Mythic+ 101: DPS
After a short hiatus due to the recent Race to World First (RWF), The Mythic+ 101 Series is back!
The goal of this 101 series is to provide new players with the foundation they need to get started in Mythic+. Mythic+ provides a way for players to engage in progressively more challenging content to have fun, to earn better loot, and to improve their skills. While the system is officially called the Mythic Keystone system, the community has latched onto calling it "Mythic Plus", "Mythic+", or sometimes just "M+". This series is a collaboration between Raider.IO and the Mythic+ Friends Discord.
In the previous chapter of this series, we discussed your role as a tank. In this chapter, we will expand upon the role of DPS in a dungeon group.
Table of Contents
Meaningful Damage [back to top]
The simplest answer to the role of a DPS player is to do damage. While this sounds straightforward at a glance, there are actually many nuances to doing enough damage and to the correct targets to make a dungeon flow smoothly and allow for completion within the timer. There are several aspects of damage dealing that are important: when to AoE vs. cleave, priority targets, and burst windows vs. sustained damage.
Area of Effect (AoE) and cleave damage are very common methods of damage dealing in Mythic+, as they allow groups to kill many enemies at the same time. This stems from a couple of factors. Firstly, the majority of enemy packs inherently consist of more than one enemy. Secondly, due to the dungeon’s timer requirements, many groups will choose to pull more than one of these mob packs at a time anyway. With a larger number of enemies present, AoE damage becomes very important, and is usually the most efficient way of handling most packs in a dungeon. It should be noted that not all classes and specializations are created equally when it comes to damage dealing, and some classes are much better suited to priority damage.
Priority or single-target damage is highly sought after for some dungeons with scary mini-boss type enemies, dangerous targets in packs, and most importantly, bosses. This type of damage is especially impactful on Tyrannical weeks as the bosses have much higher health and are more dangerous. The majority of bosses present very little AoE or cleave damage requirements, so high single-target damage classes are valued. Some dungeons contain mini bosses, such as the trash packs leading up to Xav in Theater of Pain. These trash mobs have significantly higher health than average mobs, and are usually dangerous — especially on Fortified weeks. Even regular trash packs may have a specific enemy that is more dangerous than others, or an enemy that may buff or heal other enemies. For these reasons, priority damage in a group is equally important as AoE or Cleave damage.
I'd like to further emphasize the value of priority damage relative to overall damage. Consider the way that 1000 extra DPS on the priority target (or a single target) saves 5x as much time off the timer as 1000 extra DPS on a 5 target pull. This is balanced of course by the fact that it is much easier to add 1000 AoE damage than 1000 single-target damage in most cases, and Mythic+ mostly consists of AoE damage. Therefore, a good understanding of when and how to do priority damage with passive AoE will become more crucial the higher keys that you push.
Finally, burst damage and sustained damage are very important factors in Mythic+ as well. Burst damage and sustained damage can be AoE or priority damage. The requirements for burst or sustain damage output can vary per dungeon as well as per individual packs and bosses. Burst damage is very useful for quickly killing priority targets or for dealing with specific mechanics such as a shield type mechanic like the Blood Barrier on Hakkar in De Other Side. On the other hand, sustained damage is very important for managing enemies with higher health pools. Sustained and burst damage become increasingly important on higher key levels where all enemies have greater health pools due to the scaling of the key. Being able to quickly kill priority targets and deal consistent damage over time to larger health pools will make for a smooth run. For this reason, many groups will bring classes that can do a balance of burst damage, sustained damage, AoE damage, and priority damage.
Primary Utility [back to top]
Since there are three DPS slots in a dungeon group, there are many different types of utility abilities that can be brought to a dungeon. One of the most important utilities a DPS can offer is an interrupt. For this reason, a DPS player should look for an interrupt tracker such as Noggie’s ZT Interrupt and Cooldown Tracker as outlined in Chapter 2 of this series. Interrupts as a DPS player are a bit more variable, as some classes have a ranged interrupt instead of one that requires melee range. The tradeoff is that most ranged interrupts are on a longer cooldown compared to a melee interrupt. However, there are exceptions to normal cooldown rules, such as Demon Hunters with a ranged interrupt on a small cooldown (Disrupt), or Balance Druids who trade an even longer cooldown for an AoE interrupt (Solar Beam).
