DPS or Total Damage?

Just about every dps class watches the damage meters, either as self-evaluation or as a way to show off.

Recount can display a variety of information – damage, dps, healing, deaths, dispels, and many others.  If you’re a dps class, what do you have your Recount (or damage meter of choice) set to display?

We have an interesting circumstance in my guild  There is a mage who is always near the top of the meters with me.  At the end of almost every boss fight, she led in dps, but I led in total damage done.  The reason for this must be time on target.  I am attacking more, but she is doing damage more rapidly when she attacks.  This isn’t just once in a while – its like that on every boss fight, no matter how short or long, so there is a playstyle difference at work here.

Which is more important?  I always display total damage done, because that’s what is important when it comes to killing the boss.  Most others I know display dps, which seems to be more for e-peening.

What do you show on your Recount?

24 Responses to “DPS or Total Damage?”

  1. 1 Bullybeef
    December 7, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I usually leave mine set to current dps and just check the damage after the fight has finished.

    I find myself in the exact same position as you, the mage in my guild generally has a higher dps but I tend to do the most damage, especially since he went from fire spec to arcane.

  2. 2 Zeenaa
    December 7, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I usually keep mine set it to Damage for the current fight. I keep it hidden and only look at it after a boss fight to see how well I do. Having any type of meter displayed other than threat is a distraction to me and I certiainly dont need that. If someone is bragging about thier “High DPS” i’ll monitor it and see what it is and the DMG along with it. The DMG is usually a lot lower and then Ill chuckle to myself and move on. If I even try to explain, I will almost always be told my meter is broken, hehe!

    A side note: Thanks Dinaer for taking the time to write on your blog. Its helped me a lot over the past year with the rogue class. Please know that you are appreciated! =)

    Carry on fellow Rogues! /salute

    • December 7, 2009 at 10:23 am


      Has to be said I do get the feeling that certain players are concentrating too much on the meters and not on the fight itself… Tends to be some of those people (and I’m sure you probably have them too) who think DPS is the be-all-and-end-all.

      E.g. 3 DPSers of the same class trying to out-do each other rather than concentrate on the objective of encounter.

      A fine example of this is Yogg on phase 1. This is not a DPS fight… Nuking the ads down too fast is bad. Sometimes that element of competition when it comes to the numbers is actually counter-productive.

      “STOP nuking the ad and SWITCH”

      “o_O I wanna see big numbers!!!”

      “Niceone, ad dead and now we need another you nab”


      “Failbot – NukemFastRecountWatcher has died in a pool of slime”

      “Look at my imba DPS though!”


  3. December 7, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Personally, as raid leader and Guild leader, I have mine set to show damage done on adds, interrupts done, damage taken or dispels. Virtually none of my DPS need to be reminded to do more damage, but some do forget to switch to the snobolds or Nether Portals, or interrupt Shadowstrike.

    As Mage, though, I do like to check damage done. Usually we’re there or thereabouts. I would say, though, that almost every encounter in TotC, and especially TotGC, favours one class over another and/or has situational effects that hinder a straight comparison. 3 fire bombs and a snobold anyone? Legion Flame and two infernals at all? Bladestorming Warrior and that damned Felpuppy? It’s a team effort.

  4. December 7, 2009 at 10:01 am

    DPS only counts on certain circumstances, when burst damage is explicitely required during an encounter (for example when trying to down-DPS the shields on Twin Val’kyrs).
    Outside those phases that require burst damage, DPS has no meaning at all. Insane DPS can be achieved by blowing all cooldowns, bursting for a few seconds and then dying or idling around for the rest of the fight; that’s probably the best illustration of how meaningless DPS is.

    It should be clear that only the total damage contribution counts.

    Damage and DPS numbers should always be taken with a grain of salt: it’s easy to do high damage by not doing what you’re supposed to do (for example ranged damage dealers that AoE the whelps instead of Onyxia in phase 2, or damage dealers that don’t do their assigned duties (such as decursing, crowd control etc.)).

