How to Melee DPS Without Making Healers Cry

This is a guest post by Shazrad of Zul’jin. One of the best players I’ve ever had the pleasure of raiding with. ~Lodur

As DPS it’s our job to do as much DPS as possible.  We can’t do that if we can’t stay alive. We can’t do that if we are irritating our healers to the point that they think it would be more mana efficient to res us rather than heal us. In truth, nothing irritates healers and raid leaders more than DPS who have little or no situational awareness.  With that said lets break things down a bit.

To start with let’s break down what DPS really is. I know what some readers are thinking.  “DPS means DAMAGE PER SECOND dummy!” I’m sorry but you are wrong.

It stands for this:

  1. Don’t stand in things that damage you
  2. Placement, placement and placement
  3. Stay alive

Any raid leader will tell you I am right.

Matt’s notes: He’s right.

Those 3 things are the most common obstacles that melee DPS face. Your rotation can be perfect. Your spells can be up without missing a beat. Yet if you fail in any of those 3 areas you become useless to your raid. In order to help you better understand what each item means I will break them down for you.

  • Don’t stand in things that damage you – This sounds easy. I guarantee you that almost every raid leader will agree that standing in fire/defile/desecrate/ (insert random boss ability here) causes 90 % of raid DPS deaths. Standing in things that damage does not just mean health dropping. Some things cause your attacks to slow, some cause you to miss more often and so on and so forth. There are rare occasions where standing in something will give you a DPS boost. Those instances are so rare, it’s best to just not stand in anything that appears on the floor during a boss fight. If you’re not sure, ask. No good raid leader will be mad at you for asking but you can bet that you will hear it if you don’t ask and die repeatedly to the same thing when all you really need to do is move.
  • Placement, placement and placement – Where you stand is just as important as where you shouldn’t stand. This typically means that unless told otherwise melee stands BEHIND the target, casters stand off to the side or behind the target. DPS who stand in front of the target are dealing with cleaves, parry, and everything else the tank is dealing with. It’s not somewhere you want to be on most fights. Always know where you need to be and be there and you will be loved by all. (Disclaimer: I probably still won’t love you I’m anti love unless you’re a chicken salad sandwich.)
  • Stay Alive – No matter what you must live. Dead DPS is not DPS; it’s a corpse. Corpses (unless you’re a ghoul) sit there and rot. So do whatever you have to do to NOT die.

If you can do these three things you are already a step ahead of the game.

Tips and Tricks:

In this section I will go over some basic things that will help you survive.

  • Keyboard Turning – Its bad! Do not do it. Keyboard turning is using your arrow or A and S keys to turn. This method of turning is to slow. Instead use your mouse to turn. Right click your mouse and move it to the left or right. It’s about 100000 times faster. Keyboard turning is just too slow for raiding. The abilities that bosses throw when you need to turn and burn hit so hard that if you keyboard turn you will most likely die. Dead characters are useless.
  • Jumping out of Damage – Its bad do NOT do it. Jumping in World of Warcraft is not like jumping in the real world. When you jump the game records your position. When you land it updates your position. So when you jump out of damage the game registers you in the damage until you land. In most cases your jump is farther than you actually need to go. This means you are taking damage the entire time you are in the air. It’s bad. Don’t do it.
  • Strafing – Is useful. When fighting most bosses they have a tendency to throw stuff right at your feet. Try to get in the habit of strafing left and right to move out of the damage. Moving this way is easier and faster than turning and moving.
  • Zoom Out – Zoom your camera out as far as you can. This allows you to not only see what you are doing but you can also see what’s going on around you. Knowing what’s going on in a fight is the key to winning.
  • Situational Awareness – Without this you might as well go back to soloing Dead Mines. Get yourself a good boss mod. Set it up so that the information it provides is easy for you to see. I try and keep all my important alerts right around my character. This way my eyes are always on what my character is doing. Try to avoid sticking it way off in a corner somewhere. With it up there you are having to constantly take your eyes off the action.  Also make sure you enable the audio alerts. These sounds will draw your attention to important details even if you’re focused on something else.
  • Stay Behind – Unless your raid leader tells you to specifically stay in front of a boss attack from behind. Attacking from the front causes you to miss more often (except in certain special boss fights).  Bosses also often have cleaves and other nasty effects that will usually kill you in a single hit.
  • Ask Questions – Do not be afraid to ask your raid leader a question. I know this is cliché but “There are no stupid questions unless you don’t ask them.” So ask. Even if you have asked before. Do not go into an encounter with a question. Unasked questions are the same thing as not knowing what to do. You will likely die or even worse you may wipe the entire raid out because you didn’t know what to do and didn’t have the guts to speak up.
  • Get Some Mods – There are plenty of mods out there that will help you with every aspect of a raid. Mods like Power Auras Classic and GTFO can be set up to let you know when you are taking damage. Deadly Boss Mods and Big Wigs are extremely good at letting you know when to move. These are just a few examples of mods that can help you know when to move.

