Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fixing Hunter (and others) DPS

In a recent raid after each fight I was thinking to myself what the hell is wrong with my DPS.  I was, on average, doing 60K less than I normally do on every single fight.  It was the same group I normally run with so usually you would expect it to be the same as normal but it wasn't.  I could not get my numbers rolling for the life of me.  I was doing horrible.  I only broke 300K on one fight and that fight had adds involved so I take that with a grain of salt.

I looked over the logs to pick out some glaring mistakes I made.  Often this happens with farm stuff, you become complacent and know you can do it and end up not trying as hard and make mistakes you normally would not if you were trying your hardest.  This is a correctable error and the first one every single one of us looks for but there are other things that could cause issues, other things you might not think to look at.

While this post is not intended to teach any rotations, just talk about ideas, perhaps it can help anyone that has ever noticed they are suddenly doing a lot less DPS than they are used to doing.  Some or none of these might even be the reason.  It could be as simple as you are screwing something up.  But that is not what this post is about.  This post is about some of the little things that could effect your numbers that some of us might never know.  So here we go with some things you can look at that might help you with fixing your numbers.  You never know where some of those numbers went because sometimes they are lost to weird things people might not even notice.

1) Complacency

As I already mentioned this is the number one reason why people see numbers lower than normal.  Perhaps your serpent sting fell off and you just do not care, perhaps you are clipping your black arrow thanks to the AoC trinket.  When you have done a fight enough and you know the ins and outs of it then it becomes just as easy to make mistakes as it might be to do the entire fight perfectly without even thinking.  That is where the problem comes, you are not even thinking because you have done the fight so often.  Even if you do not think you are doing it, trust me, you are. 

How often have you not pre potted on farm content?  You don't need it, you can down it without it.  I often do not even consider potting on something that we are going to kill with ease to begin with.  Complacency can very easily be the reason your numbers are down.  A look at world of logs can fix this when you notice all those little things you did not do, like using potions.  Enough of those little things and it can add up to a lot.

2) Group

Another thing I already mentioned when I said I was with the same group is the group you are with.  In my case I was with the same group and my lack of numbers came from elsewhere but group does make a huge difference.  If you are with a group you normally run with you get comfortable with them.  If there is a mechanic where you need to spread out you know which way everyone moves normally so you do not need to worry about that but with other people in the group they could move where you usually move and quite possibly this could throw you off.  Same goes for if there is a debuff that needs to be dropped off, running with the same people means you know where that person will move to drop it.  Are they a person that moves back, left, right, it makes a difference and with your regular people it becomes something you never even think about.  You know where they are going so you know where you are going.  Even if it is just a tiny bit, how the group reacts can effect your numbers.

If the healers are not as strong you could find yourself using more defensive cooldowns, needing your lock rock more often, or even having you use a healing potion instead of an agility one at some point.  If you do not think these things will effect your DPS, trust me, they will.  When you can be comfortable that your healers will take care of you it helps with your numbers because you are not always worried that any moment could be your last.

Then there is the over all group DPS that will have a huge impact on your numbers.  The stronger the group you are in the higher your numbers are.  It all makes sense.  The faster the boss goes down means the longer, percentage wise, you spend in the burst phase which means your ending numbers will be higher.  If you are in a weaker group numbers wise and the fight is lasting two minutes longer than it usually does you could very well find yourself with lower numbers.  However, take note, for some classes this actually can boost your numbers.  Feral druids are one example of a class that if played well and with the right procs if they can keep a super powerful rip rolling the longer the fight goes on the higher their DPS goes.  But for most classes that is not the case.  If you are in a group with weak DPS then your DPS will usually be lower.

3) Button Mashing

When I was looking over everything to try and find where my issue was this is where I found where some of my lost DPS went.  I have a bad habit of button mashing.  I constantly need to break myself out of it and it seems I need to break myself out of it once more as I started to do it again.. 

