Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

It’s Okay To Love DPS

Part of a sketch I never finished.

Cynwise and I have been on a similar wavelength lately. If you haven’t yet read his post that was a response to my post – it’s a great read and it will make you think. I started drafting a reply in his comments and I quickly realized it was going to become a full-fledged entry. So there is the background for you, and here are my thoughts on finding the character you love, and why it’s not always that easy.

The first problem is that DPS have a certain image in the community, especially pure DPS. I can’t even claim to be immune to this myself; there is something about tanks and healers that wants to invite trust. When I zone into a pug, I automatically assume that the tank and healer are reasonable people who want to succeed in the instance. (This isn’t always true, but we’re talking about my assumptions here). I assume that the DPS might cause trouble or disruption in some way.

Yes, I admitted it – I am prejudiced against DPS players, even when I’m one of them. The stereotype exists for a reason, and I think it’s self-perpetuating for several reasons. Self-fulfilling prophecies are funny that way. Let me tell you about a trollroic I ran a few weeks back (as a mage).

First off, I was excited to be there! I waited twenty minutes for the queue to pop, determined that I wouldn’t let the lure of quick queues dissuade me from getting some VP for Millya. We zoned into Zul’Aman and I did as I usually do – made a table, buffed the group, said hello. Everything went fine for a little bit but of course it was one of those rushrush jobs, everyone is in such an incredible hurry. We got to the Dragonhawk boss (I don’t even know their names at this point) and the tank said “Kill hatcher on the left.” Well, folks – left when facing the stairs and left when standing on the stairs are two different beasts. I killed the wrong hatcher. I’ve been in plenty of groups where this has happened, but this tank was so rigid that he stayed in the spot he’d been waiting for the eggs to spawn from. So mea culpa, I killed the wrong one, but at least a hatcher was killed. This fight doesn’t need to be a wipe unless no hatchers are killed at all (even then, I’ve healed through no hatchers being killed, but that’s neither here nor there). The group got really snarky with me, “MAGE killed the wrong one” etc, and everything continued in this vein for the entire instance. They wouldn’t sheep the mob I asked for (so I could spellsteal the buff). The fact is – I’m a keen pug observer, and I knew quite well that the real issue was the resto druid was not a very strong healer, except that I’d never say so. Somehow, I became the de fact scapegoat for this run. (No goat jokes, please). We wiped on the last boss because they wanted to do the “stand in the square” achievement, and I thought to myself (and almost typed sarcastically) “How are they going to find a way to blame THIS on me?”

Well. As it happens! I should NOT have used Time Warp at the Lynx (I always use Time Warp at the lynx) because the Dragonhawk is harder to heal and so clearly that is the reason we failed. At this point I just threw up on my hands and didn’t fight it. We killed the boss, not without a struggle (Time Warp notwithstanding) the druid let the tank die and then had to battle-rez him. I should mention, as a footnote, that I did 40% of the damage in this instance. Yes, that’s integral to the story, because apart from the Dragonhawk mix-up I think I was doing a pretty good job. When I left the group, the tank and healer were still congratulating each other on their respective awesomeness, because WHAT AN EPIC BATTLEREZ.

The point I’m trying to make is that DPS get no respect. I have seen this attitude mostly in tanks and healers, and yet also adopted by the DPS themselves. Think of self-deprecating comments like “I’m just a DPS,” or “He/She is JUST a DPS,” or “We just need a DPS.” There are more of us, so naturally, we’re expendable in the extreme. Heroic runs can be a revolving door of DPS players and nobody cares. There are three per group, or 5-6 per raid group. People think that what we do is easy, we are highly replaceable, and really not worthy of respect. Therein lies the problem for those of us who have the ability to play multiple characters: If everyone is going to assume you are a meter-humping mouthbreather, why wouldn’t you want to play another character?

Here’s where the problem gets sticky, especially for those of us who are responsible adults. You want to help (your guild, your friends, random pugs, whatever) so you make a tanking or a healing character. For a double-dose of responsibility you can make a tanking character with a healing off-spec! Now there’s no problem with this. It’s true that fewer people play tanks, and fewer people play healers. It may not seem so based on the blog community – I think there are more healing blogs than DPS blogs and more of both types than tanking blogs – but in general, the population is a pyramid with DPS on the bottom and tanks at the top. LFD queues bear this out as well. So someone has to play them – and the natural response of a thinking, responsible adult is to want to fill these roles. Because we know we are capable of doing them, but not because we truly love them.

This becomes a problem. I actually chose to play a priest when I first started playing because I thought it would be the most useful. The book that I bought about Warcraft (don’t laugh) actually asked the question, “Do you like to help people? If so, then being a healer might be a good role for you.” I did like to help people, and a priest could do that. It was the ultimate healer, a healer so healy that they had more than one tree devoted to it. I didn’t dislike healing. I still don’t necessarily dislike it. But the guild we were in had an abundance of tanks and healers, whereas truly good DPS were a great rarity. Consider the opposite to what the Warcraft guide was inadvertently suggesting: If you DON’T like to help people, you should play a DPS.

It’s not often you see DPS players advocate for each other. I mean – we are so disparate, a lot of times. You aren’t likely to have many people of your same class in a raid, especially a ten-person raid. You won’t hear a mage talk about solidarity with rogues or shadow priests. The other issue is that DPS are tacitly “competing” with one another. We want to be the best, to do the most damage, and that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a fellow feeling with other DPS. This only compounds the problem: DPS are seen as being selfish. They aren’t assuming the responsibility that the tanks and healers are, they get off easy, they’re a dime a dozen, etc.

It’s this attitude that drives people to heal and tank. Which wouldn’t be an issue on its own, if they weren’t hating every minute of it. Are you playing the class or character you’re playing because it’s what you really, truly love? Or is it because you feel that you have to because no one else will? Trust me, because I know. It leads to resentment. It leads to frustration. And ultimately it may lead to you not even enjoying the game you are playing, so that at one point you sit up in your chair and wonder what the heck you are doing devoting hours of your life to something making you miserable.

