Benchmarking, DPS/HPS envy, and what to do if you feel like you can't keep up

I have written before about how I miss having 25 mans because I liked playing with everyone, but one thing I missed in particular was the competition I used to set myself when I compared myself to other healers, and in particular, other resto druids.

However, when I thought more about the word "competition" it really wasn't quite the word I was looking for.
Competition in biology, ecology and sociology is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals, groups, etc. for territory, a niche, or a location of resources, for resources and goods, for prestige, recognition and awards, for mates and group or social status, for leadership; it is the OPPOSITE of cooperation.
It was that last line which made me stop.  Competition is the OPPOSITE of cooperation.  Which means that what I was doing was not competition.  Perhaps the better term is Benchmarking.
Benchmarking is the process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries.  Benchmarking is used to measure performance using a specific indicator (cost per unit of measure, productivity per unit of measure, cycle time of x per unit of measure or defects per unit of measure) resulting in a metric of performance that is then compared to others.
What a mouthful! This description is about industry performance, but can also apply to WoW gamers, when comparing ourselves to others.

I benchmark myself to others within my raid.  This probably isn't the best thing to do, as I then try harder to see if I can perform better, be the best.  And when I reach the top, I stop and settle into that routine.  This is what has happened to me in Cataclysm.  I have had no other druids to benchmark to and I have subsequently become lax about watching my buffs like Harmony, use of CDs, mana efficiency and frequency of casting.  I should be looking at World of Logs and see how similarly geared druids are churning out heals than me and think to myself constantly how I can improve.

However, it takes a certain personality type to do this.  I think those of the ambitious nature, tend to want to look at charts, compare themselves to others, and strive to improve or better their performance.  I gave myself the hypothetical question: If there was another resto druid in the raid who persistently healed better than me no matter how hard I tried, how would I feel?

I knew what I would be doing.  I would pore over logs, heals, specs, enchants and stats to see what I could do better.  I would continue to try my best, but if I could never do better, I would, after a while, accept that I wasn't the better healer and applaud that person.  And wish that I was that good!  I would feel a bit bad about not being able to perform that well, but I don't think I would give up my druid or my healing because I wasn't the best.

"Druid healing" by the awesome Samwise

But what do other people do when they can't keep up?  There is the natural tendency to want to say "Stuff it, I'm not that good, I'm giving up, I don't want to heal anymore, I'm sick of looking like the weak link."  But remember, it's a team effort!  People are counting on you!  This is why competition is the opposite of cooperation - the healing team should cooperate to best manage the fight rather than compete for heals.

I have seen people who just weren't good at healing.  Even switching to another healing class (which they did because they thought it was easier to heal with that class), made no difference to their healing ability.  But at least this person knew they weren't good, however, I am unsure whether they did more research on how to improve.  In the end, they decided to play a different spec.  It was probably for the best.  Despite a lot of advice, and figuring out their "strengths" (that healer worked well when they only had one target to heal/one job to do and it was spelled out for them exactly what they needed to do), some people just aren't cut out for healing.

Here's another story.  A druid who was healing against a disc priest had a different but non productive approach.  The druid persistently looked poor on healing meters, and their response was "Could the disc priest not heal and bubble everything and stick to their tank because my heals aren't showing up and it looks like I'm not doing anything."  Poor thing obviously had a low self esteem.  A better way to handle this situation was probably to encourage the disc priest to DPS so that the druid could heal without the bubbles and see if their healing was good enough to keep the raid up or not.  Or give them a clear defined role, that they could have to themselves and be healed without interference.  Don't help them out unless thir targets are below 25% health.  If you constantly baby them and hold their hand, it will only make them less confident of their own abilities.

"Chain Heal" by Udoncrew for the WoW TCG

Looking now, the difference is that I have to compare myself against the holy priest and a resto shaman.  And I always lag behind.  It can be quite depressing - however, I reassure myself that it's merely that we are all good healers and heals are getting sniped because we're all so keen to get our targets topped up.  That's not a bad thing is it?  It might make me look bad, but doesn't make me a bad healer.  Besides, I know what my class is good at healing and what it's not. And I have to remind myself - it's not a competition.  We're co-operating.  We're a team.  We don't need to fight each other for heals, we're already fighting the boss!  Besides, as I tell my healing crew,, healers stick together.  We defend each other, against the DPS and tanks trying to tell us what to do.  (However don't do the bad thing and start telling THEM what to do).