If you are a button masher like me you need to realize that if you are spamming a button there is a chance that you hit it at a point where it will take a split second to react because you are spamming it and you actually end up hitting it a split second later than it should have been.  Hitting a button, even if it can not used, causes a reaction from the game even if the reaction is "you can't do that now".  That eats time and even if all you lose is 0.1 second it will add up.  Over the course of a fight if you lose 0.1 second many times thanks to bad luck with button mashing it could add up to 3 or 4 shots a fight or even more.  It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up. 

The other bad part of button mashing is that if you are button mashing and something procs you can effectively screw yourself.  If you were mashing your 3 for cobra shot and explosive procs even if you hit 2 instantly that 3 might still go off first because you were mashing it and you effectively cast a crappy cobra shot instead of your powerful and free explosive shot and lost an additional half a second in the process.  Do this often and the swing in your DPS could end up being massive by the time the fight ends. This was one of the problems I had on that night were it just seemed like I was doing everything wrong, because I was. I let a bad habit come back.  Button mashing sometimes does not seem like it can hurt that bad, but it does.  I speak from experience.

4) Connection

Input lag?  Latency?  All things that could effect your numbers.  We all know about that one so I do not need to get to far into it.  What I will say is that there is an adjustment in game where you can adjust the setting to compensate for issues like that and if you believe this could be part of the reason for your missing numbers, perhaps spending some time playing with it might help.

5) Sounds

While I am one of what I suspect is a very small amount of people that this could effect, maybe it is worth mentioning because perhaps it is hurting you and you just never noticed it because most people do not realize that auditory input has a big impact on the brain. 

I had just gotten a new weapon, it was not transmogged, it sounded different.  It was part of the reason my timing was a little off.  I play by sound, always have, I use it for cues on what to do and even on a subconscious level it can hurt my timing.  It is one of the reasons I can not use guns.  The clicking throws me off.  I swear if you give me a gun and a bow both with the same stats I will do at least 10% more DPS with the bow because for some strange reason the gun screws me up.  Actually, it is not some strange reason, it is the sound of it.

If you normally play with your sound off and you have it on, it can effect how you play.  If the sound is lower then normal or higher than normal it can effect how you play.  If you have a weapon, such as a gun, that you are not used to, it can mess up your timing.  I love hunters because they are a machine gun class, they keep doing something and always have something to do.  But while that might seem like something that is easy it isn't always because timing matters and the click click click of the gun just messes me up.  I might not be a huge fan of transmog but one thing I do love about it is that when I get a weapon that has a sound I am comfortable with, I will transmog into the weapon always, because it helps my DPS.  Sounds do matter and it does have an impact on my numbers, maybe it could on yours as well and you never noticed it.

6) Keybinds / Macros

Keybinds and marcos are usually the sign of a good player but sometimes they can cause a DPS loss which is most certainly not what they are intended to do.  I've run across this issue a few times where I made a macro that seems to clog things up when hit.  Usually it will be an auto target macro I made because I had to make a macro for every single hunter ability when blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, changed it so hunter abilties do not automatically select a target effectively making me waste a ton of macro slots so all my shots will act like they should to begin with, by automatically selecting a target.  Now while these usually work without issue sometimes they seem to react weird with some bosses and cause a split second of lag, sort of the same as you would get with the button mashing I mentioned earlier.  To fix this you first need to notice this is happening.  If you have an ability set with this auto targeting and it seems to not always react on demand consider removing it for this fight only and using the basic ability and not the macroed targeting one.  At least for that fight.  Worse case scenario would be you need to click on the targets directly to target them or trust the in game tab target system to get a new target.  I shudder just thinking about the fact I suggested using the horribly broken tab targeting system, please forgive me.

As for keybinds I am sure no one would ever consider having them could be a DPS loss but sometimes they can be, if you happen to make a mistake.  Ever hit stampede when you did not mean to?  Consider where you put the bind, did you accidentally hit it?  I used to have hero bound to my C on my shaman, at least until I unbound it because I kept accidentally hitting it.  Even if you click on abilties and do not bind mistakes can be made.  I once went to disenchant something which I do not have bound and keep on my forth row of talents and I clicked on disengage which I keep on my third row which are my alt talents so instead of disenchanting the item I just got off a rare which I did not need I ended up jumping off the edge of a cliff.  Oops.

