Kurn's Guide on How to Behave as a DPS in Dungeons

Kurn’s Guide on How to Behave as a DPS in Dungeons

You’ll note that I don’t specify “random” or “heroic” or “raid” dungeons. That’s because I believe that my guide is good for any level DPS class in any size of dungeon, be it 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 40. It was inspired, of course, by the fact that I’ve done more 5-man regulars and heroics in the last week since 3.3 came out than I have in the previous five months, but there are some good basics here of which all DPSers should be aware.

Why am I writing this? Because I’ve run tons of dungeons in my WoW career as all three roles (healing, tanking, damage) and every time I’m on one of my toons, there’s always at least one moron who doesn’t know how to appropriately behave in a group. Always. And those are the GOOD groups.

So, from someone who raids primarily as a holy paladin, who runs anything she can with her hunter, who will reluctantly tank as her paladin, who pugs raid content on her resto shammy, who plays a mage in the 70s and has a dual-specced resto/feral (tank) druid in the 70s as well, here’s my guide for DPS classes.

1) Don’t pull aggro. Okay, sure. It’s going to happen sometimes. You’re going to zone out and forget to watch Omen and accidentally pull aggro. Minimize the amount of times this happens or your tank is going to get very cranky. If it DOES happen, try to recover. Mages iceblock, hunters feign, rogues vanish, priests fade, warlocks soulshatter, pallies bubble, BOP or hand of salvation… any night elf can shadowmeld… If you can’t drop aggro (death knights, warriors, primarily), run to the tank or just stop attacking and blow any cooldowns you have to survive. DKs, icebound fortitude, warriors can slap on a shield, go defensive and shield wall. Both your tank and your healer will appreciate your quick thinking.

And if you don’t have Omen, log out of WoW and download it. NOW.

2) Don’t stand in stuff. Essentially, this game boils down to the following:

Does the boss put something on the floor?
— If yes, don’t stand in it.
— If no, watch out for the adds or other environmental factors and move when needed.
Note that the presence of crap on the floor does not mean there will be no adds.

3) Blow defensive cooldowns. In AOE-type situations, do whatever you can to lessen the healing required on you. For example, a hunter can blow Deterrence to prevent damage on anything from Loken’s Lightning Nova to, well, anything. And speaking of Lightning Nova, you know that’s nature damage, right? Flip on Aspect of the Wild to help boost the group’s resistance to it.

Iceblock, Divine Shield (heck, Divine Shield/Divine Sacrifice is awesome, too, if you’re specced for it!), Survival Instincts (if you’re kitty DPS), Dispersion… well, you know your classes better than I do. You get the drift. You may not get heals, because healing is a sort of triage event. You heal the tanks and healers first, then the DPS. Always remember:

– If the tank dies, it’s (usually) the healer’s fault
– If the healer dies, it’s (usually) the tank’s fault
– If the DPS dies, it’s their own damn fault

4) Be familiar with the fight. Numbers 2 and 3 are very much related to this one. If you’ve done the fight on another character, playing another role, you might not be entirely sure how to DPS the fight. So even if you’ve been through an instance 20 times as a tank or a healer, try to give the instance a once-over at WoWWiki or WoWHead and make sure you know how your class abilities and talents lend themselves to the situations you will be facing. Which leads us to our next point.

5) Be familiar with your role. Let me say that again: be familiar with your role. I don’t care if you have 200 days /played on your druid if you’ve only ever tanked and have no idea of how to DPS or how to heal beyond healing yourself after soloing an elite quest.

There are WAY too many people out there who are tanking and healing these days in 5-mans, who have absolutely no idea how to do so. But there are also those people out there who don’t know how to DPS.

Some tips:

a) AOE = Area of Effect. Typically only useful with 3+ mobs, who have less health than normal mobs. Don’t Blizzard or Volley a single mob.

b) Misdirection/Tricks of the Trade. Use them. On every pull, if possible. I have a macro on my hunter that is, admittedly, extremely simplistic, but it works. It goes like this:

/target [tank name]
/cast Misdirection

And before every instance starts, I edit the macro to insert the actual tank’s name. Then I put it on my bars and hit it prior to every pull and then it assists the tank so I know which target the tank was looking at, which is usually the mob I’ll open up on.

I’m sure rogues can edit the macro to work for Tricks of the Trade.

c) Relatedly, assisting the tank (or at least following the kill order — Skull is usually first, followed by X, I’ve noticed) will help you to get mobs down faster and will mean less deaths for you, because you know where the tank is going to focus his or her threat. In this day and age of AOE tanking, not all tanks are created equal and warriors, for example, don’t have a 360 degree aggro ability (like Swipe, Consecration or Death & Decay), so it becomes even more important to follow your tank’s instructions. (A good tank will make it clear what needs to die first, either via raid symbols, text instructions or whatever. If you’re not sure, ask. If there’s no time to ask, watch Omen and keep watching where your tank is focusing his or her threat.)

d) Learn what you need to do to achieve an adequate performance. That means, for example, having Serpent Sting up if you’re a Marksmanship hunter and you’re using Chimera Shot. Or having Black Arrow ticking on a mob for Lock and Load procs if you’re a Survival hunter. Or having Scorch up if you’re a Fire mage. Or knowing what poisons to use on your weapons as a rogue. Or knowing which seal and judgement to use as a paladin. How about making sure Flame Shock is up for that guaranteed Lava Burst crit as an ele shammy? Or that you make sure to cast Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning when you hit five stacks of Maelstrom as an enhancement shammy? Where do you find this stuff out? All KINDS of places. Blogs are generally a *great* resource, and you can find some amazingly high-quality blogs here:

WoW Blog List – Twisted Nether Wiki

So research your class mechanics. What “works just fine” while soloing is not going to cut it in groups.

