27 Jan 2014

How to become the perfect DPS

Are you interested in becoming 'that person' who always tops the charts, hardly ever dies and seemingly knows his class so unbelievably well it makes everyone wish they were that skilled? Get a brew, get comfy and I will teach you how.


Gaining the knowledge

Ever since my wife became a raid leader in our group 2 raid team I started to become increasingly fascinated by what makes a successful raid group, the composition, the teamwork, the gear, the raid leader. All of these things are important but when it comes down to it, raiding 10m boils down to those 10 individuals and how they play.
My wife took some advice from group the group 1 raid leader to record and post all the logs from the night to www.worldoflogs.com. Ever since then we would both sit down together and look through every scrap of data collected from each night that they raided, we would discuss what went wrong, who needs to improve on what and the possibilities as to why they wiped on the boss.
Armed with this knowledge I personally took each of the weaker raid members from group 2 aside and gave them 1 on 1 help. I explained all the things I had noticed on WOL and asked them to try a few new things out, sat them on a training dummy for a while, requested they maybe try an addon and maybe approach a boss in a different way... the results were astonishing!

Out for the count!
Over the course of the next few weeks the WOL logs looked nicer and nicer, all the things we were keeping an eye on were improving and lone behold just a few days ago they Downed Garrosh on normal mode, who just a month earlier seemed an impossible task for them.
(Good job guys!! So proud <3)


What makes a good player... good?

It is extremely important to understand what it is that makes good players shine like beacons to everyone around them, first I will list some aspects and then go into a more detailed explanation.

  • Uses offensive and defensive cooldowns effectively and sufficiently
  • Only ever loses health if the damage is truly 'unavoidable'
  • Usually tops the DPS charts
  • Obeys boss mechanics flawlessly and consistently
  • Has fast reactions
  • Uses all the tools in their arsenal of abilities effectively
  • Always aware of boss abilities and reacts accordingly
  • Is a team player
  • Stands in the right place at the right time

I think all of these points are what contain the very essence of what makes a good player but I feel it is more than that. The problem with a simple bullet point list is that it can never make someone TRULY understand what a great raider is. So here is the solution to this problem; I will use one of my very own raid buddies as an example in a short story to illustrate my point.

For privacy purposes I will call him Huntard (I don't want anyone stealing him from us!!!). I will talk from my usual point of view - as a healer.

Huntard always turns up to the raid on time, prepared (read all boss tactics, has pots and food), and in a cheery mood. Before we have even stepped into the raid instance he has already proven himself to be a respectable and well disciplined player.
We enter the instance and are confronted with the trash, he courteously awaits the tank/s to gain aggro and then he begins to punish the trash with outrageous dps numbers that makes even me jealous (and i have a 560 feral druid!). While he does this he stands in clear sight of the healers and out of harms way, ensuring that he dodges anything the trash uses against the raid. We kill the trash and move on, he does not dawdle or afk.

He contributes to the banter and the conversation of the raid-group, the mood is light and happy.

While we all wander over to the boss he uses aspect to speed us all up and deactivates it just before we reach our destination. He sits patiently while everyone prepares themselves, he is already well fed and has a flask buff, he is standing in his pre-determined spot.

We pull heroic Immersius, his dps soars but at the same time he immediately steps out from the sha bolt puddle underneath him, the boss casts his buff and within an instant huntard slows his dps down to ensure he does not gain too many stacks, the adds spawn in swathes, huntard waits for the tank to gain aggro and then proceeds to annihilate them quickly whilst still dodging sha puddles and being sure to use defensive cooldowns when Immerseus does his swirl ability (if he cannot avoid it completely.)

Immerseus splits, he immediately uses mobility cd's to reach his designated point, he uses his slows and his snares on the adds whilst killing the maximum number possible, all the while he tries to help soak the sha pool in the center, he asks the healers if they can manage - I toss him an ironbark and say yes. He finishes off the remaining adds and gets back to his position.

Rinse and repeat the boss is dead.

Some agi mail loot drops but an enhancement shammy gets it instead, he congratulates him cheerily and continues onto the next boss with high spirits.

Not ours!


Night after night Huntard performs exactly the same, his outstanding skill is admired by everyone else in the raid group. He is especially appreciated by the healers as we tend to notice the subtler things during raid encounters, such as fast add switching, taking extra caution to not get hit by anything and this guy even stands outside of my efflo until he actually needs healing, his spacial awareness is unbelievable.
To top all this off he is polite, punctual, courteous (very mischievous!!!) and an all round really nice guy!