Where you put your abilties and how your marcos that seem to work perfectly normally but sometimes don't, can result in a DPS loss.  My hunter auto target macros seem to cause that momentary loss of time on large bosses mostly.  I am guessing because of how the game handles it?  Who knows.  Those larger bosses you can not even tab target to so maybe that is why my auto targeting macros seem to have issues with them.

7) Gear

Okay, this is the time all use hunters and anyone else reading this because all this stuff really fits for all classes, gets to admit our mistakes.

Have you ever wondered why your DPS was off a little bit and after the fight you noticed that you had the dalaran ring in?  I have.  Have you ever tanked on a bear with your fishing pole on?  I have.  Have you ever went into LFR and did the whole thing with your pet battle hat on?  I have.  Have you ever forgotten to take off the trinket that teleports you to the timeless island?  Woot, one I have not done.  Have you ever forgotten to to take off the guild cloak that teleports you to sw/org?  No on this one too.

There are so many items in the game you can mistakenly leave on, or is some cases leave off.  Not so long ago I was running a friend through naxx to get him some achievements and for the spore loser achievement I needed to take my legendary cloak off because it would have surely killed the spores.  Being I choose to hide cloak I never see it anyway and I never put it back on after the run.  Yeah, I entered the real raid that night and even did the first boss with no cloak on.

This is probably the easiest thing you correct that could be affecting your DPS.  Check your gear folks, seriously, we have all done it and we can all fix it easily.

8) Practice

You would think you should be good at your main and you most probably are but if you have been playing another class a lot lately sometimes switching back to your main can have a little bit of adjustment time involved.  Spending a few minutes on a dummy before raid, even if you do not think you need to, can really help a lot.

When I play on an alt for a while going back to my hunter I sometimes seem a little lacking for a few pulls, kind of getting back into the swing of things.  It usually comes back pretty fast, usually during trash really, but each person is different and for some jumping back and forth can hurt their over all numbers.

There was a person in my guild that played a hunter and only a hunter.  He had no alts, did not even have a second hunter.  He was always at the top of his game and got the most out of his class.  At one point this expansion he decided to level another character so he leveled a mage and started to gear it.  He was spending a lot of time on it and he got very good at it in a short time.  A good player will be a good player on any character they play if they put in the effort.  He would just switch to his hunter for raids and play his mage at every other moment.  His numbers started to dip a little and he noticed it right away, he was out of practice on his hunter.  When it was the only thing he played he was perfection with it.  Now he was still very good, but after playing something else he lost a step.

If you have a lot of alts, more so if they are of different classes, spend a little warm up time on a dummy before raid time, it will pay off even if you are excellent at switching between classes.  Even if you do not notice it makes a difference, it does.  Some people can bounce back and forth easier than others and the idea is to know how easy or difficult it is for you and if it takes you a long time to bounce back and forth and adjust, make sure you get on your raid character long enough before raid time to get back into the grove.

9) Age

No one wants to admit it but we all get older.  Our reflexes slow down, our hearing starts to go, our eye sight begins to fade, our attention begins to wander, sitting in one spot for hours start to get more uncomfortable, our memory begins to fade.  It happens, do not be afraid to admit you are normal or that it is effecting you.  It will.

For me, most recently, I have noticed my eyes have been an issue.  I keep everything on my screen really tiny because I do not like clutter and because I use so many addons small is the only way I can deal with it.  Perhaps that is part of the reason my eyes have started to catch up to my age.  Recently on my rogue I noticed I we leaning in to see my timers so I could refresh my rupture with less than 1 second.  It got to the point where I was spending so much time trying to watch the timers because I could not see them easily like I used to, you know, kind of seeing them without looking at them, like I always had.  So I had to fix the timers to be a little larger.  Hey, age, what can you do.

You might not notice it but little things like that can make a huge difference in your numbers.  If you are paying more attention to your DoTs than you normally do that means there is something else that might be lacking attention, like moving out of the bad for example or being a second late on a proc you should have hit instantly.

