Sunday, February 15, 2009

Position Is Everything

The topic at-hand is maximizing DPS. It's no secret that our beloved Shaman class (like many hybrid classes) have some ground to make up against pure DPS classes, but frankly it's a challenge I enjoy. Let's hear it for the underbog... err underdog!

Other than the obvious stuff (having decent gear, being hit-capped, knowing your DPS rotation, the right spec, etc.), having solid tactics is a sure-fire way to boost your DPS. Here are some tips for Shaman, but some tips should apply to other melee and ranged casters, too.

Enhancement (melee pew pew)
Melee DPS is all about being within range. Those precious few seconds you spend getting into position will add up over the course of an instance/raid, and cause your DPS to fall below where it should be.
  • On pulls, try to stay up near the tank and run with them into the foray, just a hair behind.
  • Always, always, always (well, usually) attack from behind. Doing so knocks parries off your attack table, and saves your tank from taking 40% hasted hits off the mob from your bad positioning.
  • The aforementioned time spent running between mobs is a huge DPS killer, so invest in a minor speed boost enchant or meta gem.
  • Don't forget about your AoE fire totems on trash pulls, as they no longer generate threat and can safely be plopped down after a second or two of your tank establishing aggro.
Elemental (ranged pew pew)
Being a ranged DPS means a little more flexibility as far as positioning, but there are still some tactical considerations that can help boost your damage.
  • Know your surroundings: if there are objects which could cause LoS (line of sight) issues (like stairs, pillars), be aware of them and get into a good spot right away.
  • This may be controversial, but it doesn't always pay for us Elementals to "finish off" the current target. Chances are by the time your last Lightning Bolt is about to fly, the mob will be dead already, meaning wasted time and lower DPS. If you have good steady DPS in your group already (DoTs, hunters, meleers, etc.), switch to the next target at 10% to start softening them up. This assures that all your spells with a cast time will actually land. This tip is also important when it comes to judiciously using our Lava Burst cooldown - our highest DPS spell should be used on targets that can actually take all the damage.
  • AoE fire totems on multi-mob trash pulls: after your first Flame Shock/Lava Burst/Chain Lightning, run up and drop an AoE totem.
  • If you must run to avoid something, throw a Flame Shock and/or drop a fire totem to keep some DPS going while you get to a safe spot.
  • Add /startattack to the beginning of your spell macros (which already auto-pop your trinkets, right?). This saves the half-second it takes to tab-over (or click) to your next mob, by auto-targeting the next closest mob in a cone shape in front of you. Be very careful with this one, though - take some time to learn the "shape" of this cone by practicing during your dailies. It's also possible to accidentally pull something you didn't mean to, so use with caution. :)
Don't Forget About Threat
While these tips may be helpful in upping your DPS under optimal settings, realize that tanks of various classes, gear levels and (frankly) ability may prevent you from going balls-out right off the bat. Go easy until you get the feel for how your tank is holding threat. Know the difference between your single target rotation and multi-mob rotation and when to use each.

You Can Haz Heals
Don't ever forget that you can (and should) off-heal and dispel/cleanse. Often times, throwing a few extra heals while DPS'ing will prevent unnecessary wipes and repair bills, and will furthermore endear you to the group healer(s). Sure you'll lose a smidge of DPS, but if your healer likes you, they'll work harder to keep you alive, allowing you more pew pew time. It's a win-win, baby!

Bonus Trivia
The title of this post is an homage to the website (no, it's not an adult site... ahem), a website for developers who do daily battle on the front lines of fighting CSS-related browser bugs. /salute

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