Would you like people to say this kind of thing about you? Read on friend.

I'm watching you...

The first step in improvement will always be assessment and self reflection, you need to be able to measure your worth in order to discover what aspects of your current game play you can enhance. With the right addons it is possible to track endless amounts of useful data from your fights. The one I would recommend is Skada.

The basics of Skada:
  • Skada is a modular damage meter with various viewing modes, these include: Damage done, DPS, Threat, Enemy damage done, Enemy damage taken, Healing, Overhealing, Total healing, Absorbs estimated, Damage taken, Dispels, Mana regen, Debuff uptimes, and more.
  • Navigation in Skada is done by "drilling down" to the information you want. You go to a lower level, showing more detailed information, by clicking on it, and you go to a higher level by right-clicking.
  • Most modes let you drill down for further details. 
  • Some modes have several detailed views.
  • Tooltips will display how to reach the different views.
Obviously a druid is top DPS, duh!

 It is important that you fully understand how to utilize Skada in order to improve yourself, it is a truly wonderful tool!

Extra reading

When it comes to measuring actual raiding ability one tool stands head and shoulders above the rest, this is called World of logs. This website eats the logs you feed it (I couldn't resist sorry...) and shows you every single shred of information you could imagine based on the time frame you started taking the log. The addon used to collect the log is called loggerhead, download it from curse client and it is instantly usable by clicking the icon on your mini-map.
To learn how to use WOL to its maximum potential please take a look at this brilliant guide made by Zagam here.

A list of things to look out for on WOL to help you improve your basics:
    • DOT Uptime - Keep them above 95%
    • Buff uptime - Keep them above 95%
    • Buffs cast - This display is a comprehensive list of all the buffs you gained from passives, normal abilities and cooldowns, how effective they were and how many times you used them in any single pull. I now use ironbark FAR more during every pull thanks to looking at this
    • Damage taken by spell - Analyze the damage sources you can avoid
    • Enemy damage taken - How do you compare to the rest of your group when it comes to killing extra adds? Try and be top, switch faster! 

      What to look for


      Come at me bro!
      So now you know how to utilise Skada and WOL the next step is to fill those badboys with some data. We will first take a look at is DPS - try not to cringe when you read this but... Go to a training dummy!
      Now before I explain anything at all, kick the crap out of the dummy for exactly 5 minutes, don't use any outside buffs, aura's or pots. Exclusively use what you deem as your 'perfect rotation', run away from he dummy using mobility cd's when your 5 mins is up. Ready?

      3....2....1.... GO!!

      Ok so you are sitting pretty with a nicely populated Skada, lets take a look at some of these numbers shall we?

      • DPS - have a look at what your top damaging spells are by left clicking the bar, does this look right to you? Generally auto attacks should never be your top damage dealt, if this is the case your doing it wrong, visist www.noxxic.com or www.icy-veins.com/ for extremely comprehensive dps guides
      • Buff uptimes - This information view details the % of uptime you had on your buffs. Many classes have to maintain personal buffs to increase thier power, savage roar is an example of such a buff. If your buff uptime is below 90% make a note to improve this
      • Enemy debuff uptimes - This shows what debuffs you have applied to the dummy and the % of uptime that they were maintained for. If any of your debuffs were lower than 90% make a note to improve this

      These are the 3 basic things that yield the biggest improvement to your DPS just by hitting a dummy, if you can emulate a perfect rotation as specified by the guides AND keep your buffs and debuffs at 95%+ you should be at the top of your game when it comes to pumping out sheer DPS. Practice as often as you can until you can more or less do your best DPS with your eyes closed!

      When it comes to translating your dummy DPS figures into actual raid time can be a little tricky for the uninitiated, but if you took my advice and practiced enough it shouldn't really be that hard, here are a few pointers on the matter:

      • Know your limits - As a melee sometimes you have to bite the bullet and move away from the boss (Garrosh, Iron juggs, Paragons), unless you are confident enough that defensive CD's can keep you alive n kicking.
      • Your DPS rotation will never be perfect through a whole fight, understand when you are required to switch targets and learn to switch QUICKLY. Everyone respects the quick switcher.
      • Tunneling the boss just to top the charts is BAD. Do not do this, you will look terrible.
      • Move as little as possible. If you are required to move out of a void zone there is no need to run to the other side of the map, just take shortest route and continue to face melt the boss with minimal disruption.
      • Expect disruption and plan for it!

