When does YOUR damage matter?

Everything on this blog is meant to be very practical, because all it’s really concerned with is helping you do more damage – so my apologies if this topic is a little bit theoretical.  It was inspired by an excellent post over at Gnomeaggeddon’s mage blog.

There are three roles in any raid:  tank, healer, and DPS.  The first two, I would argue, have no accurate numerical way to measure their individual performance in raids.  Tanks certainly do not – there are no “tanking meters” and no popular stats for tank performance.  Healers have the healing meters – but total healing done is largely assignment-based.  If your job is healing the off-tank, and the off-tank doesn’t take too much damage (but also doesn’t die), then you’ve done your job but will probably finish lower on the meters than, say, a priest who just spammed prayer of mending the entire fight to top off the raid. 

No, the performance of tanks and healers is measured first and foremost by the success of the raid.  If bosses are dying and raid members are not, then it’s a safe assumption that the tanks and healers are doing a good job.

But it’s different for DPS.  Our goal (on most fights) is to simply do damage, and that damage can and is measured objectively, accurately, and numerically with programs like Recount and Wow Web Stats.    Not only can those meters gauge the performance of the DPS group as a whole, they allow for comparison between individual damage-dealers.

However, the point I’d like to make is that not all damage is equal.  This has always been true, and is now especially true with the more complex Ulduar fights.  So I’d like to run through some scenarios regarding where I believe YOUR individual damage is and is not important:

  • Your damage is NOT important on standard trash pulls.  I know it’s fun to AOE and pad your numbers, but honestly if you just sat out most trash pulls, your raid would be fine without you.   Don’t get hung up on how much damage you’re doing to trash, and if someone in your raid is bragging about their damage on trash, then politely remind them that the point of raiding is to kill bosses. :)
  • Your damage IS important on trash mobs or boss adds that have can “enrage.”  The Emalon encounter is a perfect example.  When an add starts to grow, the DPS has a fixed amount of time to get it down before it wipes the raid.  No amount of tanking or healing can prevent the wipe from happening, so it’s up to the DPS to hit the add hard and fast.   Following an Emalon fight, look at the individual player breakdowns in Recount or Wow Web Stats (the “who hit who” column) – the DPS who did the most single-target add damage are really the most valuable players in that fight, NOT the DPS who did the most total damage.
  • Your damage is NOT important on generic, AOE-able boss adds.  Noth the Plaguebringer is the best example in Naxx, and Razorscale is the best example in Ulduar.  Assuming you are with a competent raid, the mobs in the “add phases” of those fights will die one way or another, whether you’re helping or not.  Sure they’ll die a little quicker with your blizzard or flamestrike involved – but seriously, I’m sure your raid would be fine without you. 

    Note that the Gluth adds do NOT fall into this category, because even though they’re AOE-able, it’s very important that they die before they reach him, and therefore DPS’ing them is a central element to the fight. 

  • Your damage IS VERY important on “burn” phases of bosses.  Here’s where mages should excel.  Let’s use the Razorscale fight as an example:  there’s a minute or so of fighting adds where a lot of people are going to do a lot of damage, then a 20 second or so burn phase on Razorscale himself.  Your raid’s effectiveness during this burn phase determines how many add phases there are, the length of the fight, and whether your raid beats the enrage timer.  So, uh, which phase do you think it’s more important to save your cooldowns for?  When you look at the damage meter after the fight, pay specific attention to the people who did the most damage to Razorscale himself, because those are the players who won the fight for you.

    The same is true for many other fights:  the first of the Four Horseman (killing him fast frees up the tank and healer(s) to help out on the other three), the first drake in a two or three drake Sartharion attempt (gotta kill it before the second drake comes down), and XT-Deconstructor’s heart (killing it fast makes the time between heart phases shorter).  These are  just a few examples of times when your damage on a specific phase is more telling than your overall damage.

  • Your damage is NOT particularly important on bosses without a strict enrage timer during low damage phases.  Let’s go back to Kara for an example:  Remember the Prince Malchezzar fight?  He was basically a pussycat until he got his swords in phase 2.  Your damage in phase one was not really important – as long as everyone was doing mediocre damage, it would eventually be over – that’s why your raid probably saved heroism/bloodlust for phase 2.  Additionally, your raid could take it easy on Romulo and Julienne until the final phase, when the healing becomes much more of an issue.

    In Naxx, the same applies for the two adds at the start of the Thaddius fight.  Thaddius’ strict enrage timer doesn’t activate until they’re dead, so no reason to use your cooldowns to kill them – the damage you do to them is basically meaningless, so long as your raid is burning them down.  This is also true for the first phase of the Kel’Thuzad fight – as long as the adds are dying, your DPS number is not particularly important (now, if your raid is actually having issues with that phase, then it may become important).With Ulduar being new, I wouldn’t classify any of the bosses this way for the time being, at least for my guild.  However, for a boss like XT, the damage you do to the heart and the effectiveness with which you handle the adds is probably a much better indictor of your performance than just the raw total damage number.

These are just a few examples of situations in which your DPS matters and when it doesn’t.  I’m sure there are exceptions, but I just want to get the idea out there that sometimes the meters aren’t telling the full story.

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5 Responses to “When does YOUR damage matter?”

  1. gnomeaggedon Says:

    You see… this is why I keep linking to you!

    isn’t it nice to know you aren’t the only Mage blog out there?

    FYI, the reason I started blogging was because I “couldn’t find any”.

  2. zupa Says:

    Solid post :)

    PS: there are TPS / threat meters that can indicate how effecitve a tank is being, but of course unless people are threat capped, how much extra threat the tank generates doesn’t exactly matter.

    I know when I have about double the threat of my highest dps I stop worrying about threat generation and start worrying about mitigation instead :)

  3. beefheart Says:

    Nice entry, some very sensible stuff there. The first PUG I subjected myself too in ages..get in, do trash…DK links recount. *sigh*. Get to first boss, DK pulls aggro off tank and dies. Over and over again. Anyone for a portal?

  4. Allenny Says:

    Thank you.

    I’m an officer in my guild and I refer all mages to this blog when they first inquire about raiding.

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