Friday, March 30, 2012

The Death Log (Recount addon tips)

Most people use Recount (or Skada, its leading competitor.) For those that may not know, both are combat log parsers, addons that read the combat log and collect useful data from it that might otherwise be hard to find by reading the combat log manually. Both addons' primary use is for their damage meter function. They can also display a lot of other very useful information. Today, I'll be explaining how to use a severely under-used feature of Recount: the Death log.

By default, Recount shows its Damage Done meter, but it has numerous other settings that can be accessed by right-clicking on the Damage Done text in the upper-left corner of the Recount display. To access the Death log, right-click and select Deaths (about 40% of the way down the list). This will bring up a count of how many times people have died.

Alone, this is not very useful. Once someone has died, however, you can click on the bar for them. This brings up a detail window, displaying more information on what caused the death (you can get details on other Recount settings too, for example, a breakdown of which attacks caused the damage for Damage Done.)
Click for a bigger version.
In the Death Details window, you'll see a listing of all times that player has died since you cleared your Recount data, in reverse chronological order (most recent on top.) On the right, the actual details for the selected death are shown. You can change which details to show, but by default, it will include all incoming damage and heals on them, and the actual moment of death, for up to 10sec before they died. This is extremely useful. You can see, for example, which healers healed a tank that died in the moments leading up to the tank's death, or what sorts of damage someone took. Without this information, you'd have to just try again and hope for the best. With it, you might learn that a certain DoT must be dispelled, or a specific spell must be interrupted, and can try again forewarned, and therefore, forearmed.

Lastly, for a quick at-a-glance summary, you can bring up a graph of the person's HP made from the data shown in the Death Details window by clicking on the Show Graph button in the lower-right. The Death Graph can be used to quickly see whether to blame the healers or not. If they went from full-to-dead in less than about 2 seconds, then it's not reasonable to think any healer could have responded. Similarly, if they were receiving a lot of heals, but died anyway, there's still nothing more the healers could have done.

One common complaint I hear from new healers is that they get blamed for any and all deaths (even when, as the healer, they know there was no way for them to fix some of the deaths.) By proper use of the Death log, you can not only figure out what went wrong on your wipes, so as to fix it, but you will also begin to see that in most cases the healers are not why someone died. I hope that eventually blaming the healer won't be the default stance for anyone who dies, and fewer new healers will be scared away from the role.

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