DPS Q&A – Bring the pain
In line with the Q&A answered at Hots&Dots and Death Goddess, it’s time to put pen to paper and fill in one of them “Kyu-ennd-ays” for some insight in how I like my DPS. While I have a mage, druid, warlock and in the process of leveling a warrior, my Shadowpriest is closest to my heart and my main drive in the game – let’s face it, I blog about it, I raid as Shadowpriest, PvP as Shadowpriest and refuse to spec holy or discipline for utility.
What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?
Natarumah, priest, Shadow
What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
25man raids, including hard modes, with the raiding community Unity
10mans with my guild, Saga
What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?
It is the one true defining ability that sets up apart from the Discipline priest that has some Shadow talents. It hides our fugly outfits we would wear with shame by draping them in darkness. It reduces the damage we take, and the damage we deal. It makes crit a useful stat for our dots, and will make haste useful soon too.
Once improved, our Fade spell turns from an Aggro-surviving tool into a snare-release, saving our asses on nasty Faction Champions fights. And it prevents us from losing casting time because of random raid damage, where others would lower their DPS due to casting pushback.
What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?
Like Cassandri, I have to vote for Mind Soothe. I never used it when I was the appropriate level, but not even in BRD. It just doesn’t make sense, is hardly useful, and can bug out nastily at times or get resisted. It’s garbage.
That said, I would like to cast the spotlight on a little-used utility spell I have always loved: Mind Vision.
From the proper location, Mind Vision can be used in Dalaran to scry any of the locations where one of the Studies of Magic books are found. I have used it in Karazhan many times to see where lost guildies are and guide them to the raid over Vent. On Quel’Danas I spied ahead of the party to see what companions Priestess Delrissa has, before deciding to reset the heroic. I use it today on Faction Champions, to spot what that one mob at the back really is.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?
Survivability, no doubt about it. With 15% damage reduction from Shadow Form, self-healing through VE, Dispersion when focus fired and Improved Shadowform’s ability to get out of snares using Fade, Shadowpriests are almost as survivable as warlocks (used to be) are. If we had a pet or Drain Life we’d be monsters.
Many times if we wipe, I am one of the last five remaining. Low aggro footprint means I am selected later than most, even when continuing DPS (faint hopes of the glory of downing a boss while being the last one alive) and it often takes 2 hits for a boss to kill me (not on hard modes).
We don’t do good DPS because our DPS is good. We do good DPS when other DPS die and we don’t.
What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?
Our class is seen as a spec. Whereas an Enhancement Shaman or Boomkin is considered a full DPS, Shadowpriests are just a spec, not a class, and should shut up.
Countless times I have been told that I should heal, or that if my DPS is low I should just reroll. I refuse. I love the mechanics of the Shadowpriest, and refuse to give up. But when people hardly recognize your hard work, when you have to bust your ass to end up very low on the DPS meters, it can be damn tough.
Yes, priests have 2 healing priests. We are the awesome mind-tearing, hope-stomping and teeth-grinding children of darkness who make up for having two sissies as companion talent trees.
In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?
Multi-dotting as always, single-target our DPS is just plain awful. Mind Sear is the best thing since sliced bread for trash mobs. On Faction Champions I usually toss a few dots while dispelling the main kill target and blanking the area with Mass Dispels. On most fights you can assume my debuffs are all over the adds (when not CC’d) like a bad case of acne.
When something has a raid symbol that indicates it should die, it must.
What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?
Shadowpriest. Don’t mind you that I have done Feral Kitty DPS, or have a warlock (Affliction/Demonology dual spec), a Frost Mage, and am trying to figure out how warriors do their thing. From the first day I rolled my Shadowpriest I was hooked, and everything else is just alts. My Shadowpriest is my account, basically.
What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?
I have to say, at this point, that I find the least enjoyment in Destruction Warlock DPS. It could be because I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet, but I always feel like I am running behind on the facts a bit. Like it’s learning to play a Shadowpriest, but without the benefit of experience.
