Epic Education Episode 2: DPS Roles

Hello and welcome to Epic Education – a show of tips and tactics for surviving epic content.  I’m your guide Shamgar and this is Episode 2: “DPS Roles” alternatively titled “Kill or be killed


This episode will be the first in a series of 3 on how to play the basic roles in Epic content – DPS, healing, and casting.  I won’t be talking about specific classes because of the incredible variation of builds using pure classes let alone the countless multiclass builds.  Some builds are very multidimensional and may be able to fill in for more than one role in a party.  You will find that most of what I will discuss is applicable not just in epic content, but throughout the game at any level.  These are things you can start planning for and practicing now so that when you reach level 20 you are ready to venture into epic quests.  Finally, remember that these are only the basics.  Actual tactics may vary depending on the quest, party style and your party leader. 


Let’s begin our discussion of DPS roles with some basic gear.


Potions.  You’ve probably heard it before, but you are going to hear it again.  As a vet theres nothing more embarrassing than going into a quest and running out of pots, except perhaps getting banished by Horoth in consecutive guild raids.  As a new player theres nothing that screams ‘newbie’ louder than not having pots.  Cure or repair pots are a must.  If you can use wands or even heal scrolls, bring those too – but still bring cure pots.  If theres a condition that you can be afflicted with (like curses or blindness), bring a pot to remove it.  If you rage or use madstone boots then get the guild versions or your pots will be useless while you are raging– otherwise get the normal versions so you can use them on others.  Haste and rage pots are handy, but if you are chugging them in epic quests you should consider finding a new caster. 


Weapons.  The most important thing is to bring a DR breaker for whatever you will be fighting – a little research or simply asking your party will let you know what you need to bring.  Metallinne of pure good will cover most of what you are going to run into in epics and high level content.  If you cant find a metalline of pure good, anything that bypasses good DR (that would be holy, pure good, flametouched) will bypass .  Other than that look for the biggest baddest weapon you can find that fits your build.  In your travels you’ll likely end up with a golf bag of weapons.  You wont use them very often, but they are handy to carry around.  I find the easiest thing to do to fill out your golf bag is keep a little piece of paper handy.  Every time you run into a DR type, or find yourself wanting a type of weapon, write it down and keep an eye out for it.  At the top of that list put metalline of pure good, vorpal, disruption, banishment, and smiting.  Most of those are useless in epics, but you should have them.  Lastly, if you use any tactical actions like stunning or tripping, bring the highest bonus for those you can find.


Edit: With update 9 came sweeping changes to how instant kill weapons work.  These weapons now deal extra damage against appropriate creature types and on a vorpal strike (a natural 20 confirmed as a critical hit) they will kill the creature struck if it is currently below 1000 hps (unless it has a deathblock or deathward effect).  Creatures surviving these vorpal strikes will take extra damage.  The widespread removal of blanket immunities means that these weapons are much more viable than they were before update 9 in all content, not just epics.


Other gear: whatever clickies you pick up on your way to 20 will likely serve you well here.  Deathward is handy if you aren’t running with a divine class.  If you find that you are having trouble hitting things look for a GH clicky and if your base attack bonus isn’t 20 look for divine power clickies as well.  If you cant use rez scrolls and you don’t have an ability to raise dead, a clicky is a good idea as well.  Clickies of invisibility can also be useful to run by extraneous mobs.  And if you don’t get penalized for using one, bring a shield.  Yes Mr. 2 handed barbarian that means you too.  Unless your AC is very high, don’t worry about the ac value on your shield, it’s the blocking DR that you want, just use the best you can find. Otherwise twink out your characters to your liking. 


Now, lets talk tactics.  When the numbers stop scrolling DDO pretty much comes down to whether or not you can kill the mobs before they kill you.  In any quest the role of the DPS is simple – kill or be killed.  But as simple as that sounds there are several things you can do to kill better and reduce your chances of being killed. 


The first thing we are going to talk about is Target Selection.  Keeping in mind that we want to kill things faster than they kill us, lets prioritize targets based on their threat.  Kill the casters and anything that has massive area of effect damage quickly so they don’t have a chance to blow you up or control you.  You also want to look for mobs that are in an autocrit state so you can do more damage to them and kill them faster.  Lastly, try and attack the same mob as your party members.  Again, we want to kill things fast, and 4 people pounding away at one mob that is autocrit will die much faster than 1 person on a mob that can’t be crit at all.  Keep an eye out for party members that have good stunning capabilities and try and follow them around for those autcrit attacks. Theres another advantage to staying together: mass heals.  Remember, its not just about killing monsters quickly, its about staying alive too.  Help your healers out and stick together as much as possible.


