Archive for Advice

Ten ways to increase DPS that should be obvious

Posted in Guides, Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest, Theory with tags , , , , on February 22, 2012 by Natarumah

Looking back on all the posts I made, I realized I never made one in the style of “Ten ways to…”, so I decided to rake together a number of ways to increase your DPS that, while obvious, aren’t known or used by everyone. Considering the current lack of real news regarding priests in general (and Shadowpriests in particular) that emerges from the Blizzard HQ these days, we might as well make the best of the content we have…

10: Un-clutter your UI

A clean and well-organized User Interfance makes the battlefield a lot easier to oversee, gives you swift access to your abilities and the information you need and may also reduce (input) lag. One of the things you could go for once you have mastered keybinding is a minimalist UI, where nothing shows up unless you need it (not even buttons). However, it might be that you have very different needs if you switch between PvE and PvP a lot, or if you want to have a minimalist setup only on fights that aren’t on farm.

In this case, you might use an addon called Reflux, which allows you to save the setup for your UI as a profile, and switch between them with a text command. By making your UI match your personal preferences and making use of as little interface as possible, you can gain valuable time and focus.

9: Always be casting – Always

While it should be somewhat of a mantra for most DPS, any time where you aren’t casting is time where your DPS drops. No matter what else you are doing, you should always be hitting buttons around the GCD. Devouring Plague spam, Shadow Word:Death, Shadowfiend are all prime spells to cast in such times. But if there’s heavy damage incoming that might kill you, you can also use movement time for Power Word:Shield, Renew+Shadowform, and the like.

8: Practice Fights

If you are in any way serious about raiding, you should know what you’re getting into. At least read the boss’  abilities in the Dungeon Journal (Shift+J) for a basic idea, and a strategy guide as found on Bosskillers, Icy Veins, Tankspot, Wowpedia or Wowhead. If you have time, check out a video of the fight, preferably from a ranged DPS view. This gives you an idea what the fight will look like in reality, since looking at 2D maps and John Madden Charts will not prepare you for where to move.

If you are going to go to a Dragon Soul fight with a (new) raid, try running it in LFR difficulty first. Sure it won’t be quite as difficult as the fight will be on Normal mode, but it will tell you how and when boss abilities fire, what they look like, and a basic idea of where not to stand and what not to do. This will allow you to focus on refining your tactics in the normal run.

7: Use consumables and Services

When raiding, always have a Flask active. If it isn’t done yet, ask if the tanks can count down before they pull the boss and use a Potion (Volcanic Potion for us smart types) on the count of “2”. This way you will have the benefit of the potion the first 12 seconds of the fight, and are able to use another potion somewhere halfway the fight (during Heroism or below 25% is a good call). Known as “double-potting”, this practice can easily put another 50-100K damage on a boss in a fight per raid member.

Try to carry a stack or so of Volcanic Potions with you at all times – two stacks if you plan a wipe night. While this might seem expensive, you will shorten the time to kill and learn a boss, increase your DPS and show that you are a real contender in a raid.

6: Move in the GCD

There are quite a few fights where you have to move only a little bit at a time. Haggara’s storm strikes on the ground you move out during her lightning phase are an example, or when shifting DPS to a tentacle in the Madness of Deathwing. As an extension of “Always be Casting”, it will pay to learn to move in the Global Cooldown. Even when you have metric kilotons of Haste, the GCD will always be a second (give or take, with lag). This means that in many cases you can cast a spell, and hit a movement key right as it ends to start moving. When the GCD is finishing, immediately queue another spell.

This way you minimize the movemement you need to make, meaning you maximize DPS time. Oh, and if you are having difficulties with movement or are a bit slow, enchant run speed on your boots. If you aren’t sure of it, this will increase your DPS most of all.

5: Toss and Turn

Another trick is the “half-strafe”, which I jokingly called the “PvP Run”  when I was a wee pre-60. If you use WASD to move, simultaneously hold your right left mouse button and move the mouse to move your view around without changing directions. If you let go of the mouse button, you will immediately shift directions to move where you were looking. You can use this technique to keep an eye on objects/creatures you will need to target soon (Haggara’s ice phase pillars, Yor’Sahj’s globules). Using the right mouse button will allow you to turn the camera and also move in that direction.