Many groups try to strike a balance between how many melee and how many ranged to bring depending on the importance of interrupts in a specific dungeon. For example, Dungeons such as The Necrotic Wake and Sanguine Depths present many dangerous spellcasts that must be prevented. Interrupts are crucial, as they not only prevent the cast, but also put the spell on a cooldown, preventing its cast (and any spell in that school) for a period of time in most cases.
As mentioned in the previous chapter on the role of the tank in Mythic+, we touched upon the importance of tracking and calling out interrupt rotations. While many tanks have been seen to take on this role traditionally, tanks are not (and should not be) solely responsible for managing a team’s interrupt order. In fact, many of the more advanced DPS players in the Mythic+ scene tend to take on the role of the lead shotcaller in order to mitigate the cognitive load of the tank. On particularly dangerous pulls, many high-end DPS players call interrupts and CCs to allow the tank to focus most of their energy on survivability, effective threat generation, and mob positioning.
A great way for a damage dealer to become more useful to their group is to take on some of the traditional “tank responsibilities” and step up to call kicks and/or CCs. This is a very good way to get added to friends lists and become an MVP of Mythic+ as a DPS.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that some classes may try to use their interrupt early in a pull to minmax their damage. For example, Havoc Demon Hunters gain 30 Fury upon a successful interrupt (Disrupt) and, due to the recent rise in prevalence of Venthyr Druids, some Guardian Druids or Druid DPS may want to interrupt early to optimize their damage of their Ravenous Frenzy stacks. While these are nuances that many groups may not encounter, clear communication is key for teams using voice comms such as Discord. When pugging without voice comms, it can be useful to learn patterns of behavior of various classes in order to make informed predictions and prevent overlap in an interrupt rotation.
Crowd control (CC) is another method of utility and can even overlap or take the place of an interrupt in some cases. CCs may be as simple as a slow (i.e. Cone of Cold) or a root (i.e. Mass Entanglement), but they can also be a stun (i.e. Leg Sweep), a knockback (i.e. Typhoon or Thunderstorm), or a disorient (i.e. Dragon’s Breath or Incapacitating Roar. Stuns, knockbacks, and disorients will also usually interrupt a cast, although they will not come with the following spell cooldown lockout on the caster as an interrupt provides. However, stuns, knockbacks, and disorients can still be a nice filler in a pinch.
More importantly, stuns, roots, disorients, and knockbacks can be used to help your tank survive dangerous packs long enough to establish threat or cluster enemies together in preparation for AoE/cleave damage. Slows and roots are also very important for your tank’s survival when kiting, and can even be necessary for some bosses that summon additional enemies to fight such as Globgrog or Domina from Plaguefall. Tools such as OmniCD can be useful for tracking utility spells. Knowing when spells are available can help a group leader determine the path or size of a pull to come.
For more information and a visual example on how to use addons to track your interrupts, utility cooldowns, and more, please refer to this section of Chapter 6.
Other Utility and Fringe Cases [back to top]
As a DPS, there can be so many potential classes to bring to a group. Therefore, there are other miscellaneous utility spells that can assist in a Mythic+ dungeon. For example, Hunters and Rogues bring threat redirection in the form of a Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade. Threat redirection can allow for safer burst damage.
While uncommon, there are also situations where when things go wrong and a DPS player with a taunt ability (such as a Havoc Demon Hunter with Torment) can take threat from a tank to allow them to recover or stabilize. This can be very important on Necrotic weeks. The DPS player can either use their taunt and a strong defensive ability or immunity (such as Taunt + Bubble from a Retribution Paladin), or they can simply kite as discussed in the tanking article to allow time for nasty debuffs to fall off the tank.
