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Post  sarawilson on Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:01 pm

Part One: Syngery With Your Comrades

You are inevitably going to be working as part of a team. As such, you should be as efficient as possible without causing your allies more grief than is necessary. By this point, you should all know what the various classes are capable of and how they go about performing their role, but there are a few bullet points that should be considered:

1. Tanks are not Velcro; they are Super Glue

The establishing of the pull, along with aggro-wiping transitions, are the most delicate parts of an encounter. If the tank misses, or is resisted, parried, dodged, or lags a second, he misses that opening threat maneuver (a judgement, a shield slam, a lacerate, etc.). If you open fire immediately, he loses initial threat, and you are now the new target. This is just plain sloppy practice, and the tank will become very frustrated and feel responsible for losing the creature (whether it's their fault or not). I'm sure we've all had to deal with bad tanks who pull things out of LOS so you cannot attack it as much as you'd like; this is the same level of ARGH! that ripping aggro off of them inflicts.

In summary; stuff does not automatically stick to tanks just because they happen to be standing next to it. If you haven't played a tanking class before, I suggest you try it so that you understand the process. Wait for visible threat lockdowns (sunder marks, a judgement, a couple of consecrate pulses, or a lacerate mark) before opening fire. When in doubt, count to three before shooting/stabbing. Let the super glue set before you tug on it.

1a. Trick One: Leapfrog

When you are working with a familiar tank in a situation that you have overcome in the past, and both of you are comfortable with the process, a good method to establish threat on tauntable targets is to give the critter a giant wallop before the tank taunts. He then does so, and steals all that threat you just generated, giving him a threat leapfrog. This should only be done by ONE damage-dealer at a time; any more than that just makes establishing threat the same snake-handling that it would be if no one waited.

It should go without saying that you need to clear this with your tank before even considering doing this.

2. You Are Expendable (dps)

The problem with being one of 13-15 DPSers in a standard raiding situation (exception: you are performing a pseudo-tank role or operating a mechanism in a boss fight) is that there are 12 or 14 other people who are doing what you are doing. If you, a tank, and a healer are all at 20%, you are last on the priority list to get the next heal, almost invariably. Recognize this truth. Embrace it. Drink a potion or bandage. Never yell at your healer for ignoring you.

2a. Trick Two: Damage Sponge

The way to ensure you will get those heals is to ensure your healers aren't taking damage if you can at all help it. Some situational awareness and examination of combat mechanics will get you to realize that certain enemy abilities only target a finite number of people within a certain range; most volley-type spells operate on this principle, usually affecting only 8-15 of the closest targets. Put yourself between healers and tanks to be the damage sponge; your 8-10k HP is less valuable than the healer's 6-8k, and more easily repaired in a pinch.

2b. Trick Three: Don't Overdo It

In fights where everyone sans tanks and melee DPS can avoid incoming damage, don't make yourself a target needlessly. Stand at max range in these situations (SSC spore quakes, shadow novas, rain of fire, etc.). Be a damage sponge, not a damage one-ply-paper-towel.

Part Two: Don't be a cowboy

The reason many DPS folks get a bad rep is because they are guilty of inattentive pew-pewing, or just not paying attention to very basic raid mechanics. Tapping the same macro over and over with a blank stare, AFK wanding, tipping back Jello shots while talking on the phone, or watching Scrubs while fighting a boss, all contribute to general laze and loss of rhythm. It makes your performance poor, and can make you miss a crucial beat that gets you or others killed.

1. Who's On First?

Key to raiding is making sure you're standing where you're supposed to be. Know where everyone else is in relation to you. Learn to recognize your teammates by instant visual identification, and study your battlefield before going onto it. Know where your tanks are going to be, where the healer camp is, and whether you're supposed to be standing on top of a marked ally or spread out away from others to avoid chaining damage.

1a. Trick Four: Lights, Camera, Action!

Zoom your camera out. Waaaaaaaay out. The wider view you can manage, the more you can survey the battlefield and plan where you have to go in the event of a shift. Change your screen contrast too, just a tad; make colors as vivid as you can, since assuming you aren't colorblind, the visual recognition by color patterns plays more of a part in your reactions than you realize. In mid-cast, swivel your camera and check for adds, dead allies, or approaching AoEs like tornadoes. Pew pew with keys, change view with mouse.

2. Bosses Pew Pew Too!

Watch the boss too. See what he's doing, recognize the visual cues of his spells and abilities. If you see a bright flash across the tank, chances are that's a cleave. Green or yellow/white hand effects mean heals. Red hand effects mean increased damage or speed boosts. Be in the right place to avoid these, and if you have a means to interrupt them and are assigned to do so, do it immediately. Don't stare at your keys or your mana bar all the time.

2a. Trick Five: Your Friends Know When to GTFO

This isn't a trick so much as a reminder. Don't be where you can get hurt by obvious damage. Don't stand in fire, for the love of all noobs. Fire burns, dammit! Watch your friends; chances are if they (they meaning multiple people, not just one silly) are scattering from where you are standing, something REALLY BAD is about to happen or has already happened there and your client just hasn't updated fast enough.

