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WoW Rookie: What's my DPS?

New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic, and be sure to visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

You're level 80 now, you've picked up a few sweet upgrades from five-mans and heroics, and you're ready to try a PuG into Naxx. You've found a group that's looking for members, but you're not quite sure how to answer the raid leader's demand: "What's your DPS?" The best way to figure out what your raid DPS, of course, is to measure it while you're raiding – but if you haven't started raiding yet, you can't really do that, can you?

The first thing you'll need in order to figure out what kind of DPS (damage per second) you're capable of putting out is an add-on that keeps track of your performance. Recount is popular and widely acknowledged as a fairly accurate tool. There are plenty of alternatives on all the major add-on sites. Select and install the DPS meter that appeals to you.

The simplest method of getting a DPS baseline reading is to hit up a training dummy in a capital city or the Argent Tournament Grounds. In the capitals, there are level 60, level 70 and level 83/boss dummy versions available. If you're interested in getting a feel for what your DPS might be like in a raid instance against a boss, it's the latter version (the Heroic Training Dummy) you're after.

A standard DPS test on a training dummy goes something like this:
  • Self-buffs only. Click off buffs that you can't cast yourself.
  • No consumables during the test.
  • No outside debuffs on the target.
  • Use your normal max-DPS skill/spell rotation.
  • Test for one complete mana bar or a set period between 3 to 5 minutes (the length of a typical boss encounter), whichever you prefer.
  • Rest up, repeat twice, then average your scores.
Big disclaimer: Training dummy DPS averages will not match real figures from an actual raid. Getting an "honest" average requires that you actually run a handful of raids and compare the samples. If you're new to raiding, though, checking your DPS at a training dummy will give you a decent baseline and the chance to experiment with the way different rotations affect your DPS. A new level 80 doing 1.6-1.7k DPS on a Heroic Training Dummy might realistically hope to average about 2k DPS fully raid-buffed in an actual raid.

We don't recommend that you use online theorycrafting tools such as MaxDPS.com to measure your DPS, because they don't reflect how you perform in a real environment. There are quite a few factors that affect your DPS in an actual raid:
  • Most boss fights require movement and repositioning, so you won't be able to maintain your max-DPS rotation throughout an entire fight.
  • Many boss fights require that you perform other tasks (debuffing, interrupting, decursing) that will also interrupt your rotation.
  • The raid buffs you'll get from other raiders will significantly increase your performance.
  • Executing the encounter strategy will pull your focus away from maximizing your DPS output.
  • Your damage output will be affected by debuffs to the boss and buffs to you from other players.
A few more tips when testing your DPS on a training dummy:
  • Use trinkets and cooldowns as you would during a typical encounter.
  • Training dummies have "backs," so stand behind them if you're a melee fighter in order to get the proper relationship of blocks, parries and so forth.
  • Make sure you're not using a dummy someone else has debuffed or has gotten so low on health that any abilities you have that activate on low-health targets come into play.
  • Avoid lines at the dummies and cross-damage by AEing players nearby by choosing a quiet test location, such as Darnassus.
  • You might gain some points in weapon skill while fighting a training dummy. However, since these points come solely from special attacks (not white damage), it's not a very efficient or effective way of skilling up.
  • Retest regularly, especially when trying a new spell or skill rotation, a new talent spec or have a new piece of gear.
Remember, your DPS is a reflection of one specific aspect of your raid performance. Your DPS averages don't show your contributions to cooperative tactics, strategic planning and execution, raid utility – or of being a pleasure to be around. Apply your DPS averages to fruitful ends, and enjoy the places they take you!

WoW Rookie walks you through all sort of new-player concerns, from game lingo for the beginner to joining your first guild as a mid-level player and on to what to do when you finally hit level 80. Visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Features, Raiding, Bosses, WoW Rookie

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