Class knowledge and gear are no longer the golden ticket to owning everything and everyone in your path. Everyone can get decked out in epic gear with enough time and effort. To make matters worse, there are more resources than ever for players to learn their class inside and out.
Breaking away from the pack now requires more effort and knowing which areas of gameplay to emphasize and improve upon.
In operations, nobody wants to be out-performed by another player playing the same spec as you. And who doesn’t want to be the operation’s most valuable player? Unless you are dramatically under-geared, or your operation members are professional gamers, you can easily outperform your operation members and rise to the top. You just need the right mentality.
Your peers may be executing the proper rotation and using the right talent specs and item mods, but you can still beat them in over-all performance!
Taking advantage of multi-target (cleave) abilities, phase transitions, cooldowns, consumables and more is critical. This does not mean you should be spamming AoE when you are not supposed to, or continuing to DPS a boss when you are supposed to switch targets. Instead, you need to take advantage of the little things and be creative during times when others are not.
This guide will discuss several areas that the average player overlooks.
Every Split Second Counts
Don’t let a single Global Cooldown (GCD) go to waste. Your finger should be spamming the next ability before the GCD is up. Even during phase transitions, movement phases, etc., there are always instant or ranged abilities that can be used. There is no excuse to stop using abilities unless your Operation Leader specifically calls for a stop. The more abilities you use in an encounter, the higher your output will be.
Due to latency, the GCD (or cast) may not be completely accurate and may end later/earlier than it appears. This is one way a lot of players lose potential DPS, because they only hit the next ability when the GCD is over. You should be spamming your abilities during the GCD to make sure they get off right when the GCD ends. If you have a weak keyboard that can’t handle spamming, this is a good time to consider getting a decent keyboard that can take the abuse!
Pro-Tip: Try to find a quiet keyboard to save your operation members from hearing CLICK-CLACK-SNAP-CLICK-CLACK a thousand times a night over voice chat!
Check out the Key Binding guide for more advice on how to setup key binds that improve your reaction time.
Cooldowns and Trinkets
Use them! If they are not on cooldown, you are wasting DPS/HPS/TPS. Use them immediately at the start of a fight and be aware of when they’ll be up again. But, you need to take advantage of their full durations, so don’t pop cooldowns when you have to stop attacking or need to move soon. It is critical that the cooldown is taken advantage of for its entire duration. It is also important to note that cooldowns are more effective when combined and stacked. Two powerful cooldowns at the same time will give you an edge as opposed to using them individually. Adrenals can almost always be stacked with cooldowns and/or trinkets.
If you’re playing a Tank or Healer, it’s still important to use cooldowns constantly. While you do need to save some for certain boss phases or emergencies, it’s still important to keep using your cooldowns.
Consumables cost credits and therefore a lot of players don’t bother using them. This is unacceptable!
Consumables are cheap. You can easily afford consumables by doing dailies and buying them off the GTN, or buy/farm the mats and make them yourself as a Biochemist. At the very least, keep stacks of adrenals on you. Using adrenals frequently will sky-rocket your performance. Also, you should always be buffed with a stim. If your operation group does not provide stims, bring your own!
Treat your adrenals like ability cooldowns or trinkets and use them following the advice offered in the cooldown section of this guide.
Check out the Consumables Guide for more advice on which consumables to use to maximize your performance.
Being familiar with a boss encounter makes a huge difference. You’ll be ready for phase transitions, adds and anything else. By being familiar with the encounter, you can focus more on your performance and less on your survivability, because you’ll know exactly when to move and what to do.
If you are a damage dealer, you can time special abilities for splash damage (aoe/cleave) when more mobs come for additional damage.
By knowing the encounter, you might learn to use uncommon abilities (snares, speed increase effects, damage absorbs, etc) to take full advantage of a fight mechanic. Remember, part of out-performing others is to maximize the amount of abilities used, and minimize the amount of time spent traveling. For melee DPS in particular, nothing is more important than speed and quickly closing the distance between you and your target.
Set up your interface so that you’re quickly aware of everything that is going on in a fight. You need to be able to track your debuffs, cooldowns, abilities, health and more all while responding to any encounter/situation. A common mistake many players make is developing “tunnel vision.” This occurs when players temporarily focus on one thing, and miss everything else happening like the giant wave of plasma that will instantly kill you. Poor interface setup can promote this problem by making it overly difficult to view all your important information.
Take some time and think about your interface. The goal is to see and notice everything you need without having to constantly scan and look around your monitor. If that means customizing your UI, then do it. Do whatever it takes to help yourself become more self-sufficient and not rely on other players. A productive interface is much more effective than a cool looking interface.
Check out the UI Customization guide for more advice on how to setup your user interface.
You know what they say, practice makes perfect! Use dailies, flashpoints, and training dummies to practice improving your gameplay and tweaking your interface. It can be hard to become used to changes, especially when you have very old habits. Practice and an open-mind will go a long way.