DPS are not exempt from this "envy".  Augment, our combat rogue, said to me that he doesn't like raiding with Roshii our assassination rogue, because it makes him look bad.  But on his own, Augment holds his own.  He may not learn as fast as Roshii, or DPS as well as him, but he does ok in the right environment.  You can imagine how he feels - no matter how hard you try, you won't be as good as the other, and yet you worry you try your best, and the other person thinks elitist things like "OMG, look at you, you are trying your best and you STILL can't beat me!"  It's unlikely that Roshii thinks that, but you can imagine that being belittled for trying is worse than being belittled for not doing that well when not trying.

When Fallnapart first came over, he was compared with Moopie all the time.  They were both the same spec.  Falln decided to break out of the comparisons and went arms, and his DPS went up a lot - the AOE damage was a lot more.  Recently Falln went back to Fury but he found his DPS wasn't the same, it was a lot lower.  Maybe he'd forgotten how to play or his spec and reforges weren't right, but he at least found his little niche and dealt with the DPS comparison that way.

So remember, everyone brings something to a raid.  Comparing DPS charts is a tool but it is not the only way to assess someone.  If someone is lagging behind, give them a hand!  Encourage them, offer advice, not in a condescending way but in a helpful way.  And if they aren't any good at that role despite multiple interventions... instead of belittling them, maybe encourage them to try something else.  Raiding is competitive, but it should be fun.  And we're all human.  The law of the jungle says the strongest survive.  But we're human beings.  To quote Voltaire:

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.


  1. That paladin graphic is cheeky :p

    It's good that you have a sensible head on your shoulders in a pressurised raid environment. Your guild will be benefiting from that! :)

  2. oh boy, where do I start?
    I used to be really good, or so I thought, because I was the only shadow priest, in guild for a really, really long time. But then came some others and I realized I wasn't so good and it really hurt. I felt so angry at all these shadow priest imposters! I thought how dare they rain on my parade! I became really really upset at my ability to perform and would often sit out of raids because of others always better than me. It became so bad I started to question had I made the right choice to play a shadow priest?

    No matter how hard I researched or gemmed and enchanted correctly I just couldn't get the dps other shadow priests were getting and to this day I still cant. And when I do FL raids or alt DS raids, peoples alts are better than me, so in some ways having another shadow priest drags my mental state about my own toon down and I still ponder whether to play her anymore, cept that I adore her and I love purple!.

    But I see your point with comparing with other healers Navi, So I envy your desire to compare to what other healers are doing and the differences that you could improve or pass along to.

    Quality vs Quantity? Quality in a person, so I agree with your last paragraph. I still love to raid regardless of my horrific dps, its the belonging in a community of friendly raiders is what I enjoy most..maybe I do need to try something else...who knows?

  3. My biggest problem isn't tolerance for others, I hardly notice what others do as I'm too busy being intolerant of myself.

    When I realized I was probably pretty awful, I just got rid of any means of measuring how awful I was, too distracting, and continued to play my cat far away from others so no one would be hurt, lol!

  4. I am laughing at "exempt from envy!" DPS is all about the numbers--I suspect one reason why I started tanking and healing is so I could run with my awesomesauce DPS hunter friend and not have her show me up in every last fight! LOL! I remember getting my pixelated feelings hurt one time when she asked another player to have a DPS competition during a run, but not me, because I wouldn't even come close and she knew it. Ah, so silly. I remember being shocked during an LFR when a healer put out the healing stats. Really? "Healers do this to one another?" I remember thinking --criminy-jim-jam, thout I had escaped being spammed Recount as a healer, but apparently not.

    But Navi, what I am dealing with now, in life and in game, is what I can control and what I can't. Had a very interesting conversation yesterday with young elite druid, and basically no matter how much we research the numbers, the moves, the classes, the buffs, all those factors, there is still a "mojo" factor- a time when it all comes together and a time when it doesn't. And perhaps that is why in Azeroth, different healers have different abilities. We go to a heart doctor when our ticker is tonking, and a we don't go to a brain surgeon when our knee hurts.

    What is clear is how much you care, your passion, and your good heart. I love that drawing of the Tauren healer--in the game, that is how I would see your role. You want to succeed because you want every one to succeed--that is not competitive, and don't get discouraged. That is your strength.

