Every Thursday, we try to forcibly educate the WoW populace about frequently misunderstood and/or misused terminology. We may not see results yet, but our children’s children will tell the tale of the heroes who valiantly stood up for vocabulary and proper spelling. It is for them that we persevere.
What are meters?
In WoW, when someone talks about meters it almost always refers to addons which post data from the combat log in a format that enables a player to quickly compare things like damage done. The most common of these types of addons is Recount, which will often be referred to by name.
For a relatively straightforward addon, meters have a tendency to be a hotly debated topic. So what is it about meters that brings out the emo teenager in all of us?
Argument A: Meters are the devil.
Some people hate meters with an intense loathing usually reserved for pedophiles and genocidal tyrants. While their vehemence towards an addon in an internet video game might be slightly disproportional, there are reasons for their virulence.
It’s a very common occurrence to be in a low level 5 man and have some idiot linking meters in party chat every thirty seconds, completely spamming your chat window. As a general rule, if someone links the same meter twice within five minutes, I automatically /ignore them. It’s one of the rules that makes Azeroth a much happier place for me.
However, it’s not always possible to simply ignore people who place too much reliance on meters. It isn’t uncommon for raid leaders in PuGs to use meters as the sole determinant of a player’s worth to the raid. While meters can sometimes point out glaring problems, it is absolutely rage-inducing to watch someone boil down a player’s ability to a simple number, without regard for fight mechanics favoring certain classes, whether a player was doing a special job, or any other number of circumstances. When healing meters are brought up, I usually enter a state of uncontrollable anger that leaves me unable to speak (and sometimes foaming at the mouth). Comparing healers by their healing numbers is absolute garbage, for reasons best explained by World of Matticus.
Even if you find a good group to play with that knows better than to judge players based on meters alone, you still will encounter players who make their sole goal in WoW to get as high on the meters as they possibly can. This type of player is known for standing in bad things so they sustain maximum DPS, but they also do things like use AoE spells instead of focus firing a particularly important target, or perhaps they will do a shoddy job on special jobs like kiting adds because they are trying to sneak in extra DPS on the boss. These are all excellent ways to make your raid leader start hitting the bottle extra hard. (Also: Whispering your sister multiple times during raid to tell her your DPS deserves a mention too.)
Argument B: Meters may have their flaws, but they can be useful if used properly.
With all the reasons I just listed why meters can range from mildly aggravating to blindingly infuriating, you might be surprised to discover I have Recount downloaded. For that matter, most people I know do.
Why on earth, after I told you that comparing healers is virtually meaningless, would I have Recount as a healer? Well Recount doesn’t just spit out a number with your DPS or healing. It can tell you things like what are my hardest hitting (or healing) spells, who I’m attacking (or healing), what is hitting other players, and all sorts of information.
So, for example, let’s say that you are a holy priest, and that you frequently raid with another holy priest. Your raid leader has you both heal two different tanks. But while yours frequently dies, the other holy priest’s tank usually lives. This is the case no matter who heals which tank. So you look at Recount, and see two things. One is that you are using Power Word: Shield, while the other holy priest does not. So you stop using Power Word: Shield and instead use the time you were spending casting it to cast different spells instead. The other is that Prayer of Mending is very high on the other priest’s healing spells, while you never cast it. So you start casting Prayer of Mending on the priest on cooldown. After you make those two simple changes, you notice your tank starts to stay alive a lot more. (Not a true story.)
In summation, Recount is wildly abused in WoW. And people abusing it will often cause you to gnash your teeth in anger and fantasize gaining the ability to strangle people through the internet. Consider getting it, but just remember, every time you stand in fire so you don’t lose DPS, a kitten dies.