Basic Rules for a DPS Class

There are general rules that every DPS class must follow in order for a group to function properly. Now, not everyone adheres to all of these rules all of the time, but generally it’s a good idea to follow them to the best of your ability. If you don’t, you could easily be responsible for any number of frustrations throughout a raid. This list is not only for the benefit of the readers, but also a reminder to myself after a long bout of boredom and idleness within the game.

1. Take care of yourself.  You shouldn’t ever be relying on heals as a ranged DPS class, and rarely as a melee. It’s your job to identify and move out of any AoE attacks, and unless the fight has a specific unavoidable damage (like Gluth, for example), you should be doing what you can to mend yourself, not only to conserve healers’ mana, but to allow them to focus on the more important things, like keeping the tanks alive. Sometimes you do need a heal, and that’s why there are healers assigned to “raid heal”, but there are clear limits between NEED and WANT. If you ever find yourself blaming a healer for your death when you wanted a heal, go shoot yourself in the foot, and realize the difference between NEED and WANT.

2. Wait.  Too often in the past few weeks, we’ve had issues with the DPS going balls to the wall right away in every encounter. This, quite frankly, is stupid. You can’t wait three seconds to start DPSing? Are you really that concerned with your accumulated damage that you would risk pulling aggro? At least wait for a sunder or two. Let Consecrate tic. Just wait. If everyone waits as they should be doing, your damage won’t be affected negatively. We’re all guilty of this at one point or another, and sometimes we can giggle and have fun with it, but eventually it becomes frustrating to our tanks and our healers – there’s a reason DPS classes aren’t meant to tank. We go down fast, and for a healer to keep up with you while you’re being pounded is mana-intensive and wasteful. Just…slow…it…down…and…wait…a…second.

3. Use your non-DPS abilities to assist the raid.  Hunters have Misdirect and Tranq, druids have Innervate, several classes can Decurse, Rogues have Kick, etc. and so on, the list continues. Tear your fingers away from your DPS buttons for a minute and take the two or three global cooldowns required to help the rest of your raid group. Good players do good DPS. Excellent players do good DPS and add utility to a raid group. Be an excellent player and spread your focus outward. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again : It’s not just the meters that make the DPS. I won’t say that your damage means jack shit in comparison to utility, but it’s not the end-all be-all of your role in this game. Look up from your cast bar for a few seconds and take a look around at your buddies. Help them out. They would help you out. Right?

4. Understand your role.  You are DPS, and you have utility, too, as stated above. However, unless you have alts and are familiar with tanking or healing, you don’t really comprehend how stressful and thankless the other tasks can be. ESPECIALLY when the people you’re protecting aren’t working with you. As a raid group, you all work together with your specific qualities to create a logical, efficient force against a common enemy. Ask yourself this: Am I working with the healers and tanks, or am I pushing against them? Know your role and how you can be a useful member instead of a destructive one. And as a general rule, let the tanks and healers boss you around – DPS shouldn’t be spouting nonsense in Vent unless they’ve been asked to call something out.

When you follow these four rules, you become a useful member of your raid, one who gets invited back and is requested as core time and again. Following these rules has gotten me far since my first raiding days, and it’s something we all must continue to do for our own good as well as our buddies’. Let’s get back into the swing of things and focus on what’s important.

❤ Nass

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~ by Kelly Jennelle on March 4, 2009.

36 Responses to “Basic Rules for a DPS Class”

  1. Nice post here Nass! I wish a lot more of the WoW community would read this, not just the crazies that come to this site! 🙂 A great deal of thought went into this and I appreciate it. I wish people would actually stick to these rules you’ve written here. Thanks again!

  2. Thank god. Your still here at least. With loads of my favourite bloggers dropping like flies, I half expected my entire Blogroll to be closing up shop. Glad to see your still going strong 😛

  3. Excellent write up! It’s good to know that I figured these out leveling up my hunter and already do all these instinctively. 😉

    I never expect to get a heal during a fight, so if I get one it’s a bonus. I usually will save a healing potion for desperate times (I usually roll with a Ret Pally so I’m somewhat spoiled mana wise). And if I have to step away for 8 seconds to bandage, that’s way better than missing the last minute or 30 seconds of fight because I’m corpsed! In fact, I just got the achievement a couple days ago for applying a heavy frostweave bandage to another player or yourself with less than 5% health right near the end of a boss fight. My guild loved it!

    And it always brings a smile to my face when I see my cat charging out of the fray with a well timed growl to rescue a squishy who accidentally aggroed (can never spell that right) an add.

  4. Nice tips 🙂 I agree that sometimes we can get imersed in doing as much DPS as we can that it is possible to forget to do utility things.
    Look through your spellbook and look at the stuff you don’t have on your action bars and ask yourself why are they not there. You might find a right old gem 🙂

  5. This post is definately something that any raid leader should read and preach to their raid as well as any raider in general!