The problem that Cynwise and I both share (if you choose to see it as a problem) is that we are adaptable players, able to play multiple characters and learn how to fill other roles. That’s not me being self-congratulatory, and I also specialize in just two – tanking isn’t really my thing. This is a problem because we’re also the kind of people who want to feel as if we matter, and who want to help people. This is always going to result in a pull away from the somewhat isolated, self-sufficient damage dealing role. We’re not as helpful, not as useful as we could be, and it’s that potential that gets us in trouble. As Cynwise said, he can’t help but feel he could better contribute to the success of his team if he were playing a healer. Honestly though, I’m not sure.

An old friend of mine, a fellow DPS, once told me that many more people can play a healer decently (not necessarily exceptionally) than can play a truly outstanding DPS. I think it’s the kind of statement that can’t be verified, but the part I want to take away from it is not anything disparaging against healers, but rather, the clearly stated DPS pride that he espoused. He was the first person (and one of the few) I have met who was truly dedicated and proud of being a DPS player. Never apologizing just for existing, or for taking up a spot in a group, he knew that in any group he was a major factor in its success, and he was right. I know I could definitely stand to examine my own attitude towards DPS players, and I suspect we probably all could. Appreciate the unique challenges of all the roles without assigning value to them. Yes, there are fewer tanks and healers in a raid group. The role comes with greater responsibility and somewhat higher visibility when it comes to failure. But we can’t tank and heal the bosses to death. I think it’s sad that a mediocre tank or healer is more likely to receive accolades than all but the greatest DPS players. We’re playing what we love. It doesn’t make us shirkers, slackers or fail players. You have to play what you love, otherwise why are you playing?

Another unfinished sketch, this time of my mage on the OTHER side, Jikali.

Comments on: "It’s Okay To Love DPS" (54)

  1. Without DPS, bosses wouldn’t die. More often than not DPS are in charge of other important things that are essential. (Clicking cubes, stealing or removing a buff, interupting)

    There is a lot of pride to have in well executed DPS.

    Maybe because I started my raiding as DPS, I tend to look at DPS as part of the whole. I do see tanks and healers as important, but DPS is important too.

    It;s never wrong to take pride in something you do well. Unfortunately, I have never been more than an average at any class.

    My skills come in understanding raid encounters. And having good friends that are excellent at the game.

    • You make a good point, Itanya, in that some of the contributions a player makes to a raid or pug don’t even fit into the traditional roles. I know that I quietly do things like marking scouts in ZA with a skull (when the tank doesn’t) and sheep things without being asked. One of our raid’s greatest strategists is also a DPS player, and I think we’d be worse off without him!

  2. I mostly play DPS, my main is a feral druid and I have a feral offspec because I’m (more or less) the 3rd tank in my guild.

    Every fight is a dps race. You’re racing the boss’s enrage timer or you’re racing the healer’s mana expenditure – sometimes both. Not only are DPS necessary but a *great* player playing in a DPS role will shine. I’ve been in a ZA pug coming up to the dragonhawk platform and seen a DK (who was doing average, at best, dps) deathgrip it into the party so we could burn it. A dps who can CC on the fly and react to things is amazing. I’ve prevented (or help prevent) wipes as dps on various toons by using my cooldowns in a smart way. A great healer and 3 great dps can survive a bad pull even if the tank goes down due to a freak accident.

    Unfortunately, those events are either too rare or just aren’t memorable enough. What we remember is the DK who doesn’t know his class or the Hunter who was only using autoshot and would be more likely to trap himself than a mob. I go into every pug hopeful and either come up satisfied or with a larger ignore list. But I strive to be the best I can and assume others do as well – until they prove otherwise to me.

    • Yes, innocent until proven guilty is something I should have expanded on. I don’t mean I zone in cranky or suspecting the other DPS of shenanigans, but when it comes to pugs if a DPS caused trouble somehow I wouldn’t be surprised either. Unfortunately, lately tanks and healers have been conspiring to convince me that they can be jerks in LFD too.

      I think again it comes down to numbers. There are awesome DKs or even just conscientious DKs who will death grip something like the one you described – but how many more DKs are there who go around being terrible and giving their class a bad rap? (I can’t even judge at this point, I’ve met a lot of jerkish mages, too. Mage pride, people, come on!)

  3. Amen, my sister DPSer! There is nothing at all wrong with being proud of being a DPS. I mean, I love healing too, but rarely am I as exhilarated and thrilled from a great healing performance. Possibly because if it’s a situation where I had to work crazy hard as a healer, I am too busy WORRYING and FRETTING to be thrilled. And then after I am just exhausted. But anyway.

    I don’t see why DPS are not more highly regarded. I mean, an undergeared tank or healer? No problem, we will use CC, we will watch our threat, etc. But undergeared DPS? (Or DPS who just aren’t that good?) Well, WELCOME TO GRIM BATOL HELL. We have all been in those groups with no DPS breaking 10k where we worry “can this group even kill the last boss’ adds?” And the answer is usually no.

    Frankly, that’s exactly why I love being DPS. I really don’t give a damn what the other DPS in the group is like, if they’re low, because DAMMIT I WON’T LET US LOSE. It sounds a little arrogant, but it’s reality. Back when we were all just starting heroics, so many times in Grim Batol I told people look, I will handle the left add, you two get the right add. It’s because of my confidence as a DPS and my efforts in striving to be the best that I knew I could handle the responsibility.

    Same with in raiding, really. On Alys when we needed 3 DPS down to have 2 fly? I said I’d be the solo DPS on my side, because I was willing to take on that burden and responsibility. And it was the hardest thing I’d done in raiding in ages, but it was also AWESOME. I had to be at the absolute top of my game to handle it, and it was a challenge that I greatly looked forward to each night.

    THAT is what being a DPS is about.

