Heal Sniping and Meter Padding

The list of stupid gaming terms I think should be completely abolished from people’s vocabularies is long, but today the one on the top of that list is Heal Sniping.

I first heard this term back in Ulduar. My Horde main was my Shaman back then and my go-to spells were Riptide and hasted Lesser Healing Waves. As I read through blogs and forums looking for healing tips, I noticed that many people referred to this method of healing as sniping.

What is heal sniping?

Heal sniping is healing a target that will be healed by someone else shortly. If you can get your heal off faster, you get all the credit on the healing meters, while the person whose heal lands after gets nothing but overheal. Sniping is stealing a heal from someone else. The term generally implies competition among healing teams and bad, meter-whoring intentions by the sniper.

I’ve seen people refer to all sorts of things as sniping:

  • My RT/LHW example above. Fast heals = sniping
  • Pre-HoTing = sniping
  • Power Word: Shield = sniping
  • Healing someone with a HoT on them = sniping
  • Using healing cooldowns outside of emergency situations = sniping
  • Healing anyone you’re not specifically assigned to heal = sniping

I call bullshit.

The biggest problem with the term heal sniping is that it implies bad intent. If I know that the other druid is casting a slow Healing Touch on target A and I cast a fast Regrowth on them before it goes off so I look good on meters then yes, technically I’m sniping. But does that really happen? Raid frames can tell you when someone has a heal incoming but they can’t tell you if the caster is going to have to stop casting to move out of something bad, may not tell you if the heal will bring them to full and there’s likely more damage coming soon anyway. Am I using a fast heal to be an asshole or am I just trying to save target A from floor-tanking for the rest of the encounter?

Healing is a team effort, and the healers work together to keep everyone alive. If we avoided any healing spells and tactics that could be considered sniping, no one would get healed. Thinking about healing in terms of sniping is the wrong mindset. It’s not a competition. If everyone gets healed and no one dies, you win – collectively.

If I’m assigned to heal the tank and I use a spare GCD when the tank’s not in danger to cast a Wild Growth on the raid am I sniping from the raid healers? No. I’m helping them. If I’m assigned to raid heal and I stack Lifebloom on the tank along with a few direct heals when I can manage them am I sniping from the tank healers? Nope, just helping out. If my assignments are at safe health levels and I pop a quick heal on someone dangerously low on health who is not my assignment am I sniping in an attempt to appear higher on the healing meter? Of course not, I’m trying to save someone from dying. Cross-healing is an important part of being a healer – knowing when you should stick to your own targets and when you can afford to help out others is one of the things that separates the good healers from the bad.

Snipe healing is often paired with another stupid concept – meter padding.

I need to clarify (because I know some people are misinformed) that overheal does not pad the meters. Healing meters (such as those on World of Logs) show the amount of effective healing done. So if I throw Rejuvs on as many people as I can even if they’re not taking damage, I’m not making myself look (superficially) better in any way. I’m just being an idiot. It is impossible to ‘pad the meter’ with overheal.

If your assignments don’t die and you’re not running out of mana too soon, tossing out your high HPS spells to put out as much healing as possible isn’t meter padding. It’s doing your job to keep the raid healed.

Every healer should be healing their ass off and working to put out as much healing as they possibly can.

There are a couple real examples of meter-padding, but I would hope they don’t happen often. If you take extra damage so you have more to heal or continue to heal after a wipe has been called, that’s meter-padding. Of course, those things are extremely obvious to anyone paying attention and those caught doing either should be laughed right out of the raid.

But what’s the real problem?

The problem with terms like sniping and meter padding is that they are non-descriptive, blanket statements that get thrown around too much. You could call any healer who does well on the meters and casts a lot of high HPS spells a meter-padder, when in reality they’re just doing their job to the best of their ability. These terms also distract from what’s really going wrong. Almost every problem that can be generically attributed one of these things has a real, specific problem behind it.

If my assigned target dies because I’m busy healing someone else’s target then I lack focus, the ability to follow assignments and the instinct to know when I can safely spare a heal for someone else.

If I run out of mana because I’ve been busy casting heals on those who aren’t taking damage or casting more heals than necessary then I’m inefficient, and need to learn how to manage my mana better.

If healers have spare GCDs and mana to heal everyone else’s targets consistently, there are too many healers in the fight.

If everything goes well, no one dies due to lack of heals and the boss goes down, congratulations! There’s no need for slinging around terms like sniping.

I’m not saying that players who’d rather place highly on the meters than play effectively don’t exist, but to any healing lead/raid leader/log analyser worth their salt it’s going to be pretty obvious who these players are. Who cares if you have the highest HPS when your targets are always dead? Or if you’re wiping? No one focused on progression does.

