Pressing buttons. WITH L33T SK1LL5: Actually playing
Dps is often a undervalued position. finding ok dps is easy, finding good dps is extremely hard.
But your gearscore is good so my dps should be good right? Well no. Want proof? Look at the top WoL rankings. There’s a massive gap even just on the front page, and you can bet that most of those people are all in equatable gear. The difference is skill. And that gap on the front page? It grows the further down the rankings you look.
What is skill in wow? In a game that can be essentially simplified down to pressing buttons and moving your mouse this can be hard to quantify, this is why things like gearscore have taken of, they add a quantifiable measure to a unquantified player. This is why players cling to it so strongly,
there is nothing else to be able to easily say (The new armory features a little ‘character audit’ that lists empty sockets etc #epicWin) that player X is good or bad.
I’m going to be doing 4 part series going over the ‘basics’, that don’t usually get explained, and are usually taken for granted by more experienced players, of being a caster damage dealing player, although some of these may apply to melee damage dealing, healing and tanks as well. I’m going to focus less on the preparation of playing, the flasks, the spec, the gearing. These all matter, but there’s recourse’s upon recourse’s out there to help you already (kgo Elitist jerks). With another 5 levels, and new raid encounters coming out I’m going to try and focus on high level ideas that can be applied to any encounter. Rather than specifics tips for specific encounters.
To apply a well known analogy. I’m trying to show (teach?) you to catch fish instead of giving you fish.
The biggest impact on your dps is how you play. Gears impact is less than what people give it credit for, The difference between tiers is usually only a few thousand dps. Unless you got a massive upgrade (232 -> 277), a awesomely awesome trinket (DBW anyone?) or your hitting a magic number (1406 haste, soft/hard capping ARP) then its likely all in your head. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal, there are more factors that influence your dps than your gear. The second time you may be ‘warmed up’ (for lack of a better term) and pull of your rotation better than the first for example. Perhaps the first time you get more T10 4pc procs than the second?
Managing the human factor
Ok, so how do you manage the human factor in your dps? Your reaction time, your latency all contribute massively to your dps. The problem being that as gear levels (specifically haste) increase bad latency and reaction timing go from 30% of a cast time, to over 50%, and then up some more. The cast time gets shorter and shorter, while your latency and reaction time stay static. This begins to explain why the difference between good and great caster dps is smaller at the start of new content than what it is at the end.
There are 3 ways of playing a caster dps in terms of pressing the buttons; waiting for the cast to be over, waiting for the cast to be over, while accounting for latency (the red bit at the end of most cast bar mods) and just spamming the next key.
Spamming keys works the best, do it.
Always be active
Always be casting, always be doing damage to the boss, or doing something that will enable you to do more damage at a later time. This is potentially one of the biggest things that will increase your damage for a lot of people. Set up your key binds so you can easily reach your instant ability’s while moving (for a epically awesome keybind guide see here).
Know your classes instant abilitys, even if they arn’t part of your rotation. An example is at level 85 we have fel flame, this is a instant spell, and not very impressive on its own. In fact so unimpressive that its not part of our normal damaging rotation. But its instant and adds to immolates length. If you can’t cast anything else this is a fantastic spell to spam while moving.
Imagine doing the safety dance, and being able to keep dps up by spamming fel flame with conflag, corruption, improved imp procs. It won’t be as high as if you were standing still but its not going to be laughable either, and vs the guy who only knows how to damage while standing still? You’ll destroy him on meters.
Plan ahead, plan what your going to be c asting several casts ahead.
Plan your rotation ahead. Look at your timers, what needs to be refreshed next? How many incinerates can you fit in before then? Will you need to move soon? If so should you move when your next instant spell is up, or should you make a instant with Soulburn + Soulfire. Know what you want to be casting next before you actually have to start hitting the key early.
Lets say your a DK, attacking Sindragosa. You can choose to cast death coil or a less damaging melee ability. Your under no risk of being runic power capped. But sindragonsa is about to lift on, ‘technically’ you should cast death coil, but you’ll do more damage over all if you cast your melee ability now, and death coil when shes lifted of and you can’t reach her.
Playing DPS is like a chess game, you want to be planning several steps ahead. The twilight cutters are coming, whens your next instant in your rotation so you can move for them? Or will you have to make a instant? Will you just have to say fuck it and move?
Don’t watch recount in the middle of combat
Ever looked at recount? Felt really proud that your topping meters and then started to slide? Yeah. Your only human (or I hope you are) and distractions suck. Don’t look at it during combat.
Lastly but most importantly…
Know your rotation. The best place to pick it up is elitist jerks. They’ve been doing it longer than anyone else, and have the experience to get these things right. Spend a few hours in front of a target dummy standing still until you know it like the back of your hand. Then come back in a hour and try it again. Then come back the next day. Then try doing your rotation with copious amounts of movement (or alcohol, the same effect is achieved).
Know the corner cases of your dps rotation and your class. Know when to cast the spells that arn’t strictly part of your rotation, but help fill in the gaps while moving etc. Know your classes defensive ability’s, When should you use which curse? When to drop some damage for utility? Whens the best time to blink? To teleport? When can you use disengage? Using these spells correctly can lead to more free time to damage. Hell this bit in itself is worth a post on its own…
When you add all of this together it starts to look a little daunting, so next time (week perhaps?) I’ll be going over some addons that can help make this easier on you.
So after a few days of being up…
So to take a bit of a extra run at this, after discussion on twitter and comments. Avoiding stuff is important, more important than doing damage, but you need to be able to do both, this is what makes a great player. There are fights where increasing your damage can reduce all the damage going out. PP is a great example of this. The sooner a slime does down, the sooner the slime stops putting out damage. Especially the green slime involves a lot of movement. Knowing your instant spells then is important.
I view always being active as being more important to doing ‘great’ damage than pulling your rotation of perfectly. There will be more posts regarding how to be a ‘better’ dps (as I said, 4 parts), this one just happens to be focusing on doing moar damage, as opposed to avoiding taking damage etc. Perhaps in hind sight I should of gone with avoiding damage first?
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