Existential angst of a new dps

1. Hurrah, run our first 25 man raid and made some good progress on Magmaw.

2. Boo, I’m about several light years behind the feral (cat) druids on the meters.

As dps, you’re largely looking to the meters to measure how well you are doing (with appropriate mental adjustments based on whatever else you were doing in the fight). So if you’re lower down, you’re going to start wondering what you can do better next time. That’s normal and perfectly fine. But what if it’s just a class design issue?

I’m not sure how well I‘ll get on with playing dps in raids if it means settling for a lower position and hoping that Blizzard decide to balance the dps out in their own sweet time. I generally prefer feeling in more control of my gameplay/ performance. I don’t know if I want to play a game that’s biased so that I can’t ‘win’ … or even feel as though I’m in the running.

This is very different from tanking or healing where, as long as my class COULD handle the content, I knew I could learn to do it. There might be whining if some classes had an easier time with fights than others, but it wasn’t this demoralising, “What’s the point in me even being there?” feeling.

dps players, how do you stay motivated to keep going when you know your class is behind others by design?

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26 thoughts on “Existential angst of a new dps

  1. This early in an expansion you tend to have to just live with the class imbalances – which is a lot easier to do as a hunter I might add ;)

    However they are already addressing class [dps] balance issues on the PTR and the next patch is likely to be in a couple of resets.

    I don’t know exactly where DPS warriors are atm, but I know in our guild we are leaning towards more ranged in our raids (its fairly widely acknowledged that tier 11 raids are more ranged friendly) and that our main DPS warrior is sitting out a fair amount.

    Having said that, just ignore hunters (esp. on single target encounters) and locks (esp. on aoe heavy encounters) to gauge your performance on the meters.

    You’ve probably seen these but some information about current class balance:

    http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/01/03/scattered-shots-hunter-spec-and-class-balance/

    http://stateofdps.com (seems to be broke at time of posting)

    Finally, shout to all at Ashen Rose, I see Scara seems to be back online – Moo!

  2. I’ve struggled with this a lot as a DPS player. As a rogue in WOTLK, fights with adds and lots of target switching made me feel miserable whenever I looked at the DPS meter, even though I knew it was simply class design.

    Currently, as a resto/elemental shaman, I find myself not wanting to DPS as elemental because my numbers seem so low compared to guildmates. Running with survival hunters and frost DKs is not good for one’s self esteem. It really makes me doubt my skill, even when I know I’m usually doing the right things. The good news is that it seems like Blizzard is trying to maintain a better balance. Elemental DPS is getting buffed in the next patch, which reassures me that it isn’t entirely my fault.

    The way I try to look at it is that it’s OK if you’re not on top – it is probably a class design thing. Strive to beat your own numbers and be the best that you can in every way such as utility and staying alive. As long as your DPS is reasonable, ie. not harming your raid by being below the requirements for the encounter, then try to let it go.

  3. I’m an affliction warlock. I’m basically buggered. All I can do is try and search out the best way of playing my class and hope that it’s enough. I can catch up on some of the other classes by staying alive longer than they do :D

  4. I take it as a challenge every time I hear my class & spec is an so-called underdog. That´s the main reason for me to play such as a frost speced mage.

    It is very interesting what you can do with an underrated class / spec you can recieve extreme differences just by reforgeing, the right talents and a inBrain priority list that maxes your DPS&Damage output in the given situation.

    As an DPS it is essential to be focussed on competition, not only to draw out the most Damage but also take the least damage and do the right non-DPS thing in the right time (can be a bRezz or just interrupting when the tank / assigned DPS is unable/dead/anything else).

    A DPS can prove his worthy in different ways. As speaking of my role as a frost Mage it is usually kiting, CC, interrupting, offensive spellstealing and snaring of course.

    If someone casuses a Wipe by not interrupting, disspelling or just by dying in the fire and causes hitting the enrage-timer, even maximum DPS is no excuse.

  5. Fundamental problem detected! I could elaborate, but you are not a DD at heart, but a TANK! You need to control the fight, 1st place in DPS meters gives you nothing, but a low place only frustration.

