Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DPS: You're Just a Number - The High End

This is part two of a two part post, The High End.  Check out The Low End here.

People often talk about the stress of being a healer, the stress of being a tank but no one ever seems to talk about the stress of being a damage dealer when in truth that is the largest stress position at any level and even more so when played at a high level.

The way everything is designed now is all about mechanics.  As with anything mechanic based, the faster the fight is over the less chances there are for errors.  The tanks might be able to boost a little DPS to help it along some.  The healers might be able to pump out some serious heals to make some mechanics less of a big deal should someone mess it up but it all boils down to how fast can you get the boss down.

Rag is infinitely easier without a lot of meteors wouldn't you say?  If you ever did rag with only one or two meteors then thank your DPS.  It is all on them to make that happen.  If you think the damage dealers (the good ones at least) do not stress over that fact you are sadly mistaken.  The DPS know that the longer the fight goes the harder it will be to come out of it with a win.  They know when it is all said and done their numbers will be the ones everyone notices first.  They know that they will be associated with their number.

There are many fights in firelands (or any raid) that change considerably on the difficulty level depending on the DPS you have available for the fight.

You are judged by your number.  Every DPS is assigned their number.  It is the number you end up the fight with.  Sometimes it is more then just one number.  Sometimes you might have that nice 36K number but you will also have that not so nice 1 number that represents the death you suffered 30 seconds into the fight which effectively makes your 36K number useless.  You are now a 1.

When the boss goes down nice and easy someone is bound to say, that is because everyone was over 20K.

When the boss goes down but it becomes a slight challenge someone is bound to say, that is because we had no one over 20K.

When the boss goes down but it was a real challenge someone is bound to say, when we do this a little more often and people start tightening up with DPS this will be a cake walk.

When the boss barely goes down in a near wipe but a holy crap we just made it someone is bound to say, if we had more DPS that would never have happened.

The stress is all on the DPS.  Not only for numbers, but mechanics as well, never forget about those, even if in the end they are judged by a number.  Sometimes that number ends up being the number of times they messed up on mechanics.

Most of the times that a tank or a healer messes up on a mechanic it is taken as a simple mistake.  DPS are almost never given that respect.  You mess up and you suck, end of story.  I've seen this first hand in pugs.  I messed up on one of the bosses in ZA once and caused a wipe.  I apologized and we got it the next time.  Only one person even said anything, the others said, no big deal it happens.  I've seen countless DPS kicked for much less just because they made a mistake even if it did not cause a wipe.

Pressure on high end DPS being labeled as numbers is even worse, because most people that do good DPS do good DPS because they care enough to try.  I once did 28K on one of the bosses in ZA and got told from the two other DPS and the tank (all the same guild) that I suck because their guild hunter usually does over 40K on that boss.  My 28K was more then both of them and the tank combined, I am guessing they where just trying to mess with me, so I ignored them but I was tempted to say, is he the one that is carrying you? 

That is a great example of someone as a DPS being labeled as a number only and compared to another DPS as a number.  For tanks or healers it is only a matter of can you do it or not.  There is a pass/fail line only.  For DPS there a number and even if you do great you can still be told you suck because someone else has a better number. Two tanks tank something, they can both tank it.  Two damage dealers DPS something, one is better then the other, because they are both numbers and better is easily assigned to the one with the highest number, right or wrong.

That is another reason why being a damage dealer is the highest stress job in the game. The damage dealers are held to a much higher standard.  It is perfection and high DPS and a direct competition against every other DPS on earth or you are a failure.

It is a well known thing that tanks and healers often complain about "stupid" DPS.  The ability of the DPS around you when tanking or healing directly effects your ability to do your job.  I've written about it from both perspectives.

When doing a dungeon with a good group of DPS tanking and healing is easy.  When doing it with a bad group it can very well become impossible to finish the dungeon.

What most people do not seem to realize is that not only do tanks and healers have to deal with the stress of having bad DPS around them but the damage dealers themselves have to deal with the stress of having bad DPS around them.

Just as having good DPS behind you as a tank makes the run easier.  Just as having good DPS around you are a healer makes your job easier.  Having good DPS around you as a damage dealer makes a huge difference.

If everyone in your group is doing well, you do better.  This is not an opinion, this is a fact.  When you are in a dungeon with the other two DPS doing over 15K you might be able to easily break 20K.  Next time you are in there with two DPS doing 8K you might find yourself settling in around 15K.  Ever wonder why?

All good DPS means things go down faster.  If things go down faster then the percentage of your "burn phase" damage compared to total fight length is higher which in turn turns into a higher over all DPS.

