WoW Discussion

How To: Warcraft Melee DPS 201

In my previous post I focused largely on general DPS, and how to handle that role.  Now that you have some groundwork laid out, we can get a bit more specific.  Melee DPS is one of those specific types of DPS that usually gets the least amount of raid spots, but rarely does anyone ever explain how much typically goes into playing a melee DPS class.

There are a few ins and outs of playing a melee DPS that anyone playing one should know, so lets get down to business

1.  Melee DPS Do It From Behind

Its not just rogues, but all melee DPS should attack mobs and bosses from the rear.  Why?  Simply put because you have a better chance of landing an attack due to parry.  Mobs and bosses can parry your attacks.  But standing behind them makes it so they cannot.  Typically getting to the expertise cap will help reduce dodges, and this number is typically low for Melee due to where we attack from…say it with me now….RAM IT IN THE REAR!

Now there are some exceptions, like if you are fighting a dragon and they have a tail swipe, then you need to flank the mob.  If there is a mob that does a frontal attack that is shared damage then you need to be in front of the boss or stacked wherever you need to be and take the DPS nerf for standing in front.  Remember from the DPS 101 post, dead DPS do no DPS.

Never stand in front of a mob if you are not specifically told to or know you need to.  Many times the mob will have a cleave or a huge damage attack that will knock you senseless, potentially one shotting you.  Its the tanks role to take this damage not you, so position yourself properly.

2.  The Art of Strafe and Running Through Mobs

Many times during a fight, a mob or boss will turn toward you to do some random damage.  Good example of this is Valiona in Bastion of Twilight.  One very easy way to avoid the damage while continuing to DPS is to strafe.  Typically these are your Q and E keys, unless you changed your key bindings.  This is also helpful if there is a patch of bad, like a void zone spawning below you strafe, and use your mouse to rotate your viewing angle so you can continue to DPS the mob.

Now in some cases you need to get to the other side of the boss quickly if they change direction on you, running all the way around a mob takes a lot of time.  Its nice that there is no collision detection on mobs, so run right through until you are behind them, quickly spin around and resume attacking from behind, if you are curious as to why you should do this, go back to point 1 above.

3.  OMG Get Out!

In some encounters you need to run away from either the mob or a particular location as quickly as possible.  Ranged DPS have it easy as they are at range and usually don’t have far to move, however sometimes we need to get going quickly, and in some cases we can’t get out fast enough.  So if you have any speed improving abilities like Rogues have Sprint save it for those moments during a fight.  If you are a melee Warrior, intervene is a good way to quickly get out, make sure you are in the right stance though (macros help here)

If you do not have any speed increasing abilities, look for damage mitigation spells.  Death Knights have Anti-Magic Shell for example.  Use this to mitigate damage if you aren’t out quick enough.

Sometimes a speed enchant on your boots might be necessary.  Just be aware that there is a distance to get away once you do if you take damage pop a bandage and get back in there, because the longer you stay out, the longer you are not doing DPS.  Also if you know you need to run out 20 yards, don’t run 50, know the range and only run the minimum maybe plus 1-5 yards.

4.  Watch your Aggro!

Being in melee range means you can’t go over the threat of the tank like ranged DPS can.  Get an add-on called OMEN or anything else you want to watch your threat, but watch it.  If you are creeping up on the threat meter drop threat by all means necessary, don’t hope the raid leader calls for a hunter to misdirect.  Now if you are a rogue you can tricks of the trade, but if not well stop DPS step back a moment, self heal yourself, do something productive but let your tank regain threat.

Granted this isn’t much of an issue but there may be fights out there where the tanks threat keeps getting harder to keep so you need to be mindful on those fights.  If you pull threat its not the tanks fault, its your fault.  Be accountable for how much threat you are putting out, because you do not have the buffer ranged DPS do.

5. Camera Distance

Many times during a fight you are in close quarters combat, however, because you are staring at a mob’s backside your camera distance may be right up behind your character.  Make sure to zoom out to see the entire room.  Some fights if you are too zoomed in you can miss a mob animation signaling to get away from them, or perhaps there is a large half of the room AoE damage about to happen but you can’t see it because your camera is zoomed in on your awesomeness.

Pan that camera out, look at the playing field you have to work with, this is more fight specific but be ready to zoom out.  If you die because you failed to see a “safe zone” spawning, or didn’t see an ooze from ODS coming your way because your camera isn’t showing you the whole encounter, you have no one to blame but yourself.

6.  Thinking Just Inside the Hit Box

The hit box of a mob or boss, is the area around that enemy from where you can melee DPS it.  Some mobs have very small hit boxes, while others have a huge hit box.  You should, most of the time, position your character to where you are the furthest distance from the enemy while still able to melee DPS them.  Good examples are Lord Marrowgar and Atramedes, both have very large hit boxes, which lets you stand a good bit of distance away from the boss, while still being able to Melee them.  Positioning yourself in this range lets you better see important boss and fight mechanics.

This positioning should follow the previous rules, you should still stand behind, and pan your camera out.  Positioning at the edge of the hit box also gives you more of a chance to run out if you need to.  Now this will make it more challenging to run through a mob if necessary, but not impossible.


This rounds out our advanced topic on DPS targeting melee.  These tips along with the previous DPS topic should make you a better melee DPS.  A true force to be reckoned with in close quarters combat, and someone who raid leaders value and want on their side at all times when faced with progression.