Posts Tagged ‘DPS’

What’s the first thing you’d do after a five-month hiatus?

I headed out for a test drive. After picking up the Black Bruise and Keleseth’s Seducer in April, a new job and new time constraints meant I had no more time for raiding, and I decided to take a break.

When I logged in last night and checked the character pane, I saw the icons and remembered: Hey, I’ve got a pair of bad-ass fist weapons here!

Some old-school friends were starting up a late 10-man ICC run, and we ran a quick six-boss gauntlet. Here are the numbers:

Gear Score: 5784

DPS: 9772.3

Buffs: Improved Might, Kings, MotW (scroll), Fish Feast, Intellect, no flask.

For half the raid, it was an alt run, so the context may be a bit skewed. The 9777 DPS was good for second on the meter, behind a very solid Elemental Shaman friend who has a heroic weapon and the four-piece set bonus.

Which I still don’t have. But, hey, Cataclysm might be here in less than two months, so what’s the worry?


What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?

If I told you the name of my Tauren Shaman, I’d have to kill you. Also, he’s Enhancement.

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Mostly raids, with occasional PvP.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?

All of them. I think Blizzard did a brilliant thing by merging key spell and melee DPS stats, which allowed Enhancement Shamans to make the transformation to the first true melee-caster hybrid in the game. Enhancement players with long memories will remember the days when we didn’t even have the intellect or mana regeneration to work Shocks into our regular rotation during raids. Now we’re these axe-swinging, lightning-ripping powerhouses with a nice range of abilities and a priority rotation that makes things more interesting than the Enhancement of old.

But if I was going to pick just one ability, it’d have to be Stormstrike — seeing a massive double-crit, followed by a thundering Windfury proc, and the booming sound of Shock and Awe signalling a Maelstrom five-stack…yeah, that’s satisfying.

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?

Sentry Totem. Do we still have that? It’s similar to special in-game items like the disco ball and Simian Sphere — good for bringing out once in a while for a laugh, but absolutely useless in every other respect. And Water Shield, because it used to be a staple of raiding until Blizzard gave us so much incentive to use Lightning Shield.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?

We can put some serious single-target hurt on bosses. Now that Death Knights and Hunters have all our buffs, we’re not exactly the ultimate physical damage amplifier anymore, and we have the weakest form of AoE out of any DPS spec. (If you can even consider our totems as AoE.) But we contribute where it counts, and we’ve still got Bloodlust!

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?

We still suffer from what I believe is developer neglect. By this, I mean the fact that our gear is still optimized with Hunters in mind, we are underpowered until we reach certain gear plateaus, and while Blizzard is quick to hot-fix problems with Paladins and Death Knights, we’re used to waiting through entire patches (or expansions) for Blizzard’s development staff to finally admit the community is right, and changes have to be made.

We saw that pattern with weapon itemization, gear itemization, our prior lack of talent-provided Expertise, our prior lack of real mana-regenerating abilities, and our historical problems in PvP with mobility and survivability. The modus operandi is for Enhancement Shamans to politely raise an issue with Blizzard’s developers, then become annoyed and increasingly indignant when no one from the development team responds, or they’re just told flat-out they’re wrong. Thus, Koraa’s infamous explanation that Spectral Transformation (the most glorious ability we’ve never had) was too similar to “an iconic Druid ability” to be implemented in the live game.

Maybe that wouldn’t sting too much if it didn’t come in the wake of buff homogenization, but we’re way past the days when totems were something special, and nowadays there’s even blasphemous talk of giving Bloodlust to another class! I’d gladly go back to the days of Totem Twisting if it meant we got to keep our unique buffs.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?

Enhancement Shamans excel at pouring on the boss damage, interrupting casts and dispelling. We’re not going to equal the power of a priest spamming mass dispel, but on fights like Lord Jaraxxus and the Faction Champions, we can clamp down on harmful casts with our interrupts and provide targeted dispells with Purge. The nice thing is, our DPS doesn’t suffer because of it. And like all Shaman specs, we’re indispensable in our ability to make life easier for the raid with spells like Tremor Totem and Cleansing Totem.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?

Nowadays, Rogues, and I never thought I’d say that in TBC. While two of our regular raiders have Rogue alts, we don’t have a dedicated Rogue to bring to raids on progression nights. There are so many ways a good Rogue can make life easier for the raid, and you really start to appreciate that when you don’t have one. Ditto for Warlocks — so many of them seem to have re-rolled in WotLK, and on my server we have a serious shortage of good ones.

