That’s kind of thin but it’s the best I got at the moment :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      It was a greaaaat series though, and I thought it deserves way more attention than it got.

      I think some people can heal with general frames, but I would certainly recommend healer-centric frames above all others. I used to be a big Grid fan, but I gave Vudho and Healbot a test drive (in hopes of writing a comparison post too) and they were all very similar. So now I just suggest to use whatever you feel more comfortable with or, if you’re completely new to frames, go with what your friends use because it’s easier to get help.

    • Joe Ego Says:

      I started with Healbot during BC and moved to Vuhdo in Ulduar for some particular features. I never did try Grid, only because the plugin management seemed overly complicated and Vuhdo was already doing the job in a self-contained fashion.

      Healbot was already pretty sharp when I left it. All three of these options are strong, though there might be some minor differences in features which suit someone better.

      Healium…

      I have respect for anyone creating, publishing, and supporting an addon. I 100% disagree with the design choices made. Maybe (but not really) this is usable for a 5-man setting.

      • Grimmtooth Says:

        @Joe

        Yeah, Healium doesn’t seem to be focused on raids, at least not for healers that might have over a half dozen binds per frame.

        And yes I could see it working in 5-mans, but I could see Clique working better.

      • Ophelie Says:

        I’ve always been told that you need plug ins for Grid too, but other than Clique (which isn’t really a plug in), the only plugin I’ve ever had to use was the Chimearon one. Everything else – spell/buff/debuff/aggro/mana tracking and timing – I’ve been able to do without plugs in. So I’ve never understood why everyone claims you need plugs in to make it work.

        • Grimmtooth Says:

          @Ophelie – To clarify,

          “Need” is a strong word, though once you get used to having certain Grid plugins, it’s hard to do without.

          For example, being able to track where your Frisbee is (and how many charges it has, or who has the Weakened Soul debuff (and who doesn’t) is pretty darned handy when you’re a disco priest. Likewise, if you can see who has dispellable debuffs quickly, you can totally discard Decursive or other similar (now redundant) addons. A plugin to see everyone’s mana levels is useful for knowing when to blow innervate / hymn / etc. A half dozen or so plugins will eliminate the need for several addons – and possibly raid frames – completely.

          This is why I included Grid et al as unit frame replacement candidates in the first place – they cover the bases! :)

          • Ophelie Says:

            I can see stacks and debuffs (any debuff, dispellable or not) without plugins.

            Not sure about mana bars – I don’t use them because I find them distracting – but I think you can config Grid to show them without having to add plugins.


  3. Have you considered two healing Rag? It considerably shortens phase three, you get fewer meteors, and more time up on rag because the lava scions die much faster.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I actually did suggest it, but my guild is really cautious about trying to two heal things. I do think it would be good for us on Rags in his current state since, despite what the heal meter snapshots looked like, healing wasn’t a problem.

      One of our main issues with 2 healing, though, is that we don’t have enough dps players to 2-heal things…

  4. Donny Says:

    héhé point 2.. i c wha u did thar

    “Your Beacon needs some Tweakin’…”

    =P

  5. Oestrus Says:

    I think this is a really great post and that a lot of your tips or observations could easily apply to other classes or specs, who may be thinking or going through the same things.

    It’s great to see another post from you, dear.

    :)

  6. Gladiola Says:

    After nerfs we found ourselves wishing we’d had a healer bring a viable offspec, mostly in our 10 man alt raid, but also for a fight or two in our new heroic 25 progression last week where I have already asked and been given permission to dps some this week. Yay!

    IMO you hit the nail on the head with making frequent use of cooldowns, something I often overlooked when I first began pally healing. Also there are a few encounters in current tier that call for glyph swapping for efficiency, and that also spices things up a bit. Always what I have loved most about holy pal, seems so much more versatile and adaptable.

    I’ve really come to enjoy piddling through our raid logs lately also. Great way to learn a little more even about your strengths and weaknesses.

  7. Megacode Says:

    Good post, straight to the point. Also, I would suggest not to get too focused on numbers. Do exactly what Oph says and if people are alive, tanks aren’t dead and bosses are downed then your doing something right. Especially if your top of the numbers intermittently. Certain fights I’m on top and others I might be number 3. As long as I’m using all my tools at my disposal appropriately and we get the job done then I’m good with number 3 spot. Have fun on Rags my friend have fun on Rags :-p

    • Ophelie Says:

      Well, if you’re waaaay behind everyone else in terms of numbers, it has to be looked into. Everyone should be pulling their weight.

