Right now where things stand in Cataclysm at the start the most important role in a five man is that of the DPS classes. Now is our time to enjoy this position. It will not last long. Once everyone and their mother is raid geared or the second tier of raiding comes out then DPS will move back down the order of power.
When the time comes that tanks can take seemingly unending damage making life easier on the healer and they can keep threat just by giving mobs a dirty look or two meaning they can work more on damage and less on threat as it is no longer an issue then tanks will move up the power list.
When the time comes where healers can just spam one heal over and over without anyone ever being in danger of dying and can heal through bad DPS not moving, their position will move up on the power list.
Don't believe the hype that Cataclysm is a different WoW. It is only like this because it is new. It is only like this because we are all gearing up and all experiencing things for the first time. It is only like this for a short time more.
Once the masses enter raids and once people start getting the point gear things will start to change. As more people become geared better then each problem boss will become less and less of a problem until they get to the point where they are not even an issue at all.
At the moment DPS is the power player in the game. It might not seem like it all the time being we have a 45 minute wait for a dungeon. It might not seem like it because we can get kicked for anything from not saying hello to saying hello when they did not want to hear it. In the end however the success of all dungeons right now hang on DPS directly. Without good DPS the dungeon is a complete and total failure.
Tanks and Healers right now are turning red in the face and possibly calling me every name in the book but they need to understand who I am referring to here. I am referring to good DPS, not all DPS. Let me explain how good DPS holds all the power now.
A Tanks job is to Tank.
A Healers job is to Heal.
A Damage Dealers job is to deal damage, crowd control, interrupt, target switch, help the tank manage threat, help the healer manage mana, etc.
You see where this is going?
At the moment there are some pulls that can not be attacked with brute force. You need CC otherwise the tank can not round them all up. You need CC otherwise the healer will not be able to keep up with the incoming damage to the tank. Who does this fall on usually? The DPS.
At the moment there are some bosses that can one shot a tank so they need to watch their defensive cooldowns like a hawk. This means, while they can interrupt, it is a better idea for the DPS to interrupt.
At the moment there are a lot of trash mobs with some serious AoE style spells, the DPS makes sure those spells never happen. This makes the healers life easier.
At the moment if you do not move instantly and I do mean instantly you can get hit with amounts of damage that can really hurt a healers mana pool. Of course the only one that can help with that is yourself. Moving quickly and thinking preemptively can save the healer loads of mana. You being better makes your healer better.
At the moment every last bit of damage you can put out means the fight will end that much sooner. That means less hits the tank has to take. Less heals the healer has to toss out. It basically makes the fight easier the faster you can burn it down. This all falls on the able hands of our friendly neighborhood damage dealers.
When the time comes that the Tank no longer needs CC. When the AoE damage doesn't mean anything and is just ignored and burned through. When the healer does not care if you move from the pool of fire any more because they can heal through it as the boss will be dead in less then 30 seconds anyway. When all that happens. And it will, mark my words. Then DPS will once again be a dime a dozen. The good from the bad won't make a difference.
Until that point comes when you get into a dungeon as a DPS you have all the power in the world. If you (and the other 2) DPS are good DPS then the run will be smooth. No matter how completely and totally awesome the tank and healer are if the DPS suck the dungeon will fail.
Enjoy the power while it lasts because it will not last long. I give it 3 months at most before the good DPS can not be told apart from the bad DPS any more.
What is now "that hunter was great, he kited all three of those mobs for 2 minutes and never got hit even once while still doing 10K on the boss." will turn into "WTF where you doing kiting them you noob, you should have just burned the boss L2P".
Good DPS are the true power players in the game right now. Do your best to be one of the good DPS. Enjoy the praise while we can still get it. Our place in the sun will soon fade.
And now a public service announcement for all your damage dealers out there:
You can always get better.
As soon as a tank can control all mobs and hold threat like a pro... he is done getting better.
As soon as a healer can finish any fight with everyone alive and never in danger... he is done getting better.
Sure, they can both add doing damage into their arsenal but that is not their job. Once they max out doing what is their designed job, they are done. They can not get any better. They are doing their job perfect.
DPS classes can never be perfect.
DPS classes can always get better.
You can always move with the environment faster.
You can always switch to adds cleaner.
You can always line up your priority/rotation tighter.
You can always arrange for priority/rotation changes on add switches to be more effective.
You can always respond with CC on the fly more alertly.
You can always interrupt more timely leaving less room for lag error.
You can always put out more damage.
You can always get better.
Once a tank can hold threat like a pro doing more threat is useless.
Once a healer can heal everyone without issues healing more then what is needed is useless.
Once a DPS can burn down a boss in 30 seconds, they can always strive to do it in 29 next time.
We can always get better. Don't just be another DPS. Be a good DPS and always strive to be better. No matter how amazingly super fantastic you think you already are you can still be better.
Use this time, when damage dealers are the power players in the game to make a name for yourself as being a good DPS even if it is only for your own personal ego because as soon as everything becomes face roll again in a few months you will just be another idiot DPS that is being carried (as all tanks and healers seem to always think) through heroics and the only people that will know that you are really a good DPS are the people you raid with.
So go grab your favorite dwarven ale and give yourself a toast because this is your time to shine.