Monday, April 28, 2008

Raiding as a Caster - Spell Hit and DPS

Today we're talking only to the offensive casters in the raid group. So listen up mages, warlocks, shadow priests, elemental shamans, and boomkin. This post is for you. Hunters, rogues, warriors, elemental shamans and healers can have the day off.

In the world of raiding, you're going to have a set of "goal" numbers to get into Karazhan which is probably about +600 spell damage, 9000 Mana, 7500 Health. These benchmarks are set up this way because it's what you need to succeed at Karazhan. Luckily, as you are busy succeeding, you're getting gear drops. Each of those drops is hopefully making you a little better at turning mana into dead bosses.

At some point, you'll be heading off to the 25 man content. Your raid leader now may expect some things out of you that you're unused to dealing with. I think most raid leaders want to see consistent DPS out from all damage dealers at around 800-850 DPS. Damage meters will run and data will be collected. If for some reason you don't measure up, you'll have to work out why. Here is a list of potential pit-falls arranged in the order of easiest to hardest to correct.

  1. Did I do everything in my power to self-buff? Did you eat your +spell damage food? Did you have one flask or two elixirs? Did you put Wizard Oil on your weapon? Is everything enchanted with suitable enchants? Did I ensure I had all buffs? (The number of Paladin buffs you have should be equal to the number of paladins in your raid. Unless you are running in some bizarro world with 15 paladins.) Did I use my self-only buffs as needed? These questions all address one 0f the best ways to get yourself ready for a raid. Eat appropriate food, use appropriate elixirs or flasks, and ensure you have buffs. However, after doing just that you may still be falling short of your goals.
  2. Was I in the appropriate raid group? This is completely beyond your control. However, being in a group with a Draenei caster is always appropriate. Their racial increases your spell hit rating by 1%. While it's nice to have healers in groups with elemental shamans, it's often more appropriate to split them up amongst your casting groups. Totem of Wrath gives a +3% spell hit to group members. Alliance really lucks out here in that all of elemental shamans give +4% (racial + totem) to their groups. Warlocks may lose out here in that their imps often provide stamina buff to primarily tank/melee groups. If so, try to make sure those warlocks are affliction locks. (See Question #3)
  3. Is my spec built for end-game raiding? We all like to do some grinding, daily questing and PVPing. However, depending on your class there are some talents you must absolutely have to avoid misses.
      • Druids - Balance of Power (Balance Tier 6) increases spell hit by 4%
      • Mages - Elemental Precision (tier 1 Frost) increases fire and frost spell hit by 3%. Arcane Focus (tier 1 Arcane) increases arcane spell hit by 10%.
      • Priests - Shadow Focus (tier 2 Shadow) increases shadow spell hit by 10%. There is also a talent buried deep in the discipline tree that affects spell hit for some spells. I haven't listed it because I don't think there is a reliable spec that hits both of these. If there is, I'm sure an astute reader will find it.
      • Shamans - Three separate talents increase spell hit:
        • Elemental Precision (Elemental Tier 6) Increases spell hit by 6%.
        • Nature's Guidance (Restoration Tier 3) Increases spell hit by 3%
        • Totem of Wrath (Restoration Tier 9) increases entire party spell hit by 3%.
      • Warlocks - Suppression (Affliction Tier 1) increases affliction spells only by 10%.
    It is definitely worth a respec to check it out and see if you can't up your DPS just by not missing.
  4. Do I need spell hit gear? While your gear may have been perfectly fine for Karazhan, if you're missing on spells, you're sacrificing DPS. There is some very nice spell hit gear for casters in Karazhan. Also, consider giving up a spell damage enchant (you do have one of those, don't you) on your gloves for Spell Strike for the +15 spell hit rating. The amount of gear with +spell hit you need can be as much as 202 (for no talent/no buffs). Consider also Great Dawnstone (yellow) or Veiled Noble Topaz (yellow/red) to give yourself a +spell hit rating buff.
After you've worked your way through this list of items, you should be seeing a significant boost to the DPS you're doing as a caster. Don't get complacent though, you still need to keep your +spell damage as high as possible, keep enough stamina to not die to environmental effects, manage your threat and do everything else you've learned.

As we progress WoW becomes more and more of a thinking person's game. I hope you brought your thinking cap.

1 comment:

K said...

It isn't all about gear though. You can have someone in awesome gear, with the right spec, still putting out poor DPS.

DoTimers and Quartz are two things a spell caster may want.

DoTimers in some form (Necrosis has it built in for warlocks) for a warlock is amust to keep up the ever vital DoTs on the bosses. It's also useful for mages sheep and any other spell that you want to keep up.

Quartz is nifty if you can't mentally do the early click needed to chain cast. There's a lag portion between when your spell casts and when you can actually begin another spell. So, if you have your casting bar turned on, you can actually click when it's, at some times, 1/4 to being finished, and start casting your next spell. Quartz timers just tells you where you definately can click, based on server lag. (it also has a swing timer for melee attacks, useful for classes that mix swinging melee weapons with magic attacks, ie: enhancement shamans and retribution paladins.)

Spell rotation is another biggy that can sometimes get casters DPS up or down, depending on what you're casting and in what order, as is making sure you're always hitting your trinkets when the cooldown is up (unless you're less than 2 minutes away from the next boss), and that will boost your DPS.