Buff-wise, my dream raid would be: Retribution Paladin for Improved Blessing of Might and an additional 3% crit. Feral Druid for another 5% melee crit. Boomkin or Elemental Shaman for an extra 5% spell crit. A Rogue and/or a Warrior for their armor-reducing debuffs. Plus all the other usual stuff — Blessing of Kings, Mark of the Wild, etc. And Focus Magic! I’ve convinced a few Mages I run with to give me the buff, and the uptime on the return buff from my frequent spell crits have made them believers. One friend now insists on giving me her Focus Magic when she plays her Mage: “No other specs give me more FM procs than Holy Paladins and Enhancement Shamans.”

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?

Anyone who faps to the damage meters, regardless of class or spec. (Although many of them happen to be Hunters, Mages and Rogues. Go figure.)

Few things are more ridiculous than that guy who’s always spamming the damage meters in raid chat whenever he happens to be in the top spot. Damage meters are tools best used by raid officers to determine who might need help with their gear or rotations, and the best officers provide that help quietly and discreetly. Egos are fragile things, sure. But it doesn’t help guild morale when fellow raid members are engaged in an e-peen measuring war, and ultimately it hurts the raid when players put their own DPS numbers ahead of the needs of the raid.

That Mage who does 7k DPS might be great for the first 15 seconds of Sarth 3D, but he’s useless if he dies to a Shadow Fissure because he thinks finishing his cast is more important than surviving. Likewise, what good is a Rogue who refuses to help shut down a Faction Champions healer because it’ll have an adverse effect on her personal DPS?

In a recent ToC 25 pug, a few players were fapping furiously to their damage meter numbers, and while others were explaining that they *were* on top of the damage charts, until they died.

A Tauren Warrior in the raid put it in perfect laconic terms: “Fellas, DPS is the amount of damage you do while you’re alive.”

What is your worst habit as a dps?

Getting complacent. On progression fights, when I know we have to do everything right to succeed, I’m focused and alert. But on farm content, I have a bad habit of dying to stupid shit sometimes because I start to go on mental autopilot.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?

We’ve already talked about the players who fap furiously to the damage meters. That’s number one right there. Aside from that, I really don’t have much tolerance for nerd ragers and others who take the game too seriously. In my mind, the best raid leaders are the ones who take everything in stride and exert calm, and that’s the way I try to be when I find myself leading raids. But when people blow up on strangers on Ventrilo, or throw fits over minor setbacks, it ruins the fun. We play this game to relax and have fun, right? Right?

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?

We’re more dependent on gear than some of our counterparts, we don’t have any real AoE, and we’re limited by the artificial hybrid DPS cap. Oddly enough, in The Burning Crusade (and early WotLK) I found it much easier to consistently top damage meters despite our poor itemization.

In this patch, it’s a struggle to stay at or near the top, even with all our shiny new toys. While a big part of that is the nature of the fights in Trial of the Crusader, we’re also victims of our own versatility — Blizzard is well aware that we alone benefit so massively from melee AND spell buffs, and it seems they’ve intentionally designed our DPS potential to be reached only with the full diversity of raid buffs. Thus, there’s a drastic difference between the potential an Enhancement Shaman has in a 10-man raid vs a 25-man raid with a full compliment of buffs.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a dps’er?

I gauge success by whether we get a boss down, and whether or not I’m still standing at the end of the fight. One of my favorite moments in WoW was getting Sartharion +3 down, in patch three point oh-something, before Ulduar dropped and we were all rocking Naxx gear. We couldn’t power through it with gear, we had to do it the hard way, and most importantly, my toon was among those still standing when Sartharion keeled over and the achievement flashed on our screens. I hate, hate, hate being dead and unable to help my guildies finish a kill, and my most important evaluation tool is my health bar!

I also use Recount to cycle through the information on my individual spells, so I can track the effectiveness of small tweaks like re-gemming or a new piece of gear.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?

That we’re all chronically underpowered and/or incompetent. I’ve seen more than my fair share of Enhancement Shamans who went the cheap route and enchanted their weapons with 50 AP instead of Berserking, or decided to dual-wield daggers instead of slow weapons. Enhacement players have the benefit of arguably the best, most thoroughly-researched and authoritative spec guide in the game, thanks to the guys at Elitist Jerks and the mathematically gifted Shamans who helped compile the Enhancement Theorycraft wiki. All Enhancement players should make it a priority to read Elitist Jerks.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?

Although our rotation is now more complex and based on a priority system, I still think most of the “skill” involved in playing well revolves around gear and stat choices. In that sense, a lot is determined before you even step into a raid. Newer players should realize some of our gear and stat choices may seem counterintuitive based on what they know of other melee specs, and it isn’t always easy to determine when something is an upgrade. On a related note, players who’ve rolled Shamans as alts might find the totem system — as vastly improved as it now is — still takes some getting used to.

What dps class do you feel you understand least?

I don’t know much about Shadow Priests, and the specifics of Druid and Paladin tanking remain mostly a mystery to me.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?

