Things I've learned in 15 Years of WoW


So... let's see 

I've played World of Warcraft for quite a while now, and even more so on my main (If you haven't guessed by now it's a Night Elf Feral Druid). I see a lot of people who seem to have a hard time grasping some concept of the game that as a Raid Leader, Guild Leader, and BG leader from time to time that maybe can help you. This isn't about how to use your classes abilities, though that certainly can't hurt, but more so tips that have helped me be a better player in general, or getting a better understanding of exactly where I'm failing

DPS Doesn't mean anything

Alright, so let's look at this wonderful graph shall we? Every DPS at this point has seen some variation of Details or one of it's many brothers and sisters. Every video game on the planet from Star Trek Online to FFXIV has invented some way to scrape combat logs and give everyone nice numbers so they can rate themselves against each other. But these numbers alone don't actually mean all that much. 

Looking at the graph can you tell me how many fights were involved (You might be able to get a rough estimate with the overall numbers). Was it a boss fight? Was it a trash pack? Well actually it was an entire Mythic+ but that's besides the point

What I want to get into is that DPS is probably one of the single least useful metrics. There's 1000s of different factors that make up that bar and none of them singlehandedly ensure that the time or boss is completed. 

Let's start with the obvious one

Gear matters in this game, the better your gear the better you can preform, there's really no two ways about that one. So There is indeed a 2K Difference between the first and Second place DPS, BUT there is also the matter of an 11pt ilvl gap. 

But we answer this with parses right? That it's not just a matter of damage on the boss, but also damage on the boss compared to other classes of a similar spec. But even that's not entirely insightful. For instance in this case you might notice that asterisk next to the feral druid % parse. 

So ok, not enough feral druids to get a good read on a parse for the overall dungeon right? Well yes, but that's also only half the story, or really half the interesting story. Logs have a ton more to offer here 

If you're tanking an instance and not at the top of that meter, something is probably very wrong. And it would seem here that our feral druid (myself) is taking a ton of damage, at least compared to the rest of the group right? Welll... maybe we can actually dig into that as well. 

The big thing here is to double check exactly what's killing your DPS. Is there some ability that's getting someone more often then not? Simply looking at damage taken only tells you half the story. The feral druid was also in melee, which means things that splash off or around the tank are likely to catch them as well. This is often why melee may have a few more defensives / leech abilities then their ranged counterparts, to compensate for that. 

Alright so we know what's killing the DPS, but did they do anything about it? Details can tell you that as well (well any log can but you catch my point). 

What defensives your DPS chose to use to deal with the situations they were in is sometimes just as (If not more) important then the damage they actually took. A party which regularly rotates through it's defensives in order to spare the healer is going to get through things easier then a party who doesn't. It can take pressure off the healer and stabilize otherwise painful situations

One other set of statistics I think is common to keep up is the Interrupts. It's one of those mechanics that for whatever reason World of Warcraft has no real interest in teaching, and so if you didn't accidently stumble across it you probably wouldn't realize what it does. 

And it's not just about interrupting, it's about interrupting the right thing. You can see here between myself, our bear, and our hunter we were able to grab any and all of the Healing Waves and Heals. But if I look further down at "Self Cleaning Cycle" by the Lubricator, I can see that 3 of those were missed. That's a self heal meaning that fight ended up being longer then it needed to be
Double check and make sure you don't have a DPS pulling threat off things they shouldn't (or for tanks figuring out that they might be missing a given add, etc. 

See me tanking that Atal'ai Deathwalkers spirit? Yeah that's a bad kitty, I should have moved out of the way and not let it touch me. 

Even the buffs can help teach us something. Here we can see quite clearly that our hunter was regularly using misdirect to help push threat towards our tank. Looking at this I can tell you right now I'm disappointed with myself because I should have been using Shadowmeld more often in order to get some more stealth rakes in. 

For personal record keeping, this can be good on single target fights to get relative uptime on DOT's to make sure that they match what is expected in sims. 

Then there's things like the Soothe's and other Cleanses 

Those dogs that are in Halls of Atonement, did you know you can interrupt "Loyal Beasts" or if it manages to get cast your druids, hunters, what have you can soothe it away. There's no reason for those vicious Gargon's to be doing 125% extra damage to you

And it's not even just about things caught in the graphs. For instance, though I imagine it's somewhere in those logs, it would be hard to pick out the fact that our bear tank diligently used the pots or that our feral druid turned off the slimes in the hallway up to the Manastorms because of their engineering profession. 

