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Addon Spotlight: Raiding essentials for DPS

Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same.

Yesterday, we prematurely learned that the Raid Finder coming in patch 4.3 would feature a new difficulty level associated with randomly putting together a 25-man raid group and allowing players who normally would not be privy to raiding content to see these awesome locations and epic boss battles. A lot of new people will be flooding into the raiding game come patch 4.3, so why not take a few minutes early on and get ready for the day when you too might just be able to come face to face with the denizens of the Firelands, leaders of Deathwing's armies, and even the former earthwarder himself? Raiding is getting more accessible, but you're still going to need tools to do the job right.

These raiding essential guides are meant to get players who might be new to the whole raiding game up and ready for the new difficulty of raiding coming in the next big update patch. We will discuss why certain addons are good to have, example fight mechanics, and basic tips to make sure you're running your addons smart.

Addon philosophy for DPS

DPS have three main roles to worry about while raiding, for the most part: movement, damaging the boss/adds, and interrupt mechanics. Each one of these roles can be done without addons these days, but there are always ways to improve on the default setup that let you do these things better and let people in your raid know what you're doing.

Personal responsibility is the new DPS paradigm in raiding with Cataclysm. As one of many DPSers in the raid, you have to know what type of damage you need to be doing and where it needs to be. Rhyolith needs DPS applied in different quantities to his legs at certain periods in order to turn him correctly. With the Raid Finder, there is no expectation that all 25 random raiders will have voice communication readily available for them to give out DPS instructions, so you'll need to understand where to put your focus without being told to do so.

Addons can help with personal responsibility, from understanding what the boss is going to do, when he is going to do it, and what you're standing in. With the lowered difficulty, mechanics may change in radical ways, but you'll still need to be aware of said mechanics.

Raid mechanic addons

Every raider is going to want a raid mechanic notification addon. There are many out there that are very customizable, but they can be a little daunting for the first-time raider. The built-in notifications and the Dungeon Journal do a good job getting raiders ready for what awaits them in the dangerous WoW raid instances, but more notifications, especially timer bars, are a valuable resource for predicting what is coming up next.

The most popular raid mechanic addons and notifiers include:
Movement addons

Not standing in bad stuff has been a staple of World of Warcraft's raiding environment for a long time now. The new avoidable damage meta-raid design philosophy paired with DPS' new personal responsibility makes not standing in bad stuff even more important than ever. Do you know why Ragnaros on heroic difficulty was healed with only three healers? Well, I'll tell you -- most, if not all of auxilliary damage done to characters other than the tank was avoidable or mitigatable in some fashion, meaning the only people who needed help staying alive were tanks. Personal responsibility is important.

The addon that most recommend, including myself, is the sharply named GTFO, which will alert you with different sounds when you are standing where you shouldn't be. It's a valuable addon, especially so when you think about the new Raid Finder. Anything that helps keep people alive is, in my mind, a good thing.

Check out my Addon Spotlight on GTFO to get that sucker up to date before you hit the random Raid Finder.

Damage itself

People say that WoW shouldn't be a numbers game or that WoW is too reliant on meters and how people are performing. Well, to be frank, WoW is a numbers game. Encounters are designed with average DPS requirements and new gear is just adding numbers to your existing stuff with a pretty new skin. As a player, especially in the raiding environment as easy or hard as it is, you need to pay homage to the numbers that make your character tick.

DPS meters have gotten a bad rap by the people who abuse their real, honest goal. When you're level 16 and running your first dungeon and some tool calls for DPS meters, ignore him. He's an idiot, I promise. However, the real, honest goal of a DPS meter is not to be the best, but it's part of the job. The main role of a DPS is to DPS, and you want to do your job the best you can. Think of the DPS meter as a speedometer rather than a performance indicator -- you need to go 65 miles per hour to beat this boss, but you're only going 55. Put the pedal to the metal.

Popular DPS meters include: Threat

While threat has taken a back seat these days in terms of importance and substance, effectively being removed from the game with the 5x hotfix a few weeks back, Omen is still a nice tool to have just in case. While the Raid Finder's raiding will be less difficult than the current incarnation of the Cataclysm raid encounters, you still don't know who you are going to be attacking this content with. Use your best judgement and keep your threat meter handy, especially for adds like on Rhyolith.

Download Omen at [Curse].

Interrupt mechanics

Almost all DPS classes have interrupts that will stop a boss from casting a spell that will usually destroy your raid in some fashion. As a DPS class that can never, ever miss with your interrupt attack, you're going to be the go-to guys for interrupting bad abilities. Alysrazor's adds cast a nasty fire spell that can be stopped. Maloriak's arcane storms will quickly wipe a raid if they are not stopped early. That's your job.

Interrupting is less of a problem than letting people know that you actually interrupted the spell. I recommend and use Raeli's Spell Announcer, or RSA, for this job. It's easily customizable and works like a charm with a smart channel feature that will put your notifications in the right channel to let people know when you've interrupted a cast. We are still unsure how interrupt mechanics will work in Raid Finder raids, but if they are present, you'll be glad you had RSA.

Check out my Addon Spotlight on RSA.

You've got the general tools assembled into your raiding toolbox, DPS. Go forth into the Raid Finder in the future and make everyone proud. I am hoping that the Raid Finder begins to chip away at a lot of the dumb, preconceived notions we have about the DPS role and show that 25 random people can and will plow through some fun content seamlessly. I, for one, am excited.

Tune in next week for addon essentials for tanks or healers. I haven't decided yet. What do you guys think?

Addons are what we do on Addon Spotlight. If you're new to mods, Addons 101 will walk you through the basics; see what other players are doing at Reader UI of the Week. If there's a mod you think Addon Spotlight should take a look at, email mat@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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