  5. @Ara - I thought you might giggle at it :p
    @faith - reading what you wrote makes me sad because I know now how hard it must have been. But you know I still love to play with you!
    @TotA - stop being paranoid! We want to play with you because you are our friend! Go read BBBs post!
    @Matty - I know people think its about numbers but it's not just that. Crowd control, vital interruptions are all part of good dps too.

    I won't lie, I was a bit down about my healing when I compared myself to others, like Voe, who makes comments sometimes which I think he thinks are jokes but they can make you feel bad. That's why I love arena so much, it's just me and my abilities to the max and I don't even look at numbers, I look at the result. And when I reminded myself of that I felt good again. I am not a high rated arena team by any means but I do enjoy it and that's what counts! another thing that really lifted my spirits was Aza. Maybe he was just being polite but he praised my healing very highly, even going as far to say I was the best resto Druid he's played with and he has played with a lot. I know many who are heaps better but his confidence in me was really uplifting. But hey, maybe he hasn't played with many resto Druids :)

  6. When our guild has 2 of the best warlocks in the realm, I was always benchmarking myself against them. I knoe I'll never be as good as Aza or Sev, but I continue to try and eek out as much as I can. On occasions I have topped them, but only against trash mobs, but it was through benchmarking myself against them that I did improve and by heaps. I'm constantly tweeking trying to get a little more, but I always like it when we raid with both Aza and Sev, so I can try and be number 3 on the DPS meters.


  7. Great post Navi. Having another member of the same class in a raid who knows what they're doing to benchmark yourself against is really helpful I think. I think I did my best dps during wrath when Xyn was around and we did 25's. As long as I was close to his dps I was happy and I knew I was doing the best I can. Nowadays, I find it more difficult to pinpoint the specific reason why I'm usually near the bottom of the meters. Is it because of my class? Unlikely. Is it because the majority of dpsers in our current raid have the legendary and outgear me? Quite possibly. Maybe these guys are just plain and simple better than me. Most probably. Either way, raiding with the best players can only help you improve. It makes you question what you can do to be a better player and that's what I like about this game.

  8. Bench marking? these days you cant benchmark class to class as 10 mans have taken over so comparing yourself to other classes is hars.

    No need for me to worry. Im amazing and no other shaman is as good as me. LoL


    (ps im not joking... >.>) tehehe

  9. Voe needs to learn some "shamanic" humility. Let's call up Arstor and have Gley bring Endwe out of retirement ... :p

    Co-operation is very useful in improving your DPS - having a matching class member to share tips and tricks with is very useful. Az and I have been both competing and cooperating for 5 years - we shared tricks on how to best use an ability mid-fight, what kinds of dps were right for different situations, and what specs were best for different fights (hint, the answer is always "affliction" ;) ).

    Competition is the part that drives you to find methods to improve your DPS and techniques beyond what would normally make sense - effectively to find every possible hole in a fight and use it. For instance, in gunship an afflock can get a big dps boost by triple dotting up both dragons as they fly over and drop the adds. This is difficult to do at the start of the fight, and an absolute nightmare mid-fight ... but in a competition, it's worth a try just to stay apace on the meters (and the extra damage helps a lot when you actually have to kill the dragons).

    Could probably write a lot more, but won't spam Navi's blog ... :p

  10. for the longest time before roecount was around I enjoyed raiding cos it was us against hordes of evils and as long as atleast one of us survived and non of the mobs did I saw it as we won.

    even now I feel that as long as the boss died and we dindnt it was a win but with recount showing me below others it is certainly upsetting, its possible for me to up myself the charts but the whole sniping heals just isnt fun for me. if I see some one who needs healing then I heal them. I play the game to play with friends not to see my name up the top.

  11. OMG I just noticed Hugh of MMO Melting pot linked this post and quoted some text which had a typo on it, which I had to fix ASAP! OMG how embarrassing!

    @Voe - /facepalm OMG just stop talking you're so cheeky!
    @Sevrus - You and Az are classic examples of competition and co-operation with both of you being good natured about the whole thing yet understanding the subtleties of different spec on different encounters. The things you guys say make me laugh, for example:
    "Oh Sev, I couldn't see your DPS from the number one spot..."
    "Demo is alright if you want to try to be a fire mage..."
    "Fire mages could learn something from my demo lock"
    And I love essay like comments. They are fun to read.
    @Biship - omg a comment from Bish! I know how you feel, it can be very disheartening and annoying and make you want to NOT raid, but you know I'm always glad to have you around :)


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