Final Thoughts:

In closing there are three things I would like to stress:

  1. Anything on the floor be it fire, funky red glowing circles or a big fluffy blue line is probably bad. Get out of it unless your raid leader says to stand in it.
  2. Know the fight before you start the fight. Watch a video, read a strategy, ASK YOUR RAID LEADER! Know when to move.  Don’t be that guy…
  3. STAY ALIVE NO MATTER WHAT. If you die you are useless to the raid.

14 thoughts on “How to Melee DPS Without Making Healers Cry”

  1. Hell to the yeah! I hope a lot of DPS reads this. I would love being in one run where people followed these “rules.” I would say that for me situational awareness is the most important thing on that list. It kind of incorporates all of what you wrote. Be aware of where things are and you will become a much better DPS player. Also I would add to your article in the tips/tricks to turn spell detail up (or player detail…Whatever they changed the name of it to) so that you can see what you are standing in…I can’t tell you how many raids I have led where someone told me they couldn’t see the green stuff on the ground when to me it was quite clear where it was. I found out a while back that you need to turn particle and texture details to max on at least fights where you need to see that kind of stuff.

    Also as a preference to Cataclysm, one of the best things that DPS can do, click on a Lightwell if you see your health dropping and need some quick heals. It is ranged now so the DPS shouldn’t have to move and I don’t think they lose their targets anymore so…

  2. Unfortunately, in Cataclysm, almost every healer now has an affect that appears on the floor that people *should* stand in. So things are going to be getting trickier in that DPS needs to be able to recognize and differentiate between good floor spots and bad floor spots.

    With healer mana being at a premium, not standing in the good may be almost as bad as standing in the bad.

    • Yeah, but like he said, Raid leaders will tell you when to stand in what. That said I did create a macro for my healing rain to announce what it was so people didn’t run away from it. Personally I’d rather people see glowing ground and run away instinctively rather than waiting to be told. I’d rather say “hey the blue stuff is safe”.

  3. Very nice piece, Shazrad. I’d suggest that you add, somewhere under ‘Stay alive!’ — ‘Use your healthstone!’ Heck, I always forget that one myself when I’m healing, I’m better about it when I’m on my warlock.

    • Healing rain doesn’t give you a “buff” icon, instead it plays a nice little audio clip and puts green swirlies around your character. It’s fairly obvious when you’re in the rain now. Better than when we first got to play with it.

  4. My pet peeve as a resto shaman is DPS spreading out too much. If there is no reason to spread, clump up so I can chain heal.

  5. Two things, from a healer:

    1) heal yourself. Healthstones and bandages, especially bandages. I’m more likely to heal a guy with Recently Bandaged on it. Why? Because I know he’s paying attention. He has situational awareness. He isn’t watching TV and mashing the same dps rotation button over and over.

    2) When mouse-turning, remember this: if you have a boss mechanic that you are going to have to run away from soon, go ahead and turn the camera now. You can keep doing damage while you are looking at your character’s face. Then, when the time to move comes, you don’t have to swing the camera. Just hit the mouse buttons.

  6. Excellent !
    I’m puzzled by the information you gave about jumping out of stuff. Are you absolutly totaly sure ?
    Defile gave me the impression that jumping to get out of it prevented any further expansion.
    On many many many occasions.

    • He’s right, it’s been that way for a long time. The problem is that with movement / speed / and jumping it often looks like it’s helping. I’ll use an example from this past weeks raid. LK defile, warrior got caught in the center of it. instead of just running they tried jumping out of it, but soon as they jumped it kept calculating them in the middle and then growing. The thing about defile is that when it lands you get a couple of seconds to run before it registers you as in it. So if you move before that couple of seconds is up, even if you jump, you’re OK. Defile is an odd duck like that. Try it on marrowgar’s fire if you get bored. If you jump out of the fire instead of run, you remain “on fire” until you land.

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