This short guide applies to every class so I won’t go into any details per class, instead I’ll focus on the things you can do on any character to improve you dps.
First off, the term “dps” refers to damage per second and is actually not the term we are interested in maximizing. We are interested in maximizing “damage done”. Usually these two numbers will coincide in placement on the meters but if you die or disconnect or simply pop all your cds and attack for 5 seconds and then go afk, then they won’t. And in those cases the “dps” meter will be misleading. Instead, always use the “damage done” meter when looking at these numbers.
1. Don’t die – Seems basic, doesn’t it? Well, for some it seems to be a difficult concept. You should always prioritize surviving before “finishing that last cast”, go ahead, pop that defensive cd instead! Think of it this way, an average icc25 raider will do about 9k dps. Every second you’re dead, you lose 9k damage. Dead for one minute? 0.5M less damage done! Dead for a whole fight? ca 3.2M – 5.4M less damage done.
2. Don’t disconnect – Same concept as the one above. This one however will most likely not be in your control and thus you can’t blame yourself for it. But, if you have downloads in the background for example, then you’ve caused your dps to go down and as such is a bad dpser.
3. Know your class – I think I don’t need to over-explain this one for anyone really. Kinda goes without saying. But think to yourself this: do you know everything about every ability you can cast? Many of your utility spells can actually benefit your dps in various ways. And do you know every detail of your rotation? For example, many people might know that shadow priests casts dots and that they help their spam abilities. But do you know that refreshing a dot with less than a second left will be a dps loss and that waiting a bit longer to see the dot actually fall off will generate more dps? There are thousands of examples, but the bottom line is: Go to Elitistjerks and read more than just the standard thread, read some discussions, go find some blogs, there are lots of tricks to learn!
4. Know tactics – Knowing tactics will, most importantly, help you understand how to avoid dying to a mechanic of the fight. But less widely known is that it will also help increase your dps regardless of if you die or not. For example, if you know tactics for Beasts in ToC, then you know that when Icehowl is stunned, he takes 100% more damage. This is a great time to pop all your cooldowns and maximize your dps! Or for example if you have some understanding of the Blood Queen encounter, you know that you do 100% increased damage after being bitten. This is another great time to pop your cooldowns and also to refresh any dots (Shadow Word: Pain, Serpent Sting, etc) you have so that they will benefit from the buff. There are many other examples and not all of them involve using your cooldowns. For example, knowing when adds come and being able to switch to them right away and having shorter cooldown cleave abilities ready for it will also help.
5. Stack your cooldowns – Don’t stagger cooldowns, always stack them. The magical combination is an “increased damage” cd, such as increased attack power, spell power (from spells and trinkets), summoning pets or potions, just alongside a haste cooldown. This will multiply your dps by fantastic numbers. One thing to note however is that it might not be a good idea to stack several haste cooldowns together, at some point haste will just not benefit you anymore. This however varies by class so look into what is right for you class/specc.
6. Keybind! – Don’t click buttons on your actionbar, it slows you down. Having keybinds for every ability in your rotation and any ability you will use in an encounter is vital to minimizing downtime and maximizing dps. Also, don’t use buttons that are very far away from your fingers. You will most likely have your left hand resting on WASD most of the time, focus you abilities on keys surrounding that area. I also recommend using modifiers. So for example “1” for one ability and “shift+1” for another one. Why? It is a lot easier for your hand to press shift+1 than 6 and when something is easier, it goes faster -> more dps.
7. Spam buttons – Casting things just as they get ready is good in theory, but in reality it is not. Why? Three reasons, latency, low fps and human reaction time. If you have constant 0 ms latency, constant 60 fps, no lag spikes and eyes of a predator, then you need not heed to this advice. Most likely however is that you have neither of those things and in that case spamming is the way to go. Spamming buttons means you will decrease the time your character spends with a GCD free, not having it get refreshed. Spam one ability and as soon as you see it getting cast, you switch to the next one, always working one ability ahead of what’s happening.
Note: Channeled abilities (such as Mind Flay or Arcane Missiles) should not be spammed unless macroed, example:
/cast Mind Flay
Just a side-note here, when spamming buttons you’ll usually get swamped by error messages on your screen and get really annoyed by the repeated “You can’t cast yet”-sound (sounds something like “WOOOSH”). Here are two very small but effective addons for dealing with those problems: No error sound! and gError.
8. Macro everything that is off the GCD – This is usually very underappreciated by people. They say “I don’t need a macro for that! I’ll just watch when it becomes ready and use it!”. This is just foolish pride. The simple fact is that your human reaction time cannot compare to something just going off automatically whenever it is ready. Every millisecond you’re not using that ability is a bit of lost dps, because the cooldown isn’t being refreshed as quickly as it could be. Furthermore it will mean that you are spending time reaching for another button that you don’t even need to press when you instead could be focusing on using other abilities.
An example for my own class/specc here: I got my Engineering enchant on gloves off the GCD. I it macroed to my general rotation buttons: Chimera Shot, Arcane Shot and Steady Shot. This ensures that the ability above gets used asap.
9. Use addons to help you – Some people like to avoid this for the same reason as given above with macros. But once you pick one of these addons up and learn to use it, you won’t regret it.
There are a lot of addons out there that can help you keep track of your dots and debuffs so you know exactly when to refresh them. There are also addons that helps you keep track of cooldowns and most importantly, there are addons that keep track of proccs for you – altough currently you can see most of that via the standard interface at the moment. Getting this information as quick as possible will mean being able to react to it quicker and therefor increasing your dps.
I recommend these addons:
- NeedToKnow – Great for keeping an eye on dots or proccs
- TellMeWhen – A basic cooldown watcher
- Power Auras Classic – Very advanced and customizable addon to help you keep track of proccs, cooldowns, or whatever the hell you like basically. It takes some time to get used to though.
It might not be as useful at the moment due to most class-specific proccs being handled by the standard interface. Time will tell if we’ll need it more in the future or not.
That’s all for now, may it bring imba dps to you all!