When your healing team runs into trouble, address it head-on and find out what the real problems are. Stop using terms like sniping and meter padding and remember that healing is a team sport.

*Just to clarify, before the comments start, this post has nothing to do with me or either of my raid teams. I read a couple posts this week that talked about snipe healing – one condemning it, one extolling its virtues. This isn’t even a direct response to either of those posts, just a tangent my brain went on after thinking about the subject for a while.*

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42 Responses to Heal Sniping and Meter Padding

  1. I can’t agree more. Cross healing needs to be encouraged as long as you don’t fail in your assignment. The only time I have an issue with cross healing is when learning a fight, I want to make sure that the healing assignments are working and that a certain assignment isn’t riding the coat tails of another assignment.

    Healing for the most part is a binary pass/fail, and I have no problems leaving a fight without having used tranq, tree, NS or innervate because you never know when latency, a bad day or whatever will cause an emergency that you can save a wipe with one or more of those. Obviously on progression content I tend to schedule those cooldowns, but on farm content I never use them to “pad the meters”.

    If someone feels the need to inflate their meters then there’s something wrong with either them or the raid leadership. Work on inflating your lifebloom and harmony uptime, or reducing your WG and rejuev overheal in a fight where mana is of issue.

    • I don’t even understand how one goes about inflating the meters. I heal my butt of on every fight and push out every little bit of healing I can. As a result I’m high on the meters. But I’m not ‘inflating’ them in any way, I’m just healing. If that healing counts on the meters, then someone needed it. The ways that people usually talk about inflating meters seems counterproductive to me. If all I do is spam my costly high HPS spells, I will run out of mana, and healers with no mana do no healing.

  2. I agree. It’s a pretty stupid term and even concept.

    On a lighter note, since DPS is “deeps” in herpaderpa e-language, I hereby coin HPS as “hips.”

    I think we can all agree that Jasyla has nice hips, whether or not we can all agree about “heal sniping.”

    Yay for creepy win.

  3. My name is Vixsin, and I’m a sniper. ^_^

    And if I snipe a heal from you, I’m not only NOT sorry that I did it, I’m going to taunt you for being too slow. If you want to be lazy, say you had dibs on that empty part of a person’s HP bar and claim I “pad” because I beat you to the heal, that’s your prerogative.

    I make decisions about who to heal based on a split-second assessment of the situation; I don’t have time to second-guess or stop-cast every time I see an overlap. I’m not going to squint at an Incoming Heals number, do a quick mental calculation and then hand-pick the “right” heal to address the difference. More than that, I’m in raid to do the most healing I possibly can, while being completely accountable for *every single person there*. And if I have mana to burn, then you bet your ass I’m going to burn it.

    You can call it padding, sniping, pre-hotting, or whatever you like; I call it healing like I’m the only healer alive. Because the difference between sniping and triage, is that extra healer or two that we shouldn’t have there in the first place.
    Vixsin recently posted..Ready Check: Questions for New and Experienced Resto Shamans, and Everyone In Between

  4. Yeah it’s a bit of a moot point imo. A bit of redundancy is not bad, at least as long as the heal assignments aren’t dying and people trying to pad healing meters aren’t going oom.

    If we all avoided ‘heal sniping’ we’d be doing this awkward dance where we’d constantly stop casting because we someone else casting, and then the people who die.

    For example, I bet you all have done the rez awkward dance where one guy rezs, other guy rezs, one guy stops cause he sees the other one casting, the other one stops cause he thinks the other guy is doing it, they both stare at each other not casting anymore, rinse repeat, while the dead guy is laying there thinking OMG will someone just rez me please. Imagine that with heals…

    • Haha, I always do the Rez dance. Someone usually beats me to it with a mass rez.

      Everyone with a health bar that isn’t full is going to have a heal coming at some point, but waiting for someone else to do it doesn’t make much sense.

  5. I have not healed in a very long time, but we’ve had the silly comparisons since raids first landed – and only the fools were fooled by the “overhealing” or some such terms. Nice post and I agree.
    There is the same rubbish in dps circles, with people “padding” the meters. I see nothing wrong with multi dot’ing trash in most circumstances, and if anything that process saves me reapplying dots (as a DK I can spread dots to all mobs with one GCD) to a new target when the old one dies. Am I padding or being efficient?
    TyphoonAndrew recently posted..Tanking for Money

    • Right. Unless it’s interfering with your assignment (like you need to be cc’ing something, or killing a specific mob really fast before it explodes) I think things like multi-dotting are more efficient.

