Monday, January 3, 2011

Fool DPS

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Continuing a look at Dungeoneering today in the Cataclysm. It's time to pick on everybody's favorite whipping boys: The DPS.

I do go here reluctantly. I am a healer and I know that my DPS finesse is not the best. I cannot tell you guys how to pew pew, and I shall not.  But I believe it is moderately easy to play DPS in WoW. It is quite challenging to play DPS well. I don't mean to scapegoat the damage dealers, especially since I have met quite few really good ones. But there is a lot more being expected of these players than I see many of them knowing that they have to give.

DPS Players' Priorities
1. Stay alive
2. Stay healthy
3. Perform necessary utility functions.
4. Hurt the boss

To be honest, I think that DPS priorities slip around a lot more than they do for healers or tanks which actually makes their jobs more difficult. There are flat out DPS races. There are specific phases in specific fights which the healer has got to be able to keep the party up without anybody else's help. In this way, I think a good DPS player has a lot of information to keep up with in the average fight.

Some guild mates and I were talking last night and we were thinking that the heroic bosses of Cataclysm are actually harder than before. Before Cataclysm, most heroic dungeon bosses had two or three major mechanics that needed to be mastered, but now, they mostly have four or five different mechanics that depend on the cooperation of all the party members to manage. Fighting these heroic bosses feels like it needs the precision and planning usually only seen in raid fights before now.

I think the number one fallacy of DPS in WoW is that the job is to hurt things are hard as possible, but I think the DPS job has turned into more of a matter of "foiling" the bosses. Interrupts and dispels to protect the party have become as important as actually killing the damn things. Let me stress, if there is any way to prevent or reduce injury to yourself or someone else in a dungeon fight, you absolutely must do that. The developers designed it this way and healers cannot save you if you take substantial damage, the mana pool simply doesn't exist for that.

What to do?
1. Keep it in your pants.
There is no excuse for ruining a pull because you couldn't wait the four extra seconds a tank needs to get aggro, move the mobs into position, or permit CC to get applied properly. Find a safety catch for your keyboard if you have to.

2. Put away your damage meters
Oh wow... how can I say this as politely and yet as strongly as possible:  Nobody gives a #@&$ how much more dps you are doing than anybody else.  Just about every boss fight has adds that must be switched to with precision, which reduces DPS.  Anybody minding CC will lower their DPS. Therefore, anybody who wins the DPS chart by ignoring adds or not contributing to CC is probably the least useful person in the instance. There is a wide disparity of gearing and I think that will remain for a while. Ghostcrawler gave us his list of class imbalances last week. Tank damage has been substantially buffed, so that old refrain of "He's doing less damage than the tank!" actually has little meaning anymore either. Flashing your damage meter with a "lolz" behind it only makes you look clueless.  Sorry, the only way you're going to prove how cool you are is with your sparkling personality, so work on that if you want to make a good impression on people.

3. Slip your minions into "Passive"
This goes for pets, demons, zombies and water elementals who all need to learn to heel again. This was another of the Lich King's legacies: Players could mostly let their pets go crazy in dungeons, and like everything else, it really didn't matter. Not anymore. It's almost funny to see a tank trying a LOS pull and an elemental is standing in the middle of the room casting water bolts at everything that moves. Almost. While we're here, turn off any growl effects your pet does too. The tank doesn't need the aggravation.

4. Put away your AoE
There will be things like the rare pack of troggs you can bust a blizzard or fan of knives on. But 90% of the time, you need to single target your mobs. The math of AoE DPS always was that you needed to have four or five mobs in your cloud of damage to be able to outproduce your single-DPS abilities. Then, every player AoE ability was nerfed this x-pac (yes, yours too), to make the damage clouds even less effective than before. Add to all this the danger of breaking CC and pulling aggro since AoE tanking threat was also nerfed, and it's really just time to take your AoE keys off their easy to reach spots.

5. The application of CC is not your decision to make
This is a strange problem, since more often than not, you are being asked to apply the CC. The balance need for CC is based on how much punishment a tank can take at any one moment, moderated by how much healing the healer can give him at the same time. Using CC is primarily a way of removing damage from this equation. So, if the tank or the healer calls for more CC, you really need to give it to them. The line "WTF? Just tank this $^&% already,"  (actual quote!) will earn you a place on people's ignore lists if not an instance kick.

6. "You pull it, you tank it."
(Another actual quote!).  The real lesson here, is just don't pull anything. Ever. Do not assume that the tank will appreciate a Misdirect, or that you should just put Repentance on whichever trash mob is standing closest to the party.  If the party is moving slower than you would like, please refer to point #1 in this list again, and consider how much mana the mana-users have, whether the marks are blocked off or not, and if everybody is comfortable with the CDs on their abilities. Tanks and healers have to use a lot more abilities than they used to. You need to accept that and become zen-like with your patience.

7. Bring your own food. Eat it between pulls.
This is getting to be a pet peeve even some esteemed guild partners are violating.  We might have a tough trash fight: Lots of lost health, and the healer's mana gets reduced to 7%. As soon as the fight is done, the healer sits down to drink... and everybody else just lines up ready for the next pull despite being half dead, and the warlock life taps himself down to 4% health. The healer has no mana to top you guys off. What do you expect him to do? Drink, heal you up, and then drink again? Massive Turkey Legs are delicious. We'll all move faster if you would take responsibility for your own health between pulls.  This is a message for tanks as well: The healer is not looking out for your health when you are not fighting.

8. Tab Targeting is Dangerous
I can't say not to use it because it can be a good thing, but you must watch your targets very carefully. True story from Grim Batol:  A boomkin was tabbing through targets throwing down some moonfire and managed to DoT one of the dragonkin across the chasm on the other side of the instance. So, that group ran off, the long way around to cross over a bridge, bringing every single mob they passed with them. I was LMAOing long before the entire mob of about 14 dragonkin and elementals showed up on our side of the chasm and brutally murdered us.  A slightly more common snafu is tabbing out DoTs and breaking CC by not looking at what you are hitting.  /slowly shakes head.

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