Recently a friend I had made in game a long time ago told me he was going to quit raiding.  He said age has caught up to him.  He still has not decided on if he will buy warlords, for him it comes down to one thing, if he can gear up without raiding.  He said he could not handle the requirements of raiding any longer due to arthritis in his hands and other issues.  It takes a big person to realize when it is time to step away from raiding, even more so when they have been a great raider since vanilla.

Just because age is catching up to you does not mean you need to quit, but it can effect how you play and you might need to learn how to play differently.  Like I made my addon to show my DoTs on my targets a little larger to compensate for me having issues seeing it, you too might need to make one simple adjustment and be right back to where you were before.

Fixing this issue is more about admitting it.  No one wants to say they are getting older.  No one wants to admit that they have lost a step.  No one wants to be the one that says I can not perform at the level I am used to.  But sometimes you might need to, at least if you want to try and compensate for the age factor.  In the end what is better for your numbers, admitting you need to make your addon a little bit bigger so it is easier to see or squinting and losing DPS because you are spending too much time trying to see something so tiny?  Age can play a huge factor.

10) Luck

Last but not least, the luck factor, the one I hate, the one that lives in the land of the deadly mythical beast called the random number generator.  Some days you just have a bad day just like some days you just have a good day.  I remember back in the first tier I had one of those good days, the only I can remember all expansion.  I ranked top 10 on every single fight I did one week.  I never reached those numbers again even after I got more gear.  I was just having one hell of a day. It goes both ways, and that one day I was talking about where I was 60K behind my normal numbers on every single fight I might have just been having a really bad day.

Having a bad day does not always mean a bad day with the random number generator for procs and crits either.  That is why I called this header luck and not RNG.  Even if luck is RNG, but we call some things luck straight out.  Luck of getting the prison just as you hit rapid fire, or even worse, just as you hit a potion.  Or having the fire beam on you as a mage just as you hit icy veins and are forced to keep moving.  Or basically having everything that will interrupt your DPS hit you at every possible moment.  If your DPS is off, maybe it is just because your luck is off.  But do not just chalk any bad day up to bad luck, lots of people like to do that.  But sometimes it could be because you are mashing your buttons or it could be because you are using a gun instead of a bow.  While it can be luck, it is rarely luck, it is more often something you can correct.

Hopefully something here can help you if you suddenly feel off one day and your numbers are not where you are used to seeing them.  While most of the time it is just a game play issue where you are doing your rotation wrong, sometimes it could be something else, something you are not even thinking about.  Maybe now you will think about it.


  1. your lucky - you can have sound - I cant have it on for fear of it bringing on a seizure. Same with a lot of the niffy visual effects - all off. Water and sun effects - off.

    But I wanted to say how I was attacked by a mob and couldn't shoot because I had a fishing pole in my hands, that I forgot about, lol. So, I wamped the hell out of the critter, lol.

    roo the ancient one

    1. I doubt I would even want to play without sounds. I am just so used to it.

      Those visual effects are why I hate melee. I can't believe they are that bad and there is no way to dial them back.

      I've done that too. But remember, you can change weapons while in combat. Only weapons however.

    2. that was back in vanilla when you couldn't. besides with a pet, combat is over rather quickly.

      Well, if it playng with no sounds and enjoying myself, or playing with sounds and highly possibly bringing one on, then I would rather have sounds off - besides, one gets use to it. :D So, I have to use sight more, big deal - besides puddles on the ground (bad puddles on the ground) don't make noise anyway and those I can see and move.

    3. I did not know you could not switch weapons back in vanilla. You learn something new every day. I did not play back then.

      I can imagine you would get used to it because that is the only way you have played. I am sure if I didn't play with sounds I would get used to it as well.

      For some classes they do make noise, like if a puddle appears under a boomkin they start to hoot, which I must say I find quite humorous. Not quite as funny as the worgen dying sounds or the male panda flop of death, but still funny.

    4. LOL, boomkin's hoot! that must be a sight to see and hear. Do they flap their arms?

      I wonder if they go to forests that are on fire if they start to say "only you can prevent forest fires" (that one big forest fire up in Northrend, can't remember which zone though. : ( ).