  5. December 7, 2009 at 10:14 am

    To be honest I don’t have recount up on my UI while I’m fighting. I try to use as little mods as possible to get a good feel for the game; I do find there’s enough to keep my eye on without the added distraction of watching the numbers.

    What do I look at?

    Firstly, total damage done (on almost all fights). Often I’m at the top or very near to it. DPS is a good indicator as to your burst and also for some fights we are at a disadvantage compared to ranged DPS (running around, or can’t DPS because you’ve had to move out until tank moves the boss out of the slime/fire).

    DPS is good but what use is it if you die early in the fight?

    Obviously I like to check where my damage is coming from (e.g. Envenom, Rupture, etc) so I constantly evaluate and improve. Use rupture less and Envenom more perhaps? I find there’s no substitute for evaluation than after a boss fight… Target dummies just don’t do it for me.

    Certain fights I concentrate more on cc and interrupts so I often check those too. I wouldn’t say it’s my excuse but it does have an effect on my DPS;

    “haha recked is slacking”

    “interrupts 14”


    It’s not all about damage done and DPS although it is nice to see the numbers… Whelps on Onyxia anyone? 😛

  6. 7 Thimble
    December 7, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Last night I got in a ToC 25 pug. They were on Jaraxxus. It took four tries to down him. Each try, the two mages did a lot more DPS than I did (spellstealing Nether Power and such), but I led them by a mile in damage done. Mostly, this is because they both found a way to die about halfway through the fight each time. Either they pulled aggro and got one-shot, or they stood in legion flames until they died, or something equally sad. Then of course nobody was getting rid of Nether Power, so we’d end up dead. This is why I look at damage done. Because standing in the fire nuking your ass off can lead to some pretty impressive DPS…but it’s going to kill the raid in the long run. Of course, the most important stat to me is Deaths. If you don’t have any, the raid succeeds.

  7. December 7, 2009 at 11:19 am

    My recount stays on over all damage done but I track most of the others like Dps, interrupts, Friendly fire, etc. But I only look at it after fights or at the end of a run. Nothing annoys me more than people who link Recount all the time (even when I am in the number one spot).

    The thing I tell my raiders is: It doesn’t matter HOW high your numbers are but are you doing the job you were assigned to do? If someone else is having to cover for your slacking because you are only focused on the numbers how does THAT help the raid?

  8. 9 Saniel
    December 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    As a raid lead, I’m always watching both. I have my recount set up to show the DPS numbers in the damage done bars (which I think is the default, so I’m probably not special there). At the end of the day, either one of those is only half the picture. You need to know both to understand what’s going on.

    As has been stated a few times through the post and replies, high DPS but low DD means they died. Low DPS and high DD means they’re doing great burst damage in a high mobility fight. Low/low and high/high…those are kinda obvious.

    Yes, DD is what takes down a boss. Not DPS. And for rogues, that’s probably the end of the story 95% of the time. Since this is a rogue blog and not a raid lead blog, well, good enough. 🙂

    But there are times when utility comes into play. Take our XT hard-mode attempt the other night. I don’t think it would be a stretch for me to be competing for 2nd or 3rd place in DD on that fight (in cat) in our group. But I was barely above the tank, mostly because I was focusing on the sparks and only taking the time to refresh a bleed or FF on the boss here and there.

    That really is the great thing about this game and the encounter design. “Just nuke it” is rarely a viable strategy for the raid as a whole. Everybody needs to find different ways to contribute.

    Unless you’re a rogue.

    Then you can just nuke it. 😛

  9. December 7, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I generally leave my recount set to overall damage done. As raid leader, I check DPS for boss fights to compare DPS vs damage done so I know how people are actually doing. I use DPS as a tool to gauge my personal improvement since I know what I’m used to doing depending on the boss or instance. It’s not all about DPS though, people can die the first 30 seconds of a fight and still be close to top of the overall DPS meter.

    During trash who cares though the AoE DPS is always fun to see, but in the end it’s really about overall damage. When I run raids I specifically put out front that we do not spam meters.

