As you can imagine I get quite a few requests to help people improve their DPS. Unfortunately I am not very good at responding, I have no excuse except that I get busy and forget to respond. So if you have sent me a question and I have not responded I apologize.
That said, most of the requests fall into one of few distinct categories:
The Uninformed: These people have clearly not done a lot of research or don't know the right places to look for information. These are the people that do not have a Chaotic Skyflare Diamond equipped or have 5/5 of Genesis talented. They are easy to respond to because their issues are so obvious. I point out the obvious and then send them to the think tank and sticky.
The Poorly Geared: These people have all the right talents, gems and enchants, but their gear is just strange. They may be missing a set bonus or have a wide range of gear from the 200 ilevel to the 264 ilevel. The may have quite a bit of spirit gear or a strange trinket choice. Gear is obviously a problem, but the cause of the problem is not obvious. I have a hard time responding to these folks because this may be the only gear available to them. For example I once got a comment asking why I use the Illustration of the Dragon Soul instead of Muradin's Spyglass because the commenter thought the spyglass was better. I agree. The spyglass is better, but I've run ICC 10 over a dozen times and not seen it drop once. It's not that I'm gearing incorrectly its just that I'm using what is available to me.
The Fundamentally Flawed: These are the hardest to address. They have the right talents, gems and enchants. Their gear is very reasonable for the level of content they are doing. The rotation they say they use is in line with the recommendations. There is nothing obvious I can comment on. In the end I usually provide a list of general rules for them to think about and hopefully improve their performance.
In this post will go over some of what I consider to be the general rules of raiding for a ranged DPSer.
Fundamentally Flawed is not an insult:
Before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, when I say Fundamentally Flawed, I don't' mean you suck. I think most of us including myself are flawed to some extent. There is skill involved in this game, and skill related issues can't be fixed by changing a glyph or a piece of gear. When I say fundamentally flawed I mean that there is a problem with how you approach the game. It could be something as big as not casting spells quickly enough or as small as not pre-planning your positioning.
This may sound obvious or silly to some of you but I've become a firm believer that sleep is a key for successful raiding and high DPS. I also think more raiders have an issue with a lack of sleep then they are willing to admit. Many raiders raid 25mans for 10 to 15 hours a week, then they spend more time raiding 10mans, leveling alts, and other stuff in game. Then when you combine this with work, school, and family obligations it is quite easy to get to a point where you are only sleeping 5 or 6 hours a night.
Most of us can't operate and peak levels on such a limited sleep schedule and most of us that think we can are wrong. In my own play I've noticed some pretty dramatic swings in my performance that I mostly relate to sleep. When I'm well rested and I am much more focused. I notice hazards more quickly and I'm able to react more quickly. Ultimately I make fewer errors in casting and avoiding damage.
As a result I try and set priorities in my play and not over extend myself to often. For example, many months ago I had an opportunity to become a regular part of a regular 10man alt run. If I committed to it I would have gotten a drake for my warlock. Ultimately I chose not to because it would have added another late night my schedule. In addition to that I have a couple of alts that I want to level. I don't have a lot of time on weekend due to family time but my nights are generally free. It would be very easy for me to play until 2 in the morning but I have purposely limited my play on those nights to try and not over extend myself.
If you are having performance issues, think about how often you play and how often you sleep. The best choice might be to take a step back and focus on the activities that are most important to you.
Positioning and Limiting Movement:
As we all know movement is a DPS killer. If you are moving you can't cast your nukes and they make up 70%-80% of moonkin damage. Therefore it is important to think about ways to limit your movement so that you can maximize your casting time. A good example of this is the Beasts encounter in ToGC. My guild would focus down Acidmaw before we switch to Dreadscale in phase 2 of the fight, but Gormok tended to be positioned in the center of the room. In our first heroic kills on that encounter the worms were spawning right as Gormok was going down and making a quick switch was important to meet the DPS requirements of the fight. Therefore I tended to position myself as far left as I could. Therefore, I could switch targets without moving and allow my fellow raid members to move into to get range.
Another part of this is to move purposely. One big movement is almost always better then several little movements. If you are moving to get in range of a target. Make sure you are in range of any adjustments that the target might make. If the target is constantly moving away from you then inching forward ever 15 seconds will result in more cancelled spells. Much better to move once for 5 seconds and to not have to cancel any spells.
