Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Burst More Fun?

I whined about it a little yesterday. I'm going to try to be less whiny about it today.  The question I have in mind today follows directly from my whining.  Still, I want to ask it on a larger level, and not just pertaining to Warlocks.  Fundamentally, the QotD is this:

Is Burst DPS More Fun?

"More fun" is obviously a subjective term.  That is to say, of course this answer is going to completely vary based on individual preferences.  However, I'm thinking more on a global scale, as in: Blizz designs a game to be fun for the most amount of people.  If the design is such that it favors burst damage, then it must be because they believe that's what the people want.  Maybe that's an incorrect assumption, but let's look at some of my rationale.
  1.  PvP = burst. -  I think they've been trying to make it less burst dependent for a while now, but there is still a pretty clear benefit to being able to take something out fast.  In BGs, burst is a huge deal because PvE gear is so prevalent.  Again, they're trying to make this better, but PvE gear was/is so much easier to get, that you completely gimp yourself otherwise.  PvP gear tends to give you better survivability, but it just hasn't been enough.  You may die marginally more slowly, but you're never gonna live enough to take that flag.  I don't really do arena, so I can't speak a whole lot from there, but from a design standpoint, PvP definitely favors burst damage.  Why?
  2. The are more adds during boss fights.  - I whined about this yesterday.  "Kill the adds quickly" has become an increasingly prevalent mechanic in boss fights.  They're not meant to live long enough and they try to overwhelm you with numbers.  Fights such as Razorscale and Freya in Ulduar, Lady D and Dreamwalker in ICC, and KT in Naxx are textbook examples of "burn the adds".  By necessity, this sort of design direction favors burst.
  3. Killing stuff quickly feels epic. - Having to deal with large quantities of baddies, going from one to the next, seeing piles of dead bodies... these all lend themselves to a more epic feel.  I think this is a big reason why Blizz employs the tactics.  We complain about simplicity if it's a tank and spank.  The side effect here is that by the transitory axiom of equality, if quick = burst and epic = quick, then we're saying epic = burst. 
  4. Enrage Timers are trending to be shorter. - Is it just me or are we seeing more 5 and 6 minute "DPS race" enrage timers and fewer 15 minute enrage timer marathons?  The longer boss fights are usually because of several phases, one of which might be an "add" phase.  Short enrage timers favor burst, unless they're as simple as Patchwerk.  
  5. Most "gimmicks" are burst dependent.  - Sort of going with the shorter enrage timers and the increase of add usage, most of the gimmicks we see in fights tend to be of the style "Kill X before Y happens".  Whether a count down to a massive explosion via stacking buff or a preventative measure to stave of a devastating AoE, the bias falls firmly towards burst damage.  So many abilities on boss adds encourage raiders to shift their focus for a small amount of time in order to make the fight even remotely pos-si-ble.  And by small amount of time, I mean less than 20 seconds.  You can't get into a full rotation, and if you are that means stuff is taking too long to die.  
I don't believe Blizzard would intentionally go in and say, "hey let's make everything favor burst."  I do, however, think they would try very hard to figure out what we, as players, enjoy and integrate those principles into more fights.   Which brings me back to my original question: is burst DPS more fun?  Maybe it's simply that in order to keep coming up with varied mechanics, fun fights, fast paced action - the stuff we love - we're dictating that we like burst.  We don't want to kill things slowly.  We want to kill them quickly because then we feel powerful.  We want action.  We want adventure.  Is WoW a strategy RPG or an action-adventure RPG?  Are we trending from one to another?  At the very least I think it's an interesting thought, though it may not be completely well formed in my head yet.  What do you guys think?


  1. I'm not so sure that everything favors burst damage. No matter what the enrage timer on the boss is, it isn't all about burst damage. Every class has time to go through many rotations before the boss is dead. So classes that have powerful damage over time will still be able to prevail in any boss fight. It is hard to say that add switching is easier for other classes because they do burst damage. You have to take into account cast times as well. Mages can be considered to have great burst damage but with poor haste they have really long cast times. So many times you can't get out as many spells as you would like before the adds die. It is frustrating for many classes to do all of the switching. I know many raid leaders put locks and shadow priests on the boss the entire time instead of making them switch. In high mobility fights it seems as though locks would prevail? I don't have an 80 lock, but you can instant cast most dots, so you can keep your dps high during movement, say Lord Marrowgar? My shaman has high burst damage so some fights are great for me especially Gunship. But when you move on to the late wings, and experience Princes or Rotface, many classes prevail over me, because you cast constantly and the burst isn't as important. I think it is pretty well balanced as far as bosses go. I notice some fights favor my feral druid which is similar to a lock in the area of burst. I have to get all my combo points and bleed effects going and that takes time.