    It’s nice to see so many smart people out there who understand DPS isn’t the end all be all. . .why can’t there be more of you on my server!!

  10. December 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Damage Done is the more important stat, but DPS is the more useful stat.

    The difference is subtle, but vital. The thing is that Damage Done depends on the fight length and performance of the other players in the raid. If there are more good players in your raid, your total Damage Done will be lower, because the fight will end faster. If people die mid-fight, that alters your Damage Done.

    DPS, on the other hand, is more independent. Other than buffs and debuffs, your DPS is the product of your own efforts. You can compare your DPS from two different fights (or the same fight in two different weeks) in a way that you cannot compare Damage Done.

    I saw it said once on the forums that Damage Done was for comparison within the same attempt, and DPS was for comparison across different attempts.

  11. 12 Larslol
    December 7, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Damage done. I’m not 100% sure how the meter calculates DPS, so I stick to the obvious, my job. Do damage consistantly. I do have DPS in clammers though.

  12. 13 Mobius
    December 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Ill be running overall damage. The feral kitty has been tops for a while in DPS. Overall I was behind him 0.1% last week and this week I beat him in damage done. But as for straight up dps his numbers are higher then mine. The mage and lock dps are higher too. But they are no where close to my damage done.

  13. 14 Johnnyboy
    December 7, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I go for Dps but I’m only lvl 45 so when we do uldamonn or zul farrakk I usually come in scone behind my guild’s lock

  14. 16 ThereesGilneas
    December 8, 2009 at 1:43 am

    I always post, and watch, damage over dps. Raiding is not about potential damage, its a combination of knowledge of the fight, adequate gear, skill, and reflexes.

    In my opinion dps only shows two of these.

  15. December 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Damage done.
    Blowing all your cooldowns and dieing in a fire 20 seconds in is not helpful.

  16. December 8, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Damage done kills bosses, DPS looks cool.

    Your choice.

  17. December 8, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Damage done.

    DPS in itself, without mixing it with activity or damage done, is completely irrelevant – one could do 10k DPS with trinkets etc, grab aggro before the tank and die within 10 seconds, and that unlucky DPS will still be high enough, even though he spent the fight lying on the floor.

    And for raid leading, deaths (especially the detailed view), interrupts, dispels…

  18. 20 Scalls
    December 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I use Recount, and I keep it on the damage tab. The damage tab also shows the DPS for the fight as well in parenthesis (). On my DK, it’s the most notable. As I usually am #1 or #2 on the Damage, but #3 or #4 on DPS.

    A Rogue’s DPS is usually constant (with Ruptures, DP, and auto attack). Mage’s are very spikey due to their longer cast times and huge crits.

  19. December 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    That about agrees with my thoughts. It seems to me that most e-peeners like to blast DPS charts in chat. I prefer damage done, and I don’t ever post meters.

  20. December 9, 2009 at 2:10 am

    They’re both useful for different things. Damage is generally used when comparing yourself to other members of your raid on a particular boss attempt/kill. It’s also the more useful piece of information and should be used whenever possible.

    Unfortunately, saying “I did 300,000 damage on ______!” doesn’t say much without knowing other details about the raid. Because of this, people generally use their DPS to compare themselves to players participating in other boss attempts/kills. You can compare your DPS on a fight to your DPS on a previous week or the DPS of someone in Premonition.

  21. 23 Hamacus
    December 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I look at Total Damage on my Shadow Priest as a best indicator for performance. We always will be low on the DPS charts but do beter over time. By the way it looks like S.Priest got a pretty good buff thanks to haste improved Vampiric Touch and Devouring Plague though still collecting data. 🙂

    I look at both on my Rogue as it helps me to self evaluate changes in Spec/Weapons/Rotation/Game Play. It give me a baseline to use as I improve each. Looking forward to running my Rogue tonight to see how the changes in Mutilate spec play out.

  22. 24 Cheres
    December 15, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I’m way late to the party but I look at damage not dps. I know where I should be falling in the raid and I use it as a way to keep myself focused on the prize of a dead mob. I only use it to epeen with Azucar 🙂

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