    • Oh man… I usually handle Alysrazor’s initiates on the west side by myself. There’s a hunter floating who silences the first fieroblast on the NW side if I can’t make it for whatever reason… but I have to push EVERY OUNCE of my little retribution heart (and making using of Arcane Torrent) to keep fieroblast under control. I definitely feel good when I am able to do this. /selfpride

    • I love that stuff, it’s so awesome. There ARE some really key DPS roles in this tier. I felt kind of awful on my first night back to raiding when our other mage asked if I wanted to fly, but (this is on heroic, mind you) I didn’t want the raid to have to wipe while I was learning something I should have practiced on normal. I’ve definitely missed out on that this tier, but look out Dragon Soul!

      Meantime, I really do have the utmost respect for my DPS compatriots. Between Rhyolith driving, Alys flying and Alys adds, Sons of Flame, etc. DPS have had a lot to do in Firelands!

      • Son’s of Flame is the one for me. When I first got geared up enough to get into Firelands, the guild had already cleared Rags once, I think, after pretty much 3 weeks of trying. I was coming in with (mostly) T11 gear some pieces above, some below. We got through most of Firelands without too much of an issue but Rags was still giving them fits and when I found out I had to handle two sons by myself, I went into a bit of a panic. I’m just a feral cat, I don’t have that many tools, I can’t do that, let someone else who isn’t sitting at 360 iLevel (or wherever I was), do it.

        After one of the tanks basically told me I was going to have to suck up and do it because of the raid composition, I thought back to all the raids we’d run in the past. The guild-first Heigan kill where I tanked in my cat gear/spec for the last 30% with just a single holy priest left. All the offtanking and crazy cat stuff I’d done and learned since switching from Resto for BC. All the 2- and 3-man quests I soloed because I’m a hybrid. I was advised to use maim and also my bear bash – and it works. I’ve been guilty of compartmentalizing my two roles and once I rebuilt my cat-spec bear bar, it wasn’t so bad. After the nerf (the next day), it got even easier.

        Nothing like having someone who REALLY knows you remind you that you’re better than you think and jarring you out of you complacent groove and pushing you to be better than you were. 🙂

  4. Dude, I so hear you. When I pug on my ‘lock I almost never say anything because I’m worried at the fickle /votekicking that seems to target DPS left and right.

    Quick story: The other night in Z’A on the Lynx-boss when Lightning Totems came out I swapped to kill ’em….. and no one else did. As a ‘lock it takes me a couple of Shadow Bolts to kill ’em and not worth swapping DoT’s over so that’s 2 hard casts unless I get a lucky crit.

    Point being, those were bolts that weren’t on the boss and DoTs didn’t get refreshed and whatever, I was bottom DPS (this was the first boss fight where I was at the bottom) and the other 2 DPS immediately flashed Recount to LOL at me through the rest of the dungeon.


    It was very satisfying to see them both dead as soon as the Eagle boss came up at the end, and they couldn’t dodge the tornadoes. El. Oh. El.

    Ugh. I hate that DPS can’t be polite to each other. It’s a contest instead of collaborating to help each other. Healers NEVER seem to fight. Tanks certainly don’t with the amount of coordinating we have to do. But DPS just seem to be glaring at each other.

    • Healers and tanks don’t have any “competition” in 5-mans, they just come in, do their jobs, and get out, leaving all that pesky damage stuff to the three dps players. Healers and tanks (and dps) in raids have to work together, as a cohesive unit, to down a boss.

      That having been said, I agree with Rades – I don’t mind carrying the slack as dps when I’m on an overgeared toon. I have a feral cat druid in almost full (regular) FL gear and when I pug the occasional ZG/ZA, I’m always at the top – because hardly anyone who outgears me is going to be in there, other than maybe a tank/healer looking for a bag. As long as the other dps don’t make my job noticeably harder, I don’t mind doing all the heavy lifting since I know others have done it for me in the past. The occasional thankful whisper from a tank is nice (“thanks for carrying the others”) but, honestly, I know my class and I just want to get the job done.

      DPS who link meters for epeen reasons annoy me. I mean, I can do 50-60k on some of the gimmick trash pulls in FL but I know it’s a gimmick. DPS who request meters because they don’t have them installed and they want to know if they’re pulling their weight I’m just fine with. The problem isn’t the meters, it’s the competition – you should be competing against your personal best, not against the other guys. That having been said, when I hear about a dps that’s only using autoattack/autoshot it bothers me – not just that they aren’t pulling their weight but because they Don’t. Even. Care.

    • This makes me sooo, so angry. First off, anyone who posts meters without first asking is almost certainly an ass. I’m also a bit admittedly suspicious of people who “don’t have meters” and ask for them to be linked. I’ve found it to be true that folks who ask for this are either at the top of the meter, know damned well that they are, and coyly want the group to know, or are at the bottom and probably honestly don’t know because they don’t have a meter (or maybe they suspect it already, I don’t know). I don’t mind as much linking for the second folks, but for the first ones I have epic eyerolling and actually called a guy out on it once a long time ago. That kind of “subtle” e-peening is pretty undesirable in my eyes, and even if I am tops on the meter I would never boast about, mention it or link it. I’m sorry you were given a hard time, Saif. Forget those guys!

      • I’ve never understood why people ask “can you post recount pls”. If you want to see the meters, install Recount yourself.

        I’m tempted now to post a completely irrelevant recount next time someone asks, like HoT Uptime or maybe Interrupts.

      • Some of us have serious lag issues, and have cut down on addons to help with that. Also, recount is frequently the cause of mid-fight crashes and needs updating to prevent these way more often than the few addons I can’t live without. I’d like to know what my dps is so that I know if I’m pulling my weight (or sometimes if I topped my personal best on a fight), thanks. If you are suspicious of subtle epeening, you can always post it in a whisper instead of party.

      • I confess, I haven’t run with meters for about a year. They affected my performance and I spent the vast majority of my time in situations where I didn’t need them. So I just ditched them.

        Those few times I’ve been raiding in Cataclysm I’ve whispered the raid leader and asked if my DPS was okay. They’re always, “yeah, you’re fine,” which was a nice way for them to spare my ego. (I raided in full Conquest gear, with a few hit pieces thrown in. I know it was bad.)