As another obvious point, Mind Flay will turn you in the direction of your target if it means. This means that you can use Mind Flay to keep you turned without moving when fighting Yor’Sahj’s globules for instance. If it passes you by, use Mind Flay and immediately once you turned around cast another spell at it. You will never waste DPS turning again.

4: Use boss-specific opportunities

Every boss fight has special opportunities to increase (or minimize loss of) DPS. Your job as a Shadowpriest is to recognize them and use them to your advantage. Whether it is casting at Morchok from between two of his pillars during the black sludge, multi-dotting giants and dragons during the Blackhorn encounter or using Dispersion to soak Hour of Twilight on Ultraxxion. Many of these opportunities are explained on blogs, tactics or class-specific sites, but also research the fight yourself to make sure you get all you can out of it.

Speaking of Dispersion, if you use the following macro, you can Disperse and tap the button again to get out of Dispersion and resume DPS quicker:

#showtooltip
/cancelaura Dispersion
/cast Dispersion

3: Get a hold of your loot

If you are in a raiding guild, chances are you will be using some sort of loot distribution system. Regardless of the type (Suicide Kings, DKP, EQDKP, Loot Council, etc.) you are best off learning exactly how it works. Nothing bogs down your DPS like not being properly geared, and the loot system is in place to make it fair. However, if you lack knowledge, others have a distinct advantage in getting better gear.

Avoid tactics that are considered to be unfair, like driving up a bid for an item you don’t intend to buy, or change your mind after bidding, and the like. Be sure you know what you want – make a list of the items you want to have, order them by how hard you need them and make sure you have a maximum bid in your mind. It doesn’t help if you pay a lot for an item, only to lack points to bid on/opportunities to win an item which is one you have more need for.

Also: be proactive. Bid aggressively on items you really need. Don’t buy Valor Point items for yourself before a raid, do it after a raid when you know nothing you wanted for that slot will drop. Run LFR difficulty to fill up any “weak spots” in your gear. If a particular trinket is in high demand, chances are that even if it drops, others will bid on it heavily. Best thing is to run LFR difficulty and try to get at least that version of it, so that you don’t stick with lesser trinkets just because you are hoping for that one big payday.

2: Don’t be a miser

It may take you weeks to get a good set of DPS gear together, only to find that your next upgrade puts you over the Hit Cap, or somehow skews your Haste rating. Don’t be cheap and leave it like that, continually invest in keeping yourself at top of the line strength. Reforge, regem as needed, stock consumables, carry extra food and the like. You’re going to spend more on repair bills, I can guarantee you that, and this will at least show up in the meters.

When buying or bidding for items from raids, or even LFR items, don’t just consider whether they fit your kit now. If you know that the “leg” slot of your tier is the weakest link, but it’s all you have to keep your 4piece, don’t hesitate to still get the Best in Slot leg piece. One day you are going to get a replacement tier piece so you can get rid of your tier legs, only to find out you now have to wait for the BiS leg piece to drop again…

This also goes for gearing up an alt, applying to your first raiding guild, or switching mains – if you want to impress people and show that you can handle it, you may need to spend some big piles of gold to get it done. Don’t fall in the trap of “good enough” – eventually those little slip-ups and lazy moments will catch up and show you a 10K DPS difference with your class colleague.

Last but not least – level your professions. It happens quite often someone applies for a raiding spot and then has “10 Mining” or “300 Alchemy”. It’s ok to be in the process of leveling them – but tell it to your raid leader/in your app and make sure you get it done. Profession benefits add to DPS in almost all cases, and not having them shows that you are either lazy or unwilling to invest.

1: Socialize and be flexible

Being sociable not only helps in meshing well with the raid. Talking with your fellow class members may bring you a fresh look on things, or a previously unknown trick of the trade. Your other raid members might also help in upping your DPS when it helps the raid as a whole. For instance, a Power Infusion during a really difficult add phase, Dark Intent from a Warlock, or a Paladin’s bubble-of-immunity are all things that greatly help to increase DPS (or prevent loss of it by dying). Don’t be afraid to at least bring it up, and how it helps the raid as well.