    I know personally I make sure to cast Misdirect on the tank more than just at the beginning of the fight. I also lay down ice traps on the healers in case trash mobs go after them.

    Also, EVERY class should have first aid and like Torgall mentioned, step away from the fight for 8 seconds and bandage yourself. I know my healers love me for it :).

    Keep up the great work Nass!

  6. […] Basic Rules for a DPS Class @ Diaries of a Marksman Hunter A few great rules that every person who plays a DPS class should follow!  Along the lines of, “It doesn’t matter how much DPS you do if you’re dead.” […]

  7. All good points, Nass. Unfortunately, there’s a dysfunctional “synergy” that seems all too common amongst raiding guilds, that of a slavish attention to damage meters and the perspective that if a Hunter isn’t at the top they are a bad Hunter, thus Hunters likewise slavishly bond to the damage meters and forget everything else. Therein we have problems.
    If guilds (and WoW forums etc) didn’t continually hype damage meter positions as so important, I think many Hunters would feel comfortable slowing down, providing more utility, and generally taking it easy, which would help the raid. So both sides have, in my opinion, a responsibility here that benefits everyone involved.

    It’s regrettable that if a Hunter does pull out the utility (eg Tranq shot, chain trapping etc) their DPS can drop but the raid does great, and the Hunter gets slammed for not doing max DPS. Nobody realises the benefits that Hunter utility provide, but they notice the DPS.

    Your basic rules are great, but they should be reading for non-DPS classes too, particularly players that have no clue what the Hunter is like, as it will give a nicer window into what we’re doing out there in the fight.

    Also, the rules can vary depending on your group. In a 25 man raid the healing rule is great, but not always possible in a 5 or 10 man. If your group is unconventional, sometimes it’s best to go full burn and let the healers take care of you (my guild does this a lot as we’re small and thus have bizarre group compositions), and sometimes that’s the best answer for some situations. Although the Hunter should never, ever expect to be kept up at the expense of the tank, a dead Hunter is merely lost DPS while a dead tank can mean a wipe.

  8. Yessiree, Bob! There are and will always be exceptions, but on the whole, we need to pay closer attention to our surroundings. Each class will always get judged unfairly at times, and unfortunately nothing will fix this. Humans are only human. But I agree that not enough people appreciate the Hunter class in general, as it can be rather difficult at times to do your ultimate best.

  9. […] at Diaries of a Marksman Hunter posts four humble rules for every DPS Class to follow. You haw be intellection that whatever of these are glaringly obvious, then you modify up in the […]

  10. you’re stupid you idiot

  11. Much ❤ to you, too. =)

  12. You forgot “GET OUT OF THE FIRE”
    it’s like one but it’s very important

  13. I disagree with both #1 and #2. Those are rules for bad players. When you get into a good guild (and by good, I mean a team that clears all the current content in one night in <5 hours without wiping), not only can you go balls-out immediately and not heal yourself, but you’re encouraged to do these things. If I bandage, I get scolded by my healers for doing their job and not DPSing. If I wait, my DPS is terrible and I get scolded for sucking. When you have good tanks, threat is almost never an issue.

  14. I think that Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade, while fantastic abilities, are a substantial part of the reason that rule #2 gets violated. While it’s actually beneficial to the threat situation for hunters and rogues to go all out immediately (assuming they’re redirecting their threat to the appropriate tank), other DPS classes are likely to see this and think it’s time to start tearing it up. It could be the influence of damage meters (oh no! The rogues and hunters are going to outdamage me!) or it could just be that when you see others attacking, you think it’s a good time to attack. Either way, I think they can make bad players a little bit worse.

  15. @Vakerik – Haha Yes, “GET OUT OF THAT SHIT” is definitely important.

    @Kal – Interesting take. However, most people do not belong to a perfect guild, and therefore must do what they can to help others. And I’m amazed that you can clear Sarth3D, Naxx, VoA, and Malygos in less than 5 hours.

    @Thimble – Yes, actually I do believe this is cause to a lot of it. They don’t understand that MD is different, and so they attack with the MDing hunter. That can be cleared up with a bit of communication, however.

  16. I am amazed – that the basic rules for DPS do not include “Deal Damage”! I won’t take any DPS to my raids even if they follow all the rules above and a super nice person; if they can’t kill shit! DPS needs to come to raid prepared and ready to deal damage and deal damage only. Not pressing a button while watching Family Guy.

    So Please add the #1 rule – come prepared for dealing damage. If you can’t do more than 2K dps on a given night; go tanking or healing.