3. Coordination and You

I just threw a lot of things at you that you should be looking out for. Your mana/energy bar, friends, enemies, AoEs, boss abilities, quick reactions, oh my! How do you get it all to stick and become instinct?

3a. Trick Six: Take this pebble from my hand. (Reflexes)

A fantastic way to improve your hand-eye coordination for video games is to play ones that foster the skill. I don't mean these crappy new games with overdone visual effects or one-button mechanics. I mean hard stuff. The best alternative for people who have abysmal video game reflexes is Tetris. Start slow, then play exclusively on fast levels. The Tetris reflexes take over when a boss channels something painful and I gotta get away from it. The neurons fire faster with practice, and you will respond quicker.

Part Three: How to Make Friends and Maximize DPS

On top of all of that stuff above, you still need to put out respectable damage. This is the last step in the how-tos, because topping charts should be the last thing on your mind (but still something to strive for). 500 DPS will suffice in 5 mans, but once you start getting into higher end raids, you need to push for 1k and above. This is not just to make yourself feel good; it's meant to beat enrage timers and make fights go smoother.

1. Know Your Class

This is the obvious thing. I won't go over shot rotations, casting patterns, or whatnot here, because you should know all of that from the dozen or so other resources available on other forums for such things. You should be aware of how to control your pet, set up your macros, and utilize your talents properly.

1a. Trick Seven: If you got em.. Use em!

Why hold onto that short cooldown at the outset of a boss fight? It's not going to get better the less you use it. Trinket with a 2 minute cool? You're going to use it six times during some fights. Are you an orc and not tanking? Use that Blood Fury, A troll? Use Berserk every time it's up! Use your stuff early, because it'll be ready again before you know it for the home stretch.

2. Know When to Hold 'Em

Omen is required for a very good reason. People need to be very aware of where their threat is at all times. Got five combo points and are 2k threat away from pulling aggro? Use a Feint, your tank will appreciate it for the half-second grace it gives him. Try to Ice Block before the boss gets to you, and wait there for a few seconds while the tank establishes top threat again. Feign after the six shots following a Misdirect to avoid the possibility of the bug hitting you (which is followed by the boss hitting you).

2a. Trick Eight: Red = Dead

You can (and should) try to set your threat meter mod to pulse red, flash, chime, or smack you whenever you come close to pulling aggro. I don't care which. When that sound happens, lay off for a moment and slow your roll, Speed Racer. If you have a full aggro dump available and think you might pull aggro, use it early. Better safe than sorry.

3. The Final Countdown

The last 20% of a boss's life bar is usually the call for "Drop cooldowns!" While you should be dropping your light ones anyway throughout the fight (short-cooling trinkets, Bestial Wrath, etc.), the 20% mark is generally your cue to pop Recklessness or any other long-cooling badass murder buttons in addition to your other active-use abilities. Try to do them all at the same time if you can; stack those bad boys up for the brutal DPS cleanup work. This is your cue to cut loose, but always follow the raid leader's direction for this. Don't play your trump card early.

3a. Trick Nine: Non-Boss Beatings

Depending on your group makeup, it is sometimes prudent to move onto the next target in the kill order before the current one is dead. This is primarily for channeling DPSers, namely mages and hunters relying on certain shot rotations. When the kill target gets to 15% or so, start looking around for the next one. The melee DPS will finish it because it's in their interests to do so; rogues get stuff for finishing moves, warriors want that Victory Rush free 1k+ damage, etc. Target the next thing, see who's on top of its threat list, and if you have a safe margin, start DPS on it. This saves you from losing time due to broken channels as the creature dies, as well as the precious second to visually locate and start winding up a new attack on the next mob.

DO NOT do this on CC'd targets or on targets with less than 5k threat on the person tanking it. The tank is probably not putting all of his effort into holding this thing, and if you rip it off of him, you just made him and the raid leader cranky for being a cowboy.

3b. Trick Ten: In Case of Emergency

That final 5% can be a titanic failure. Most bosses are either near to an enrage timer or whipping out insanely fast, high damage abilities that make them horrendously dangerous to even well-geared tanks (Halazzi comes to mind right off the bat). If the tank dies, you can still possibly win the fight. You have two things to watch for in this event:

a. Did an OT grab it?
b. Is it coming for you?

In the event of A, STOP YOUR DPS for five seconds while he gets better grasp of it. In the event of B, take your licks like a man and don't run away.

Let me state that again. Do not backpedal and run away if a boss comes at you. It makes it impossible to grab for a pickup by anyone else, and you cannot outrun bosses no matter what you do; they move at 200%+ speed for a reason. What makes you think backpedaling is going to save you? Take it in the face or dump threat, then keep attacking!

There is also one other option:

c. No tanks are left alive, the boss is at 2%, and you are not on top of aggro.

NOW you can go wild. Enjoy your precious few moments of glory before you are eaten. What's the worst that could happen?


The above guide should be taken for what it is; the observation of a person that's played a DPSer, and a healer in a raid setting. Take from it what you will, and know your role.


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