Toth And Zorn Are BFF With Ranged DPS

So, this weekend, we’re bashing our heads against Toth and Zorn, the first bosses of Heroic EC, for the quintillionth time.  We are not quite beating the enrage timer.  They are going apeshit around… 5%?  2% something ridiculous like that.

Now, the setup is 2 ranged dps and 2 melee dps.  Melee can’t be put on Zorn, meaning that the encounter won’t even entertain the notion of more than 2 melee dps.  But Toth has this berserk where the melee has to GTFO.  So twice during the fight, I’m sitting there twiddling my thumbs while the other side makes substantial gains.

My raid leader, frustrated by getting so damn close so many times, said something like “we would have beat them by now if you (meaning me and the scrapper dps) were ranged.”  Not saying “you idiots should have picked different classes” – more frustration with the stupidity of the encounters that heavily favor ranged DPS.

And I couldn’t argue with his statement.

Raids Favor Ranged

There are some encounters in which ranged or melee doesn’t matter.  However, in every raid, there is at least one encounter that requires (or at least heavily favors) 2 ranged dps… and we’re not even counting some of those annoying and embarrassing trash pulls upon which we wipe too many times if we don’t have a good raid composition for crowd control.

  • EV: On the first droid boss, before we were geared, ranged were able to duck behind pillars in the “oh crap he’s shooting us” phase, and still pop out to do DPS.  The melee just stood behind the pillar feeling useless.  On Gharj, melee lose a lot of DPS time having to run in and out, away from Mr. Stompy.
  • KP: On Jarg and Sorno, again, the encounter doesn’t entertain the notion of more than 2 melee dps, as melee cannot damage Jarg. The puzzle is very difficult to complete without 2 ranged dps on the top solving it.
  • EC: Kephess requires a lot of movement and, even with a gap closer, it’s tough for melee to get to the bomber on time.
  • TFB: The last boss in the new Terror From Beyoooond requires 2 ranged dps to deal with the periodic spawning of 2 adds that will explode upon impact.

On these encounters, there is a maximum of 2 melee dps, but there is no penalty for having ALL ranged dps.

“Have the ranged burn down X because if it gets near you, it explodes and kills you.”  OK, when have we heard that before?  Oh right all the time.  When did we last hear “You need to have melee in on this or you’re totally fucked”?  Oh right, never.

Ranged DPS: Cheaterish Advantages

Crowd control.  Cough sages cough commandos.  Seriously, not restricted to droids OR humanoids, can be cast in combat. Jerks. Gunslingers don’t get great CC, but they have that cheater-dome.

Let’s not even TALK about positional attacks.  When you’re ranged, do you have to make sure to be behind the boss?  Unless you’re directly in the boss’s face about to eat a cleave, a ranged can attack from just about any position.  Fun fact: perfectly round droids do have a butt-side.  So do portals.  Go figure.

I’m not sure if they are easier to heal, but I suspect yes.  They can stand far away from the boss and don’t eat as many unpleasant boss abilities.

Anything Melee Can Do, Ranged Can Do (In Many Cases Better)

Most people say “hey we need melee for interrupts” – if they say anything good about melee at all.  But everyone can interrupt, and it’s not like I can interrupt any better than they can.

As a Sentinel, I get an 8 second cooldown on interrupt.  I can lower that cooldown to 6 seconds only with one of the 3 specs.  However, all ranged dps get a 12 second interrupt.  And the tanks have an 8 second interrupt that they can also talent down to 6 seconds.  Nobody is like “WHEEE AN 8 SECOND INTERRUPT” because with an 8 second interrupt, I still can’t interrupt every cast, we’ll still have to alternate, so who the fuck cares that it’s 8 seconds rather than 12?

Also, I have to be next to the boss to interrupt.  A cheater sage does not.  In a fight with a knockback or a lot of movement, I may not be right there when the interrupt is needed.

Now I have one ace in the hole: that heroism/bloodlust thing that we can use once per boss fight for a few seconds.  Big whoop.

I have yet to find an encounter that couldn’t be easily accomplished with 4 ranged dps. I have yet to find an encounter where lack of melee dps is a disadvantage.  This makes no sense on a game design level since the DPS tree(s) of 5 of the 8 advanced classes are melee (I consider 10m abilities as basically melee).

 Now I Whine About My Specific Situation

Which leads me back to last night.  If I were ranged DPS, I would have more time on the boss.  Although ranged classes have more cast times and admittedly may have a tougher time with heavy movement phases, a small advantage in the movement phase for melee does NOT make up for all the time I have to GTFO or the boss will pound my face in.  A DPS sitting and thumb-twiddling is a DPS loss.  EVEN IF melee has higher theoretical non-moving tank-n-spank dps, which I’m pretty sure it does not, that potentially higher dps whilst on the boss cannot make up for the thumb-twiddling phases.  I can’t even passively regen resources!  I don’t have resources to regen because I have to smack shit around to have resources in the first place.