      Wait, I was wrong. Sorry. you could switch. because we had that dead zone where anyone could stand and we couldnt attack. Wait. lets see, we had a range slot where our bow or rifle was. and 2 slots where we could have a 2-handed or dual wield 2 1-handed weapons. I may not be 100% accurate at times (well, most times). Yup, I believe I am right - we couldn't switch out what we had on us when in combat.

      But if any grumpy readers of yours who played in vanilla, shed some light on this, I would be most grateful. I may be right and I may be wrong, but would like to be corrected if I am wrong. :D

      Thanks GE

    5. Yes they do. When they take damage they hoot and give a little wing flap. It is quite funny.

      For trees there is a glyph that if you stand near a campfire you catch on fire.

  2. I've raided with the TI trinket once... did a bit less dps but not enough to start checking for issues. Only noticed after the raid.

    My big issue on my hunter is 2pc T5... I normally run those when soloing anything, every now and then I'd forget to switch back... but these days I notice myself wearing them, got to that level of awareness, so it hasn't happened lately.

    I play with the game at a low volume level and I don't use sound for any indicators aside from DBM (and I have it just loud enough to hear DBM). I don't use GTFO or similar. I'm sure that hurts me a bit but not enough to change my basic paradigm.

    It's rare that I do significantly less dps than usual but it happens occasionally. Usually I can't identify a cause (and did you figure out your issue? I don't recall seeing an answer in there) so I just shrug and try to do better the next time.

    It also takes me a while to warm up to fights... takes at least 20 attempts on most fights before I start to do normal dps on them and I'm usually still improving beyond that point. That isn't a huge issue when I'm progression raiding but when I'm new and running with an established group that has bosses on farm, only seeing them once or twice a week really makes that a visible process to me. I'd like to speed up my ramp up time but I don't think that's more likely to happen as I get older, if anything it's more likely the ramp up will slow down. Sometimes, based on circumstances, you have to be satisfied with "good enough".

    1. This expansion was the first time I have not used the T5. Still have it of course, but have not soloed anything where I needed it.

      I like sounds for listening to the boss emotes. No need to ever keep a track of DBM timers when you can tell everything that is going on in the fight by the sound of the boss. Helps me, but while I tried to explain what to listen for, not many others notice it. They would be, what the hell are you talking about, I did not hear the boss do that.

      For me it was a combo of mutton mashing which in turn was causing my macros to lag my shots by a fair deal of time, up to 0.3 seconds each shot. Over the course of a fight that really adds up, in this case, to around 60K DPS.

      Knowing what I did, looking at logs and seeing the delay knowing my latency was perfect meant the only reason for all my shots being off were due to my mashing or macros, or both.

    2. Yep, 0.3s lag on every ability for a class primarily balanced around a 1.5s GCD is a 20% dps hit... or 60K for someone doing 300K. Can't argue the math. :)

      How were you able to see the delay in the logs? I'm decent at reading logs but there are still a few elements that I haven't figured out, that's one of them (didn't even realize you could).

    3. You can see when you do damage. If you have a 1.5 second GCD then you should be doing damage with something every 1.5 seconds correct? Now see when your hits (my arrows) are landing and see if there is time lost between hits.

      Another way, if you do not want to view over everything which is a bit insane is to take one "on cooldown" ability as in something you will always used no matter what and then check the fight length and divide. If you could have gotten 50 in and you did 40 it could be one of 2 things. You are not doing your rotation optionally and can use some practice, or you are losing time somewhere.

    4. Ah, okay... yeah, that works for instants but I wasn't sure how having a bunch of cast-time abilities mixed in would work with that. Since it sounds possible I'll try do it when I analyze my logs this week.

      From a min/max perspective, yeah, but the cost of being a bit sub-optimal on WHAT you hit costs a lot less as long as you're actually doing SOMETHING with each GCD.

    5. Even with a little lag is you are ABC, always be casting, you will do better. Sure you might lose a bit to time, but better off.

