An open letter to DPSers

Dear DPS players,

I’ve played a tank for six years. My first was a Vah Shir Warrior in EQ. In EQ2 I tanked as a Guardian, Shadow Knight, Paladin, and Monk. In WoW I’ve tanked as a Warrior, DK, Pally and Bear. I know tanking… and I know how much DPS just loves to pad their Recount scores with early AOEs. I also know how many DPSers don’t care about properly conducting themselves outside of a progression raid. Well, I do. It’s been my philosophy since EQ that you should never slip into bad habits, even in the face of trivialized content.

I realize that many of you probably have never played a tank before. No offense intended, but a major reason people choose to be DPS rather than tank or healer (based on what many people have given as their own personal reason) is the perceived, relative lack of responsibility. I sympathize, and I don’t blame you. However, never being in the shoes of your tank can make you a horrible group/raid-mate. I’ve met DPS who outright didn’t know how aggro even worked, or why the tank couldn’t hold threat from them. The number of times an overzealous DPS has been allowed to die after telling me to “taunt more”…

Understanding that the reason I hate to group with you might be that you don’t know how various tanks get their AOE threat on, I’m here to help. Here is a very basic (VERY basic) guide to how you can tell, visually and auditory, if your tank is ready for you to open up you can of unpleasantness.

Prot Warrior:
Shield Slam:
(No visual indication other than an animation that doesn’t always play, but you can listen to the CLANG the move makes. This is single target, but it’s usually used right away to cement aggro on the first kill target so single target DPS can jump the gun and not screw things up too bad.)
Thunder Clap: (A blue and white burst AOE, and the warrior makes a sort of stomping animation. Debuff can be seen on mobs caught in the blast.)
Shockwave: (A frontal cone AOE that looks like an explosion of dust and swirling bits of floor. Stuns the mobs.)

If your target has the Thunder Clap debuff and is stunned, you’re ready to AOE.

Prot Paladin:
Avenger’s Shield:
(A yellow, glowing shield that bounces between targets.)
Hammer of the Righteous: (A little hammer than bounces between targets and makes a sound like a gong being hit.)
Consecration: (Glowing, yellow veins on the floor. Mobs must be standing in the glowing area to be taking damage and generating threat.)

If the pally has used Shield, Hammer, and the mobs have stood in the Consecrate for a couple seconds, you are completely safe to bust out the AOE.

Bear Druid:
Swipe + Maul:
(Everything gets hit and blood goes everywhere. Makes a “sploich” kind of sound.)

This one’s just a matter of waiting. While Bears have a spammable AOE, each hit does not do a tremendous amount of damage. If you play with your game sounds on (and you SHOULD), then hearing the Swipe land three or four times should be enough head start for any Bear.

Frost DK:
For a Frost DK (and I can’t speak to Blood or Unholy), there are two common ways to deal with an AOE pull in heroics. There are other possibilities, but I’m going to talk specifically about Two-Handed Weapon, Single Disease style.  Which of the following happens usually depends on whether or not Death and Decay is off cool down.

Death and Decay: (Large, glowing red patch on the ground.)
Howling Blast: (All mobs get hit by a blue blast. In this specific spec/style, the tank is also glyphed to make this apply Frost Fever when it hits.)
Blood Boil: (A red blast from all mobs, and a harsh whooshing sound .)

Howling Blast
Blood Boil
Blood Boil

Either of these two situations equates to good AOE threat for the Frost DK, however the first one, using Death and Decay, is the higher threat of the two.

If you AOE before these conditions are met, you’re an inconsiderate DPS. If you DPS at all before they’re met, you’re risking making your tank’s job harder. The exceptions to the rule here, of course, are Rogues and Hunters who can use Tricks of the Trade and Misdirect respectively to transfer their threat to the tank. They can open up with AOEs and DPS a lot earlier so long as they make use of these abilities. In fact, you SHOULD be using these abilities at every possible opportunity.

Consider, for a moment, the number of moves a tank has to perform to keep you safe. Now consider how many you need to perform to fuck it all up…


Seed of Corruption

Divine Storm




See a pattern here? Three global cool downs is usually the minimum for us to get any sort of AOE control. And all DPS has to do to jump the gun is press one button. We’re working harder to keep you safe than you are at successfully killing yourselves. Make both our lives easier, and just chill out for a couple second before you go apeshit on a new pull. Your tanks and healers will thank you.



~ by Udiyvli on 02/02/2010.

13 Responses to “An open letter to DPSers”

  1. I think the one thing about DPSers in WoW is that they are so competitive… They need to be at the top of Recount to feel good and to do this they go ape shit.

    They get especially self conscious when raid groups only accept x(x)k dps.

    I think they sometimes forget to play smart because of these on going pressures to stand out or be worthy for a group.

    • There’s also relatively little risk for out threating the tank in WoW. If you die, well, you die… and often times you won’t die at all. In EQ, where I learned to tank, whoever had threat on a mob, even most trash, would be summoned to the mob’s feet if they were not in melee range and promptly one shot. And with the loss of XP upon death and the reality of losing levels to multiple deaths, people tried really, really hard to not die. While I’m thankful that WoW’s death system is not as draconian, I do think the threat of losing weeks of work (in XP grinding) forced people to be better players.