      But small difference are normal and then it’s more about keeping people alive than anything else.

      • Megacode Says:

        Oh definitely. Being way behind, and just being .5- 2% are two different scenarios. But for example Baleroc fight I am way ahead hps because I can really increae my hps with help of DF coupled with HS and WoG. Doesn’t mean our other healers aren’t pulling their weight, it’s just a HPally style of fight. On Rags, since esp phase 2 and 3 have tons of raid AoE damage, I am usually number 2 or 3 in ranked healing done. Right now unless there appears to be a problem, I don’t even bother looking at meters.

        • Ophelie Says:

          Of course, like I said, you should look at the big picture..

          And when you’re running with the same people, you know who pulls their weight and who doesn’t.

          I look more closely when we have new people, and new healers or new guild members also tend to look more closely at their numbers too, to make sure they’re living up to expectations.


  8. [...] Bossy Pally takes a close look at paladin healing numbers and what it means if yours seem to be a bit [...]

  9. Ceraphus Says:

    good stuff, will be posting this to my guild’s holy pallies, as many of them are new to researching on worldoflogs how to do things.

  10. Stubborn Says:

    O,
    Wonderful write-up. This may be one of the clearest paladin healing guides I’ve seen, and not just from a post-bad-healing situation.

    In fact, other than spell name changes, I think this is a fantastic guide for basically every healer (minus the beacon section, I suppose – hurray unique abilities!). I’ve only done a modicum of pally healing at 85, but having healed all of Wrath on my druid, I can say that each piece of this is really applicable to all healers.

    Once again, great write up – a fantastic post to drop in with!
    Stubborn

    • Ophelie Says:

      Aww thank you!

      I’m not familiar with other healing classes, so I kept this from a pally point of view. According to the healing roundtable we did (which isn’t up yet) holy priests don’t cast all the time, but everyone else does. But I guess casting, proper spell and cooldown usage while using some decent raid frames are the foundations of healing.

  11. Praka Says:

    Two questions..

    1) what do you use for tracking all this info? I’ve never been in a situation where my performance is under review (I’m in a decent ten man team where all the members pull their weight just fine but I’d still like to see my own performance and try to improve). Is this just world of logs?

    2) being in a 10m I certainly don’t use light of dawn much outside of stacking phases but was their a change that made it so LoD overhealing didnt transfer to beacon? Thought i remembered seeing that a while back but wasn’t certain

    3) just remembered.. Whats considered an acceptable uptime for Conviction? If nothing else I think this is one of yhe most important reasons for paladins to always be casting

    Thanks for the great post : )

    • Joe Ego Says:

      1) All of those screenshots are from World of Logs, particularly the spells cast and the buffs section. Very helpful for tracking after the fact. Logging yourself is easy to do and their are a lot of resources online. Once you start doing it, I recommend Loggerhead to handle auto-on/off of combat logging in the game.

      2) All spells that transfer through Beacon will transfer overheal as well. The change was to buff WoG, making WoG generally better unless you Glyph LoD – plus each LoD hit has it’s own chance to crit.

      3) An acceptable uptime for Conviction is 90%+. If you’re not moving during the fight (Chimaeron??) then ~100% is the goal. The amount of Crit needed to maintain Conviction with near constant casting is fairly low.

    • Ophelie Says:

      What Joe said ^

      (I fail at keeping up with comments)

      On Conviction, you want it up as much as possible. You can use the buff tracking option from WoL to see when it fell off and for how long.

      I checked my own logs, on non-moving fights, I’m usually around 95-100% uptime. On a moving fight like Rags I’m more around 85%. But yeah, closer to 100% uptime, the better!

  12. Bill Says:

    Thank you for this article. I really want to learn to heal, and your comments seem most helpful. Of course that seems to be your normal.
    Here is hoping I get the courage to inflict my skills on some poor random group and not let them down too badly.


  13. I sure wish I had seen this article before. Now I can make more informed choices when it comes to applications and new people! Thanks, Bossy Pally! (Ahem, and yeah, I can also become a better paladin healer, should I ever stop tanking on that character!)


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