      • We have a boomkin (now a mage) in our raid whose machine is so old and slow that he’s force to run with almost no addons, even in 10-mans. If he pugs into, say, a 25-man Baradin Hold, he pretty much locks up during the AoE.

        Actually, now that I think about it, he’s a perfect example of what this whole post is about. He’s been a Druid since Vanilla when friends of his (before he joined our guild) got him to play so they could have (surprise, a healer/decurser for Molten Core). I think his Druid is always going to be his main but he’s started bringing his mage to our raids because he’s able to pump out more dps on his Mage even if it means we have to use someone else as a 3rd healer for fights that need them. I think he was afraid to give up the utility that the guild needed but for whatever reason, this expansion, whatever they did to Boomkin hurt his dps and broke his spirit.

  5. *Foreword* sorry about the wall o’ text.

    This conversation is one in which I’ve always participated. I’ve only played World of Warcraft for a year, but I have played the Diablo titles pretty hardcorelike, Warcraft III (and DotA), so I get it. Roles aren’t as defined in those games as in World of Warcraft, but they do exist.

    I started playing as a protection paladin, moved into fire/arcane mage alt, into retribution paladin with prot as off-spec (did this for my guild), to now a restoration/balance druid alt. I’ve got alts of just about everything except for shaman, I think. And now I have end-game experience with every role.

    I used to think that tanking was THE most important role… until I started playing my druid. Then I though, oh well, healing is more important than tanking. But you know what? Every group is an amalgamation that leaves no constituent part to stand on its own (unless you outgear the content by a fair amount). I don’t just mean enrage timers, intense raid damage, or tank swaps. And while there exist decent margins of error in current content, it would be a mistake to undervalue the importance of running smoothly and cleanly–both for enjoyment, satisfaction, peace of mind, etc. The encounters usually stress you enough without the aggravation of bad mechanics execution.

    DPS is a vital role. You’ve already gone over this, so I won’t rehash it. Everyone should be taking pride in themselves and executing to the best of their ability… and then pushing themselves to do better. Part of the reason why DPS ‘compete’ on the meters is because they don’t do anything else. There is no other metric for their success, really, and there’s not much other way to distinguish themselves from the other horde (pardons) of damage dealers. Tanks and healers are already distinguished by their scarcity, and they are successful inasmuchas the boss dies and people don’t (fire on ground notwithstanding). The problem with being a meter maid, so to speak, is when you get distracted by it and forget why you (as a dps player) are there. It’s a team effort and a team reward.

    Also, I don’t think the guide was implying that DPS don’t like to help people, it’s just that they oftentimes don’t have the literal ability to ‘help’ others. It’s certainly not their primary funtion; the primary function of any DPS is to kill.

    • Incidentally, the community at large would benefit from everyone treating each other with respect. /shrug

    • The best metric, for dps, is if the boss died before the healer ran out of mana. But we’ve gotten so used to downing anything we come across unless we vastly undergear it – “we’re not ready for this tier of raiding, folks” – that we feel entitled to kill everything. There were pulls back in Vanilla that were all but guaranteed wipes. (I’m looking at you, room-after-The-Beast in UBRS.) Accessibility to content has required generating content that anyone can do – and people don’t like to be told that they aren’t “good enough” to do something.

      Honestly, one thing I’ve started doing with Recount is not just looking at dps but also damage done. If my dps is 25k and yours is 10k but I blew all my cooldowns and then died standing in fire while you lived to the end of the fight, I’m a bad DPSer – especially since the way I was playing made it harder for everyone else because they had to pick up the slack.

      As to your final point, yes, we should all be more civil. This is one of the reasons I hardly ever agree to a votekick unless it’s someone who has been afk/disconnected for a long time. Everyone has to start somewhere.

      • It’s funny, but I almost never use skada/recount unless I’m playing a character or spec I’m not familiar with. I use it in pug raids, also, to be on the look out for problem areas. I rarely look at the DPS heading (if I’m looking at damage at all) and almost always look at the Damage Done meter. When I’m healing in raids, I do tend to look at it, though, and when I am running the meters, they’re always hidden during combat, heh.

      • One night when I was really struggling/getting frustrated with my DPS, my feral druid friend suggested I should just turn the meter off and relax. He was completely right – having it there was hanging over my head as a kind of punctuation mark (“You suck!”) and turning it off allowed me to concentrate on the task at hand. My DPS went up, unsurprisingly. Blog post about DPS meters incoming, haha.

      • Also, Dewd, I should clarify on the metrics issue. What I meant was that it’s difficult to distinguish yourself as a good DPS without meters, generally speaking. There are subtle things that distinguish the good from the great, but not so much the bad from the mediocre and the mediocre from the good. With tanks and healers, their performance is much more visible. Well, more often than DPS, anyway.

      • Sean, I agree completely. Good dps get the job done. Great dps usually have a trick or two up their sleeve, and if they don’t, they’re always looking to learn one. Good players turn into Great players when they really push themselves and the best part is that, most of the time, a good player – of any class/spec – when nurtured properly can turn into a great one.

        I could just as easily run with meters off – I honestly use them when we’re having problems, so we can see if someone’s falling behind on damage, or – as with my second fear druid in another friend’s guild – to make sure I’m not falling too far behind the other folks. I don’t care if I’m on top or not as long as the boss dies – though it’s a nice feeling when I am. What I do care about is if I’m bringing up the rear _all_the_time_ even if my gear is on par with everyone else.

    • No, I know, I was being a bit deliberately obtuse. I’m sure it had something good to say about being a DPS player too, but the implication is there: that IF you are a helpful person then you might be best suited to a healing role, which is not necessarily the case. I like to think of myself as a helpful person generally (in real life, on the internet, and in game) but I enjoy helping in ways other than just filling green bars (though I am most grateful when those green bars get filled!) So grateful to my healing friends.