      I’d guess that it’s the people who can’t do things like multi-dot (or multi-hot) that throw around terms like meter-padding the most.

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  7. Remember the day … 9 months ago … When Blizz said healing in Cata would be about keeping people between 50-75% health to avoid being OOM … ROFL. Great post Pasiphae!

    • Thanks!

      Mana will always become less and less of an issue as gear gets better. It would be interesting if all healing spell costs were based on total Intellect instead of base Int. Then it would never get easier. Though, I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable leaving healthbars on partially full anyways.

  8. I snipe heals all day, everyday because topping the meters is the only way to be.

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  10. You already know my thoughts on this topic :)

    I’m with Vixsin on this: if doing the best I can puts me in the category of “sniper” then I guess you better hope that you can move fast enough to stay out of my cross hairs!

    Honestly, though I wanted to copy part of a comment I left somewhere else on this topic that I think sums up my thoughts on it pretty well:

    “As far as heal “sniping” goes, I just don’t get it as a concept. Sniping as a whole means that you are looking at healing on an idividual level and not at a team level. A healing team can’t snipe simply by nature of being a team. In our raids our healers are always pushing each other to go farther than they did the last raid, just as the DPS would. Everyone maximizes their play and does the best that they can. It’s healthy to have competition. In fact, when you have more healers playing at a very high level, the opposite of what happens to DPS occurs with HPS – each individuals HPS goes down by virture of having a more even split in the healing. But that isn’t achieved by asking one healer to be a worse healer, but rather by asking all of your other healers to step it up.”

    Great post!
    Beruthiel recently posted..What Would YOU Do?

    • Thanks Beru :)

      It’s always nice to be challenged by the rest of your healing team. It’s one thing to challenge yourself on things like Lifebloom uptime and not standing in the bad, but having the rest of your healers challenge you brings about a whole new level of fun (and awesome healing). The concept of sniping has nothing to do with it because you win and lose, save people or let them die, as a team.

  11. It looks like many good comments have been posted and I don’t have the time to read them all, but I will.

    It seems to me that what you’re noticing about meter padding and heal sniping is the (generalized) difference between how masculine personalities compete and how feminine personalities compete. As I understand it, the masculine personality competes to dominate, to assert authority, and to distinguish worthy from unworthy. The feminine, though, competes for group performance and equality (even if it’s a sense of ‘oh, you can do something that well? Just watch, I can do it, too!’). Men tend to be more concerned with the size of their peens (be there digital or analog) and women tend to be more concerned with maintaining an overall higher standard.

    –Sean

    • That’s an interesting way to think about it. Most of the talk of sniping I read is on forums or blogs so I don’t really know the personalities of the people writing about it to tell. I’m not sure it can come down to a men vs. women issue though. I can’t say I can differentiate men and women based on how much of a team player they are in most situations.

      • Oh, fair enough. It was not my intent to give hardset rules about how men behave versus how women behave. It was anecdotal, at best. Granted, men can be team players and often are, but generally, less mature (emotional maturity/health, I mean) men tend to seek out the glory of themselves even in the context of working together. Though, I suppose you could just generalize this all to people rather than one sex or the other. And maybe there just tends to be more immature males playing than females, eh? ;-)

        –Sean

  12. One hundred percent AGREED. Heal teams are just that, we are a team. Meters don’t tell anywhere near the whole story on healing. When I am solo-healing the main tank on Shannox and Rageface goes down, the paladin that WAS healing damage from him comes over and starts assisting me. Is he sniping me? Hell, no, he is helping me because Shannox’s damage has just gone up on the main tank. If I have a GCD and I saw Rageface’s target going down a big chunk in health while the paladin is throwing his cast, damn straight I’ll throw a rejuv on him to help!

    Being a TEAM is just that, we do our jobs and we have each others’ backs as well. Whether it’s a long cast heal, a bad lag spike, or whatever, I feel safe in that my fellow healers can assist me at need and vice versa! When I call out I need a concentration pot, then yeah, another healer has my target covered for those seconds… it’s just that simple.

    People who complain about snipes need to remember that they are part of a team. The team wins or loses, not the individual.

    • Exactly, the team wins or loses.

      A lot of people who write about wow or comment on forums have a tendency to be quite negative. So where a positive, happy healer will think their team is helping them, a negative, grumpy healer will think their heals are being stolen. I’d rather look on the positive side of things.