  2. I play a Tank as well as a DPS at 80 and I -still- find it hard to hold back on my Hunter ^_^; Might be cause I hardly ever tank any more and have forgotten DPS stressing me out…

  3. *sees Volley unmentioned*

    *nods approvingly*

  4. I’ll chime in here for Blood and Unholy.

    Death and Decay: See above. A Blood or Unholy tank in a 5-man had best glyph this spell or else all it takes is one overzealous Bladestorm to make a warrior into a corpse. Speaking of corpses–

    Corpse Explosion: Becoming more popular for AOE off of runes, the sure sign of Corpse Explosion is a dead body exploding.

    Two Diseases + Pestilence: You’ll see the swirly falling of Icy Touch, then your tank doing a black-looking slash, followed by a “WHOOM” noise and black lines going from mob to mob. Usually followed by Blood Boil. Seeing this is the surefire sign that you’re good to go.

  5. As someone who started out as a Mage, I know what you’re talking about. Thankfully, I learned to play under a raiding mage, so he was always telling me what I was doing wrong. And then on a lark, I started a paladin for fun. I tank occasionally, but most of the time I’m still working on my mage or my Shaman, who I roll through dungeons as a healer.

    I still like DPS, but I know what not to do. My advice to all the DPS out there? Roll out a real tanking class, like a warrior or a Bear Druid and try healing as a Priest or a Holy Paladin. Then, and only when you have reached level 80 in both areas, can you whine like a little bitch that “the tank sucks!” or “the healz are bad!”. And even then, shut your mouth and stop pulling aggro.

    • Absolutely right! It is the job of the DPS to perform within the boundary of the tank’s threat. A good DPS can do this. A bad DPS doesn’t care, dies, and then bitches.

  6. Currently, I play ONLY DPS characters. My reason is pretty much what you said. Sort of. I don’t have the weight on my shoulders of keeping EVERYONE ELSE alive. The tank and the healer together make it happen. Without them, I’m boned. I learned a long time ago, though, that I am most responsible for keeping ME alive. As far as I am concerned, if I do my job right, the healer will almost NEVER have to pay attention to me. (Minus AoE damage from mobs/bosses. It is my job to not stand in fire.)

    I think the only tank I’m not yet comfortable AOE’ing with is the Death Knight. That comes from a lack of experience. I leveled with a paladin tank, have had many bear tank friends, and am learning about Warrior tanks (while my friend levels one). I’m the Warlock that stands in the back, after all the other spells start flying… waiting for that little cloud of dust, that little spark of light, or for all the mobs to turn red.

    I’m comfortable with my DPS. I don’t need a meter to stroke my e-peen. I wish more DPS felt the same way.

    (Pst, DPS who like to spam PUGs with a Recount meter? It makes you look insecure.)

  7. I started as a hunter didn’t know jack about groups. A friend of mine got me in this group and the tank was a total ass. And yes I am qualified to say that as I’ll explain later. Not to long after I started playing a warrior then switched to a DK. Leveled the DK and become an 80 tank. It was a lot of fun and my mage would pull aggro off me every time and I knew she would and I’d be ready to bring the mob back to me. She just hit so freakin hard.

    So I go back to using my hunter get it to 80 and basically don’t want to group due to the bad experiences previously. Eventually I got over it. I don’t just worry about aggro when I am on my hunter I worry about everything going on around me. If I knew a mob might random aggro like a healer. Then I drop a trap in front of them. I hate that I enjoy playing a DPS class so much, because I get lumped into the whole huntard persona. I am amazed how some dps will start on a healthy mob instead of working the mob down that tank is hammering on just to get the best dps score possible. Sure my dps is important to me…trying to gear for ICC. More important is my group and making it through. You’re right be a tank learn what it’s like and maybe your dps play will improve. I will tell you something else I do when I get a chance I tip the tank. Especially if I get something pretty and purple out of the instance. It’s the least I can do for the person being the group meat shield. 🙂

    • Regarding the Huntard thing, my first character to hit the cap in BC was a Hunter. She was my main for quite a while. I had the hardest time getting groups due to the “Huntard” stigma. It was nightmarish. People who gave me a chance were generally very impressed and often invited me back though. My CCing especially became known to the point that I was being asked to CC Heroics more so than DPS.

      Still, though, I have to admit… there *are* an oddly high number of exquisitely bad Hunter players out there. Just truly awful, awful players. I find myself keeping a wary eye on Hunters I tank for in PUGs till they prove they’re not going to do something remarkably stupid and wipe the group. Though the same could be said for Arms Warriors and Ret Pallies. I don’t trust strangers of those classes not to be idiots either. Actually I don’t think I trust any random stranger to not be an idiot right off the bat. Must be a tank thing. 😉

  8. […] The Glaivecow writes an open to letter to dps about how to know when it’s time to aoe. […]

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