  17. @Majest – “Excellent players do good DPS and add utility to a raid group”

    I think you missed that part. =P

  18. Sweet write up. Even though we all should know this (and by some comments feel beyond it) it’s great to see it posted. Now we all have a place to say “Here read this, and then come back to me.” 🙂

  19. […] at Diaries of a Marksman Hunter posts four basic rules for every DPS Class to follow. You may be thinking that some of these are glaringly obvious, then you end up in the PuG from hell […]

  20. Nassira- I agree, and when I’m in a PUG heroic, I often spend a lot of time out of shadowform to help with healing. I would rather stay alive than top the meter.

    But at the same time, players should strive to become better, especially in their raid. If you’re a healer telling your DPS to bandage, perhaps you should instead be working on healing better? Ditto a tank that asks his DPS to wait, instead of upping his own initial threat output.

  21. @Kal – Ah yes, this is very true. However, most of us are in “casual hardcore” raiding guilds, and sometimes we have certain players who aren’t necessarily capable of doing much better, but we bring them because they’re family. None of our healers actually ask us to bandage ourselves unless in a dire situation, and we don’t have threat issues unless DPS attack before the tank does, which is a common occurance in a guild full of bored players. We all improve together, albeit sometimes slower than desired.

  22. […] http://mmnassira.com/2009/03/04/basic-rules-for-a-dps-class/ Category: Miscellaneous […]

  23. One point – it’s tough to wait to begin DPSing when DPS are judged by their place on the meters. (And don’t think they aren’t, because they are.)

    That’s the beginning and the end of the frantic DPS race you see in raids.

  24. While I understand where you’re coming from with #1, I would have to respectfully disagree with you. Certain classes such as Ret Paladin( Seal of Martyr/Blood) and to a lesser extent, Warlock (Life Tap) have to rely on being constantly being healed in order to do their maximum DPS. Their role in the raid is to DPS and thats what they should focus on. The more DPS we do the faster the boss dies, and the less over-all healing was needed.

    Am I completely against throwing on a FoL or Healing light on myself if I’m getting really low? Of course not, but I don’t think I should expect to have to self-heal for the duration of the fight. I think this is the case where you NEED to be healed rather than WANT to be healed.

    This however does not mean I’m expecting to be healed through “standing in the fire”, when you have to move, you have to move. Also in the case of utility, then its up to the Raid Leader which the player should focus on more.

    Just my 2c.

  25. When it comes to 25 man raid that want to push hard progression, #1 and #2 are dead wrong.
    #1) Only heal yourself if you are sure you are going to die. If you have just a taken a bit of damage wait paitently until the raid healer gets to you. Time lost healing is a lot of lost dps, using a health potion mean you can’t use a mana potion or a destro-type potioin, and even health stones can conflict with dps cool down. The only exception are fights with specific points where a lot of random raid damage is going out and healers couldn’t possibly keep up with it, like druring Twilight Torment on 3d sarth.
    #2 DPS early and often. Misdirect and tricks should give enough treat cushion that dps and start dropping 25-megaton bombs ASAP. It might be a good idea in a lousy 5-man pug to wait until the weak tank build up some threat, but try doing something like Brutallus (back in the day) with everyon waiting at the start.

    My problem with your DPS advice is the implication that the desire to put up as big a number on the meters is nothing but e-peen preening. That’s not true. You will never get something like 6-min Maly, or 3d Sarth or any of the old dps-race bosses, by being caution. You have to go all out and take risks of dying or pulling aggro.

  26. […] at Diaries of a Marksman Hunter posts four basic rules for every DPS Class to follow. You may be thinking that some of these are glaringly obvious, then you end up in the PuG from hell […]

  27. @Lilrabit and Someguy –

    While you both have points, you must understand that this is not pointed toward hardcore playstyle. The majority of my readers are casual players with casual needs and average ability. You can claim superiority until you’re blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is that MOST people expect heals when they shouldn’t be getting them, i.e. standing in something they shouldn’t, which was what #1 is meant to imply. There is a difference between Need and Want, as I said, and you are stating Need. Furthermore, Ret pallies are melee, and as I said before, there are certain instances in which melee do need constant heals. I believe you two possibly skimmed the content without fully placing the information in the right light. If you will re-read it, I’m sure you’d see the other merit in the advice.

    I also never implied that a DPS race is only for the e-peen enhancement. I myself have many times explained how much I love participating in a friendly DPS competition, and it helps you to improve your gameplay and of course, helps you to take down the boss. However, my point was simply that you should not sacrifice the rest of your gameplay just for a few extra points of DPS, especially during trash in a situation where a few hundred more damage is entirely unnecessary.

    While you both make valid arguments, I believe you are misunderstanding the basis of my topics and are making assumptions by reading things between lines that aren’t meant to be there.