Two runs in ZA on my mage saw me do 36K and 15K on the lynx boss.  Why such a huge difference?  One run I had two other DPS both doing 18K DPS.  My burn phase percentage that time was over 50% of the fights length so my DPS was better.  The second time around one of the DPS never stepped in the room and the one that did was only doing 7K.  The fight took forever and as such, my DPS suffered because of it.

So DPS feel the pressure of bad DPS just like healers and tanks do.  Because of that, DPS also look at other DPS as just a number.  No one cares if the other DPS is a mage or a rogue or a hunter or a warrior, all they care is if they are a nice high number.

When the run is over you will not remember the names of the people in your run.  You will remember the good tank, the good healer and the 8K and 11K DPS.  Even if you do not remember what class they were, you will remember what their number was.

For any damage dealer that wants to give their best all the time there is always a feeling of, is that all?  No matter how they do on a fight they start thinking what they could have done better.  They start thinking about where they are in reference to those around them.  They start thinking that if only the bottom two DPS would step their game up then it might make their DPS better.

When the fight is over the tank says, I know the fight now.

When the fight is over the healer says, I can heal this fight now.

When the fight is over the damage dealer says...
... How can I better manage my cooldowns for the next time?
... How can I adjust my rotation a bit now that I see the patterns and know when to move?
... How can I make those adjustments without losing DPS?
... How can I better position myself?
... How can I squeeze my trinket in twice or three times?
... Is there a better time I should wait to pot?
... Should I give the add tank a few more seconds before I go off on the mob?
... Is there a ways I can get a head start when I have to switch targets without sacrificing any damage?
... Should I add a little more haste being my latency seems to go up on this fight?
..  How can I do more DPS?
... Etc.

When all is said and done.  After the fight, the tank tanked it, the healer healed it, the damage dealer did 20K DPS.  When it fight is over, the damage dealer is a number.  When it fight is over, the work starts for the damage dealer whereas the tank and healer can do the same thing every time they are there, they know that works and that is how they did it. 

The DPS need to increase their number, they need to get better and they need to get better each and every time they do it.  Now they need to help down that boss faster next time.  When the fight is over the tanks and healers can celebrate.  The damage dealers can start working on figuring out how to do better next time.

Even look to the standard pug.

Whisper someone from your tank and say, I've tanked it before.  Invite follows.

Whisper someone from your healer and say, I've healed this before.  Invite follows.

Whisper someone from your damage dealer and say, I've DPSed this before.  Chances are 50/50 on if an invite follows or if they send a reply asking what's your DPS.

See, you are just a number.  Nothing more.

Even if you are the ultimate of high end.  The realm first high end sort of guild.  If you are a damage dealer you are still just a number.  When walking around if someone sees your title and makes mention of you it shows.

Hey, that is the guy that tanked realm first so and so.

Hey, that is the guy that healed realm first so and so.

Hey, that is the guy that did 40K on realm first so and so.

See, damage dealers are just a number.

When talking to someone that just had a realm first it is unlikely the first question the tank will get is how much TPS they did.  It is unlikely the first question the healer will get is how much HPS they did.  It is nearly certain that the first question a damage dealer will get is how much DPS they did.

That is because the tank is a tank, the healer is a healer and the damage dealer is a number.

Whether you are the 3K DPS or the 50K DPS, good or bad, world first of dead last, if you are playing a DPS role, all you are is a number and your complete worth as a player will always be based on that.

Not saying it is fair, but it is what it is.


  1. I didn't realise there was a Part 2. Well. So there's a part 2. I wonder if this numbers thing will change. I dunno. Raid awareness and knowing your role (kiting etc) helps make you more than a number. I guess it's not that you're saying it sucks so much, it is more you're saying that you have so much more to be judged on. Thanks for opening my eyes to the DPS calamities. And here I thought DPSing was easy and mindless. :)

  2. In the end most "good" players notice more then DPS so you are right. Raid awareness does count a lot.

    I've often said I would rather run a heroic with people that are skilled but have lower DPS instead of people that have huge numbers but can't do mechanics.

    As someone was so kind to point out, I am not the average player. I disagreed, but to some extent they where right. The average player would rather have the high DPS people around them.

    The average player judges DPS as a number only.

  3. Very interesting series, this is. I feel a little guilty, because most of these thoughts have passed through my head before. The "#K" dps, instead of seeing their class. The ruminations that raids would go better if something about the DPS would change.

    I will note that not all healers and tanks will think to themselves 'now I can tank/heal this fight'. I'm sure there are many other things to think about, such as... did I pull those mobs right? How was my mana? Did I conserve it properly through the fight? Did I use my tanking/healing cds properly in during the fight?

    However, it's probably not as objective as it is for DPS. I don't really DPS myself, because I find maintaining rotations kind of hard. >.> Good ol' healing...