      As far as (this, to The Dewd) DPS meters go, I ALWAYS look at damage done and only that. Burst DPS hardly matters, so the DPS ‘number’ is almost always useless, and damage done is the best basis of comparison between various damage dealers. I’m sure as arcane right now that my “DPS” number is ridiculously high, but it skyrockets to 40K and then plummets to a more reasonable level as I use mana gems and evocate etc.

      Here’s to civility all around, though. I know it’s a very Captain Obvious kind of thing, but I completely agree – we could probably all stand to be nicer and more helpful to each other. I’ve been making a sincere effort in pugs to stay respectful no matter what.

      • I wouldn’t be so quick to devalue burst damage, Vidyala. I don’t think your intent was to dismiss it out of hand, only merely to emphasize that on METERS it’s essentially useless. Burst damage, in principle however, is very important. 😉

        As to the Warcraft book and its suggestion of healers, I think it was trying to speak more to a person’s sense of fulfillment. I see your point, and I appreciate hyperbole, but I think the philosopher in me can’t help but defend the book. Then again, I may just be one of those weirdo language people, ha!

        It often surprises me when I zone in to LFD groups and people have bad attitudes, or are just bad. Like… not bad in the sense that they are suboptimal, but just BAD. Or, as we say in the American southwest, ba-yud. I will only kick people if they are ba-yud and it’s affection our ability to do the dungeon. I mean people who have gear but just aren’t executing on mechanics. I can only whipe on a dps check or skill check fight so many times before it’s unbearable. Grim Batol’s a great example. When I take one of the adds myself and the other DPS are on the remaining add and they STILL can’t kill it before the whelps…

        I don’t know what this game used to be like, but I’ve noticed that often the more social and humanized you are, the more respectful and courteous you are, and the more enthusiastic and focused you are, the more likely you are to have that sort of behavior returned. You’ve got to be the change you wish to see, eh? 😉

    • Also, I don’t think the guide was implying that DPS don’t like to help people, it’s just that they oftentimes don’t have the literal ability to ‘help’ others.

      While I think this is true to a certain extent, a good dps can pretty much always find ways to help the rest of the group, be it through crowd control, applying buffs and debuffs at the right time or using some other obscure utility spell on their bars. You can pretty much always recognise a solid dps by their useage of their abilities that aren’t a direct dps boost in my opinion.

      It’s just a shame that the game doesn’t encourage players to learn these things anymore. In raids, damage dealers have more to do than ever these days, but in five-mans you can often get away with just doing some mediocre pew pew and nothing else.

      Funnily enough, PvP is an entirely different matter, and I’ve secretly suspected for a while that the damage dealers in our rated battleground team have a much more difficult job than us healers or the flag carrier.

      • I agree, Shintar. For the longest time, as a Feral dps, I’ve shied away from the “agility = healing power” talent because it wasn’t useful for *me*. I could put those points somewhere else to help my dps – or to help my bear survivability when forced into an emergency tanking role. With the sheer terror that has been Cata raiding, especially with having to train up some new tanks and healers who haven’t raided before, I’ve found that, sometimes, having just that bit of extra healing in my Tranquility might just be enough to keep one more person alive or give the undergeared healer just enough breathing room.

      • Again, Shintar, I think it’s more about the fundamentals of role assignments. A damage dealer spends the majority of any fight putting damage on hostile targets and sometimes uses utility or assistance spells. Take and using utility talents (the ret tree’s healing talent comes to mind), that falls under the minority of time SPENT on/devoted to non-damage-on-hostile-targets plan. And even then… it’s all tied to putting damage on hostile targets.

        A healer, by contrast, spends almost all of their time casting helpful spells on friendly targets. There might be specific fights, or mechanics, or gear levels, or perhaps pvp, where the healer can sort of off-dps, but again, this falls under the minority of times where the player SPENDS his or her time performing actions.

        Yes, damage dealers can and do help the group. Yes, there was a lot more bleeding between specs for hybrids before Cataclysm (so I’m told), but that’s sort of not how it is now. A ‘pure’ dps class’s utility comes in the form of crowd control, decursing, or eating nasty spell effects, or out of combat luxuries, and sometimes little boosters in combat like soul stone and health stone. These are all very important, to be sure.

        I have no data from which to draw this inference, but my guess is that the number of progression attempts that are saved by pure dps utility spells on the same power level (whatever that means) as health stone is a very small number, indeed.

  6. I have a theory that there are equal numbers of good players playing tanks, healers and DPS, just that these are in such a minority compared to the average—terrible players.

    As you go further up expendability* scale (from tank to DPS), you find more and more players in that role, because there is progressively less pressure and responsibility, so they begin to outweigh the good players.

    So yeah, nothing at all wrong with wanting to play DPS and be good at it, just that the “be good at it” part is more of a choice than with tanking or (to a lesser extent) healing. If you play a tank, you very quickly either get good at it, or you give up (with a few rare exceptions *cough* If you heal, you can get away with more fail than as a tank, but there’s no autoshot equivalent: you still have to pay attention and keep up with the group.

    * at least outside of current-tier pre-nerf raids.

    • I knew I’d forget something.

      I think what I’m getting at is that it’s not entirely the fault of the DPS that there are so many bad ones, it’s a more fundamental problem with the entire game design, in that it even allows group members to slack off.

      Like you said, the population is like a pyramid, but it’s an upside-down one with tanks bearing most of the weight at the bottom, which just isn’t fair really, either on the tanks who might want to relax a bit, or on the DPS who want to make more of a difference beyond just killing things faster.

      • You make a great point, Andy. Failure to perform as either a healer or a tank generally tends to be obvious very quickly – and the punitive results are swift. Then you get into that grey area – for example, lately I’ve been in pugs with DPS that are really not pulling their weight in my opinion (which is of course, subjective) doing 5K DPS in a heroic five man is not cutting it for me. But if I call them out on that, that doesn’t necessarily give them the tools to improve it – and also, I don’t know their circumstances. Maybe they are limited physically in some way, maybe they are my Mom’s age and just playing for fun and don’t know what a DPS meter is.

        Then you get into the territory of “What is a reasonable expectation for group play vs solo play? How do you know when a more hardcore attitude is unfairly asking too much of more casual players?”