        I am very confident that if you follow this advice you will gradually become the star DPS of your raid group when it comes to effectively pumping out impressive numbers. \o/

        Damage Avoidance

        A big part of being a good raider is not only being quick enough to dodge incoming attack (Herioc Iron Jugganaut!!!) but being clever enough to wholly understand the boss mechanics in order to pre-empt incoming damage.

        Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!
        The next time you are in a raid ensure you have your Skada mode set to Damage taken, and set the time frame to Total, this will stop you from concentrating on DPS and help you focus on avoiding damage. Keep an eye on where you sit on the list, the lower you are the better, however sometimes you can be unlucky and get hit with unavoidable RNG damage such as the laz0r beams that Iron Juggs shoots....
        When you have finished your raid be sure to take a look at each boss segment, Identify and separate the non avoidable abilities and maybe re-think how you will do the boss next time to help lower these numbers. Do this every single time you raid and gradually you will become a little damage avoiding NINJA that leaves other people scratching there heads and thinking 'How the hell is he taking barely any damage?!'

        Sidenote - The healers will become your best friends <3

        Learning the boss

        Although it can be a little nauseating when it comes to knowing and understand the 100's of abilities that Raid bosses collectively use, it is a beautiful thing to witness players execute perfect kills.

        So naturally 'Know thy enemy' should be your motto as a raider.

        The dungeon journal is your best friend in this matter, it painstakingly details every single last ability that the bosses use, it gives accurate damage measurements and even goes as far as to label out all the phases that the boss will run through during the encounter. I spend a lot of time in my journal during raids and it has helped me up my game infinitesimally.

        For even more detail on the bosses make sure you download either BigWiggs or DeadlyBossMods from curse client, these will assist you immensely during the encounter by giving you enhanced warning messages about incoming abilities, displaying the list of cooldowns the boss is experiencing on his abilities and will even shout at you when you are stood in fire or doing something drastically wrong (get inside the Inferno Strike you fool!!).

        Ensure you read boss guides painstakingly written by people such as myself (*puts on cool shades*) and watch the youtube video guides, the best in my opinion are done by FatBoss.

        Being a team player and utilizing your class 100%

        I have lumped 2 aspects together here because essentially they are very closely linked. Being a team player during a raid means you become that person that happily sacrifices his DPS in order to help out the raid group by using the other facilities your class has to offer. Here are a few examples

        • Free-ing people from the prisons on Sha of fear by using mobility Cd's
        • Using your various healing cd's as a DPS to help out the healers a little bit during high damage phases (im looking at you druids and shamans!)
        •  Slowing and DPS-ing the mines during Seigecrafter blackfuse
        • Using powerful defensive CD's to soak the orbs in heroic Malkorok
        • Taking on the Mark of Anguish, using your defensive CD's and passing it on
        • Volunteering to be part of the dreaded tower team during Galakras! 

        The people that willingly take it upon themselves to do these things immediately become 'that person' all the raid leaders want in their team. You are not some poor sucker who gets all the 'rubbish jobs' you are a HERO, and people can only dream of being as useful as you are!

        Raid mentality 

        Being a good raider is not necessarily all about the way in which you play, it also encompasses your overall demeanor while playing with your friends or even during LFR's and pugs. Here is a list of things that promote a positive atompshere during raid time:

        • The 3 P's - Be Polite, Punctual and Prepared
        • Engage in witty banter and contribute to conversation
        • Recognize when something completely hilarious happens and point it out
        • Why are you raiding if not to have fun? Enjoy yourself! Your smile will transmit when you speak (trust me this is a thing).
        • Encourage and foster good performance, compliment your buddies when they do something clutch. Getting recognition for how awesome you played feels.... AWESOME!
        • Make suggestions on how you think something could be done better, don't always expect it to be well received

        Here is a list of things you should try to avoid doing while raiding:

        You're making kittens sad :(
        • Getting frustrated when you die or wipe
        • Getting angry at yourself or others for making mistakes
        • Slagging other people off with whispers
        • Sighing down the Mic
        • Being silent for the whole raid
        • Going AFK regularly to check stupid things like Facebook, twitter and looking at silly pictures on the internet
        • Not doing what the raid leader asks of you, regardless of how stupid you think it might be
        • Link DPS meters unless it is asked for
        • Disagree with your team without having reasonable and logical counter-arguments


        Final Note

        If you have spent time to seriously read this and take my advice I have no doubt in my mind that you will become a very fine DPS indeed, you will be respected and revered not only by your guild but also the WoW community as a whole, people who manage to do all of this above are very few and far between. Be one of those rare gems!!

        Thank you for reading and good luck!


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