Yes, we finally kicked their sorry Drouk butts, but it was close and half the raid was dead.  Could we have done it 5 attempts earlier if the 2 melee had been ranged?  I think so.  That’s annoying.

At this point I’m really frustrated.  I know I can pwn things in the face with my current spec and gear. My DPS is really up there… during those sporadic periods when I get to hit the boss at all.

What is the melee/ranged balance of your raid team?  Am I way off base here?  Is there a way that melee has an advantage that I’m not seeing?


We Would Have Beat Them By Now If You Were Ranged DPS — 22 Comments

  1. I will fully admit that both my Sniper and my Gunslinger are dirty, evil, cheating bastards when it comes to raiding. I mean operating. Totally operating.

    • I’m a little afraid of the whole “cover” thing when it comes to movement. Does that give you a disadvantage when compared to a commando or sage?

      • No, not really. If you unbind the ‘Roll to Cover’ ability and just plop down mobile cover wherever you are instead, it’s not a bad system. It reduces damage and turns me into a turret, a play-style I’m rather fond of (former elemental shaman). It also prevent things from charging me or pulling me out of cover, which is lovely. And I can even throw up my barrier to stop any pulling effects that pull me toward a boss. All in all, a fair tradeoff.

  2. While not a direct response to what you ask this does open up the opportunity for me to vent about what’s been on my nerves. As a Vanguard Assault Specialist Trooper I do not consider myself a ranged DPS. Especially since 1.4 and Incendiary Round’s range was decreased to 10m. It’s taken time to get people that I’m grouped with to see that. A group from my Guild was attempting Lost Island HM. I was grouped in as a ranged DPS and was told to stay off the center platform. My first time so i’m like ummm.. alright. We failed time and again. I explained to the group leader that my most effective range is within 10m. Next round I’m on the platform behind the droid in opposite corners from the tank and we take him down no problem. Point made.

    When my group raids it’s usually the Guardian Tank, Sentinel DPS, & Me standing up there with the boss doing our thing. On SOA we have to be really alert that we start running for the edges right away before the floor drops or we are screwed. Everyone else just fires from safety.

    • Yeah, I count vanguard dps as a melee because 10m is… well it’s melee. And as I understand it, stock strike is a big flippin deal in your rotation, and that’s 4m. Also, some people don’t understand that scoundrel dps is also melee. I was in a pug with a scoundrel that was mainly throwing stuff from crouching cover, and it took every ounce of self restraint not to bust out with “UR DOIN IT RONG!” – just like that.

    • As a DPS scoundrel who was recently told by a tank that I’d pull less aggro if I stayed out of melee range, I feel your pain.

  3. Yep, this is a huge problem for our raid as we’re losing ranged DPS by the truckload and all we seem to get as replacements are melee DPS. Which are not replacements. :/

    You forgot one anti-melee encounter: Fabricator in KP. Once you’re farming the place you can get away with having melee on the platforms pushing the Tower of Hanoi buttons, but when you’re still working on him as progression it sucks with anything less than three ranged DPS. We wound up using a healer as our third button-pusher more successfully than a melee DPS.

    (FWIW, I believe melee with leap attacks can jump up to Sorno on the awning, though.)

    • “The puzzle is very difficult to complete without 2 ranged dps on the top solving it.”

      I’m an idiot and refer to the fabricator droid as the “puzzle.” Actually we usually refer to him as “fornicator droid” (lol).

      • Hah! Given how much my raid loves Fabricator (which is to say, not at all) I’m pretty sure they’d call him Fornicator too, if only to imply “…that f**king droid…” 🙂

        • Last time I ran KP (pre 1.4), you can do the puzzle with 3 anythings and keep burn up on the boss near full time (in SM and HM, never tried NM) if you do the right pattern, which means ranged vs melee doesn’t matter too much since you’ll have 2 tanks and 2 dps down with the boss. 1 up, 1 mid, 2 up, 2 left, 1 up, 1 left, 3 up, 3 mid, 3 up, 3 right, etc. I think that’s unintended, so delete this if you want. Our ranged up top don’t dps at all, which is less fun for the folks up top. Of course fabby doesn’t even drop very good loot, so, meh. We do use 2 dps and a healer up top fwiw, so that we can survive the proximity droids.

          I had heard TFB didn’t really have any melee penalizing mechanics. I’ve only run it as healer, so take that fwiw, but we had 2 melee work on the explody guys with a little help from my grenades (scoundrel healer) and didn’t have issues (SM). In general, yeah melee get the short end of the stick. And scoundrel/op more so in EV since the solo fight makes their biggest hit unusable (no positioning available). Still, as long as folks are competent and the healers geared 🙂 , the group can have fun and we don’t worry too much. LI HM is a PITA with 2 melee dps though. That robot boss sucks and the FP is in general my least liked one (and it and Kaon don’t even count for the weekly, thanks Bioware).