    In the PvP area, I think it depends on how serious you are. In battlegrounds my druid doesn't die, and I usually run BGs with my arena partners and neither have burst damage. We are all geared out in resilience and slow damage, but we survive and have epic battles with other serious pvpers. In arena, burst is usually not how the fight ends. When you are in lower ranked teams the strat is usually kill the healer, but when the healer has 900 resilience and never dies, you have to be smarter and use cc, trinkets to get out of snares, and work with your team to coordinate who dies first. It is never about burst for my team. I coordinate with my mage to CC one target, I root a melee, I heal my team until they can stun and kill a target. Fights with good teams last the longest. Warlocks are awesome in pvp, due to their fear abilities and locks on healers from their pets.

    It is an advantage to have played toons who have high burst and ones with great damage over time. I have experienced bosses in ICC that favor each. I have also done pvp, some teams work with burst, but it is definitely not necessary.

  2. In most fights, I think the addition of adds actually makes the fights interesting because it gives you the option of allocating your DPS resources differently.

    For instance, I would rather have my slow building but high damage output players focus on the boss in spite of the adds whenever possible, i.e. Saurfang and Lady Deathwhisper (Dreamwalker is a healer fight, and is completely different than other fights specifically because of that).

    The problem is that it is difficult to acquire this in a 10 man scenario unless your DPS is particularly strong. You can allocate 2 afflocks to the boss much more easily in 25 man, when it represents a smaller portion of your total damage dealing than you can in 10 man where that afflock may be doing a quarter of your overall damage. Even if his/her damage is gimped, it is still crucial to taking down the adds, even if it would be more powerful remaining on the boss.

    Having different types of damage output, and a good mix of burst plus sustained damage targets makes the fights more interesting to me - and provides you some more interesting challenges as well. Can you keep up DoTs on Lady DW while helping with the adds? and those sorts of questions.

  3. Only thing I would add to the ladies's comments are in 25 mans i have the time to go through my rotations on Pesty and if asked too, go after adds (depending or RL). However in 10 mans no way, you cant dedicate DPS toons as much to do one thing adds or boss but have to do both. Now this is a new perspective from my point since I use to never do 25 mans and only did 10 mans, that is why I notice so much more> Of course with the Shadow I dont know what 'burst' damge means :)

    Another thought jsut came up. Burst = Melee ? when i run an instance and have any decent melee dps i jsut sit back and DOT becasue if i tried to use and damage spell they be dead before i get them out

  4. I think the trend is actually to slow down burst dps. From my limited experiences, Blizzard seems to be shifting talents more towards DOTs and sustained vs burst damage.

    For example, Pallys, who were pretty bursty have had their seals massaged to have more of a ramp-up ( SoV stacking). Destruction Warlocks, one of the burstiest, have their Conflag changed from a straight Crit Hit to leaving a DoT on the boss.

  5. Ya Pesty most melee can burst in 5 mans. I can burst on my druid in a five man, but I can't do that on adds in a boss fight. It doesn't work well, my highest damage is a slow build up. I don't know about rogues and warriors but as far as kitties, it is a different world for raids and heroics. In a heroic I can kill things fast. But in a raid when the boss loses my combo points I have spent time building it hurts.

  6. I think it' a great point that it totally differs between 10 and 25 mans. I'm coming from a primarily 10 man environment so my non-bursty limitations can't really be taken into account.

    Also, yes melee tend to be more bursty in general due to lack of cast times (and not being dependent on DoTs). Really there is the whole spectrum though. I would still say melee fare better in general on encounters where stuff dies fast.

    Mostly, I'm saying Ret Pallies have it easy. Those bastards :-).

  7. As an afflock I have 2 instant cast dots. My curse and corruption. 2. Just 2.

    That does not equal a ton of instant cast spells.

    Sometimes I get lucky and a nightfall proc will happen, but since we aren't supposed to use the glyph of corruption I don't see many procs anymore.

    I was in ICC last week and when it came time to kill the bone spikes I started ramping up my SB, because my instant cast dots don't do enough damage fast enough, and the damn spike was down before I could even hit it. I then got yelled at because I did no damage on the spikes. I explained why I didn't and I got an apology, but still.

    The same thing happens on Lady D. The adds are down so quickly that I lose more damage moving off the boss than if I had just stayed on her.

    I raid primarily in a 10 man environment and I explained these worries to my GM. She has since changed things to best utilize me. She too thought I had a ton of instant dots. *sigh*

    Where did this idea come from?

  8. Ah, good point. I get that a lot to and have to explain, too. I don't know where the idea came from... perhaps since the common belief is that aff'locks are good one mobile fights. It's true, to an extent. I mean dots will continue to tick regardless of me running around, but I still have to cast them somehow. Furthermore, it doesn't mean my DPS will be good, just that I'll be able to sustain my damage more easily at lower levels (cut out a DoT or two). So, overall damage done would look great, but DPS will be shite.