Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kitty Cat Survival Tactics

I don’t normally follow Blog Azeroth but I happened to pop over there looking for a link to something else and I found that a topic up for this week was how to survive as a melee DPS. I actually believe that surviving as a melee DPS is very simple.


No. I’m serious. I leveled as a Boomkin. When one is playing caster DPS one basically stands around tossing spells at the boss. Occasionally one has to pick up an addie or chase after the boss if the tank kites him somewhere. But as caster DPS you don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the nitty gritty of the fight. You toss up Hurricane or Blizzard and let it channel on the trash.

As a consequence when I switched my spec to feral at level 80 to play cat I had a difficult time in instances. I would die. Often. My instincts were to just hang in there, mangling and shredding everything. Although I didn’t know it at the time I actually had the perfect attitude for a tank. Only I wasn’t geared as a tank. The results were predictable.

What I had to learn through harsh experience is the cardinal rule of feral. A dead cat does no damage. You lay there on the ground pushing up the daisies, pining for the fjords, and your dps is exactly zero. You are a deceased cat.

My first reaction to this mystifying problem of dying was to wonder where the hell the healer was because wasn’t it the healers job to heal me through all the damage. But even I had to concede that the healers main reasonability was to the tank, not me. So the next thing I started to do was to use various tools at my disposal such as Lifeblood from my herbalism profession and Barkskin whenever it was off CD. This helped.

But I still was dying more than I liked. Then a funny thing happened while I was in the forum. I was playing with a bad tank who couldn’t hold arrgo. The result was that I was chasing the mobs and the bosses every which way. But I noticed something odd. I wasn’t dying. I wasn’t doing as much damage because I couldn’t land my power moves but I wasn’t dying. And when I considered the issue in a break between bosses I realized that yes, there was a reason why I was living
on the run

I wasn’t standing in the colored goop.

And this dear readers is when I learned the secret to melee dps survival:

run the instance with a bad tank.

Here is the long and the short of it. As melee dps you should only be taking killing damage in two situations. (1) You got arrgo from the boss or the tank failed to pick up adds. (2) You stood in the goop/got caught in the aoe. I have yet to be in an encounter where the melee dps took damage—damage that a proper healer can’t heal through—unless one of these two conditions are true.

In situation number one the best solution is to run…with your toon right out of the instance. Because either your tank doesn’t know what the heck he or she is doing or you significantly out gear them.

In situation number two running is your best option as well. Almost all aoe can be ran away from if you know it’s coming and it’s your responsibility as melee to know it’s coming. Second, running away from the fight is a very obvious signal to the healer that you are hurt. Healers can get tunnel vision too and forget about the dps. More times than I can count I have fled the fight with less than 10% health and within seconds got zapped by a heal. The healer may have even had me on their radar and those precious seconds were the difference between a failed heal on their part and me living.

I understand that in some people’s minds running is a cowardly thing to do. Let’s be honest here. What the worst that could happen if you run away? You don’t do any more damage. Well, if you are dead you are not going to do any damage either. So if you run away you are no worse off than you would have been if you had hung in there a second or two and died.

Like all rules this has an exception. If you are at 1% on the boss hang in there and sacrifice you body. One or two seconds more of damage might prevent a wipe. If not, you gave it your best show and can hold you head up.

There is an old saying that “discretion is the better part of valor”. That’s the code of the melee dps. You first priority is to live. Dead cats do no damage. Although, based upon experience in party chat, they tend to tell a lot of tales.


Grim said...

I'm quite sure you meant to say "Misdirection is better than valor", as in, when the tank's slow in pulling or scared, MD, yer?

But I digress. Running is a great idea, and warning up by running back and forth behind the mobs/boss like you were on fire should help too. Really got no excuse to die as a kitty when running is the solution, and kitties are so damn good at it!

Jeff said...

yeahhh... kitty me and Charged Flurry in HoL never mixed well... but I did learn, eventually. Whirlwind? Something under your feet that wasn't there before? RUN! And learn to strafe - it's faster than backing away, or turning around to run, especially if you're one of them keyboard turners.

Magma said...

I'm going to quote a good anime on this one. "Remember kids a smart man knows when it's time to run like a little bitch!"