      It works for things with a cast time also. However I would not be as well versed in explaining it because I usually know all the "details" on hunters as they are the ones I cared enough to look them up on.

  3. I too am a graduate of the Kripparian method of DPS (http://youtu.be/VgDjG_0ecTI) mash to catch the GC. Unfortunately with the changes (cata?) where warlock spells sorta stack, I do find myself double-casting long cast spells like Immolate too often. I am trying to slow down the mashing to BC when I tried to time my casting to the second a spell dropped off.

    1. That is how I play. It is a bad habit, for me at least, but ti works for him. I think it is a timing thing more than anything else. I find myself hitting an extra cobra I do not want. Bad timing.

      What you need to do to make it work is not constantly mash, just mash to catch the global. My problem is I constantly mash. Even 0.1 second between abilties and you lose DPS. So mashing is the right thing to do, but mashing too much can be bad as well. It is a skill as much as anything else and has to do with timing. I sometimes get into the bad habit of doing it to much or mashing the wrong button and accidentally catching something I did not want to get.

    2. I'm also a button masher, a la Kripparian. I was under the impression that that method was totally obsolete now because of cast queuing, where there's no need to wait until a cast is done, the next spell you hit will "queue" and automatically cast when your current is over.

      I don't know when exactly that queue starts is the problem, though.


    3. I think that is what causes the delay, if you hit it too soon. When I was playing around months ago with latency tolerance and timing my abilities to see the effects of lost factions of a second I noticed that mashing was losing seconds. Could be the mashing that does it, could be my auto target macros that do it. But it does happen and could cause a loss of DPS. Or at least it seemed to.

    4. Hi Grumpy, I'm curious to see what effect the auto-targeting macro has on your cast queuing.
      Personally, I deal fine with the lack of autotargeting now on a hunter, it annoyed at first when they removed it, but now it ensures I force myself to target things. Wierdly, this I like.

      I'm also interested in comparing the kinds of latency players experience in North America, to what I experience. I am in Western Australia and a GOOD latency night for me would include about 230ms Home and 250ms World, totalling nearly 0.5s.

      For other players in my raid, that usually doesn't matter as we all are relatively similar (i.e. all Oceanic), but I do notice it sometimes in pug flex raids when I am playing with Americans

      I have played around with the latency compensation tool, with limited sucess. It mostly seems to affect the animations, as opposed to the server queries, at least from my point of view.

      Similar to you, I use sounds as timing queues a lot. Sometimes my client bugs out when it starts and no sound is available and I've found it difficult to 'find my groove' with the timing of abilities without it. Conversely to you, I use a gun for exactly that reason, I find the steady, 'click-boom' sounds to be my ability timer. That and I play a dwarf, so using even a crossbow let alone a bow, just doesn't feel right to me.

      Bronebeard (Saurfang-US)

    5. I am not at my computer and am not great a making macros on the fly, so my wording might be wrong but I think this is how it goes and I have one for every shot.

      /targetenemy [noexists][noharm][dead]
      /cast arcane shot

      Also, not sure if I have start attack before or after the ability. I think it is after the ability.

      All this basically removes is the need to hit tab to get the target. I am a firm believer that any time you can remove a key stroke or any action you are speeding up the rate at which you can react and a targeting macro works wonders for that. It removes the need to hit tab to get a mob.

      This is even better for questing. I can run around just spamming an instant like arcane and tag all my quest mobs.

      One bad part is that it will attack a flagged character which means you still need to pay attention. I believe that is why I have start attack after the spell. You can stop the spell from going off if you are fast enough, you can not stop the start attack.

      Either way, I leave it like that so if I need to PvP it will not stop me from doing it and if I put a conditional in it to not attack a player it would really suck when I needed to. If I attack a PvP player I just kill them and move along. No biggie really. Just a general annoyance.

      With no sound I can't find my groove either. It is weird how we become so dependent on it. I just can't use a gun, to each their own. You are a drawf, you are supposed to use a gun anyway. ;)

      My latency usually maxes out at 60. On rare occasions it will get higher than that but that is not very often.