          Overall, we tend to 2-3 ranged and 1-2 melee dps, but that’s based purely upon who shows up, not because we look for any composition besides 1-2 tanks (depending upon op) and 2 healers.

  4. I don’t raid in SWTOR but I can definitely sympathize. I raided in WoW and there really weren’t any fights that I remember where being melee was a super big advantage aside from that ranged didn’t tend to have good interrupts there. But in SWTOR everyone has interrupts so that kind of gives melee the shaft.

    I think it would be easy enough (and logical enough) to design an encounter where melee actually had an advantage. I know if I was a boss and someone kept hitting me in the face with rocks and droids or lightning, I’d just run past all those people wailing on me and smack that person in the face and tell them to get up near me and fight or GTFO my raid.

    • Exactly, the *interrupts*. That was the reason you needed a melee dps in WoW. They had better interrupts than the tank and better interrupts than the ranged. Now that the interrupts are equal, the only thing I add to the raid is my good fashion sense.

      WTB really good raid buff. I’d settle for the heroism thing on a shorter cooldown, or the defensive thingy (forget what it’s called) being stronger.

      • You mean Bloodlust!??!


        But no seriously, the interrupts were the reason for melee dps. As an enhancement shaman I was known as “Wind Shear Jesus.” Now they have taken away my Wind Shear (or made the CD so long that it’s stupid) and given away my Bloodlust … I just don’t see the point anymore.

        I DON’T SEE IT! Thank god my Sniper has a nifty interrupt too. Actually 2, if I use Flash Grenade.

  5. Not sure I’m misunderstanding your description of the fight here, but I’m not aware of a point where melee have to stop on Toth twice per fight. Yea as he does his micro enrage at sub 5% he gets a bit chaotic, but that’s it. Are you talking about the bit where he goes yellow and you have to drop Zorn’s Baradium Heave on him? Our melee stand by one of Toth’s legs (side closest to team heal) and drop the Heave clipping his other leg. (Now as I say, I have no idea if I’m understanding you right, so apologies if I missed something, may well be me wrong here!)

    As for your main gist of the article, ranged do definitely have an easier time of most encounters and positional attacks are definitely way more annoying to use than they are useful. And of course here’s not forgetting that until the most recent patch, Scoundrels and Operatives had no gap closer, so all those lovely enemy knockbacks that -always- have slow attached to them just make you useless.

    Personally though, it’s your comment of twiddling thumbs that drives it home the worst. It’s annoying that you have to sit out for parts of the encounter. That’s why some Warcraft fights had mechanics to hit people only at ranged (unless too many people were inside the range). Granted WoW still felt more biased towards ranged on the whole, it helped.

    • Ah, it is during the part where he turns yellow (in hard mode). See, we’re not so much worried about being hit by rocks – but his ground slam things that he does periodically hit for double damage during that phase, which is a bit too much for our healers. Next time, I’m going to try staying in and blowing cooldowns, and then running away (and thumb twiddling) once the cooldowns run out.

      It’s always easy to compensate for melee if the team is a bit overgeared. But when starting a new encounter, on a new tier, and 5% is the difference between a win and a loss, it’s rough.

      • That might be my confusion, I’m forgetting the ground stomp. There’s only so much pre-bubbling can help with there. Shadows can have it easy with a well-timed Resilience there, but a Knight is going to have to take at least some of the hit. As I recall at low percentages (dunno, 7% or so?) we burn and finish Toth before turning to Zorn. At low gear levels, we found Zorn was moderately kiteable during his hard enrage so we could buy a few more seconds. If you have at least a healer and two dps up (ish) when they fall, you should be able to take the handler.

        Maybe getting off topic though. I really did try to think of examples where I could say ‘no, we needed melee’. Wasn’t coming. We needed them a lot in early raids because our guild was massively Commando heavy (no interrupt then) so melee equalled interrupt. Minefield and Jarg and Sorno definitely needed melee. I think the core of the problem is though you could probably get away with all-ranged raids, but not all-melee.

        • “I think the core of the problem is though you could probably get away with all-ranged raids, but not all-melee.”

          Yep, exactly. We’ve had all 4 dps be ranged and it was completely doable, without any “gosh I wish we had a sentinel”. Melee doesn’t bring anything to the table that is SO awesome that you MUST have one.

          At least Knight is a good, versatile melee class without some of the disadvantages of the others. Knights have a great gap closer and do not rely on positional attacks. One (BIG) disadvantage is with aoe because of the nature of the knight’s resource pool. We start at zero so have to do some single target hits before aoe-ing. A class that starts with a full resource bar (or an empty heat bar) can just rain down hate on aoe without any warm-up time. I feel very useless against large packs of weak things.

  6. I have played many MMOs in my years of playing them. The only melee friendly MMO I’ve ever played was FFXI, and that was a result of a noted lack of ranged dps classes, combined with the two available being expensive to play well plus melee dps being actually quite good in most cases.