Koch (Aszune) said...

This is one of the observations that tend to fall off the radar for the long time players/raiders. I don't even think about running any more (although some of that is obviously based on the weird hit-box thing that made everything wobble around a bear tank for ages) - but the game does not teach you this skill until you start grouping.

In the solo-leveling game running means dying tired - you cannot outpace anything, you loose your pitiful dodge against attacks from behind and the path will most likely take you into the next monster anyway.

I still need to get over the tank mindset on the druid and paladin especially - switching forms does _not_ actually allow you to survive when you pulled significant aggro. It just means you have a bit more health with none of the other tank attributes.

Toona said...

The main reason why healers let dps die is not tunnel vision, but having to prioritize whom to heal when healing is needed at several places. Every healer sees that dps is on low health as they do nothing else but watch HP boxes, but that won't mean they can heal you straight away. Not if the tank takes so much dmg that they cannot time well healing you in between without risking the entire party. MT > healer > you i'm afraid. This is the Nr1 reason why u dont get healed straight away sometime.
Then you also need to ask yourself whether it wasn't your own fault that you took extra or unnecessary damage - unfortunately for dps in heroics this is the case 90% of the time. Whether you over-aggro. position wrong or do other silly stuff, you rely on the healer making up for it - this isn't always possible. Healers have to time heals too and work with special abilities, procs etc. and if you ever healed a big damage boss you know that 1sec lag on healing the MT can already mean the entire party's demise.

A second reason why I can see a healer not healing you straight away is that he tries teaching you a lesson. If you are a very silly dps he might try make a point that you need to watch yourself better by letting you rot on your 10% HP a little bit longer. Sadly with some dps this is the only way to get a message across - they don't realize how they risk everyone else with their behaviour.

Anonymous said...

Just a minor point...

If your tank isn't moving the mob to where the DPS can get to it without taking "goop damage", then it's the tank's fault.

Some bosses it's not reasonable to reposition, some it's a constant dance. If the tank is dancing and just dances far enough to cover their own arse, they're screwing the raid by hampering the job that the DPS has to do.

G-Rebel said...

I've seen tanks simply not move and force the melee dps to stand in the goop, and I've seen tanks kite bosses who drop no AoE's at all. I've died because I didn't know what I was doing, but I too found the great benefit of moving away if necessary. My dps doesn't fall off that much.

Remember, running a dungeon or raid is a group effort, and if I can lessen the strain on the healer and tank by moving when needed, the group has a higher propability of success.

I admit, shamefully, that as a melee shaman and the ability to instaheal myself with my largest heal on a pretty regular basis (ty MW) I have sometimes been overconfident and died unnecessarily. One time I got so frustrated with myself that I became a healer just to teach myself a lesson.

Dan said...

He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day...

Its so interesting the little things you notice when you change specs even for just a little bit! I personally am a feral druid, but I primarily tank. And I find it funny how differently I think when I dps, primarily how I forget I'm not the tank and like to constantly walk down the dungeon hallway first, or otherwise tank mobs in cat form lol... But also the tunnel vision that comes with it where I get in the mode of keeping my rhythm that I just don't want to move! I know I have to but it takes some conscience thought to remind it needs to be done, and that if I were tanking/raid leading I would be informing myself to move right now! I just want to do the best job I can and many people get wrapped up in the numbers (which I hate) and I'm guilty of that too when I get in the momen. Especially on my mage, I find myself pushing to get every last bit of DPS out of an encounter, since we often suffer less from mechanics that try to make us run around, and sometimes its a bit fatal.

I also heal sometimes. Well, most of the time when I have it has my duel spec.. lol. And the tunnel vision is not something specific to DPS, I often watch the health bars and completely forget that I am, in-fact, a player in that instance as well, and goop will take me down as soon as any of the melee. I don't necessarily try to 'teach them a lesson' like toona said, but there are times I just have to let the DPS go because there are more important people to heal that may be single points of failure for the fight. So I always encourage people to help their healers help them and not stand in harmful substances ;-)

Also I love the little links you flavored this post with! Especially the bear one =D

(P.S. - sorry for the delete and repost, I saw some typo that my OCD wouldn't let me leave )