    Solution: Back to tanking! DDs like tanks a lot more than other DDs anyways.

      • I’ve tanked on the Omnitron system and in BWD in general and I actually found it very fun and engaging. On Maloriak, you might be interrupting as well as tanking(or picking up a bunch of adds that can REALLY hurt and manuevering them.) Tron Council is some fun; lots of maneuvering around and being careful on cutting out your attacks on the shield, etc. Conclave was a lot of fun to tank with all the switching about. Halfus is pretty cool with the adds.

        IMO, these fights were a lot more fun than, say, Blood Queen(stand there), Marrowgar(turn him a bit..and…oh stand there), Deathbringer(guess), Festergut(stand there and pop CDs when he inhales), and some others. (Some were fun. Ulduar was fun.)

  6. A devil’s advocate would wonder to what extent imbalances are real and to what extent differences in personal performance may be attributed to design instead, while pointing out in his own defence that the presence of the former is in no way implied to be absent.

    There is a potential vicious circle in which you observe being behind, decide it’s a design issue, conclude fighting against the design is not worth the effort, fall further behind, blame it on design, and so on. There is another mindset in which prevailing in the face of adversity serves as an additional motivator.

    In a less philosophical and more practical observation, both Arms and Fury are scheduled for buffs in 4.0.6, so Blizzard seem to indeed be using their sweet time to try and balance things. We can’t but hope, can we ;)

    • (although to be brutally honest with myself, I’m currently happily hiding behind actually being a tank and not having to worry about the prominent melee-ranged-imbalances)

    • The reason I called this existential angst is that it’s really hard to know whether the difference is down to skill or just a lower dps cap on the class.

      It wouldn’t normally matter, but if you’re a LONG way behind then … you’re going to start wondering. And like I say, I don’t mind not being top but I don’t really want to spend the whole expansion being way way behind either.

  7. It’s funny but every class seems to think that their spec is behind! It’s like the old saying that no-one will ever admit to being rich or asleep.

    Blizzard I think have only said that Fury dps is a little low, and survival hunters are too high. Has there been any blue comment on arms warriors? I haven’t seen it. In any event, differences between players outweigh minor discrepancies between potential maximum dps of different specs.

    Dpsing is kind of a rhythm thing. You get into it. Arms spec I’ve found to be a particularly unpleasant and clunky rotation, particularly when you’re weaving slam procs in. It will take a while for you to get into the rotation and to get used to how you can maximise your dps. You’re new to raiding on that spec. It will get better. Just go with it.

  8. Magmaw is also somewhat tilted towards ferals. The bit where he drops down and exposes his head for 30s, which takes double damage? Well, our big DoT lasts for 22s (glyphed) so we can drop it twice, and it keeps ticking for double damage even after he “retreats.”

  9. I just have never cared about where I’m placing. At all. I’m just not down with the whole Ricky Bobby mindset (“If you’re not first, you’re last!”).
    It’s a *game*, and as a group we’re there as a TEAM. What matters is that I’m making an adequate contribution as a team member, and that I’m having a good time. If I’m not having a good time, then I’m more likely to make a contribution that’s “inadequate” – by, say, going and finding something more enjoyable to do with my time, like pounding my fingers with a hammer.

    You’re playing to the best of your ability, having a good time playing a game with friends, and you’re doing more DPS than the healers. What’s wrong with that, exactly?

    • Yes, you are playing as a member of a team, which means that you need to pull your share of the weight. Doing more DPS than a healer is not really going to get any bosses dead – particularly if all the rest of the damage dealers take the same view of their DPS.

    • @Jonathon

      Here, here! I do the best that I can with my desired class (BM Hunter… HOO-AH!) and to hell with what they say. Now, I don’t just screw off, I really try to contribute, and feel bad if I fail or die, and happily learn from my mistakes (if people will tell me what they are!)… I just love downing the bosses and doing my part. If we all live and they all die, its a WIN… who cares of the tank did more damage then me, he’s right in the middle, dropping bombs on 5 guys while I’m shooting one!

