Hello folks Troublmaker here. When I was doing Burning Crusade content DPS came hard for me. This sounds kind of odd considering that the max DPS rotation for a warlock in the Burning Crusade was repeating Shadow Bolt. It stemmed from a lacking of understanding on how the game worked and how to manage my DPS time effectively. I’m sure some of these DPS tips can be applied to any caster DPS but this is worded and framed exclusively around my experiences as a warlock who has set DPS records for the last two expansions (but due to being in 10-man only won’t set any for this one).
Tip #1: Latency and the Dreaded MS
MS stands for milliseconds. You click a key on your keyboard. A command is sent from your keyboard to the computer. Your computer processes this and sends it through the internet to Blizzard’s servers. Blizzard processes this signal and sends a response. Your computer receives the response and shows it to you through your monitor. So when you hit 2 (shadow bolt) and you initiate the command for casting the shadowbolt, the shadow bolt doesn’t actually start casting until Blizzard has sent you a signal back saying it is casted. Latency then is the measurement of reaction time between your key strokes and receiving a signal back from Blizzard. Latency leads to a lot of ghost activity. Ever notice when you mount your mount doesn’t always show up in the time you expect. It is even possible to move before you are actually mounted at the speed of the mount.
If you’re actually understanding this gap in between finishing your cast and actually receiving the benefits of your cast you’re probably afraid of losing a lot of DPS. During Burning Crusade we had a trick to deal with this. We would use a stopcasting macro at the point where lag cut off. Below is a picture of Quartz an addon that monitors lag on your casts:
Source: Curse Gaming
As you can see in this picture the red part at 512 MS adds a total of 1.1 seconds on your cast. So before a major patch change what we would do is hit a stop casting macro as soon as we hit that part and queued up another cast.
Blizzard released a patch roughly after the end of Burning Crusade to “fix” this. Basically before you couldn’t just spam keys. They put something into their system so that when you spam a key while casting it doesn’t set a global cooldown. In other words before this patch if you spammed your keys you would proc a global cooldown. The keyboard on the right is a HP laptop from a gamer who has been spamming his keys and it has pretty much fallen apart on him. I’d suggest if you’re playing on a Laptop you should get a keyboard. Specialized gaming keyboards can help increase your performance. I personally use the Razer Lycosa because of the nonslip rubber finish makes keystrokes feel good.
With a gaming keyboard you can program in a basic repeat macro. Think of a repeat macro like queueing up your next spell. I am currently casting shadowbolt but next I want to cast corruption. So what you are going to do is make a keyboard macro so that shadowbolt will get spammed and corruption will get spammed. So while shadowbolt is casted you tap corruption once and at the end of your shadowbolt cast make sure to tap your next key. This means you are constantly queueing up every single GCD and ignore all that lag 100%.
Think about it this way. You have 20% haste. Your cast should be reduced by 20%. But you have 25% lag. That means your cast will be slowed down by 25%. Effectively what will happen is every single time you cast you will not be getting the benefit of your haste.
If you are losing keys on your keyboard from spamming I would suggest getting a gaming keyboard. The Razer is $80 and it will last you forever. I used to go through a keyboard every month, this one has lasted a year.
Another piecemeal solution to this is to get a mouse with a mouse wheel. Gaming mice are cool and will allow you to bind Shift and Ctrl to your mouse. I use the Gigabye GM-M6880 which is a little under $20. But you will need a wheel on your mouse. Basically what you do is take your most casted move (and it must be cast not instant) and bind it to your mousewheel up. Just left click on the empty secondary binding and wheel your mouse up. Now take your second most casted move and bind it to mouse wheel down. Now when you mousewheel up or down you will be spamming those moves every millisecond so that you will lose no time from lag in casting.
If you’re not playing to adjust for lag you will lose 20% of your DPS flatly. So either you’ll have to learn to be a better player or just flat lose damage.