ABC - Always Be Casting:
I've said this before, and I will say it again. The real key to high damage in a raid setting is to cast as much as possible. Casting the wrong thing is generally better then not casting because when you don't cast or cancel a cast you are not DPSing the target. Therefore, if you don't know what to cast, cast something. Put up your DoTs while moving. Even overwriting your existing DoTs while moving can be a DPS increase.
Also push the limits of when you can start casting. Remember we have a lot of low threat spells that we can start an encounter with. Your trents have their own threat tables, Fairie Fire and Insect Swarm have very little threat when they are first cast. Moonfire doesn't have much either if it is glyphed. The reason we lead with these spells isn't just because DoTs generally have a good DPET or to Debuff the boss. They also allow the tank a few seconds to build threat before we get into the heavy hitting part of our rotation.
Switching Targets and Macros:
ABC is really easy when you have only one target and don't have to move much. It gets more complicated when you have to change targets quite a bit and the positioning of your targets are not constant. It is easy to lose 5 or more seconds tab targeting through the available targets. There are two things I try to do to minimize the time it takes me to switch targets.
The first is the use of targeting macros. If you know you have to switch to a target quickly create a little targeting macro and add a spell to it. For example have two macro's for the Lich King encounter. One for the Val'kyr Shadowguard and one for the Raging Spirits. The macros are very simple. One is posted below.
/target Val'kyr Shadowguard
All it does is target the target and cast a nuke. What is great about it is that I can start spamming it even before a target spawns, because it doesn't cancel the cast if the target is not available yet. Instead the cast will just go to my current target.
The second thing I do is to click while casting. Clicking a target can be a problem especially if there are a lot of targets group up, but it can be helpful in some situations. The first thing to remember is that you can change targets while casting. Your spell will still hit he original target, but you don't have to delay your next spell to hit the new target. I use this a lot on trash, adds, and bosses that have pieces that have to be burned down all together. I also suggest that you use the overhead unit frames for enemy targets. It is much easier to target the name plate of the target then the actual target if you need to do a lot of click targeting.
A lot is said about keybindings in raiding circles, but newer players may be unfamiliar with them or how to improve them. A keybinding is when you've linked a class ability to a specific button on your keyboard or mouse. The default WoW UI comes with a lot of keybindings automatically. For example your 1 through = buttons are mapped to your main action bar. Other keys are mapped to game functions like B for opening your bag. I think most players use these default keybindings when they first pick up the game, but a lot of raiders expand on or modify these keybindings in an effort to improve their performance.
The standard keybindings are perfectly fine for a more casual player, but they are not set up will for someone trying to maximize there performance. A good keybinding is one that is easy to reach win a minimum of effort. The default keybindings are all in a single line. Moving from key 5 to key "-" is a pretty big movement and has a higher risk of error as a result. Moving from key 5 to key "T" is a much smaller movement and is less likely to be missed in my opinion.
The other problem with the standard keybindings is that there are only 12 default spots, but I have 15 abilities or macros that I use with decent regularity. Even if i was comfortable with having all my abilities on a single line, I still wouldn't be able to bind everything I needed.
Keybindings are fairly simple to create. Just hit the "ESC" key and click the Keybinding button from the menu that pops up. This will bring up the keybinding UI. From this window you can bind your keys to the other available action bars.
Here are my current keybindings.
|Force of Nature|
|Primary Targeting Macro|
|Secondary Targeting Macro|
|Primary Self Heal|
|Secondary Self Heal|
|Changes depending on fight.|
|Gift of the Wild|
You will notice that most of the buttons are easily accessible to my left hand. The Number Pad buttons are easily accessible because I have this mouse.
After you set up your keybindings it is important that you get used to them before you are expected to perform at a high level. How much practice you need depends on what spells you are binding and how many changes you are making. I highly recommend that you don't make any significant changes in your bindings until you have time to run a few low stress instances.
The DPS issues that most players face aren't caused by gear, spells, or talents. They are a result of more basic issues that are hard to teach or correct in a guide. The fundamentals of raiding have nothing to do with class, rotation, or gems. The fundamentals of raiding are about awareness, movement, and quick reactions.
When you look for ways to improve your DPS, think about more then just what spell I should cast. Think about where I should stand? What is the best way for me to change targets? Are the tools I need to use readily accessible? Thinking about these questions can have as big of an impact on your DPS as picking up a new piece of gear.