If DPS is “So Easy” Why Are Folks Still Struggling?

Shadow priest basking in warmth from two-headed beast Chimaeron, recently slain

DPS is so easy. I know this because people tell me this, often.

Healing is so hard. And Tanking is so much more difficult. But DPS? DPS is so easy.

Bollocks I say!

If DPS were so easy, then everyone I know would be 12/12. I would never be in a fail 5-man PUG that couldn’t get past Baron Ashbury in SFK. And this game would be so incredibly boring as I stood in one place and used a macro for my rotation.

The truth is, I am still in heroics with people who are doing 6k DPS. I’ve recently been in a 25-man with someone in my same spec, with better gear than me, with my same assignment, who did 50% of my damage. And on any given raid night, I see wide fluctuations in my own DPS, depending upon my assigned job in the raid.

That’s right– we DPS don’t just stand around in one place and look pretty as we hurl shadowy death at mobs. We also stare at the middle of our screen waiting for the DBM warning to come up about the nastiness we need to offensively dispel off a boss, while also staying at range from everyone else, or stacking up, or running out of the group so as not to explode you.

DPS kite adds while folks focus on the boss. They click on vehicles to engage random mechanics at very specific times in your raids. DPS endure all means of crackpot schemes dreamt up by frustrated (or perhaps even just plain crazy) raid leaders. And most of all, DPS take being told, day after day, raid after raid, you are replaceable, interchangeable with any other DPS.

A good raid leader, however, knows the value of their best DPS. They understand that a raid is a team effort. The weight of the raid is not all on the shoulders of the healer, or the tank. It’s on *everyone’s shoulders*.

Success hinges upon the team working together seamlessly, one action flowing into another. Healers anticipating damage, as DPS damage the boss and execute their assigned tasks, and tanks maintain threat. A successful boss kill is a thing of beauty and it takes all of us, playing our best, to make it happen.

So the next time someone says “DPS has it so easy…” please consider telling them to knock it off. We’re all in this together, folks.

14 thoughts on “If DPS is “So Easy” Why Are Folks Still Struggling?”

  1. I feel that there are just a lot of mediocre players out there. They are the ones that only know what their rotations should be, but don’t have a grasp on their class. This leaves them with a sort of tunnel vision, and when any situation isn’t executed 100%, they don’t know how to react.
    It’s one thing to spend your talent points and follow a spec. It’s something else entirely to understand the synergy, the why, of those specific talents. These same people are the ones you can expect to not have done research on encounters, mechanics, or whatever.
    -Gastroph of Ner’Zhul

  2. /shrug. Speaking as a DPS, it really isn’t that hard. Whenever I see someone doing *less* than 7000 DPS in a heroic, I honestly get a little scared – and, IMO, when you run into someone with that kind of numbers, it’s less a problem with class difficulty and more a class knowledge issue. Usually, I find if they’re given a couple simple tips, their DPS shoots up by 1-2k.
    There are really three things I see as far as DPS knowledge goes:
    1) Class/rotation knowledge
    2) Boss mechanics (stay out of fire, group up for group-up mechanics eg Chim)
    3) Miscellaneous “special” jobs such as a kite/pillar trigger assignment on Magmaw, which a raid leader may assign.
    Now, I’ll happily agree that you’ll see a DPS loss if you get assigned one of these special jobs; that’s to be expected, and I view this assignment as more a statement of faith in your abilities.
    The other two, though? That’s on the individual in question to research and learn – but so far, there aren’t that many excessively difficult DPS rotations to learn (I would classify the hardest currently as enhance shaman, and even that is pretty straightforward), and boss mechanics are on the individual to learn (and perhaps in part on the raid leaders to effectively call).
    6k’s nothing, though. I ran into a warlock the other day who was pulling THREE. I’m not even sure how that happened.

  3. Tanks and certainly single healers are measured on the results.
    Did the tank keep the big mobs from squishing anyone else, and did the healer prevent someone from becoming pavement pizza.
    If yes to the above then they were sucessful in their jobs.
    DPS however whatever their role within an encounter are measured simply on their numbers.
    The DPS or Damage role is about a lot more than just DPS or Damage output, but very few within that role and actually very few outside it recognise that.
    Numbers are nothing without context.