    DPS is incredibly important. This is why we have it. In no way am I stating that I don’t believe you should put out the best numbers you can. This is just a little reminder that we have other responsibilities as well, and that we all work together toward a common goal with different skill levels and styles of play.

    Thank you for your contribution! 🙂 Good luck in Ulduar.

  28. Also – I don’t mean “stop DPS and heal yourself” if you’re down on health. I mean “stop DPS and heal yourself” if you’re about to die. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. Also, “wait” refers to all mobs, not just bosses. We had folks hopping on trash before the tank even got within range. Needless to say, the died shortly after. Simple impatience is a nuissance, one that should not occur in an organized raid group.

    The word “raid” refers to the entire raid. Sometimes we forget that there’s more than just a boss fight. Little annoyances and mistakes add up, and just like the other night, it can be a pain to the point of wishing you weren’t there. By adhering to these little rules throughout a raid (and of course, alotting for those unique moments during which the rules may change), you’ll keep your group more tight-knit and efficient.

    Hope that makes more sense.

  29. Have you ever been a tank? I have never dps in my wow life. I learn to tank and i do only that. When you are doing something like Malygos the healer is obligated to heal the dps, but on raids like Setharon and Naxx the dps does no obly the healer to heal him. All people have alternet solutions, they just need to find them, warriors can restore 30% of their life in some seconds, paladins the same (actually by doing dps). I dong like to see a warlock drain his life to 10% just for mana and the screaming heal heal like a waco. In such moments i obviously die, use your drain life for more that 3 times and there you are, fall on dps but still alive. So use them, learn them.

    I am actually a guild leader in a “casual hardcore guild” and if i see a dps have his eyes on dps meter and dont look for example the spores that come from behind me and suddenly get -100% threat debuff, then what is the point of his 4000+ dps? the boss will wipe as.

    The rules above are GENERAL and are correct. Try to follow them at least at the 75% of them and you will rewarded as dps.

    Sorry for my bad English . 🙂

  30. I think these three points could go under a larger heading called “raid awareness”. Raid awareness goes beyond not standing in fire or making sure you move when your polarity changes. Raid awareness also means knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your raid team. If your main tank is a warrior he will gain aggro differently then a pally, if your healers are mostly single target healers (or at least not group healers) you had better have yourself topped off before the whirlwind in EoE.

    So these three points hold true but in a matter of degrees. If your raid team is super leet, you will barely need to remember them. If you pug naxx with a bunch of middle schoolers you best keep them in mind.

  31. Those three seconds of dps at the beginning can make or break an encounter. If WoW wasn’t world of casualcraft, and you weren’t a casual, you might know that. Grats on Maly 25, I hear most guilds took 3 months to do it.

    • =) As I’ve said, the three seconds was referring to the majority of encounters, including trash. Rule of thumb – make sure tank has aggro, then DPS. Simple, but sometimes we cruise on auto-pilot and forget that not every encounter is the same.

  32. @Nassira I can really only speak of Ret Pally because thats the only class I’ve raided with heavily. Our #1 DPS Seal is Seal of the Martyr. On each auto-attack 10% of the damage we inflict is taken from our health, on a Judgement 33% of the damage is taken. Raid geared and buffed this damage can become significant in a short amount of time. If we were expected to self-heal we would OOM very quickly, even with Divine Plea and Judgement of Wisdom. In fact with Spiritual Attunement we rely on those incoming heals for mana-regen. This is the situation I was describing as a Need heals. I understand that this particular situation may be atypical in that the class’ mechanics are almost designed to need incoming heals.

    I do agree with you that you have to stand in the right places and move when you have to. I agree with #2, a string of 2-3 crits from a well geared DPS can easily out aggro a tank in that first 2-3 seconds. Waiting that 3-4 seconds early in the encounter can give you a nice cushion.

    I’ve just recently discovered your page and am enjoying reading through your past entries. =)

  33. This should be required reading! As a tank, it is amazing to watch when dps does it job and lets me grab aggro first, how smooth it all is…my healer is great and can keep me on my feet through almost any encounter. And the dps takes (barely) any damage. It is so simple but so rare to see it in action. In fact myself, a pally healer, and a dps warrior often do 5 man instances with no problem, simply by following what it says in your article. Thanks for the great article.

  34. […] Nassira from Diaries of a Marksman Hunter. You might have read her Guide featured on WoW Insider, Basic Rules For a DPS Player. If not, I encourage you to go check out her site and for any new DPS player, the DPS guide is a […]

  35. Warlocks glyphed with life tap should _ALWAYS_ life tap every 20 sec. if the healers cannot keep the warlocks alive, get new ones or tell them to learn how to play.

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