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Note to DPS: the “F” Key and Skulls

April 9, 2010

Hello, kids! It’s the Pinball again! Before diving into the planned Warrior changes for Cataclysm (HEROIC LEEEEEAP!), I must bring you another Dwarven Pinball Occupational Safety and Health Announcement, again concerning DPS!

This week’s subject is the Assist Target key, bound to the F key by default!

The Assist Target key, or the “Kill what I’m killing, moron!” key, is a handy little tool given to us by Blizzard that is designed to make both the DPS’ and the tank’s life much easier. It’s effect, should you press it while targeting something, is to switch your target to whoever that something is targeting. If you do that to an enemy, its target will hopefully be the tank. Press it once more, and you will then be targeting whatever the tank (hopefully) is targeting. Or you could just target the tank and save yourself one key press. Once that’s done, you are now free to attack that target to your heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that the tank will keep it looking away from you.

Frequent and proper use of the F key will provide you and your tank with a much smoother and productive dungeon, as you will be able to perform the single-target rotation you can do even while sleepwalking, and to unload those huge crits you love so much onto the target, without said target turning you into goo. And on the tank’s side, keeping his target as your target will allow him to concentrate on one mob at a time, making the business of taking heavy and repeated blows to the head that much more enjoyable.

And while we are at it, let us talk about a slightly more advanced concept: Target Markers, AKA Raid Target Icons! I will not give you a full run-down of all eight markers, as such complexity is beyond the scope of this short announcement, but at least one marker but be understood before we can move on. The Skull. Taking the shape of a white… skull on top of the target, it universally means “kill that thing first!”. Tanks, healers, and even sometimes other DPS, will place this handy little marker on top of targets that require priority, be it due to annoying abilities or simply to give the pull a vague semblance of order.

So, what did we learn here, boys and girls? Yes, very good! Attack what the tank is attacking, and if something has a Skull on it, kill that thing first! It is all part of that little concept so many cannot fathom: teamwork. Teamwork makes dungeons easy, and it reduces the amount of swearing directed your way.

And this is the end of another Dwarven Pinball Occupational Safety and Health Announcement! Have a nice, safe and productive day!

“Come, little Feral Druid… I know you have issues hitting the mob I have specifically marked to die first and that you insist on pulling aggro off me on that melee mob whose attacks my shield is turning into effectively zero damage, but that will kill you in three hits… Now, show me on this doll where the F key touched you…”

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2010 12:31

    A very valuable lesson, these.

    I thought the Skull was just to tell us who listens to Finnish Death Metal. Shows how wrong one can be! 🙂

  2. Lazaros of Llane permalink
    April 12, 2010 19:24

    For the few times I get to take a run off and DPS, I have a nice little macro setup allowing me to Focus the tank, then press F to automatically switch to his target, no matter what I’m looking at. Handy stuff.

    Alas, since I normally stare at the southern end of a north-bound bear, I’ve gotten into the habit of marking at least up until the first boss, to let DPS get into my groove. I’ve bound Skull, X, Square, and clear to my number pad (having already moved the Auto Run bind), so I can easily mark up while on the move. If I’m really lucky, I get one DPS per run that assists based on the marks.

    That one night I had two, I had to go out for a smoke, it was so satisfying.

    • April 14, 2010 10:44

      Replacing number pad keys with the marking symbols is a pretty good idea. I’ve been using a little macro to do it, but it uses up bar space, and is pretty out of the way.

      I’ll try it out later, if only for the novelty value (see below). Of course, it’s going to be no good when the group is composed solely of Ret Pallies, but hey… that’s something for a different post. =P

  3. April 13, 2010 16:26

    At this stage, I always mark skull but I don’t mark any more than that for a 5-person run unless it’s one of the Icecrown instances.

    Even then, I rate the odds of X actually dying second as only slightly higher than if I hadn’t marked it.

    • April 13, 2010 17:45

      Pretty much… Skull can generally be trusted to die first (even if just because the melee classes will be hitting it while AoEing), but marking X is such a crapshoot I’ve given up doing it in anything but raids.

      • Lazaros of Llane permalink
        April 14, 2010 20:20

        I find this often when I’m tanking as well, but try to turn it into a game with the fellows on Vent with me, betting various amounts of gold as to when X dies.

      • April 15, 2010 14:34

        If you are lucky and people are assisting you to pick targets, one thing you have to do is to switch to X before Skull dies.

        If you don’t, you target whoever hits you next and DPS will start burning that mob.

  4. June 22, 2010 16:46

    Most of the time when the skull gets to 10-20% health you can switch to your next target. I use to get really annoyed that the X was often NOT the lowest target when I was down with the skull… then I started paying attention to where the other half of my glyphed (to hit two targets) Maul was going. Yeah, since I can’t pick where it goes it is often the culprit for an unmarked target being lower than the X. Now I don’t stress about it or just change targets early.

    • June 22, 2010 18:26

      Indeed, switching a little earlier is a good way to get a jump start on your threat on the next target.

      I only found it problematic when AoE is dropping before I can even get out a swipe. It’s alright when I get the head start, but I find it hard to catch up if I’m behind using only swipe. You have to get creative with targetting and other threat building fun. 😛

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