      @ Tufva

      There are players that ‘don’t get it’, and there are those that do their best in the time they have. I’m a decent player, but I only get about 10 hours a WEEK to play… which means I’m not going to be as familiar with the boss/dungeon as you are, but I’m going to do my best.

  10. Personally, I’m quite competitive, but only with myself. I realize many of the classes aren’t quite balanced and some of my guildmates have gotten quite lucky with drops. I aim to be middle of the pack. So long as I’m around 10th or so, I’m happy.

    I measure my performance by not getting hit by raid mechanics and not being a hindrance. Occassionally I’ll have a great run and put some of the others to shame.

  11. Pulling small number by design isn’t funny, topping the meters only when design allows is worse, at least for me.
    I like to top the meters with non cookiecutter-classes. Make the mages ask themselves: WTF, 30k+ enhancer dps on Halfus10?!? : thats fun!

  12. Well, I look at it as this. There are, say, 16 DPSers in a fight. One of those has to be on the bottom; unless every single DPSer has 100% even DPS/Damage Done down to the wire. Now, in an ideal world, the difference between number 1 and number 16 will be very very little.

    Cat DPS is a bit high right now from what I’ve read(I’ve seen some OS ferals do some rather silly numbers in piecemeal OS gear, and being OS they’re solid but not specialized in said spec). Not as high as Survival, but up there.

    All I do is check some high end parses for one. Oh yeah, the real high end. See, I don’t expect to be out-DPSing Landsoul anytime soon(though I do try to be the best I can be.) But if I can bring my numbers to at least somewhat close to some of the higher end parses, it’s cool. I think some DPSers also get obsessed with *having* to be on the top, and I’m not sure if that’s the best mindset to have. I ended as 3rd of 6 on Atramedes on our first kill. I was happy. The quote that said ”aim for not being hit” I think is great. To me, if I can place halfway down, but have some of the least damage done to me, managed to do all my roles properly(interrupts, etc), and keep my debuffs up if I need to, then I succeeded. If my DPS meets the minimum for the required fight and isn’t holding the group back-it’s all good. Of course, I’ll try to keep pushing it.

    If anything, being behind by design I think is easier to swallow, because I know it’s not *totally* me. I would rather be behind by design than number 1 due to an overtuned class(which would end up getting hit with a nerfbat anyway). When I played Fury at the end of WotLK(4 buttons, 100% ArP, rage never going down, OP nonsense) I felt very little satisfaction from that. When I topped a chart I knew it was because of an OP class with a resource that never ran dry. It would be like a mage topping a chart getting to chain-cast Pyroblasts while never running out of mana.

    But yeah, some people maybe fit better with some roles than others-as in, they are more or less critical of themselves in some than others. I myself do NOT handle healing well-at ALL. I can tank, I can DPS, but I just cannot for the life of me do the healing thing; I’m a frazzled, stressy mess at the end who thinks they’re letting down the group(even though tanking has responsibility too-I can handle that just fine!) But healing responsibility? Can’t cut it. Tried a few times but it turns me frazzled in I dunno how long.

  13. I am a main-spec holy priest, but I really enjoy DPSing as shadow as well. So I’ve made a point of trying to build up a good gear set for that as well and I have DPSed on a couple of our raids (we are very, very low on ranged atm). I am usually last on the DPS list or 2nd last, sometimes by quite a margin.

    One of the other ranged is a very, very well-geared hunter. Apart from playing a currently OP class he is a very skilled player, so I know his high DPS isn’t purely down to class mechanics. However, measuring myself against him tells me nothing of my own performance.

    He has overall better gear than me as he spent a lot of time and gold to kit himself out in as many purples as possible – I have 4 or so, mostly rep ones. And many pieces are enchanted/gemmed with stats that optimise my healing, not my DPS.
    His class is known to be a bit OP atm.
    He has played that class as a DPS for a long time. I only started dabbling with DPS towards the end of Wrath.

    There are so many differences between us and the same for any of the other DPSers in the group that it is impossible to compare us.