Frostbolt-spamming is also one of those things I don’t really like, but when I was raiding on my Frost mage at 70 in Karazhan, I loved the numbers popping up from doing so. In those days, my Frost Mage had comparable DPS to my Shadowpriest. Sigh.
What is your worst habit as a dps?
Kill order. We have a kill order measured in raid symbols, and I just can’t get the hang of it. It’s something like: “Star, Circle, Diamond….ah whatever, I forgot what’s next, let’s target the Retri Pally and see what he’s killing”.
What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?
Negativity, stomping on the DPS.
Let’s face it, it may not be as exciting as healing or tanking, but it is a job in the raid. Just because I could be replaced by any other DPS doesn’t mean I am less worth. When I enter a raid, I enter with the thought that we will focus, pwn stuff and win. To do so, I have to set aside any negativity, open myself to the raid leader’s tactics and the strengths/weaknesses of my raid members, and focus hard to get the job done.
That is why I don’t get cleaved or pull aggro. That is why I don’t stand in the fire. That is why my DPS is not 2K. That is why I feel I am allowed to come along. (Let’s face it, if I routinely did any of the above bad things, I would have forced myself to leave my raiding group).
Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?
When Ghost Crawler made some vague statements regarding “Given equal skill and gear” I knew we were in trouble. Shadowpriests have to do a lot of work to be comparable to DPS who have considerably easier rotations and more room for error.
Don’t get me wrong, the base of our class is working properly. It’s just that we’ve been nerfed quite a lot, lost a lot of our identity when Wrath hit, and get buffs measured very, very carefully measured on vague analyses.
Like I said before, the only thing that helps us is that we stay alive longer. Better to do 4K-5K dps and survive the fight than do 12K DPS and die in a fire after a minute or two.
What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a dps’er?
Basic tools are a damage meter (Skada in my case) which measures my DPS and damage done. I often don’t do too well on DPS (low burst) but my damage done can be quite nice overall. I check the total of a fight, as well as during an entire raid, and try to see if I had great variations, and why.
Unity uses World of Logs to create and parse combat logs, which I analyze to see if I could get my DoTs refreshed tighter, could get better DoT uptimes, or wheter I failed a lot of encounter-based things (like fires).
Finally I trust my gut instinct. “Did the raid feel right”, “Was I getting frustrated?”, “Did I feel like I did a good job?”.
The answer you give yourself could be more valuable and accurate than any damage meter.
What DPS class do you feel you understand least?
Death Knights. I leveled a few past the starting areas, but I just couldn’t get into it. Must be their “faceroller” stigma, but I thought it wasn’t fun or very structured. I wonder how much that would change at 80, but I don’t have the patience to level one all that way. Which is strange, considering I leveled 5 characters to over level 60 now, which you basically get for free on a DK.
What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?
I use … (Ellipsis) as a DoTtimer and cooldown timer, and Vudoh as raid frames (it is a grid replacement with lots of nice options, easily dispelling and debuff tracking). Skada is my damage meter by choice.
As for macros, I have one macro that tries to sequentially target raid-critical targets (Bomb bots, Infernal Volcanoes, etc.) and casts Shadow Word: Death on them. This allows me to quickly switch to critical targets in hectic fights. Thanks for this one goes to Shylocke who brought it to my attention.
I also have the typical Shackling macro from Wowwiki, which sets my target to Focus, shackles it, and re-shackles my focus by clicking the button. In other words, a macro that is a leftover of my days in Karazhan, when that was my duty at Moroes. I replaced Shackle with Mind Control for hardmode Thorim fights, and Dispel Magic for Steelbreaker.
I tried using mouse-over macros, but decided it is just not working quite as I wanted to. Not to mention that mouse-overing a mob in a fight is a tough, tough thing to do. I should check them out in a future post, perhaps…
What stat to stack, and why?
Spellpower. Nothing scales for us like Spellpower, and Spellpower is even used as the base for stat comparisons (like: 0.7 Crit = 1 SPP). Hence the adage of “if the socket bonus sucks, stack Runed”.