  4. I think the problem is with 5 man dungeons. EVERY dungeon up through and including all of the Wrath dungeons essentially becomes a giant AoE-everything-to-death-stand-in-one-spot-the-healer-can-get-me-through-anything-that-happens-fest. And then you get to Cata dungeons.. and depending on the gear of the party you still see too much of that attitude, especially as you start to see lots of folks in ilvl 333 gear trolling regular dungeons because heroics are too hard for them. So you ding 85, gear yourself up for regular dungeons, queue up for your first heroic and FOR THE FIRST TIME you NEED to CC, NEED to get out of the bad, NEED to know boss mechanics. The tank and heals learning curve is steep at low levels but smooths out, really learning as you go. The DPS learning curve is one giant spike at level 85 and ilvl 329.

  5. I can’t agree more with Orvillius@Azuremyst. But wait! there’s more!
    I’m a warlock who has been playing for six months now. I think you need to be patient with us noobs. Why?
    Lets start with class knowledge.
    I’ve played for six months now. I’ve rolled many different classes, I’ve created one main up to 85. I’ve read more about wow, than any other game I have ever played. Average an hour a day of just reading/studying stuff. I am still learning the game in general as well as the class. I am a warlock. I’ve done Affliction, Demon, and now Destro. Each spec is soo different that I have had to re-learn how to play as a warlock. I get about half the dps of the other DPS classes in Heroics. However, my friend whose been playing for 5 years, rolls a warlock, gets it to level 60 in what seems like minutes, and gets top DPS every dungeon he does. He’s new to warlock, but not new to the game.
    I am definitely overwhelmed in Heroics. Started CCing at level 80, still understanding that. Pools of death on the floor? Crap! remember to check the floor while I am: checking my fear’d mob, clipping my dots, spamming my filler, not stealing threat (my dps is low, but my nuke crits high) and making sure I dont kite more mobs into the fight, while moving away from the pool of shite, or the whirlwind or wall of fire, or whatever. But what if they are below 20%? Do I cast shadow burn or drain soul?
    I’m not QQing, but rather, I am telling you that I am overwhelmed by all the things DPS is concerned about and I am learning. Be Patient with us. I am getting better, but this game takes time to master. Of course, I’d have it no other way. I am having craploads of fun as long as I am not at fault for wiping the team. (I dont care if someone else wipes us.) 🙂
    These are things that may come second-hand for those that have played long… even if they start a new class. But I am still not understanding my spell priorities.. so I am definitely not getting things down pat. This is the life of a Wow noob and since Cata just dropped, you are gonna see lots more of us. We are not all crying babies that complain about gear or that it’s the tank’s fault… There are lots of us playing and trying to do what we can for the team.

  6. +elebenty for Orvillius@Azuremyst
    Here is my opinion, based solely on LFD experience in 5-man content as all of tanks, heals, and dps: tanks and heals are like hit rating; critical up to a threshold, but then of little marginal benefit past that. DPS have to execute, but their marginal benefit doesn’t seem to top out.
    In WotLK, three or four people could carry a heroic so there was little penalty for having one or two people performing less than heroically. That is completely not the case now, which is why I suspect a lot of people otherwise geared for heroics are in regulars. I know I’m tired of paying repair bills and not getting to the finish because one person can’t seem to move out of whatever the color the badness is this time.

  7. I think often people tend to downplay how difficult something is that they are good at. I personally am also doing really well in this expansion, as I did in the last, in a DPS role. But I am encountering plenty of folks who are floundering. Including peeps who had it together last expansion.
    If I had to guess, I would go with the idea that folks who are less adapatable to change take some time to ramp back up after an expansion rejiggers our specs and rotations and the required dungeon and raid skill sets.
    And yeah…I have been in one run with a 4k DPSer iir. I must admit I wondered if the account had been bought/sold on eBay.

