Updated Fri, Jan 14, 2011 by Xerin
In Chapter III I spoke heavily about not dying which remains true to this day. However, with Cataclysm we are in a situation where damage is nearly as bad as dying. While taking damage doesn’t decrease your ability to do DPS (unless it leads to your untimely death), it does drain your healer’s mana which will result in either your death in the future or a wipe giving the way mana regeneration works for healers in Cataclysm. Therefore it’s important that all DPS are more wary about taking even the slightest bit of damage.
Geared players doing lower level content do not run into this problem so much, but for everyone else it is important to keep an eye on your health bar and use any abilities that you can to try to keep your health up yourself (like Recuperate or glyphed Evocation). Non-fatal damage may not be much of an issue, but it does consume healer mana and it may lead to your death later on whenever you continue to take damage over and over again. So it’s important to try and stop any damage that you could take and then try to handle your health as much are you are capable of doing.
The first step is to just outright avoid damage. It’s much better to do less DPS now and not take damage then it is to cook in the fire and waste your healer’s mana trying to keep you alive. Staying alive revolves around the basic tenants of not standing in anything that you shouldn’t (fire, void zones, etc.) and following the encounter’s mechanics to stay alive. Interrupts, when necessary, are also a great way to avoid damage.
There is usually a lot of concern with DPS classes when it comes to moving around to avoid damage. It’s true that for many classes movement greatly hinders DPS whenever they are out of range or unable to cast. Yet, it is much more important to give your healers a break and keep your health up then it is to constantly do DPS. One trick before you start moving is to refresh any DoTs on the target so that you’ll continue to do DPS even if you’re not within range.
The second step is self-recovery. There are a lot of abilities that DPS classes have to keep themselves up. Obviously you shouldn’t spend a lot of time casting heal on yourself, but Recuperation, Glyphed Evocation, or even a Flash Heal won’t hurt anything. Not to mention using spells like Divine Hymn can quickly bring yourself and your allies up at the cost of your mana (although, depending on the encounter and the event, using a lot of mana to heal yourself may not be the best course of action, however in Heroics I would never say anyone did anything wrong throwing around a few extra heals). Potions are also a viable boon to saving your life (and your healers), along with healthstones, bandages, and similar items can be of great help.
Crowd Control is the direct opposite to damage dealing. It’s the act of preventing damage by keeping something under your direct control. It’s like running up to an enemy and screaming “STOP, IN THE NAME OF THE KING, AND WAIT FOR US TO KILL YOUR FRIENDS!” It has the unique advantage of making many pure DPS classes attractive in a group since they bring the ability to stop large swaths of damage during certain pulls and encounters.
Using Crowd Control can either help, hurt, or do nothing to your DPS but it is always important to do it nevertheless. A Rogue with Sap will not suffer based on the fact that it’s done out of combat while a Mage will have to take the time out of casting their death dealing magic to reuse Polymorph on an enemy. Shadow Priests have the unique ability “Mind Control” which lets them take over certain enemies and utilize their spells instead of their own. This can either do massive damage, provide powerful debuffs/buffs, allow a Shadow Priest to do large amounts of healing, or just take an enemy out of combat for a while.
In Chapter II we talk at length about how you should use all of your resources as fast as possible, which is true. Mana, Energy, Runes, Focus, and Runic Power all act as liquid DPS that is sitting waiting to be used to deal damage to the enemy. When you’re out then you either do nothing but “white damage” for Melee and Hunters or do nothing but wand damage for casters (which is rather poor). In some encounters it becomes very important to save some of your resources for interrupts, whenever an enemy is weaker, a large wave of adds, or for Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp/etc.
So it may be important for you to start being a bit more aware of your current resources and adjust your rotation/priority list to insure you’re capable of continuing to DPS whenever it’s important. Resource recovery abilities shouldn’t be saved for when you’re almost out, use them whenever you will not “overuse” them. Say if something restores 30% of your mana then it may be a good idea to use it when you’re nearing half. That way the cooldown starts earlier and you may get a second use out of it in the same fight.
The only exception to this is Hunters and Rogues, who should still keep an eye on their resources, but understand that they have a bit more freedom to work with. Instead of trying to manage how much you use and how often you use it, you have to do a bit more planning ahead understanding how your resources regenerate and when you'll have enough to use your next ability.
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