It won't tell you that your tank may be "Butt tanking" things, which is the instance where a tank has their back to an enemy resulting in 0 mitigation. You might be able to see it in the logs, but if you're not actively looking for it, then it can be pretty tough

This all of course ignores the most important aspect of raiding and the like: Attitude and communication. None of this really matters if none of you are having any fun. 

I guess I say all this to say, the DPS you do in a given instance isn't really even a 1/4 of the story of whats going on. While yes at the end of the day it is important, there are other things going during a fight that can be equally if not more important. The bubbles and Iceblocks and turtle shells our hunters used during KJ will show up in the logs, but you won't realize that without them there is no way the party would have survived. Every single one of those abilities prevented a potential wipe. 

Don't be ready to throw someone under the bus for low healing numbers or low DPS. There could be a fair bit more going on once you dig under the surface. Is it possible that it's not that your healer is bad but rather that you aren't dispelling, stunning, interrupting? Did you know that mages have a Dispell? Sometimes I forget if I'm not running with my friend who actually uses it on a regular basis. Or how about the fact that a Shaman can simply remove some magic buffs. 

FOTM may be fun but it doesn't mean everything

(Source: Icy Veins)

I'm sure everyone's seen that chart correct? It's the chart that tells you if you're going to be allowed into groups or not because of your class. You see, the WoW community suffers from a serious perception issue. Often times FOTM (Flavor of the Month) classes and specs will be valued more then someone who simply knows how to play a given spec or is comfortable in it. 

Let me tell you, unless you are going for World First and literally trying to get Daddy Denathrius down the first or second week mythic is available, most of these bars are fairly useless indicators. With the exception of some incredibly rare exceptions, most if not all of the classes are within a Standard Deviation of each other (Save maybe Arcane Mages at the moment). 

That is to say that the difference in DPS is going to be nothing compared to potential utility or simply knowledge of the class in general. I explained all I did above to point out that DPS really isn't everything, and I add this section to say unless you are the ones pushing world first you're not good enough to be worrying about Racials, Specs, or really even classes if I'm being totally honest. I guess you folks doing mythic classes should probably start considering classes, but honestly past that there's limited utility differences between the specs. 

And the worse thing is that I'm fairly sure the folks pushing High Keys and World First raids already know this quite well. They create this data because they have to in order to accomplish their goals, but if you're not in that pool of players it honestly doesn't affect you, to put it flatly, you're not good enough for this data to be relevant to what you're doing. 

The Key to winning in PVP is often times communication

Admittedly, not having a ton of versatility can make PvP a real pain in the rump, but assuming all things are equal, often times the make or break factor for a good RBG team isn't who can focus the healer, but simply who has the better target caller and the ability to switch targets to match that target caller as needed. If you focus your DPS correctly you can drop a target no matter how many healers are watching it.

I've had to come to learn that Arena's aren't so much about dealing damage as knowing when and where to use cooldowns. It was learning that LOS can save me a lot more then barkskin can. Knowing the abilities that the other team has (Paladins have bubble, Hunters have Shell, Healing monks have cocoon and not so healing monks have Karma). The real name of the game ends up being a strategy of when to blow your cooldowns vs when to get the other team to blow theirs. 

A burst window isn't going to mean a ton of damage if you shadowmeld out of it and manage to get out of the way before your opponent can retarget you. 

Use your tookit

Listen, I will tell you to play how you want to play. If you like clicking things, then more power to you, I'm not going to tell you that you have to stop. I will say though that one of the best things I ever did was start a new character to learn how to keybind. In fact truth be told, the real reason I enjoy leveling characters is so I can learn what the classes abilities are and how best to bind them. 

It's one of those moment where I'll admit, having a mouse with more then Left Click / Right click is incredibly handy. Learning Macros and Weak auras can be a god send to help keep your attention in the right spot. For me I know if the big red star isn't flashing on my screen then blood talons hasn't proc'd and my rip would have to be reapplied later or my bite won't be as good. 

The best thing you can do to really improve your gameplay is often to make a new character and forget everything you thought you knew. Pay incredibly close attention to every new ability you get. Being good isn't just about doing the big numbers or being the big FOTM, it's about knowing what you have that can change the course of a fight. 

A well placed CC or timely Dispel from a non healer can make the difference between a fight going south or not. 

Have fun

And of course, most of all, more important then any of the shit I just wrote above, for the love of god have fun. Don't people shit on you for your playstyle. If you want to play pokemon and dress up with your subscription, then by god you play pokemon and dressup. Don't let some sour puss give you grumps because you didn't heal hard enough or DPS hard enough. 

Anyway, local Feral druid sends love and hopes that maybe some of these tips and tricks are helpful to you and yours


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