  8. Interestingly I’ve had healers tell me they could not be measured for effectiveness in any tangible objective manner. As a former multi-year raid healer, I don’t agree with that. I think healers should be evaluated based upon if the raid survived, and can be individually ranked against each other based on healing effectiveness, activities, and execution of assigned tasks. i.e. all healers told to cleanse magic and only 1 doing it at all = not fulfilling one’s role.
    Likewise, a DPSer is more than just their # on recount. I agree that folks are often not aware of the utility jobs many DPSers are doing in their raids, and how that may affect their DPS. Or, in the case of rock star performers, how awesome it really is that they were top DPS while performing another role, etc.

  9. BC heroics were actually hardcore CC fests when they were introduced. I recall that my my mage alt was in high demand for Magister’s Terrace and Zul’Aman runs as well. But I do agree that overall Wrath dungeons, after everyone outgeared them, did become big AOE fests. And that was many folks’ first exposure to dungeons and group play, and did set expectations. I am finding many folks have a hard time managing CCs, have low spatial awareness, or can’t do simple mechanics such as interrupting a beam and moving out before they hit 80stacks of a debuff, for instance.

  10. Well as someone that gets to DPS and Heal in a raid setting I have to agree with the statement that is is on everyone’s shoulders. Every piece of the puzzle needs to be there in order for your group to succeed.
    From Cataclysm’s start there was a shorter time frame in which I was able to learn the in’s and out’s of playing my Shadow Priest in comparison to my Holy Priest. Some due to the fact that I started Disc as a hold over from Wrath then switched to Holy. Some due to many changes Holy Priest have had.
    Currently I feel I have a fairly solid grasp of both and feel the level of difficultly varies per fight for each but healing is a bit more stressful as there seems to be a little less room for error and the results of making a big mistake is usually immediately evident.
    That said bad DPS or a bad player just focused on DPS can also be an impediment as they tend to drain precious resources and attention away from where it is needed. This can make it almost impossible for a group to succeed. EVERYONE has to pull their weight these days. Even in heroics. So there is a stress involved in not only doing good damage numbers wise but to do all those other things well also. That is why some people struggle I believe as Wrath allowed you to “carry or be carried” No Mas in Cataclysm.
    I love having good heals and tanks when I DPS as much as I love having good tanks and DPS when I heal. I also love the fact that all must do their part as painful as that may be at times.

  11. True. I think the order or priority for struggling DPS should be:
    1. dont kite any other mobs to the party
    2. dont die
    3. dont stand in pools/watevers of damage
    4. CC
    5. DPS
    1 is crucial because you have almost guaranteed a party wipe
    2 and 3 just mean you are there for the ride
    4 and 5 mean you are actually helping out (even if a small percent)
    Even though I am overwhelmed.. I’ll still be doing Heroics because they really are that much more fun, but if I wipe the group.. I’ll leave voluntarily so the party can succeed.

  12. Oh man, memories.. I remember the first time I stepped into Heroic Ramps (assumed it would be the easiest) and my tricked out bear (70 blues, maybe a rep piece or two) died within the span of one kidney shot. Those were good times.
    Getting a group together to take down heroic Arcatraz in only heroic gear was epic. Everyone needed to know exactly what they were there for. CC was huge, interrupts were huge, and everyone on the team had to have their share of last minute saves (taunting off the tank and kiting when you knew that heal wasn’t going off in time for example). Those were some good times and took good, skilled dps, tanks, and healers.
    Honestly, in my opinion Cata heroics don’t come close in terms of difficulty. Even with heroic tiered gear, as long as the tank can hold aggro and knows how to use his CDs, the healer is decent, and dps can semi-focus, CC is pretty much optional.
    Definitely agree that a good dps that knows his or her responsibilities (and can blow things up to boot) is invaluable. Almost wish things were back at that level again, taught you a lot about your limits.

  13. DPS isn’t that hard.
    GOOD DPS is hard.
    There are enough players who can dps, but those who can top meters while doing the dispells, toss the raid saving heals, and kiting the stray mobs back to the tank are rare.
    a lot can be seen in the flexibility of a player and the amount of spells he uses from his spellbook. Not too many dps use every spell they have available to them. Most just the “DPS-nukage” buttons.

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