How to be good DPS

It Matters

Let’s face it, DPS classes are a dime a dozen. Trying to find a tank or a healer for a group takes forever. However, you can always find a ton of DPS classes ready to go at just about any moments notice in /trade, /lfg, maybe even your own guild. Heck, sometimes they just hang out in front of the instance they want to go in and ask people going in if they are short. “Looking for Work. Will Pew Pew for food.” They’re just everywhere.

So how do you make yourself stand out? Simple. Don’t die, don’t cause others to die, and DO FANTASTIC DAMAGE! I emphasis the last part because that’s the part because people tend sugar coat. Claiming that doing a ton of damage isn’t all there is to being good DPS. Staying alive (do not stand in fire), not pulling aggro (Omen), and not getting the entire raid killed by doing something stupid is what makes you good DPS. And that is true. If you’re so focused on topping the meters (Recount) that you’re willing to put yourself and the rest of the raid at risk, then, yes, you are “bad” DPS. However, those that are able to do the raid dance and pull great damage at the same time are the people that are remembered. These are the people raid leaders will look for when they want to progress or attempt hard modes.

To put it simply, you should not be content to simply survive the encounter. Dominate the encounter! Do all the tasks assigned to you, stay alive, and do your best to top those meters at the same time.

That sounds great, but how do we do it?

Know thy class
You’ve heard this mantra before, but it’s still the first step to even come close to achieving your potential. If you don’t know your rotations or spell priorities, you’re not going to come close to those who know the most effective techniques. Make sure at least one of your specs is tuned for super DPS. Finding this info for your class isn’t hard. Check out Or the forums at Elitist Jerks has a ton of information if you have the time to sift through it all. For Hunters, I’m working on another article with some of the basics. Stay tuned.

Properly gear yourself
Know what gear is best for your class. Know what hit caps you need and try to maintain them as you gear up. Know what stats your class favors and how they affect your spec. Improving your gear (and thus your DPS) is a game of inches. It’s gonna be rare that you’re going to find some huge upgrade that is going to send your DPS through the roof. As your gear improves, your DPS will improve little by little.

Give a damn
I can’t stress this one enough. Care about your damage. Be proud of it (don’t rub it in other people’s faces though). You should want to be Flasked and Well Fed at all times. Blow money on the mats if you need to. Do it because you care. And for the love of God, enchant and gem ALL your gear. I know you’re just a few emblems away from those new pants and you don’t want to spend the gold or mats on new gems and enchants, but that’s just slacking.

Oh, Hunters? Buy the good shit. You can use vendor ammo when your farming, but when you go into raids, hit ‘em with the hard stuff.

Monitor your DPS
Get an addon like Recount or log your raids with something like World of Logs. Better yet, do both. Sure, watching Recount during encounters can be dangerous. You can fall victim to DPS Tunnel-vision and end up standing in some purple goo that kills you. However, having it there is subtle reminder that your are trying to perform here. It keeps you honest and prevents slacking. You want to be toward the top of that thing. Don’t slack. Flex that epeen! Using a more robust logging tool like World of Logs is great for analyzing the post game. You might find some areas where you could improve.

But… I’m doing all this already.

OK, so you know your class, you’ve got decent gear and it’s enchanted to the gills. You monitor your DPS and compare yourself to others to try and better yourself. You give a damn, you really do. As a result, your DPS is pretty damn good. But somehow you feel you’re still coming up short. You’ll find other raiders that are similarly geared that can still surpass you. You’ve even asked them about their rotations and spec and things seem similar. What do they have that you don’t have?

Craft your UI
This is the big one in my opinion. Efficiency of your actions will help give your DPS the boost it needs. Laying out your User Interface in a way that streamlines your job can really tighten up your game. This isn’t something I can tell you how to do step by step. Everyone plays different and you should customize your UI to what feels comfortable to you. I can give possibly give you some ideas that may at least give ideas of what you can do.

  • Using Macros can help you string together some abilities to make them go off together. Using a powerful ability like Rapid Fire and Call of the Wild at the same time can yield some great results. Why not toss any “on use” trinkets you have in there as well. Not only does this allow you to stack abilities to make some big numbers, but you can also take advantage of situations where the boss is susceptible to great damage as well. Using your macro when Icehowl is stunned for example.

    I have some example hunter macros you can modify for your own purposes.

  • Addons are great for adding functionality to your UI. Bartender 4 is a great start. It allows you to add move, scale, and even add more action bars on your screen. You can do some great stuff with it.I’m a big fan of Power Auras. There is just so much you can do with them. Time your cooldowns, test for whether debuffs have fallen off your target, check for buffs that you are receiving. While all of these thing are in you buff bar and on your targets debuff bar, there are a lot of shifting little icons that are kinda hard to see when your also trying to watch your feet and not stand in fire. Power Auras allows you to make custom auras that appear over your character when certain conditions are met. This is great for monitoring buffs or debuffs that you care about most. Plus, the auras are iconic and unique, so you don’t need to read a little tag of text. Which could improve your response time. In addition, by placing the auras over your character, you’re able to watch your character and make sure your not standing somewhere where you shouldn’t be.

    I have some example Hunter Power Auras (which are easily importable) you can modify for your own purposes.

  • One thing to try is increase your camera distance. By zooming out, you can see more of the things that can hurt you and possibly take action early to avoid them. The code below will, once entered, allow you to zoom out further. While you can’t teach “situational awareness,” zooming out might give you an edge on it.

    /script SetCVar("cameraDistanceMax",30)

These are merely suggestions that might help you raise your DPS from average to exceptional. You want to out-perform your gear level. In the end, this may help others recognize you as a skilled player who can bring the pain when you need it.

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