        I don’t actually mind doing a fair amount of carrying as a DPS. As my gnome DPS DK friend said, “These shoulders are broad enough for two!” Haha.

    • Actually, there is an autoshot equvalent for healers, but it depends on your gear, your tank’s gear, and the content. Some pulls I can shield and PoM, and then go get a sandwich (as long as they pull when I shield and not wait for it to drop off!) Some pulls on my lowbie druid I can drop a hot on the tank and go get a sandwich.

  7. I’ve found where tanks and healers have the more “responsible” job, DPS is the much more “competitive” job in a dungeon. “Are you doing enough to win the fight?” becomes “Am I doing more than ___?” really quickly though.

    If you can find DPS who can keep CC up, hold DPS at an appropriate level, manage their threat, interrupt everything that NEEDS interrupting, and will do whatever tricks the class has to keep things from going pear shaped in the middle of a boss fight, that is some damn good dps.

    Give ’em a /hug, would you, internet? They’re becoming more rare. =C

    • It’s true, isn’t it? They are rarer than people necessarily think. I value them greatly when I’m able to find them (then I try to recruit them!) ;D

    • People never let me CC. I put a fear (glyphed) up on the pull and it gets punched by the tank, when it is far enough away that it had to have been on purpose. I hand out cookies, but most people tell me they don’t use them. I have a soulstone, but invariably there is a druid or dk faster than me. I save my dps cooldowns on trash for if things go pear shaped, but people probably think I’m terrible because my dps is only 10k or 12k on trash.

    • You can tell the Vanilla/BC players, especially DPS and tanks, from the Wrath ones by using that as a measuring stick. Do they leave the CCed target alone? Do they start letting you CD once they notice you’re doing it? Can the hunter kite (I’m looking at you, UBRS) and does the Rogue know where her sap button is? I’ve even used entangling roots on the first pull in the Hex Lord’s room in ZA because locking down one of the melee mobs doesn’t hurt and even if no one notices, *I* know it made the tank and/or healer’s job(s) easier.

      When someone like Mittenz goes through the trouble of glyphing fear for the sake of CCing and then no one wants to CC, it’s gotta feel like a worthless investment.

  8. Sporadic reader, first time commenter:

    Damage Dealers *should* have more love. However, it´s easier to understand why players got “trained” into blaming DDers and praising healers and tanks. First of all, they are scarcer, and even during Wrath, most fights revolved around the tanks and healers knowing what to do, with a second or third DD having something to do other than targeting a boss´ behinds.

    Surely, every blue moon there would be a fight where the mechanics would get more people involved, but most of those were avoidable with a “follow star” (or simply walking slowly, like “dance, dance, heiganlution”).

    Thus, the role of DD was seem as “lower”. Surely, you still want a good DD, but being “good” is easy, specially since most don´t have high expectations from you, and you almost have to make an effort in order to get other killed if you fail.

    Then cue Cata. DPS per se doesn´t matter, if everyone is mediocre, you can still do enough damage before the enrage timers: as long as everyone lives . I don´t recall a single fight where you can take someone new and say “Just stay in here dpsing the boss”. People will have to change from adds to boss to adds, the floor will try to kill them in a thousand different ways, the boss itself isan´t tankable, fire comes up randomly, etc.

    And worst of all: you don´t kill only yourself if you make a mistake. Mechanics are much more unforgiving, and one´s mistake usually causes a wipe.

    However, while we had a change in paradigm (DD can´t be slackers anymore), the mindset of the playerbase (and it´s prejudices) haven´t changed. DD “is easy” and “replaceable” in most players´ mind.

    I hope things will change, however, if the LFR fights are nerfed so much so the majority of DDs doesn´t need to do anything other than dps the boss, players will continue to believe that DDs can be measured by their DPS alone.

    tl;dr: I agree with you. I love to DPS (even though I do enjoy tanking and healing), and ain´t afraid to say so.

    • Hi, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. 🙂

      It’s an excellent point that expectations (and fight requirements) have changed since the start of this expansion. I find now that in an odd way the contempt and expectations for DPS have merged and changed. People might be more willing to forgive a healer or a tank screwing up but woe to you if you are a DPS that screws up because your job is ALREADY so EASY (clearly, even though it’s not at all).

      I have mixed feelings about this. I actually loved the changed to Cataclysm dungeons. I loved dusting off my Polymorph macro and hearing “We are going to have a tough time with this dungeon because we’re missing xyz class/CC.” I do think it’s good that they’ve relaxed those stringent requirements, because struggling in Grim Batol for lack of a way to CC elementals wasn’t necessarily fun, and this was with my guild mates. I like that they added the flat buffs for groups that were pugging – acknowledging that five strangers aren’t necessarily going to have the skills or communication to easily do the dungeon without a slight boost. It’s all quality of life stuff, like the ease of CC now that it won’t pull a group (although it took away the need to have timing and finesse with CC). I’m willing to give that up though as a middle ground between being a fairly dedicated player or quite a casual one. Now we can both CC, run dungeons, and have a good time.

      Anyway, DPS represent! We can’t have too many vocal advocates of killing internet dragons with style!

  9. I’ll go with a repeat of my comment on the previous article in this vein to start:


    Good DPS play is hellishly complex. But it’s one of the “accepted truths” of WoW (c.f “nonviable” specs, [class] can’t do [job], etc) that damage dealing is easymode and DPSers are mostly brainless simpletons who don’t have the skill or required responsibility to tank or heal.

    In my (admittedly small) circle of wow-friends and acquaintances, I can think one person (a healer, actually) who doesn’t have more than one role covered in their stable of alts. As I said in my tongue-in-cheek post a while back, many mainspec DPSers are the same. It’s *incredibly* shortsighted to suggest that DPSers have no clue about the other roles, given the prevalence of alts and the relative ease with which you can gear up more than one character all the way to raid-readiness.

