I love good DPS

January 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The flip side of this title statement, unfortunately, is that I don’t love bad dps.  This wouldn’t be much of an issue if there weren’t so much bad dps out there.  So why is this?

I think it breaks down to the amount of feedback given to players of each role.  For players to perform well, they need information on how well they are doing their job.  For players to change and improve their playstyle, they need to know what works and how well it works.

Healers have probably the best feedback of anybody.  Heal badly and people die; heal well and people live.  Nobody likes dying, so healers may get more feedback than they really wanted!  In my experience, I have run in to a few bad healers that were completely new to the role but otherwise healers appear to range in quality from ‘mostly competent’ to ‘miracle worker’.

Feedback for tanks is not as obvious as that for healers, but it is fairly easy to identify if a tank is doing the two primary jobs: hold aggro and stay alive.  The tempo for the typical heroic run is usually set by the tank, so this usually provides some cues to the rest of the group as to the quality and experience of the tank.  Like the healer, the tank will probably hear from the rest of the group if there are problems.

For the dps, however, there can be little to no feedback in the all-too-common silent heroic run.  If the tank and healer do their job, bad dps looks like good dps: they both attack the bad guys.  The primary purpose of addons like Recount is  to provide a metric for how well dps are doing the most basic part of their job!  In the absence of damage meters, what clues are there that a dps player is not performing at an acceptable level?  Not many if they aren’t getting aggro or standing in fire.

Recently I had the pleasure of running a raid where all five dps were doing very strong dps.  What a difference it made!  Lady Deathwhisper’s adds, in particular, just disappeared.  A number of us talked about how much fun this was afterwards.  I feel like getting a group of raiders from ‘bad’ to ‘ok’ has a lot to do with strong tanking and healing.  Getting from that point to ‘very good’, however, seems to be more about dps.  This agrees with my experience in raids that we have overgeared — the fight seemed easy because everything died so quickly, not because the tank held aggro so effectively.

So, what can be done to turn ‘normal’ (in terms both of performance and motivation) DPS into good or even great DPS? More feedback would no doubt be useful, but beyond that I’m somewhat at a loss.  I’d love to hear ideas or stories of what has worked for others.



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  1. I’d say working with them to understand the next steps in how they can improve. As a dps/tank class I know it can be hard to hear advice on what we *might* be doing wrong.

    For raiding I’d say open softly, and ask the dps what they think we could do to increase the overall dps performance. Often the folks will know they can still tweak their performance, but may not know what step to take.

    As much as it is obvious, sometimes a spec and glyph review is a good idea, and guildies are probably more open to this than strangers.

    In TBC-Kara when I started out as a Warlock in raids my dps was dreadful, and this was mostly due to the gear. There were however a few really positive and easy mannered players who we would chat to after raids about getting better, and it was not long until my performance was on par with the best of the team.

    I suppose part of that was my willingness to accept that a slow steady improvement is better than looking for a huge overnight bonus, and I expect that I was taken on runs due to my willingness to learn.

    Now many years later I still take the slow and stead approach to improvement, and I think it is the only real way to go.

    As a side point – There is also a huge disparity in the professionalism and attitude I’ve seen in pug runs in content like Ulduar, TOC, ICC when compared to a regular heroic run. For the most part I’ve experience “bad” dps in about 50% of the runs, and that measure of “bad” is because the dps is doing things that the really know they should not. eg. pulling mobs, and getting threat.

    DPS have three rules: stay alive, stay behind the tank on threat, kill the mobs. In that order.

  2. “…getting a group of raiders from ‘bad’ to ‘ok’ has a lot to do with strong tanking and healing. Getting from that point to ‘very good’, however, seems to be more about dps.”

    SO true. I’m going to ask my Grandma to needle point that for me so I can hang it on my wall. (Just kidding…. I’ll probably just get a tattoo.) More often than not, I’ve found failure to progress in raids is a dps issue more than anything else.

    In PUGs I don’t know that there is much you can do. In guilds it is very simple:
    1) Have effective class leaders that raid regularly with their raiders. It is the class leader’s job to provide feedback and coach their class where needed. Most raiders want to put out more dps, and are very open to suggestions from someone who knows their class. In my guild it is up to the class leaders to approve raiders for positions on what we consider “progression raids”.
    2) Post WoL logs from your raids so that raiders can review them later and see what they are doing wrong. If you’ve got two combat rogues in comperable gear and one is doing 20% more dps it is a very simple matter to compare the two using WoL and see what they are doing differently.

    • Exbob, thank you for the reply. Your comment about needle point made me laugh.

      The suggestion that class leaders approve raiders for progression raids is fascinating to me. Now that you mention it, this is something that could be valuable in my current guild situation.

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