6) Don’t be a loot whore. In this new era of Need before Greed/Disenchant, absolutely roll Need on what you *need*. But if you don’t *need* it, then ask your group if you can take it for offspec or whatever. If someone hits Need for main spec and it’s NOT your main spec, then pass.

Example: You are a ret paladin. Yet you would like to build up both holy and prot sets, because you’re a hybrid and you recognize that it’s your duty as a hybrid to make use of your ability to fill more than one role. Good for you.

DO roll Need on: Large 2H weapons with lots of strength, plate armor with strength and hit and crit (but not defense or spellpower)

Roll GREED on: Any 1H tanking weapon/shield or spellpower weapon/shield you can equip, any plate spellpower or defense gear.

In other words, do NOT roll need on a tanking axe, spellpower plate shoulders and a two-handed mace in the same run, or people are going to vote you off the island. And they’ll be right to do so.

7) Buff the group. How many DPS priests have you been in a group with who didn’t buff Prayer of Fortitude and Divine Spirit? Or DPS druids who didn’t buff Gift of the Wild? Or mages who don’t buff Arcane Brilliance? My guess is amazingly few. So why do DPS paladins think it’s okay not to buff the group at all? Or to just buff 10m versions of their buffs? Listen, guys, from one paladin to another, IT IS NOT OKAY. If you can buff a group, you’re going to need to do so unless someone has an improved buff. So buy some reagents — Symbols of Kings for paladins, Devout Candles for priests, Wild Spineleaf for druids, Arcane Powder for mages — and make sure you don’t run out. Further, ALL PALADINS should install PallyPower to coordinate buffs, period. You will thank me later, trust me, and so will your groups.

If you’re a Leatherworker and have access to Drums of Forgotten Kings, then the only time you shouldn’t use the kings drum is if there’s two (or more) pallies in the group. If you’re grouped with just one, tell your paladin, up front, before they waste any symbols, that they can do might/wisdom and you’ll do kings. If you have no paladins, go ahead and buff the group with kings anyways. No druid in your group? No problem if you have Drums of the Wild, but don’t cast it if you ARE with a druid, since it’s the equivalent to the non-improved ranks of Gift of the Wild.

If you’ve got Inscription and can do Runescroll of Fortitude, do so if there’s no priest.

Of course, the drums and the Runescroll are able to be bought at the Auction House, so if you plan on going after the Pug pet, you probably want to bring any of your own reagents plus both drums and a stack of Runescrolls to make sure you have all the buffs you want and to help ensure that the group goes smoothly.

8) Know how to crowd control. I know, I know. These days, crowd control is extremely rare. Gone are the days where hunters had to skillfully trap spam things using Feign Death because you couldn’t drop a trap in combat. Gone are the days where you have to crowd control at all, in most cases. (Never thought I’d say this, but I miss that back-right corner in UBRS. You know the one I’m talking about!) But that doesn’t mean that you can ignore your traps, your wyvern sting, your sap, your blind, your chains of ice, your sheep, your hex, your shackle, your fear, your succubus’ seduce, your banish, your cyclone, your entangling roots, your repentence, your turn evil or any that I might have missed. Just because you don’t HAVE to CC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how just in case things go to hell.

Example: I was running Heroic Halls of Reflection the other day on my hunter. And a DPS DK died on one of the waves. So on the wave before the boss, I kept a mob trapped while the DPS druid battle-rezzed the DPS DK. He was healed and buffed and we were able to burn the last mob down just as the boss activated. Did I need to know how to trap for that? Eh, that’s debatable. Did it help the group out? I think so.

Another example: I was running, again, Heroic Halls of Reflection on my paladin and I was healing. It was a pug group, wasn’t terribly strong and somehow, we’d made it to the “OMFG RUN IT’S ARTHAS” fight. We wiped at least twice because there was no focus fire, there was no crowd control and there was just too much damage going out for me to heal. So I selected a Witch Doctor (those casters can be brutal) and used Turn Evil on it. It ran around for a while and by the time the fear wore off, he was pretty angry with me, so he came running towards the group to be in range of casting at me, which was close enough for him to get silenced and then brought closer to us to get killed before the wall broke and we ran for our lives.

Still another example: I was running Gundrak with my mage the other day and the healer was about to die to a snake because he refused to move. Bam, sheeped him! (Actually, I turtled him, but whatever.)

Just about everyone in the game has *some kind* of crowd control, be it temporary (a warrior’s Intimidating Shout) or longer-lasting (a mage’s Polymorph can basically keep something under control indefinitely). Know how to use those abilities and, more importantly, know *when* to use them.

9) Run back. If you die and your healer has also died, guess what, buddy? You’re running back. If there’s been a wipe, I have been known to force the group to wait for the idiot rogue to run back as well. If you died but your healer didn’t, be patient, they’ll rez you when they have mana.

So basically, don’t pull aggro, know how to do your job, don’t expect heals if the tank or healer are in danger and buff the group with your class buffs.

Having said that, I know that DPS classes are the most popular and that it can be tough for you guys to find a group. But I have seen so many BAD DPSers these days that I feel compelled to say something to all you hunters who know how to trap, you mages who keep your sheep sheeped, those of you who don’t stand in fire or poison… thank you. You’re the types of players I always want to end up with when I’m tanking or healing. And for you new DPSers, welcome to group dynamics. Please don’t make me regret having a hunter or a paladin by being a noob when you’re in a group. I hope this guide has been helpful for you.