    One more thing: you’re likely to be less concerned about your performance for anything you don’t consider your “main spec”. It’s natural, and you have a built-in excuse (“not my primary spec, I’m really a healer”). Either you’re offspeccing because you’re missing a person and your activity wouldn’t happen without this role being filled, or you’re relaxing on an alt with friends/for giggles. Either way, less stress.

    This works both ways. I find healing *much* less stressful than DPSing, for example: less number-based from a performance PoV (assignment alive? I win), exempt from a healthy number of mechanics (“tactics: heal the tank/raid, don’t stand in fire”). In many cases, people die not because of something I do/don’t do, but because of *their* mistake. Interrupt missed for SuperKillAttack? Not my fault if the target dies. Didn’t move from the cleave/fire? Not my fault if the target dies.

    Short version: don’t belittle a role because you prefer another. Don’t assume that because you find job A stressful and job B easy that it works that way for everyone. Don’t assume that just because the echo chamber of the forums/tradechat says something, it’s automatically true (even if it seems everyone is saying it). And please, *please* don’t for a moment imagine that, just because you can’t see it happening, the other players in your group aren’t doing more than “just DPSing” or “just tanking”. If you take a detailed look at recount or any combat log parser, you can get a lot more data than just raw damage and healing. Sure, you’ll encounter a lot of people who just get the job done, but particularly on the “hairy” runs, you might be surprised to see who’s doing that little extra to get you through.

    • Absolutely, Ano. When I want to find out if someone is an exceptional PLAYER (role notwithstanding), I don’t go to the raw numbers (HPS, DPS, whatever – although they have a contribution to play) – I look at things like:

      -Cooldown usage (trinkets, class specific abilities, damage avoidance)
      -Self-healing or trigged group healing like Holy Radiance for ret paladins, even Gift of the Naaru if you’re a draenei.

      These are all the finer points of maximizing your play no matter what you are playing, and someone who is doing that is definitely an asset to any group or team, regardless of what role they are filling!

    • You know… I was always stressed out when I first started playing retribution. It’s wicked stressful. I think I also get a little stressed out when ever I play a DPS spec I’m not used to, particularly if you don’t have many “oh man I need to drop threat/not die to raid damage” buttons. But being comfortable with your class, spec, role, and activity/specific encounter play a huge part in your performance for anything.

    • @theanorek, as a healer, I especially like that I can follow the “heal the tank/raid, don’t stand in fire” tactics instead of the “deep the boss/adds, don’t stand in fire” one. :> I think that people who claim role X is easier and mean it lack raid experience as all roles in raids are of approximately equal difficulty. (This varies by encounter though but on average it’s the same.)

      The problem I can see is the 5-man party composition with 1 tank, 1 healer and 3 DDs. Tank and healer do not compete against anyone (except for people who are actively stupid) and always do unique tasks that can be helped by other people but ultimately done by them only. The same can’t be said of DDers except for a few of the fights. Since I read Rohan’s post when he proposed replacing 1/1/3 model with 2/2/2, I keep wondering whether it would or not make the roles more equal in the eyes of players – and thus help the DPS not being seen as freeriders. 🙂

  10. In Rift I was healing a dungeon on a minimally geared cleric. One of the dps fell off the bridge. Because the mobs didn’t die fast enough, I couldn’t keep up with the heals. Wipe, restart. Full dps with nobody falling off = no trouble healing. Same thing’s happened while I’m tanking. Less dps = more stress on healer and tank.

    I play all the roles now, and love how one character in Rift can play more than one role, to fit what the party needs. Doing that, you can really see how ALL the roles fit together to make a run work or not work.

    Also, a good support can make or break a run by buffing poor dps into gods of damage or helping out a stressed healer.

  11. I agree completely. We run a casual raid team where half (at least) of the players are people we’ve picked up from trade who may or may not have decided to turn up for subsequent weeks. We have a bunch of guildies and friends of the guild that have tanks and healers and prefer those roles because they want to be helpful, and they always say they don’t mind what character they bring as long as we need them (I’ve been part of this too). So we end up filling the last few dps spots every night in trade or with people that we pugged in previous weeks. They aren’t bad, but what we are usually struggling with on bosses is the overall dps. If DPS wasn’t seen as the least useful role, perhaps this wouldn’t be as much of an issue. And actually with a few extremely good dps the last week we got to 6/7!

  12. You had me at “Zul.”

  13. I don’t have much of a problem with this – perhaps I’m not as adapable as some but I know flat out that I’m a pretty sucky healer. I kick ass as DSP.

    I played a Rogue first and foremost and was OK at it. I leveled the Priest to be a healer and to be useful in group situations. Like you – I wanted to be wanted to to *help* people. But I leveled as Shadow and got stubborn and loved it too much to change once I got to end game.

    This is one of the things that I loved most about 25s: you had more than one of you. I had a special relationship with my other Shadow Priest and a half competitive/half hatred/half love of Mages and Warlocks because, usually, they could beat the heck out of me.

    And I think because I’ve played with awesome 25 man raid leads – when the crucial assignment to killing or wiping on a boss is generally a DPS assignment (think bringing down the snow ball things in Heroic Anub’arak – even this is a healer fight – or the bite order in Blood Queen) and you soon see which DPS are good enough to handle it and do excellent DPS.

    Props to all the excellent DPS out there. I’m sure the excellent healers out there would be the first to admit that it’s hard to do well.

  14. Excellent post, Vid.

    I wondered when I included that section on the existential crisis of pure DPS if it would spark off responses like this, and I’m glad that it did.

    I find it interesting how roles and playstyles mix, and how easy it is – and probably necessary it is – to gloss over them in a discussion like this one. It’s important to find the right mix of the two, which is what I’m strugging to do right now. I enjoy tanking, but as a Prot Warrior, not as a Bear or a Blood DK. I can do Bear, but I want more buttons. I can do Blood, but I’m rusty and think like a Frost DK tank still. The playstyle is important.

    There’s a lot more to say. I’m starting to think that tea time is looking better and better. 🙂

  15. I often say a good dps makes the run easy. Indeed I play dps I find that I almost all ways have smooth runs. Because all you need is one good dps, a adequate tank and healer and your 90% of the way to a smooth run. Guess what the vast majority of tanks and healers are at least adequate.