Ultimately, it is really important to know your class inside and out. Each class brings its own utility and special abilities to a dungeon, so the more you know about your own class and others, the better chance you have to be an effective member of a group.
Off-Healing, Dispels, and Defensives [back to top]
Some DPS classes also have healing abilities, specifically Shaman, Druids, Priests, Paladins, and Monks. Healing as a damage dealer is frequently referred to as “off healing” and can help a group when the healer is stressed in a high healing situation, or when a healer is running low on mana.
Many DPS classes also have a dispel or cleanse type spell such as Detox, Cleanse Toxins, Remove Corruption, Devour Magic, Remove Curse, and Mass Dispel. While dispels are often viewed as a healer’s job, there are cases where there are too many debuffs to cleanse with a single player. A DPS player can step in and either dispel themselves or another player in a pinch. This is common in dungeons with a lot of poisons, curses, and diseases.
For cleanses, it's important to make sure that whatever effect you can cleanse shows up on unit frames. Also, make sure that you have a good keybind for it or, ideally, either a mouseover macro or Clique style setup to cleanse affected party members.
Additionally, some classes also contain a purge or soothe. Purges and soothes are different from cleanses/dispels because they are used to remove a buff from an enemy target instead of a friendly target. Shamans (Purge, Mages (Spellsteal), Demon Hunters (Consume Magic), and Blood Elves (Arcane Torrent) all have spells to purge a magic effect from enemy mobs, whereas Druids (Soothe) and Hunters (Tranquilizing Shot) can remove an enrage effect. Rogues can also remove enrages with Shiv if they have Mind-numbing Poison equipped. Purging and soothing can be very helpful to a group when managing dangerous enemy buffs (or even the affix Raging).
Another thing to discuss is the usage of defensives and self-healing abilities. As a DPS, it is important to look for good opportunities to use a Healthstone, Health Potion, or defensive cooldowns in order to optimize a dungeon run.
One big tip I'd give is to look not just at your own health and incoming damage, but to consider how the rest of the party is looking. For example, if I'm at 30% health and there's a dot on me, that isn't actually enough info to tell me if I need to use a Healthstone. What matters is if the rest of the group is dying or not. If i'm the only person below 100% hp there, I'm holding that Healthstone because I know the healer is under no other pressure. However, if I'm at 50% hp and the rest of the group is also at 50% hp while damage is going out, I'm looking to use a defensive or a Healthstone.
In high-level Mythic+ groups, the healer will sometimes call for a specific defensive cooldown from a fellow player based on the situation and timing. However, being knowledgeable about where and when to use defensive cooldowns is a crucial important part of the DPS role. A dead DPS is no DPS!
For more information and a visual example on how to use addons to track your teammate’s defensive cooldowns and more, please refer to this section of Chapter 6.
Key Takeaways [back to top]
To wrap it up, DPS classes have many nuances that can allow for some customization to a group composition or strategy. This can come in the form of deciding between priority damage and AoE/Cleave damage, burst damage or sustained damage, and what types of utility each class can bring. Also, stepping up and becoming a sole or co-shotcaller for a group can really make you shine as both a DPS and as an overall player. Lastly, look for every opportunity to help your group. Whether this means using defensive cooldowns, Healthstones/Health Potions, off-healing, dispels, taunts, or various utility, the role of a DPS in Mythic+ spans far beyond the overall damage meters, so have fun and try your best!
Have you ever wondered what marks the difference between a good healer and a great one? Coming up soon, Chapter 8 delves into the intricacies involved for a Healer in Mythic+, packed with tips and tricks adapted from MDI level gameplay. Stay tuned!
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About the Authors
MarianasTrench (Mari/Marinara) is an MMO veteran who has played most classes in Mythic+ and Mythic raiding. He is a staff member at the Mythic+ Friends Discord. While he loves Mythic raiding and higher Mythic+ content, he also enjoys helping other players get involved and expanding the Mythic+ community through the Mythic+ Academy at Mythic+ Friends.
Vitaminpee specializes in tanking classes in WoW and other MMORPGs and loves doing competitive Mythic+. She is the Editor and Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.