  13. I intend to start a healer soon (for the first time) and therefore reading about it. I have read about a “technique” that can be called “padding” even though it seems (to non-pro me) like it would not be detected unless you look for it. If you do not remove “bad” that you can (dispells, remove curse, what have you) but heal instead, your numbers would be higher even though you have not really done your job the optimal way.
    As a beginner I hope this is incorrect – please let me know if it is.
    IK have no problem with people learning how to do a job (like what I intend to do as a healer) as long as they do it right and not pretend.

    • In a raid situation, that would most likely not work. Either someone else who could dispel would do it, or someone would notice that they were not getting dispelled and ask why. People could also check the logs and see that you didn’t cast any dispels. So I guess it would depend on the group – if they’re not really paying attention it might not be detected, but I think most groups would notice.

  14. I agree with pretty much everyone, but something boggled my mind. I always though that Recount showed healing done including overheal, so I was always high because I’m a druid => high overheal => high healing done. You mean that my healing done is actually healing DONE, and I’m really that good for always being on top of the meters? :P
    (I’m such a nab, I know…)

    Off to look at WoL and pat myself on the back! (Until I see my Harmony uptime and cringe, probably.)
    Jen recently posted..One month of Cataclysm

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  16. I’m someone who, as you know, puts emphasis on following assignments and helping when you can — not pure throughput numbers.

    That said, I’ve looked through enough of your parses to know you don’t pad the healing meters — you’re just healing. And you’re healing your ass off. And that’s the kind of healing I want to see from everyone on my team, while still remaining accountable for their assignments.

    I think you do a great job at bringing your best on a consistent basis and your contributions to tanks and others you might not necessarily be assigned to are noticed and helpful. :)

    Sniping, to me, is someone who sits there and just waits for the opportunity to heal off-target, even at the expense of their primary target, and it’s got a very selfish feel to it. What I see you doing is using your spare GCDs to sustain the group. Big difference. :)

    • Sniping does exist, but I think it only applies to the times you mentioned – when it comes from selfishness, and a malicious intent to heal people at the expense of other healers. I really don’t feel this happens often on healing teams. The problem I have is that people throw around the term sniping willy-nilly to describe so many situations where it really doesn’t apply.

  17. I don’t know that I’ve been paying attention to the WoW-verse lately (or ever in terms of heal sniping) as I’ve never heard the phrase before. I can say that I have never felt as though that’s what happens when I’m raiding. I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that I don’t think that way, or that I believe like you (and others) that healing a raid is a group effort. As long as people don’t die then we’re doing our jobs. If people are dying then the cause of the deaths need to be figured out.

    Numbers and meters are great for instant ego-boost material, but in the end, the raiders and healers who kill the most internet dragons and get shiny purple’s wins. Regardless of the numbers.

    Great post, btw.
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    • Thanks Hestiah. I think it really does depend on mindset. I think of our healers as a team, so the thought that people are ‘stealing’ my heals would never enter into my mind. People may top up those who my HoTs are ticking on, but they’re not sniping, they’re just trying to keep everyone topped off and fill up the health bars quickly. I would never assume there is bad intent there.

  18. The term “heal sniping” has been around since Classic. As a paladin, I was always blamed for heal sniping with my Flash of Light. Too bad that’s all I could do since a single Holy Light would empty my mana bar.

    • I think all classes have been accused of sniping at some point. It strikes me as odd that both a paladin’s FoL and a druid’s HoTs have been called ‘sniping’ by some since they’re so completely different.

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  20. I think the terms are used too often, but both sniping and meter padding do exist. I’ve raided with a druid that never dispelled, never tank healed beyond a lifebloom stack for fear of overheal even if there was a near death and who would tranq after both tanks and some dps were down just so their overall numbers would always be high.

    I’m thrilled to find that in most raid groups this stuff doesn’t happen and/ or is frowned upon as being counterproductive and selfish… but it definitely happens and some raid teams just look at healing meters and nothing else.

    • I’ve rarely seen those things happen. I think that in a raiding guild, someone is going to notice when certain healers don’t dispel, or won’t cast a lower HPS heal to save a players life. So though it may make you look superficially better on meters, it makes you look bad if anyone looks a little bit closer.

      It’s unfortunate if there are raid teams out there who only look the healing meters and don’t dig any deeper.

  21. Regardless of the numbers. I agree with pretty much everyone, but something boggled my mind. I don’t know that I’ve been paying attention to the WoW-verse lately (or ever in terms of heal sniping) as I’ve never heard the phrase before.
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  22. Don’t agree on the padding part I know of pally that pad just to top meter aka with ef even to the extend of just letting tanks die. I think absorbs have made healing dumb.