    DPS? Are often not. For fun I used to keep track of how many hunters in a row did not successfully cc on the pack before bear when asked. 10 hunters in a row. Unless your tank and/or healer outgear the the content or the dps are on the ball that pack with no cc is probably a wipe.

    I am more likely to have my DPS meter set to damage taken, interrupts done or damage on death then DPS. Damage taken by Spell can be very useful. 110k damage from eyes over 1 second is NOT a healing problem despite how many times dps insist it is.

    An old friend of mine, a fellow DPS, once told me that many more people can play a healer decently (not necessarily exceptionally) than can play a truly outstanding DPS[/quote]sorry in advance if the tags dont work:)

    I would agree with that. But you see decent healers 2 out of 3 heroics, You see a truly outstanding dps perhaps in 1 in 10 pug heroics at most.

  16. Sorry for my million comments, I was bored last night :> Also your last pic made me want to get some fan art for my troll priest :O

  17. I certainly have an appreciation for good dps. It is why I like taking guildies to dungeons because I can rely on them – not only for CC but also for their damage output and ability to not get themselves killed.

    I will say that I certainly didn’t appreciate them as much until I started healing recently in Cataclysm… Being a tank, and particularly being a ‘dps’ tank, as long as the healer lives (or I get enough space to brez them…) I didn’t particularly care about the damage the dps were doing. I often contribute more dps than another dps anyway (and love tank swap fights like the BH bosses for that reason too…)

    But now I’ve been healing I must admit I really do feel it when there is poor DPS – the burden then tends to lie on the healer to heal through it all. To me it has relieved the burden of the times I do want to dps – because I really do see that I am contributing by being a good dps.

    It’s interesting though that I often will queue as dps when I’m not in the mood for the responsibility that comes with tanking or healing. It’s not that I don’t pay attention and slack off – but I approach it with a different mindset (although there is a side of “I’m not going to hinder the group as much if I get distracted”).

  18. Shardling said:

    Every time I do one of the Zulian instances for the bag of goodies I pray for decent DPS, and I’m not talking about numbers here. I have no illusions about tanks, but as long as they aren’t being douches and can more-or-less hold aggro, they’ll do. The fight I feel most helpless in is Jin’do, it is purely a DPS fight. If the DPS ignores the ghost spirits, there is very little I can do to save it, even with elementals and earthbind and frost shock. At some point I just have to stop to heal the tank who’s pulling the big spirits when melee is still busy with the previous chain. While it is definitely easier with bigger DPS numbers, I’ve seen the fight done seamlessly with a group doing less than 10k DPS each just by being on top of their game.
    Last night on Jin’do we had the tank declare that we need an off-healer for this fight, even though my HPS was bigger than any of the DPSers DPS. We had wiped twice on him, once because I was overwhelmed by spirits and my Earth Elemental was on cooldown, the other try one of the DPS died already in p1. On the third try, the mage was focusing on adds and feral kitty went bear to tank them, which I didn’t quite agree with, but it ended up working out in the end. The cherry on the top though was the tank proceeding to solo DPS the last chain, instead of picking up the small adds so that DPS could focus on the chain, and proudly linking damage meter at the end of the fight.

    We’ve recently had to PUG people for our guild raid every week and to be honest, it is far more difficult to find a decent DPS than PUG a healer. The most I say to a PUG healer is either “heal raid/tank and don’t stand in bad” or just “heal”. I don’t even care if they’ve never seen the fight before and more often than not they get the job done. For DPS I need to make sure they have a clue about the fights and especially about their roles in the fight, and even then it’s almost a requirement to have them on voice chat. This becomes extremely apparent in heroic modes, where DPS have crucial assignments on almost every fight. We went from farming heroic Shannox to progressing on heroic Shannox because we had to PUG a ranged to be one of the face rage breakers. Maybe I am spoiled by the people I’ve raided for ages, who can switch from mage to DK to warrior and do awesome DPS on any of them even with subpar gear, but I’m completely baffled when I see a hunter pulling 10k DPS in 365-378 gear.

    For all you great DPSers out there, you are being appreciated!

    • One wipe I can accept. For the second one, someone should have volunteered (or been assigned) the role of protecting the healer. It’s not a ‘fun’ job and it means you slip to the bottom of the meter but it’s better than a repair bill!

  19. […] we were.”And Manalicious is shouting out to her fellow DPSers with a kind of manifesto – it’s OK to love being DPS – “People think that what we do is easy, we are highly replaceable, and really not worthy of […]

  20. I always feel guilty playing dps – particularly if it’s range dps. My order of difficulty- hardest to lowest – is tank, healer, melee dps, range dps, arcane mage dps! If I play my arcane mage I think I’m being lazy. If I play Bravetank I think I’m being character building. I reward myself after tanking with some dps but it’s almnost as if it’s a guilty little secret! Crazy. The only pressure I do feel as dps is Recount though- so it does bring it’s own stresses & I’m constantly looking into what the best rotation is (even for low characters – which nearly all mine are!). But I totally agree- we should be proud to be dps. I have been tanking & healing when there’s been very poor dps (in damage & attitude) & it has been awful.

  21. As mentioned briefly above, you can totally do Heigan without DPS… it just takes a really long time. (Not that a large number of my guildies failed at the dance so we got to test that theory. >.>)

    But I kinda agree “many more people can play a healer decently (not necessarily exceptionally) than can play a truly outstanding DPS”. I’ve healed most of my WoW career and from the DPS I have done, I can tell I’m not very good at it. Maybe it’s just a matter of practice, but it could also depend on your playstyle. I know some people who are good at any class they play, but they strike me more as people who are good at EVERY video game they play and therefore can maximize any kind of rotation.

    Also you should totally finish those sketches, especially the first one. Looks like she’s about to blast someone good. (Unless you’ve already finished them; I’m catching up slowly on blog posts so I haven’t read the most recent… >.>)

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