    What I would love to know is what DPS it would be reasonable to expect from a shadowpriest at this gear level. That is a useful number I could compare myself against and see if I am close or really should give up on the DPS side entirely… :-)

  14. I usually look at meters in an instance or raid, but only to make sure I am pulling my weight, not as any kind of benchmark. Even putting aside class balance, so much of your damage will depend on the mechanics of the fight that it is tough to use meters. Short fights favour higher burst, fights with movement favour ranged, some fights ranged will be switching while melee stands still, some fights will favour AOE.

    Using interrupts will disrupt your rotatation, and now with more cc, the waters are even muddier.

    The only fight where meters really work as a benchmark that I can think of is Patchwerk. Even then, one character may be doing less damage on the meters, but bringing a buff that is boosting everyone else’s damage.

    I use meters at the dummies as a benchmark. If I am comparing gear, or practicing my rotation. Even then, the numbers do not reflect all of the buffs I may have from other people, so the numbers will be low. The numbers are consistant though, and that is what matters to me.

  15. Back in ICC-H when Enhance started falling behind I just relaxed and concentrated on leading the raids ;)

    The key though is to analyse your logs and not just take an overall number from Recount. Examine the different parts of the fight and make sure you’re contributing where it really counts – for me I knew I had terrible AOE so I’d be low on adds fights, but that didn’t mean I could slack in a burn phase.

    Similarly going over the log can help you understand why classes are performing differently. If it’s one ability that synergises well with the encounter mechanics (or conversely the encounter is just poorly suited for the class), that’s OK. Everyone has their days in the sun or shade.

    If a particular spec is just plain overpowered, particularly early in a tier, you just wait for the inevitable nerfbat. If a class is woefully underpowered, you can count on getting a buff. If your *spec* is not doing well though, it’s probably time to switch.

  16. The best advice I ever got as a DPS was…
    Use the meters to judge your own performance against yourself. Don’t worry about what other classes and specs are doing, except to make sure you’re within a reasonable distance of them. As a very insecure baby hunter, I stank on the meters. Seriously bad. But I focused on my improvement in DPS, and tried very hard not to pay much attention to where I was in the group.

    Now as a part-time shadowpriest (I mostly heal as holy in raids) who runs in 10 mans with a ridiculously good shadowpriest, I know I’m never going to be top of the meters. I got a baseline for my dps last night, in Baradin Hold, (8.5kish), and I’m going to work towards improving that with better gear and making sure I’m well-spec’d and glyphed. While the other shadowpriest’s numbers give me a great pie-in-the-sky goal, I’m not trying to beat her. I’m trying to make sure I’m constantly improving, and if I manage top of the meters, yay. If not, oh well.

    What I’m really trying to say is…
    The best way to not get discouraged as DPS is to not compare apples (you) with oranges (kitties). Different classes and specs have different fights where they shine, and some specs will be OP or UP compared to others. Some specs are very dependent on gear, others less so. Focus on your own DPS increasing, maybe use other DPS warriors at the same gear levels to give you a vague baseline, but really, work on improving yourself.

  17. If you don’t mind the maths it’s good to study the rationale behind the solution sites like EJ present to the world so that you have a good handle on your class mechanics. Sometimes there are little things like buffs. Sometimes buffs will go to people already high on the meter making it harder to get parity – for example Unholy DKs get a damage buff that’s especially good for enraged dpsers (ie Fury Warriors). However if they think your damage is low they’ll just use it on themselves.

    Once you have a full understanding of your rotation and buffs and gear then it’s simply a matter of time spent hitting. It’s important to maximise this, especially in fights where you run out then run back in etc.

    If you get to the point where you feel you are playing perfectly or close to it then all you can do is re-roll fotm if you’re frustrated or wait for your turn in the spotlight if you’re not.

    In general, because the rage mechanic gives Warriors a double whammy from gearing up Warriors start weak and end strong during Blizzard expansion cycles. This is because if you increase mage damage by 10% the mages hit 10% harder but if you increase warrior damage by 10% the warriors do 10% more damage and derive more rage from attacks allowing for a greater number of specials.

    My advice is stick with it and work on improving yourself. Once you go Fury and are putting out reasonably competitive damage start working on your Unholy DKs for their buff.

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