Tip #2: Knowing When to Move and When to Cast
In the destro priority system you have:
- Curse of Elements
- Improved Soulfire Buff (maintained from Soulfire)
- Bane of Doom
- Improved Shadowbolt Debuff (applied from Incinerate)
- Chaos Bolt
This is a pretty massive priorities list with a lot of moves. Consider for a second that in this DPS priority list that 5 of these moves can be casted while moving and one of them can be made instant every 45 seconds. Also below 19% Shadowburn can be used. Considering that roughly 60% of your DPS can be done while casting why is it that most people who have to move during fights are cutting their DPS numbers in half?
The main problem comes in with the distinction between high DPS priority and casting priority. As a DPS you should know what fights you will be moving often and which ones you will be moving based on timing or even ones you won’t move at all.
A good example of a fight that you will move often is the Halfus Wyrmbreaker encounter:
In this encounter you unlock a number of drakes or in heroic difficulty all of them. Each one of them grants Halfus a power or ability and each one when unlocked and tanked will weaken that ability. Additionally each time a drake is killed Halfus will take more damage (100% more). One of the drakes in this fight offers Halfus the ability to shoot out a flame buffet that will target a single player and hit everyone in the direct vicinity of that target. When you release this drake players can responsibly dodge them. As you can see in the video above little fire circles and puff fire appear on the ground. This is very easy to dodge but will hamper your DPS some.
If you know you may potentially constantly move why would you cast something that is instant cast while you are standing still? On a fight like this it is a good idea to only keep up necessary debuffs (improved shadowbolt, immolate, curse of elements, soulfire) and keep the others spells (corruption, bane of doom, shadowflame, and conflagrate) for when you have to move. If you don’t have a high DPS instant cast for when you have to move you are in trouble. You will be forced to use fel flame to fill in your DPS as you move which of course… sucks. Fel flame is one of your lowest DPSing moves and has no spot in a rotation. Fel flame is that spell you use when every single other instant cast is exhausted.
There are also fights where you are moving on a timer or at a very predictable timing. It may be momentarily to relocate or it may be indefinitely for some boss mechanic. A good example of this is Lord Walden in Heroic Shadowfang Keep:
In this sort of fight you will be standing still for quite a long period of time and you will be moving for quite some time. This means that hoarding out all of your instant casts for the movement part of the fight is not a viable option. The DPS loss from missing corruption for a minute will just suck your DPS out too badly. However as you are getting closer and closer to the movement phase you should stop reapplying dots that you can move while on the run.
Tip #3: Have Cooldowns up for Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp
In order to get maximum efficiency out of your trinkets and engineering gloves if you have them you have to use them every single cooldown. Otherwise trinkets with proc chances or passive stats will out weigh them every single time.
Three things to consider:
1. How Long is the Fight?
Engineering gloves are a 1 minute cooldown. Most trinkets are 2 minute cooldowns. So if a fight is three minutes long you will be able to use your trinket twice if you use it at the very start of the fight and two minutes in. In a three minute fight you would have almost 33% up time on that trinket. However if the fight is 4 minutes long suddenly you have exactly the same number of trinket useages except less up time on them. This means that using your trinkets will be more strategic and you will have to have one of them correspond with blood lust/heroism.
2. What Doesn’t Stack with What?
The engineering gloves do not stack with most trinkets. Volcanic pots do. Things that stack you presumably want up at the same time for lust/heroism.
3. When the bloody hell are they popping hero/lust?
Lust/hero are considered to be the most strategic resource in a fight. They not only help DPS but also tank threat and healing output. Different fights people choose to pop this cooldown at different times. So know when it’s supposed to happen and pool some cooldowns for it. If it doesn’t get called for or popped in time… call for it yourself. You’re sitting on cooldowns waiting to do max DPS… don’t let their fail interrupt that.
I hope in some way this has been helpful. I can guarantee if you do all three of these you should increase your DPS by about 50-60%.