Next lets talk about agro management.  In the interest of staying alive its generally a bad idea to agro more mobs than you need to at any given time.  Remember, these mobs are tougher than their regular versions.  As you get more comfortable with epic content feel free to enlarge the ideal mob size to your skill and taste.  Take note of what kind of crowd control is being used.  Fascinate for example neutralizes monsters until they are hit, so if theres still other monsters around go after them first – no need to wake them up if theres other monsters to slay.


These 2 basic tactics will get you through most of the routine combat in epics and high level content but what about boss fights?  Boss fights in DDO are some of the more challenging experiences in the game.  First theres the big bad – the boss.  Most of these boss fights will also have never ending trash mob spawns.  They keep coming until the boss is dead.  If the trash isn’t dealt with chaos will ensue.  If the boss isn’t under control more chaos will ensue.  So how will we keep both under control at the same time? 


In these situations the DPS group with split into 3 groups of varying sizes.  The first group is typically a group of one – the main tank.  This person gets the agro of the boss and pulls him to the side away from the party but in a location easy to be healed.  Then they swing for the fences and hope their healers keep up with the damage they will be taking.  Main tanks ideally have a high number of hps and can generate a lot of threat.  The more threat the main tank can get the more the rest of the party will be able to do to kill the boss quicker.  Other things that are helpful are evasion, high saves, damage reduction, and healing amplification.  Its unlikely that you will have a high enough AC to matter, but if you do that will help here as well.  Many bosses don’t have truesight so blur and displace are helpful as well if you can get that from one of your caster friends.  Occasionally if things go south the main tank will need to pull out a shield to mitigate some of the incoming damage – just don’t do that if others are attacking.  Kiting as a main tank is generally not recommended – running a boss around is a good recipie for disaster.  A quick final tip for Main tanking – if your build makes heavy use of action boosts and/or rages in all their forms stagger your use of them.  A long pause of buffing yourself can be the difference in losing agro.


The next grouping of melee are the offtanks.  This group attacks the boss from the backside so that they don’t get hit by his attacks.  They will likely take some area of effect damage but it should be much less than that of the main tank.  The trick for the off tanks is to do as much damage as possible without stealing agro from the main tank.  This is where a high threat generating main tank comes in handy.  It can also be helpful for the off tanks to have some treat reduction gear or enhancements to further decrease the likely hood of stealing agro.  Should the boss turn around either the person with agro becomes the new tank or they shield block until the main tank reaquires agro.  Everyone else should get out of the way – but don’t run too far because you might have the agro and running the boss in range of your healer is not generally a good idea.  If you did draw agro change your tactics slightly.  Don’t use that attack speed boost or turn off power attack for example.  There is probably a reason you aren’t the main tank and its far more important to keep the boss under control than it is for 1 person to do 10% more damage


The final group of DPS is the trash killers.  This is the team that will kill the trash.  It will generally include any casters for some crowd control and depending on your group may not actually include any DPS if the casters can keep all the trash under control.  This is not very typical however so usually some DPS will break off from off tanking and kill some trash.  Stunning builds make great trash killers as do builds that are more self reliance since the healers will have most of their attention on the main tank.  Almost all trash can’t see through displace so try and remember to pester your casters for one as needed, unless they are reconstructing a warforged main tank in which case you should ask very nicely.  Trash killing is the role that is most like basic questing – except you want to grab all the agro.  Try and stay grouped up and pick targets as I described earlier.  If theres no trash switch back to off tanking until more trash spawns.


This is of course a basic strategy for boss fights, actual usage will vary.  Sometimes there will be no trash and sometimes someone will kite the trash and it won’t be killed.  Occasionally you will need multiple main tanks while other times you may go without one.  Use these foundational tactics as a starting point and modify them as you desire for successful questing.


That will end this week’s Epic Education.  If you have any questions, comments, or corrections you can email me at that’s all one word.   Join me next time as I discuss playing a healing character in Epics.  Thanks for listening.


Comments (5)

  1. stainer

    Are you making Draz read this?

  2. Cordovan

    Nice to see these now on my.ddo!

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