Shock and Awe to give me audio cues for things like Maelstrom five-stacks, Dominos to arrange my UI in a way I’m comfortable with, and DBM to help me stay alive. My favorite macro is tied to Ancestral Spirit: Upon casting it, my Shaman says, “Rezzing ____, every time I use my mana for something other than DPS, kittens cry.”

What stat to stack, and why?

I’m hit capped, expertise capped, and I have more than enough crit, so I’m at the point right now where Attack Power is my first priority, and extra Haste has now become the stat to look for in addition to AP on all potential upgrades. Now if I could just find some Hunter mail that has Haste instead of Armor Penetration, I’d be set…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be farming out mats ahead of time to grab a pair of these:

Binds when equipped
1293 Armor (+0)
+138 Agility
+128 Stamina
+85 Intellect
Red Socket
Yellow Socket
Blue Socket
Socket Bonus: +8 Agility
Durability 105 / 105

Requires Level 80
Item Level 264

Equip: Increases attack power by 216.
Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 92.
Equip: Improves haste rating by 77.
Disenchanting requires Enchanting (375)
Sell Price: 14g60s26c

Without taking the gem slots into account (but assuming, of course, that they’ll be enchanted with leg armor), these pants offer 514 total Attack Power to Enhancement Shamans, and the right mix of stats we look for outside of Hit and Expertise.

If you gem according to socket colors, a red epic and a yellow or orange epic can net you an additional 68 Attack Power — 40 (red), plus 20 (yellow), plus 8 (socket bonus). That’s reason enough to go for the socket bonus, especially if you could use the yellow slot for Hit or Crit.

Here’s my statline upon entering Northrend:

Attack Power: 1955

Crit Chance: 28.46%

Expertise: 8 (2%)

Hit Rating: 109

Stamina: 9886

Mana: 5894

Pre-3.0, before Agility was converted to give Shamans 1 AP per point of Agility (and Strength was changed from 1 Str = 2 AP to a 1:1 ratio), I was sitting at a healthy 1630 AP and 33% Crit for Tier 5 and early Tier 6 raiding. Although the Agility change offered us substantially more AP, it also came at a loss to crit, with a new conversion ratio similar to the ratios used for Hunters and Rogues.

Since I’m writing about my stats from about two weeks ago, I’d have to make an educated guess and put the Armor Penetration numbers somewhere around 450-500, with a bit more now that I’ve replaced two pieces of level 70 epic gear with WotLK blues. Crit and hit rating have suffered immeasurably from level 70 to 74, because of the dipping conversion rates at each level, but more on that later.

Taking the Shaman Out for A Test Drive

The first thing I did upon arriving at Vengeance Landing was grab the round of quests available to me and head off to the Undead-Human frontline about two hundred yards south of the town.

Riding past the Horde cannoneers and their Undead Blood Elf commander, I started to carve through mobs in a path toward human NPCs I had been instructed to assassinate.

Having been on extended hiatus, I initially forgot to summon my Spirit Wolves, but perhaps that was a result of not needing them. With Maelstrom Weapon, five-stack procs were plentiful, and it was easy to pull four or five mobs at a time, drop a Stoneclaw/Magma Totem combo and toss Chain Lightnings en route to easy kills.

Spirit Wolves

Spirit Wolves

Like all Enhancement Shamans newly arrived in Northrend, I found the biggest challenge was not burning through my comparatively shallow mana pool in a few short seconds.

With the changes to the spec, and a new Attack Power bonus based off of Intellect, by level 80 most players are expected to favor “Hunter mail” and roll with a higher ratio of Intellect on their gear.

But any Shaman worth his or her salt in The Burning Crusade ran with rogue leather in most slots, with a piece of mail here and there. It was the only way to be competitive in raid DPS, thanks to poor mail itemization.

Later, while questing north of the Great Lift-esque Taunka elevator that carries players above the shoreline, I found myself  at a Vyrkul camp east of Utgarde Keep, staring at a level 70 elite and three mobs surrounding him.

I pulled each mob carefully with max-range Lightning Bolts and was surprised to see the entire group didn’t aggro on each bolt. A minute or so later, it was just me and the named elite.

With Strength of Earth, Windfury, Healing Stream and Searing Totem down, I pulled the mounted elite and hit Feral Spirit, siccing the dogs on him before I ran in for my first Stormstrike. Maelstrom procs stacked quickly with white attacks and a Lava Lash to follow up, and I tossed my second Lightning Bolt, following it up with an Earth Shock.

The elite was dead, and I was at more than 90% health.

While probably not the best gauge of Enhancement performance (Blizzard intended the quest to be 2-manned), it was still illustrative of the buffed PvE state of the spec. Most of the surrounding Vyrkul had been three-shotted, with nothing but mana issues along the way.

Later, I’ll post some notes on DPS numbers and aggro management in the entry-level instances (Windshock is amazing), where we can go more in-depth on the group dynamic.