And always remain flexible, especially now in the face of a coming expansion. Talent trees are overturned, stat balances change, even getting better gear might make you rethink your gearing strategy. Stay flexible, willing to learn and wide-eyed. Imagine every raid to be like your first and keep a mindset that you have to prove yourself to win your raid spot. You will find that the early adapter scores some quick wins in the DPS department.

Conclusion

There are many small things that contribute to better DPS. But remember to make sure that this is quality DPS. Massive damage on adds which leaves the boss alive to reach the enrage timer is not quality DPS, and while you may win on the meters, eventually it will be found out and you will be asked not to. Make sure that every point of damage you do contributes to reaching the raid’s goal – a boss kill and nerd screams on vent.

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The Burning Red Line

Posted in Raids and Instances, Shadowpriest with tags , on July 19, 2010 by Natarumah

Tanks try to keep it, healers avoid it, but for some reason DPS have a difficult relationship with it: aggro. Whether doing raids or heroics, you will find that there are many different views on the topic of aggro, and they often do not mesh with the intentions that Blizzard has put out for it.

That thin red line

Aggro is when your threat has exceeded a certain threshold, and a mob will come cruising straight for you. This threshold is 110% for Melee, and 130% for ranged. When this happens in a 5-man, a tank will usually get annoyed with you, and you with the tank.

What happens here is a classic difference of opinion. DPS believe that the tank needs to generate enough aggro to keep the mobs in line, no questions asked. If it doesn’t work, taunt or something. Tanks believe it is their job to generate as much threat as possible, but that since they also need to position mobs and watch for patrols, the DPS have a shared responsibility to keep their threat in mind and not go over the tanks on purpose.

This debate has been raging on since Vanilla, and it hasn’t changed a bit in Heroics and PuG raids. Queue Icecrown Citadel.

Threat, Tanks and a Chilled Throne

In ICC, tanks first really noticed that they had threat problems. They were already penalized by Chill of the Throne, losing 20% of their Dodge, but also did not share equally in the ICC-wide damage and health buff. You see, tank threat is based on their DPS, with a modifier, and additional threat from abilities earmarked to cause more threat.

As the percentage bonus of the ICC buff goes up, it benefits you more if you have a lot of DPS already. Since tanks generally have low DPS, they benefit less from the buff, which also gives them less of a threat boost.

DPS meanwhile not only do not care for Chill of the Throne, they also gain more health and more damage from the buff. As such, every time the buff jumps up and every time we get an upgrade, we come closer and closer to an invisible red line. This invisible red line tells us the tanks simply cannot generate more aggro, it’s physically impossible.

When this line is reached, tanks simply cannot hold responsibility for keeping aggro on trigger-happy DPS. This is where we have to manage our threat, Fade away, Iceblock, Feint or Feign Death. Even we Shadowpriests, normally blissfully unaware, now have to pay attention, because our DoTs give us a little less control over stopping DPS and thus aggro gains.

Tanks now live on Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade, which allow Hunters and Rogues to transfer some of their meaty aggro onto the tanks, and give them an artificial boost. Without it, you will find tanks struggling unless they are horribly overgeared in ICC, and on Hard Modes even that might not be enough.

Blizzard’s Response

Blizzard does not like it when people have to rely on others to do their job, and so there are redesigns to the tank and tanking philosophy on the way in Cataclysm. In short, tanks should be able to manage DPS and healers at roughly equivalent gear level without outside assistance, and without furiously using DPS cooldowns or continually running out of mana/rage/runic power.

Tanking, no matter how many people make jokes about it, is fairly strenuous. You have to keep an eye on the environment, you have to keep aggro, sometimes use cooldowns, not stand in the fire and are generally expected to take the lead. Go to slow, and some “gogogo-tard” will haunt you. Go too fast and the healer cries “OOM!” every corner.

Having to explain that people need to mind their own aggro because you simply cannot create more of it is enough of a burden without getting a “lol L2 aggro scrub” reply.

In a raiding situation, that goes double. When you are raiding and the tanks are struggling (due to tank switches, incoming adds or just “zomg loads of mobs!”) don’t add to it by going all-out. Trust me, the damage meters will still be there next time, and you three seconds of not pulling aggro guarantees another minute of DPS with your health bar intact.

This is why I love Ruby Sanctum. Having to modulate DPS on Halion is great practice for what we’ll be doing in Cataclysm. Be repaired, be prepared!